Scheduling and structure
Only working three days a week is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and I'll avoid ever going back to five. But in the first half of the year I didn't schedule my free time, so I became a little bit idle, reliant on my mood-on-the-day as to whether I did anything useful (when I wasn't up to my neck in the football takeover thing).
After visiting my academic friend in Belfast in August I was inspired to start scheduling - from now until Christmas, each non-working day is dedicated to study, making music, brewing, tapestry etc. Sure you have to move them around sometimes or miss the odd one, but it makes a huge difference.
Hard limit of three drinking days a week (Mon-Sun)
This was imposed by my wife after I slipped down some stairs in a pub and hurt my back. Three days seems easy, right? It's amazing how quickly you realise the "exceptions" that you are always making. For this there are no exceptions, not Christmas, not visiting relatives, etc etc.
I'm actually aiming for more like one day a week (Saturday), but the hard limit has made it easier for me to say no, and I lose less time to drinking and being hungover. In the first week or two I fell into the obvious trap of "making the most" of my drinking days, but now it's levelled out and I am definitely drinking less.
Easy job for decent people
I essentially work for private sector people who believe in the power of business to do good. I am more interested in how you make the private sector less powerful, and how you rewire enterprise to force businesses to do good (e.g. social enterprises, co-ops, B Corps - creating a legal obligation to deliver social outcomes).
So I probably won't stay around forever, but I'm working with people who are broadly on the same side, and the mood music of the office is all about celebrating shit like microfinance, ethical investment, big corporations doing cool, vaguely socially progressive things etc. And the work is basically quite easy and almost entirely self-directed.
Also, it's only just occurred to me that there's a really obvious link between my academic interest (object-oriented cultural democracy, pub preservation and community ownership) and my comms work interests (social enterprises, co-ops, non-profits - essentially what happens to pubs when people successfully preserve them). So this will hopefully give me a bit of direction in developing my "Plan B" career (comms) alongside my "Plan A" career of academia.
Progress on other fronts:
Tai Chi / Taoism
I've re-taught myself the Chen style 18 form and do this around three mornings a week on an outdoor tennis court at the Recreation Ground. Aiming for six mornings a week. It's annoying not to have a teacher but I don't have much choice in Bath, no-one teaches Chen style. Still reading Taoist texts regularly, usually when I come home for lunch.
Jess works Sundays till 10.30pm and I used to get bored and end up in the pub. Now I go to my mum's house, watch the Sunday Politics and work on the tapestry - I keep it up there in a frame. It's like 5% complete, it will take me forever but I'm enjoying it. Good to have my mum there to give me tips e.g. start with the boldest colours and do the white thread last.
Spoiler alert: the finished product. So far I've done almost all of the red thread.
I've been dragging my feet on this, partially because of the costs - I was supposed to do my first brew last Saturday but I'm missing a brew pot. Next payday I'll order one online (they're about £45) and then book something in the diary. Part of the problem is that I've already decided that I'd rather make cider, but I've already spent £120 on beer stuff. Obviously I can do both!
just need one of these
Reading Japanese novels
I finished Mishima's Sea of Fertility tetralogy - holy shit. I needed a bit of a breather after that so I've read stuff like Dave Eggers' The Circle, will read some Miranda July and some novels a friend got us as a wedding present next. Also I've picked up the academic reading so novels have been crowded out a bit. But in the New Year, I think I'll go back and read Kawabata. I miss the feeling of being connected to deep underground lakes.
I've been making fragments of music and sharing them online with my old guitarist. He has a baby so hasn't got round to looking at them yet, but it's an enjoyable process to pick up a guitar and write stuff. If he ends up not being able to work on it, I might join the local samba guys. Ultimately I don't really like making music alone.
Still make sauerkraut on a regular basis, it's just a normal part of my life now. Haven't pushed on to kimchi or other things so far. Happy in my sauerkraut groove.
I'm about halfway through Bruno Latour's back catalogue and am taking proper notes etc. Loving it, nothing calms my mind more. Possibly because I work in PR, I have come to think of academia as the "real world" and the everyday world as the "unreal / bullshit world". Thinking hard about stuff because I really want to understand it gives me the same kind of endorphin rush I get from exercise.
Once I've read him and Antoine Hennion (sociology of taste), I'm going to start planning a "popular academic" blog on the sociology of pubs and beer. Probably get that going around April or May. I think the blog will be a good way of imposing discipline and will also serve as a calling card when I eventually seek PhD funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (or possibly the Arts and Humanities Research Council, or CAMRA, or English Heritage etc etc).
Essentially it will be a proto-literature review, doing 300-400 words on how different sociological perspectives could be applied to pubs - where they sit within the academy. I also want to do some light-hearted research tasks like a taxonomy of online opinions about pub preservation, and testing whether people are more likely to say "thank you" when leaving a pub if it's a free house as opposed to a tied house.
Hmm. Working on the football takeover ticked this box for a while. I was then going to do a TEFL and teach immigrants, but I can't afford that for now - will probably take it next autumn.
Since then I've offered my services to the local co-op pub and the Women's Equality Party (of which I am a founding member - I went to their launch in Bath and I just couldn't not join). I also plan to join the Historic Pubs group of the local CAMRA branch, to support my academic goals. And I've been invited through work to take part in a local group of charity people, a kind of think tank or something.
Was tempted to sign up to be a National Trust volunteer - one day a week physical labour building stone walls etc. But that would be really miserable in bad weather. Need to think more about this in the New Year.