Day 13 – Christmas Eve


8am: Eyes snapped open wide, instantly awake. I blinked hard twice then sprung straight up as if I was Macaulay Culkin realising I had made my family disappear.

This is my last full day and night here!

Tomorrow Mum will be coming to collect me and I will get to see my family in beautiful, currently Covid free New Zealand!

I will get to hug Mum and my big sister and nieces. I will be free to walk around the streets again fear free, mask free.

I wrestled the blankets off me with legs and my feet then jumped out of my bed with an instant spring in my step. I felt like I was eleven years-old again waking up on the eve of Christmas.

I opened the blinds! There was blue sky and the sun was shining bright with, I swear, a happy face printed on it! I’m so excited I can barely contain myself.

My friend is standing there quietly.  I can tell he is sad that tomorrow I will be leaving him. “Thank you for your loyalty tree”, I said. “I’m sorry I must leave you.”

His leaves wave to me in the wind.

New faces, new half faces, are walking back and forth, back and forth past the window. They arrived last night from the UK. ‘It goes fast guys’, I thought to them.

9.00am ‘knock, knock!’ The nurses are here already! I slept in. “Any symptoms Amy?” No, I’m all good! She took my temperature, 36.6, and gave me a fresh mask for the day.

I called the restaurant to order my coffee and quickly went to collect it. I had quite a lot of work to get done today. I wanted to finish everything so I could have all week to be free with my family.

I had three scripts to read, a few pages to write and one scene to work on, acting wise. I also had some boring tax stuff that I needed to finish. I also needed to start packing!

I tried to sit still and read these pages but I couldn’t concentrate. I could barely contain myself.

I put my earbuds in and grabbed my skipping rope and ran outside.

“Hi Amy!”, Emma from The Navy said. “You must be on your way out now?” She said as I was on my way outside. Brandon was also there next to her signing people in and out.

“ Yes,” I said ecstatic. “Tomorrow!”

Beaming under my mask, I ran outside and began to do sets of 30 second skipping cycles to burn all of this crazy energy.

There was a couple nearby on the grass area playing lawn bowls with giant rocks and pebbles they had collected from the garden. I watched them play as I skipped. In between cycles instead of resting I had to dance. I had too much energy.

After my workout I went back inside and looked around the chaotic mess in my room. I will start packing up tonight I thought.

The day went by quickly. I read some incredible stories from fellow writers in my group. So much talent. I write a few thoughts down that I think may potentially be helpful and then decide to go outside again before I read the next one. Before jumping into a new world, I will get some fresh air.

Outside was busy. The UFC fighters were training again, shuffling around in circles making air jabs. The mother/daughter power walking/talking duo were not walking/talking but were soaking in some sun, playing a board came outside on the ledge by my window. There was a blonde girl with lots of cool piercings wearing pink overalls and dr martin boots holding a large yellow bag, walking around in circles talking on the phone. There were a few new smokers and a couple more newbies that I didn’t recognise. The three families from my flight were sitting on the ledge outside my room, soaking in the sun, talking from a distance. Like me, I could tell that they were buzzing. The kids were running around, climbing the small tree in the yard, laughing, playing. They too felt like it was christmas tomorrow.

The little blonde girl who lost the frisbee was there, she waved to me. ‘Hi’, she said happily.

I waved back and said ‘Hi’ under my mask.

We had all received our negative test results the day before.  They let us know via text message. But if we test positive they, the ministry of health, come and tell us in person and they remove us to a new facility where we would stay for approximately 28 or more days.

But everyone from my flight had tested negative on day 3 and day 11 so everyone was happy and smiling. I waved to them as I walked past and sat further along where I could lean against the wall.

The sun had already started to make its journey down. The light was piercing through the black bars of the fence that separated us from the outside world. Long thick black shadows beamed across the lawn and crept up onto our faces making us look even more strange and like inmates to the human’s in the outside world.

“It’s ok” I thought. “Tomorrow we will be on the other side”. I sat down and decided to practice my harmonica.

I clicked on my Spotify and typed in Billy Joel, The Piano Man. I was getting more confident so I wanted to see if I could play along the song.

I pressed play and the beautiful piano intro began…. 123, 123…

I took off my mask, held the harmonica to my lips and did my best to play along with Mr Joel. I was actually very impressed that I could keep up! This is so fun I thought. I love this new found hobby of mine.

A nice older man walked past with his mask on. He looked at me and clapped and cheered. “ Well done!”, he said. “Thanks!”

I laughed and blushed and then continued to play proudly. I was happy he enjoyed it.

I thought about my family of musicians. My great grandfather played the guitar. He was a ukulele teacher and  romantically serenaded my great grandmother Hazel who was a ballerina and toured Australia in a dance troupe.

My Uncle Barry is also a really great musician. He can play jazz on the piano and can sing. Maybe we could have a jam I thought. I remembered watching my Uncle Barry ride into his school assembly on a motorbike at Auckland Boys Grammar. He was the High School Dean there and used to perform in his band and sing Mick Jagger to his students.

My uncle Trevor is also a really good guitar player and can play the harmonica.

So it’s in the family I guess.

I learned piano from an early age so it was easy enough for me to read music which also helped. I often thought about getting back into piano lessons. I played from when I was about 8 years old to 17.  I graduated all my exams with good marks but I never really was that amazing at practical. I was distracted by my love for dance so couldn’t keep up with my practice and I was better at reading the music.

I was one of those kids determined to be good at everything. My mum drove me around from gymnastics, to dancing, to piano, to saxophone, to drama classes, to tennis, to netball, to swimming, to aerobics. I also had guitar lessons at one point.

I thought about how much of a pain that must have been and how supportive mum and dad have always been to me. How they let me try out new things to figure out what I enjoyed the most and were flexible if I changed lanes. They listened to me and let me lead the way down my own path, always watching and gently encouraging me at each turn.

I’m looking forward to showing Mum this new hobby that I can add to my list. Lol. I played for a little longer then decided that I would read.

I turned the page and read a paragraph where Michelle Obama describes a meeting that she had in her final year of highschool with her guidance counselor. Michelle had told her that she intended on going to Princeton for college and the guidance counselor had just replied with a cold ‘I don’t think you are Princeton material”. This resulted in a deep set feeling of ‘not being enough’.  She then talks about ‘failure being a feeling long before a result; and that’s exactly what her ‘adviser’ was planting.’

I put the book down and remembered my 7th form meeting with my career advisor at Avondale College.

This paragraph had struck a chord. It’s unbelievable how reading someone’s specific journey brings up so much. Universality through specificity. Miranda Harcourt always taught me that at Drama School and it’s something I’ve always thought about and remembered while writing.

Anyway, my ‘Career Advisor’ at Avondale College, a woman who had never met me before, asked me what I wanted to do for a job when I left school and where I intended to study.

I told her what I had known for a long time.

‘I’m going to be an actress and I want to go to drama school. I have planned to go to WPAC in Wellington until I am old enough to audition for Toi Whakaari, The NZ drama school.  I’ve already begun my application process’  I said surely. Not really wanting or needing her help.

This woman who had never spoken to me in my life and knew nothing about me, looked up at me and sniggered. Laughed at me. She took off her glasses and leaned in. “Amy, Toi Whakaari is a very hard school to get into and it’s extremely hard to make a living as an actress in New Zealand. Only very few make it.”

Failure long before a result. I’m not enough. Not enough.

I told her that I am going to audition anyway and I intend to move to America.

She laughed again and said ‘Ok well you can give it a go but maybe start thinking about going to AUT and training to be a dance teacher’  I was confused at why she thought that I wanted to do that and why that was going to be a more lucrative option for me.

 I looked her in the eye and I fiercely thought “I’ll show you bitch.’

This became my ongoing mantra in life. My engine. That voice in my head was my drive, my stubborn determination thinking that I had something to prove to her and also to myself. I’ll show you.

But instead I politely said, ‘ Ok. Thank you.’  I began my search for the perfect contrasting audition monologues which in the end, worked.

Now I get that being an actress is really fucking hard, and definelty not the norm in NZ and she was just probably saving me years of rejection, being broke and panic attacks but I really felt like her words planted that fertile seed of doubt in my stomach. That seed would grow and grow, some seasons it would be out of control and would strangle me and other seasons I would have to trim, groom and maintain it so it wouldn’t take over the rest of the house.  And yes she was right, it hasn’t been easy. AT ALL. But I don’t think being a dance teacher, or owning my own dance studio or any job is easy. Life isn’t easy. So I’m glad that my stubborn ass stuck to my guns as I have had the most incredible adventures and met the most incredible people and I love my life and my job, both here and in America.

I’ll show you. Hmmm. I think this voice isn’t so loud these days.

I continued to read the rest of the chapter.  Oh “I’ll show you” also became Michelle’s mantra.


I know  that my experience is different from Michelle’s. For one my ‘advisor’ wasn’t judging me based on the color of my skin. I understand my privilege. But my experience of feeling ‘less then’  was similar and I remember it just as clearly as she does.

I put the book down and looked out through the fence into the outside world.

Words have so much power.  The words we use shape people, they shape who we are.  That woman knew absolutely nothing about me. I had never seen her in my life. She knew nothing about my ability to act, my drive, my determination. When I really think about it, it is incredibly strange that she was going to help me decide on my future.  The funny thing is, I actually wanted to do it even more after she told me I couldn’t. So her advice had the opposite effect.

It was 5pm and the same people I saw everyday were walking that had finished work. The same nice man with grey hair and wearing a black jacket, carrying his brown leather satchel walked past the fence. He looked at me and smiled warmly again. He looks nice I thought as I smiled back underneath my mask.  Most other people walk past and either look at us angrily, or avoid eye contact. But he always looks at us with kind eyes, smiling warmly.

The sun was almost down so I decided to go back inside and begin to pack.

Today flew past.

Outside my hotel room door was a little love letter from the hotel.

Well actually it was just a formal letter explaining the exit strategy for tomorrow morning.  I will have an exit interview and one final health check. My mum will wait outside inside her car and they will call me on the hotel room phone to tell me she is here.

Oh my god. I can not wait. 

I went back inside, put some music on and started organising my room. It had become chaotic over the last three days.

I lifted my suitcase onto my bed and started folding all of my clothes that were half sprawled out all over the floor and half hung neatly in my closet.

I organised all of my books, my notebooks, my lights, my trip pod into a big bag and packed everything up.

It felt strange to be packing. Like I was moving out. I’ve almost gotten used to being here. But I’m definitely excited and ready to leave.

I purposefully hung my good pair of jeans, a nice turtle neck and winter coat  in the closet ready for my departure. I wanted to dress nice tomorrow. It was a special occasion. I was to be out in the real world again, mask free. 

I know this is going to sound cheesy but I kind of feel like this is some sort of fresh start. Like I am being reborn into the world bursting with gratitude and open to new opportunities

Dance party song of the day: Edge of Seventeen, Stevie Nicks

Day 14 – Freedom!

