“What barbarity! What ignorance! Can they even be called human? Do they deserve to use up the same air that we do during these hard moments for planet earth? Everybody would have food enough for two days, right, albeit pasta?” These pretty much sum up what some of my social media “friends” posted in reaction to the news of great numbers of people swarming the streets after the announcement of the weekend lockdown two hours before it was supposed to start. As you’ll recall, on the night of Friday, April 10, 2020, the interior minister had announced a weekend long lockdown, allowing his citizens two hours to get ready. Many people had spilled out into the streets looking to buy food, water, medicine and who knows what else. It was to this very event that my friends had reacted so strongly, questioning from our nomadic roots to lack of education, from our stupidity to our disrespectfulness of the many health workers who were jeopardizing their lives to help the sick. While they raged about the thousands on the street from their homes with their stocked-up cellars, they were overlooking one big issue: economics. Many working-class people get paid weekly and receive their salaries on Friday. Many working-class people do not have cellars to stock up. They have to wait until the weekend to do the grocery shopping for their home. I believe that the great majority of people whom we saw on the streets that night were them. So, who are we to pass judgement when it is us who cannot empathize, let alone sympathize?
I’m lucky in the fact that I haven’t (yet) felt a fear like a lot of people have. I’m able to do my job from home so can still work full time. From my p.o.v. isolation seems to have brought out a great sense of fun and creativity in others and has shown how strong a species we are when it comes to dealing with stressful things.
25 April 2020 – Working during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
It is fair to say that work life has changed significantly during the panademic. Many people are currently furloughed from there job, and from my own conversations there persists a great deal of uncertainity as to what society is going to look like when social distancing is relaxed. This, however, it not my experience.
Prior to the restrictions being put in place, Saturday (the day that I am writing this) has traditionally been the buisest day at the bakery in which I work. Normally we would server hundreds of people, have a shop full of staff and not have a moment to relax throughout the 10 hour work day. This has all changed since.
To list just a few differences: whilst the shop used to be 3 deep at the counter, we now have a maximum of 2 customers in the shop at one time. This has changed our work flow siginificantly, whereas before, it would be a free-for-all to serve customers as they reached the counter, now it is much more rigid. As well as this, our working hours have been cut, this was expected.
There has been a financial impact of the pandemic, for many that has been a reduction of there take home pay to 80%, for myself it’s more like a decrease of 35%. Going from a consistent 25 hours a week, to 16 has highlighted the stark hypocracy of the title of “key worker”. This has also caused some issues with my own mental health, there is something quite stressfull about having to work a customer facing job, for minimum wage during a global health crisis.
And finally, the biggest change has been that of the attitude of the customers. I have found that, on the whole, customers have adopted these to changes fantastically. Very few of them have complained, although many have acted forgetfully over the social distancing proceedures (this may of course be due to the fact that they are only leaving their house once or twice a week). Personally, it has been heartwarming and encouraging that a significant number of people are “thanking us for staying open” or even just telling us to “stay safe”. From my own experience, it appears that people are taking this seriously.
This, however, comes with a flipside. The main topic of conversation with customers (and with my collueges ) throughout the day is that of COVID-19. And it is draining. Assuming that we served roughly 400 people today, I do not believe that a single conversation with a customer (excluding those with children that had been sent in) was not about the pandemic.
So, this is my reality for the time being. I have 4 days off work and then 3 on. During this time there is a constant stress that I have contracted COVID-19.
I’m a proper introvert. As a rule I keep well away from noisy, sociable folk as I find their kind of ‘fun’, especially organised ‘fun’, quite unbearable. I’ve always avoided joining-in. Seriously, if I get invited to a gathering, even drinks after work, part of me dies inside. And as for a wedding invitation? Well my heart falls into my boots. I’d sooner visit the dentist for a spot of root canal. At least he gives me something to dull the pain. Will there be dancing? Oh god, no please. I’ve never danced (I’m 59) and I really plan to keep it that way.
