How to Get There From Here (Part 1)

04/22/2010 Leave a comment

If you’ve been following this blog at all (which I’m sure you haven’t but maybe you will now) you know that in the gnu wrrld order I live in (and many others) it’s a completely different setup. You have to be able to change quickly and easily whether you have the skills or practice to do so or not. Thank you Everett Bogue at Far Beyond the Stars for some great advice. My passions are animal rights, bike advocacy, and life long learning. I want to live in a place that has vibrant communities around all 3 issues (e.g. Portland, OR). I want to live in a small home and not have to own a car. I want to be able to connect more easily than I can now with like minded folks or at least people who are interested in sustainable lifestyles, alternative living, and going car free. Right now, I live in a rural area that makes some necessary things like going to the vet with my dogs a bit too difficult to do without a car. It’s also a cold climate with formidable weather half of the year. And I don’t have a job….I can’t even get an interview. How do I get to my car free, great community, small footprint new life from where I am now? While I can’t see the whole route, I can at least take the first step and that is to downsize everything but what I would take with me if I were moving to my new life today. If I had to pack up my 12-year-old subaru and drive it and me to a new locale (and then sell it off of course) I would only take 100 things (post to follow tomorrow). So here is a list of FIVE THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR STUFF.

1) Donate to your Local Library – I packed up a box of DVD’s and really nice books and donated them to my local library. I got a lot of good vibes out of thinking of the number of people who would get to enjoy those items. It made me feel really good.

2) Donate to a Friend or local Organization – I have a number of really nice books on making sweaters and mittens that I know a knitting friend would really like. Same with a book of books on metaphysics that another friend would like to have. Getting these things out of my house will make me feel good and I know they will be appreciated by their new owners. I boxed up all my spare bike parts, bike frames, and accessories and poked around online until I found a non-profit group in my state that rehabilitates bikes for local residents. They were really happy to get that donation.

3) Boost the Local Economy with Craig’s List – Small appliances, farm implements, gardening supplies, sports equipment, kitchen table, and other household goods have left my life via Craig’s List and it’s been a great way to pick up a few bucks while shedding space. The “free” section is nice for getting stuff out the door in a hurry.

4) Christmas in your Basement – In the process of sorting my stuff out to donate, give away, or put on Craig’s List, I came across a number of things that I know will make great Christmas, birthday, Mother’s Day presents for various relatives so I stashed those away in a box to be depleted over time as the occasions arise. So the stuff is on its way out, but it can do a nice job of making someone else happy when the time comes.

5) Put out an SOS to Specialty Groups – When I needed to find a home for my two llamas, I got in touch with a statewide organization for llama owners and asked for their help in finding a good home for my boys. I ended up with a lot of helpful replies and even located a member of the group who was willing to transport the boys to their new home. If your item(s) is very unique, you may have to turn to specialized channels such as web forums or other online areas frequented by people who would use or need your item.

Do Bookstores Hate Women?