Exit day! Freedom!
7am: I sprung out of bed and did some last-minute packing.
I had so much energy I could barely contain myself.
My dear and hilarious friend Kimberley had shared with me a song on Spotify;  “I want to break free” Queen.
“Happy Exit Day Song!”, she said in my DM’s.
I laughed to myself. You are wonderful Kimbo. Perfect song of the day!
I pressed play and got ready, belting along to the lyrics.
I had a shower, shaved my legs even, then dressed into the carefully chosen clothes that I had hung nicely in the closest the night before. Today was a very special day. I was walking into civilization again. Half of my face that had been covered since March 15th would be seen in public again. I wanted to dress accordingly.
I stopped for a second to take in this feeling.
This excitement to even get dressed in the morning. I have not felt this for a very long time. I felt alive.
Why was getting dressed in the morning not an event before the lock down?  How did I take this for granted and become so blase?
Disappointed in myself, I decided I would do my best to keep this special feeling in my heart for as long as possible. Just walking down the street and seeing people’s faces can just go away. It did. It went away. Just being able to walk freely down the street and go into a coffee shop, sit down and do work and see people’s smiles, went away. Just being able to go to a friend’s house for dinner and wine and hug and laugh and dance went away. Just being able to see family, smell them, hug them, kiss them, that went away. Before March 15th, I didnt even think twice about getting dressed in the morning. I mean, there would be special occasions where I would take the time to decide what to wear and I wanted to look nice, but it wasn’t like this. Dressing like this is your first or last day on the planet.
Don’t get me wrong, My skin has definitely thanked me for the 4½  month break of no make up and I did quite enjoy living in onesies and slippers.  But I was excited to dress properly today. I had somewhere to be and people to see! I put on my gold stud earrings, my nice suede jacket and heeled boots. I waved my hair and of course I carefully chose my favorite light pink lipstick. My lips would be seen. People will see me smiling at them.
I wonder if this is how my Nana felt when they would get dressed up to go to a dance during the War. Because life was not to be taken for granted and was to be celebrated and you never knew what was around the corner.
I picked up my phone to check the time and out of habit clicked onto my instagram. God, I have to delete this I thought. Just for a while. Just to have a break.
I mindlessly scrolled for a second.
New Post: Gov. Newsom’s instagram: As #covid19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, 30 counties will now be required to Close indoor operations for fitness centers, places of worship, offices for non-critical sectors, Personal care services, hair salons, barbershops, malls, indoor restaurants, bars and wineries.
I took a deep breath of relief. Thank goodness. It is bitter sweet but I was hoping this would happen. They opened everything way too early which has caused everything to go right back to the beginning.  If they had just stayed shut down this wouldn’t have happened.
The week before I left LA I went for a walk through Franklin Village to pick up a pint of my favorite ice cream at Van Lewan. I couldn’t believe the crowds of people sitting outside Birds and La Poubelle. It was like a Black Mirror episode. People were NOT 6ft. apart and of course their masks were off the entire time because they were eating and drinking. It was really disturbing. “This is never going to go away here”, I thought to myself.
I decided to walk in the middle of the road to avoid walking through that many people. As I walked past I even heard three different people coughing at tables, loudly, for a very long time. I knew for a fact that Covid was heavily in our neighborhood so this was frightening.
I definitely feel for the restaurant owners. I have worked in hospitality on and off for a long time and I understand how hard it is to break even when there isn’t a pandemic. But you will not catch me eating out in LA until there’s a vaccine.  Instead Brett and I supported our local favorite spots by ording to go and eating at our new date spot, our balcony, safe at home.
This was a strange and a bittersweet feeling. My excitement faded to guilt and sadness. The day I will be set free and be able to start socialising again and go out to cafes and do all the fun things I used to do, Is the day my second home, California, is shutting back down.
It truly breaks my heart what is happening in America. It’s absolutely devastating. The tension, the lack of leadership, the miscommunication, people giving up, tired, trying to keep going the best way they can. It’s all such a mess.
When I was there and living in it, like a lot of my American friends, I was overwhelmed with fear and rage. I was angry at the lack of leadership and I was angry at the silliness I was seeing around me.
I continued to scroll for a second.
New post: BERNIE SANDERS. Trump is finally wearing a mask. Too little too late. His refusal to develop national pandemic policy based on science has led to widespread confusion and cost us many thousands of lives. Trump has rejected science. In November, we must come together and reject Trump.
100%. I love you Bernie. Sexiest man alive.
Knock! knock! I checked my phone. 830am. I opened the door. “Hi Amy! I’m just coming to do your final health check and exit interview.”, the nurse said.
Yes, that’s right. I’m here in New Zealand about to leave managed isolation. Today is a joyous occasion. No worrying today, ok Amy?
Last night, I had received a note outside my door explaining the exit process in great detail. I was to stay in my room three hours prior to my confirmed departure time. I had told them this would be at 10am when they called to schedule a week ago. They  wanted to avoid crowds in the foyer. It explained that I was too keep the confirmation slip from the nurse safe, but then it said ‘but if you lose it, no stress, just ask the nurse at the nurses station for another one before you leave’.
‘No stress’, I smiled as I read this.The kiwi nature of that sentence.
I read on.
‘Thank you for being so patient with us during this time, we wish you a safe and pleasant journey home’.
Patient with them? I thought. They have been absolutely incredible.
The nurse handed me the little confirmation slip. 37 degrees (celsius). No symptoms.  She told me that I was to hand my slip into the navy on my way out with my exit paperwork.
950am. Mum would be here in just 10 minutes! I put my mask on and ran out into the foyer.
On the way out, I saw Te Atatu doing her health check rounds.
“Are you leaving today Amy?”
“Yes I am !!”
I waved my arms in the air and spun around,  “Exit day!”
She laughed and she said it makes her so happy seeing everyone leaving. You all look so happy and excited.
“Thank you so much for everything’, I said to my new friend.
“Oh no worries, Amy. Have the best time with your family.”
“I will.”, I said, smiling at her from behind my mask.
I wanted to hug her. She has been so nice to talk to. So comforting and kind and friendly.
I walked into the reception to collect a trolley to put my bags on. I had gathered more items from all of my family visits so I had more than what I bought from the airport.
A nice man from the navy helped me wheel it back to my room. The phone rang.
I answered it excitedly ! “ HEllO!” I said
“Your ride is here Amy.”
“Coming!”, I yelled, hyperventilating.
Mum had checked in with security at the gate and would be driving through the parking lot to the front entrance of the hotel. She would have to wait inside her car.
I piled all my luggage on to the trolley as best I could. I actually, probably could have packed a little better but as you can probably tell by my scattered thoughts I was too excited and wasn’t thinking straight.
I pushed the heavy trolley through the hallway. It was harder than I thought. My large suitcase kept banging, side to side, into both walls. My dumbbells fell out of a plastic bag and rolled underneath the trolley, and my yoga mat rolled off the end and got stuck underneath the wheels. After what, felt like a lifetime, I finally wheeled it through to the front lobey. There was Mum in her car waiting for me out the front. She waved happily. I could see her mouthing “Amy! Amy!”
I handed Claudia my confirmation receipt and final exit paperwork and she handed me my Certificate of Completion.
‘This letter is a formal confirmation of your completed stay in managed isolation or quarantine. We thank you for doing your bit to beat COVID-19 by staying the course in one of our managed facilities. We hope that your stay has been comfortable and you have felt well supported.
We are pleased to confirm Amy Louise Waller has completed a 14-Day (336hours) isolation period in New Zealand and received a negative day 12 Covid-19 test result.’
Wow. So incredibly organized.
I said one last big thank you before pushing my trolley out through the door.
I ran to the car. I wanted to hug mum so bad but she wasn’t allowed to get out.
There was a security guard there to make sure of it but he also was kind enough to help me with my bags. We had trouble opening the boot (trunk) but eventually got there.
I shoved everything in as quickly as I could and said thank you to the nice man for helping me.
I opened the left-hand passenger door and jumped in the seat next to mum.
“Hi Mum! “ I said with tears in my eyes.
And we hugged. And there it was. Her samsara perfume. Her warm embrace. All the things I missed deeply at the airport. We squeezed each other tightly.
“Oh Amy, my darling girl,” Mum said. We both burst into tears.
Everything that I had been feeling since March 15th. All the fear and tension and worry. All of it came out. “I missed you Mum”, I said.
“You’ve done so well Amy.“, Mum said. ‘You’ve handled this all so well.’
We hugged for what felt like 5 minutes.
I looked up into the foyer of the hotel. There was Claudia and Brandon and the rest of the navy, the hotel staff and security all smiling. I could tell they were happy for us. I looked at them one last time. ‘Thank you for your help, and being so kind and for keeping us all safe’, I thought.
Mum said “Hey, shall we get a coffee and go for a walk?”
‘Umm Yes! ’ I said. In disbelief.
This feels insane.
We drove out of the hotel parking lot, past the security fences and into Greenlane. Into the world. Into New Zealand. Into my homeland. We drove along the motorway. I looked out of the left hand passenger door window.
Wow. Everyone is free here. I thought. Safe.
‘There’s Mt. Eden! ’ I said to mum ‘ look there’s New Market!”, “oh my god there’s Victoria Park Market’, ‘look there’s where I used to work Mum!” I looked at a playground, filled with children all tucked up, cozy in their warm winter jackets. Playing happily. Parents talking to each not having to worry about standing at a distance. All without masks.
I just couldn’t believe it. The difference in energy is unreal.
We parked the car at Three Lamps Plaza and got out.
Mum began to walk down the street, in front of the shops that were all open, operating again. I followed behind, feeling like I was having an out of body experience.
A woman walked past me and naturally I circled 6ft. around her to give her distance. She looked at me and smiled. Sensing my confusion. Oh that’s right. I don’t have to do that anymore.
I walked past another couple. The woman looked at me and she smiled. I think she could see the absolute wonder in my eyes. Like I was on another planet. I smiled back. And she could see it. My smile. My face.
Mum casually opened the door of the cafe we had decided to go to. Salta. One that used to be a regular spot to me. But this felt so different. Brand new. I floated behind, grabbing for my imaginary mask that I thought would still be around my neck, and then releasing it wasn’t and didn’t need to be.
This feeling was incredible. It’s really difficult to put into words. But it reminds me of that Black Mirror episode. San Junipero. Where the older women put a chip in the ear and go back to their favorite past time and place and its paradise. This feels like San Junipero but it’s not. This is my home, New Zealand. And it’s not the past. This is now in the world of Covid-19.
There were four two-top tables on either side of the cafe filled with people. Mostly older men and women, silver hair, in their woolen cardigans and thick black framed reading glasses.  All relaxed, happy, enjoying their morning coffee and subconsciously, their safety.
We ordered our coffee from a nice female kiwi barista. She was mask, gloves and screen free. She looked happy and relaxed going about her work day as per normal. Without that look of terror in her eyes that screams ‘save me’ like a lot of my friends who were forced to go back to work under such terrifying circumstances.
‘Umm….’ I said distractedly thinking about my friends in the service industry in LA.
‘Oh sorry, ah a long black please.’
“Have here or take away?”, she said warmly.
‘Oh definitely have here please’. I said. Mum and I looked at each other and giggled.
Mum sat down on a two top table that was placed closely in between two other tables. Each occupied by two men that looked similar reading the newspaper.
We sat down. I felt way too close to the people next to us. My sense of space has changed.
‘Mum.’, I whispered. ‘This is so strange. They feel so close.”
I wasn’t used to having people in such close proximity to me.
Mum laughed at me.
The barista bought us our coffee poured to perfection in delightful pottery. This is heaven. I thought.
The air around me felt thick, the sound of chatter and the coffee machine became muffled. I looked around at everyone living their normal life doing everyday things so comfortable and relaxed and happy. I saw mum, happily looking at the paper making polite conversation with the people next to us.
‘This is unbelievable’,I said to mum. ‘It feels like it never happened here.”
We drank our coffee and went for a walk.
Honestly all I wanted to do was walk around the street past people and not feel scared. I wanted to walk in and out of shops and restaurants and see peoples faces. Something that I used to take for granted.
I needed to go to the bathroom and there was the evidence.
A sign saying “Protect EACH OTHER from Covid-19. Please wash your hands for 20 seconds.”
Ok, yes, it was here. I mean I knew it was here, and if I arrived 6 weeks earlier I’m sure the feeling would be very different. But everyone had just done a fucking good job at shutting it down. The team of 5 million people worked together. They protected each other by not seeing each other. And it worked. It went away and we must do our best to keep it that way.
Mum and I continued on our ventures, we looked at the shops, went out for a late lunch, also incredibly surreal and then made our way up to Matakana to see my sisters and nieces.
I continued to feel like I was floating and in another world and circled around strangers by accident and to use a paper towel to touch things and open doors out of habit.
Walking around, I noticed that the streets were less busy than last time I was here and a lot of businesses had decreased their hours of operation and were closed, some had closed for good.  Covid-19 did hit NZ and they are also feeling the deep after effects. Lots of job losses and businesses going under.
We got in the car, and drove North. Down Jervois Road, near the old house on Clifton Road that I lived in for a good 4 years.Then past Ponsonby Primary School where I taught performing arts to 5 year olds, over the harbour bridge, past Albany where I danced at so many Rugby games. Past Orewa where I also lived for two years, through the tunnel and finally into Matakana.
All of these places, so familiar, yet so estranged. Like I was looking at them with the same amount of love but with a new pair of eyes. I’m a completely different person then when I lived here. I thought to myself as we drove.
We had organised to meet my sister and nieces for a drink and early dinner at the Matakana Village pub. More eating out!
We had just arrived when I heard, “Amy! Amy!”
Three beautiful girls ran towards me. My niece, Ella, grabbed me and squeezed me extra extra tight. “Hi Auntie!”, she yelled. “Hi darling!”, I said. Tears coming back strong.
Sophie squeezed me tight too. “I knew you would cry Auntie!”, she said. Teasing me.
I knew I would too. The last few months have been a lot to process and all I have wanted to do was this.
And then finally my big beautiful caring sister. We squeezed each other tight and we both cried. All five of us Waller women in the middle of the doorway at the Matakana Pub, hugging and crying and laughing.
Absolute heaven. The best moment of my life. If only Catherine was also here.
We ordered a bottle of local Omaha Bay wine to celebrate us all being together and sat down and excitedly caught up.
“Does this feel so strange ?” my sister said. “To be out, It’s been since early March, right?”
I nodded. ‘Yeah, it really does. We are so so lucky.’, I said.
My beautiful friend Kimberly, who had been so supportive to me during these last two weeks of lock down met us with her two boys. We hugged and cried and enjoyed our wine and food, sitting here, dining in at this beautiful restaurant.
I took in the ambience, the locals at the bar watching Rugby on the telly, the family at a table next to us, the group of friends behind us. I looked around at our table and I watched this beautiful table of generous women laughing and conversing, hugging each other, squeezing my arm and I just couldn’t believe it.
I was ecstatic, so happy and grateful. So much love in my heart. But there was a part of that same heart that couldn’t help but still think about the rest of the world. America. My boyfriend. My friends. My family. All still fearful and on edge. I wished they could all be here. I wished they could experience this feeling that I felt. This feeling of feeling safe and looked after.
After a few more wines, more food, more laughs, more hugs, we went back to my sister’s house and hung out and reminisced. Eventually the wonderful day was over and I got ready for bed. What a day. I was tired. Exhausted. I wasn’t used to interacting with people. I felt like I did more today than I did in the whole year. But I was calm and most importantly happy. I lay into bed and I looked at the ceiling. I took a deep, relaxed breath and smiled to myself. Home Amy. You are Home.
“ Even when it’s more real than you want it to be. Your story is what you have, what you will always have, it is something to own.” – Michelle Obama, Becoming.
Dance party song of the day – “I Want to Break Free” – Bohemian Rhapsody. Queen.

