Episode 1: Virtual Neighborhood
Welcome to “ Love in the time of COVID-19 ” –
you’ll join host, Sissy Siero- a distracted creative who is finally getting it together- and a chorus friends, family, neighbors, strangers, and colleagues; sharing poignant, honest, humorous, and sometimes, harrowing accounts of life, loss, love and restoration during the pandemic.
The podcast series’ mission is to create a welcoming space for a new community – one we never knew we needed. So pull up a lawn chair – at a safe distance of course – and listen to stories about ourselves, and each other.
Welcome – all of you …to my virtual neighborhood…I’m Sissy Siero your host, but really, I’m more of curator for the stories of your lives. This show is about all of us – it’s for you, for me – anyone who needs to speak, scream, rant, joke, cry or whatever – we here together and NEED to hear you- to know a slice of how your doing right now…today. We’re all gyrating to the heights and depths of our personal unknowns; the hidden moments of our lives.
Since I use my voice in business, I got the idea to offer to read other peoples’ stories; some don’t have the means, or just don’t want to hear the sound of their own voices! The process of collecting stories from around the neighborhood, and from around the world, is cheering me, and I’m very grateful to all of the contributors. As we get into the next episodes I’ll be enlisting some talented Voiceover colleagues to read your stories also, and to hopefully share some of their own. Speaking of which I want to thank, a long-time pal, music composer, engineer and producer extraordinaire and talented vo artist Simon Tassano for his spirited introduction! You Rock as always, handsome man!
Some tech notes – You’ll hear different audio quality and sound, throughout – and that’s intentional -stories are coming both in written form, and as audio shares.
I’ll let you know how to get your stories to me later in the show.
So here we go: “ Love in the time of COVID -19”

Stories: “Letter from Austin” [ 1.5 minutes]: I posted a selfie on IG wearing a homemade mask heading into Costco- the look in my eyes, says it all…it simply disturbs me a little deeper with every major shift; like when another daily habit, or ritual flies off the board. I keep remembering my Mom regaling me with stories of her childhood during the great depression and during WWII – hiding next to the stove reading, the kitchen dimly lit; a warm glow from streetlights through the newspaper covered windows; how they finally got use to air raid sirens going off at night. I think I kind of get it now since we’re living with a constant undercurrent of unknowing and fear; don’t think I’ve ever had this level of stress before.
Austin is still mostly fine – if in general unsure where we all are , and where will be when and if the full force of the roiling wave hits us; there’s a palpable tilting back and forth between anxiety and laissez-faire.
Getting Home: Our airline had cancelled our flights so we had to shop new flights, and many of the routes looked dismal with three stops, all in airports i didn’t want to be in. Meanwhile, the panic appeared to set in for a lot of folks who are scared, we are all scared, and I felt it well-up inside me everyday, a debilitating fear. We had many conversations about which decisions we are making in fear, and in our discomfort with uncertainty. Nobody is comfortable with uncertainty, and then with life or death circumstances, it is almost impossible to sort out the fearful responses from the beneficial ones.

