I still open my eyes around 6am due to habit, not the alarm clock, then I close them again because there’s absolutely no point to wake up so early.  My doggies start to get restless around 8am – their morning routine scattered and no longer do they get that 20 minute morning walk.  Instead I let them outside to handle their business, then we go back to bed for another couple of hours.

Sometimes, BUT very rarely, I wake up early and start my daily chores: let the dogs outside, clean up their mess, pick up the bedroom, wash the dishes, dry the dishes, sweep the house, mop the house, look at the time and it’s only 9am.  Damn, what else to do… take a shower, get dressed, just to lounge around the house and do nothing, because there’s no money to spend.  Sometimes, I get a bit wild and take the dogs to the park or go to my grandparents house.  My Papa and Grandma’s house seems to be the meeting hub for the family, since they’re retired and 52% of my family are suffering from this unemployment crisis.

I guess the best thing about the situation is all the unlimited sleep time that’s available.  It’s not like it used to be, where you have to plan a day off from activities and work and friends, just to relax.  Now it’s readily available at any time you want it!  Next best thing is all the time you have nothing to do.  You can hike whenever you want, go to the beach, help friends move and even spend quality time with your cousins… that is until the gas in your tank heads to empty.  Then you’re stuck at home – and again, you can have the best attribute to unemployment – sleep.

No matter what I seem to do, I’m a bum.  I can be through with all my household duties in less than two hours, and have another 14 hours to do nothing.

I reminisce of the days that I used to abhor waking at 7am, rush to get ready, take the dogs for a speedy walk, feed the dogs, feed myself, sit in traffic for an hour to get to work, slave at a computer and running all over the place in heels for 9 hours, sit in traffic for another hour to get home, take the dogs on another speedy walk, get changed into lounging clothes, make dinner, feed the dogs, take the dogs on a nightly relaxing walk, read a book and go to bed – just to wake up the next day to do it all over again.

I recall of the days where I had to make plans two weeks out because I was THAT busy, when I made sure every Friday was “alone time,” when I would do lunch with friends and colleagues, when going to L.A. for the weekend was a vacation, when routine had a meaning and purpose, when time management was key and when I spent money and time with Charles David, Jeffrey Campbell, Michael Kors, Steve Madden, Carlos Santana, Robert Mondavi, Kendall Jackson, Laetitia and Chateau Ste. Michelle, all the while still making time for 24 Hour Fitness and Mount Cowles.

I thought I had stress then… there’s no stress like the stress that comes from having too much time to do nothing.  I take my stress dilemma and focus this energy by transforming it into addictions: Housewives!  I cannot get enough of The Real Housewives of Orange County, New Jersey, Atlanta and New York – and now there’s going to be a DC series, how exciting!  I have also made to sure to DVR the entire series of Millionaire Matchmaker, Bethenney’s Getting Married?, Say Yes to the Dress – all reality shows, so somehow I can live vicariously through those that have not only lots of time on their hands but money in their pockets.  I do watch the occasional downer – Intervention.  How constructive I am – my sedation and enjoyment with the escape of life aren’t substance-based, so I’m doing something right, right?

Oh and there’s the weight-gain dilemma I’m faced with as well.  No longer can I peruse the aisles of the organic section and stick to my “pescatarian” diet, or make my Monday visits to Whole Foods and Trader Joes.  Now I frequent the more affordable option: dollar menus.  I have found that four quarters and a dime, three times a day, is very feasible.

Coming to this day, to this routine, to this eating habit, is not all self-inflicted, mind you.  I have applied to approximately 196 job openings, in which I have been given an interview opportunity with only 9 of them, with only three of them in my career field.  So in other words, I have only had a 4.95% success rate at landing an interview, and only a 1.5% success rate at landing an interview in my field of expertise – and they say that we’re still at least three more years out hitting rock bottom with the residential real estate crisis – knowing that commercial real estate always lags about two to three years behind residential, I’m looking at the commercial real estate to hit hard in another six years?!  That means by then my success rate will be at a -15.42%.  My chances of employment are looking like the stock/market trade percentages I see on CNN – negative and in the red.

The addiction and depression become a fixated part of life, especially after receiving the notice that unemployment extensions are denied after May 30, 2010.  Living off of a $0 income for the past two months has made me the opposite of who I am – there is nothing independent about me anymore.  I cannot understand how it’s expected for people to live in times like today.  Going from making more than 70K per annum to a hard ZERO, means homelessness, a negative credit score, no form of transportation and no food.  If I didn’t have loved ones and family, I seriously would be that person dressed in semi-decent clothes, off the Plaza Blvd exit in National City, holding a sign saying, “WILL EAT FOR FOOD.”

My success is no longer measured by my experience, my income, my car, my clothes, where I live, my career title, or my education.  Now it’s determined by my happiness and loving what I have.  It’s not about the zeros backing up that number in the savings account, or having my feet caressed by BCBG.  I have found that before it was easier being a good person, because I was able to occupy myself with so many good things that I could surround myself with, you know, like bi-weekly massages at the knotstop and those weekly visits to the grocery store for therapy sessions.  There wasn’t much time to spend by myself, with the people that meant most to me, and have absolutely nothing to do.  I have found that this particular situation brings out who we truly are, and in return I have worked 10 times harder and put in 500% more effort in staying that “good person.”  I have also become that much more crazier, not being able to afford my relaxing outlets.

But yes, through this unfortunate part of my life, pristine fortune has presented itself.  Not only do I get to experience the actual effort of being a good person, I have realized those in my life that are true and deserve my love and friendship.  Believe it or not, I no longer contemplate who my real friends are and I have nurtured and created relationships that are priceless.  I have found that when life gets rough, those who stick around are priceless themselves.  There are also those that were meant to be only in a part of my life… sort of staging me with the thought that emanates my progression.

You know the saying, “There’s a reason for everything,” there truly is.  But it’s not a reason that can be given to you, it’s a reason that you find yourself, something that your life was missing before and now is present and only you can determine what that is.

For me, with this god-forsaken, unemployment, going-crazy, dependent, happiness-filled, no-income, how-can-one-possibly-survive part of my life, I have come to realize my reason.  This is not only a test of survival, but a test of character.