Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mourning books

While the move over all went well, the lead up was horrible.  We had a tiny tiny budget for the move, since J didn't have steady work when we moved, so we piled everything into the cars and what didn't fit got mailed.  Besides gas, we ended up spending about 280 on mailing all of our books.  Because of the cost, and because most of the boxes of books had to be carried so much, we were pretty aggressive about getting rid of books before the move.  That meant agonizing and agonizing over what to get rid of and what to keep.  We ended up getting rid of quite a lot, but nothing we're sad about losing.

What I am a little sad about, and what still makes me feel a little unsettled in the house and in my writing, is that the Post Office lost two boxes of our books, one box personal and one box professional.  We had trouble for a while figuring out exactly what was missing (in order to file a claim) because 1. it was the holidays 2. we hadn't had all the boxes delivered yet, so it was impossible to know what was missing and what was just in the mail and 3. we own more than 300 books and don't use all of them every day, so the missing ones kind of blended in.  The Post Office seems to be working hard to track down our boxes, but what makes me a little unsettled in my writing is that I usually write with a stack of relevant books on my desk.  I don't always read them, or really even look inside them, but it's just become part of my method to build a little fort out of the books I'm talking to in whatever I'm writing and then write.  Maybe this just all goes to how much a creature of habit and stuff I am, but I want my book fort back.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

RBOC: Self Distraction

  • It is much easier to do academic tasks which are not writing when there is writing to be done.
  • Cutting down a big piece of writing to fit length requirements for writing samples for grant applications is easy to start but agonizing to finish: no matter how many times I do it, I always think before I begin that it will be easy because I'll just skim and cut out the junk, and then spend way too long arguing with myself about whether to leave something in and then get side tracked into looking at my research files and end up not cutting anything.
  • A friend who is self employed and works alone says: I hate arguing with that jerk out in the shop because he always wants to do things the hard way and he always wins.  
  • [An aside: this friend is your go-to guy if you want a historical bucket made.  If you've watched Pirates of the Caribbean, Deadwood, or Hell on Wheels, or been to Jamestown or Plimoth Plantation and seen a bucket, he made it.]
  • The jerk I work with wants to endlessly go through research files instead of actually writing, and is winning right now.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Freelancing sucks, but is ok sometimes

Pipe Dreams installation in the lobby

As previously mentioned, the job that J had just after moving to Snowy State dried up just in time for the holidays.  He's still technically on staff there, but they have no hours for him since the theater has no shows starting until February.  But this is why we moved back to Snowy State instead of jumping with both feet into some place totally new and distant--a couple of weeks pounding the arts/humanities pavement in Snowy City landed him an awesome short-term contract building exhibits at Large Regional Museum, with just the right timing to let him go back to First Theater if LRMuseum decides not to renew his contract.  I'm hoping they do renew, because staff gets free tickets and it's one of my favorite museums in Snowy State.

I don't think either J or I really realized how tenuous either of our employment situations would be when we started dating.  Our parents are in fairly stable fields--they all experienced the shadow of layoffs, but they all found jobs before leaving college and were able to buy houses within a few years of graduating.  Partly it's a factor of the fields we've entered (J and his sister, me and my brother are all in arts or non-profit fields vs the medical and science fields our parents and grandparents are in), but talking to everyone this Christmas, I think we all thought the model of "land a job senior year of college or last year of grad school, buy a house two years later" was the model that we were going to follow also.  

We've none of us (that is, me, J, and our siblings) had a hard time finding work so far, but it's not the kind of work that's familiar to our parents--we work contract to contract, seasonally, sometimes having to move around the country for work or partners' work.  And I don't think it's going to change, at least for us, for the foreseeable future.  From talking to our parents, their periods of tenuous employment were in their teens and college years, but ours are probably going to go into our thirties or at least late twenties, part of the unfortunate extension of adolescence in this country.

The move to Snowy State and the craziness of dealing with J being a freelancer has been stressful, but at least we're in a large regional center, with family support and lots of job opportunities.  I'm planning on going on the academic market next year, and while I'm not looking forward to it, at least it won't be our first time at the rodeo with the horrible application and interview and disappointment process.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Getting back in the writing box

1. Clean Christmas off the desk
2. Stare at Pinterest
3. Get crackers
4. Chase cat off desk
5. Make nest for cat on desk
6. Open chapter file
7. Reinstall bibliography software
8. Put cat back on desk nest
9. Reinstall wordprocessor software
10. Get more coffee, stare at Pinterest
11. Take nap with cat on couch
12. Give up on actually writing, transcribe research photos instead

I'm trying to get back into the swing of writing daily, which is tough coming out of the move-and-holiday induced torpor, and looking at leaving town again soon for research travel.  The cat desk nest actually helps with this, because the cat only sits at the desk for as long as I do.

Christmas was good, if hectic, because I rush between three different celebrations for my side of the family and then J and I rush out of state for his family Christmas, and we're only just back now, and still not all unpacked.

Not much Christmas baking got done this year, except for this amazing easy delicious gingerbread cake.  Seriously, this is the easiest, tastiest cake I've ever made from scratch.  The candied lemon peel, whipped cream and pomegranate seeds aren't in the linked recipe, but the colors and flavors made the ginger pop a lot more.

We had needless drama making it, since we were trying to cook it at the same time as a duck in our tiny, tiny kitchen, but it turned out really well, and we're going to make another for friends later this week.

Hope your 2012 is off to a pleasant and productive start!