Raising Roo: Flying With a Carry-on Baby (Part 2)

…When the time for boarding finally came, Alex and I gave each other a quick pep-talk, sent a prayer to a god we don’t believe in, and strapped Roo to my chest in a baby carrier. 

This setup kept him happy for all the time it took to queue, scan our tickets, and make our way to the crowded gangway where we immediately came to a halt while the slow procession of passengers crawled into the confines of the plane. Stuck in the overpopulated metal tube, Roo vented the frustration we were all feeling and began to cry. Thankfully, as previously mentioned, my wife is an organisational queen and within seconds of his first sooky croak she had a tupperware container full of snacks out and three rice crackers stuffed into his tiny fist. As is so often the case with all of us, food turned his mood upside down and he was soon happily munching away while making eyes at anyone who looked his way.

Boarding further fed his need for attention as we picked our way down the aisle through the seated passengers, who, in desperate need of anything to distract them from their immediate discomfort, found the image of a little person strapped to a big person’s chest greatly entertaining. We moved down the length of the plane in a wave of smiles, partners tapping each other to point out the toddler at chest-height, and assurances of Roo’s cuteness from little old ladies who gave his foot a squeeze in passing like a worshipper grazing the fingers of a tiny cult leader.

We seated ourselves and, after three years of flightless lockdown, the illusion of the joy of flying that we had held in our heads was shattered as we instantly recalled just how little legroom a passenger is allotted. The sense of claustrophobia was only amplified by the baby on our lap who, in some weird M.C. Escher twisting of space, also didn’t have enough leg room despite his legs being the length of cucumbers. 

We were approached by a stewardess who provided a baby seatbelt and inquired if we were familiar with how it worked. I demonstrated through the carrier that I was well-versed in strapping my child to my body and we buckled Roo in, Alex’s turn this time, and then attempted to keep him that way and not squirming onto the young man who had the misfortune to be seated in the third seat of our row. 

We idled on the tarmac and Alex and I got to work jiggling keys, pulling faces, singing songs, plucking out vomit bags from the seat pocket to play with, and pointing out everything and anything that might serve to hold Roo’s interest for longer than thirty seconds. We were the jesters to the young prince and this juggling of distractions kept his lordship happy up until the big moment: take off.

Demonstrating once again that she is a force of forethought, my wife had prepared what is essentially a porous pacifier full of fruit that forces the infant to chew and suck in order to get the tasty treat into their mouth, meaning that as we elevated and the pressure shifted, Roo’s jaw was working hard, thereby avoiding the pressure build up inside his ears. Our little man was smiling and satisfied the whole way up, entirely unaware that he had just risen to a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet. 

Once we were up, we de-tensed a little, able to unbuckle our boy and pull out a tablet to mesmerise him with bright and colourful moving images. Roo climbed our bodies like ladders, peeking over our shoulders and some of the nearby passengers took over the load of providing entertainment, smiling and waving and falling under Roo’s cheeky spell.

Then the unthinkable, but what we prayed for to any god listening prior to boarding, happened. Roo leant back against me, Alex angling the tablet towards his eyeline, and he remained still. We held our breaths, equally as still as our son, and shared shocked glances as Roo’s eyelids drooped, and drooped further, then sprang open, then eased closed, and stayed that way. The patron saint of parents had answered our prayers and delivered up the holy grail of mid-flight transit possible scenarios – our baby slept. 

Our natural instinct was to holler and high-five, but we managed to restrain ourselves and instead whispered words of praise and congratulations to each other. While they gave no sign of the momentous event that had just occurred, I’m sure our neighbouring passengers were silently sharing in the victory. 

We spent the next thirty minutes grinning silently at each other and whispering how great we were at the whole parenting game while Roo dozed merrily on and we careened ever closer to Athens. My arm grew steadily more and more numb but I embraced the pins and needles, reasoning my limb was the sacrifice needed to appease the patron saints of parents and, if so, then it was a reasonable price to pay. 

Then, from down the aisle, we spotted the trolley. The metal cart jangled and clanked as it was pushed down the narrow thoroughfare, the too-smiley stewardess behind it speaking bubbly and loudly over the roar of the engines. We scrambled for a polite way to indicate for her to leave us the hell alone but any attempt at deflection would have meant matching her in volume and so, instead, we smiled as she approached and begged her with our eyes to be quiet. She provided the lunch options for the flight in her loud, syrupy voice and we whispered our responses and tensed around our boy, as if somehow we could cocoon him from all disruptions through sheer exertion.

