Soldiering on

Destination unknown

Destination unknown

I have been feeling embattled over the last few weeks. Blah blah blah housing, blah blah blah office move. Our daughter’s preschool changed hands and for the last week, has been run by a for-profit corporation. (We are familiar with the company and did not have a good experience.) As a result of this transition, many of our friends from preschool are leaving the city over the next six months.

At one point I said, “Well, at least everyone’s healthy.” Jinx. Our son ended up in the emergency department, on oxygen, with a tentative diagnosis of pneumonia. It wasn’t pneumonia, and after a week at home he was feeling better, thank goodness.

Going in circles, for now.

Going in circles, for now

The weather has been colder as well. It makes it just that extra bit harder to get on the bike. But given that we’ve chosen to live without a car, we mostly do it anyway.  We just keep swimming, more or less literally last Thursday morning, when the rain was coming down so hard that the street turned white. But my rain gear is incrementally improving every season, and I got to work dry. By mid-morning it was sunny again.

So far the preschool situation is hanging fire. There are many new teachers who are stymied when we show up on the bike every morning, who cannot really believe yet that there are people who ride to school (admittedly the hill is a beast even with the assist). But nothing bad has happened yet.

This week I finally ended up meeting with my school’s dean. I wanted to know where things were going, professionally speaking. It was a very reassuring conversation. Among other things, it turns out that a dean is more powerful than the university housing office. Things are going to be okay.

What we sent to the landfill last week: medical waste from ER visit, birthday party odds and ends, random odds and ends, and a XL serving of smug.

This is the total of what we sent to the landfill last week: medical waste from ER visit, birthday party odds and ends, and an extra-large serving of smug.

We keep doing what we’re doing. We are buying no new plastic and thus producing much less garbage, and to my surprise this transition has been fairly painless. Our son is fervently on board, for reasons I haven’t really figured out. We’ll be rooting out odds and ends of pre-packaged things for some time yet, but using up what we already have is good preparation for our eventual move. Riding with my daughter to the cheese shop last week (which sells cheese and hummus and crackers in bulk and is delighted to put them in our containers and basically makes this whole endeavor far less onerous) I thought: oh my god, we are those people. I am riding my bike with my kid on board to buy self-consciously local food in reusable glass jars and cloth bags. It must look appallingly smug. What’s next, an annual pilgrimage to Burning Man?

But a synonym for “smug” is “contented.” We soldier on, and it feels like life coming into balance.


Filed under car-free, commuting, family biking, San Francisco

5 responses to “Soldiering on

  1. Another synonym for smug is “pleased with yourself,” a scornful phrase that I never really understood. After all, what’s wrong with that? Should I be displeased with myself?

    The real issue is the presumption that by being pleased with yourself you think you’re better than others, which is frequently not the case. It actually says more about observers feeling guilty that they should be doing whatever you’re doing.

    • I never got that one either. I do get the sense that people lash out that way when they feel guilty, though, instead of examining that feeling. For some reason it happens most when people who send their kids to private school find out that we are sending ours to public school. Usually followed up with, “Well it must be nice to be able to afford to live someplace with great schools!” That always makes me laugh.

  2. Ozma

    Would you mind listing which cheese shop are you going to? I recently tried to have a deli in my neighborhood (Mission) refill my glass container with their bulk ricotta, and they said they couldn’t for health department reasons?!?

    • We go to the Cheese Boutique (Inner Sunset location) and they are not only willing to use our containers, they thank us for bringing them. They did, however, ask that we call in advance before picking up hummus, and the same would probably be true of ricotta. 566-3155. Their selection is limited but they are super-nice.

      In re: your deli’s claim, California Health Code (available here; Part 7 deals with retail food) requires that any store’s utensil that touches a customer’s packaging be sterilized afterward to prevent cross-contamination. Alternatively, the store could sterilize the customer’s packaging before filling it. I only know this because we had a long discussion about it at the university sustainability meeting while trying to work out an alternative for disposable takeout containers. Anyway it would be difficult to transfer a soft food (e.g. hummus, ricotta cheese, ice cream) without the utensil touching the container so I can understand why a store would want to be prepared to sterilize the utensil immediately afterward, but it’s certainly allowed.

      In your situation I’d probably call and ask to talk to the manager about it. I had to do something similar at Andronico’s a couple of weeks back. They realized I was right and they were pretty cool about it.

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