The Virus Chronicles – My Sister’s Birthday

As COVID Restrictions Roll On, I Wonder How Many More Birthdays We Will Spend in Lockdown.

October 21st, 2020

Today is my sister’s birthday, the fourth in our family since the lockdown. I spoke to her the other night and tried to come up with a plan to meet her halfway. We have both moved house during lockdown and haven’t seen each other’s new places.

We have always lived relatively close to each other but now we are in unfamiliar neighbourhoods and live further away. She has moved from the suburbs to a regional area and I have moved closer to the city for work.

We scoured google maps trying to find a halfway point within the 25km limit between our two homes. Somewhere we could get a takeaway coffee and go for a walk. But when we did the maths, 25kms didn’t cover the distance between us. My sister suggested meeting near her workplace, as she had a travel permit to go there. But on a weekend, the only time available to us, her reason for being at her workplace would be questionable and not worth the fine. We decided to wait another couple of weeks to see.

My mother’s birthday was in April. I delivered her present to her door and wished her a happy birthday from the front lawn. We were still new to restrictions and she couldn’t understand why I didn’t just come inside.

“But families are allowed to see each other.” She said.

I explained that was only if they lived in the same household, but not to worry. The restrictions wouldn’t be for long and we’d soon go back to normal.

With my other sister’s birthday in July, restrictions eased, and we planned a family get together. But right before her birthday was due, the second wave of lockdown started and we had to cancel our plans only days before.

Fortunately, some of the shops were still open and I was able to buy a present and send it to her. I browsed the local bookstore and found something I thought she would like and took it straight to the post office. With mail delivery slow and only days before her birthday, I bought an express post envelope and scrawled across it in thick black texta that I couldn’t be with my sister on her birthday and to please deliver the parcel on time.

On the day of her birthday, the postie turned up at my sister’s house. Smiling broadly, he held up her birthday parcel. We joked that my emotional blackmail had worked.

My son’s birthday in August was a bust. Only days before, he and I had just moved out of our home following the break-up of my marriage, and into a two-bedroom unit. With shops and restaurants all closed, I sent some cash to his bank account and we ordered uber eats. Sitting amongst the unpacked boxes, we ate on the couch. It was a far cry from his 21st last year, when our then in-tact family enjoyed a sumptuous Chinese banquet before he went out clubbing with his friends.

With the latest birthday in our family approaching and restrictions due to ease, I hold off mailing my sister a present in the hopes I can give it to her in person. Hopefully, the shops will be open and I can get her something she likes. But the announcement comes only days before her birthday that the lockdown will remain in place, so I must make do with emailing her a gift voucher.

I place the order with an eco-friendly company and hope that it would make it to my sister’s inbox in time.

As I send it off, I wonder what my birthday in January will bring.

Posted by naomilisashippen in The Virus Chronicles, 1 comment

The Virus Chronicles – Life in the City

Peak Hour Melbourne is not What it Used to Be.

I always get a spot at the station car park and I always get a seat on the train. There are usually about four people in the carriage, two at either end, and a couple in the middle, so we all sit far apart.

The trains run so frequently I never bother with the timetable and I usually get an express. It amazes me that they’re all still running, considering how few passengers there are.

When I reach the city, I stop and get a coffee and I can take my pick of vendors. There’s a little coffee shop across from Parliament Station and a handful in Madame Brussels Lane. Today, I get a long black from the one across the station to take with me to work.

I’ve come in early and I would have liked to sit down inside the café and have it bought to me in a china cup by a friendly barista. I would have liked to find a quiet nook amongst the bump and jostle of people in woollen business suits and good-natured but harried floor staff. I would have liked to create that little oasis between myself and the working day. Just like I used to before COVID hit.

But of course, the inside of the café’s closed, so all I can do is peer through the window. I haven’t dressed warmly enough, so I draw my cardigan around me and hunch against the cold.

The girl in the patterned mask calls to me from behind her bullet-proof glass. She’s just like the tellers in the bank next door, but of course, the bank is closed.

The coffee in its cardboard cup is almost too hot to hold, and I pass it from one hand to another. I stand and wait for the lights to change, without having to press the button. The lights now change automatically, and crews of cleaners patrol the streets, constantly sanitizing anything that people are likely to touch.

I watch several busses pass through the intersection but there are hardly any cars. My son tells me I should drive in, but it doesn’t seem worth the effort. Parking is still expensive and my aversion to traffic has always kept me out of the city. I wouldn’t know the way.

I cross the road and walk through the expansive marble entrance to my building. I wave to the security guard as I do every morning and then again every night. I think it’s the same man every time, but with the mask on, it’s hard to tell.

At lunchtime, I escape from the office and hurry down the stairs to Madame Brussels Lane. The long, grey arcade is a wind tunnel today, and rather than find a spot outside, I almost think about heading back to the office and the shelter of the lunchroom.

There are a handful of eateries that remain open and I’ve done the rounds of all of them.  There is Greek, Asian and standard Aussie fare but after a month of takeaway lunches, it has taken a toll on my waistline and wallet.

As I hurry through the lane, I curse the combined locksmith and drycleaner for being closed. I really need a new key cut and my overcoat needs dry cleaning. I wore it on public transport all winter and I’m worried about the germs.

Avoiding the temptation of the cafes, I take my homemade sandwich and find a place to sit in the historic Little Lon precinct. I walk past the cordoned-off outdoor tables, the mock outhouse and the display of domestic artefacts where a little plaque informs me that women in the olden days became either sex-workers or domestic drudges.

I take a seat in the little native gardens near the blown-up black and white photos of women from colonial times. It’s 1.47pm and I’m the only one in sight.