So, lockdown then? Absolutely fine. I have my books. I’m lucky enough to have a small sunny garden. My kids have left the nest and there are few, if any, callers. However, there is just one thing. One tiny fly in the anti-Covid ointment: the daily exercise. Now I do love walking. Alone. Especially at dawn. So you’d think, wouldn’t you, that this govt-approved hour outside might be more my kind of thing? Nightmare. FAR too many people about. Joggers, dog walkers, family groups who clearly never usually walk anywhere, endless ‘good morning’s and ‘no after you, thank you’s. So so painful. Garden bench it is then. Until the madness is over and I can go back to not meeting people.
A series of petty concerns today, because sometimes it’s easier to worry about a hundred tiny things than it is to worry about the one unfathomable, unalienable fact that the entire world is shifting and changing around us.
My neighbour won’t stop mowing the lawn. I feel like the pettiest human alive to be annoyed about this, but it is annoying, and so I am annoyed. I think, therefore I am. I hear the constant roar of a lawnmower, therefore I am irritated. I didn’t know it was possible for one man to mow the lawn so often. I’m amazed that he has any lawn left. If I were his lawn, I’d simply wilt away and refuse to ever grow again as punishment. (Note to self: I’m glad that the whole world isn’t his lawn)
It’s my birthday in 6 days. I’m a twin, and we had planned that I would go and stay with her for our birthday, as she lives at the other end of the country, an 8 hour drive away. Now, I won’t see her at all. I can live with not seeing friends today; I’m fairly used to having birthdays where everyone is at work, and we end up doing sporadic meetups over the preceding and following weeks instead, but not seeing my twin is a real goddamn kick in the teeth. We’ve been together all our lives, and the country between us feels like a whole world. Also, I won’t have any presents to unwrap, and neither will she. We both ordered each other’s presents directly to the other’s house, and we decided to use small, local businesses rather than prop up Amazon in this time of economic distress, and giftwrap just wasn’t an option. That’s the most selfish, petty concern in the world, but there it is. This is a day for trivial worries, and that’s the most trivial of all. Wrapping paper. Thanks a lot, coronavirus.
There’s someone I’ve been talking to online for a little over a month now, since about a week before lockdown (if my calculations are right) and I absolutely know, with the same certainty with which I know that Trump is a complete idiot, that if we were able to meet in person by this point, things would have progressed. We probably wouldn’t be married yet, but we’d be able to talk to each other without the barrier of a screen between us. We do video calls and text and it’s good, and it’s been the highlight of this whole terrible thing, having something to look forward to, but a part of my brain is convinced that she’ll get tired of me by the time this all ends, and the opportunity will pass me by (hopefully like coronavirus will.) Coronavirus is terrible for your love life, I can tell you.
People keep on harping on about being productive in this time. Well, how? This is hardly a fecund, fertile time for me. I could be doing so many things, apparently. Learning a new language! Becoming a professional baker! Fat chance of that; lockdown’s been going on for a month now, and there’s still no flour. You know what I’ve done so far? Started reading about 70 books and put them down after page 10, because my brain can’t focus on them long enough to give half a shit, and done half a cross stitch. My coronavirus legacy is a half-finished cross stitch and the ability to say ‘I am Chinese’ in Swahili. I’m not even Chinese.
I’m tired of eating bacon and eggs every day. I feel like a miner from the 1870s. But it’s food that’s readily available and has a long shelf life, and that means a lot when you still have total arseholes panic-buying everything perishable in the shops, so bacon and eggs it is. Or leftovers, for a real treat. You haven’t lived until you’ve wolfed down a plate of reheated spag bol at 11.30am. A coronavirus culinary dream.
