I recently joined the ranks of people who have the leisure to work out at 10:00. You know, those folks out wandering around shopping no matter when you take your lunch break. The ones who mysteriously clog the roads at 3pm so that you can’t get to your appointment. That’s right: the unemployed.
Before you offer sympathy, my last job was a nightmare. I spent the last two years wanting to be dead as casually and wistfully as most people think about visiting Hawaii, because it seemed like the only way out of the situation. I ran the numbers again and again and couldn’t see a way to make ends meet on only one salary for the two of us, our mortgage, and three dogs that spend more time at the vet than at the dog park.
And then it happened: like a ray of light in a darkened day, my boss, in a fit of pique because I asked to leave on time, screamed “I am the most important person in your life!” and then, after I semi-respectfully disagreed, “Get out and never darken this doorstep again” (y’all, that shit’s verbatim) as he slammed the door to his office in my face.
Which means I get to collect unemployment insurance, and now I can still do things like eat meals and wear clothes and accidentally go to the Banana Republic end-of-season sale “to look for an interview suit.”
Funny thing about unemployment, though. They want you to look for work.
So for the last few weeks I’ve dutifully applied to at least two jobs and conducted three additional “work-seeking activities” and along the way I’ve discovered new and exciting things about myself like I can still write, and I can still paint, and I really hate filling in boxes.
See, one of the ways to maximize your interview chances is to be able to check one of the “diversity boxes” on a firm’s online application. And while I’m whiter than Saltines in Sweden, I’ve got ovaries. So there’s that. And then, every time, I run into this goddamn box: “Sexual preference”
There’s no “yes, please.”
There’s no “it’s complicated.”
Just these neat little boxes waiting for me to shove myself into one of them.
I have no idea why, but part of me always assumes there’s going to be a challenge to my self-identification. After all, I married a man. So I end up worrying about how to prove I’m entitled to check “bisexual.” Will they ask me for an affidavit from my last girlfriend? Will I have to discuss the technical merits of Jill Sobule’s “I Kissed a Girl” over the Katy Perry song of the same name? Do I make out with my interviewer? Will she be cute?
It’s an awkward place to be, this box. It’s got connotations, and assumptions, and I’m not sure how well I fit within its corners. Both solidly-preferential communities seem to be holding their breaths waiting for me to pick sides, and I don’t have a side to pick. If I’m with a man, the hetero community says “oh look, she found the right guy and settled down” and if I’m with a woman I’m “obviously a lesbian who was just trying to fit into heteronormative society.” What if I just like people’s minds, and don’t particularly care what plumbing is attached? I mean, I can barely recognize faces and put them with names, can I be expected to remember who’s an innie and who’s an outie?