Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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Moving Forward

In so many ways it feels like life has come to a complete halt but in other ways it’s still moving forward.

It’s spring in Texas. Bluebonnets are out along the highway and I saw a lovely patch of Indian paint brush the other day. I haven’t seen anybody stopping to take the obligatory annual bluebonnet photos that are a Texas tradition, but that is likely to be due to rain as much as social distancing.

Pumpkin the cat has had a litter of 4 kittens. Daughter now has 14 cats in her house: 2 of her own, 1 of her boyfriend’s, and 4 that belong to her roommates plus 2 litters of kittens. One litter is actually old enough to go to new homes but the person who wants them lives in another state and travel is restricted right now.

We had a meeting at Dunbar House with a potential client. She seems like she could really benefit from 3 – 6 months of assistance while she gets her feet under her. And she seems pretty motivated to move her life ahead. The drawbacks are that she has a dog which she simply could not bring with her, and she has a significant other who she would like to stay with. We can’t take in a couple. In fact, I said to V today, we should let it be known that there is no dating within the household. I just see that being a bit of a problem.

I am still planning to move on the 18th. I picked up boxes from a friend today. It was so weird, both of us with masks and afraid to actually chat about anything because of risk of exposure. I just totally appreciate the boxes. I should be able to finish packing now.

I am finding all kinds of cool stuff in my bedroom as I pack. I mean, I knew I had it. I just didn’t know where it was exactly.

I need to do much laundry in the next week. Charli the kitty has been peeing in my laundry again so I need to get that handled and packed. If I can just wash and pack that will be easiest.

I have no idea where I’ll be putting stuff once I move. So much of it is art supplies. I need to actually use art supplies instead of just buying them. I hope to have an opportunity to make some art once I move.

So yeah, things are difficult and strange, but on the other hand the situation is changing even as I write this. Slowly but still shifting. Slow is not staying still, so that’s good. Hopefully things will be different before too long, in a good way.

I feel pretty optimistic today.


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Post Apocalyptic Pharmacy

I went to the pharmacy today. Usually that would be just one more thing in a list of places but today it was a trip in and of itself.

I don’t have a general practitioner or as the insurance people say, a primary care physician. I don’t have insurance right now so I use the public health system. I go to Parkland. My pharmacy is on the hospital campus.

I ran out of my blood pressure meds with this last refill of my meds box so I called it in. They told me everything would be ready Monday. I made my daughter get up and go with me in the morning to get them.

When I got to the pharmacy building, only one door was open. A path was cordoned off so you could only go one way. Two nurses in masks stood at the corner. First they asked why you were there. Some people had appointments but most of us were for the pharmacy. Then they took my temperature. 97.5. I feel like a radio station.

Next I was directed down the line to get a wristband. It was like a concert wristband with a tribal design on it. Then another nurse directed me to the hand sanitizer. After that I was finally able to enter the pharmacy.

The check-in line had X’es taped on the floor showing where to stand. The receptionist didn’t take my ID as usual. Instead I held it up to the glass partition for her to read. The glass partition has always been there, with just a slit to talk through and have her hand me a ticket. I always figured it was a physical safety issue, to keep violent people away like at a bank only for drugs not money, but now I think it has always been about disease.

Turned out my meds were not ready and they needed me to come back after 1230. I left the building and went with my daughter back to her place for a few hours. Coffee and kittens made the wait pass quickly. Just after 12 I got an automated call from Parkland that my meds were ready.

My daughter and I drove back to the pharmacy. I brought my daughter to wait in the car so I wouldn’t have to pay for parking. My budget is that tight right now, that $5 for parking seemed exorbitant. I went through the process again and was let into the building. This time the receptionist gave me a number.

I went into the waiting room. Usually it’s packed. The seats are arranged in rows of 6 and I’m used to 4 or 5 people sitting in each row. Today there was only one person in each row. Several people were wearing masks.

I was number 807. When I arrived, they were on number 788. I figured it would be a solid half hour wait. It was about half that. Things progressed smoothly and rapidly. I got my meds and by the time I left, it was pouring rain. Fortunately my daughter had been waiting nearby so I didn’t have long to wait to be picked up.

