...stopped work & became a housewife. Sometime about a year into my most recent three year contract as a post-doc I came to the realisation that I wasn't likely to get more than one more contract as a post-doc. Too old - the 'career progression' in academia (for scientists, anyway) is a bit like a cliff. Up you travel from PhD student to post-doc, and from post-doc contract to post-doc contract. And then you hit the top of the pay-scale when you're in your early to mid-thirties and you're too expensive to employ as a post-doc so you lose out on jobs to younger people, and it shows lack of ambition in not chasing a faculty position so you miss out on jobs to younger people who still look ambitious. And for every 10 post-docs there's one faculty position. So most people my age have either been chasing that faculty position for the last 5 years, or they get out. One way or another. Lots of people go into teaching. Lots of people go into IP law.
Chasing that faculty position involves working in several different places (I've heard suggestions that a decent minimum is 4 places including one abroad in a 10 year period or so), it involves having a good publication record (with lots of first author papers - I've got a lot of papers, but only 1 first author one) and a healthy dollop of luck - it's perfectly possible to jump through all the hoops and still be unable to find a faculty job you want that you can get. I don't want the job enough (if at all) to be willing to jump through hoops that won't necessarily get me where I'm aiming for, and to be honest, I can't see the point in either moving away from my husband for several years (!) or dragging him away from his job & career with such a high risk that we'll end up with neither of us in a good position at the end of it.
And I don't want to teach (class control is unlikely to be a strong point of mine), and I find the thought of IP law bores me silly. And I don't really know what else I'd want to do. Add to that the stress levels inherent in my previous choice of career and it seemed like a very good idea to take some open-ended time out from worrying about it all. So 6 months of being a housewife and I'm not bored instead I'm the most relaxed & unstressed I've been for years. Christmas organisation still stressed me out, that's what I do, but not to the point of fragility that minor events have reduced me to in previous years.
...lost weight, finally. I'm now back to being within the 'proper' weight for my height & build for the first time in probably a decade. I lost a stone since finishing work, just by eating better - fewer snacks, fewer places to buy snacks in my daily routine. I've put a little back on over Christmas, but it'll soon come off.
...went to 6 weddings. As the invites kept rolling in we couldn't believe it - clearly 2005 was the year to get hitched if you're in our social circle! We started the season with jaq & theora who had one of the most ceremonial civil cermonies that I've been to (I'm a big fan of ceremony) & finished up with a quiz instead of the 'usual' disco. Next was my brother & Sally, who had a small civil ceremony in the most fancy hotel I've ever been to followed by a meal in the hotel restuarant. Soon after them was another London wedding - DaveH & Julia, who got married in Tower Bridge and we joined them for the meal & evening reception in two different places in St Katharine Docks. We had a brief pause at this point, before attending 3 weddings in 15 days! First of these was another of our university friends, Andrew & Sarah got married in Lumley Castle (which is quite near where J's folks live) and we joined them for the ceilidh in the ballroom. Next was the first non-Christian religious wedding I've ever been to - middleman & velvetfox had a handfasting ceremony in a park near Cambridge, followed by a buffet reception in a local pub. And last, but not least, the second Cambridge wedding of the set was Damian & Lisa, who had a Catholic ceremony (in a church we'd been to a wedding in 5 years before, which was a little surreal in itself) followed by a reception in a country house.
...got a car, well, technically this isn't me so much as J given I've not got a driver's license and it's all in his name. But get a car we did. Last Christmas was the final straw for relying on public transport to get us to see family, given how much they screwed it up. So when J's folks ended up with a spare car early in the year we took them up on their offer and have been car-endowed ever since. There's been ups and downs - cars are expensive to run, but we've done things this year that we'd not've managed to get to if we'd been relying on public transport.
In 2006 I would like to ...
...lose a little more weight. I'd like to make it down to 10 stone, which is just 10 pounds more from where I am post-New Year. I think this'll take a bit more effort, maybe even some exercise, but I think it'll put me firmly back in the size 12 range & that would be nice.
...get more organised. I'll never manage to turn into a domestic goddess - I'm too happy with a bit of disorder about the place, but I could do with setting more of a schedule for housework so that I get more done in the normal routine. I'd also benefit from doing this with fun stuff - at the moment I'm very much doing things as the whim takes me (hence Civ4 all the time recently). I'd like to get back up to standard on the flute, so I need to set aside some time every day to practice. And if I have more of a schedule then I'll achieve more with the other things I like to do.