Week 6: Gendered chores, Learning to draw, Preparing for conversations with journalists

I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided I would write and post Week Notes on a Monday. The end of year festivities likely clouded my judgment. So here I am, back after a two week break, and on a Saturday. Last night, Twitter brought up this blog post written by computer scientist Jean Yang. This exercise of roughly mapping out where my times goes is something I tried back in 2010. I was working at one of my first jobs, juggling a couple of freelance opportunities, and feeling as if I didn’t have enough hours in the day. Little did I know that managing time would only get trickier.

If I am being completely honest, on most days it is not work, but other aspects of life that take up more time than I ever imagined. Staying on top of bills and taxes (despite my best efforts, I still don’t understand the workings of GST, but then who does?); meal planning and cooking; taking on more responsibilities for our families; doing the laundry, trying to be a good, or at least ok, friend; on and on, I could go. Despite the fact that we try to run our (two-person) household with gender equality, and attempt to dismantle the gendered expectations our families might have of us, I end up feeling like I am getting a raw deal more often than I would like.

Seeing Yang’s blog post, at a time when I am discussing these issues a lot with those closest to me, has made me wonder if I should start documenting the time I spend doing these tasks. It would help me see my life in an honest way, and have more meaningful conversations with my two best male allies – my partner and brother.

For over a decade, I have told anyone who has said to me that they cannot draw, that everyone can. I strongly believe that, and encourage everyone who wants to draw to do just that. And yet, I shy away from my own desire to get better at it, and even pick up the skills and mindset to (maybe one day, professionally) illustrate. Last year, I started making a drawing every day, but stopped in only two weeks. After seeing Tiffany’s drawings on Instagram, I am trying again – a quiet New Year’s resolution, if you’d like. Let’s see how I fare.

In my second week notes, I wrote about my anxiety when I have to speak with journalists, and I realized this morning while preparing for one of those engagements, that I shared nothing about how I go about preparing. I have started putting together short documents, one each for every project that I tend to get asked about, where I jot down –

  1. what got me involved in the project;

  2. when I got involved, and how long did the project run;

  3. if the project if self-initiated, what are my motivations;

  4. who were/are my collaborators, and how did they contribute to the project;

  5. a description of the project;

  6. what I feel were my biggest challenges, and how I tried to overcome them;

  7. what are the resources I referred to;

  8. how I failed and succeeded, and what I would do differently or more;

  9. who are my peers working on similar projects and what successes have they had (since 2017, I have made effort to highlight the work of my women peers whenever I get the opportunity);

The documents – not very different from the Reflection on Practice essays we wrote at the end of the MATD programme – are still not ready, but already they are a big help. They are not well-written, and that is not the point. Often I will copy-paste from texts I have written elsewhere.

Plus in the spirit of saving time, I have begun doing what I should long ago, prepare images for projects that I can share at a moment’s notice. All the agonizing and hard work needs to be done in advance.