My Second Favorite Holiday

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Birthdays are my favorite holiday. Every time I get one, it’s like a giant middle finger to the world that I was able to survive another year of whatever life threw at me. Birthdays are a celebration of life. You only stop having birthdays when you are dead, and that’s a problem.

Many people like Christmas. I like Christmas too, but it’s not my favorite holiday. I like the peaceful feeling of Christmas. Christmas is something we should try to replicate year round. We should aim to be kind and generous to others. While I enjoy Christmas, it is my third favorite holiday.

My second favorite holiday after birthdays is Labor Day and Labor Day weekend.

I spent over 20 years working 2-3 jobs for 40-60 hours per week. We do not have paid sick time in the United States. We do not have paid vacation time in the United States. The only time I would be able to get time off from all of my jobs was holidays.

Labor Day weekend is my favorite because it is a celebration of the worker. We should have the day off. American workers are treated the most poorly of any industrialized country. We can be fired at will, do not have to be offered health insurance, vacation pay, or sick pay. We work long hours for low wages.

The sad part is that for the United States of America, Labor Day is just another day. For many it signals the end of summer and return to school. We have forgotten that Labor Day is about the worker. Workers deserve much, much better than we receive in the United States.

Labor Day weekend has typically been my camping weekend. I like to get away to relax. It’s the only weekend of the year when I truly have a break. For one weekend a year, I can take a vacation and pretend I am just like any worker in any European or other industrialized country.

The saddest part of Labor Day weekend is that although we get the day off, we do not get paid to have the day off. You get the weekend whether you like it or not.

We need to have a revival of the worker’s rights movement in this country. We deserve better wages, shorter hours, healthcare, paid sick time, paid vacation time, and much more. I know that we will never get any of this in my lifetime, but I can dream.

I also dream of moving to a European country that has all those benefits.

Labor Day weekend is my second favorite holiday because it is the only time of year I am truly at peace. When I go camping to a remote area in the Adirondacks, I am typically surround by ducks and other wildlife and not many people. It is the only time I get to slow down and be peaceful. That peacefulness is something I wish I could bottle and have for the entire year.

The past three years or so, Labor Day weekend has not been very restful or peaceful. When I bought my house, my employer at the time only gave me 3 hours off work to complete the closing to purchase the house. I was not allowed to take any time off for moving. Moving was done haphaxardly after work and on Labor Day weekend. 

Now, in the pandemic, I have not been able to travel to go camping for Labor Day weekend. The last time I was able to go camping was October 2019.

This year, we are camping. It will not be the Adirondacks. It will be on our own property. I’m not sure if I will put the tent up inside or outside, but we will camp. We will pretend it is just like any other year in the Adirondacks. The exception will be the obnoxious, threatening neighbors, but hey, we do what we can.

Happy Labor Day weekend. May you find peace. And then after a peaceful weekend, let’s do something to ensure hard working Americans are treated better. We deserve to be treated as humans, at least. 

House-iversary 3

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Today we celebrate our 3 year anniversary in our house. They say everything happens for a reason, and I am 100% convinced that the reason for this house is to keep us all together. At first, it was Jude, Simon and I. Now, Jolene has been with us for a year and a half too.

I like the house, but the neighborhood is horrid. I know, I know. Real estate is all about location, location, location. If I ever tried to sell this house, I would have to do a bad neighbor disclosure. I am a little mad that the sellers did not do the bad neighbor disclosure when I bought the house. However, I don’t think they failed to disclose out of malice. The person who had been living in this house passed away. The people who sold me this house had inherited it. They did not live in it, so I am sure they did not realize how truly bad the neighbors are and that they would have to do the bad neighborhood disclosure.

Despite being in one of the worst neighborhoods in the area, I do like the house. So far, the cats and I have managed to shelter-in-place here safe from covid. I am convinced that the purpose of this house is to keep us all together and well. 

As a homeowner, I have control over who comes into the house to provide service. The HVAC company I used in prior years do not wear a mask, so you can be sure I will be using someone else this year. As a homeowner, I have control over those decisions that you cannot control in an apartment. I’m sure if we were still in the apartment we would have had maintenance people in and no control over the whole “wear a mask” issue.

As much as I would like to sell this house and move due to the bad neighborhood, that is not possible due to the first time home buyer program I used. I do not have $10,000 to pay back the grant. Plus, with three cats, where would we go? Apartments do not accept pets.

I am going to die in this house. I don’t know when that will be, but I know I will die in this house. I will never pay it off. 

