the corona chronicles, day 14: a lot of walking, but nowhere to go

It’s been two weeks since the governor issued stay-at-home orders. I have to admit, it’s a lifestyle I can get into. I’ve worked from home for thirty years, and although I work twenty-five hours outside the house now, I still work from home when there are publishing projects. In fact, being at my desk at home is still my happy place.

woman walking toward black sedan parked in front of colorful houses
Photo by Belle Co on Pexels.com

But we need to exercise, to get out and get some fresh air and sunshine. So we walk. And we walk. And we walk some more. We can’t walk in parks. We can’t walk on the beaches. We can’t hike in the mountains or even on hills, for that matter. But still, those of us who are mobile will strap on our sneakers and get outside, even for a ten-minute trek. I have always wished to own acres of land, a private place where I could walk all the time.  Wouldn’t that be nice right about now?

I’m just thankful to have a small backyard and an even smaller front yard. There’s a swimming pool in the back, which I will be ever so grateful for this summer, and I do believe this thing is going to drag into the warm months. I feel sorry for people who are crammed into tiny apartments, trailers, or living outdoors. I am fortunate to have a roof over my head where I can wait out this virus.

Yesterday, I had to pick up my dog’s insulin at a Walmart pharmacy inside a Walmart Neighborhood Market. I hadn’t been out to any store in two weeks. My last grocery run was actually run to to me. I had placed an order from Target and it was delivered to my door.

But Walmart pharmacy doesn’t have a delivery service, so I braved the store. There were fewer people than the last time I ventured in three weeks ago. Some items were still totally removed from shelves, namely toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and hand wipes. But paper towels, a few packs anyway, were in the store. I grabbed one, which is the limit.

I am anxious now when shopping for groceries, so I tend to rush through. I got about 90 percent of what I had come in for and grabbed a few items I didn’t. I’ve been making dinner every night lately, and it’s actually something I look forward to–the cooking routine as well as the eating. And I want to make food we all really like. Fresh meat and chicken are still in stores, thankfully, and so are fresh vegetables. I can make plenty of good meals out of what I brought home yesterday.

It’s very likely Governor Newsom may ask us all to not leave the house without a face covering. He is doing everything in his power to tamp down the spread of this disease. He was fast to act initially, and we are benefiting from it. I will probably have to wear a mask to get my groceries next time. I will put on gloves as well. Heck, I will wear a hazmat suit if that’s what it takes to keep myself and my family healthy. Even if I have to wear it on a walk.

the corona chronicles, day 8: being thankful

I started writing a post about the new stimulus package and how it’s not fair that dependent adult students are not getting anything from the package, while parents will be given $500 for each dependent child. My son lives with us, he has a part-time job, goes to school full-time, does everything right, but he can’t get a penny from this program? Well, that’s all I’ll say about it.

air atmosphere blue blue sky
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

What changed my mind was sitting outside. After a thunderstorm last night and what seems like rain every day or two throughout the month of March, the sun is shining brightly today. It feels good to know that no matter what craziness is going on on this planet, the earth will still revolve around the sun, rain will fill our reservoirs, and life will go on.

I began thinking about what I’m thankful for right now: that rain has brought green grass and blooming flowers, that my golden retriever was sitting by my side, that my four adult kids are all safe and healthy, that I have a roof over my head and a home my two sons can live in without worrying about being evicted (barring any stupid stunts, of course), that I have meaningful work that I can do from home and get paid for, that my husband remains employed through these nutty times, that I have running vehicles, friends I can count on (and a couple I can’t–but that’s for another day), and the simple fact that I can breathe in and out.

I think of the kids who are home with nothing constructive to do, the young adults who can no longer afford rent and are not wanted back at home, the people without Internet or a way to stay in touch with others. Kids will get behind in school. Adults will lose their jobs and not be able to find replacements. Mortgages will not be paid, rents either, and people will lose their homes.

