14 Apr Covid-19: Play/Pause
It has been a long time since I tidied up around here – I managed to break my website some time ago so couldn’t update gigs and so forth. But (thanks to @vivster81) it is all functioning again. So no more tumbleweeds rolling through these pages, but also (hilariously and ironically) I now have no gigs to update.
As it is for many people in lots of industries, Covid-19 has meant that pretty much every job I had booked for what was looking like a very busy year has… vanished. Writers’ festivals, comedy festivals, fringe festivals, little trips to places like Dunedin, Wellington, Ashburton, filming the “On The Rag” web series, and guest spots on The Project NZ… All gone. Feel free to nip over to my “Dates” page but it won’t take you long to scroll through what is now mostly a bit of radio, broadcast from the comfort of my bubble at home.
I’ve been a very happy self-employed freelancer for the last 27 years, and I probably sounded a bit smug when I talked about my “portfolio career” – that I had a whole range of clients and revenue streams that ranged from comedy to writing to voice work to corporate events, plus radio and TV, the combination of which offered, in practice, “job security”. What this virus has taught me is that my work wasn’t really that varied – mostly it was me standing in a room filled with people, talking. And we’re not allowed to do that right now. The latest hit to our media industry has also swept away opportunities for freelance writing, so… Yeah, I’m still in my pyjamas. Those leggings I bought at a Farmers sale a couple of years ago on the off-chance they’d ever be back in fashion have really come into their own.
While other people are using Lockdown to get creative and be productive – write that novel, learn a new language, launch a blog, train for a marathon, script a show – I find I’m frozen in survival mode. There is grief (for the way my life used to be) and anxiety (about what happens next). So I’m sitting with both of those emotional states and working my way through them. Taking a pause, I guess.
There are delightful things about pausing, right? Small things, done slowly. I like not setting an alarm. I love watching the birds in our garden who seem to gather closer now, for longer, and in larger groups. I’m making discoveries about myself – I always said sure, I’d exercise if I had the time, and that I also might cook. I am massively surprised that this turns out to be true. I ride my bike, and I make paella now. I have tidied drawers and put things in alphabetical order. I make little goals each day and feel good about getting them done. Like, really little. One day last week my goal was to go through my pens to see which ones still worked. Achieved. Picture of pens above.
I won’t see my grandchildren till we get back to Level 1. That could be a very long time. So each day I am making a video for them of a bedtime story. If you fancy a low-to-no production value version of “My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes”, flick me an email.
Meantime, I’m going to catch up on posting some of my writing here – “Your Weekend” columns and the odd thing I’ve written recently for other publications. That’ll do until I feel like writing something new.
And a big shout out to anyone else who feels a bit stuck, or overwhelmed, or who feels like being very still because we’re not ready yet to reimagine who we are in this very different world. One of the things I learned when my mother died last June is that you can’t rush through the stages of grief – they take their own sweet time. I have a feeling that for lots of us, this is going to be the same.