Last I checked in was sometime in August with the first 2 parts of this project ‘I Get By with A Little Help From My Friends’ as things are now starting to look up yet somewhat still down at the same time with the Pandmic. Which somewhat makes me think of cooking popcorn. Just when you think all the corn has completely popped and the popcorn is ready, only to find out after the hub is off and about to pour into your bowl you’d find out there is plenty of corn left at the bottom of the pan. Nevertheless, as most of us are set to return to campus and take necessary precautions to stay safe and keep those around us too. I wanted to share the third part of this project and share what some of my friends are doing and handling a pandemic.

Anyhow, without further ado, I hope you’ll enjoy the following stories from some of my friends.

Until next time…

‘I get by with a little help from my friends’ is a collaborative blog created and organised by Raghad Tmumen. (@rtmumen1)

Bonnie Whitmore – Musician

“It’s some heavy time we’re in, but I find comfort in knowing I’m not alone. So many times in my life were darkened because I felt alone. Though it is a challenging time, I know we’re all in this together. My thoughts are drawn more to positivity now and I’m finding my centre through meditation and giving into silliness. We have been given an opportunity to slow down and for me, that’s allowed me to self reflect and love from the inside out. Guided together through the dark into the light.”

Pictures taken by Gretchen Harries Graham IG handle @welshmermaid

Bonnie’s Work: bonniewhitmore.com


Brian T Atkinson – Writer

“Writing might be the best gig to have while we’re all locked down. This pandemic has been pretty challenging personally – like most people, I’ve hardly seen any friends in person for five months – but it’s a good excuse to sit down and type all day long. I’ve been doing interviews and finishing off my next book on Roky Erickson the past couple months and will be sending it to my publisher in a couple days. Meanwhile, my Mickey Newbury book will be coming out in November and I’m about to do final edits and indexing for that. Then I’ll start into a book on John Prine next month. I think we’re all pretty numb from everything going on, but at least I have work to do and time to do it.

About the photos! My desk. I’ve spent about 90 percent of my waking hours there, which isn’t all that different than back before the pandemic. I’ve written all my books sitting in that beat up old chair.

My CD shelf. Those are just the Americana CDs in my office. I have others stacked in closets around the house and a shelf full of vinyl.

The photos on the wall behind where I sit at my desk. Those are from Catfish Concerts, which my partner Jenni and I host at my house. Not sure you can make them out, but James McMurtry, Mary Gauthier, Verlon Thompson, Greg Trooper, David Olney and Tim Easton with JT Van Zandt are a few pictured. Looking forward to having shows at the house again someday.

My zen closet. I’ve started doing yoga since we’ve been locked down. I start by sitting in there for 10 minutes doing deep breathing exercises. It’s helped decrease stress and focuses me better when I do it late in the afternoon.”

Brian’s Work: briantatkinson.com


Beth Ody – Recent Graudate/ Freelance filmmaker
Richmond The American International University London.

“I’m used to putting myself in isolated situations for I am an introverted person. But there is a difference between being told you’re not allowed to leave over choosing not too. Emotionally this played with me strongly for once I’m in my head about myself and what I’m feeling this causes me to derail. The quarantine took away many of the coping mechanisms that I use to deal with my own mental illness. This then bleeds into my professional setting for I never had space in the place that I was quarantined that had only one use, that is a place for me to do my work. With my own mental health struggles I know when I shift but this time it was clearly seen from those who were around me throughout the quarantine, this made it easier for me to be open about the struggle I was facing while being isolated in the house. However, with the lifting of everything that is happening it is greatly changing the understanding of what has happened in the last few months and the changes that we are facing in the days, weeks and months to come.”

Beth’s work: blackwhiteandgreyproductions.com


Mercy Bell – Musician

“I had planned to tour most of 2020, to support my album which came out in October. The pandemic cancelled SXSW, which I was scheduled to play at. At different times I was furloughed from both my jobs (a desk job and bartending) and had to scramble to make ends meet. Although I’ve been bartending during the pandemic here and there and it’s been quite an interesting experience. The stress of everything triggered some of my worst anxiety and depressive episodes. But despite all this, I was able to reach out and find help for my mental health. My friends, family, fans, and supporters helped float me during financial hardship. I rediscovered my love of music through livestreaming! How joyful to play directly for people all over the world, from my bedroom. I have taken hundreds of walks, spent a lot more time with my cat, spent ample time outside, deepened my appreciation of a home-cooked meal. And through it, all my girlfriend has provided me with companionship, love, and support that gave me a reason to get out of bed every morning. I miss my family who lives on the other side of the country, but we’ll get through this, and it will make our reunions even more joyful.”

Mercy’s work: mercybellmusic.com


Verdiana Pagnano – Artist

“Since the beginning of 2020, I had all these thoughts and plans set for the year, yet, never for a second thought that a few months later to think I have to completely change my plans and lifestyle due to a global pandemic.
As an Italian artist living abroad for the last five years now, I had to deal with a lot of social and work pressures and so back in March, I made the decision to go back to Italy and quarantine with my family.
For me this was definitely a surreal experience: I feel very grateful that I had the chance to go back and stay with my loved ones and had the possibility to use my time to work/develop personal projects (I draw a lot !!), reading comics and working on myself, but at the same time it gave me way more uncertainties about the future. I am not sure how and when this global situation will end, but what I will try to do is to live day by day. CARPE DIEM!”

Verdiana’s work: www.vermesia.com