But those are negatives, and I will not go there today. I will be thankful for electricity, cable TV, Internet, computers, phones, toilets, sinks, showers, entertainment at our fingertips. Never before have I worshiped the technology that allows movies and books to miraculously appear in our hands after a few clicks. I have a safe neighborhood to walk in and a backyard to sit out in when the sun shines as it is today.

There’s plenty to be thankful for. The griping will have to wait.

the corona chronicles, day 5: parks and beaches closed

Our mayor announced yesterday that all city parks and beaches would close. The day before, just the lots were barricaded to discourage people from parking in them and to reduce the number of visitors. But now, no one can hike, hang out at the beach, swim in the ocean, or take a boat out on the lake.

gray storage shed on brown sand
Photo by Guillaume Hankenne on Pexels.com

Confinement is being taken seriously, and soon it will drive some up the wall. More and more businesses are closing. People who can work from home are advised to do just that. Those who cannot are going without work and, many, without pay. My younger son works at a coffee shop with a drive-thru window. Frankly, I wish it would close, because the longer it’s open, the greater the chance is that he brings home the virus. But the Starbucks next door shut down and my son’s employer is capitalizing on Starbucks’ lost business. I hope it’s worth it to the owners. I hope my son, who just started this job in January and would probably be the first let go if there’s a reduction in customers, doesn’t come down with any symptoms.

My other son, an employee of the YMCA, is home with pay until the end of the week. The Y is still charging its patrons membership fees while it’s closed. A friend of my husband’s just canceled his membership because of this, and I’m guessing he’s not the only one. No money coming in means no money going out to workers.

I am fortunate that the city I work for is still paying its hourly workers like me, but how long will this last, with talks of budget cuts having started pre-pandemic? So far, we’ve been paid for one week without physically working. Our next pay period ends on April 3. The city was hoping to reopen the libraries by April 6, but that looks pie in the sky.

At my other library, we are still working from home, which is going fine so far. We can do research online for our patrons if they need help. We can also work on other tasks.

I am able to take my dog to the vet today. He’s diabetic and needs his insulin checked every other week. I may ask the vet to send me home with a test kit that I can use without coming in. Maybe I can report to her the result I get and she can monitor and adjust his insulin from that reading. Or I may just ask to come in less frequently. Since we’re almost all home, we can spot if the ol’ boy is doing well or poorly. So far, he’s responding very well to the insulin.

Will weddings go on? We have one to plan for. Our second eldest is getting married in October, but, of course, wedding plans are on hold. The venue, a community center run by one of the local cities, has closed its doors. Brides and grooms who had booked in March and April will have to postpone their weddings for sure and most likely find a new place for the reception. This venue is very popular and is booked at least a year out. We put a deposit down months ago, fortunately. Now we’ll see if the wedding will still go on even seven months out. Everything is so uncertain. I’m glad we haven’t booked a caterer yet.

Typically in March I’m fully in the process of planning our summer vacation. My husband was having a hard time even picking a free week this year at the very start of coronavirus. We finally decided on a week in September. Now that too will have to wait. Who knows what is in store. One thing is for sure, though, even a trip to a local beach will feel like a vacation.

Stay safe. Stay well.

the corona chronicles, day 4

Monday, 23 March 2020

It is Day 4 of being sequestered during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Both the libraries I work for are closed. One, the community health-care library, remained open through last Thursday. The other, the city-managed branch, had shuttered several days before that.

person holding covid sign
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I am still working from home for the health-care library. I have work to do for now but wonder when things will slow down. If this stay-at-home edict remains in place for, say, two or three months, I can’t imagine there would be that much to do from home. Right now, I can review a video I was sent home with, and on a Word doc, I’ve started compiling a list of medical graphic novels the library may be interested in purchasing, which is something I had started before leaving. I also have a catalog to review and pick out websites we can possibly add to our databases. I may have to get creative in coming up with activities in the future, but we have to be doing something work related to be paid. For now, I’ve plenty.

