At the US Capitol – 2014

The events of the past few days has reminded me of my trip to Washington DC in 2014 when my friend Tori managed to arrange for me to visit the US Capitol, and meet a congresswoman and Senator.

I posted the picture below – me in the House of Congress, if I recall correctly, on my Travel Throwback Tumblr, which I used to remind myself of all the amazing places I’ve been to and have had the privilege of visiting. I’d not updated it in over 3 years.

Sad that it took an insurrection like this to make me remember that it existed.

From one lockdown to another

The Prime Minister has just announced another national lockdown which will last for at least six weeks. In my head, this is the 2nd lockdown, after the first in March this year.

There was another one in November but schools and university remain open, I believe, so it wasn’t really the same as the first one. Besides, I had to go onto campus twice a week to teach in the autumn semester so it didn’t really feel like I was in lockdown.

This new one is meant to start on Wednesday, the last day of my self-isolation based on the NHS app. From one lockdown to another.

The good news, I suppose, is that I feel better today and seem to be on the mend. I think a few more days of rest will get me fighting fit soon enough.

No Snow

It was supposed to snow heavily for six hours last night; instead it only fell for less and hour. Although it settled, there wasn’t enough and it melted away quite quickly.

This wasn’t the view I wanted to wake up to, although I suppose I can feel less bad about being stuck in a flat self-isolating and recuperating (I haven’t yet been able to “enjoy” the snow this winter). Thought I felt better today when I woke up but after dishes and breakfast, fatigue and nausea hit and it was back to bed for me.

Fun times …

5 Years On

Dad and Niki at Trafalgar Square on a snowy January morning in 2013

Over the past four years, I have made it a point to visit a church somewhere to light a candle for my father to mark his death. He wasn’t a Christian but we always loved looking for churches and cathedrals together when traveling so I wanted to keep “visiting” them with him. I’ve managed to find somewhere new each year that we hadn’t been to before so that we’re still exploring the world.

The plan this year was to visit one in Birmingham, where I’ve just moved to. But since I’m still in isolation (and pretty weak and tired), I’m not able to. Sorry, dad.

So here’s a picture we took together rediscovering London in 2013 just a few days short of 8 years ago, when you flew over for my MA graduation. This was after dim sum with Adam, Justin and Mike, and there was a beautiful coat of January snow across the city for a whole week. Snow fell a bit in Birmingham this morning, so I thought of you too.

It’s almost hard to believe that it’s been 5 years. In some sense, where has the time gone but also, I remember the days leading up to your passing like it was just yesterday.

I miss you very much.

Backward/Forward

It is so convenient, with the current sentiment going around, to avoid looking back at 2020 because what’s the point? It was a difficult year, we all stayed home and 2021 couldn’t have come quick enough.

But as with most thing in life, it’s not as clean-cut like that. In actual fact, 2020 was quite a good year for me – global pandemic notwithstanding – and I want to mark the New Year by being grateful.

That is not to say that there weren’t many crappy moments. There were the clear Covid-19 related issues, including actually getting infected by the blasted virus in the last few days of the year! Before that however there’s the small matter of being the first year in my life that I haven’t physically seen my family.

Being alone all year also took a toll on my mental health and moving to a new city and starting a job in the middle of a pandemic means that it’s been tough settling in and making new friends and connections. I also had a rough 7-8 months of the year being a bit stressed out (and to be frank, depressed) about my career trajectory.

Rejection after rejection was hard to deal with, and even when I did get some interviews, repercussions from the pandemic means I missed out on a couple of good opportunities and I was so sure that I wasn’t going to get a job.

My physical health could also have been better. My neck problems returned this year, and I got a groin injury in February – likely from hockey – which meant that I haven’t been able to run at all this year, aside from a couple of test runs that confirmed I was still not well.

I think it’s important to note all the difficulties I faced. I’m increasingly aware about how much I curate my digital life, and it’s important – for myself, if not anyone else – to remember that things are never rosy all the time. I have a very charmed life, but it’s not perfect.

Having said that, in 2020:

  1. I graduated with a PhD, after a lot of hard work!
  2. I was awarded a six-month bursary that not only helped me pay rent for quite a few months, but gave me the time to send out all those applications! And I finish a book chapter that has been published, among other research activities.
  3. I started a permanent academic position at a university, which is relatively soon after completing my studies (salary, yay!).
  4. I made some really good friends this year as a result of the pandemic, both in person (company for outdoor walks) and online, the latter of which I hope to consolidate in person when things improve.
  5. I moved to a new city – it wasn’t an ideal time to relocate, but I really like Birmingham so far and can’t wait to see what it’s like when the pandemic is less of an issue (vaccines exist – woo!).

What do I hope lie ahead in 2021? Consolidating some friendships in person, do a bit of traveling and hopefully get some more research published.

And find more me time. Learning how to relax, making time for myself and starting to do things I enjoy again like writing (a blog) or taking a bath. Yes, absolutely, more baths.

Happy New Year. <3

New Year’s Eve in bed

It’s just as well that with the pandemic, we should all stay indoors. Not that it’s much of a choice for me considering that I have few days left to go with my isolation. If not for testing positive, however, I would already be spending the day with my bubble so there is a hint of sadness.

I woke up today feeling much better than the past few days, and able to get out of bed by 9ish – that’s a good few hours better than before. But just doing the dishes from yesterday and preparing breakfast winded me, and I was back in bed again for most of the day – except for meals. I did manage to catch up on some emails and other more productive things from bed, however, which is quite the improvement.

I wasn’t going to post anything on here until tomorrow, but I got a call from the NHS Test and Trace team today, which I thought I should make a note off (this blog started off as a way to record life in a pandemic after all). At first, I thought it was really good that they did it – since we’re not encouraged to contact the Covid hotlines or go to a GP/hospital unless things become very serious – because it feels like someone is looking out for you.

But after the initial “How are you doing?” and “Are you showing any symptoms?”, the woman just started reading things off a script. I’m sure the first two questions were scripted too but it just ended up being a monologue really … and really monotonous too that she almost sounded like a robot. If not for the occasional umms and errs, I wondered if it was a recorded message about how it was illegal for me to leave the house and “do you understand this?”

I think what she said was made all the more jarring because it’s basically a repetition of the several text messages and emails I’ve received from the NHS and my GP. It become less about checking in on me to feeling like I was being tracked and surveilled.

But she was just doing her job, I suppose. Not long after that call, I was back in bed with a bit of lightheadedness and mild breathing difficulties. I’m so sick of my bed and just want to feel better.

I know it’s only a couple of hours away but I hope next year brings me better recovery.

Happy New Year, one and all.

Ah, and there goes some fireworks!

The day I found out I have Covid-19

I was only going to start posting on this blog again in 2021, but lockdown due to pandemic inspired the birth of this site and so, I had to at least record the positive result I received today from Covid-19 test.

I’m posting that screen grab from The Guardian above for posterity; when I logged on there to look for the stats, I didn’t expect to be part of the statistics for the highest number of recorded daily cases in the UK ever.

Not my proudest moment. But what can you do? I’ve been as cautious as I possibly could – and barring one or two transgressions – have generally been really good about the way I have behaved since the start of the first lockdown.

Just hoping my symptoms doesn’t worsen and that I’ll be fighting fit again soon.

Many people have sent well-wishes, thank you. x