Nerd Nite snap by Nerd Nite photographer James Verhoeven.
Me hidden behind Clare’s hand, Steven in front, Jamie and Lise behind. Nerd Nite snap by Nerd Nite photographer James Verhoeven.

I’m a home-body. Have been my whole life. This has waxed and waned, though, and I’ve stumbled across journal entries from my late teens/early 20s where I seemed to go out just about all weekend – going from one thing to another, hanging out at various friends’ places, out to dinners and parties. That seems a long time ago, and I remember these heightened social times balanced with plenty of flaking out in my room and a richness of solitude or quietness with just my partner.

In my 30s, I travelled and did a lot academically – I spent almost a whole decade as a research fellow. This was pre-babies. Once babies hit, it was a different ballgame and kettle of fish. Yes, both of those.

Now, it’s less the kid-factor and more that I have a long work commute that puts me off weekend and evening engagements. I’ve been quite happy with being a suburban dweller who minimised these things because I wanted to unfurl from the working week and spend time in my family’s orbit. It’s not like they need me (kids being 13 and 10.5) but I am a happier, better person if I’ve been with them.

This has changed a bit this year because I’ve really kicked up my research activity and interests; it’s strange – it was like this was dormant and now I can’t stuff it back into the box. From a few years of having one or two things in the works and feeling a bit down about the idea of research overall, I currently have about six pieces of writing on the cards, new project to roll off the blocks, several conferences/symposia (a couple of which I’m convening), possible special issue editorship floating on the horizon (the 2021 horizon, that is…can’t fit it in this year). I’ve taken on other scholarly roles (e.g. as reviewer, thesis examiner, new network member). It’s feeling very full. But a good full. A part of this is, perhaps, me hitting my stride with things, but a larger part is the intellectual company from my immediate colleagues that’s been so nourishing and supportive (thank you, J & J).

I’ve started taking my research time more seriously. I haven’t really been doing this, I realised. That’s a whole other series of angstful posts that I promise I’ll never write.

Because of the renewed energy in this direction and lots of lovely work friends on my radar, I’ve been wanting to do more of that blurry social academic stuff outside of work hours.

Weekends are still sacrosanct, but after-hours has become fair game. Through February, I went to Nerd Nite, and also met up with peeps from the AASRN and Twitter. It’s almost March and I’ve got a couple of talks and panels booked in already. Much of this is directly related to interest and aspects of my work, they’re fun, and I want to do them (rather than feel obliged to do them).

The more of it I do, the more it feeds and connects the ambient thoughts I have across the various bits of work I’m doing. I’m feeling strong in my research mind again. It seems very basic, maybe even embarrassing, to say this but – for me – it’s something I haven’t felt for a long time.

AASRN/Twitter meet up at Papparich QV (Feb 2020). [L to R] Mridula, Denise, me. Photo by the fabulous Ruth De Souza.