Monday, April 16, 2012

Time and Money: $163

A few years ago at our winter math meetings, I noticed a phenomenon you've probably seen, too.  I would see a friend or colleague I hadn't seen in a long time, and we'd start chatting.  "How are you?" one of us would ask.  And the other of us would invariably say, "Busy.  Oh, I'm so busy!"  And this would lead to a long listing of the besetting committee work, grading woes, and other giant time sucks.

It struck me that the new standard response to a "how-de-doo?" was a combination of grievance and bragging.  And it wasn't pretty.  I resolved back then to try to spend one year without saying "I'm so busy" as an answer to a polite question.  

To my surprise, the "so busy" has become so much a part of our standard way of conversing, that it's really hard to avoid.  Even when I would answer, "fine, thank you", the other person would often come back at me with, "Really?  I bet you're awfully busy!!".  Hard to know what to say, because I didn't want to lie and say "no".  (I do a lot of stuff, and I am proud of that.  I just had a psychological evaluation because of the adoption process, and part of the report says, "Her competitive streak and frequent themes of admiration/exhibition in TAT responses indicate that she enjoys feeling like a "Superwoman" and being perceived that way by others . . . ".  Um, yeah.  Spot on).

Eventually I came up with a rejoinder that sounded more positive to my ears.  When people asked me if I was really busy, I'd say with a knowing smile, "My life is rich and full."

Which is true.

Well, for a professor, April is generally what you might call "richer and fuller" than the rest of the year. Given my druthers, I wouldn't have chosen this particular month for moving a new child into our home, and yet . . .  and yet, here he is.  And he's wonderful.  Let us just say that riches have rained down on my head, and I've come close to being overwhelmed.  Could do with just a bit of poverty now.

But there is that Superwoman part of me, too, determined to shine in my own eyes if not in the eyes of others.  Not busy; instead, possessed of a rich-and-full life.  So later this week, I'm going to try to share some of my "keeping my head above water" tricks.  But that "rich and full" is the first, most important part.  I chose this life; embrace the choices I've made.

Weekly spending:  $63 at farmer's markets (potatoes, milk, yogurt, bacon, apples, broccoli), and $41 on ice cream, cereal, and ramen noodles.  You can probably guess who brought home 50 lbs of potatoes, and who brought home the processed sodium: my husband and I make a good team, even when we don't pull in the same directions.  This brings the 7-week average to $163.

Facts about 163:  it is prime.  It also has the cool property, 
163 = 10^2 + 8^2 -1^2 = 9^2 + 9^2 +1^2.  

Total weekly spending since March 1.
Requisite graphs:

Avg spending for each of 7 weeks.


  1. Mind if I use your response? I love that phrase "rich and full."

    1. Rozy, isn't it an attitude changer? Not surprised you're leading a rich life, too. Save time to hug those chuns! -MM