Metatalktail Hour: New Beginnings August 10, 2019 5:07 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! This week, with summer winding down in the Northern hemisphere, and Americans thinking "back to school," I'm wondering if you're planning any new beginnings for the change in seasons/back-to-school time! (This always feels like a much better time for resolutions to me!) Are you trying something new? Taking on a new challenge? Just looking forward to crisp fall air (/balmy spring air)?

As always, this is a conversation starter, not limiter, so tell us everything that's up with you! And shoot me ideas for future metatalktails!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 5:07 PM (100 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Back to school season this year feels less like a fresh notebook and more like a new season of Stranger Things. Last year's monsters still breathe somewhere below, and our only real advantage is being a little older this time.

Well, I can turn some of my own pages anyway, I guess. I'd like to do better at meal planning this year. I might try a periodic meal rotation of two or three weeks; it sounds like a low variety option but I think it might actually increase variety by decreasing the number of nights I default to one of the three already-well-practiced quickie meals in my repertoire.

We just got home from a long road trip in which Little eirias broke her finger. End of summer is a poisonous time for this, second only to beginning of summer; I fear we have lost the rest of the swimming season. Also, a middle aged creep tried to entice her twice at a Tim Horton's near Burlington ON: he offered her a trinket while I was watching, I loudly said "we don't take things from strange men," and he did it again mere minutes later, as soon as I was out of view (she apparently yelled NO at him -- good girl). I decided this boundary violation was worth running up the flagpole, in the hopes of getting the dude thrown out of the restaurant, but was underwhelmed with the result. I went to the manager of the colocated Wendy's and he first said, it's not my problem, that's the Tim Horton's, and then walked me over to the guy and made me confront him directly, and then got put out when I took the bait and had the confrontation. Voices were raised -- everybody in the place definitely heard me say exactly what happened, and definitely heard him respond with expletives -- and there was a staredown that exceeded ten seconds. The Wendy's manager then tried to kick the problem to the Tim Horton's manager, who got the police on the line. I'm not sure Wendy's manager considered this an improvement and he actually apologized to the creep and said "it's too bad you two can't see eye to eye." The officer who came out was clearly annoyed at being sucked into this and said something like "if Tim Horton's tried to kick out everyone who behaved oddly they'd have no customers" (despite the fact that nobody else in the restaurant was doing anything remotely strange, certainly not anything that looked like child enticement). And the guy lied to the officer about what he'd done (he claimed he'd offered the trinkets to me and Mr. eirias) which tells me he actually knew exactly what boundary he was crossing. Well, anyway, if this guy goes further and actually tries to kidnap someone in future, at least there'll be a record that someone once reported something in the same vein.
posted by eirias at 5:49 PM on August 10, 2019 [10 favorites]

I am so sorry you had to deal with that, eirias, and had it so poorly dealt with. Men do bad things on the highway.

The first week of August -- usually the first day -- is always when I feel a breeze that seems to belong to the coming fall. It's a relief. It's gone right away, of course, and that's fine with me this year. 2019 seems to have happened so fast. I want more summer, not the heavy thick kind but the gentle kind with the air shimmering through the leaves. I am extremely cooped up lately. I'm going out of town for a couple of days, and it wouldn't be a moment too soon if I left tomorrow, but alas I cannot just yet.

The changes that are coming in the fall for me, such as they are, are not exciting ones. I should probably make some.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:57 PM on August 10, 2019 [7 favorites]

I'm ready for this cold winter to end. Spring in Santiago is nice, we live in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and it's fun to go out for dinner and a walk on the weekend. My son's school is a 10 minute walk, but it's too cold to do it in the morning during winter, looking forward to re-starting that as well.
Other than that, work is ok, starting some new projects, the design workshop I teach starts again this monday and though it takes up a lot of time it's invigorating and keeps me alert.
Also, me and a group of friends won a large research grant and are working on a SaaS modeling tool for local governments, and that is way fun and challenging, it's a new direction for me, and it seems very promising, and we're using a beach-community 1.5 hours from Santiago as our baseline and get/have to travel there frequently, which is fun.
posted by signal at 6:09 PM on August 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Baby #2 is 2 months old today and her sleep is starting to improve finally. We're definitely not having another so in a way this feels like the first day of the rest of my life: I'll probably never have my life disrupted quite this thoroughly for so long (I mean, maybe, but not likely). Considering that parenting has gotten less time-consuming as her older brother got older, I feel that I'll have fewer and fewer excuses for stuff like being out of shape or not going on trips to see family and friends. Basically it feels like it's time to stop saying "I'll do it later when I'm leaving busy" because if the current trend holds I'm going to be less and less busy from here on out. Not necessarily easier, but a 3 day old is a much bigger time suck than a 3 year old in my experience.

Also there's a >50% chance that we're moving to St. Louis this fall, so that's a new beginning. If it happens we'll probably be there until at least retirement (so, decades) and we're going to try to buy the "forever house" when we move. Again, first day of the rest of my life sort of thing: the rough structure of my life will be largely set, time to fill it with all the fun and adventure and connection and health that I reasonably can.
posted by Tehhund at 6:09 PM on August 10, 2019 [14 favorites]

It freaks me out how soon the light starts to get weirdly fall-like in its angle during August here in New York City. Too soon! The August light is definitely more...lush, somehow, in St. Louis, still far more summery, and that lasts into early September. I guess it's the latitude difference. I'd take the good light in St. Louis combined with the lovely coolness we're already experiencing up here.

Otherwise, I also miss the cicadas. But I'll return there soon to move a bunch of stuff (and eat Seoul Taco and toasted ravioli and other things I miss). So that's the next challenge!
posted by limeonaire at 6:45 PM on August 10, 2019 [10 favorites]

I recently took a woodworking workshop out in the Catskills. It was billed as a "spoon and bowl" carving workshop titled Obey The Grain (taught by this guy)and I expected to spend a few hours a day learning to carve stuff and maybe I'd come home with a bowl and/or a spoon.

It was so much more. I don't know that it was life changing, but it certainly inspired me and made me want to spend my days learning all the skills. The entire weekend I was surrounded by people making stuff, using chainsaws and plasma cutters and forges and anvils. I spend about 8 hours attacking a log with an angle grinder and wound up with a beautiful mulberry bowl. I carved a walnut spoon and another walnut platter. All this was made out of what was essentially firewood. Here's what I made.

I came home and immediately built myself a shave horse so I could get busy carving more stuff.

Towards the end of the weekend two of the people who were doing blacksmithing (Brett McAfee and Jessie Uyeda, two total badasses) asked if anyone wanted to take a turn on the forge. I almost didn't want to, I was too busy carving wood, but at the last minute I decided to try it.

Turns out, banging on red hot steel with a big-ass hammer is kind of fun. Fire is cool.

I made a towel hook out of a steel rod. I tapered it, curved it, twisted it, shaped it. I quenched it in water and put it in and out of the forge. At one point I even grabbed onto it and burned my hand. Just because it's not glowing red doesn't mean it's not hot.

So now it's a couple months later and I've just signed up for a nine week blacksmithing class at a local forge.

I don't know what I'll do with it, I have no intention of becoming a professional blacksmith, but it'll be fun and it'll be a new skill to add to my arsenal. I like the fact that it's an uncommon skill, an ancient skill, and one that seems almost lost to the ages. My entire life I only knew anvils as something that gets dropped on Wile E. Coyote's head and now I'm looking around for one to buy.

