Lockdown diaries part 1

Good Morning all from day 20 something of the Malaysian MCO (Movement Control Order) on the day after it was just extended for another two weeks. Writing that just brought tears to my eyes which I’m sure is an emotional state that many people can relate to right now. Yesterday I was fine, today I feel rough. In an hour I might feel totally differently.

Our lockdown began on the 18th March and rumour has it that it will continue until after Hari Raya (Eid) which is the end of May. Living in a world full of ‘hear say’ is pretty draining and I’ve really tried to adopt the thought process of ‘If it isn’t a fact yet don’t waste time worrying about it.’ When will I see my family again? Will I ever get to go outside? When will this end? These are questions circling the minds of us all right now and we don’t know the answer.

First, the positives of this situation. There are some. The world is taking a much needed break. People are able to spend quality time with their families, whether it be on video call or in person. Most people are being the best, most kind and generous versions of themselves. Friendships have strengthened, relationships are being tested in a whole new way and hopefully people come out of this stronger together than they were before. As an expat, I can now talk to people I love pretty much whenever I want. No one has anything else to do. People have time to commit to something they never got round to doing, or they can sit around doing nothing if they want to. Sometimes that’s a luxury we all crave when working full time and juggling everything else going on in our lives. If you have a pet, you can become even more obsessed with them. You can shower them with love and constant attention and they are probably living their best life right now. If you don’t have a pet you could foster one since you are nearly always at home. You can draw, write, watch films, create online quizzes, play scrabble, work out in your house, cook and think about what you really, really want to do when this is over.

I’ve been trying to focus on how lucky I am in comparison to so many people in the world. I like my apartment, I have a great support network, I’m still able to work, I am healthy and everyone I know is also healthy. Yes I freak out sometimes about what I’m going to do if something happens to someone and I can’t get home and I can’t even get off the island, but that’s not happening right now so I try to push that out of my mind. Will our jobs be vulnerable if expat families decide to leave because of this? Will I get to go home this year? What am I going to do if this keeps being extended by two weeks? I don’t know the answer to those things. What I do know is that I’m actually fine.

There are of course negatives, and the negatives will take over your mind from time to time. One of the things I’ve distanced myself from is WhatsApp groups and the media, neither of which I was ever a fan of. The spread of gossip and fake news really bothers me. Some people seem set on condemning other people’s actions, speculating about people and sharing everything they hear and it just causes a lot of negativity. The ‘blame game’ makes me sad and frustrated. I’m stuck in between two worlds, Malaysia and the UK. The UK has far worse cases than here and that news is hard to read. My family are there, many of my friends are there and being reliant on social media to understand what’s going on is hard. Malaysia has around 4000 cases and our lockdown is more stringent. We can’t go outside to exercise, we can’t walk around, we can’t do very much at all. We have a curfew for food deliveries and we look out at the beautiful weather but we can’t go and enjoy it because we don’t have gardens. It can be really tough especially if you’re someone who craves freedom and the outdoors.

I’m also really worried about the animals. Malaysia has a lot of strays and a few dedicated organisations struggling to manage them all. Without the food courts lots of strays will be hungry. People are apparently abandoning their pets for fear of animals spreading Covid 19. I don’t understand this at all. Please don’t do this.

It’s a really bizarre situation we find ourselves in and there are countless theories as to why/how this has happened. We’ve had to completely rethink our daily lives and we can’t plan, which for many people is highly anxiety inducing. School is now online and we’ve had to adapt to an entire new way of teaching. My response to this is to record Disney songs with different lyrics every day. This is something that has now gone too far and I’ll have to continue with it until we can go back to school. We’ve had lots of meetings and conversations about how we can do the best for our children in this situation, how we can engage them, how we can report to parents, how much screen time is ‘too much’ and we just learn as we go. I think all the teachers I know are doing an amazing job and I am proud to be a teacher during this.

I’m proud of my pregnant friends, of which there are quite a few, for dealing with the uncertainty and stress of having a baby in the midst of all this. I’m sad I won’t get to see these babies anytime soon, in Penang or at home. I’m proud of my sister for continuing to go to work in a stressful environment, for being an amazing mum and for taking in her friends and their child for this period. I’m proud of my other sister for trying so hard to stick to her travel dreams but also for realising it’s time for her to go home today, and for dealing with that. I’m proud of my parents for remaining positive and for just continuing to be the amazing people they are. I’m also really thankful to all of my friends who have kept me constantly entertained, raged with me, laughed with me and who continue to come up with new ways of coping. Everyone is dealing with a different experience of this but we are also all in the same situation too.

So, what’s on the cards today? I’m planning on attempting to create some kind of Easter meal tomorrow in a vague attempt to celebrate so I need to work out how I’ll do that with only a kitchen top oven. I’m going to improve my table tennis skills, I’m going to do some yoga and I now have 60 brand new felt tip pens and a pencil so I’ll attempt to be creative. I will ring home, speak to my niece, speak to my sister and I’ll continue to live out my best life on the Sims 3.

Stay safe everyone, more lockdown diaries to come. Here’s some pics of my cats.

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