We are now entering the 10th week of lockdown in NSW. The COVID case numbers are going up at a crazy rate and it feels like we’ll be locked down forever! In the week from 21 August to 28 August, cases have steadily climbed and now sit well above 1000. (1218 on 29/8/21) Tomorrow they may be higher or lower, who knows but either way, they’ll be too high.
There was another attempted protest in Sydney last weekend, but it was shut down very quickly by a massive police presence. Did it lead to a spike in numbers? Probably!! I really don’t get the point of the protest? But then I’m in a position of privilege. Lockdown is not so bad for me. I have a job in an essential industry, viz education.
I still have a job, even though my days look very different now that I am working from home. I can “stay-at-home” in my own very comfortable home. I can go to my workplace a couple of times a week and see a few of my colleagues when it’s my turn to be site manager. My daily walk takes me down to the beach, past the soothing Tasman Sea and I have a shopping centre nearby that has everything I need. I like my own company and I cankeep myself busy.
While I’m perplexed and annoyed when I hear about people from south-western Sydney and the LGAs of concern not sticking to the rules, I don’t live their life or have their experience. Perhaps I’m not in a position to judge? I am not living with four or more adults in the one small public housing unit with a leaking roof and dodgy plumbing. I’m not living in a crowded suburb with little green space and no expanse of ocean to calm my nerves. Under those circumstances, I’d want to get out too.
What I can’t understand though are the parties and large gatherings. A few people hanging out on a corner or lingering in the mall while they shop is one thing, but to have a deliberate gathering or attend a protest when we know the Delta Variant has an R-value of more than 1 is mind-bogglingly selfish. It prolongs the lockdown and increases the risk for everyone.
More carrots, less sticks?
We needed a stronger start to this lockdown back in June. With the horse well and truly gone, we need the people of NSW to stick to the rules and get vaccinated. To do this the government may need to offer more carrots and fewer sticks. In 2020, many Australians received a job keeper subsidy from the Federal Government if they lost their jobs due to COVID lockdowns. This payment may well be the soma that many need to feel supported and more inclined to be passive and stay home. It may make the less-than-rosy living conditions in south-western Sydney more unbearable to those who are trapped there.
Back to School?
Return to school plans were published on Friday (27/8/21) and allow for a return to school even if stay at home orders are still in place. While the lockdown is now scheduled to end on September 30th, these return to school plans project out to early November. Does that mean the lockdown will be extended beyond the current date? Most likely. We will be lucky to get out of lockdown by November. Some schools, especially those in regional NSW are likely to return earlier. It will be mandatory for teachers and other staff to be fully vaccinated. That particular announcement has coped a bit of flack!
I think by then I will be well and truly sick of my own company! And I wouldn’t be planning anything much for Christmas except maybe an outdoor picnic!
At least Jimmy Rees is keeping us entertained! Check out his YouTube channel.
Here is my entry for Furious Fiction for August 2021. I have missed a few months with my last entry being way back in May.
The Furious Fiction criteria for August were:
1. The first sentence must contain only 4 words. 2. You must include the words paint, shift, wave and toast (or variations there of) 3. Something must be shared.
Based on a true story!
This story is based on a real life event although in much more benign conditions. In 1987 my ex and I were doing some painting. He had loosened the lid of a full can of paint and then went to do something else. When he returned he picked up the can and shook it vigourously forgetting he had loosened the lid! I walked into the room at the exact moment the paint was whooshing up all over his face and hair.
I grabbed him, and as it says in the story below, held him under the water forcing his eyes open – Silkwood style. Once we got him cleaned up, we started on the room. Once that was clean we went downstairs. We had a beach-comber style house and our car was parked underneath. It was covered in paint! That took another couple of hours to get that clean! A few days later he was still sneezing out blobs of paint. Funny but not funny.
The Furious Fiction Contest is fun, easy and low risk! But you could be $500 richer for your 500 words. Check it out at the Australian Writers Centre.
Story Stats: I started writing about 7 PM on Friday night. I did no more work on it until Sunday morning and spent another hour “polishing” it up and getting it under the word limit. All up about 3 hours. 496 words.
Whatever you want, darling!
