Pandemic Lockdown Day 14: 8 April 2020

I had a fitful sleep again last night, but I managed to force myself to sleep in this morning. Why? It was my birthday.

Still, I woke up in a very dark mood.

Sleep, it appears, did not help me to shake that black dog from yesterday.

My husband cooked me French toast for my birthday breakfast. It was made from bread he’d made in our bread maker, so it was absolutely divine. The interior of the bread was nice and fluffy and melted in my mouth. It did make the day a little more palatable.

Late yesterday, I couldn’t remember how old I was turning. For the longest while before this birthday, I referred to myself internally as my age this birthday, so for a little while, I thought I was a year older than I really was. Silly me.

I admitted to my husband that I was struggling very much mental health-wise. I think he meant today but this has been going on for weeks now. It was sunny and somewhat warm outside, so he convinced me we needed to go for a nice long walk in the fresh air to help me.

And so we went. It helped a little bit. My anxiety-ridden mind mulled over a zillion things I still had to do, how it felt like only a few of us at The Place Where I Work seemed to be doing a bit of work, and fretting over how much I still had to do before the long Easter holiday weekend kicked in — who the fuck am I kidding? I’ll be working all weekend yet again — to get the school ready for online learning.

In the midst of this anxiety-fest during our walk, my husband’s phone buzzed. My brother Brian. They were calling on FaceTime and I wasn’t picking up? Was I awake? I checked my phone: nothing. My husband texted back to give me 45 minutes. We were in the reserve and didn’t know how long it would take us to get out and get home again.

On the way home, it dawned on me that it was 25 years since my 21st birthday. No one had said anything to me in the lead-up to my 21st birthday, so I assumed no one cared, and I went home to Chicago from DeKalb where I was at university. I spent my 21st birthday at Chilis with my parents, brothers, and grandparents on my Mom’s side. I got a margarita mixer and had a few (very strong) margaritas, which were nice. My brother Brian had to drive him and me home in our car because I was very much too tipsy to drive home.

Back in DeKalb after the weekend had passed, I was told off. The Man I Once Loved made a little song and dance about me coming over, so he picked me and some friends up, and we drove over to his place. In the driveway, I could see someone holding a cake with candles on it, so I knew what was going on. My friends had gathered to throw me a birthday party, and it was wonderful. I remember a really lovely non-American woman we knew (who I later found out tried to maneuvre him into marrying her so she could live in the States) seeing how I felt about him during the party and saying to me, very kindly, I should get up and dance with him. She said she saw how he looked at me too, and I shouldn’t let the opportunity go by. I slunk back into my chair and didn’t dance with him. It struck me as very poignant what other people could see what I actually felt and thought he felt in return. Anyway… this was all 25 years ago now.

(I did drag him to the Department of Motor Vehicles in DeKalb so I could get my full license. The one I could go to the liquor store with and buy booze legally. I do remember that trip came soon thereafter and we managed to have an argument about bourbon being a type of whiskey in one of the aisles, and me threatening to tell the person on duty he was under 21 and shouldn’t be in a liquor store. So the arguing stopped quickly. But I still bought a bottle of bourbon anyway.)

Back to the present: once home after the walk, I managed to clean up and spend a bit of time in front of a fan next to my computer before my family FaceTimed. It was a lovely birthday call from all my immediate family. I admit, my brother Jeremy was hilariously funny in entertaining us with some random song he invented about chocolate chips. That segued into a conversation on whether my parents determined where the bees in their house were coming from. It ended up they were from some wood from their wood pile, they thought. Dad talked about how Jeremy had brought that wood over to their house, wrapped in plastic. Jeremy didn’t remember doing this. So a lot of hilarity ensued about taking the absolute piss out of Jeremy about anything related to bees and wood at any of our houses. Bless him, he took it in his stride, and it made the conversation somewhat funny at times.

A storm was hitting Chicago when we were talking. Towards the end, I could hear the thunder and sometimes see the lightning flash on the screen.

The blueness gripped me again. After a while, when it seemed like we had nothing more to talk about because, well, what the hell did I have to do during a pandemic on my birthday, we went our separate ways. First, Jeremy and his partner Annie said good-bye. Then, my brother Brian and my sister-in-law Darcie signed off. It left me with my parents. I spoke with them for a little bit, and I think they saw how much I missed them. I said good-bye and told them to stay safe and that I loved them. And then we signed off at the same time.

I cried.

I don’t know when I will see them in the flesh again. This is all through no fault of our own. Had the Trump administration taken this threat more seriously, we wouldn’t be in this dire situation. I am still very angry about that, and towards the people who voted that idiot in. Had Hillary won, the USA would be in a far better space now.

We received promising news here today. Scientists and data analysts have said if the cases hit around 50 today, it would signal a significant chance we were turning a corner. We had 54 COVID-19 cases today, about half of which were confirmed and the other half probable. Over 4,000 people were tested yesterday alone. Almost all of the cases today, from what I understand, are from two clusters in Auckland, so it means that perhaps this is somewhat under control. Our authorities seem to think we’re rounding a bend.

There have been calls to quarantine all incoming people from overseas from now on until a vaccine is created and widely distributed in New Zealand, and I have to strongly agree. If we nip COVID-19 in the bud and manage to keep ourselves free after such sacrifice, then we need to make sure it doesn’t flare up again. All that sacrifice needs to be for something.

Now, there are rumblings of how emerging from level 4 — the highest threat level, the lockdown we are in now — might look like. I hope it is easy and we can do it without a problem.

We also are hearing of Kiwis who are flaunting the rules. Don’t. You can go one Easter without going to your holiday home. Seriously. The fate of the nation is in your actions. You can go next Easter when things are better. For fuck’s sake, stay home. Keep the momentum of non-transmission going. If you can’t, I seriously hope the Police catch you and give you a massive fucking fine, or even better, jail time. If you have no will power and get caught, you really deserve it.

I bought an apple pie weeks ago, before this all flared up but when I could see where it was going, to celebrate my birthday with. I didn’t feel very well today so we didn’t cook it and eat it. I struggled to even finish my dinner. Another day, I suppose.

Tonight, we watched the 2015 performance of The Rocky Horror Show Live held in the UK for a benefit of some sort. We have seen it before many times, but I love it because it is amazingly good. Way back in 2010, after the September earthquake but before the Boxing Day one, we went with friends to see a live performance of The Rocky Horror Show to benefit Canterbury at the time. Richard O’Brien, the writer and original Riff Raff in the show, played the Narrator in it, and it was amazing. So the show holds an amazingly special place in my heart.

I feel better when I see the Rocky in this production. He’s an English actor named Dominic Andersen. He is adorably cute and well put together but there’s something extremely beautiful about him that makes me feel better.

We watched it, and I felt a bit better.

We also watched Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, an animated film around Spider-Man in a universe similar to our own. In face, our Spider-Man gets pulled into this alternate reality. We’ve seen it before a few times, but I honestly think it is one of the best, if not the best, Marvel movies out there to date. That helped improve my mood too.

All in all, not my favorite birthday. It had a lot of difficult moments, but thankfully there were people who were trying to make it better, and I appreciate it.

Please stay safe, everyone. I mean that.