The Dark Shadows of Unemployment

by Amy Dittman

The Dark Shadows of Unemployment

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 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.

You can read Amy’s interview here: and her other article here:

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.