Independent scholar, cat addict, tattoo lover

Life and work of an indy scholar part 3 - How to summarize this week? I guess it would be with ‘tying some loose ends’. Some days-in-a-row-off lend themselves perfectly for a mini sabbatical, that time off from work to get work done, and I seize those opportunities to finish things. I had a few appointments outdoors, I talked, together with some colleagues, with a large institute for professional education about a seminar about complexity theory, did another workshop about the feasibility of a PhD project for non-university teachers, but spent most of my week at home. Knowing I’ll have most of next week filled with travelling around the country and meeting people, I felt good about being able to wrap up some of those tasks that risk becoming lingering annoyances if not drawn to a close—which, in turn, makes them all the more annoying, which, in turn, puts you off all the more, et cetera. Before I could enter that vicious circle, I jumped on the chances to get a lot of work done, and I did.

And yet this week was different from those other mini sabbaticals I occasionally have. Usually I  organize some of those days-in-a-row-off, this time they just happened to me. This Wednesday, my friend of whom I wrote last week, underwent chemo and didn’t want to go home afterwards. She had asked if she could stay with us for a few days, so we picked her up and drove her to our house, one hour and a half from hers. She’s the reason that I rescheduled some of my appointments and had a mostly indoor-week. I like that she’s here. Not because I can live out some secret nursing fetish, since I find no particular pleasure in nursing per se, plus she doesn’t really need any nursing. We just enjoy each others’ company and that has always been easy. It would be a mistake to say she’s fine. She’s not. But it would also be a mistake to say that she’s a mess. She isn’t, at least for most of the time. The benefits are mutual. We talked about issues related to our work and our discussions are always fruitful. And her presence fragments my time, because I divide my attention between her and my work, which is perfect for getting those little chores done before they become pesky. I’m in the getting-things-done mode and here’s a list of the results.

I finished a report on how local entrepreneurs contribute to urban renewal. I had planned to do so earlier (see my first blog here), but life happened (see my second blog here).
I also designed a boot camp for narrative research, with intensive workshops on theory, data and analysis, and I put it in the web shop of Campus Orleon. This is the network I initiated in 2008, affiliated to my company Orleon and meant to bring together people from all different kinds of backgrounds who share a passion for research (take a look here, but note it’s in Dutch). We recently redesigned the website and included a web shop, which gives members the opportunity to make money with selling publications, courses, events and the like. The web shop is new and not much used by the other members yet, but I started to put some items in there and must say, really enjoy receiving several emails a day with the notification that e-reader X has been sold or that someone has subscribed to workshop Y. In fact, while writing now that’s actually what happened: I sold an e-reader about narrative theory and someone has subscribed to one of the workshops in my boot camp. I guess I’ll need to do some campaigning in the network, so that other members can reap the benefits of our web shop too.
Further, I finished and posted a blog about my latest tattoo (you can read it here). I like tattoos and I know other academics do too (see for instance here), but I also know that a lot of people dislike them and especially on academics, to whom they attribute some sort of unearthliness. I had a friend once who was appalled by me singing in a bar, which everyone who has ever heard me sing can appreciate, but that was not the reason for her horror. It was because I was an academic and academics just don’t do such plebian stuff like singing in bars—or be inked, for that matter. That was the first time I realized that non-academics can dehumanize academics—just as the other way around occurs. I coin this ‘academism’: the belief held by non-academics that academics are so different that they are unfit for normal sociality, and the belief held by academics that they should cultivate the image of being so different that they are deemed unfit for normal sociality. Campus Orleon is an effort to undo the stereotypes of academism.
And finally, I designed a framework to clarify the nature, size and impact of the social enterprise sector. This had been my biggest puzzle this week as it is a short-term assignment and my colleagues keep mailing me databases and texts with examples, which is completely distracting me from my efforts to come up with an abstract framework that allows for sensible ordering.

So now that I’m in this getting-things-done mode, I’ve planned a shut-up-and-write day for tomorrow and continue to work on an article I coauthor. Just a few mails and administrative stuff stand in the way between me and this resolution, so all should go well but maybe not. You’ll read about it next week.

PS. You can also follow me on Twitter, I tweet under @BlanchefleurX.

Part 2: Many ups and one down for this indy scholar          Part 4: How university delayed my indy scholarship          All weekly blogs