The stewardess eventually trundled on and both our sets of eyes darted over Roo’s face, which remained soft and doll-like and asleep. We sagged back into our seats, wiped the sweat from our brows, and inspected what food we’d ended up with. To begin with, we tucked the sandwiches away, afraid the crinkle of packaging would be our undoing, but hunger and a growing sense of daring pushed us towards testing the limits of this blessing and sampling just a bite. 

Eventually we capitulated altogether and chewed merrily away on a surprisingly tasty hummus and sun-dried tomato sandwich while Roo continued to slumber across me.

After an hour in sleepland, his little head came up, hair in disarray, and we launched into long and detailed praises of what a wonderful boy he was as he blinked up at us before swatting at a vomit bag.

The captain announced the descent and we prepared for the final test of the journey. Alex had a second fruit pacifier ready and waiting, which at this point must come as no surprise to you, and so we descended as we ascended, with Roo chewing and slurping away and Alex and I acting nonchalant while tense from top to toes, ready for the re-pressurisation to kick in and our boy to transform into a howling monster. 

Thankfully, with the assistance of further snacks, inflight magazines, and adjoining passengers who mouthed sweet nothings at Roo from across the cabin, we touched down without seeing the Mr Hyde to Roo’s happily babbling Dr Jeckell. We had a few impatient grunts while waiting for the torturously slow disembarking (with us in the middle of the aircraft, effectively putting us the end of two lines as passengers shuffled to either end of the plane) but they were coming from Alex and I as much as Roo, so we couldn’t really complain.

A crowded bus took us to the airport, Roo held in my arms but with him dutifully holding onto the pole for added security, and then we had done it. We were in Greece. The sunshine was hot, the terrain dry, and both us and our fellow commuters had arrived without our ears ringing from two hours of a screaming child. A miracle had occurred in the skies that day and we hugged our boy and informed him that he was, in fact, an angel.

This opinion wavered on the three-hour drive from the airport to our accommodation where, in the final hour, our angel decided he’d had enough, that he was snacked out, that a second nap was out of the question, that no cartoon, no matter how bright and idiotic, could hold his attention, that any attempts of comfort were unappreciated, and the only way to express himself was to cry at top volume with tears and snot decorating his face in ribbons. 

Alex and I shared a look, shrugged, turned up the volume of the radio, and agreed that it was better that it was happening here, in the cabin of our car, with just us as an audience.

We arrived at our beautiful accommodation, our villa perched on the side of a hill with a view of the bay below us, exhausted, rung out, but essentially in one piece. Roo perked up once he was able to stretch his legs and made himself quite at home in the new digs, to the point that Alex and I almost could have believed the last hour was a shared delusion except for the tinnitus whining away just on the edge of our hearing.

We got Roo fed, dressed, and laid him in his crib, where, with some gentle encouragement, he finally succumbed to sleep, and then we called for some take away. We inhaled the gyros and chips on the terrace, the hummus and sun-dried tomato sandwich a distant memory, in view of our own private pool and with the lights of the bay blinking on, appreciating none of it and waiting only until we had digested enough to justify going to bed.

But when morning broke the next day, the sun painting the sky a rainbow of dusk colours and Roo waking at a time to ensure we could appreciate it, we reflected on the previous day’s success and sent out a final thanks to the patron saints of parents for having taken us into their fickle embrace.

We had done it, we had flown the two hours with a baby and had achieved the supreme victory of having had most of the other passengers oblivious to the fact that they had shared their journey with a pressure-sensitive bawling grenade.

We were able to replicate the experience on the return flight, complete with a mid-air nap, and Roo only crying in the final fifteen minutes as the pressure difference finally got to him and he became inconsolable. Thankfully this stopped the minute the pressure equalised and he returned to his previous activity of chowing down on a rusk stick.

In a week’s time we will once again take to the air and our new-found confidence will be put to the ultimate test. Rather than a two-hour jaunt across Europe, we will be flying to the planet’s southern hemisphere, to my home of Australia, a journey that takes two flights, a four-hour layover, and a total of twenty-four hours to complete.

Please pray for us and may the patron saint of parents have mercy on our souls.

Next week’s topic: The Fear that Comes With Fatherhood

My maestro of management, my force of forethought, and our angel/devil enjoying the tropical rewards of flying


It is the first morning of 2021 and I am sitting in bed drinking a cup of tea my wife made me and 2020 is done and I feel better for it.

