2021: The year of questioning what is ‘normal’ – whatever that means any more – and what is pandemic-related. I wonder if 2022 is the year in which they merge and we (or I) stop making a distinction between reality and COVID-reality, a fictional distinction we probably still want to perpetuate. At the end of 2020 we were optimistically looking forward to the ‘new normal’. Yet, that still does not seem to have arrived as most of us are stuck in this weird limbo-like world of restrictions and waiting for the ‘next phase’. I started the year with the question “Is this COVID, is it a cold, or is it the 20 hours of car aircon over the last 48 hours?” (it was one of the latter) and end it with “Is this ‘normal’ end-of-school-year exhaustion, the consequences of a bloody big year of work, or the never-ending frustration of living in pandemic times?” and I don’t think I’m alone!
Perhaps the exhaustion has something to do with moving city for the third time in seven years, or school for the second time in two, or changing desks in school five times during the year with almost as many role changes. Not that each of those things hasn’t been rewarding in many different ways, but they are not conducive to taking things easy! I do like to work hard and play hard, though. (And never underestimate the effort it takes to construct a social life from scratch in a new place!) It was a reality check when someone I trained to teach with left their school after a decade, to count up the 6 schools I had worked in in the same time. It’s also frustrating not to be able to travel to see family and friends for the second summer holiday. I’m not good at doing nothing, and the busier I am, the more productive I am (I know, it’s a capitalist fiction that we should be ‘productive,’ but it does give a sense of purpose) – so not having plans for 7 weeks is a challenge! Resting should be part of the routine, in my book, not the whole routine! Other frustrations include, but are not limited to, not being able to run and being stuck in the middle of making music!
There hasn’t been as much time for reading as last year, but somehow I have managed to keep up almost as much. Not quite the 99 books of 2020, but I’m on 86 books for the year. This has been helped by a fair few audiobooks on the commute. I’ve continued trying to read more books by women, queer and black authors, and have consciously thought about my book choices, including in my academic reading. Some highlights are Austin Channing Brown, James Cone, Anita Heiss, Elizabeth Johnson, and Carter Heyward. I also kept up with a lot of podcasts this way, including The Guilty Feminist, Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead, Julia Gillard’s A Podcast of One’s Own, Queerology, A People’s Theology, Queerstories, How To Be A Better Human, and one that I’ve been more closely associated with, Australian Women Preach. Pretty similar podcast listening to the previous year. I’ve trained my spotify pretty well now after 18 months to recommend more women artists!
So how to start 2022? I’m thinking I will plan precariously, and try to be prepared to be flexible. Oh, and I will get boosted before the school year begins! And try not to ask “Is it me or is it the pandemic?”