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Clocked Out: Beating the 'weekday scaries' with nature and snacks

Turtle-watching, EBT card picnics, barefoot hiking and more 'funemployed' activities from the Long Beach Post’s former editor.

Clocked Out: Beating the 'weekday scaries' with nature and snacks
A shaded bench overlooking a lake at the Los Cerritos Nature Center. Photo by Kat Schuster

Remember me? I’m the Long Beach Post’s former editor; the one who authored the weekly newsletter Off the Clock. It was filled with wacky how-to’s, neighborhood itineraries, bad puns, lists of happy hour deals and more cool stuff to check out in and around the LBC.

I’d link to some of those columns but, if you’ve been reading the Long Beach Watchdog, you might already know that they clocked me out forever. They laid nine of us off on March 22, you know, just for ~ financial reasons ~ and such.

So, we’re boycotting the Post and the Business Journal while we await the opportunity to return to the negotiating table with our nonprofit’s board of directors. Stay tuned for the tea on that. In the interim, you’ll still get a goofy little itinerary from me every Wednesday morning.

As you can imagine, it’s been a stressful several weeks. I’ve missed my job (and you) terribly. On the bright side, I’ve found a cozy and solidaristic new home in the dogged community of the Long Beach Watchdog. You might say we’ve got that… dawg in us?

An egret soars over a bridge at the Los Cerritos Nature Center. Photo by Kat Schuster

In all seriousness, I presume you’ve heard of the Sunday Scaries. But when you’ve been unemployed for more than two weeks, it’s the mean, mean Weekday Scaries that set in.

The experience of suddenly losing a job you loved isn’t too far off from a blindsided breakup. The first week, you drink with your comrades — a lot. The second week, you buy lunch with your EBT card and go sit in nature, alone, because it’s free and you have no income.

You sit there and you think about life and how you miss your boisterous newsroom and arguing with reporters about commas and that time you spilled coffee on your keyboard but it still worked and wait — why are all of these other people at the park in the middle of a Tuesday? Are they (f)unemployed too?

This week, I did just that when I visited the El Dorado Nature Center. On weekdays, parking is only $6. On my way over there, I did indeed swing by Trader Joe’s (AKA “Traitor Joe”) to pick up spring rolls with tofu, plantain chips, a salad and some other goodies for my solo picnic.

A solo, unemployment picnic. Photo by Kat Schuster

In all, the outing cost me just under $20. If I wasn’t contending with a ~ depression fridge ~ (it was empty), I could have packed a lunch. And if you want to skip the parking fees, you can always take the bus there.

The Nature Center is the most un-Long Beach place in Long Beach. It’s a peaceful, green 105 acres of actual forestland, with trails that wind around two lakes and bridges that carry you over babbling brooks. It’s a real oasis and a natural habitat for manipulative local squirrels who will talk you into sharing your snacks.

After arriving, when you cross the first bridge, you might even stop to admire a community of yellow-bellied turtles sunning themselves and swimming about.

When you’re done hanging with the turtle dudes, you’ll hit a fork in the road where you can choose a 1-mile trail, a 2-mile trail, a ¼ mile paved trail or you can just meander up and around all of them, which is what I did for several hours. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of waterside and trailside benches and more seating under tree canopies. The park is well-maintained, with some areas blocked off for the safety of the animals that inhabit the center (please respect the signs).

I noticed a lot of older folks walking the trails…without shoes. At the risk of sounding like a total hippy, I joined them in this eventually. I shoved my shoes in my backpack and tried a bit of barefoot hiking. I found that it added another layer of grounding and calm to my day (OK fine, I may have stopped by Catalyst before arriving).

Photo (obviously) by Kat Schuster.

This is a true sanctuary, not just for the wildlife, but for anxious, unemployed journalists like yours truly. Whether you're a member of the workforce or not, I urge you to spend some time here.

I’ll be visiting the Nature Center again this week to clear my busy mind ahead of our next picketing event/rally (yes, we’re still on strike) on Friday (April 12) from 3 to 5 p.m. in Downtown at Broadway and Pacific Avenue. You (yes, you) are invited to join us.

And of course, a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who has donated to our relief fund for laid-off and striking workers. In exchange, we (the Watchdogs, of course) aim to keep bringing you the reporting and the stories that made the Long Beach Post and Business Journal so special. If you’ve got that dog in you too, please smash the subscribe button below.

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