LIGHT- Day 11


3 days to go. Final Covid test day.

O.k. I’m over this now. I am ready to LEAVE!!

I woke up at 7:30am to a “knock knock, room service!”

‘They are early today’, I thought before rolling out of bed and sleepily shuffling my feet over to open the door. I collected my brown paper bag with breakfast inside. Garlic field mushrooms on ciabatta toast. My Saturday morning meal. Yummy. I love mushrooms.

I open the blinds to see what the outside world looks like. More sunshine and blue sky today.

It’s Saturday so instead of instantly sitting at my laptop to work I decided that I would drink my coffee and lay in bed and read.

I could still see the view outside my window – the cars driving past, the autumn leaves, the kiwi style bungalows on the hill in Remuera, the one palm tree and my friend, the tree. The angle has slightly changed so now I see that there is another tree, next to my friend. I’m pretty sure these are acorn trees. This other tree is free of Ivy around his trunk,  unlike my friend and also has no leaves. Just large bare branches.

I opened my book.

In the opening of “Becoming”  Michelle Obama talks about how strange she felt as a young girl being asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?’ As if growing up is so finite. And then she lists everything she has ‘been’ up until this point and who she is becoming.

Here in inbetween, Inbetween worlds and in between life, well almost, but not quite. Not there yet Amy! I think about everything I have ‘been’ up until now.  I mean, I know I am no Michelle, and have not ‘been’ anything nearly on the same scale. She has ‘been’ incredible things. But me, Amy Louise Waller.  What have I ‘been’? Hmmmm. I have been an affectionate daughter, a loving and cheeky middle sister, an adoring auntie, a daughter drowning in grief after losing her father,  a hardworking and eager to please student, an admiring grand daughter, a dancer, a choreographer, a theatre maker, an agent, a mermaid, (figuratively because I love the sea, but also, I literally was a mermaid with a giant tail for a children’s show at the Sydney Aquarium. Lol ). What else? I have been stuck – paralyzed by fear and endless rejection,  a nanny, a broken hearted ex-girlfriend, a voyager, alone traveling the world, a waitress, a friend, an actress – empowered on the stage, a date, a bartender, an actress living my dream on hollywood sets, a writer, a producer, an event coordinator, a lover, a loving partner, a creator, a swimmer, a self-isolator, and now I guess I have been a blogger (which I never thought I would ever do).

What will I become next? I’m sure that a lot of those will stay but what else will be added to the pot or plot, after this little hiatus. This little pause and time of reflection.

The phone rings loudly!

I jump out of my bed.

‘Hi Amy! It’s Lucy from the Ministry of Health. Are you ok to come down and get your Day 11 test? Just remember to bring the paperwork filled out and your passport.”

“Yes! I said “I’ll be there in ten minutes”.

For some reason I said these words in an American accent so she could understand me.

I forgot for a second where I was.

I quickly filled out the paperwork that a young, green member of the Navy had given me the night before. He knocked on my door during my harmonica practice  and very nervously handed me the paperwork. Maybe he thought I was a famous musician. Bahaha!

I walked out into the foyer. A security guard was near the restaurant. There were also two police officers. 

The security said “testing?”. I said yes and he led me to the outdoor area which is usually closed off. 

Outside were a lot of the guests that I recognized from my flight. The attractive couple in black with their two blonde 8 or 9 year-old sons. The attractive woman was wearing pretty eye makeup and nice gold earrings that dangled, framing her black mask. She looks nice, I thought. Inspired to maybe go and put some makeup on myself today.  The family with the two toddlers were also there, and the two parents with the blonde little girl who lost the frisbee. They had just finished getting their tests and were spending time in this restricted outdoor area, before being asked to leave. 

I walked through them, keeping my distance and waited.

No one from my flight had tested positive on Day 3. In fact, no one had tested positive in this hotel for about 4 weeks but I still knew it was important to be careful.

I waited in line until my name was called. 

Nurse Jackie was very nice. She took my passport and sat me down and asked me to pull my mask down below my nose. 

There was a man next to me who was videoing himself getting the swab put up his nose. Eww. I wouldn’t like to click on that IG story. 

The second time was still strange and uncomfortable but easier then the first. I laughed and screamed lightly at the same time. 

‘All done’ Nurse Jackie said sprightly. 

‘Thank you’, I said excitedly, knowing that that will be my last test here in isolation.

I went back inside and did some exercise in my room. I’ve been following an app on my phone called Sweat which has a lot of good ‘At Home’ workouts. 

“Testing testing 123, testing testing 123, testing testing 123!”, echoed loudly over the speaker in my room. “Yup, it’s working” I said to the speaker. 

“We are expecting a new plane arriving from 4:30pm – 6:40pm. You will not be able to leave your room until the check out is done. I repeat we are expecting a new arrival of guests today at 4:30 – 6:30pm so we require that everyone stays in their rooms during this time. Thank you everyone for your cooperation. We will do another announcement when it’s safe to leave your rooms. Stay safe everyone and enjoy your afternoon.” 

I looked at my phone and saw the time was 3:45pm. I decided to get another coffee and go outside again while I still could. 

Outside the air was crisp and the sun was shining through the clouds tiredly beginning it’s journey down. There was the smell of fresh grass and wood burning from someones fire place in the distance. It felt cozy. 

I saw a lot of new faces. Well half of their faces. Lots of new people who I hadn’t seen before. They must have just arrived. More Kiwis from all parts of the world. Coming home.

There were also the regulars.

The attractive family with the woman who had the nice earrings were playing with a drone thingy. For a second I thought it was someone from the media trying to get an inside shot of us ‘inmates’ for Newshub. 

I walked around in circles and took everyone in. 

A man wearing an orange jacket and a blue mask was talking to a family member through the fence. Three guests stood on the yellow crosses smoking 2m apart. The mother and daughter power walking/talking duo were marching intently around the grounds. The UFC fighters. The three of them were training in the parking lot. I think one of the guys recently fought in Vegas. They were shuffling around in circles, firing jabs at each other. 

I kept walking. 

There was a woman doing shuttle runs. Back and forth, back and forth, Two kids sitting two metres apart drinking hot chocolates awkwardly under their masks and a father and son sitting on the ledge near my window playing chess.

I watched everyone, smiling at them under my mask. How beautiful is this? Everyone is creative, present, spending time with each other and making the best of the situation. This is love. This is light. 

This is hope. 

A feeling I haven’t felt for a while. 

This is important to hang onto I thought through these scary times. This is what will get the world through this. Human connection. Love. Relationships. People. Creativity. People are the most important thing. And this country takes such good care of its people.

I suddenly felt lighter.

I sat down on the ledge in front of my friend the tree. The sun peeped through the clouds and I felt it shine warmly on my cheek. 

I closed my eyes and soaked it in. 

I pulled my mask down. 

Deep breath. 

I pulled my mask back up. 

Later that evening, inspired by the attractive woman with her makeup on and pretty earrings, I decided to shower and dress myself as if I was going out. Just a normal Saturday night. 

I washed and blow dried my hair, put on jeans, heeled boots, a nice top and my favorite jacket. 

I put on makeup for the first time in 2 weeks or probably more like a month. 

It felt good. Motivated and ready for a great night! 

I put on my favorite hat and texted Brett asking him out for a date night zoom dinner. “Sure!”, he said. 

I poured a glass of wine and put on some music. I decided to branch out and sit in a new spot in my room. This tiny, mini, little cushioned bench thing which connects the bed to the desk.  Not my regular favorite table in restaurant 0058, sitting opposite the tree, but it is a nice change. 

I set up my laptop and clicked on the link Brett sent me.

There was a knock at the door and I told him that our dinner had arrived. Well mine. Brett had actually already eaten because he was five hours ahead. Well actually 19 hours behind. I am in the future. He is in the past. It was late, last Friday night where he was.

Anyway tonight I had ordered a lovely roast chicken dinner, with steamed broccoli and roasted pumpkin. 

With a kiwi classic, pavlova for dessert! Yum! 

We chatted while I ate and then I told him I had planned a special treat. A  little concert starring me and my harmonica. 

I played him the songs I had learned. Well the one song I had learned. “The Piano Man” a few times over. And he laughed and clapped and praised me. 

We eventually said goodbye and I decided to put on some music and dance around my room. For a second I  pretended that I was in a bar on Ponsonby Road, or at a saturday night party with friends. Weird to think that soon I will be able to do stuff like that again. With real life people around me, talking, laughing, dancing, hugging, enjoying life, letting loose. Safely, with no risk of catching or spreading the virus. No anxiety.

I looked at the sun setting behind the tree in my window. “Cheers”, I said to my friend. 

Another day gone. Tomorrow I will only have 2 more nights left! 

Dance party song of the day:  “The Piano Man” Billy Joel.




Ok. Only 4 more days. I can do this. 

I woke up at 7am this morning. I thought about just lying in bed for the whole day and not getting up at all. 

I really could… If I was to do it, now would be the time. Everything is being brought to me. I can literally do everything I want to do from this bed. I grabbed a pillow and put it over my face. I tried to fall back asleep.

 I couldn’t so I pushed my blankets off me and got out of bed. Self Isolation makes you feel laaaaaazzzzzyyyyyy. 

I opened the blinds. “Hi friend”, I said to the tree. 

My friend, The tree, looked beautiful today. Like a painting. Set against beautiful blue skies. A soft golden light from the early sun was reflecting off the brown leaves. The rain has stopped. I feel happy that I will be able to go outside. 

