Friday, April 24, 2020

April 2020 Personal Update: Quarantine


Hello from quarantine, witches!  Gosh, things have changed so much since my last update, haven't they?  First and foremost, I want to thank reader Stephanie from Texas for sending face masks for me and my husband, one of which I'm wearing in the photo above!  You might remember Stephanie as the one who sent the letter that sparked my return to Witchy Words in the first place.  She's been a delight to correspond with through snail mail.  A reminder to give me a heads up here on the blog like she did if you send any mail to my PO box before June as I'm not checking it without prompt.  Now on to the update!


COVID-19 and the Event Entertainment Industry

As many of you know, I'm a caricature artist by trade.  I've been drawing caricatures at parties as both entertainment and party favors since I was 15-years-old and I've been very lucky that it has been the only career I've ever known.  Like many industries, the event entertainment industry took an over-night nosedive due to COVID-19.  We saw it coming but few of us had the opportunity to prepare.  Above is a photo from an event I worked on March 8th.  It was the first time COVID-19 was brought up in a work setting.  Just one week later, I worked the last event I would work for the next two months.  In seven days, it went from a murmur at work to an utter shutdown.

What losing a month's worth of income looks like in paperwork form.
I have a lot of thoughts and opinions about the utter mishandling of COVID-19 by our state and federal governments.  Many of you know well that I struggle to keep my mouth shut at injustice but frankly, I feel utterly helpless in this.  Many of my fellow colleagues are out of work entirely like I am, and several have had to shutter their businesses for good.  Despite the Pandemic Unemployment Act being past weeks ago, my state still - still - doesn't have a system to accept self-employment and independent contractor unemployment applications (Edit: It just got set up Wednesday).  Right now, they're encouraging people to apply for regular unemployment, which will take 18-22 days to process, so that they can be denied and put in the system for PUA.  They're hoping to maybe have the PUA system up by April 26th.  I applied on the 16th, the day they encouraged self-employed to begin applying to the actual system.  If it takes 18-22 days to get denied and put into the PUA system, the earliest I could see unemployment would be May 4th.  That's a best-case scenario.

At that point, I'll have been unemployed for 51 days.


As a supplement, I've been offering caricatures during weekly livestream sessions on my website, www.mdartist.com.  Right now, this is my only income.  Here's some of the caricatures I've worked up the past three weeks that I've done this:


I'm also currently plotting out a tutorial-based Patreon account for caricatures.  It's still in the works, though you can find it as a work-in-progress here.  I will be unable to complete some of the tiers for the first month as I work up what I need to get it running.  I'm planning to officially launch it in about two weeks.  That being said, it could use some starter patrons, if that's something you're open to and have the funds for.

In advance, I do not plan to monetize Witchy Words in any way.  I tried to do some Patreon/ad work/monetization back in 2014-2015 and, at that time, could not balance it with my job and chronic illnesses.  My job always comes first.  It has to because it pays the bills.  And while I'm not currently working often now, my biggest concern with making Witchy Words a job is that I lose the enjoyment for my practice when it's earning me money.  If you want to support me as Witchy Words, I offer a Ko-Fi and a Patreon, but consider both like a tip jar and nothing more.  I do very little exclusively that can't be found publicly and plan to keep it that way.

In terms of what my job will be like in the aftermath of the virus, I'm concerned.  My agencies are struggling immensely.  I've had two shutter for good.  As of right now, I plan on riding this out but it's possible there may not be much of a job for me to come back to for quite some time after this.  Even if there is, my husband and I have concerns about working large events with my health.  It's always been a risk but viruses are a particular threat because the majority of my autoimmune diseases were triggered by my catching H1N1 in 2009 during the last pandemic.  I have only recently found some stability and remission from the overbearing weight of those illnesses over a decade later.  I'm not sure I want to chance catching COVID-19.  Should I, despite my asthma and predisposition to pneumonia, survive it, the autoimmune response it will inevitably trigger could be immense.

I have made absolutely no decisions regarding this.  I'm not sure it's really in my hands, honestly.


Quarantine Home Life

While my job is looking pretty bleak, things aren't all awful.  My husband works as technical support for financial software utilized by banks and has been deemed essential, meaning we still have one stable income in the house.  Even better?  He can do everything he needs to do from home.  In fact, his job had him working from home since a week before our city's mayor issued a Stay-at-Home order.  That means that we're both COVID-19-free as we've avoided any exposure thus far. And if you think that news is great, just wait.  Since November, he's been on a work-to-hire contract through a staffing agency.  His hire-on date would be sometime in May, which made us nervous given the general state of things.  A week ago, his boss pulled him in for a teleconference call.

They hired him on!

So not only are we healthy, not only is my husband working and not on the front lines, but he's got a permanent salaried position with health benefits.  It's not all tulips and daisies - we skim the bottom line when it comes to bills with just one income and we are very slowly hemorrhaging what little savings we had left from his extended unemployment last year.  But it's also way more than so many people have right now and I'm in no position to complain.  We can still pay our mortgage and bills.  Our house won't vanish out from under our feet during the pandemic.  We learned well last year that we can survive on one income alone.  It's not a perfect scenario but it's absolutely doable.

We'll be okay.

I also know it's a pretty big deal that we're both healthy right now.  Neither of us have contracted COVID-19 yet and we've been incredibly cautious, especially given that I'm in two of six major risk groups - asthma and autoimmune.  We're both incredibly lucky and count our privileges and blessings as we manage this crisis.


