In the next few weeks my name is going to be a bit more high profile at work. I shall of course greet this with my usual bemusement, but also some degree of pride. The pun isn’t intended for the first of the reasons – I’m featuring in a couple of videos talking about staff networks, and especially the LGBTQ+ Staff Network.
It’s part of a wider week focusing on and advertising the networks, and should be going live in a couple of week’s time. Filming it was a bit of fun – and while it’s mostly aimed for an internal audience, there are plans for an externally facing campaign as well.
The other thing is for a piece of writing I was invited to do around mental health and my experience working through and being supported in recent years. I approached it with my usual flat affect and detailed approach so have been going back and forth with various people to agree on trigger warnings and signposting for readers to support materials.
Someone has even called me brave, which is a bit flattering, maybe. There’s some complex processing I probably need to do there, but I’ll deal with that if I need to.
It’s been a varied and extended week, but a highlight of my week was attending an EDI conference in Dorking this week. It was a chance to meet colleagues working in and across Surrey on practical elements of EDI.
Many of them were people I had only seen on a screen before, so there was a joyous sense of connection that kept leaping up through the day in various group exercises.
Talking and sharing our stories as a diverse group of individuals underlined the commonalities that bind us together in our communities and highlighted the blind spots in our daily lives as we met people living and working in other spaces.
I have always been a champion of the power of shared spaces and listening to other people, and combined with the very practical focus of the event on tangible actions, the whole event felt purposeful.
A big take away from it all was identifying not only who our communities were, but the teams, and mechanisms, and opportunities available to drive better listening and engagement.
My favourite element? We were offered coloured packets of air-drying clay to work with and keep our hands busy during ice breaking and ongoing conversations. I was delighted to see the creativity and conversations these alone prompted.
I made various things, but settled on this happy fellow
Life’s ups and downs are, for me, best met with laughter and a polite reminder to myself that very little on the personal scale actually matters in the grand scheme of things – so storms in teacups can generally remain there.
That’s not to say that the little upsets can’t seem enormous and debilitating, but then reality has a way of presenting more pressing issues – like exploding toilets – to keep me on my toes.
In this case, a sewerage problem near one of my libraries has caused sufficient upset that I’m currently sitting and waiting for both Thames Water and our internal properties contractor to arrive and argue over whose fault everything is while a pungently delicate smell likened to a cabbage soufflé settles all around.
At least my ribs feel like they’re all healed up so it doesn’t hurt to hiccup or cough, or indeed laugh any more
Every now and then, a day comes along that throws all previously presumed plans out the window. Today was one of those, and I focused on trying to tackle various building issues directly affecting the public.
It always feels more frustrating in these cases if there is no quick solution. Simple solutions sometimes take longer, especially if you’re intending to not create even more issues in the solving. Even though the day has ended up with moving things in the right direction, I know that my name will be cursed in the short run.
I accept that as an occupational hazard of being a manager. I’ve made decisions and given advice today that was not what some people wanted to hear, but that’s partly what I’m paid for. It doesn’t make it any nicer for me on a personal level, though, as I prefer to have people being happy as they work for me.
Still, it will mean a better situation and service for our customers when everything is resolved – that won’t require backtracking and bureaucracy to unravel so we can then get back on track.
I do love my job, dearly, even on the draining days like today.
We had a shorter session this week for the Librarian game – partly because we’ve all had long days today – but we did manage to take a peek into the lives of our new heroes with some down time, and their preparations for a charity ball that they had been invited to.
Pan hit the aisles and shelves of the libraries in search of lore that they weren’t prepared to share with their new companions. Despite many days surrounded by maps and shipping manifests, they found no new information of any consequence. Wilhelm spent a week lecturing and working at his day job, enjoying the routine of both informing and torturing the students attending this talks. He also began planning for the ball.
Xander, still woozy with amnesia, found himself worrying more and more about what to wear to the ball and so threw himself into tinkering in his makeshift workshop. He brewed a potion of healing, and educated himself with fashion magazines and reports of society balls. Lila went back to the Cogs and spent more time with the gang they’d made friends with, and frequenting a number of low dives in search of new gambling dens. Much to her own surprise, she ended up with more money that she’d started, and decided to invest it in some fine clothing.
