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.

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.

Dare To Dream

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Last fall, as COVID number spiraled out of control, I realized that the pandemic is here to stay. Schools have been open for in-person instruction here since September 2020 with no mask requirements. The COVID positivity rate in my area right now is 19% and no one cares.

I do not have a death wish. I care.

Despite all the people claiming the pandemic is “over” as the death rate continues to climb, we are actually in this for the long haul. 

I started to evaluate my life with the pandemic in mind. This is no temporary thing. Masks, social distancing, and death will be with us for quite awhile. It is getting even worse now as everyone throws caution to the wind with the vaccines.

Given the deadly normal, I decided that working from home needs to stay. 

I am able to safely obtain groceries either by delivery or contact-free pickup. The only other reasons I have to put myself at risk of death are for medical purposes and for work. 

No job is worth your life. <tweet that>

There is this absolutely disgusting and cruel LIE going around that people do not want to work because they are making more money on unemployment. That is untrue. Many people are unemployed and not receiving any income because they cannot get through to unemployment to file a claim. 

The real reason – in fact, the ONLY reason – why employers cannot find people to work is because no job is worth your life. My life is worth more than $15, thank you very much. 

Unfortunately, in America, the economy is worth more than human life. The USA has to be first in everything, so they are doing the best they can to reach a million COVID deaths by opening everything up and telling people to stop wearing a mask.

I digress. However, this is the reality in which we live.

Last fall I decided I wanted to find a part-time work from home sidegig for extra income. Prices on everything have increased substantially, yet my income did not. Hey, I just paid $35 for a quart of milk a few weeks ago. That’s a huge increase from $4 for a quart of milk.

So, last fall I began investigating the possibility of making remote work permanent. 

It was a lengthy process of trial and error, learning new technologies and trying to trouble shoot. I figured if I could just find a part-time remote job it would give me extra income. The plan was to ask my full-time employer at the time to make remote work a permanent option. I knew this request would be a long shot. Indeed, I lost that job in April 2021.

With life in a global pandemic that is not getting any better, my dream has been to make remote work permanent. This way the cats and I can be safe. I have to figure out how to live another 15-20 years to be able to take care of them.

Losing my job in April 2021 was the worst thing to ever happen to me. It was my only source of income. It was a direct threat to my very life. If I am forced to go back to an in-person workplace, I will not survive the pandemic. Losing my job threatened my ability to keep the cats and I together and to take care of them. It was a greater threat to my family than when I needed to exit my apartment a few years ago.

Making my dream of permanent remote work a reality now became a need and not a want. It is the only way for me to save my life so I do not die. This is not an exaggeration.

This past month I have been unemployed, I have no income. I have not been able to get through to unemployment to file an initial claim. At this point in time, NYS has no clue I am unemployed. Their website crashes. Their phone system says high call volume and hangs up.

Finding a new job and finding one quickly needs to be done so that the cats and I do not end up separated and homeless. Yet I cannot just do any job. If I don’t want to die, I need to be able to work remotely.

My initial dream last fall was to be able to make remote work permanent so that I could focus on being home with the cats, running, and (someday maybe) travel. Travel will have to wait at least a decade for the pandemic to end.

With remote work, I will be able to be more in control of my life and human interactions. I do not, after all, have a death wish.

In between the over 100 phone calls a day I make to unemployment these past few weeks, I have been job searching for remote work.

Another goal I have is to go back to working 2-3 jobs instead of just one. 

I know, I know. In my bio for this blog, Rewind Live Slow, I state that I stopped working multiple jobs to try to slow down my life. 

The reality is that you should not put all your eggs in one basket. Only working one job and then losing that job means I now have no income. This is the worst situation ever. To prevent this situation from happening in the future, I need to be sure I have multiple income streams. So I need to either work one “main” full-time job and find something part-time to supplement or work multiple part-time jobs. 

I’ve done it before. I spent 20 years working multiple part-time jobs while putting myself through school. 

There is a difference this time.

Those 20 years I spent working multiple jobs putting myself through school, I was working 60-80 hours a week to make ends meet. This was before I started on my minimalist journey. This is when I was going 110% all the time.