Of course, there’s really no logic to my sense of relief. The period we called 2020 is, after all, just an arbitrarily chosen point in time. Millennia ago, some shaman determined that when the earth was in a particular position in its cycle around the sun, that the year had died, an end-date was formed, and it was deemed appropriate to celebrate the start of something new. The earth didn’t notice, of course, and just continued in its steady circle of the sun, but we living on earth thought it sounded like a good idea and have since continued the tradition of putting a full stop in our collective sentence every time the earth finds its way back to that same spot adjacent to the sun. It is random, arbitrary, and nothing really differs from 11:59, December 31st, 2020, to 00:00, January 1st, 2021. But it does help give us a sense of closure.

And, damn, but do we deserve a fictional but comforting sense of closure. The events of 2020 were anything but fictional, they were, in fact, painfully real. I won’t rehash them because we all know what they were, we all lived through them. We all watched the world close down, all read the countless news reports, watched the graphs and tallies as the number of cases grew, all closed our doors and settled in for the long wait, all obtained masks, and developed an intimate relationship with our sweatpants. 

You know what I’m talking about because you lived through it too. And it doesn’t matter if you’re reading this in a backyard in Melbourne, or an apartment in Vienna, or in bed in Beijing, because you went through it too. And as awful as the implications of that are, that this virus and its society-stopping impact managed to circumvent the world with frighteningly apparent ease, isn’t it remarkable that this goddamn year and all its weird and new and awful moments was a universally experienced phenomenon. 

I didn’t see my family this year. That is to say, I didn’t see them physically. For a full twelve months, for the entire rotation of the earth around the sun from an arbitrarily chosen point and back again, I was removed from the people who raised me. This has never happened before. I hope it never happens again. But, like the rest of the world, I adapted. I found creative ways to engage with my loved ones through digital means. I participated in video call parties, broke out of virtual escape rooms, and sat in my pyjamas at two in the morning, raising a glass of whiskey to my grandpa while attending his streamed funeral. 

It wasn’t the same, of course. Nothing can replicate the feel and warmth and comfort of a long tight hug. But it was something. It was still connection, and conversation, and laughter, and life shared, and while it’s easy to wish none of this had ever happened, instead I choose to be grateful that this all happened at a time when I could open a metal book, click a button, and see my family’s faces smiling back at me through pixels so small so as not to be seen. 

You know what I’m talking about because you lived through it too.

To say it was an emotional year is an understatement. I felt emotions I didn’t know could be felt. The casual boredom and anxiety of a lockdown. The quiet exhilaration of completing a workday in pyjamas. The eerie sensation of stepping onto a train platform and seeing only masked faces looking back at you. But the primary emotion I felt this year was frustration. 

I felt frustrated by the limitations of lockdown. I felt frustrated when an overwrought network failed and a call to my family froze. I felt frustrated trying to take a work call while my wife tried to take one too from half a metre away in our cobbled together home-office. I felt frustrated looking at the same four walls day in and day out. I felt frustrated every time I saw a nose poking over the top of someone’s mask. I felt frustrated every time I forgot to unmute myself. And I felt overwhelmingly frustrated every time there was news reports of people having parties in the middle of a lockdown, of people who knew they were infected but thought it was okay to pop into the shops, of morons claiming that wearing a piece of protective clothing was somehow impinging of their personal freedoms, of selfishness, and borders closing, and death tolls rising, and flights cancelled, and that day when I could return to my family stretching further and further into the future until it seemed to disappear over the horizon line altogether. 

I felt frustrated with a society I thought was better than this.

You know what I’m talking about because you lived through it too.

But focusing on this frustration is a choice, and a bad one. And that was something else I had to learn to adapt to in 2020, choosing where to direct my attention in a way that best served me. It was so easy to get sucked into the endless feed of headlines and the addictive horror that was the virus and its effects, and to believe the world was ending. But it wasn’t ending, only changing, and there are good parts to change if you look for them.

2020 was the year of the virus, but it was also the year I got to spend every day with my wife and best friend. Rather than break us, being confined together taught us new ways to spend time together and new ways to give each other space. It made me more grateful than ever that I found a partner who I can literally spend every minute of my life with and still want more. 

2020 was the year of the virus, but it was also the year I didn’t have to commute to work anymore and so had time to exercise. I started slow, and with short distances, but then ran longer, and faster. I ran in sweltering summer heat and pitch black winter evenings. I got fitter and felt better inside my own bones. 

2020 was the year of the virus, but it was also the year we all got crafty. We baked sourdoughs, and banana breads, and all the comfort food we needed to get through the long days. We picked up knitting needles, pencils, paintbrushes, and tools, and we made things. We took photographs and made videos, and wrote things, and read things. We found new hobbies and new ways to enjoy our time. 

