New Zealand shifted levels again at 6 AM on Sunday, 28 February 2021, right on the edge of autumn: Auckland back to level 3 and the rest of the country back to level 2. This time, some 21 year old who felt the rules didn’t apply to him — and later, we found out his mother and a few others in this latest COVID-19 cluster didn’t think they applied to them either — caused the shift. His symptoms developed Tuesday, 23 February 2021 when he was meant to be isolating with the rest of his family; instead, he decided to keep going on with his social life, including going to his new course in a polytech building with a train station in the basement and the reportedly largest public transport hub in New Zealand in the same complex.
It doesn’t end there, dear readers.
On Friday, 26 February 2021, he decided to go to his doctor’s to get a COVID-19 test, perhaps due to his symptoms. They told him, as they tell everyone after the test, to go immediately home and isolate until the test results come back negative. In short, assume you are positive and don’t do anything to potentially spread the virus.
He went to gym instead.
So the entire country has had to shift levels because a few selfish people (to be as nice as possible, or reckless people if we want to be a little meaner) couldn’t be bothered to follow the messages and procedures we have been hearing about for a year now. This is costing the economy millions of dollars and could be the final lockdown that causes some Auckland businesses to fail and more importantly, people to lose their jobs.
One of the national newspapers ran the article that young people found it “too difficult” to understand the messaging behind what to do with COVID-19. Read: we all did poorly at comprehension at school because a whole myriad of reasons, so you have to make it short and simple so we can understand it and not get bored on the fourth word in. God forbid if these same people ever have to read extensive and complex information. We’re all fucking doomed if that becomes the case. Little Suzie got too bored in the opening paragraph to read it all, so the pandemic has run rampant over the country, killing tens of thousands, but at least Little Suzie wasn’t bored!
As famous broadcaster Hilary Barry tweeted, “COVID kills. Stay home, save lives. Confused about that messaging?“
There is a person who has been coming into The Place Where I Work for treatments who looks awfully a lot like a courier driver we once had visiting the school. I haven’t really had the chance or time to say something to them about possibly being the same person. Something about the person looks different, so I wasn’t sure.
The courier had the same (uncommonish) surname as one of my NIU professors, so that always stuck out in my head. (Couriers in New Zealand generally have their name on the outside of their courier van.) And this courier was the one who managed to pull up to the school, run past all the security detail, and deliver a package to my colleagues Catherine and Jacqui who were standing in reception, waiting for the then-Prime Minister John Key. This courier turned around and nearly ran right into the Prime Minister, who could only think to say, “Do you want me to sign for that package?”
A friend of a friend Glen caught it all on camera, and we have the photos (as Glen took all the photos on the day) still on our server, but, again, I never caught back up with the courier before he left the company to see if he wanted a copy.
This courier was always moderately masculine, had short, spiky hair, and a five-o-clock shadow most days. His body was always very fit — I’d call it a body most guys would strive to get — and he was quite good-looking.
Back to the present: the person who looked like the courier arrived, and since my colleague Paula was in interviews, I went to reception to help them. They seemed a little unsettled when we were speaking, and that struck me as a little off. Uniting the client with the student, I left them to it and looked at the visitor’s register on reception: first name starting with the same initial on the courier van, same last name as the last name on the courier van. Maybe I was right and they were the same people?
I had finished lunch and had thrown out the waste in the dumpster in front of the school when the student and her client arrived in reception. At first, I wasn’t going to ask, but then as they turned towards me, I asked: “Did you used to be a courier?”
“You used to deliver packages here, right?”
“I thought you looked familiar. You’ve grown your hair out. It looks good.”
The courier-turned-client told me, rather nervously, that they were transitioning.
It all clicked in my head. I do have to admit, it did startle me a little bit, although the signs were there. There was something much softer about their face, and the lack of stubble and growing out their hair also were signs too.
The night before, on a magazine programme on TV One called Sunday, there was an item on transgendered children, including someone who had transitioned to a woman when she was 17 and when she was still in high school. There was a documentary about it, so this was a bit of a follow-up where she was a secondary character in the story.
So I said to them, “Did you see the story on TV last night?” They had seen it, so we spoke a bit about it, but they said they felt bad because it had taken them 40-odd years to figure it all out.