And there are larger worries. Of course there are. I’m worried about how long it will take for us, after this, to be able to look at someone in the street and not instinctively move away, wondering why the fuck they’re out, why aren’t they at home, why are they so close to me? I’m worried about all the people who won’t be there when we leave our homes again. The old woman on the bus who, for the past 6 years, has remembered me and asks how I am, how my studies are going, how I get my hair that lovely colour (genetics, Sylvia.) I’m worried about what the topography of the world will look like after this, and how we’ll all navigate it, and how many of us will get lost in it, swallowed up in it completely. I’m worried that this is a sea change that’s going to drown us.
But today, most of all, I want my neighbour to stop mowing his fucking lawn.
25 April 2020
What a strange week it has been, as a student, specifically a History student, I have struggled. We have seen the news covering all possibilities from the support of small businesses, to the support of those in education consisting of teachers, pupils, families. However, from a university perspective I feel as if we have been left to fend for ourselves. It is heartbreaking to see that those in their third years will not be able to celebrate their graduation this year, and it is heartbreaking that my last *potentially* year in higher education has come to an abrupt ending. I have spent a lot of time working on university assignments, knowing that the motivation is not there anymore, and my course lasts until September. I am anxious about results, whether my lecturers will take this into consideration as we have not been told that they will. A dissertation is looming and knowing that I will not be able to work to my full potential breaks my heart, I had trips planned to visit archives.
I have been back at my family home now for a month, we are coping but the stresses of work-life, or lack of work, have affected us. I have not been able to hug or have a conversation with my nan as she is considered as ‘vulnerable’, which again, breaks my heart. There has been a loss in the family in the past couple of days and it’s easy to forget that we are living through an epidemic by focusing on our ‘household’ or keeping ourselves busy, until it hits us close to home.
As a history student, I am finding this quite surreal. The impact of this epidemic will hit us for many years to come and our future generations will learn about this, just as we did for other big historic events such as the Spanish Flu, the Plague. Therefore, there are many people who doubt the importance of History of a subject, I hope this epidemic allows you to learn, to further your knowledge, that we cannot return to ‘normality’, and finally, History does repeat itself.
Lastly, there is hope, this will not last forever, we must consider that the lockdown will ease eventually as long as people continue to follow the rules that have been set by our government.
24 April, 2020
I’m so tired. My grief has been cyclical. Sometimes I’m fine, sometimes I’m happy, sometimes I’m devastated, sometimes I’m guilty, sometimes I’m empty. Past trauma has complicated things. I’ve been backsliding. I’d worked so hard. I’d gotten so much healing done. I’d gotten so much growing done. How did so much slip away so fast?
It’s been slowing down, lately, though. I’ve settled into it. I deal with things as they come, and am prepared for the next things that come.
I have new aches and pains. Staying sedentary isn’t good for my joints. Sitting all day has actually been worse on my knees, though I’m not sure why; I assume it’s because, since they subluxate so easily (hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) and depend on my muscles to help in keeping them stable, not using the muscles nor exercising them makes it worse.
On the other hand (literally), my wrists and knuckles have been having a harder time than usual, lately. I’ve been typing a lot as my university’s switched to synchronous online learning, and despite my setup I’ve been encountering a lot more pain, including nerve pain. They don’t exactly subluxate more often or anything; rather, of of their new tricks is sometimes to *pop* and it sends static tingles up the affected nerve in my arm. My knuckles are constantly red.
I can pull on my finger and pop my hand off my wrist. My fiance doesn’t understand why it’s so hard for me to help him in the kitchen, or why I take so long.
I used to take pride in my strength. I was the second-best in my grade in elementary school (US) at doing pull-ups in gym class. I carried heavy loads. People came to me for help in opening jars.
I try to open a jar now and all my fingers disassemble themselves at the joint.
I miss climbing trees. I wish I weren’t in the city. I’m not meant for this. I want to be somewhere it feels *good* to be isolated. My dad grew up in an old mining town, way up in the mountains in the rural US. His mom made bread from scratch every week, measuring things out with nothing but her hands and eyes, and it turned out amazing every time. His grandparents – my great-grandparents – had a farm, chickens and all. Dad used to work on it. I got my love of that from him. He misses his mountains, too.
