The Covid Chronicles: Luna (Tallinn, Estonia)

AS MANY COUNTRIES GO BACK INTO LOCKDOWN AND TIERED RESTRICTIONS, WE THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD TIME TO RESTART THE COVID CHRONICLES SERIES. GIGI IS AN AMERICAN WRITER BASED IN EUROPE WITH HER PARTNER AND DOG LUNA. I AM CURIOUS TO KNOW HOW SHE IS DOING IN ESTONIA AND TO SEE HOW THE RESTRICTIONS HAVE AFFECTED HER.

(This interview was conducted in May 2020- at the beginning of Covid restrictions and lockdowns)

Please Introduce Yourself:

Hey! I’m Gigi – a writer traveling full-time with my five-kilo (11 lb) Schnauzer-Yorkie mix (Luna) and my partner (Chad). Luna is 10 years old and has been traveling for almost eight of those years, mostly around Europe. She’s a big fan of anything that involves running, hiking, or rolling around in the dirt.

 

Where do you live? 

Tallinn, Estonia! About as far north as you can go before you hit Scandinavia. For those unfamiliar with Estonia, it’s known for a growing startup/tech scene, winters so cold they freeze parts of the ocean, and a countryside full of gorgeous, spooky bogs. 

We are originally from the states, but we’ve been traveling for a long time and currently have long-stay D visas in Estonia while my partner explores the possibility of locating his startup here. 

 

What dogs do you have? What breed are they? How old are they? 

Luna is a Schnauzer-Yorkie mix who will turn 11 this June. 

 

Is your location on lockdown (or any other government restrictions)? 

Estonia has been lucky, as far as Europe goes, with a relatively smaller number of cases and hospitalizations. Even so, in early March, the government declared a state of emergency. Large gatherings are banned, people are supposed to walk in groups of no more than two, and everyone is asked to keep two meters (about six feet) apart. Borders are closed to non-citizens and returning citizens must quarantine at home for two weeks. 

According to surveys, 90% of Estonians agreed with the government measures and for the last two months, people have been very cautious in general. We did not have any government-mandated closures of things like restaurants, but many restaurants and shops did either close or go delivery-only for March and April. 

On a note that demonstrates both the kindness of the culture up here and its tech-savvy, an app popped up very early on where people can volunteer to get groceries or pick up medicine for high-risk or elderly neighbors. 

In the last week, we’ve noticed a lot more open storefronts and—as the weather is starting to turn nice—more people out for walks and seeming less concerned about staying two meters apart, so the sense here seems to be a movement back toward something resembling normal, for better or worse.  

What do you do for a living? 

I’m a content strategist and copywriter for tech companies, which means I spend my days writing websites, brochures, blog posts, etc. for companies on topics like artificial intelligence, data science, or marketing technology. 

In my spare time, I write novels about little-known badass women from history. 

What is your normal day routine like? 

Pre-COVID…

My usual routine starts early—anywhere from 5 to 7 a.m., depending on the time of year (I typically rise with the sun, so earlier in summer and later in winter). I grab some breakfast (granola and tea) and feed the dog (she eats a special homemade diet crafted by a veterinary nutritionist, so her breakfast is a lavish meal featuring steak and potatoes, among other things).

I’m most productive in the mornings, so Monday – Thursday I try to get into work mode as quickly as possible and knock out my client projects quickly. 

I get overwhelmed easily, so I found that the system that works for me is to have 1 – 2 big tasks per day that I have to get done and once those are done, I can choose to stop working at any time. If I’m feeling motivated, I can work ahead or knock out less urgent tasks. If I’m tired or the weather is stunning, I can quit for the day and do something else (like go for a hike).

Unless I have a super busy day, I try not to work much after lunch. Afternoons are for hikes, long walks, bike rides, errands, etc.—usually with Luna in tow. If I’m feeling inspired, I work on my novel. If I’m feeling lazy, I find a sunny spot and read.

Because I’m in Estonia and almost all my current clients are on the US west coast, after dinner, I often return to my desk for client meetings/check-ins. Come 8 p.m., I try to make sure I’ve got the computer turned off and climb into bed to read for an hour or so before falling asleep. 

 

How has that changed since covid 19?

I’ve worked from home for almost 10 years now and almost all my clients have been remote in that time, so the logistics of my work haven’t changed. What has changed is my levels of fatigue. I found that in March and even April, tasks tended to take longer and leave me with less energy. (All this to say, be kind to yourselves if things seem to take longer right now; that’s a normal trauma response.)

The biggest changes to our lifestyle are that I don’t have access to all the hiking and exploring I’d normally do. We’re in the city, which is a lovely city, but not particularly full of hiking trails. So normally I’d take trains or buses outside the city to explore the bogs and forests that cover so much of the rest of the country. Right now, public transit is more limited and seems so unwise to use, so I’ve had to adjust my activities accordingly. I do more YouTube cardio workouts and sitting in the sun on my balcony and less hiking through bogs and sunning myself on restaurant patios with a glass of wine. 

Are you and the dog doing ok? 

Luna has gained a little weight since we’re not doing as many intense/long hikes (and now I’ve cut back her food accordingly, which she is not thrilled with). Other than that, her life hasn’t changed much. She’s always gone with me everywhere – just now “everywhere” mostly involves living room to kitchen to front yard to play ball. 

Top 3 tips to keep your dog engaged? 

I’m not sure I have great tips…Luna’s life hasn’t changed much except that her walks feature more neighborhood instead of bog pools and they tend to be shorter (I’d happily hike five, six, seven hours in the wilderness, but we aren’t really going to do a seven-hour walk through the neighborhood). I’m hoping as the weather warms, we can get out for more bike rides and get a bit farther from the city and into the surrounding rural areas.  

 

What do you and your dog miss most under a covid world?

Wilderness! I am not a city person, so being stuck in the city all the time is getting old really fast (even though Tallinn is a lovely city). Luna feels the same. She gets much more excited about walks in the forest than in the neighborhood and if she thinks I’m going to take her into a busy part of the city, she’ll turn over a play dead (her way of telling me she doesn’t want to go). 

 

Website: https://gigigriffis.com

Facebook: https://facebook.com/gigigriffis

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gigigriffis

 

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