I could write a blindingly different article on my response to this pandemic and how it has affected me, depending on the day I put pen to paper.
When I bump into friends (not literally! ) on our 2km radius exercise route, our answers are invariably the same. Up and down. The Irish have honorary doctorates in the usage of innocuous phrases to make (non )sense of situations out of our control - "This is it"; "Lookit..."; "Sure you'll have that"; "What can you do?"; "It is what it is"; "Ah well"; "Sure how bad..."; "Please God"; "Ah sure what harm"; "It could be worse".
I'm flat out using them on a daily basis at the moment, to cover the gaps in conversations where there is literally no news. Some days I relish my new, dramatically slowed, pace of life. Other days I feel a darkness and a panic in the pit of my stomach, an overwhelming sense of dread that nothing will ever be the same.
I fear that the plans I had for my music will never see the light of day because the industry will be so changed after we emerge from this. On those days, I try to accept the darkness and remind myself that a new day is around the corner. And so it goes.
I'm one of the lucky ones, in that my teaching job is secure and I am working remotely to support my pupils through email, video messages, activity ideas, songs, and stories. The shutdown has provided me with the impetus and the time to increase my skill base in the technical field. I'm coming to grips with audio and video editing software in a way I never had time to before and putting it to use both for educational and creative purposes.
'The Open Mic Night at the Róisín Dubh. It has been a lifeline for me every Sunday night to check in with, and find a community'
In terms of my art, gigs have obviously ground to a halt. I am struggling with the implications of that as I had an amazing summer tour lined up with dates locked in for venues I've been waiting for years to book. My follow up single to 'Dream Away', and accompanying video are stalled. It is hard not to feel like I have lost the momentum I had gained with the moderate success of 'Dream Away'.
All of my cover gigs are obviously cancelled for the foreseeable future also. I had big plans for the next 18 months and it is hard to know how any of that will progress. My initial response to the shutdown, and to when I lost all of my gigs, was to hit the ground running to see what I could salvage. The one thing that stood out was the Open Mic Night at the Róisín Dubh. It has been a lifeline for me every Sunday night to check in with, and find a community, with my circle of open mic friends, and I know there are many audience members tuning in every week for the same reason.
'How will I emerge from this? I do not know - hopefully with a calmer sense of myself'
Having that initial goal of keeping the open mic running was a great motivator to learn to work in a new way with my sound equipment. I've had fun doing a few live streams of my own through my music Facebook and Instagram pages. Nothing beats playing with my band to an audience though! How will I emerge from this? I do not know - hopefully with a calmer sense of myself and less of a pathological need to be busy at all times of the day. I hope I don't lose the space I have found during this lockdown to just be, as opposed to "be doing".
Tracy is a Galway based singer-songwriter. Listen to her music on tracybruen.com Watch the Open Mic each Sunday at 9pm via the Open Mic Night at Róisín Dubh Facebook page (@openmicgalway ).