How are you holding up?
Filled with despair, finding it hard to get your head around new restrictions every other day, worried about money?
Concerned that your government is following the Trump model (let the weak die, we must save our economy) and not the Ardern model complete with wage subsidies and lockdown?
After all these years as a pessimist, I've discovered something very strange about myself: inside my pessimist is an optimist longing to get out. So here she is - my secret self has devised a list of things to do to make sure my family and yours get to the other side.
They are loosely gathered around politics, religion, sex, money, culture and health - although my interpretations of those things may not be quite the same as yours.
Any minute I fear that Scott Morrison will emulate Trump and invite people to go to church on Easter Sunday and sip from the cup of COVID-19 together. That's politics for you - bending to the will of the financially powerful. We can do better than that though. We can choose a government that will put merit above mates, and think about the health and welfare of its citizens. I have no idea whether a Labor government would be any better, but it must be possible.
In the meantime, we have our families, our close connection of community. Some of us have religion.
My particular street is populated by atheists who mostly nod their heads, wave and admire gardens. But it turns out that in an emergency, the community-editable spreadsheet emerges with everyone's contact details and hot news about which of our local shops is still doing home deliveries.
I now know more about the interests of some of my neighbours than I have in nearly 30 years and am impressed with the breadth of knowledge of our local bakers. The actual churches are doing streaming, but I haven't heard any hymns broadcast from backyards.
As for immediate family, I've tried to cram as many of them into one house as possible, some slightly against their will, others more accepting of free unending hot cross buns.
There is another casualty of coronavirus, and that's sex. Now is a good time to love the one you're with, as Stephen Stills sang in 1970. Connecting in that close, physical way will be a lot harder for the Tinder generation, because we still don't get corona test results as quickly as we get the results for sexually transmitted infections. Bound to improve.
Ever the altruists, the folks who run Pornhub have donated 50,000 masks to New York City's first responders. They have also made its premium content free for the next month of the coronavirus pandemic. Not sex in any way, shape or form, but it might have to do in the meantime.
I guess we can also rely on phone and Zoom sex if necessary. The intermittent connection on Zoom may make simultaneous orgasm difficult.
And while it's possible to live without sex for a few weeks (fingers crossed for those who are experiencing enforced celibacy at this time that it's only a few weeks), it's not possible to live without money. For most of us, it's money that keeps us all awake at night for one reason or another.
I've spent a lot of the last week trying to get my head around what the various schemes are offering and have never felt more grateful to reporters trying to make simple what government departments are offering. And good on the employers who write to their employees and say "we understand that working from home might have its challenges, we understand and support you".
Special shoutout to the Australian National University, which sent this message to employees: "If you can work at least 25 hours a week (pro-rata for part-time staff), this will be deemed a full working week for pay purposes."
Now, my outer pessimist was disbelieving that the banks could really do anything useful - or if they did, I thought it wouldn't be rolled out well.
Turns out I was so wrong.
I'm very happy to hear that those with mortgages who've lost their income as a result of the coronavirus upheaval are getting good responses from their banks, and some institutions are offering deferrals of six months (banks aren't charities, so the interest gets capitalised but should only push up the new payments by a little after this shitstorm is over). I have only heard positive stories where customers have called banks and the whole transaction has taken about five minutes.
Let's hope everyone's getting that same experience. Please praise your banks if they've been decent and expose the terrible ones - the narks, the laggards.
Seize the culture. We can't see live music or go to films or the theatre. We can't even go to libraries. I'm a weirdo who loves to visit art galleries on the weekend and my inbox is filled with COVID-19 notifications saying "sorry, we're closed". A quick scan of my shelves reveals books I bought and never read. Also, thank god for the ABC's iView. Buy tickets for stuff in late July (too soon?). Donate if you still have paid employment.
Finally, protect your health. You are all old enough and lovely enough to understand physical distance, to sneeze and cough into your elbows, to stay at home where possible, to wash, wash, wash your hands. I've taken to walking in the very early hours of the day to avoid crowded parks and footpaths or people who might stop and talk to me.
I know this will all be over soon. I hope my inner optimist survives. I hope we all do.
- Jenna Price is an academic at the University of Technology Sydney and a regular columnist.
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