Making Adjustments

Believe it or not, I’m still here. Lots of things have been happening; so many, in fact, that I haven’t had time to sit and write about them. Well, I’m blowing off the research, the bill-paying, the budget-fixing, and the laundry for the next hour in order to write this post. Then I’ll have to get ready to go to work.

Work, you say? Isn’t conducting this project and running the household enough for any sane person? Yes, but who said I was sane? And thank you for bringing up the first big change that’s happened around here.

It turns out that I’m not nearly the isolationist I thought I was, and being home alone every single day was beginning to take a toll on my mental health.  We were also running through student loan money at a rather alarming rate-money that, being borrowed, will end up costing us more than its face value. So, I found a part-time job at a small local restaurant. It began as three days per week: enough to break up the monotony, but not so much as to disrupt my life. Then, of course, God did what He does at our plans: He laughed.

My Dear Wife’s classwork piled up to an epic level, leaving her sequestered in her ivory tower with a stack of research books and a word processor. One of the other servers at the restaurant got a better job offer out-of-state, so he gave notice and left; I ended up working every weekday. Spring planting season arrived, with two gardens (one in our backyard, one on the church grounds) due to be started. The Boys kept needing food, rides, and help with homework. Strangely enough, the laundry/dishes/bills/car care/shopping/pet care/house cleaning didn’t automatically take care of itself. I wound up, as they say, “in the weeds.”

Which is where a lot of low-and-middle-income people are these days. The days of the single-breadwinner household seem to be over; two-earner or two-income households have become the norm, and I don’t have time to look up the statistics on it right now. I did manage to find out that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average weekly hours worked is at 34.3, not quite full-time; that’s 93% of the 2007 level.

This, then, is the “new normal.” Hopefully, this wave will break in the next few weeks. I need to let my boss know that working 5 day shifts isn’t compatible with the rest of my life; Dear Wife will soon enough finish her papers and presentations; I will manage to carve out minutes here and there for what I need to do; but right now, I’ve got to shower, dress, and get to the restaurant.  Maybe I can look up those job numbers later tonight.

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About poorlocavore

Welcome to one family's journey towards a smaller food-mile footprint on a small food budget. How do our choices affect the environment, and what influences our choices? Read on and find out what I'm learning.
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6 Responses to Making Adjustments

  1. Momof5 says:

    “Strangely enough, the laundry/dishes/bills/car care/shopping/pet care/house cleaning didn’t automatically take care of itself.”

    What is up with that? We’re having the same problem – I’ve gone back to work and suddenly our definitions of “local” and “healthy” and “budget” mean “whatever I picked up pre-cooked at Safeway on the way home.” Or cereal. In spite of our best efforts, too.

    So what does it mean for a community when in order to survive, virtually all adults need to be working? How do we create community around food coops or neighborhood gardens or even neighborhoods when the adults head off in their own directions and the kids head off to school, never to mingle until a late, hurried, not very healthy dinner lands on the kitchen counter? Forget the dinner table – apparently one of my little-noticed jobs was to keep a place to eat cleared off, and without my constant vigilance it has become just another place to pile laundry, sports equipment, etc.

    I’ll be very interested to hear how you navigate these changes. Because we’re largely failing. But you know what? I love the job. I wouldn’t give it up. I just wish it were a little easier to do both.

    • poorlocavore says:

      “So what does it mean for a community when in order to survive, virtually all adults need to be working?” I don’t know, but I suspect nothing good. I’ve managed (for the most part) to keep the meals coming with no major changes, although we did have carry-out pizza last night-but it was from the local shop on the corner, which I think helps a bit. I also bought a regionally-produced six-pack of ale instead of a national brand of beer, which helped in more ways than one 😉

      I’ll try to keep the updates flowing as much as possible, but first I have to sweep up the remains of the broken fluorescent tube in the basement. And make dinner. You know the drill.

  2. Slowvelder says:

    argh – I know how it feels – I need to work fewer hours too. I try not to beat myself up too much about eating out quite often.

    • poorlocavore says:

      If only I were as forgiving of myself as others are of me! I’m “only” working three days this week, but we’ll be out of town for one of them. All will be well…

  3. One day your kids will be grown up (mine are). Days are still hectic but now it’s pretty well every husband and wife for themselves around here, which I’m sure all of you would see as a luxury. I can only tell you that you sound like good people who will survive just fine. It’s just hard to see the forest for the trees right now. Life’s too short to beat yourselves up.

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