“I’m grateful for what I have in a way I didn’t always recognize before.”
Shoshi Parks grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and moved back after spending several years on the East Coast in college and graduate school. In school, she was passionate about history and she thought she’d eventually become a kick-ass archaeologist. She earned her Ph.D. in archaeology/anthropology in 2009 but after working in the field for a couple of years, she found she wasn’t happy in academia so she moved on to a new career in something else she loved–dogs!
Shoshi studied to become a dog trainer and opened up her own business in 2011. A few years ago (2017), she really began to miss writing. She took 8 months off to travel, first living the vanlife in the Western US and Canada for 6 months and then moving on to Europe/Africa (check out her article on living the van lifestyle, here!).
That experience kicked off her professional freelance writing career. When she got back to the Bay Area,she moved in with her boyfriend in San Jose and returned to dog training part time, along with writing about travel, history, food and, of course, dogs!
When the pandemic hit, her livelihood and both of her business ventures were significantly affected because many media publications have paused work with freelance writers, and her face-to-face dog training is prohibited by the Shelter in Place order. She’s been keeping her spirits up by cooking, spending time with her cats, and tending to her vegetable garden. “I’m grateful for what I have in a way I didn’t always recognize before.” Read more about Shoshi’s quarantine in the Bay Area, below:
What’s the biggest challenge you think you’ve faced during this quarantine situation?
“Losing a significant portion of my income. Freelance travel writing doesn’t pay well and so I normally work as a dog trainer part time to make ends meet (I’ve had a dog training business since 2011). But face-to-face dog training is prohibited by the Shelter in Place order. I can still work with clients online but my client inquiries have dropped by something like 90% (plus it’s not a great method for certain issues).”
Who are you quarantining with?
“My boyfriend and two cats, Osito and Phoebe in our home in San Jose. This is where we permanently live. I think California and the Bay Area in particular are doing a great job handling the epidemic. We’ve been on a shelter in place order since March 18 and it was just extended through the end of May. California is really letting doctors and scientists take the lead and trying to ramp up testing to make sure that, when the time is right, we can begin to return to more regular life safely. In my county, public parks are still open along with essential businesses but in other Bay Area counties, popular parks and beaches have been closed to car traffic for better social distancing. Wearing masks is encouraged but not required.”
What has been your daily routine so far during the pandemic?
“I’m trying to keep my daily routine relatively steady. I’m getting up a little later (usually around 8am) but on weekdays I’m writing and pitching as much as possible. I try to at least go out for a walk each day and have tried to keep up with my regular 4-5 day/week workouts mid-day. I’m also still trying to keep weekends work free to relax and recharge.”
Travel writing is also in the crapper with a lot of publications shutting down, temporarily pausing, laying off staff and limiting work with freelancers. Many of the writers in the industry who now no longer have jobs are all competing for a smaller and smaller slice of the pie as freelancers. For now, I’m focusing on my writing about dog training and behavior since those publications haven’t been hugely affected. “
What have you been doing to keep your spirits up on a day-to-day basis?
“Does eating count?? If it weren’t for the financial impact and the fact that travel is no longer possible, I actually don’t much mind the Shelter in Place orders. I’m a homebody (when not traveling) so on the day-to-day I’m enjoying cooking and trying new recipes, snuggling my cats, taking walks, doing jigsaw puzzles, gardening veggies and watching movies.”
Has this travel ban/quarantine situation impacted any important plans you had laid out for the near future?
“Oh, yeah. I’m currently supposed to be in Singapore and Bali! I was also planning a trip to Bhutan and Nepal this summer which we’ve had to cancel (luckily we hadn’t booked anything major yet). We were supposed to have friends and family visit in June and August and those trips have been canceled. At this point, we are just hoping to be able to do some camping or a local weekend getaway this summer…”
Is there anything you feel that this experience has taught you that you’d like to share as inspiration for everyone going through this together?
“I think this experience has made me even more aware of my relative privilege. Even though my own income has been affected, my partner still has a job and he owns the house we live in so there’s no landlord to convince not to evict me. We have a backyard and have a vegetable garden and can easily get outside without worrying about whether it will be possible to social distance. I’m grateful for what I have in a way I didn’t always recognize before.”
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