Gina Acuña staring out the window

'On the Inside looking Out' - Me, during lockdown. The gorgeous day outside, made lockdown harder. March 2020

 Pandemic Life is a series looking at how individuals are living their lives during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Silver Lake -- Gina Acuña has been a film liaison for 10 years but the pandemic has put her work on hold. Now, she's focused on her physical and mental health, wearing a mask whenever she leaves her Silver Lake home. She has also been photographing scenes of the pandemic and wrote a poem about her life during pandemic times called The Long Pause.

In a Q&A, Acuña describes what her life has been like during pandemic times. She also shared a few of her photos.

How has your daily life changed since the pandemic started?

Pretty much everything. Much of my life came to a screeching halt. My job disappeared the week of March 14th when L.A. went into lockdown. I went into panic mode (as I imagine most people did), not knowing how I was going to meet my expenses.

I spent the early days trying to get through to unemployment office. I was having difficulties as I was ineligible to apply until 4/28 for PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance).

Everything was a big unknown, and still is in many respects. I'm still not back to work. The film industry is a high risk environment for COVID-19, so they are in the midst of implementing protocols to open back up.

In terms of other daily life, stepping outside of the house now comes with inherent risk so that's pretty scary. I now need to be mindful of wearing a mask, washing my hands constantly, keeping my distance from others in public, disinfecting everything - from my house to my car to wiping down my groceries when I get home. I'm not gonna lie, it's stressful, but it's what needs to be done right now to protect myself, my family, and others.

Another change is that I can't visit my friends right now. That sucks.

My wife and I used to entertain friends a lot at our house. That's all stopped. So now we Zoom. It's not the same of course, but it does lift my spirits to see and speak to them weekly.

Travel is out. I used to take a lot of road trips up to the central coast of California, to take photographs.

To dine out and go wine tasting. I really miss doing all of that.

Sign outside that says Just Keep Swimming

'Just Keep Swimming' - a message of hope, Silver Lake Reservoir area.

What specific moment impacted you the most in the last 3-4 months?

I think listening to the daily briefings from the L.A. public health officials, hearing the case counts and death counts rise. It's shocking to me. I have a background working in public health, so I started compiling data on my own and doing comparison analysis. I could tell you that on 3/10 we had 4 cases of COVID-19 in L.A. County. A month later on 4/10 it was 8,430 cases, and now we are at 116,570 cases with 3,534 dead. Numbers like that are enough to give anyone pause, and question whether we are doing enough to stop this virus from spreading. These stats are more than numbers; they are people. They are lives.

How have you adapted?

It's become habit to grab my mask before going out. My behavior has changed while I'm out. I think having to wear a mask should be just as important as wearing seatbelts in a car. Both are for safety and saving lives.

Face mask on the ground

Discarded face mask.

What do you do to get through all of this?

I'm trying to exercise more to help my mental as well as physical health. I think I'm in better physical shape now than I was pre-pandemic, so that's a plus!

This pandemic has definitely affected my emotional well being, some days I find myself dipping into depression, so I'm trying to be more cognizant of my reactions to negative feelings that arise out of fear or worry and trying to look forward with hope.

I also have to be mindful of how much political news I ingest. It can be crazy making but there's a fine line, because I want to stay informed.

I'm a creative person by nature. I'm into photography, poetry, and music, so I'm trying to focus on that as a way to channel my feelings during this pandemic.

And I have become a pretty good cook! Thank you to the cooking and travel shows on Netflix!

What would be your advice to others?

Get involved in something. Check in on family, friends, or neighbors who live alone. Even if it's a phone call or dropping them off groceries.

PLEASE wear a mask.

Get tested.

Bend that curve. Again.

And VOTE for change on November 3rd!

Gina shares her my experience going through the pandemic in this poem The Long Pause.

How has your life changed during the pandemic? The Eastsider is accepting first-person stories (no more than 500 words) on the subject. You must live in our coverage area to participate. Please contact Melody@TheEastsiderLA.com for details. 

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