To whom it may concern—probably nobody besides myself but having written about my previous position I should probably record this—I’ve changed my mind about the Scottish independence referendum.
When I last wrote about this issue I was quite committed to abstention, or at least to not taking part in the arguments, and I was genuinely undecided anyway. What has remained the case is that my head is pulling in one direction and my heart in the other. But I’ve now become convinced that in this I should follow my heart (hearing some relevant Burns quotations helped), so I’m voting YES. I’m still quite keen on avoiding argy-bargy though, and I’ll leave it at that. Well, apart from this:
Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.
Robert Burns, A Man’s A Man For A’ That
At last I’ve managed to clear the decks metaphorically—stop doing paid work—in order to concentrate on clearing the decks literally, in other words sorting out the house. You wouldn’t believe it but it’s true: within the last ten or so days I’ve had not one, not two but three long standing (all over ten years) computing clients come to me with serious, time consuming problems. But the last of that work (barring the occasional hour or two) got done today. My main aim over the past two or three weeks has been to spend September on the house, and I’ve missed that by just one day, because I’ll be starting on it tomorrow, which is the 2nd. Given the state of the knee I think I might need to alternate days of work with days of rest, but that’s the worst case scenario (I hope), and real progress should be made. As I said before: watch this space.
In order to focus on housework, mainly, but also the business accounts, I’ve now put notices on both business websites saying that I’m not taking on new work. This is a relatively big deal because the web is the main source of new business these days. I’m currently thinking of this as lasting until around the end of September, but it will take as long as it takes. There’s enough work currently on the books to cover the next few days, then I’ll be reporting the housework progress here, with photographs!
Whether influenced by internal chemistry or not, the idea of “working” in the evenings (where the work is quite enjoyable, see the previous post) turns out to be over-optimistic, at least at the moment. Come teatime I’ve been finding myself quite fagged-out and good for nothing but collapsing in front of the telly. What might not be coincidental is that I’ve been busier than ever, in terms of paid work. There’s also the possibility (to put it no more strongly) that I don’t have the stamina that I once did. Anyway, I’ve decided that there is no alternative now to turning away paid work, to free up the time to work on the house (also the business books, but the house comes first). Current work will keep me going to at least the middle, maybe the end of next week, but after that things have to change. You’ll see it here first! (Unless you visit the house at the right time of course.)
As I said last time, I remain amazed at the way in which work that I used to hate—I don’t think that’s putting it too strongly, at its worst—becomes positively enjoyable when I take my time and do it carefully. And only this morning did a probable—haven’t had a chance to check it yet—consequence of this occur to me.
For a long time now, many years I would say, I’ve avoided evening work of any kind because of the way it used to exacerbate my insomnia. I was prone to that anyway, but anything other than relaxing in the evening reliably made it worse. Now, since learning how to relax, the insomnia is very, very much better, but I’ve continued to reserve my evenings strictly for relaxation, partly because sleep still eludes me at times, partly through sheer habit. Until now—because, if work becomes enjoyable, does it still count as work in the relevant sense? I’m guessing, and hoping, not. Because lack of time is a big problem for me at the moment (see recent posts).
These are some big changes in the life of a 60 year old man, no doubt to some extent set in his ways, and despite their apparent positivity, the prospect is quite unsettling, I feel somewhat at sea. For a few days there, with the return of the old knee problem and the prospect of a great deal of work to do, between paid and house varieties, I was really quite depressed. In fact I resorted to 5-HTP, an over-the-counter antidepressant that I find amazingly effective, compared to what I’ve used before: tricyclics, Prozac and St John’s Wort. But things are looking up again and not just because of what I’ve got in my bloodstream!
There’s an old song called Walk Right In that has the line “everybody’s talkin’ ’bout a new way of walkin’.” It’s supposed to be a bit absurd, but a new way of walking is what I think and hope I’m developing at the moment. Or rather, I’m relearning to walk properly, after years of unconsciously favouring my left leg. I could write hundreds or probably thousands of words about that, but the point here is that I believe that “favouring” was actually directly making it worse, and by stopping it and using the leg properly, I’ll be able to cope with all the work that has to be done.
