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We got tested

…for COVID-19 and we were fine. 😛

NSW hasn’t had community transmission for two weeks now (all new cases are international arrivals). So that the government can continue to stay on top of things, they advise getting tested have even with the mildest of symptoms.

So when S got a sore throat, we got tested although it didn’t seem serious. I had no symptoms, but I figured, in case he tested positive, I’d likely need to go and tested as well, being a close contact. I might as well find out then too and save myself the hassle of driving myself to take a separate test later on, if it came to that. (Side note: I don’t like driving myself to places anymore. I think that’s a side effect of getting driven around all the time. But yes, I am trying to change that and drive more even when S is around!)

We found a drive-by testing centre a few kilometres away that opened at 7:30 AM so we could get tested then work from home. There weren’t a lot of people when we arrived. There was around a five minute wait until we got swabbed. And the best part was, we didn’t have to leave the car.

We were initially fearing the test because S’s brother had gotten one and according to him, he “could taste blood afterwards.” I think he may have had an unlucky swab because it was nowhere near that invasive. Yes, I did get a swab up my nose. But it wasn’t that bad. The discomfort lasted only a few seconds. It did make me slightly teary eyed, but it wasn’t from the blunt force, it was more like someone tickling me up there the wrong way (if that makes sense)!

We headed home and spent the rest of the day quarantining while working from home. We were worried because we didn’t have that much food left. (Yes, we stockpiled quite a bit of groceries at the beginning of the pandemic, but we’ve cleared a big chunk of it! Believe it or not, we ate through all of the pasta already. I will admit we still have some cans of tuna left.)

We needn’t have worried. Around 2 PM, we got SMSes saying we were both negative.

And thus was the anticlimactic end to our little COVID test adventure.

My parents seemed to think it was a huge deal. I messaged my family to say that we were taking tests in the morning (more out of the novelty of it). My mum sent me messages about praying for our tests which I put down as a very sweet, religious mum thing to do. But apparently, she also sent messages out. I got a message from an auntie later on because apparently she found out we “had a COVID scare”.

I had to explain that the rules here were that everyone needed to get tested even with the mildest of symptoms. That neither of us were really worried that we had actually gotten it, and neither of us was super sick. That the entire episode was seamless: we drove through a testing centre, got swabbed within 5 minutes, and received our results in a few hours. Plus, everything was free! I think their worry was stemming from the fact that the circumstances around COVID testing are very different where they are. It made me realise how lucky we are to live here where it’s under control (as much as something like that can be gotten under control).

And hey, I don’t think I have any more fears with taking another COVID test!

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A new normal (a cliche)

For the longest time, I felt life was on hold. First for weeks. Then months.

The first wave of infections came and went, followed by a second wave (to a smaller extent in Sydney, for which we are extremely lucky) and even a third wave in other countries.

It’s been seven months since Australia first started its lockdowns. Restrictions have eased where I am, but things still aren’t back to where things were in February.

And I’ve slowly come to realise that this is it. Life is not on hold, it continues. And although we’re unable to live as freely, and making plans feels more uncertain that it used to, we have to move forward. The phrase “the new normal” has been thrown around quite a lot, but I think it’s only now that I’ve started to accept it.

We went for our first proper mini-holiday earlier this month. Since we couldn’t travel interstate (not to mention overseas), we went to a small town in the Southern Highlands. We stayed in a lovely boutique motel and spent the weekend exploring the town’s local shops, eating delicious food and going for a short bushwalk through a nearby national park.

It was wonderful to get away to explore a new place for the sole reason of relaxing.

And it drummed home the fact that this was it. Borders aren’t opening anytime soon. There’s no point in me holding out to being able to travel to the Philippines for December like initially planned – it’s definitely not happening.

But there is room for other plans. We’ve decided to do more of these little breaks when we can. We’ve already planned another small trip in November. Nothing too fancy or expensive, but a small getaway to celebrate our birthdays.

We’ve been meeting up with friends. Obviously in different ways from before, where meeting after work in the city was the most convenient option.

I’ve started exercising more intensely again. I’m still not comfortable going to face to face exercise classes, but I’ve realised that the exercise alternatives I had (primarily leisurely walks around the park and once-a-week online dance classes) were not cutting it. So I’ve decided to get off my butt and whip myself into better shape.

And the list goes on…

Here’s to adjusting to the new normal.

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Sew slow fashion

I picked up sewing a few years ago, but didn’t really progress much. I initially wanted to do alterations so I could tailor my clothes to fit better. Then I realised that to do that properly, I’d likely have to deconstruct clothes to begin with… so I gave up on that idea pretty fast.