Catriona spent a lot of time worrying about the ball – as much because she came from a monastic tradition in her faith – and so research was the order of the day for her too. As events would soon show, she perhaps had better sources in her research than Xander did/
All through the week, the group kept in touch with what they were looking to wear – and they got together before the ball to compare their outfits. Xander, in particular stood out – with a suit composed of elements that were of fine quality individually, but when put together were somewhat distressing to the eye. Pinstripe trousers in grey were matched with a black plaid jacket, and a blue polka-dot shirt and brown shoes. All of this was topped with a neon green bow tie. Each of the items was lightly glamered to shimmer and shine from time to time as it caught the light. He was certainly an arresting sight, and not easily overlooked. Wilhelm’s tailored suit was a vision of purple and red accompanied with a corset and frilled shirt – impeccable in construction and poise. Lila went for simplicity and practicality in her elegant dress, while Catriona affected a classic purple dress that looked old and yet classically new at the same time.
Having assembled in one of the university bars, all eyes turned to Pan as they made their entrance…
On my way out the door at work today I quipped that it was finally my turn to have a holiday – and at least in the respect that its not been leave taken in support of anyone else it’s true. I’m not going away anywhere but will be off work to decompress for a couple of weeks.
I can already feel my anxiety trying to get traction as I ruthlessly turn off all work electronics and tell myself my team are all adults and highly capable.
It’s definitely needed as it is that time of year again when the fireworks make life very uncomfortable. My PTSD is in many ways much improved, but it’s difficult not to flinch at unexpected pops and crackles with no obvious source.
I have at least managed to keep it all together and even managed to deliver a brief talk for a black history month event celebrating the leadership of the Stonewall Uprising and what eventually became the Pride movement. I had the usual pre-speech nerves that then disappeared once we started, and so that felt a good positive end of the working week for me.
Here in the UK, its National Libraries Week and I’m very proud to be doing my bit to help promote it. I was asked to put together a ‘day in the life’ style blog post about my role, answering some questions in common with other people in the service at different levels – and we’ve had various bits released through the week.
Libraries are a thing that I get very passionate about, especially when it comes to supporting and engaging with our local communities. We see people at their best and their worst through their whole lives; and at our best equip people with opportunities and knowledge to take control of their own lives.
Libraries have never just been about books. Librarians have always been subversive in the face of censors. I’m proud of what I do, and I’m proud of the people who work for and with me.
It’s all very exciting. Along with many others, the cub has started at his new school today. As is traditional,all his clothing is of the “he’ll grow into it” fitting, but he still looks proud and perhaps happier than he expected.
Another new facet is that we’re now in that process of building his confidence to be home alone. We’ll get there. Right now I’ll settle for him getting in the habit of knowing where his house keys are. Small steps…
In the meantime my own learning journey continues with more elements of a Leadership course. It’s been made available to me both as part of the day job and in connection to the staff network role. I wasn’t entirely sure about it but I’m not one to turn down free learning opportunities. I’ve been pleasantly surprised and energised by the course so far so that’s a nice bonus.
After the whirlwind of the last few weeks these last few days have been quite pleasant. That’s not to say there haven’t been moments that prompted the odd eye roll, but in general my stress levels have been a lot lower
Mostly that’s because the frenzy of events has finished for a little while, and also because my staff reminded me I can actually give them jobs to do on top of their day to day stuff. This was all wrapped up in a concern for my health that was heartening.
In the meantime I’ve been carrying on with a piece on Allyship that I’m starting to socialise now I’ve got the basic copy done, and have spent an afternoon wrangling accessibility issues. I need to get some more sensitivity reading done but I’m feeling confident in the piece at the moment.
And this evening we had the regular Destiny stream on Lady B’s Twitch where we pretended to be space pirates for a while.
Tomorrow we need to get the cub’s school clothing sorted ahead of the new term in Monday. He is not looking forward to it.
So, back to work today following my unexpected derailment with a kidney stone yesterday. That was my body telling me to be sensible in hot weather (like the whole of Saturday at Pride and then a glass or two of wine on Sunday). Cue a day of painkillers, a hot water bottle, and the consumption of my own bodyweight in water to flush everything through.
I had (mostly) meetings spread through the day, but also got asked to put my Staff Network hat on to write up the corporate Pride report for the network. It seems to now be an annual tradition to get me to write such things, and as I was halfway through doing something specifically for the library intranet anyway it was only a quick skip and a hop to turn it into something more extensive and stick some photos in there.
That made for a positive end to the day at work, and since then I’ve caught up on TV and started to set up for a second D&D group to run monthly, with some colleagues from work. That’s a nice little side project. With any luck we’ll also be back into the adventures of the DDC this weekend as well.