I made my instant coffee and instead of sitting at the desk to work on my computer. I decided to drink my coffee from bed and turned on the television. 

The Good Morning Show was on with New Zealand accents of course.  It’s been so long since I’ve heard my accent on the television. Especially on the news. John Cambell was interviewing a British man about his new series of children’s books. John is still here going strong. It was nice to listen to some news that wasn’t about the world falling apart. 

Unfortunately that didn’t last long. A new presenter, who I hadn’t seen before, updated us on the world news. It’s quite amazing watching the news from here. From another country’s perspective. I learned about how covid is affecting other parts of the world.  Africa, India and across the ditch in Melbourne. We don’t really hear about any news from other countries in America unless we put it on BBC world. I mean, there is so much happening there I guess, there isn’t really the time to show anything else. Arizona in America is now the epicenter of COVID 19 in the world. Over 3500 new cases per day. 

I turned off the news and sat down at my computer to work. 

Arizona is right next to California, which is also in a bad state.

Instead of working I picked up my phone and scrolled through instagram. Of course.  Don’t we all?

A post from a friend. “I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care for other people”, Dr Anthony Fauci. 

Another post. “Breona Taylor was killed 118 days ago. Her killers are still free”.

Another post.  “Cases in Texas have risen by 68%. South Carolina cases have risen by 99%. Florida has seen it’s average new daily cases increase more than tenfold since re opening”

Another post: A friend wearing a mask hiking in the mountains. 

Another post: “Majority of Seattle Council pledges to support police department defunding plan laid out by advocates” #keepgoing

Another post. News. Dr Fauci “States who have trouble controlling Covid rates should seriously look at shutting down”

Another post. National leader needs a cup of tea and a lie down. 


Another post: Sponsored. Caelynn Miller-Keyes from Bachelor Nation.  Proud to be partnering with Fabelictics. 

Another post. Friends in New Zealand out for dinner. 

Another post. A friend sending love out to her friends in the restaurant industry in LA. #wecansurvivethis. 

Another post. Breaking News. Prosecutors can now obtain Trump’s tax returns. 

I turned my phone over. 

Holy fucking fuck. Excuse my language but I do think they are the correct words to describe the current situation.

The World. 

Deep breath. 

I think to myself –  when I leave here I will turn off social media for a little bit. I will delete all Social Apps. 

The room was feeling a little bit stuffy so I grabbed my peppermint essential oils and dabbed it on my wrist and temples. 

9am. “Knock Knock” Te Atatu was here to take my temperature. “Hi Amy!”, she said super nicely. “How are you feeling today? Any symptoms?”

“Heya, no I’m all good thanks Te Atatu!”

We caught up and spoke a little about the news. She aimed the gun thing at my head and took my temperature. 36.5 celsius. “Thank you Amy, have a good day today”, she said.

So lovely. Everyone is so nice it makes me want to cry. 

I put on my mask, pull the room card key from the power slot thing and opened the door. 

I went to the restaurant to pick up my coffee. 

I walked out into the foyer to the restaurant and saw that there was a police officer having breakfast and he was on his phone. Hmm. Ok, so the police are also here now I guess. I look around. I can see three New Zealand cops. Gun free and friendly looking enough.  Dressed in blue. Two young male cops with a sleeve tattoo each and one woman. 

They avoided eye contact with me. 

‘Hi Grace’ I said.

“Long black?”

“Yes thank you so much.”

I paid for my coffee and, to change things up, I decided to take my coffee outside instead of going back into my office/room. It was such a lovely morning I didn’t want to miss it. 

“Morning Amy!” Said Emma from the Navy who was sitting next to Lizzie.

“Morning Emma!” I said. I’ll miss these ladies. Taking such good care of everyone.

I stepped outside into the fresh air. It was beautiful. The sun was shining but the air was still crisp and cold. I know I’m repeating myself when I say that, but the quality of NZ air is unbelievable. 

There was a mother and son who I recognized from my flight, masked up and playing in the parking lot. Another woman from my flight was wearing bright tights while power walking. Lots of new faces who must have just arrived looking a little lost and unsettled. 

Feeling at home, I walked in my slippers 100m across the parking lot to a pathway of pebbles and then sat on the ledge that is attached to the wall right next to my window. 

I put my feet up and leaned against the wall, took off my mask for a minute and breathed in the fresh air. No one was around so it was safe. I was nervous someone would drive past and take a photo of me without my mask on and it would end up on Newshub.

I took 5 deep breaths and then put my mask back on. 

The sun was shining. I closed my eyes, lifted my chin and soaked in the sun. It’s warm enough to even be out here without a  jacket. Again, the air quality is delicious. I don’t think we realise this until we leave home.

Deep breath.

A tear falls down my cheek. 

Oh America. My second home. The land that houses so many people I love. How will we get out of this mess?

I open my eyes and remind myself I am here. 

I call Brett to say good morning. He answers and I ask him if he thinks the world is about to implode. He laughs at me, used to and loving my overwhelmed episodes. “We are going to be ok. It’s terrible but we will get through this”, he says. “I just can’t wait until November 10th”.

We talk about whether or not I will still be able to vote from here and if LA will see another stay at home order. “It’s looking like it“, he tells me. 

“The good news is LA feels like it is being a lot more careful again”, he assures me. “Really?” I said.  “America was just hit with the worst thing ever with the worst president in modern history”. He says. 

“Just?”, I laughed. 

“All of the governors and mayors have all been left to fend for themselves.”

I agreed.

“The good news is his polls are terrible.”, trying to assure me and himself. Brett always stays so positive. Yes, he can get worked up and fiery, but his natural state is very warm and calm. It’s what I love most about him. 

We say our goodbyes and then I go back inside. On my way, I decided that I will get one more coffee.

At the restaurant an American woman who was on my flight said hi. I could tell she was eager for conversation and human connection. Tobi her name was. Tobi is a New Zealand resident but recently had to fly back to LA to see her Dad who was in the hospice. 

“I’m really sorry” I said. Understanding what that feels like. 

She went back to see him one last time and then had to quickly come back before all the flights stopped.  We spoke about the feeling in LA before we left and agreed on the tension. Her son was in college in LA and is still there.  She was offered a job here in NZ and accepted it with out thinking twice. 

We spoke a little longer from a distance before we said goodbye. 

I went inside and drank my coffee and read my book. 

12pm – “Knock Knock” 

Lunch. Today was a vegetable frittata

I put it aside for later and rolled out my yoga mat which fits perfectly in my entranceway. I was feeling squished so I decided to stretch it out and do hot power fusion ondemand yoga class.

I turned up the heating in my room. 

The phone rang!

“Room service. Do you need anything today Amy?”  

“Some dishing washing liquid and laundry powder please”

Later that evening my mum texted me to tell me that she’s on her way to Uncle Barrys in Mt Eden and that she can see a giant Rainbow over the hotel. 

I ran outside to see the rainbow. I walked all the way around the parking lot trying to see the rainbow but alas I could not find it. 

I walked towards the little grass area outside my window and saw two of the families from my flight. Two if the children were playing frisbee. That looks fun, I thought wanting to join in. I kept walking and decided to sit near my friend, the tree. 

Just as I sat down, by accident, the frisbee went flying over the fence and into the forbidden outside world!  “Oh no!” the little girl cried. Game over.

I suggested asking one of the security guards to go and collect it for us. I mean for them. Lol. They had not asked me to play in their game but I felt invested.

One of the brothers ran over to the fence to have a look. His father quickly raced after him to make sure he wasn’t about to climb the fence to get it. 

A nice woman with her daughter walked past on the other side of the fence. The little blonde girl, who threw the frisbee asked them nicely if they could please pass it through. “oh, you guys are in isolation ?” the woman said. “Yes” The little blonde girl exclaimed. “But we are getting out very soon! “

We are.

The nice woman found a stick and scrapped it through under the fence to avoid picking it up with her hands. “Thank you!” The little blonde girl jumped up and down. 

Phew. I thought. Happy that they got their frisbee back. I had seen them playing with that one toy for days now. 

I went back inside and looked at my room. Should I sit on the bed? Or the Chair?

The bed. I lay down and dreamt about walking down the street. Looking in cafes and shops. Not scared. I dreamt about hugging my mum and my sisters.

I noticed how relaxed my body felt. My mind was calm. My breathing deep.

I don’t think I truly realized how stressed my body felt in LA until I arrived here.

I fell asleep.

Dance party song of the day: Signs. Drake.




I’m sorry that I skipped a day yesterday. I was a  little flat and to be honest it’s all starting to feel normal, living here. I am in a regular routine so I didn’t have too much to say. 

At the beginning, I was just kind of writing these pages to myself. To get it all out of my head and to maybe look back on one day. But I’m so glad I decided to share this journey. It’s just been quite incredible.  So many people have opened up to me in response.  I think it’s important right now. People are craving a deeper level of connection. It’s like I have gone back in time. I think writing letters in the mail will make a comeback. I hope so. 

Oh there was something exciting that did happen yesterday. I received an email from Alec McLean, the assistant of Jacinda Arden responding to my Day 1 memoir. Alec thanked me for my email and said that he knows Jacinda Arden will enjoy reading it so he has forwarded it on to her. I can’t believe it ! A reply just one day later. I wasn’t expecting that at all. 

I was up at 5:30am this morning. Back in my early start society!

I had my Margie Haber ongoing zoom class which is normally 10am Wednesday in LA but here it is 5am on a Thursday so I was up early for that. I was running a bit late but I was happy I made it and so excited to see everyone. Still half asleep and in my Pajamas,

I flipped open my laptop and clicked on the link. Margie and the class all cheer and clapped, happy that I had made it. I sleepily smiled and waved at everyone. Today was self tape day. We were all showing recent self tapes to get feedback from the class. Anything we wanted really. 

Last night I felt like getting off my computer and getting back into my body and doing some acting. I was inspired by Claudia and Brandon and the rest of the Navy outside in the foyer of the hotel so I decided to relive an old audition I had done for a navy officer in NCIS.

I imagined that this hotel was suddenly navy barracks and I was part of Claudia’s and Brandon’s team. I emailed the hotel the sides which they kindly printed for me and set up my lighting and tripod that I had brought with me in my suitcase from LA. My tripod was too short so i had to try and balance it on my chair. The chair is round, not flat so that unfortunately did not work. I saw the bookcases beside my bed. Do they move? Yes they do! I pulled them out and then managed to awkwardly set up my tripod on top of the book case. Ok. I decided I would just try something new and use the actual real door as the backdrop rather than a fake door.  

I had just finished setting up when I heard a large “POP” and everything turned dark! Eeek. My light had blown. Shit! I forgot about the wattage difference. I zoomed Brett and he patiently read for the other character while I went in and out doing about 5 different takes. 

After all that I actually decided to show the class an audition I had done for a comedy series the week before I left LA. The one from that night didn’t really work out. It was dark and the angle of the camera wasn’t the best so I changed my mind last minute. 

The class laughed and gave me positive feedback and helpful notes. I watched everyone else’s incredibly solid audition tapes and was blown away. So many incredible actors. All insanely beautiful too. 

I felt grateful to be in a class that challenged and supported me. Lead by an incredibly generous and amazing teacher. 

After the class I went outside into the foyer and out into the parking lot for some fresh air. 

I noticed that they had surrounded the hotel with large fences. Now it definitely feels more like a cage.

I went back inside and asked Claudia if they had put them up because of the Man who escaped and went into countdown on Victoria St. 

‘Yes’,  she said. She said they have had to up all the security. 

It rained more so I walked around in big loops in the foyer of the hotel. It was raining heavily outside and I wanted to get some more cardio in.

When you enter the foyer from outside. Past Claudia and Brandon and the rest of the Navy who check us in, there are stamps on the floor that have a picture of two humans with a heart between them and an arrow that says 2m. It’s a cute picture. The stamps are 2  meters (6ft)  apart from each other and lead you around the offices that are placed in the middle of the hotel foyer around to the restaurant. At the restaurant there is a small bar with a woman wearing a blue mask and blue gloves and blue apron making coffee. 

