Here in Auckland, New Zealand, we’ve been back in a lockdown for 21 days now. The only time we are supposed to leave the house (unless an essential worker) is for a walk, or to go to the supermarket.
I’ve been sharing on my personal Facebook page daily updates. Here’s some highlights… or lowlights… from the first seven days, you decide.
Day one lockdown report from COVID ground zero – Dangerous Devonport.
The Devonport grapevine was in overdrive yesterday afternoon as word spread that one of our own was the new community COVID case (whoever you are I wish you a speedy recovery), it seemed a fait accompli by the time that Jacinda addressed the nation at 6pm last night that a lockdown was on its way. After a great sleep I woke to lockdown day 1. I sorted a few work logistics out then headed out for a walk.
My favourite shorts glared at me as I left them on the shelf in favour of leggings but the weather looked ominous… and I haven’t shaved my legs since May. Dark clouds were gathering, and it wasn’t just the mood of the covid deniers or lockdown protesters, it was actual dark clouds. I took a stroll past the new erections that have appeared at Narrow Neck. COVID testing tents, the line for which was long.
Settled back inside the house it was time for some writing. Book #3 is well on the way, filled with literary genius like this … ‘I feel another ball of gas rising from my stomach. I break contact with his lips, turning my head away again. I try to make it an erotic move. Arching my back, I toss my head backwards and to the side releasing the gas along with a dramatic erotic moan to detract from any burping noise. I try to blow the curry smell away at the same time.’ Shakespeare is literally turning in his grave.
No, you haven’t missed book #2. It’s nearly finished and will be flying off the shelves in a couple of months hopefully. We’ve slipped back into lockdown routine, tuning in for the 1pm update and then turning thoughts quickly to dinner. We’ve planned for the week. If we can’t actually travel we will travel with food. We’ve even paired each meal with a drink. I’d like to say each with a fine wine but they seem mostly to be beer or dodgy cocktails. Ole! Although shouting at the neighbours is off the cards I hereby declare 5pm is still the time to start drinking…. roll on day 2.
Lockdown Day 2 – Covid Ground Zero
This post is going to be full of gratitude. It’s going to spew gratefulness. It will be so sweet and sickly your teeth might actually dissolve. Brace yourself.
Last night we started our ‘eating around the world’. I’m so grateful you no longer die from eating pork which is slightly rare, as I think mine was. Or it could have been perfectly moist. You’d think with the amount of Masterchef I watch I would know AND be able to cook pork better. 50% of the family enjoyed the wheaty beer that was paired with it. I’m grateful for half a happy family, even if I am in the 50%.
Today I spent most of the day on a course. I’m super thankful that I was accepted onto the course that is helping creatives to build a sustainable business. This was the 5th one day course of 6 (spread over weeks). Oh so grateful that the course provider was able to pivot quickly and put the course on zoom. I do though, at the risk of bringing down my grateful score, fucking hate zoom. The ‘quick’ group introductions took an hour so I knew the day was going to be a test of my concentration and perseverance. Creatives can be chatty. I’m grateful that zoom has a mute function and that I purchased a 0.29c camera cover for my laptop so I could engage with the learning without my brain being overloaded with having to remember not to do something embarrassing like picking my nose or burping loudly and that the other participants were spared from boy child’s hour long shower accompanied by rap music. My brain is now filled to bursting with new information that I’m grateful for and I met some fascinating new creatives to connect with. #blessed
After the course I went for a walk. I could not be more grateful for the two beaches I can stroll on. Today the eastern one was like a Pacific island summer paradise while the western was a wintery blowy Armageddon much like the current situation in Auckland. I strolled down a road I don’t often and came across a stunning tree that had the most tuis I’ve ever seen in one place. I’m so grateful for tuis. They fly like lazy drunks but sing like angels.
After putting out my menu for the week I received some critique about my lack of effort on tonight’s drink selection and told to up my game from beer to margaritas… grateful for the feedback. I’m hoping the universe is providing tequila to solve this massive error on my part shortly. Rest assured I will try harder. Will be really grateful for tequila. No time for writing, editing or painting today. Nearly time to have an ‘I survived the day’ drink and start preparing dinner, go to bed and repeat tomorrow.