If I manage to outlive the cats, I will sell the house and move. Right now this house is the only thing that keeps us together and safe. Safe is a relative term – we are safe from covid, but we are not safe from the neighbors.

To be honest, I do not feel safe in this house due to the neighbors. The loud music, which I have come to learn is someone with a drum set and no insulation, continues. There are at least three houses of Proud Boys. There is gunfire on a regular basis. It is quite possible I will survive the pandemic only to be shot by one of the neighbors, whether intentionally or accidentally. 

For now, it is home, and it is all we have.

I am so thankful that on house-iversary 3, we are all together and healthy. Earlier this year when I lost my job, we faced a true reality of being homeless again. We are just one disaster away from losing it all. 

Happy House-iversary 3. My wish is that this is truly the last forever home for all three cats. All I need to do is care for them and keep us all together. I am so grateful for this house that is keeping us together and safe not only for the rest of our lives, but through a global pandemic.

Happy Birthday, Jolene

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Today is Jolene’s 7th birthday. I never thought I would get a girl. Kip and Kitty (both OTRB) were both boys. Jude and Simon are both boys. In fact, I had been going to the shelter in search of a dog that I thought would get along with Jude and Simon. 

After Kip passed away, I did not think I would be able to handle another orange cat. In fact, when visiting the shelter, I kind of avoided orange cats just because my heart still ached for Kip. Jolene was in a cage at the far end of the room, at the bottom. No one would have noticed her if she had not started throwing an absolute fit in her cage when I walked in. She kept pawing and pawing and wanted to come out. 

Who can say no to that?

I took her out of the cage and was going to set her down to play with her. Except when I picked her up, she hugged me. She would not let go. Jolene picked me out.

Two years ago today, a 5-year old Jolene was dumped in a parking lot with a box of her kittens. Half of her teeth were missing due to a genetic disorder she has that causes them to go bad. She spent 5 months in the shelter watching all of her kittens be adopted before I walked into the room.

Jolene only has 4 teeth left now due to her genetic condition. However, she received the health care she needed to remove the dying and painful teeth and infected roots that had caused her great pain for who knows how long.

Jolene is definitely the Queen of our home. She is in charge. She brings so much life to our home. Both Jude and Simon have come out of their shells more and are more playful since Jolene entered our lives.

I adopted Jolene in January 2020, before the lockdowns, so she is not a “pandemic pet.” However, pretty much her entire time with us has been in this isolation situation. As we celebrate her birthday today, both of her birthdays have been in lockdown. 

For indoor cats, every day is lockdown. It’s just that now I join them as I am home all the time. I am so grateful that I get to spend every day with my three fur balls.

Jolene has my baby name for a girl since I cannot have human children. Jude has my boy name. I honestly never imagined I would have a girl and get to use the name. The name definitely fits Jolene. She knows her name and will respond to it. 

Jolene is my constant companion and follows me all over the house. She has to know where I am at all times. She constantly brings me gifts – her favorite mouse toy. I often find her favorite mouse toy near me as she brings it to where I am and leaves it. 

When I return to the house after being gone, her favorite mouse toy is near the door. She puts it there because she knows I am out. That way it is there for me when I return. 

Jolene loves both her brothers Simon and Jude. They both love her back. She plays with them and grooms them. Jolene is definitely in charge of the house.

Jolene sleeps with me every single night. In that way, she reminds me a little of Kitty. Kitty slept with me every single night for 19 years. Jude and Simon will sleep with me probably 90% of the time. Jolene sleeps with me all the time. 

I am so grateful that Jolene chose me to be her mom. I only hope that I can survive the pandemic and outlive the cats so that I can keep them all together and be their true forever home, just as I was for Kip and Kitty.

Happy 7th birthday to my daughter, Jolene. Thank you for bringing so much joy, love, and light into our lives.

My Quarantine Life: Week 75

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America is a sad place right now. People are dying and nobody cares. Apparently it is much too difficult for people to wear a mask on their face. Masks save lives, but the government refuses to mandate them to keep people safe. Instead, they are choosing to mandate a vaccine that not everyone can have and does not prevent the disease spreading from person to person.

I have come to realize that I am not going to survive the pandemic. Grim, yes, but reality. Last month, I had an in-person doctor appointment and was indoors with other people for the first time in a year. The medical person (I will not say professional because this was one of the most UNprofessional medical people I have encountered) not only demanded I remove my mask, but also exposed me to COVID.

