Trying to be practical puts me in danger of seriously straining the ol' gray matter, and since it is the gray matter by which I eventually propose to make a living, I usually try to avoid practicality at all costs.
Today however I am trying to think practically about several different things.
1) Clare's parent-teacher meeting. The most important practical question was about potty training. She's got all the skills she needs, and the concepts, the bottom line is--she's just totally not interested in going all the way. I wanted advice from toddler experts on how to cross the finish line here.
2) I meet with my advisor tomorrow. A lot of the meeting I expect will be feedback on the chapter, but I also want to chat about my timeline, set some concrete goals, and maybe even hammer out a prospective date for defending (sometime in the 2009-10 school year).
3) Thinking about next year, and the need to pick up some adjunct work. Gathering info about local schools, writing emails, networking, reworking the CV, reviewing and finetuning my list of teaching competencies. This is the part of academia I hate. I mean, despite the hum-drum routine of sitting in front of a computer, thinking and writing all day--this is really what I like to do. Interrupting real work with the ugh-work of job-hunting is...blah. But utterly necessary. As is the long-term thinking ahead, and networking. Which I--in all honesty--do my best to avoid.
4) Thinking about money. I'm a reluctant spender of money, to be honest. I am fanatical about menu-planning and grocery-list making. (Whether preaching or shopping, I follow a script. To the letter.) And I will stand in a grocery aisle and stare and stare until I find THE cheapest can of tomatoes on sale that day (if you have done this, you know this takes some time. There are always a bajillion different brands and sizes and sales on canned tomatoes.) Beyond that, I normally don't think twice about money. But all the economy scare talk has me, well, scared. So I'm thinking about where to cut corners. And that's kind of hard, when you generally try to live without corners to cut already. I'm sure there is plenty of unnecessary expenditure going on, but it's not intentional--so the question is, how to catch it and stop it.
5) thinking about what practical steps to take in the coming year to green this household. I've gotten good at remembering my tote bags when shopping. We take full advantage of Summit's amazing recycling opportunities. We do little things, like the swirly light-bulbs and laundering in cold water, turning lights off, etc. I have found that the Ideal Bite emails are pretty helpful (especially the new "Mama Bites")...and as always in this matter, Marti Stanley is my guru. I'd like to 1) drive as little as possible; 2) eliminate ziplock bags from my life; 3) do some sustainable gardening in the spring; 4) look into joining a CSA.
All this practicality has interfered with doing any writing today on personhood theory, philosophy of identity, postgender posthuman stuff, or epistemology. But I did do some good practical thinking about the larger structure of the dissertation and how to communicate that to my professor, and that's certainly good. One of the struggles I constantly have while writing is keeping that larger structure and purpose firmly in view while digging down into the nitty-gritty of each individual section in a satisfyingly thorough way. Sometimes you get lost in that stuff, and when I get lost, my writing loses focus and direction. That's when I start hitting the delete key as often as I complete a sentence. And that's just maddening.