I'm sorry I've been so absent recently. I just haven't felt much like blogging. It's strange how energy-draining I find my current job, considering it's only part-time and considering I've been doing similar work for the past four years! I think I may have to look into getting another blood test, as I've had ongoing problems with absorbing iron all my life, and my low energy levels may be related to this.
Aside from that, though, my job has made me more certain that I made the right decision in not staying in academia and pursuing work in libraries. My original library job always made me extremely happy (to the extent that I looked forward to going to work, which is something I've never experienced before in any other job), and I've loved the opportunities that this new job has given me. My weakness as a library assistant was always that I had no formal training in cataloguing, but I've since been taught how to do it. It's actually surprisingly simple, at least for the tasks I've been doing.
At the moment, I'm only allowed to work twenty hours a week, which rules out any second job or full-time work, and I'm thinking that once I've finished my PhD corrections, I'm going to try and volunteer at the local municipal library for one or two days a week. I'd like to try and spend as much time as possible on my feet, as well as gaining experience in a different library system, so that seems a sensible thing to do. At the moment, it's not feasible, as I need to spend some of my days off on my PhD, but I should be done by April.
Aside from work, I don't have a huge amount going on. Two weekends ago, my department had its annual postgrad student conference. I helped organise it several years ago, and I gave a paper there once, but these days I just go along, hear the papers, enjoy the conference dinner and catch up with friends from other universities. I don't usually enjoy conferences all that much - I find the need to be constantly chatty and engaged and making small talk during the tea breaks extremely draining - but I like this one, because it's basically a gathering for a whole bunch of my friends.
And that's basically it from me. Have some links.
Matthias first alerted me to this really excellent article
by James Wood about the literature of exile and immigration. One line in particular jumped out at me: To have a home is to become vulnerable. Not just to the attacks of others, but to our own adventures in alienation.
It just described so perfectly how I have felt about my hometown of Canberra, about my adopted hometown of Sydney, and about Australia itself, ever since I was eighteen years old. The weird thing is that I only left Australia when I was 23, and for a lot of the time, my own sense of displacement and vulnerability was related entirely to age, and not to a place. Being an adult made me feel dispossessed of my own identity, and I sort of transposed those feelings onto physical places. It was only when I moved overseas that I started to feel at home in my own skin and as if my mental identity mapped onto my physical identity again. But this came with a price: Australia doesn't feel like home any more. Wood's article conveys very nicely all my complicated feelings about place and migration and identity.Here
is a great article by Megan Garber about the peculiar power of nostalgia, and how it's been harnessed by the internet. As you can probably tell from all my wittering about home and identity, I'm an incredibly nostalgic person, so much so that I have a specific tag for it
on Tumblr.This article
by Caitlin Flanagan about fraternities in US universities will make you really angry (and note: it contains discussion of abuse, hazing, rape and victim-blaming, so if those are things you'd rather not read about, don't click on the link), but is well worth a read. For more on rage-inducing fraternities, check out this article
by Kevin Roose about a fraternity of Wall Street's wealthiest traders:I wasn’t going to be bribed off my story, but I understood their panic. Here, after all, was a group that included many of the executives whose firms had collectively wrecked the global economy in 2008 and 2009. And they were laughing off the entire disaster in private, as if it were a long-forgotten lark. (Or worse, sing about it — one of the last skits of the night was a self-congratulatory parody of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” called “Bailout King.”) These were activities that amounted to a gigantic middle finger to Main Street and that, if made public, could end careers and damage very public reputations.
It's enough to make you sick with rage.
It's not all bad news, though. The recent extreme weather in Britain has exposed a prehistoric forest in Wales that had been covered by sand
:The skeletal trees are said to have given rise to the local legend of a lost kingdom, Cantre'r Gwaelod, drowned beneath the waves. The trees stopped growing between 4,500 and 6,000 years ago, as the water level rose and a thick blanket of peat formed.
Finally, the internet is kind of awesome
. Two young women, raised in adoptive families on opposite sides of the globe, discovered each others' existence through the power of Youtube.
I hope you are all having lovely Mondays.