Well. Here we are.
It’s a cold and cloudy day in Melbourne. Nothing new there.
The washing is on, we’ve had breakfast, the bed is made, music is playing throughout the house. Nothing new there.
I’m sitting here trying to craft a blog post. Tim is out on his bike. Nothing new there either.
But it doesn’t feel the same.
On the surface life looks the same. We get up, shower (or not), have breakfast, check our socials, get on with the day.
But it’s not the same.
A week ago I’d never heard of worldometers.info/coronavirus but now it’s the first site I check every morning. If you take off the /coronavirus from the end, you get information on a whole range of things: how many hectares of the world have been deforested today, how many mothers died in childbirth today, how many cigarettes were smoked today, how many new book titles have been published this year. It’s a wealth of information. No, not all of it is cheery, but it’s still interesting.
Except, it’s also worrying. I probably shouldn’t check it every morning as it doesn’t really get my day off to a good start.
So there’s that. A less-than-cheery start to my day.
I worked from home all last week, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable (or unforeseeable, I guess) future. With that in mind we spent much of yesterday setting up a proper workspace for me. It means I can feel like I’m going to work in the morning and can return to home-life in the afternoon. It also means I can more clearly distinguish between home-space and work-space and not let them overlap in the ways they did last week.
I now have a long desk (trestle table, but let’s not quibble) with my ‘home’ computer on one end, and my ‘work’ computer on the other. I’ll be using them both for work – one for Zoom/Skype meetings and the other for developing resources, but who knows. I might flit between them or that might get too messy. It’s just one tiny thing that’s an uncertainty and in a world of big uncertainties it’s not occupying a great deal of my brainspace.
My husband also worked from home last week and will continue to do so until it’s safe to be in shared space with others. He claimed the ‘study’ early on, and so he’s well set up with clearly delineated work and home spaces. Each morning last week, when it was time for him to go to work, he’d kiss me goodbye and head upstairs. I’d hear him on what seemed like wall-to-wall Zoom meetings, supporting staff, providing them with ideas and calm reassurance that they can teach audio production and ensemble and journalism online. It’s interesting, after all this time of working for different universities, to hear him in action again. His interactions are different now that he’s a senior leader in his workplace and he’s been receiving a lot of praise for his calm and steady leadership.
We did encounter one problem, however. I’m blaming Cheryl from Sales (Tim tends to think it’s Stefan from Accounts) … but whichever of them it is, they can just stop. One of us will take a break and make a cuppa … and next thing you know the cup is empty and I have no memory of drinking said cuppa. The only explanation that makes sense to me is that it must be one of my new co-workers.
Things aren’t the same. The world isn’t the same. People are losing income. Many, many people are losing loved ones. Travel plans have been disrupted and businesses are failing.
The curve hasn’t yet flattened. Are we doing enough to ensure it does?
Many of us want to know why schools haven’t yet closed.
We have new daily routines … it’s clear that life isn’t the same.
I now tune in on Twitter each day to hear Ricky Gervais rambling for ten minutes or so. I look out for Ben Abraham’s impromptu concerts on Instragram. I watch videos of those in Italy and Spain playing music and singing together. I am disturbed to still be seeing people buying much much more than they need each day, leaving the shelves empty for those who come after them. I am extra concerned when I read about thousands of people on Bondi Beach (which has now been closed) and to read of the four cruise ships allowed to dock in Sydney.
I watch videos on how to wash my hands properly, videos of those with the virus warning about the dangers or not acting swiftly enough, and videos full of really vital information presented in easy-to-understand terms. (The last link takes you to a really useful video, and I encourage you to watch it if you haven’t already.)
The message is clear: Stay home. Buy only what you need. Wash your hands.
In the scheme of things it doesn’t seem hard advice to follow.
And yet … for many it seems beyond them.
And for me too if I’m honest. Being told to stay at home is different from choosing to, and so I feel myself wanting to get out more than I usually do. Luckily, I have a very sensible husband!
Life is disrupted. It’ll take some getting used to. Thankfully, unlike those in 1918 who were caught up in the ‘Spanish Flu’ epidemic, we have loads of ways of staying connected. So while we might be staying home, it doesn’t necessarily mean we need to socially isolate ourselves. Physically isolate, for sure. But we don’t need to socially isolate.
And that’ll take some getting used to as well. This flow chart might help you decide whether you really need to go out.
Let’s be kind to ourselves while we make the necessary adjustments. It seems we’re in this for the long haul – a few months rather than days. Perhaps even longer. I’m sure we’ll work out how to live in this disrupted world, but it might take a while.
What’s been working for you as you get used to living a disrupted life?