I think I’ve already killed two plants this week…

I almost started this post with a whole thing about how looking for a job isn’t everything. How there’s a flippin’ pandemic happening and to torture yourself over not being able to find new employment right now is not useful or healthy or good. I mean…I do believe that, but I don’t want to gloss over the fact that finding a new source of income – fast – is life or death for many people. I hope that stimulus and unemployment checks are successfully helping those folks in particular, because as my mom says, “that’s no hand out – that’s your money” (that you’re getting in unemployment support). I know it’s been a struggle to get through to anyone within the Department of Labor (at least for NY) and that things are more than a bit held up, but I really hope that’s only because those with the greatest need are being helped first.

The point I wanted to get at in my original, semi tone-deaf version of this post is that you still deserve moments to yourself during this time even if you’re looking for new employment, regardless of who you are. “Moments to yourself” is meant to be a sort of cover-all for self-care, happiness, relaxation, meditation, whatever it is for you. Please don’t beat yourself up for taking breaks from the hunt to read, exercise, watch something – any of that!

Read any of my older posts and you’ll quickly learn that I’ve spent a lot of time job hunting. Over the course of most of my waitressing career (which could very well not be over yet) I was always actively looking for something else. While I was “living” off of background and commercial work, the pursuit of something steady continued full force. I’ve basically been job hunting nonstop since 2016.

I lost my job at the end of last month, my favorite job to date. A lot of people at my company did, the same week (heck, the same day) as hundreds of thousands of people across the country. By the way, that’s a conservative guess because I’ve seen some reporting say that millions of jobs have been lost due to the pandemic. I believe it. I think I might’ve taken it with a bit less “WHAT AM I GONNA DO?” than others because of my long and recent experience with being in this position. Minus the pandemic part. Still.

Anyway, we aren’t dwelling on that. I’m grateful for the time I had there, between the people I met and the skills I was able to develop. Séan is out of work too, as are most people in the restaurant/service industry. He scrambled and got part-time work pretty quickly, but even at that, it’s very part-time. But it’s something. We’re still in a much more secure position than many people, and I’m not taking that for granted.

The two of us went from essentially only seeing each other on weekends, to being around each other 24/7. It’s like, 84% lovely, 10% tension, and 6% wanting to rip each other’s heads off. Honestly, not bad. We walk a lot, Séan more than me. He bikes, as well, which I still refuse to do around here because I don’t trust drivers or myself on a bike. We’re feeding a stray cat named Pete, who I believe is neutered because his left ear is clipped. He’s an ungrateful a**hole, that Pete, but he’s cute when he slow blinks at me and takes naps in the neighbor’s garden. I spend a decent amount of the day throwing job applications here and there, and we spend most nights watching movies and drinking tea.

Since we’re home almost 24/7 and we’re both eating all of our meals at home for the first time ever, I’ve started to notice how quickly the trash and recycle bins fill up these days. I recalled my long-time fantasy of having a zero-waste (okay, more like minimal waste) household, and quickly responded in my head to my own thought, “well this is hardly the time to try to do that.”

OR IS IT?

Yes and no. The thing that I have a lot of time to do right now is learn and plan. I’ve become a lot more active on Pinterest lately in an effort to create a stash of ideas, tips, guides, etc to do with reducing our waste. I figured out quickly that we’re doing everything wrong. Excellent. I’m not trying to fix everything at once, though, because that seems impossible, expensive, and anxiety-inducing. I’ve identified a few things to work on for now, and they’re as follows:

Recycle the right way. You know how plastics have those little numbers in the triangles on them? I, being a genius, figured that as long as I saw that little triangle, the thing was recyclable. You’re gonna want to sit down for this: that’s incorrect. Here’s a pin about that which worked for my brain because there’s little pictures. For most curbside recycling programs, numbers 3 and 6 are not accepted. For my local curbside recycling, I’ve learned that they only accept 1, 2 and 3. But what do we even mean by “accept”? I can tell you I’ve been putting all kinds of plastics out there each week and they are always picked up. Is someone sorting through everyone’s recycles after they’re collected? I doubt it. Besides, I see my neighbors putting out full-blown garbage (food scraps and food-covered materials) for recycling on a regular basis, and the town picks up those bags. What’s the story? I will find out. How? I don’t know yet.

Go paperless. This one is easy. I just made sure that I opted out of paper notifications from everywhere I get mail (the bank, the energy company, etc.). In this same line of thought, since thrifting is what proper zero-waste people do rather than buying cheap clothes from huge chain shops (this is a self call-out) I decided to clean out my email, too. This does absolutely nothing for the planet, but I unsubscribed from a ton of shops and it felt good. Emails the likes of which I will not miss:

What’s a chairmat? I really don’t know! Of course, some promotional emails I will allow:

Composting. I’ve yet to commit to an indoor compost tin for the kitchen, but I’ve got big plans. I found a bunch of great compost bin ideas (thanks Pinterest, and Joanna) that I’m looking through and to be honest, the only reason I haven’t bought yet is because I’d love it to be a self-reward for landing a job. Maybe that’s silly but keep in mind, I feel guilty about everything, always. Like spending $26 on a compost tin while jobless. Although, I might do it anyway because I want to get my seeds planted in some nice, compost-y soil soon.

Little things. We remembered to get our eggs in a cardboard carton instead of styrofoam yesterday, and I’m proud of that! I’m working on sewing some bags for buying dry goods in bulk when that’s socially acceptable again. I want to sew some covers like these ones, as well. ($64? No thanks?) We haven’t bought paper towels in a while, and we’re transitioning into using dishcloths for everything. The only hard part is keeping track of which cloths were used for gross things and which ones are acceptable for wiping down surfaces. When I can shop offline again, I’m way too excited to try a shampoo bar (they’re so pretty and look like they smell so good). These are obviously small steps, but they’re steps in the right direction.

I think there’s some sense that when people implement these kinds of changes (the kind that would really take a lot of people hopping on board to make a difference) that it’s out of some kind of desire to feel heroic. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel heroic, but I can tell you that I’ve always quietly beat myself up for talking the talk and not walking the walk. I judge the absolute heck out of my neighbors recycling habits but I’m not even doing it properly myself. If you’re going to be angry about something, should you not…at least…try to do something about it? Plus, if more people show interest in making these types of changes, companies will respond. They’d have to, otherwise that’s less money for them – oh no! That’s the hope I hold on to.

To acknowledge my openness about knowing that I’ll probably never really live the 100% zero-waste life: you shouldn’t not go out for a jog because you might never run a marathon, right? Is that terrible motivational advice? I’m becoming unhinged, and aren’t we all.

I’d leave you with pictures but I broke my phone last week and it’s away at some phone repair shop. I can leave you this nice bread recipe, instead: https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/hearty-no-yeast-bread-recipe/ …because who has yeast?! When I have the phone back I’ll try to be more active with Instagram and maybe post some stories about all the nonsense plastic we currently have in the house, gardening trials and errors, things like that.

I hope everyone’s well. If you need a distraction from the not-so-great parts of life at any point, feel free to start a random conversation in the comments or message me. I’m serious. Even if you just want to rant about joggers and people in grocery stores not respecting the 6ft distancing. Ranting is critical for good health. Stay healthy. 🙂

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