And you know exactly what I’m talking about because you lived through it too.

I know nothing really differs from 11:59, December 31st, 2020, to 00:00, January 1st, 2021. I know it’s all arbitrary. But, dammit, I am still hopeful for this coming allotment of time. Not because some past shaman was right and something has died only for something new to be born, and not because the slate magically becomes clean just because we add an extra digit to the end of the calendar, but because in these last twelve months we have all adapted. We have been through an ordeal and we have learnt from it.

My hope is that we will take the collective lessons into the new year, the major groundbreaking discoveries and the intimate personal revelations. My hope is that 2021 is the year the vaccine works and we contain the virus. My hope is that 2021 is the year I get to hug my family again. But whatever 2021 brings, my hope is that I continue to grow and adapt and find new ways to connect and enjoy my time. 

And I am comforted by the knowledge that you will know what I’m talking about because you will be there, living through it too.

Vienna in the time of COVID – Chapter 20

We have experienced our first, and god, please, let it be the last, isolation Easter. And, given that this day of rebirth and new life was conducted from the confines of our apartment, locked away from the rest of humanity, it was pretty good. 

Even from the encapsulation of our rabbit den (pun definitely intended), we were able to observe the day’s rites. We awoke and hunted throughout our surroundings for hidden Easter goods, we gathered the offerings into baskets, eyes growing wider as our collection amassed, and we ensured that the first food to pass through our lips was chocolate. We are very devout like that.

The morning started with a scroll through the family group chat to watch our beautiful niece and nephews get all kinds of excited over the discovery of sweet snacks. Photos of our younger nephews, Eli and Callum, faces smeared with chocolate like lions whose snouts were decorated with the blood of their latest kill, brought a smile to my lips and warmth to my heart. 

Alex was up and out of bed before me which meant that the honour of the first hunt went to me. Anyone who’s been following this blog series will be aware that our apartment isn’t all that cavernous, so I was confident I would round up my treats rather quickly. After the first ten minutes of foraging, I had found four of the five goodie bags she had hidden, but felt my confidence fall away by pieces as the fifth eluded me. As stated, the place just isn’t that big and in a short amount of time I had simply run out of rooms to look through, and so quickly transitioned from a cocky swagger to a pathetic shuffle as I approached my wife and asked for a hint. Alex was quietly proud of herself, by which I mean she was laughing, jumping up and down, and clapping her hands. She eventually relented and we played hot or cold until I found it behind a pot plant. The pot plant, in my defence, had the exact same proportions as the goodie bag. The girl knew what she was doing; It was a damn good hiding spot.

Knowing in advance that I couldn’t compete with my wife’s subterfuge, I went in a different direction and instead planned a treasure hunt, equipped with rhyming clues written on burnt and aged paper. My philosophy is and always has been, if you’re going to do a treasure hunt, you do the damn thing right.


Except for the first clue, Alex whipped through the rest in about ten minutes. Apparently my rhyming riddles were not as enigmatic as I had thought. Still, I went to the effort of lighting things on fire, risking sending our tiny apartment up in flames, to give the clues that authentic look, so I get bonus points for that.

Then, as is traditional, we proceed to eat a dangerous amount of food. We feasted on savoury waffles with scrambled eggs and bacon, complemented, of course, with a sampling of chocolates. One of the treats that I scored was a box of chocolate bananas, which technically does exist in Australia, but the Austrian variety are very different and I like them much more. I like the Easter edition of these chocolate bananas the most, however, because, while they are in fact identical to the regular chocolate bananas, the packaging features one of the most sexually suggestive cartoons that I have ever seen. How this made it onto a candy designed for children, I will never know. 


In the lead up to Easter, Alex made a huge batch of Easter cookies to distribute to family and friends because she is, I’m convinced, an angel in a human suit. On Good Friday, we made it our mission to visit the recipients of these baked goods and bring a little jubilation to their isolation, albeit from a distance of a least two metres away. One of our deliveries was to Kerstin and Thomas, Alex’s cousin and her partner, who have been isolating with their two month old son and who is too damn cute to accurately describe with the written word. While we couldn’t squeeze the little ball of adorableness as we would have liked, we did set up a system wherein we perched on their front lawn while they set up camp just inside their house, and we waved to the cute little man and had a much needed catch up with our friends. 

