Tonight, it will be announced there are 2 million cases worldwide, On April 3rd only 12 days ago there were a million cases. 850,000 of the cases are in the US. Trump is having tantrums at reporters and playing pro-Trump propaganda. He's saying he acted before anyone thought he should which is a rewriting of history because he denied it was real, denied its seriousness. I tried to find the propaganda video but some sites wouldn't share it because they were so disgusted. He is saying the president of the United States csn fo whatever the president of the United States wants. I just saw a headline which said Covid19 relief cheques will have Trump's signature on them.
We had writing group tonight, I haven't written a poem for a long time. There were three poems all with a dangerous melancholy. I'm not so jittery now, but they are jittery times. Our new cases in New Zealand gave hovered around 20 per day for the last 3 days. The Newshub site though showed there were far more tests today so in fact the percent of positive results was going down.
The four weeks of our total lockdown are due to end in a week, on Wednesday. On Monday Ardern will announce if we are staying in Level 4 lockdown or moving to Level 3. They are announcing over the next day what Level 3 will mean. I don't think schools will go back. Today was officially start of term 2, Alex has done most of the work for this week already. Maggie is learning about pre-Treaty Pākehā-Māori contact.
I have been taking photos of 50 things, I want to take 50 photos of 50 things before I turn 50. C. has been giving me tips.
I talk to friends overseas, little pits of being stuck, glimpses of despair and vulnerability, where income is fragile or broken and when that goes, choices go. I think of how this is happening everywhere at the moment, millions of stories, things broken, things taut.
Usually during lockdown, I have been walking. This afternoon I went for a bike ride along a popular flat bike track I came back jittery and anxious and worried. I am not usually like this. I felt suspicious and nervous of everyone. First I passed 3 lovely seeming young men coming the other way on bikes, one of them with a bunch of dahlias sticking out of his backpack. But I guessed they were not in the same bubble, I figured they weren't from our village, I suspected they were going to an illicit driveway gathering in our village. Everyone who overtook me felt too close to me. I read an article about riding in other people's slipstreams and the way the virus stays in the air. I gave people a lot of space but still them and their glorious children came close, rearing up at narrow parts of the pathway or one-way bridges. I could be unknowingly infected, they could be. People did not adequately wait. There was very little adequate waitage. They were practically jostling. They can not measure or they do not care. One father and his young son did not go into single file when we passed. While putting his son in peril he beamed at me saying Hi! Hi, I said, stiffly, unsmiling, and biked on frightened as i heard him muttering to his child, aghast and angry at my rudeness.
Some things that happened today
Test numbers in New Zealand are going up but new cases flattening or going down. On Thursday the 2nd of April there was a record high of 89 new cases, on Friday there were 71, on Saturday 82, on Sunday 89 again, yesterday 67 and today 54,, also in the last 24 hours 65 people recovered. So for the first day overall numbers went down. It could flare up again, but officials are looking hopeful.
Last week, David Clark, our Minister of Health, was spotted driving to a mountain bike trail (which is not recommended in lock down). Yesterday he admitted to driving his family 20 kilometres from their house to Doctor's Point for a beach walk and offered Jacinda Ardern his resignation. Ardern demoted him, making him the lowest ranked Cabinet officer, but said it would be too disruptive to sack him. At the press briefing today the journalists asked most of their questions about that. Ardern got increasingly tight lippped. He made a mistake and he is paying for that mistake. Over and over she said it.
Until today the media briefings have been 1.00 pm, Ashley Bloomfield, Director General of Health - he has become a weird cult figure with people admitting crushes on him. He's very straight looking with large glasses and careful hair. And then later on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Today they combined for the first time. I have been watching the media briefings avidly, they're live video streamed on RNZ. Perhaps I'll remember that, the video stream starting with the podiums empty as the news is read, then the officials coming in, the way the sign language interpreters' faces move as they sign the speech. Looking at how fluid the language, as English is, evolving to absorb new words and concepts, ideas are changing all the time. I think I know commissioner, and protect, and Level 4. I must see if I can figure out the sign for Covid-19.