This time, I am not going to work 60-80 hours a week. I can’t do it anymore physically. Not to mention, I want time to be with my cats. Life is short and precious. I want time to be with the ones I love.

So my goal is to work multiple jobs, but not to work more than 50 hours a week to make ends meet. By having multiple income streams, I will hopefully not ever be in this situation ever again of not having any income at all. I am making sacrifices in my life to reduce my expenses so that I can get by on less income.

I am proud to announce that it appears I have realized my dream.

I was recently offered and accepted two different part-time jobs that are both remote. With the two jobs together, I should be working about 35-40 hours per week. The income should hopefully be just enough to make ends meet (barely).

I’m realizing my dream.

One part-time job starts now, and the other starts next month. The jobs only pay once a month, so I won’t see any real income until July. That means I am going three months – April, May, June – with no income. It’s hard and it hurts. It would help if I could get unemployment, but they are too busy to answer their phone. I will not give up trying to contact unemployment. When I am finally able to file a claim, they owe me for these three months I am unemployed. 

The good news is that I have a month to get used to the one part-time job before I have to start the other one. The part-time job I am starting right now is only 3-5 hours per week so far, but at least it is something.

My new dream that I am daring to dream is to take control of my life, my interactions and my schedule by working remotely 100% of the time.

I am making that dream a reality.

Dare to dream. I am so blessed. As long as I can keep this house to keep the cats and I together, everything is fine. All I need to do is outlive the cats so I can give them the best life possible. If I can do that, then I will have lived a good life. 

That’s what rewind live slow is all about.

It Takes An (Online) Village

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It’s been three weeks now since I’ve lost my job. This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. After working for 28 years, this is the first time I have ever been unemployed. It is a direct threat to my life, health, safety and ability to care for my cats and keep my family together.

I have no income. I have not been able to get through to NYS unemployment to file a claim. Their web site continuously crashes. Their phone has an automated message saying “high call volume” that hangs up on you. I call unemployment over 100 times a day. I put the phone on speaker and keep hitting redial while I try to look for and apply for jobs.

I am not eligible for any pandemic mortgage relief due to my student loans. I am also not eligible for any help from social services because I am a single adult with no human children. I am not eligible for social security or disability because I am not “disabled enough” to qualify for any of those services either. I am one of those people who just fall through the cracks and is 100% screwed in this pandemic. Thousands of people like me have died already, and who knows when I will be next.

Losing my job was the absolute worst thing to ever happen to me in my life. It is very possible that I will lose the house, the cats and I will be separated, and I will die this year. I honestly don’t expect to live to see age 43 if something does not improve soon.

I even reached out to local legislators about being able to reach unemployment to file a claim. There is nothing they can do to help. I am one of the “great unwashed” who is either going homeless or dead in this pandemic. I am just another number. 

This past year, I have lost many of my friends and my family to COVID. I can count on one hand the people I knew before the pandemic who are still alive now. 

This past Tuesday, when I opened my local newspaper, I knew every single person in the obituary section. Every single person. There are some days when the obituaries take up an entire page. It should not be this way when I am in my 40s.

As you all know and I have blogged about many times, I loathe social media, especially Facebook. I canceled my Facebook about 5 years ago now and never looked back. I have no regrets about deleting Facebook.

However, I have been extremely isolated in this pandemic. I have lost so many people. So last fall, I decided to try Twitter as a form of social media. I refuse to use Facebook. 

On Twitter, we have been warmly welcomed into the Pet Twitter family. I see happy photos of dogs, cats, fish, bunnies, chincillas and other pets. There are two people on Twitter who I know in real life.

One of those real life people is my best friend from childhood. When I tweeted that I lost my job, this friend sprang into action and set up a GoFundMe for me.

I have a basic idea of what GoFundMe is. I have donated to them a few times before. Twenty dollars here or there to help people who I knew were in genuine need. I never would have thought of setting one up for myself. That first week after losing my job, I was in shock and was stunned.

My friend was able to use our social networks to fully fund my GoFundMe. The GoFundMe paid my mortgage and utilities for the month of May while I look for jobs and try to unsuccessfully file an initial claim for unemployment.

