Crazy Month of May 2020 meme: pandemic experiences

It has been quite a while since I have blogged. One could call it writer's block. So what better way to get started than working on Cassmob's meme for May 2020 and break the drought. Here we go.

What are you most grateful for during this COVID-19 crisis?

Well, believe it or not, this is quite tricky to answer because I have so much for which to be grateful e.g. my very good health and having a good job and plenty of leave I can use. But if I had to choose what I valued most it is probably living in Australia where we seem to have put a lid on it pretty quickly and are not seeing the terrible statistics that are happening in other countries.

What have you missed most during the full or partial lock-down?

Being able to give my dear old Dad a big hug and vice versa. I also miss just being able to meander and browse in the shops or supermarket or sit and have a coffee and watch the world go by.  I also miss being able to go to the art gallery and the cinema.  I would have thought the cinema more than the art gallery but because of TV perhaps the cinema not so much but definitely the art gallery.

Has your hobby sustained you during this time?

Oh my goodness yes. The first week I had off work I was like a mad thing doing a power load of research into one particular female ancestor. I was completely obsessed. 

I've watched loads of classes from the Legacy site, the Virtual Genealogy Association, SAG and QFHS and now I am really excited to have signed up for a course on Welsh genealogy with Pharos. 

And I've signed up to do some transcribing of Royal Navy records from WW1.

What changes have you seen in your life over May 2020?

Well, now I'm not working, I am travelling a lot less and life has really slowed down. I can walk at a reasonable hour when the sun is up and now I have company; not just the dog but my sister-in-law too. I have had lots of time to reflect and think about my life. 

I have done quite a bit of tidying and am trying to de-clutter but it is a Herculean task that sometimes defeats me. My daughter has been very kind and comes over to help - "Does it bring you joy?" she frequently asks. This sort of question makes my husband very nervous ;)

When I go shopping now, I do it very quickly and with purpose. I'm still adjusting to where to put my card for the barcode scanner and tapping rather than punching in a PIN. I still press lift buttons out of habit but am getting better at remembering to use hand sanitizer more frequently when I'm out.

I have become very familiar with Zoom and am used to seeing perspex screens go up in shops and reception areas of surgeries and the like. 

Have you been exercising more or less?

More, thank goodness. Lord knows I need it but I'm obviously eating more as well as it is making absolutely no difference to my weight, more's the pity.

Has the refrigerator been your friend or foe?

The pantry and fridge are in league together against me along with my cookbooks and the oven.

Have you been participating in virtual gatherings with friends or family?

Yes. I participated in about three SAG Friday afternoons on Zoom which I thought went really well, quite a few workshops and a hilarious bookclub zoom call where we did everything but discuss the book.

Have you taken up new hobbies during the lockdowns?

No. I can't say I have. Although I have been doing more meditation which I am not very good at in an attempt to improve my sleep and approach to eating. You know, becoming more mindful. I've even considered taking up drawing as a way of becoming more mindful rather than meditation which still feels an awkward practice to me.

Are you cooking or gardening more?

Well, I cooked for the first three weeks and then I went on strike. I have planted lots of lovely flowers in hanging baskets and pots and am really excited to see some jonquil bulbs sprouting in just a fortnight.

Have you shopped more or less? Online or offline?

We tried grocery shopping online for about three weeks but Robert just loves going to the supermarkets too much so we gave it away. We have spent way more on groceries than we usually do so I am now making a concerted effort not to shop if I can help it. Now that I am not cooking that has helped somewhat but I think Robert's hoarding instincts have ramped up since COVID started. And then, of course, I am sitting at home on the web, so my book purchasing has gone up markedly too. I really need to put the brakes on that. And I went completely mad at DJs last week buying clothes for the baby.

What have you found to be the strangest change to your life?

Our suburb is quiet at the best of times but now it is really really quiet. It's the lack of air traffic. Because we live at the bottom of Mt Cooth-ha where the TV stations are, we are used to a lot of choppers going back and forth doing traffic reports and the like. Now when I hear a plane or a chopper I have turned into a mad thing and am looking it up on flight radar to see what it is and where it's going. I think I may have turned into an anorak!

Have you found the changes and experience stressful/anxious/worrying?