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-14 at 18.46.06

The four-day religious retreat also had us video chatting with an allsorts of family, facebook calling with my folks on Saturday, zooming with our party people on Monday morning (Damo, Holly, Dom, and Nikki), and skyping with Alex’s sister and her family and Alex’s folks on the Monday afternoon. It meant that, even with the global hibernation hampering the holiday, we still managed to feel like we had the requisite familial recharge.

However your isolation Easter was spent, I hope you managed to experience the thrill of the egg hunt, chat with someone you love, eat your weight in chocolate, and that a giant man-sized bunny broke into your house and hid food in inconvenient places.

Tomorrow: Sleep.

(P.S. For those of you playing at home, the answer to the pictured clue was the space in the couch where we keep the spare blankets and pillows. If you got it right, you have my permission to reward yourself with some chocolate, regardless of the time and location in which you may be reading this. Happy Easter.)

Vienna in the time of COVID – Chapter 18

I think it’s only natural, four weeks into self isolation, to feel the boredom creeping in a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife’s company and the activities we do together in our home, but the conversation about what you did that day grows a little stale when what you did was spend every waking moment within a three metre radius of each other. It’s hard to regale my wife with a funny story about the day’s events when her response is, inevitably, “I know, I was there.” Even worse is when you find yourself telling a story that she told to you only yesterday, and that you told to her the week before, and you realise you’re trapped in an endless feedback loop of story swapping that is likely to drive you both mad. The upside being, if we were to go mad, that at least we’d have something new to talk about.

The recycling of stories all comes down to a lack of stimulus. With social interactions being whittled down to the bare minimum, there’s no longer any fuel to keep the fires of interesting anecdotes burning. It’s gotten so bad that I find myself longing for the days when I would use public transport, when mentally unstable men would approach me and ask if they could light my hair on fire or when drunk chicks would vomit on the carriage floor only for the neighbouring passenger’s dog to start lapping it up (both true stories), because then at least I would have something to talk about.

The other day I found myself alone in the living room and I realised that if Alex were to walk in at that moment and ask what I was doing, the only honest answer I could give her was “I am standing in a sunbeam”. 

The day before that, a man was walking past our apartment with a young puppy and I watched that puppy like a stalker whose object of his obsession just strolled into binocular range. And when the man and his dog eventually ambled out of my field of view, a part of me mourned the loss.

Just yesterday, Alex suggested that we take down and wash the scrim that hangs in front of our windows and I was excited, excited, at the suggestion. Ladies and gentlemen, no one should be excited by the prospect of washing scrim. Surely, the early signs of insanity are talking to yourself and getting a small thrill when considering putting your gauze curtains through a gentle spin cycle.

The obvious solution to this boredom, and to staving off insanity, is to entertain yourself, but given our resources are limited to what is currently on our properties, that means getting creative.

My father is waiting out the end of the world on a five acre block of land on the outskirts of Traralgon. He has decided to combat his boredom by revitalising his veggie patch and, much to his joy, while doing so he discovered some potatoes had managed to grow despite any active cultivation on his behalf. In what can only be assumed was an effort to keep his mind stimulated and himself entertained, Dad then proceeded to make a potato man from his findings, starting with a simple mock-up before deciding that features were required and adding eyes and facial hair.

Now while some may claim that making a small friend from fresh produce is, in fact, a sign that his sanity has already slipped, I instead choose to see it as an effort on my father’s part to bring some levity into the lull. Of course, he did then proceed to dismember his new friend and boil him in oil, so that does make it tough to make an argument for his mental faculties.


Photo credit: Peter Robb

Please note that the eyes are still present, as if my father wanted to be able to lock gazes with his tiny friend one last time while he fried. Another strike against his stability.

One of the methods my wife and I are using to combat the boredom is to set up small competitions with one another. With the Olympic Games being cancelled, it’s now up to us to fuel the spirit of competitiveness and in that vein we are currently in the middle of a battle to see who will use up the last of the toothpaste. The rivalry is waged silently, unspoken, with each of us stepping up to the line every time we go to brush our teeth. There will be no awards, just a sense of shame for the loser who is unable to wring a final blob of paste from the tube, and a sense of victory for the winner who discovers a new tube the next time they attend to their dental hygiene. 

Toothpaste Olympics

Whatever strategies you’re using to beat away the boredom and to cling desperately to your sanity, I suggest getting creative, find merriment in the mundane and excitement in the everyday, and if you do happen to make a little friend along the way, do your best not to eat them. As the poet said, “That way madness lies” (King Lear Act 3, scene 4, 21).

Tomorrow: Introvert vs Extrovert.

