One month ago I reached out to some of my friends around the globe who are originally from the “604” area to see how they’re doing during the COVID-19 pandemic. I decided to do a follow up Q&A to see how they’re all doing several weeks after our chat…
Name: Steffani (Instagram, Twitter)
Current City/Home: Ottawa
Read Steff’s first interview March 23, 2020
Vancouverites in Isolation Elsewhere: Steffani in Ottawa Part 2
Since we last spoke, how have restrictions changed in your city?
I don’t think much has changed — if anything, it’s maybe tighter now. $880 fines for hanging out in parks. From my apartment, I can see the bridge (one of them) into Gatineau, Quebec, on which police control cars coming in but not going out.
This is one thing I hope gets harder — travel in/out of Quebec — because, despite off-the-charts transmission still occurring, they’re opening the province in the next week or so and we’re all worried.
A Toronto Star article says Ontarians are the Canadians most likely to wear masks when going out — hello! I’ve been doing so for 5 weeks — and Québécois are least likely. So, this should be interesting since I’m literally 3km from Quebec.
Not a day goes by when I don’t wonder what’s happening with the aliens who have taken over Doug Ford’s body. Who is this competent leader, and what are they putting in his Corn Flakes?
At this point, what are you tired of cooking at home?
I’m enjoying cooking but I hate feeling like it’s my only option. Eating takeout/delivery is unsettling.
But what I’m hating is the dishwashing. My kitchen is so small, and I am so fed up with it.
I think the key is to keep trying new things and to occasional splurge on something, if you can. Recently that meant I asked the butcher (who delivers!!) for some short ribs and that was a magic night. Tonight I’m making my first couscous in years after getting a delivery from Ayoub’s (great BC company doing mail order for nuts and dried fruits) and I’m excited about exotic things like cranberries and almonds and stuff to put in the couscous.
(Even you could easily make couscous — pour some stock or boiling water and lemon juice on, add nuts and fruit, and pair some meat with it!)
Is there something you are craving from your favourite local restaurant? Have you been getting take-out/delivery?
I’d really like to have some poutine. There’s a place in Byward Market, Lowertown Brewery, who make this amazing poutine with fresh curds (made at St Albert, one of the best in Quebec, just 20 minutes away) with ROASTED CHICKEN GRAVY.
It’s so good it’ll make you wanna slap your mama and cry out for more.
But poutine is just not something one gets delivered. I’m hoping the little unnamed poutine truck on my block opens up sometime. It ain’t roasted gravy but it ain’t a dirty dish in my kitchen either!
Are there any online events (concerts, workshops, etc) that have kept you entertained?
I have actually been working a ton. It’s only slowing down NEXT week for me so staying “entertained” hasn’t been a challenge.
I’ve been decompressing with cooking shows, which feel vaguely like a tense thriller — WHO WILL DIE THIS WEEK, AS THESE NAIVE FOOLS SHARE FOOD OFF THE SAME PLATE?! — juxtaposing the Before Times sensibilities versus the “God, no, who SHARES food?!” mentality of these end times.
I found a great podcast I can’t remember the name of, something like The Soundtrack Show on I Heart Radio, where a Hollywood composer picks a movie and dissects the soundtrack and explains the dramatic tools the composers used to lead the viewer’s emotional reaction and I’ve found the podcast oddly compelling. Great to listen to while cleaning the freakin’ kitchen AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN.
Has your outlook changed? Are you feeling more, or less positive about the outcome of isolation?
I have no balcony or patio and I have occasional days where I spiral into despair. The reality of having to take an elevator 14 floors and all that, just to get outside, can feel really unnerving.
On the flip side, we in Ottawa are lucky to have so many independent food delivery options now, so I’m getting better food dropped off to me sometimes than I would if I had the leisurely ability to shop for it myself.
Like Byward Market, our version of Granville Island, has vendors banding together for delivery, restaurant wholesalers (local guys) are making deliveries, even my favourite Italian specialty store is delivering now. It makes such a difference in life because now I can go out for a walk without having to incur additional risks — AND I get to support local companies rather than Loblaw’s.
In fact, a group of restaurants came up with a company called “Love Local Delivery” to deal with delivering their food while cutting Uber and Skip The Dishes and other profiteers out of the action. I’m super-impressed with how resourceful Ottawa has been.
But part of my depression these days is I really think this will be ongoing for a year or so. I’m optimistic there will be a vaccine, but I also think things will be getting worse before they’re better, and I think my “down” state of mind is that I know a lot of loneliness and isolation will be unavoidable until we get there. That said, I think my paranoia and my ability to stay inside for long periods will be part of why I get through these times relatively unscathed.
I’m also dreaming of The Next Chapter, where this passes and I move to the countryside and never get trapped in an apartment again. (Seriously. Small hobby farm, me with my sourdough and some chickens and a rambunctious Border collie.)
What’s one thing someone could do for you right now that would make you smile?
Pay off my credit cards! Oh, wait, I’ve done that. Pay off my line of credit?
Or, you know, hire me for their next marketing or other campaign that requires a kick-ass writer with a conversational tone. Me likes work. 😀
Stay safe, kids. This isn’t over. But staying home, being smart, and self-isolating is how to get through the next wave.