Lockdown day 3 – Covid Ground Zero
I think I need to change that moniker. After the original case being identified in Devonport, fuck all has happened down this way. I think the fact that we have zero nightlife of interest to twenty-somethings may have let us off lightly. The epicentre is now past Horrific Hauraki beyond Terrible Takapuna and over the ocean at Awful Auckland. This is the ungrateful edition.
Night two of our around the world dinners was a trip to Mexico. The universe provided tequila just in time for me to whip up a jug of frozen grapefruit margaritas to go with enchiladas, Mexican chicken wings and a Mexican salad. After the universe delivered me tequila I found a perfect margarita sized amount in the back of the booze cupboard, ungrateful to the booze cupboard. Boy child snap-chat messaged me first thing yesterday with the sad news that comedian Sean Lock had passed away. As a tribute we decided to watch an episode of 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. The boy child decided audience participation and a little wager on the winner would add to the send off. I think he spotted a chance to fleece his old, slow parents. He wasn’t wrong. At the end of the episode he had a whopping 28 points. I secured the CRUCIAL Countdown conundrum to sneak into second place at the last minute. It certainly helped that Murray had never watched Countdown before (not sure why I married him). Anyone who has read my debut novel, What Goes On Tour (available on Amazon – shameless plug), will know that Countdown has provided much inspiration. Ungrateful to the universe for taking funny comedians too young and to nature for dulling my grey matter response time.
After some work I went out for a nice stroll. Masks, both grateful and ungrateful for them. Walking was a bit like the drive from Nice to Florence. Except it’s not sunglasses going up and down, it’s masks. On my walk I became fixated on the number of annoyingly beautiful pink magnolias there are out, and flowers in general. So… much… pollen. Pollen + Gill = Sneezing. Sneezing in a pandemic is not the best look. I visited my new favourite tree. Not only was it laden with tuis, it was also humming with bee life.
I had a productive book afternoon. What Goes On Tour Too is now, pretty much, ready to go. Given that I swore less than 12 months ago that I’d never write another book I’m pretty impressed with myself that I’ve now written two more! I was so excited I thought about doing some manic cleaning. Thankfully that feeling passed quickly. Dust… WTF is your point. I have no gratitude for dust. Time to start thinking again about food. It’s Italian night – Pizza and Prosecco. Eat-Sleep-Repeat.
Lockdown Day 4 – don’t read further if you don’t like swearing…
seriously stop now… I don’t want any moaning.
Three words.Can’t. Be. Fucking. Arsed.
Before you ask, yes I did pass school certificate math. I got 47% by answering all the multi-guess questions in 57 minutes of the three hour exam and getting out of there at the earliest allowed time, the 60 minute mark. The other 4% I achieved to get my final mark of 51% was due to 50% of every other 15/16 year old, who hadn’t already left school, in NZ in 1985 being thicker than me. These were tough times. You didn’t get all year to make up credits so if you have a bad day, week, or even month. This was the cut-throat world of the 1980’s. Winner takes all. One shot for victory. If I do say so myself… I timed my effort to perfection.
Also… I don’t really consider Fucking to be a word. It’s more of a way of living, a life force, an expression of existence. Last night we went to Italy for dinner. One member of the family already couldn’t be fucking arsed and didn’t bother showing up (they were still in the house, don’t worry about any lockdown breaches). The rest of us enjoyed some pizza. No I didn’t use any of the 15 or so kilos of fucking flour I still have to make pizza bases… I couldn’t be fucking arsed. We used pre-made store-bought bases which we decorated with various pieces of cured meat, tomatoes, spinach etc… and cheese. We washed it down with a rose prosecco. Saluti.
I was awake for a while during the night, not unusual for me, so I started watching a new show On Demand, called Dr Death. I’d recommend it. It’s about a Dr who can’t be fucking arsed operating properly.
If you’re not aware, it’s now the weekend so a short lie in was in order. After, I did a solid 23 minutes of frenetic house cleaning then I went out for a stroll. The weather also couldn’t be fucking arsed. The sun couldn’t be bothered coming out, but the rain didn’t really put in an effort either. Low clouds hung over everything, very much like my mood, and the sky has just kind of leaked on and off all day. I did spend most of my walk talking to a friend (on the phone). I’ve got some major literary issues to solve (like using too many Brad’s) and chatting to her helped. I took a photo of this tree fern. At the time it struck me that there is probably some great symbolism in it’s form about new shoots or something but can’t be arsed fleshing that thought out any further.
