Musings Of Déconfinement

Today is the first day of the déconfinement. Déconfinement  is the French word used to describe the period after Corvid-19 lockdown. Do you know the English word equivalent for Déconfinement? Please drop me a text if you do. I was stumbled by my students when they asked me for the English word. After poring through various news articles relating to Corvid-19, it seems to me that the anglophones don’t have a word to describe the “unlocking” of lockdown.

Instead of a word to describe the event, déconfinement is often reported as “the easing of lockdown,” “the lifting of restrictions” or simply “after the lockdown.” For instance, the French would say something like “Le déconfinement commence au ll mai,” translated into “The déconfinement starts on the 11th of May.” In English, we would say,  “The easing of lockdown” or “The lifting of restrictions” starts from the 11th of May. The English version is too verbose. For the purpose of simplicity, I will borrow the French term in this post.

As I was saying, today is the first day of the déconfinement in France. If people were like me, they had to be anticipating eagerly, yet with reservations, for this day. Deep down, we were all thinking that something was bound to happen to push back the D-Day. Fortunately, our uneasiness was not founded, and the day has finally arrived without hiccups.

Is It Long Or Short - 55 Days?

Two months, 55 days, not too long, by many definitions, yet not short either, have just been wiped out from our lives. Yes, wipe out, or at least, that’s what many people may feel.

This rings true, especially for those who are fortunate not to have to battle on the frontline against Corvid-19 and have literally spent 55 days confined within four walls. A year from now, when everything returns to normal (or as normal as it can ever be), when you ask yourself what you did the year before, you would likely to say, with a grimace, “Nothing. I was in lockdown.” “Lockdown” will be the first thought that emerges in your mind. The very thought of lockdown reminds you of your vulnerability, the physical restrictions, a situation that was out of your control. That very thought submerges your memories of the activities you undertook during this period, the books you read, the quality time you spent with your family, the new routines you picked up. So, yes, you will likely feel that 55 days have been wiped out from your life.

Almost Normal

Déconfinement does not mean life will go back to “normal,” before the Corvid-19 lockdown. Certain restrictions remain, and these restrictions vary, based on the different regions in France. For Silviu and I, the déconfinement will not make significant differences to our daily lives. Since both of us are teaching at higher education institutions, and these campuses are closed until the next school year in September 2020, we would not have to commute to work. For me, I will continue my part-time online teaching until end June.

The main differences for us would be that we could exit our flat without having to fill out a form, we can run beyond the 1km radius of our home, cycle outdoors, and take day trips in our car but staying within a radius of 100km. Moreover, we have to wear masks in certain shops.

Since we will continue to stay at home most of the day, that means we might still be under the mercy of our upstairs neighbours. In the last episode, I complained about our upstairs neighbours, the grandparents and their grandson, MW, a young apprentice at a culinary school. Young MW has been having the time of his life by inviting friends to party till wee hours, despite our complaints. After the last confrontation when we gave him the ultimatum, and he agreed, yet again, meekly that he would accept all responsibility and would see that the problem be resolved. We had a peaceful sleep the same night.

Guess what? He is definitely suffering from Alzheimer: the carousing started again the following night. Silviu was in a bind. He knew that confrontation would be pointless, yet he could not NOT do anything. Around 2 in the morning, Silviu walked up to their apartment, but not to confront them. Instead, he lanced my tennis ball, the one that I use occasionally to relieve my sore arches, with all his might against MW’s apartment door. The ball bounced off the door with a thunderous sound, that I could distinctively hear it from the flat. Silviu then dashed back quickly, without waiting for the reaction of our neighbour. MW got the point immediately. Not a peep was heard from them the rest of the night

Getting Used To Being In Lockdown

I think I am getting used to being in lockdown. Can you believe that? I guess it is human nature – one adapts to the environment. At the beginning, I was afraid that I would have too much time on my hands and would spend all the time watching series and movies, sleeping and eating. Actually, the total number of movies and series I watched in 55 days is a single digit. As for the number of sleeping hours, it’s still about the same, averaging seven hours daily. Unfortunately, in terms of quantity of food, since I am spending more time in the kitchen, I tend to eat more! 

