by Amy Dittman
In the spring of 2010, it looked like my husband was going to get a new job out-of-state. It wasn’t a sure thing, mind you, but the prospect looked very promising. I had a tough decision to make. Did I keep my teaching position knowing there was a good chance I would have to leave before the school year was over or did I resign and risk still being in town in the fall but unemployed? I love teaching but could not imagine leaving in the middle of a school year. It would be unfair and disruptive for students and their families. So, hard as it was, I made the decision to resign.
What was I going to do with all of my free time in the summer? I was used to reorganizing my classroom materials, buying new supplies, taking classes, and arranging my room for the new year. That meant a lot of empty hours would need filling. I like a clean house and I love to read. My family hikes and bikes, goes kayaking and paddleboarding, but I was still going to need something else.
I started browsing Netflix. Maybe I could make a list of classic movies or foreign films that I could watch. Then I stumbled across Dark Shadows. Oh, I got a little shiver. I remembered walking home after school with a girl from my neighborhood. We arrived at her house just in time to get a snack, watch the end of Felix the Cat and settle in for Dark Shadows. I would have been in third grade. Thinking about it now, it seems weird that a nine-year-old would be fascinated by a soap opera filled with vampires and werewolves and ghosts. I think that then it was really just about spending time with an older girl who I thought was amazing. What would I think of those old shows now as a woman with a BS in Elementary and Special Education, an MLS, a husband, a teenage daughter, a cat, and a big old Victorian house to maintain?
I put one disc in my queue. The day it arrived, I grabbed a snack, a comfortable spot on the couch, and settled in for a trip down memory lane. It was fantastic! I had forgotten a good deal of the show. I remembered Barnabas Collins and his home. Other than that, the storyline was a blur. One episode in and I was hooked. It was quirky and dated. Each episode was done in one take and the mistakes were sometimes glaring and hilarious. After looking into it, I discovered there are 1199 epsiodes. At 20 minutes each, that could definitely fill some of my extra time. But just watching an old soap opera for that amount of time seemed a little decadent. What else could I do? Step in my brilliant husband.
“Why not do a blog?”
Not a chance. I didn’t know anything about blogging. That was for the hip kids not me. It was silly. I couldn’t. What would I say? Who would read it? No, I couldn’t. Could I?
Thirty minutes later, THE DARK SHADOWS OF UNEMPLOYMENT (thedarkshadowsof unemployment.blogspot.com) was born. I decided to watch each disc (which usually has 8 episodes) and write something about them and about my life at the same time. It was fun. It felt silly and creative. Did I mention it was fun? I managed to write about 300 episodes and then I hit a glitch. Netflix didn’t have all of the discs. A number of them were listed as “unknown” availability date. Arrrggghhhhhh! My project came to a screeching halt.
For my birthday, my husband bought me the next set in the collection. I was so excited. But I am one of those strange souls. I like to savor things, make them last. I sometimes finish my Easter candy around Halloween. I was worried that this might be my last fling with Dark Shadows. I decided to stretch it out. I only watched one or two episodes at a time. I didn’t write about them, thinking I would wait and watch them all again. Then some changes took place in my job and my personal life. Dark Shadows took a backseat.
Fast forward to fall. We sold our home and bought a new house about four hours away. Due to a problem with the seller’s paperwork, my husband and I found ourselves staying in a hotel for three weeks while we waited to close. Near the hotel was a piece of salvation—HalfPrice Books. After finishing the seven books I had with me in just 18 days, I wandered over in search a new title.
I wandered around for a while when I stumbled on something I couldn’t believe. There, on the shelf, in a sunbeam like a spotlight, were collections of Dark Shadows! I went back to the hotel, fired up the computer, checked the Netflix queue, and wrote down the numbers of the collections with “availability date unknown”. A quick trip back to the bookstore… Holy cow! Each of the collections shining on that lovely shelf was a collection on my list.
Since we are moving, I am unemployed again. I won’t be for long. I like working too much. But in the meantime, I am going to start working on the blog again…because I know now that there are Dark Shadows episodes waiting for me for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, my birthday, my anniversary…thanks to HalfPrice and my very supportive husband.
So take a minute and see how I spend my down time as I search for a new job at my My Blog.