Q: How has the crisis affected your everyday life?
A: My family and I have been affected in every way – from the way we eat (no more going out), the way we are able to use public entertainment (no more community events like movies, concerts, live theater, art museums), to the way to we visit the doctor (virtual, or in person with masks and gloves), to the inability to have necessary/critical surgery (cannot), to seeing extended family (cannot), to having grandchildren visit (cannot), to shopping (with masks and gloves, observing social distance, and going infrequently), to seeing friends (cannot), to virtual communication (good but not the same), to picking up the mail out of our mailbox (protocols!), to walking down our street (masks again and social distance!), to protection of someone in our home with underlying health conditions . . . the list is endless. Nothing is not affected. Except: in everyday life, I am learning to re-prioritize, to emphasize the truly important over the trivial.
Q: How has the crisis affected your practice?
A: My work involves professional meetings – all of which have gone virtual and which have decreased somewhat. I do not like the program of choice (ZOOM) and have learned to accommodate that within certain protocols and barriers. I do not allow the video feature, for instance. Still, my work remains necessary (recording secretary for professional/municipal meetings) and at this moment seems secure.
Q: How has the crisis affected you economically?
A: Because I am retired with a true pension (!), social security, and ongoing part-time self-employment work, I have not been too affected economically, even though my self-employment income has decreased somewhat.
Q: What is the role of culture in a time of crisis?
A: Culture has been very important to me during the COVID-19 shut down. I appreciate the free online streaming of plays, operas, and so on. I MISS being able to attend things in person, but I am grateful for the ability to participate virtually in events that I might not be able to see otherwise (National Theatre performances, Met Opera, etc.), and I appreciate my online subscriptions to newspapers (Free Press, Washington Post, NY Times) as well as other ways to read news articles online. I find the press is HUGE in keeping community culture going. I am a sometimes published writer; however, I have found it impossible to write during this time – I know other artists and writers who are having this same difficulty. But culture – whatever our art form or even basic forms of communication – is a critical mirror to what is happening right now, the changes that are happening right now. I appreciate all those who create, communicate, and reach me via my devices. Cultural communication pulls me outside of myself, and helps me refocus and recenter, so I can keep going for another day.
Name: Cheryl M
Occupation: Retired with part time self-employment