So, yeah. New challenges. New beginnings. New things to learn. I hope I never get tired of learning new skills.
posted by bondcliff at 6:59 PM on August 10, 2019 [55 favorites]

It is definitely starting to feel like fall here, mostly due to the light, even though I'm across the country from limeonaire. I saw geese flying in V formation on Monday, and while they probably weren't actually migrating, I got that fall-like Urge for Going feeling.

I spent five hours today at a UU Worship Associates meeting and I enjoyed pretty much all of it, which is odd for a five-hour meeting on a weekend, but I like all those people. Then I forced myself to go to the gym, and now I'm on my porch with a martini. Also I can't wear perfume to work (scent-free workplace) so every now and then (like now) I'll put perfume on just to sit at home and drink cocktails, and it makes me happy.

A little bit ago, a mama deer and her two baby deer (all spotted!) strolled past. It's sunset now, so all the birds are doing their evening twittering. I shall go inside in a moment and make myself vegetarian stuffed mushrooms. It was a hell-week at work, so this has felt like a very nice restorative Saturday.
posted by lazuli at 7:32 PM on August 10, 2019 [15 favorites]

I'm committing to regular exercise and eating better. Got real lazy over the summer and back tracked quite a bit on my fitness goals. I'm convinced the secret to feeling like you are still 50 when you are 70 is getting your shit together when you are 50, and keeping it together.
posted by COD at 7:45 PM on August 10, 2019 [13 favorites]

Nano McGee, with whom I was pregnant when I started working here, is about to start preschool in a week and three days, and I'm starting to freak out a little bit! We went to mommy-and-me camp two days a week over the summer, and that is probably the last mommy-and-me activity I have to participate in. I kind-of hate mommy-and-me stuff, but now that it's about to be over, I'm sad! I can't believe I'm almost done with toddler parenting. I'm not a huge baby person (they're kinda boring) but I just adore toddlers, they're so funny as they figure out the world and they have such interesting things to say about it, so I will miss having toddlers as I have basically non-stop for the past 9 years or so.

But. This will be the first time in TEN YEARS when all of my kids will be out of the house at the same time and I will have TIME TO MYSELF without someone calling "Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?" Right now my time-to-myself is like right now, when everyone's asleep but me, but there's constantly people waking up and needing a drink or having a nightmare or not feeling good. I don't actually know what I'm going to do with myself! For the first month, probably just read a lot of books and clean a lot of things and revel in the silence, but I mean after that. The possibilities are endless! I can go grocery shopping without having to bribe anyone to behave! I can shop for clothes on a weekday without having to find a babysitter! I can go to the doctor by myself!

The kids start new activities in the fall, too. My middle son is starting viola this year, and I'm trying not to be an overbearing parent about it, but I started violin at his age (switched to bass a couple years later), in the same program at the same school (we moved back to my hometown, it's weird), and music became such a fundamental part of my life and identity, and almost all my life-long best friends are from the music program, and I played all the way through college (I mean, I still play now, but but on an ad-hoc basis instead of in symphonies and marching bands and 20-piece jazz bands). And I want to be like, "You are embarking on a journey that will change your entire life and you will meet your best friends and you will learn the meaning of beauty ..." but that'd be weird and also he might hate it and give it up in six months and I have to be okay with that!

We got everyone all set for fall with classes and activities (I'm taking a Spanish class), and then I turned to my husband and told him he needed an activity and he was like "No I don't," and I was like "Yes you do, everyone else has one. Find one before the end of the week or I'm signing you up for community choir." So, long story short, he'll be singing in community choir this fall!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:06 PM on August 10, 2019 [19 favorites]

Just today I got my conditional license in the mail, in preparation for my first-ever job as a speech-language pathologist coming up in ~2 weeks! I've mentioned here before that it was thanks to answers I got to questions I'd posted on AskMe that I even looked into the field in the first place, but this seems like a good time to once again speak the praises of Wolfster, Stacey, Lutoslawski, and everyone else who took the time to offer input in those questions.

It's been a long road between that first question and now, full of post-bac classes, yet another round of grad school applications, a cross-country move, and two crazy-busy (but wonderful) years of grad school - and I'm pretty darned nervous right now - but it's also thrilling to be going back into the work force to actually do something that feels important and worthwhile to me. Hooray for new beginnings!
posted by DingoMutt at 9:09 PM on August 10, 2019 [29 favorites]

Congratulations, DingoMutt! That is wonderful!
posted by lazuli at 9:12 PM on August 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

I start school next Monday. I haven't been to any formal schooling in 25 years. It's not going to be particularly traditional, but I'm starting a 3 year program to be ordained (smicha). It's actually kind of crazy. I quit going to school in 1994 so I could focus on all of my friends dying of AIDS. I was going to go back once they all died, but thankfully, that didn't happen. Now that I'm heading toward retirement, it seemed like the right time. Unfortunately, I didn't expect to be unemployed right now, but things happen. I still have to find work for the next 7 years.

Tonight is the start of the saddest day in the Jewish calendar (tisha b'Av), and tomorrow morning I'm heading to a morning (shacharit) service in front of the Los Angeles immigrant detention center. Should be interesting. I hope it's actually useful/productive as I'd rather that prayer not be just for prayers sake.

My garden is putting out prolific squash flowers, but despite many bees seen in the flowers, not so much squash yet. Cucumbers and peppers are still coming at a pretty regular pace.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:38 PM on August 10, 2019 [18 favorites]

It has been harder than usual to get excited about this school year; I'm usually a little bit back in the grind by now but I had a student unexpectedly and tragically die a few days ago and I have just been a little too sad to get back into dumb details when I don't officially have to yet. I taught him last year and his sister for three years a few years back and I loved him and love that family and there is no reason for anyone to be so unlucky. He was 12. I have had a blank note for his family staring at me for two days now and there are never going to be the right words on it.

And I want to be like, "You are embarking on a journey that will change your entire life and you will meet your best friends and you will learn the meaning of beauty .

I teach orchestra and I'm about to start the new school year with a bunch of beginners and intermediate students and...this is what I want for my students, although I'm not dumb enough to let them know that explicitly. For a lot of them it is going to be their Thing and I see the middle schoolers making friendships the first few days of class that may last through the end of high school as they work together- when I recruit beginners, I take a quartet of All-State juniors and seniors around, some of whom I started when they didn't know which end of their case was up- and it's what gets me excited about teaching each year. For some of them it won't be their Thing! And that's okay- I just want them to find one thing that keeps them connected to community at school and sometimes I can help them there too.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:09 PM on August 10, 2019 [18 favorites]

I'm hoping to make big changes soon. The last six months have been the worst of my life, by far. I've started the ball rolling on a few things, and hopefully they'll lead to more positives in general. But so many things take time, and when you're desperate for your situation to be different, it can be agonizing to feel like you have to wait even longer. I'm trying to work on being patient and taking the long view, which is hard at a time like this.

I'm really looking forward to the change in seasons. I hate the summer. I love the fall, and I love good biking weather. It was too hot to bike for a while, but I'm finally back at it. Cycling gives me a rare sense of freedom in an otherwise isolating town, and I wind up feeling better in my physical body when I get more activity. After a few months at it, I feel weirdly more aware of myself now. Like, I'm sort of tall? People always said I was, but I never felt like it. Now I sort of do, and it's been weird to start noticing how often I'd been going around hunched over. I try to bear that in mind as I consider everything else in my life. Also, I was just looking through old AskMe threads about biking, and one thread was full of people saying that biking a lot will give you a great butt. I hadn't even thought about that, but I've always had a Hank Hill butt and I'd consider any change an added bonus. A new buttginning.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:59 PM on August 10, 2019 [18 favorites]

Also: I went for a short hike this afternoon, and on the trail coming towards me there were three kids probably ages 7-9, with an adult man behind them. As I passed the kids, I heard him ask them to slow down, and one of them said "you're not our mom OR our dad." And just as I approached the guy, he gave the most drawn out sigh and said "yes, I know, I'm your uncle..."

