For the past two weeks, I’ve been working remotely. I hate it. I really dislike bringing work home, as I have a personal code to keep my work life separate from my home life. It’s been that way ever since I’ve been able to work, and I think part of is because my dad was a doctor who would be on call 24/7. Our home landline growing up, a corded, yellow rotary phone that was akin to a permanent banana long before they were taped up on a gallery wall as “art,” would ring incessantly throughout the day and night. There were some days dad would just spend the night at the hospital because it was easier to hang there than commuting back and forth from home.
I didn’t realize the importance of having a separate space for my daily work until this past week. I write music, lyrics, read, draw, meditate, play video games, and do yoga all at home. I value having a quiet space that facilitates these activites and I’ve had difficulty finding the balance of *not* working on a work project instead of a hobby.
I also miss working alongside my colleagues. There’s a comradery in my library that I truly cherish. I greet our wonderful library staff at the circulation desk every morning after my bike commute, I talk to my colleagues around the water cooler, reference desk, and I miss people just popping into my office to say hello, to talk about a work project, or to answer a question from one of our student workers. I miss the occasional student who wanders into my office thinking it’s the Multimedia Resource Center or to ask if I have an extra pencil/paper/pen/calculator/laptop/tablet/cell phone charger I could lend them.
There also an extra amount of labor working online. Zoom meetings, Webex meetings, email, text, Signal, Twitter, this is all just screens which make me want to scream sometimes. There’s extra steps in contacting folks now. Naomi Klein had a screencast on coronavirus capitalism a couple of weeks ago and she was talking about how this is the Silicon Valley dystopia. Work blends into home life and human interactions are done through a computer screen. Brick and mortar stores are closed and the commerce of goods are done electronically in our own little personal prisons.
I feel like the cultural war against intellectualism, science, and experts have resulted in the casualties of the COVID 19 crisis. It befuddles me that we live in a world where people don’t believe in vaccinations or that we live on a flat planet. Our national education system is headed by a billionaire who has no background in education and whose brother not only was a head of a mercenary group, but has carried out clandestine spy operations against teacher unions. Students and faculty alike are being forced to use remote conferencing software that violate their privacy. Higher education across the country has turned into a nightmare versions of Phoenix University Online. Not all students can learn through distance learning (or have the technological/economic access to it) and not all faculty are apt (or have the time, resources, or support) at teaching in this new medium.
Regardless, this last week I’ve been able to work on a book project which is going well. I have plans to update our LibGuides installation since usage has jumped since CUNY has gone completely online. I’ve also been able to work on reading and reviewing articles. Although this has been a very productive two weeks, it’s such a different feeling than working at the library. For one, there’s no cats that sit on my keyboard(s) there. I can take a walk down the hall to clear my head. I can take a break and check my mail or talk to someone at the water cooler.
This week marks working 14 years at City Tech Library. I really do love what I do for a living, and I hope this pandemic comes to a safe close soon.