COVIDiaries 1

In the beginning there was something weird in China. Well, nothing that concerns us. Then yesterday the Finnish government announced that everything will be closed from now until forever. It happened pretty fast. A week ago I was rehearsing Turandot - the premiere would have been the upcoming Saturday. Then they cancelled all performances of more than 500 people. Alright, we thought, we can still go through with this, no need to panic. Other people panicked, however, and the supermarkets ran out of toilet paper, pasta, and crushed tomatoes. (Apparently this is what Finnish people need in case of emergency. Also pea soup cans were popular.) The other person who lives in this house fell into this ruse and also bought the pasta and tomatoes. We can now comfortably feed ten people for a week, but with a very limited diet.

Then on Saturday things started to happen. Suddenly everything was cancelled. My whole Spring - luckily not hundreds of gigs but enough to put butter on my toast - just cancelled. No butter, then. At least there was the toast, the teaching, that would continue as normal because surely they wouldn't shut down the schools?! Come Monday - schools closed. Alright. Most music schools in Finland continue teaching online, which is a new and frightful thing for us all.
So, after a brief meltdown and panic about lost income, it was time to come up with solutions. Most of my Monday and Tuesday have been spent on informing students about this minor change to their lesson routine, and on planning the actual execution of the fact that I've promised to do this. There's a facebook group that shares thoughts and tips on online teaching, which is immensely helpful. It's going to be great, I'm sure (, she said, not looking exactly confident.)

Apart from coming up with online platforms and assignments for teaching, what can you do to weather the storm? Here's my unabridged advice from week No. 1:

  • Clean house, clean mind. Already on Saturday I started to compulsively polish everything. It really helps to make me feel like I'm doing something useful, and it helps me feel like I'm in control, and after it's nicer to think about just how desperate I am in a spotless house.
  • Buy wine and spirits. If Alko closes (Finland has a state monopoly on shops that sell strong alcohol), we're fucked. So yesterday we went to buy necessities, aka. gin and red wine, and immediately I was able to breathe a bit more freely.
  • Since there's a significantly reduced amount of money coming in, reduce what's going out. I canceled what subscriptions I could, and applied for pause in my student loan payments. At least in Finland you can apply for this for some months if your financial situation gets shaky. Now might be the time to contact your union, too - are there any benefits you're entitled to?
  • Make sure you have books. The libraries were open today for the last time in who knows how long, so I filled my bag with books. I recommend a variety - some poetry, something that makes you feel intelligent, and something easy.
  • Puzzles help. They calm the mind and give you something to do when there's not much to do.
  • If there are more than one of you in your house, make sure at least someone has noise-canceling headphones. They will save your sanity and the relationship.
  • You will think this is a great chance to exercise, start yoga and jogging, and build a new you. It won't take you that many days to discover that the new you looks pretty much exactly like the old you who mainly watches netflix and takes naps on the couch. Remember that it's all about taking care of yourself - isn't that what everyone's been saying these past few days? Stay safe and all that jazz. Well. Where am I safer than on my own couch?!
  • Follow the news with cynical, noncommittal interest. This too shall pass.