An off week < a week off: 5 things 3.10.16

1. I had a really off week, last week. By Thursday I basically gave up and wrote myself a doctor’s note. Feeling better now, so let’s hope this week runs smooth; I have a lot to do, and next week is school holidays. AGAIN. (When your work is something as nebulous as self-publishing knitting patterns, it’s really hard to explain to people why you have “a lot to do”. Even the people you live with. Not my favourite thing about my employment situation, this sense of pressure without any immediately obvious source of pressure.) 

2. Another very not-favourite thing about being out of formal employment: the effect on my confidence. Having almost zero chance of continuing my former career path in Switzerland (since I was a sub-editor, and English publications here are of course vanishingly rare) forces me to explore different paths. Great in theory, but hard, especially with childcare factors to consider. And the longer you’re out of work, the harder it is to believe you can actually handle anything slightly out of your comfort zone. So it’s great that in the last week, I’ve twice gotten very positive feedback on different things from the “I can do that (but I’m not really trained)” box… but I still don’t really believe it. Thanks a lot, brain. (One of those things is a copywriting gig that apparently I get to keep on doing? And it’s quite fun? So… if I can just loosen up and trust myself, yay?)

3. The 10 most restful activities. (No, knitting’s not on the list, though we all know watching TV is impossible without it.) Note how few of these are compatible with taking care of small children. Especially small children who have a weird objection to listening to music NO IT’S FINE REALLY I DON’T CARE ABOUT MY TUNES WHO NEEDS MUSIC ANYWAY. (I’m one of those who doesn’t find “doing nothing” particularly restful though, and similarly I’d substitute running for walking, because it feels more purposeful. Also faster. I like that I can go further without having to take all day about it. But I do miss walking Max around in his pram.)   

4. From an article about something very specific and quite separate (and which you should definitely read), this biting point: “If you do not make money, you are a moral failure. You don’t work hard enough; you are lazy, something is wrong with you.” I venture this is another reason crafters and micro-entrepreneurs find it so hard to talk openly about what we earn (and of course that lack of transparency is a problem for the industry as a whole). I’ve seen some prominent designers say there’s a reluctance to reveal income because of the “friendliness” of online knitting culture: we’re all friends, and it’s tacky to make money from your friends. But this is the other side. If you’re trying your best and just not doing so well (which describes the vast majority of designers, by the way, to a greater or lesser degree), it feels shameful.  

5. I’ve been reading this book, in German, which is both more fun than I expected and an odder experience. (The German title is truly terrible, though. Both boring and misleading.) I bought it on a whim, for German practice. And it’s great for that; a little bit above my level, vocabulary-wise, but very readable. The bone-dry, faux naive style works very well for a reader who needs straightforward language but, well, who prefers not to be completely bored. What’s odd is the experience of being a white South African who grew up in apartheid, reading a political satire in German by a Swedish author about a girl from Soweto. I’m not going to get into the cultural appropriation debate (I’m just not equipped); she’s a great character, the book is evidently well researched (though Soweto is a lot more than “the biggest slum in Africa”), and the  plot takes Nombeko pretty swiftly out of Soweto and into a very different situation. And then another. And so on. It’s an absurd story, which delights in and amplifies the innate absurdity of apartheid, and the broad outlines of history are cross-hatched with plenty of irony. (That’s a pretty clumsy metaphor. Sorry.) It’s… odd. But a lot of fun. And I’m giving myself many pats on the back for reading a proper grown-up novel auf Deutsch.

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