The New Normal in Perth

Until one day, I woke up and found out that the world is facing a pandemic. Mid-march when Coronavirus entered the Western part of Australia, particularly here in Perth. All in just one snap, a sense of death stalking everywhere because of the virus.

By Rochelle Lyle Gotico

“A perfect year!”

This was the first phrase I’ve said to myself when the clock ticked midnight to welcome 2020. I was thinking about a perfect year I’ve crafted out of hard work ever since I arrived in Australia four years ago. Yes, four years of waiting for this year to come!

January, I treated myself for my first ever Sydney trip. February, I’ve accepted a security research in my university and felt so good working for a research paper as a tech scientist in the making. March, I received an invitation to participate a Cybersecurity forum in the University of London and I was joking that at last, I am going to meet the Queen. This was the first quarter of my “almost” perfect year.

Until one day, I woke up and found out that the world is facing a pandemic. It was mid-March when COVID-19 entered the Western part of Australia, particularly here in Perth. All in just one snap, there was a sense of death stalking everywhere because of the virus. People were being monitored while shops, offices, schools, and universities were closed. And then, the entire Australia decided to close its state territories and the border.

With everything changing unexpectedly, I needed to work from home while continuing my research and my last two units for this semester. As days come by, I received unfortunate responses and cancellations of events. No travel, no laboratory work, and the saddest thing might happen is that there would be no graduation ceremony. That also means my parents won’t be able to attend.

I started procrastinating about everything knowing that my perfect year won’t be so perfect anymore. For me, the system was already under a lot of pressure due to negative energy going on. Not only because of the deadly virus, but also because of politics, racism, and the hardest fight, that of depression.

Little did I know, I found myself lonely and depressed due to this pandemic. From that feeling of being lucky and being on top, it eventually transformed to feeling unlucky and it’s slowly killing me. It interferes with my current life and it causes severe feelings of hopelessness and loss of interest. I started isolating myself and not living up to my potential at work and studies.

Little did I realise that accepting what happens now in the new normal will help me to stand again. Accepting that maybe this year is not perfect and that is okay. Maybe this is not the time where I have to showcase myself outside but instead, it’s the time to cherish the inner me instead.

For me, this is the sign of the new normal. It’s discovering and teaching ourselves to accept the situation whether it’s perfect or not. That even when a year has been perfectly planned and crafted many years ago, things can change according to what it should be.

Now that I know my symptoms of depression, I chose to reflect about my life four years ago when I first arrived in this place. This reflection of the past and accepting what the new normal is helps. I’m also practicing to be a person who will be the reason someone feels welcomed, seen, heard, valued, loved, and supported because I know what it’s like how difficult self-isolation is.

Despite the current situation, that brave woman I’ve known four years ago turned out to be braver than she has ever been before. I gambled my life to a fresh reset and rolled the dice in this new normal, a new normal that will become a perfect year all in God’s perfect timing. ∎


AUTHOR’S BIO

circle-cropped (11)Rochelle Lyle Gotico is an international student in Australia. She’s working in Edith Cowan University School of Science as an Engagement Presenter for tech innovation where she combines her passion in arts and humanity. She’s also passionate in investing her time-sharing ideas, gaining experience, and motivation by being active in both domestic and international activities.

The New Normal in Calgary

When walking down the street, when someone sees you walking in front of them, they dodge you like the plague. So it’s either you walk on the opposite side or they will.

By Angelina Brendalee

The new normal now means asking someone permission if you can get in the elevator with them rather than going inside even when it’s full just like before. One person per elevator ride has become the thing.

When walking down the street, when someone sees you walking in front of them, they dodge you like the plague. So it’s either you walk on the opposite side or they will.

On my first day back from travelling, the streets were deserted. I work in a shelter as a front-line worker and our daily routine has shifted. Before we take in those who are in need, we have to follow the new rules. It breaks my heart whenever we have to turn away clients due to the new COVID-19 protocols in place. We did manage to avoid an outbreak but this situation still changed everything that used to be.

Before, getting tested was scary and the waiting time was scarier. Now, I’m used to it because of my field of work. However, paranoia is becoming a norm with my anxiety being at its all-time high whenever I cough or sniffle because I get glared at.

