Friday, March 16, 2018

Today I am on strike, day 14

We did it.

This afternoon, I came home, and unpacked my strike bag. For the last four weeks, it's been the home of my wallet, my keys, a couple of pens, extra fliers, an umbrella, spare gloves, tissues (used and new), spare feminine products, and random biscuits. It hung beside the door so I could grab it quickly in the morning, already packed. It's now empty, and put away.

I stripped off all the layers, and finally put the warm tights and the extra pair of thick socks into the laundry basket. They're a now; but the thing about living in Durham in spring without a clothes dryer is that you can't guarantee things washed in the evening will be dry by morning, and I'd learned my lesson on the picket line the first day -- layers are important.

I've lost a lot over the last few weeks. I've lost contact hours with my students, I've lost time I can't really afford to lose on my own research. I've lost sleep. I've lost weight (even with all the picket cookies, donuts, flapjacks, biscotti, brownies). I've lost whatever desire (already rather low) I had to engage in nonsense bureaucracy and admin, or to prioritise my work over my family. I've lost a lot of faith in the idea that the people in power have my best interests at heart.

But I've gained a lot as well. New friendships, new connections. I've spoken to people I've wanted to speak to for years, ever since I moved to Durham, but I didn't know who they were, so I was never able to meet them. (More precisely, I've managed to talk to the relevant people in both mathematics and computer science to let them know that, hey, there's someone over in the philosophy department teaching logic, and logic might be of interest to your students!). I've gained more knowledge about pensions, pensions regulation, labour law, and immigration law than I ever thought I would've needed. I've gained some important memories with G, both as she joined me on the picket line and as being on strike today meant that I was able to go to the special Mother's Day tea and crafts at school, which otherwise would have fallen during my two-hour seminar. I've gained a sense that the people that matter have my back.

I can't say yet whether the gains are worth the losses. I'm not sure any amount of gain could ever make it be the case that it was a good thing we had to go on strike -- which is different from saying that it was a good thing we went on strike -- that I think is manifestly true. But I still think the world would've been better if we'd never been forced into this position in the first place.

What will the future bring? 14 more days of striking next term? Who knows? And this is not a rhetorical question: I really don't think anyone has any rational way of modeling the probabilities of future paths at this point. We'll just have to wait and see.

But in the short-term, at least, I'll be back to work. It's going to be awkward and strange, and I'm giving myself permission to not be 100% effective on Monday, because that would be a recipe for success. I'm going to prioritise student-facing work, then my own research, and then admin. And I'm not going to expect myself to get it all done in one day. That isn't how this life works.

It's strange being a part of such a significant historic event and recognising its historical significance while it is happening. I'm curious to see how history will judge the events of the last few weeks in decades to come. But, for now: This is Dr. Logic, signing off of her strike day diary. I hope it'll be a long time before I write another instalment in it.

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