(P.S. For those of you wondering, our scrim looks great now.)

Vienna in the time of COVID – Chapter 15

Well, here we are in the fourth week of social isolation and despite the utter weirdness of it all, despite saying a thousand times to just about everyone I encounter “it’s just so weird”, the human ability to habituate to a situation is kicking in and it’s all starting to feel…normal. Which only makes sense, in a way, as this is now, on a global level, the new normal. 

It’s starting to feel normal to be in my apartment for twenty-three hours a day, every day, conducting all facets of my life from this vantage point like a spider in its web. Only, you know, without all the creepy cocooning and liquifying insects thing. 

It feels normal to have an office station set up where our dining-room table used to be and to eat every meal from our laps on the couch (to be fair, eating on the couch was a pretty regular occurrence in our house, so that bit didn’t take quite so much adjustment). 

It’s now feeling so normal to exclusively wear sweatpants that I am almost dreading the day when I will be asked to wear stiff slacks again that do not have happy and forgiving elastic in the waist.

Part of this readiness to accept the normality of it all is that there are perks amongst the sacrifices of a lockdown. I like being with my wife everyday. There’s a reason I picked her, beyond her mean culinary skills and cute butt, and that is because I like her. I like her company. She is my best friend and makes a great COVID buddy.

I also like not having to catch the U-Bahn every morning. Even before the threat of catching the coronavirus, squishing up to random members of the public was not a favourite pastime of mine. These days I can have a short lie in, slide into my well broken-in sweatpants, and walk down the hall to my place of work. The only person I have to squish up to is Alex and that is a favourite pastime of mine. 

I like talking to my family more. With everybody trapped indoors, they’re not out doing things away from their computers (like crazy people), which means the window where I can see and communicate with them is much wider. I have unfettered access to them, they have no excuse to decline, so it’s a win win!

Of course, a lot of aspects of our new normal are hard. While a video chat can scratch an itch, it’s no replacement for the real thing. This weekend, Alex’s friend Christina very kindly offered to swing by and deliver us some raspberry tiramisu that she had made (and ladies and gentlemen, it tasted as good as it sounds). We had been baking ourselves (another perk of living in the time of COVID: a surplus of home-made baked goods) and so we arranged for an exchange of merchandise. But, with restrictions in place, this exchange, of course, had to take place as carefully as possible.


The sense that we were dealing drugs was stronger than ever (only better, because instead of drugs we got tiramisu). We buzzed Christina into the building while waiting behind the front door, watching through the peephole as she came and laid the product on our doormat. Once she had taken the required three steps back, we opened the door, snatched our score, and deposited our own goods to the mat before retreating into our hallway. Christina scanned the area, saw the coast was clear, and made the grab. We traded waves and greetings and then she was out of the building, off to deliver goods to her next customer. 

Now normally when Christina comes by we don’t leave her standing out in the hall like a leper begging for scraps, but instead invite her in, give kisses to cheeks, share a coffee, and generally behave like people who actually care about one another. But this is not normally, this is the new normal.

A recent aspect of the new normal that is proving hard to swallow is the latest measures announced by the Austrian government. As supermarkets are the last bastion of social interchange and, therefore, virus interchange, the government decided to do what they could to shore up this weakness without having to close them down all together. They have stated that only a limited number of customers will be allowed in supermarkets at any given time, that all surfaces and trolleys will be regularly disinfected, and, the pill that has the hardest time going down, everyone entering the store must be wearing a face mask.

To be clear, I admire the Austrian government for being proactive and doing what they can to demonstrate they are trying to care for their citizens. The challenging part of this situation is the sheer alienness of covering your face when in public and the apocalyptic feel that hits when everyone you see is decorated with personal protective equipment. 

The upside for Alex and I is that my mother-in-law is a whizz with the sewing machine, so, given we had to dress like it was the end of days, at least we could do it in style.

Monika made the masks with offcuts from her husband’s shirts, and as Rupert wears very nice brand-name shirts, it’s comforting to know I’m walking around in a Hugo Boss mask. Even in these trying times, I’m a slave to fashion.


The new normal is not always a comfortable fit and bedrock change is rarely something anyone welcomes with open arms. But while we are stuck in this alternate version of reality, it’s worth focusing on the perks, on the video chats with family, avoiding sweaty commutes, having intimate time with your partner, and wearing fashionable facial accessories. 

By tolerating the hardships and allowing ourselves to see the good amongst the bad, we can navigate our way through the new normal and back out into just normal.

Tomorrow: The Great Outdoors.