quarantine

I am one week into the 14 days of “managed isolation” currently required to enter New Zealand, and so far surviving very well. With an average of four COVID cases a week being caught at the border, and the latest wave of outbreaks in Australia, I have no problem at all with enduring this slight inconvenience. The news is full of stories about the country’s health system being at breaking point, so the longer we can keep COVID19 out, the better.

MIQ is a curious experience – in many ways not unlike the lockdowns we’ve all experienced over the last year, but also a bit like being in hospital. Every day there’s a knock at my door and a nurse in full PPE takes my temperature and asks me how I am; and meals arrive with regularity – better food than I’ve ever had in a hospital, I’m happy to say (the plate and cutlery in the photo are mine – best tip on preparing for MIQ is to bring your own plate and cutlery; otherwise every meal comes with a set of disposable bamboo cutlery – biodegradable but unnecessary – and it’s much nicer to eat off a plate than out of take-away containers, which are sometimes plastic and sometimes cardboard).

My room is small but, apart from a few technical issues, it’s everything i need. The windows don’t open, but we are allowed to go outside on the hotel’s deck just about whenever we want to, when we want fresh air and to walk treadmill-like circuits around the fences set up to keep us all apart. I’m on the 8th floor in a south-facing room, so no direct sun, and also very little apart from buildings and traffic to look out onto. The few trees I can see are either a long way away or in their leafless winter state. So I was pretty excited to discover my harbour view – reflected in the windows of a building across the street.

The days are busy; I’ve been waking up early without needing an alarm, doing yoga before breakfast, working, and going down to the deck for a bit of fresh air and walking; evenings are the least crowded time, I’ve found. Downtime is reading, watching movies and TV series, and observing the life of the city below. I’m in the centre of Auckland, and as well as traffic, sirens, buskers and brass bands there’s been a parade of protesting tractors and today another small demonstration, I couldn’t see what about. I may be physically isolated, watching the outside world from inside a hermetically-sealed bubble, but in no way do I feel socially isolated. Friends, family and the MIQ staff are all checking up on me. Twice now I’ve had the situation of being on a call on either hotel phone or mobile, when the other phone has also rung and at the same time there’s been a knock at the door. And I’ve received deliveries from the supermarket, pharmacy, and Brenda (good coffee!! yay!).

Sometimes in the meal bag there’s a flyer for an online quiz or a competition to enter; last week’s competition was towel art, and Zecica enthusiastically set about creating her masterpiece “Self-portrait with towel”. She didn’t win (that honour went to a very good-looking family of alligators) but her photos did get shared around in the email announcing the winner, so she’s taking that as runner-up status. Terry is a very life-like representation of her.

I’ve decided to use MIQ as an opportunity to have two weeks without alcohol. Lockdown lifestyle has involved moderate but almost daily alcohol consumption, so I thought I’d give my body a break and test my will power. It’s actually very easy not to drink alcohol when there is no alcohol in the room to be drunk. I haven’t missed it at all.

It’s also an opportunity to reflect on the last few hectic months – not that I’ve had a lot of time for reflection so far. But I’ve been running all year and even before that, and at least now I have the illusion of stopping, if not the reality. The pandemic has really increased the pace in my work. Mobilise/Demobilise, the project to rebuild UpStage and create a cyberformance series on the theme of mobilisation and demobilisation, is going really well but it’s also a struggle to raise the rest of the needed funds. The Creative Europe grant is 55% of the total budget, and despite a lot of work on a great many other applications, we haven’t been able to raise any more money. It’s so disheartening to be rejected over and over, after putting so much work into each application. There are a lot more available funds than before the pandemic, but there’s also a lot more competition; as ever, funding remains a lottery. We are also working on income streams for UpStage and hopefully some will soon start to flow.

The Bodies:On:Live festival was a huge project and happily went off very successfully in the last weekend of June (separate post about that coming when I have time). I was also busy in the first half of this year giving numerous conference presentations and doing the research for Devising with Distance, a handbook about how to create cyberformance. And in the middle of it all, I had thyroid surgery. Two weeks in a hotel room is a welcome pause: a chance to stop for a moment, recharge and reset, before heading to the great metropolis of Levin to deal with the rest of our late uncle‘s estate and hang out with the grandchildren.

So, one week down, feeling great! Bring on the second week ­čÖé