An occasional insight into working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown, with your other half who also works for the same educational institution.
LOCKDOWN DAY 1
New Zealand, 26 March 2020
Couldn’t sleep from 4am so got up and had a shower at 5.30am as I didn’t bother with such a time-wasting activity yesterday (I started this lockdown earlier than most people). Don’t judge my ablutions ok, I don’t know when I will run out of soap. Went back to bed until just before 8. Even though I knew the pips were coming up for the RNZ news, I didn’t tune in. I haven’t listened to any news bulletins so far today (8.58am) as I want to feel clean for a while.
Emptied the kitchen compost and filled up all my bird feeders around the property. Was about to video my happy moment of watching the birds feed when the new neighbour’s cat came and pounced, unsuccessfully, on those fat dumb Malay spotted doves that really have shite for brains. I shooed the cat, but he remained beneath the feeder, which, for your interest, is two three-quarter coconut shells hanging on my clothesline. You can get them at Bin Inn. Oh, wait. Oh well, they will still be there in four weeks.
The cat, who I may as well name Intrudy as we have four weeks of this, remained despite my shooing so I brought out my handy gel-pellet shooter gun. You can get these at HobbyZone. Oh wait. Anyway, it looks like this. The cat ran off but then surreptitiously sneaked to another part of the house to start a fight with elderly ginger Reggie, also a cat, sunning himself on our deck. Does Intrudy not understand lockdown? I did not anticipate running out of gel pellets so soon. I have brought Reggie’s outside chair inside next to the open door (screen door to keep out any Covid-carrying flies) and he seems to quite like it.
Earlier, before the first cat-chase-bird incident, I was talking to Reggie. My husband said: “omg it’s day one and you’re having a full conversation with the cat”. ‘Don’t interrupt,’ I said. ‘I can’t hear what Reggie is saying.’ Also, I said, at least I’m showered and dressed.
When I got back to my phone, there was a Viber message from my husband who was sitting in the office about four metres away.
He got the wrong ‘too’ but it made me laugh so I don’t mention it.
Made coffee. So grateful to have “wasted all that money” on a coffee machine. The relief.
Checked in on mother in retirement village in Taupo. Her apartment looks over the main road and she said it’s so quiet. Not a car has gone by. ‘There goes sitting and watching the world go by; it’s gone already.”
While I was writing this I realised I’m NOT alone! A tiny spider is walking back and forth across the top of my monitor. (Note, this was a portent of things to come.)
Noticed that Melissa Etheridge is doing 15-minute Facebook Live concerts today. Imagine she won’t be encouraging people to “Come by my window” or “Bring me some water”.
So then I checked Twitter and quite frankly this tweet couldn’t be beaten when you’re an Aucklander who’s used to being stuck in rush- hour traffic, so I started work. Second tweet one minute after the first.
Rest of the work day
Our 10am Zoom meeting was nice and tight – 30 minutes. Someone described it as the highlight of their day and I figured her threshold for entertainment must already be rock bottom so I think we might need to have a remote Houseparty with her (it’s an app not an illegal activity). She is doing a sterling job with a three-year-old wrapped around her neck.
I’ve decided to have a lunch-hour every day. This novel approach to work is unfamiliar to me but as, thus far today, I am getting a lot more done with clarity I think I deserve it. Mental health and exercise are important. Today I followed a F45 workout that I did in our carport on two $40 bits of carpet I bought at Mitre 10 the day before lockdown. It went surprisingly well and the neighbour didn’t come to chat because he was too busy testing how many decibels he could create while working outside. F45 @ Home requires timed movements and for me, intense concentration to ensure I don’t kill myself. Neighbour (a decent Irishman who likes to talk) has no sense of time, because he works from home as a mechanic. Anyway, he appears to be smashing a car to bits. If this is yours and you’re getting it fixed, maybe you should have chosen a less stressful time to have your car serviced. Also you’ll be picking it up in four weeks. The smashing and banging has, of course, been timed nicely to coincide with my 2pm Zoom meeting.
