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. 

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.

My Quarantine Life: Week 40

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Jude sleeping on the work from home table on my day off

We all have ways of coping this year. For me, I have found comfort in reliving happy memories and remembering things from my childhood. This holiday season, I put my tree up and brought out all my holiday things after Thanksgiving.

Even though I have 5 Christmas DVDs, for some reason, this holiday season, I have been watching The Sound of Music practically every other day. At first I thought it was just because it played on the TV all the time at the holidays when I was little. Then I thought it was the happy memory of my very first live theatre event. One year as a Christmas present when I was a child, my father and step-mother took me to a dinner theatre to see The Sound of Music.

The past week or so I realize that this nostalgia is also connecting me to my grandparents. My grandparents came to the USA from Austria due to what was going on in World War Two. I remember listening to my grandmother tell stories of her childhood in Austria. They lived on a farm close to the river.

My grandmother has been a pillar throughout my childhood. While my childhood was tumultuous, my grandparents offered a sense of normalcy and sanity in the chaos. I was actually closer to my grandfather, who passed away about 18 years ago. In fact, I was the one who helped to look after him at the end and held his hand as he died, reading to him Psalm 23.

My grandmother developed dementia a few years ago. It turned her disposition mean. Combine the uncharacteristic meanness with the fact that she no longer remembers who I am, and it is just difficult, indeed impossible, to visit. I stopped visiting because it was too heart wrenching to try to explain to her who I was every visit.

As my grandmother’s dementia progressed, she became unsafe to live on her own. My mother took her in to care for her. At the time, my mother was still working full time as a nurse. However, my grandmother is one of those ones with dementia that likes to “run away” or wander off at all hours of the night and day. It got to the point where my grandmother would leave in the middle of the night and my mother was not getting any sleep trying to find her. She could not stay up with my grandmother all night long and continue to work her job as a nurse too.

About 5 years ago, my grandmother moved into an assisted living facility for the reason that she would have around the clock care. Staff were there on shifts to be able to watch her in the middle of the night and all through the day to be sure she didn’t wander off.

There were some episodes over the years when she was able to escape even the assisted living staff. They would often find her wandering thinking she was calling her young son in from the farm field for dinner.

My mother visited her almost every day at the assisted living facility until COVID started this spring and stopped the visits for the safety of the residents. Since the spring, my mother has only been able to have window visits with my grandmother or talk to her on the phone.

Without my mother’s visits, my grandmother rapidly declined to the point where the staff at the assisted living facility could no longer handle her. We arranged for my grandmother to transfer to a nursing home for dementia in November. However, the staff at the assisted living center decided in October that they “couldn’t deal with her anymore” and dropped her off at a nursing home 3 weeks early with only one small grocery bag of clothes.

My grandmother was so upset and confused. She thought she had been taken to a concentration camp. The nursing home was upset and filed complaints against the assisted living facility because they literally just dumped my grandmother on their doorstep unexpected. They were not expecting her to arrive for 3 more weeks because they did not have a bed or a room available for her. Everyone had to scramble. They had to bring in a special therapist and an interpreter to calm my grandmother down because she was absolutely convinced she had been taken to a World War Two German concentration camp. It took about a week for her to understand that she was in the USA safe and that she was not in a concentration camp.

The nursing home finally got her settled in the unit where she was supposed to be in November where she has the level of care she needs with her dementia. The past month when my mother window visits or talks to her on the phone, she says my grandmother is much happier in the nursing home than she was in the assisted living facility.

This weekend, we found out my grandmother tested positive for COVID-19. She is one of two family members I have left. From April to August of this year, I have already lost 6 friends and family members to the virus.

The nursing home is unable to send anyone to the hospital, because all of the hospitals here are full. The hospitals are even ending people with COVID-19 home. They are sending them home to die. Basically, the way the situation is right now, do not seek medical care for any reason. Just stay in your house and wait to die. Alone.

In addition to dementia, my grandmother has a pacemaker. This weekend she coded and for a minute, the nursing home staff thought she died. But she didn’t not yet. She “came back.” She is resting and the staff is trying their best to keep her comfortable.

