Dora Houpis, a popular contributor of Neos Kosmos, assures us she is coping well during the global pandemic and hopes readers will be buoyed and motivated by the way she is handling Melbourne’s hard Lockdown 2.0.
What is your profession?
I am referred to as a hack, but I find that term offensive. I am a scribbler.
What have you been reading?
Daily newspapers and news media generally, but I am behind in my reading. The newspapers just keep piling up. Once I get through the newspapers, I’ll start reading “The Memoirs of Richard Nixon” (Arrow) 1979. I told you I was behind in my news and current affairs.
What are you watching?
A recording of SBS TV Viceland’s, 16 and 17 May broadcast of, “Slow TV, Nordlandsbanen Train Journey”.
It’s hard to describe, but the guide notes put it best: “Minute-by-minute, season-by-season, (this) is a train journey north of the Arctic Circle. The 9 hour and 50 minute journey was broadcast on the NRK2 in 2012.” (NRK2 is a Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation TV channel.)
But, you can’t see the train journey without also seeing the Telemarkskanalen Boat Journey. Another SBS gem, it is a three-hour broadcast from 20 June, where viewers can “Drift along Norway’s Telemark Canal abroad the MS Victoria as it sails through a series of locks and past points of interest between Skien and Dalen”.
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What music are you listening to?
Leonard Cohen’s “You want it Darker”.
What are you cooking?
What have you learnt from two lockdowns?
I’ve spent my whole life running from solitude, always planning activities people hated and organising outings most of my friends didn’t turn up to just so I could avoid being alone. The more I did, the busier I had to become just to keep up with myself.
I go to my parents twice a week to offer care, but stage four lockdown has meant I’ve been mostly on my own.
It has its benefits. It’s less stressful than always socialising and a lot cheaper. This is mainly because there is nowhere to go, no-one to meet up with and nothing to spend my money on. But, I’m happy.
I have a new-found appreciation for myself. I’ve discovered that I like my own company so much that, when the pandemic is over in 2026, I’m going to clone myself. We had Dolly the Sheep in 1996, but what about Dora the human? It’s got a ring to it.
What have you discovered while being in lockdown?
A carbon copy of an old Tattslotto coupon filled out by a “P Espinas” or maybe even it’s a “Despinas”. It’s not a winning ticket. I found it in my secondhand edition of “The Memoirs of Richard Nixon”.
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What have you been doing?
When I am at my inner-city flat, I mostly write. Today though, I will take a break from writing and clean up my filing cabinet. Tomorrow, I will put the files in alphabetical order. On Friday, I will colour code the folders that I put in alphabetical order earlier in the week. Come next Monday, I will do the same with my second filing cabinet.
When I visit my mother and father twice a week in their south-eastern Melbourne house in Oakleigh, I parent my parents. They are both 87 years old.
I help my mother shower and then dress. I tickle her feet once I’ve put on her socks. She laughs every time I do it and tells me to stop because she is ticklish.
She scoffs at my playfulness and says she is too old to have fun.
With my father, I discuss the news. He says he’s worried about coronavirus and his generation. I repeat Premier Daniel Andrew’s new infection and death rates for the day, including the Premier’s breakdown of deaths by age group. I tell my father that the elderly Greeks in Victorian nursing homes are dropping like flies. My father holds his head in his hands.
After lunch, I take my parents for a walk up to my brother’s house. I fit them both with masks and gloves, and put on their hat and coat. I
tell them not to touch anything or to stop to talk to anyone.
When we return, I take off their mask and gloves and sanitise their hands. I take them to the bathroom to then scrub their hands.
My parents always thank me for the outings and remind me of the curfew. They escort me to the front gate at 3pm and make sure I get in my car safely and drive off to make the 8pm curfew.
Last Saturday, the day of Assumption, was particularly special. As I opened the front gate to take them up to my brother’s house, my brother saw us and signalled for us to turn around and meet him at the fenceline in the backyard. Standing 1.5m away, he wheeled across three boxes of sweets, for my mother, Panagiota’s, name-day. One box had my mother’s favourite, galaktobouriko. My mother wheeled back $50 as a present for his daughter who shares her name.
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What is work like for you now?
I’ve started a new job. I don’t know what’s involved exactly as it’s a newly evolving industry, but it involves a lot of work from home. My job title is “Jobkeeper” and millions of Australians hold the same job. Doing “Jobkeeping” is this year’s hottest profession.
Personally, I like more structure in my work, but I shouldn’t complain, I make a living.
I’ll give it one thing though, it has a clear career path with the trajectory being graduating to JobTrainer, JobMaker and finally JobSeeker.
But scribbling is my passion and I have continued freelancing. Mostly I write for Neos Kosmos. When I’m sufficiently pissed off, I write letters to Melbourne’s metropolitan daily newspapers. I am trying to be a productive, model citizen.
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What is keeping you sane at the moment?
Sanity is relative.
What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since COVID- 19 entered our lives?
Not contracting coronavirus.