Punxsutawney Phil’s Got Nothing On Me

I held off this morning on this morning’s musings to be sure we incorporated breaking news from Western Pennsylvania:

Punxsutawney Phil, the celebrated star of Groundhog Day across Pennsylvania and beyond, has once again been consulted for his prediction for the end of this year’s winter.

The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club gathered once again at Phil’s home in Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to see if the beloved groundhog saw his shadow.

And here is the result: according to his official handlers in the Groundhog Club, Phil saw his shadow which means, according to tradition, we are in for six more weeks of winter.

Great, rodent.  Anyone who’s stepped outside anywhere east of the Rockies could have predicted that.  Go back to sleep.

Besides, my own personal winter is now coming up on 152 weeks,  Forgive me if I’m in a somewhat less embracing mood.

I tend to get triggered right after I pay my modest rent for my comfortable but spartan room.  I’ve been living that life of leisure ever since the summer of 2020, three months after my last corporate position ended.  Pretty much in line with the onset of the pandemic.  You know, that virus I still haven’t had yet.

What I have had is a journey that has cost me just about everything I once had.   Which, I’ll admit, in many ways, has been a good thing,  If you know me at all, or at least have read a few previous entries, you know all about my physical recovery from being nine hours short of dying.  I’m damn proud of it, thank you.

I just haven’t had a lot of opportunities to actually share my joy with too many people I once knew.  There’s physical distance, to be sure.  But social distancing, and the reluctance, or downright panic, of so many people I thought I knew to stay isolated, even now, as the President is lobbying for May 11th to be the “end of the pandemic” and partisan Congresspeople are urging that take place even sooner, has created a chasm of isolation that literally keeps me up most of the night, and crying on and off nearly every day at some point.

Some days have been better than others.  When I have had a few spare dollars, and when people have actually been available to physically get together, I’m happy.  But most days are like a series of Groundhog Days for me, like yesterday and today.  Here’s my usual itinerary:

— Wake up around 2 or so to pee.  Get inspired enough to write one or both of these posts, or at least start.  Write until I collapse in exhaustion.

— Wake up again, brush my teeth, go out for a long walk and a cup of coffee.  A newspaper or two to keep me company.

— Look through e-mails, start playing the podcasts that keep me company.

— Apply for at least three jobs, long-term, short-term, remote, media, non-media.  Forget at least one job site password in the process and spend several minutes resetting.

— Have my heart leap when my phone rings, only to see the words “spam risk” 99 times out of 100.

— Leave a few messages for friends and family, only to have almost none of them returned.

— Respond to a few LinkedIn posts from people who say “I’m happy to announce I’ve joined” such and such company with a few emoji claps.  Privately ask if they know anyone who’s looking for my skill sets.  Occasionally, some will be courteous enough to reply “I’ll keep you in mind”,

I’ve tried that approach of “I’ll keep you in mind” with the dozens of vendors and companies who relentlessly bill me.  Doesn’t work with them, either

— Lately, I spend several hours driving to earn a few bucks with a rideshare service.  For a variety of reasons, I can only make a certain amount this way and besides, gas is still damn expensive.  I chase bonuses to make it worthwhile at all.  Some days, traffic patterns and timing have me lose out on those bonuses.   So, some days, I lose money, let alone put wear and tear on my car–which I struggle to make payments on.\

— C0me back to a few autoreply rejections from companies I’ ve applied to, all of whom say “come back to look for more opportunties”,

When you’ve applied to enough companies as I have over nearly THREE YEARS, there’s ample time to circle back on recent rejections and send out a few more applications.  Eventually, their autobots reply.

— I take a long hot shower to work out my frustrations.  Sometimes, I’ll be so overtired I’ll collapse from exhaustion for an hour.

— I cook dinner, sometimes a decent meal.  Tonight, it’ll be a mix of a can of soup and some rice I got from a food bank.  Gourmet.

