Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Holly Leber Simmons

  1. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Lene Tesegaye
  2. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Dan Reed
  3. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—David “Moe” Nelson
  4. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Warren “Buck” Buckingham
  5. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—David Fogel, Bump ‘n Grind
  6. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Dr. Lilly Walker Shelton
  7. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Liz Brent, Go Brent
  8. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Prayag Gordy, MBHS, Silver Chips
  9. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Will Ferguson
  10. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Zed MeKonnen, Zed’s Café, Silver Strings
  11. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Amina Ahmad, Handmade Habitat
  12. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Boosaba Tantisunthorn
  13. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Melanie Padgett Powers
  14. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Todd Galkin, DDS
  15. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Christy Batta
  16. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Yvette Tousley
  17. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Hannah Sholder, Koiner Farm
  18. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Evan Glass
  19. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Holly Leber Simmons
  20. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Jason Wong
  21. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Geraldina Dominguez and Reemberto Rodriguez 
  22. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Jonathan Bernstein
  23. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Kathy Jentz
  24. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Karen Roper
  25. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Mei Powers
  26. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Adam Clay
  27. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Javier Valles Pasquera
  28. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Susan Peterkin
  29. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Dhruv Pai
  30. Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Ricky Speight

Guest post by Jonna Huseman

What is your profession/involvement in the community?
My profession/community involvement: I’m the owner of Red Pen Editorial Services, a content marketing, writing and editing business. I previously collaborated with a number of local businesses and nonprofits as content and communications director of the Daily Do Good.  

How has your life changed since the community has been impacted by Coronavirus?
I’ve had less of an adjustment than many since I was already working from home with my daughter (19 months), and we’re not a terribly socially active family. The biggest adjustments have been having my husband home as well—two people for the baby to seek attention from!—and grocery outings. We live next to a supermarket, so we’re used to being able to pop down at whim to pick up one or two things. I miss being able to do that—and not sanitizing my groceries! 
 
Are you working more or less?
I’m a freelance writer and editor—I own an editorial services business (Red Pen Editorial). Right now, I’m working about the same amount as I probably would have been, but I am more nervous about prospects for work over the next several months. Good news is, there’s always a need for writers. Bad news, everyone thinks they can write. (Seriously, at least get an editor!)
 
What are you most afraid of?
Loss of work is probably the most prevalent fear. I feel like I don’t even want to elaborate on that for fear of jinxing myself—and I’m not a superstitious person!

Dying alone of coronavirus and leaving my one-year-old motherless is also up there, but we are being very careful with precautions so I’m…cautiously optimistic? But I’m also clearly anxious because I get really snappish at people who aren’t being appropriate about social distancing. Like when someone is walking toward me on the sidewalk and I step as far as I possibly safely can to one side, even on to the grass (with a stroller!) and the other person doesn’t go as far as they can to the opposite side, I get annoyed. Even if my movement has created the mandatory six-foot separation, I still feel like the other person should also move aside, insofar as they are physically able, to demonstrate that they are also making the effort. 

Also, sometimes I’m afraid of running out of toilet paper.  
 
What are you most hopeful for?
Maybe that the stay-at-home will emphasize the feasibility of remote work, therefore creating more flexibility in general. And perhaps that my husband and I will be better about making coffee at home and not buying it out most days. 
 
What has been the most challenging part of this experience for you?
As good as it is to have my husband home—both to help with our daughter and because I enjoy his company—it’s been a challenge. I’ve set a routine, a way of doing things, and it can be a challenge to fit another person into that, especially if he thinks something would be better done a different way. I’m also used to taking care of my daughter myself during the day, so I feel a little guilty sometimes when I let him do it—like that’s my job. Which is ridiculous, admittedly. Our daughter is also entering a new developmental phase (she’ll be 20 months on May 8), so she’s been a bit more of a handful. Since we’ve begun sheltering in place, she’s learned to open doors, reach tables, climb on chairs, and remove articles of clothing—sometimes all within about three minutes of one another. 

The other big challenge is being able to have sufficient time outdoors, especially time we can let the baby loose. We live in a high-rise on a busy street, so there’s a lot of navigating public space—hallway, elevator, lobby, just to get outside, and then when we are out walking on the sidewalks, plenty of people are not sufficiently conscientious about keeping an appropriate distance, so I get nervous and irritable about that. I’m from New York, so I grew up in apartments, but I have never wished for a house with a backyard (and a fence) more!  
 
Is there anything—even a tiny thing—you enjoy or like about sheltering in place?
I think I’ve put on a bra three times in the last month, so that’s been pleasant. I also appreciate all of the excellent entertainment and education content that’s been made available online. I watched a four-hour “gala” by the Metropolitan Opera, which is one of the things I miss most about New York. 
 
What do you think society as a whole will learn from this experience?
Honestly? Not much. Maybe we’ll all learn to wash our hands more as a matter of habit. That would actually be a very good thing.  
 
How are you coping with stress/taking care of yourself?
You mean, other than eating a LOT of chocolate and staying up too late watching British murder mysteries? I spend a lot of time with my daughter, reading and playing. I nurse her a lot—it’s good for her immunity and is a stress reliever for me—as long as she’s not biting/pinching! We listen to a lot of classical music. I’m not a very active person, but I need to be. I’ve started trying to do a yoga video—just five minutes—every day. My focus is on trying to develop a good habit. And Zoom therapy appointments have been helpful as well.
 
When future generations ask, what will you tell them about this time in your life?
Hopefully I can tell them that our family got through it relatively unscathed. 
 
What would you like your friends and neighbors in Silver Spring/Montgomery County to know?
To my friends, I look forward to seeing you in person again and chatting over wine/fries at Locavino or coffee at Kefa or Bump n’ Grind. To neighbors, stay safe and healthy, and please conform to ALL the social distancing rules, for all of us.

Jonna Huseman is a family photographer who serves Silver Spring and beyond. During the COVID-19 crisis, she is using her free time to document the lives of friends and neighbors living through the pandemic.

Author’s note: Over the coming days and weeks I am documenting the lives of dozens of members of the Silver Spring and Takoma Park community. My goal is to talk to teachers and students, religious leaders, small business owners, frontline workers, parents, elected leaders, and private citizens. I want to learn about our collective hopes and dreams, our biggest challenges, and our greatest triumphs. Mostly, I want to build connection and create community at a time when we need it the most. If you live or work in Silver Spring or Takoma Park and are interested in having your life documented at this time—or know someone who has a unique experience and is willing to share—please contact me. To all those who have made this project possible, including Source of the Spring, I thank you for your time and generosity. To the neighbors who will respond in the future, I look forward to getting to know you. And to everyone reading—stay healthy and safe. We will make it through.


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