When I'd known KT for a while she admitted that it greatly amused her that I had, now she knew me, actually quite longish arms. For some reason when she and someone else had heard of me but did not know me they developed the habit of referring to me as The woman with the freakishly long arms or possibly Maria, with the freakishly long arms with absolutely no knowledge of the length of either me or my arms.
KT has known my partner and his twin brother for a long time. Maybe about 678 years. Joe once said of KT that she used to take quite low stake amusing things incredibly seriously and get quite worried about them and then when she moved to the Burmese border and supported the Burmese student guerrillas she wrote letters home as if it were a jolly girl guide caper (in no way diminishing her commitment to it all).
One of my earliest memories of KT is that I met her when she had been reading a lot about social etiquette and knew exactly who to introduce to whom based on status. She described it to me. Dame Such and such, may I introduce Lady so and so. I am sure you will have a lot to talk about as you both do exquisite fondue art of grizzly scenes from classical literature, etc etc.** She was all set for meeting the queen.
At one of the early anarchafem conferences she was one of the people who had a variation on the name Kate. Everyone there except me had tattoos or were called a variation of Kate.***.
When my 2nd and 3rd books came out KT knitted me fingerless gloves and arm warmers that had the covers of my books on them. She also knitted me a green steering wheel cover for my little green fiat. She knitted the words Smash the phallocentric hierarchy into it. She has knitted during every meeting I have ever been in with her, usually without a pattern, and always listening attentively and commenting astutely.
KT is on an extended visit from Burma where she is now based. Just after Christmas we played tennis. She wore barefeet and a shimmery silver frock that she found somewhere a month or so earlier and has worn continuously ever since saying. well when you have a dress this good why would you wear anything else? She was not bad at hitting the ball and she was very interested in meticulously adhering to the rules. I taught her to gleefully yell out van in and van out because I knew it would amuse her in the same way it did me.
She's in lockdown with Joe's brother and flatmates up the road. As our mutual friend T. and I discussed. KT's just the person you want around in a lockdown. She offered to shop for us in week one and off she went.. Later that day we received this:
Then she sourced some beans we wanted and we received this:
Since being here on her trip, originally planned for 3 months she saw a piano accordion in an op shop and decided it would be handy. As you do. So she bought it. And then on request came and participated in my coronasafe evening entertainment for a friend's 50th (whom she didn't know) on his lawn down the other end of the road. She played happy birthday and we sang. We did it the next night as well for another friend's birthday. She worried about the amateurish of her accordion playing but was just generally enthusiastic about the idea.
Today Joe's brother shopped for us and there was this:
...which transpired not only to tell us where the groceries were but also KT's most secret long held desire.
(I want my puzzle to feature in Maria's blog. It is my most likely chance at fame)**** .
*I have probably misremembered everything in here but it's my blog so my memory
**Probably actually the wrong way around
***This is like almost certainly quite close to the actual truth
****KT has a misunderstanding of how famous my blog is. But thank you loyal readership (Hi Mary). KT I'd like you to introduce you to my readership, readership I'd like you to meet KT. You will have an awful lot to talk about as one of you has just read about KT and the other one is KT so you definitely have KT in common.
I've gone back to reading Emily St. John Mandel's book Station 11, objectively a terrible idea. There, a much worse pandemic sweeps the world and kills almost everyone within 24 hours of being infected. Society degenerates to pockets of violent isolated groups, cults, abuse, no infrastructure, no power, no running water or shops. The book switches between a telling of the story before the collapse, the collapse itself, and the story of a Shakespearean theatre group and orchestra that travel around the wary but sometimes more peaceful towns of 20 years post-collapse. Chapter 6 of the book is a heart aching lament of all that has been lost. it's the kind of apocalyptic book that makes you feel generous and very fond of our type of civilisation, which have a definite grace despite all its flaws.
"No more diving into pools of chlorinated water lit green from below. No more ball games played out under floodlights. No more porch lights with moths fluttering on summer nights. No more trains running under the surface of cities on the dazzling power of the electric third rail. No more cities. No more films, except rarely, except with the generator drowning out half the dialogue, and only then for the first little while until the fuel for the generators ran out, because automobile gas goes stale after two or three years. Aviation gas lasts longer but it was difficult to come by."
