My second column for EmpowherNY is up!

It’s called

How Are You Handling It? | An Illustrated Column By Ezra W Smith

What a month, huh?

As a person who is overwhelmed easily, I tried to stay offline as much as I could. I was never really reading the news that much, but eventually I stopped going to my usual information sources as well, because… guess what! Even blogs about art and crafts eventually started to only talk about COVID-19. Even lesbian podcasts, even sustainable fashion brands… I couldn’t take it anymore. So I replaced podcasts with audiobooks, and decided to only check the official recommendations of the country of my residence once per two days to know what is going on.

Another hard thing was that the majority of people (at least on social media) seemed to mostly be dealing with boredom and isolation. While I was still working as usual from home plus trying to homeschool my seven-year-old. For the last 3 weeks I was doing two full time jobs at the same time, keeping my home clean and preparing food, and taking care of 2 pets (one with chronic health issues). I wasn’t bored. I was scared and overwhelmed and stressed and under so much pressure. I wanted to yell at people— “what is wrong with you! How can you be tired of doing nothing! What the hell! Your only job is keeping yourselves entertained! This is not a real struggle!”

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However I didn’t yell at anyone, even on the internet. In fact I didn’t even complain to any of my friends or anyone else about my situation. I decided that devaluing other people’s struggle in these difficult times is cruel and unproductive. Also I happened to have a child reasonably early in life, so now I find myself in a situation where I have a primary-schooler, but none of my friends have any kids at all and are maybe just starting to think about it now. So I knew nobody would relate. People would feel bad for me, but would not know what to say. Awkward. So I didn’t talk to anyone. Instead I stopped checking my Instagram, stopped listening to podcasts, stopped texting people and focused on actually doing my 2 jobs. Long story short, I survived. And this weekend spring break started so I no longer have to homeschool my child. For the whole week! What a lucky girl I am.

After this quick update on my life, let me finally get to the point. In this column I meant to talk not about myself (for once), but about a friend of mine. Let’s call her Magda.

Magda is the head of an animal shelter. She collects cats and dogs from the streets, takes care of their health, spays or neuters them at the vet clinic, and finds lovely new homes for these animals. The shelter can only function because of the volunteers – people who choose to spend their free time helping this animals, feeding them, socializing with them, giving them the love and attention they need. However, in this difficult situation we all found ourselves in, the government has decided to forbid for now any volunteering that is not connected to COVID-19. And so the shelter had to be closed for the time being. This is how Magda ended up with 6 dogs in a two-bedroom apartment…

Published by Ezra W. Smith

female illustration artist

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