One adapts to the environment. With the extra time on my hands, I have picked up indoor cycling and podcasting.

Indoor Cycling

The extra calories gain is partially (Note: only partially) compensated by the calories burnt from my new addiction, indoor cycling training. At the beginning of confinement, the restrictions on outdoor spots hindered my running routine. Subsequently, I switched to indoor cycling, and I am now addicted to it. Based on the cycling tests I did at the start and end of the lockdown, it seems that I have made a not quite small improvement in my level of fitness.

Without the lockdown, I don’t think I would ever dabble in podcasting.

The podcast you are listening now is something that I have picked up during the lockdown. At the beginning of the second half of déconfinement, I came across a French podcast produced by a French lady. She shares with listeners bits of her daily life in short episodes to help French language learners with their listening comprehension.

I thought it was a clever idea to use as a marketing tool for my English learning website. I am an impetuous person. Once I have an idea in mind, I like to act on it immediately, instead of mulling over the pros and cons. I am not sure whether that is a good or bad quality to have. By being impetuous, I get to do things, to experience life, be it a failure or a success. However, if I am cautious, I would likely be subject to fewer disappointments, waste less time and money.

After seven episodes of podcast, I realise that what started originally as a marketing tool, the podcast has now become my journal for putting down my observations and thoughts on various issues affecting me.

Without the lockdown, I don’t think I would ever dabble in podcasting. For a digital dummy like me, the learning curve of podcasting is pretty steep. I had to do a lot of research to understand the basics of podcasting. Then, I need to know the hosting options, the do’s and don’ts of recording, the different plugins I should use on my website, the various tools to record and edit my podcasts, the types of channels to broadcast my podcast etc. etc. Being an impetuous person, I produced my first episode two days after I came across the French lady’s website. There was a lot to learn in two days, but I enjoyed myself immensely in the learning process.

In addition, I am no longer, wait, I mean less embarrassed of hearing my own recorded voice. Are you like me, one who cringes at hearing one’s own voice? I am definitely one, but my self-consciousness has gradually diminished over the four weeks when I edited the podcast.

Podfade – an industry term that means a podcast stopping its production suddenly, without notifying the public. 
It's commonly known that if one manages to produce at least seven episodes, it is likely that the podcast will survive.

I am clueless on how long I would continue to run with this half-baked idea of mine. But, but, I have recently come cross this word, “Podfade.” It’s an industry term that means a podcast stopping its production suddenly, without notifying the public. According to a report released by AmplifiMedia, based on an interview with the CEO of Blubrry in 2018, a podcast hosting platform, of the 540,000 podcasts out at that time, only 25% had released a new episode over the previous year. This means that 75% of the podcasts in 2018 had stopped production!

It is commonly known that if a podcast manages to release at least seven episodes, it is likely that the podcast will continue its production, and not Podfade.  It reminds me immediately of the infamous “Seven-year itch”, a term that suggests couples start to stray away after around year seven of a marriage. 

Anyway, what I want to say, is that I have barely escaped Podfade, as today it’s my eighth episode! Yipee! Hooray! I have managed not to be among the 75% “Podfaders.” My podcast has a better chance of survival!  

Priority - Haircut Appointment

The first thing to do on the D-day is to get an appointment with our hairdresser ASAP, as soon as possible. We might have to wait a while before we can get a slot as everyone with any hair would have the same idea as us. It has been 4 months since my last haircut, one month later than my usual haircare routine. As for Silviu, the last time he had a cut was last year! His haircut is way overdue.

His unruly curly hair has defined gravity and is sprouting in all four directions. And he seems to be shedding a lot more hair in the past two months! You can imagine, the disgust on our face when we see multitude hair strands lying around the house, especially during the weekends when we do our weekly house cleaning.

D-Day - 11 May 2020

Running without restrictions after the déconfinement.

To mark the D-day, I might go for a short run after teaching. A run without any restrictions, without checking the watch that I am within the 1km radius, or I have not used up the one-hour daily allowance for running or walking.

Are you in déconfinement or are you still in lockdown? What was the first thing you did or would like to do on the first day of déconfinement? Do you think this period of your life has been erased from your life, or have you rediscovered yourself? 

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