I know that my grandmother is of an age where she is going to die sooner than later, but I don’t want her to die this way. I don’t want her to die alone. I want her to know she is loved. I am so thankful that the nursing home staff is sitting with her around the clock and making her comfortable. That’s all they can do. The hospitals are full, so she cannot go to the hospital for any advanced medical care. I’m sure that my grandmother is not the only person that the hospitals are turning away because they are too overwhelmed.

If you are a praying person, please pray for my grandmother. I realize that this may be her time. However, I do not want her to be in pain. I want her to know that she is very much loved. I don’t want her to die alone. 

This winter surge of the virus is much worse than the spring. In the spring, I was on the phone as one of my friends died from COVID. I would not wish this disease on anyone. Now, all the hospitals are full. Many more people are dying at home in pain and alone because our medical system is too overwhelmed to provide care.

I’m not sure if I am already in the stages of grieving yet or not, but what I feel right now is anger. Our hospitals are this overwhelmed, and yet everything is open. We need a shut down like we had in the spring. What I am learning from this moment is that money is more important than human life. I thought that New York State was doing a better job of containing the virus than the federal government was doing. At this point, I do not think I trust any elected official anymore. I just can’t believe that businesses are open and people are going about their day when our hospitals are so overwhelmed that they are turning away people who need care. People are dying simply because our government refuses to shut down our economy to save lives.

Please pray for my grandmother. My grandmother and my mom are the only two family members I have left. Yes, I have the cats as my family. But I don’t want to be alone in this world without humans. I know that my grandmother’s time is probably soon, but I don’t want her to go out this way. I want her to know she is loved. I don’t want her to be in pain. 

Our hospitals are full. Dear Jesus, please come soon.

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My Quarantine Life: Week 36

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Jolene raising a paw “pew, pew, pew”

Being in quarantine since March, I have not been able to go to the grocery store, work or basically any place where I would be indoors with other people. I am in the vulnerable group, so I stay isolated as much as possible. 

In trying to maintain some semblance of independence in this time, I pick up my medication each month instead of having it delivered. To do this safely without gong inside the pharmacy, I go through the drive thru. The drive thru pharmacy is not like a fast food drive thru where the person opens the window to hand you food. The pharmacy drive thru is more like a bank drive thru. You can see the pharmacy person through a glass window that does not open. You talk to them through a speaker system. They send the medication through a chute system so there is no human contact.

Drive thru pharmacy is a safe thing for me to do. Even though I am separated from the person by a closed glass window, I still wear a mask. I am pretending to be like everyone else who goes to a pharmacy or grocery store inside, even though I am not inside. I am in the drive thru. But I wear my mask because that is what we are supposed to do for safety. Wear a mask every place you go. Even though I am safely on the other side of the glass, it makes me feel like I am still “part of society” by following the mask rules. 

Last week I went through the pharmacy drive thru with my mask on and also a winter hat. I was cold. Typically, the first thing the person asks me is my name. They type my name in the computer. Then they say “picking up one item today. Do you need anything else?” After that, they proceed with the rest of the transaction.

Last week, the pharmacy person did not ask my name. They said “just one today?” They proceeded to ask me the remaining questions about my medication pick up. However, I noticed that the tone of her voice was warm and kind. Normally, when I go through the drive thru, it is an efficient transaction devoid of emotion.

When the person sent my medication through the chute, I asked how she knew who I was without asking my name? She said that she has worked there for 5 years and I am there every month for the same medication. She remembers me. Plus, I am at the top of the list for epi pens due to my multiple food allergies. If there is ever any type of medication shortages, I am first on the list for epinephrine. All the pharmacies in the county know this. For the record, I was not picking up epi pens that week. I only get those once a year unless I have used one.

I was impressed that this person was able to recognize me even though I was wearing a face mask and a winter hat. The only thing that could be seen was my eyes. Yet she did recognize me and knew my name without me having to say my name and without having to ask me.

I felt seen. I felt important.

I was so happy that the pharmacy person recognized me in the drive thru. It made me feel like I matter. Like if I do get covid and die, maybe people will miss me.

