So we’re back at school and I’ve had the opportunity to chat to some of our matrics (Grade 12s) about how they feel about the “new normal”. Everyone seems to have taken an emotional knock with the lockdown initially but most seem happy to be back at school – even with masks and changed circumstances. There’s no competitive sport, no cultural events, no matric dance (unless right at the end of the year), no valedictory (except online), no visiting friends at their houses etc. They’ve had a lot of losses but most are managing to focus on the positives (e.g. more time for studying) and focusing on what they can do.
Then in the car driving to work I had to laugh at the guy from Observatory who was complaining about the “warm Sauvignon Blanc” in his fridge which he didn’t know what to do with. Seriously? Yes, we know that the big storm on Monday night took out many power lines and some areas have been without power for days. Observatory man was understandably frustrated and angry at not getting any response from the City. But worrying about his white wine getting warm in Winter when the whole of Langa is without power in the freezing cold?
Perhaps I would feel differently if our own power hadn’t been restored after a very assertive intervention from Mrs Couchtrip. Mrs C and I had markedly differing reactions to the power cut. I took solace in it being like a camping trip with head-torches, boiling water on a gas stove and trying to eke out the power in my cellphone while warming myself around the fire sipping rooibos and apple witblits. (With the alcohol ban now back in place, a small glass of witblits every evening is surprisingly good.) Mrs Couchtrip, however, works at a government hospital and even though she’s not working most of the time in a Covid ward, she has to assume that many of the patients she comes into contact with could be Covid-positive. She also does a shift in admissions once every 3 weeks where all the patients are Covid-positive and being admitted to hospital because of shortness of breath or other serious conditions. Deciding that enough was enough, she managed to get through to the office of our very ineffectual ward councilor and told one of her assistants that she was a frontline worker who was unable to wash the virus off herself in the evening due to the power outage and threatened to go the media to highlight the inefficiency of our elected representatives. The assistant was a bit taken aback at this and said she’d phone the mayor’s office to see what could be done. Within an hour an electrician had apparently flipped the trip switch back on at our local sub-station and we had our power restored. Now it could well be more complicated than that, but I can’t help wondering how many of these outages could be more efficiently dealt with. Certainly it would be helpful to have a few people on the switchboard to assure residents that their concerns are being heard.
Otherwise here are five other coping strategies I’m using to cope with the new stress and anxiety of the current crisis:
- Preparing “coping with Covid” cards attached to stress balls for the matrics.
- Making a time capsule with photos, articles and other items to remember this crazy year in time to come.
- Listening to podcasts. Two of my favourites are “Pod Save America” and Rebecca Davis’s “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” but I also enjoy “The New Yorker Radio Hour” and I’m sampling some Anxiety podcasts.
- Listening to playlists on Spotify.
- Making Covid-mixes to listen to in the car. The list of possible songs is endless and it’s quite creative.
What are you doing to cope with the “new normal”?