To my colleagues

I miss seeing you in the office.

It’s not the same working remotely. There’s none of those spontaneous chats in the tea room or bathroom. No opportunities to go for a walk and talk about anything and everything.

Part of the reason I’ve stayed at my place of work for so long is the culture, and the fact that everyone is genuinely a great person. I have never dreaded going into work or felt a sinking feeling when someone’s walked through the door. I realise that’s unusual in any work situation.

I love that we can make a change to only show preferred names in our library system and everyone is happy about it. I love that everyone just wants to make it better for our users- not in the corporate “user experience” buzzword sense, but in an actual, “how can we help them” way of thinking. The whole library is passionate about open access, justice, and working together. Random acts of kindness happen on a regular basis.

The staff who work with undergraduates have been able to help students succeed in such a very difficult time. Likewise, our research staff have been key in helping researchers adjust and meet their goals. The collections staff have done brilliant work in making as many resources online as possible- and allowing users who need print materials to still access them.

I hope every single person in my library workplace knows how important, talented, and valued they are. If I was in charge, you’d all have a promotion and a permanent contract until retirement.

Art as mindfulness

I visited Heide Museum today with a friend.

After checking in with my QR code, I turned my phone to silent and shoved it deep in my handbag. I wanted to experience the art fully without the distraction of taking photos. (As it turned out, they were strict on a no photos policy).

Instead of thinking about what to photograph, I stood in front of each exhibit and asked myself how it made me feel?

Robert Owen’s Blue Over Time made me feel alive and energised, and I admired his skillful use of color contrast. His metallic pieces used refraction to make the exhibit itself move. I walked back and forth a few times, watching the rainbow appear on the silver tiles. I think my very favourite piece in the whole exhibit was a red on black patterned circle. What came to mind was authenticity, realness, being oneself.

Cry of the land evoked a sense of connection with this country, and highlighted the deep spiritual bond First Nationals people have with this land.

Focusing on what I felt definitely improved the experience. It’s what I find most useful about mindfulness- being in the present. Not thinking about what I’d post on social media, but what I was feeling, right now, in the gallery.

Sydney

I’m sorry, Sydney people.

I’m sorry that you’re dealing with all the stress and uncertainty that comes from a lockdown. I’m sorry that it got that way.

Whatever you feel is justified. It’s also okay to be sad. To be scared. To not know what’s going to happen. It’s okay to be angry. Yell. Rant. Let it out. As long as you don’t take it out on others, it can be good to vent.

You probably aren’t going to be as productive as you want. Accept that. Be gentle on yourself and lower your expectations for the next two weeks. Don’t punish yourself with too many chores and tasks.

Find your coping skills. What calms you down? What brings you joy? A lockdown is a perfect reason to get that home delivery and subscription to a streaming service.

Reach out to your friends and families. Join community groups online. Find solace in the knowledge that your city is all going through the same thing. It’s trite but true- it does help to know you’re not alone, even though you’d never wish this on anyone else.

You will get through this.

Being a Melbournian in the pandemic

Thirty cases in Sydney doesn’t worry you, because you know they can handle it without a lockdown. They’ve got one of the best public health teams and can get on top of outbreaks with minimal impacts to the population.

One case that was infectious in Melbourne though? That feeling of dread comes back. Now you’re going back to your old friend, the COVID exposure webpage. F5 F5 F5. Hoping that if the vaccine centre gets listed as an outbreak site, it will be like it was the last time, with only test and isolate until negative.

Being a Melbournian means wanting to go back to the office because you miss your colleagues and getting out of the house, but at the same time not wanting to risk getting infected. Then wondering if that’s a sensible way to live, because half of Melbourne could be an exposure site in a short amount of time, and does that mean you’re going to have to keep avoiding places until we’re all vaccinated?

It’s loving your city and state but wondering why it’s always you, always your city that has to have the harsh lockdowns. Laughing when people overseas say Australia’s barely been affected by the virus.

It’s not wanting any other city to go through the same thing, despite what the media is trying to imply. Not one person in Melbourne wants Sydney to fail. Covid outbreaks mean fear and uncertainty. Lockdowns cause financial, emotional, and social damage, even if you believe this last one was needed. The virus itself is horrible. Who would wish for a stranger to be seriously ill?

Drafts

I have a lot of drafted posts that remain unpublished. I write a lot but I’m not posting that Publish button very often. This conflicts with my need to be prolific. Last June I managed to write a post every day but this time it’s been every two days.

Some of these drafts need a bit more time and finessing. There are others I’ll never post, because on a second read, they’re not quite what I want to share with the world.

Currently sitting unpublished and half-written:

  • What is a librarian- I have a lot to say about this. I’ve been reflecting on this quite a bit since the CRIG Our future: Diversified or diluted seminar.
  • Following on from that: Designing a library degree
  • Getting back to some kind of normal after quarantine and lockdown.
  • I got vaccinated! (That was it, since I’d already written a whole post about how much I loved vaccines a few days prior).
  • Being vulnerable. What does it mean? Turns out I’m not vulnerable enough to post it.
  • Career goals (too LinkedIn).
  • Yet another post about my cats.
  • Plus one giant mess of wordpress code because it’s not as intuitive as I thought.

Creativity

I fell in love with origami during the big long lockdown last winter. I started making birds and then they took over my wall.

