Today is clear up day… that inevitable day near the end of a vacation when I try to set up my bujo (Bullet Journal for the uninitiated – it’s great – even some of my library staff have adopted my bujo habit and it’s one of the books on our WAB-Reads list this year); sort out my desk; my overflowing to-do list (as in delete anything that I’m not likely to get to and reassess if I or anyone else cares); back up all my files and photos and peripherals like phone and watch and ipad (it’s done weekly anyway but this is an extra) and try to yet again tackle my burgeoning email inboxes.
And that’s where the crisis of whether to blog or not comes in. I’m forcing myself to delete my subscriptions to newsletters and blogs and update etc. because if I’m honest I just don’t get around to reading them, and then I wonder if this blog is creating similar angst in my (limited) readers. The things I need to write and reflect on are probably not really suitable for public consumption without getting me into trouble of one type or another, and I’ve lost the capacity for handwriting in a journal and I certainly wouldn’t do both.
A brief hiatus turned into nearly 6 months and I had to find my password to log back in – how sad is that.
I fear part of the reluctance to blog is that it was always a showcase for my work as a librarian and now that job is being (over)shared and encroached upon with my role as a tech-integrator. I feel like I’ve lost a lot of library-mojo, coupled with missing my Singapore ISLN network, and being in a library that is more of a passage-way than a destination.
I spent 6 weeks in the classroom after schools restarted before our teachers were all back as I was one of the first to re-enter after the covid visa stop. It gave me a great appreciation for what teachers do, and understanding of why the library may not always be at the top of their list of things to do each day. It was a great way of getting to know some students better, since I’m no longer in a school / school section where weekly/regular trips to the library is normal.
I must also admit that part of my hiatus was that I didn’t feel I had a right to say much in these months of Covid-19. I am still of a very privileged minority. Yes, my son and I were separated from my husband and daughter for 8 months. But as soon as I got my PU letter from China, the Chinese embassy in Bern were absolutely amazingly helpful in getting us through the hoops for a new visa. Yes, our ticket was cancelled and changed and I nearly had a heart-attack when they wouldn’t let us board as we had a “ghost” flight due to the typhoon in Korea on the way back, but we got back safely. Yes, we had to quarantine for two weeks in Shanghai, but our hotel was relatively decent, allowed for deliveries from outside and the staff were lovely. Yes, we wear masks all day every-day, but we’re back at school and the kids are all fine. They really are. Most of them happy even, despite being middle school teenagers.
I was chatting to a friend last night who is in education in the UK and her daughter is also a teacher. Hesitantly she asked me if I thought that we sometimes make it worse for our students with our emphasis on mental health and constant revisiting of things. It’s a good question. Personally I feel that when we got back being reminded of our “trauma” both made me feel guilty (too much work and not enough sleep had been my main trauma) and also took time away from me getting the things done that I needed to do to move on and make things better for myself and my students. It was like a scab that was successfully healing and closing a wound was continually being picked at and ripped off. She said she felt the same, but didn’t think she could say as much to most people around her. That is not to under-estimate the great work being done with people who need help. But too much reflection and not moving forward may not be what we need.
Life here in Beijing has been good, the occasional pollution days excepted. People are sensible and cautious. We’ve had some good hikes, walks, runs. Parties have been cancelled or limited to fewer people spontaneously not because anyone has insisted on it. We had a few extra cases (2) in the neighbourhood and 2 million people (including us) were tested in 24 hours, free of charge, with the results back in 24 hours.
Even just putting these thoughts into words has been good – because it makes for some actionable points. So maybe this blog will remain for my professional growth for now. I have a lot to be thankful for in the past year.
And here’s my book overview for the year.