Now I am home. It seems so strange now, just going to the pharmacy. I also wonder what I will do the next time. I am now out of refills and insurance. I don’t know how I’ll get my meds next month. Even if they do an automatic refill extension like most places are, I don’t have any income and I don’t know how I’ll pay for them. But I have faith that something will have changed by then.

The world is all different right now and it changed practically overnight. I believe it can change again just as fast, in ways I can’t predict. I can only wait and see.


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Watching the World Shut Down

Italy is closed. Yes, the whole country.

I am watching the US, in particular Dallas where I live, slowly grind to a halt.

As of today . . . Gatherings of over 500 are banned. Now that’s big for a wedding, but it’s small for a rally. I hope we are able to go back to large gatherings after the crisis passes.

Schools are closing. Around here most schools have more than 500 students so that’s in line. But there are concerns that some kids rely on that school lunch and even the school breakfast. And many parents are only able to work because the kids are looked after.

Mega churches are also shutting down. Of course many of them already have online services so that might not affect attendance. Or it might. They might find out how many people go for the fellowship rather than the message.

The Dallas Museum of Art has closed until further notice. I can see museums becoming echoing halls of antiquities that nobody visits even after the crisis is over. I have a Logan’s Run1984 feeling about it.

The city has declared a state of emergency for health purposes. Government is cutting back to bare bones staffing. City managers will not all be in the same room any more.

People are encouraged to “self quarantine”, which basically means isolating yourself in your home. When in public, try to keep 6 feet between yourself and other people. Don’t hug or shake hands. Call the doctor and the hospital before showing up at the office, because they might not be able to accommodate you.

I have concerns. Self quarantine is an awful lot like isolating, which is a problem for those of us with behavioral health concerns. I really appreciate my support groups and the friends I have made there.

Nobody keeps a 6 feet space between each other. I was in Walmart last night and the lines were packed. People were right up against one another. Lines were long. I see chaos resulting from trying to make space. Lines would reach up aisles which would interfere with shoppers. People wouldn’t realize who was in line and accidentally cut others off.

I am less scared of the virus than I am of the government.

Texas has 46 reported cases of Covid-19, with about 7 of them in DFW. That isn’t very many, but this is still the beginning of the situation. I expect to get sick. I expect it to be like a very bad cold. I don’t expect to get the shortness of breath part but you never know. I understand the concern is about having sufficient medical services. Once you get to the breathing issues, the best treatment is a ventilator. Problem is, there are only so many ventilators so only so many people can be treated. The goal is to keep the number of cases manageable. Nobody really talks about containment, though you would think the self quarantine thing would help. People are going to get sick, is all I’m saying. Better if the numbers are spread over a longer time so that fewer people are sick at the same time. I hear there are other countries where the number of people needing treatment has exceeded the capacity of hospitals to care for them, and they are making some hard triage decisions. Hopefully we can avoid that situation.

We are, for the first time as a nation, looking at employment decisions. About 60% of citizens live paycheck to paycheck. People have 2 or 3 low paying jobs to make ends meet. And low paying jobs are often part time and without benefits. Here are all these people in service jobs who work closely with the public who can’t afford to stay home and still meet their financial obligations. Things are going to change, though I can’t say what those changes will be.

These are my thoughts at this point in the process. I don’t know what’s going to happen so I have no real speculation yet about how things will affect me. I am not looking forward to being stuck in the house. I don’t know how this will affect my job search. Anything could happen.

I will make it through. I just wonder what the world will be like when everything’s over.


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Life Changes Fast and Slow

Do you remember a game called Boggle? It was a box with a grid in the bottom that held dice with letters on them. You shake the box to scramble the letters, then compete to see who can form the most and the longest words.

Sometimes I feel like I live in a Boggle box.

I feel like, for no reason I can discern, life is shaking me up and reconfiguring the pattern and I’d better adapt and do my best to get a high score.

