#WFH Diaries: Amanda Cosindas of The Many
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life in unprecedented ways, we're checking in with creative industry folks to see how they're faring. Here, we chat with Amanda Cosindas of Los Angeles creative agency The Many.
Give us a one-line bio of yourself.
Director of communications at The Many and single mom moonlighting as a part-time 4th grade "teacher" who was once an aspiring Solid Gold dancer and actual yoga teacher for 11 years.
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
At home in Venice Beach, California, with my 10-year-old son and a lot of house plants.
What's your work situation like at the moment?
We're on the second week of working from home, staying connected to colleagues via Zoom meetings and regular check-ins. I'm impressed by our team's resiliency, flexibility, insane dedication and genuine willingness to help and do what's best during an incredibly difficult situation. I think that comes with being a values-based agency. It hasn't been easy and it won't be, but it's so helpful to get through times like this with people who are well-intended. We're all on the same level as humans.
Describe your socializing strategy.
Trying to convince my kid to hang out with me instead of with his friends on FaceTime, mixed with Zoom chats with co-workers, virtual group happy hours and mom vents with friends, family group chats—my siblings and I are spread across L.A., Seattle and Boston—and lots of waving and saying hi to neighbors on walks (from a safe distance). The family chats are extra fun because my mom and dad, who are both in their 70s and not on social media, are being greatly exposed to meme culture. Their reactions are priceless. My mom can't imagine who comes up with these things.
How are you dealing with childcare?
TikTok is childcare! Fortunately my child is at an age where he doesn't need much oversight, but we've made a schedule of activities. He doesn't really follow it (who's with me here?), but in theory it's great! School assignments, exercise, creative time. Oh, and Fortnite. And TikTok. I also have to give a major shout-out to our public school here in Venice for seamlessly transitioning the kids to Google Classroom, providing Chromebooks and keeping the kids engaged with daily assignments and clear instruction. They're using Zoom and Flipgrid. The kids seem to have fun with it. Somehow mine became the meeting host for their community circle time after the teacher got kicked off accidentally. There was a cringe-worthy beginning, but I was proud to see him step up and just go with it.
What are you reading?
Personhood, by Leo Buscaglia. I started it last summer, but never finished. It's even more compelling now. Also in negotiations with said 10-year-old to read Call of the Wild out loud together, but he thinks he's too old for that kind of thing.
What are you watching?
Mostly, I'm staring intently at a 1,000-piece donut puzzle, but I started The Outsider on HBO recently and I'm slowly making my way through that. I guess I'm a glutton for disturbing realities.
What are you listening to?
A mix of Joni Mitchell, Nancy Sinatra Radio and hip-hop through the decades. But today is devoted to African jazz legend Manu Dibango, who just passed away from complications related to coronavirus at age 86. :(
How are you staying fit?
Debbie Allen's live dance classes are a dream come true for this former dancer. Debbie Allen! Give me all the shoulder rolls…"I'm gonna learn how to fly, high!" Also, Love Yoga is a neighborhood studio that I'm obsessed with and they are streaming live classes. I have big plans for this weekend to find and partake in some '80s aerobics and I just learned that my all-time favorite choreographer, Mark Morris, is launching online dance classes. Trampoline bouncing breaks, too.
Have you taken up a hobby?
Worrying? Other than negotiating with my child and the aforementioned puzzle, no. My son is going to take Trisha Zemp's online stop-motion animation class, which she's generously offering for free right now. Hopefully I'll learn a bit, too. It will be something fun to do together.
Any tips for getting necessities?
Support local markets and restaurants who have converted themselves into general stores. We are fortunate to have some great, healthy options here in Venice, like Simon's Market, Gjusta and Butcher's Daughter. Some even have toilet paper. I'm also a member of Thrive Market. Knowing that their shipments are delayed, order now for what you think you might need in a couple of weeks. Personally I haven't been in dire straits yet; I'm one of those people who's always kind of ready for the apocalypse when it comes to things like toilet paper, running about 24 rolls deep just for the two of us. I guess it comes with all of those years being ready for "the big one" here in LA (knock on wood) mixed with a bit of social anxiety and dread for shopping.
An awkward moment since all this started.
Probably when I joined my friend Carly's Instagram Live by accident from the bathtub.
Best work email you got since all this started.
One of our clients, Chameleon Cold Brew, delivered coffee to hospitals all over the country as a thank you to the healthcare providers on the frontlines working long days and nights. When our team sent around some photos of their reactions and gratitude, it was extremely moving. My heart melted and broke at the same time for the people who are suffering. Yet here we all are, isolated in our own homes, but our shared humanity is coming through strong and that's really beautiful.
An aha! moment since all this started.
Life has changed forever, and soup and bread are my comfort foods.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
Oh man, I have so many theories and I want to remain hopeful that they all serve the greater good in the end—a reorganization of priorities and values to be more neighborly and family oriented, less crowds and chaos, more support for small business and essential workers like farmers, grocery store personnel, plumbers, department of sanitation employees and TEACHERS! The economic impact is going to be extremely challenging, but I think the world will come out on the other side in a much better place. Plus, possible fast track to replacing ourselves with robots.