07 Jul

derailing, exhaling, hitting publish

An up front disclaimer: this is a selfish post. A just-for-me post. The type I usually write and leave in draft forever and ever, amen. I contemplated turning comments off for this post because discussing this feels… like too much. But that’s just silly, right? I’ve been hovering over the ‘publish’ button for about an hour [edit: it just turned into two and a half three hours]. I think I will just hit it [edit: now, two and a half three hours after I finished writing the first cut].

Today I planned to spend the day sorting paperwork: culling warranties and manuals for products we no longer own; throwing out old tax returns and their associated paperwork (I had them right back to my first ever return); organising my degrees and awards and associated stuff. At about lunchtime, I got derailed by one folder that I knew was in there, but that I hadn’t really thought about in a very long time.

I remember a time in my early 20s when things weren’t great. It has been a long time since I thought about this period in anything more than a broad remembrance of being deeply, deeply unhappy.

I opened up a folder today labeled ‘Kate – writing’. Inside were portfolios of poems and short narrative pieces that I collated for assessment in my undergraduate degree (and some other writing, too).

I knew what was in there; I knew some of these pieces of writing were loaded with emotion; I had vague ideas about some of the poems and stories; I remembered some phrases or lines from others.

I didn’t expect the affect they had on me. The visceral affect. The slam in the chest. The quiet sadness that came next.

Sure, there are some clumsy, overworked metaphors and some less than perfect phrasing. Some of the stuff is even okay and tiny little pieces of some of the poems and narratives might actually be good. But none of that actually matters.

Seeing these pieces of writing – just looking at them, as a whole bundle of stuff – had a profound impact on me. Reading them was… Something else.

I hadn’t forgotten sitting and watching every laboured breath my grandfather took, waiting with my own breath held to see if he would take another. I hadn’t forgotten sitting with my feet hanging in the pool while I wrote my grandfather’s eulogy. I hadn’t forgotten how alone I felt in my unhappiness – not in my grief, but in my unhappiness. I hadn’t forgotten that day in that thickly grassed park and how I felt sitting in the sun in that moment. I hadn’t forgotten the time the sound of my shoes slapping turned into the rhythm for and subject of a poem. I hadn’t forgotten all of the hideous, heartbreaking things – or even the happy, heartening things – I saw and did and thought and felt when I was in this place.

I hadn’t forgotten any of these things, but I had no cause to think about them until I opened up this file today. I am reeling, still, from the shock of being affected at all by my own writing, or at least the memories it invoked. I thought I might be embarrassed by the quality or maybe even amused. Not quietly sad and a bit bewildered. Not these things.

But the sadness and the bewilderment will go away and they do not compare to the overwhelming, incomprehensible unhappiness I felt at the time. And I am glad I had the opportunity to write these things while I was stuck in this unhappiness and I am glad that I can read them now and remember these moments in technicolour and I am glad that I can reflect on this monumentally fucked up time in my life from this distance and from this place where I am not deeply, deeply unhappy, but just plain old sad. Even though it has been a strange, emotional day. I am glad.

I think.

30 Jun

defeat and the month that was june

So, I’m admitting defeat. I actually have enough posts in draft to reach my 30 posts in June goal, but I have to be pragmatic and admit I don’t have time to finish them. Actually, I do (or I *did*, when I started writing this post two days ago)… But I would have to take that time away from doing a bunch of stuff that’s on my pre-sabbatical to do list. And people, sabbatical technically starts tomorrow.

I planned to take two weeks of annual leave before I get into the sabbatical swing. I’ve already pushed back my annual leave start date til Tuesday to buy me another day to finish up some work and have some rescheduled meetings. I am not going to let myself postpone my annual leave any longer and I’m not leaving any non-PhD work to do when my leave finishes and my sabbatical starts. If I’m going to have a full dissertation draft by Christmas, I can’t waste a minute. So that means work has been my priority this weekend.

However, I did want to write a quick wrap up post about the craziness that was June. It’s been an interesting month. Interesting being an interesting way to put it. Here’s a few ‘highlights’.

I started this blog, after a lot of procrastinating about it. I haven’t ended up writing about what I thought I would be.

I have been challenged in terms of my personal ethics on a couple of political happenings.

I decided to bake banana bread one day and I’ve been baking it every couple of days since. Om nom.

I had five different assignments from three different classes come in within the first half of the month, one of which is a killer to mark. On my planning calendar, the entire month was blocked out to mark.

I had some seriously rough times with my back, culminating in a diagnosis two days ago of a bulging disc at L4/L5 and another at L5/S1. I don’t do things by halves.

I spent days and days and days in bed. I tried a standing desk, but I couldn’t stand. Or sit. Or do anything but lie down. My god, was it boring. It was also incredibly stressful because I had bombloads of work to do but I just could not get up. My ears hurt from lying on them. My feet got cold and I couldn’t put my socks on. I came up with crazy workflows to get stuff done while lying in bed. I ate every meal lying down and took to drinking my coffee out of my keep cup so I didn’t spill it everywhere while trying to lie down and drink it.

I bought fabric. More than I should have. Ooops. Because you can do that online on an iPad while lying flat on your back.

I watched an estimated 392 episodes of Peppa Pig (which I really, really like, a lot).

I started watching Breaking Bad. Why did it take me so long?

I continued a reading drought. I haven’t read a novel all month, I don’t think.

The fridge died. One week before the extended warranty expired. Woo! We didn’t realise in time to save the contents of the fridge. Not woo. It was the compressor – expensive – but covered by warranty. Woo! It is going to take quite some time to get fixed. Not woo. My sister has a spare fridge she lent us. Woo! Said spare fridge is the traditional freezer on the top, so I can’t get anything out of it cause I can’t really bend. Not woo. Oh well, at least the Coke is cold.

I did my annual update of my CV. So torturous. This process also involves my annual lament about not keeping my publications list up to date and not putting my pubs straight into ePrints. Bad, bad librarian.

I changed people’s lives with my manifesto on work from home wardrobes. Rock those yoga pants, ladies!

I wrote 25 blog posts and I loved it. I loved not blogging about libraries or my research. I loved blogging as just plain Kate.

And I think that’s about it! Or at least, it’s all I have time for right now… Still lots of stuff on the pre-sabbatical to do list!

30 posts in June: 25/30