Familiars and Pets

All is currently well on the familiars and pets front, though it wasn't for a little while.  Zeus had another bout of prolonged constipation that eventually resulted in an emergency vet visit.  It's the only time I've left the house aside from a couple very cautious grocery runs in the past month.  We're hoping this time that we've resolved it.  Originally, we had Zeus on 1/8th a teaspoon of Miralax once a day.  He's now on 2 teaspoons of fiber and 1/4th a teaspoon of Miralax in a soup of wet food and water once a day along with a special fiber kibble formula and added moisture to all of his food.  It's a pain in the rear but so is constipation (quite literally).  We've also learned in the process how to do enemas at home and ways we can help uncork him should it happen again.  Keep in mind that we don't visit the vet anymore unless we've tried everything else and he hasn't had a bowel movement in a week, which is an absurd amount of time for a cat to go without one.  We're hoping now that we have it resolved and, if we don't, that we can still manage it from home from here on out.



That being said, my tubbers is officially cleared out and has been fine for a few weeks now.  We did drop $600 in the midst of my unemployment, which was absolutely terrifying, but I refuse to lose him to, you know, poop.


In other news, Iris is continuing her molt.  She should be done in about a few weeks.  She didn't lose nearly the feathers she lost last time but, then again, no one seems to know what's normal for her breed.  She did drop her two longest tail feathers again though.  I'm hoping that next year, I can create a visual piece that shows her progress with us - the first tail feather with he malnutrition break, the second tail feather with the stress discoloring and, maybe, a perfect third tail feather.  Here's hoping!


Both Artie and Iris have been helping me with streams - Artie more so than the parrot.  I've been putting on either "Dog Cam" or "Parrot Cam" along with my streams to give something more than just my drawing to watch.  Artie's really good about it: If he knows the camera's on him, he stays pretty well put in his bed and does adorable stretches.  Iris, on the other hand, is a bit of a nightmare to put on cam.  If I don't have my husband around to help manage her, she's all over the place.  Today, I was streaming for a volunteer drawing I've been doing for something called the Superhero Project - an organization that matches disabled and chronically ill children with artists to draw their superhero alter ego.  Iris discovered the webcam and was fixated on trying to get ahold of it despite it being out of reach.  The difference between a parrot and a dog - and perhaps a pet and a familiar even - is pretty stark.  Don't get me wrong: I love them both and I didn't get any of my animals for what they could do for me.  They're not employees nor are they here for performance.  But it's kind of amusing how aware Artie is and how... unaware Iris is.  Just how different their personalities are.  I love it.


A SECOND A DAY

Here's this session's Second a Day video!  This one continues from the day I posted my last personal update until yesterday.



THE PO BOX


A quick reminder that I have a PO box!  Feel free to send me some mail at:

Witchy Words
PO Box 165
Independence, MO 64051

Currently, I'm not checking my PO box without prompt, so if you send me something, drop me a comment so I know to venture out and check it!



And that's all I've got, witches!  The next personal update will be at the end of June.  Until then, enjoy the articles and I'll see you on social media!




6 comments:

  1. So happy to hear that your husband was hired on permanently. That must be such a relief!

    If anyone is considering getting a caricature done, I highly recommend doing it. Mine turned out amazing and hanging out in the livestream was a fun and relaxing way to spend a weekend afternoon.

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    1. It's a huge relief! And thank you so much for your commission! I truly appreciate it!

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  2. Wow the green mask looks amazing on you with your cool eye color! I'm so glad you like them and I hope in some small way they can help you and your husband when you have to venture out of the house. I've been washing my mask in hot water after two wears. No shrinkage! I'm happy about that so you're safe to wash yours frequently too.

    That's great news about your husband's employment. I hope you both get through this period with as much calm as you can. Gos and the spirits of the universae are with you.

    Question : could you do a caricature from a picture? If I sent you our family picture and one of my fur baby, Bailey, would you be able to one family picture? I can send you a check or call you with my card number if you prefer.

    Take care my friend ...

    Stephanie in Texas :-)

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    1. We actually washed ours when we received them just to be safe and they did great! We did hand washing gently in hot water with a little dish soap and they held up perfectly. We have a habit of putting everything in quarantine for 48 hours and then washing it just to double up on protecting ourselves.

      I've only been doing caricatures from pictures since the start of the quarantine. The link in the text above ( www.mdartist.com/livestream ) takes you to a form where you can upload your pictures and provide details. If you select Paypal, I can invoice you and that invoice can be paid with a card rather than an account. :)

      There is, of course, no pressure. We're all in this boat together.

      I hope you're doing well during all of this! Best wishes to you and your family. <3

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  3. I'm so glad you're okay and staying safe! And congrats to your husband for getting a permanent job--that's fantastic (and relieving I'm sure!)! I really truly hope that things get better for your state sooner rather than later! <3

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  4. Thank you for this lovely update (seeing your darling critters never fails to brighten my day). What welcome jolt of happiness and positivity to know that there are presently many things holding stable/doing well in your life right now.

    I'm incredibly sorry about the precarious future that your job is facing though. That is an extraordinary stressful and difficult spot to be in at anytime, let alone during a pandemic (adding insult to injury as it's why you're there in the first place).

    I hope that things go as positively as possible with your unemployment claim and that you guys are able to remain healthy and well on every front during these incredibly challenging times (and always).

    Wishing you a sunny, abundantly blessed Beltane season,
    Autumn Zenith 🎃 Witchcrafted Life

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