As I write this, the last bits of light are fading from the sky. From where I sit at the kitchen table the trees outside my window are that darker shade of black backlit by the deepening blue of the sky. The sky itself is starless; there is a storm coming. Our daughter is watching a movie, there is dinner on the stove. I’m making collards.
We had thought about making the trip to North Carolina this past spring–I haven’t been back to where I mostly grew up and where I did my undergraduate work in a long while. More than a decade, for the part of the state I lived in. I’ve got friends there, still. My closest friends are in their eighties. I worry about them and, while I didn’t grow up with food like collards in my own house I did get them at theirs. They taste like vitamins and memories and velvet to me, even though I don’t cook them right. We’ve been cooking them more lately.
Tomorrow, school will almost surely be cancelled. I know we’re lucky here in Nova Scotia. Public schools have been open. My daughter started grade primary in September and hasn’t yet had to do zoom school. Nonetheless, I will admit that I have to talk myself into the beauty of a winter storm shutting things down for a day. Funny, in a way, to have to pause to get excited about sledding. Even without the kinds of lockdowns some of you are living–have lived–I feel the pressure of time winding itself around my ankles like a complicated cat. In the spring that pressure was more claustrophobic than cat. It was walls closing in. It was guilt at feeling closed in. It was a feeling of never-enoughness. It was a familiar feeling too. The rush, the stolen hours of work squeezed in between taking care of each other, students, kiddo. The initial shutdown felt both disorienting (my first pandemic!) and uncanny. The uncanniness, I think, had something to do with gender.
A cursory search with terms “pandemic” “academia” and
“women” will come up with articles such as these: “Pandemic Imperils Tenure and Promotion for Women,” and “Pandemic will take women 10 years back.” If you widen the search beyond academia the titles are more inclusive, and more dire. After all, not all homes are safe. Not all places are homes.
I oscillate a good deal in my feelings about my own relationship to my work, to my responsibilities at home, and to expectations–that I’ve learned, that are explicit, and that are implicit. Not all expectations are unreasonable or oppressive, though some are. All of them take time. And time has a strange way of moving in these days, as I discuss often with students in our twice weekly discussions. They talk a bit about how time is both expansive and a bit of a trick. Gone in a flash, but how? I talk about how behind I am on my academic research, but how I have become more adept at taking breaks from my computer. What things will we keep in the after times, and what things will work their way into our stories? Sometimes I wonder with excitement. Other times I wonder and worry.
Any seasoned blog writer will tell you that blog post needs to be pithy, clear, and with a point. And yet, though I admire that kind of writing–aspire to it even–and though I am a seasoned blogger, I find I wander more. Reaching for the point, when the point might in fact be the reach. the point of this post was to tell you, readers, that while we’re not exactly on hiatus we are taking the time we need to post, and that time is taking longer than any of us expected. That’s what I was supposed to write, but instead I’ve told you about collards. I’ve done a small google search about gender, mothering, academic work, and the pandemic. About a few of my own companion worries. About time, and how student and I talk about it slipping through our fingers. All this time my daughter has been watching a movie, and while that’s good and fine I have also been thinking about screen time.
And just now, a small notification: schools are closed tomorrow.
The point of this post, reader, is this: we’re going to take the time we need here. We’ll post as we are able, and as we feel. I’ll keep posting the Dalhousie Feminist Seminar Series talks. We’ll take guest posts (email me!) if they come, though we’ve not had many in the last year and that doesn’t surprise me or even worry me a bit. And when we’re ready, if it makes sense, we’ll make a new schedule. Maybe. But for now, we’re taking the time we need, and we are reminding you that you can put a few things down too.