I love being an uncle, but as I passed I wanted to be like "I feel you, man."
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:08 AM on August 11, 2019 [14 favorites]

My daughter is seven weeks old. In five weeks she, her brother, my wife and I will be moving from Finland to Iceland, where we’ll be spending the next year. We’ve moved often enough between the two countries now that we’re used to it, but it’ll be the first time as a four person family.

It’s such wonderful fun to be the parent of a newborn, on top of the fun of being the parent of a four-year-old. I’ve been in touch with his old kindergarten, and it’s fun to think that he’ll be joining the same group again, even if it’s in a different building.

Watching my daughter grow is a joy. The things I do with her is slightly different than I did with her older brother when he was a newborn because my wife had a much faster post-partum recovery so she’s been able to do more of the physical things she was unable to do last time, and in turn I’m with her much more when she’s just doing her infant things in her bed or on her mat, or when she’s sleeping.

When my son was about three months old we had an unexpected financial setback so I had to work a lot during the time from when he was four months until he was nine months. More days than not, even during the holiday season, I had to leave for work at six in the morning and wasn’t home until nearly eight. The days I had off I was exhausted. I really feel like I missed those months of his life and I look forward to seeing a lot of her.

With that experience in mind I had organized my finances in such a way that even if we had some financial stress I wouldn’t have to do that again. And yes it happened again. During the last couple of months I’ve had to deal with two different tax authorities, the Finnish and Icelandic, who both claimed taxation rights on my income. I will say that everyone there has been extremely helpful and I’ve learned a lot about international double taxation agreements, that’s for sure.

Thankfully, it looks like I’ll get a final decision this month, at which point my wife and I can at last make a budget beyond the next couple of months. But either way, I can work just a normal amount and will be able to see my little girl develop and grow every day.
posted by Kattullus at 1:04 AM on August 11, 2019 [25 favorites]

Usually I love the possibilities of September, I also feel like it’s a better time for resolutions than January, but one thing I’m coming to terms with thanks to EMDR is the loss of control that comes with a chronic illness, so this year I am not making any changes.

I had a lovely evening with friends yesterday, and their adorable dog!
posted by ellieBOA at 1:25 AM on August 11, 2019 [7 favorites]

I'm aging and conflicted about dating. If I did make a new beginning profile on OKCUPID I'm now at an age where this happens:

DJ OVERSHARE is on the mic - I'm now the age my dad was when he died. I was 24 and he was 48. So when I think about who I'm attracted to, who I could fall for, not only do I have to assess their beliefs and values to see how close they are to my dad's I also have to figure out if they're as cute as my dad.

posted by bendy at 1:47 AM on August 11, 2019 [10 favorites]

I’m part of a local lgbtqia+ support group. After a lot of soul searching I decided (with the blessing of the current leadership) to begin the process of becoming an official co-facilitator. So I’m spending August reading books and thinking about discussion topics. I may post an Ask about it at some point, keep your eyes peeled!

I am still hoping to move apartments before the end of the year. Twice in the last three weeks I have come home from work to find the cat has cornered a mouse in the kitchen. I am not squeamish about mice, but I also don’t want to see them suffer under the paws of the cat, who smacks them around until they are ready to die from fear.

Here is a photo of mouse no 1 in a container.
posted by janepanic at 2:16 AM on August 11, 2019 [11 favorites]

The "new beginnings" thing chimed with me a bit as, since April, I've been closing/ending strands of my old life. Things seem very different now to back then, in mostly (but not entirely) good ways. I'm completely free of all of my relatives now, and have zero need or obligation to contact any of them. This is so good, and also means I can stop paying my solicitors exhorbitant amounts of money just to act as some kind of post-gatekeeper.

I'm still stuck in England, which was definitely not the plan. Partially as I nearly accidentally died under bizarre circumstances (long story and everyone apart from three people wouldn't believe it) a few months ago, and am mostly but not totally recovered. At the age of 50, you don't usually recover from anything anyway; the body remembers and takes longer to heal.

But despite all this, am surprisingly finding myself enjoying this summer more than any of the previous half-century of them or so. I might scribble some notes about it at some point, but I've started an epic writing project that have been twitching about for a few years, am distracted by the landscape of the West Country and other entities, the Ashes are in play, and am still trying to figure out what to do next. There's a conference in Finland in early June next year which is pretty much a must for me, but everything before that is as hazy as the sunshine when you're lying in the long grass of a Somerset orchard.

That's all a bit cryptic, but reasons. Happy late summer and the gradual change into Autumn, MeFites...
posted by Wordshore at 2:35 AM on August 11, 2019 [23 favorites]

Sophie1, I had a similar problem with squashes once. My Dad told me that he used to take a feather or a small brush, and dip it in each squash flower, and go along, back and forth, pollinating them himself. Some flowers are male, and some are female, and the bees don't always cross pollinate enough. You might try that!

My sleep study results came back, and I have mild sleep apnea. I will need to start using a CPAP machine, which I go pick up this Friday. Have heard very good things about this particular pharmacy and their respiratory therapists, even have a friend who worked there for years, and she also gave glowing recommendations, so I feel a little better about it. I was very resistant to the idea of using one, until the nurse read me the list of results, including number of times I stopped breathing (about 10), oxygen rates (88% on average, one going as low as 74%, yikes!). If I can get a week's worth of data, they can pull it wirelessly and my NP, who used to work at a sleep clinic, can read the data and see how it's working. My next check-up is Aug. 23rd, so that will be one week. I also get my A1C levels checked, and think they will be better than last time, as my fasting blood sugar has been lower than it has in the past, so I'm not freaking out as much. Increased Metformin and watching my carb intake seems to be working. Not digging the gastro side effects of the Metformin, however. Fine when I take it, with food in the morning, but after I eat lunch, sometimes I get the cramps and tummy rumbles and have to rush to the bathroom, which kind of messes up my afternoons. I could probably split it and take some at night, but in the past, I've forgotten my nighttime pill, even with phone reminders, just enough to make my blood sugar numbers creep back up into the danger zone. So guess I will deal for now.

The weather has suddenly gotten cooler here in Maine, and I'm not quite ready for Fall yet! It was 49 degrees when I got up this morning. I turned off the fans, but kept the windows open. Could hear the loons calling, in the dark, at 4:00 a.m. (went to bed at 9:00 p.m., assume the apnea is what makes me wake up suddenly in the wee hours, maybe the CPAP will help me get longer sleep!). Still wearing my capris and flip flops, have caved and put a long-sleeved shirt over my t-shirt. It's going to be 78 degrees today, and 80 tomorrow, so summer weather is still here, just not the extra hot and humid stuff, which I'm okay with. But the sun setting earlier and rising later kind of makes me feel sad, as if I've not done all the things I'd planned at the beginning of Summer, even tho' we usually get warm weather for 2 more months, sometimes I've seen 80-degree days at the beginning of October.

