Thursday, 30 June 2022

Blogjune Day 30 - Turn and face the strange

I missed a few more days, and now I’m lying in bed about to fall asleep, and realising that it’s the last day of the month, I feel compelled to finish it properly. I am however blogging on my phone, so I’ll probably be quite brief.

Final question: What makes me me?

I feel like one of my defining features is that I am constantly changing. If you asked me three, five or ten years ago what I thought I’d be doing in 2022, I’d give you a completely different answer and I’d be wrong every time.

So often we become a product of our lived experiences, and as our lives change, so do our values, skills and aspirations. One thing I do value about #blogjune is that it encapsulates a month in each year. Every blogjune has been different for me… each has been is unique episode of my life and each has also felt like I’ve been on the precipice before leaping into the next thing.

I guess the thing that makes me me is that I lean into that opportunity to change - to take on new challenges and continue to redefine myself in ways that surprise past-me.

So, that’s me for another June. See you (I hope) in another 11 months.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Blogjune Day 27 - I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints

And like that, I've somehow missed three days of #blogjune. In my defence, I've been in the midst of moving into a new space, and there's still a *lot* of unpacking of stuff to do...

Today's question: If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?

I think so many of our important life decisions are forward-looking, based on assumptions about how our life will go... whether we start a family, or need to hit particular career goals, or want to be able to retired with a sizeable nest egg to keep us comfortable and secure in our final years.

And really, with a life expectancy that's *hopefully* into my 80s and beyond, that's a lot of preparation. Usually in the form of getting a mortgage, and having a salary where I can sufficiently put enough into my super so that I'm not retiring in poverty.

If we only expected to live until 40, my life would be much different. I'd certainly work less - enough to live comfortably within my means without feeling the need to earn more than I necessarily needed to. Probably around 3-4 days a week. I'd spend less much accumulating 'stuff', and spend more time exploring and appreciating the world that I live in. I'd learn to be grateful with living a simpler life, accepting its temporary nature, and come to terms with my mortality sooner.

I mean, I like to think that I'm getting good at this stuff already, now that I'm into my 40s. I have a minimalist attitude to 'owning stuff', and currently work four days a week, which has in a way forced me to keep 'downsizing' my regular costs and lifestyle. I can't remember the last time I bought clothes, let alone new ones. if I needed to, I think I could comfortably fill a suitcase with just the things I need, and walk away from everything else.

Yesterday, a friend of mine was talking about the book Die with Zero, by Bill Perkins, which admittedly I had not heard of, but the premise resonated with me: that we need to make the most of our lives while we're living them, rather than trying to save up riches for our so-called golden years. I feel like I've already embraced this idea, albeit unintentionally, but for the last five years I've started falling into this trap of feeling like I need to 'catch up', in being a real grown-up, so that I don't end up with nothing to live on when I retire.

But I also think back ten years to when I started doing volunteer assignments with Australian Business Volunteers, and there were so many retirees taking the opportunity to continue to get out there in the world, and live their best lives in amazing places around the world, sharing their knowledge with communities and having enriching experiences in the process. They weren't living particularly exotic or fancy lifestyles, but they didn't need much in the way of possessions to continue to have fulfilling experiences.

I hope that these kinds of opportunities are still around thirty years from now.

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Blogjune Day 23 - I'll share your load If you just call me

So, let's get stuck into this next question: Should parents in the workplace expect non-parents to make concessions for them by being more flexible with work shifts / project deadlines?

I kinda get where this question is coming from, but I have issues with the way it is presented.

Firstly, it shouldn't be about one group of people 'making concessions' for another group of people. We all have commitments in our lives - one of those commitments is our work, another might be our families. If family commitments collide with work commitments, then that worker's supervisor should be managing them in a way that is understanding of their needs, but still fair to their colleagues. This might be in the form of reducing hours and bringing on additional staff. Or it might be in the form of taking their annual leave when they need it.