I can’t work a proper farm with a body like mine, not any more. I spent part of a summer helping with tree conservation at a national park, going down the rows, checking sprouts and pulling weeds and pulling up and cutting out old roots in our way. But a small garden of my own? I need that. Not something on a balcony or a windowsill or indoors, but something on my own plot of land, with a rotating selection of crops laid out optimally, a compost pile, and a couple of fruit trees. Something that opens up into a deep, thick forest with wild berry bushes. I used to live on land that had wild raspberry bushes, and for a number of years I’d go out with my dad to pick them. We’d come back with piles of the stuff, and I’d make pies and tarts and there’d be so much I’d have no other option but to make preserves with the rest. 50/50 berries to sugar, no extra ingredients needed.
I miss canning.
My tinnitus has gotten worse lately, probably because of the amount of time I’ve been spending wearing headphones, even though I almost always use the lowest volume setting I can get away with. Gotten to the point that I can feel the crackling on my ear hairs sometimes when I have them on. Learned a good trick, though: cover each ear with the palm of your hand, with your fingers facing the back of your head so they’re touching the softer part where your skull meets your neck, then put your index finger on your middle finger and push so that it slides off to thump that spot. Keep doing that for about twenty seconds and it helps for some people to get it to go away for a little bit. I’m getting new headphones tomorrow, though, which should help. The ones I’ve been using are cheap and old.
I’m scared. My roommate (flatmate, as my fiance says) keeps going in and out, and her girlfriend’s often over. She says she tries to get out of the house at least once a day. Not sure if she’s properly social distancing, but she’s not doing what we’re doing when she gets back, which is basically a decontamination process that involves immediately taking off all our clothes and sanitizing our hands and phones and washing up. It’s more than a little frustrating. She says she’s social distancing, but I don’t think she even has a face mask… Not to mention, it’s often difficult to do social distancing in a city, even if everyone’s trying, which they’re often not.
I don’t know. I’m tired. I want this to be over. I see what’s going on over in the UK and the US and I despair. Hungary is now openly a fascist dictatorship, and the US isn’t far off if we don’t get our act together. Scotland’s close to putting its money where its mouth has been and going independent, especially after that England-only supply decision disaster, and I wish it all the best, and a full EU membership status. I’d love for Wales and Northern Ireland to follow suit. Anyone that can, honestly. Of the English themselves, I hope they get a halfway decent government soon.
Trump can suck the shit out of my ass like the bottomfeeder he is.
I haven’t checked the news today, not yet.
I saw a tweet, I think it was a tweet.
People have been wondering, apparently, why those with anxiety issues are so calm. And the tweet eloquently responded that “This is our general state of mind, this is our day to day life. We’re at high alert at all times, this is nothing new.”
And I have to agree.
I’m not panicking.
Maybe I should?
But I’m worried about people close to me, Kim has bad asthma, not super severe, but bad. The virus could knock her out or even take her. Mom also has asthma, albeit a milder type. Grandma and Grandpa are both over eighty and thus in one of the highest risk groups.
They’re self-isolating now, we’re helping them shop, but we gotta be careful with that too, make sure everything is sanitary and sanitized before they get it.
They’re old, robust and tenacious with their health, but old.
A 103 year old woman was the oldest survivor of the virus, reported yesterday that I saw.
I don’t even know when it started. I don’t check the news, the aforementioned anxiety would knock me out for days.
But I’ve been keeping up now. Through Facebook and tumblr.
I’m critical to everything I see, and check SVTnews to verify.
Tests for a vaccine have started.
Tests have been improved from five days to fifteen minutes.
People are helping each other.
It’s at times of catastrophe that people, humanity, really band together and show the good side.
There are people preying on the weak and desperate, of course, I think there always has been, didn’t the priests sell passes to heaven during the black plague?
But people are sharing good news to lighten the mood. I’ve seen lists and posts and so much hope.