“Trip to the Market –

“ZOOM” [ 1 minute] How many other people are stumbling through zoom meetings right at this very moment i wonder. Shit – I hate this! I hate the way my voice sounds – so like squeaky and pinched, like a teenager or some awkward geek; I’m an engineer – I’ve got a masters – what the hell is wrong with me! Look at them – I hate their smug faces – like they are all cool with this shit and I am sweating under my stupid blazer – I know I know, somehow the entire universe is comfortable in a casual shirt, but I Have standards. I don’t want to get sloppy – it makes me feel normal… as weird as that sounds; Maybe i’m just hiding ….I don’t know Just want to kiss my boyfriend; want to hug my mom. Fuck this. “What About the Dog”: Neighbors!! Please, please, please, people out walking down our block – don’t reach over the fence to pet my dog! Your facemask is nice but – Hello!!! you’re too close…and you’re touching him…and now I have to give him another bath!!! Alone in the Universe: Isolation has gotten under my skin – I live alone and work alone, so when I can’t take it anymore and have to get out – I feel so excited to see other people that I literally clamp my hand over my mouth to stifle the urge to yell – HEY, OTHER PERSON ACROSS THE STREET- how are you?? do you, ah, umm, want to know how I am?? Observations: I’ve been thinking about this and making observations to share.For me, the hardest part is not knowing how long this separate life is going to last. And now with the talk about “opening up” I wonder how much I will be able to embrace increasing the risk. I think we will be wearing masks for some time to come and I’m hoping that I will be able to get a pedicure soon!I’ve noticed that most people I see are getting more and more pale….I’ve noticed that most cars I see have not been washed….I’ve noticed that most people I see without masks are young…I’ve noticed that almost everyone I see needs a haircut!In so many ways it seems like we are all going through this together but I am reminded that not everyone is as lucky as I am. Sheltering at home may be a nightmare for some. Affording to acquire things to help entertain is not possible for manyHaving to take mass transit is the only option for some and for myself, I cannot imagine getting on a bus. Keeping the larder stocked is a luxury for most of us.Knowing that so many of our neighbors are struggling is depressing.
I take the toddler around the hood and try to act normal listening to a podcast – with my mask on, and a scarf around her face. I got the idea, that this will be the norm for at least another year- until a vaccine is available. I mean WOW. that made me drop to the floor of the bathroom tonight instead of the tub ledge, where I usually perch for my after dinner cry. how… will i find the courage – not for them, that’s easy; for me.
“A simpler Life” [ 1 minute] : What I have noticed about this time of social distancing is how much simpler life seems. For sure I am feeling the struggle in many ways but there are fewer choices. I have so many clothes. So many options. Deciding What wear to work could be stressful but now since I am doing online therapy, it’s easier. The only decision I have to make is to pick a top that doesn’t wash me out – nothing too loud or distracting! The bottom part of me? Ripped jeans and slippers. Last week I wore the exact same sweater every day. Why? Because the color was just right and it felt like too much to pick another. Easy! For once, I feel my vanity taking back seat.”Human Touch”: Like most people, I have had a lot of thoughts, but it comes down to this: I was taken aback by how abruptly human touch would fall away. It is, after all, a touchstone of what makes us know that we are loved. However, I have noticed that in the absence of touch, there is an abundance of kindness.So, that’s what I have been mulling over during this pandemic.I miss my friends! If quarantine lasts much longer, I may have to take up knitting or some kind of crafting.
Transformation:I heard recently that the world is like a ball of yarn, pull on one end and the entire thing unravels; Any thought of separateness is seen for what it is now – unreal, a lie, fear based. We’re all interconnected. I can’t remember, in my lifetime, ever going through the same thing the rest of the world is – at the same time. For most people there will be before and after this crisis, and for all of us life will never be the same.
“What’s Next?” So Today my darling wife tells me she doesn’t know if we’re suppose to be kissing ! WHATT?? Shifting gears – to the practical – There are some pretty inventive solutions going around on SM and you tube, about the change in outward appearances …HAIR: Some people are shaving it all off, and frankly the ones who do, look the happiest. what did I just hear – in another few weeks, because it’s already been 5, not only will most of us be suffering from hair trauma- which will become a therapy thing [ and maybe covered by insurance – I’ll have to look into that!] , but more cosmetic secrets will be revealed. Think of it – most middle age women will start to look a little on the angry side – ah yes – we’re taking no botox…Ha! and OUCH not ready to be that natural!Speaking of hair – I heard a woman say that she head about a desperate person put her hair out through the mail slot in her front door, and her hairdresser was on the porch, and cut it for her!! YIKES!! Someone else in the neighborhood was offering drive- through Botox! I mean how does that even work? And if she can do that – why don’t we have more testing right in the neighborhoods? Our neighbors have begun banding together when shopping for necessities -I love this! I heard, at a lawn chair happy hour, that people can’t visit, touch or even see their young grandchildren – the kids won’t understand why and it’s gut wrenching when they happen to see them in the neighborhood, can’t go to them, and can’t explain…good God.This virus…well it’s like a hurricane without wind; a fire with no flame.“Kindness in the Neighborhood” – My cousin had a good idea. Just a thought. Why don’t some of you people who’ve emptied the grocery store shelves of toilet paper, water, Lysol, hand sanitizer and baby wipes be a decent human since you now have more supplies than you will use in a year. Make up a care package for the 90 year old lady who lives next door on a fixed income. Bag her up some of this stuff and put it on her porch. And when she inevitably catches you doing it and asks you why – look her straight in the eyes and simply say, “I just want to know you’re going to be okay.” You think you’re afraid, how do you think these vulnerable, elderly people feel? Let’s all spread a little love and human kindness. The world needs more of this.“Tech savvy Seniors” : I have some very special, unique seniors I’ve been Working with who asked if I could Skype with them to help keep them fit!! We work with bands, light weights and balls.We work on functional movements to keep them Living independently!“Date Night” : My husband and I are looking to have a date night tonight, i.e. pick up a fancy dinner curbside and have a picnic on our driveway while the kids eat spaghetti and watch Netflix inside.Can you all please recommend good restaurants that are doing curbside right now? We have a few, but wonder – Where else?Thank god for people who can sew! Isn’t it amazing that so many wonderful, self-less people are either adding mask-making to their already loaded work day, or switching their daily work over to it. It looks like we’ll be wearing them -everywhere for a quite while so this caring community of seamstresses are no doubt saving lives, and making all of us feel a little safer.There are so many fun, practical, whimiscal designs, that I’m seeing around – my fav so far is the bra cup version! Can’t wait to see a guy sporting one of those! Black lacy anyone?

I’d love to hear about your favorites and please send pictures so I can put them on the webpage! Stephaine’s share.[Audio]
Thanks for listening to the episode! This project is giving me the courage to move forward creatively, and for that I thank all of our contributors, our listeners and the sites where we all connect! We’re all navigating and enduring one of the oddest most frightening season in our collective lives.
If you have a burning desire to rant, a story to share, advice to give, join the chorus of thousands of your friends, neighbors, total strangers, and colleagues, because this podcast is about you! Join our community and add your voice, your story to the expanding collage.