But that manager also needs to be conscious that there are other staff who may feel like they are 'taking up the slack' from another staff member taking, say, twice the leave at half-pay. Or always getting priority treatment in approving leave during school holidays. If these things are left unchecked, you're going to end up with a team that is resentful of one another.

I guess my point is, ideally as a manager you should build and foster a team that is respectful and supportive of one another's needs, who will be all too happy to support a parent's need to take leave and reduced hours at certain times - and of course the parent would be all too happy to return the favour at another time. That's just good teamwork, after all.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Blogjune Day 22 - When I grow up, I'll be stable

Today's question: If I could learn anything, what would it be?

I'd like to learn how to be an established, self-sustained 'grown up'.

I feel like it was a lot more straightforward for previous generations. Finish high school (or not). Get a trade, go to uni, or just go get a job with long-term security. Get married (or not), buy a house and car. Pay off enough of the mortgage to have equity to buy another property. (Hope that you're established enough when the recession hits in the 90s.)

The rules have changed now. No jobs are necessarily secure - not even 'professional' roles. HECS debts add extra financial stress to our stagnating wages. If we're fortunate enough to have a mortgage, then we have to face the possibility of going into mortgage stress once interest rates go up. The rental market is more competitive and expensive than I can ever recall. And wage increases are minuscule compared to inflation which affects the cost of living - basically, we're earning comparatively less money than our previous generation.

So, what are the new rules of being a 'grown up' now? Work harder, longer hours, pushing for that job further up the hierarchy as the only way of possibly keeping up with rising costs? Don't have kids? Ride a bike instead of a car - assuming that you work cycling distance from home? Live on 2-minute noodles and peanut butter sandwiches like you did when you had to live on a casual job? Move into a rental share house?

I mean, I can do all of these things - and have done so for much of my life. But at the time, it felt like it was all a rite of passage until I got to become a 'real adult' and 'have it all'.

Maybe that was the lesson all along - that this is the new normal of being a 'grown up', and the old Australian Dream is just an unsustainable risk for those who can afford to bail themselves out when they need to.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Blogjune Day 21 - When she talks, I hear the revolution

Today's question: Do I consider myself a feminist?

I will answer briefly: Yes, I am a feminist. I believe there is a need for feminism due to gender inequalities that are endemic in society. I believe we need to constantly create initiatives that address gender inequality through interventions that support equity in our homes and workplaces.

I also don't want to talk about this at length, because there is so much excellent literature out there that explains I much better than I could, and I don't wish to take up that space with my overly simplistic drivel.

However, we need to move beyond "just" being feminist. Flavia Dzodan once famously said, 'My feminism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit.'

That means that it's not enough just to consider the gender inequalities - especially if we're not considering  how race, class, disability, sexuality, age and cultural/religious background affect our level of privilege in society.

I recently went and saw a production of the musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Musically, it was excellently put together, and the set, lighting and costumes were amazing. This show is intended as an empowering statement of queer pride, occasionally addressing hard truths about Australian's acceptance of its LGBTQ+ communities. The version I saw even updated the content so that the characters walk around Ulruru, rather than climbing up the rock. So, I was bitterly disappointed that they still kept one horribly misogynist line - an insult designed to get a big laugh - and the infamous 'ping pong' scene where a character's Filipino bride goes off the rails in an over-the-top stereotype of Asian women on a par with Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's. My point? It fails as a celebration of queer pride, if it needs to use oppressive techniques to put down women - particularly women of colour - in the process.

Looking back at the library and information industry, it's wonderful to work in a sector where I get to support so many women in leadership positions. Though I would still say that there is a higher percentage of men in executive/leadership roles than there are in entry level / operational roles. And through some online channels that I inhabit, I regularly hear women of colour sharing their experience of being in the vast minority of their team, being forced to do everybody's emotional labour when it comes to addressing diversity in the workplace, and burning out.

Entry level initiatives are one thing, but we need to do more to recruit and support women of colour at all levels of the library sector, but particularly those leadership positions. If you think it doesn't apply to you, take a look at your organisational chart.

