@ Cataract Gorge in Launceston, TAS. Taken by Pat Murray
As we've entered a new year, I've been reflecting on my 2019 and decided to pen a few words about some of the highlights across my life. I've also included a list of books I read, partly to feel good about myself, and partly because I read some great works and I want to share them.
What I got up to
As part of my PhD, I completed my first study which comprised of interviewing a number of queer people about their use of social technologies. From the interviews, I wrote a paper along with my supervisor Tuck Wah Leong and presented it at my first academic conference, OzCHI, in Perth.
I continued teaching and tutored into Interaction Design and Creative Intelligence and Innovation subjects.
In April, Pat Murray and I flew to Tasmania, hired a car and drove around the island for ten days. We saw so many spectacular sights and I took just shy of 6000 photos. While we covered a great deal of ground, I look forward to spending more time there in the future because there's just so much to explore.
I took a few trips to visit family and friends in Christchurch, NZ. While most the time was spent with family, I managed to take a few days to run away with my camera and explore.
2019 was certainly a year of growth. Life threw many things at me that were challenging but looking back, I'm proud of how well I managed to cope and of how much I learned about myself. While I had some issues with mental health, I'm in a much better place now than I was this time last year.
Other random things that happened
- I went to see Nina Conti (a ventriloquist) perform and got dragged up on stage to act as a prop
- I ran the City2Surf and bested last year's time by 14 minutes
- I stepped out of my comfort zone by auditioning for this year's UTS Queer Revue (and somehow got a part??)
- I took 32,434 photos on my cameras
- I fell in love with the colour orange
Some of the things I'm working on in 2020
- Some of my biggest learnings last year were about how I burn myself out, mostly as a result of imposter syndrome and feeling as though I ought to always be doing a million things. This year, I'm going to try to take more time for myself and get better at prioritising my energy intentionally.
- Following on from the last point, I want to prioritise the relationships that matter and that are healthy this year. I've found myself putting too much effort into friendships with people who are unreliable, can't communicate or leave it up to me to organise everything so I'm going to be much more intentional with my social life.
- I took so many photos last year and they've mostly just been sitting on my computer waiting for me to look at them. Part of the issue was falling into the trap of worrying too much about which software to use to edit them instead of just editing them with what I have at the moment. I also stopped posting on Instagram because I was finding it too much of a burden. Photography is one of my great passions so this year, I'm going to try to get back on top of it. I want to set aside more time to work through my back-catalog of photos to edit and I'm also going to figure out a better way to share them that's less work than instagram (probably through this website).
Books I read
- The Art of Gathering — One of my favourite books so far. Great insight how to gather people in meaningful ways.
- Status Anxiety — A thought provoking exploration of status in modern western society.
- Little Me — A heartfelt, endearing and hysterically funny account of the life of Matt Lucas, one of my all-time favourite comedians.
- The Imposter Cure — A really powerful book that helped me begin to unravel my imposter syndrome. Highly recommended for anyone that also deals with it.
- Queer Intentions — An insightful look at what it means to be queer these days that follows a journalists quest for answers.
- The Qualified Self — A book about all the ways we use social media to qualify ourselves and our lives. Quite a different and interesting perspective on the media traces we create and what they say about us compared to the Quantified Self movement.
- Digital Minimalism — Makes the case for reducing the amount of time we spend using our devices and encourages more intentional uses of them. Perhaps the most interesting part of the book was its exploration of how to fill the time that gets reclaimed from devices.
- The Clever Guts Diet — As someone that's suffered from dietary issues for a number of years, this was a great book to read. Talks about how to develop a healthier gut (and body as a whole) by eating smarter and I'm seeing a difference following the advice.
- Busy as Fuck — I'm very good at burning myself out and this book taught me some tips and tricks for how to not run myself into the ground with quite as much haste.
- Barefoot Investor — This book made me actually start saving money this year
- Zen and Now — Follows the journey of Robert M. Pirsig's famous motorcycle journey. I found the original book a bit difficult and this one was a great summary.
- The Lost Art of Sleep — An exploration of sleep through the ages written by an incredibly witty and cynical ex Catholic priest.
- Lost Children Archive — A pleasure to read.
- Calypso — Incredibly funny stories about the life of the author that made me howl with laughter every time I picked it up.
- A Gentleman in Moscow — The superbly written story of a Russian count that gets put under house arrest in a hotel in the centre of Moscow in the 1920s.
- Swing Time — Great read.
- According to Yes — Dawn French is always wonderful.
- Less — I enjoyed reading this but for a book about a gay man, I wish that it had been slightly less heteronormative.