It was the first time in over a year of isolation I had an actual COVID exposure. If doctors offices are not even safe places to go without being exposed to COVID, then what hope is there? We are not even safe in trying to obtain medical care. You better really be in a life or death situation to see a medical professional in this country right now. It is literally a risk to life to seek healthcare. Forget routine care or preventative medicine. At least in my area, the doctors’ offices are not even safe. In fact, our state has been saying for almost a year now that medical appointments are the second place people are most frequently catching COVID.

We are in the most dangerous part of the pandemic, as the vaccines are not working. With every other vaccine, you do not get the disease and you do not spread the disease. With the COVID vaccine, you can still get the disease and you can still spread the disease to others. Do not report me as fake news. That is scientific fact from multiple outlets in multiple countries. 

Yet, here in America, it is way too difficult for people to wear a mask. Americans are too selfish to wear a mask and would rather get a vaccine instead. Vaccines are good, but refusal to wear a mask is still killing people.

I am certain that my death will be the result of human stupidity. At this point, there is nothing else to blame.

I wear a mask if I go anywhere. The only places I come into contact with others is in seeking medical care and for car and house maintenance. 

As diligent as I am at wearing a mask, it is much more effective if everyone else wears a mask too. 

It appears that COVID is here to stay. At least, that is until all the people who refuse to wear a mask die. Even then, their negligence is also killing those of us who do wear a mask. 

In a country that experiences mass shootings almost every single day, I should not be surprised that no one cares about COVID deaths in this country. Yet, somehow, I still have faith in humanity and expect better of the world. Wear a mask.

Due to the COVID situation in this country, and in my area specifically, I do not expect to survive the pandemic. I am going to be killed by someone else’s stupidity.

I have started to do legal paperwork to try to have my cats looked after in the event of my death. It is not something anyone wants to think about, but arrangements need to be made before it is too late to do so. All I want is for my cats to be loved and to stay together.

It is extremely challenging finding people to designate to take care of my cats if I die. I have had so many of my friends and family die of COVID this past year, that I have barely 5 people still alive right now who I knew before the pandemic. It is kind of hard to meet new people when you are in isolation. 

I meet people online who I would trust to take the cats, but there is a geography barrier. 

My goal is to have all my “official death paperwork” completed this month so that I have peace of mind knowing I have a plan in place. I do not enjoy thinking about my death, but preparations must be made. I want to get my paperwork in order quickly so that I do not have to keep thinking about such a grim subject.

So that is my quarantine life this week. The medical person has extended my isolation for another year or until herd immunity has been reached. Such is the life of the immunocompromised.

The cats and I are doing well. We are all happy. I just need to get this paperwork out of the way so I can move onto happier things. 

I am happy and grateful to be safe at home with my cats. 

Bug Out Kit

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We are pros at sheltering in place. After years of snowstorms in an area that consistently lands in one of the top three snowiest places on the east coast of the USA and spending the past year and a half in a pandemic, we know how to stay home.

I have always had a bug out bag ready. The bug out bag has always been mostly for my cats and contained only a few items for 1-2 days. Now that we have sheltered in place for a year and a half and continue to do so, I am coming to realize how attached we are to this house. We would be in real trouble if we had to leave.

A few weeks ago, a tornado touched down about 9 miles from our house. While I typically ignore tornado warnings, I took this one seriously, as it was the first time I heard the tornado siren in the village actually go off. 

Jude and Jolene went down to the basement right away. They thought it was a game. Simon hid. I had to search for Simon and grab him to take him to the basement. We were down there for about an hour. At the time of the warning, they were unsure where the tornadoes were going to touch down. Luckily, the closest they came to us was 9 miles.

It was an eye opening experience as to how unprepared we are if we had to leave.

Of course, priority number one is the cats. It is aways the cats. I will just grab them and go. Everything else be damned.

I decided to redo our bug out kit. One thing I have learned in this pandemic is that for my cats, I am their world. If something happens to me, they have no one. 

I am taking the bug out kit seriously and ensuring that there are items in there for all of us.

Initially, I was just going to repack the backpack. If we have to leave, I can just throw the cats and the backpack in the car and go. If we had to leave on foot, I could wear the back pack, and would struggle with the cats. I would have two put two in one carrier and one in another, but it is doable.

My neighbors are Proud Boys. They are very violent and disruptive. They have threatened with guns. They retaliate if you complain about any of their activities. I do not feel safe living here, but unfortunately we are stuck here for financial reasons. 