With Mr. Mon Dieu's illness and hospitalization earlier this year, I've come to realize that he is indeed showing signs of his age. He is eleven years older than I am (I am 55, boo), and moves a little slower than he did 10 years ago, needs help with lifting the heavy trash bag into the car, things like that. The guy at the transfer station (dump) always comes out of his little hut and puts the trash into the container for him, so at least I don't have to worry about that. The Mister still has his sense of humor, however, and when we were bringing in groceries yesterday, I thought he was carrying too much and offered to help, which he declined, as he was still stinging from the trash bag incident (would help if he didn't overfill the bag, it was indeed VERY heavy, even for me!). I have to figure out when to offer help and when to back off, which is very tricksy, as I don't want to offend him, but it's hard when I see him struggling.

Been feeling lonely lately, despite the fact that the summer people have been around. I did go swimming when my landlord's younger relatives came down, two women and a gaggle of kids. Then I sat in my chair, with my feet in the water, enjoying the breeze, before going back up the hill and making supper. But the days seem long sometimes, despite lots of housework and cooking and projects that need to be done. It's hard to motivate myself to do things, especially scoop the kitty litter, but I did power wash the litter box last week, and a stinky outdoor garbage can, so at least that's done for now. It would help if Kato didn't jump into the box and tip it sideways, spilling fresh litter onto the newly swept floor. Miss MoneyPenny does her part by digging a hole to China and flinging litter everywhere. It's a high-sided box, so she's wicked talented to be able to do that, and still manages to not cover her poop up :::sigh:::

I thought maybe I should get a puppy, a little female dog, and then I thought twice about it. Not only the expense, but the time and attention, I mean, it's insane, right? To want a dog when I have so much else to do. I go through this at least once a year, and then I remind myself that it's not the right time, not just yet. I have to get all of my other stuff together before I take on a new pet, especially one that needs to be walked every day, along with all the other stuff that goes along with owning a dog.

So what is missing from my life? People? Dogs? Something. I decided to buy a new rotary tool, to step up my craft game. I picked out an AVID, 1.5 amps, only $24.99 on Amazon. It arrived, and I got it all set up, but then the stomach stuff hit me, and I was feeling poorly, so it will be all ready for me this week, when I am feeling well enough to sit down and play with it. I want to try making things out of oyster shells, and have been watching YT videos on working with shells, as well as the basics of using a Dremel-like tool. Things like the proper speed for drill bits, etc. I have safety glasses and dust masks, and will be using water to help cut down on shell dust. Anyway, here it is, my craft desk and the setup.

The other thing I realized is that I haven't been using my new camera much lately. Friday morning, I saw the sun rising outside of my kitchen window, which is on the side of the house. This time of year, I can't see the actual sunrise unless I go down to the beach. So I took my camera and a cup of coffee, climbed down from the retaining wall onto the wooden foot ramp (which got broken up during the Spring floods, so there are no railings at present, and I have to get down on my hands and knees and reach my feet down to get to the lower part of the ramp) and sat on the beach for 20 minutes, watching the morning glow and taking pictures. It was so nice to do that, and I got one good one, which you can see here.

Been having a little trouble with Kato, who thinks the Mister's new power lift chair is his. It's all good when Mr. Mon Dieu is at work during the week, but Kato bugs him constantly on weekends, as he wants to take his naps in The Chair, like this (taken on Friday when he had it all to himself). It's both humorous and frustrating, especially when Mr. Mon Dieu gets up to grab a drink or use the bathroom, I hear, "No, no, that's MY chair!" all weekend long.

I did a bit of gardening the other day. I ordered some fresh lemongrass stalks online, got about a dozen. Used some for cooking, froze the rest, and put 4 stalks in a glass of water, to see if I could try and root them. Well, 1 out of the 4 grew roots, the others more or less rotted. So I planted the one with roots, and we shall see if it survives. I guess it will be okay for now, but not sure we have enough light indoors for it to thrive during a Maine winter (we also keep it at 65 inside during the winter). I repotted a sage plant, and my mint is doing well. Something is eating my basil, which I probably should have repotted like the sage, but will buy another plant and repot it and see how it does. My impatiens are really thriving! I am constantly amazed. Here are some pics of the gardening stuff.

I finally put out some fairy garden figurines that I bought last month. Want to get some baby ferns and little flowering plants, as we still have at least 2 months left for the growing season. I'll bring them in over the winter, so they won't get faded and such, but the neighbors have little kids who pass by, going down the cobblestone path to the lake, so hoping they see it and get a kick out of it.

So, wish me luck with my new rotary tool, and my soon-to-be-new CPAP machine! I hope I can get used to it quickly; my friends who use one have said it's improved their life immensely, here's hoping!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:21 AM on August 11, 2019 [13 favorites]

I'm a teacher (well, professor at small college), and fall is always back-to-school season. So August-September feels more like the new year than January to me.

This summer, my department was informed that we are going to be disbanded over the next academic year, and the various programs within it will either be cut, or will go live in other departments. This is a really painful change, since most of us have been with the department for a long time. And when we go back to school tomorrow, we're going to have to spend the next semester proving to administration why our programs shouldn't be the ones cut.

I'm very angry and sad about this, and when I get angry and sad, I tend to bring the snark, and even really lash out verbally, usually with a lot of swearing. But I can't take a chance on telling the college president to go fuck themselves, because at the same time, I have to play nice so I can be one of the lucky ones who keeps their job.

Enter my new mantra: "Kind - Necessary - True". My goal is to not say anything to anyone (especially anyone in administration) that isn't all three, but at this point, I'm shooting for 2 of 3, with "Kind" or at least "Neutral" as the most important. I even got myself a ring with those words engraved on it*, so I can have a physical thing to futz with and to serve as a reminder to keep my head down and my damn mouth shut.

*From this Etsy shop, which I highly recommend.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:42 AM on August 11, 2019 [12 favorites]

Also, Marie Mon Dieu, I love my CPAP machine, and I now also love Kato.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:48 AM on August 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm easing into my new beginning as a freelancer; I think I will like it; I wish I could stop imagining worst-case scenarios for my poor colleague/boss at my semi-ex-company. It shouldn't be my responsibility to ensure that he's not put into a professionally untenable and personally stressful position! End of rant.

Today was our summer orchestra concert, Bruckner. It went pretty well; there were some really beautiful moments and a few not so. I'm still kind of in love with the concertmaster (and have been for, what, going on a decade now, in a way that doesn't seem to threaten my marriage and sure as hell doesn't impinge on his), which makes it all more fun. From September I will have another small new beginning, conducting some of the string section rehearsals, which I'm super looking forward to even though I'm not sure I can do it.

My cherry tomato plant, which just about bit the, er, dust during the extended rainy season, has miraculously revived (maybe; it doesn't have flowers or fruits yet, but at least it's, like, green and leafy instead of brown and shriveled). I always think of Homo neanderthalensis and the other Mefi gardeners here when watering it.

Over the last couple months I've been coaching a former student of mine for a transfer exam; he passed his test with flying colors, and tonight my husband and I took him and his girlfriend out for dinner to celebrate. They're both really lovely people, smart and sweet and original, and though there's a generation between us I hope we can stay close.
posted by huimangm at 5:14 AM on August 11, 2019 [8 favorites]

I'm hoping to make big changes soon. The last six months have been the worst of my life, by far. I've started the ball rolling on a few things, and hopefully they'll lead to more positives in general. But so many things take time, and when you're desperate for your situation to be different, it can be agonizing to feel like you have to wait even longer. I'm trying to work on being patient and taking the long view, which is hard at a time like this.