The virus is raging all across the country because people are not wearing masks and they are not staying home. When I look at the big picture situation, it makes me feel like I don’t matter. It makes human life seem meaningless. All these people are dying because people are too selfish to not wear a mask. People are too selfish to stay home.

Being SEEN last week in the pharmacy drive thru made me feel like I matter. I appreciate that pharmacy person for recognizing me. Moments like that is why I am happy I can still do things independently like pick up my medication in the drive thru. I was able to run an errand in a safe way and still be in quarantine. I was still able to participate in society even though I am one of the “vulnerable” ones.

This is going to get worse before it gets better. Every time I hear someone say how bad this winter is going to be, Ethan Hawke’s voice goes through my head. I think of that scene from Reality Bites where he says on the answering machine “Welcome to the winter of our discontent” in that incredibly cocky, goth way. The phrase originally came from Shakespeare, but sounds so much better when Ethan Hawke says it. By the way, Shakespeare wrote some of his greatest works during a pandemic. 

Please remember to call people to check on them.

Wear a mask.

Stay home.

Site 50

All 3 cats watching the birds fly by.

The year is 2003. Imagine taking your first vacation in 4 years. You pack up the car with all of your supplies and drive 3 and a half hours to your destination. You are meeting friends you have not seen in years. After a stressful, traffic filled drive, you arrive at your destination, and take one of the last available sites at the campground you have chosen, in relative proximity to the rest of your friends. It is the same place you were at 4 years ago for complete relaxation. Back in 1999, you had crammed 8 college friends in a family tent on a single campsite. It was just like dorm times. In 2003, the only difference is that you are in a different camp site from before and have elected to set up your own tent instead of being in with the rest of the group. Things have changed in 4 years, and some of these friends now have families they will be bringing.

On site 50, you set up your $30 K-mart tent and begin cooking dinner as darkness descends. You are one of the first in your group of friends to arrive for the weekend outing. The location is the halfway point for you and all your friends. It has been about a three and a half hour drive for you going north east. It is about a three and a half hour drive for them going north west. 

You have all the elements for relaxation from good food to good music to good wine. Suddenly, a loud thunderclap sounds and rain unexpectedly downpours on your campfire. You scramble to pick up all of your supplies and cram them in the car so they can remain dry and you can seek respite in your tent.

Although hectic, it is also exciting. This is exactly the type of situation of which memories are made and you can laugh about with friends after. Supplies safely in the car out of the rain, fire put out by the downpour, you unzip the tent to seek solace inside. Once inside, you discover your $30 purchase was not the best bargain as rain pours in through all the seams. The bottom of the tent quickly accumulates a few inches of rain, much like a canoe taking on water in danger of capsizing. Your sleeping bag is completely soaked, as well as the small duffle bag of clothes inside the tent.

Like a drowning man on a sinking ship, you fruitlessly attempt to bail water from the tent. Again, a story to laugh at later. Rain continues to literally pour through the seams of the tent as if the Hoover Dam were breached.

Tiring yourself with bailing water, you finally admit defeat and run from the tent to the car. You are completely soaked with no dry clothes to change into as your sleeping bag and clothes are all waterlogged in the tent. You fall asleep from sheer exhaustion, unsure and uncaring whether the tent will even be there in the morning or if it will float away.

Morning dawns, and you awake to fogged car windows. Still water logged, you open the car door to see the tent completely leveled and everything wet. The rain has stopped. The rest of your friends are supposed to arrive today.

You make a new fire to get warm, and start hanging up all the wet items to dry. You fix the tent so it is again standing, although wet. Now that the rain has stopped, you are able to bail out all of the water from the night before.

Once your friends trickle in for the weekend, you are able to borrow clothes that are both dry and warm. This is definitely a story to laugh about later. The remainder of the weekend passes dry, cool and full of laughter, good memories and good times with the best of friends.

Lesson learned from the leaking tent, when you return in 2004, it is with a new, more waterproof tent. It cost $150 from LL Bean. That new tent will see you dry through the next 15 years of these trips with the best of friends.  