Just past the restaurant there are four stations set up with clear plastic shields attached. These are the stations we checked in on the first day. Behind the check in stations are large tables with hundreds and hundreds of brown paper bags inside. They are setting up to distribute all of the bags for lunch.  I pass the kitchen and then the elevators and then the nurses office and then I am back where I started.  They look at me strangely. Walking around in circles. I keep walkin in loops for a while and then decide to go back into my room.

I answered a couple of messages from friends, teasing, asking me if I was the one who escaped. Lol. 

Nope. Still here. 

The rain stopped suddenly ! So I rushed outside. Claudia and Brandon said “Hey again” laughing that i was so in and out today.  I forgot how crazy the weather is in Auckland. Four seasons in one Day. 

I went and sat out on my secret spot in front of my room on the ledge in the sun. As I was leaning my head against the wall, I noticed a man walk past the fence and actually smile at me. That was so nice. We mostly get weird looks and evil stares. Some curious. Some laughing at the absurdity. But he genuinely smiled. It was nice to be looked at like a human. 

Outside there was the Mother and Daughter combo that I see power walking and talking every day. There was also the family with the two boys, the woman with bright tights who was on my flight and then there was me. 

I haven’t seen Marvin for a while. He must have finished his time here. 

The rain started again so I went back inside.

There was a sign on the door saying we cant leave our rooms from 10pm tonight as a new plane is arriving. I wonder where its coming from. 

Everything is starting to feel a little more normal now. I’m a pro. Got this thing down ! 

I know exactly what to expect. I have a good enough routine set up and the days are going by pretty fast. 

Dance Party Song of the day : Superhero – Danny Byrd feat MacyGray. 






Half Way!!!!

I can’t believe it. I am halfway through managed isolation. In just 7 days I will be out into the real world mask free. Fear free. 

I woke up at 7:40am today. Definitely not in the early start society any more. Damn. I will try tomorrow. I stayed up until midnight watching The Morning Show with Reece Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. Such brilliant acting. My god those last three episodes made me wild. In a good way. The way it’s supposed to. 

I opened the blinds and there was my glorious friend. The tree. There is already blue sky in the background with a few light grey clouds. They can still produce rain regardless of the blue sky peeping through. The ground is wet and the autumn leaves dance in the wind.

I have lots of reading to get through today. A dear friend’s feature script and my writers group have our first July session tomorrow so I have three stories to read before we give feedback. I will also be presenting my script which I am nervous/excited about. 

My kettle is still not working so I walked outside to the restaurant to try and find someone who could help me get hot water. I also decided to take my jar of yogurt with me that had been stubbornly trying to stay closed for three days. There was a nice lady there organising hundreds of brown paper breakfast bags which she would soon distribute. I felt bad interrupting but she saw me and came over. I asked her politely if I could have a to go cup of hot water and a knife to open up this jar. She told me they aren’t allowed to give us a knife? “Oh” I said. Then I thought to myself, is this so we don’t self harm? Then I shook that thought away telling myself off for instantly going so dark. 

She explained that it was because of germs and etc.  “Oh ok , yes, that makes sense” I said.  She offered to try and open it with her gloves for me. “It’s on tight” she said, struggling.  Then she called over the maintenance man who seemed happy and proud that we asked him for his help. “ Sure!”  he said, opening it in just one pop! We praised him and he blushed before waving goodbye. 

I went back inside and saw a paper bag waiting for me outside my door. Less food today. I decided on my week 2 menu that I would cross out all of the items I wouldn’t eat. Partly because I am entering society soon and I want to be able to fit my clothes again and also because we aren’t really moving around much and i’m not feeling very hungry. I wanted to let them know so it didn’t go to waste. 

Anyway today I had a small container of greek yogurt, musli and a poached apricot. It was delicious. 

I sat at my computer and began to read. Wow it’s already 9am! That means the restaurant is open.

9am: knock at the door. I put my mask on and open the door. Three nurses are walking up the hallway. “Morning!”. One of the nurses said sprightly. Across the hall another nurse was talking to a man my age with blonde hair. Still in his PJ’s just waking up.

He’s not in the early start society either. “Time to take your temperature” The nurse said beeping a small gun shaped thing at my head. 36.6 degrees (celcius). She showed me a list of words. Symptoms. Cough, fever, fatigue etc. “Are you experiencing any of these symptoms?“. “Nope”, I said. “Thank you” And I closed the door. 

I put my jacket on, grabbed my credit card and walked out to the restaurant. 

A woman who I recognised from my flight was standing there. She was all in black. Black tights, black puffy jacket and a cute black mask with a little red heart on it. We had spoken around the grounds before so it was nice to see her. We chatted from a distance. Real life human interaction. It was nice. Ileane was her name. Ileane had just started a new job from here in Isolation. She had traveled a lot recently for work. Her and her husband flew from London a while back to Canada and then they were on their way back to their home and life in Australia but now they can’t get back in. Because they are not Australian citizens. So they both lost their jobs in Australia and are setting up a new life here. Crazy. The different ways that people are effected.

Anyway she had found a new job which she was doing from isolation and that was helping the days go by fast. “I’m a bit nervous to get out“, she said. “I’m kind of scared to get out and interact again”, I nodded in agreement. I get it.

The couple of times we had small social distant meetups with friends I felt very socially awkward. I was anxious because it was hard to know what to do. We all had to stand back with masks on. We wanted to hug but couldn’t and in terms of serving up food and everything it was hard to know what to do because of people touching things. 

Also everyone has different levels of paranoia. I loved seeing my loves but I found it stressful. But here… in just one week we won’t have to worry about any of that. It’s going to be a dream.

We spoke a little bit more about life in Isolation. She mentioned that she was tired alot. Flat. I understood that too.

In isolation in LA we were still able to go outside and walk around the neighbourhood. And eventually we’re allowed to go into nature. But it was still a risk. There was still the fear of walking past humans and spreading the virus or catching it. 

Fear. Fear. Fear. 

Another man was there. He had just travelled to the US for a short holiday. “Why in the hell?”I thought. He talked about some of his friends who supported Trump and how it hurt him as someone being from the gay community. ‘Yeah’, I said. Listening and thinking about how uncomfortable that must feel. “It’s absolutely tragic”, I said.  He then brought up Kanye “Fucking” West running. I can’t even bear to hear those words. I close my eyes trying to block that out. 

No. Please. No.

I went outside for a walk and started to feel a little tiny wave of guilt. Guilt that I’m here and safe. Guilt that I will soon be free.

There was a family outside that I recognised from my flight. They were playing tennis on a traveling mini tennis court. They had set up a net and were playing doubles in the parking lot. What a great idea. The tennis ball arrived at my feet and on instinct I went to pick up the ball and throw it. I stopped myself and remembered that I shouldn’t touch it. I instead kicked it along the ground. They looked at me confused. I hope they didn’t think that was rude of me. 

Their game looked so fun. I wanted to join in and play. 

I kept walking around the parking lot.

There was a man wearing a brown t-shirt and shorts with his headphones on skipping, another man in blue jeans and a blue suit jacket walking around in circles. I was impressed with his clothing. He looked professional and ready for the day. Maybe he was working so he felt like he needed to dress as if he was going into the office. 

I kept walking.

Near the grass area outside my window there were three more families from my flight and bus ride.  They were all at a distance from each other working out using the concrete curb attached to the wall as steps, the rocks as weights and the kids were even playing knuckle bones with the pebbles from the garden! How magical! We have gone back in time. These kids loved it. The two boys that were in front of me at the Day 3 covid test were there. The older one was crying again, restless and struggling.  The younger one was super chill again,  not making a sound, happily exploring the leaves outside. 

I went back into my room for another amazing dance out with Kimberley. 

We both laughed and said we were sore from yesterday but still had a good intense cardio session. Afterwards we talked about the after effects of the shut down. The job cuts in NZ. The cuts in working hours. It reminded me that even though New Zealand is Covid free, well except for a few cases in Isolation, there is still lots of rebuilding to be done here. New Zealanders worked hard as a team, under the strong guidance of Jacinda Ardern, to self isolate and shut the virus down. They did it together as a community. They looked after each other. And it worked. They did it.

But they have still been deeply impacted and there is still much work to be done. 

After seeing a few New Zealand news articles and some ignorant jabs at my good friend Jacinda. Feeling protective I decided that I would email my first journal entry to our Prime Minister. 

Her email was very easy to find and surprisingly available. 

I emailed her with an introduction telling her that I was from Mt. Albert and that I wanted to email her my experience to show her my deep gratitude for her work.

2pm:  I  decided to lay in bed and do some reading. I am reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming. I guess maybe reading that has inspired me to write this. 

I listen to the pitter patter of the rain pouring down outside my window. I see the autumn leaves dancing on my friend, the tree.

I felt tired.

A bit squashed from the four walls tightly closing in on me.

I decided I would have a little nap. When would I ever get to do this again. Probably a lot actually since I am currently unemployed. LOL.

I began to drift….

Suddenly! A loud noise came over my speaker in the room! “Testing! Testing! All the guests that are departing today must stay in their room until called individually to exit. We are still processing all paperwork so please wait in your room. Also another plane of guests will be arriving at 6pm so all hotel guests must stay in their hotel rooms from 6pm-9pm.Thank you.“ 

I thought about all of the guests leaving and how relieved they must feel.

I fell asleep. 

I woke up at 3:40pm just in time to go to the restaurant to buy another coffee.  My big outing for the night. I put on my black mask which I had just hand washed in the sink, my slippers and kathmandu jacket. It is cold again today. I like it. I went to the restaurant and bought a long black and bottle of Kopiko Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Delish. Can’t wait to crack that open tonight. I went back into my room. I did intend to drink my coffee at my desk and start to read the scripts that I needed before tomorrow night’s – day for me – Zoom meeting. But I suddenly felt a bit stir crazy and dizzy so I decided to drink my coffee and walk outside. 

I facetimed Brett and we talked while I walked. He told me that the bars and restaurants in San Diego had also closed down. I asked him if they had shut down outdoor dining yet and he said no but he thinks that’s coming. The numbers are so high again and will only get higher. 

We discussed collectivism vs individualism. Socialism vs Capitalism and what this pandemic is revealing.  We talked about the current supposed leader in the U.S and his vice minimizing this pandemic to the public and how frightening that is. 

I went back inside and could smell a strong cleaning product scent in the hallway. They were deep cleaning the rooms before the next visitors arrived. 

I sat back at my computer and read some messages from my kiwi in LA friends saying Air NZ has stopped all flights coming from LA until the end of July! So the managed isolation facilities can catch up. A lot of them have to now wait until August to come back. 

My mum called me on facetime to ask me how I was doing. “Im doing good Mum”, I said. 

I am. Yes I miss everyone and I’m feeling a bit stir crazy but on the whole this truly is a wonderful and insightful experience. I’m so grateful that I even have the option to be here.

I did some more hand washing and then my dishes in the bathroom sink. I poured myself a cold glass of Kopiko Bay NZ sav blanc. Delicious.  I lay on the bed and watched some New Zealand television. 

Dance party song of the day:  Imagine. John Lennon.




I had a deliciously deep sleep last night. It felt so good. I woke up at 7am which means i didn’t make it into my secret early start society group today but thats ok. 

I took out my earpods, or Ipods, or whatever they are called and I heard the sound of the New Zealand cars driving along the wet New Zealand concrete. Rain again. Yes! I opened the blinds and saw that my friend, the tree, was still there. He hadn’t moved. Less Autumn leaves today. The sun was just up. There were thick grey clouds and big drops of rain poured onto the muddy green grass outside. 

The couple I see every morning jog past wearing matching black athletic gear and black masks on. I wave but they don’t see me. 

I go to make my coffee. But the kettle seems to be broken. It is still 2 hours until I can order a real one from the restaurant. Nooooo.

I decided to take a risk. I put on my jumper (sweater) and my mask and exited the room. 

From the hallway I could hear lots of excited voices.

I went out into the foyer and saw a long line of people. A fresh plane of guests all standing 6ft away from each other, checking in as I had 6 days ago now. 

