Thursday, October 4, 2012

Random Miscellany About My Life Now ... A Week In My Life

As part two of my "what my life is like now" series, I thought that I would give you guys (and gals) a rundown of what a typical week in my postacademic life looks like.

This one might bore some of you who aren't overly interested in the minutae of my everyday life. :) But as I said in my last post, it's recently occurred to me that a lot of current grad students and academics (especially those who have traveled the typical "high school --> undergrad --> grad school and beyond" route) may have absolutely no idea what a nonacademic life looks like, on a daily basis. So you might be thinking that leaving academia sounds like an absolutely terrific idea! ....

.... except that you're terrified that your new life will be dull or boring or meaningless, because you can't imagine not being in the academic world anymore. Or alternately, you might worry that you'll lose all of your free time if you commit to one of those 40 hour office jobs that your academic friends all tell you will suck the life out of you and keep you physically chained to your desk.

So like I said in my last post, I'm going to spend some time over these next few weeks/months describing different aspects of my current life. Now obviously, everyone's life isn't just like mine. But I don't think I'm leading a wildly atypical life, either. So, hopefully this will give my readers who can't envision a nonacademic life a glimpse of what a typical week in such a life could look like.

So, here you go. This is what a week in my life looks like today - as a partnered postacademic without kids in a smallish college town, who has a regular office schedule at a "meh" job. :)

Thursday, September 27: Today, Partner (let's call him P) had the day off of work. I did not, so I was up at 8 and worked til 5. After I got off work, I met P at the gym, where we worked out for about an hour. After we were done, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner, and then headed home. P and I took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood, and then P made dinner (tacos!) while I goofed around on the internet for a little while. After we ate, we settled down on the couch, cracked open a bottle of wine, and watched some of the new fall TV show premieres that we'd DVRed. (Likes so far: Ben and Kate, Revolution, and The Mindy Project.)

Friday: I worked my normal schedule, 9 to about 5:15. P typically has to work Friday evenings, so Fridays after work are usually my designated time for running errands and paying bills and then relaxing on the couch by myself. (It's also, oddly, one of my favorite nights per week. I feel accomplished, and it's so nice to relax and do nothing after accomplishing things!!) So after work, I ran my typical "Friday errands" - getting gas and going grocery shopping, and then coming home to pay bills. Once that was all done, I made myself a quick pasta dish for dinner, and then cleaned up the kitchen. At around 9, I sat down to watch a movie. P got home from work at about 11, and we sat around chatting until about 12:30 or so, when we went to bed.

Saturday: I woke up at 10am. P was already up, so I went downstairs and had breakfast and coffee while checking headlines on the computer. After running a quick errand, we decided to head out to a local winery that was hosting a fundraiser for the county animal shelter. We got there at around 1pm, and after petting and playing with some adorable dogs we bought a bottle of wine and took it down to a picnic table by the pond. We sat there for about an hour and a half, sipping wine and chatting and sitting in the warm sunshine. We got back to the house at around 3:00, and P sat inside watching football while I went out on the deck in the sunshine and read a book. At about 5:30, I went and met a friend for dinner. We ate and shared a pitcher of beer on the sun-drenched patio of a local brewery, and chatted for a couple of hours. I wasn't up for a late night, so I was home by about 10. P had been out with a friend as well, and we ended the night sitting out on our back deck, chatting.

Sunday: P and I both woke up at about 9am and had breakfast, and then took the dog for a walk. At about noon, we went to a local sports bar to watch NFL football with another friend of ours (it's a fall Sunday tradition around our house). We had lunch there, and headed home at around 4pm. P had to work again, so I made myself a quick dinner, and then spent the evening doing some cleaning and organizing around the house while watching football on TV.

Monday: A new work week begins. I was up and to work by 9am. I was in the office until about 5 - just a normal day, nothing stressful ... just ticking off items on my to-do list. I left work and was home by about 5:30. P cooked us a quick dinner, and then we took the dog for a walk. When we got home, we just watched some random TV and played a couple of games of Scrabble. (We love playing board games).

Tuesday: I worked 9-5 again. At about 5:30, I met P at the local tennis courts, and we played five quick games of tennis. (We're not very good, but we have about the same level of skill and we aren't horrendous, so it's usually pretty fun and competitive. For the record, I beat him 3 games to 2. :) Then we went home and he grilled out on the deck (chicken curry kabobs!) while I sat on a deck chair, reading a magazine and throwing a tennis ball for the dog. After dinner, went out to a local bar for a couple of hours for a friend's going-away party. We were home and in bed by about 12:30.

Wednesday: Again, I got to work at 9 (sensing a pattern?). I had an eye doctor appointment in the middle of the day, so I left for about an hour to take care of that. After work, I went to the gym for about an hour, and then headed back downtown to run a quick errand and to go to the library. After picking out three new pleasure reading books (are you jealous, current academics?), I headed home and made a quick dinner for myself and fed the dogs, and then spent the next few hours reading a book until P got home.