OK, so maybe it is the 5-HTP talking, but I strongly believe that both the new way of walking and the new way of working (work as leisure) are worth trying, and that’s what I’m determined to do, even if it takes a wee while to get into it. Watch this space.
In the previous post, 6 days ago, I said the current glut of paid work looked likely to end this week, but it didn’t. There’s been little in the way of new work, but some jobs have turned out to be more time consuming than expected and some deadlines have changed. It now looks like the busy-ness will continue for another 10 days to two weeks.
But the real bad news (unlike the busy-ness, there’s no upside to it) is that my old knee problem has flared up again. What that means is that I have to stay off my feet as much as possible for an unforeseeable length of time, which is not a good fit with printing, because that involves almost continually moving back and forward between computer and printer, which are in different rooms and can’t be moved closer, standing up and sitting down again many times in a session. And the more active I am, the longer it will take for the knee to settle down again.
Regarding the housework, I’m finding that keeping things more-or-less at the same level is really quite easy. But when I’ll next be up to making significant improvements to the state of the house, I honestly have no idea.
Found I had some time on my hands today for the first time in weeks, due to a printing ink supply problem. (There was actually some paid work I could have gotten on with, but that knocked out the biggest and most urgent job.)
So I managed to make some progress with housework! Not a lot, just some cleaning and dusting in the hall and bed-sitter, but it was interesting: at first I lapsed back into the old familiar “don’t enjoy this, just get it over with ASAP” mode, then I remembered it doesn’t have to be like that, slowed down, began to take some care over it, and found myself enjoying it again! Still find that quite amazing.
I’m going to do a bit more now and knock off around 4, then it’s back to the paid work first thing in the morning. The current glut looks likely to end this week, though, so with any luck I’ll be able to report real housework progress next weekend.
It’s been about ten days now since the last housework diary entry and I’m afraid I’m no further forward, due mainly to the amount of printing work that’s been coming in. As well as my biggest ever job by far, there are two others running concurrently, and some computer repair work too. I have actually cut back on the advertising for both businesses quite substantially, specifically to free up time for housework and bookkeeping, but it doesn’t seem to being making much difference! And it goes very much against the grain to turn work down, as well as being bad for future business. However, the good news is that things in the house haven’t slid backwards either, and as evidence here’s another pair of photos of the kitchen. Admittedly, they were taken a couple of days ago, when I first thought of doing this entry, but they represent the current state quite well.
So this evening, with all the windows flung wide to catch what little breeze there was, I took Katy Rodgers’ mango frozen yogurt from the freezer and Fallen Brewery’s Just the Ticket hoppy extra pale from the fridge, noting that the latter incorporates lemon, lime and orange zest, alongside the more traditional ingredients. That was when it happened: a genuine memory of childhood and warm summer evenings, the ice cream van coming round, and mixing vanilla ice cream with Barr’s American Cream Soda (apparently no longer available) for a fizzy sort-of milk shake. I thought, if beer can have citrus flavours, why not go just a little further and mix it with mango frozen yogurt? So I did, and for a while experienced food-and-drink heaven. As they say, to die for…
Haven’t had time to do any housework worth mentioning since the last entry, nor will over the next couple of days, due to pressure of paid work, but here’s something that I think is worth a mention anyway.
On the basis of the relevant history, the big question is not whether I can improve the state of the place, but whether I can keep it up mid- and long-term. The answer to that question has to be yes, for this reason: social isolation is no longer good enough for me. OK, I’m not totally isolated, I do go out now and again, but what a difference it would make to my social life if I felt I could invite people back here, too! I have a sister and a cousin that live within 20 miles, the sister’s been here once in the last twenty years—at least fifteen years ago, I think—and the cousin’s never been here, despite the fact that I visit her around once a month. I belong to a small informal meditation group that meets in members’ homes—except of course mine. And so on. Changing that, and keeping it changed, is an absolutely essential part of getting my life back on track. And visitors in the offing was always the one thing that would get me busy cleaning and tidying. Given that we’re talking not life-and-death but quality of life, I think it’s fair to say that my life depends on this: get the place good enough to invite people to, then keep inviting them.