The discussion swirled around this, and how it’s not when you come to terms with your true self and start living authentically but that you come to terms with your true self and start living authentically.
I think they were a little uncomfortable discussing their transition at first, especially with a man, but during a part of the discussion when they were talking about coming out, I came out. I said that as a gay man, I totally understand the coming out part, and it’s an ongoing process.
There was a lot of encouragement and talking about a few different things associated with transitioning and being transgendered. I have to admit, I was anxious about the discussion because it could be a confronting one, right? I felt I dealt with it okay. I do feel I need to work on taking the time to breathe and measure my responses with authentic emotions in the moment.
I guess that anxiety was generated by the fact that I would have never, in a million years, thought they were transitioning.
It goes to show we just never really know the journeys other people are on in life sometimes.
Depression has had me in a tight hold this week. Being so busy with work and my writing course has kept it at bay on and off. I guess that’s the “high functioning” part of “high functioning depression” if we want to delve a bit deeper into it. Either way, this has filled me confusion: I’m pleased the depression hasn’t flipped me into depersonalization; but I’m upset that depression is where I have headed post-depersonalization.
Yesterday, I had a Zoom meeting with NZQA (or a representative thereof) for a qualification consistency review. What that fancy bunch of words means is that NZQA is making sure that our assessments, our moderation, our teaching are producing quality graduates who meet the qualification’s outcomes. It also means that we providers determine the qualification is fit-for-purpose.
Between the change in how we do things at school due to COVID alert levels being higher and the qualification consistency review, I have pushed myself to be as “functional” as I can be.
The qualification consistency review Zoom meeting was fine. The manager of consistency at NZQA put me into a group with one other person and with a wonderful facilitator named Caroline, who was a very warm, outgoing, compassionate person who made the entire process amazingly easy. I know I rip on NZQA a bit, but kudos where kudos are due; they really did a great job in helping me on this one, and I am grateful for it. Yes, I have let them know that as well, because we should praise people when they do good too to balance everything out.
Over the last few nights, I have dreamt about connection. That closeness between people. I’m not talking exclusively about intimate relationships. I’m talking about close friendship, brotherhood, all those other types of connection that brings the color into our lives.
Last night, one dream in particular stood out. The person I’ve named Number 10 in my blogs and his family moved into a new house behind and over one from ours. Somehow, he found out where we lived and invited me over, so I was admiring the rather large house and swimming pool and spacious yard (wondering, “Has this large space always been over the fence?”). I kept saying to him, “Are you sure you live over the fence from us?” and he kept replying, “If you don’t believe me, go home and look over your fence.”
That struck me as kinda odd because I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just look over his fence to see my house.
I was afraid though.
I was afraid I would lose him again if I went away, just like I did last time.
Something woke me up, and I looked at the clock, and it was some insane hour in the morning where I shouldn’t’ve been waking up, but I had. I snuggled back into my pillow and wished I would start dreaming about him again, but it never materialized.
This morning, I woke up, did my morning things, and started on my homework and my chores, the dark dog sitting on my shoulders, nudging my arm with his big snout, barking in the moments where I only wanted silence.
With this black dog following me around the last few weeks, I have found it difficult at times to sit down and write and be inspired to do so. Where the happiness created by the first few lessons of my writing course really spurred me into writing, the darkness around the anniversary of the 22 February 2011 quakes pulled that away from me quickly, and it seems difficult to recover from that at the moment. When I’m like this, my writing feels flatter. I feel flatter.
I know I have a pattern of isolating myself from others because I’m afraid I’ll get hurt. Every word, every glance, every moment together could become a weapon to hurt me. But when I treat everyone and everything like a threat like that, I can never truly connect because I’m pre-judging people. I’m always expecting the negative instead of being open-minded and then potentially enjoying the positive.
I thought about writing Number 10 and telling him about my dream. But another part of me, the critic in my head, told me that it wasn’t worth my while. Maybe he’d only find it amusing at the best and ignore it completely in the middle of that, or find it mildly annoying at the worst. And why did I need to tell him about it? I’m not sure.
So that’s where I am at. I need to work on my depression now too to see how I can navigate my way out of that too.