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This Isn’t What I Signed Up For

Quarantine wears on and I notice myself saying “I’m going to make the most of this downtime” far less frequently, and “This isn’t what I signed up for” moreso.

As of this writing, we are on day 132 of the “two week” COVID shutdown. Because of the sheer selfishness and immaturity of an alarming number of people in this county, the brief breath of fresh air that came as we progressed rapidly from phase one to phase three, has been revoked, putting us back in exactly the kind of time out you would expect for toddlers throwing a tantrum.

I’m married, have three children under 10, and we’re currently living with my parents and sister while waiting for more permanent housing.I’ve battled bipolar disorder that leans heavily towards the depressive side of the illness for two decades, as well as anxiety.  Oh, and I’m a full-time student here at SAC, so there’s that.

I’ve been married for 11 years, so it’s been a while since we said our vows, but I’m like 99.9% sure that while “in sickness and in health” was there, “and in quarantine” was not. While I’ve been at home with our 3 increasingly hyper and unruly children, he’s still gotten to go to work. I’m thankful we still have an income, but I am so resentful that he not only gets to leave the house for hours a day, but also that he gets to go home from work. When he leaves for the day, no one continues to ask him to do his job. He gets to clock out for the night. I, on the other hand, am on call 24/7 and don’t have the option to go home or take a day off. This is not what I signed up for. . .

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but having said that, they are pretty much the only ones I like. I never imagined myself as a mom. The idea of a global, seemingly endless, quarantine quite frankly, was not a scenario I had anticipated when the topic of children came up with my husband. . If I had, I probably would have pushed harder for dogs instead. No, no, I’m just kidding…ish.

As an introvert, being confined to a fairly small house with seven other people, three of whom are endlessly pawing at me, climbing on me, and whining about how bored they are, plus having nowhere in the house that I can have any alone time to recharge (or cry tears of rage-y frustration), nowhere to leave the house to get space, and no idea when it will end is pretty much my personal hell. When we moved in, I had the drives to and from class, Disneyland, and a myriad of other options to get my “me time”. This is not what I signed up for.

While I understand the need for virtual classes, and would never want to risk a teacher’s life,  unlike most of the kids in their district, it isn’t as simple as just logging them on to Google Classroom, then sitting back reading a book as their teachers do their thing. My kids get speech and occupational therapy, the younger one also has a behavioral therapist, each has a dedicated aide to help keep them on track in class, and since they’re in first and fifth respectively, there’s no chance of them being able to be in a combo class together. I’m now expected to essentially do the job of nine people, trained in five different specialties, none of which I am qualified to do.

Given the legal requirement that your child attend school from the age of 6-18. It isn’t unreasonable to expect that schools would, you know, be open. Again, this is not what I signed up for.

When I started Santa Ana College, it wasn’t my first foray into higher education. In fact, I had tried twice before at Santiago Canyon College and later, Fullerton College. SCC was pretty much Villa Park High School with ashtrays, and I got kicked out of VPHS my sophomore year. Needless to say, I didn’t really fit in there, and honestly,at 18 and fresh out of high school I had no idea what the hell I wanted to do with myself anyway.

When I tried my luck at Fullerton several years later I had slightly more direction, but I learned a valuable lesson about myself, I was not made for online classes. Through no fault of the professors, staring at a screen clicking my way through module after module was about as tedious as visiting the DMV without an appointment. Discussion boards with their repetitive “ post your response and reply to two classmates” format, regardless of subject, got mind-numbing really quick.

When I enrolled at SAC, I purposely avoided any classes that were online or hybrid classes because I knew I wouldn’t do well. Abruptly being switched to online only, especially after only a day prior being told by the administration that the school would be remaining open, was not what I signed up for. Literally.

So if you’re reading this and are feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, or frustrated that the proverbial shit has hit the fan and are feeling guilty or selfish that you’re mad things suck right now, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. This isn’t what any of us signed up for, and you’re right, it blows.

 

Trump Lost, But I Do Not Feel Better

The custody battle is finally over. After eight grueling months of divorce proceedings, we now know with which parent we will be living, or at least that is how it feels. In reality, this weekend, The Associated Press called the 2020 presidential election for former Vice President Joe Biden.

While it is a relief that I will worry less about my body being legislated for the next four years, family, and loved ones losing basic legal protections, and friends being deported, I do not feel better.

