You know what they say: write about what you know. There are two things I know a lot about: living well, and unemployment.
(Editor’s Note: This advice applies to hipsters, students, writers, artists, the funderemployed, and others who are short on cash but high on life.)
(Editor’s Note: If you find yourself unemployed in the winter, I really have no advice, except to eat more lentils.)
How to rock/survive unemployment is something I am learning to do quite well. Listen and learn friends.
#1 way to rock/survive unemployment: Eat a Lentil
There is a reason they eat lots of lentils in Africa. A bag of lentils costs, usually, less than $2 and you could live off of them for over a week. This is one reason I can’t help but protest paying $15 for a lentil dish at restaurants. It costs them about 15 cents to make and is served with rice (another 15 cents).
Lentils are cheaper than any other poor person staple like potatoes, pasta, rice or bread but are more versatile and much healthier. Unlike potatoes or bread, you could actually live, quite healthfully, on lentils for your entire life. They are high in protein, iron and essential amino acids. I use lentils to make one of my many “EI soups”.
Here is a recipe for the EI soup currently in my fridge:
Coconut Curry Lentil Soup (Cost: $5, # of meals: 7-8)
2 cups yellow or red lentils
2 cups vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
2 tablespoons yellow curry paste
1 small can of tomato paste
1 teaspoon of each: powdered garlic and powdered ginger
3-4 large carrots, grated
chili peppers to your desired spice level
Soak lentils for a couple of hours in water, drain and rinse. In a large stock pot, boil vegetable broth with powdered garlic and ginger. Add lentils to boiling mixture and boil for 15 minutes. Add tomato paste and curry powder and boil for another 10-15 minutes with salt and chilis. When the lentils are tender, lower hear, add your grated carrots and coconut milk, simmer for 2 minutes and then use a hand blender to cream together the contents. Salt to taste.
#2 way to rock/survive unemployment: Ride a f*cking bike.
Hopefully you don’t live in a city where it is likely you will die if you ride a bike. If you can ride a bike in your city, it is the most economical, ecological and awesome way to get around. There just isn’t anything like having to choose between buying a $3 bus pass and stopping the onset of near-starvation, so keep your toonies and loonies safe and ride a f*cking bike.
Recently, Tyrone wrote about Bixi Montreal. Montrealers, if you don’t own a bike, but have 39 toonies or 78 loonies saved up, you too, can ride a bixi all summer long, never paying for transportation again. You will also be in better shape, and you will probably love Montreal even more than usual, because it is impossible to ride a bixi in Montreal, along the glorious bike paths, with hundreds of other cyclists, and not sport a huge perma-smile.
#3 way to rock/survive unemployment: Maintain a well stocked booze stash
It is kind of like high school… er.. college, all over again. Pre-gaming. The booze stash is an essential component of surviving unemployment while still living well.
Pre-gaming means you can still go out to the bar, have enough courage to talk to that cute girl with the alternative lifestyle hair-cut, and not pay for outrageously priced, watered-down whiskey. Make sure to take well-timed cigarette/bathroom breaks when said cute girl makes her way to the bar. You don’t want to look like the tool that can’t buy her a beer.
#4 way to rock/survive unemployment: Throw a f*cking party
Just like maintaining the booze stash, throwing a party is a great way to limit costs and still have a great time. It’s the perfect way to maintain control over your social life while still making sure that you have one. Almost everyone will go for saving some cash and bringing their own drinks if you can bring the crowd. So throw a f*cking dance party, scrabble party, or potluck party.
# 5 way to rock/survive unemployment: Park it
I can’t speak for everyone, but if you live in a city like Montreal or Vancouver, lounging in the parks is not only cheaper, but a much more fun way to pass the long and hot summer days. (Speaking of which, Tyrone and I are currently sipping cosmos in park Lafontaine – after snacking on lentil soup of course.)
# 6 way to rock/survive unemployment: Find a Festival
Free or cheap festivals are a good way to drink/dance away your poorboi blues. Plus, it is likely that you will find some hot queers at the following events. Here are some free/cheap/queer-friendly festival ideas from The Gaily city bloggers in different Canadian cities (let us know your favourites in the comments and we’ll add them):
In Montreal every Sunday, look for Tam Tams at Mount Royal (free), or Piknik ElectroniK ($10) in Parc Jean Drapeau. In June you can choose between festivals like mutek, FrancoFolies, Grand Prix of Canada, and the renowned Montreal Jazz Festival. Looking for a romantic and inexpensive Saturday night date idea? Pack a bottle of wine and head on down to watch the firework display. Of course in July and August, there are plenty of way to show your true colours on the cheap at Divers/Cité and Montréal Pride Celebrations in Montreal’s gay village. I’m a huge fan of Mondiale de la Biere:
Jaime says the Celebration of Light fireworks are a great time, but reminds you to avoid the drunken suburbians who treck into the city leaving a messy English Bay and irriated (and rightfully so!) West Enders.
There will be plenty of parties to keep you busy in Toronto between June 24 and July 3 for Pride Toronto.
Other Gaily reader summer/cheapo festival ideas: Ottawa Blues fest, festival d’été de Québec, or The Metis festival in Batoche.