Out of everything that’s gotten knocked loose what keeps throwing me for a loop is how much differently time seems to move now. I haven’t been unemployed in almost 15 years and I’ve never been unemployed without some kind of real plan or prospects ahead of me, not really. Now, without much on the horizon resembling either, I finally feel like I’ve stopped freely plummeting toward Hell only to end up in a holding pattern over Purgatory. Just dangling in the bleed space too far from the printed words to get a grip on anything. I have nothing to mark my day besides whether it’s light outside and even that can be somewhat murky at times. We own multiple clocks and devices with clock in them, that’s not the issue, it’s just that they’re little more than meaningless numbers at this point. In the first two weeks we had a lot of financial loose ends to tie up so that we could sustain ourselves without any income which had required keeping aware of the existence of the hours between 9am and 5pm but little more. Once the bulk of that had been sorted out it was off to the aimless races. Don’t get me wrong, we still take the trash out on Wednesday nights but it’s practically an accident these days. So learning the extreme discipline of the self-employed in the face of zero tangibly immediate obligations has been a beast of a process. The other night I found myself writing from one to five in the morning as if it were mid-afternoon. Other days I get up determined to start early but no matter how hard I try I end up playing Ni No Kuni most of the day and not writing until around at 8 at night. Aside from chronic depression and my curmudgeonly joints I’m hoping this is just the aftershocks of the job leaving my system. It was a flexible schedule position in which I once pulled a 22 hour day. That’s not IT hours either, for the record; that’s plumbing and driving from 4am to 2 the next morning. No one at Corporate ever called me about that one and my immediate supervisor actively encouraged working those kinds of hours. I can’t imagine that sort of thing didn’t burn me out on some level. Mercifully I am currently listening to Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats and writing this at 11:15am, but one good day is not a trend.
It’s been weird, you guys. It hasn’t been pleasant. We’re not baking bread for funsees or surprising each other with viral TikTok challenges, although we are watching a good bit of that stuff when we can get in that head space. We’re washing our deliveries (which we only retrieve about once a week), living on powdered peanut butter, and hiding in our house 24 hours a day to avoid our more cavalier neighbors. How cavalier exactly? The folks to the South run a convenience store and crab shack which is currently having a special and does most of its behind-the-scenes work right on our property line, the new neighbors across the street installed a basketball hoop for their children inspiring within in the neighborhood a newfound devotion to the game, our neighbor to the North being a fervent anti-vaxxer is one of the least troubling things about her, and this is all surrounding a thin rectangle of a quarter acre. A 30 foot wide house on a 50 foot wide plot. The basketball hoop keeps us out of our front yard until after nightfall and the sheer aggressive recklessness on our flanks (anti-vax is also an ambushing close-talker even under the circumstances) makes us unable to even consider venturing into the backyard nearly at all. I expect our grass to grow tall enough to sculpt outbuildings out of by June. We’re currently plotting a 5am mow and manicure but the rain hasn’t stopped for long enough to call our bluff.
I should mention here, to be clear, that we’re not simply being overly cautious. I’m a male whom middle age is currently stalking from afar, with something of a bum ticker; I have a damaged ventricle. My people, the heart-damaged and vaguely bear-shaped, are being dispatched with an embarrassing level of ease by this thing. And if that weren’t enough, my wife is immunocompromised and has severe respiratory issues. It feels a bit like our household has been marked for an airstrike by Facebook’s hyper-specific targeting algorithm. Point being we’re not over here drowning in an inch of water, we’re legitimately lost at sea and in very real danger of capsizing. So we hide in the house for a while and hope money just happens somehow. Still, we’re hardly among the worst off; there are far more medically vulnerable people than us out there. Just as there are people who have absolutely no financial parachute. Mine’s ugly, but it’ll do the job. Every one of my former coworkers continues to go in as of this writing, some of them just as or more vulnerable than myself, simply because they have no financial alternative. Every single day millions are flipping a coin and going into work. Some because it’s legitimately their job to handle a crisis like this one, and some simply to make sandwiches. Greetings from the intersection of Dystopian and Banal.