Monday, January 29, 2007

Real Life Dilemma: Cartage

I'm always late for work, it seems. I shower, I dress, I eat, I fool around with Miss Baby, and give Pynchon numerous hugs. I feed the cat. I lint-brush myself. I know how long all this takes, and yet ...

The problem, so far as I can figure, is loading up and strapping on all the various bags, supplies, and devices I need to take with me if I'm leaving the house for eight-or-so hours. It's a logistical and ergonomic dilemma, and also ridiculous to watch in action. Let's see: extra sweater, coat, scarf, snow boots, mitts. Check! Kleenex and bus fare in coat pocket. Check! Oh wait, I should put the cell phone in my coat pocket too or I'll never hear it or be able to answer it. Oh-oh, it's not fully charged. Ok. Pack the charger too. Check! Now the professor bag, an ergonomic and capacious laptop backpack: computer, charger, dayplanner, bus-stop and coffee-shop book, lunch, office keys, house keys, wallet, lipstick. Check! Now the breastpump: get the fridge pack out of the freezer, load it into lunchbag with bottles, load lunchbag into pump bag. Zip all the accessories into place. Check!

(You have to imagine me darting around the house for 20 minutes, getting this all done, as the cellphone, wallet, lipstick, bottles, books, etc. seem to migrate out of the bag when I come home for work and thus must be first located and then reassembled in the morning.)

By the time I'm ready to leave, I'm bundled up to my eyeballs in winter outerwear, have a heavy pack on my back and another heavy pack in one hand. Pynchon usually opens the door for me, because, with my mitts on, I can't get a grip on the handle -- however, with the mitts off, I can't get my mitts back on when I leave the house, because my hands are full. Yeesh.

Mobility, I begin to believe, is overrated. All those devices intended to free me from anchorage to a particular location (phone, computer, breastpump) have turned me literally into a mobile office: I am the infrastructure, and the infrastructure is carried around under my own motive power. My office is heavy!

I've fallen prey, I think, to an insidious cult of portability: the laptop, much smaller and lighter than a desktop, demands to be carried from place to place, and indeed it is pleasant to work from Starbucks, or the library, rather than my office. But 7 pounds of computer is not an unnoticed load! The phone is smaller, obviously, but its tininess compels attention in different ways: where is it? is it charged? is it ringing? It occupies very little pocketspace, but a fair bit of mental real estate. The breastpump I've written about before, but now I want to indicate that it is the load that broke this pedestrian's back: I just can't walk to work anymore, my only real and greatly cherished exercise. There's just too much stuff, and lordy, I'm getting worn out just lifting it from place to place.

I'm an urban nomad, just like everyone else, carting my daily vital supplies with me as I roam my haunts and territories--it's just that, in this affluent and be-gizmoed age, nomads are hauling serious amounts of gear. And this, paradoxically, reduces our mobility. The nomad is burdened with stuff.

So the dilemma is this: I need my daily walk. The only time I can really find for this is in the commute to or from the office, a 35 minute jaunt--otherwise I miss out either on time with Miss Baby or my precious hour or so of quiet relaxation between her bedtime and mine. Currently, 35 minutes is the amount of time it takes me to get to the office by bus, if you factor in the wait and the walk to and from each bus stop. So switching from bus to walk has no consequence, schedule-wise. I just have to work out the question of the gear. I've already pared down the need-to-carry list by, for example, bringing bulk loads of snack and lunch foods in on the weekend, to last me a whole week, and by dedicating a filing drawer to all my 'indoor shoes'. So that's reduced what I have to carry around. But the boobie-pump and the computer, it seems, really do have to travel with me. If I'm going to do this, either Pynchon or I is likely going to have to make a special-purpose drive out to the university to pick up or drop at least one of these items daily, hardly the eco-friendly solution I'm looking for.

What do you think?


Alpha Dogma said...

How about one of those wheelie suitcases used by flight attendants? Or the big ass hockey bags the kids use now that also have wheels? Hire a student to be your sherpa? Take the Quinny-mobile with you and load it up with your own gear, but no mini-Mimi?

Okay, I'm just kiddin' about these.

Could you/Would you forgo the laptop everyday? Do you really NEED it every single day? Just somedays? Could you swing the cost of Blackberry which would combine some laptop functions with the cellphone? Buy/rent 2 breast pumps and keep one at the office?

When I worked at the U of A I would check out 2 copies of the same library book. I'd leave one at my office and one at home - it saved a bit of room in my backpack. I've bursitis (I have it, but I can't spell it) so I'm on Doctors orders to carry little to nothing so I can feel your 'pain.'

NotSoSage said...

Ouch, now that is a dilemma. I don't know that I have much to say that would be helpful except, do you need the pump at home on the weekdays?

Forgive my ignorance (I used a manual pump), but can you bring just the parts that need to be boiled/sterilized home and not the whole pump?

Jenifer G. said...

Thanks for stopping by! I have visited before but never commented. I have frantically read everything I could scroll over and must say these posts are wonderful!

The whole do it my way, just trust me vibe, is so me! I leave detailed instructions for babysitters (family) who dutifully ignore them. Actually, my Mom pretty much follows my game plan and is here often enough she requires no primer but, the others....

I want to comment on all of the recent posts...but sleep is beckoning.

The whole gear situation is dreadful. All this stuff to make life easier but, you must carry it on your back. I don't have any solutions but, I like the idea of two pumps? Maybe borrow one from someone? Get one from craigslist?

I can see where leaving the laptop is probably not an option. The Blackberry might be good but, personally, I could not use it for "real" work.

I have seen the frightened looks on friend's faces (childless more so) when we visit and they sum up the gear we are toting. Hey, better to be prepared I say. The people who poke fun are usually the first to ask for an Advil, Balmex or spare bib.

Gear in itself is good, what is not good is carrying it around on your back. Hopefully, these few suggestions so far will help.

Beck said...

Can you leave some things at school, like the heavy pump part of the breast pump and only bring home the parts that need washing? And does the laptop need to make the trip everyday?
It does seem like a bind - here is your only, very cherished daily walk and here is your needed burden and the two no longer go together. It stinks!

nomotherearth said...

I agree with the suggestions of the others regarding cartage.

As to workouts, I have the same dilemma. What I've worked out, is that I run on Tuesdays while Mr Earth puts the Boy to bed. I get up extra early on Thursdays to do Taebo. I run on Saturday and Sunday mornings because I have the rest of the day to spend with the Boy, so I don't feel like I'm missing out on too much.

Does that help? It's the best schedule I could come up with, because I don't want to miss out on Boy time either

ewe are here said...

Can you afford a second (perhaps smaller) breast pump to leave at the office? Otherwise, maybe something with wheels to pull behind you...

I am 'the packer' in our household, too, for most excursions, even those I won't be going on. Otherwise, things we will inevitably need won't be with us.... Such is life. ;-)