Today started out tough. Read an article on The Age that remote learning is on for term 2 and am a bit emotional. I know it is necessary and I am relieved that it is happening, I'm still so sad. I have been teaching seven years and even my hardest day has been my best day. Going to class and being with my students lifts me up. Being in the staff room with my fellow teachers debriefing and chatting makes me feel connected. Thankfully I will still have some of that with access to technology, but the complete change to our lives for the next few months is scary and uncertain.
While I had been expecting and hoping for this to happen, the announcement shook me up. Due to my childhood the way that I process events is always with a significant delay. So even though I knew this was coming, until it was a reality I hadn't really accepted it.
Last night when we were lying down I had told my daughter that remote learning for term 2 was on the cards and she burst into tears. "I'm going to miss school," she cried. As I comforted her I felt slightly numb. And then when I received the news I was crying and feel just as sad as her. I'm going to miss school. I'm going to miss my students. I'm going to miss my colleagues.
After an online chat with some of my work friends I processed, accepted and re-set. And then I was able to write. Somehow the sheer boredom and need to fill my days is making it easier. I wrote in a few short bursts throughout the day. While the writing is more pedestrian and workmanlike, rather than poetic or imaginative, I'm just happy that I have some routine and something to hold onto.
I also went to the shops for the first in a couple of weeks. It is kind of a strange experience being out in the world. I went in the afternoon so there were quite a few people out and about. There were many people wearing masks. Coles had a snaking waiting line set up because they only allow a limited number of people in at any one time. All shops had a yellow line that established a 1.5 metre barrier from the checkout operators that I had to stand behind. I hadn't driven for a couple of weeks and suddenly felt awkward and unwidely reversing out of the carpark. Hubby has been doing all the shopping and cooking for the past few weeks and it's about time I pull the weight so I bought ingredients to make Mutusha on Thursday.
The most made meal in my household has been chocolate balls. The crazy child is obsessed and we've been making a batch every second day. She has put me on rations and I can only have two a day so she has enough.
So it has been an interesting day. Some highs and some lows.
I watched Intersteller, which is an amazing movie on Netflix with Matthew McCoughney and it referenced Do not go gentle into the night by Bob Dylan.
Obsessed by Didn't I by One Republic and listening to it at least once a day.
Chocolate Ball recipe is below.
After the death of my mother on the 23 November 2019 I have been in a state of mourning and my muse has been on hiatus. I was in enforced isolation as I struggled to process. Now we are all in lockdown and the enforced recovery time has prompted my muse back to my life. I want to write a daily online diary dealing with this time for myself and share it for catharsis and posterity.
Today's writing update:
My goal today was to write. I'm attempting to maintain a loose routine so after breakfast my daughter and I went for a bike ride and then I sat down to write.
I'm working on a chapter where Srebrenica is layed to siege as the UN debates a resolution to make it a safe zone. I notice already how the current circumstances are changing my view of the action within the book. So far I have been very focussed on the external forces that are impacting on the family, the war conditions and deprivations, but today my chapter was very focussed on the intimate interactions between family. It is as if my own focus on intimacy with my husband and daughter have brought this into sharp focus.
I also feel such a sense of gratitude that I am living in the country that I am, that we are taking the precautions that we're taking, and that I have my family close at hand to get me through this, and this is bleeding through onto the page.
So today I wrote 1,000 words and even though I've had a four month break from the manuscript, I'm snapping back quickly. I've written so much of the book and dedicated so much research time that it is so real to me.
What I'm reading:
Novel: I am still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall-about a young girl left for dead in Canadian wilderness. It seems reality and escapism keep converging and this sense of being isolated in a bubble is making me want to find ways of processing.
Non fiction: this article by Christos Tsoilkas about our new uncertainty is so beautiful and poignant. He captures so well the reality of writers today.
What I'm watching:
Supernatural on Stan-on season 5 and am so entertained by the constant changes in tone and genre from episode to episode.
Unorthodox on Netflix-about a orthodox Jewish young woman escaping her community. It's a limited season and am on episode two. It is so fascinating getting an insight into the community practices.
Tangled on Disney Plus-loved re-watching this. Started crying during the finale. My daughter was mildly exasperated and then relieved. "At least you're crying during the appropriate moment." I cried four times during Moana last time, most of them during the songs.
So I opened my writing file and read one of the chapters I wrote last year. I now realise why I haven't wanted to work on this novel. It is set during the war Balkan War in Srebrenica, during a brutal siege when people were starving, shelled and gunned down by sniper. It is emotionally draining to write. As I read the chapter dealing with shells dropped on a playground I started crying. So while it is hard, it is also cathartic. I need to cry. Also there is some irony in the fact that I'm writing about a family who were effectively under lockdown for three years, while we are in a pandemic lockdown. Perhaps it will give me some catharsis to work through my own fears and feelings on the page. Anyway, I'm going to try and commit to one hour of writing a day from tomorrow. I'll be virtually checking in, more for myself. Fingers crossed.
I got commissioned to write this article in AEU Magazine about dealing with burnout as a teacher and it was just published in the latest issue. So it's a good news day!
Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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