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Realisations with social distancing, part 1

New South Wales is in semi-lockdown mode so I’ve had plenty of free time lately.

By “semi-lockdown”, I mean we’ve been advised to stay home and practice social distancing, but there is still a lot of freedom in it. For example, people can still go to work if they’re an essential worker or if their work cannot be done from home (this doesn’t apply to me, I’ve been working from home for the past few weeks). We’re also allowed to go to the supermarket, seek medical help and exercise. We’re not allowed to gather in groups more than two, which is okay by us since we’ve been keeping to ourselves anyway.

So as I said, I’ve had plenty of time to think lately…

Realisation #1: It is really hard to do a meal plan and single grocery shop for an entire week. I usually have a few dinners or lunches out with friends/S during the week. Because I’d have some great meals, I’d be happy for mediocre, “good ’nuff” food for my remaining meals (e.g. roasted chickpeas – and I mean just roasted chickpeas).

However, given the state of things recently, we’ve been making all our meals. The mediocre meals have a tendency to overwhelm everything else if there’s nothing half-decent to alternate them with, so we’ve had to think about what we’re going to be eating. Especially because we don’t want to make multiple trips to the supermarkets if there’s an ingredient we’ve forgotten or if we’re suddenly craving for something else.

It’s hard. But we’ve also learned to be less wasteful of the ingredients we buy and how to make meals from the same kinds of ingredients. (Also, when I say “we”, I really just mean S, who does most of the cooking haha.*) But this is good practice. We’d been intending to do more meal planning and now we’re forced to do it and put it in practice.

* I did make two things last week. They were pretty good, so they’ll likely go into regular rotation.

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One week later

I cannot believe how much things have changed the past week or so. Australia has doubled down on its coronavirus measures now that the number of confirmed cases has exponentially increased.

I am grateful every day that S & I have jobs, food in the pantry and toilet paper, but sometimes I can’t help but worry, what if things in Australia take a turn for the worse. The unfolding situation has already affected people I know… I’ve had friends lose regular gigs, be placed on unpaid leave by their employers or lose their jobs entirely only to find it impossible to find new roles since most companies are on a hiring freeze.

I am now working from home. I’m fine with it, to be honest, and I’m glad my employer has been proactive. In addition to not being exposed on public transport, I’ll end up saving ~$45 a week on transportation costs and two hours of worth of travel time.

Crazy times, but I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I hope it all blows over as soon as it can possibly blow over.

One thing I need to be mindful of is my mental well-being. With everything that’s been going on lately — the uptick in cases in Australia, the new measures put in place, the stories from places like Italy — I’ve been glued to watching and reading news. While it’s good to be informed, I feel like the constant stream of updates has made me feel more panicked than I should be.

Be alert, be prepared, and not scared or panicked, should be my mantra. I need to make a conscious effort not to get caught up in what’s happening. I’m lucky that I am still employed and can stay at home — I need to make sure that I’m as calm and productive as I can possibly be. I’ve got books, I’ve got projects, I’ve got my piano. I can do this.

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Much ado about coronavirus

It’s pretty crazy thinking how it’s all unfurled the past month or so. Who would’ve thought things would’ve spiraled this much and that things would be shutting down left, right and center? (Well, probably anyone who knew anything about infectious diseases. I read an article today saying that for people who actually study these things, it was a matter of when, not if, something like this would happen.)

I’m pretty grateful I’m not living somewhere where the situation’s pretty dire. Which isn’t to say I’m not affected, although it’s peanuts compared to what other people are going through.

When news of the virus first came out, I started seeing people wearing masks in public. Then it died down after government reassurances that there was no reason to wear masks and to calm down. (Now more people are wearing masks again.)

We noticed that a certain “Asian” suburb nearby where we’d always go for Asian food was seeming a lot emptier than usual. And there was absolutely no problem with getting tables anywhere. I don’t think I’d seen a single restaurant that was even a third full, and this is usually a suburb bustling with people.

And of course there’s toilet paper gate. We were down to our last two rolls before we found some. And if we had literally been at the shops more than 30 minutes after it opened we wouldn’t have gotten any. Being Asian, I already carried hand sanitiser with me anyway (haha), but I unluckily left it at a restaurant one day and it was a couple of weeks before I found any. Crazy.

We had a meeting at work to nut out the contingency plan. We’re all supposed to take our laptops home so if something happens we can all work from home. I ended up self-isolating for a couple of days this week because I was feeling a little warm – not enough for a low grade fever, but still.

Even today — I was supposed to go interstate for the weekend but I decided to cancel my trip last minute. 🙁 So it’s going to be a quiet weekend in. At least I’ll get to do my errands and admin.

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Goombye summer

Who would’ve thought summer’s nearly over. 🙁 I’m trying to savour the last few weeks of Daylight Savings Time and am typing this on my balcony. I can feel it though, the wind has turned — it’s a bit chillier now.

The first two months of the year have been a blur. My parents stayed a few weeks into January and y’know, babysitting parents can be tiring. Haha. I have a new nephew. I also started a new job and am getting used to a fast-paced working environment again after my admittedly chill-er previous job.

I’m still getting used into my new routine though because my job’s in a different area of Sydney plus the work hours a bit different. I’m still trying to figure out the most efficient way to organise my days and my commutes and fortnightly interstate trips. (I’m getting there, I think, if I’ve got time to chill on the balcony!)

So far, this year I’ve been trying to streamline my life, cold as it may sound. I have many things I want to do. I want to cook more, exercise more, meditate more, sew more, learn more – and sleep more! I know it’s possible as long as I address the niggly and uncomfortable feelings that always lead me to procrastinate. And if I have routines in place.

I like being a creature of habit and having routines; they keep me on track. I don’t mind if a chunk of my life is seemingly boring if it means I can keep part of it open for the more fun things. Like right now… I purposely keep a few weeknights of the week all to myself so I can relax, catch up life admin and do housework, boring as it may seem to my younger self who would’ve wanted to always be go-go-go.

Fortunately Australia has mild weather and even though summer will technically be over in a few days, we still have a few weeks to enjoy warmer, sunnier days:

  • Do more bushwalks. We were sidetracked with all the fires over Christmas. Fortunately they’re gone now, although the national parks may take some time to recover. We went to Lane Cove National Park the other weekend and the walking track was pretty much nonexistent. We ended up leaving shortly after. I hope it gets rehabilitated soon.
  • Go swimming more. It was my first time to go to an indoor swimming pool the other weekend and I was so happy, haha. I used to swim quite a lot but haven’t done here. How amazing it is that we have these public pools that are so well-maintained!
  • Have more barbecues on the balcony.

Actually… I think that’s it. Pretty much everything else I want to do, I can also do during the colder months, hehe.

And I’m not going to deny that I have said a few times, “I am so over this heat!!” I guess that’s the benefit of living in a country with four seasons — as soon as I get tired of one, the other one’s around the corner.