To get out of the house, my husband and I took a little drive yesterday. It was nice getting a peek at the ocean and seeing something other than our home surroundings. We are lucky, though. We have a house with two floors. It’s not big by today’s standards, but it’s adequate. We have a backyard and a front yard, so, there, we can convene with a little bit of nature if we need to. This morning, when I let the dog out back, I noticed three sets of paired-up birds: sparrows, a couple birds that looked like muddy-colored robins, and mourning doves. They were not practicing social distancing, but isn’t it telling that that thought sprang into my mind at the time?

We also live within walking distance to a large regional park. Unfortunately for us but fortunately for others, “our” park has been flooded with people. So many people, in fact, that the parking lots had to be closed off to prevent visitors. (That can only mean that our neighborhood streets will soon start looking like parking lots.) People were not practicing social distancing. It’s the same as at the beaches, whose lots were also barricaded, and some other attractions that draw huge crowds. It’s a matter of time before San Diego’s pride and joy, Balboa Park, is off-limits. What crazy times we live in.

Today, I’m trying to find enough work to fill up my typical 5.5-hour day. I’ll also take the dog out for a walk—maybe in the streets, though, and a little later in the morning or early afternoon, when the typical walkers are back home. But there’s nothing typical about our times.

To say I have zero confidence in our commander in chief is an understatement. How I wish we had a real president, one who doesn’t lie, fib, make stuff up, whatever. What a kid he must have been to raise!

Well, back to work I go. At least I have something to fill my hours. I feel bad for people who are out of work and out of pay, like wait staff and hair stylists, whose tip money was rent money. Or the minimum wage worker who, even if they are allowed to take some kind of unemployment insurance, surely it won’t be enough to pay the bills. Yes, landlords and mortgage lenders are supposed to place a moratorium on collecting rents and monthly payments, but eventually all that money is going to need to be repaid. What then if these people can’t get enough in restitution to cover those payments? There will be, in my opinion, evictions and foreclosures galore. How sad.

Be safe. Stay safe.

how could i not have been told about the office party? (or, feeling left out at work)

There is an office Christmas party going on this morning as I type this. But I am not only not there, I wasn’t even notified of it until late yesterday afternoon, when I was at my other job.

dachshund dog wearing a red sweater
                       “Hey, boss, remember me?”                                                                                                       Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

 

Seems I’m forgotten often at the municipal branch library where I work, even though there are only ten employees and one volunteer besides the head librarian. In a way, it’s good. I don’t think I’m long for that place, especially if an opportunity to work more hours at my other part-time, better-paying job comes through in a couple months. It will be nice to simply slink away, practically unnoticed. Still, who likes to be ignored?

There are times I feel like a very small cog in an enormous machine. I am made to feel, by the type of job I fill and how I have little time to interact with other employees or patrons, that I’m just filling a spot, just doing the lowest-level grunt work, which mainly involves shelving, and that anyone with a little experience could take my place at any time. I’m made to feel expendable.

Woe is not me, though, because I have an outlet–other work that I find fulfilling and a husband with a much better salary than my four little jobs put together and multiplied by five.

Feeling Like an Afterthought

But we all want to feel like we belong, right? I’m not getting that feeling.

A case in point: Not being told about the Christmas potluck breakfast and gift exchange until late in the afternoon the day before. If I were to have participated, I would have had to prepare ahead of time to shop and wrap a gift for the exchange and prepare or pick up some food to share. At least a couple days’ notice would have been nice, not fourteen hours. I’m easy to reach: I was last at work less than a week ago and I have a personal e-mail address, a city e-mail address, and a mobile phone. I’m an afterthought.

Another case in point: My boss texted and called on a day I had requested off last week, asking where I was and why I hadn’t shown up for work. She had totally forgotten and failed to write down that I had asked for that day off weeks ago, twice, in fact. Even worse, she had completely not realized that it was my birthday. I’ve been working at this library for 2.5 months and yet my name hadn’t been added to the list of birthdays. Let me repeat that there are only ten employees. One of the other workers had a birthday around Thanksgiving, and we all signed a card. I received no card. I also had turned in my time sheet for her approval two days ahead of the cutoff, which fell on my birthday, but even that didn’t tip her off that I may not be showing up on Friday.

Yet another example: Festive little stockings have been hung on the circulation desk with care, but there’s not a one with my name on it. There’s a “Ryan” and a “Brenda” and a “Felix” on the stockings, but no “Rose.” Mind you, there is no one named Ryan or Brenda or Felix working at the library.

But as I said, I may not stay in the job for long. All the walking and kneeling on a cement floor, in addition to the reaching, bending, crouching, and lifting, are causing my osteoarthritis to flare up. I have another job, too, and freelance work on occasion.

I’m lucky to have an out, but there are plenty of people who need this type of work. I just hope whoever takes my place (which would occur about eleven months after I quit, because nothing in the city moves swiftly) gets his or her name on a Christmas stocking, a timely invitation to the Christmas party, and a birthday card, because no one likes to be forgotten or ignored. No one.

 

freelancing lies part 2 (or, sometimes you have to hide the truth to get the job)

Freelancing can turn you into a liar. Case in point: This week I had to omit the truth from a client who was checking on my status on a project not due for a month and wanting what I’ve worked on so far.

woman sitting on chair while leaning on laptop
                             what I’m doing                                                       Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com
                                         

I told him I’d do my best to get him what I have so far but that I have another editing project with a very short deadline that I’m focused on currently, which is true. Typically I wouldn’t have mentioned the other editing job for fear of looking like I’m too busy to work on his assignment, but I did so to let him know that I have another short-term responsibility I’m working his project around and will definitely be able to meet his January deadline.

What I omitted, however–and would never have been able to say–are that I also hold down two part-time jobs; it’s the holidays and my birthday week; and I have four kids, a soon-to-be-son-in-law, a husband, four siblings, and friends to shop for; there are two work Christmas gatherings approaching, Christmas Day dinner to host, and many other obligations to attend to. Had I mentioned any of those things, even one, I would look unprofessional and would probably never hear from him again, because in the fickle freelancing world, I am expendable and the next independent contractor is just around the corner.

The fact that the editor even asked for part of the project isn’t fair at all. The project isn’t due until January–nearly four weeks away–and I was never told I’d have to turn in partial sections of the book along the way when I took the assignment. Of course, the editor asked kindly about the progress and if it was possible to send back sections already worked on, but what was implied was that he really wants something. Now.

I am, if nothing else, excellent with time management. No matter how busy I am (see the above list), I never go over deadline or fail to get everything done. I never turned in late assignments in school and I haven’t in my career either.

But the editor’s asking for what I’ve finished thus far threw me for a loop. I have a system of how I approach a project, especially one this ginormous (over eight hundred pages). I tend to do a once-over and then go back and double-check my work. Now, since I plan to turn in something to him tomorrow, I had to stop my forward progress and do a reverse take, double-checking what I’ve already worked on.

I had every right to tell him on Friday that I will turn in the entire book on January 4, as agreed upon, but instead I e-mailed him back saying that I’d be happy (another lie) to give him what I’ve done thus far. I didn’t mention that I’d be working both days on the weekend, eight hours each day, to get him what he wants, not needs, so he isn’t stuck with this massive project landing back on his desk in the new year.

woman standing on brown wooden plank
                                what I’d like to be doing                                                                              Photo by Kilian M on Pexels.com

 

                                                                 

It’s unfortunate, but when you freelance, you can never avoid working when other obligations are pulling you away from your desk. You can’t shut down the desktop, close the blinds, turn off the light, and lock the door behind you, saying goodnight to the janitor and tipping your hat to the lobby security worker at the end of the day. If you have work, you must work, no matter the circumstances, whether it means working until 11 p.m. after getting off from your day job or both days on the weekend. The show must go on and the work must get done.

It’s the holidays and my birthday week, to boot, but I am rushing to get out my project due on Thursday for another editor and now this one by tomorrow while trying to do a bang-up job along the way so I will be called upon again to handle similar projects. And I’m doing all this while working five days a week at two part-time jobs. Oh, and did I mention the holiday obligations that I have?

As I said, I’m nothing if not a good time manager, but in the freelancing world, time is always never enough.

why I won’t think about christmas before thanksgiving ends (or, let’s try to enjoy the best holiday of the year)

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. And no matter that there are only twenty-seven (!) days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, I will not put out one green or red decoration, not one strand of garland or one set of twinkle lights, until Thanksgiving is in the bag.

man in santa claus costume
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Yes, I am a planner. Yes, I am growing gray hair by the minute as I write this because I have a fear that I won’t be ready for Christmas. Yes, I keep dreading that short window of time to get it all done this year. I still will enjoy the most wonderful holiday ever, one in which we get together for a delicious meal, watch some football, play games, and have a good time.

Nope, I won’t even think of everything I have to do before December 24.

What is everything? Oh, only :

  • shopping for gifts (for four kids, a daughter’s fiance, a son’s girlfriend, a husband, four siblings, nieces, nephews, my best friend, and more);
  • shopping for Christmas dinner for at least fifteen;
  • putting up the decorations (on the entryway banister, on the fireplace, on the beams over the dining room and family room, on tables, on floors, on windows, on doors);
  • buying a tree (which has somehow turned into my–and only my–job);
  • dragging that eighty-pound beast into the house and putting on a dozen strands of lights, ornaments, and tinsel;
  • setting up my little four-foot artificial tree in the family room and decorating it;
  • pulling out every Dollar Tree knickknack I own and finding places for each of them;
  • digging through the CDs for Christmas music and the DVDs for holiday movies;
  • putting out Christmas pillows and throws, bathroom towels, candles, and soap;
  • decorating the front yard;
  • setting up my village of seven buildings set on a blanket of snow;
  • baking cookies and decorating them, then putting them into gift boxes for friends;
  • wrapping a million gifts as my back aches;
  • misplacing the tape or the scissors or the gift tags after every gift I wrap;
  • filling out dozens of Christmas cards and then addressing the envelopes and mailing them;
  • making gifts for family and friends;kevin
  • cleaning the house a week before (including emptying the fridge and wiping down the shelves), then a couple days before, then the day before (yeah, my Christmas Eve will stink once again), and then the day of;
  • moving seven hundred pounds of garage junk to find my card table, bring it inside, and set it up;
  • touching up the paint in the house before guests arrive;
  • planning the meal, shopping for the meal, preparing the meal a few days ahead, then a day ahead, and then the day of;
  • cleaning up all the mess my immediate family makes on Christmas morning so the house is semi-presentable when the rest of the crew comes over;
  • planning, shopping for, and making something (who knows what) for Christmas Eve dinner so we have something to eat after we all get home from Mass;
  • planning and shopping for Christmas-morning breakfast. . . .

I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but you get the idea. Oh, and did I mention that I work the day after Christmas? Nine o’clock, bright and early!

My days of doing all this should be over. I should have passed the torch on to my four grown kids or my grown nieces long ago, but with today’s economy being what it is in our part of the country, none of them has anything bigger than a two-bedroom condo–and, at 36, my niece and her husband are the only ones who own the home they live in. By that age, my husband and I were paying the mortgage on the house we still call home. Although by no means large, with four bedrooms, a living room and a family room, it was big enough to raise four kids and a few pets in. I wonder if I’ll ever see our kids host Christmas. Maybe when I’m elderly and they themselves are parents of adults–or grandparents of adults.

But no matter. After I sign off from here I will not give Christmas another thought until peaceful, wonderful, bountiful Thanksgiving has long passed, which I suppose this year is Black Friday.