I don’t mind the Zooms at this point. I like to come up with a different virtual background every day so I don’t have to tidy my house.
Anyway, it’s not my most professional approach, but these are strange times.
The magazine that was I was working on has to change its content to reflect what’s going on. Logical given the situation, so I’m coming up with new timelines, new ideas and just drafting those up when a quavering voice comes from the husband.
“We have an issue.”
I assume it’s something to do with him having to teach remotely next week. Maybe he’s lost a file or is struggling with some aspect of Zoom.
No, it’s this:
Mr Bravery looks at me as though I am going to do something about it.
“That’s the biggest spider I have ever seen in my life,” he says helpfully, in case being locked up with him for a day has rendered me blind.
I get an extendable duster thing – very extendable, like more than Covid19-safe distance away – and poke it at the spider which obligingly hops on, doesn’t run like a crazed bastard, and I calmly, not calmly, take it outside. I feel triumphant. I have saved our bubble from another intruder. I am fast turning into the Bubble Defender.
I Snapchat it and this comes back from my nurse niece.
She is correct. This was a definite “just burn the house down” type of spider. However, we need a bubble in which to protect ourselves so I didn’t. Besides, there are sooooo many flies around I’m hoping the spider can help. (I have worked out that four out of five flies I spray with fly spray do not drop dead.)
I work, then at 1630 have had enough. The husband appears from the office, unshaven and looking a bit blazed. His brain hurts. He’s learning new things. Now he knows how the students feel.
We get very excited at the idea of playing with the cat. Not the old one, the young spritely one.
Shortly after, I reach peak excitement for the day when two courier deliveries arrive. First delivery is meat I ordered online at the perfectly normal time of 2am, after Countdown onlinr groceries didn’t send any because they were all out of stock. It was my first ever order at Wholesale Meats and would recommend. If they’re still delivering, that is. All delicious-looking and I wedge it into the ridiculously full freezer. I realise we are privileged but if that claps out, we are doomed.
Second delivery was some new speakers for the computer (also ordered two days before lockdown) so when the husband is listening to songs, which he then plays on his keyboard, he can hear them better. Louder. Loud enough to drown out all the lawnmowers that are going midweek. Also because, quite frankly, if you are going to be locked inside for four weeks, gadgets can make a difference.
I notice that all my regular “workweek hustle” crew on Fitbit are high-fiving themselves for having done their steps. Although I exercised at lunchtime I have not done mine, so I decide to walk to the supermarket for steps and to see if the madness is over.
All the way there, there are waves and hellos and it’s kind of like I remember NZ back in the day. Or during Carless Days. Also no one walking is on their phone at the same time. Probably sick of looking at them.
The supermarket is heaven. You line up (but only two ahead of me) at a safe distance outside, then get drip-fed into the store. It’s how it always should be! Personal space not encroached by people in pyjamas or kids with snotty noses. I actually stand in an aisle and enjoy it. It’s my outing. I don’t want to stay long though but I feel quite happy there. I’m just too scared to touch anything. All the staff are wearing masks and gloves though and there are various defensive mechanisms put in place. It’s also very weird.
The shelves mostly have stuff on them. I only came for butter, dishwasher tabs and wine. But I find myself buying quite a lot of alcohol. There are no baskets – filthy things – so husband comes to collect me as I can’t carry it all. (Note: I do not plan to leave the house very often and it will be him that goes in in future.)
I didn’t do this, by the way:
I catch up with social media that I have mostly avoided all day, and glance at the news. The news is already stressing me out so despite having worked in that very industry for about 30 years before opting for a quieter editing life, I think I have to limit my consumption. We have more people with COVID-19 but I don’t read any more as I’m already over it.
I laugh louder than I should at this:
Of course, by the time you’re reading this, this meme will have already been sent to you about 550 times, but this was day one.
And that’s it really. Minus some details of cat play and husband chat. We got through it. It was sunny. Just 27 days to go. At least.