Now hiring full-time employees: No pay, no benefits.

Now hiring full-time employees;

You will be expected to make regular appointments with clients, and keep up with them often. Additionally, you must follow a strict daily routine if you want to work efficiently. Even then, there is a chance your daily workflow may be interrupted by sudden unexpected changes, so you must be able to adapt quickly and work well under pressure.

While you only have to come to the office every few months, you will be expected to continue your work from home, available at all hours. No weekends off, no holidays, no vacation time. Sick days? You’ll have plenty of those, no worries.

Your schedule can change at any time with no prior notice, so don’t expect to be able to make recreational plans in advance. If you would like to request a day off, well, that’s too bad. We’re sure your friends will understand.

Work starts whenever we choose.

Congratulations, you’re hired! 

Oh, you didn’t apply?
That’s not our problem.

Regards,
– Chronic Illness

Chronic Illness Stories: Tales from High School and a message to teachers

This is my first blog post here regarding my life with chronic illness. I have a congenital condition called “Panhypopituitarism”. Don’t know what that is? I’m not surprised, it’s very rare. That’s why I made this short video explaining it.

If you went to high school with me, you probably know I was on the Speech team for a while, and I was interested in Theater. If you know the teacher I’m taking about, please don’t drop her name. I’m not sharing this to shame her.

One year, I auditioned to be in the play “The Princess and the Pea”. It was a comedy musical. A lot of my friends were in it, and I was able to get a minor role as a chamber maid character. I had a lot of fun attending practices and getting to know the other students.

Unfortunately, I kept getting sick. I’m not talking about your common cold. I’m prone to respiratory infections that can get pretty serious, and I had to rest often, so I missed practice a lot.

When I did get to come to practice, I really did try hard to get caught up and learn the lines and choreography. It was obvious I was falling behind, and I was embarrassed when I had to be singled out to learn what everyone else had already done. I still tried, though. I wanted to help make the play a success.

The teacher that directed the school play also taught a theater class I was in. One day, she asked to speak with me out in the hallway. In private, she explained to me that I had missed too many practice sessions, so she was removing me from the play. I was heartbroken, but I understood. She was right, I had fallen behind too much. I just nodded and said okay. She then went on to tell me she was disappointed in me. I very clearly remember her words. “I thought you were going to be my strong freshman”.

She looked me dead in the eyes and said “This is a big deal. Why aren’t you crying?”

I was stunned, but I replied simply “I’m not going to cry in front of you.”

We retuned to class and I sat at my desk with my head down in my arms. Ashamed.

I regret never explaining to her the extent of my illness. Hell, at the time I didn’t even know how serious my condition was. I just took my medications every day and never really looked too deep into it until I was much older. She knew I was missing practice due to illness, but I don’t think she understood how serious it was.

Maybe it’s not fair for me to resent her so much because she couldn’t have known how serious it was, but I still look back on that memory with regret, shame, and anger.

Teachers, please think before you speak. If it wasn’t for the way I was talked down to that day, I probably wouldn’t have given up on speech and theater like I did. You are there to enlighten students, not to shame them and beat them down. Before you start talking down to someone, at least try to understand what they are going through.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

40683_418892889911_3696849_n

This is a picture of my friends and I from High School, taken in 2010.
I’m the one in the grass-stained jeans. haha

 

Featuring: Artem Chebokha (RHADS)

edca62518bbf1952ede3df52456ad436-d9oovo8

“Regular Magic”, by RHADS on DeviantART

Artem Chebokha is a 30 year-old artist from Siberia whose digital paintings depict surreal landscapes characterized by perfectly executed atmospheric lighting and contrast with stunning splashes of color. His dreamlike works of art have been a favorite of mine for years now, so I was thrilled when he agreed to let me feature his work here!

18f7469b3857543b9407efeddc004d79-d92spc1

“Forest Spirit”, by RHADS on DeviantART

Each painting he creates takes anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 hours to complete. Artem uses his Wacom tablet and Adobe Photoshop, relying heavily on the “mixer” brush, which is his favorite tool.

In 2003, he started taking traditional art classes in college. He discovered digital painting in 2008, and has been hooked ever since. “It was something new, a new experience for me,” he explained. He went on to cite his first love as his main inspiration for his artwork. Judging by the overwhelming beauty and sense of joy I get from his work, I can absolutely see that. Only love could inspire such touching works of art.

I was unaware of this until just now as I was researching him a little more for this article, but he also creates his own music based on his artwork, and it is beautiful. I’m listening to “Birds are Flying to the Sunset” right now, and I am at a loss for words to describe it! Please take a moment to listen, you won’t be disappointed!

Artem offers prints of his work on DeviantART and Society6, and you can follow him on Facebook and Instagram as well. He also has a VK account, if you can read Russian.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Featured image at the top of this article: “Cloud Regatta”, by RHADS on DeviantART

Featuring: Unknown Street Photographer (Bastex)

“I like to present myself as ‘Unknown Street Photographer’,” Bastex replied when I asked if he wanted to share his full name in this article. A true master of street photography (in my opinion), Bastex has been taking pictures ever since he received his first camera at age seven as a Communion gift, an Olympus AF-1. “The first pictures were awful,” he recalled, “but it was love at first sight.”

