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Diary of a coronavirus-positive Kiwi in NYC: Day 9

Diary of a coronavirus-positive Kiwi in NYC: Day 9

Simone Nathan, a Kiwi living in New York, documents life in quarantine as she battles symptoms of COVID-19.

Diary of a coronavirus-positive Kiwi in NYC: Day 9

Click here if you missed Day 8, or start from the beginning at Day 1.

Day 9 

Well, my Harry Potter LEGO arrived, and you guys know how huge that is for me. Even those who don’t know me personally can assume that if an adult likes LEGO they probably really like LEGO. No self-respecting person just dabbles in the stuff. It’s like Disney couples, they don’t go to Disney because they happened to have a few free days in Anaheim. They go there to get married and/or worship Satan. 

All along one side of my apartment were large windows without curtains, looking directly over at a few other tall blocks of apartments. This created what Foucault referred to as the ‘Panoptic Schema’ (okay somebody just knocked on my door and handed me a PhD?) where, put on permanent display, you didn’t know when you were being watched and so behaved as if you were under constant surveillance.

For my first week here, I found this a challenging adjustment. I felt like a li’l old rat in a cage being observed by a thousand unseen lab-coated neighbours, and it made me feel weird about everything. Eating, relaxing, getting changed. It took me back to my school days in the changing room after swimming, trying to do the ‘undie trick’ and inevitably dropping said undies in a puddle. 

With everybody at home all the time, living in cuboid structures that directly faced each other, it was normal to have a few quibbles about one’s loss of privacy. However, after a week of this internalised surveillance, I had thrown all caution to the wind and was walking around in the nude, building LEGO for 10 hours a day and eating with my hands like a Slow Loris, and I was not ashamed.

That is, until the unimaginable happened. I was deep in one of my sessions, performing Broadway scenes in the mirror, and had made my way through a nifty number from A Chorus Line – when, right as I finished and the music cut out I heard what could only be described as uproarious applause coming from outside. My lifelong fears were confirmed – I was in The Truman Show. How to play this? I knew the whole time? I saw my neighbours leaning out of their windows and it suddenly struck me that I had, in my elated performance, missed the 7pm applause.

Relieved, I joined in praising the city’s essential workers, and then retired to my nightly routine of pensive reflection. I thought about ageing – and how weird it is that your body starts to die around you and you’re like, “Hey!….I’m still in here!!” I wondered if my lack of two senses (still no smell or taste) made me this generation’s Helen Keller and then immediately spiralled into a rampant depression for thinking this. And I discovered that the aforementioned lack of senses meant you also couldn’t smell burning – as I overcooked my Passover specialty: the matzo pizza.

I kissed the CIA guy in my laptop camera goodnight and then headed to bed, saying goodnight to every piece of furniture like the kid in Room, except my cat and I were the mum and kid and coronavirus was Old Nick. Goodnight lamp, sink and brush. Goodnight New York!

Read Day 10 of Simone’s coronavirus diary here.

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