"No more flight. No more towns glimpsed from the sky through airplane windows, points of glimmering light, no more looking down from thirty thousand feet and imagining the lives lit up by those lights at that moment. No more airplanes, no more requests to put your tray table in its upright and locked position..."
When I have nightmares, it's often not that a horrible thing is happening, but I am filled with a horrible knowledge of what is coming. It's not a Station 11 level virus, but I am waking some mornings, bewildered. Because I expect to wake from being in a world with a pandemic. The Director of WHO expects the known cases globally will reach a million in the next few days. I talk to my friend M, one of the best people I've met. She works with homeless adults and unaccompanied migrant minors in Washington State, some of the foster parents are getting sick now, the homeless shelters are more frightening and stressful.
The publisher of the NZ Listener, North and South, Women's Weekly and a bunch of other biggish NZ magazines announced they were closing today. All the staff have lost their jobs. Lots of the printing industry in Auckland are based around those publications. There will be some sad and stressed people around this country tonight as well. People frightened about security. The overseas company Bauer is laying the blame at the feet of the virus but they accepted no offer of support from the government and some believe it was opportunistic, in their plans all along. We're probably small fry to their international markets.
There were the most new cases in a day today. Over 700 cases now. My numbers seem to be 1 or 2 out but I think it must be as probable cases become confirmed or possible. I added a new graph for the new cases as my eye is on this now too. Even though loads of others are doing this kind of line graph now, that I couldn't find in the early early days, it satisfies a part of me, to enter the numbers and build the graphs myself.
Today, mist was all around us. I heard reports from the beach that people could not see each other until quite close when they would emerge suddenly rearing out of the haziness. I walked in the hills and looked out across a different sort of place.
Today was my friend A's 50th birthday. There is no time in my life when I have not known A, our parents were friends, our big sisters were friends, we grew up on other sides of the same hill, we went to the same schools. We had decades of our lives when we didn't see each other, though he visited me and another school friend in London once, that was, when I think about it, literally half a life time ago. He took photos of us, I think with small plastic dinosaurs. Now he lives four blocks from me, down the same road. I painted a happy birthday banner on an old flowery sheet tacked the sheet to two poles., and did a cheesy kind of installation of the number "50" in battery fairy lights and surrounded by a wreath of plastic flowers. My friend KT has bought a 2nd hand piano accordion and is learning to play it so I enlisted her help. Our family and KT, a good 5 metres distant from us, serenaded locked down A. He was video chatting to other friends at the time and so they were part of it too. KT did an impressive version of happy birthday and we left a bunch of autumn flowers, the jar acting as a vase carefully disinfected if they choose to take it inside, then we walked briskly away, KT on the footpath opposite us waving a distant gooodbye. Effficient, covid-safe.
New Zealand's total of Coronavirus (including those recovered) is of today 647. It climbs but not exponentially. Ashley Bloomfield, the Director General of Health gives daily updates which are streamed live on RNZ. I watch them each day. He says he expects the numbers to rise for 10-14 days, and, if everyone sticks to the lockdown to start going down after that.
I like the story that we are an island state and acted earlier than other countries and we could actually eliminate it here, and hunker down, hold out until there is a vaccine. I like that story better than the others.
New Zealand has been under a state of emergency for seven days. It gives the government unprecedented powers, or perhaps it gives the special COVID committee unprecedented powers as Parliament is suspended. The state of emergency is I guess essentially undemocratic and is therefore reviewed every 7 days to ensure its still necessary. It was reviewed and extended today but that was misinterpreted by some, including some media, to mean our lockdown period (currently at 4 weeks) was extended by 7 days. Rumour spreads like fire on the internet. In New Zealand rumour spreads faster than Coronavirus. Someone asked on social media today about whether it was true you should wash your fruit in methylated spirits.
I'm loving the re-visioning by some Māori of the lockdown as the rāhui. It's all over social media now. From maoridictionary.co.nz rāhui is "to put in place a temporary ritual prohibition, closed season, ban, reserve". I had only heard it before in relation to fishing or shellfish harvesting, stopping the harvest to give time for the babies to get bigger. People are talking about the layers of protection wrapped in the word's meaning. A collective decision to take time out to get things back in balance. The things we pause to allow us to pick up and continue later.
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