Good lord, mentally it's for the most part a GREAT thing. I had to jump through a lot of nerve-wracking hoops to finally get approved (after figuring out whether or not I could be approved to begin with). The pay every two weeks is approximately 50% of my former income. Which is still enough to live off of -- paying rent and bills and buying groceries/cigs, but certainly with little or no money for any extras (except the window-unit air conditioner that I'm going to buy, on sale for $99 at the Pathmark). I'm qualified to receive these payments for the next 3 or so months.
This situation differs from last spring, when my 8-month freelance stretch at another publishing company came to an end. Back then, I had no clue that I could qualify for Unemployment, since I was "just" a freelancer and since I'd "just" moved from out-of-state the previous year. So I never applied for it. My ignorance of the system cost me a lot of mental grief. I had some savings after the 8 months was up, but then spent months worrying incessantly about finding a job, and slogging through going-nowhere part-time temp jobs, and sweltering in the summer heat because I was scared to spend $100 on an air conditioner.
This year, I have the safety net of Unemployment pay. But with that, I find myself not looking as hard for work. I know I'll be OK through September, and with that comes the thought in the back of my mind that I can relax a little... Being able to "relax a little" is good, of course, but...shouldn't I be revved up and in super-competitive mode right now? As September nears, I'm sure the reality will hit me that I have to do SOMETHING in order to be able to stay up here... But as of right now...I seem to be in lethargic, slacker "Austin mode": "Wow, man, I can afford a window-unit air conditioner and some beer and cigarettes tonight! I'll be OK!"
I think a part of me is angry that I'm a really good copy editor, yet I cannot find a steady job. Not through my own fault, but because of various companies' economic problems and arcane rules. My last job that just ended, for instance: Some editors that I formerly worked with are now sending me freelance work because the current in-house copy editors aren't as thorough as I was. For real. How ludicrous is that? The company once had ME in-house, but had to let me go after 6 months because... the 6-month contract was up and there was no more money in the department budget. Yet...my former editors miss my work and are hiring me freelance from their own piecemeal personal company budgets. It's utterly nonsensical and maddening. Almost enough to make me just throw up my hands and lie back and say, "Wow, man...looking forward to the air-conditioning and beer and cigs tonight."
Please, NYC! I'm so much more into getting pumped up and working 50-hour weeks, not of lying around on my lazy ass acting all Austin. Do something, for fuck's sake! ;p