Guest post by Jonna Huseman

What is your role/involvement in the community?
Musician and music teacher.

How has your life changed since the community has been impacted by Coronavirus?
Probably in a way very similar to most others. I’ve had to isolate myself from society and refrain from leaving home as much as possible. I’m fortunate enough to have a balcony that gets direct sunlight in the mornings, and Sligo Creek Park nearby when I need to stretch my legs, though I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that last one. I’m naturally introverted, but I do like taking my walks.

Are you working more or less?
I’m working less, definitely. Relying on oneself and different sources of income is one of many lessons we can glean from this whole ordeal.

What are you most afraid of?
Obviously, the transfer of the virus is immediately concerning, to myself and to others. Having an ongoing global pandemic is scary, yes, but crises are a great time to observe the priorities of any person or group. When the house is on fire, do you first grab your beloved four-legged companion or the jewelry box? That kind of thing. We have governments omitting crucial information about the pandemic to save face, the media creating stories around the virus to influence how people act and have them depend on the information dispensed daily. Every other ad I see is a company capitalizing on people’s fear with their marketing so customers associate their new mode of living with purchasing a produc,t and I see people freaking out over various aspects of the pandemic and acting like fools. I can go on. More directly, I’m concerned about other people’s ignorance and what they feel they are justified in doing because of it.

What are you most hopeful for?
I’m hopeful that, despite all of the messiness and tragedy, I can come out a little stronger and capitalize on all this extra time I have on my hands.

What has been the most challenging part of this experience for you?
Remember that thing about people’s true priorities coming out during a crisis? The same is true when you have loads of free time, and it applies to me as well. You have two months of time with which you can do whatever you want with an effectively infinite source of information at your disposal. What you do with that time says a lot about you and how subject you are to your own vices and patterns. This is a good opportunity to apply self-discipline and learn that new language, that new skill, get fit, read those unread books on your shelf, start that new business, finish that work of art, etc. Those are all things that I’ve wanted to do with my quarantine time and I’ve made varying degrees of progress on all of those things. The challenge, for me, is maintaining discipline so that I can capitalize on this time the best way I can. Also, I’m a guitarist and I got a repetitive stress injury just before quarantine started. The irony is not lost on me.

Is there anything—even a tiny thing—you enjoy or like about sheltering in place?
I mentioned before that I’m an introvert by nature (and pretty misanthropic at that). I don’t suffer greatly from prolonged social isolation and, as I said before, this is a good time to become sharper. Even my cooking’s gotten better. My cat seems to enjoy the extra pettings, too.

What do you think society as a whole will learn from this experience?
Judging by what I’ve seen, they won’t. Not the average person at least. Hopefully, fewer companies will rely on China for production and more governments will think twice about globalizing so liberally, but I doubt it.

How are you coping with stress/taking care of yourself?
I’m not too stressed by the situation. Isolation is more of an act in consideration to others who would be severely affected by the virus. In fact, I’ve had kind of a morbid fascination with watching how a global pandemic spreads in real time. The internet’s cool, dude.

Also, if anyone who reads this wants to take one positive thing from what I’m saying here, let it be this: work out! Let’s be real and say most of us don’t take care of our bodies enough. Even if it’s just some squats and some push-ups, being stronger has a million benefits that people more knowledgeable than I have written about extensively.

When future generations ask, what will you tell them about this time in your life?
Liquor stores stayed open and we already had the internet. I was okay and spent the time in relative comfort. Healthcare workers and people who contracted the virus probably have more horror stories to tell. Even then, we have lots of modern solutions to soften the blow. Within the spectrum of possibility for pandemics, this isn’t so bad.

What would you like your friends and neighbors in Silver Spring/Montgomery County to know?
Mind your personal space and use this time as an exercise in consideration to others. I’ve seen too many people without masks pass by others nonchalantly. I’ve even asked someone not to walk so close to me, and then proceeded to walk even closer to me. On the flip side, don’t be rude and try not to come from your ego when you see the need to correct someone else, or when someone else needs to correct you.

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.

Mike Diegel