We live in a city where coughing or sneezing gets you the cold shoulder. Streets aren’t as busy as they used to be and the once busy Stephen Avenue I grew to love is now deserted. Calgary Stampede, one of the biggest outdoor festivals that has never been postponed, not even during the great flood, is finally cancelled. Raves and festivals which are our only source of connection has been dropped.

It’s weird that things are reopening here even when people are still treating the city as if it’s still scary. When walking with friends, people who are walking alone will give you stares for not social distancing. I even saw people scream at others for not following the social distancing rules.

Even with COVID-19 being no longer that of a big threat as it used to be, this is the new norm – a distrusting world of distance.

I miss the old city life though I’m glad the traffic is gone. But I miss seeing people happy, not the paranoid and scared citizens I’m looking at now. ∎


Author’s Bio

circle-cropped (10)Angelina Brendalee was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She’s half-Filipina and half-Jamaican. She loves dogs, beach side walks, swimming, sunrises, and sunsets and horror stories in Reddit. She is also an active member of #BlackLivesMatter in Canada where she actively participates in the protests.

The New Normal in Quezon City

To define a sense of “new normal”, at least from the perspective of one stuck in Quezon City, is to reconsider normalcy through a prism of three things; anxiety, loathing, and non-possibility.

By Thomas Leonard Shaw

To define a sense of “new normal”, at least from the perspective of one stuck in Quezon City, is to reconsider normalcy through a prism of three things; anxiety, loathing, and non-possibility. While others are able to navigate the uncharted nature of this pandemic –one that has caused major socio-political upheavals – with various levels of success, this crisis has only revealed the many fractures of a social space fraught with contradictions. Commuters are struggling to get back to work and earn with no transportation in sight, small businesses are on the verge of collapse, and countless others are suffering from the socioeconomic and emotional devastations of this crisis.

As far as I could be concerned, to assume any kind of new “normal” when everything remains uncharted waters is to overlook the dangers of this enterprise.

This is not to say I have been unlucky, on the contraire. I have a job that allows me to work from home, friends I am still able to meet and socialize with, and I am safe in the knowledge that I have the comfort of my condo unit and a space to isolate myself from the world. But the world looms terrifying ahead of us. No amount of hoping changes the fact that my future plans have burned up, my friends and peers have scattered all over the country, and I am kept from the main reason I find myself in this city – teaching. What this means to me going forward is that my position of privilege has only allowed me to recognize just how so many others have it much worse than I do.

People remain without jobs, many who relied on the informal sector have had to lose their main source of income. Even with the impending reality that is the new “normal”, one recognizes that the weak foundations upon which their survival has played out has been effectively shattered, destroyed by a combination of an apolitical virus and political incompetence. The anxiety and loathing I feel draws not only from a sense of individual devastation but from the empathy we draw from – recognizing that lives have not only been destabilized but taken in the process. To claim a sense of “new normal” is to undermine the precarious structures that have haunted the working class and much of Philippine society. In building for the future we must recognize that the “old normal” cannot be simply replaced by a similar system which has not only disenfranchised millions of people but has laid the groundwork for their own destruction in times of crisis.

My anxiety and loathing is simultaneously weaved from a sense of helplessness, that I have been caught up in a system that I have been complicit in working through and making sense of. The haunting of non-possibility lies in the fact that for many of the dead or marginalized, there doesn’t remain much room for socioeconomic mobility or even survival. If we are to continue life after COVID, with the desire to live better and more fulfilling lives, we must be able to navigate and create a system in which basic needs are addressed, government services are not bogged down by red tape and corruption, and people are offered a stronger set of tools to carve out their own destinies. What COVID has revealed is not simply the dangers of a contagious virus but the weaknesses of an unfair world, one in which we are always on the brink of returning to, of falling back to the same traps that have taken so many of us already.

I do not like the direction this “new normal” is going in because I don’t ever want things to be similar to the normalcy we’ve had. Normalcy equals neither justice nor equity. We have to be better. We cannot afford to be anything less than better. ∎


AUTHOR’S BIO

circle-cropped (12)Thomas Leonard Shaw was a graduate of Comparative Literature (European Literatuure) at the University of the Philippines Diliman, and poetry fellow at the 1st Philippine National LGBTQ Writers’ Workshop, the 1st Cebu Young Writers Studio, and the 26th Iligan National Writers’ Workshop. Thomas is also an awardee at the 2019 Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio Literary Awards and has been published in several different countries.