Yet another new year

No major reflections this year for the new year, in a break from the past. Part of it, I think, is from the fact that the past year has just been about getting on with work – I’ve really only been at the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London for 15-16 months. Aside from learning to navigate a new working place, I’m also figuring out academia more broadly which is taking a bit out of me.

But progressing I am – a chat with my friend Yuen this morning reminded me that I am not spent on ideas and creativity, I just need to figure out how to harness the time, energy and capability to make things happen. It seems there is more to reflect on in the new year than in the days leading to the end of last.

Still, there is reason to mark today with a post. People never cease to amaze me and I need reminders like these to keep faith in humanity. Today, as I was about to head out for a walk, I realised that my wallet wasn’t in my the pocket of my jacket where it usually is. I searched every possible place at home for it, and it couldn’t be found.

Not much I could do, so I went ahead with the walk anyway to clear my head and decided that I’d pop by to the bar I was at on Friday evening (the last place I paid for anything) and lo and behold, someone had found it and they kept it for me!

This reminds me of last 2011 when I was living in London and had lost my passport – a few days after I reported it missing, someone had mailed it back to the Malaysian High Comm so I got it back. Much stress for a few days, but lots of relief also, as you can imagine.

So, here’s a picture of me with my wallet back for posterity.

Another Christmas post

I’m not sure if I had written a Christmas post before on this iteration of my blog, but I didn’t know what else to write as the title. I do remember that first Christmas in the year I set this up though – it was the year of the lockdowns 2020, and on Christmas day, I realised that I had Covid-19 (I got confirmation two days after).

Today, I spent it alone again – as I tend to do in the UK, except for in 2011 and 2012, and again in 2017) – having been in Malaysia last year to spend time with mum and the family (seeing them for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic.

This post is then mostly for posterity – I’m aware I haven’t updated this much but so much has happened over the past year or so – and to continue some reflections on life in the era of Covid-19. While things seem to have returned to ‘normal’ in the UK, whatever it is, I’ve been very concious over the past couple of weeks of not putting myself too at risk since I didn’t want to spend another Christmas unwell. After all, the cold/flu-ey thing I had in November took 2-3 weeks for me to shake off the sore throat and cough, so I didn’t want to fall ill again. So many people I know are going through with it now.

A selfie of Niki with a canal in the background.

Today, I started my day with a run. It’s become somewhat of a Christmas tradition for me when I’m on my own, except for the couple of times I woke up with a terrible hangover. I was hoping to wake up a bit earlier for my run but I slept in a bit. Still, it was a lovely run – my knee is slightly injured so I was a bit worried, but it was nice to have basically all of Birmingham city centre to myself (and a few others) since it was so quiet.

I took a longer route than usual, and ended up with almost 2km walk back so I ran a bit more and decided to call my mum to catch up with her. Then, it was time for a shower (treated myself to a face mask pampering) before I popped open a bottle of Buck’s Fizz, made some breakfast (prawns on a baguette) and then opened my presents while watching Luke Evan’s Showtime concert.

Then, it was just a day of lazing around – a bit of gaming (Hades), making more food (lactose-free garlic bread), texting and catching up with friends and then a short nap as I put potatoes and a chicken in the over to roast. After I woke up, I made the vegetables and voila – Christmas dinner, as you can see below.

A roast dinner on a plate next to a glass of Buck's Fizz, with a bookshelf and Christmas tree in the background.

It’s almost 9pm now and I’m ready for bed but I didn’t think I should go to bed so early (for fear of waking up in the middle of the night) so I’ve put the laundry on!

Really, there was little point to the post but hey, this was supposed to be a blog of record, right?

Happy Christmas, one and all!

Welcome to 2022

When I used to plan my blog posts (back in the day!), I would end the year before with some reflections of my highlights, and then start off the new year with some resolutions and goals. But I’ve not done all of that in many years now.

But since I started this blog again in 2020 to document the pandemic life, and since the pandemic is still ongoing, I wanted to document something. After all, I wasn’t in a position to do anything last new year – I was trying to recover from my Covid-19 infection.

I do have some resolutions and goals for this year – from simple ones like doing a one-month planking challenge just for the heck of it to broader ones like sending out a proposal to turn my thesis into a book. But if the past two years have thought me anything, it’s that my main resolution is to stay healthy, enjoy life and spend it with people I love.

Everything else – and there are many things of course – is secondary.

I won’t bother to list them out (the past two years have also taught me that despite best intentions, things don’t always go the way you plan it!).

So, instead of looking ahead, I’m going to look at the present. Today, I am feeling gratitude. And to document this, I have to look at the past.

I am so aware that 2021 wasn’t a great year for me personally: I kicked off the new year recovering from a virus I had spent almost 8-9 months avoiding with a vengeance. I was at a job that I was really unhappy at (but feeling guilty for being unhappy because so many of my other friends couldn’t get academic jobs). I had to go back into strict lockdowns again all on my own. I wasn’t able to return over the summer to visit my family. I had very few friends in Birmingham. I was quite miserable.

Things changed, however, and now I am grateful to 2021 for easy access to three Covid-19 vaccines that has kept me safe. I won an award for my PhD thesis from the Association of Internet Researchers, my academic home. I have a new job that I’m enjoying at the moment, and working with some brilliant colleagues. I built relationships with some great new people, and solidified some old friendships. And most significantly, I got to give my mother (and the rest of my family) a hug for the first time in over two years.

In that sense, I’ve had an extremely good year despite the hardships. And all while being in the middle of a freaking pandemic. That, in itself, I think is a win.

Happy New Year!

CNY 2021

Glad I didn’t have to be alone for my first pandemic new year (especially since I actually had Covid during the other new year). My bubble buddies picked me up in time for the ‘reunion’ dinner, and I introduced them to the Yee Sang.

First day back at work

Following a tough semester last year, the university was closed for an extra few days. Staff needed it and I had grand plans of working on a book proposal, but Covid-19 had other plans for me.

Because of that, I ended up taking an extra few days off work last week on sick leave to recover. I’m not fully well yet but returned to work today in preparation for the return to teaching next week.

I needed to take breaks to rest – the fatigue is still bothering me and some symptoms have reappeared over the weekend – but it was nice to be doing something productive again after a couple of weeks of convalescing.