Opportunities During COVID-19

Since COVID-19 struck, I’ve been able to participate in events (even if over Zoom) that I might not have been able to when things were “normal.” The philosophy group I used to attend and moved to Adams, PA, the leader has been having e-mail discussions and he’s been including me in them. It has been nice being able to connect with my old philosophy group. I’ve missed Chad, and Bob, who I met when I worked at the senior center and he told me about the group. As Chad reminded me, things aren’t always perfect now, but to count my blessings for all the things I can do now that I haven’t been able to do before. How right he is!

Gotham Writer’s Workshop is another thing I have been able to do. Since they are based in NYC, I can’t always make it up to NYC for their free write-ins. I’ve been able to do it twice on Zoom and I love the classes so far.

On Friday, I logged in and we had a twenty-minute prompt and I wrote the prompt for “Keeping Up Appearances”:

I’m not weak, I kept saying to myself, I can’t ask for help! I just can’t. As I sat in the waiting room, I saw many trans men and women, some cys-gendered folks and possibly other asexual people walk in and out of the Toronto Association for LGBT and their Allies.

I had turned to them that previous June for Pride – I felt ashamed when I was waiting in line to get tested. I didn’t know anyone in Toronto, but if I was at home in York, PA, I would never have lived this down. Everyone would have known me and would have pointed and laughed. “Such a stupid girl. I guess she’s not perfect after all.”

Before I moved to Toronto, I avoided getting tested. Living through assault was traumatic enough. Those I went to college with all blamed me for what another college student did to me, how stupid and weak I must have been to get so sloppily drunk, trust that person, even the detective blamed me. The young man was wealthy and the detective said I was trying to ruin his future, never mind that he almost ended mine.

Five years later, I’m in Toronto as a writer. I tested negative, and was handed a counseling card. I can’t let others in, I don’t want others to see how weak and ashamed I still feel. I make a lot of money and work a lot of hours, I look successful, but deep down I feel like a failure. If I portray that, I have a panic attack. I need help and therapy tonight will be a scary first step.

I moved for a fresh start, but it seems like that placed more pressure on me to keep up appearances.

I was fourth to share, but time ran out and the instructor said I would start the next session after our second twenty-minute writing prompt. However, before we began the writing prompt, she had us talk about what we were seeing outside. Everyone introduced themselves and where they were. One young woman was a recovering drug addict and she was grateful that she now had a place to live in “Da Bronx.” We all clapped for her.

After our second prompt, “hopelessly devoted,” I decided to read my keeping up appearances prompt. One gay gentleman was so happy that I brought light to the LGBT community and getting such a test with a negative result is a fresh start, a heavy burden being lifted off of the shoulders. He loved the characterization and hopes I finish. Others said I started out strong, they applaud my character and hope I finish. I will! It’s nice workshopping again and building new ideas.


Lastly, another chance I’ve been given due to COVID-19: usually, I’m working two jobs when the Jewish improv group meets up and even though I’ve been eating dinner later on Monday when they have their meetups, I can still attend. Tomorrow night I’m going to attend, and see the group, since it’s been six months since I last saw them in person.

I’m an introvert and when I was in high school, I mostly stayed inside. Of course I would walk and study, but I mostly focused on writing and scrapbooking. I enjoyed these activities and while I might go out from time to time (of course, since I scrapbooked), being a homebody was lovely.

In college that changed a bit and don’t get me wrong, I still love travelling, but returning to my introverted roots during this pandemic has been a God-send. I love all this writing and scrapbooking time. When we get back to “normal” I will be planning accordingly. Not only to save money, but to also respect my introverted nature. I’ll still travel from time to time, still go to museums and skate, but I will spend a lot of quiet time too.

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Creator of the Happiness Box Project Initiative, a project where you write your happiness or gratitude each day, then open the box in the New Year. The Initiative is to teach joy and gratitude, to pass it on to others.

One thought on “Opportunities During COVID-19”

  1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

    As society adjusts to the realities of life under threat of COVID, new opportunities arise. Philosophy has always been an interest of mine. I’m happy to know you are staying connected to that group and also getting back in touch with the Jewish improv group and staying involved with the Gotham Writer’s Workshop. I’m telling you, modern technology is truly a blessing at a time like this. Think how isolated people would have been if this crisis had unfolded 50 years ago! None of the things you are able to do would have been possible.

    I smiled when I read your “Keeping Up Appearances” writing exercise and noticed that the girl who moved to Toronto came from York, PA. 🙂 It’s a nice piece of writing for the workshop – semi autobiographical, self effacing, and I agree with the gay man who appreciated you for acknowledging the LGBT community. Are you aware that there was a British comedy TV series called “Keeping Up Appearances”? Mrs. Shady loves to watch it.

    If the COVID outbreak has forced you to tap the brakes and make some adjustments to your lifestyle, there’s a good chance you will have a more balanced life when the all-clear is finally sounded. You will still travel, but you have rediscovered the joys of writing, crafting and scrapbooking at home.

    Have a wonderful week, dear friend JM!


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