Day 10 (technically 9) - Monday, June 7th 2021
The morning starts with the standard clicking sound and knocks on the door to symbolise that breakfast has been dumped at the door.
As I'm about to get ready for my morning Yoga session my phone rings. It's my parents and my old man summed it up perfectly:
"Never in a million years would we have thought we'd be wishing you a Happy Birthday whilst you were incarcerated."
Yes, that's right, Happy Birthday Ash.
I don't usually make a fuss about my birthday but this year is certainly a unique way to spend it. Locked up in a hotel room because you are seen as a Biological Threat, despite testing negative for Rona four times in the last week. But considering I was planning to be released I could've been spending today (well tomorrow by US Time) on my balcony in Seattle getting drunk with some friends.
Oh well, the birthday festivities are over quickly. Also if you're thinking:
"Did the health staff or the hotel recognise the day for you?"
Fair question, especially as the Health staff would have my date of birth on file. But no one in the hotel recognised the occasion. I would've been quite shocked if they did. However, as I say I'm not really one to celebrate my birthday anyway.
Sadly though when you reflect on life I never thought my 34th Birthday would be spent locked up. Married with kids perhaps, but never this. Hopefully, by 35, I might not be married with kids but maybe I could freely travel again and Australians have the freedom to make their own choices in life again. Currently, I don't think that's on track to be even plausible.
One of my "friends" said to me a couple of months back:
"When you can come home you will see we are mostly back to normal".
I left nearly a year ago and I've seen the US go from a basket case to normalcy in that time. If I do fly to Melbourne at the end of the week, assuming Lockdown gets lifted, I will probably be under the same restrictions I was living under before I left. Normal hey?
If you ever needed proof of how far behind Australia is right now, my leaving and return to probably the same rules I left 11 months ago, well, it can't get any clearer than that.
On that topic though, whilst speaking with my parents we opt to see if perhaps they could get an exemption to fly to Sydney and we could spend the weekend together in Sydney. Unfortunately, my boyfriend wouldn't get it as he lives in a council that is considered a "hot zone".
We submit the request to NSW Health. Although NSW hasn't closed the border to Victoria all those coming from Melbourne basically have to follow the same rules they are currently under now for a 14 day period. Effectively NSW has a stay at home order for all arrivals from Victoria. Considering my folks have already been home for over a week, don't live in a hot zone and by the time they fly here to Sydney it would've been nearly two weeks at home. Add to the fact my mother is jabbed and compassionate grounds for family purposes surely NSW Health would approve that. They'd surely see some common sense in it?
I do my Yoga session, then my Shawshank impression in the shower. Seriously I was offered "coping strategies" by the Health team last week when I complained about the lack of fresh air. Seriously unless you're going to send up a toolkit to break or open my window what strategies are there? I could imagine a form of mediation would be one of them, which I was already doing, but that was always the plan to pass the time and get over the isolation and lack of freedom for 14 days. It was never meant as a way to deal with the lack of fresh air. I'm sure the Health team would never have thought of a coping strategy that would be channelling Andy Dufresne in the rain.
The afternoon was pretty lazy, regrettably, for the next three nights, I'm going to be pulling red-eye duties. I have three days of a Virtual Classroom for my recurrent process at work in the US. This will be interesting, working 10:30 PM to 08:30 AM for the next three nights. So the plan is to try and not do anything but save that energy for the night ahead.
My blood pressure that afternoon does skyrocket when NSW Health denies an exemption for my parents to avoid the "Stay at Home" order if they were to fly to NSW next weekend. I have a different case manager this time around but needless to say, the request is rejected via email.
Instead, this case manager says:
"We are still seeking to see if you can return to the US and will know on Wednesday if you can be released early".
Government bureaucrats. You gotta love it.
Needless to say, I let it rip with my reply. Stating where is the danger if my folks came to Sydney as my mother is jabbed, my father is in good health. Both are already and have been under House Arrest for over a week, live nowhere near a hot zone or have been to an exposure site and prepared to get tested prior to departure and once again on arrival. The tests are either accurate or they're not. The vaccine is either effective or it's not. I also reply to them, my request for an exemption to leave the quarantine was to be cancelled yesterday. To still be pursuing for me to be released early to go back to the US and be released on Day 12 (technically 11) is just pure stupidity.
While we are on the subject of bureaucrats. My exemption to leave Australia, whenever that's to occur was rejected last night. I presented them with my company's employment and a letter stating that I'm not just employed as a critical infrastructure worker, but have a US Visa, employed there, Air Crew ID and haven't been back to Australia for 11 months. It's not like I'm only just leaving Australia. This should clearly suggest that I have steady employment there and was only here temporary and thus have to go back for work. But no!
I send another one this afternoon and include my utility bills and lease agreement as further proof that I work and live in the US. I need to return! This wasn't a one-way trip, if it was I would've had more than just a cabin bag with me. I get that you have concerns with Australian's leaving because of "assistance" etc. but look at my history. Besides needing some consular assistance in Costa Rica to assist me in getting my Passport back from the US Embassy with my new US Visa I haven't had any issues being out of the country. Although I had to go to Costa Rica to get my Visa done there because it was impossible to just return to my actual country of citizenship to do it.
Seriously Australia, you need to get with the programme. The world has moved on and you are still running the same policies from March 2020.
What a birthday Ash, what a birthday.