Last year on my birthday, I came home from work and watched Marc Maron’s Netflix special “End Times Fun” and if there was a more symbolic way to spend that birthday I’m not sure what it would’ve been. Everyone was already very nervous and hand washing was becoming an art form. I’d started wearing rubber gloves on the bus (but not a mask yet, because that wasn’t a thing yet.)
I had a ticket to see Blood Orange at The Vic on the 13th, and I was hemming and hawing about whether or not to go, but they cancelled the show, and that was the day that basically everything got cancelled for the foreseeable future (at least in most places that had any sense). We’d started a rotating work-at-home schedule, but it wasn’t long before almost everyone was working at home all the time.
At my previous job I’d kind of hated working at home. I found it more stressful than being at the office for various reasons (which I don’t need to enumerate here.) But this was a much different experience. I wasn’t managing anyone, there were hardly any meetings to attend. I didn’t have to account for every minute as billable time and I was mostly left alone to do my work.
So naturally, now that I was more or less happy with my job, I got laid off in June. I wasn’t the only one — a big chunk of the staff got axed. Looking for a job is a chore at the best of times, and this was definitely NOT. I signed up with all the freelance/recruiting agencies, but there wasn’t much work to be had. I picked up a few small projects courtesy of friends and former colleagues, but was basically unemployed until November. I was lucky enough to not suffer financially — I managed to get by on severance, unemployment and the few stimulus crumbs tossed our way by the government. Supremely lucky. I finally got a freelance gig that started in November and I’m currently booked until the end of March. I’d prefer a full-time position, so I don’t have to handover most of a paycheck every month for health insurance, but I like this job and I’m content to continue as long as they’ll have me.
99% of the trips I made outside my home in the past year were for doctor’s visits, and there were plenty of those:
1. I fell and landed on the cat food plate which broke and split my knee open, requiring stitches
2. I had heart palpitations and anxiety attacks which ultimately landed me in the emergency room
3. I wore a heart monitor and had a sleep study which resulted in a diagnosis of sleep apnea
4. And I have to go to the lab every 3 months for blood work because of a medication I take
One good place I went to was The Catcade. Friday needed a buddy and now that I was home all the time I (along with a bazillion other people) thought it would be a great time to get another cat. So I adopted an 8-week old kitten and named him Ash and honestly without these two cats around I would be even less mentally healthy than I am. Everyone keeps telling me that the cats are going to have major separation anxiety whenever I have to go back to work in an office. Now that I’ve been working at home for a year, I have no interest in going to back to an office ever again. But if I do have to, they won’t be the only ones with separation anxiety. If I can’t get up from my desk and go say hello to the cats sunning themselves on the windowsill or play Treats Chase in the middle of the afternoon I will be extremely sad.
I worried about my mom. I went to see her in late February for her birthday so I haven’t seen her for over a year now. We talk every day, but I’ve never gone this long without seeing her in person. I’m lucky that she took the pandemic very seriously and wasn’t out doing stupid shit because FREEDOM, MAN. She’s been vaccinated now so I feel better, but I’m waiting to go visit until I get my own vaccine.
I tried writing a zine three or four times but never got anywhere. When would be a better time to do it? I’d get about five paragraphs in and just sigh and say, “Who cares?” and the text file would sit on my desktop for another few months until I tried again and the same thing happened. I started keeping a running list of all the TV shows and movies I watched and the volume feels VAST, though I don’t know that it’s any different than any other year. It’s not like I was watching TV for more hours in the day than I was before. I don’t think. I know I’m not reading as much. I can’t concentrate.
I was also seriously thinking about buying a car at this time last year. The bus commute to my job was a major drag and so I was starting to shop around and stress out about that. That was a bullet dodged. I would’ve had a car payment and then lost the job I bought the car to drive to that I was now doing at home. That’s just *chef’s kiss* as they say on the internet.
While I was unemployed I put in a lot of volunteer time texting to help people register to vote, to request a mail-in ballot, to vote early, to vote on election day, to just fucking VOTE. Most people were decent, but I also got a lot of abuse hurled at me. I took screen shots and saved them in a folder. I might show them to you if you ask nicely. I should probably just delete them. That would be the healthy thing to do.
Something really horrifically awful happened that I’ve only talked to a couple people about, and only barely. Right after Thanksgiving a childhood friend of mine was murdered. He was one of the sweetest, kindest people I’ve ever known, and even though we weren’t close anymore, he was super important to me at a time in my life and the idea of this happening to him is something I don’t think I’ve been able to fully acknowledge yet. Someone was arrested for the murder and I keep track of the court case on the website. The judicial system being what it is, it will drag out into infinity but I won’t forget. I won’t.
Other things happened. I impulse-bought a lot of graphic tees. My skin care routine is pretty good. I listen to a gazillion podcasts because I can’t bear the sound of my own thoughts. Because of the sleep apnea diagnosis I use a CPAP machine now, and I don’t have all the bonkers dreams I used to have all night long. The only thing I take pictures of anymore is the cats. I started drinking Coke again, which is a very bad habit. I’m obsessed with doing the Spelling Bee puzzle on the New York Times Crossword app. I haven’t had a haircut in seven months. I’m trying to hold out for the vaccine before I go to back to the salon.
Now it’s my birthday again. I worked at home, ordered dinner and watched Promising Young Woman, which my brain is still vibrating from so I don’t know when I will get to sleep.
It’s been a year.