Esther O’Moore Donohoe traces the various phases of life in a pandemic, from the stockpiling yeast stage to the ‘I’m Diarmuid Gavin now’ stage…
I could barely contain my glee when I was sent home from work during the first lockdown. I did my very best to look solemn, drawing on my primary school speech and drama classes to throw colleagues off the scent. Inside however, I was dancing. I yanked the lanyard from my neck so hard, I couldn’t turn my head left for two days. As I walked to the end of the office floor, I pressed the three middle fingers of my left hand to my lips and held them out towards my colleagues like Katniss in The Hunger Games: ‘See you on Zoom!’
But of course, aside from my joy at getting an extra half an hour in bed WFH, I was completely terrified like everyone else. When would I get to hug my mum again or get to an Eddie Rockets? But we got through it. And now that we’re seasoned Lockdowners, we have more of a handle on what the next few weeks will look like. In case you’ve recently whacked your head off your WFH desk though, allow me to refresh your memory. Take my invisible hand and let us tiptoe together in our leisure wear and wireless bras, through The Merry Stages of Lockdown.
The Going Feral Stage
A few days into the first lockdown I phoned a friend and declared ‘I stink’. Her response was swift ‘Don’t say that! You are annoying but your heart’s in the right place.’ ‘Okaaay… but no. I actually stink. I haven’t had a shower in four days.’ Not going anywhere meant completely letting go of my (already minimal) grooming habits. My hair was in bits and I honked but boy, was I happy. But that was the old lockdown me. After indulging my feral side, I discovered that I actually feel better when I clean my pelt daily and put an outfit* on (*sticking a bra over my pyjamas). However, if letting yourself stew in your own stank makes you giddy, unhook that bra, let the girls sway and enjoy yourself. No judgement here.
The Elaborate Lunches Stage
Everyday at midday, I tip over my desk, grab my bluetooth speaker and blare Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast as I march downstairs to the kitchen. I take on the roles of both Lumière, the singing candlestick and Belle as I set about preparing for myself an elaborate lunch. During the first lockdown, I made myself a fake Big Mac every day until the plastic cheese ran out. Soon enough we’ll be back to Tupperware and taking our place in the boner shrinking, communal microwave queue. As Lumière sings ‘Be our guest, if you’re stressed, it’s fine dining we suggest’ so fire up the George Foreman and go wild baybuh.
The Decluttering Stage
Lockdown taught me many important lessons about the human experience. It forced me to reflect and ask myself some tough questions like ‘HOW DOES ONE PERSON ACCUMULATE SO MUCH SHITE? Why did I have three sets of corn on the cob holders? And why was I hanging onto notes on The Properties of Eggs. True. It is fascinating just how versatile they are but I can hit Google if I ever forget that they can 1. aerate 2. emulsify 3. bind and oh, so much more. Clearing out all the unnecessary detritus showed me that all I truly need to be happy, is good health and the love of family and friends…
The Recluttering Sequel
…and a rotating star projector with timer plus remote control! Because once you declutter, a reclutter is only a few clicks away. Am I right? Lockdown 2 however, is a Shop Local event. I’m outta the mega-brand, consumer rat race (except for the giant coat I bought last week from Mega Bastard Clothes Corp). Instead of filling Jeff Bezos diamond-lined pockets with more moolah, I will henceforth spend winter whittling twigs into cutlery and weaving shower hair into mittens.
The ‘I’m Diarmuid Gavin Now’ Stage
Legend has it that if you said ‘food supply chain’ three times in a row back in March, Eamon Ryan would appear at your south facing window with a packet of Baby Gem seeds stuffed inside his panniers. I never risked it myself and instead chose to order seeds online. I was a first time sower but was soon bitten by the bug. It was like coming down to a living advent calendar every morning. How much progression had my babies made? Oh they were so clever. And as they quietly grew upward, they offered assurance that life was still happening. I grew exactly three cherry tomatoes which I still haven’t eaten yet as they’re now my pets. Magical times.
The 5k-a-day Stage
Banana breads come and go but a daily walk is forever. It’s chillier this time around but the fresh air is good for the heart and mind. I also now know every path and road in my area with the added bonus that I can confidently identify exotic creatures like ‘ducks’, ‘blue tits’ and the greatest tit of all, me.
The Stockpiling Yeast Stage
‘I have some intel on yeast in the South Circular Tesco if you need to re-up.’ I voice noted to a friend in early April. Because for a time, I was ‘Esther The Flour Hunter’. I stalked the baking section of my local shop and had a network of Whatsapp groups funnelling sightings of coarse wholemeal straight to my phone. When I finally got my hands on the goods, I turned into Old Mrs Brennan overnight. No loaf ever came out looking the same but nothing tastes as good as smug feels and you’ll never feel more smug than when you bake your own bread.
The Solo YouTube Bleak Fest Stage
Lockdown has its ups and downs but we have to remind ourselves that what we’re doing is for the greater good. We also have to make sure to mind ourselves too. That is why it’s imperative that you avoid The Solo YouTube Bleak Fest Stage at all costs. It starts innocently enough. Maybe you miss your mum and aunties so you think ‘What harm sticking on A Woman’s Heart?’ Before you know it, you’re on your third play of The Voyage by Christy Moore weeping onto your laptop. And while I love a bit of Christy, this journey will be much easier if we do it to a jazzier soundtrack. So go on, pop on your glitziest mask, light your candlesticks and be my guest.
Listen to the piece, read by Esther, here:
Main image from @diarmiudgavin on Instagram[/restrict]