I am in a job that I have been realizing more and more that I hate and I am trying to get the fuck out of it. I had a headhunter reach out to me a couple weeks ago about something that would be better as a for-now. We had a phone interview on Friday, I'm skyping with her after work on Tuesday. I've also applied to to other things this past week and applied to something else the week before.

This next couple weeks will be easier because one of the only two people I share the office with (the anti-vaxxer who thinks everything is a government conspiracy, and who gaslights me about what he's said when he's been training me) is going out of the office for two weeks' vacation, but that just leaves me alone in the office with my boss, who ostensibly hired me to be an Office Manager and Executive Assistant but basically treats me like a human Siri and is the kind of person who ignores his Siri and then blames Siri when he "forgets" things.

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:48 AM on August 11, 2019 [14 favorites]

Moved cross-country recently and am looking for full-time work as an executive assistant. Job hunting is so.damn.hard.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 6:33 AM on August 11, 2019 [9 favorites]

I’m likely to accept a full-time job offer soon, after more than 15 years as a freelancer. That’ll be a huge change that I’m kind of dreading, but hopefully way less stressful too.

But I’m not gonna think about it any more until I get home in a few days from Pilchuck Glass School, where I’ve been co-teaching a class, though I’m not a glassworker myself. It’s exciting being surrounded by incredibly skilled artisans who work/play with glass for 14 hour days for the joy of it (and then somehow party a few hours more). I’ll never be at their level but I’ve started taking intro glass classes myself...
posted by moonmilk at 6:52 AM on August 11, 2019 [7 favorites]

Oh charmedimsure, this made me tear up a little:

For a lot of them it is going to be their Thing

My daughter finally found her Thing, and her Tribe, on the first day of middle school band. She has just finished her 12th year of playing in school bands, from middle school through college, and now she's looking around for a community band for adults. Bands kids are the best kids, and band/orchestra directors are the best people on the planet. From an old band mom - thank you for all you do, and my condolences on the loss of your student.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:58 AM on August 11, 2019 [10 favorites]

I've been feeling like I opened a new chapter in my life the moment I started my new job. It still feels very unreal to me, and I do have a smidge of anxiety surrounding it- but overall it's been great.
I had a big purchase two weeks ago- which involved loading the car in an interesting way. That trellis is huge! I had to take a break while I contemplated my bounty. Which includes a lovely bee bath. As well as the trellis for my chayote, and my wonderful new shrub, an Ugni. Also known as a Chilean Guava or Strawberry Myrtle, It's a lesser known berry type fruit that supposedly was a favorite of Queen Victoria. Then it was Onion time. I ripped out the back squash bed which was a mildew factory, and put in my onion starts. The only problem is- I had way to many onion starts so now I'm trying to figure out where the rest of them are going to go. Then it was just a matter of potting up some veggies into new pots and trying to figure out what I'm going to do next. Anyways I'm not worried- the most reassuring dog in the world stopped by work.
Just look at this face.
Everything's going to be ok.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:58 AM on August 11, 2019 [10 favorites]

SuperSquirrel, that sounds incredibly hard. Public universities in my state have ended funding for some departments recently, I think in part as a way to get around tenure protections (which they have also weakened). My best to you and your colleagues in navigating this, in maintaining a place for yourselves at the school if you still want it, and in finding new homes if you don’t.
posted by eirias at 7:59 AM on August 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

I haven't had any involvement with traditional schools for a long time but I have been taking non-credit photography classes for the last five years and will be continuing this fall with a medium-format film photography class which will give me a good reason to break out the Bronica ETR. I took a studio lighting class in the Spring and it should be fun to combine that with the qualities of shooting on a camera with a really huge negative format.
posted by octothorpe at 8:37 AM on August 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

I want to stand with everyone who has recently made, is making, or is going to make a change in their work life. I've really reached the "making a change" step this month, and it's incredible and the emotions are overwhelming.

At pyohio somehow the message I took away from almost every talk I attended was: if you can see that something is broken, then mend it. At some level, I've known for 2 years that my work situation is broken (and it got a hell of a lot more broken in June). I opened up to strangers and near-strangers and got more support from them than I could have imagined getting from even my closest friends. (seriously, the people at pyohio were amazing) Then had a teary conversation with my wife about all this . She told me she had been encouraging me to quit my job for quite some time. (I wasn't hearing what she was saying, I guess)

So now this week I have a second (technical) interview for a job that would really suit me, some contract work that could turn into ongoing work, and more leads that I haven't even pulled on yet. Plus my partner's 100% support to "just quit" around the end of the year even if these early prospects vanish.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 8:48 AM on August 11, 2019 [12 favorites]

Our ten year-old has spent the summer with his grandmother in Romania. He's been working on his Hungarian, hanging out with his cousins in the city (in this neighborhood in Cluj-Napoca), spending time in the mountains in Torocko (this village, attending music camp in Hungarian, and just generally having the time of his life. About a week ago, Comrade Doll went to spend a bit of time there with him and her mom before bringing him back to the US, including a stopoff in Malta. I just started a new job in spring, so I wasn't to the point of being able to take a few weeks off yet. So I had to stay home and follow along via photos. But I'm so grateful he got the opportunity to have a summer in Europe, to hang out with his grandmother and CD's side of the family, and to just generally have an adventure.

They come home in TWO DAYS! I cannot wait. Wednesday, I'm going to let him take a day to try and shake off jet lag. But Thursday, DOT Jr. and I are going to do some city kayaking here in Chicago. His big requests at this point are American hot dogs, Hot Pockets (I mentioned he was 10), superhero comics, and seeing Spider-Man Far From Home and Yesterday in the theater if possible. We'll tacle those, then see how much more fun we can cram in by the end of the weekend.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:07 AM on August 11, 2019 [12 favorites]

A project I've been on for three years, which was supposed to last six months (holy mission creep, Batman) is finally, finally, FINALLY really winding down. I've idly applied for other projects but nothing has panned out yet, so sometime in the next three weeks it's possible that I will no longer have a job, and I'm so fucking exhausted that I don't even feel able to panic.

I'm just tentatively (I refuse to have active hope as 100% of active hopes in the past 8 months have been dashed with FEROCITY) thinking of how I would like to spend that time trying to dig myself out of this hole of depression and dig my apartment out of its related hole of squalor.

The laundry, my god, the laundry. The thought of spending an entire late-summer day washing towels and vacuuming crevices! Heaven.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:35 AM on August 11, 2019 [9 favorites]

Classes don't start for me until the middle of September but this week I moved from the startup ecosystem workspace to the multidisciplinary experimental platform where my supervising professor has her research wing. for those new to my big change; i'm starting fulltime doctoral studies this fall at the age of 53.5 after more than a decade of running my own design research and concept design business.

I've got a refurbished Lenovo with the type of keyboard I love (its won design awards) that's waiting for me to set it up brand new - the equivalent of school supplies all fresh and new ;p I like these old machines because they cost me ~$250 and I can whack them around and carry them off to Africa with no stress.

Potato and I are looking to move soon to a place on the direct bus route to campus. Winter is coming, which means the long nights from November to February and cold weather before the Fall semester is even halfway through. My schedule won't be my own as much as it used to be and there will be a lot more events and networking to do as I transition my networks and my mindset from 'business' to 'academia'. Otoh I chose to take the self funding route so I'm not working for my professor's projects either so hopefully I can have a blend of flexibility and deadlines else I'll go nuts at this age to suddenly lose all my freedom of time planning.