Yes indeed. While I don't appear stressed or worried, I am not sleeping well at all. I've been worried about my family members who are vulnerable e.g. my father, my husband and my daughter. I worry about my friends and family overseas. I worry about world politics in general. But the worst thing for everyone is not knowing when or if it is ever going to end. 

How have the closures affected your local community?

We probably haven't seen all the changes yet or aren't aware of them until we get back out there but I know that some people have had to close or change their business models to an online rather than a shop front presence. Family members have applied for Job Keeper and some are still waiting to receive their first payment. I live in a well-off community so the biggest change I have seen is the number of people out on the street exercising in the mornings and afternoons. It can be a bit like Pitt Street on a Friday night. My dog is getting a lot of attention and a friend and I agreed that when we all go back to work, they will really suffer.

Have in-person meetings been replaced with virtual meetings via Zoom, Skype etc?

Yes. All our work meetings are now one-way conference calls which are very formal. 

I have had a couple of Zoom calls with friends in other states and am interested in how exhausted I feel at the end. While it's lovely to see them, it is not a natural way to talk to people. You feel obliged to keep the conversation going and are very self-conscious so in fact, it is like a performance even if you are not consciously wanting it to be like that.

Do you enjoy the virtual meeting format?

Yes and no. I have been so impressed with the presentations that SAG members have done on a Friday afternoon about their topic of interest. The PowerPoint presentations that they do take some of the pressure off presenters having to be on display all the time and for the audience to watch them too, particularly if they are not at ease. We all feed off each other's facial expressions/vibes so I think having other things to look at helps enormously.

Are you working from home instead of in your usual place of work?

No, we have been stood down so effectively are not working at all but are just on leave. Our return to work will be staged and I think it will be a while before some of us return to work. We have been told it will be very different but not exactly how so that is unsettling too.

Have your habits changed over the past months?

Yes, I guess so. I tend to be a very social animal and most of my day is spent rushing around doing things. Now I can just take my time. I am doing much less and it's not really worrying me. Some nights we don't even bother about dinner which sometimes worries me but it is probably good for my waistline. I am writing in my journal much more than I usually would. I have been making a conscious effort not to watch TV so have been reading more. This last week, however, I have been worried that none of my knitting projects will be ready by the time my first grandchild has come along so I have been bingeing on Shetland.

Have you had to cancel travel plans for pleasure or family?

No, but my poor father has and I know that he has been very disappointed to do so. Friends of ours had to postpone their wedding until later in the year which must have been very difficult and distressing. We had a death in the family too which was very difficult for everyone, not being able to grieve in the usual way. 

Do you think you’ll be able to travel in 2020?

I really hope I can go to the Blue Mountains in May next year and am looking forward to catching up with friends then. I suspect that any overseas travel will be restricted to New Zealand for the next 12 months at least. 

Have you/others been wearing masks when out and about in your area?

It has not occurred to me to wear a mask when I'm out and about which is probably very silly of me. I just feel awkward doing so. It's like I'm saying to others that I don't trust them and I think we have enough of that going on as it is which is such a shame. 

Will you change your lifestyle after this experience?

Yes. I think it will be very difficult for me to go back to what I was doing before COVID. I don't think I realised just how stressed and manic my life was until it all came to a grinding halt. I think I still need to do a lot of slowing down but I am getting better at it. Practice makes perfect. 

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to reflect on the experience so far and for breaking the blogging drought.


Adjusting to being slower is challenging when you're working so now it must be difficult. It was something I've had to learn and have become very good at it in retirement :) Lots of your comments resonated with me - except the bit about exercise. We too have noticed much less traffic as Sunshine Coast airport has been closed and I can well imagine the absence of TV helicopters. You will have such fun with your first grandchild - my friend was right when she said I didn't "get it" until it happened. Be prepared to lose your heart.

You're also right that it's the covid and world ambiguities that are adding stress to life in 2020. So much seems to be wrong or out of kilter.
Take care my friend and enjoy your calm time.
Hi, Alex, it's nice in a lot of ways that your life has been able to slow down quite a bit. You sound like you're enjoying it more. I do agere with you about feeling as though you need to be "on" all the time on a Zoom meeting; it's not a very comfortable way of meeting. I hope it isn't something that we all get used to, although I'm afraid we're headed that way.

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