I'd almost forgotten what a paycheck looks like.

Saturday was my first honest day of paid labor in a year; I responded to an advertisment on craigslist Detroit looking for temporary survey workers, and company placing the ad was the first one to call me back in months. Surveying and canvassing are the college graduate's version of day labor: Show up at the designated location, get some quick training, work for the rest of day, collect the check, and go home. It's not going to pay all my bills, but it's quick seventy-five dollars for a job that I have a knack for, and it gave me an excuse to hang around Detroit's Mexicantown for a few hours.

I like the latino neighborhoods in Detroit, because they remind me of south Phoenix, except that people smile more. (After all, latino or not, they're still Midwesterners, and therefore raised to be friendly to crazy strangers carrying clipboards and asking odd questions.) Of course, I'm a crazy stranger who likes carrying a clipboard and asking people odd questions, so I enjoyed myself immensely. I managed to wear myself out enough that I fell asleep almost as soon as I got home.

Still, I am concerned by the fact that my face hurts. Usually, that means I've been in drunken brawl, but this time it's just a mild sunburn. How the hell did I get sunburned? I was outside for less than four hours, during April in Michigan. I never got sunburned from four hours in the sun when I lived in Arizona, even during the summers. (In fact, I'm one of those people who can't even get a deep tan.) Is this yet another sign that I'm getting old? Has living in Michigan for a year somehow weakened my skin? Have I stayed indoors so much that I've lost my natural resistence to ultraviolet radiation? Has Michigan lost its ozone layer? Did Detroit's toxic air damage my skin? And most importantly, where did I leave that tube of SPF 30 I used to keep in my bookbag?

First the economy turns against me, now the environment is out to get me, too.

Posted at 12:36:44 AM EDT on 25 April 2004 from Trenton, MI