Uplift: Uplifting LGBTQ+ Experience Within and Beyond Unitarian Universalism

UPLIFT from a Distance Vol. 2: Michelle Jean Paquette

A woman in a kitchen leaning over  freshly baked bread

Michelle Jean Paquette in her kitchen.

By Jade Sylvan

Beloved community,

During this unprecedented time of social distance, we recognize that many in our community may feel isolated. We also believe in the connecting power of storytelling. That's why we will be offering you a weekly space for you to share your stories via UPLIFT blog and newsletter. 

We will feature reflections from members of the Unitarian Universalist LGBTQ+ community about their lives during the COVID-19 outbreak on our Uplift blog and newsletter. If you would like to be featured, please fill out the UPLIFTing from a Distance submission form.

—Michael & Jade

Russian Rye Bread

by Michelle Jean Paquette
For the greater San Francisco Bay Area, this is Day 4 of the Shelter in Place order. For my partner and I, this is Day 10, as we got a bit of a head start.

Our days are spent quietly, playing around on social media, catching up on publications and articles, turning on the news to catch up on the outside world each evening. I have books to catch up on, and I enjoy doing a bit of writing.

I’ve been digging out my old amateur radio equipment and getting it on the air, although due to my location, homeowners association restrictions, and the construction of this building, I have had very little luck with this hobby activity. I do have some 50 year old equipment I have been restoring, and I have a couple of work tables set up in the guest bedroom that I use for tinkering about with this older equipment. I don’t expect to have any house guests in the near future, so I can take over this space more for myself.

The view from the condo looks out over part of the huge Highway 680 and 24 interchange. Roads that crept along in the morning and evening commute are almost empty, and “rush hour” looks like 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning used to look.

The downtown area looks like a ghost town. The parking garages in the urban core are all shuttered, and street parking has been declared to be unmetered through the lockdown. Many businesses are closed, and I honestly am not sure if some will re-open.

Trying to maintain community contacts is a challenge. Facebook and message boards can help a little, but I find that I am a social animal, and need some sort of human interaction beyond text messages. Not being able to scratch that ‘social itch’ is frustrating, and has me feeling a bit irritable.

Rainbow Community Center (RCC) and Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church (MDUUC) have been experimenting with teleconferencing software to handle team meetings and regular group gatherings. I particularly like being able to see other actual human beings, and their facial responses. It feels much more connected somehow than voice, and far better than textual exchanges such as message boards. Well, as long as folks turn on their cameras, anyway! There are always the shy ones.

MDUUC has been streaming its Sunday service for quite a while, and last weekend did its first “virtual only” Sunday service, with no audience and minimal staff, all practicing their safe social distancing skills, to provide a service that hundreds watched online.

I really should get cracking on doing my tax returns, but I am so easily distracted, especially by my kitchen. The past couple days I have made a Russian rye bread, a sourdough banana cinnamon raisin bread, and blueberry cobbler. They all turned out very well. I’ve been cooking hot breakfasts, and full dinners, from corned beef and cabbage to a nice thick crust pizza, along with salads and sides. The pantry is well stocked, and I have no problems improvising with what I have on hand.

Life in this odd enforced isolation is good so far, and my partner and I are getting along well and preserving each other’s sanity. I have to confess that I do dread reaching the point where I have to brave the insanity of our grocery store again, a place that is dangerous for our health as senior citizens now, and apparently overrun by panicked shoppers. Just why do you need two dozen onions and all of the beef jerky, anyway?