With my horrible neighbors, I got to thinking – what if we had to leave and could not take the car? Could I do it? I could, but with great difficulty.

I decided to get a camping wagon. 

The camping wagon is our new bug out unit.

If something bad happens, I will grab the cats and throw them in the car. If there is time, I will pull the wagon out to the car also to load everything and we can go to safety.

Anytime we have a snowstorm or other emergency, I know to keep the gas tank in the car at least half full at all times. Since we have been living in an emergency for a year and a half, I keep the gas tank in the car at least half full all of the time now in case we need to leave.

I decided to use a wagon for our new bug out kit because if we have to leave and cannot take the car, it will be easier for me to just pull the wagon. I have all of our supplies in it. I can also out the cats in their car carriers in the wagon. It is going to be easier for me physically then trying to wear a backpack and deal with their carriers. I can just pull a wagon.

I also “upped” our provisions. Due to my multiple food allergies, I have 5 days worth of food for me. There is 3 weeks worth of food for the cats due to my experience in trying to get their food the past year and a half sheltering in place in the pandemic, 

With our bug out wagon, we should be able to go 5 days before needing help if we had to leave the house on foot. 

I’m not a prepper and I am not normally this paranoid about things. However, with my Proud Boy neighbors becoming increasingly violent and confrontational, I feel like we need to be ready to leave for our own safety in case things escalate. 

It looks like a lot, but I have medical supplies, two changes of clothes (in case I get wet), all cat supplies including a cat pan. Water is only two gallons, but I am looking into water purification options. The cat litter is in the trunk of the car. 

It’s not perfect. I’m hoping we never have to use it. I’m sure that if I DIDN’T create a bug out kit, we would be in need of one. So hopefully with our bug out wagon, nothing will happen, and we will be able to continue our shelter in place safely. 

Do you have an emergency go kit? Have you included your pet(s) in your go plans? Half of the stuff in our wagon are for the cats. 

Stay safe, everyone.

Sandy’s 76 Chevy

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There are some memories that we try to hold onto and some memories that we would like to forget. I like to think of the forgetting process as pruning my brain cells. I want to get rid of all of the bad stuff so that at the end of my life, only the good memories remain.

Then there are the times when memories return unbidden. There is no real reason for why a forgotten memory has returned and sometimes it lacks context. I had that experience the other day when I took the car out for a drive. I was having a trying day and just needed to get out of the house. 

Of all things, and of all people, the memory was of Sandy’s 76 Chevy. At first blush, it had to do with the car – not the one I was driving, but Sandy’s 76 chevy. You see, the key had broken off in the ignition of the vehicle. There was a portion of the key permanently stuck there. So every time we got in the car to go someplace, Sandy would reach under the seat for a screw driver. The screw driver would help turn the ignition to turn on the car. Then the screwdriver would lie on the floor. We would drive around with a keyless car.

At least, the car did not have the traditional danging cluttered keychain with paraphernalia that was so popular in the 80s and early 90s.

But the memory of Sandy’s 76 chevy was much more than just driving around in a car with no key.

I was 11. Sandy was 15. The driving age at the time was 15. Of course, Sandy was driving. She had a baby that just turned one and needed to be able to drive the baby to its appointments and herself to work. Sandy’s parents kicked her out when she got pregnant. So, like most of us of that generation, Sandy started working when she was 13. I consider myself privileged in that I was able to wait until age 14 to start working.

Sandy was a friend of my cousin. We were “paired together” by the adults in our life. The idea was that by saddling Sandy down with me there would be someone with her to be sure she was taking care of the baby. The idea was that by saddling me with Sandy I would get the message to not get pregnant. At age 11, I wasn’t even sure how that happened.

This was the day and age when victims of sexual abuse were always blamed. It you were being sexually abused, it was your fault. You were “promiscuous.” The fear was always pregnancy. Even if you were too young to understand the abuse, you were always framed as someone who didn’t mind adults and was at risk of becoming even more of a liability than you already were just by existing. That’s what it was like growing up in a small town in the 1980s.

So, Sandy and I were hanging out in an effort to teach each other something.

Sandy spent a lot of time driving around trying to calm the baby. That meant we spent a lot of time in the car driving around, singing and talking. The car was littered with debris. There were food wrappers everywhere, and if you rummaged around, there were a bunch of tapes in there too. We would pop a tape in the deck and sing along to Bon Jovi and Poison. We just kept driving until the baby fell asleep.

