Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Market and A Career

This morning my roommates and I woke up early, piled into Ecuador Monica's car, drove to another area of town. As I've mentioned before - the area where we were going, West End, is like a little Haigh Ashbury, or East Village for Brisbane. There are lots of cute little cafes and shops...lots of hippie-friendly fare...lots of environmentally-conscious this-n-that's. You get it.

Every Saturday morning the West End hosts an outdoor market. There, you can affordably buy your weekly supply of produce and meats, as well as clothing, jewelry, rugs and mats, and other things you could possibly need for your life, short of electronics. It is a massive market within a pretty green park. Guitarists play and sing in little corners of the market while you stalk the dozens of happy puppies trotting around. It was pretty awesome.

I'm glad we went early because by the time we left, the place was packed! People squeezed past each other and politely argued for the last bag of gluten free bagels (Actually, I was the one one bought the last gluten free bagels.). How does it compare to the farmer's markets in NYC, you might be asking? In comparison to the Union Square Market, this West End Market has a lot more variety and cultural diversity (I saw a MOMO truck!!!!). And it's a lot bigger.

I had a Swiss rosti-eggs benedict that was both creamy and crunchy. I'm still thinking about it.

Oh yeah, and almost every vendor had gluten free things! The bakers had gluten free breads, the food stands had gluten free things (buckwheat crepes for $8 and empanadas for $4), and the snack providers had gluten free displays. I am so pleased to be in a place where the fresh food I'm finding seems to always offer tasty gluten free options that are not just salads. I am almost worried to come back to the US, after feeling normal in diet here.

Actually, it does seem harder to buy packaged foods here that are gluten free. But I am okay with that, for the most part. That just means there are less temptations with which I want to stuff my face. Though I'd love to know what a Tim Tam tastes like. Or an ANZAC bikkie. Dare I get sick one day and taste all of these mysterious confections?

Changing topics completely, I have been thinking a lot about my future and questioning my interests in a PhD. I'm meeting a lot of mildly miserable PhD candidates here, and there seems to be the running theme of poverty, demoralization, and overall anxiety. I'm not really confident that I would be willing (and able) to emotionally stomach that lifestyle for four years of my life. Especially in my early 30's! While I am passionate about toilets, the idea that toilets may be my demise makes me depressed in more than one way.

So I went to my funders at IWC yesterday to talk it out. I chatted with Dr.Brian, who was really helpful and non-judgmental about my feelings and thoughts about everything. After an hour of talking about my interests and personality and what I want to do for a career, he agreed that it seems that a PhD may not be what I need to get me where I want to go.

I just want to teach, I keep saying - teaching adults - but I thought that meant I had to get a PhD in order to fulfill that dream. Apparently not. Brian reminded me of an emerging field in NGO-land called environmental education. In this setting, I could teach people in developing countries about toilets and business development as a trainer or facilitator of learning. I felt relief when I considered a way to teach/train/facilitate/whatever without having to get a PhD. The idea of four years of my life to a non-source of income puts me in panic mode, but now I feel like there are ways for me to get myself where I want without that path. It also is in alignment with how I want to make sure my practice is accessible to anyone, and not just rich kids at a university. I am really into the idea that people from all over could take my classes and apply the knowledge for their own lives. Perhaps I should work at a community college and offer MOOCs, after all.

Maybe a PhD would make sense later in the game of life, and maybe it's not required for me to do my thing, after all. Or maybe I'll do it anyway. Who knows! I have a year.

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