OK, first of all, you guys are FABULOUS! Thank you to everyone who left a comment telling me NOT to feel guilty at all about having a bright, shiny new machine and just to ENJOY IT for Pete's sake! And you know what? I think I will. ;-)
The stars must really be aligned for me though because exactly one week after I nervously bought my new sewing machine, I GOT A JOB OFFER! Dudes, I have been applying for every job that crossed my path for nearly two years and this was the first one for which I even got called in for an interview. (Actually, there was an "assessment" with all sorts of office-type tasks, then came the interview.) And finally: the offer!
It's certainly far from ideal: it's not in my field AT ALL. In fact, it's an office manager job at a university...essentially the same job I left in order to go to graduate school! Although with this position, I do get more responsibility. It is only part time (until the state's higher education budget gets more money, but that could take years) and right now this position is subject to the state's furlough "program" so that takes a 10% cut right off the top. BUT...it is a job. I liked the people I met when I was there for the interviews. I will be able to resume payments on my student loans. My husband and I will be able to stay in the apartment we love instead of moving to a cheaper, smaller, more distant location. And in all honesty, the part-time hours kind of suit me right now. I can ease back into working outside the home after several years of school and forced idleness, and I will still have enough time to devote to keeping the shop humming along as it should.
I can't even begin to express the amount of relief this job has given me. I tried not to talk about my unemployment woes too much on this blog, but those of you who have been there: you know. It's a constant pressure, a constant strain. This is a step in the right direction and hopefully things will only get better from here on out. And who knows? Maybe there will even be a few knitters at the new job. ;-)