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The COVID-19 diaries: birthday


My parents tell me that when they get back from their walk they look forward to seeing my comic… I hope they don’t mind that it’s about them! I had about three different ideas as to what to write this morning but I ended up writing this one because it was the freshest in my mind. Happy birthday, William! And happy birthday to all the other people who are celebrating in confinement and have to wait for their presents.

The COVID-19 diaries: work meeting


The kids were thrilled at their fish finger and chip dinner but I have to concede the ice cream was a mistake – Gus got up twice in the night for extra helpings and somehow there is now only a thin layer across the bottom of the container. They also gobbled up the crisps and the chocolate so our health objectives are not being met.

I find it funny talking on my bluetooth headphones too – often people won’t see them and will assume I am talking to them or else that I am completely mad. Both

Really, I feel sorry for the people who have to work at the supermarkets and dairies – it must be scary for them. They are at the front line. Our local dairy has erected a protective perspex screen but they have a constant stream of people touching all of their goods, breathing in their small spaces, not quite following their safety instructions… I hope they are ok.

The COVID-19 diaries: inside exercise


This is a comic from Sunday – as you can see I’m running a little behind myself – and it was truly a phenomenon when the sun came out at about 3.30pm. Everybody took to the streets. I am normally a neighbourhood walker. I like the calm walking brings me, but I have never seen so many people walking in this suburb. It was like a freaky carnival where everyone kept their distance, walked along the middle of the road, and all the bands and hot chip and waffle caravans had cancelled. There were little groups yelling at each other – I ran into about three people I knew. It was both festive and eery, like we were all infected already and were compelled to walk to our deaths. It did strike me how truly car-centric so many of us are!

COVD-19 adds an extra layer of anxiety to diabetes management. After all, it’s one of those underlying conditions that ups your chances of dying of it. I like to tell myself that I will be exempt because my sugar levels are reasonably well-controlled but some days it’s really hard and my sugars start rising for no good reason and the weather means I can’t go do a vigorous 30 minute walk that generally guarantees that my insulin will start taking effect again.

I have this really great testing app on my phone that scans a sensor in my arm. It’s not funded (I hope it will be soon!) and it’s quite expensive at $50 a week – but it does mean that I don’t need to prick my fingers and it constantly graphs my results. This is stressful in itself – I feel a sense of satisfaction when my sugars are 91% in target, but when they slip back to 32% thanks to a shitty day of highs and lows I feel like a complete failure and the anxiety kicks in. The trick is to get good nighttime levels – that way you’ve got at least 30% of your day within range.

I did make myself a really great dance playlist thanks for a bit of crowd sourcing! Happy to take more suggestions though. What tunes make you want to get up and dance?

The COVID-19 diaries: rain


The gun emplacements around Wellington are a curiosity – built in World War 2 on the tops of hills to defend from possible invasions. They seem almost a folly – who would bother to come so far to invade New Zealand? Also they seem eminently sensible – Wright’s Hill has such a good vantage point. They are now ruins to be opened to the public on ANZAC day, when you can wander through the tunnels.

I guess I have been thinking a lot about the war lately because my lifetime has been characterised by a constant background anxiety – the threat of the nuclear war, the threat of war in the Middle East, the threat of imminent climate collapse, the threat of earthquakes and tsunamis – but so far I haven’t had to radically change my lifestyle because of any of these threats. I try to do my bit to stem climate collapse and I compost, recycle and ride my bicycle, but because the rainforests continue to be clear-felled and big industry gets huge tax breaks and we keep consuming like crazy, it feels kind of tokenistic.

But now, here, we are doing something real, because the numbers of infected keep jumping everyday, and it feels strange and strangely normal, and the threat is still as out of sight as it was from the top of Wright’s Hill in the 1940s, but I know there are patients in Wellington Hospital only a few hills away and we are safe in the tunnels of our houses.

The COVID-19 diaries: writers’ group


It’s weird how communications have so rapidly escalated under this new regime. I never used to FaceTime people – I’d message – and now I’m video chatting all the time. I noticed that zoom had been installed on my work desktop too, so I guess I will be zooming all next week!

Jonathan and I decided to stay in our respective houses – the apartment and the Karori house – because I was higher risk (T1 diabetes) and I also thought I would go mad stuck inside the apartment alone for two weeks or more. Jonathan is popping up to visit the younger children every few days, and he has our eldest living with him, so I am not parenting entirely alone, but it does sometimes feel like it.

I guess this is why video messaging is so incredibly valuable. Suddenly there are animated faces and a cacophony of voices inside your home. Suddenly you can do things together – eat lunch, have a coffee, do the office quiz. I do worry that the internet will break under the weight of our frantic communications and then we’ll really be in trouble.

In the meantime, I am still ok. I have people to talk to, I have my comics diary project, I have baking and cello playing. I have dance playlists to compile and books to read. This is curiously more social than my usual life. It’s just that we’re together alone.

The COVID-19 diaries: the bear hunt


And the weather now is truly Wuthering AF, as my friend George described it. It is windy, it is rainy. I might put my raincoat and gumboots on and pretend that I’m Cathy searching for Heathcliff in the hills, but Heathcliff is in social isolation if he knows what’s good for him.

The bear hunt is quite a cute idea, endorsed by the prime minister, and our bear has special significance. It was sent from the US by my diabetes nurse who looked after me whilst I was pregnant with my first child. I wrote about her here. The bear is 16 years old, a little younger than my oldest child, who will probably turn 17 in captivity.

Thank you for all your lovely words of encouragement! I hope you are all doing okay out there….

The COVID-19 diaries: the supermarket


Hey! How have your supermarket experiences been? I found it incredibly frustrating that I tried so hard to keep the 2 metre rule and then someone would careen past me with less than a metre between us. I guess some of us are more worried about the pandemic than others. I normally also try to chat to the checkout operator but in her mask and gloves and with me standing 2 metres away, conversation wasn’t forthcoming.

I really should get my children off so much milk (they are eating vegetarian for the length of the confinement though!) but they are constantly pouring themselves mugs of the stuff and making bowls of cornflakes or muesli to eat over their iPads and laptops. The silly thing was, I couldn’t bring myself to buy too many bottles of the expensive organic brand and now either they will have to swap to soy (ew yuck, Mum!) or I will have to brave the New World once more…

Also, in regards to the leeks: last night I made a pie from a recipe my friend Kirsten sent me and it was delicious!