Current Obsessions, 16: Melbourne Lockdown 2 Edition

12/14/2020 11:20:00 AM

A deserted Crossley Street, on a weekday just after lockdown ended

Hello hello everyone! How are we all today? Time for an Obsessions post! Today's post isn't about my "current" obsessions, but rather about the obsessions that kept me going during Melbourne's super-strict second lockdown. Obviously though, Lockdown 2 is over now! Woohoo! Victoria is currently 45 days without a new locally acquired case (28 days is the accepted threshold for having eliminated the virus in the community - amazing), and more and more freedoms have been and are being returned. I'm hopefully optimistic that it stays that way, and that we all keep doing our part to keep it at bay, and that any flareups or new cases that pop up in future (especially through the recently restarted program of hotel quarantine for international arrivals) are identified and squashed quickly.

However, as we slowly stumble out of Lockdown 2, weary and exhausted, and back into normal life (well, COVID-normal life), I'm starting to feel like I'll forget what it was like. I don't necessarily want to keep myself tethered to that anxious, uncertain, depressing time, but seeing that it was such a significant and difficult period in our lives, I want to take a little time to reflect on it - to make sure I remember it and appreciate what it was like for us, so that I can let it go emotionally and truly embrace the future.

So here's what kept my brain busy during Lockdown 2.


The Daniel Andrews Press Conference and Daily Corona Stats

Image source: ABC.net

I mean, obviously. Like every other Victorian, literally every morning I'd anxiously await the announcement of the daily presser time and the case numbers, and I'm sorry to say my mood for the day would be heavily influenced by the numbers. Watching the press conference would be non-negotiable for me, and I made sure not to schedule any work meetings during that time.

I started watching the daily press conference to help with my anxiety levels - reading endless speculative articles (e.g. "the Premier might announce a curfew", "XYZ industries could be shut down", "we could get up to 10,000 cases a day"), would just make my anxiety skyrocket without providing useful information and I had to stop myself from reading those. I much preferred to hear announcements, good or bad, straight from the source, rather than reading unhelpful speculation or having the actual announcements filtered through the agendas of particular newspapers. However, towards the end of lockdown, sometimes for my own mental health I had to skip the press conferences - I hate conflict, and I just couldn't cope with the often aggressive, accusatory, and irrelevant questioning from some of the assembled journalists.

I was really pleased to see the press conferences slowly change as the numbers kept improving - the motto changing from the purple-backgrounded "Staying Apart Keeps Us Together", to the optimistic light green "Stay Safe Stay Open"; the focus moving from grim corona statistics and restrictions to the positive future-focus of the massive rebuilding effort; Daniel Andrews finally taking a few days off and letting his ministers step in for him; and eventually stopping the conferences completely.

Anyway, now I get my update on the daily numbers from the DHSS Twitter account, and I'm very pleased to see that the daily press conferences are a thing of the past.


Small Batch Baking

Small Batch Scones

This was one of my more joyful and productive obsessions! Obviously baking makes me happy, and baking small cakes was one of the joys of lockdown. In normal times I'd share cake with colleagues, bake for dinner parties, share cake with my family and friends - but of course I was working from home, and we weren't allowed to socialise for the majority of Lockdown 2. So, I just baked in smaller quantities. It started with my small-batch scones (definitely the most popular recipe on my blog right now), and extended to baby-batch buckwheat brownies, petite passionfruit loaf cake with sour cream glaze, a small cheesecake, a little lemon and ricotta blueberry cake, small batch cheddar and chive scones (zomg so good), and my baby banana bundt cake with sour cream glaze. Such fun! Small-batch baking suits my little family, so I'm keeping it up even post-lockdown.


Espresso Machine

Espresso machine
Breville Barista Express

I've been at home since February - one month off after the baby was born, and then working from home ever since. At first I'd make filter coffees at home, and sometimes get a takeaway coffee on our daily walks (or I'd have them delivered because exhausted mum life). However, once mandatory masks were introduced at the end of July, I just stopped enjoying the takeaway coffee. I know most people just pulled their mask down to drink their coffee on the go, but I never felt right about doing that, so I'd end up carrying my coffee home, spilling some of it as I tried to wrangle the pram, and only get to drink it at home once it was cold.

And - first world problem alert - I really missed my nice espresso-based coffee with the creamy milk and pretty latte art. So, we splashed out on a fancy espresso machine - the Breville Barista Express. I LOVE it, and it's the perfect at-home machine for me - it makes a great espresso, foams the milk well, and is easy to clean and maintain. I've gotten into the routine of making a latte every morning, and whilst my latte art skills show no sign of improvement (my most common latte art shape is "formless blob"; incidentally also my mental state during Lockdown 2), I really enjoy the taste of the coffee. (Sandra's latte art skills are far better than mine - she usually can make a Christmas tree / rosetta shape).

Buying the machine was very much an acceptance that life had become very different from before, and that we should embrace it and make the most of the situation.


YouTube Yoga

Yoga with Kassandra

I really got into home yoga practices during Lockdown 2, and completed one hundred and thirty one consecutive days of daily yoga practice! I did a variety of practices - some short, some long, some relaxing, some intense, but I always made sure I got my yoga in. I loved taking the time for myself and doing something good for me and my physical health.

I started with Yoga with Adriene, who is super popular and totally awesome, but have since moved to Yoga with Kassandra - a Canadian yogini whose practices are just at the right level for me. She has a great mix of videos, and a huge selection of yin practices! I really enjoy her yin practices, and also her 10-minute morning yoga videos. She has heaps of them, and also has a 30-Day Morning Yoga Movement which I really enjoyed - it was challenging but very achievable and motivating.

