Music Monday | Get On The Beers – Mashd N Kutcher

This isn’t the song I’d planned on posting tonight. But nor was this the announcement that our State Premier, Daniel Andrews, had been intending to make today.

After twelve weeks of hard lockdown in Melbourne–which is also the amount of time we have been here for G’s treatment–restrictions will ease. G was discharged from hospital at the end of his first round of chemo on the day that Stage Four restrictions came into place. I picked him up and drove to the apartment where we are staying for the duration of his treatment.

On that day, we expected to be almost finished his treatment by now. On that day, there were over 200 active cases in our immediate local area. A few days later, Victoria recorded a daily count of 725 new coronavirus infections. Today, there are only two active infections in our local area. Today, we recorded zero new coronavirus infections.

I had recently sworn off the press conferences that our State Premier has delivered daily, for over one hundred consecutive days. But today was different. It had already been announced that there were zero new infections overnight (out of  >15,000 tests), so I risked the anxiety rollercoaster. And when I saw the North Face jacket, I knew it was going to be good news. Over the past few months, a trend has emerged; if the Premier wears a suit, we are in for difficult news. But if it is the North Face jacket, we can expect good news.

And today, the news was excellent.

A journalist asked tentatively “Can I confirm you are saying we can finally get on the beers?”

“I don’t know that I’ll be drinking a beer tonight,” Mr Andrews said. “I might go a little higher up the shelf.”

And indeed, on his Facebook page tonight, he posted a picture.

All Victorians–but especially Melburnians, who’ve shouldered the majority of these brutal lockdowns–should be proud of this achievement. We aren’t out of the woods. But with the virus at trackable and traceable levels, we should be able to get back to some sense of normal. Covid normal.

Time to get on the beers.

Everything Is Waiting For You – David Whyte

On July 20, Victoria recorded 341 new coronavirus cases. That same day, France recorded 350 new coronavirus cases.

Just over two weeks later, Victoria, with some restrictions in place, registered 725 new coronavirus cases while France, with minimal restrictions, had more than twice that at 1,695.

Melbourne went into a hard lockdown. Restrictions included a curfew between 8pm and 5am, a requirement to stay within a 5km radius of your home unless you were a worker with a permit to be outside of that radius, and you could only leave your home for one hour per day for exercise and one hour for errands such as grocery shopping.

Children had to stay at home and return to remote learning, parents had to work from home if possible, retail and hospitality venues closed and there was nothing to do and nowhere to go.

It has been eleven weeks, and from today, restrictions will ease a little. Because unlike Europe, our State government took extreme action. Difficult action, yes. Action with consequences for business, for workers, and for mental health. Absolutely.

But on October 16, France recorded 25,086 new coronavirus cases. Victoria recorded 1. On October 17, France recorded 32,427. Victoria recorded 2.

Lockdown has not been easy. I don’t pretend that it has. But the alternative, tens of thousands of cases per day, is incomprehensible.

And now, as we ease slowly into a covid-normal summer, everything is waiting for us.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

David Whyte

Music Monday | Stars – Ayla Nereo

Around us, a pandemic rages, but new daily cases are dwindling under the Stage Four restrictions. A curfew is in place from 8pm until 5am. This means you must be at your home between these hours unless you are working (with a permit), seeking medical care, or providing care.

It is fifteen minutes until curfew as I pull into the underground garage of my temporary home. The rain spatters on my roof and windscreen as the GPS announces my arrival. Although I’ve driven the same twelve kilometres twenty times this month to and from the hospital where my husband is critically ill, I still use the GPS to keep me company. I cannot stomach music.

During the day, you may only leave your home to exercise (for one hour maximum), to shop for necessities (one person per household, for one hour maximum), to work (if you can’t work from home and have an applicable permit), to seek medical care, or for compassionate reasons. You must stay within five kilometres of your residence.

Due to the nature of my husband’s illness, I am allowed to visit, provided I maintain full self-isolation. I do not work. I do not exercise. I do not shop for necessities. Some incredible friends are doing this on my behalf followed by a contactless delivery drop to minimise my exposure to the outside world. Anything that arrives gets doused in Glen20 (Lysol), spends five days in quarantine in the spare room, and is soaped or disinfected further upon opening.

When you leave home, you must wear a face covering unless you have a lawful reason not to.

I wear two; a particulate filter mask beneath a surgical or cloth mask. I do not know if this is safer. I just know it feels safer.

I leave my home only to drive to the hospital and sit by a bed on the days they allow it.

On the other days, I disinfect the apartment from top to bottom. Again. Just in case. But no-one comes in. And I do not go out. I phone a friend. I pace. I try to shake it out. I cannot sit still long enough to read. I cannot sit still long enough to write.

The adrenaline bath inside my body turns every abnormal event to terror. Is that tickle in my throat because I haven’t drunk enough water, or is it covid? Is that weird, red colour on my toes because I’ve been been sitting on them squished up on the couch, or is it covid? Is that shortness of breath, panic and palpitations anxiety, or is it covid?

I’ve had two covid tests. Both negative. And I’ve not been anywhere except the hospital and the apartment in three and a half weeks. I do not have covid. But I still feel like I should have another test. Again. Perhaps one every day. Just in case. 

My OCD  thoughts and behaviours are out of control. Something I’d once managed has rewired itself in this pandemic, found a new obsession. Gifted me new compulsions. Now, personal safety (my previous OCD focus) and contamination are the same thing. Now, I do not want to leave the haven of the apartment, except for the hospital. Now, I want to disinfect the entire place, again, just in case.

The government keeps reminding us to stay home, soap and sanitise, wear a mask. How do I know where the line is between normal precautions and compulsions? How do I know when I’ve crossed it?

I don’t.

But I am learning to just be as I am, by grace and devotion to let go, to just let it be.