Sandy would drive us on old back country roads. Even though Sandy was 15 and old enough to drive, she got sick of driving all the time. Sometimes she would let me drive. Yes, it was illegal, but we were 11 and 15, alone in the country. Who was there to care?

I did not like driving much at the time. I hated being responsible for such a large vehicle with Sandy and the baby in it. The car seemed huge to me. It could have been just because I was 11 and was small.

Sandy had also picked up the habit of smoking. She had started smoking at age 10. Back in the 80s, you could purchase cigarettes from vending machines. I remember being sent into bars and stores to purchase cigarettes from vending machines. They cost 90 cents. You would drop in the coins, then pull the lever under the ones you wanted and they would drop down below. 

When Sandy was low on cash, which was always, we would stop at some off-the-path roadside bar. Sandy would run in to grab an ashtray. Among all the other debris in the car, there was always bobby pins. The bobby pins were usually connected to the scrunchies that were floating around.

Sandy would take the butts from the ashtrays and determine which discards still had enough tobacco left in them to be smoked. The stubs were way to small to hold without being burned. This is where the bobby pins came in. She would put the bobby pin on the stub to hold it so that the last of the tobacco could be smoked. This was a common practice of the time. Many kids in the 80s started smoking by taking their parents’ discarded butts and using bobby pins to smoke the ends of them.

Sandy worked at a local fast food place. She took the baby to a babysitter while she worked. Thankfully, I was never asked to babysit. The adults just wanted me to spend time with Sandy to see how hard it was to be a teenage mom. Although, they neglected to tell me anything about how babies were made or how to prevent one. Not to mention, I was not willingly engaging in any activities to produce one. I did get the message that I never wanted to be a mom. Being a mom was a very bad thing. Message received.

While preventing teen pregnancy may have been the intended message of my time with Sandy, what I remember the most is the car. I remember driving around in the car with no keys singing along to the cassette deck. 

They don’t make cars that you can drive around with no keys anymore.

Technically, they have cars now with push button starts, but it’s not the same. The cars with push button starts have a lot of technology that enables them to work. Sandy’s 76 chevy was a car that would start if you just fiddled with a screwdriver. Do a little turn, make the connection, and off we would go. It was the type of car you would just drive until it died. Then when it died, you would beat it up a bit until it started working again, and drive it some more.

Of all memories to arrive unbidden, I received the one of Sandy’s 76 chevy. I have no idea whatever happened to Sandy or the baby. Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I remember that car.

A Minimalist in Hell

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Some of the many sound blocking panels installed in the office.

 

There are at least four houses of people on my street who have quit their jobs since the US government started giving a monthly stipend (universal basic income or UBI) to people with children. Since then, the level of noise and chaos on my street has increased exponentially. 

As if living next to a group of Proud Boy terrorists was not enough, there is a house about four doors down who has decided to purchase a drum set. They have not done any sound proofing to their home. They think that it is okay to drum full bore from 8 am to 8 pm. The local police do nothing – our noise ordinance goes from 11 pm to 7 am. There have been at least five other houses who have complained of this loud music during the day. 

The loud drumming is causing trauma to veteran and civilian survivors of large-scale events. It is causing ears to bleed. It is causing windows to crack and break. It is causing people who work from home to either lose their jobs or be put on probation because you can’t work when people can’t hear you because you are being overpowered by a drum set.

The village code officer refuses to do anything. They say there is no noise ordinance that covers this, even if this one house is terrorizing not only all the other houses on the street, but houses on neighboring streets as well. (Yes, it is that loud.) There is no talking to the house in question to knock it off – when you go over there to try to talk to them, they instantly shove a gun in your face. I, for one, do not want to be shot in addition to being terrorized non-stop in my own home by deafening sound.

The only recourse we have is to file a lawsuit. Lawsuits take money and who wants to make a court appearance during a deadly pandemic? I’m not willing to die for this. The gun waving is bad enough.

I have been reading up on sound proofing to try to figure out how to block the noise from my office so that I can work. Note that my office is on the far side of the house away from the offending house. The offending house is also four doors away. (Yes, they are that loud.)

Actual sound proofing done by a handyman or contractor costs thousands of dollars. Who has that kind of money in a deadly pandemic? We are still struggling with food shortages. 

I have been reading up on DIY sound proofing. Most suggestions to block the noise suggest things I have already done – close all windows and doors, use heavy drapes to block noise. I do this anyway to block light and heat to try to keep the house cooler in the summer.

