August 20, 2020
At home

Expats at home – South Australians chat from Victoria vol.2

We track down some more lockdown stories from South Australians-turned-Victorians.

Lucy Gransbury at home.

Lucy Gransbury

Where do you live?

We (my husband, my cat and I) live in Elsternwick, about 20 minutes from the Melbourne CBD. Our two-bedroom apartment has never felt smaller, messier, or more boring.

What’s the feeling there at the moment?

It’s all a bit grim and strange at the moment. I’m six months pregnant with our first child, in the midst of an unprecedented lockdown for a global pandemic – so it’s been a year of firsts!

In the initial lockdown, we all had grand ideas of productivity; finally, we have TIME! We’re going to get so much DONE! We made lists of the cupboards we’d organise, the windows we’d clean, the breads we’d cook, the puzzles we’d unpuzzle. And we did. I Marie Kondo’d my wardrobe twice in the first lockdown (that’s where ‘jobless and bored’ gets you). But this time around, I think we’re all just doing what we can to survive it. Some days I don’t get out of my dressing gown, and you know what? Who cares?! Nobody is around to see it.

It’s tough, because last time we were all looking forward to the social lives that would inevitably pick up after lockdown. We saw pubs and cafes and fun times just ahead, dangling in front of us like a carrot, ready to reward us for our good isolating. But this time, there’s no carrot. This lockdown is scheduled to end in in 24 days (we’re on day 43. I made a countdown calendar. Again: jobless and bored!) but we’re keeping our expectations low this time, knowing that restrictions could be extended, or only slightly lifted, for a long time. We’re all trying to be realistic – pessimistic, even – as to not get our hopes up. And I think I prefer it that way, because right now, with no expectations of when we might be able to socialise again: anything will be a bonus.

There are silver linings. Although it’s mentally a struggle in a lot of ways, I’ve never felt less work pressure. I mean, I’ve lost my jobs, but silver lining: my inbox has never been more calm! My husband has been working from home since March, and the lack of commute plus the adaptations in his workplace (he’s a lawyer at a firm) means he’ll probably be home much more when our baby arrives. Plus, there’s a nice feeling of community, even from afar. We nod and smile with our eyes at masked strangers as we give each other a wide berth. At the supermarket, we (mostly) calmly wait for our turn to carefully select a cucumber without touching all the others. I see so much more respect for personal space and patience in cues. And after all this, I’ll have so much more appreciation for the simple things: a wine with my friends, a trip to Adelaide to see my family, even taking a breath of fresh air without a mask. I can’t wait.

Mostly, it’s just boring. Being forced to stay home, lie on the couch and watch TV has taken all the fun out of my favourite activity: which used to be staying home, lying on the couch and watching TV. It’s no fun when it’s not voluntary.

One more thing: the 8pm curfew has not affected us one bit. My husband and I laugh about it often. I’m six months pregnant, why the hell would I want to go out after 8pm anyway?!

Soaking up the sunshine.

How have you had to adapt in your career?

In a nutshell, my career is on hiatus. It drifted away with our social lives. I’m an actor and a wedding celebrant, so both of my industries are in freefall. I’ve done a few auditions via Zoom, but it’s tricky in our small apartment – my husband is on a conference call in one room, and in the other, I’m squealing with excitement about my new car (or whatever the script calls for). The arts community bands together like no other though; I’m in various support groups and chats, and everyone is still making plans and writing scripts and applying for grants, because if anyone knows how to survive being down and out, it’s us actors. I usually put on a comedy show at Adelaide Fringe every year, as well as perform it in Melbourne and other festivals – by a stroke of luck, I’d decided to take this year off comedy to do more writing and planning (which I now have had wayyyyy too much time for). I would’ve had a huge financial loss otherwise, and I really feel for the performers that did. They’ve been hit hard.

As for the wedding industry, I’ve had about 30 weddings postponed or cancelled since March. That’s my main income, and it’s been really tough, especially for the couples who originally postponed to the end of 2020, and are now having to postpone a second time. We really don’t know when it will pick back up again. I’ve just been rolling with the punches, pencilling in back-up dates for 2021 and doing what I can to support the couples, but there’s really not much to be done but wait it out. Fortunately, I’m on Jobkeeper, and have other jobs that I’m able to do from home (writing, PA work, scriptwriting, etc), so I’m doing okay.