So many people do have it worse, I know.  I often hear from them.  Usually in a very condescending way.  Be thankful you have your health and independence,  Be thankful you still have a room over your head.

Don’t think for a millisecond I am not.

And then I’ll get an e-mail from a creditor telling me another credit card is maxed out, or from my lawyer who tells me a “no-brainer” offer from my ex, who hasn’t worked a single day in more than two years, should be accepted by me, and I have to remind him that her “reasonable” offer is more than three times what I  currently have to my name, with no immediate full-time employment opportunity on the horizon.

— I cry quite a bit while I wolf down my dinner, try to distract myself with a peak TV episode I’m angling to review, and often pass out before I get halfway through.

When I’m jostled awake by nature’s call, I check my phone and e-mail one last time for any responses to the one-time friends I reach out to.  Text, talk text, e-mail, voicemail.  With one beautiful exception, most days, nothing.

Boy, for people who “keep me in mind”, well, I guess I’m reminded how typically overstated such feelings are.

You want to see me as a whining victim?  Accuse me of being like a conservative podcaster?  Because of how I feel about personal connection?  Or my feverish desire to actually work around people, which at least ridesharing allows in some form?  You think a link to a long-expired or already-filled job on LinkedIn is helping?

You can continue to believe that.  I’ll continue to remind you that, at least in my case, you’re mistaken.

Because for 152 weeks and counting, my Groundhog Days are never-ending.  And, honestly, if you remember how Bill Murray reacyed to my friend Stephen Tobolowsky in the movie, you’ll grasp how I’m often inclined to react.

I won’t do that,  Besides, many of you still won’t leave your house, so it would be difficult for me to even try,

Instead, I’ll yet again provide a link to what so many of you insist is an admission that someone of my stature should never make, because G-d forbid someone actually see exactly how bad things are for me.

You tell that to my creditors.  Tell that to my lawyer. Try, for even a millisecond, to somehow understand my Groundhog Day life.

Now add to that the additional stress of two very special people never, ever, ever picking up a phone during this whole span, and one in particular doing everything possible short of shooting me to avoid any communication whatsoever with me, merely because I have GRATITUDE for how this person SAVED MY LIFE.

Maybe that’s too disturbing a thought process for you to consider.  While you hug your spouse.  Your kids.  Your pets.  Pay your bills without panic.  Watch sporting events with people who like sports.  Without a cover charge.

Lucky you.  And, seriously, no regrets.  You’ve done far better than I have.

I’m determined to prove, no matter what anyone else believes, that I’ve got one last comeback in me.  I know damn well how smart and valuable and kind I am.  I know there was a reason I didn’t die.  I believe that’s a far greater truth than anything you might think applies to me.

A handful of people have shown me some compassion and actually helped me get through these trying times.  A few have contributed.  I’m truly grateful.  I want to repay you.  I’m determined to do so.

But more Groundhog Days pass, my debt continues to mount, and my panic continues to grow despite that.  Have you priced a gallon of gas or a half-dozen eggs lately?

So, much as it sickens me, almost as much as it may sicken some of you, I will meekly, but firmly, ask you to click on the link below.  Read–no, READ–what I’ve written,  It’s 100 per cent truth.  Just like everything I write here, which many of you seem to appreciate.

If you fall into that category, and you’re in slightly better fiscal and emotional shape that I am today, and you don’t plan to pull a Punxsutawney Phil of your own anytime soon, please, if possible, please find it in your heart to donate.

Or, at the VERY LEAST, text me!!!  CALL ME BACK!!!!   A thumbs up or a “liked post” is NOT AN INTERACTION.  Can you, for even a fleeting moment, grasp the degree of my frustration?  My exhaustion?  My legitimate reason to cry so many waking hours of my Groundhog Days?!??!

Please try.  If not for me, do it for Phil.

Until next time….

Fundraiser by Steven Leblang : Steve Leblang (gofundme.com)



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