Fast forward to 2020. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. Every single one of those people who were on that camping trip in 2003 except two are now dead. They have all died of COVID within the past 6 months. You are running out of friends. It is not an exaggeration and it’s not because you are a bad person. It’s this horrible disease.

While you have been able to take off 2 or 3 days here and there, you have not had a week’s vacation in over 3 years. For the first time in over 20 years, your annual camping trip has been canceled by COVID.

You are burnt out. You are at your wits end and need a break. Even though COVID has canceled your life and taken all of your friends, you decide to take a week’s vacation from life.

This is a true story. This is my story.

I took my first week’s vacation in over 3 years recently. While this week has been a flashback to 2003, it was anything but restful.

Instead of running around with a tent in the rain, I had a major water issue in my house. I spent 7 days of my 10 day vacation dealing with this water issue. It was anything but restful. There were no friends arriving to laugh with. They are all dead. I’m having a staycation in the middle of a pandemic and instead of relaxing, dealing with a major house emergency.

I may be a first time homeowner, but I do know that water damage is every home owner’s worst nightmare. It’s not funny like bailing out a tent. 

Trying to get help with house emergencies in a global pandemic is extremely challenging. There are people out there who either do not respond or just want to take you for a ride (read: unnecessarily charge you thousands of dollars for illegal work done without appropriate permits). Forget that. I’m on vacation. I just want to relax. 

I feel like I completely wasted my vacation from work dealing with this water issue. I was not able to relax. I only got 3 days of relaxation. I should have just taken my traditional 3 days off instead of a whole week’s vacation.

Maybe this story of plumbing issues with my house will be funny in the future. I’m not sure when. I’m not sure who will be laughing with me, since COVID has killed most of my friends.I am still so thoroughly traumatized by my experience dealing with this water issue that I cannot even go into the details of how bad it was trying to get help. 

All I know is that I am happy to be dry and safe in this house. I hope to survive the pandemic so I can have more camping trips again. Even though my vacation was not really a vacation, I am thankful to be safe with my cats. I have not had a week this bad or this stressful since I bought my house.

My Quarantine Life: Week 19

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This bird visited our feeder recently. The front part is primarily all red, and the back is black and white.

Cases of COVID-19 have doubled in my county in the past 2 weeks. We now have more COVID cases this month than we had in the 3 months we were in “lockdown” combined. People continue to just go where they want and do what they want and no one wears a mask. I have yet to see a single person wearing a mask on the rare times I get to leave my house.

A few weeks ago, I said that my goal was to live until my next birthday in March. Given the current circumstances, my goal is to live long enough to see Christmas. We are all either going to end up dead or unemployed.

This week, a 6th person I know has died. I have now known 6 people who have died since April. I have never had 6 people I know die in one year before, let alone in a 4 month time frame.

People I know who can go to stores tell me that shelves are still empty in places and that there are limits on certain items. For me, nothing has changed. There are still food shortages in the allergy community. Many items I cannot get at all because they are not there. When I am able to get food, I am paying 3x or 4x more than before the pandemic.

I am very happy that I get this time to be home with my cats. I try to keep things as normal for them as possible so that they do not know we are in the middle of a global crisis. The only thing that is different for them is that I am pretty much home all the time. I am not sure if that is setting off alarm bells for them or if they are just enjoying it. 

I can say that if I do die, these months home with my cats are the happiest of my life. I love spending time with them. 

That said, I am so sick of this pandemic and wish it would just end. 

I am hoping to be able to get some relaxation this weekend. I have now been working 14+ days straight without a day off because people seem to think “working from home” means “available all the time.” Even when I tell people it is my day off, they say “but I just need …” and continue talking. If anyone calls me this weekend, I am going to hang up on them. Fair warning. 

I am extremely grateful to still have a job, but I am really over this “working from home” shit. 

Being in quarantine when everyone else is running around makes me feel forgotten. Instead of calling me for work and yelling at me about pandemic related issues I cannot control, it would be nice if someone would just call to ask “how are you?”

The hard part is, I do not have much to talk about right now since I am still in quarantine. My big excitement of the day is when a new, unknown bird visits my bird feeder.

We are all living in our private hells right now.