04/18/2010 Leave a comment

I normally do all of my book shopping at Amazon.com, so I rarely find myself browsing the shelves of my local indie bookseller but a slew of rainy days recently found me doing just that. And boy was I in for a shocking surprise. It started innocently enough as I perused the selections in the “vegan” cookbook section, meandered through the “sustainability” area, and eyed the new “used books” part of the store before finally landing in the “psychology” row. Truth be told, I was hoping to find a book that might offer some advice on how to deal with annoying behaviors that other people have. I’d realized recently that while I am a very laid back person who rarely gets miffed or ruffled, I still have not evolved much of a coping strategy for dealing with people who bug the heck out of me such as those who talk incessantly, react emotionally to everything, or are otherwise impractical, irrational, or whimsical — and that’s a lot of people. I’d really like to do something other than avoid them or be annoyed and irritated by them. Turns out, the beefy “Psychology” section at the bookstore was mostly devoted to how to improve your marriage — certainly a worthy topic and one that I thought I might investigate further. Yet while there were maybe 75 different books, and just about all of them were written by women, pretty much each one said the same thing — have more sex with your husband. Now, I would expect a man to be the author of such advice, but a woman? And en masse to the point where there is no other advice being offered? I can see throwing it in the mix, but surely, there’s got to be a little more to it than that, especially since the “Divorce” section of the “Psychology” area only contained about 20 titles and I’m assuming that divorce is a fairly hot topic for a lot of people and really should have contained more titles. The problem I have with the “one size fits all approach” to improving a serious relationship is that the advice comes from the same camp that produced these gems: Don’t be good at math because boys won’t like you; Try not to act like you’re too smart because boys won’t like you; Don’t play sports. A more Gen-X list would include this one: Don’t make more money than your boyfriend/spouse because men are threatened by women who make more money than they do. The message is always the same i.e. you can’t be who you really are and expect to be in a relationship with a male. Now, while this has always been (and still is) the message, it’s pretty obvious that men have managed to survive in a world where women play sports, are good at math, and make money so this is kind of the last gasp of the old regime “whether you want to or not, whether you like it or not, this is the one thing you’ve got to give up or else.” Or else you’ll be headed to the divorce section of the bookstore where there are hardly any selections and it’s way at the end of the aisle because it’s the last stop. When do women actually get to be who they are? When do they get to have a strong sex drive or no sex drive or one in between and have that be as OK as being an athlete, engineer, or CEO is? It’s time to bury forever the Stepford Wife image that women have been sold since Day One and it’s time to liberate men from caveman parameters. There are lots of men who are interested in tempering their sex drives but you would only find out about them in the “Religion” section of the bookstore not right out in the open on display where despite the overwhelming blitz to promote the opposite real men are actually in the process of trying to gain some dominion and control. The topics that need to be discussed regarding relationships such as how to bridge the gap and learn how to communicate in a language that you normally don’t speak, aren’t even mentioned. Instead we’ll get more of “How to Act like a Lady and Think like a Man”, “How to Improve your Marriage without Talking about it” and more of Dr. Laura’s advice on making sure you never look “frumpy” (tho I’m sure she thinks it’s ok for a man to look paunchy). The message is still clear: Men can’t change so you have to. End of story.

birds and the Brees

02/08/2010 Leave a comment

What an inspiring Super Bowl game last night. The Colts were a much better team, imo: bigger, stronger, faster, and more experienced. But the Saints still found a way to win. And that’s the thing. There are plenty of Goliaths out there…..plenty of big, strong, invincible opponents that you simply cannot beat — but that doesn’t mean you still can’t find a way to win. My Goliath at the moment is the unemployment picture. It’s big, scary, formidable, but there must be a way to win in all of this. There is a way to go for the short yardage and keep hammering away until you get close enough to pick up a few points. To take bold risks and not be afraid to go for the big play even if the odds are against you. I’m not sure what those tactics will look like in my employment search i.e. what form they will take but that is the way I’m thinking this morning.

Categories: job search

where to from here?

01/29/2010 Leave a comment

Looks like my job hunt strategy of applying for jobs in my field that are listed online and really do exist is just not going to bear any fruit. I mean, I can’t even get an interview from a college in Cleveland. How many people with M.Ed. degrees in Instructional Design could there possibly be in Cleveland? Apparently, there are enough there to warrant not having to call me for an interview. That’s how bad it is. The only interview I’ve had so far was w/ a Uni in my state so that leads me to believe that no one has to look further than their own backyards to find viable candidates. So my whole neatly laid out plan of moving away from suburbia to a hipper area teeming with people who were doing all kinds of interesting things is now moot b/c we’ll either end up staying here or having to move to wherever my husband gets a job. My efforts to downsize our critter population? Also dashed, we’re now getting a new pot belly pig (that’s probably a good thing). It seems to me you only get to make these plans and pursue your goals when you have some sort of choice in the matter. But when there is no little you have control over, you pretty much have to follow whatever comes along. Doesn’t make it a bad thing necessarily, just very different from envisioning a life and taking steps towards it vs. having a life built for you by an unseen architect. It’s just very different. I can see now why people are spending money on personal trainers and spa treatments and such. You don’t have control over very much right now — you can’t make someone hire you or create an opening in your field or any number of other things, but you can decide to run a 10k or lift weights or anything like that and right now, those are pretty much the only kinds of goals you can set and work towards and achieve.