Other suggestions for DIY sound proofing are to put a ceiling to floor bookcase against the wall and fill it to try to block the sound. The basic premise is to fill the entire room with stuff so that the offending noise does not echo around.

I am a minimalist in hell.

I have purposefully been trying to empty the upstairs of my house. It is difficult for me to do stairs safely. I have been trying to get all of my belongings on the first floor with me to reduce the number of times I have to do the stairs. I am a fall hazard and fall on the stairs frequently. My goal is to have empty rooms upstairs. 

There is one exception. My office is upstairs. This is so that my workspace is separate from my living space so that I have a positive work life balance. Now that I am 100% a remote worker, it is critical to have that distinction between home and work. 

I actually have divided one room into two different work spaces. There is a work space for each job. This helps me with transitioning mentally from one job to the other. There is also a distinction in that one job I am an employee, where the other job, I am the boss / an independent contractor. One job provides me with their equipment that I must use. The other job I have to provide all of the equipment.

Aside from the office and the bathroom, the goal is to empty the upstairs.

The idea of having to fill my office with stuff in a futile effort to block noise is driving me completely nuts. My goal is to empty rooms, not fill them up. 

I am trying to figure out what I can put in the office to block sound. I have purchased sound blocking panels – they do nothing against the onslaught of noise we are experiencing. I have put my container of sewing fabric in the office. I have put my one container of childhood memories in the office. I am doing what I can to block the sound. 

However, trying to fill up that room is driving me almost as nuts as the noise. Except for the bleeding ears and damage to my hearing. (Yes, I have seen a doctor who says my hearing is being damaged by this.)

The best solution would be for these horrid neighbors to stop making the noise. I am not, after all, the only house that is being bothered by it. However, stopping the noise would be way too easy. These people are so self-centered, they do not realize there is an entire village that is being terrorized.

The village office said they had sent a letter to the offending house a few weeks ago. However, the people who live in the house making all the noise can’t read. So sending them a letter does nothing. A phone call or some sort of consequence for their action might go further. However, the fact that they constantly come out and wave the guns around is something to worry about also.

I’m just a minimalist in hell trying to figure out how to block noise by filling up a room. My goal for my house is to empty the upstairs rooms, not fill them up.

I wish people would remember to be human and that there are other humans on this planet too. Some of us are right next door.

 

Running Season 2021

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It’s official! Training has started for running season 2021. It does not seem possible, as we are still in the grips of a deadly pandemic. Thankfully, the race for which I am training is virtual. It is way too dangerous and completely irresponsible for any races to be held in-person.

As we all know, the Philadelphia Marathon was my first half marathon and then my first full marathon. Of my 18 medals, 4 of them are from Philly. I love that race so much that their logo was tattooed on my arm in 2012.

When I originally got my tattoo, my intent was to have a star for each medal. Well, I have 8 stars and 18 medals. I do not see the possibility of adding any more stars to my tattoo. So now I have to be creative with the meaning of the 8 stars.

I have decided that I want the 8 stars in my tattoo to represent 8 medals from Philly, since it is the Philly logo that is the design. I currently have 4 medals from Philly, so I am half way there.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that this year for the first time, the Philadelphia Marathon has offered a virtual option! I can still run and do it safely!

I am currently registered for the VIRTUAL Philadelphia Half Marathon this November. I will be participating from my home area and using my Garmin to confirm my mileage and time.

My 19th medal overall and 5th medal from Philly will be coming this fall!

Training has started this week. I take longer to train due to my disability. I build my mileage more slowly and have more rest weeks built into my training schedule. 

I have always used my races to support some sort of charity. Whenever I have ran Philly, I typically support their homeless services programs. The city of Philadelphia has some of the most innovative programs to combat homelessness in the country.

This year, since I am participating virtually, I am fundraising for a cause near and dear to me – animal shelters. I am still running Philly for homeless services, but this year is for homeless animals, not homeless humans. The cats are the only family I have and my only goal in life right now is to be able to outlive them so that I can care for them and keep them all together.

Therefore, if you would like to “support” me in running the VIRTUAL Philadelphia Half Marathon this November, I ask that you do so in one of the following ways by making a contribution to a no-kill animal shelter:

  • Jude was adopted from a local Humane Society. If you choose to make a donation to a Humane Society near you in order to “support” my race, please do so “In Honor of Jude.”

  • Simon was adopted from a small, local non-profit animal shelter. If you choose to make a donation to a non-profit animal shelter near you that is not associated with either the Human Society or the SPCA, please do so “In Honor of Simon.”

