Wednesday, January 21, 2009

thinking ahead

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.


Indie Pereira said...

I don't really see any reason to eliminate zip lock bags. I just reuse them. They last just about as long as the alternatives in my experience.

kel said...

growing tomatoes would be great, for all of us to do. i'm with you on the ziplocks. i'm trying to eliminate all disposable plastic and avoiding all plastic when there's any alternative. i really like pyrex with the rubber lids. anyway, i like and

Steven Baird said...

I hate zip lock bags too, although when I'm freezing soup they seem to be a necessary evil. I don't know if it's much better, but I put my lunch sandwiches in waxed paper bags (PDF), or sometimes just wrapped in wax paper. At least the plastic taste doesn't leach into my food that way.

mom23 said...

I'm so proud of you! All of these are difficult topics. Greening is a fun challenge and its nice that you don't have to figure it all out at once.

As for PTing. Ugh! That really is one of THE hardest things in parenting for us so far. I'm pretty big into not attempting it until they're ready and excited about it. (All 3 of my girls were 30-32 months) Then, when they're ready it is not a big deal, its not a fight, and it is a celebratory accomplishment. Yes, I know on most parts of the world babies are out of diapers by their 1st birthday. In our household, they are out by their 3rd birthday. But awfully close!

Stasi said...

Here's one more thing to stunt you in the grocery aisle...while you're considering the cans of tomatoes, take into account not only the cost, but the way they were grown (organic?), where they were grown (local?), and how they were grown (sustainable?). Hard to tell from a can, but with the organic label, you've got a start. Then if you really want to get nutso, you can start looking into business practices and farmworker's enough to make you only buy in season and learn to can!

Lauren said...

I'm curious as to your thoughts on possible conflicts between #4 and #5. Obviously there are numerous things you can do to green your household that don't cost money (like recycling and carrying reusable grocery bags) or that even save money (like growing your own produce or using tupperware in place of ziplocs). We do those things, and we get produce from a CSA, which I think financially probably comes out to be only slightly pricier than grocery store veggies. But it seems that so many of the things I could, would, should be doing are just financially out of my reach. I routinely compare the cost of organic and conventional options in the grocery store, and usually the organics are 2 - 3 times more expensive. As are the paper towels made from recycled paper and the eco-friendly diapers. We've tried getting sustainably raised beef and chicken from local farms, and again, the cost is 2 - 3 times what we pay at the local Kroger. We live in a drafty, 110 year old Victorian house with gappy windows and poor insulation. We priced upgrading the insulation. The cost was substantial, and we estimated 15 to 20 years before we would make up the cost in reduced power bills. I could go on, but I'm sure you get the point. I feel like I'm caught between wanting to be financially responsible with my families resources and wanting to be environmentally responsible with my purchasing choices and that the two are at odds. So I do what I feel makes the most impact with the dollars I have, but I still feel like a hypocrite when I bypass the $5 organic butter for the $2 store brand.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on the ziplocks. I have recently been reminded of the how terrible they are and I need to steer clear. And I didn't know about mama bites. I need to check into that, thanks!

Good luck with the potty training, writing and planning of the future!

Anonymous said...

I just read Lauren's comment. Lauren, you are not alone. All of us, especially those of us living on a budget, all face those struggles. My motto is, every little bit helps. I can't buy all organic, but I do buy some organic and I think it makes a difference. I can support local farmers, I can use home made cleaning products, etc. I might not be able, like you said, to get energy effiecient windows, but I am responsible in where I set my thermostat. Every little bit helps. Don't be too hard on yourself, but think about what efforts you want and are able to make.

Hope that helps! Blessings!