I was also just contacted by GoFundMe itself. Not only was my campaign for May fully funded, but the GoFundMe organization chose me for a micro-grant from their Basic Necessities Fund. I will be putting that money towards June expenses.

I have been lucky in that I have interviewed for two jobs so far. However, the job market is extremely competitive right now because so many people are out of work and searching for jobs. Even though I have interviewed, the chances of being hired are very slim due to the competition. 

Even if I was hired now, I would not see any income from a new job until probably July. In the meantime, I have heard that it can take 4-6 months to actually get through to unemployment to file an initial claim. It can then take another few months after that before you actually receive any money. A lot of people have ended up homeless because they have gone 4-6 months with no income before they are able to file an unemployment claim. 

I hope I am not one of them.

I am very grateful to the online community and to everyone who contributed to my GoFundMe to pay my mortgage and utilities for the month of May. As much as I truly appreciate the help, this is not sustainable. I cannot have a GoFundMe pay all of my bills for the 6 months it takes to get through to unemployment to file an initial claim. 

I really need to find a job and I know that. I update people everyday about how many jobs I have applied for and how many times I have tried to reach unemployment. I am averaging 10-20 job applications a week and over 600 phone calls a week to unemployment.

Anyone who says that people are sitting at home on unemployment and don’t want to work should be shot. I’m not joking. First, many people are not receiving unemployment because we can’t get through to them to file. Second, no job is worth your life. I can tell you right now, after losing now over TEN people to COVID this past year, I am not going to take a job that puts me at risk of COVID. 

My cats are the only family I have left. I am the only family they have. Without me, they will be homeless and separated. I have to keep this house to keep us together. I have to be able to outlive them to take care of them.

Someone suggested I sell the house. Well, then I would be homeless. Rent here is over $400 a month more than my mortgage. That is if I rent a small room in a house with 8 or 9 other people. Plus, no rentals here take pets. I cannot be separated from the cats. 

I cannot buy another house. First, I am unemployed. With no income, I cannot afford the one I have. Second, I will never get approved for another mortgage in my life. I can’t even refinance the one I have to get a lower interest rate. I almost did not get my mortgage due to my student loans. It took a Regional Manager to approve my mortgage and they only did so because I was in a student loan forgiveness program. Now that I am no longer working for a non-profit, I am no longer in the student loan forgiveness program. 

If I lose this house, the cats will be separated and have to live somewhere else. I will die.

That is how dire our situation. I am not exaggerating.

Even though I reach out to unemployment over 100 times a day (167 phone calls on Thursday alone), I am not hopeful I will get through. I honestly do not think I will see any money at all from unemployment. I think I have a better chance of getting a job first. Honestly, I think I have a better chance of getting COVID and dying than I do getting any help from unemployment.

It has taken an online village to get me through the month of May.

As I said, asking people to help me each month is not sustainable and I know that. It is only a matter of time how long we can hold out until we end up homeless and dead.

I am really hoping to find a job soon. Even if I find one this month, I won’t see any real income (a full month’s income) until July.

To the online village that has been helping me, I cannot thank you enough for all you have done. I hope I have been able to express how truly dire our situation is right now. Thank you for giving us another month together alive. I’m not sure how long we will be able to hang on or what will happen.

I am grateful for every single day I get with the cats. They are all I have and I am all that they have.

Thank you to our online village for giving us this time together. 

Hopefully things come together soon. 

Maybe NYS unemployment should hire me to answer their phone. I definitely do not have the expertise to fix their website. 

My Quarantine Life: Week 59

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It has now been over one year that I have been in quarantine. I had one in person doctor appointment where they took blood work. All of my other doctor appointments have been virtual, by their choosing.

I am still alive and well. The cats and I are together. The cats are what matter most. I am the only human they have. I need to be able to outlive them so that I can take care of them and keep them all together. They are all so bonded to each other.

The worst possible thing happened this month. I lost my job.

I have been working for 28 years. This is the first time I have ever lost my job and been unemployed. I have been at an employer that closed and we were all given notice of the imepnding closing. However, in that situation, I was lucky enough to be able to find new employment before the official closing date of the business.