It honestly makes me cry.
Because I am so proud of humanity right now. Not the leaders on their high horses and power hunger… No… but humanity.
As a whole, people are good. And it’s being proven hour after hour, day by day, and it’s wonderful. It’s extraordinary.
I’m not scared. I’m not worried about myself.
This is a pandemic with the epicenter in Europe, even if it started in China (and they silenced the doctor who sounded the alarm, a month later he died from the virus, and a month after that they decided to act.).
Chances are high, and it’s even likely, that I’ll get it. But I’ll survive.
People die of the regular flu.
And yes, people die from the Corona Virus as well, but as far as I’m aware every single one of them had underlying complications. Cancer, lung disease, lowered immune system.
I don’t have that, not that I know of.
But I should still stay home.
There’s no immunity toward this virus yet, and while I might survive it, I could spread it to someone who won’t.
I don’t know if the number has increased, but the contagion spread is 2.2. Meaning every sick person will spread the virus to 2.2 other, and they in turn.
It’s the worst in Italy right now. Wuhan has closed its last temporary hospital, and people are going back to work. But Italy is under quarantine.
Experts say closing the borders won’t help, the virus will spread. But did they perhaps think that if we close our borders, we won’t be traveling outside of Sweden to infect others?
It’s not a matter of keeping people out, not really, the virus is already here and community spread is wide. But by keeping us here, by keeping every country closed, I do believe we will limit the spread. Not eradicate it, I know that won’t happen, we’re way too far gone for that now.
But perhaps we’ll save a few, a hundred, a thousand. Every life counts.
It’s strange though.
I never imagined I’d live through something like this, a pandemic, a recession, global panic. And with the borders to Sweden not closed, but monitored, everything feels empty.
Businesses are closing down, going bankrupt, the Eurovision is canceled if the rumors are true, like I said, haven’t checked the news yet…
People are isolating themselves, legislation is on it’s way to pull kids out of school. Gatherings are closing down, group therapy is out the window, care homes are closed to visitors unless someone is dying. Elderly homes likewise, hospital wards are blocked and locked.
And I guess that’s good. I know it’s good. We really do need to do everything we can to minimize the spread. But with everything shutting down, the streets are empty, public transit is cutting down on the number of trains and buses…
I left the apartment on Monday, it was mostly business as usual, by Tuesday the crowd was cut by half, today, my footsteps echo.
I think it’s that uncertainty that is getting the best of people, leaders are telling them to isolate themselves and if they get sick put themselves in complete quarantine, and they don’t know how long that’s gonna last, they’re scared, what about necessities? What about work? Money? School?
I’m lucky. I don’t have to worry about the latter things, and I’m going to the store either tomorrow or on Friday, and I hope they have what I need.
I should stay at home, order delivery.
The virus has an incubation period of 14 days. I might already carry it.
I’ve been careful since I found out about it though, washing my hands properly, I keep sanitation wipes by the door to dry off the handle and key every time I return home, I have hand sanitizer in the pocket of my jeans in case I gotta ride the bus.
And really, I should start showering as soon as I’m done for the day as well…
And in all this craziness I’m writing more lists, what to do in the apartment to avoid having to pay for repairs, what to buy for the new apartment… I’ve crossed a few things off my list, I’ve made the address change, so it’ll start in May, I’ve contacted the broadband people and moved the service the fifteenth of May. Tomorrow I’m going to call the repairman in the district of the new apartment and ask about the wallpapers and the puddle on the balcony.
As well as apply for new rent support, I really should have done that as soon as I signed the contract, it’s one of the most important things.
Can I stay home during all of this?
Most of it, yes.
But I have healthcare meetings on Tuesdays, and maybe they’ll all be canceled, but right now they’re not, and I need to go. And I need food, and soap, and a new toothbrush.
I need to fetch my meds, the apothecary is over capacity right now and their delivery time is two weeks, I don’t have pills for two weeks.
