The entirely foreseeable problem with taking time off from work to do other stuff is that I am way too undisciplined. I have, somewhere in the back of a notebook, probably stuffed in the bag I took on my recent visa run to Hong Kong, a list of things I should do with a weekly schedule showing when I should be doing some form of exercise, when I should be studying Chinese (reading), Chinese (writing), when I should be knocking some of the more neglected of my websites into shape (where did they all come from anyway? They just seem to have accumulated since I moved to Beijing, like all my pirate DVDs and the small bags of mao and fen in the wardrobe.)
The trouble is that I only seem able to do these things in the brief windows of opportunity between say, watching a couple of episodes of some US police drama and lunch or a nice nap and a few chapters of the entirely unnecessary fiction I have a weakness for.
(I recently polished off Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy, Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, Pandora’s Star by whatsisname, and am currently working through Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, which is a bit like the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy set underneath London. To be honest I don’t think I’ve done much of note since finding that file-sharing networks supply not only mp3’s, movies, and the latest BBC comedies – they can also equip you with plenty of reading material. That, and a PDA to read on damned near anywhere, means that I’m getting through more books than I have in years, and that is a good thing after trying to make do with the ‘Not available in any shops’ selection of English-language section of Chinese bookstores. )
I’ll regret this, of course, if when I have to go back into something resembling employment I find that I haven’t really done anything of great value. I can see myself already slightly tiring of the current slack routine though – not quite enough to kick myself out of it, but getting there.
There are shadows of purpose out there though. There’s been a fair amount of freelance work coming in, which is good, and there’s a possibility of a part-time job I’m very keen to get.
Attached photos are some of my recent favourites from Signese.com, which may well be about to face a resource crisis as apart from a dozen or so kindly donated snaps, the reserve database is almost empty – a result of my trusty Olympus compact finally deciding it’d had enough of being shoved caseless into pockets and bags. Fear not though, I have plans to spend more money than I can justify on a camera I don’t know how to work – normal blurry, badly composed service will no doubt be resumed shortly . . .