Archive for June, 2012

Work.. pays off.

alternative title: Why I blog so little.

– The book I (co-)authored is back from the printers. I am now officially a published author.

– The second book has been sent out to the graphics people to be laid out. Printing will take place later in the year.

– We have a weekend trip planned to London to hang out with the in-laws. Flights and hotel are arranged.

– Beloved will do a two-week tour around the US to visit universities. Flights, trains and university appointments have all been taken care of, and are mostly fully arranged. I won’t be coming with, which makes me sad.

– We’ ll be going to Las Vegas (ahem), the Grand Canyon and some more desert a few months later. Flights are booked as well as hotels at these two locations. The rest of the trip won’t be planned, although we will rent a car before we go. We will not meet any family of friends on said trip. I look forward to desert panoramas and a few good audio books.

– The very, very final wedding celebration has been had. I’ve heard no complaints, so I think it all went well. Our whisky supplies have been considerably expanded. Family seems to be pleased.

– Residency permit extension requirements for Beloved have once again been fulfilled, so assuming the immigration folks don’t mess up, all should go off without a hitch, until the day of naturalization.

– I am one year older than at the time of my previous blog post.

– I have developed a bit of a celebrity crush on Simon Reeve. He travels, he writes and I posted his picture below. You may want to consider trying to find his documentaries, because frankly: they are awesome.

Photo under Creative Commons License by

What is work?

Our little family has regular discussions starting with this question. If you had asked me, before living with the Beloved, I would have said “that which you do that you get paid for”. Had you prodded me a little, I would have added such things as housekeeping, child rearing and volunteering, but not much else.

Much to my earlier frustration, Beloved frequently told me he had to do work. After which he sat behind a computer screen and read news, looked at university websites, compared products he might be willing to buy and did other, less tangible, things that made me wonder when (the hell) he would open the company e-mail account and start doing this work that he told me about. This was not conductive to a mutual understanding of priorities. He felt I didn’t take his activities seriously and I felt he classified almost everything as work just to be able to prioritize it over fun-times-with-me.

In the spirit of peaceful cohabitation it became vital that we figured out what work actually means in this household. Beloved’s definition is, as you may have guessed, much wider than mine. If he’d see me here, blogging, he’d tell me I was working. Which makes sense, in a way. I’m honing writing skills, which make up a large and valuable part of my employable skills, experimenting with online community-building (although very little) and establishing my own voice as an author. Am I looking at plane tickets for a trip we’ve planned? Working. Reading up on an interesting course I may take when we arrive in the US? Working! Learning something about the basics of investing? So much working!

The closest I’ve been able to get to Beloved’s definition of work is ‘productive activity to enhance something that is a priority in life’.  When I applied that definition to my own daily schedule, it made a lot more sense to me that I felt that I was working pretty hard even if I could never put a finger on what I had been doing. Rewriting my resume? Work! Proofreading a letter of introduction for a friend? Work! Doing some research for a college fund for a little cousin? Work. Previously, I filed all these things as leisure, because they were things that I chose to do that did not directly relate to money in the bank or a cleaner house.

Defining all the arranging and planning and organizing in our lives as actual work is a good way to be nicer to ourselves, too. Spent two hours comparing hotels and another hour reading the fine print on car rental policies? That’s work, so you deserve a break. Much better than feeling the weird, guilty  sensation of needing a break from something that’s supposed to be ‘free time’ anyway.

Beloved’s definition of work makes me more understanding of why other people have social lives that are so much more exciting than ours, why some people can plan four commitments a weekend and still feel they’re refreshed and rested on Monday. They didn’t need to write four professors, fill out seventeen pages worth of forms, wrangle an investment bank into complying with a request and have three international phone calls of an hour each. They didn’t need to spend another night discussing quality of education to cost of living, career opportunities and parent proximity, because they’re not making a decision like this and don’t have to do the work associated with it.

As a language geek I am amused and intrigued that by defining one word differently, such large parts of my view on life have started changing. I take myself and our plans more seriously and value the time I sink into preparations and plans. There is less need to beat myself up for wasting time and not being productive, because I can view so much more of the things I did as valuable, necessary work. It also makes it easier to enjoy free time devoted to looking at pictures of cats, because I realize I don’t have nearly as much of it as I thought I had.

What is work to you, and how has that definition influenced your life?

One less thing worry about. I won’t have to spend any more time having to avoid explanations for working some unusual hours  to schedule around job interviews. No more glossing over why I needed to work from home or needed to switch some work days around. Not having to walk somewhere out of earshot of my colleagues when the recruiter calls. No longer crossing my fingers when I answer my current colleagues when they ask ‘when are you emigrating again?’. Not starting at a new company knowing I already have a deadline for when I have to leave. Not having to not-tell-all-the-truth when someone asks about my ambitions. Not having to think about what this may mean for my resume and my career.

It means I did not get the job I was interviewing for. Obviously, I would have loved it if I got the job, but now that I know I don’t get it (after four interviews, an assessment and a resume/ cover letter combo, so I’m consoling myself with having been at least a serious candidate), I am also a little relieved.

Still, Google, I think we would’ve gotten along very well, you and I.

Alive and..

Can I just be honest and say I’m getting my ass kicked? You know, in case it wasn’t obvious from how little I post these days.

It’s the time of the year, which is always ridiculously busy (all of the year’s deadlines fall between May and July), but it’s also the particular project that I’m working on. I’d rather not talk about it too much, because thinking about the project makes my stomach clench and my heart sink and it also gives me a head ache and sore shoulders. The project is particularly Sisyphean in nature and I am not particularly mythologically equipped.

There is also plenty of good things going on. 92 episodes of Animal Cops (dubbed in Russian, but the English track is underneath and we’ve managed to turn the dubbing off) gives me regular doses of puppies and kittens and happy endings. I recommend this for everyone who is stressed and wanting to be able to sleep. We’ve planned out the trip for Beloved’s university scouting and also decided to take a holiday later this year. Three weekends have been booked for family travel. We’re still eating healthily and discovering new food because of it (seriously, dry roast some raw almonds and toss them in a garlicky pepper, sugarsnap and tofu stir fry. Serve with peas and onion with thai basil, made in some ghee). I had a difficult social engagement which ended up being great fun and before the appointment I cried and I was hugged tight by my husband and told it would all be fine. He told me that he is sometimes surprised because I find such a great many things scary, but that it’s okay because I then go out and do those things anyway. I’m a particularly brave scaredy-cat, apparently.

With that insight I leave you to go pursue some deadlines.