As we moved out of lockdown and our days have became busier with outings and visits, I kept up with the daily yoga at first, but I soon realised that I was just forcing myself to the mat and trying to squeeze it in even when exhausted or frazzled, and it was more pressure than joy. So now I'm being kinder to myself, and doing my yoga when I feel like it, which is usually every couple of days.


Netflix and Streaming Binges

Source: Variety.com

I did this, you did this, we all did this. Here's what I watched.

Schitt's Creek - you already know I love Schitt's Creek, just keeping it here on the list to remind YOU to watch Schitt's Creek if you haven't already.

Hollywood - A Ryan Murphy show, best described as a kinder, more inclusive re-imagining of the golden days of Hollywood. Jim Parsons' performance was just astonishing. I personally found the narrative arc a bit too sweet and tidy, (however I understand that the "Hollywood" ending is obviously the point).

The Bodyguard - A really tightly paced, gripping political thriller. Richard Madden's "Ma'am" - amazing.

Dark (Season 1) - German time travel show, totally compulsive viewing. Don't worry, I can't give you any spoilers because I can barely understand the premise - it's far too complicated. There's a lot of going back and forth between different time periods and a slow unravelling of the story. I haven't persevered with further seasons because they seemed to become more sci-fi and less focused on human relationships, so a bit less appealing to me.

The Politician - This show wasn't on my radar at all, but we decided to watch it after seeing Bette Middler and Judith Light (so fabulous!) in a Netflix preview for Season 2. Another Ryan Murphy show, about a hyper-ambitious high school student (Ben Platt from Dear Evan Hansen!) and his quest to become president. I've often read descriptions of Ryan Murphy's work being "uneven", which I think is a fair assessment. The Politician goes from dark and serious to light and funny to bizarrely sweet and unbelievable very erratically. However there are great performances and moments of brilliance, and I think definitely worth watching.

Lucifer - I bloody love Lucifer and we smashed all five seasons during the bleakest period of Lockdown 2. It's a procedural police show, with Tom Ellis as the devil who has decided to stay in LA for a holiday and becomes a civilian consultant with the LAPD. It's not the highest quality or most innovative program ever, but Tom Ellis (Gary from Miranda!) is incredibly charismatic, basically all of the cast are super hot, and it's an enjoyable watch. I am looking forward to the second half of season 5, hopefully dropping soon!

Fleabag - I did not love Fleabag as much as everyone else loved Fleabag, or as much as I thought I "should" love Fleabag. It took me ages to get into Season 1 - to me it felt like Miranda, being about white middle class British women with an awkwardly charming lead who talks to the camera, so it was hard for me to get my head around the darkness and explicitness of the show. However, the last episode was like a punch to the guts, and season two was great. (Hot priest, so good!)
Ratched - Sarah Paulson is an absolute queen! Incredibly beautiful sets and costumes, and one of the more even Ryan Murphy shows I've seen. Warning: it's quite dark and intense. This is the origin story of Nurse Ratched, from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, although honestly it's so different from the film and so fully realised that I think of it as its own thing, rather than "just" a prequel.

Boys in the Band - I was so excited to watch this! I'd heard about the Broadway revival, and was so happy they made a film that people around the world could watch. (Theatre people, please do this more). I watched the original Boys in the Band film (1970) as a teenager, late night on SBS, and it was almost an illicit feeling to watch an intimate portrait of gay men at that time. To me it's remarkable how far we've come - the original film was incredibly controversial with many of the actors being closeted, but the 2020 Broadway revival and film remake were mainstream and popular, directed by the ubiquitous and uber-successful Ryan Murphy and starring out-and-proud and commercially successful gay actors. (Jim Parsons! Matt Bomer! Zachary Quinto! Andrew Rannells!)

American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace - (God Sarah, you're obsessed with Ryan Murphy!) - Honestly we watched this because we'd watched everything else we wanted to and we thought this might pass the time. I was surprised how little Versace appeared in the show (and how little I cared, despite my being a big fan of Versace); this was definitely the Andrew Cunanan story - Darren Criss' performance was excellent and I found the fictionalised trajectory of Andrew Cunanan really fascinating.

The Big Bang Theory Season 12 - I know it's fashionable to hate on The Big Bang Theory (and cheesy sitcoms in general), but I just do not care, I've always loved it and in a non-ironic way. I didn't watch Season 12 when it was on TV, and when it was finally released on Netflix, we smashed through it in a couple of days. I honestly love how easy it is to watch; it's just a comforting easy show for the viewer, which is exactly what I needed at this time. It blows my mind how good Jim Parsons is (especially contrasted to the characters he played in Hollywood and Boys in the Band). Did you know that Mayam Bialik is starring in a new sitcom, Call Me Kat, which is based on the British sitcom Miranda (which I absolutely ADORE) which she and Jim Parsons are executive producing? I'm excited to see it and I hope it's fun!


Thank-you for reading all of that. So what's coming up on the blog? Some Christmassy recipes hopefully, and I just realised I never blogged my birthday celebrations, or the baby shower, so I'll try to do that! Peace out and stay safe!

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  1. > However, as we slowly stumble out of Lockdown 2, weary and exhausted, and back into normal life (well, COVID-normal life), I'm starting to feel like I'll forget what it was like. I don't necessarily want to keep myself tethered to that anxious, uncertain, depressing time, but seeing that it was such a significant and difficult period in our lives, I want to take a little time to reflect on it - to make sure I remember it and appreciate what it was like for us, so that I can let it go emotionally and truly embrace the future.

    Well said, I feel the same way. For similar reasons Di recently put together a timeline of the year to help try to capture some of the notable events and duration of the lockdowns visually: https://observablehq.com/@didoesdigital/2020-timeline

    1. Oh so good! Such a good idea to put the events in visual format; it really helps solidify things in your mind!



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