When my husband ended our marriage a few months ago, I had to move fast. With only a few months before he stopped paying the rent, I had to find a job and a cheaper place to live. I am thankful to have found both.

With a tiring daily commute and a busy office job, I never have trouble sleeping at night. I hear reports on the news and friends telling me how lockdown life is seriously affecting their ability to sleep. Despite being envious of those who work from home, I am grateful to have missed the endless ground hog day of what the new normal has become.

With spring in the air, and COVID numbers falling, there is talk of restrictions ending earlier than expected. There is talk of streets being closed down to allow outdoor dining and some return to normal life just in time for the Grand Final, the Spring Carnival and Christmas.

I hope that all going well, that is going to happen.

I hope that we will soon get together in the city for brunch, lunch and a long-awaited drink.

Posted by naomilisashippen in The Virus Chronicles, 0 comments

Goodreads Book Review – The Artist’s Way

Claim the Right to Creativity in Your Life

I completed this 12-week program during the COVID pandemic. Through seismic changes, both personal and in the world at large, I ended this journey in a very different place to the one where I began. I learned a lot from the morning pages and the artist’s dates. Some of the exercises were fun, even if they were a little silly.

The trick for me has been to balance my scepticism with my creativity, something that Cameron discusses often in the book. Like many creatives, I am inclined to feel guilty about spending time and energy on my frivolous creative pursuits and that I should concentrate on the real responsibilities of life. Cameron acknowledges this struggle and urges us to find a way to balance both. This is easier said than done. Sometimes you make it, sometimes you don’t. That’s ok, as long as you forgive yourself, get back on the horse and keep going.

If you would like to see how I fared on my creative journey through The Artist’s Way, take a look at my blog by following the link on my bio.

I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to take control of their creative life, whether starting out, or trying to find a better to manage their creative interests together with other responsibilities. I wish you all the best on your creative journey.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/615570.The_Artist_s_Way

Posted by naomilisashippen in Goodreads Book Reviews, 0 comments
The Artist’s Way – Week 12: Recovering a Sense of Faith

The Artist’s Way – Week 12: Recovering a Sense of Faith

The Artist’s Way is a 12-week program designed by writer/director, Julia Cameron, to help develop creativity. The program is for creatives of all types, and has weekly exercises based on free writing, affirmations and regular excursions. Come with me as I take this 12-week course and see what I discover along the way.

Posted by naomilisashippen in The Artist's Way, 0 comments

The Artist’s Way – Week 11: Recovering a Sense of Autonomy

The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self
The Artist’s Way is a 12-week program designed by writer/director, Julia Cameron, to help develop creativity. The program is for creatives of all types, and has weekly exercises based on free writing, affirmations and regular excursions. Come with me as I take this 12-week course and see what I discover along the way.

Posted by naomilisashippen in The Artist's Way, 2 comments
The Artist’s Way – Week 10: Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection

The Artist’s Way – Week 10: Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection

The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self
The Artist’s Way is a 12-week program designed by writer/director, Julia Cameron, to help develop creativity. The program is for creatives of all types, and has weekly exercises based on free writing, affirmations and regular excursions. Come with me as I take this 12-week course and see what I discover along the way.

Posted by naomilisashippen in The Artist's Way, 1 comment

The Artist’s Way – Week 10: Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection

The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self
The Artist’s Way is a 12-week program designed by writer/director, Julia Cameron, to help develop creativity. The program is for creatives of all types, and has weekly exercises based on free writing, affirmations and regular excursions. Come with me as I take this 12-week course and see what I discover along the way.

Posted by naomilisashippen in Life in the Time of Corona - Short Story Anthology, 0 comments

Life in the Time of Corona – Short Story Anthology

I am Thrilled to be a Part of this Wonderful Anthology by Mana Press, available on Amazon.

Amazon Aus: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B08BZCFHN9?fbclid=IwAR1STn0n1bAWr0LBgPZ-xgFdg6uwxA2mPHPHOMh9A1NmwVLwiyVxnAesdrU

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BZCFHN9?fbclid=IwAR2Hbrgrkr4bQZEM9oRK7doYs3vBtDi9NhF0mjwDTcFdIsNLlpHsDiQrh5A

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08BZCFHN9?fbclid=IwAR1CJBgOZn9Qz5KKULkIX7j8ClDOhj1n4LSJy9a8BOaIr7vXINPlGKAloPk

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/life-in-the-time-of-corona-aramiha-harwood/1137265753?ean=2940162956235&fbclid=IwAR0ieoJTY3KzBGAH6Cc2Vl6lh_B_RScNzwDmW6559ABmggmlU8Rfk7Zaqvs

Posted by naomilisashippen in Life in the Time of Corona - Short Story Anthology, 0 comments
The Artist’s Way: Week 9 – Recovering a Sense of Compassion

The Artist’s Way: Week 9 – Recovering a Sense of Compassion

The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self The Artist’s Way is a 12-week program designed by writer/director, Julia Cameron, to help develop creativity. The program is for creatives of all types, and has weekly exercises based on free writing, affirmations and regular excursions. Come with me as I take this 12-week course and see what I discover along the way.

Posted by naomilisashippen in The Artist's Way, 2 comments

The Artist’s Way: Week 9 – Recovering a Sense of Compassion

The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self
The Artist’s Way is a 12-week program designed by writer/director, Julia Cameron, to help develop creativity. The program is for creatives of all types, and has weekly exercises based on free writing, affirmations and regular excursions. Come with me as I take this 12-week course and see what I discover along the way.

Posted by naomilisashippen in The Artist's Way, 0 comments
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