WHATEVS…

Sierra's online journal

Everybody Counts April 6, 2020

Filed under: Daily Writing Prompt — sierrak83 @ 12:36 am
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(Day 2: Something Someone Told Me About Myself)

In all the craziness of the ongoing pandemic, it’s easy to forget that it’s a census year for the US. Easy to forget until the repeated postcards and reminder letters start piling up, that is. So last week, I finally buckled down and committed to filling out the required information online.

I fired up my laptop, navigated to my2020census.gov, plugged in my access code, and got started. And everything was moving along well for a total of about 60 seconds before I reached the question about my ethnicity.

Easy. White. I’m white. Check. And click next.

ERROR. White isn’t enough. I also must enter my origin. I stare blankly at my screen for a moment, contemplating typing in my standard answer: “European mutt.” But something tells me the federal government wouldn’t be amused with that response so instead I type “unknown.”

ERROR. Not acceptable. I apparently must enter ACTUAL origins. And then the panic started to creep in. I don’t know my origins. What do I put? How will I be counted? Will I be penalized if I’m unable to complete my census? What do people who were adopted enter here?

So I did all I could think of doing. I texted my dad: “Trying to do my census stuff and I don’t know my race. White isn’t good enough. They need to know my ancestry and won’t accept ‘unknown.’ HELP!”

And help came. In an abundance. Complete with color commentary:

“Well, your father was Irish, Scottish, with a touch of English, and your mother was Irish, French, with a touch of German. That’s what I’d tell them. Born under a bad sign, and if not for bad luck, they’d have no luck at all. My maternal grandmother was half French, with 12.5% Canadian Indian. My maternal grandfather was just Irish. My paternal grandfather was Scottish, and my paternal grandmother was Irish. Diabetic bitch. With lotsa alcohol. Both sides, and stubborn as the day is long. Plus tell them, opinionated as hell. Self-righteous sons of bitches, too.”

I back-spaced on “unknown” and considered entering “self-righteous sons of bitches” but instead typed: Irish, Scottish, English, French, German.

There. I’ve been counted.

30-Day Writing Challenge

 

Happiness is… April 4, 2020

Filed under: Daily Writing Prompt — sierrak83 @ 2:01 pm
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Life feels a little…overwhelming…right now. Amid the covid-19 outbreak, we’re all dealing with a lot. Life has changed for us all and for me that looks a little like this: On March 12, my daughter came home from school for what would end up being the last time “indefinitely.” On March 20, her daycare closed its doors. On March 23, I began working from home, full-time, while also juggling “home schooling” my first grader. On March 27, my full-time hours were cut drastically. Retail establishments are closed. Restaurants are delivery only. Places of entertainment are closed. Grocery stores are limiting the number of shoppers allowed inside at once. Playgrounds are taped off, unusable. Some days, I have the presence of mind to remind myself that we’re going to be okay. That we’ll get through this. That it won’t last forever and that we’ll all be stronger and more appreciative of the little things when it’s over. And other days, my anxiety gets the best of me, leaving me irritable, despondent, and without any oomph to even get dressed. Today is one of those “other” days.

And while scrolling through Facebook today, I saw a post shared by my cousin (and fellow blogger) Sasha. “30 Day Writing Challenge.” And I’ll admit, part of me thought, “Who starts a 30-day challenge on the fourth of the month?” And then I realized that this post is exactly what my spirit needed today. And surely starting on the fourth isn’t even on the top ten of wacky things going on in the world right now. So here we go. Day 1 of 30. Beginning with…a list of 10 things that make me really happy.