I had planned to do some art today. I felt like the process of actually doing something with my hands rather than on a laptop might actually be good for my mental health. It’s 2.51pm and I haven’t been arsed yet. I had a soak in the spa pool. After I couldn’t be arsed getting dressed again so I got into my Oodie. This is the perfect ‘can’t be fucking bothered attire’. Before you ask, no, I don’t think 3.20pm is too early to be in PJ’s. I did a quick watercolour painting. Now have to try and be arsed to cook Indian.
Lockdown Day 5
It’s just a little prick.
Sure, I’ve heard that line before. The best one was, ‘it’s just a little prick but there’s 16 stone pushing it in.’ Hard to refuse that offer, but I digress.
The person who gave me ‘just a little prick’ today was nowhere near 16 stone. They said I wouldn’t feel a thing, they were wrong. I felt a lot of things. I felt hope, that this virus can be stomped down to manageable levels so that we can get on with life. I also felt hopeful about the possibility of travelling freely again. I love you NZ but I can’t wait to get out… and then come back and then get out… and then come back. I felt grateful for science… thank fuck for science.
Back to last night…Cooking in an Oodie is challenging. I was worried, often, that I’d go up in flames. But I managed to avoid disaster and prepare a meal from India, complete with Kingfisher beer. It was the end of the can’t be fucking arsed day, so it wasn’t very exciting. An early night and a couple of episodes of Dr Death to draw a line under the feeling of funk.
Today WILL be more positive. I woke up feeling chirpy after a Sunday lay in. The sun was shining on my walk. People were out and about strolling, biking, running and enjoying their day. On my amble I headed up main street snapping a few photos in the village of things that took my fancy. As I was out walking I remembered one very positive thing about lockdown. It has saved me from further public humiliation.
After being part of a team that won a national award earlier this year for female cricket participation I seem to have become some kind of local beacon of hope for getting middle aged women playing sport. I’ve had a few sports contact me to brainstorm their ideas, or ask me to join them, the latest being squash. I have known for about 45 years that I am okay with hand-eye-ball sports, netball, volleyball, touch rugby etc… but, put a racket in my hand… I’m fucking hopeless. Put a cricket bat in my hand and I’m fucking hopeless but I suffer that indignity because I know it’s only for 12 balls and I can go straight to the bar afterwards to erase it from my memory with alcohol.
When I agreed to give squash a try I forgot about my decades of being hopeless and thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d be okay at it as I supported an initiative to get women away from Masterchef and onto a squash court. It started badly. I was 25 minutes late. I was 5 minutes early for the time I thought it started, my usual standard. I had the time wrong. Once I’d answered the question about my level of experience, absolutely zero, I was led to a court that contained a male instructor and four other women. One was near my age, the other three were mere foetus’s. Not a grey hair among them, no stretch marks, no double chins, no saggy boobs. I should have walked out then… but I didn’t.
I joined in with the air squash exercises. I was quite good at that. I could step and swing forehand, step the other way and swing backhand. Nailed it. Then the instructor added the piece of equipment that was sent to make me fail. The ball. While all the ‘barely out of high school’ women whacked the tiny piece of black rubber this way and that, I continued to excel at air squash as the ball fell underneath my racket thingy onto the floor as I spun in pirouettes. It was bad enough that I couldn’t hit it, what really stung was the overly nice support from the youngin’s. Reminded me of the way I used to speak to my Nana. So, thanks lockdown. I have a valid reason to NOT have to play squash again. Also, i didn’t see any bar.
Nearly time to try and cook something from Thailand and a bucket of alcohol. Roll on tomorrow. Eat-Sleep-Repeat.
Lockdown Day 6
*Contains sexual content.
*Reader discretion advised.
Sawadee Ka from Thailand. Land of satay and buckets, what’s not to love.