Lucy and husband Jeremy on a “camping trip”.

How have you been spending your time away from work/generally trying to stay sane?

Sane? Who’s sane?! Mon-Fri is the hardest for me. Any work or emails that need attending to, I plan for the mornings so I can feel some sense of accomplishment. We go for a neighbourhood walk at lunchtime, nodding at the local cats as we stroll by (that’s our whole social life now). I’ve had a few sewing projects on the go – none of them are good, but they’ve kept me busy in the afternoons. I’ve also watched a lot of TV. Like, a lot. Disgusting, jaw-dropping amounts of TV. Most of the time, I can’t be bothered doing much else.

We’ve also started a bit of a thing on weekends. It began about a month ago, when my husband had a day of leave on a Friday, a scheduled remnant from a weekend trip that had since been cancelled. The day loomed like a chore – how would we fill a whole extra day of both of us not working?! So he decided we’d go on a “camping trip”. We put the tent up in the living room, slept on a blow-up mattress, ate 2-minute noodles and scroggin – we even had a fire flickering on the TV screen as we read books in our camp chairs. It was utterly ridiculous and entirely refreshing. Since then we’ve spent our weekends setting up various adventures in the living room: a day spa, a gold class cinema, a pillow fort, even a trip to Italy which involved a long-haul “flight” with tray meals and safety announcements. We plan the adventure Saturday morning, execute it Saturday afternoon and evening, and clean up on Sunday. We get a good laugh and manage to occupy ourselves for a bit – it’s a 24-hour highlight of an otherwise dull, repetitive, claustrophobic week. Silver lining: we’ve moved the couch so many times, the floor behind it has never been cleaner.

That’s it really. I’m preggo in a pando, so I’m just taking each new, strange, boring day as it comes. Hand me the remote.

Jeremy off to Italy. Definitely not first class.

Clare O’Brien

Where in Vic do you live?
I live in Carlton – very close to the CBD but I haven’t ventured there in months.

What’s the feeling there at the moment?
I think everyone is exhausted. Most people are compliant at this stage but the uncertainty is draining.

What do you do for work/study?
I work at the University of Melbourne in a grad role.

How have you had to adapt in your role at work/studying?
My office has been working from home since March. Everything we need to do can be done remotely but it isn’t always as efficient or engaging.

How have you been spending your time away from work?
Exercising, cooking, watching films and reading.



Paul Purcell

Where in Vic do you live?

Before the strict Stage 3 lockdowns began in July, my partner and I decided to move down the coast to Rye for the safety of our families. My sister was due to give birth to her first child in July, while my partner’s housemate is a nurse in the intensive care unit at the Royal Children’s Hospital. Admittedly, we thought it would be a short-term move! But we’re very excited leave once restrictions ease to meet my new nephew!

What’s the feeling there at the moment?

Honestly, we haven’t really left the house enough to know. Besides a coffee run in the early AM, and an occasional supermarket trip, our entire in-person existence has been each other. Fortunately, we haven’t killed each other … but there’s still at least three weeks to go.

What do you do for work/study?

I’m the senior editor at The New Daily, but I’m also studying my Masters of Business Administration (MBA) at Melbourne Business School/University of Melbourne too.

How have you had to adapt in your role for work/study?

It’s been a two-sided coin. On the one hand, it’s has been genuinely challenging to start a new job where I haven’t met nearly any of my colleagues in person while also getting up speed with new processes from afar. There is also a mental/emotional health element – given there isn’t that in-person familiarity, at times it’s a little harder to gauge how everyone is coping emotionally and mentally in the trying circumstances. Conversely, while I’d prefer to be on-site in the MBS classrooms, I’ve been pleasantly surprised how quickly my classmates and lecturers have adapted to remote syndicate work and exams.

How have you been spending your time away from work?

Given we’ve been pretty strict shut-ins for the past seven weeks or so, we decided to completely transform the house. My big purchase was a spin bike so I could build a cycling studio at one end of the house while my partner has commandeered the sunroom to make up a yoga studio at the other end. On top of that, we’ve got a weekly Saturday trivia night where about 20 of our friends join a Zoom session to have a wine, a laugh and just catch up as best we can.

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