There's a lot to do before the month is over.
posted by Mrs Potato at 9:56 AM on August 11, 2019 [10 favorites]

maybe this year I'll finally remember to start my holiday shopping/planning/card writing when I am essentially off, in Sept/Oct, and not in December, when I am on insane deadline.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:10 AM on August 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

I’m starting my new job tomorrow so I have total back to school feels tonight. I’ve got a new notebook and pen, got my hair cut, got some new duds and bag and shoes, and I’m all washed and in my jammies at 8pm! I’m looking forward to the challenge, but also my imposter syndrome is kicking in and the introverted part of me is bracing myself for a week of introductions and small talk, but overall I’m more nervous excited than nervous. It can’t be worse than my last job anyway... *prays*
posted by billiebee at 12:20 PM on August 11, 2019 [11 favorites]

I'm teaching "Evolution of the Human Diet" this fall and I'm very excited. I haven't gotten to teach in a few years, and it should be a good group of kids and a topic I'm excited about!

It's time for another round on the academic job market - jobs are just getting advertised - so I'm trying to polish my CV and cover letter and research statement and teaching statement and expand the scope of my search a little more broadly.

A fun thing - I've signed up for a beginner drawing class! I'd like to eventually be able to make nice drawings in my field notes. I just spent most of the day on a wharf reading and watching the terns catch fish. Yesterday was 6 months with my boyfriend and he shows no sign of surprise disappearances and makes me very happy! It's feeling a bit like fall, even in all the sun - the breeze has a bit of an edge and I love it.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:26 PM on August 11, 2019 [17 favorites]

The time is near to send my nephew off to university and yours truly being the obligatory evil/odd/eccentric uncle has a project to finish that I'll need the hivemind's help with.

The "A Certain Oddlystrange Prescient Bucket" Project

Assuming his parents and grandparents are going to send him off an manage the necessities. I'm sending him a 5 gallon bucket of random crap that he'll need sometime in the next 4 years and the rest of his life in a certain way.

Things that are in your random junk drawer that grown-ups accumulate, that were probably at home somewhere that he doesn't know he needs (neither would his parental units).

razor blades, playing cards, crayons, superglue, yo-yo, toothpicks, birthday candle, book of matches, lighter, incense, emergency soap/shampoo/toothbrush, sewing kit, chopsticks, envelopes/stamps, frisbee, etc.

Things like that. Easily found at the corner drugstore, but OMG that stupid "A Certain Oddlystrange Prescient Bucket" full of junk his uncle sent him has it covered.

It has to fit in a 5 gallon bucket (which will have a cushion on the top so it can be used as an extra place to sit, or a footstool). Not too heavy or expensive.

I'm trying to work up a good Ask post along the lines of: what did you once need one night when you were in university, what's in your junk drawer just because you needed it sometime.... That can be bought at the Dollar Store or 7-11 or a drugstore, or just that section in the grocery store.


On the other fronts, I think my little sabbatical is coming to an end. It's a sorta normal thing that I do of working for some years and then taking some years to putz around and relax. After the last cycle which lasted 17 years at the same uni as a (best described as research networking Special Circumstances Agent) I needed a few years to chill. But I'm starting to get bored.

Should be interesting.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:28 PM on August 11, 2019 [11 favorites]

I’m almost at the opposite end of the education continuum from you, Eyebrows. My 21 year old just graduated (Summa Cum Laude – yay!) and has decided to pursue a Masters program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She’s never been to Wisconsin, doesn’t have a car, hasn’t been accepted into the program yet, and most importantly, doesn’t have a job waiting for her. But she’s done her research, is studying for the GRE, has socked away enough money to last her a few months, and starts each day by sending her resume and a customized cover letter to new job postings. I’m trying very hard to be supportive without giving her a false sense security. I’m also trying to prepare myself for my own new beginning. Sure, I’ve been a quasi empty nester for the past few years, but most of daughter’s undergrad studies were just 3 hours from home, so she still came home for holidays and school breaks. For her last semester daughter studied abroad – in Italy – but she video-chatted with me nearly every day - frequently this was just so she could speak to someone in English (her classes were taught in Italian and all her roommates were Italian). She’s determined to move in early September, so this new beginning will happen soon!

One other change – yesterday I bought a new car! I upgraded from my Subaru Impreza to a Crosstrek. For the past 32 years I’ve driven only white colored cars. The Crosstrek is silver. Baby steps!
posted by kbar1 at 1:10 PM on August 11, 2019 [7 favorites]

I just moved across states and am starting a new job tomorrow. The process has been a bit of a whirlwind, complicated further by a cat who almost died from hepatic lipidosis and is now on a feeding tube. I am absolutely terrified of fucking this job up. It seems too good to be true and I am worried I am not going to be up to the task. I also feel awkward because this is the first "professional" job I've ever had in my life, i.e. one that requires me to present in white collar office clothing. I've always worn either uniforms or jeans and a t-shirt.

I'm trying to relax and focus on using this as an opportunity to really get my shit together: financially, personally, in the home. I've watched my friends hit adult milestone after milestone while I've been in statis. For a variety of reasons, if this job works out it provides the chance for me to start moving forward.
posted by Anonymous at 1:18 PM on August 11, 2019

zengargoyle—I LOVE your bucket idea!!!
Not to jump the gun on your Ask post, but... duct tape.
posted by bookmammal at 1:43 PM on August 11, 2019 [8 favorites]

My entire life I only knew anvils as something that gets dropped on Wile E. Coyote's head

Don't forget anvil firing! (YouTube rabbit hole)
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:49 PM on August 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Ahhhh, criminy: Little eirias has had her first lice exposure. Time to schedule that short haircut she's been asking for.
posted by eirias at 2:22 PM on August 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

Psst, bondcliff, find a nice elbow of wood and carve a boomerang!
You'll never get rid of it.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:26 PM on August 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

This year I reached the 10-year mark at my current job. I've never liked it but it has paid the bills, and the idea of job-hunting in my late 50's fills me with dread and pessimism. A few months ago I convinced my manager to do less of the thing I like least and more of the thing I think I'm best at (or at minimum, certainly better at than most of my coworkers) and which would have a tangible benefit to the company. That helped me feel better about the job...until earlier this month management made some procedural changes that suddenly doubled or even tripled the amount of time and effort needed to achieve the goals I'd been working toward. Now I feel like my efforts to improve things have been effectively negated, and I'm back to contemplating the job market. So not a new beginning as yet, but possibly the beginning of an end.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:32 PM on August 11, 2019 [8 favorites]

Sophie1, you might already know all this, but in my experience squash plants often grow only male flowers at first. I guess growing female flowers takes more commitment and requires a better established plant. :-) The female flowers have bases that look like tiny squash fruit.

If this is the issue, your squash plants will fix the problem on their own as they mature.

I am tempted to make analogies to the human maturation process. :-)
posted by cattypist at 3:36 PM on August 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

September is going to be a big month for me. I finished the trans "diagnostic" process last June (a process which is now defunct since Iceland adopted an informed consent policy) and am slated to see an endocrinologist for official HRT (I've been taking estrogen sent to me by a friend for over a year now) and a surgeon next month. I also plan to get laser hair removal done that month, and as my legally registered gender is now female, that procedure will be comped by the state.

I'm normally pretty bleurgh about September, but I've never looked forward to the month as much as I do now.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:29 PM on August 11, 2019 [23 favorites]

I am moving next week to House the Trilogy! Or, rather, my furniture is moving (with the cats to follow shortly after). I am moving to a hotel, because it took five months to find an electrician who would not faint on the spot when presented with the work we needed them to do, and I can't be in the house when this one (we hope) is doing his thing. (Uniting the electric--we're un-doubling the house--and bringing the # of outlets up to code is High Drama when the house was built in 1850 and, including the 20th-c. addition, is...large.) Moreover, the floor refinisher is not done refinishing, and I can't be in the house for that either, although he's theoretically going to be done before next weekend.

