One of the 30 million

Social distancing in the time of corona is one thing, but being single and jobless during a dystopian nightmare is another. I’m 30. It seems like I was just starting to make long-term goals and take off in my career.

Then comes the swift pull of the rug. Hey, thanks a lot, 2020. Thou art cruel.

I have certainly shed tears. The thing is I know I am far from alone and that my situation could be worse. Last I checked there were 40 million people in the U.S. alone who filed for unemployment due to the coronavirus.

The day I lost my job I bought a fish filet and ate it on the top of a parking garage where two friends joined me. One of my brave friends hugged me. It was a warm hug.

I don’t have the interest or stamina to hunt down conspiracy theories or fiction’s premonitions at the moment, but how Orwellian does being afraid to touch another person feel? Let’s be honest.

This is the first time I’ve been unemployed since I was 16 years old. The first job I ever had was at Cold Stone Creamery, and I gained 10 pounds in the first 6 months. Because free ice cream. I worked with my friends. I made $6.50 an hour. I sang to customers. I had a blast.

Now, I’m one of those poor souls who has a hard time defining myself outside my job. I didn’t realize how severe it was until I was laid off and my “seek, write, destroy” routine came to a screeching halt.

My energy is still here, but I find it’s veering off in all directions. As it turns out there isn’t really a set standard to productiveness during a world pandemic.

Today I was fairly productive, by my standards, and I need to give myself more credit for that. I applied for a few jobs, journaled all my twisted feelings, contacted a career-coaching agency, talked to my therapist, and watched a documentary about Michelle Obama. What an inspiring lady. And I want to wear rainbow colored power suits like that.

Today was a good day. I’m lucky I have the time to do this self-exploration and learning.

Not all days are like this. Some days I slop out of bed around 11, take my dog on a grand tour of the neighborhood, marvel over a squirrel and robin duking it out outside my window (I swear this happened), and depress myself with massive amounts of shitty news until my back hurts and I realize it’s 5 p.m., and I should probably dive into a complicated home cooked meal that takes me 2 hours to make because my body is so riddled with anxiety that I’m having a hard time concentrating on the instructions. On these days, I’m lucky if I make it out of my pajamas or brush my teeth.

One day I wrote a list of how I can become essential. Things I might like to do included child care worker, garbage truck driver, and foot fetish saleswoman. It’s a long story but someone actually did reach out to me for pictures of my feet, and to my disappointment they only wanted to pay me $7 dollars. “My dogs are worth at least $100,” I kindly told the man.

How fun is that, huh? To realize what you do is considered non-essential?

I read somewhere that volunteer work will make me and others feel better, like I’m contributing something in this shit storm. I am writing letters and sending cards to this woman in hospice. She was an elementary school teacher her whole life, and now she has no one. I’m having fun talking to the girl who is coordinating the volunteer work, too. It kind of feels like we’re friends. She told me that the hand-sketched bulldog I sent to Gloria (let’s call her), the patient I was paired with, smiled real big when she saw it. And this made me smile.

I am proud of how far I have come in my life (from a career standpoint and otherwise). As someone who grew up on government assistance, there was always a feeling that I had to work extra hard to prove my worth. I want to continue to work hard, but I also want to make sure what I’m doing aligns with who I am, the lifestyle I want, and the goals I have for myself. The narrative is always changing. So am I.

I’m not done searching. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t painful.

Maybe you are in a similar kind of Rock Bottom, but it’s a different circumstance. Anyway, it’s not quite the apocalypse just yet. Don’t you dare fucking give up.





Safe-distance dating at the end of the world

Dating at the end of the world is hard, man, but at least I’m built for it. I wish I could say dragging people on outdoor day trips is a part of my new life awakening, but I’ve always been a deranged, soul-gazing dreamer who gets off on dates involving tall prairie grass and backpacks filled with snacks.

It’s actually one of my oldest tests. Yes, I will have a craft brew with you at an official establishment, absolutely, especially when people aren’t dying because of it, but will you also trudge through mud with me?

Dating is also hard when you are currently unemployed, as it turns out. You want to meet people without coming across all: “Hi, I don’t want die alone in all out class warfare or at the hands of killer bees that are maiming other normal bees who are just going about their business and being helpful for the environment.”

I have to remind myself on the daily that I’m an appealing, hard-working person who has been temporarily knocked off course, and I will emerge from the woods like my other disheveled, well-intentioned non-essential brothers and sisters, hopefully for the better.

Recently, a nice gentleman (and I rarely use that word) asked me out on a date, and of course I suggested a nature trail. I swiped for this particular guy because he has lot of mountains on his profile and honeysuckle eyes that make me salivate. It was a successful first safe-distancing date. We saw a freaked out chipmunk and a deer on the trail and talked about our lives and interests and how weird it is to be alive right now.

I had been dreading our date because of my appearance. No, not because of the usual offenders (stomach rolls, cellulite thighs, puffy hair…I can keep going, but it’s boring). I’m weirdly accepting of my body lately. It might be the relaxed exercise schedule, or the wellness (calm the fuck down) webinars the algorithm gods have been shoving at me, or it might be because I’m not currently surrounded by people or media that are at constant war with their bodies.

I’m self-conscious about my black eye though. I was rough-housing with my dog, and I blew on her ears, which she LOATHES. Anyway, she throttled her face into mine, and now I have a real black and blue beauty. It even made a guest appearance in a virtual job interview that I miraculously made it through.

Anyway, my date said he liked my black eye and that I was the first “real” person he’s met on a dating app in a while. It’s nice to get this feedback. I’ve gotten it before. I realize I have the issue of sometimes being TOO REAL, but this is a fear that no longer keeps me up at night. Why should it? There are way too many things to care about instead right now.

Don’t act like you have me all figured out though, algorithm gods. I’ll swipe right for the dude who likes to wear a Harry Potter shirt in his down time when he’s not at work trying to figure how to machine or humanize the currently broken down machine. And we will take a Buzzfeed quiz together that will determine our house compatibility. He will be pure Hufflepuff material, and he will find out I’m mostly Ravenclaw but also 19 percent Slytherin, and that my garbled Parseltongue is bound to make an appearance at some point.

I intend to keep dating in small, controlled capacities. If you do what you’re supposed to do and wash yourself down, I would like to maybe hold you and be held by you, you know? Seeking love certainly comes with heightened risks (among the other usual risks), so I’m making it count when I can.