• Voices of Quarantine

For me, nothing's changed.


How could I say such a thing? Because I have long looked into the void for most of my adult life. It's not one I chose to reflect on by choice. The past decade of my life has been clouded with a +$100k student loan total. It has necessitated consideration of what I must to merely survive, what I must give of myself in order to pursue the dreams I have, and the dreams I didn't know I've had all along. Early on, I realized I didn't want to chase them. My response? Headstrong denial. I had to. I felt no hope but I had to. Forge ahead, make myself do something I told myself I had to complete in order to survive. "Things have a strange way of working out," they said to me, and then I said to myself. And yet, I didn't want to survive. I wanted to end it all. Why did I have to work so hard for something so uncertain? Somehow, I made it to the other side. Somehow thing worked out, and then... nothing. Nothing changed, and everything changed.


I made it to the other side. I had money, a job, and a means to support myself. I clawed my way to safety, only to find a treadmill, that I quickly found out I did not want to run on. I slowly decompressed: I was safe, but was I really? The threat of climate change grew every day, the threat of the Trump administration grew every day, the threat of an inverted economy grew every single day. Everything seemed so fragile. All it would take was the slightest breeze and everything would come crashing down. Life was no longer about merely getting to the end of a lifetime of school. It was now about surviving in the world until you are done. Surviving in a world I did not want to be a part of. I would have to run on this treadmill forever? What... what kind of life is this? Last year, the stress of it all broke me. The existential pressure of this all, all that it would take to keep myself safe from forces I could not control, all of the work I would need to do just to meet the bare minimum. I didn't see a future for myself. It seemed impossible and beyond my strength. I quit my job due to failing mental health, and have been drifting back home with family ever since.


Nothing changed. Being home with family I did not feel any safer. The same threats remained, the same fears remained. I still had debt, the world was still fragile, I was still surrounded by people insistent on denying reality. Insistent on denying your reality, should you dare point out the threats we all faced. It felt as if what I needed wasn't an escape from the life I had, but an escape from life itself. When the coronavirus emerged, I watched and listened to people around me and the world write it off as not a big deal, it will work itself out. "Everything has a strange way of working itself out" until it doesn't. Things only work themselves out when you face reality and the threats we face, and make the necessary changes to adapt. As each day passes the divide between those who accept reality and those who don't continues to grow and widen.


In the middle of all of this, I have figured out what I want to do with my life, right at the time where no one can move forward at all. The world has utterly come to a halt. The treadmill I clawed myself to has stopped. I have a family that can keep me safe, and I can keep them safe. I finally feel safe to reflect, at a time where the world is at the most unsafe it has been in for nearly a century. What does this say about me? What does this say about my pursuit of life itself? What irony have I found myself in?


I still have little hope for the future. As time goes on the world appears to be going into ever-larger hell in a fascist handbasket. I don't have confidence I can avoid it. I don't have confidence the world will be able to avoid any of this. The coronavirus is just the unexpected beginning of the challenges our world faces after decades of sitting on a narrowing rose glass foundation. All I can feel is "it's finally here". Yet, as humans, we must press on. We must try and find our resolve and get through any challenge we come up against because if you are alive, that is what you have to do. I know what I want to do with my life. I want to pursue art. I want to pursue expression. I want to be off the treadmill. I will spend the rest of my days doing whatever it takes to pursue a life filled with art and creativity. I know not how many days I have left. None of us do, but if these days are numbered they must be spent doing things that bring you a sense of hope, and a desire to move forward in life. I have an opportunity to do so, so I will take it or die trying. Nothing has changed, because I still feel a push to keep going forward, while still fearing I may die any day. But perhaps everything has changed, because now it is towards pursuing something I want, instead of what the world says you must. Perhaps that is what it means to survive. Not merely to keep oneself alive, but to strive to be alive.


This, our urge to survive, has never changed. 


-anon

  • Voices of Quarantine

Quarantine diet

Chardonnay and cereal

Maybe vitamins


By: Katie Collins

@katieiskeen

Photo By @rafael_barquero from unsplash.com

  • Voices of Quarantine

Merriam-Websters definition of 'Think Piece': (noun): a piece of writing meant to be thought-provoking and speculative that consists chiefly of background material and personal opinion and analysis. About The Author 'Luvsum':

I'm a 30-year-old male who lives in Colorado. I'm married with one stepdaughter and a son on the way. My wife is a correctional officer in one of the prisons out here and I work at a local homeless shelter on the weekends.


I'd say the overall way my family is handling this is a lot more relaxed than some of the others in our area. You could say that we aren't so worried if we get it, we get it, and to us, it seems like just an every-year occurrence with one disease or another. We feel the media has put our country and even the world into a panic. This thing has really opened our eyes as to how much power the media really has. Do they have enough power to put an entire world in fear? Maybe, but not us. We refuse to live our lives in fear and believe if it's our time to go then it'll be our time to go.


I do find it odd that the country is going through all these precautions for the virus but we let some things get through the cracks. For example, in the prisons, or at least the prisons around here, still have to intake violent offenders from everywhere in the state. The prison my wife works at has two confirmed cases of the virus and those cases were offenders that were just relocated to the prison from another county in the state. Obviously you can imagine why this would be very dangerous in such a massively condensed area like a prison. Now, since that has happened my wife does receive hazardous pay but is it worth it? Why are we working so hard at keeping to ourselves when things like this are going on? Governors are telling us to miss our families on the holidays? I think not, not this family anyways.