Categories: unemployment Tags:

keepin’ it quick

01/18/2010 Leave a comment

I think the other key to keeping the food bill low and the time spent in the kitchen to a manageable level is to focus on simpler fare. I’m not one of those people who considers spending hours and hours whipping up culinary concoctions a fun thing. I like good food, I like to make my own food, and if I can do that in 30-40 minutes each evening, I’m happy with that. Sure, in an average week, I’ll probably have at least one or two nights when I can spend more time in the kitchen and enjoy b/c there are good radio programs on and I don’t have somewhere to rush off to in the evening, but on most nights, that isn’t the case and I want to listen to Marketplace on NPR while I”m cutting/chopping and by the time the BBC program comes on I want to be ready to sit down and eat. Meals that fit right into that time frame are stir fries, burritos, pizza (using dough already made and sitting in the fridge), penne w/ spinach and chick peas or other bean/green sauces, pad thai. In the 45-50 min slot are chili, soups, and most Indian dishes. Frittatas are kind of inbetween b/c I like mine w/ roasted or grilled veggies which you have to prepare first and then do the stovetop cooking thing for 25 minutes or so. For fast food, there’s nothing like soup from the freezer. And for fun, it’s nice to bake. yesterday, I made a loaf of ciabatta. Today, I’ll probably spend a few hours making several different kinds of soup and using up all the odds n’ ends of sweet potato, turnip, parsnip, kale etc. At least if I have lots of soup in the freezer, I’ve always got something on hand that’s ready to go.

Categories: cooking Tags: ,

finally got the grocery bill down

01/17/2010 Leave a comment

yahoo, finally got my grocery bill down to $50 a week, something which took me years to be able to do but is actually really easy. simply cut out those trips to Whole Foods and the specialty grocers (the Asian and Indian groceries in my case), buy more or less the same foods each week and shop at the grocery store w/ the good prices and decent produce. It really isn’t hard at all. My list typically includes the following:
scallions $.50
fresh herbs such as cilantro, sage, rosemary $2-$3
6 or 7 oranges (at 50 cents a piece roughly)
bunch of bananas (around 39 to 49 cents a pound)
box of clementines in the winter (around $5)
pound of tofu ($2)
large bag of salad greens ($4)
bunch of greens (could be kale, collards etc for $1.29)
potatoes and onions if I’m out of them (.79 pound)
other veggies if they look good (broccoli, turnips, sweet potatoes, cauliflower etc and organic when prices are good)
half gallon of soy milk ($3)
eggs when chickens aren’t laying ($2.50)
crimini mushrooms $2
these I would say are the weekly perishable items. That’s about $30 or so in weekly fruit/veggies/eggs n milk
Now to that, I usually need some dry goods/staples such as flour, dried lentils and chickpeas, rices, pasta, canned tomatoes and the occasional spice. that’s usually another $10 per week for this stuff though I do try to buy large sacks of rice at the Indian grocer since the price is better that way. And then the remaining dollars are spent on various other supplies you might need such as nori sheets, coconut milk, olive oil, rice vinega etc. If I need non-food items like kleenex and toilet bowl cleaner then my bill is higher than $50. Also, I do buy some cheddar cheese and fontina cheese about once a month and those two items will add an additional $8 or so to the bill. Yes, it’s a wallop but I’m waiting for some vegan cheese that doesn’t taste like plastic. I”m much happier and my life is much simpler than it was when I was running around from food store to food store in search of the best produce or specialty item. My local grocery store really is pretty darn good.

Categories: groceries Tags: ,

back from Seattle

01/17/2010 Leave a comment

I thought Seattle would be a bigger version of Portland but looks like I’m wrong about that. Why does it have the reputation of being this sustainable haven for bicycle lovers and vegans? what’s with all the pavement? Couldn’t they take down an apartment complex or two and put some grass in for people to look at? Did Holiday Inn forget to use birth control in the 1960’s and reproduce ad nauseum to create all of the living spaces on Capital Hill? What a weird pile of concrete that city is and why run a major highway right through the downtown? I mean, who does that? Anyway, probably won’t be looking for a job there though if I ended up there, I’d probably find a way to survive it. I’m sure there must be some decent spots tucked away somewhere. Anyway, glad to be back and looking for a job full time again. At least the space needle was interesting to me. In fact, that’s about all I wanted to take pictures of.