May 25, 2020

Corona times - Positive changes

This post is more for me than for the readers of this blog. I've been so depressed lately about not being able to physically see my friends in Luxembourg and the prospective of not being able to go to Romania this year at all and thus not seeing my parents and friends there, that I need a positivity boost.
I know people have died and are still suffering after Covid-19 and I do not mean any disrespect for them and the others in the front line, who worked hard these past three months under the threat of the disease, and being healthy and just wanting to meet other people might seem unbecoming, but this is my reality and I hope you ended up on this blog because you want to read about my very subjective reality.

1. First positive change has to be the shift in mentality towards people working from home. I am one of those people and I was long before Corona and every time I told someone I was working from home, they all without exception had the feeling that all I did all day was binge watching soap operas in my pyjamas. Well, now after three months of working from home and I don't know how many more still ahead, people got a glimpse of the challenges of working from home. Of having to be so organised not to drift towards loosing time, of forgetting to eat sometimes because no colleague messages you it is lunch time, of working long before the working hours and staying long after 6 pm and not because you have a deadline, but because as a freelancer when you have work is good, when you don't... For us Corona Times was a busy time, as communicators we were working non stop at the beginning, drafting strategies and shifting everything online. So much so, that for me, for us this time was so good we might have to consider another form of organisation, but it was done with three people working their but's off, day and night, learning along the way and adapting to the new norms to help their clients. So from a professional point of view I can't complain.

2. Second positive thing is that my husband got to see his daughter grow the first months and I did not have to do everything alone. And I'm sure this applies to a lot of families. The family time multiplied. Yes it was challenging, but it was (and still is, as I'm writing this we don't know for how long teleworking wold be a thing in Luxembourg) also very good for families, especially the ones with children. The pandemic came just after a month I gave birth to my daughter, and during this time she became very active, and now we have to keep her entertained 12 hours a day. If I had to do it all by myself, I would have hated the time and ended up hating her. So for us this time spent together was a blessing.
3. Third thing, online local shopping. There was a meme at the beginning of the lockdown which I think I've shared here, about my lifestyle being called a pandemic. So even before March 2020 I was buying most of my clothes and house stuff online. Part because I like and trust the Irish-UK style of clothing and their fabrics and the sizes are always on point, part because I hate shopping. During the pandemic I've tried as much as possible to shop locally and from small businesses who were trying to survive. And that was possible because they also adapted. When we first arrived to this area, which was only 8 years ago, they were not friendly with online anything. We had to find out about local events from posters, actual posters on the side of the road, Facebook events were unheard of and online stores were a dream from the future. Now, with the post working, there was nothing that stood in the way of helping the locals. So I've found out about a nice little book shop selling books in English, just across the border in Luxembourg, I've found nice and organic and fair groceries which got delivered to our door, I've found online children boutiques selling good quality toys and clothes.

4. Related to shopping, the large usability of cards. Everyone around me knows I don't carry cash. So every time I wanted a water from a machine I had to go to the ATM. Now even the machines selling 50 cents coffee have the possibility to pay by card, not to mention in the stores paying by card is mandatory or at least highly recommended. Now even the gas-station toilets have the card option. Need I say more?
5. Social distancing, which I do know is not the correct term, physical distancing from strangers is more to the point I want to make. I think that over the years my personal space got bigger, so on a queue for example I do not stay very close to the person in front. So much so, that here in Belgium people all the time cut in front of me, because they think I'm not queuing. Well, now that we have to be 1.5 metres apart, people hold their distance. I was dreading going to buy bred from the boulangerie (bakery) at Grand Frais Messancy. It is a small shop, with two points of entry and every time without exception people pretended I wasn't queuing and cut in front. Now one of the doors is closed, but even with it open, people respect the queue and the personal space. It is just an example, but for me this physical distancing from strangers is a good outcome.

6. Art became available online. Now that our life moved online I was able to interact with my favourite local artists and watched so many theatre plays I wasn't able to watch because they were in Bucharest or London and I was here. I think that artists (illustrators, actors, writers) were hit hard when our life moved online, but they had to adapt and I hope soon I will write a separate post about it. But illustrators opened their online stores on Etsy or on their personal webpages, they created Corona related art that I relate to and we are able to buy, they adapted and created clothing, but more about it soon. Actors turned to YouTube and improvised, entire theatre plays were streamed live. I read a novel written on Facebook posts, Instagram pictures and forums and it is genius.

7. As I've mentioned art, on the same spectrum, a lot of hands on classes had to go online and thus become available for people not living in one specific area. So one evening I was able to cook along a chef I admire in Luxembourg from my own kitchen. I've learned to take flat lays from a local photographer who never dreamed of teaching online, but had to adapt. I'm following the classes at the Fundatia Calea Victoriei in Bucharest and let me tell you, for two hours I am in another reality.

