It seems like a simple question to ask. How are you? Is everything okay? How are you feeling? But lately, it seems like that question is carrying more weight than normal. And I'm not the only one who is asking this question more often. It shouldn't have to take a rocket scientist to figure out why. Back in December 2019, stories of a contagious virus called COVID-19 made originated in Wuhan, China. The numbers escalated quickly, and practically the entire nation was shut down following its spread throughout the country. Watching it on the news, it was very frightening. Seeing all the busy streets, parks, restaurants, and other large gather places empty gave me an unnerving feeling. And all the nurses and doctors risking their lives to help those infected sharing their day-to-day stories was also eye-opening. I'm pretty sure you all had the same thought that I did: surely, it couldn't come over here, could it? Boy, was I wrong. It spread to just about EVERYWHERE, including the US. And now, it's a global pandemic. I hope I'm not the only one when in the initial stages of the uptick of cases there was an influx of information. Washing your hands for 20 seconds. Don't touch your face. Stay at least six feet or more apart from people. Disinfect every surface. Disinfect all your packages and groceries. Wear masks when in public places. I don't know about you, but I got overwhelmed by all of this real fast. I was one of those brave souls that ventured to the mall several days to see how much of an impact it had. I guess you could figure out that it had a BIG impact. For instance, on weekends, JC Penney would be packed with shoppers and the lines would be very long. In this case, there weren't any! At Costco's, there would be lines going out the door with people stocking up. Shelves filled with toilet paper, paper towels, soap, disinfectants, frozen vegetables, frozen pizza, pasta, sauces, bread, and much more were empty. I'm pretty sure it's the same just about everywhere. Then, it happened. The stay-at-home orders came about and it impacted so many lives. Schools were closed. Restaurants are only doing carry-out and deliveries. Non-essential businesses were forced to be closed. Public transportation hours were reduced. Reduced hours are in effect at grocery stores and big-name shops. No large gatherings of any kind are allowed. Are you keeping up with all of this? I hope so because it's a lot to take in. How is it impacting me, do you ask? In big ways. For starters, my day job as an assistant house manager at a professional theatre is basically gone for the next six months since the theatre canceled the remainder of their 2019-20 season. For my mom, she is now working from home. My therapy sessions are now conducted over the phone or via Google Hangouts. I'm using telehealth visits for my nurse practitioner. My church is now meeting every Sunday via Zoom. My banking is now taking place online or on mobile. It has definitely changed things for us in so many ways. So now, back to that question: how are you doing? Well, for me, I'm doing okay. Could it be better? Absolutely! Am I trying to make lemonade out of lemons? Of course. Are there times when I'm going crazy? Hell yes! I'm used to having control over where I go, what I do, and how I do it. Now, it's like being in a cage on a regular basis, with the exception of being let out for walks and grocery store trips. I'm used to enjoying people's company in person. I'm used to hugging others and petting dogs. I don't have to always think about where my packages and groceries come from other than the shelves. Now, it's become a new normal to be careful everywhere I go. It couldn't have come at a worse time for me for several reasons. For example, I just lost over 55 lbs on my weight loss journey this past year (a blog on that and body positivity coming soon!), and I have been thriving on my workouts and walking around the neighborhood freely. Now that a stay-at-home order has been enacted in my state, I'm concerned about overeating and gaining all of that weight back. Another reason: seeing my friends from church and theatre on a regular basis, whether that's for rehearsals, Bible studies, or performances. I was looking forward to supporting a couple of my friend's shows before the remaining performances were canceled. I was looking forward to going deep into the Word with my friends because my faith means a great deal to me. In other words, I'm a people-person. I always enjoy good company in between my introverted state. However, something awakened within me from the times that I stayed at home more often. And that was a desire to LEARN. Contrary to what you may see on the website, I'm still a newbie in the acting business. It's going on four years that I've been acting, and I have big dreams to keep moving forward and upward in my career. A big part of that is moving from doing community theatre to working with a professional theatre company, and somehow what I've been doing lately is taking time out to devote to learning about the craft and the business as much as possible. You see, the nice thing about this time is that the professionals - actors, directors, producers, CDs, the whole shebang - are taking time out of their day to enlighten those who want to learn and get more information. What do you do for self-tapes? Should you dress like your characters in auditions? What song is overly used in auditions? What makes a fantastic resume? How would you define your type? When is a good time to get representation? All of these questions and more have been asked by myself and others time and time again. And it is nice that those who know and have experience in this business can help those who want to succeed and thrive in their careers so they can be at their best in moving forward to the next level. And wouldn't you know it? I've been taking every advantage of the live Q&A sessions, YouTube videos, podcasts, books, anything that I can get my hands on to learn more. It's been a big help to me and I know it will be in the long haul. Want to know what I've learned? For starters, when listing your range, it shouldn't have to always be "soprano" or "alto" or "tenor". It should be listed in keys from lowest to highest. Or if you want to be considered for theatre roles, list your theatrical experiences before your television/film experiences. And vice versa. Or if you want to go into more complex knowledge I picked up, how about this? If you want to find out more about your brand as an actor, ask yourself or others you know three important questions about yourself: 1. How would you describe your physical appearance? 2. How would you describe your personality? 