Monday, 20 June 2022

Blogjune Day 20 - Funny how time flies...

So, on Saturday I packed away my desktop computer for the move, and have been without one for a number of days. I considered blogging from my phone, but it's not the same as being able to sit down with a keyboard. All of my stuff is still in boxes - including my computer - but then I remembered that there is another place, where you can use a computer for free...

(Yes, of course, it's a library)

So, the latest three June Questions are all library-related, so I'll launch straight into them.

Did you decide that you wanted to be a librarian? When?

Yes I did, and it was a conscious decision. There comes a time for every Bachelor of Arts student, when they are about to graduate, and they have to decide what they're going to do next. For me, I'd already been working at a university library as a casual for a few years, so it was definitely an option. I'd actually arrived at a short list of three potential career paths: teaching, librarianship and arts administration. A teaching qualification felt like too much work with no way to support myself, arts admin seemed like a very competitive field and very niche - as did librarianship, but less so, and there were government-subsidised places to study it. So, librarianship, it was. Within six months of starting the course, I got a full-time job as a library officer at a public library, and within 2 years, I was working as a professional librarian.

Do you still consider yourself to be a librarian?

From a professional standpoint, yes. I am a member of my professional association which has accredited my qualification, and through which I continue to maintain my professional status through professional development.

In terms of my recent and current employment - no, I don't. I currently work as a Marketing Coordinator for an Arts Organisation, but it's important to acknowledge that everything I do in my current work uses skills that I gained from professional librarianship work.

From an existential perspective - no, absolutely not. I see so many librarians who have unhealthy attitudes to their identity, seeing librarianship as this thing that they are 24/7, tied to the core of their very being. It's toxic, grounded in vocational awe, and will lead to burn out. It's just a job. so stop it already.

What other careers did you consider beside being a librarian?

As I mentioned, teaching and arts admin were initially on the cards. I've worked in roles adjacent to these... I've worked long enough in high schools to know that they are not for me (but I am in eternal appreciation of the work that teachers do!). I've also seen what arts administrators do, and it's not all cultural festivals and hobnobbing - there are so many reports, budgets and grant applications involved that I'm not sure if I could do that for the long term... but I'd still be willing to give it a go.

My current career trajectory in Arts Communications seem to be serving me well for the time being. It's a nice balance between being creative, managing operations, and engaging with people in the community.

Friday, 17 June 2022

Blogjune Day 17 - Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road

Today I'm breaking my self-imposed rules, and I'm not answering any #JuneQuestions. Instead, I'm actually going to blog about the stuff that's actually happening in my life!

I've been in the middle of moving house - from my little two-bedroom apartment in the Inner-South, to a much bigger house in the Inner North. So, tonight is my final night in the place that has been my home for a little more than four years now.

Four years - that's the longest I've lived in the one place since moving out of my childhood home, half a lifetime ago.

It's a strange feeling - bittersweet even. I fell in love with the space when I first moved in, with its courtyard view of birch trees, and stylish architraves in the living room. I had high hopes for this apartment, and the lifestyle that it might afford me, being cycling distance from work, in a popular and exciting suburb. I've been a minimalist at heart for many years now, and it was definitely spacious for one - yet once once became two, it definitely became crowded.

In the beginning - 16 June 2018

It's also where I spent both COVID lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 (plus the unofficial Omicron lockdown of January 2022), and where my west-facing windows were pulverised by the notorious hailstorm of January 2020. I am no longer in love with this space.

So, when a recent opportunity arose to move, I decided to jump at the chance for a change. I'm looking forward to having more space and, importantly, having dedicated me-space. I'm looking forward to having a yard, and the opportunity to cultivate and grow a new garden. I'm also looking forward to being less financially stressed, and alleviating personal tensions that have been growing for some time now.

But still, I walk around this apartment this evening, and I wonder about the lives that might have been - in the Andrew Multiverse - had circumstances been different. I am sad that it hasn't worked out, and it does feel a bit like a breakup of sorts. I just hope it brings some joy to the next people.