Other times, I feel like life takes so very long to happen. Sometimes you’re doing everything you can do, but the process takes longer than expected or you have to wait on something else to happen that you can’t control.

So I’ve been having both situations simultaneously, and they impact each other.

I’ve had my job just over a year now, and I have been trying all this time to get full time hours. I can bid up again when the shift bids come in July, but there’s no guarantee I’ll get anything. On the other hand, I’ve been allowed to participate in some cool projects and offered a little additional responsibility, which is all good. My boss also showed me a job in another department that he thinks I should try for. It’s fewer dollars per hour but it’s full time, so I’d get about the same pay. The company likes to see wide experience in employees, so even though it’s sideways (ie. not a promotion) for now, it would be good to say I’ve done it. And full time employees get tuition reimbursement, so I could finish my degree. Education is very important to get ahead in certain types of job and it would sure help here.

So this is all very good, but it has taken a long time to get here.

Or at least, it feels like a long time to me right now. Because I am not making enough money for anyone in Texas to rent me an apartment on my own, and even if I have a roommate, most people want to qualify us separately not as a unit. I’m an adult, if I could qualify on my own, I wouldn’t be thinking of a roommate.

The people I live with are VERY unhappy that I’m here. I moved in about a year ago, and I believed I’d be able to get full time hours at work and I wouldn’t be here very long. We wrote a contract for 6 months, and I truly believed I wouldn’t even need all of that. Only it’s been 12 months, and I’m still here.

In January, the husband offered me a ride to work and said “I’m not telling you to get out, but the contract said January, and it’s almost the end of January, and you’re still here.” Um, how is that not telling me to get out? And there have been consistent reminders that I should leave on a regular basis since then, including a few actions that were clearly designed to make it uncomfortable to be here. Because apparently knowing you aren’t wanted but having no place else to go isn’t uncomfortable enough.

Now about 10 days ago, my daughter finally decided she’s ready to strike out on her own (see previous blog post “On Being a Mother Hen . . .”) and that changed A LOT about the kind of apartments I can rent. I’ve been looking at 2 bedroom apartments so my daughter could have her own room, but I can live in a studio if it’s just me. That changes rent from $800 and up, to $500 average. And THAT changes the income requirement from $2400 a month to $1500 a month, which puts things down into my price range. I was hoping to be out by the end of this month or during next month, mostly due to the time it takes to find a place.

Monday I went to a stress management session. My stress is so high that I am unusually grumpy and my stomach is creating enough acid to start damaging my esophagus. I have meds that should help until the root cause can be handled. While I was in the session, my phone kept going off with messages. I ignored it, because my powers of ignore are very strong but when I checked it later, my daughter had texted that I need to call her.

Your kid telling you to call her is very scary for a parent, but it isn’t always bad. Sometimes it’s just too complicated for text. I called, but I didn’t know what to expect. She walked into the other room, saying “I don’t think it matters, but there are ears here.”

Hmmm, not ominous at all! It made me suspicious more than anything.

“The husband has been yelling at the wife for the past 2 days about evicting you. She went down to the police station today to get the eviction order.”

Well crap.

And, eviction orders don’t come from the police, so maybe she already had it and was getting a cop to serve me?

But there wasn’t anything I could do about it at the moment. It was my day off, I had a few errands to run still then I got a very long phone call from a friend. I made some more calls to rental offices to see what could be done fast.

I also talked to a very good friend — you know, one of those friends who is more like family, even though there’s no genetic connection — and he said, basically, I needed to get out of there regardless of whether was an eviction, and I could stay with him and his wife.

Sunday is my next day off, so I am moving on Sunday.

There’s much more going on here than this, which I may or may not post about.

But the point is that for a year I have been needing to get out of here. I have tried everything I knew and could not change my situation. I could see change coming, but I couldn’t hurry it up. Life was moving very slow. Then suddenly in the last 2 weeks, the situation changed. And on Monday, I was in the Boggle box.

Still trying to spell the new words, not sure if everything is fully settled yet or how long it will take to get into the new place.

Just the knowledge that everything is different and it’s a new game now.