I check my various emails daily with hope. What I am hoping for, I am unsure. I check my personal and both colleges. I await news on my diploma. Graduation. Tassel. Cap and Gown. I await on answers to college applications, resumés for jobs and internships. For a month, I anxiously waited for confirmation that my unemployment account would be unlocked. I watched in trepidation as my bank account dwindled with each passing bill that still had to be paid. I am not alone in this. I am one fish in a sea of many. We all feel this anxiety in one form or another. Futures are shaky. Plans changed. Jobs lost. Businesses closed or hours dramatically cut. We are moving into an age of many people forced to work two to three jobs to scrape by.
An age of first-time applicants for unemployment. I included.
I hear the republicans argue that employees do not want to go back to work because they “mistakenly” gave us a six-hundred-dollar stimulus a week as part of our unemployment benefit. This was helpful to many. To those who successfully applied and received unemployment. In many states, six months later, there are still those who have yet to receive any unemployment. Agents not answering phones or returning calls. Forced to depend on friends or work in dangerous positions. The republicans state that employees make more money by not going back to work. I do not know of anyone who does not want to work. Many cannot. Many businesses have been unable to open while others have opened with less hours to offer.
I was called back to work. I used to work forty plus hours a week. My employers can only afford to pay me for two days a week. Those days we are now open 9-3. We used to work 8-6. The uncertainty of the ending of that six hundred looms over my head even though I consider myself one of the lucky ones because my family will make sure I have all the essentials.
My credit be damned.
Many have had to depend on food banks for the first time in their lives. The uncertainty of how much business will pick up pricks at my skin every day. What if my employer will not be able to take me on full time again or for months? Everyone is hurting. At all levels and those who cry out “freeloaders” are dunces who live in a parallel universe. I see people commenting on how those on unemployment are lazy and do not want to work. The jobs are scarce. The pay is lower. It is not for a lack of trying.
Right now, I choose to use this time to work on my Graduate degree and find a part time position or internship in the library field to supplement my income. This mess would not be so bad if it had not been for the anti-maskers crying “my body, my choice.”
Sound familiar? Wonder where they stole that phrase from? Suddenly, they are “pro-choice.”
Hypocrites I say!
I do what I can to lessen the uncertainty that flows through my veins.
Uncertainty is a scary feeling. It is like swimming in the dark nothingness of space. No stars to light the way. All the while the supposed leader pushes us deeper into that abyss, which we cannot even name. It is that uncertainty that led many schools to decide to hold in person graduations despite the danger. It is that same uncertainty that led other schools such as the University of Massachusetts Boston to postpone in person graduation yet withhold our tassel, cap and gowns. It gives me a forgotten feeling. Symbols of four or more years of staying up late, working, and fighting the T to get to class.
I opened my email the other day with the news that graduation would be postponed until after fall semester. I understand. I would like my tassel, cap and gown. While there is disappointment there is excitement. My diploma arrived. I open the mailbox. There is a large envelope and as I notice the return address, I know what it is. My heart races with the anticipation of the prize inside. I rush upstairs and gather my mom and Bob. My mom has him hold the envelope as the graduation song plays on Alexa and he shakes my hand and says “congratulations.” Our own personal ceremony around her sewing machine as she makes masks.
A continuous reminder as to the current times we live.
It is hard to stay upbeat and hopeful.
It is difficult to grasp the idea that the future is not bleak.
Jobs are scarce. Times are becoming scarier as protection from eviction is over and the six-hundred-dollar safety net is yanked from under so many. My heart goes out to those who must worry about how they will pay the rent or how they will work and homeschool their children at the same time. There are so many in this country who do not have the work from home option except for those who have no job to return to.
These are uncertain times.
Times where we watch a wannabe dictator have peaceful protestors yanked off the streets of Portland and thrown into unmarked minivans. A scene right out The Handmaid’s Tale. Except less sophisticated. Minivans? Really? Who knew that when I read that book as a teenager, we would be careening toward a reality much the same?
Portland is Trump’s Reichstag.
The realization that we are not a democracy. The minority is the majority. Voting the only true weapon “we the people” have in our arsenal. A weapon that is dulled by the lies and voter suppression pounded on the crowns of the people.
These are thoughts that run through my mind as I watch the American flag fly in the wind beneath the arch of Rowes Wharf in Boston.
I feel disdain for what I see.
The American flag has become a symbol of corruption and racism in my eyes.
I want to be proud to be an American…
I grasp to hold on to nothing as my limbs kick and swing helplessly in the nothingness of uncertainty.
From that nothingness change can materialize. The ropes of Hope, Truth, and Empathy visualized as our limbs slow down to catch the knot of voting in slippery hands. Slick with the poison of the suppressors.
Uncertainty can morph into certainty. Light peeks through the thick darkness. The muck falls in clumps as we are pulled toward the surface no longer spinning in every direction unsure which way the wave has tossed us. If we will scrape our chins on the rough ocean floor or have the sunshine kiss our cheeks as we emerge from the tangle of uncertainty.
Uncertainty only exists until we see inside the envelope.
Our diploma revealed.