  • Jolene was adopted from a local SPCA. If you choose to donate to a SPCA near you, please do so “In Honor of Jolene.”

Finally, I would like to bring your attention to a great program that gives beds to shelter beds that you can use in conjunction with any shelter. There is a USA company called Kuranda Beds that makes chew/scratch resistant, orthopedic beds for cats and dogs. Consider giving a shelter animal the gift of a good night’s sleep by donating a shelter bed so that they are not sleeping on a hard floor.

If you go to shelterbeds.org, you can choose a local animal rescue near you (Humane Society, SPCA, non-profit). Each shelter has a “wish list” of what size beds they need for their residents (ie. cat beds, large dog size, etc.) Choose a bed size on their wish list and checkout. The bed will be delivered directly to the shelter with a card saying that the bed came from you. It is a wonderful program that gives pets some comfort while they spend time in a shelter waiting to be adopted.

We have been overwhelmed with how much kindness total strangers from across the country and all over the world have shown us in the few months I was unemployed after losing my job. I would like to make my race this year as a way to give back for all the love and support we received.

My only wish in life is to outlive my cats so I can keep them together, cared for, and loved.

Please consider either adopting a furry friend or making a donation to your local no-kill animal shelter. I would be honored to “celebrate” my race this year with you by having donations go to shelters in Honor of each of my cats – Jude, Simon, and Jolene. 

Here’s to hopefully a safe, fun, and productive training season for my November race!

My Quarantine Life: Week 64

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It has now been over a year that I have been in isolation. Since losing my job in April, I have switched my grocery orders from delivery to curbside pickup to save money on delivery tip fees. I drive to the grocery store, park in a special parking space, and someone brings my groceries out and puts them in the trunk of my car all contact free.

As long as delivery and/or pickup options are available, I do not see myself ever going into a grocery store again. I am okay with that. With my disability, it has actually been a huge positive for me to use these services. I no longer have to worry about falling in the store (it’s happened before). I also do not have grocery store trips zapping all of my limited energy. I can use my energy for other things like work, the cats, and running.

I am scheduled for an in-person doctor appointment in July, as they have to do bloodwork. It will be my first in-person doctor appointment in a year. They have done all of my other doctor appointments this past year virtually. 

My life has changed dramatically as the result of the pandemic. The changes are all permanent. You can draw a line in the sand of the timeline of my life: before the pandemic and now. I do not foresee anything ever going back to how it was before.

I am extremely grateful that I was able to obtain the professional set of clippers last year. (If you remember there was a huge shortage of hair clippers early in the pandemic.) I have now been cutting my own hair for well over a year. I am not sure that I will ever feel comfortable or safe going back to a salon. There is no point, really. I am saving myself at least $50, if not more, by cutting it myself. 

Sure, it might be nice to have someone else cut it once or twice a year as a treat. It is challenging to cut the back of my head and neck. However, I am perfectly fine and self-sufficient taking care of my own hair now. I am keeping the buzz cut. It has helped me tremendously with my heat-induced MS symptoms. There are many other positives to this cut as well, which I have blogged about before.

Due to pandemic shortages, I have stopped using almost all disposable paper products and have changed everything over to cloth. Of course, that means my washing machine needs to be a workhorse. But I am also saving money by not needing disposable products. I am using cloth cleaning rags, cloth feminine hygiene pads, and cloth baby wipes for pee to cut down on toilet paper use (hard to get and expensive).

My dryer recently died. I am now going without a dryer as it is not a necessity and I do not have the money to replace it being unemployed. I am hanging clothes to dry indoors. We are not allowed to hang clothes outside to dry here. While lack of a dryer makes my life more challenging, it will hopefully also decrease my electric bill since it is no longer running and being used. In fact, I completely unplugged it.

I am okay wearing a mask 100% every single place I go. 

Yesterday, I had to have two workers in the basement to replace my hot water heater. They were surprised I was wearing a mask. One worker was fully vaccinated and the other worker stated he had COVID previously. I wore my mask and kept my distance out of their way. All of the doors and windows were open to allow ventilation. The work took just over two hours. 

I feel better wearing a mask. This pandemic is not over yet. It is reckless and premature to stop wearing a mask now. 

I am okay with not going anywhere. First, I didn’t go out much before the pandemic due to my multiple food allergies. It seems like I was always coming into contact with something and getting the skin allergic reaction. The only places I really went pre-pandemic were the coffee shop, the library, and the gym.