Stay safe, be kind, and please wear a mask. 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 10.a.20

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Jude likes to snuggle on the couch.

One of my really good friends of over 20 years passed away from COVID this week. This is the fourth person in 9 weeks that I know who has died of COVID. This pandemic has been very hard for me emotionally, and the fact that I am surrounded by irresponsible and ignorant people is not helping. 

Last weekend I went into my work office and protesters were downtown wanting everything to reopen. I overheard one of the evil neighbor kids asking their parent what coronavirus was, and the parent responded “something people made up so you don’t have to go to school.” 

My local school district has been delivering lawn signs to congratulate graduating seniors. They are doing this in large groups of 15-20 staff where no one wears a mask or bothers to social distance. They were all milling around in the street and hugging. 

I will remember the irresponsibility and blatant disregard for safety displayed by my local school district by voting “no” on the school budget increase this year.

Everytime I see these things, not only does it make me terrified to leave my house, but it just plain makes me cry. I do not understand how people can be so ignorant and think that this is fake, when I have experienced such profound loss and death.

One person commented this week that everyone who is dying is elderly. This is not true. Of the four people I know who have died, they have all been in good health with no pre-existing conditions and under the age of 65. I have another friend whose 6 year old is currently in ICU with the disease.

How many more people have to die before people in my area wake up and take this seriously?

I am heartbroken and terrified.

Protesters complain about their “rights” and say they don’t have to wear a mask.

If you refuse to wear a mask, you should be charged with negligent homicide. 

That’s what it is. It is a very simple concept to understand. It is exactly like drinking and driving. If you are stupid enough to drive when you have been drinking, you can kill someone. If you are stupid enough to leave your house without wearing a mask and staying 6 feet away from people, you can kill someone. They are one and the same. The only difference is that a car accident is a quick death; COVID-19 is a slow, long, painful one. 

My greatest challenges are figuring out how to obtain food and working. As long as I can do those two things, I can manage everything else. The challenge is that I can only control myself. I cannot control people around me. If people around me refuse to wear a mask and social distance, then it is not safe for me to leave my house. That makes it very challenging for me to work.

My region of New York is reopening. Of course, it is too soon and people are acting stupidly. Our COVID rate has tripled since reopening started. But that’s ok. People in my county do not care if people live or die. I never thought I would live in a world where the value of a human life is nothing, but here we are. 

On to the good stuff for this week …

After waiting over 7 weeks on an order I placed back in March, the allergy friendly flour and allergy friendly “milk” I ordered finally arrived! I now have food to be able to eat breakfast again!

Once the flour and milk are gone, that is going to be it for a very long time. The factories that make my allergy friendly specialty items are closed. They estimate that when they do reopen, it will take them at least 2 months to get back to capacity. 

I currently have about 8 cups of allergy friendly flour. However, I am going to set about 2 cups of it aside to save for Christmas. I am anticipating that it will be a long time until I am able to obtain my speciality items again, and if I save 2 cups for Christmas, I can make something yummy to look forward to when we enter the second or even third wave of the pandemic.

I am so happy to be able to have breakfast again!

I have been working on minimizing my bathroom, and will be doing a minimalist bathroom post soon.

My neuro symptoms have been getting worse with the heat and I am relying on my rollator more. Luckily, I do not have to drive to work right now, so I am not a danger to anyone else when my vision goes and I am not balancing well. 

As challenging as the tech issues are, I am very happy to be able to work from home. I enjoy being with my cats. I feel safe here. I am also afraid of what will happen to my house once I do go back to work with all of the children running around unsupervised. It was Memorial Day weekend last year when someone took a baseball bat to the side of my house and traumatized my cats. 

Right now, I am taking one day at a time.

I am working from home with my cats where I am safe and very happy about it. I am so thankful to still have a job.

I would love to be able to go out and do something, but unfortunately, I am unable to do so because other people act stupidly. If everyone would wear a mask and abide by social distancing, I would be able to leave my house safely. I can only dream. 

After knowing so many people who have died recently, I don’t want to be next. I can’t leave orphans.

Wear a mask. Stay 6 feet away.