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Greetings and welcome from the land of beer, cheese, and government orders. While I've been thinking about acquiring a second job to supplement my hours where I am employed now, today I actually did something about it. The other day I applied for a job online, was rejected right away, and gave up on my plan to apply for at least one position per day. Hours have been cut at work, and we're some of the most fortunate people as automotive services are, at least for the time being, considered essential. We don't know to what extent that will continue to be true as dealerships throughout the state are closing, some of them probably for good, although that remains to be seen. Currently I work from 12:30 - 6:00PM, on a Monday through Thursday basis, I have off on Fridays, and work all day on Saturday. The morning receptionist was just told that she will be leaving at 12:30 when I arrive; and the financial challenges are there although as I mentioned, things could certainly be much worse, and for the time being, we have jobs.

It's been slow and I'm not sure what the future holds, none of us really ever do, but more recent events have driven that home in ways that we may internalize and capture forever. I know I will never be as cavalier as I once was about hand washing, one of the things I discovered about myself is that I have a tendency to want to do something during a crisis, and for now, I have returned to reading online articles about art, and more specifically, minimalism. I stumbled upon a piece about Swedish Death Cleaning; I believe I have read it before, but it sparked a desire to leave my children with something other than a mess to clean up after I am gone. Today I decided that the Marie Kondo method, while helpful, useful, and still great in my mind; didn't really address the fact that whether an item produces a joyful feeling in me or not, sometimes I don't really need it. I can't manage everything I own, or rather, I no longer wish to pay the price of maintaining all the things I formerly found room for at my place.

A woman I work with would like a roommate, I could use one, and it seems as if this could be an ideal situation; however roommates, like romantic partners, bring certain habits and lifestyles along with them when they move. She's an extrovert, and I could probably handle that, but my core self knows that inviting her in would be a very bad idea as I do not see us being compatible in many ways. A chart I saw online talked about the intersections between chemistry, and compatibility. I've used it faithfully since then, and this relationship fails on all levels, I am not attracted to her, I don't really even like her, and even though I am conscious of my income to expense ratio, I feel like asking if she would like to move in would be motivated by current desperation rather than a well reasoned or more logical plan. I still have moments where I consider it, and tell myself that I could make it work, undoubtedly this is true, but for now, I'm trying to remember that this second job may come through, and I may even end up making more than I did previously.

Now would be a great time to try and buy a condo or small house, however there is a lot of uncertainty out there now, and I'm not sure I want to add a move into the mix. I'm also positive I would not qualify from an income standpoint without a second source or stream of income. Since I filed my taxes, I can expect a refund, but I am going to be very disciplined, and set the majority of that aside to augment my emergency fund which currently consists of a very small stash of Coca Cola stock. Even with the markets overall getting hammered, it's held up well, and was recently upgraded to a buy position by at least one analyst. I've owned this since I was 22, and I hang onto it for both practical and nostalgic reasons. One of the guys I work with is money conscious, and after a conversation or two with him, plus more recent events, I've gotten back into evaluating where I am at, deciding where I would like to be, and taking the necessary steps to get there.

One of the accounts I follow on Twitter, China Daily, has been covering the virus long before it emerged as a mainstream concern, so in some sense I was better prepared for what is now happening although to say that I foresaw any of the drastic measures would be a gross and wholly inaccurate statement. For some reason, I thought that we would follow the custom of designating one person to monitor temperatures of people seeking entrance to a public place, wear masks, and perhaps even use the partitions people have between diners at restaurants. While I wouldn't say that I'm a germaphobe, I am shocked and appalled at how few people are washing their hands at all, much less in the manner that I was taught during dental assisting classes. My skin is pretty beat up right now, and I suspect I am one of the very fortunate ones since I'm not working in a healthcare environment. The deep etchings on their faces from personal protective equipment is startling, and somewhat scary to me, a physical manifestation of the toll things have taken on them as if we needed one.

Today I did go into a place to ask about a job, it's a fine line between wanting and needing extra money, and realizing that your health and safety are on the line any time one interacts with even one other person. Since I work at the front desk, and people are not practicing social distancing measures where I work, customers will come right up to the counter, cough, sneeze, touch their faces, talk loudly and unnecessarily, leave personal possessions there, you get the idea. Communication at work has been disappointing, and practically non-existant. There's a print out telling us that we should not come into work if we are exhibiting any symptoms, but none of this is being enforced. When we clock in there is a reminder to set up direct deposit if we haven't done so already, and that's about the extent of it. No emails, no signs, the other day I got into trouble for letting a fellow employee in through the front doors, nobody told us that there was a new protocol in place so I assumed that would be okay, and really didn't think about it.

The other day someone I work with came up to the front desk; this happens every once in a while, but rarely do people stop by just to chat. After a few minutes of conversation he looked at me and asked if I needed money. We had been discussing the paperwork on my desk; I was trying to submit a claim to see if some of my dental expenditures might be eligible for reimbursement under my health savings account. I had tried to submit the paperwork earlier, and was subsequently denied, I hate having to jump through all these hoops, as if I was at the dentist getting a facial after my massage instead of having a crown redone, but that's a story for another day. I didn't know what to say, and since I was feeling the pinch at that moment, I confessed that I wasn't sure how things were going to work out, but that I was okay for the time being. He accepted that as an answer, but when he left he told me not to forget. I started crying, he told me to stop, and I hope I will always cherish and remember his kindness and generosity at a time when everyone is on shakier ground.

There are still bright moments and things I find joy in each day. It's a battle to stay positive and optimistic, yet for the most part, I am. I'm getting closer to living the life I want, and that makes me happy. Getting rid of things was taxing, but I feel better with fewer things, and even found the book; Goodbye, Things, while I was doing some research. A part of me would love to drastically reduce the total number of possessions I own, another part of me wants to avoid minimalism as some sort of be all and end all movement. What I would really like is to have a place that really feels like home, and for some reason, I do feel much better after I go through things and see what I can part with at the time. I've hung onto things that I could clearly let go on, and on some level, I am okay with that. I would like to hang some art, and suspect that will help me quite a bit. I haven't painted anything in a while, I'm on a self imposed financial diet, and other than essentials like fuel for my car, haven't spent anything recently which really made me proud of myself.

While many others have experienced radical changes, my life hasn't changed dramatically. I have been getting outside more, and that's been great for me. I still have eggs left from the time I purchased five dozen. I downloaded an app for the grocery store and then deleted it. I will probably go back and try a different one, a store I'm more familiar with perhaps, a friend had suggested that one, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but I am easily overwhelmed by stores that offer too much selection and variety even if they are a bit more cost effective. Buying things I didn't know existed will negate savings I could have had if I had fewer options to choose from. My hunch is that things will become more dire before they become better, I feel like a very small cog in the machine of the universe, but I'm also glad I could be there for others just as my wonderful friends and several family members have been there for me during emotional meltdowns. None of us knows what tomorrow may bring so I pray this finds you well.

Stay safe please;

J

P.S. It feels really good to have so many things crossed off my list. I still want to set up some sort of a bill pay/important paperwork station at home, it's been a challenge to find creative ways to use the space I have, fortunately, I tend to thrive on that sort of thing.

All my best,

j