  1. My girl. – She doesn’t realize how much she’s helped me hold things together these past few weeks. When all I want to do is lay in bed and feel sorry for myself, she’s my reason to get up. To cook something. To take a walk. To watch a silly movie or play a kid game. We help each other find balance; work/school and fun. We help each other find levity in every day. I hope someday when she’s older and looks back on this time, she remembers it as a bonding experience. A positive and happy time in her childhood. And I hope someday she realizes that she’s saved me.
  2. My husband. – My second savior. We’ve been together for 20 years, married for 11. He knows how my mind works and can usually help curb my anxiety. Whether it’s giving me some much-needed alone time when he gets home from work, ordering a movie OnDemand to take my mind off things, or talking calmly and logically through difficult conversations, he gets me. I’m thankful that with all the “social distancing,” he’s someone I can still hold tight.
  3. Our home. – I’ve griped about this house for almost as long as we’ve owned it. It’s too small. It’s old and quirky. It sometimes feels too full, like the walls are closing in on me. But you know what? There’s so much love here. We’ve got everything we need to keep us safe and happy inside. Plus a backyard full of activities for our girl…playscape, sandbox, yard games, her bike and scooters. If we have to be quarantined, this is a pretty damn comfortable place to do it. In fact, I recently asked my daughter where is her favorite place to go. I expected her to waver between a few places she loves but that we can’t visit right now…perhaps dance class or the soccer field, bowling, Six Flags, the movie theater. But she surprised me by saying, “Home.”
  4. My sister. – She and I have a lot in common…including anxiety. So when my husband doesn’t quite “get” how I’m feeling, she surely does. She has always been–and continues to be–someone I can call any time, day or night, to vent to. To cry to. To calm me down. I value the friendship we have and that I can say anything at all to her without fear of judgement.
  5. My dad. – I worry about him every day. His age, his health, his stubbornness when it comes to letting someone else grocery shop for him so he can stay home…they’re all factors against him in this pandemic. Plus add in the fact that he lives alone and I worry that he’s lonely. He and I had a rough go of things after my mom passed but over the past several years, there’s been a change in our relationship. And it’s been so good. I look forward to lots more family dinners and outings in the (hopefully near) future. But until then, we’ll sustain ourselves through texts and calls.
  6. “Framily” and friends. – The calls, texts, and messages just to check in or stay connected have sustained me on most days. From people I consider family to people I haven’t seen in person for years, I’m thankful for every relationship. This week alone, I wept watching a college friend’s memorial video for her dad as well as a high school friend’s welcoming home of her fiance. I’ve joked with someone I’ve considered my best friend since grade school and offered an ear to someone I view as family who is experiencing a loss. Through good times and bad, it’s reassuring to know that we’re all in this together and that even on our darkest days, there are people out there who care about us.
  7. Writing. – I realized pretty early on today that I was having a rough day. And when that happens, I don’t want to snap or take my mood out on my family. So I said to my 6-year old, “I think I’m going to take some time out to write. Because I’m feeling grumpy and writing usually helps me feel better.” Her response? “Okay, Momma. When I’m grumpy, I like to color.” She gets it. Sometimes the time alone is truly needed. And writing has always been an outlet for my feelings. Blogging, journaling, even working on the novel that I started about a year ago…writing is always cathartic. I hope this 30-day challenge gets me putting fingers to the keyboard more regularly. What better time to start a new routine, right?
  8. Sunshine. – It’s not lost on me that my mood is better when the sun’s shining versus when it’s cloudy or rainy. And this past week has brought us lots of clouds. I’m thankful that this craziness is happening in springtime (rather than in the dead of winter) so we can at least be outside soaking up the vitamin D whenever possible.
  9. Essential oils. – I’ve seen the memes. I know you all think that white women believe they can cure cancer with a little clary sage and frankincense. And for the record, I’m not THAT white woman. But on a day like today where my mind needs a little boost of optimism, you’d better believe that a couple of drops of something citrus in the diffuser gives me the pep I need. Say what you will. I’m happy.
  10. The internet. – Imagine for a moment that this quarantine was happening in the 1980s. No social media. No smart phones full of game apps. No e-books. No streaming services. No video chats. What the ever-living hell would we all do?! Thankfully it’s 2020 and my devices all allow me to stay connected with friends, music, books, movies and shows.

On that note, I think I’ll go rub some essential oil on my wrists and head out for some sunshine with my girl before settling in for a night of trashy reality TV with my husband. Stay well, friends. And for those who want to join me in this challenge (or just get a sneak peek of what I’ll be writing about in the coming weeks), here’s a copy of the 30 prompts:

30-Day Writing Challenge

 

Daily Prompt: I am a Rock September 5, 2013

Filed under: Daily Writing Prompt — sierrak83 @ 12:16 am
Tags: , , , ,

The Daily Post’s daily prompt today was “I am a Rock.” We were encouraged to write about asking for help. If you’d like to read more about this prompt, check out their blog post: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/daily-prompt-self/

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I Need Help

I’m not one to ask for help. I’m more the type that would rather bury herself in a pile of paperwork at work, heap one too many to-do list items at home, and end up a frazzled, weepy mess by Friday than dare ask anyone to lend a hand. Which is why it’s a bit out of character for me to request help now. But I need it. I need help making sense of those who ask for and/or accept help a bit too freely. And by “ask for and/or accept help a bit too freely” I mean “take advantage.”

