Oooooof. Alright. Life really got in the way.
It happens, yeah? Of course it does.
But let’s rewind. Work was completely nuts for the last six months of 2019. Family visiting from Australia (as awesome as that was), work, kids, the lot… it’s been a time. Nothing unusual for us, of course, but still… a time!
I’m sorry I’ve neglected the blog. But I also know you’ll understand, dear reader, with – I’m sure – many of your own challenges right now!
But before we get started on life during COVID-19, I wanted to share this: one thing I’ve been mulling over in the last six months is the realisation that some expat-influenced overtones in my writing could be starting to fade. There is, for example, so much I wanted to write about January’s bushfires fires in Australia. It’s weird being an expat in a time of crisis. Of course, the overarching feeling is that you want to be there to help!
And yet, you can’t.
I did what I could. Supporting Australian small businesses and continuing to order things from my home country, something I know would support those in need of the income. I gave what cash I could manage to the CFA (Country Fire Authority), Red Cross, WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) and more.
And now? I’m feeling more a part of the American way of life. And the American way of life, of course, is currently revolving around the impacts of COVID-19.
I have no idea where we’re up to. Day 70 or something? Lockdown, here in the US, continues in all its challenges and glory, pink hair and all.
I mean, we’re now the most impacted country worldwide. So far, at least. That’s in terms of the total number of infections and deaths, and the average number of new cases and new deaths in the last seven days. Any day now we’re expected to hit 100,000 deaths from the disease.
California moved into lockdown pretty quickly, I must admit. And still, in the first few days, I was probably a little bit complacent. Although not complacent, maybe… just… wary.
Is this just an overreaction? I found my subconscious suggesting. Surely this whole thing will just blow over as quickly as it began.
Let’s be honest… I probably wasn’t alone in that sentiment. In those early weeks, there were still a handful of us heading into the office each day. Sure, we were “socially distanced”, but still. We were there. Together. Sanitising our desks, bantering about our predictions of ‘what next’.
Then, it became far from optional to actually be at work. Friends started stockpiling food. Toilet paper-gate became ‘a thing’ back home in Australia. We don’t have an extra fridge, so we did what we could… adding modest additional supplies of dry foods and pantry items, and guarding our existing Who Gives a Crap toilet paper supply with our lives and livelihoods. Nothing too OTT.
The first week that I was at home and not in the office was a complete ‘no deal’ situation. I mean, how is the average (or even non-average, super productive) human expected to homeschool kids, work full-time, and care for non-school age children, all in the one go? And that’s for a couple. What about single parents?
The mind boggles.
I mean, I didn’t even have an office. For two weeks, I worked from the car. Eventually, Cam and I realised this wasn’t sustainable (see: nowhere to charge a laptop in one’s car), so we ordered a desk and got on with it. In short? A home office environment, whatever it looks like, is definitely not something we’re set up for!
What about the fashion situation? I hear you say.
Happy to oblige.
Well, I used to wear nice dresses to work. I used to put some effort in. Matching shoes, brushed hair, the works. And now? No way. It’s active wear all day, every day. And I’m loving it. Not presentable, but absolutely comfortable!
No need to wear makeup either. No need to straighten my hair. It’s frizz-central, yo!
The most interesting new hobby to arise during this time has been exercise. I’m not usually a lover of exercise, honestly. I mean Cam and I do yoga together once a week, but anything other than that is usually a total reach.
But during lockdown? I’ve been LOVING hiking (government-permitted hiking, of course). And I mean LOVING it. I’m frequenting The Stanford Dish (until it closed), the Pearson-Arastradero Preserve… what a time it’s been! I have a newfound love for the outdoors here in California and rather than simply making me fit, it’s also been keeping me sane. Completely important at this point in time (see: homeschooling).
Anyway, zooming back out again.
One thing I’ve been concerned about is the privilege involved in this situation. I mean, yes we’re struggling at home and yes we get annoyed when school asks our kids to arrive prepared for tomorrow’s class (Zoom) with overly specific items that I don’t have lying around like brown paint, marigold seeds and a roll of bubble wrap. But that’s nothing compared to what the rest of America is facing.
The disparity in the US is out of control.
In our reality, I’ve kept my job and Cam’s kept his. We’re managing mild inconvenience: the five of us – sometimes the six of us, if our wonderful nanny is here – in a tiny house, trying to manage a million things at once. But imagine having lost your job… income… not having healthcare available to you.
Or being deemed an essential worker while having no childcare made available to you?
Now that’s inconvenience.
The situation’s pretty clear to me. We’re lucky – I know that. But we’re also resident in a country whose government is really struggling with the rise of a global pandemic.
We’re doing what we can. And there’s more on that to come.
But for now? I think it’s time for that piano lesson, art project, Zoom meeting, and dinner preparation… maybe?
I’ll probably see you sooner than you think.
5 thoughts on “ Lock it Down”
Glad to read this- love your blog posts! You’re living my expat in the USA dream!
Great to hear your news Claire. We realise how lucky we are with home and garden space and enough to live on. Great community spirit has arisen and folks helping each other. Lots of exercise each day and we are lucky with the countryside round about here. So difficult for families stuck in a flat and old people self isolating. Has knocked everyone off their feet. Phase 1 of lockdown release begins in Scotland this week. Meeting outdoors family we havent seen for weeks. Keep safe xx auntie Mag
Thanks Aunty Margaret! I hope you are keeping well and safe, especially as the restrictions ease. Definitely a challenging time for everyone! But I am glad that you have the access to lovely countryside, as we do too. It makes a huge difference xx