I have much to do, I never realized quite how much I actually do…
But first of all, right now, I need to take my meds, and then settle down, calm down before I try to sleep.
One week on … from Thursday 16th April – long distance celebrating son’s 40th Birthday; loving the calm of being at home and the rhythm of the day. Knowing how lucky I was to have space and a little savings to get by. Interrupted by phone call. My mother (who I had been persuading NOT to cycle everywhere just in case of an accident) was lying in a gravel patch with a suspected broken hip and wrist … I talked to her calmly and issued instructions to my auntie to get a blanket as shock and cold could be dangerous. We waited for an ambulance.
My mum (87) and her sister (89) live on their own on opposite sides of the road and spend all day and every day back and forth (although less now as they try to isolate) and even in usual times have several long phone calls a day (including whilst watching TV quiz programmes). They settle bills by totally up how much they’ve spent for each other and then pay over the balance one way or the other … usually pence rather than pounds. Dishes and plates go back and forth with meals, cakes, pastries. And it was one of these dishes, and 2 pears, that were going across the road when the fall happened – off the edge of the path (no doubt whilst juggling all these items, two sets of keys, and closing the gate behind her).
So, one week on, it’s been difficult. Emergency operations, loss of blood and anaemia; blood transfusions; bone setting; a DHS (dynamic hip screw); transfer to a Cottage Hospital for rehab – and I can do nothing. Can’t visit – not even worthwhile driving the 150 miles to Somerset to sit in an empty house, leaving my high risk, vulnerable partner in Wales. I am having to arrange the ‘practicals’ – clothes, washing, fruit, crosswords, phone top up, etc. remotely and can’t get a handle on what comes next. Life feels complex and simple, busy and helpless, my status as only child (always a bonus) is now an added level of trickiness. But in all of this, the most important thing is she is coping somehow. The woman who never leaves home for more than a few hours, hates holidays, staying somewhere else, using other people’s toilets, has spent 87 years in a mile radius of her birth place, lives on custard creams, white bread and butter and is super fussy, super clean, and a complete fussy-worry-monster, is being stoic. If she can get by, I guess I can.
The next few weeks worry me – small hospital, care home setting. COVID-19 susceptible. If that doesn’t happen, how do I get her out to her home. Will they test here before she is let out of there. Do I stay or do I go. What self-isolation measures do I need to do, both there and here. For how long. I can’t even think about it sensibly. So, in a weird calm I’m just letting it play out.
My uni friends are eating pizza together over zoom tonight. I don’t really want to talk to them. I’m alone too much but I also only want to talk to the people I’m closest to. I know I’m very lucky. There’s been no new cases in my city for a while. I’m ok and my friends and family are ok (for now) and I’m hugely grateful for that. But I’m still miserable.
I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time. It’s not like this is very different from what my life it like anyway.
All the worries I had before this crisis have been compounded and a bunch of new ones have been added. I don’t know what jobs to apply for when I graduate and now I’m missing out on the placements which were supposed to help me figure it out. My queer loneliness is somehow so much worse when it’s imposed by a pandemic rather than just by myself and my location. I watched Portrait of a Lady on Fire yesterday and I loved it so much but fuck it’s made me long for intimacy.
I don’t know how careful I should be being about social isolation, it feels like I’m taking it the most seriously of the people around me and even that isn’t enough. I don’t feel like the government is handling this well at all but I don’t know if I have any right to say that since I’m no expert either. The federal government is trying to introduce a contact tracing app, but I don’t trust them to protect privacy. Testing criteria across Australia was broadened today, and it feels like that should have happened weeks ago. Schools are slowly being reopened and the NRL is starting training again soon, which seems like we’re just inviting a huge second wave. I recognise that sports are really important to many people but the idea that professional sports teams get to put the rest of us in danger makes me angry.
I was always going to be on holidays from uni for the last two weeks but I really don’t know how I’m going to cope when I start back. I’m supposed to be working from home but I just haven’t. Everything feels so pointless.