Plague Diary 9: Layoff

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Clouds on the horizon! Happy clouds or scary clouds? Who knows! The symbolism, it is heavyhanded here.

Well, my employer and I have negotiated a parting of the ways. It was a mutual decision, an acknowledgement that a Volunteer & Event Coordinator is not exactly a crucial, essential position in Pandemic World, where there are no events and there are no volunteers. I am both sort of excited: hey look! I too am participating in the 2nd Great Depression! Also I will finally have time to putter around the house to my heart’s content! Which is a LOT of puttering! and abject fear: well, I’ll probably never get another job which means I will end up pushing a shopping cart piled with trash bags through ruined streets lit by trash fires forever. In the short term, however, before the trash fires and the haunted empty windows and the shopping cart, I may be in better shape than I was before. The CARES act extra unemployment (they are paying us, I suspect, to keep us from rioting and part of me wishes it wasn’t working) will add up to more than I was making working almost full time – at least through the end of July – and with a little luck from the social services gods, I may be able to get on the Oregon Health Plan. That, the closest thing this benighted country has to civilized healthcare, will probably pay for my upcoming gall bladder surgery and the tests that I still need to figure out just why the hell exactly I ended up in the ER in late February with a pulmonary embolism for which I had no risk factors at all.

On Monday I am having a telehealth conference with my doctor – oh brave new world that has such, um, telephones in it! – and at that point I will gingerly bring up the possibility that this crazy fucking virus has been known to cause sudden inexplicable blood clots and my entire office was sick as hell through mid February with at least one colleague with pneumonia and, huh. Probably he will laugh it off or maybe not. Either way it doesn’t matter, because as usual there are no tests – no antibody tests, anyway – and all the tests we do have are notoriously unreliable. Also, they are not free. The county is now holding drive through testing at the city dump (ha ha! The new world, it delivers such jokes!) but, while the administration of the test (a harried CNA with a long swab, I suspect, making $12 an hour and no benefits, but essential) is free, the processing of it (AKA the lab fees) is not. So if you do not have insurance, or if you have the kind of jesus christ don’t you people know the meaning of shame insurance I do, it might or, as we like to say, probably won’t, be covered. This must be why they’re doing it at the dump – if you’re poor you can just jump on the trashpile and save the gravediggers the trouble.

As many more serious and eloquent people have now pointed out, the entire REASON for

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America! Fuck yeah! This bird would be a much better president than Trumpacabra!

the last two months of all of us staying home, going slowly stir crazy – my son just WASHED THE DOG without prompting; look for the silver linings and ignore the 2″ of water in the bathroom is our current national slogan – was so the country could create a plan, make tests, make PPE (that’s personal protective equipment, an abbreviation nobody knew just 2 1/2 short and vastly long months ago) and so on. Well. Of course none of that has happened and Cheeto Benito in the White House just gets crazier and crazier, accountability falls by the wayside, the states form coalitions or don’t, the governors are on their own and a bunch of racist Nazi MAGA assholes from hell or Vancouver, WA, whichever, are due to descend on Seaside, Oregon – aka the next town down – tomorrow to protest the closed beaches which are reopening on Monday.

It is difficult to convey the actual rate of crazy nowadays! I don’t really know who I am writing this blog for – in a fit of hubris I shared the URL with my now ex coworkers yesterday, so, uh, hey – but most of the time I think it is just for some undefined posterity. The world has gone insane and it seems as if I should chronicle that for my nonexistent grandchildren or some monk in a Canticle for Leibowitz type scenario in 800 years.

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Look at that dignified matron. You would not believe she could do anything wrong, would you?

We are supposed to be in Stage One of Reopening starting, uh, today. Certainly there is more traffic and the really good Mexican restaurant down the street seems to be open, but otherwise I am not sure exactly what that means. Granted I have only left the house to spend the morning at the beach with Harvey. Perdita did not get to come along because yesterday evening, when we went to the beach so I could drink a gin and tonic while walking along the ocean and committing my last job to the waves – goodbye, office! Goodbye, the great things I was planning and the bitter taste of my own failures! Goodbye, all that work shit that sits in the back of your head muttering! – Perdita took off for 45 entire minutes and just when I had given her up for dead she reappeared literally and liberally coated with elk shit from head to toe. She is more than 12 years old and one would expect more decorum. Therefore she did not go on any walks today. I know she doesn’t get the connection but it makes me feel better and also, after her wanderjahr she was limping badly, so she needed a day of rest.

That was Friday and now it is Saturday. Day 61! Last night I made vegan pesto – which is really really good, this is the recipe, the nutritional yeast is not optional – and potato salad with fat free mayonnaise and tabbouleh with half the oil the box requests and it was all extremely yum. I am thinking about putting together a cookbook tentatively titled “So Your Gallbladder Doesn’t Work.” This morning I made strawberry pancakes and the leftover strawberries are simmering away on the stove, turning into syrup or jam, depending on how long I leave them there. Maybe later there will be cake. Or not.

I went looking back through my pictures because #lastnormalpicture is trending on twitter and I was a little dismayed but not surprised to find that my pictures have not changed in these 61 days. Empty beaches with distant tiny people: yup, got it covered. Here for all your empty beach needs!

I have new masks. I finally got the one I ordered from Threadless and I got the gaiter mask with skeletons and guillotines on it that I ordered. I love it. The gaiter masks are by far the most comfortable – so comfortable that it almost feels like cheating, like, are you really doing your part if your ears aren’t bleeding? Unfortunately it was expensive so I can only have the one, which means I should be washing it all the time and, honestly? Not going to happen. I have good intentions but when we get right down to it I am bone lazy and washing things is a big pain in the ass. But I have it, I have worn it to Fred Meyer, where, by the way, as in all supermarkets across this nation of ours, grocery prices have had their steepest rise in 50 years. That is FIFTY fucking YEARS. As usual this is getting little to no coverage because it would mean admitting that people are poor and grocery prices matter and we cannot do that, we are all eternally rich and we laugh at such minor details. It’s a problem for the poors, alright! Over to Kathy with the weather.

And that’s all I got, right now. Day 61 since the world changed! Here we go, once more into the breach, I guess.

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PS I burned the strawberry jam.

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