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The COVID-19 diaries: almost level 3


Yes, we’re still in this for another three weeks at least… here’s hoping level two will kick in before my birthday on the 18th of May. I really want to go out for dinner! I really want to buy a flat white and a cheese scone at a cafe! I would really like some birthday presents.

I have now been comicking for four weeks and I am not going to be blogging so regularly from now on. I have a couple of longer comics I want to work on, and will post if I am happy with them. Thank you all so much for reading and for giving me encouraging feedback! It’s been really nice to hear that my experience has resonated with yours.

In the mean time, ka kite anō – see you soonish!

The COVID-19 diaries: visitation


Have you had any pīwakawaka come to visit lately? I did a little research, and apparently the pīwakawaka was there when Māui tried to enter Hinenuitepō’s vagina as she slept, to steal death from her, and bestow humans with eternal life. Maui transformed into a noke worm to enter her, but then a whitehead burst out laughing and a pīwakawaka danced about in glee. Hinenuitepō woke up, closed her legs, and strangled Māui. You can read more about it here.

In other news, Dylan Horrocks interviewed me for his comics students, and posted the interview on YouTube. You can see me in full zoom meeting mode, and in this case I can promise you I am wearing pants.

The COVID-19 diaries: David Bowie bubbles


The bubble metaphor has been a little grating for me – there is something inherently joyous sounding about it. Bubbly! Some people are in happy little bubbles, enjoying each other’s company, and we envy them. We can see into their bubble and they are often the model nuclear family, with two well-adjusted children and parents whose relationship hasn’t come undone. They never fight and they alway have something interesting for dinner, and fresh anecdotes to tell each other even though they have spent the past 3+ weeks in each other’s company. It seems like they are enjoying this lockdown – that they have had special time together and their lives are richer and better for it.

It’s not that I haven’t liked being in my bubble, as I have appreciated extra time with my children, and a solid stretch of parenting when normally I am moving between houses every four days. It has been nice to be in one place for almost 4 weeks. But now I’m handing the parenting over to Jonathan and his adjacent bubble. I am going to be child-free for a week or perhaps a couple – depending on when we go back to level 3.

I hope you are all thriving in your bubbles and not driving each other crazy! If you want to see the scene from the movie which this is based on, you can watch it here.

The COVID-19 diaries: wilderness


I guess this is the upside of having to be local all the time – you get to know your neighbourhood again! I am fond of Karori despite myself. It’s not a very cool suburb, and I envy my seaside quarantiners, but I like how bushy it is, and how many birds are around.

Talking of Karori, the incredibly clever and charming Leah McFall has started a parody blog about Camilla and Charles hiding out in Karori, “A Right Royal Karori Lockdown”, featuring drawings by yours truly (I must draw some more!) Check it out here.

The COVID-19 diaries: clothes


Has anyone else seriously rethought their fashion priorities under lockdown? I always privileged style over comfort – although I have had periods of wearing jeans and tops – but I’ve done a bit of an about-turn lately. I guess there’s no one to dress up for. And my local dress code is strictly athleisurewear. Yesterday, when I went out for a walk in my leggings and merino top and sneakers, I almost felt like I was passing.

And yes, I have attended a few of my work 9.30am stand up meetings in my pyjamas – it’s all about having the right scarf.

The COVID-19 diaries: shut-ins


So it’s 10.32am and the first day of home school, term 2, has started. I am not entirely sure if the children are working, although I have dragged them both out of bed and made them eat a nutritious breakfast. Ever since Easter, Violet has been enjoying her culinary innovation of filling the neighbour’s large hollow chocolate eggs with milk and drinking that whilst nibbling on the edges – there has been some spillage.

When I was at school I had to get my books out and at least perform the act of studying. There were lined refill pages to be filled, essays to be handwritten, text books and novels to arrange around me. Also there was my anxiety that fuelled my study – I had to do what the teachers asked of me, or something terrible would happen. I would fail at life. I would become a drug addict. My friend, who was one of the smartest girls at my school, told me she did her homework in front of the television. I was horrified – how could she concentrate? We didn’t even have a television. I sat at the small desk in my room.

I guess what I am worried about is that this lockdown has exacerbated our 21st century malaise – if we were addicted to our screens before, we’re even more addicted now. If we were reluctant to leave the house and could find fulfilment in simulated realities – well, now the government is discouraging us from going far and our screens are our solace. I know this is for the greater good, and we have a chance of eliminating the virus from New Zealand, but I am worried about the ripple effects… also I am not really cut out for home schooling!

