Wash, rinse, repeat

“Oh, there is it. The silly old universe. The more I save it, the more it needs saving. It’s a treadmill” – The Twelfth Doctor, “Twice Upon a Time”, Doctor Who.

You ask my friend Alex, over at Wild Eyed and Wandering, and she will tell you how indecisive I am. For the last few months, I have done zero amount of writing, when I’ve had bags of time. Yes, I’ve been busy applying for jobs and attending interviews, and yes, I’ve thought about the blog several times in that period. Truth is, I wanted to get settled in work first, before I revised and tweaked it. It needed an overhaul from being China focused anyway.

A British friend in China asked me recently if I regret leaving, and despite everything – the lack of work here, all the interviews and rejections etc – I don’t, and not just because there is a certain virus doing the rounds at the moment. After four years there, I was ready to leave, and Christmas last year – 2019 – was the first time I’ve properly celebrated it in five years. Despite everything else, it was a nice celebration, and well worth coming home for.

Still, last year was not what you would call good. Sure, the first six months, when I was in China, went fine. It started off with the holidays, me travelling to Osaka, Japan, for a few days in January, before taking a longer break to San Francisco in early February. The rest of the time, it was mostly about preparing to leave – packing up my stuff, sorting out my documents and so on. And coming home, after a month or so’s break, I went and taught on a five-week academic English programme, which again went fine, if a little stressful at times (hello, imposter syndrome). But after that, it wasn’t so good. Just an endless cycle of applications, interviews, rejections. Wash, rinse, repeat. Then there was the general election result in December, leaving the EU at the end of the month, and, well, it was really only Christmas that saved it.

I was hoping that 2020 would be a much better year than 2019. I had applied for some funding to go and do a postdoc abroad, in Europe. Waking up and opening my emails last month, I found one notifying me that I had not been granted the money. This was depressing for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I felt the project was good, and would have been interesting to do. And secondly, it would have allowed me to go to mainland Europe for two years and work there, leaving Brexit Britain behind. I’m not sure what was more important to me, but now probably neither will happen any time soon, at least! With that, I would also have redesigned my blog to be more academic-related, reflecting current research and so on. Since I’m not doing any research, however, I did not have that chance.

Yet I didn’t want to leave it dormant, floating around in cyberspace, like an electronic version of the Marie Celeste, crewless and with a lack of direction, which has pretty much defined everything I’ve done lately. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, and looked at other people’s designs online. There were elements of them I liked, but they did not, exactly, match what I wanted. Many were current academics or postgraduate students. Whilst I am a recovering academic myself, I nevertheless still follow a great number of them on Twitter, and looking at their websites and blogs helped me to decide about this one. My rather grand ideas will, I’m sure, be knocked down to size, particularly as I start working and have (relatively) little free time.

Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained etc. Thinking up a name, though, was, for someone as indecisive as me, not easy. I toyed around with a few, asking Alex and other friends what they thought. I came up with the idea of wash, rinse, repeat, after my experiences applying for a job. Always the same cycle. It’s a treadmill. You apply, you get an interview. You attend and then get told you interviewed well, and it was a difficult decision, but they have offered it to someone with more experience, or someone who is doing the same job in a different company. That is, if you hear back from them at all! Wash, rinse, repeat.

My current – or rather ‘new’ role – is temporary, and minimum wage, yeah. But it’s a job, and it’s convenient in terms of location, so it’s better than nothing! It also allows me to get a bit more of that experience that everyone always goes on about, although maybe I already have that.

*Edit: 22/03/2020 – I have been made aware that given the on-going corona virus pandemic, naming a blog ‘wash, rinse and repeat’, might be considered spam (or worse), particularly because expert advice is to wash hands regularly. As a result, I have temporarily change the name back to what it was before. 

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