Losing my job is the greatest threat to my health, safety, and ability to care for my cats that I have ever faced.

I try every single day to get through to unemployment to no avail. I hear that it can take months before you see any payment from them. In the meantime, I have no income.

I desperately need to find a new job. At the same time, no job is worth risking your life.

Being in quarantine for the pandemic this past year really makes you evaluate your life. Especially since I have lost seven friends and family members to COVID, it makes you think about what you are doing in life and if you are truly happy. 

To that end, I have had the thought that I want to work remotely for the next 15 years. My doctors have all said that this past year of working remotely has been excellent for my disability. I am currently at my highest level of functioning that has not been seen for five or six years. It is all because I am working remotely. I am so highly functioning that I am not disabled enough to receive any type of disability payments or financial assistance. I am fully able to work.

I want to work. I am now being forced to find a way to make my dream of working 100% remote for the next 15 years come true.

The biggest challenge to this goal is lack of internet service. There is no broadband internet available here. Up until a few weeks ago, I lived in a complete dead zone. There is no cell service here either.

The dead zone bit has literally just ended this past week. A new cell tower was installed in my area this month. So that’s something, but still not enough.

I have been quiet lately because I am struggling to survive. 

At this point, I do not know if I will survive the pandemic. I do not know if I will be able to keep my house, which is the main thing that keeps the cats and I together. My entire life revolves around my cats. I need to be able to keep them together.

One of my friends started a GoFundMe for me to help me try to pay my bills since I have no income. I split my days between trying to get through to unemployment and trying to job search.

I am not sure if we are going to survive this, but I am not going down without a fight. My cats are the only family I have. 

I will still try to keep up with my goal of blogging at least twice a month, as this blog and my Twitter have been the greatest helps to me in this pandemic.

If you are a praying person, please pray for the cats and me. Thanks.

Sophie’s Story

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Sophie is a green Toyota Corolla. She is my second Toyota Corolla. I liked the first one I had so much that I decided I wanted to have another one when the first one died. My car is my most prized possession aside from my Boston medal.

It has now been over 20 years that I have been driving a Toyota Corolla. Sophie came into my life at a very bad time. I knew that my first Toyota Corolla, Cool, was on it’s last legs during the winter of 2012-2013. I was trying to push that car through one last winter and had planned on looking for a new Corolla in the spring. Life had other plans, and Cool died in January 2013 – right in the middle of winter.

Finding a used Toyota Corolla is extremely difficult. People tend to love this car and drive them into the ground. I am one of them. When I killed Cool, he had 283,000 miles. So when Cool died, I actually spent a few days without a vehicle because I just could not find a used Toyota Corolla.

Then I found Sophie. Sophie was a necessity. I needed a vehicle. It was too difficult to be happy about a new car when I was mourning my first one. You see, my first Toyota was more than a car. At times, it was also housing for Kitty, Kip and I when we were homeless. I had driven 250,000 of the 283,000 miles that were on that car.

So Sophie entered my life. Within the first 6 months of owning the car, I hit my first deer. A few months later, I hit a second deer. Two deer hits in the first year of owning the car was not a good start. 

Sophie went to Philly with me when I ran one of my marathons. She has been to Cape Cod, Boston, and my favorite camping place. When I bought Sophie, I was at a different point in my life. I vowed that this car would be a car and not used as housing.

What makes Sophie so special is that she is the only thing that joins me to all five of my cats. Kip rode in Sophie to his vet office visits the last year of his life. Kip passed away in December 2013, the first year I owned the car.

Kitty rode in Sophie to his doctor appointments. First, for well visits, then for his cancer check-ups. Kitty passed away in April 2017.

When I adopted Jude, I drove Sophie to the shelter to meet him. Jude rode home in Sophie. Simon and Jolene have both ridden in Sophie also. 

All five cats have been in that car. It’s pretty special. 

Only four of the five cats ever lived in the apartment. Three of my five cats have lived in my house. Yet, all five of my cats have ridden in that car.

I’m glad that Sophie has had the opportunity to go to all of my favorite places before the pandemic hit. Not only is travel restricted due to the pandemic, but my ability to drive has decreased over the past six years or so due to my disability. At least I can say I drove that car where it was important for me to go.

