Looking up at the sky on Day 1 of lockdown in Johannesburg

Joburg COVID-19 Lockdown Journal: Day 1

Read all my lockdown journal entries.

South Africa’s official lockdown started today.

Looking up at the sky on Day 1 of lockdown in Johannesburg
Lockdown photo 1: Morning sky.

South Africa has 1,170 confirmed cases of COVID-19 today. We also had our first death — a 48-year-old woman in Western Cape province.

Here are a few thoughts I had today:

  1. One benefit to being locked down alone at home is I no longer have to wash my hands 50 times a day.
  2. I normally eat very boring food at home and save my splurging for when I eat out. This meal strategy doesn’t work during lockdown. I’m so happy I bought myself some nice food to enjoy at home.
  3. I’ve already seen a few stories about the South African police barging into homes and harassing people, spraying tear gas, etc. This is very troubling. I don’t know what else to say without saying the wrong thing. But I hope everyone in this country — especially our leaders and protectors — can be kind to one another throughout this horrible crisis. The world is watching us.
  4. My mind is racing with additional thoughts. But it’s 9 p.m. and my brain shuts off in an hour.

Lockdown Journal

…What day is it again? Oh that’s right, March 27th. Day 1.

6:30 a.m.: Get up. Read news/social media for 30 minutes. Panic about the rise of government authoritarianism. Make coffee. Sit outside with cats. Look at the sky.

7:30 a.m.: On my street’s Whatsapp group, someone asks if rubbish is being collected today. Ah! I had forgotten it’s Friday. I gather my rubbish, open the gate, drag the bins outside, and stand there much longer than necessary. The street, normally full of informal recyclers on a Friday morning, is empty. I see Donald the security guard at the far end of the block. A person! I wave and yell good morning. A few buses and taxis speed past on Beyers Naude Drive.

8:00 a.m.: Meditate, stretch, make to-do list, look at phone.

9:30 a.m.: Heat cinnamon biscuit purchased yesterday at Sweet Tea and Chickadee. Add too much butter. Devour.

10:00 a.m.: Phone calls with Julia and Julie. There is both so much and so little to talk about.

11:00 a.m.: Brush teeth. I am still wearing pyjamas, inside out.

11:30 a.m.: Sit at computer. Think about working.

12:00 p.m.: Power goes out. Fuck.

[Power outages are a thing in South Africa. When the power goes out my phone signal drops, which means I’m cut off from the outside world. I can usually handle this by simply leaving the house. But not today.]

Get dressed. Make bed. Try not to panic. Walk outside into the driveway, stare around in desperation. Look at the sandstone koppie (hill) next to my house. Suddenly, a revelation: I CLIMB UP. There’s phone signal up here! I can see the street! I’m euphoric.

View of my street in Melville
View from my koppie.

12:30 p.m.: Sit on a rock on the koppie. Virtually commiserate with friends. Pet Trixie. Watch a few people walk by, some carrying groceries from Spar.

Trixie the cat
Trixie on the koppie.

1:00 p.m.: Climb down, walk inside. Eat avocado with cheese and bread (not toasted). Listen to podcasts. Try not to panic.

2:00 p.m.: Return to koppie, my new happy place. Watch street. Look at phone.

2:30 p.m.: Power returns. Thank you Jesus. Climb down.

3:00 p.m.: Work? Read news? Not sure. Read beautiful blog post by Violet Online. Sob for five minutes.

5:00 p.m.: Work call. Overjoyed for something professional to do.

6:30 p.m.: Start blog.

7:30 p.m.: Cook dinner — a Woolworth’s vegetarian burger. FaceTime with Dad. Argue about COVID-19 pandemic. Complain (mutually) about Donald Trump. Say I love you, hang up.

8:00 p.m.: Zoom with lady writer friends.

9:00 p.m. (now): Write. Try to control racing thoughts.

Trixie on the wall

20 days to go.

Please donate to this fantastic fundraiser, organized by my friend Ryan, to raise money for South African domestic workers who have lost their salaries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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  • Reply David Bristow March 28, 2020 at 7:12 am

    I suspect for most working stiffs the most noticeable benefits will be a) not commuting, b) being still, and c) for those lucky enough noticing and hearing nature in a new way. Those that survive …

  • Reply Catrina March 28, 2020 at 9:19 am

    Load shedding….makes everything more painful. Do you have a load shedding schedule or does it just happen hap-hazardly?

    • Reply 2summers March 28, 2020 at 9:26 am

      No, luckily Eskom has promised no loadshedding during the lockdown. This was just a fluke outage – I guess those will continue to happen 😩

  • Reply Lesley Clark March 28, 2020 at 1:13 pm

    Really enjoy your writing. Even if it is just in point form 🙂 Enjoy sitting on your rock. At least the sun is shining. xx

    • Reply 2summers March 28, 2020 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks Lesley. Enjoy your space too.

  • Reply AutumnAshbough March 29, 2020 at 2:43 am

    That workout does sound amazing. So does silence. As I am quarantined with two males, silence is lacking unless I am walking the dog before 7 AM. Los Angeles has never been so quiet.

    • Reply 2summers March 29, 2020 at 7:58 am

      There are certainly some advantages to quarantining alone.

  • Reply roxancena April 29, 2020 at 6:21 am

    May you be productive during the whole lockdown period. Stay safe!

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