Ch-ch-ch-changes! (AKA – where on earth have I been?)
I hadn’t quite realised how long it had been since I posted on here … but 2021 seems like a lifetime ago. I didn’t finish my 2021 reading wrap up. I didn’t post anything about what I read or did in 2022. And now it’s April 2023, and there have been so many changes!
I was contemplating going back and trying to “fill in the gaps”, but frankly that seems like an overwhelming and exhausting task (although it’d be EXCELLENT procrastination right now!) So instead, I’m going to give you a quick infodump of the past 16 months, and then move on from there. Are you ready?
Ok – 2021 finished with me reading a whole bunch of books. If you want to check out what I read, and I what I thought about them overall, scroll back through my instagram posts. I ended up reading 203 books in my #2021readingchallenge, and there were some excellent ones in there, so I may transfer the wrap-up post here for posterity at some point (you can scroll through the hashtagged posts to see if I’ve done so!)
2022 was a big year. I started my PhD. I stressed about whether I was smart enough to do a PhD. I successfully completed my PhD milestone 1, where feedback indicated that despite all my doubts and imposter syndrome attacks, my PhD is a pretty interesting project and well worth pursuing. I’ll post a bit more about that at some point soon, because it’s a fascinating topic (if I do say so myself) but also because the process has been enlightening and I really want to reflect on it a bit as I go.
A lot of other stuff happened in 2022. After a couple of pandemic years where Western Australian borders were effectively closed off to everyone else in Australia, restrictions were lifted, and I started to be able to think about making plans to finally move to Perth to be with Jacob. Then, I fell down a single step and broke my ankle. Multiple surgeries later, it’s healed, and eventually in September 2022 I put my whole life (ie 60 boxes of books and a dozen bookshelves) on the back of a truck and moved interstate. We’ve set up a home together, merged our book collections, and are generally loving finally being able to just do life together after seven years of living and loving long-distance. Being on the other side of the country from my kids is hard, but I’m so grateful we live in a time where communication is easy. And now, I’m flying back to Sydney to see them with the same frequency with which I used to fly to Perth. So, swings and roundabouts I guess.
I also finished up my job with the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge at the end of the year, so that in 2023 I can just focus on my research. It’s a scary thing, not being permanently employed after almost 20 years of working for the same organisation. It’s not just the job security, although that’s a big part of it – knowing I can support myself financially has always been something I’ve been proud of. I have a scholarship for my PhD which is a privilege and a relief, but it’s fundamentally less than minimum wage, so if that was all I had to rely on I’d be screwed. Part of the impact of giving up my job was the fear that it was somehow a reflection on who I am. I’ve always considered myself a teacher, and I’ve been proud of that role. To not be able to say that seemed so strange to me, and it was a hard adjustment to deal with.
Turns out, though, it wasn’t an identity crisis that lasted all that long, because I’m now teaching again – although in a very different context. I’m a casual sessional academic at the university I’m studying at, teaching some undergrad teacher education classes – a core Junior Primary Literacy unit, and an elective Creative Literacies class. Both different focuses – the first looks at the mechanics and dynamics of how you teach students how to read, and the second investigates ways you can teach creatively and teach for creativity. I’m loving them both, and I’m loving the opportunity to influence education in different ways. Teaching at a university level is a whole different ballgame, but there are some things that don’t change – politics, for example. The pervasive issues of workload management, teacher stress, and pay. The other thing that doesn’t change? Just how much I love being in a classroom, and discovering ways to engage with and inspire students. My job really rocks.
So, where to with this blog? I don’t have the time to post about every book that I read now – in fact, I haven’t even been doing that on instagram this year. Instead, I’m doing a “what I read this month” type post overall, with an occasional highlight post if I finish something that I MUST share with people. So, I’m going to transfer that over here too. My next blog post is likely to be a “what I read in January to March” omnibus so I can catch up, and then I’ll try and keep up with those posts each month. I also want to use this blog to do some research reflection, so I’ll be creating a new category in my posts to cover that.
There you go. A year and a quarter in 9 paragraphs. If you’re reading this, hi – it’s nice to see you again. I missed you! Let’s catch up a bit more regularly from now on, huh?