Anyway, after taking a weekend workshop years ago, I was able to make simple garments. I made a ton of pajamas and pajama shorts (haha) and started making tunic dresses and tops. Like with the pajamas, I had base patterns I’d make variations of… different fabrics, necklines, sleeves, that kind of thing.

With everything that happened this year, I ended up getting more into sewing. And I mean really into it. I’ve never been particularly adventurous with clothing – I’d throw away a black shirt that had gone ratty and buy one exactly like it – so I liked the idea of knowing what my basics are and making more of those if I needed new clothes.

Now, I have to consciously remind myself to spend my time on other hobbies, haha! If I’m not sewing, I’m looking up patterns, fabrics, other people’s projects… As satisfying as making my own clothes is, I don’t want it to take over my life. Part of the reason I’m doing this is to become more sustainable. I was never the person who would buy a lot of fast fashion, but I don’t want to be stuck with the same dilemma of having too many clothes, regardless if they were fast fashion or not. It’s a hard balance to strike!

There is a sense of pride and accomplishment when I wear things I’ve made that I’ve never felt wearing ready-to-wear clothing. I may have gotten addicted to that feeling. I’ve got a few projects lined up for the rest of the year and I’m pretty excited. I’m hoping to get them done sooner rather than later so I can get some good use out of them before the weather starts turning cool again!

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Things I regret

I’ve been wistful about how things used to be now that I’m in the “new normal”. I know things have to be this way indefinitely, but I can’t help it.

So here’s a list of things I regret. Also known as things I wish my younger self knew.

I wish I made more of an effort for my friends and family’s milestones.

I moved overseas when I was 24. I accepted that I’d miss a lot of things – weddings, special birthdays, anniversaries, births. People did understand, and I did have legitimate reasons why I couldn’t make it.

I had university. I had work. I didn’t have enough leaves yet, I just started a new job. Australia is so far from everything else – it would’ve taken me over a day to travel one way. I wouldn’t be able to spend more than a few days – surely over a thousand dollars for a few days was a bit much?

But still. I feel like I could’ve made more of an effort. That I could’ve been OK with not saving as much as I did, with taking leave without pay, with missing a few days here and there, with dealing with jetlag.

I am glad though, that I made the effort when my remaining grandparents passed away. I got to see my grandfather one more time. I didn’t get to see my grandmother, but at least I was there to grieve with my family.

I also wish that a few years ago, I attended the juggling convention in Amsterdam along with my juggling group. They’d already booked a house and everything and were encouraging me to join. All I had to do was book a plane ticket! My cousin happened to be living there at that time, so it would’ve been a chance to see him. But I balked at the cost. Now how I wish I’d gone!

I wish I had supported local a lot more.

We’ve started going out more, but it’s locally – and I can’t help but wish that some of my old favourite local places were still around.

There are two local shops I have in mind: a fresh fruit and veg grocer with amazing deli products and an “authentic Italian” pizza place. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think that I (or we) would’ve fully stopped those shops from going out of business.

But still! I wish I’d visited more than I did – I’d taken for granted that they were there.

(What makes me sadder is how the people who worked in those shops would recognise me/us. It really is a nice feeling, being consider a “regular” of someplace.)

I wish I’d taken taken more time off, especially when my friends or family visited from overseas.

I mean, sometimes I would. And sometimes they’d visit during the holiday season when I was off anyway. But a lot of times, I would schedule spending time with them around uni or work. I wish I’d blocked off that time entirely and focused on spending time with them instead.

Outside of entertaining visitors, I think I could’ve taken off more time in general. I find that when I change jobs, I always have a chunk of vacation leave that gets cashed out. Money is great, but I could’ve treated myself to little holidays here and there.

I wish I hadn’t slacked off on group exercise (or juggling!) the last two years.

I used to be quite religious – I’d take dance classes at two studios, go boxing and do Krav Maga. I also juggled every week. In the years leading up to the coronavirus, I lessened some of that, and to be honest stopped juggling entirely years ago.

It wasn’t that I was lazy. Changes in work hours meant it was hard to spend a few hours in the city doing nothing waiting for the next class, and I didn’t want to be sleep deprived the next day. I was travelling interstate every other weekend. Sometimes, weekends were the only time we could have quality time. I also wanted to save a bit more money. Some things had to give.

I’ve been taking online exercise classes (including live dance classes) but the thing is, it’s not the same. There’s something about dancing in a room full of people and feeding off each other’s energy. There’s something training with people better than I am and pushing me to become better.

Exercise classes are technically allowed already. I got a call from one of my dear teachers some time ago telling me he was teaching again, although in limited numbers – but I’m still hesitant given we’re still in a pandemic.

But I hope, I hope, things will get back to normal soon. And I hope it isn’t too late to make amends.