mark this time (COVID-19)

Two artists from the UK, who host one of my favorite podcasts, called Art Juice, decided to create a project called “Mark This Time” as a way to dedicate the creations and thoughts and experiences due to the global COVID-19 shutdown. They asked that people share their responses through Instagram and Facebook – which I think is just really cool.

We are experiencing an unprecedented situation. One that calls for artists to step up. We need positive messages. We need reportage. We need insights. We need community. We need to mark this time. The media mark this time with dramatic exaggeration. The politicians mark this time with obfuscation  — it falls on artists to mark this time by bearing witness, by being present, by documenting,  by connecting, by offering perspective – most of all by sharing our experience and letting it shine a light on the experiences of others. It falls to us to truly mark this time.” from Louise Fletcher Art.

I thought I should jot a few words down since we are in the midst of a historic event.

When things started to get bad in March, ie. governments started proclaiming things be shut down, I knew it would get worse before it got better. I didn’t run right out and buy a mask. I wasn’t panicked, but I figured everyone was going to get “sick” or at least be asymptomatic. I am no doctor, but it was pretty obvious that this flu-like virus wasn’t going to just disappear.

I had already given my two weeks at my old employer and was in the midst of training my replacement when the government starting tightening the restrictions.

I held out that my new employer had been so eager that they would make it work – whether that meant working remotely or part-time (or a combination of the two). They first pushed my start date by a week, but by that date, they had informed me that they were rescinding their offer. I worked until March 27th and that was that.

Fortunately, almost my entire family has been self-isolating so I can visit my parents and siblings. Plus, now that my sister lives with me, I am not alone at home all day. I have made three grocery trips in total. I found cloth masks for sale on my second trip and finally wore it when I stopped to grab some eggs the other day. Everyone else was also wearing masks.

I have paused my “Baby Steps.” The only thing left on my debt snowball is about $480 on my car, but because I am paid ahead, I don’t owe a payment until 2021. I am not making any money, but I am also not spending it. With no debt but my mortgage, my bills are low.

Even though I am not worried about money currently, I am worried about my job outlook. This is my fourth week of unemployment. I have had one in-person interview (which is still in progress) and one phone interview. I have applied to five jobs. I would love to be hopeful that once things go back to semi-normal that the company will offer the position to me again. However, I am not sure what that means for my job search currently.

Otherwise, I have been relaxing and taking this time to catch up on chores, read books, cook, and paint. I read Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, watched Russian Doll and Tiger King on Netflix, and knit several scarves. My art hasn’t been the main focus even though I wish it was. Sometimes, I am so nervous to paint. I get anxious that it won’t turn out as I want it to. I am proud of what I have been doing though. I should remember that.

Charlie is quite happy with the situation, as you would imagine. Every morning, as I drink coffee and watch some TV, he gets out of bed and comes to me for a good fifteen-minute rub fest.

3 things that suck and 3 things I like

I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and I realized I’ve been trying to do too much at once. Last Tuesday I wrote that I was waffling between paying down my student loans or saving. Well, since I don’t know how much longer I want to stay in my hometown, I decided to start putting money in savings and only pay the minimum on my loan. I figure if July comes around, and I still want to pay off my loan, I can do it with what’s in my savings.

That’s my plan anyway. We all know how plans are.

These three things that have really been bothering me lately.

  1. My best friend moved to Alaska and my other good friends live in the NYC area.
  2. I left a job I really loved, and I’m not sure how to find anything similar to it.
  3. I am always surrounded by people that are older than me.

These three things I highly recommend.

  1. I finally found a purpose for the t-shirt yarn I made and haven’t used. Macrame plant hangers.
  2. I got an Instant Pot for Christmas and so far I really only used it for rice. So I went looking for recipes and found a great pork carnitas recipe that had me using Cumin and Chili Powder – two spices I had in my cupboards but had never opened.
  3. This house is an inspiration in and of itself. The dark paint with the wood trim detail. Drooling over here.

on my mind: feb. 2019

financial goals – I’ve reached a student debt balance where the interest accumulated each month is a negligible number, which means, once again, I’m waffling between cutting back my snowball or continuing on with it. On the one hand, I’d like to continue this intensity because I’d like to cut back my hours at my second job in the near future – or, at least, request some time off. On the other hand, I want to build my savings and open an IRA. I probably shouldn’t even bother to worry about this because I joined an investment app recently and have been throwing a little bit at it here and there. So, in reality, I’ve already negotiated a middle-ground with myself. 

screen time – I unintentionally cut back on my Netflix binges. I think I went almost a whole month without it, and I remembered why I don’t have regular cable or even a TV. I wouldn’t use it enough, and I get so much other stuff done when I’m not watching every new release and every new show. You know that conundrum where you sit down and don’t know what to choose out of the plethora of options? Last night, I watched a movie that has been in my list for close to a year. It was nice to put something on that I had been skipping over for a long time. I think the fact that I had cut back on my screen time helped me pick a movie more easily, and I ended up really liking it (Tallulah – if you care to know). 

health – Being at a desk all day has really messed with my health goals. I went from being active most of the day to being inactive until 5pm. I have had to cut my calories so much just to maintain weight. I have been making sure Charlie and I are walking regularly because after my knee surgery last year, Charlie gained a lot of weight too. The vet recommended he lose 10 pounds by his next yearly vaccination.  Basically, we are both pretty hangry most days, but he’s lost 6.8 lbs and looks so much better.  At least the creature I am in charge of is healthier even if I’m not. Unplugging from Netflix has helped me get more active in the evenings though. I realized I needed to make the most of our walks because I don’t have the time for each of us to get a long workout. I added walking lunges and sumo squats into our walks. Then I do a quick workout with either body weight or dumbbells and barbells. I recently bought a set of kettle-bells too and they have been a good addition to my at-home gym. 

creative juices -In addition to getting more exercise, cutting down my screen time has given me more time for personal projects like my blog, house projects, or painting.  I think I’m finally getting used to my perspective being read by people on the internet. For a long time, I didn’t want anyone to know about my blog. It wasn’t anonymous, I just didn’t share it. I’m finally growing into my voice – if that makes sense. When people give me feedback, I’m no longer embarrassed by it. Writing has become a big part of my life as of late and being able to unleash my worries and fears into words – plus share the other things I work on or make- has multiplied the motivation I have to do more. The act of summarizing the books I read or the projects I do inspires me to keep going. All of this, makes a creative like me happier in the grand scheme of things. The act of creating is the reward for me, not the comments or the amount of likes I get.