Many people talk down to me over my love affair with Sophie. But when a car has been such a significant part of your life as this one, you get attached to it. My car has been more reliable than most of the people in my life.

I am hoping that when Sophie dies I will be able to afford a third Toyota Corolla, but we will see.

When I bought the house, I was ecstatic that there is a garage here. I park Sophie in the garage in the winter. I am happy that she is getting the treatment she deserves.

My car has been a lifeline to me in the pandemic. I know that no matter what happens, if things get bad, I can always jump in the car and go. I no longer know where I would go, but I know that I can leave it I ever needed. Unfortunately, all of my safe places to which I would go – the people have all died in the pandemic. 

I am so thankful to have Sophie in my life. She is my lifeline to Kip and Kitty who passed away. She keeps me, Jude, Simon, and Jolene all safe. We travel in her to go to medical appointments.

It’s probably stupid to write a blog post about a car, but Sophie is kind of a big deal here. I’m looking forward to many more years of driving her.

Life and Everything

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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 what life threw at me. This past year has definitely been a doozy. I am so thankful to be alive. 

I am hoping that this year will be as great as my new number – 42. If you are a fan of Douglas Adams, you will know that 42 is the answer. It is also a great number for baseball. Well before it was International Women’s Day, March 8 was my birthday. 

Right now, my goal is to live long enough to see another birthday. I am really hoping that I get to see 43 with all three cats as well. Another significance of 42 is that my paternal grandmother passed away at age 42, well before I was born or even thought about. If I can make it to age 43, that will be huge.

Living in the middle of a pandemic definitely makes you take stock of life. I know that my priority is being able to outlive the cats so that I can take care of them and keep them all together. My second priority is to stay covid free. I am more scared of getting covid and “living” than I am of getting covid and dying. 

I am a marathon runner. Running is the most important thing to me, after the cats. If I get covid and survive, I won’t be able to run anymore. That’s not life. That’s just a jail waiting to die.

So I look at the cats, and my goal is to outlive them. Once they are taken care of, then it doesn’t matter what happens to me. These three are going to be my last. I’m not going to adopt anymore pets and then have to worry about what would happen to them when something happens to me.

Simon is the youngest of the three. He will be turning 5 in May. So, right now, my goal is to live about another 15 years so that I can outlive the three of them. To make it a nice round number that is easy to remember, I am hoping to be able to live to age 60. 

Given the decreasing life expectancy in the USA right now, I think that age 60 is a reasonable number. I just wish I could retire so that I could enjoy the last 15 years of my life. Unfortunately, that is not economically possible. I will be working until I die.

As difficult as things are, I am so grateful for this time I have had at home with the cats. We are all safe and get to spend quality time together. My only goal is to be able to continue this so I can take care of them. 

At age 42, I certainly do not have the answer to life, the universe and everything. All I know is my goal is to remain covid free and to be able to take care of my cats. At the end of the day, the only things that matter are the cats and running. 

So here is to another trip around the sun. Let’s hope I get the full ride. 

My Valentine

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Jude with his birthday banner. He turned 9 on February 14, 2021

Last Sunday was February 14, 2021. It was Jude’s 9th birthday. It was also his Gotcha Day. Jude has been with me for 7 years. He will always be my valentine. He did indeed come into my life at a time when he “took a sad song and made it better.”

Birthdays are my favorite holiday. Every time I get one, it is a celebration that I was able to survive another year of whatever life threw at me. Birthdays in the pandemic are an even bigger deal. 

Jude received birthday cards from the vet office and from chewy, where we get our cat supplies. We also got a birthday box from Chewy that had an assortment of toys and treats. It was a fun day for all of us. 

My goal in this pandemic is to survive for the next 15 or so years so that I outlive the cats. I am worried about what would happen to them if something happens to me. I am their home and their forever family. I don’t want them to have to go back to a shelter and I don’t want them to be separated. 

We had a great time celebrating Jude last weekend and playing. We listened to music and had some quality family time. I plan on celebrating all of our birthdays this year in much the same fashion. Life is much too short to not celebrate a birthday. 

Jude will always be my valentine.