It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve talked to you, but here I am again. It’s been a long and insane journey even from the last time I posted a blog. I don’t know about y’all, but 2020 has completely changed my life. Everything has turned upside down in my world. Honestly, I don’t even know where to start, so I’ll just start typing and we’ll see where this blog goes, alright?
So, I’m thinking back to March 25th. That whole week leading up to that was pretty tense for me. Words were being said at work that we might be shut down, so I was afraid that I’d be out of a job right then and there. One of my bandmates/best friends had just lost his job that he had only started a few shorts months prior to that point and he was in the midst of chaos and fear. We had a meeting a day or two prior to Wednesday the 25th where we were assured that we would be paid if we were sent home and everything was going to be cool. There were plans in place. Fair enough, right? So, the email goes out that Wednesday morning that we were being shut down for our safety’s sake. Great! Go home, shelter in place, and wait for this coronavirus to do its thing and screw off. Well, that didn’t quite happen as we all know. I stayed home a total of 81 days.
In those 81 days, though, my life began to change. My relationship with my sort of girlfriend (long story) really just died within those first nights. I was pretty much tripping out over the fact that my job, as of that fateful Wednesday, was to stay home and be safe until further notice. It was so crazy to me to think that because a lot of other people in my country weren’t getting afforded the same luxury that I was. I’m bad about spontaneous wording and as it was this woman that I was dating is a gaslighter, so she took my raw thoughts and turned them completely against me. I was sick of fighting with her by that point, so I just told her that I’d shut up about what I was thinking about and leave her be. I haven’t spoken to her since. That still breaks my heart, honestly. I didn’t want our relationship to end that way, but I guess it was for the best. We were too different when it all boiled down. She is an extroverted party girl that doesn’t share the same morals as I do, and as you all know, I’m the quiet Catholic introvert who knows a lot of people, but rarely goes out into the real world. I really thought that I had a shot with her, though. I thought we could meet in the middle. We had it for a minute there and were committed to each other, until she wasn’t. I think about her often… dare I say daily, but the ache is slowly going and is barely there now.
I started to get into a personal routine in those 81 days too. I found out that my body clock likes to run from 9-10am to about 12am daily with that required at least 8-9 hours of sleep nightly. Things at home were great. I finally was able to catch up with the pro wrestling programs I watch, which are WWE’s Smackdown and Raw (and some of the PPVs), and AEW Dark and Dynamite. I also had the time to catch up with my streaming services shows and I also got back into listening to the podcasts that I enjoyed. I walked my neighborhood for a few weeks until I started to notice plantar fasciitis really set in on my left foot so I stopped that, but I tried to be active every day. I shampooed my carpet, rearranged my living room and dining room area, and fixed my blackout curtain to seal up all the spots were light was coming in. I was also visiting my grandparents who live 30 minutes away more often and helped them out with more things that they need since they are now at the age where they need help with everyday tasks. Overall, things were ok.
We had a few call in meetings with work every now and again, but nothing was ever set in stone for any return. That changed for me in the middle of June. I got the notice that I was part of the small group of people that were designated as mission critical, so I was asked to return to work on June 15th. I’ll be honest, I wanted to stay home. We were still in the middle of the big spike in virus cases here in town and I was still having mini panic attacks being around people, but I could not say no, so I went in. Things were cool. That first Friday, I actually felt happy walking back to my truck because it felt like normalcy was returning to my world. Not that I minded staying at home, but it also felt cool to go back to my routine. I was happy. That all changed for me again on July 11th. I went to my dad’s house because somebody decided to kill my prized coir mat that I had JUST purchased a month prior. It was hilarious. It said in fancy cursive “Thug Life”. I’ve used that term in hashtag form for years since watching the silly comedy Pineapple Express when the actor Danny McBride said it. I thought it was a hilarious way to turn the phrase around and make it funny, so I took it for myself too. Anyway, somebody decided to kill my thug life coir mat and for as heartbroken as I was, I knew I had another mat at my dad’s house that I was going to use for camping. Sadly, the Rona took this year’s camping season away from me too, so I figured that I might as well take the mat that I already had and bring it here instead of buying a new one. That day would cost me. I got to my dad’s house and was told by him that his wife was sick. She was showing signs of COVID-19, but had been feeling similarly sick for a few weeks before that, as had my father. I still made sure to keep my distance from her just in case, but didn’t space myself that much from my dad because he said that he didn’t feel all that bad. I was there for 7 hours. I came back home and never felt sick, but sadly within 3 days my dad was severely ill with COVID-19 and the double pneumonia that it ended up giving him. He went from going to Urgent Care on a Saturday night, to being admitted to a hospital within a couple of hours of that, to being transferred to another hospital’s ICU unit by Sunday afternoon. I was terrified. I didn’t know if I was going to lose my dad or not and I sure as hell wasn’t ready for it. There was still a countless amount of hours of conversations to be had, booze to be shared with him, and music, movies, and sports to watch with him. It was all made worse with the fact that I self reported close contact with him, so I was sent home for 14 days from work too. Thankfully, I had 13.5 days of paid time off that I was forced to use, but I was going to be able to cover my bills and rent. I won’t bore you with the details, but after an 8 day stay in the hospital, my dad made it home. He’s still recovering from the damn illness, but my hopes and prayers are that he continues to make a full recovery. He’s already about 96% recovered in my opinion, thank God!