3. What kind of "vibe" do you give out on any given day? And what about this for inspiration: laughter and anxiety are the same emotion, but both are on different ends of the spectrum. See? It goes to show that knowledge is power. Apart from devoting myself to learning more about the craft, I've also decided to take a course on the Irish language and culture. After nearly a month, I now know how to say, hello, my name is Nessa, where I come from, members of my family, directions, rooms in my apartment and its objects, musical instruments, amenities, and my favorite music types in Irish. Pretty cool, huh? And I'm not done yet. After living in several apartments for many years, we are finally getting around to replacing things with brand new items, like a shower curtain, computer chair, a stable desk, three new lamps that give out more light, new bedding, a new dish rack, and the list goes on. My next project will be getting picture frames for my pictures and posters so I can finally take down the calender pictures I've been using on my walls for many years. I'm definitely looking forward to using the pics I took from my travels to hang on walls and bring a little creativity to my bedroom. Somehow, that's not the sign of someone going crazy. It's the sign of someone taking initiative and moving forward. Sure, I have my days of doing nothing and letting my mind relax, and I'm finding out that's okay. I will still need to have some time to go out for walks to get out of being cooped up all day. And I may need to take some time away from either my Irish lessons or my acting business building knowledge to devote to one thing since multitasking can take a lot out of you. Everyone is telling me that with the constant lessons, working out at home, going out for walks, listening to music, limiting the news to once a day, having a good belly laugh, and reading among other things, I'm doing things right. But honestly? I'm still having a hard time believing that it's the right thing to do. All I'm doing is the same things that I've been doing previously because of how I cope with the new and strange (another blog post coming your way). I'm not here to tell you how to cope during these uncertain times or even show off all of the things and projects I'm doing now that I have the time to do them. I'm not an expert on any of this by any means. These are simply just my ways of how I'm navigating through this. But I will say something that may has been said before: you're NOT alone in this. Nothing of this magnitude has ever happened before. We've always been a fast-paced, "keep busy" kind of country. Nothing has been shut down for an extended period time before. And I can tell you right now that there has been worry about surviving financially and logistically. Even more so than getting the virus. But can I let you in on a little secret? You're not the only one that's worried about this. I'm worried. My mom is worried. I have friends who are worried. My community is worried. Heck, even the entire nation is worried. So, no, you're not the only out there that is worried about this and it shouldn't have to be about you. We're all in this together, and the only way we're going to get through this is by working together and helping each. And that includes NOT being selfish. Yes, I have seen the anti-stay-at-home protests on television, and it breaks my heart that a select few hundred can't see that their selfishness is just the thing that is letting the fear and greed win. It shouldn't have to come down to this. No life is worth sacrificing because of your selfishness. And it doesn't help that the current state of our national leadership is in shambles because they acted too slowly and didn't take it seriously enough until it was too late. What will it take for those people protesting to see that they're not alone and only thinking of themselves will make the situation worse? Possibly getting sick themselves? I hope not, but it might have to happen and that frightens me greatly. I get it. Your job doesn't offer sick pay or extended pay beyond the period when you'd last work. But there's a reason why these measures were put in place to begin with: to protect YOU. And your family. And your neighbors. And your community. What will it take for you to realize that no life is worth losing over your selfishness and unwillingness to see that we're ALL in the same boat right now? Never seeing your loved one again who died alone from getting infected? Please, for the love of God, stop thinking of yourself and start putting the needs of others before yourself. I chose to stay at home, social distance, wash my hands, and disinfect everything out of love for my mom and my community. Perhaps it's time you do the same.
Whew! What a mouthful. What do you miss the most right now? Interacting with others face-to-face? Going to restaurants? Going to the cinema? Going to school? Going to work? (LOL) For me, it's a no brainer. I miss being able to be at the theatre and performing or going to see a show. Before all of this started, I had tickets to go see Frozen on Broadway in NYC, and even with all of the seats emptying out days before I would go, I still had hope that I would be able to get back up to NYC again. Unfortunately, after returning from a walk, I found that Broadway was shut down for month. Perhaps it was the grace of God protecting me, but my heart broke for all of the actors, backstage crew, directors, and everyone involved in the theatre working up there and in professional theaters everywhere. I sincerely hope you all are doing okay and I will be more than glad to do my part to donate to organizations helping you guys out. And I think my readers should, too. The Actors Fund and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS are two organizations to donate for. There's also the World Health Organization (WHO), your local food bank, and many more charities out there that need your help. Please consider donating to causes you truly care about. Maybe it's the universe's way of saying "slow down." Take the time out to focus on that project you kept on putting off. Maybe call that relative you haven't had a chance to talk to in a long time. Watch that film you never saw before. Learn a new skill. Embrace those closest to you a little bit tighter. This will end one day. And it won't be a fast and in-a-hurry fix. It will take TIME. Just remember that the old way of doing things may not work anymore once this ends. It's time to move forward into new thinking, new opportunities, new hopes, and a new sense of self. All the same, the message from me is still the same: please be careful. This virus is no joke and I don't want to lose anyone I care about to it, especially if they have to die alone. Stay home. Look out for each other. Hug your loved ones a little tighter. Remember that you ARE loved and you do have worth. And keep moving forward, never look back.
One more thing: thanks to all of the doctors, nurses, health practitioners, grocery store workers, warehouse workers, truck drivers, postal workers, and railroad engineers for putting their lives on the line to serve those in need. We couldn't do it without you.