Now I am Marvin. Comfortable and know the system and they are now the newbies. The guests stand, jet lagged, eyes wide open trying to understand how it all works. 

There is a family with three children filling out menus and waiting to have their temperature checked. 

I felt bad interrupting one of the staff for my first world problem.  So instead I quietly asked if I could just have a take away cup of hot water since my kettle was broken. The man was super nice and he went and got it for me.

I walked back to my room and made my instant coffee then began to do some work. 

730am. I could hear a trail of knocks and a voice saying “room service”, over and over coming up the hallway. I knew mine was next. Then, sure enough  there was a loud knock on my door. “Room service”.  I went outside and found a brown paper bag. 

Inside was a small container with hot oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, a pastry and a small muffin. 

I put it to the side for later. I wasn’t feeling hungry yet. 

830am I remembered that I had to hand my laundry in if I wanted it cleaned.  I went out into the hallway and two ladies pushing a laundry cart said “Just in time”. So lovely.  So nice and observant. I gave them my bag and voucher and said thank you and went back into my room. 

9am. Knock Knock. Two nurses were waiting outside my room taking my temperature. One of them I had recognised from the day before. Te Atatu. We had chatted for a fair bit from a distance in the hallway. 

10am. “Testing Testing” over the speaker. “The flight that arrived from Shanghai on July 2nd will be having your Covid tests today. Please stay inside until you are called to come down”

Something like that. 

THEN! A special treat!  My dear friend Kimberley who is a dance fitness instruction facetimed me for a private cardio dance session! We had pre planned it the day before. I have been restless and it is a bit of a challenge to do any cardio here. I answer the phone and there she is, my beautiful friend who I haven’t seen in a year and half. With her long flowy brown hair that always seems to sit perfectly in place and her gorgeous caring smile. Ready to go with even disco lights turned on in the background! 

I was actually supposed to fly back early May for Kimberley and Tony’s wedding. All of us were going on a special trip to Rarotonga for a whole week of wedding celebrations. Then everything changed. 

But now I am here with my friend who i’ve known for 20 or so years knows exactly what I need. 


She has even made a personalized Amy playlist for me! How did I get so many incredible people in my life. I am so so lucky. So fun! And quite the workout. We danced, and cheered and sweated and puffed. Sometimes I struggled to get through. My legs were burning. I really needed that! 

I remembered all of the times we left Avondale College at lunchtime to train for Aerobics. And all of the nights we rehearsed dance routines in a studio until midnight. I remembered all of the competitions, all of the performances, all of the jobs, all of the games.  

We virtually high fived and then had an endorphin filled , long needed catch up. I was buzzing. We even made business plans and also friendship plans for the next week. We were so pumped we decided we would do this again tomorrow! Fuck yeah! 

We spoke for a while before saying our goodbyes then I went outside for some fresh air. 

I put my earpods back in and listened to the spotify playlist Kimberley made me. She knows me so well. 

It’s quite funny when you walk past the fellow inmates. It’s hard to tell if they are smiling at you or not. Instead they stare. But I’m sure under their masks they are smiling and me.  I am smiling at them. 

On my journey, around my circles, I found a secret pathway along the side of the building. I looked around and decided to follow it to see where it went. “I really hope this isn’t my accidental escape “  I thought. It led to a new outdoor area around the other side of the hotel. I mean it’s been there the entire time but I was just discovering it.  I looked around to see if anyone was watching. I kept walking and found a lovely area with more giant winter trees, pathways, a fountain and a large outdoor yard game, This is so nice. Something new to look at. 

I started doing par de boures , outside double pirouettes and then pk’s along the path, as if I was still in Jazz class. I miss the energy of dancing with people in real life in a hot sweaty dance studio. Nothing beats it. Soon Amy, very soon.

I continued to dance in the rain then looked and saw a few of the security guards inside smiling at me. I didn’t care what they thought. I’m sure they were entertained and they get it. 

The rain started to pour down a little more heavily so I went back inside into my room. 

1230pm Knock knock “room service”. I went outside my door and picked up my paper bag. Inside was a delicious treat. A veggie burger and fries ! I had completely forgotten what I had  filled out on the menu on the first day so it’s always a pleasant surprise. I can’t actually believe how well they are taking care of us.  

I scrolled through social media a little. Replied to friends and read some terrifying news articles. 

I remind myself that I am here in New Zealand. I don’t entirely feel it yet. I feel more like an observer. Like I am looking through my window from a boat but have not yet arrived. Watching life from afar but not quite in it yet. 

But soon I will be free and with my family.

So soon. Only a week and one day! 

It is going by very fast. I wasn’t going to have a glass of wine tonight. But then I decided to have one anyway. Lol. I like going to the restaurant to buy something just for an excuse to get out of my room for a split second. It’s my big event for the day. 

Just one glass then. Go on Amy. Why not. 

Dance party song of the day! : All of Kimberley’s playlist but i think i’m going to go with…. Roses – Umanbek Remix – Saint Jhn. 




I woke up feeling  a bit weird today. I couldn’t sleep last night. I fell asleep at 10.30pm then woke up again at 12.30am then again at 3.30am then finally at 6.30am.

I had this woozy feeling like I was on a boat. Maybe it is still the Jet lag a little bit, or the small room with one window that won’t open. I decided to dive into the feeling and imagined myself in a cabin on a boat. I closed my eyes and pictured giant waves crashing up beside the window outside. For a second I pretended I was on a giant war ship post WW2 , like Nana. Travelling all the way to the other side of the world. With a child by boat. In a cabin with 8 other women and children. How did she do that?  How did she leave home? Her sister. Her mother. Her family and move to the other side of the world. I mean I guess I did that too.


But it was easier for me to return and keep in contact.  She didn’t want to go.  She told me. Well, she told everyone when she escaped off the ship. And the newspapers all around the world printed it.

I think about the woman who just escaped managed isolation and wonder what her story is. Where she travelled from. The woman in her 40s downtown. I wonder if this is similar to what my nana went through. I mean media wise.  My nana caused quite the uproar. It was a pretty big deal.’The Bride Who Wouldn’t leave New Zealand’ all over the front of the Auckland Star. The American government did not like the bad press. But it was different in the sense that she wasn’t putting anyone else in danger when she jumped ship. She was just swimming against the tide. Which wasn’t ever really done during that time. A woman putting herself first. I think about the moment I discovered those articles at my Nana’s house in Avondale. How mesmerized I was when she told me her story. 

And then I made a show about it. I wonder if one day I will have a granddaughter who will find these memoirs and make it into art.

I think about my grandparents and think about them going through a war and a depression. And then I think about my privileged life and how, until now, a lot of my generation haven’t experienced anything like this and what this will mean for us. What will we do with this new insight? This new found appreciation for life.

I pulled myself out of bed and walked to my desk. When I say walk I mean step. One step. Then a flop. I flop onto the chair in front of the window.  It’s about a foot away from the bed. I still feel a little like i’m in the open sea so I turn on the kettle hoping a coffee will straighten me out.  I opened the blinds and discovered that in fact there were not waves crashing outside but green grass. Green green grass. The same green, green, grass that hollywood actor, Jackie Cooper, told my nana he was in love with. Above the green green grass was the  same big, big  tree that i’ve been watching for 5 days. The tree has less leaves today. The sun was slowly coming up underneath big thick clouds. It looks windy today. But still refreshing. I feel grateful to witness a season that is different to ‘extremely fucking hot’.

I made my little instant coffee to get me through untill 9am when the restaurant opens. I  turned on my lap top. 

I read and answered a few of the comments from my first memoir entry on facebook. It was quite moving. My words, the words that I usually erase, my voice, the voice I usually feel nervous to share, moved people. Connected with something inside them and how they are feeling in this current moment. I feel  lucky to know so many wonderful people from two sides of the world. I have the best, most supportive friends and family. That’s one thing that isolation has showed me. Here and in LA. Reminded me that family is the most important thing.

A lot of the things that consumed me don’t so much anymore. Instead I  just want to connect with the people that  I care about and spend quality time with them.  I still have my goals and dreams and my drive and  ambition but in this moment, in this crazy time, I just want to be with my loves and laugh and cry and talk and listen and hug. 

I’ve missed everyone so much.  I’m like my Nana I think.

God I miss her. She always needed people around her.  She loved music and dancing and singing and talking and debating and life. She loved her family and she loved words and telling stories. She was a social butterfly.  I’m thinking about her alot in here. I’m also so close to Mt Eden where Nana lived for so many years with my Mum and her six other children. 

I have a deadline today for my writer’s group so I click on my pages and start to write. My brain is a bit foggy today. I only had one – or maybe  two glasses of wine last night. I’m sure a nice strong NZ coffee will help. 

I step into the world of a supernatural dramady and re-write a couple of scenes I had been questioning. Then I scroll the entire script making final edits before sending it to my love to read. I nervously await his opinion. 

We facetime and talk and he shows me my plants that he’s watering every day then I ask him his thoughts.  “It’s reading well”  he says “I’m proud of you” he says genuinely, not patronizing but remembering how much I wrestle with my own doubts to even put 5 pages down.  I know it is far from perfect so I pester him again. “No but what do you think?” hoping for some constructive criticism. He says it’s in a good place  and gave me more specific notes.  I miss him. I wish he was here. Maybe soon. Probably not soon unfortunately. 

It’s July 4th today in the US. Independence Day for the land of the free. 

America’s holiday.

Kanye West announced he would run for President. 

What The Actual Fuck. 

Universe, when I said I would take a peanut butter sandwich over Trump as President I didn’t mean THIS. 

What the hell is going on? I feel like I’m in some alternate universe. What the hell is up with all of these Men suddenly deciding that they are qualified for something that they are not.  I mean I guess it has always been that way. 

I mean he’s not serious is he?

Shit. I just got devastating deja vu. Please Noooooooo. 

I read posts from the Mayor of LA and Governor Newsom encouraging everyone to cancel all get togethers. Numbers have soared again so this year we need to do what’s right and stay home. Beaches closed. Bars closed. For the better. I see most of my friends doing  little private bbq’s at home with their immediate bubbles trying to have a relaxed holiday as best they can.  Very different this year. Everyone is questioning what it means. Independence day. Land of the Free. 

Is this what freedom looks like?

I see a picture on a friend’s instagram story of a young black woman looking upward with tears in her eyes. A mask over her face that is the shape of two hands gripping tight. The USA flag in the background.  #Independenceday

Then I scroll across to another American friend’s Instagram story..  “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually’ James Baldwin. 

It’s strange being in here.  In New Zealand but not out there. I have been thinking alot about the last few months in LA. Thinking about being on my balcony with Brett which we re-invented as our new favorite date night spot.  Looking out to Hollywood. To the palm trees. To pink sunsets. To Griffith Observatory and to all the helicopters. 

At the very beginning of the lockdown, when everyone was inside, the birds in the morning were suddenly so loud. I’d never ever heard birds out there before. The traffic had stopped.  And the air in LA  felt so clean. Like here in NZ. One day I could even see all the way out to the ocean. It was wonderful. But by the time I left the US, the traffic was back and the birds were gone. Everything was re-opening, too early they soon discovered. Surprise surprise. We all saw that one coming. 

At 8.30am I received a knock at the door. Breakfast. Scrambled eggs, bacon,sausages, hash browns, toast, yogurt, fruit and danish ! wooooahhhh. So much food ! 

I kept working. At 9am I received a phone call from house keeping asking if I needed anything. I think I’m good today thanks ! 

930am. I received a knock at the door – the nurse taking my temperature. 36.7 celsius. 

Soon there will be an announcement on the speaker. 

And sure enough  “testing, testing” for those people who arrived on the 24th of June your 2nd covid test will be today. Please stay in your rooms until 11am and we will call you to come down stairs to the foyer”

Oh I should mention that my first test came back negative! Which means it doesn’t look like I caught it on the plane! 

I ordered my long black and then went for a walk outside. It was nice and cold and refreshing. 

In the evening my family had a big  zoom session with my little sis and her girlfriend CL who are in Boston, my nieces Sophie and Ella and Mum and Sarah also jumped on. It was funny because  my niece kept asking me things as if I was still in LA. “What time is it there Auntie”?  “ I’m here in NZ remember!”oh yeah’ she said. “It doesn’t feel like it Auntie !” 