Let's talk about the homeless for a minute. So work at the shelter is pretty basic for me. Basically, I check the guys in and out like any normal night. I help with other things like resources or even work if that's what they want. Some nights I'm just a friend. I love the job, it's very rewarding and I really enjoy the guys I work with.


But, during this time, how is the community handling the homeless right now? I think it's odd that people scare away from the homeless even more in times like these. Just because they might be dirty and live outside they might have the virus? I don't think so, at least not these guys. But why do I think this? Well, if you think about it, these guys have pretty much been cast out of society. They don't do everyday things like running to the grocery store, pumping gas, post office, etc. They camp out in the wilderness when they can and generally avoid people. Although I think they are at a higher risk if they end up catching the disease because of overall general poor health and mental health issues. When I look at one of these guys I don't think, 'Ya this is where I'm gonna get the virus from.' - Quite the opposite actually. Other than that, parts of the community have been helping with the bare necessities as they have in the past; local businesses donating food and as of late, cleaning supplies. The guys and I are grateful for those that do contribute to the well-being of the whole community during times like these.


How is our shelter handling it? Well, we have obviously had to adapt in ways we weren't expecting. The main thing is that for now, we house the homeless all day. Can we afford to staff all-day? Definitely not right now, although, I hear that we have recently applied for an emergency grant which should help. The first few days were a little confusing, we didn't know what to do. It started out as mainly just a 'stay-inside-and-clean' type of day. But we did decide that having them leave during the day wasn't the safest. Meanwhile, the local housing authorities reach out a few days later in regards to the homeless with concerns about 'what are we going to do with them?' but I'm just thinking, 'you're just now thinking about this almost a week after it started?'


At first, the owner of the building was not having it, we have a hard enough time keeping this place open just for the 12 hours we are normally open at night but after a talk with authorities, the owner changed his mind and realized that it was better for everyone if we housed the men here 24/7 for now. Sweet! We made the right decision!


However, this isn't all sunshine and rainbows. We were also housing women and families in local motels when we can. Unfortunately, the owner we were housing them with does not want to open the doors back up for them (about 10 families total). So what can we do now? What's the plan? The only thing we can do at this point is to take temperatures. But what happens if someone gets sick? Luckily, we have a plan in place but it's never ideal.


What would you do as a motel owner? Would you offer up your rooms to quarantine the homeless? Would you risk it all? Unfortunately, there are going to be some hard decisions that are going to have to be made during this time but what's the price of selfishness? It could cause harm to the community by allowing a sick person to roam the streets, could it not? Is it my problem? Should I be worried about this? It's hard to say.


My overall view of how these guys are handling all this is pretty positive. They now temporarily have housing and shelter and a stocked kitchen 24/7. Many have underlying health issues already and most seem unphased by any of what's going on around them. Could it be their general outlook on life? Who knows - but they do seem happy somewhat, or at least happier then they were before. Sure, we clean a lot more now but other than that life goes on. They still share cigarettes when they're out. Oh, and another thing, you think we really have space to distance these guys 6ft apart at night? Not usually. You have paid employees interacting with these folks and then going home to their families every night but we're not going home scared. We aren't sheep, we live life on our terms.


For the record, no one in the shelter at this point is sick but right down the street is a nursing home that almost every resident has it and, unfortunately, a few fatalities because of it. My thoughts are with their families during these times. But what happens if you get sick around here? They say don't go to the hospital unless you're on the verge of dying and even then to call ahead. So, just don't go to the hospital then? You just want me to stay home and ride it out? Ok, sounds good to me (I'm not buying it). I also wonder why people worry so much about testing. Sure, it's good for stats but honestly, I think it's just used to fearmonger in the media. However, I did hear that survivors were donating their blood to help those during this time which is pretty cool.


I guess you can say we will be glad when it's over so that we can walk outside without a mask and not be judged. I can go to the grocery store and not wait in a line outside just to get inside. People who 'panic-buy' won't wipe the stores out of necessities and families can be with families again without fear of being fined, ticketed, or even jailed. Kids can return to schools and small businesses can open back up. I think we will all be glad when this is over for many different reasons.


But I'm always stuck wondering, did a disease cause this? Or did the media? What would have happened if the media didn't report and people were just dying every day as they do now? If we as a country react like this just for this? How would we handle knowing other truths of the world or universe even that has been hidden by our government? Could we handle it? I'll end this short essay by saying there are a few positive things that have come out of this viral outbreak, it's keeping people apart yet connecting them on a whole different level. Local restaurants are converting into mobile grocery stores for those in need, CEO's are donating entire salaries to employees, manufacturing companies stopping their businesses to make masks and sanitize equipment, people hanging hearts in the windows of their businesses and homes. Food banks popping up everywhere, monthly bills being forgiven, or at least pushed out. Professional players paying for staff during postponed seasons, teachers helping students remotely with work, and so much more. Maybe this country will be one again after this is all over and we appreciate the gift of life a little more. Love our loved ones a little harder. Communities coming and staying together and hopefully, remember what being American really is. Be on the lookout for more stories based on the perspectives of some of the guys I work with. Love Always, Luvsum