“Whatever YOU want Darling”
Stephanie hated it when he said that. She was especially wary when the emphasis was on the YOU and not the Darling. It meant he didn’t like her decision but wouldn’t say so. Whatever you want really meant that the ‘whatever’ came with a whole side of heartache. It really meant “Darling I will remind you at every minute that you got what you wanted”
Exasperated, Stephanie waved her hand toward the deep crimson wall.
“Well, what colour would you prefer Damien?”
“I really don’t care Stephanie, like I said whatever you want”
“Oh for goodness sake, Damien I’m sick and tired of you pretending you don’t care and leaving the decisions to me! Whatever you want darling” she snarled back in a mocking tone “No, it isn’t whatever I want. WHAT DO YOU WANT?”
As she shouted, Stephanie shifted her weight onto her left leg and kicked the full paint can clear across the room. A thick unctuous arc of liquid vinyl followed a millisecond behind the rim of the can and draped itself over Damien’s head like a matador’s cape. The now near-empty can clanged against the wall and the last of its contents oozed onto the carpet.
Damien stood motionless. The paint trickled down his face. His eyes were opaque red pools. His teeth were smeared red and his spittle frothed blood-like at the corners of his mouth. Stephanie gasped and led him to the bathroom. She pushed him under the faucet, holding his eyes open as the warm water sluiced the paint from his eyes.
For the next hour, Stephanie washed him gently but the red paint lingered. It was in his ears and nose. He hacked and spat as it dripped down his throat. Neither of them spoke beyond Stephanie’s guilty clucks.
Now that Damien was clean they went into the loungeroom only to be confronted by paint-splattered carpet.
“Thank god it’s water-based!” Stephanie quipped trying to make light of things. She scraped the thick paint back into the can and poured buckets of water over the carpet. It seemed like a better idea to get the paint off first and worry about drying it later.
Another hour passed and while a pink stain remained it wasn’t too bad.
Damien finally spoke. “I’m hungry, let’s go get a toastie and coffee.”
He grabbed her keys and headed down the stairs. Stephanie followed him into the basement garage, her remorse a heavy layer that slowed her down. Damien stopped abruptly on the bottom step and looked up at the dripping roof. The garage was directly under the painted room. The room that Stephanie poured buckets of water over.
“Stephanie,” he said “did you ever stop to think where all that water was going?”
Her shoulders slumped and she wailed. Stephanie’s black Peugeot was covered in a thin coat of red paint.
Damien smiled. “I’ll share something with you, Stephanie. I don’t like red. I would have preferred blue.”
I’d like to thank those lovely people who reached out to me. They gave me some much needed support and made me think on a few things. (And it wasn’t just family, but thank you Aunty Mary and my editorial team!)
Much of my uneasiness arose from the expectation or even an obligation of having to write every week. It was a goal of my 60 before 60 challenge and with that done I wasn’t sure of how to progress. One writer suggested I just post whenever I wanted to rather than sticking to a rigid schedule. (Thanks Pete!)
And I’ll do that; write when I feel the need. That may be every week, that may be once a month. But I will write. If nothing else has happened over the last four years that this blog has been in existence, is that I have come to realise that I like writing, and I’m getting good at it! More importantly, sometimes I even have something to say that may interest other people.
Another source of discontent is chasing perfect SEO. (Search Engine Optimisation) When I started writing I didn’t worry about it. I didn’t even know what it was. I just wrote. More recently I have been analysing my posts more carefully. Making sure I use the keyword the requisite number of times. Ensuring I have the right ratio of passive vs active voice. All in the hope of pleasing the algorithm and hence improving my ability to be found in random internet searches and increase my reach. This has caused me to write in a less spontaneous way. It has made me use subheadings where I found subheadings intrusive or unnatural. It has made writing less fun.
To remain true to myself and continue to write; I’ll pay less attention to the SEO and if I grow my reach, it with be organically. Much like my quest to grow veggies and have chickens!
Thank you dear readers. More soon.
PS: Next week is a Furious Fiction post, then on with the voyage into intentional living or whatever the hell I feel like! One idea I’m thinking on is longer, more analytical investigative pieces. But then again it might just be fluff about making pickles and jam while in Week 8 of lockdown with potentially another four to go!!! (at least!)
Thanks Ing, your not so random act of kindness was the tonic I needed.