It’s kind of a weird time to be alive right now.
It’s an election year. It’s time for the census. The Olympics have been postponed. A large chunk of the country is under a shelter in place order. And if you haven’t noticed, there’s a pandemic going on.
Rarely am I thanked by customers just for showing up to my job. However, in a time like this, when surgical masks and rubber gloves are the hottest spring accessory, when toilet paper is currency, and where human contact is dangerous, people show their true colors. Customers are stressed, asking me, “When does the toilet paper truck come again?” As a cashier, I know virtually nothing about what the stock crew does, when the trucks arrive (much less what’s actually on the truck!) or what time the stock crew gets product on the shelves. One customer asked me why I didn’t know, and insisted there was a “conspiracy” going on because she’d asked several employees (apparently none of whom work stock) and each employee had said they didn’t know.
I watched other customers pay for each other’s groceries, let elderly people who were just buying a few things go in front of them. When I informed customers that they could only purchase a handful of select items (canned veggies, paper products, etc.) so that everyone could get a chance to buy some, most of the customers were extremely understanding.
It is not often that I get to feel like a hero at work. I don’t normally feel like I’m making much of an impact in my customers’ lives. Occasionally, I get to use my Spanish skills to help customers who don’t speak much English. I’ve helped blind customers shop, and I enjoy helping elderly people who ride the motorized carts to their cars. But most days, all I can do is save a few people a dollar or two via coupons or recommend a recipe.
Suddenly, I have been deemed “essential” to the infrastructure of America. Even if my city does go into a shelter in place order, I will still be able to go to work and serve my community.
For those of us with mental health issues, social distancing can feel like a slow death. I do not particularly enjoy time spent alone with my thoughts. I cannot stand silence; I have to have music playing even when I’m falling asleep. I make it a point to get out of my house every single day and see people because I don’t want to become so depressed that I stay in bed all day. Although I have battled with some very serious depression, I’ve never been one of those people who goes long periods of time without showering, changing clothes, etc. A lesson learned from my mom: if I can force myself to do things I would normally do if I weren’t depressed, I’ll feel less depressed. It’s hard to get the momentum sometimes, but it’s solid advice.
It looks like I’ll probably be spending a lot of time in my house with Archie (the world’s best cat), my journal, my music, my art supplies, and… my thoughts. So, while I try to make the best of this, I am going to work on some personal projects.
At the ripe old age of twenty-four, I am toying with the idea of writing a memoir. I have had some very unique experiences, and I feel as though other young, mentally ill people could benefit from reading my story. I’ve made two attempts at starting this project, and have abandoned both of them. But a lot of people who read this blog have encouraged me to write a book telling the story of my life, and now may be the perfect time.
I’m also working on a short story vaguely related to current events titled “Angry Girl’s Prayer.” Stay tuned for updates because I will be posting it here!
The reason I have decided to start posting more of my creative writing here is because most of the literary and arts magazines I find online are so ridiculously pretentious and faux-artsy that I cannot even figure out what their guidelines are or what sort of work they’re looking for. This, for example:
What does this even mean? Sure, it sounds interesting, but I am more interested in consuming media that at least sort of makes sense.
For years, I have dreamed of being an editor-in-chief. I served as letters editor for two years on my college’s literary magazine, and briefly worked for another magazine before I realized that their purpose was to get page views, not write quality articles.
I have amassed a modest following on this blog just by sharing personal essays from my life, and it is my hope that those of you who faithfully read this blog will help me spread the word about Unsung Hero Magazine. UHM is my personal creation, a pet project, if you will. I am looking for writing and art that is down to earth, unpretentious, honest, and blunt.
You can view Unsung Hero Magazine here. There is currently no content because the reading/curating period is still going on. I have a few pieces of art that have been submitted by friends of friends, and some of my own writing.
If you are interested in submitting your work to UHM, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and view the guidelines here.
I’m going to be honest with you all: I am flying blind here, and I do not know if this will work out. The website is still under construction and I’m having friends help me out. I am very thankful to have a small community of artistic and literary friends who are just as enthusiastic about this project as I am. I hope you will be too.