Ed. note: “The Miss Jobless Chronicles” is a weekly series written by Caitlin O’Toole. Read all the posts in the “Miss Jobless” series here.

Today I worked out. I walked from my desk to the kitchen. Distance: 10.8 feet. Then, I walked back. Distance: 12.8 feet (I dropped my pen and went back for it, gaining approximately two feet. Maybe three.)

Like approximately one in ten Americans, I have become a walking statistic. I am unemployed. Er, under-employed. A writer.

Ever since college, I’ve made my living working in print, TV and at .coms—FOX News (oh, hush); Star magazine (oh, hush); The National Enquirer (seriously, stop!); People.com; Parade.com. But I’ve been out of work—well, under-employed, anyway—since July ’08. I was laid off from Parade.com—or “downsized,” as we’ve all come to know it—quite suddenly. I was one of several. My exit was dramatic—there was blubbering and hyperventilation. I made a pitch to keep the paintings on my wall. But they belong to the company. Yes, but I picked them out! I was clearly grasping at straws, splitting hairs over David Hockney posters when what I really wanted to do was go to HR and try to convince them to give me my job back. I knew it was just the beginning of very bad times in the workplace, but I didn’t really know how bad. One of the other people who was laid off that day—July 15, 2008—fainted in the hallway. I was kind of jealous that his exit was more memorable than mine. As I hyperventilated, I sent emails to select co-workers, cleaned out my hard drive, stashed a stapler and hole punch in my knapsack, and hailed a cab home. I called my parents on the way, they could barely understand me. Cait, SLOW DOWN, what’s wrong? I wanted McDonalds. Things would be clearer post-Nuggets, I thought. They weren’t.

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