I went back to work and things got back to the new normal again for me. I felt cheated that I had to use my own paid time off to keep from missing bills and rent, but oh well, at least I had a job to go back to. By that point, they had started to rotate people in that were still at home since March 25th, so it was great to see some friends of mine that I hadn’t seen in nearly half a year. At some point in August or September, though, things started to change. We got a funny looking email from the higher ups in the company telling us that there was a chance that layoffs would need to happen. Of course some of us got scared, but I honestly didn’t at the time because I thought that the fact that I held a unique position in the company and the fact that I was the longest serving employee there (9 years and counting) would mean something. Loyalty should mean something, right? Well, we went into another call in/meeting and were told that nevermind that downsizing thing because it thankfully was not going to affect our location. WHEW! …Then came the week of September 21st. We got another funny looking email about unexpected cuts that were going to have to happen by the end of the month. Within a few days, we had a meeting where our managers told us that our office was indeed going to be affected by this round of cuts. Again, I thought because of the 2 things in my favor, I’d be safe. *Spoilers* I was wrong. By the end of the week, my manager was acting kinda funny around me. She has always been horrible about hiding emotions, etc, so I knew something was up. I thought I was safe, but also had a sense of “oh shit. I’m fucked!” about me. I only let a little bit of the thought of “what if?” in my head, but just kept on going. Sure enough, two of us that were currently in the office along with 10 others still at home were told “thanks, but you’re done.” I could not believe it. In the 20+ years of employment, I’ve never been fired and up until September 30th, I’d never been laid off from a job either. I was in complete shock. I had no idea what to do.
See, I’m a person who operates on a routine. I have my schedule and have it mapped out long in advance. I have my job, I have my responsibilities, and I try to shelter in place for as long as possible on my off time. Sure, I have debt, but I always knew that I’d have my rent paid, my utilities paid, and money for food to stay alive at the very least. To have that all taken away from me within the matter of 20 minutes was earth shattering for me. That entire phone call where they had some clown from HR on the phone telling us that we’d still have our benefits until the end of the month then asking if we had any questions all while acting like it’s just another day at the office felt so horrible to me. Honestly, all I could think about was “How fucking DARE they do this to me! I fucking gave 9 years of my life to them! I NEVER once complained about anything! I did everything that was asked of me and then some! I was always happy and had great relationships with my fellow coworkers there. Why was I not one of the 9 people that got to stay there?” My now ex-boss as of that moment apologized to the two of us there. That was nice of her. She said that we could use her as a personal reference and the main manager of the place was gladly offering to be listed as a professional reference. Nice of them as well. She also said that if we wanted to leave right then and there, we could. They understood. My now ex-coworker asked questions that I wanted to know too, but honestly at that point couldn’t have cared less. My heart was shattered and I just wanted to escape. We stayed in that office for about another 5 minutes and I went back to my desk to collect my things. I had taken a canvas tote with me that day just in case I was going to be laid off, so I just started to collect all my things. I was so hurt that I didn’t want to talk to anybody there. There was about an hour left in the workday, so I decided to do a bit more work, but with half an hour left, I realized that I just couldn’t do it anymore. What was the point, anyway? I asked my direct manager if I could leave and she said yes, so I was on my way out until I was being stopped by other managers in the office telling me how bad and sorry that they felt. All I wanted to do then was cry, but I tried to keep on as good of a brave face as I could (thank God for facemasks, by the way!), but I just wanted to leave. I felt like I was suddenly in my home but somebody had already moved in and I was an unwelcomed guest.