Oh, and the new semester begins on the 26th. I do hope I haven't accidentally packed a book I need for classes!
posted by thomas j wise at 4:40 PM on August 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

I moved a week ago, and today I'm feeling much more settled. All of my books are unpacked and most of the boxes done. I moved the cat tree to the living room so that my little guy can enjoy the window, and so the cats seem more settled too. I even baked brownies so I don't run out and buy chocolate all the time :)

The orientation to my program was on Thursday, and tomorrow is the big graduate school orientation. I'm feeling really hopeful about the school year- I got tingles when I read a syllabus with required and *recommended* readings because I am a nerd, and I'm looking forward to really diving into my classes.
posted by Mouse Army at 4:44 PM on August 11, 2019 [10 favorites]

Congratulations, Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane!
posted by lazuli at 5:11 PM on August 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

"I'm trying to work up a good Ask post along the lines of: what did you once need one night when you were in university, what's in your junk drawer just because you needed it sometime.... That can be bought at the Dollar Store or 7-11 or a drugstore, or just that section in the grocery store."

I used to send college care packages that consisted of "the 20 weirdest things I could find at the dollar store" (the ones where everything's actually a dollar, not like $3 even or whatever), and the big hit, every single time, was a set of play money. The army men were also popular -- people would make windowsill dioramas of them -- but they'd use the play money for poker and euchre and similar things! And people would tell me at graduation, "I'm still using that play money when we play cards!"
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:15 PM on August 11, 2019 [8 favorites]

I've just moved - everything is still in boxes and I just spent half an hour looking through them for my checkbook, which I need to get direct deposit set up at my new job.

I'm starting a new job tomorrow as a community college librarian! This feels like the re-beginning of my career, and it's also a substantial step up from my grad-school stipend, and I'm having many feelings about - wanting to be an adult, wanting to build a life. I'm not that young but I feel like I was stuck in stasis for a long time.
posted by Jeanne at 7:24 PM on August 11, 2019 [12 favorites]

My username is a new beginning, that's still pretty exciting! Although, I'm kicking myself for not going with "the girl with the llama tattoo" . Ah well. This one does give me a little more anonymity.

Because of decisions by the other party, my divorce finalization date went from Aug/Sept to "not surprised to see early 2020". sigh. I'm so done with that.

I had a bachelorette party for a dear friend whose wedding I'm in...I thought it was going to be a complete clusterfck, but it wasn't at all, and was actually a lot of fun. I got drunk enough to dance in the aisle of a moving bus, but sobered up in time to drive home safely. And, I made the playlist, which was a huge hit. Spotify playlist here.. Pro tip (actually it happened via shuffle but was perfection): start all bus trip playlists with "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince.

I'm getting an IUD sometime this week and am super nervous about it. Pain-free procedure vibes sent my way would be appreciated.

Hugs, gold stars, thumbs up, etc to all of you celebrating or otherwise encountering new beginnings!
posted by Sparky Buttons at 7:32 PM on August 11, 2019 [17 favorites]

bookmammal, duct tape is on the list along with the remainder of that roll of "Caution Radioactive Materials ☢️" tape I swiped from a bio lab ages ago. (evil uncle)

Eyebrows McGee, on point! There are two 'Dollar' stores nearby that I haven't visited in a while but expect to just fill up a basket with "Oh, take that and that and that" and play money or poker chips are pretty much my idea of what I'd grab.

Ideas are awesome, but I'm looking for phrasing so my Ask doesn't go all weird when I'm the weird one or go completely unanswered or off the mark.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:31 PM on August 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Mrs Potato: "with the type of keyboard I love"

I know this is very nerdy and not really huge in the big spectrum of things, but I related to this a lot. Newer laptops have keyboards that aren't as good as the old ones and make typing (and working) much more difficult, imo.

For everyone who needs encouragement, this is me cheering you on. Sometimes it just takes a nudge to turn the page - this is me with a little nudge on the shoulder, if you need it. If you need to hold up and regain bearings, that's okay too, of course - I've been there and I'm still there on a lot of things.

The past year has brought with it so many things I did not expect - it feels like one challenge after another, but I'm also really trying to keep a wider perspective and be grateful for the good things.

For a very embarrassingly long time, I kept putting off looking after my own health; it was always one excuse after another. Advocating for myself is something I've always struggled with, and something I'm still working on. I had done a lot of research over the past few months on looking for new health care providers for myself, but never got back to it (and got super discouraged when a recommended one didn't call me back). Well, I finally picked up where I'd left off, and I had one appointment last week and have two more coming up.

I know people make appointments all the time (I mean, I make appointments for my own family members all the time!) but this just felt completely different. I'm relieved that the appointments are on my calendar, and nervous about how they will go, but I'm glad I did it.

So that brings me back to the gratitude thing. I'm grateful for the friends who sent me messages of support of course. I'm also grateful for you, metafilter. I am grateful because as a person who deals with anxiety of various stripes, and as someone who has a fairly introverted personality, it's been so helpful to read your stories of what kinds of challenges you're facing (health-wise and not), and what you're doing today or tomorrow, and hear your fears and your jokes. Thank you for nudging me on and helping me turn the page.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 10:54 PM on August 11, 2019 [8 favorites]

zengargoyle - stapler, staples, paperclips, thumbtacks, rubber bands, and a variety of scotch tape

rangefinder 1.4 - exactly! I think that designers these days have no clue how to type and nobody else does either - only olds like me who learnt on large manual typewriters in high school and so we want keyboards where our fingers fly
posted by Mrs Potato at 3:09 AM on August 12, 2019 [5 favorites]

After nearly twelve years in the UK, Mrs. Example and I are finally starting the process of applying for indefinite leave to remain (i.e. permanent residency). It's a terrifyingly daunting process of getting together a giant pile of money, filling out two huge godawful (mostly online now, but still) forms, and then waiting for up to six months while the Home Office makes a decision.

(Oh, and not being able to leave the country for that six months because even if you use the new scan-your-passport service instead of sending it in, leaving the country even temporarily means your application is withdrawn...and they don't refund your money.)

On the up side, getting this done means approximately 1/1000th of the immigration-related stress we've had over the last decade-plus. Also, my employer will reimburse my application fee and do an interest-free loan for Mrs. Example's...a lot of places won't.

Fingers crossed.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:32 AM on August 12, 2019 [8 favorites]

I loved reading all the responses to this topic! Just too tired to throw my own into the mix. Sigh.

But, Marie Mon Dieu, your basil. Basil roots so easily. Break off some branches, put in a jar of water and viola! In a week or so you can replant and have a whole new crop! When I was really poor, I would buy one plant and turn it into a whole crop of basil by the end of summer!
posted by LaBellaStella at 3:48 AM on August 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm moving house in two days! It's a whirlwind thing, just as my lease ended, subletting a friend's place as they go away for a time, as they've just quit their job and dumped an abusive boyfriend, going to visit their parents in europe and in a weird twist, possibly stay at my parents place. It's also been a new beginning of love for them and their close friends, which makes me happy because they're someone who I've looked up to for years but have only recently grown confident enough to befriend.