There is no point in going to the coffee shop when I can make coffee at home cheaper. Most of my friends have died in the pandemic, so there is no one to meet anyway.

As far as the library, I can use curbside pickup if I really need something. I have actually been listening to podcasts and audiobooks more instead.

There is no need for a treadmill at the gym. I run outside. When the weather does not cooperate to run outside, I either run in circles on my front porch or do my yoga DVD. I can get by without the gym. 

Other than that, there is no place I need to go.

I have a yard and a firepit. I can put my tent in my yard and roast marshmallows if I want.

I saw a neighbor outside last week who asked me if I get lonely? The answer is yes, I get lonely. However, most of my friends have died of COVID, so what am I going to do? I don’t really have anyone left to visit or socialize with. My socialization is now online. Online is the only way I have to meet new people. I have met some pretty amazing people online these past six months.

I am remote working as long as I can. The only place I really need to go is work. The two part-time jobs I found since I lost my full-time job in April are both remote jobs. I do not start working until later this month. However, I highly value the opportunity to work remotely, so you can be sure that I will work hard at both jobs. I want to retain the privilege to work from home as long as I possibly can.

The pandemic is not over. No one should be risking their life for their job. It’s not worth it. I’m even willing to take less pay to be able to work from home. My life is worth more than any job.

Yes, I am lonely still being in quarantine. However, I am so very happy. I get to be with the cats. I am alive and healthy.

When I get lonely and crave human connection, I can find it online. It’s a new world.

15 months into the pandemic and nothing has changed for me. I have still not been indoors with other humans except for when I have had to have service people in my house. My only goal is to survive the pandemic and be able to take care of the cats. 

I’m still here. I’m alive and well.

My Best Life Now

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There is a country song that talks about living like you are dying. Often, I think that only people with terminal illnesses fully appreciate this song. We do not tend to think about death in everyday life. We are too busy living to think about death.

This past year, I have not been able to avoid death. It has been front and center in my face for the past 15 months. I have lost so many people to COVID. If bad luck comes in 3’s, I have reached it. COVID deaths, job loss, and identity theft. The pandemic has been life changing.

A few months ago, I started a photo project to curate my photos into a collection of the greatest hits of my life. I now have one photo album of 200 photos of my happiest memories. Curating the collection was an amazing experience. I made the book in case I end up in a nursing home or for when I die, I can lay there and look at my happiest moments.

While that may sound sad, in reality, it is making me very happy. I am enjoying the book now. It beings me such joy to remember and relive happy times in my life. My photo album reminds me to be grateful of all the wonderful things that have happened to me in life. Even though this past year has been downright horrid, I have had a lot of positives in my life up until this point.

Looking back on my greatest hits photo collection, I also realize that I have a lot to look forward to. There have been a lot of huge changes in my life as the result of the pandemic. You don’t grow and change without a little pain.

As difficult as things may be right now, with no job and no unemployment due to identity theft, I realize that I am actually living my best life right now.

I am secure in who I am as a person. I have goals in life. My goals are simple – to keep my family together and to keep us all safe. When I do die, what I will remember and think about is my family. It won’t matter what jobs I had or what I did for a living.

Work is what you do to pay the bills so that you can live your best life.

My best life is being home with the cats and running. In order to meet both those goals, I have to keep us all housed and together. I have to keep us all COVID-free in a reckless world that mistakenly thinks the pandemic is over. (Far from it – in fact, this is the most dangerous phase of the pandemic yet.)

My future goals are to continue to work remote permanently. I want to be home with my cats so we are together and safe. As long as I am doing respectable work that pays the bills, it doesn’t really matter what I do. All that matters is that we are together.

I recently found two part-time jobs that both allow me to work remotely. I have started one job, and I love it! I have returned to teaching, which is truly my passion. The other part-time job is a remote office position that does not start until late June. I am confident that I can make it work, as it is a prestigious and professional company. They value my skills and my life by allowing me to work from home. In return, I will work very hard for them. I value the privilege that remote work bring in allowing me to realize my goals and dreams.

Losing my job was the biggest threat to my life, family, health and safety I have ever faced. However, it has resulted in great opportunity. I now have the opportunity to live my best life. 

Being able to keep the cats together and outlive them is my only goal. It’s pretty easy to be happy in life when you are happy about what you have and don’t want much. I just want to keep the cats and I together and take care of them.

I am doing my best to pick up the pieces of the worst situation and move on. 

No matter what the future may bring, I can confidently say that I am reaching for my dreams and achieving them. I am truly living my best life now.