Sunday, March 29, 2020

Lightbulb Moment

I've been afforded many such moments lately for pictures both big, and small.  What I haven't had the great fortune of experiencing is the kiss of the muse ... big or small.  It has become painfully clear to me during this period of lock-down (though, they're trying to call it something else) is that I am not Shakespeare, and this blog (or anything else I'm working on) is not my King Lear.  Don't expect any prolific work to be flying off my keyboard during this plague, because while a friend of mine is experiencing a full-on writing renaissance, cranking out at least one piece per day, I am woefully wordless.  I don't begrudge anyone their moment of creativity, especially those with demanding, soul-sucking day jobs, but I can't help wondering, what is wrong with me?

[And there it is folks!  My very first Carrie Bradshaw moment ... this quarantine is a hell of a drug.] 

Granted, I haven't been rendered completely mute; I still function, I'm still hanging onto a positive mental attitude, but something / everything is different now.  I can't decide if I'm experiencing a quiet terror that has me glitching, or if I'm strangely resigned to what's happening around me, or if I'm in that weird state of panic where everything slips into slow-motion, and you see so clearly every. single. step. that needs to be taken 20 in advance. 
What I do know is that I feel like I'm standing in the eye of a hurricane where everything is eerily still, and yet your hair blows all the way one way, and then blows all the way to the other. 
I guess the mystery of whether I'm handling this extremely well, or tremendously poorly will be solved once this whole pandemic thing is over, and I either collapse into a complete and utter nervous breakdown from keeping it together, or I don't.  Until then, since the American Government is thoroughly in shambles, I'll share a few ways we can help each other, and our small businesses through this rough patch.

First.  Check on each other out there.  Be careful, and keep your distance of course, but look out for your elders, and the vulnerable.  Figure out how you can be of use without exacerbating the problem.  Right now there's a huge divide in my country, on the one hand we have many people successfully working remotely with a full income, on the other there's the people who just don't.  They can't work at all, and their employers had nothing in place to protect employees from an emergency like this ... And we all know whatever piece of one-time aid they get from the stimulus package won't be enough to keep a household going.  Of course, in the middle there is the whole group keeping the country moving, and they also have few protections, but at least get to keep an income.  If you're one of the lucky to be in a cush position, check on your friends, your out-of-work service folks, the parents of your kids' classmate, whomever.  Help them grab a load of groceries, or keep their utilities on.
Expand your empathy to the small businesses in your neighborhood, and beyond. 
I think we've all seen the meme floating around about how they support their communities through raffle donations, buying yearbook advertising they don't really need, and always let your kids set up their 'scout cookie or candy sales tables in their doorways, or always find a little dough to sponsor your youth sports teams -- it's our turn to extend ourselves, and be there for them in return.  I, personally, have a few friends trying to keep money coming in so they can do right by their employees who've been rendered non-essential.  If you'd like to help them out, the links to their GoFundMe accounts are below.  If you know small businesses, or any restaurants in your town that are hurting right now, suggest crowd-sourcing, or help them set up a page.

If you're extremely wealthy, or know someone who is, consider getting in touch with local eateries and coordinate a donation where you purchase the meals, and the restaurant makes, and delivers them (carefully) to medical facilities for our healthcare providers that working so hard for us, or low / no income families, or the elderly.  Not only are you helping a business owner keep the lights on, but you're also feeding people.  Get creative with your giving, and get the most out of it.

For your favorite local joints, and extremely-online businesses alike look into gift cards / certificates, it's a great way to help a business stay afloat without making online orders that will clog up an already overburdened shipping industry.  The last part of my PSA is to implore you to make only necessary online purchases for physical items (buy all the digital content you want!) ... Behind every delivery driver is a warehouse full of folks without the proper supplies, and working conditions to ensure their health safety, who put their families at constant risk of exposure so you can get your items in a timely fashion, so maybe go easy on 'em, and hold off on the glitter lip-kits until this whole thing blows over.

In case you find yourself in a position where you're unable to donate money, never forget that the squeaky wheel gets greased.  Make noise for your favorite places, and help spread the word - your effort is no less important!
xoxo (from a very pandemically acceptable distance)

P.S. If you own a business, or know of one that is running a crowdfunding campaign to keep their employees afloat, and you'd like to see it added to my list, hit me up at the email address in the sidebar, and I'll make that happen.