I love how relaxing it is to fold paper until it transforms into something recognisable. I’m prolific, but not big on variety- I’ve only recently taught myself a third type of origami after I got a bit sick of birds and flowers.

My current place is too nice to stick things on the wall, so I had to think a bit differently.

I’ve also got into gel pen drawings, although once again my scope is limited. I worked out the triangle technique and then haven’t found any other style that looks as good.

Being creative has allowed me to accept not being perfect, and that not everything has to be of a high standard. It’s allowed me to embrace fun. I’ve always liked coming up with new ideas at work, and this has only helped me in that regard.

Vaccines

I’m upset that the ATAGI has changed their advice regarding covid vaccines, so now those in the 50 – 60 range are being discouraged from getting the AstraZenixa vaccine.

Out of the 3.6 million doses administered in Australia, two people have died. While any death is obviously heartbreaking, the flow-on effects of this decision will lead to far more deaths and suffering.

We’re going to see a significant uptake in vaccine hesitancy. I’ve already seen quite a few people say they won’t take the vaccine now. Trust is one of the most important parts of a health campaign, and this is going to damage people’s trust in vaccines. While I strongly believe that people should still take whatever vaccines are offered to them, I also don’t want to judge anyone for being scared.

I don’t pretend to be a scientist, a medical professional, or an epidemiologist, but this seems like one of Australia’s worst pandemic decisions. As Hassan Vally explains, the risk of a fatal outcome from the AstraZeneca vaccine is still very tiny.

Vally, H. (2021, June 21). Concerned about the latest AstraZeneca news? These 3 graphics help you make sense of the risk. The Conversation

Is it really worth it, ATAGI? Couldn’t there have been another way?

Our vaccine rollout will stretch out even longer, since we don’t have enough supplies of alternative vaccines. It’s not simply about reducing the risk of covid anymore, although we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that it is a nasty, highly infectious illness. It’s also about what’s going to continue for a longer time. Victoria’s already gone through one painful lockdown this winter, and I’m scared it we’ll have another. It’s about the businesses that are struggling. The industries that are at breaking point. The higher education sector. The tourism sector. The impact on everyone’s mental health, because living through a pandemic is exhausting. We’re going to keep struggling until we’re vaccinated.

The French have it right. The only way we can live a life without fear, a life where we can recover, a life where we are free, is through vaccinating as much as we can.

Dispatches from 1997

Well, I’ve had a bit of a whirlwind of a day, after losing the internet for 20 hours. I had to scramble around to find an old wifi dongle, and then had many issues trying to recharge it. Once I managed to get that connected, I spent the rest of the day being extra conscious of how much bandwidth I was using. I missed one meeting that I’d been looking forward to. I had to call my boss on my mobile, and then to add extra hilarity, someone started mowing right outside so I had to sit on the floor in my spare room to finish the conversation.

I did think of going into work, but given last time I did that I ended up having to do mandatory quarantine, I was naturally a little nervous. Sitting outside my work or local library wasn’t an option given it’s winter in Melbourne. Reason #876 I wish I could drive.

Even now I’m not sure my internet is fully restored, and every moment I keep expecting to get an error message.

It was a good reminder of the digital divide and once again how important libraries are as a physical space. For me, this was one day of annoyance. For many others, the library is the only place they can get online or even use a computer. It’s a safe space, a place they can concentrate, a place to be protected from the elements. I worry about how many students left higher education courses last year because it was too hard to get online. How many put themselves at greater risk of covid because they couldn’t study at home.

Reflections on quarantine – gratitude

I’ve spoken before about my mixed feelings about gratitude- it can be used as both a useful tool to increase optimism and it can be used to blame people for their distress. You can’t positive thought your way out of serious problems. No job, no financial support, housing stress, feeling depressed? The last thing you need to hear is “but focus on the good! Write down three good things that happened today”.

Having said that, I do find gratitude a useful tool – for me. Not for anyone else. I like to remind myself that there is a lot of good in my life and that I’m very fortunate.

I am grateful that I got through my two week quarantine without too much pain. I am grateful that I had the following:

  • An incredibly supportive workplace, from leadership all the way down.
  • All the colleagues who reached out and offered help.
  • A group of people in the same situation. While I’d never wish for anyone to go through the same thing, the camaraderie did help.
  • A nice place to isolate. A backyard with fresh air and greenery. Beautiful views outside. An easy spot for deliveries (and deliveries were timely, too!).
  • Two cute cats who stayed healthy. This cannot be emphasised enough. Frankie had gone through a major medical crisis just before all this and I’d been scared I might have to say goodbye.
  • A parent who could help out as they lived nearby.
  • Friends and family who gave me lots of emotional support and were happy to chat.
  • The ability to work from home and continue to financially support myself.

I hope anyone who needs to isolate is as fortunate as me.

Scenes from today

I went for a walk.

It was cold and foggy. The only people I saw were heavily rugged up and masked. It was not the type of weather that lent itself to sitting in the sunshine or even stopping to look at flowers.

Freedom.

I love the lake. As you can guess from my username, I am rather fond of ducks. They weren’t bothered by the chilly atmosphere.

I somehow – in my covidtime – lockdown- quarantine daze – forgotten that it was the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. This means an extra day to not be at work. I’ve spent a lot of time lately at home, so it would nice to go out, but then there’s the very real chance somewhere I go will pop up on the list of covid exposure sites. Might have to simply brave the weather with more sojourns outside, I think.

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