Saturday, 23 May 2015

The road not taken

I used to work for a big corporation. This week I met up with a woman who was probably my closest friend during those years.  She still works there, and has been promoted to middle management. We hadn't seen each other for three years, because her job keeps her very busy, with a lot of travelling, and somehow our plans always fell through.

We caught up over lunch, and it was sort of fun, until the question of my working part-time came up.

"But what do you DO on your days off?" she enquired, looking genuinely baffled.

And thus the mighty chasm opened up, the one that divides the countries of "Work is my life" and "Work is something I have to do to pay the bills".  She is ambitious, absolutely convinced that higher salary/higher job group equals success and even superiority. I would guess that she feels I have let the side down, taken the easy route, wilfully sacrificed my career and my salary because I'm not tough enough, or perhaps even lazy.

While I on the other hand would be tempted to say she has sold her soul to the devil: working 15 hour days, travelling time zones at short notice away from her family, enduring constant stress and continual corporate BS. Yes, she is getting paid mega-bucks and will have a huge pension, but does she have a life right now?

I tried to convey my enjoyment of my downsized career, my crafts, my bobbin lace group, the garden, but I could see her eyes glazing over and pretty soon she changed the subject.  I suppose if I had been better prepared, I could have talked about project managing two house moves, a major refurbishment of our new house, transforming the garden.  But I'm not sure it would have made much difference. The fundamental divide is too great.  I genuinely enjoy not being at work, it feels like a holiday, it feels like I'm getting on with my real life, it's reduced my stress.  Whereas I would say work is her real life. It makes me wonder what she is going to do with her time when she retires in less than ten years. Although she said she is looking forward to it, I wonder if when the time comes, she will panic and ask to work on.


This week I finally finished the Battle of Five Armies Mystery Shawl Knitalong.  This sucker is huge, 72 inch wingspan and about 37 inches deep.  I had trouble blocking it because the final two charts introduce a lot of fullness. Only by blocking the centre very hard indeed, could I get the leaf edging to lie at all flat. It's knit in Auracania Botany Lace which is a fingering weight, and I added some beads to some of the charts.

My strip of bobbin lace is coming along well.  I had to execute the tricky manoeuvre of moving the lace up the pricking / up the pillow, which is what you have to do when the strip of lace is longer than the pricking/pillow.  It involves taking all the pins out, and then gingerly moving things while trying not to put any tension on the bobbins until you get the pins back in again.  It seems to have worked fine, I can't see any difference in the strip where the move took place.

I knit a sleeve on my machine knit t-shirt, fiddly because of all the increasing and decreasing which aren't fast to do on a machine.  One more sleeve to go. It's in a marled two-colour cotton thread.

Commuter knitting continues to be the completely pointless handbag and I'm almost finished the second side of the 'wicker' basket.

I did a little work on the Stack and Whack Sara's Stars quilt, piecing in some dark red triangles at the end to square off the hexagon shapes.  I think I am going to do a blue inner border and a red outer border, but I don't have very much blue fabric.  Will have to do the dreaded Math to work out how wide a border I can cut that will still go around the circumference of the quilt.

I'm knitting another square for the GAA Afghan.  It's the Fenick square, which shows a tree made from cables standing out against a reverse stockinette background, with cables up either side.  I was knitting away, and after a while discovered that my tree had disappeared because it was blending in with a normal stockinette background.  After some baffled consultation with the pattern, I eventually realised that when I had photographed the chart with my iPhone app to turn it into a PDF that I can use in Goodreader on the iPad, the scanner app had 'helped' by turning most of the grey squares (purl stitches) into white squares (knit stitches).  Not good, and I had to pull back about 10 rows on either side of the tree and crochet them up again one column of stitches at a time. I can't trust the chart now so will have to photograph it again, or perhaps dig out the old scanner and plug it into the PC.

It's a bank holiday (long) weekend again here in the UK, so of course the weather is pretty grey and uncertain.  I've been out in the garden today painting teak oil on the garden furniture to make it look better, and black paint on the rusty drainpipe (and by accident on the house).  There are weeds coming up everywhere so I did a lot of hoeing.  There are things coming up that might be weeds or might be flowers, I don't know.  And a lot of bindweed, which is bad.  If you are here in the UK, I hope you are enjoying your long weekend and perhaps getting in some good quality craft time.


Mad about Craft said...

I was in a demanding, well paid job which I enjoyed. It meant working long hours, being on call 24 hrs a day and being highly stressed. I left the job in 2013. I still feeling like I am on holiday and I don't miss the job although the money was useful. I now look after my Grandson when my daughter is at work and my parents who are elderly.

Daisy said...

Yeah, and her sort of lifestyle is all very well, but then people often end up in such a poor state of health they don't actually live to see the retirement! #priorities!

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