I had warned my dad and my sister that I may be laid off, but when I texted them as soon as I was walking back to my truck, things quickly became real. My sister couldn’t believe it and insisted that I go to her house, and my dad sent me a heartfelt text message as well. That entire drive back home was surreal. Knowing that I’d never make that drive again just hurt. When I parked in front of my flat, it felt like I was a complete failure as well. Like what the hell, right?! I opened the door and just felt completely useless. I was on the phone with my sister and told her that I was going to change into some more comfortable clothes before I made it over to her house then got myself situated at home. For the first time, I was completely lost. What was I going to do now? I had no idea of what kind of job I wanted to get now. What could I do? I mean, I loved the job I had. It was a Monday – Friday gig, holidays off, set time, no overtime, and it was generally fun! It worked for my regimented lifestyle. There were never going to be surprises. I always knew the road ahead and that’s the way I needed it and loved it. Now I was violently thrown off that proverbial road into the darkness with no survival gear or lighting into a pitch black void.
I called my dad on the phone and to my surprise he actually told me to possibly take the rest of the year off and start fresh in January. With the pandemic still to make its fall and winter return with a vengeance and the uncertainty of the national election, it would be the safest bet to just stay home to rest, relax, and reset. I couldn’t believe it that he’d suggest it, but I was thankful and grateful that he did. It’s odd that he did as well because for at least a month prior to that, I had noticed the beginnings of burn out. For as much as I need structure in my life, I just couldn’t find the time to schedule in downtime. I was posting on my social media platforms via memes just how much I just needed a time out. That, and the feeling of being ostracized by my company with some of its new policies/”celebrations”/etc that directly contradicted my strong Catholic faith had me thinking that God found a jarring way, but a way nonetheless of getting me out of that situation. Overall, it’s been my faith in our Lord Jesus Christ that has honestly kept me going through this and all the other bad situations that have happened in my life. I know He will never leave me nor will He let me fail or leave me.
So, I got to my sister’s house and ate dinner with them. I saw my nephews and honestly I don’t even know if they knew what had happened to me, but I immediately felt comforted by the presence of my family. I stayed for a few hours and talked and saw my nephews playing video games then made it home after about another hour or so talking with my sister in the front yard of her house. I thanked her for insisting on me going over because it distracted me from my situation. I realized that even more when I got home 10 minutes later. I was right back at facing the situation presented to me. I was now unemployed and had no real reason to wake up early the next morning. I had filed for unemployment before leaving to my sister’s house earlier in the evening and since that was already in process, I just had nothing in front of me. Naturally, I didn’t sleep very well that night. I woke up 2 hours after laying down feeling like I had slept the entire night but then the anxiety crept in. All of the unknown was attacking me and I had no defense against it. Stupid too, when I think about it. What was done was done, you know? I had a temporary plan in place and I had just paid the rent for the month. I was fine for at least a few weeks if not months with the money I had in my 401k, so why stress? Well, I slept on and off again until a reasonable hour early in the morning and started my first day in the unknown. Honestly, I can’t tell you what I did because I really don’t remember. I’m sure I made breakfast, but I was so numb at the time that I just don’t recall what else I did. I think it was either that day or the next for sure that I cleaned the flat and did laundry. My sister came over that next day and we talked for a bit longer. We got into a bit of a religious argument, but she quickly apologized for it. I knew that she was going to my grandparent’s house on that Friday, so I asked if I could go with her so that I could break the news to them in person because I knew that they would take it hard. My grandparents, especially my grandmother, worry so much about all of us in the family and she has hypertension problems, so I wanted to tell her in person so that she could see that I had a plan and everything was going to be okay. It was still tough telling her and talking to them about it. Grandpa actually cried and said “we’ll get through this.” I nearly broke down with him. It sucked but at the same time it was great to know that I had support and was surrounded by love. Not that I didn’t know that already, but it was good to see it. Speaking of that, a few of my friends from work also reached out and were making sure that I was okay. It meant so much to me that they did that. I was joking to my sister that it felt like I had died and was experiencing post-death me. So many people told me just how much I meant to them, how much they love me, and the great and positive impact I have made on their lives. It felt great to know that I’ve had such a positive impact on people’s lives.
It hasn’t been all lollipops and booze, though. That anxiety that I mentioned a little bit ago? Yeah, that monster came to hit me with a vengeance over the past 2 weeks. The anxiety attacks were so bad that they were reminding me of similar attacks I was getting at my previous job that I had for 9 months in 2014-2015. I was getting the same horrible feelings. Terrible anxiety, loss of appetite, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, with no help in sight. I had old Buspirone pills that were prescribed those 5 years ago and I decided to start to take them again. I didn’t have very many of them, so I tried to get a new prescription from my new primary care physician. Sadly, though, I had to go see her in person as she had never prescribed those for me before, so it cost me $72 dollars just to see her for 5 minutes in person so that I could get a new prescription of the anti-anxiety medication. I didn’t have that money, but thankfully my dad paid for the visit. I’ll be forever grateful for him for that. I learned one thing, though. Buspirone and I aren’t that good of friends anymore. It sorta takes care of the anxiety, but at the same time it makes me feel horrible too. It raises my blood pressure and it makes me drowsy now, so I’m learning to only take it in dire emergencies and not as a regular pill. We’ll see how that goes.