Today ... back to work.


So there you go - a week in the life of a postacademic. Keep in mind that I put in a full 40 hours of work, and also got myself fed, our dog cared for, and took care of household chores all week long.

And still had time to relax and watch TV, to eat a couple of meals out, to walk the dogs, to visit a winery, to grocery shop and go to a doctors' appointment, and to see a few friends. All while putting in a full week's worth of work - my boss being perfectly happy with my hours and my performance, and never once getting in touch with me when I wasn't physically in the office.

And this isn't atypical. This is, honestly, a perfectly normal week in my life since I left academia. Work stays at work, I have every weekend and evening to myself with no work distractions, and my partner and I are finding things to do. Tonight, we're going to a craft beer festival at the convention center downtown. Saturday, I have plans to go out with a few friends for drinks. I also have to squeeze in a trip to the mall this weekend, to find something to wear for my parents' upcoming anniversary party. And I've got the time to do it, even with a full time work schedule.

As I said last week - the 40 hour work week can be kind of monotonous. Definitely. But I do have free time (moreso than when I was in academia), and I do have a life, and I'm not living some life of quiet desperation. I vastly prefer this life to the one I was living before.


  1. The 2 Year Life of the MindOctober 4, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    Thank you, JC, for posting this. I find that as I prepare to leap from academia, I NEED to know what I'm jumping into. I have a lot of irrational fears and, like it or not, people in academia sometimes unknowingly perpetuate them, even if it's out of fear or ignorance (or envy?). But the more I hear about the 9-5 life, the better it sounds.

    Over these past few months, I've come to fully realize that my community college teaching position has stagnated and I've stopped growing. Furthermore, I've learned that I don't play well in the HIGHLY political system and I resent the NCLB-like rules that are being forced upon us. My goal is to work for a temp agency and conduct informational interviews and possibly go direct hire in one of those boring old "business" jobs.

    This is exactly the kind of information I need to see because the ego can be very intimidating. As for me, I have seen the light and need to make my way to the door. It's information like this that helps me find that door. Keep it coming!

  2. JC, it's great to read about the details of everyday life outside of academia. I loved hearing about the picnic by the pond and dog walks. It sounds like you've settled into a very healthy work/life balance with a full-time workload. Why can't we all find a way to do this and just enjoy our non-work time? I haven't been in my new post-academic job too long (it's actually 'alt-academic' - in university but not Faculty staff) but I can see the potential. The issue that I'll have to get right is my part-time hours. I think there is more potential to over-work the part-time hour schedule because there will be 'extra' time mid-week when I am not meant to be in the office, but may be tempted to read emails and do the work at home. I like the idea of actually being in an office for that 9-5ish time frame, because it really helps to separate the work sphere from the domestic/home sphere. Enjoy your 9-5 life! It sounds pretty good to me.

  3. As a contrast and a glimpse of the insanity that can be higher education, I want to share something I heard about some new adjunct faculty at my community college and another Big State University satellite campus.

    Someone applied to teach as an adjunct at my small city cc. This potential new adjunct lives in a far part of NEAREST MAJOR city, which is roughly a 120 mile drive from hir home to small city CC, ONE WAY. This person is already driving to the OTHER cc branch, which is 40 miles closer to hir major city home, but still makes THAT campus roughly 80 miles, ONE WAY. This is for adjunct jobs that pay less than 2K per class.

    Another person has a full time, reasonably secure but non tenure track, renewable faculty teaching position at Big State University satellite campus and lives roughly an hour and 15 minutes (in the snow belt) from this satellite campus because hir significant other can't move. This job pays roughly 32K a year and the faculty member has small children which neither partner can care for due to full time jobs (and a roughly 2 hour daily commute for hir). Hir salary, after subtracting time spent, gas, car maint., and childcare, comes out to rougly 10K per year.

    Why oh why oh why do people BEG, SCRATCH, CLAW, and SUBVERT themselves to the academic powers that be in order to make 10K take home pay or cobble together adjunct positions as far as 120 miles (one way) from home, JUST for the privilege to "teach" or whatever it is these days (it's not so much teaching anymore, but could be called "production").

    Now we look at JC's picture of hir life and I see a life that is supportive, allows hir time to get sh*t done, and just enjoy life. Unlike those scrabbling just to get the "privilege" (that's up for debate) to "teach" at CC and State Satellite school in small city, while JC actually has a LIFE.

    I want that.

    A LIFE.

    Looks like you CAN have one with an 8-5. Huh. Who knew?

  4. Jealous! ;)

    I need that normal post-ac job ASAP! Somehow I ended up with one just as insane as academe but with better pay/benefits!