I grew up in a world where hard work led to accomplishments led to reward. Succeeding in school was non-negotiable. Anyone who wasn’t a student worked and everyone who worked made a decent living. In all fairness, I also grew up in a world where the average house didn’t have internet so it’s hard to know what life was like outside of my bubble of family and friends. But it sure seemed like life was a lot different.

Today, people have an air of entitlement and finding loopholes and/or cheating the system is the norm. Maybe it’s due to the economic downturn. Maybe the moral compass of our society is out of whack. Maybe both. Our government dishes out all kinds of help which—don’t get me wrong—is an important safety net to help families who have hit hard times. But it’s hard to keep that positive outlook about that help when I have seen (both in my professional and personal life) that very help fostering laziness and reliance on the system.

Unemployment vs Working

When the economy tanked, so did the job market. Lots of people lost money, their jobs, their ability to support themselves. And the government started writing paychecks. People accepted that help because they needed it. The recession has been a black cloud hovering over our country for several years. So long, in fact, that the maximum length of time that a citizen can collect unemployment was extended. A couple of times, I believe. But there are no checks and balances. I’ve seen people happily collect unemployment without so much as submitting a single resume or filling out a single application. I’ve seen people purposely botch interviews—or blow them off completely—and turn down job offers so as to stay on unemployment. I’ve seen people purposely under-perform at work to get fired so they can collect unemployment. I’ve seen people quit their jobs and be granted unemployment. Meanwhile, I’ve also seen single moms work multiple jobs to support their kids on their own. And I’ve seen gainfully employed people earning less than those collecting unemployment. And I’ve seen “help wanted” signs at dozens of places around town. So I need help understanding why some people no longer value hard work and how exactly the current unemployment policies are meant to help.

Health Insurance

It ain’t cheap. But being uninsured can be even more expensive if you need to see a doctor. So my husband Chris and I are certain that we maintain coverage for us and our newest addition. Thankfully, Chris’ employer not only offers a policy but also pays a portion of the premium. The balance of the cost is deducted from his pay. In addition to paying part of the premium, we are responsible for what the policy says insurance doesn’t cover. We, like everyone else I know who has health insurance, must pay copays and deductibles and coinsurance. And, of course, we must follow certain guidelines to be sure that our claims are paid. From what I can tell, insurance companies have done their very best to make the whole process as confusing as possible. But what about those people who receive their health coverage from the state? I’ve seen some use state insurance to help support their prescription medication addictions. I’ve seen some pop into the ER for minor ailments that would be more (cost-) effectively treated by a primary care physician. I’ve also seen gainfully employed people who are unable to afford health coverage. And I’ve seen people with health coverage incur crippling debt from medical services that aren’t covered in full—or at all—by their policy. So I need help understanding why we aren’t all afforded the same coverage currently only made available to those who can’t afford to buy their own policy.

Daycare

I maintain that if I had done my due diligence and researched the cost of daycare prior to deciding to start a family, Rylin wouldn’t be here. When I was pregnant, Chris and I began discussing our expectations for childcare, as one of us not working just wasn’t an option financially. I pictured her in a daycare center—one with brightly colored cubbies, certified teachers, and a pre-school curriculum. And then we began pricing said daycare centers. Some of them had a monthly rate higher than our mortgage payment. Not an exaggeration. So we began looking into a more economical option: home daycare. We lucked out. We found a home daycare provider who we like, who only somewhat breaks the bank, and we never question that Rylin receives quality care. Still, as long as I’m speaking honestly, if money were no object I’d have her in a center. But did you know that there is a government-funded program that subsidizes childcare costs at the daycare of your choice? I absolutely understand the necessity of the program (and wish that Chris and I qualified!). And you wouldn’t think there’s a reason to cheat this program, right? Well, I’ve seen parents apply—and qualify!—for assistance despite the fact that one parent is unemployed and fully capable of caring for the child. I’ve also seen parents limit their family size because they can’t afford childcare for another child. So I need help understanding why the burden of childcare costs—and regardless of your income, it is an adjustment!—is only alleviated for some but not all. And more importantly, I need help understanding why any parent capable of providing “daycare” to their own child would opt to send him or her off to a daycare provider instead!

It sickens me to see that so many people have complete disregard for their responsibility and a lack of appreciation for the help they are afforded and/or respect for the government that gives it to them. Those that cheat the system will eventually ruin it for the people who actually need the help and use the help as intended. The fact that some people seem to take pleasure in lying, cheating, and getting everything handed to them boggles my mind and leaves me feeling jaded. And I need help restoring my faith in humandkind.