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The COVID-19 diaries: Easter eggs

13/04/2020

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

12/04/2020

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

11/04/2020

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.

The COVID-19 diaries: flu jab

10/04/2020

The medical system is a weird paradox – filled with deeply compassionate people who have put aside their squeamishness in order to care for others – as well as being alienating, with all the sterile spaces and the hang ups from the olden days, in which the doctor knew best and the patients were kept in the dark and treated like children. This pandemic has increased our sense of alienation – the doctor’s office is no longer a place where you come to get better, but a place of great danger, which you enter only if strictly necessary. My doctor is offering skype consultations so you can be seen from across the suburb, in the dubious safety of your own home.

Anyway, I have done my civic duty and got my flu jab so I won’t be taking up valuable real estate in hospital for that anyway. I have been vaguely wondering if I could melt down my Whitaker’s chocolate and blow and egg and transfer it into there if I can’t get chocolate eggs tomorrow… after all, Jacinda declared Easter Bunny an essential worker so they will still be on their rounds and the kids will expect an egg hunt!

As a bonus, because it was shared on Twitter yesterday, I am including a comic I did for the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, as part of a series of NZ women doctors. This woman looked after patients during the Spanish ‘flu epidemic, so should be remembered!

The COVID-19 diaries: high dependency unit

09/04/2020

How is all of your phone use going? I do think mine is exacerbated by the boyfriend situation. Also I have a few friends I check in on on a regular basis, and I have to talk to my family on Telegram, and my writing group on Whatsapp, and my work also on Whatsapp… then there’s my Instagram addiction. Beginning to blog again doesn’t help – I’ve got to check in to see if anyone has commented on my post and if I need to reply.

My phone exacerbates my bored restless ADD tendencies at the best of times. Often – ok, always – whilst drawing comics, I’ll have a phone break between drawing panels. There is no deep flow going on here. Although I do hope that the river runs deep and while my consciousness is a plastic bag in the wind, caught on tree branches and telephone wires, my subconsciousness is steady and sure… ha, I’m fooling myself.

Still, it seems like I have written hundreds and thousands of words in texts. People worried that phone use would spell the end of literacy but instead there’s been an explosion, be it sentences or the visual language of photos and video clips.

But yes, when all of this is over – please let it be over soon! – I am going to put my phone away for a bit and relish in talking face to face, nearer than two metres away, and I’m not going to be constantly reaching for it to check the time, my likes, the weather, the news, the latest meme… I am finally going to attain inner peace.

Ha, I’m fooling myself.

The COVID-19 diaries: distracted

08/04/2020

You’ll be pleased to know that I did actually finally manage to make the yogurt (I have one of those Easi-yo thermos and sachet systems) and I made the bread, although I still haven’t baked it as it requires a long proving. I should put the oven on now! I didn’t get round to putting my sheet music into the clear file but I left it on the table and Violet spilt a glass of water on it and all the old paper inside it has turned to pulp.

And work-work? The job I’m paid to do? I failed spectacularly. I have a few excuses I tell myself – I have two children to look after! It’s really hard to remote access into the work PC system from my home Mac! It’s stressful working under a pandemic! I feel scattered, discombobulated, imminently distractible. I am having cognitive dissonance. I need the social construct of workmates and tea rooms and office furniture to make me be productive. Home is where I do housework, caregiving and make art on the dining room table. Work is where I do powerpoints and format documents and apply the brand guidelines. But really I should be able to do it anywhere. Why can’t I?

Today is a new day and I am hoping to focus more. I am hoping not to fall into a pit of self-loathing for not achieving what I set out to achieve. I’m going to go on a walk to clear my head and then I am going to make myself a coffee and I am going to… did I put the oven on? Was that my phone I hear?

The COVID-19 diaries: threat level

07/04/2020

When in doubt, always ask a neighbourhood cartoonist! I think I should hand this strip over to Violet, who has all the best lines.

If you want to see what I’m talking about, this is the story of the 8 foot woman, Hachishakusama, and here is the story of the slit mouth woman. Violet is a sucker for horror, even if it means she can’t sleep later.

Also, I am a little constrained by the 10 panels but I want you to know that the hooligans yelled at us about 10 minutes after we’d crossed the road, not because of our dodgy road crossing tactics!