The last days before the winter break are a few lingering meetings, some planned email deleting, and writing up task lists for what comes next. If I were in my regular office I’d have every single one of my whiteboards (3 big ones, several small ones) and a rainbow of colors around me –filled with ideas/accomplishments/things to not forget. Instead I’m trying to winnow down the piles of scrawled notes on my home desk — continually moving the cat — and I’m working digitally. While that’s probably better for when I need to erase the whiteboards again eventually, it’s not quite as satisfying.
Where I am today versus where I was at the beginning of the year are such drastically different places, even as you could argue that so little has changed: same job, apartment, cats, Philosopher, excess of coffee and yarn. This year has seen highs and lows emotionally that have left nearly everyone I have spoken to on the exhausted side of overwhelmed, all repositories of capacity used up. Colleagues and friends speak longingly of sleep, of rest, of their brains being quiet enough to start to think and plan again rather than react. We know we’re by no means done with the work — whether that’s the everyday “job and family responsibilities,” the desperately needed national push to bring justice and equality to our communities, continuing to ensure that voting rights are upheld and government engagement at the local/state/national level continues. We have to confront the failures of our organizations and decide if it’s actually worth the effort to rebuild them or if we just set them on fire and toast s’mores over the flames. We have to decide who and what is actually worthy of our energy and limited time moving forward.
It has not been a year without accomplishments — it’s been difficult to snatch moments of joy or celebration but we’ve tried: friends with papers accepted and published, new jobs, new puppies, incredible voter turnout, the Romancing the Runoff auction, finding ways to stay connected while we’re physically apart.
I’ve tracked a few accomplishments along the way and have been adding up things I got done this year, starting to plan for the annual review cycle in January that always spins me in a “Am I Doing Enough” Loop. It has made me realize that I have done a lot this year, and while I never can get a clear answer of “enough” — complicated by the reality that I’m working for three different departments with a variety of obligations, reporting lines, and timelines — I will acknowledge that across all three areas of teaching and librarianship and in my research and service I made progress.
A few things to celebrate for 2020
- This was a very productive publication year, building on two years past of writing with my different teams. I published 6 peer reviewed papers and 2 editorials. This included the first two Data Doubles papers, writing with my colleague Bob Sandusky, and and an HPV scoping review that is as dense as any paper I’ve ever participated in. I’ve never published that much in one year (and don’t expect to again for a bit)!
- I helped to move the College of Dentistry online. In March, the majority of my colleagues there had never taught an online course; some had never used conference software. As one of the people who knew how to Make WebEx Go — I held many office hours, one on one sessions, okay-let’s-try-this with faculty colleagues who were in real time migrating to a novel platform while trying to navigate an emerging global pandemic. This at the same time as drastically overhauling one of my own courses for Dentistry and trying to support pivoting Masters students whose projects had just ground to an entirely unexpected halt.
- I taught an extra session of LIB 573: Intro to Data Management over the summer. This probably wasn’t my smartest idea, by the end of May I was exhausted but we’d had requests and my students were so Very Determined. It was an unusual cohort as we concentrated File Naming Conventions and Back Up Plans hoping that could get us through things just a bit better and faster as nothing else in the world was organized. That meant a total of 7 for-credit courses this year 3 Spring, 3 Fall, 1 Summer, plus one off lectures and my usual pile of consultations. [Please note, I am not planning to teach 573 next summer. I am hoping to take a week — maybe two weeks off — that can only happen if I don’t teach.]
- I assisted with data management plans for three major grants. One is still pending, one we didn’t get, and I have no idea on the other one – I should ask. Two of these fell squarely in my wheelhouse of Coordinating: I will not be the sole person helping the team to implement, instead my role is to ensure that our plans and guidance up front are in place, and are funded, so that data management has at least an opportunity to succeed.
- Liang Tang, the undergraduate I mentored through the spring was accepted into the PhD program he wants to attend! While the pandemic meant a one year hold, during which he’s busy getting a Masters, I’m so proud of him and the work he’s done with me and what I know he’ll do in the future.
- I started the #WomenLaborCOVID bibliography with Nell. It’s now over 1000 news items gathered which aggregate the impact of the pandemic on women in the workforce. I have one student starting a research project on the bibliography for spring; I’m hoping for a few more in the coming months.
- I began an appointment to our Office of Research, where I serve as the Data Policy Advisor. We’re working on reviewing DMPs to see what exactly we’ve promised, writing travel guidance for when next it’s safe to travel, and drafting federal responses from our university which will hopefully shape what comes back to us as new obligations and infrastructure.
- I’m preparing for the NIH DMP requirement. The last six weeks has started me on the Awareness Tour, as I’m fondly calling it. For a year that started with a federal response draft and Can We Get Everyone To Review NOW — it’s exciting to see how the issues we raised were addressed in the final version. It felt like real participation! And now we have two years to try and figure out how to make it work.
- Service continued on all the fronts: doing external P&T reviews and journal article peer reviews; speaking at conferences; serving on committees; mentoring several amazing colleagues; serving as a grant reviewer; being Madame Co-Chair once again.
I wanted to write these things out to remind myself that it’s been a busy year for when the brain weasels start yelling that I haven’t done much or enough. Things got done for all that I felt many days were just staring out the window waiting for a squirrel to run by and doomscrolling through Twitter.
And now I’ll wrap up my to do lists and step away from the computer as much as possible.
Wishing you a restful end to your year — please note that I see the work YOU have done this year and I’m proud that we are all to the end of 2020 together. May we continue to move our world forward to a better 2021.