His skills developed (pardon the pun) on their own through practice, books, and a few short workshops with professional photographers. He doesn’t think anyone really needs to pursue a formal education in order to be a skilled photographer.

It’s incredible to think that he is self-taught when I look through all of the amazing shots displayed in his DeviantART gallery. His artfully composed street photography and photojournalism capture intense scenes of war reenactments in his neighborhood of Niepołomice, Poland, as well as stunning moments of daily human life that somehow always seem to enrapture and transport the viewer directly to the place Bastex captured the shot.

The intense contrast and carefully composed style in his pictures is what first captured my interest when I came across his DeviantART gallery years ago. I’ve always had a love for black and white photography and artwork, and the way he carefully edits his images using Lightroom and Google Nik Collection plugins is just stunning. He likes to use his old DSLR Nikon D5000 most of the time, but he also has a mirrorless Olympus OM-D E-M10. He only uses natural light in his photography.

When asked what influenced him to pursue photography, he replied “There was not any external impulse. I just always knew that it’s something that I love. I use photography as a tool to express myself, like Richard Avedon said; “My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph”.”

He went on to cite Henri Cartier-Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, Andre Kertesz, Ernst Haas, and Josef Koudelka as his inspirations. “Their work influenced me a lot. Their pictures made me aware of the beauty of simple everyday scenes,” Bastex said.

He doesn’t sell his work, but you can follow Bastex on DeviantArt, Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Featured Image at the top of this article page: “Tension”, by xBastex on DeviantART

An open “Thank You” letter to fellow Americans

File_000 (1)

To my fellow Americans,

Some of you hate me. I’ve met you, and we’ve spoken about the reason why online numerous times on many different forums. You think I’m a bum, a mooch, a worthless leech on your hard-earned tax dollars.

Well, I want to say “thank you”.

It’s thanks to your support through the taxes you paid that my fiancee and I were able to receive the SNAP benefits that helped us afford to buy nutritious meals to sustain us when we fell on hard times. Your small contribution to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program helped bring nutritious food to our table, sustaining our health and even helping us feel better emotionally. If it wasn’t for your help, we would have gotten physically sick living on literally nothing but ramen noodles and whatever expired food we could get from generous donors.

And thanks to your help, we are doing well enough now that we can cancel our SNAP benefits. Sincerely, thank you for helping us to reach this point.

Contrary to what many people online seem to think, we were not jobless, lazy bums. Through no fault of our own, my fiancee and I suddenly found ourselves unemployed. I, because of my health failing me (I’ll get into that in another blog post at some point, but it is a serious, debilitating diagnosis), and my fiancee because his employers lost a contract and his hours were cut so much his paychecks were no longer sustainable. When money became too tight for us to afford to pay the bills and still eat nutritious meals, I applied for Food Stamps (SNAP), and we were approved within a couple of weeks.

It was terrifying. Suddenly, we were broke. We were lucky to have ten dollars in the bank, and some days we were even in the red. My fiancee worked hard to try and find better employment. He got a temp job, thankfully, but he was let go after only about a month working there. The temp agency found another job for him, a few weeks later. That job proved to be a joke. It’s so tempting to trash the company name for the way they treated their employees, but I will spare them for now as this is not the focus of this letter. (You can always ask in the comments if you’re curious. I’ll gladly give more details.) He worked for them for about a month, and they abandoned all of their employees after losing a contract. My fiancee was suddenly without work again. We were lucky to have a friend with influence at a local factory, and he helped my fiancee get hired on there, only missing about a week of work in between employment. The hours were long, 12-hour shifts, and the factory work took some getting used to, but he persevered and continues to work there to this day. We are both very grateful for his new paychecks. We have been able to get bills caught up, and now we can actually even afford to satisfy SOME wants as well as all of our needs. On top of that, I may be approved for disability soon, due to my poor health mentioned briefly earlier. We should have a determination decision within a week or so. My fingers are crossed.

Thanks to that, we can now afford to close out SNAP benefits, and I say that with sincere gratitude to all of my fellow Americans, whose tax dollars have come together to help fund programs like this. If it wasn’t for your help, our kitchen shelves would have been barren. We would have been living off of expired food donations and ramen noodles, and pathetically begging friends and family for money. Even though SNAP only gave us $190.00 to last the entire month, your generosity saved us physical distress from malnutrition, and heartache from living in pathetic conditions.

Thank you. I mean that.

You may still harbor ill opinions of me or other Americans who reach out and ask for help, and I probably can’t change your stubborn minds, but I do want you to know that I appreciate your contributions. Yes, there ARE some people out there scamming the system, but for the most part, SNAP is granted to people like me who really needed the help. You may not realize it, but food stamps are not easy to apply for. They work very hard to weed out people who may just be lazy, so there is a lot of bureaucracy and running around to deal with in order to get approved. Some scammers still get through, sadly, but please reconsider your anger towards the SNAP program and those benefiting from it. My life might look much different right now if it weren’t for the help we received.

So, thank you.

– Sunny