I'm happy for the opportunity to help them, and happy because I get to stay in a fine place, well located, an old long-term leftist share-house with lovely people and significantly cheaper even if only for a few months. It also will keep my average stay down below 12 months, as it'll be the 24th place I believe I've lived in. So yeah, not too worried about the move.
posted by Acid Communist at 5:50 AM on August 12, 2019 [5 favorites]

I am moving halfway across the country, from eastern Maryland to Minneapolis, to a much colder climate, to a city rather than the rural/medium sized BORING town I've been stuck in for years.

Sadly, I will be leaving my best friends behind, but I can't stay here -- no work, no real arts community, also I hate it. So that will be tough.

But I feel like this will let me spread my wings/reinvent myself/have options for the first time in a decade.

Also looking forward to meeting some MeFites, riding my cousin's mare, and cuddling her dogs.

Also maybe dating.

I'm excited.

Saturday is GO time.
posted by Archipelago at 5:55 AM on August 12, 2019 [9 favorites]

Sort of a new beginning...I had a pretty scary set of medical tests on Thursday and they came out clear. This is really good news as the choices for outcomes were widely, WIDELY varied. The news isn't all sunshine - my hands are wearing out before their time - but a healthy nervous system is nothing to sneeze at.

If anyone is heading in this direction, be it for carpal tunnel or something more exotic, the nerve conduction study was a piece of cake, and most of the electromyogram wasn't bad. Some of it did hurt a fair bit. I think it'll vary by which muscles are being studied.
posted by wellred at 6:18 AM on August 12, 2019 [7 favorites]

I've been seeing someone I really like and it is making me a nervous wreck. So that's one thing that's new.

I joined a new writers group a few months ago and it has been fantastic. Submitting to the group means that I need to actually write, and that's the perfect amount of pressure for me. I've been slowly and gently getting back into writing over the past year, and it feels so so so good. The only downside is that writing and critiquing is so much fun and I feel so invigorated after that it reminds me how much I hate my "actual" work.

It's time to change jobs, but to what? I hate accounting. I like math pretty well, but I'm far from talented in it. And counting money all day every day is bad for the soul (and bad for the world, on aggregate). That can't be my contribution to the planet, you know? I can't sentence myself to it for life. But what else can reliably get me a reliable paycheck? I want that measure of security. The paycheck, the health insurance, the routine, the concrete and quantifiable skill.

The thing is that I am (also) desperate for a sense of belonging and fulfillment. And I was writing in my journal yesterday trying to figure out what it would take for me to get it. So then I was scribbling on and on about my most deeply held goals and realized...there was NOTHING about accounting on there. Obviously. I care about relationships, politics, writing, spirituality. Not money -- not in a way that matters to my soul, anyway. And it occurred to me that spending so much time and energy on accounting is keeping me from pursuing the things that actually matter -- and that that's actively damaging.

I'm in the middle of my CPA exams and I plan to finish. This has been a long journey and that license is a very personally meaningful prize at this point. It's proof of my own discipline and ability to accomplish a difficult, long-term goal, and that proof would mean so much to me. But I also want to get serious about transitioning to law, journalism, and/or media. I am at a TOTAL loss as to how to do that -- and suggestions are welcome! -- but I need to start being true to myself, for my own sanity.
posted by rue72 at 7:37 AM on August 12, 2019 [10 favorites]


Putting any new dating on hold.

Renewing my library card and actually reading books again.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 8:23 AM on August 12, 2019 [7 favorites]

Renewing my library card and actually reading books again.

I've just been able to find the mental space to do this again, although I still find fiction insufficiently engaging most of the time. BUT THEN THE LIBRARY BRANCH ACROSS THE STREET FROM MY HOUSE CLOSED FOR RENOVATION.

Sigh. There's also a branch on the same block as my office but it's really just a convenience location with one shelf of popular titles and several shelves of requested titles on hold for particular people. So I have been splitting my reading between titles from the indie shop in my neighborhood: Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic from them and Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy from the library. Then I added Burnt Offerings to my Kindle because I had a dream about a haunted house.
posted by crush at 8:37 AM on August 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

The library is the best place. I got the newest book by one of my favorite authors (Pierce Brown) and it's even better than previous books. So happy. And they bought a Python learning book on my recommendation. Hmmm, maybe I should go to the library after work.

My new beginning is trying to switch careers but it's scary as fuuuuuuck. I haven't done nearly as much Python learning as I should.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:13 AM on August 12, 2019 [5 favorites]

Rue: check your memail.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:14 PM on August 12, 2019

What isn't new around here? I am sitting at my new desk in my new office in my new house, newly denuded of partner (he's away for the fall) and contemplating some new work responsibilities.

My kid, in addition to adjusting back to our routines (without dada!) has lost her best friend at preschool - best friend moved this summer too - and we need to establish a new playdate routine. She also has a new teacher in her classroom, luckily someone she knows already.

Our cats are celebrating the new house by forgetting how to poop. One has the runs, the other has just given up using the box. They seem apologetic about it, but since the catbox is a new responsibility for me, I'm not impressed.

I am contemplating all the exciting homeowner Asks to come - how do I de-stink my dishwasher? How many catboxes? How mow lawn? Are carpenter bees a death knell for our structural integrity, or just cute lil housemates? What do radon systems actually do - monitor? remediate? What meal plan should I adopt so as not to go completely mad feeding self and small person night after night after night as a solo parent (taking into account her preferences, mine, and the fact that I have to wash every dish used?)

God is Change.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 1:39 PM on August 12, 2019 [7 favorites]

I am literally in the middle of moving to a new apartment. One in a building with a heated, indoor 20 meter long, 10 foot deep swimming pool. I am very excited about that pool.

Also, my internet now works, yay!
posted by jacquilynne at 5:41 PM on August 12, 2019 [9 favorites]

The big new thing in my life is that my department chair and I convinced our little college's VP of Instruction that my seminary degrees overlapped with philosophy enough that I could reasonably teach Intro to Philosophy. For the last decade (since my untimely departure from ministry) I've been teaching mainly public speaking and it's getting boring. So, so boring. It's really nice to have some new, meaty content to cover. I'm teaching PHIL 1301 for the first time right now as a summer course, and it's been a blast. I'll get two sections in the fall, and maybe more next year depending on demand. That's a really pleasant change.

I also decided (and this is not unrelated) to set aside my desire to get back into ministry. I've spent about six years knocking on doors that aren't opening, and it's time to say that chapter of my life is over for good. It's been a really positive thing for me to set that down. The cycles of sending résumés and going on interviews that never quite result in a job is depressing. It's been so long now since I was a pastor that my kids can't even remember it. Heck, the youngest was born after that ended. I've decided to embrace my life as it is now. Community college instructor was not something I ever set out to be, but it's what I am and that's okay. I could make a long list of ex-preachers I know who didn't land so comfortably. I wrote a long--really long--reflection on letting go of that dream here, if anyone is interested.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:33 PM on August 12, 2019 [26 favorites]

Pater Aletheias, I really liked your post about letting go of that dream. I'm in the grief process of letting go of a different kind of dream, and it meant something to me to read your contemplation. Thank you.

New beginnings for me: I just started a new creative project that is a sort of journal of a life and a childhood that I didn't get to live, with people who I don't get to have in my life anymore. I'm writing us a new childhood, a safer and more connected and more peaceful one, and so far I think it's actually helping me put those "I wish I wish" feelings somewhere so they aren't constantly pouring out of me all over my life. It's making the grief a bit more bearable.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 9:31 PM on August 12, 2019 [10 favorites]

I figured that was what that recent Ask was about, