earning less and being OK with it

Despite my name, I do not look at the world through rose-colored glasses. Perhaps my parents should have named me Prudence.

Seeing the bright side of life is not me. I will not be tiptoeing through the tulips. Rather, I will tread lightly over the quicksand of life.

Getty Images

Given the chance, I always will choose to work to put another few dollars aside, which I look at as a safety net, over spending a few others on a good time. A penny saved is a penny earned, indeed.

So, when offered five more hours of weekly wages a few months back, I jumped at the chance. I knew it would be hard. I was stretched for time already, given my newfound nonpaying job of watching my baby granddaughter about 25 or 30 hours a week, but I can do hard things. I have done hard things. And I will continue to do hard things. I. Can. Do. Hard. Things. (This will be on my tombstone, no doubt.)

But “hard” is one thing. Squeezing the life blood out of me is another.

The extra money has been nice, but it goes into the bank, which is electronically transferred to pay my bills, so I hardly even notice the extra cash.

What I do notice, though, is that I’m working every day of the week—less on the weekends, but, yes, even on weekends. I also notice having to use a grocery delivery service (and paying for the service and a decent tip for the shopper), and I notice dust bunnies, clutter, and piled-up projects everywhere I turn in my house. How are those extra five hours helping me, exactly?

I literally just this morning (again) considered dropping back down. But would I do that? Having four kids spread out over a couple decades, I have had to take freelance/low-paying jobs and haven’t earned that much money at all. I’m almost heading into my twilight years (though I won’t admit it), and I want to earn a little something to lean on when I no longer can work. I am playing catchup.

Then, behold. Today came an email from my manager stating that the budget has been revised and we will all work a certain number of hours. Those hours will put me back down to what I was working before the five-hour bump up.

To say I was elated is an understatement. How perfect for me. I doubt I ever would have asked to drop back down in hours, but to be told this is the way it will be, I’m more than happy to oblige.

This may be temporary (as I was told it likely will be), but I’ll take it for now. Maybe I can breathe a little, have a moment of fun, or at least sweep those dust bunnies out from under the rug.   

“the only thing certain is that nothing is certain”

To Do. Available. To Do. Available. To Do. Available.

I click on these buttons numerous times a minute, feeling like looney Alex from Fatal Attraction, sitting on the floor, flicking the light switch on and off. You know the scene: just before she slashes herself with the knife and tries to murder Michael Douglas. (Maybe I have the order wrong, but you get the idea.)

To Do. Available. To Do Available.

My great job, the one that was a steady 30 hours a week and paid a decent rate, in which work was plentiful at any time of the day or night, suddenly has gone dry. Because the company is shorthanded in the department that sends work to me and my colleagues, there is nothing ready for us to work on.

I quit a job to take this position. I rearranged the way I worked to take this position. For the past seven months, it was a steady job. Now there’s uncertainty of when or how much work will be available.

I’m a person who likes—thrives on, actually—certainty and security. Do not surprise me. Do not change plans last minute. Do not interrupt my way of life.

A few months ago, about five months into this job, I started watching my baby granddaughter four days a week, seven to eight hours a day. I continued working my job, as well. At first, it was a challenge. And that continued for a bit until I figured out a balance. Soon after, I was able to work my 30 hours as well as watch the baby 28 to 32 hours a week, trying at times to do both simultaneously.

I got into a groove, and, yes, that groove meant having to work several hours in the evenings and on weekends. But to help out my daughter and son-in-law and take care of the most adorable baby on the planet were worth working the extra hours on my “days off” with the baby.

Suddenly, a week ago today, in fact, the files of work I get paid to do were not posting on the platform as they had been. What was once a sea of files to choose from became a handful, and then none at all. I reached out to my (new) manager, who assured me he was aware of the situation and was trying to get information from the higher ups.

Just yesterday, he emailed me and my coworkers to say that more work is forthcoming, but there is no specific day when that will be nor how much work will be available when it does start coming in.

As someone who has spent the past 30 years in the uncertain world of freelancing, as well as taking additional part-time jobs, I was so pleased to finally find something that offered a flat number of hours and a paycheck that I could count on week in, week out. Having left a job I loved (although it paid less and offered fewer hours) to take this position was hard, but I knew I’d be helping with the baby and thought a remote job—even one that was double my number of hours—would work out better.

Me, in a cloud of uncertainty. (Getty images)

And it did. Until it didn’t.

Just like that the steady paycheck and the guaranteed hours each week have disappeared. Just like that my balance has been thrown off.

I’ll keep in touch with management and hope for a turnaround soon. I’ll even hunt down more work if I have to. But if straits become more dire, we may be eating rabbit stew for Christmas.

quick book review: The Cabin at the End of the World

Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World, 2018

The Cabin at the End of the World (great title, by the way) is a phenomenal read for the month of October. It’s fast paced, suspenseful, filled with details, and gives just the right amount of spook and awe to make you wonder: Is this the end of the world? Is it?

The book starts out innocently enough with little Wen, the adopted daughter of the men she calls “Daddy Eric” and “Daddy Andrew,” outside in the front yard catching grasshoppers in this uber-remote cabin in New Hampshire.

Wen is startled to hear heavy, quick footsteps. She knows she’s been out front too long, she knows she shouldn’t talk to strangers, but she engages in a conversation with the large man-boy named Leonard (I’m guessing it’s not by chance that he shares a name with the Of Mice and Men character) who wanders up the driveway. She takes a liking to him, but when she hears other voices coming their way, she becomes fearful. Before Wen goes inside, Leonard gives a warning that nothing she or her daddies have done have put them in this predicament, but they must make a dire decision that will affect many, many lives.

So begins Paul Tremblay’s 2018 book that, I swear, you won’t want to put down. I’ve read my share of Stephen King, but I wouldn’t call myself a fan of horror. And I wouldn’t necessarily call this book horror either, even though it’s been placed in that genre. I do love suspense, though, and a book that is heavy on plot at times, and this has both. To me, horror is the possible, not ghouls or possessed cars. This book has a foot in reality, and that’s what makes it so scary.

Yes, there is blood and there is sadness, and you will wince probably more than a couple times from the violence, but this well-written book also delivers a thought-provoking dilemma. Will you read it, or won’t you? You will have to decide which way you will go.

why can’t i have fun? Or, what makes me work so hard all the time?

How do you spend your days off? Do you like to read, take a nature walk, go to the beach, browse bookshops, binge TV shows, play at the park, see a movie, sail, go out to lunch, meet up with friends? If you do any of these things, you’re doing it right. So what’s wrong with me?

I currently have two part-time jobs equaling 36 hours a week, plus I take on freelance work when it’s available. I cook dinner six out of seven nights of the week, five if no one will be home but me. So why did I spend today, my day off:

  • purging five bags of sheets, bedspreads, and pillowcases from my linen closet
  • driving those donations to the Goodwill
  • grocery shopping at not one but two different stores
  • unloading the car of seven full bags
  • putting all the groceries away
  • making bread dough and stretching it on the hour, as needed
  • sweeping the entire first floor
  • mopping the entire first floor
  • sitting at my desk (eating lunch there as well) to do two-plus hours of paid work
  • vacuuming the upstairs bedrooms
  • shampooing the carpets in two of those bedrooms
  • cleaning the shampooer, which gets disgusting after use
  • and then sitting back down at my desk until I have to leave for church in a couple hours before heading back home afterward to make dinner, put it away, and clean up
spent time with this friend today

I mean, who does this stuff? Who spends all week working, only to spend all weekend cleaning and running errands and doing chores?

According to Deepak Chopra, I am doing everything so wrong. I am not building “time affluence” (well, Deepak, all this work isn’t building me monetary affluence either, but I think I understand your point). Chopra thinks people should be structuring their days to have plenty of free time. In turn, we will be happy.

So apparently, that’s my problem: I don’t know how to enjoy life.

Here’s some background: I grew up in a tiny Cape Cod in upstate New York, seven people—eight when my grandmother stayed with us—in 1,200 square feet of space. My dad worked five, sometimes six, days a week in a blue-collar job. My mom worked as well, mostly part-time, while handling much of the household chores and making most of the meals. We rarely ever ate a meal out.

My dad helped out, too: He cooked on occasion and grocery-shopped, and he was very handy. So handy, in fact, that we never had a laborer in our house and never brought a car to a mechanic. No, things weren’t Chip-and-Joanna magnificent, but they ran again if they broke. (Actually, just the right amount of duct tape can fix anything.)

amazing stuff

As a young child, I didn’t see the value in do-it-yourself. I envied families who hired people to come in and do work on their houses, believing they had more than we did, that they were special. So, I was very happy to come home one day from school and see a work crew in our front yard. What? I was so proud that my dad had actually hired out a job.

Finally, we were able to pay someone else to do the heavy lifting. Finally, I’d be like everyone else.

Turns out, the crew was from the city, putting in a sewer line.

I am very much my father’s daughter. Instead of hiring out a job, if I can do it, I will do it. Installing flooring? Check (even though my joints would ache for weeks afterward). Painting the cupboards? Check (even though it took me five weeks between my regular jobs to finish it). Drywalling to cover a gaping hole in the dining room wall after a plumbing leak? Check (even though I had to wallpaper over my handiwork).

But I’m nearing my 60th birthday, have a health condition that messes with my joints and nerves, and I wonder how much more of this I can take. Maybe it’s time to take it easier. But the work just never ends. As Roseanne Roseannadanna would say, “It’s always something.”

For instance, one of our bathrooms is in desperate need of a new sink and vanity. I painted the bathroom a few years ago, replaced the flooring a couple years before that. But the banjo-shaped sink and counter made of God only knows is crackled and disgusting. Dirt and gunk get in every crack. The plumbing backs up too.  We’ve needed to replace it for a decade-plus. I haven’t done much about it because it’s a job I just cannot do.

What I can do, however, is measure the sink and countertop, drive down to the Home Depot or Lowe’s to buy a new one, and maybe even hire an installer to put it in. It’ll cost $400 to install each piece, if my memory serves me right, but that may be the best $400 (or $800) I spend in my life.

It may decrease my monetary affluence, but it surely will bring me much-needed free time. Right, Deepak?

where I’d like to be spending my time

Source: You’re Spending Your Free Time Wrong: Here’s What to Do to Be Happier and More Successful, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/06/how-successful-people-spend-leisure-time-james-wallman.html .

wayfair, you’ve got just what i need: an employment rejection letter

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.com

Who says customer service is dead?

Of the 35 jobs I’ve recently applied to (28 since February 1), only one company has been so kind as to provide me with a proper rejection: Wayfair. How nice it was to, for once, send my cover letter and résumé into the vast void that is the Internet and to actually receive acknowledgment for my effort.

Be it bot-generated or not, Wayfair’s response was a breath of fresh air at a time when so much energy goes into applying for jobs against stiff competition in this day of far-reaching job ads. And the rejection came the very next day. No wasting my time with hours’ long tests or getting my hopes up after Indeed notifies me that my application was reviewed. What I got was a good, old-fashioned “thank you for your time, but” email. And for that, I am grateful.

This may be an understatement, but job hunting in this age is convenient but also frustrating and quite a bit sad. I am applying for work that I know I can do because I’ve done it before, for decades even. But I’m still not even getting to the interview stage.

I don’t know for sure, but it’s hard not to take the rejection as personal. It’s personal to me, because isn’t that what “personal” means?

On a good day, I picture prospective employers (who are human in my mind and not computer programs) being inundated with applications, too many to review, and understand that a cutoff has to be made somewhere.

On a bad day, I envision those reviewing my application and résumé doing the math, realizing I must have graduated college before they were born. Maybe they’d be more comfortable supervising Gen Yers or Gen Zers younger than themselves. Or maybe they feel people my age would be out of touch with the new generation and the ways and means of working in today’s world. But I have been employed consistently throughout my adulthood, I’ve taught myself how to use–and keep up with–new technology and programs that friends my age have never heard of.

Still, that aspect of employment is ever changing, and maybe they’re right. Maybe I wouldn’t be the best fit. There’s definitely a comfort level with technology the new generation has that we baby boomers do not. I’ll catch my 21-year-old, who has grown up in the age of screens, his fingers dancing and skipping around the keyboard like nobody’s business, while I want to save just about every file to my desktop and even print out a hard copy for safekeeping.

But hooking a job is more complicated than just being tech savvy.

Until I get a “welcome aboard” email, I’ll keep plugging away and see if anything turns up. And if not a job, I will hope for at least a kind rejection letter.

do I have COVID-19?: going to a testing site today

Photo by Artem Podrez on Pexels.com

Today will be the second time I’ll have been tested for COVID-19. The first time, my son worked with someone who tested positive, so I thought I’d get a test too, since we live in the same house. I had no symptoms then, but now I have. For the past several days, I’ve had dizziness, a dry cough, a mild headache that is not in the location of my typical migraines, an itchy throat, and a bit of gastrointestinal distress. Saturday and Sunday, I felt fatigued as well, even skipping my daily walk Sunday on a beautiful January day.

Last Thursday, my son was told by his manager of the coffee shop at which he works that a second of his coworkers had tested positive, and one of them had worked with him on Sunday. He had just taken a test a few days before, after learning of the first positive, but now he was told that he directly worked with this second person. He tried to get in for a test on Friday, but the county-run facility had met its daily goal and was not accepting any more walk-ins. He tried again yesterday, when he would still be in the incubation period for the illness. He woke early, before the testing center opened, and was fifth in line for a site opening 45 minutes later. He is waiting for his results.

I will wait until the morning rush is a bit through and head to the testing center. I am hoping I will be able to not have to wait in a long line because, although much of the queue is outdoors, the line does travel inside a building with narrow halls.

I work in a library one day a week and the rest of the time from home, and my shift is in two days. The library is closed to patrons and I am pretty much working alone when I’m there, but my supervisor, the librarian, is also in that day. I will let her know tomorrow morning about the situation so she can plan ahead in case I do not get my results back in time. She may have to adjust the schedule and have one of my two coworkers eligible to be at work to come in (all the others are older women with underlying health issues).

I will be going to a county-run facility because getting a test through a doctor’s office is ridiculous and nearly impossible. My primary care doctor does not offer testing. Testing for the health-care enterprise she works under is conducted in a far-off part of the county it would take me 30 minutes just to get to (and then how much longer to wait in line, I wonder).

A few months ago, my son tried arranging for a test through his doctor’s office. He was told he would need to have a teledoc appointment first. He was waiting for a link by text to get on the video call, but one never came. Turns out, the link was sent via email. He missed the call and then had to pay $25 for a missed appointment. Doctors’ offices need to be better at administering tests. Why the need for an appointment of any kind if someone calls in and asks for one, advising the office staff that he or she has symptoms?

The only other option is being forced to wait in line for hours at the county sites, which is what I will probably be doing today. Fingers crossed I’m a negative, but I am really not sure. This is one test I hope to fail.

what 2020 gave us . . . and what we’d like to give back

There has never been a year in my nearly six decades on this earth quite like 2020. There have been bad years indeed, but 2020 brought the entire world into a gripping tale whose pages are still being written. How will the pandemic play out? Who will be the winners? Who will be the losers? Who will be the heroes (although hospital workers, including the maintenance crew that empties the contagious waste from ICU cells, top the list, along with essential workers of every kind and the scientists formulating the new vaccines)? And who will be the villains (which is pretty obviously that hideous dictator and his mob, which includes every sycophant who helped put him into office or kissed his boots while there)?

All obvious drawbacks aside, there are some wonderful things 2020 wrought. On a personal level, being able to once again work mostly from home has been a godsend for me. Same for my husband, who no longer has to deal with the daily stress of driving an hour’s worth of heavy traffic each way just to travel 18 miles.

Unlike many other workers who found themselves struggling to adapt to working from home for the first time ever, I have many, many years of freelance work under my belt and the self-discipline and strong work ethic to go with it. I almost look forward to sitting at my desk at a scheduled time each day, powering up my computer, and working away for hours on end. (I realize I am fortunate to no longer have young children at home who need my time and attention while I work. I do remember those days well, and I respect that 2020’s parents have the added obstacle of being their child’s schoolwork facilitator in addition to tending to their own work.)

There is a slower pace to life now. The rat race is still there, I’m sure, but I think people finally realize the cheese is always going to be there, so what’s the hurry?

Another huge blessing of 2020 was the free time I now have to take a daily walk and–added bonus–to walk with a book or a podcast to entertain and educate me. I have consumed more books this year than I have in decades past because of that 30 minutes or more of bliss. Today, with Tom Hanks in my ear reading Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House, I was able to cover more territory than usual because I wanted to keep listening to the Conroys’ story).

A third plus has been staying in contact with friends. It’s times like these when we realize who our true friends are. The one friend I see makes an effort to meet for an occasional socially distanced walk or a half hour talking on her front patio. Another friend, whom I’ve actually become closer to through all this, calls every few weeks to see how we all are doing and keeps me up to speed with her and her family’s life. And I and my best friend have had regular, almost weekly phone chats to stay in touch. I miss visiting her and will never again let a year pass without seeing her.

What I miss could fill many blog posts (our annual weeklong vacation, being able to fly, gathering with family and friends on holidays, seeing my daughter and son-in-law get married in front of a roomful of well-wishers), but that’s for another time. I’m just happy that there are silver linings in that godawful year and, more importantly, there is something to look forward to, with a new administration and hope for not just going back to normal but for a new normal of equality, compassion, and change.

corona diaries, day ??: it’s not even remotely beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

Christmastime is here, but the air is so hot, the sun so bright, and the barometer so low that it feels nothing like Christmastime. Do you know how to make the lingering coronavirus pandemic feel never-ending? Live somewhere in which every single stinkin’ day looks exactly like the day before it and the day before that. Is time even passing? Are the seasons changing? Is there something new to look forward to this month? I wouldn’t know, because I could have sworn that when I woke up today it was yesterday or August 10th or even April 30th, for that matter.

Kid in California, ca. December 2020: “Look, Dad. I think I found our Christmas tree!”
Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava on Pexels.com

Save for a few years living in the Bay Area, I have spent most of my adult life in Southern California. Coming from the four seasons of the East Coast, I have yet to get used to this weather. I am envious of the snow in Cleveland today or the rain in Portland, Oregon. To get into even a little of the Christmas spirit I would like to to be able to (a) see a cloud in the sky or (b), at the very least, be able to open my curtains during the day without getting blinded by the ground-skimming December sun.

How could it feel like Christmas when every day is warm, when I have yet to put on long pants or even socks, when I have to change out of a long-sleeved T-shirt after breaking a sweat in the Christmas tree lot? I mean, aside from some Floridians, Hawaiians, and Arizonans, who can say that this time of year? Who would want to?

I’ve always loved the fall and winter, the change of weather, the crispness in the air, the smell of pine needles and rain, the beauty of waking up to fluffy white branches, but I’m stuck with a bare, sandy lawn because the summer was so hot we couldn’t even grow any grass.

So here it is December, yet it feels like I’m stuck in one of those horrible Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas movies that were obviously filmed in the bright sunshine and heat of August, when actors are bundled up in scarves and heavy coats, surrounded by blocks of Styrofoam snowbanks. You can’t see their breath in the “frigid” air, but if you look really closely, you may see a dribble or two of sweat trickling down their faces.

Our governor may need to issue another set of stay-at-home orders similar to the ones when coronavirus first circulated. Hospital beds are once again at capacity; more people than ever are getting infected. The reason the casualties are escalating most likely is that people were gathering during the recent holidays when they knew they shouldn’t have. All I can say is, it’s definitely understandable to try to make a day off feel like a holiday since every day looks and feels the same around here.

Still, we are lucky to remain healthy. That’s the bottom line. But is it too much to ask for December to actually feel like December–or October at the very least? Unfortunately, the pandemic is making this year drag on, and the unchanging weather is just nature’s cruel joke to make us feel that it will never end.

corona diaries, day whatever: needing a mental health break

The week didn’t start out so great: A friend of mine wanted to know if I could take a walk with her, which I was totally up for, having seen very few people outside my immediate family and strangers in the grocery store these past months. Then she told me she and her husband had just been on a cross-country flight home from the East Coast, where they went for no other reasons than because flights are dirt cheap and to see the colors change. After giving it some thought, I texted her to say I wasn’t quite comfortable that she had been on the opposite coast and in an airplane and we’d get together in a couple weeks. She took it well.

Photo by Toni Cuenca on Pexels.com

I did not want to chance meeting up and possibly being exposed, being we have had a couple COVID scares, mainly from my son, who is an essential worker (if you consider making people overpriced coffee drinks essential) and who has had coworkers test positive.

But that’s not the only reason I didn’t want to see her. I also was having a big, fat case of FOMO, failure of missing out, and it put me in a funk. I have worked from home almost my entire adult life, but because I was also raising four kids and money was tight, I couldn’t take advantage of the “freedom” people now working from home during COVID think it gives them. Add to it the fact that my friend didn’t think twice about taking her husband, who is not in the best of health, on a cross-country jaunt that entailed breathing in stale, recirculated airplane air for 5 hours and mingling with people whose DNA does not match their own, and it kind of made me mad. What they do is their own business, of course, but is sneaking out of town and risking getting or spreading COVID on your return worth it? She also told me she was going to a shower the next day. A shower? My daughter, who got married a few weeks ago in a quickie ceremony in front of a city worker, had no wedding, let alone a shower!

The weather is turning hot again after a couple seasonal days last weekend. And I hate it. This kind of weather gives me migraines. Could it also mess with my serotonin’s juju, I wonder? Whatever the reason, I was not in a good mental state Monday, Tuesday . . . well, all the way through to today, Friday.

I feel like the world is flying by. Four family birthdays whizzed past with little fanfare, including a couple that were milestones and should have been properly recognized. My daughter’s wedding–our one big family event ever–has come and gone with no celebration. Her birthday is coming up in a couple weeks, with mine a month later, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are on the horizon, but nothing will have changed by then.

Halloween is tomorrow. The county and state authorities are discouraging trick-or-treating, which is fine with me. I don’t have little ones anymore. But today was a Halloween celebration at work, and, because of my funk, I decided not to go. I was not up for dressing in costume, which I never do anyway, or seeing people I work with, even though some I haven’t seen for a while. I just thought it was unnecessary and just a way to further alienate those women I work with who are older and not in the best of health and therefore not able to participate because they are considered high risk.

To shake my bad mood, though, I vowed to do something about it, and the one thing I thought I’d do was go to a pumpkin patch. I love one that is on a farm about a 45-minute drive from our house, but I knew I didn’t want to drive that far. The car I have been driving doesn’t run too smoothly anymore–and that’s our newer car. So, I decided I’d use an older vehicle we own and go to the farm that is fewer miles from home. But no sooner did I pull away from the curb than I noticed the flat-tire symbol on my dashboard light up. The diagram pointed to the rear passenger tire. So, I ran a quick errand and went to a nearby filling station for air.

Getting back in the vehicle, I saw the symbol was still on. I then decided to return home, pick up my husband’s key, which isn’t as badly falling apart as mine (thanks, Honda, for using the cheapest plastic ever on your key fobs), because I worry that the guys in the shop would break it further, and head to Costco for a tire repair. But I was almost home when I looked down on the dashboard again and saw the flat-tire light had disappeared! Yes!

I decided to chance it and drive the 23 minutes to the closer farm. It was thumbs-up the whole way, with no more flat symbol. I pulled into the rural farm and took a look around. It was lovely there! There was a small pumpkin patch (tomorrow’s Halloween, so I didn’t expect much), a nursery, a coffee bar, outdoor seating, lovely photo op spots, and a sweet gift shop. I was in a small bit of heaven. I could feel the dopamine leveling off and I was, dare I say it, happy for a short while. This feeling ended, of course, when I turned on the engine upon leaving and saw the flat-tire symbol again. Ugh!

I made it home, without incident, though. The symbol went off again on the drive, which made me sing along with Tom Petty. I was free-falling, indeed. Since luck was on my side, I decided to stop at the nearest grocery store and grab a few things while I was out. Of course, the flat-tire symbol returned when I started to drive away from the parking lot. But I got a little piece of peace today. My brain is less frazzled, and if Trump is voted out of office on Tuesday, it may last for at least four years.

Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels.com

corona diaries day ?: a corona wedding and life goes on

My daughter was married last Friday. It wasn’t what we all had hoped and planned for over the past year. There was no caterer, no venue, no clergyperson, no flower girl, no cute little ring bearers, no decorated tables, no cake-cutting ceremony, no music, no gown or tux, no vows read at the altar, no family friends, no honeymoon to a far-off land. What we had was a county clerk in a booth, a couple I-dos, and a piece of paper to show for it. But so it goes during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

It was a bittersweet day indeed. I am 100 percent for the marriage, and I’m happy that my daughter and my now son-in-law tied the knot, but I wanted it to be a bit more special. In this crazy year in which more than 210,000 American people have died of an illness that seemed to come out of nowhere half a year ago, though, the two of them were lucky to have pulled it off at all.

Plans had changed drastically in those twelve months. They went from 120 guests down to 50 when it looked like no more than that number would be able to gather to just their family and closest friends when no gatherings outside of single households were allowed in our county. After the brief ceremony, we spread out in the nearby park, socially distanced and masked. We brought our own picnic lunches and beverages and only shared wedding cupcakes created by the groom’s cousin and my daughter’s close friend.

Like so many couples this year, my daughter and son-in-law considered putting the wedding off, but until when? What is the magic date that this virus will be history? With no vaccine just yet, there is no reason to believe this virus will be eradicated anytime soon. In fact, it just keeps growing, and now even the president, who didn’t take it seriously at all, refusing to wear a mask or heed precautions, has contracted it. So, with a disease that has afflicted 7.44 million Americans and 35 million people worldwide lurking about, no one can say for sure when it will be safe to move about the country.

My daughter and son-in-law got it right, though. They were more interested in being married than having a wedding. They were more inclined to save the money it would have cost to throw a big party than to see it disappear in one day. They realized that there is no reason to put off for tomorrow what can be done today. If coronavirus and the mayhem caused in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude and too many others have taught us anything, it is that we are not invincible, happiness and fairness in life are not guaranteed, and life is too precious to waste.