That the celebrations are for the defeat of Trump, not Biden’s win, tells me plenty of others feel this way too.

READ MORE:  2023 Pinnacles- Social Media Reporting

Neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden was the right candidate. They were symptoms of a broken system in which a select group of sycophants vies for the favor of whoever they think might make it to the White House and give them an appointment to a new, cushier position.

I would even argue that Trump and Biden are two sides of the same, creepy coin. As a woman, I can honestly say that I would not feel comfortable alone in a room with either of them.

By this point, everyone is aware of Trump’s history of sexual misconduct and unrepentant pride in those actions, but what about Biden? Why is it that the inappropriate touching and comments that made Trump unfit to be president in the eyes of many liberals were only a minor indiscretion when Biden was the offender?

While it can be argued that, except for Tara Reade, Biden did not sexually assault anyone, there are still at least seven other women who have come forward saying his public interactions with them were overly intimate and made them feel uncomfortable. One of them was a sexual assault survivor who had just been on-stage while Lady Gaga performed “Until It Happens to You,” a song on the same topic.

And on the subject of Tara Reade, while I am not here to debate her story’s validity, I do find it interesting that Trump’s accusers were mainly taken at face-value by most outside of his devoted base. Reade’s accusations were far more scrutinized and even more quickly swept under the rug.

Like Trump, Biden has never apologized to those he made uncomfortable. While he made an “apology” video last year to address the allegations, it was more of a non-apology. Biden promised to do better, but he didn’t take ownership of the actions in question. He then told a 13-year-old girl’s brothers that their job was to keep the boys away from her. So clearly the, “stop being weird” message did not sink in.

Though some will say Biden is just an out-of-touch older man who has not quite caught on to the post #Metoo times (he is 77 after all), that argument is not valid for the next president of the United States. Or it should not be anyway. It is literally in his job description to be in touch with the country’s feelings and goals.

Right now, the biggest challenge facing our nation is the level of division that has been created among its citizens. Biden’s campaign, which mostly centered around beating Trump, did nothing to start healing those divides as the next president should be doing.

While I understand the joy many feel that anyone but Trump will be the Commander-in-Chief for the next four years, that Biden bought into the Trump rivalry rather than focus on repairing the damage Trump has done shows just how similar they both are.

During the presidential debates, both candidates had to have their mics muted to prevent them from interrupting either each other or the moderator. Both. Not just Trump. The better candidate should be, well, better, right?

But then again, what can we do about it? Even though a July Gallup poll shows that slightly more of the country identifies as moderate (37%) than Republican (36%) or Democrat (34%), we are a two-party system. If the Bernie Sanders saga has shown us anything, it is that those two parties are not open to expanding the pool.

Even though there are an array of third-party candidates every year, candidates who genuinely embody the ideals of those they seek to represent, we have been brain-washed since before we were even old enough to vote that voting third-party is the same as throwing your ballot in the trash.

It fits the rhetoric needed to ensure the democrats and republicans maintain their power rather than represent their constituents’ interests.

So what do we do?

We start from the bottom, and Santa Ana may prove to be a shining example of that. While this election was dismal on a presidential level, local elections revealed real hope.

After peaceful protesters and community members showed up in droves for city council meetings pleading that the new budget includes less money for standard policing and more investment in youth and community programs, the council chose to keep the budget as is, with an increase in police spending, albeit with some decreases.

That several of the council members were allegedly in the pocket of the police union did not go unnoticed, and the threats to voting out those who did not put the community of Santa Ana first weren’t empty. All council members endorsed by the union lost their seats, including 29-year Sheriff’s veteran Juan Villegas.

A community organizer with Rise Up Willowick, Jessie Lopez, and non-profit founder Ryan Hernandez was elected in their place. Two younger candidates with comparatively minimal political experience but love for their community and passion for change.

Biden’s win does not give me that warm, fuzzy feeling of victory, but I can settle for not waking up every day looking for a damage report. Biden has better handlers than Trump, and I do not doubt that keeping him on his best behavior will be a top priority, at least for the first several months.

However, where I draw hope from is my community. The people of Santa Ana decided they were tired of politicians using them to line their pockets. They organized, they protested, they attended community meetings – And when their cries fell on deaf ears, they voted.

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