The Year Like No Other

This is December’s blog post that wasn’t completed on New Year’s Eve – of course, as all plans were movable feasts in 2020 – thanks to Victoria and South Australia announcing they were closing their borders to New South Wales. Obviously, I thought, Queensland will not be far behind (in fact, I’m surprised they’re not there *first* as they have been since March!). So if I want to drive through New South Wales to move to Queensland (and there really is no other way, if I want my car there), I better get going. And I haven’t got two weeks to quarantine (not to mention the expense) before I start work if they close the border to Victoria!

We thought, at the end of November, that we were settling in to the ‘new normal’ or the ‘COVID normal’. I was able to travel to Brisbane the first weekend in December, and we were able to go out in Melbourne a few times after that. But just before Christmas, along comes another escape of COVID from hotel quarantine in New South Wales, and is carried over the border into Victoria.

At the end of this crazy year, who doesn’t want a fresh start?! This has certainly been a year like no other. 2020 certainly had its challenges, but also a few perks, which I want to hang on to. Three in particular stand out for me: running, reading and recording.

Running: I was aiming to run 1,000km in 2020 but, thanks to it being one of only 4 reasons I could leave the house during lockdown (not to mention needing to get away from the computer screen teaching online), I ended up having more motivation, and ran around 1,170km in the year. The best bit about the running was that lockdown rules allowed exercising with one other person! So it was also social time! I’ll be forever grateful for my Melbourne lockdown running buddy – sharing life, its joys and frustrations, and venting!

Reading: I was aiming to read 100 books (I set this as a target on goodreads every year, and the closest I’ve ever been to the target was in 2015 when our visa was delayed by 5 months, and even then I got to 76 books) and I came so close. I read 99 books! Maybe I should read shorter books this year! In similar thought to the post I put up about only listening to music by female, queer and black artists earlier in the year, this year I have tried to read mostly female, queer and black authors – both in fiction and non-fiction. Some highlights from fiction: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo; Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller; Sugar Land by Tammy Lynne Stoner. I also read most of the Hogarth Shakespeare series. I shifted focus with my theology reading and writing: I’m grateful for the Black Theology group convened on twitter and my own research has shifted in the direction of queer theology. There are a couple of snaps below of my goodreads final library – even with my intention to prioritise books that are not by men, 32 (if I have counted correctly) of the books had male authors.

Recording: I had recorded Into Silence, the title track of the album, in 2019, and, being close to the studio in Melbourne, I wanted to get some other songs recorded. After we were released from lockdown part one, I was able to get to The Songstore and record other songs. A bit like the security we were starting to feel in December, after the first lockdown in June/July, we were feeling confident of recovering some normality, but swiftly ended up back in lockdown. With the Women as Church conference lining up to use Broke The Frame as the theme song, there was a bit of pressure on to get it recorded – and, for some reason, it was one of the ones I left until the end to record the vocals on! I just managed to get it done, and, putting a couple of songs on the shelf, put the album out before the conference. The best bit about releasing the recordings has been when people from all over the world – old friends as well as some I haven’t spoken to in years and some new acquaintances – have been in touch to tell me a song has become meaningful to them. The album Into Silence is available to stream in the usual places, including Spotify and iTunes, and to buy on Amazon’s UK and USA websites. You can buy a copy of the CD by getting in touch with me or head across to ebay. And, knowing I was about to leave Melbourne for the sunny Queensland, in the week before Christmas I was back in the studio putting down some new tracks. So watch this space!

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