I’m pretty sure we did make a papier-mâché version of the Hindenburg, but according to this comic, it was the Titanic. Maybe we made both… memory is so slippery….

The COVID-19 diaries: work


My garden is definitely beginning to look a bit better under lockdown, but it is still wild. This is the thing with Wellington gardens, on diagonal slopes. It’s quite lush here and the bushes quickly grow out of control and you need an abseiling rope in order to trim them, and strange long clippers operated with cords that are always getting jammed and make your arms ache.

Of course, gardening is not the thing that I’m meant to be doing, and nor is comics, but I always get the most pleasure from the sense that I am bunking off, misusing my time, not working on my most pressing tasks. This impulse also leaves me feeling permanently stressed, as I am always procrastinating. I had told myself that after I published Let Me Be Frank, I’d start that novel.

It’s hard to know what kind of job to get when you also want to make art. Of course, in an ideal world, you would get an income for being an artist. It is, after all, a social service of sorts, and the world would be a poorer place without books to read and music to listen to and pictures and movies and dance to express the strangeness of our circumstances. I am bored in my job and feel as though I should get a more stimulating job, but if it’s too demanding I will have no energy left over for anything else. And yet energy begets energy… it spills over and infuses the art you make…

I guess a lot of you are asking the big questions during this strange pause that we’re having? Oh, and home schooling starts tomorrow…

The COVID-19 diaries: Easter eggs


For those of you not in NZ (hi! Thanks for reading!), last week Jacinda Ardern declared Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy essential services. Which was cute, but I was hoping for a pass this Easter. I’m a little bit bah humbug about Easter – I no longer spend the weekend going to the Catholic church with my mother, and I was never really allowed to indulge in the treats and had to watch my brother and sister scoff chocolate while I choked down the carob egg, which was always a little earthy and chalky and never convincing. I did make some buns, though! They were quite nice, but they did their inevitable trick of making my blood sugar levels high and then horribly low when I tried to correct them with insulin and a walk. To add to the cognitive dissonance, now that many of us have abandoned religion, we are approximating a European spring celebration in the middle of Autumn. All of the colourful egg pictures Violet and I taped to the garage (thanks, Jacinda for the templates!) blew off in wet squall.

I did go to the supermarket this morning, imagining the Easter rush to be over, but I still had to wait in a line for 20 minutes. This time I followed my friend Susan’s hot tip and brought a novel. I found myself reading Nell Zink’s account of the planes hitting the twin towers. It was very disconcerting, given the fact that I’d only just heard the news about the almost 10,000 dead from COVID-19 in New York City. I moved to NYC not long after 9/11 and can remember the time well, but now I can only imagine what it’s like to be holed up in your apartment, listening to the ambulances wail.

The COVID-19 diaries: echo chamber


This is the podcast I was listening to – Invisibilia, the Last Sound episode.

Have you guys noticed that the birds are coming closer with all this quiet? I am getting loads of pīwakawaka in my garden, and a pair of kererū have taken up residence in a tree outside my window.

Also you might be surprised by the sight of my playing the cello – I learnt as a child, put it aside for 8 years, learnt again, put it aside for 19 years and then took it up again at the beginning of this year. Having a few friends who wanted me to play with them motivated me. I am finding it quite therapeutic. Since I don’t have a teacher anymore I no longer have the anxiety of doing enough practice and not having a very good bow grip. I don’t have to practice scales if I don’t want to. The only problem is now that I’ve taken up drawing comics again I don’t have so much time to practice! Everything comes at the expense of everything else.

The COVID-19 diaries: torpor


Is anyone else baking like it’s going out of fashion? I’m not at all gluten intolerant but gluten does do weird things to my blood sugars… and yet I continue to turn to the occupational therapy of making another loaf, another cake, another batch of muffins. We have run out of plain flour but I still have rye flour, rice flour, semolina, wholemeal, self-raising and high grade…

In exciting news, my sister has launched her movie! The one that I mentioned in this comic, a live performance derailed by the lockdown and turned into a video performance. You can watch it here or else you can join her facebook launch here where you will be able to quiz the director and have an excuse to drink a glass of wine.