Sophie talked about drinking a glass of champagne on her 16th BIRTHDAY! Whaaaaat ! When did that happen? Sophie also gave us the low down on the local news headline. A Whangateau scandal! A stingray was found dead on the beach! A tourist killed it, she said angrily. That is very very very sad but I couldn’t help but chuckle with love of course. 

If only CNN played a little of The Whangateau news. 

The day went by quickly. I was low on energy today. Unmotivated and flat. 

I decided to go for one more walk outside, before the sun goes down.  Again, it was nice and cold and refreshing. I haven’t felt winter in so long. It even rained! Can you believe it ! Rain in LA is a delicacy! I took my mask off and opened my mouth. I put my face up to the sky to feel the big drops on my skin. Real NZ rain. Giant big drops. Bliss. 

I sat on a little side gutter (they don’t have chairs for us outside because they don’t want to encourage congregation) in the rain and played my harmonica that Mum bought me.  I’m getting better at it, I thought. It’s quite relaxing and fun to play.

Lamenting in the rain. So funny. 

I walked past a man with his mask off smoking. I almost felt like asking for one but didn’t. I haven’t smoked a cigarette in forever. I used to occasionally smoke while working a long shift behind the bar. Just for an excuse to leave the noise and have some alone time outside. It was easier to say I’m just having a smoke and leave, then –  I just need a second to sit and get the fuck away from this madness.  I was tempted to ask because i’m bored and maybe we could talk from a distance. I was craving human interaction. I then thought, well, we can’t really pass anything to each other incase of germs. Especially not something I would put in my mouth. And it’s not really a good time to put poison in my lungs really is it?  So…. I thought better of it and kept walking. I walked past the rooms next to mine on the ground floor and saw my fellow isolated humans in their individual pods through their windows. Lying in bed looking at their phone, or  laptop, doing yoga, watching TV, tidying their room, doing burpees or reading. I thought about who they all were and where they all came from. So many different lives affected by this Pandemic. Uprooted. Families with children out of school. Babies, toddlers. 

I must look like a weirdo walking past with my mask on and looking through the windows. I love people watching and I was very subtle. The rain came down a little harder so I went back inside.

Today was strange. I felt off balance. Tomorrow will be better. 

Dance party song of the day: Hero by Mariah Carey. Oh yeahhhh.



IMG_2404 2
I woke up PUMPED at 530am this morning.
DAY 4! 10 to go. Whoop Whoop. 
I’m still kind of on LA time so I have been falling asleep around 9pm and waking up pretty early.  But my jet lagg is easing up and I’m feeling more grounded and rested today. 
I’m enjoying waking up before sunrise. I kind of feel like I’ve achieved something already before the day has even began. Like I am part of this super secret early start society. I know my friends with babies would laugh at this. The reason that this is so special for me is, before the lock down, before March 15th, before it all went mad and when I was taking life for granted, I worked as a bartender in pretty cool, iconic dive bar in Los Feliz. I stood on my feet for 8 hours at a time hustling, pouring endless whiskey and beer, cracking jokes with the regulars while guarding myself from any inapproapriate drunks who came through the door. I went to sleep at 3am most nights and I was lucky if I got out of bed by 10am.  So this 6am shit is a pretty big deal for me. 
So this is new and I like it. I write better this early. My brain feels alive. After coffee that is. In our little rooms we each have a baby fridge which came with a box of Medow Fresh New Zealand milk, a kettle that i’ve placed on this desk and sachets of Moccona instant coffee and tea. 


The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is lift up the blinds to see the world outside. To see New Zealanders on their way to work in the dark. Even the size and shape of the road and cars excite me. The sound of cars driving past even sounds different to LA. And sounds like home. It’s hard to explain.
I look out into the dark and see the giant tree waiting for me. Hi friend. In the distance I can see one palm tree. I think it’s been placed there just for me. To remind me of my balcony in LA and the palm tree’s Brett will be looking out too as I write this.  The air looks nice and cold. Oh how I’ve missed seasons. I turn on the kettle and make an instant coffee. This gets me through until 9am when the restaurant in the hotel opens and I can order a proper NZ coffee. Oh my godddd. A long black. Soooo goood. I’ve missed New Zealand coffee. 


I sit down at my desk and look out the window into the darkness. The lights of the BP station still shining bright with the wild bean cafe sign. I think of the very first commercial I did for wild bean coffee and pies. And then I think about all the times I asked taxi drivers to pull into BP after a wild night to get a butter chicken pie and chicken nuggets.  Stuffing them in my face drunk on my bed at 2am.  Waking up with bits of pastry in my hair. I am SUCH a babe.  If only the wild bean coffee client had seen that! Maybe he would have put that scene in his commercial. I mean lets be honest that’s when we all eat pies right?  Pies aren’t really a thing in the US. I mean desert pies are. Like apple pies etc but not really mince pies like we have. O.k now I want a pie.


Cars and trucks sporadically drive past on their way to work and the odd fellow isolation buddy, also in my secret early bird society, joggs with their masks on. Back and forth, back and forth. Trying to ignore that they are running around in small circles. 


I begin to write. A 30 minute dramady I have been working on for a little while. I found it hard to write in LA while everything was happening. I couldn’t focus. It pissed me off because I finally had the time. I wasn’t working and I was getting decent sleep, not waking up like a zombie having worked until 3am. I just couldn’t stop thinking about the world. Thinking about the whole fucking world and everyone in it. Thinking about my friends that i’d seen on social media who have lost loved ones to Covid. All ages. Some pre-existing conditions. Some not. All couldn’t even say goodbye.  Thinking about all my friends trying to get through this and keep going, feeling so uncertain and tired and over it. All the business owners and my local spots including my old bar all struggling to stay a float. Thinking about whether or not if i go hiking today I might catch it and pass it to Brett. I thought of our favorite restaurant in Echo Park, where we had one of our first ever dates, Ostrich Farm, sad that it closed down. I loved that place. 


I used to watch Brett write in the mornings and then listen to him and his brother knock out ideas. Inspired but envious of their ability to concentrate. Little miss distracted over here couldn’t sit still for longer than 10 minutes. They found it difficult aswell, I’m sure.  But they had too I guess.  Deadlines were creeping up. Me, with no real deadlines except my own, was overwhelmed and anxious. I also felt like every word I put on paper was suddenly meaningless and irrelevant. Everything is different now.  Everything I thought I once knew, I didn’t and nothing made sense anymore. Yet, everything is clearer. If that makes any sense.  What I used to care about doesn’t seem to matter anymore.  Kind of like when I lost my Dad. When my Dad passed away nothing else seemed to matter either. Things I used to care about I didn’t care about so much. I didn’t care about booking that job or what people thought of me. I just wanted to be with my Mum and Sisters and be creative. Like now. 


Anyway my perspective and thoughts had changed. I had changed. The world had changed. So how can I continue to write the same stories I was writing before. I thought about all of the TV shows and how they will create this year? Will they even acknowledge this pandemic? Will all the extras be wearing masks in the background of 911 or will they just pretend this year didn’t happen.  Will Christina Appliegate in Dead to Me season 3 wear a mask when she goes outside? Will there be protestors in the back ground holding signs saying BLACK LIVES MATTER and FUCK TRUMP at Laguna Beach? Will she have to put gloves on when she goes into wholefoods or hand sanitize her hands everytime she gets in an out of the car?  Hmmm. How will other writers address this?


Anyway I can focus here. Kind of. I guess. Even though I am still thinking about all of the above. 
But my brain is working much better. 
I’m no longer in survival mode. 
I feel calmer and happier. 


800am. There is a knock at the door.  A brown paper bag is outside my door. Breakfast. Field Mushrooms on Ciabatta toast. Yummy. Field Mushrooms taste different here. Juicier. Sweeter. 


930am. There is another knock at the door. The nurses coming by to check my temperature. 36.5 (celcius)


I’m starting to get this thing down. Ok soon there will be an announcement on the speaker in my room… Sure enough “testing testing. The guests that arrived on July 1st will be getting there first COVID 19 test today. Please stay in your room until 1130am as we will be calling you one by one to come down to the foyer. “ 


940am the phone rings again.  It’s house keeping asking me I need anything for my room. More coffee please and face cloths (towels).


I make the bed, organise my space and wash my two mugs and wine class in the bathroom sink with the washing liquid housekeeping put outside my door. They can’t come into clean the rooms so everything we need is left outside our door for us to collect. We then put any dirty towels or linen and rubbish (trash) outside into the hallway. The staff from the hotel walks through every morning, noon and night collecting any rubbish and dirty towels. This must be strange for the Hotel Staff. Definitely not what they signed up for before the pandemic. 


I put on my jogging shoes, airpods in ears and run out the door.  At reception the two members of the NZ navy sit behind a glass shield at the side of the front door. “0058” I said. A nice Navy woman says “Amy is it?” “yes it is!” I say, very impressed she is starting to learn my name. So nice. Human connection. Everyone here is so god damn friendly!  But still real. Not fake friendly or over the top because they have been told they have to be. But just down to earth, genuine, polite, because that is their nature. They check us in and out every time we go outside to make sure we don’t escape the grounds or go missing. 


As I run around in small circles listening to my girlfriend Jaewyn’s new single “The world has gone NUTZ” my mind wonders again.  I think about everyone in America. I am still half there and half here. Still inbetween. I worry. Please please please can everyone be safe and ok. Please can they take control of this virus.  Please keep Brett safe.


I think of my Dad. His very favourite restaurant, Gigi’s, is just walking distance from here. Right across from the Ellerslie racetrack. Which is probably one of the reasons why it was his favorite. I think about all of the fun family dinners we had there. I loved going out for dinner with my family growing up. It was such a special treat. We had so much fun. My dad’s very loud American accent telling stories so the whole restaurant could hear, be-friending everyone who came in. The owner welcoming us and shaking my Dad’s hand. Living in LA, alot of my Dad’s culture and personality made more sense to me. American’s are much more chatty then us kiwis. They love interacting when they are out in bars and restaurants. Strangers become best friends for the night. I think us Kiwi’s stick to ourselves a bit more. 
Whenever I come back to New Zealand there’s still a part of me that thinks I might see Dad. I wonder what he would be thinking about all of this. About his home, America. I remembered the morning of 9/11. Dad waking me up before school, crying, saying come and watch this. Absolutely devastated. And yearning to be there with his family. 


I think about my Nana, Gloria. I would die to have a conversation with her about all of this. About the protests in America. About the racism and police brutality.  I heard your voice in my ear Nana, telling me I must go down and march for justice. For equality. Fight the facism. I remembered Nana proudly talking to me about how she surrounded Eden Park in 1981 protesting apartied and the springbok tour. She told me about the force the police used against the protestors then.  I think about some of the newspaper articles here in NZ  saying “close the borders” to kiwis coming home.  I can understand peoples fear and the cost, but my Nana would have been absolutely appalled. Wild. My nana was a fierce labor supporter and human rights activist. She would be so proud of Jacinda Ardern and the work she has done for the country during this crisis. I grew up in Mt Albert who has elected only Labor MP’s since 1940 something. Helen clark included and good old Aunty Jacinda. We have watched her grow and evolve since she entered politics.


Still Jogging around the parking lot in circles…


I thought about my big sister who came and visited me yesterday and bought me a coloring book, color pencils and lavender oil. I am so so lucky. How lucky am I to have such a beautiful sister. Taking care of me, encouraging me to do mindful coloring. I desperately wanted to hug her. It has been 18 months since I have last  seen her. She watched all of the other masked quarantinians walking around in circles, skipping, doing press ups etc and laughed. “This is so crazy” she said. 


We caught up and talked about everything we will do when I’m out of here. Family gatherings!  Beach side winter hikes!  Drives up to Maugawhai, Wineries and lots of much needed sister time. I can’t actually believe that soon I will be free and safe to go out mask free.  We talked about my nieces who I will soon get to see and squeeze in just 10 days! So soon!


