Thoughts On Isolation, Social Distancing And Quitting My Job

In mid March as things were just starting to really come out about what was happening around the world, and how we should all be taking precautions, I had just taken two weeks off due to feeling over worked, and completely fed up with my job. It’s the kind of job that can wear you to the bone, both physically and emotionally, as well as possibly dangerous in “normal” times. We were hearing things more and more every day. As I was not getting any cooperation from those I worked for, and as a matter of fact, various situations with clients were becoming more and more stressful, and dangerous, I felt it was best that I took some time off to reassess my own situation. There was also a part of me that could read the writing on the wall, and knew that this virus was going to get worse before it got better. Where I worked, as I alluded to, on a good day, was unhealthy in every way. On the day before my “vacation”, in the community home and apartments where I worked, not only were we completely out of any kind of sanitizing cleaners, we had little cleaning supplies overall. We were expected to not only be there for the clients as counselors and emotional support people, but we were expected to clean up after them. Many extremely hazardous, and disgusting things were expected of us by our supervisor. Although the higher ups had told us that the “object was for people to do for themselves”, our immediate supervisor in no uncertain terms, yet in a very ambiguous way, (so as not to implicate herself), made it clear on a daily basis that if we did not do it, there “would be no job, and we could find another down the road.” One of her favorite things to say. As I am older, that left me with little choice. But it also left me at higher risk.

When it came time for me to return, my supervisor tried to be nice, and to placate me, saying that “it isn’t that bad.” That I was blowing it out of proportion. She actually asked me on the phone, as she chuckled, “Do you want to be sick, Susan?” It was a ridiculous question. (I had not felt well, and my doctor at that point, said that I “could not return until a week after my last day of any symptoms.) My boss was implying that it was all in my head. I asked fellow co workers later that day, what the situation was regarding supplies, and rules. The folks we worked with all know their rights, and again in “normal” times, refuse to wash, are abusive to employees, and hang out in less than ideal places, getting drugs, etc. My co worker informed me that nothing had changed. (There was also a death of a client who although he had had some physical illnesses was generally fine. But from the time I went on sick leave, about ten days later, he had become increasingly ill, to the point where he had stopped eating or drinking, and then passed.) I was told that it was from his other illnesses, but I feel he may have had covid19. But of course have no proof, and this was right before anyone in our area started testing people for it.

A week later, when I phoned to have an interview with my doctor to “clear me”, I had become worried that considering everything, along with my age, and family history, as well as some health issues, that it would be best if I took an extended leave of absence. Unfortunately, my doctor had called in for her own leave. I was transferred to another doctor, who was arrogant, and also dismissive. He said that he “didn’t feel that legally he could give me a doctor’s note for leave.” I explained the situation, and he said that he would “look into it, and get back to me”. He never did. My leave was up and I was suppose to return to work. My family knew what I had gone through with this job, and understood that it was dangerous for me to return, and urged me not to do so. And I agreed. I quit my job, and have not looked back. Unfortunately I am the main source of income in my immediate family. I do have a small income otherwise, but it isn’t enough for all of the bills. My family are doing what they can, and we are holding on.

I do not regret quitting. I believe in my heart that I was in danger, and am good with my decision. We will get by, it won’t be easy, but I’m alive.

I have been using my time probably like most, “visiting” family online, fixing things around the house, doing what is in my power to help, and working on my art.

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I’ve done a few things recently, including a quick self portrait, (where I feel I may have been a bit too intense, heheh), and a portrait of Andrea Bocelli, as I was so moved by his performance in the empty Duomo in Milan Italy that I started on it soon after.

Do what you believe is best for you, your family, community, and the world. Stay safe, stay home, and flatten the curve for all of us. But also do something to feel better, for yourself and everyone else. I’ll catch you next time, because I’m still here and intend to be for as long as I can 🙂 .

Embracing The Melancholy Of February.

February can be a tricky month. Usually one of the coldest in these parts where I reside, it can also be very unpredictable. So far this February it hasn’t been as bad as what we’re used to here. We’ve had a few average days, as in the single digits, but not many.

This February has been typical in another way though, it’s been mostly dreary and gray, and unquestionably somber. At least if you happen to live in Upstate NY. I was recently told about an article where the author, citing the crappy weather, the failing infrastructure, the abysmal employment rate and various and sundry other legitimately accurate reasons, made a case that all of us, everyone, “should leave.” That we should “get out asap”. And to depart to… “anywhere”. “Anywhere would be better”. And honestly it’s hard to argue with this fairly reasonable viewpoint.

Here’s the thing though. There are just as many legit reasons not to leave. We’re surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery and countryside in the state. Most people here, often like any other place, where gossip, anger, and lets face it, all kinds of nasty politics abound, are also kind, and there for you when you really need them.

And then there’s the whole apocalypse situation. If there is one thing that can be said for those of us who have survived Upstate and all the inherent obstacles, we’re tough. If the electric goes out, we pull out the candles and blankets, if the snow is four feet deep, we still go to work. Apocalypse, schmocaplypse, piece of cake. There have also been theories that living here will be the best bet when (laugh to keep from crying), it happens.

Whether true or not, (and of course no one wants to test that theory), it’s a good one to throw out there when the discourse turns to what a shite place to live this is. It’s also somewhat curious that these same people who point out the down side of living here, are the same ones, who come here for some of the most spectacular leaf peeping there is. Or to ply the countless streams, and other waterways with their top of the line kayaks, enjoying the vistas, and the fresh air.

Yes winter here can be brutal, nevertheless it can also be stunningly beautiful. Something those who live here can take for granted. So it’s a good thing to remember this, and get out and enjoy it. Even on the bleakest days, it can be invigorating. If nothing else, it’ll leave you so exhausted from slogging through the snow, and wet, that you’ll sleep really well. (Unless like me, you have anxiety and tend to lie awake questioning your existence).

Thankfully there are the other three seasons to break up the year. Spring, my personal favorite, brings all new life, and the promise of sunshine and warmth (that is if it arrives, and winter doesn’t skip directly to ninety degree weather). Summer brings the freedom from layers of clothes, boots, and bone chilling days, (and often the life sucking kind of humidity and heat that lesser mortals eschew). Then if and when Autumn arrives, (and summer doesn’t burn directly into a wet cold early winter) it gets us set for those colder days, and by then we’re usually ready and looking forward to wearing our sweaters, and scarves.

The problem with February is, that we’re sick of the cold, and the layers, so it feels longer. Then March is an even bigger trickster. This is because for some reason we tend to feel like it should mean that the cold weather is finally done, and usually that’s March’s lie. But if you took the weather of March, and put it in the middle of January, or February, we would be running around in shorts extolling how great it is out. (Unless you’re used to tropical weather, like some people I know, and anything under sixty eight degrees is torture.) It’s all a matter of perspective.

February is the month when it would be nice to be hibernating. It feels as if that is exactly what we should be doing, like a throwback to neanderthal days. Why fight it? Unfortunately few of us have that option.

I guess I’m using this as an excuse for my own recent lethargy. Maintaining the working position that supports myself and family, seems to take all the energy I have. After which, being creative, painting, or writing sometimes feels like an insurmountable mountain. But perhaps these changes in season are here to make us feel exactly this way. To make us step back, breath, dive deep into morose thoughts, and of questioning what’s next. To make us move on to that next stratum. The next strategy that presents itself to us. It’s worked before. And Spring is right around the corner, hopefully.

I hope everyone is thinking deep, morose and questioning thoughts to ready themselves for the next season. Thanks for stopping by, see you next time!