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New Job, New Plans, Same Priorities

Yesterday I signed contracts for two part-time positions that will run for the next 8 months.  I am really excited about both jobs, and about earning enough money to make ends meet while not having jobs take over my life. My schedule will now entail working (i.e. for money) two days a week, and writing (i.e. the dissertation) the rest of the time.  The jobs are both teaching related, so will not only earn an income but advance my skills and build my resume.  Furthermore, I will be working in a new academic environment which will be a great learning experience.

If I end up staying in academia beyond this degree (which really is the purpose of doing a Phd, although not the only option), I hope to work in a small, fairly rural institution.  I like the idea of small classes, lots of personal interaction with students, and of course being able to easily live in the country.  Right now I will have an hour commute each way to work, which is fine for the short term and only just 2 days a week, but definitely not something I could do permanently or daily.

The last six weeks have been quite busy, what with working my other part-time job (now wrapping up), and it looks like things are going to stay busy until I graduate, hopefully next spring or summer at the latest.  M y energy levels are staying high, despite the many long days in a row I’ve worked lately, and I’m feeling really positive about the months to come.

Today I am trying to catch up on my dissertation work, which has unfortunately taken the back burner for the last little bit.  It now must become my #1 priority if I am to finish by spring, which is my goal and absolute necessity.  I am excited to start my data collection (interviews) this week, which I expect to move things along very quickly.

On the food front, I have a fridge full of peaches which must be canned ASAP or they will spoil.  Plus they are entirely taking up our second (small) fridge, during harvest season.  With so much food to come, I need to do some work every day towards putting food by.  It’s tough trying to keep on top of food processing in addition to writing, working, and running and training the dogs.  Somehow I absolutely must start fitting some physical exercise in as well, beyond the walking I do with the dogs.  And of course a solid night sleep every day in order to stay healthy and have the energy to do all of the above.  This is going to require iron discipline on my part, something that I am not terribly good at maintaining!  But it’s never too late to develop new habits.

I had an interesting discussion last weekend around why I spend so much time with food.  The argument was essentially that I need to focus on my dissertation and drop “less important” things.  After all, I can buy food from the grocery store, so why not just do that rather than spend hours and hours canning peaches and whatnot.

This makes logical sense – according to modern day rational – and highlights the heart of the issue I am researching: we do not prioritize food.  Rather, we prioritize “career” (i.e. our individual roles in advancing and supporting the capitalist project), letting corporations take over every other aspect of our life in order to accomplish this goal. This, of course, is exactly the process that is encouraged by corporations, which need our dependency in order to maintain their hegemonic control.  That preparing healthy food – the very foundation of our existence – is seen as a “distraction” from “more important” things (i.e. career) demonstrates just how successfully this mindset has entrenched itself.  We are so immersed in this ideology that we don’t even acknowledge it, let alone consisder what may be wrong with what it encourages.

In other words, focusing on my dissertation (or career) – at the expense of putting food by for winter – serves to perpetuate the system that I rally against.  It is something I simply cannot do.  Unfortunately, prioritizing other aspects of my life, or even ranking them as being equally important, results in me being viewed as a “unfocused,” a “slacker” and particularly as “not serious” about my career.  Nothing, of course, is further from the truth, but perception is everything, and this is my challenge.

Speaking of career, my lunch break is over and I must get back to the books!

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