Oh I should mention that I had my first covid test yesterday. Day 3. We had to stay in our room’s from 9am until 1130am as they would call us on the hotel phone in small groups to avoid crowds. 


I was called to come down at 10am.  I waited in line watching two parents with small toddlers on their laps getting the nose swab. One of the boys screamed and cried. The other boy, younger then his brother, was not bothered at all. Ok ,so if this two year old can do it so can I!  


I sat in my chair and was greeted by a nurse. She asked me if I had a test before and I told her ‘yes I have had three tests in LA but they were done via the mouth not nose’.


She told me the nose tests are more accurate which is why they are doing it like that here. 


I tilted my head back and the nurse put the bud right up my nose, into my head towards my throat, pressing behind the corner of my eye. I half laughed and half screamed. Damn two year old boy made it look so easy.  It kind of felt like water up my nose or getting a really bad ice cream head ache. My eyes watered and I said thank you and went back into my room. 


I received a message from my good friend Wendy. Her son Magnus has a rugby game close by so they will pop over for a visit!  So excited. Wendy Brown. My dear friend of over 20 years. Her beautiful curly hair. I remembered the first time I saw Wendy at Kowhai Intermediate school when we were only 12 years old. Kowhai Intermediate also very close to here. Her school was visiting to do woodwork, or metal work or something and they used our facilities. I remember her beautiful long wavy beach hair and her posse following her closely behind. Wendy and I ended up in the same form class at Avondale college and became good friends. Such a good human, so grounded, so practical, so warm and caring, a little goofy sometimes. I remember her smiley eyes and cute giggle the times we have shared little inside jokes. Mirroring each other.  The same way all of our girlfriends laugh and mirror each other in our own little bubble/world. Understanding each other completely after 20 years or so of friendship. Probably laughing at things not as funny to other people but always very funny to us. I can’t wait to laugh with them again.  It’s been a while since I’ve had a good laugh. 


Wendy pulled up to the fence, in front of the Pronto coffee shop. I ran back outside with the mask on.  As I ran through the entrance of the hotel the navy woman said “Your in and out a lot today Amy!”  “Yes! I’m lucky! lots of visitors!” So much love.  I saw Wendy in her lovely, long, yellow, winter coat with her fiance Kevin and there FOUR kids! Gorgeous kids. All so much bigger then what I remembered. Beautiful curly hair like their Mum.  It was so good to see them and I really appreciated them taking time out of their very busy Saturday. Rugby. Ballet. Soccer and a visit to Aunty Amy. I wondered what the kids thought of me here and of this place. Is Aunty Amy in some kind of trouble or in rehab? Wendy told me later “No, they JUST thought you had covid” Lol ! Well I guess that’s ok then. 


Wendy offered me some fruit that she had in the car. I told her that they are not allowed to give us food. She laughed and said ‘Do not feed the animals” Bahahaha. You so funny Wendy. 


Again, she laughed at the people running around in circles in their masks. It’s such a strange situation. We talked a little bit about America, the politics, this bizarre time and how happy we are that I’m home and alll the fun things we will do when I am out.


They had to get to soccer so we waved goodbye and then I went back inside. I had to lay down for a minute. A bit tired all of a sudden.
I guess i haven’t really interacted with a lot of people since the lock down happened on March 15th. I’m not really used to socialising this much.
I’m excited to get out of here. To see everyone. But I think I will not push myself into society too hard and too fast. Slowly Amy. Adjust back slowly. Nah just kidding. I’m going to PARRTYYYYY!
No but seriously I think these two weeks of isolation are almost necessary – well it is necessary to stop Covid filtering back into safe, utopian, New Zealand. But I also think it is mentally and physically necessary. Not that I don’t want to squeeze all my loves but I think maybe it’s healthy to adjust into society again slowly. 
Oh also Mum came back today! She pulled up a stool on the other side of the fence and sat and had a coffee with me. She is just the cutest.  We had a good chat and she bought me a Harmonica! I’m looking forward to learning some new tunes.
Private Dance Party Song of the Day : NUTZ by Jaewyn


Safe and sound in managed isolation in Auckland, New Zealand. Processing the last few months, keeping productive, yearning to get out to hug my friends and family who I haven’t seen in so long. The thought of even hugging! Bliss! Quite strange sitting here and looking out my window into a neighborhood that I remember so well. I’m so close to Mt Albert, the suburb where I grew up. To New Market where I spent so much time socialising as a teenage girl. The Lido cinema where I have had screenings for short films and gone with Mum and Nana to see so many wonderful movies. I spend a lot of my time, looking above my laptop out of this window, watching New Zealanders bounce past, on their way to school, work, their relaxed, mask free faces, happy, free, all re- adjusting back to living their lives in their country that is in such good hands. We have it so so good here. It’s very different to the tense foreheads and fearful flickering eyes in LA nervously circling 6ft around each other. Or not – depending on how serious they are taking the situation or their level of fear. The lack of example from the top filtering down, causing uncertainty, confusion, denial.  
I’m going to be honest. When the plane took off at LAX I cried. Wept. Giant tears that soaked into my N95 mask. Tears of relief. Grief. Relieved that soon I will feel safe in my beautiful homeland that I love so much, not lying awake at night riddled with fear and anxiety. But sad to be leaving my love, my apartment, my life, my friends. All doing their best to carry on but in pain. Scared. Confused. Angry. My American friends who are all grieving for their country that is in such a state of chaos and crises. Out of control. America’s pores wide open – this pandemic revealing its pus underneath, it’s deep set racism and systemic flaws. All enraged at their supposed leader doing nothing, saying nothing, no words of comfort or guidance but instead creating hate and division, sulking, fumbling his stubby fingers on twitter. A woman in the row next to me looked at me and nodded. Understanding my tears. I’m sure she mouthed “I get it” underneath her mask.
Deep Breath.
The plane ride was comfortable. Air NZ’s, jolly, witty staff doing their best to make sure we feel relaxed and have as much space between us. I was lucky enough to have a whole row to myself. I drunk some New Zealand wine and watched a beautiful film called Waves which I had remembered from being on the same festival circuit as The Wretched. Highly recommend watching it.
Arriving through customs was interesting. The airport was deserted and set up very differently. I remembered a year and half ago when crowds were eagerly waiting for their loved ones to arrive home. I thought of the last time I was here at Christmas in 2018, my mum greeting me, waving and yelling, ‘Amy! Amy!’ And then squeezing me so so tight. The smell of her Samsara perfume, her warm embrace, so happy to have her middle child home from LA for the summer. Another tear falls into my mask. Shit get it together Amy otherwise they might think you have symptoms! I walked through a health check where a friendly woman greeted me with a nice “Kia Ora, Welcome home” then took my temperature, asked me a series of questions about whether or not I have symptoms and if I have interacted with anyone who has tested positive for Covid. I showed her an email with my negative test result that I had taken before I left which she seemed to appreciate. Then she gave me my bus ticket and explained that I would be going into Managed Isolation for two weeks and a booklet about what to expect. There were two more stops before getting on the bus. At the final stop a man with a spreadsheet with all of my information told me that I would be going to the Novotel in Ellerslie. I then walked straight outside and on to the bus. I sat down impressed at how thorough and efficient that all was. Wow! Instantly feel like I am in good hands. Its quite incredible and clear the difference. Good leadership really does matter. I also felt relieved to hear that I will be staying in Auckland. I had heard of some buses going to Rotorua due to all of the hotels being full. Kiwis all coming home where it’s safe. I understand why.
I arrived at the hotel at about 6am. A nice man, a representative from the Ministry of the Heath came onto the bus and gave us a briefing, improvising his own little bits of kiwi humor so show us his personality and make us feel at ease. So much clear communication. I can’t actually believe it. He called the two families with children to exit the bus first, then couples , then singles, to avoid crowds in the foyer while checking in. I got off the bus and felt the fresh New Zealand air on my forehead. I wanted so bad to take my mask off and breath it in. We then waited in line, 6ft from each other and moved through a series of screened windows, checking in, filling out forms etc. I was handed a menu for the week, a NZ SIM card, washing (laundry) vouchers and a welcome to isolation booklet. I was also told I can order groceries from Countdown and take aways (to go’s) from uber eats if I like. I had one more health check with a nurse then was handed my key and directed to my room.
As soon as I arrived at my room I threw my mask onto the bed. It has been almost 15 hours of wearing it straight. The room was small, but tidy and comfortable. I like the grey feature wall and the orange curtains and cushions that matched the Autumn leaves on the ground outside. I unpacked and started setting up my space for the next two weeks. I went to plug in my phone to charge only to remember and realize that I needed a phone adapter. Shit how could I forget that! My laptop was also dead. Whoops. I spoke to the nice man from the bus who said I could have one bought to me but he had to write down exactly what it was on another spreadsheet at reception I quickly called mum to save the day. She said she would come by at 2pm. Ok only 5 more hours. I had only been in the room 30 minutes or so when I heard a knock on the door. I looked out side and there was a brown paper bag with breakfast inside. Scrambled eggs, hash brown, pastries, fruit and yogurt. 15 minutes later there was another knock. A nurse taking my temperature again.
I texted Brett to let him know I was home safe, showered and then lay down. Jet lag kicking in. I stared at the ceiling thinking about what just happened. This incredible time. This incredible situation. This incredible country and its incredible prime minister. I fucking love you Jacinda Arden. I felt lucky and proud to be Kiwi. I took a deep relaxed breath. The blood that I felt rushing through my veins most nights had stopped. I fell into a deep slumber.
I woke up to a loud voice coming over the speaker in my room ! A voice from god saying we were allowed to walk around the premises outside. Oh ok. Thank you! Perfect timing. Mum would be here soon.
I got dressed, put my mask on and ran outside.
Fresh NZ air again! This time I was able to run 100m away in the parking lot, away from everyone and take my mask off for a split second to feel the clean air on my lips. I took four deep breaths then put my mask back on and started to jog around in circles while I waited for mum. I eagerly looked at the cars arriving at the gate. A nice young man named Marvin, eager for human interaction, introduced himself from a distance. He wore a large beautiful whale bone carving around his neck. He asked me if I had just arrived and then told me this was his Day 5. Strangers walked past on the other side of the fence, mask free, eagerly looking in as if we were these weird creatures at a zoo. Looking but not wanting to make eye contact incase we zapped them with our disease.
Mum arrived!!! I jumped up and down and waved aggressively. There was some confusion at the gate about how exactly she drops things off. I had to go wait in the foyer and security bought me the phone adapter, yoga matt and dumbbells. Thanks mum !
A nice lady from the hotel told me that mum had parked on the other side of the fence and she could wave to me from a distance.
I ran outside and saw her waiting there for me.
We waved and air hugged and cried. Again. Lol. So many mixed emotions. I’ve always been the super affectionate one so not being able to physically squeeze mum was rough. I also cry when i’m tired. And also when I’m not I guess.
I told her everything that happened and we dreamed about all the fun things we can do when I’m out! Dinner at a restaurant ! Waiheke Island! Hot pools! Soccer games! Birthday parties! Concerts! Whhhaaattttt! All things I will never take for granted ever again.
We said our goodbyes and she told me she would be back soon to visit. I went back inside to charge my devices then answered all of the curious messages from my Kiwi friends in LA and actually friends from all around the world all thinking about coming home too.
It’s been three days now. It’s actually going by pretty fast. I’m so grateful for all of my friends here in NZ and in America calling me, reaching out all giving me support. I love you all so so much. Big shout out to Catriona who sent me a care package of Batchwell Kombucha! That made my day love! You’re truly wonderful. So far I spend my days writing, thinking, reading, doing yoga, jogging around in small circles outside, having private discos in my room to stay sane, FaceTiming friends, watching the glorious tree change with the light behind outside. My boyfriend Brett would love this tree. Perfect for horror movies. Then ending the day with a nice glass of nz wine at night. It kind of feels a little like what I imagine rehab is like without the group therapy classes. Or like a healing retreat allowing us to rest and prepare to go back into civilization. I’m so incredibly grateful.
My big sister is coming today. I’m excited to wave to her from a distance. I may even put on Jeans.
Private dance party song of the day: Rise up
Amy xox