You know, there’s one big thing that I’ve wanted to talk about in regards to this whole situation. It’s the fact that this global pandemic, COVID-19, has really affected the entire world. I never thought that I’d lose my job over it. I never thought a direct family member would get it and be so affected by it either. Both of those things have happened because of it. I know I’m not the only one, though. Oddly, the world crisis has been put right at my front door as well. It’s even more real to me now. Those news stories that I’d see and read about where people were losing their jobs, having their lives turned upside down, etc… I am part of that now. I never thought I’d say that, but here I am. I’m less than 2 months from my 40th birthday. I should have been getting ready to make my trip out to Las Vegas to celebrate, not worry about having to find a new job and start my life over again all while worrying about catching a deadly virus and hoping I survive it too.
I thank God for the podcasts that are currently in my rotation, especially The Joint with “Uncle” Joey Diaz. I can’t remember if I’ve ever talked about Uncle Joey here before. For those that don’t know who he is, he’s a stand-up comedian/actor/podcaster and as he proclaims “all around bad motherfucker from North Bergen, New Jersey”. He isn’t lying either. He’s lived quite an insane life. He hosted a podcast for 8 years called “The Church of What’s Happening Now” that I was just completely in love with. He gave out life advice and cheered people up in comedic ways all while pouring his heart, soul, and past out for everybody to see and hear. It was inspirational. Honest to God, it was freaking inspirational. Well, to me it was. When the pandemic hit, slowly the messages were being dropped on the podcast that it was going to end because Joey was going to move from Los Angeles to New Jersey. He wasn’t alone. He was reporting first hand on how there were lines of moving trucks all throughout the Los Angeles area. I mean, who can blame them? The entertainment industry, that drives most of the economy there, was gone. Comedians were leaving by the handful because all the clubs were closed. Film and TV productions were halted for the same reason. The Hollywood dream was slowly dying, and the homeless population exploded out from Skid Row to overtake much of the city. Crime was going even more up than it already was and since Joey has a young daughter, there was no reason to stay there. One of the last guests on The Church was the comedian Sam Tripoli and right off the bat, Sam was crying because Joey was leaving. It wasn’t just Joey that was leaving, but pretty much every other comedian of note in the L.A. area was either going or gone already. It was heartbreaking. I cried too just feeling so sad that lives were being forever changed. Little did I know that a couple of months after that podcast aired, I would be counted amongst the affected. I mention all of that to say that Uncle Joey just came back last week with a new podcast and it’s just him flying solo. He’s still pouring his heart and soul and giving out inspirational pep talks. What he said on his first episode really stuck with me. He said something to the effect that the virus has killed all of our jobs, our lives, and everything, but we need to stay strong. There’s no debtor’s prison. There’s ways to survive and we’re all in it together. Get a journal and write. That last part really struck a nerve with me. I’ve always used this blog as my means of escape and to release my demons. I’m grateful for you all who read it. It makes me aware that people out there care. I know that I haven’t been as active, and now since the first of the month, I really haven’t had the excuse, but I’m here now.
So, that’s where I’m at right now. I’m taking things day by day. It’s been 15 days since my life was thrown into chaos. I almost said it was ruined, but it’s not ruined. God has a plan for me. He has a plan for all of us! I complained that I needed a break and He gave it to me. He knew that I was uncomfortable with the immoral things that were being celebrated there at this job, so He took me out of the situation as well. God has a plan for me, I just have to take the current time to rest, relax, pray, and go into this new chapter of my life. I’ll write more about my feelings as they come. I have ideas about what I want to share.
One last thing. Stay the hell home, y’all. I know you miss your old life, friends, and family, but don’t go out unless you need to. If you do need to go out, wear a mask. Don’t complain about it. You’re NOT invincible or immune to this virus. Take it seriously. Even if you have a personal death wish, protect yourself for your friends and family if you see them. They may not be as indestructible as you are. It’s not a political thing and it’s not a personal freedom thing. Stop making it about that. Care about those around you and protect you and them. Life is only blessed to us for a short amount of time here on Earth. Don’t cut yourself or anybody else’s life short because you can’t wear a freakin’ mask because of freedom or some other BS excuse.
Love y’all! Talk soon!