Presents and projects

06 May 2020

I sent an email to myself while working last week, a clear sign I'd hit a wall. It was easily my most restless week to date. But things turned around. There were tiny nice moments, like listening to music while driving in the rain and seeing bright autumn leaves on my way to get groceries and remembering that seasons still change, even though we're inside.

This is going to sound strange but there's something about seeing packets upon packets of toilet paper at the shops that brings a great sense of relief. Like we're at a turning point where things will continue to get better (I'm really hoping for this!).

I've ticked three funny things off my stay-at-home to-do list, growing spring onions from their roots (extremely satisfying), a Zoom yoga class with my favourite Sydney studio, and a pear and blueberry crumble. I've also been working on a lovely project that I've been busting to write about.

I've been making a podcast for two! Or a mini morning radio show. Every morning, I send my brother and sister-in-law a song introduced by a friend or family member to help brighten their hotel-quarantine stay. They moved back from America at short notice and while they were packing and preparing to leave, I hatched a plan to make their hotel stay a bit warmer.

Each morning there's a different host, from high school friends to siblings, new buds from their time in London, and one very special guest - a lead singer from a fave band! I asked everyone to record a voice memo sharing where they are, what they can see and hear, plus one thing they're looking forward to. I also asked them to choose a song and introduce it. The idea was to bring the outside world into their Sydney hotel room.

The morning messages and songs were inspired by this episode of the Soul Music podcast, which opens with an astronaut talking about the songs that were piped into his shuttle each morning, chosen by family members back on earth. The song he remembers was Can't Take My Eyes Off You, chosen by his wife to mark their wedding anniversary apart.

During this time at home, I haven't been too good at reading or doing anything other than working, cooking and being on Instagram - until this project came alone. I started working on it over the Anzac Day long weekend and woke up with a real sense of purpose and excitement each day, as new audio recordings popped into my inbox. It was so good to be editing audio again, I'd forgotten what a wonderfully intimate medium it is. And it's been so much fun to sample all the chosen songs - from K-pop hits to Mozart. There are only three episodes to go and I'll so miss this joyful little project.

In Canberra, you're now allowed to visit one other household, so on Sunday when Tony was busy painting I went to my sister's house to deliver a belated birthday present. It was a short visit but a very uplifting one! We gave my nephew a mini golf set and he took to it immediately. I also got to see my niece's wobbly tooth IRL and see their hermit crabs in action.

At the moment I'm watching Mindy Kaling's Never Have I Ever on Netflix and loving it. I'm strangely into teen dramas at the moment and also caught up on All The Boys I've Loved Before. I'm excited to watch the sequel and another movie with a Asian main character, The Half of It. I'm totally going to watch the Netflix adaptation of Michelle Obama's Becoming too.

And I must've turned a corner because I'm reading a book again and really enjoying it. After listening to Gabrielle Hamilton's much talked about NY Times essay, I downloaded her memoir Blood, Bones & Butter. It's a wonderful read, full of adventure and action.

I hope you're going ok wherever this finds you. Things that've helped me this week - exercise and fresh air for energy and good sleep, and salad. I'd completely forgotten about salad, even though I used to eat some version of it for lunch every day at work. On that note, this is a lovely dinner that isn't pasta. A tofu, brown rice and brussels sprout salad from Hetty McKinnon. And good relaxing music, complied by my brother.


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