Signs you may be working too hard, see figure a1 (so-called “garden”) below:

That green moosh in the centre was once a sage bush.

I’ve been thinking about taking a holiday from academia for a while, and I’m finally going ahead with it. I’m not entirely sure why I’m posting about it here — maybe it’s too much information? Writing makes it clearer for me, so if you’re here for pretty patchwork photos, just skip today!

By nature I’m a hard worker and I work on a lot of different things at once. My bio, when I need one for writing projects, usually starts like this: “Anne likes to write and is interested in things. As a freelance writer she has published on food and food history, body politics, early modern poetry, and popular fiction. At the moment, she’s most interested in…”

I’m a Myers-Briggs INFJ type – in English, that means I live in my own head, get a quick feeling for a given situation, and an equally quick sense of what I can do to improve it. This is, on the very competitive academic circuit I call home, a bit of a bonus. If only I could be the kind of person who could happily sit and write for ten hours without daydreaming … but there I go. Fixing things. Spelling errors make me reach for a texta. It’s what I do. I’ve never taken more than three months ‘off’ and I spent those working and learning languages; I love what I do and until now I haven’t felt like I’ve needed it.

The problem (and it seems a minor one, now that I write about it) is that I’m trying to pull back a little and be less intense, but I have a thesis project which is very meaningful to me. It’s about body image, and it’s the kind of topic that inspires other people to like themselves a little bit better. Every time I speak about it in public, I find a little knot of people who are happy to have heard what I have to say: nothing could be nicer, or more apt to send me into a whirl of pressuring myself to do better. To aim for more. I manage lots of other things on the side — family, house, guitar lessons, random attempts to succeed in fiction, and patchwork and eating out for fun — but some of those have also been quite intense and demanding over the past couple of years and I’m losing track of time to just sit and be. As the weather quits being ‘absolutely miserable’ and tends toward ‘cold but sunny’ here in Melbourne, I want to be part of that. I’d like to sit in the sun, or make some pretty summer things for my house like Posie does, or make bread, or walk to Footscray for custard apples and African food, without checking my diary.

So in three weeks’ time (or thereabouts), I’m taking a little leave, quitting the lessons for a few months, looking for a part-time 9-5 job and committing to writing fiction for an hour a day. For about six months, that’s the only work I’ll be doing. I’m not sure whether that means I’ll do more, less, or about the same amount of crafting and blogging, but I think it will mean I just incorporate more of the other things I love and just don’t get around to. Such as the garden. I’ll almost certainly blog about it — I hope you’ll stay interested.

If you are interested in gardens — look! The basil scraped through July! There’s a stick of it in the pot and a healthier specimen hiding behind the rim.

And here is my poor sage bush, freed from the weeds — still alive, if only just. The cuttings made some wonderful chicken and sage skewers.

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