I went to volunteer this morning, packing food parcels to be donated to Jewish communities in London, for people who are either struggling to make ends meet or are unable to go shopping because of COVID. It was outside and rather cold. It was at least sheltered, but I got soaked in the rain going to and from there. I was glad I went, as it felt fulfilling. I did have to try not to overthink things though or take responsibility for things that were not in my control. I managed this despite not having had much sleep, as I couldn’t fall asleep last night, then I woke around 4.00am and struggled to get back to sleep. I had to phone Dad for a lift from the bus stop on the way home, as it was raining very heavily and my foot was still hurting if I walked on it.

I came home to a busy house. Now we aren’t shielding Mum any more, we’ve had various people in to sort things in the house. My parents’ friend who fixes computers came over in his capacity as computer-fixer rather than friend the other day to fix Mum’s computer; the handyman came yesterday and today, and we also had industrial cleaners in today giving the house the first deep clean since COVID. The bathroom stinks of chemicals and I feel uncomfortable in it at the moment. This all seems vaguely alien, given how diligently we shielded. I’m sure I’m not the only one struggling psychologically with the strange semi-lockdown rules; without thinking, I removed my mask on the bus for a minute while using the phone. In some ways, complete lockdown was easier than this; at least I knew what I could (not) do.

I felt pretty exhausted after lunch. I felt that I shouldn’t feel so exhausted, as all I was doing when volunteering was putting fruit and vegetables in carrier bags and then moving the carrier bags into piles and then into cars, but it did involve (1) peopling, (2) a new situation and (3) new people as well as (4) an early start and (5) wearing a mask almost non-stop for well over four hours, none of which are easy for me, doubly so in heavy rain, so I’m trying not to be too hard on myself. I tried to work on my novel, but only managed half an hour of research reading. Ended up idly browsing internet, mostly politics sites, making myself miserable. Probably looking for connection in the wrong places, or just procrastination. I managed to catch up on one or two outstanding chores and felt like I can finally catch my breath properly after a month of Yom Tov (Jewish festivals) followed by an intense week and a bit. I tried to get off the computer. I binge-watched three episodes of Twin Peaks. I don’t usually watch that much TV in one day. Now I’m too tired for anything other than bed and it’s not yet 10pm.

I did plan out a future devar Torah for a couple of weeks’ time – reading an article in the latest Jewish Review of Books hit me with inspiration and quickly checked some sources and typed out a plan that I like.


The professional body for librarians in this country is polling members on a new fees structure that could potentially see me paying a lot more for the same services I get now. The main benefit I get currently is the weekly job email and job website. I think I got my job in further education via the website. I get a monthly magazine, which generally doesn’t interest me much, except when it scares me into thinking that I’m a bad librarian because I’m not doing innovative things or doing CPD (Continual Professional Development). Other times it makes me feel that you have to have a certain set of socio-political views to be a librarian these days, and that I don’t have them, making me scared that I’ll get caught out one day. There are networks that people use to, well, network, but I’ve struggled to get involved. When I’m working, I don’t have the time and energy for CPD and networking; when I’m unemployed I’m too embarrassed, plus working or not I have social anxiety. However, letting my subscription lapse would feel like a final admission that I’m not going to make a career as a librarian, which somehow seems very final, even though I did actually let my membership lapse in the past and resume later when it was more convenient.

8 thoughts on “The Owls Are Not What They Seem

  1. New fees don’t seem very appropriate in these days of financial hardship–but the organization is probably feeling the pinch as well. I admire your volunteer work very much and the fact that you managed many stressors to do so. I would be uncomfortable with all those strangers in my house. Our virus numbers are climbing a lot right now, so I’m resigned to staying with my semi-isolated state for another year. (give or take a few months on either end)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, they’re restructuring the fees and creating more levels, but that’s mostly for people more qualified than I am.

      I think virus numbers are climbing everywhere at the moment.


  2. Sounds like volunteering was a success. I’ve been thinking I might keep my eyes open for volunteer options as taking on employment when things are so unclear with my kids just isn’t an option. Libraries are so awesome not to mention they’ve always been a great place for me to hide when I’d rather not socialize. I spent every lunch hour in high school in the library as eating alone in the lunchroom was too humiliating. I’m more then a little bit jealous that you have the formal education to work in one. I know the past has made it stressful but I hope the right opportunity comes along. One that has you skipping to work, lol. Libraries should always be approached with a light hearted skip in my mind. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

      1. It wasn’t so bad. 🙂 High school was just a big jump from being in a Mennonite community to being in the real world. Once I got the hang of it I actually preferred it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Networking is useful, but I feel like its utility is overrated sometimes. I’ve also never really liked it, regardless of my employment status. But continuing professional development sounds potentially useful and worthwhile. That certain set of socio-political views sounds frustrating though. My company has been leaning more in that direction lately.
    Volunteering sounds nice!

    Liked by 2 people

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