When we were last in Thailand, yes I feel like a wanker typing that, the kids, friends and I did a Thai cooking class. We learned heaps and made 7 delicious dishes each. Could I remember anything from that experience? No. Still, 10 points for effort.
Yesterday during the daily address to the nation, Chris Hipkins, our minister for education for those not in NZ, made an amusing malapropism. Instead of telling people to safely stretch their legs, he sternly advised the country to safely ‘spread their legs’. Always wanting to do my bit for the country I have, obviously, taken this on as my mission for the day.
I started spreading as I had my breakfast this morning. After nailing some work and ordering some alcohol to be delivered I set off for my stroll. After being ignored for days, I decided this was the day to take my shorts for an outing.
I could see Girl child was doing an exercise regime outside, she was putting one leg behind the other and dipping down. Great stretch, I thought, I’ll try that. I’d only moved my right ankle slightly behind my left when my hip clicked and my back went into a spasm. Warm up aborted.
The first outdoor spread of my legs took place on Arawa Ave, a short, quiet street that leads down to Cheltenham beach. I looked around furtively to make sure the coast was clear. I turned my phone camera on. I turned my back to the beach, bent over and took a photo through my legs. A few things sprang to mind immediately.
1/ it’s really hard to get a good spread leg perspective from this angle, and
2/ camera is really close, catching all the cellulite.
As I righted myself I spotted a woman walking towards me, who then swerved into the road to avoid me. I had to explain, shouting from a distance, that I wasn’t actually taking a photo of my undercarriage. Great start.
It was a lovely day for a stroll and I tried my best to spread my legs Chris, honestly. But my legs just don’t spread far, it looks a bit odd in public and at one point I lay on the grass, spread my legs and seagulls landed at my feet staring hungrily up my shorts. I don’t want to be seagull food. Legs successfully spread, I returned home for more work. I did a spot of weeding and now waiting to tune in for the 4pm announcement…. Seems we need another 7 countries to cook… suggestions welcome of both countries and cuisine and drinks to go with them please. Eat-Sleep-Repeat
Lockdown Day 7 – warning: devoid of humour
Lockdown brain fade is well and truly setting in. I had a zoom chat meet scheduled for 2.30pm yesterday. It was only at 4pm when I sat down, post weeding, that I realised I’d missed it and the reason why. I’d set my alarm for 2.30am.
Last night we stayed local – Kiwi fare was on the menu. Fish ‘n’ chips, coleslaw and tartar sauce, washed down with a vodka cruiser. The drink gave one member of the family some dodgy flashbacks, rum is the drink that does that to me. After a big night underage drinking rum and coke in Kulim Park, circa 1985, that might explain the school C math result, I really can’t look rum or coke in the face.
I had a shit night’s sleep but it did give me some time to get into Modern Family which gave me a giggle. This morning I wondered what all that loud truck noise was outside during lockdown. It was only as I saw the truck pulling away from our house I realised it was the rubbish truck and therefore today must be Tuesday. Fuck.
I’m sure you can relate that Lockdown is a rollercoaster, or as a friend said, a coronacoaster. One day you’re low and can’t be fucking arsed, next you’re on a high and legspreading all over your neigbhourhood. The roller coaster dips again and you’re thrown around the phases of grief like a sock in a tumble dryer (I don’t know why that was the first metaphor that came to mind).
The 7 stages of lockdown grief:
1 – Shock and denial – are we really going into fucking lockdown again??!! AGAIN??!!
2 – Pain and guilt – I wish I’d scanned in more often, tidied my desk, had that fucking massage I’ve been meaning to book in for months
3 – Anger and bargaining – FUCKING LOCKDOWN – I’ll scan more often, just let me out
4 – Depression – Can’t. Be. Fucking. Arsed.
5 – The upward turn – We might get out! Let’s turn on the TV and see…
6 – Reconstruction and working through – I still have flour, I can order in alcohol
7 – Acceptance and hope – It’s okay, I’m okay, my family are okay, this will end…Today my grief as gone 7 – 2 – 3 – 7 – 6 – 1 – 4 – 7
I didn’t go for a walk today. I’ve done some work, some book editing and a tiny, and I mean tiny amount of housework. It’s now time to get to work on dinner. Tonight we are going to Australia. No walk so no photos…