8. Maybe I should have mentioned it way up, but it only now came to mind, the process of going to a specialist simplified. Before Corona times when you needed a specialist opinion you had to go to your GP so set up an appointment which depending on how many patients the GP had could take days or weeks. Going there, explaining the thing and getting a prescription. With that you had to make another appointment to the specialist, which again could take weeks if not months. That was the procedure when there wasn't an emergency and when you still wanted to get your money back. During Corona most of the GP's worked online so in a matter of hours I had a Skype conversation with mine and had the prescription. Because it was a sort of an emergency (one of the tooth got infected or Ilinca had some nasty scabs on her head) we went directly to the specialist, online consultation on Skype, had the medicine sent to the pharmacy and we only went there and retrieved it. No unnecessary queue at the doctor's door and so on. I am aware it doesn't work like that, if you have a tooth infected you have to see a doctor, it doesn't work from Skype, but in my case I've started working on an implant before I've got pregnant, had to stop, but kept it under observation. So that is why my dentist was able to know it was infected over Skype.

9. Take away even from the snobbish and "fanciest" restaurants in Luxembourg, the restaurants where you needed 150 euros just to get through the door, now they do take away and believe me in that white or foil package if they sell you a pinch of food decorated with flowers you would see it. One of these restaurants I had my eyes on, but never justified the high prices started deliveries on the first days of the lockdown. Believe me now with just 50 euros we eat like princes. Another example, a "famous" chocolatier near Arlon, had impossible opening hours and you had to schedule way ahead a visit to his workshop next to his shop. Lockdown came and the famous chocolatier went out of hiding and personally delivered chocolate. I enjoyed his pralines over Easter, they are good, but not that great.


There are so many negatives of this time that I don'e even want to think about, but see there are some positives too. I've talked about not being able to see my family and friends, but also I was disappointed about not fitting in with my peers. I'm maybe old school, but for me the law is the law and there is no way around it. So even now I'm the village fool for not breaking the law. If the border with Luxembourg is closed to non-essential travel (that includes tourism and seeing friends) well that is what I did. Although I can go on a daily basis to Luxembourg to work and why not spent an extra time with my friends there, I've preferred to go just to retrieve my post and had a short meeting with a client.
Luxiland is renowned for turning even the purest soul into a snob, in the photo is the queue to Louis Vuitton store on the Grand Rue in Luxembourg on the first day they opened after the lockdown. I took the photo from an Expat Group. Who am I to judge what people do with their money? But this is a fine example of how the common mentality works in Luxembourg. Maybe it is a phenomenon to be studied by scientists, but for me I do not relate to that reality, I feel out of context, I do not have the same concerns as my peers. As I was enjoying my quiet family life, my peers were still thinking about the fanciest sushi, or travel, or tourism, because they were incapable of entertaining their kids without investing a lot of money. I have my like minded friends and colleagues, but they are just a few, the majority is after luxury goods, expensive fancy cars and houses, Michelin star restaurants and so on.
My reality is meeting friends at IKEA because we live in a capitalist world where people from Luxembourg can come to Ikea but not to Arlon :(
This week our life was the usual. Waking up, feeding Ilinca, working, playing, reading, working some more, walking a little in the evening, dinner and bed. This picture was from a trail we discovered just before the pandemic and went on when we were allowed to drive.
I'm not a massive fan of working out, but walking through the empty city to the Belvedere has to be considered something on the line of physical activity :) It's a plus when we get these sunsets. 
Also I don't know if I've mentioned it before here, but sine the beginning of March we had maybe five rainy days and as much as I enjoy the sunsets, I can't help thinking about the drought. Spring in the area was annoyingly moist and rainy and cold, so now I don't know what to fear most the virus or the famine? 
This is me working on Ilinca's Romanian Blouse. 
As much as I love wearing Romanian Blouses I dread making them. I know all or most of the techniques, I have the best fabrics, but I still don't find that peace in embroidery :(
Luna is fine, thanks for asking. She enjoys us being all the time at home and I fear the day when we will all be out.
The roses in the garden have bloomed. 
I must have the most unpretentious roses there are as I don't do anything to them and they have the most amazing flowers.
Sunset at Belvedere
At the rail station in Arlon along snacks there are masks and disinfectants.
So overall life is back to a sort of a normal, we still can't go to Luxembourg for non-essential stuff and the restaurants and terraces and cafes are still not open and gyms, pools and other indoor sports are yet not permitted, but soon, after June 8th they promise to loosen again the restrictions.
As usual I am more active on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu

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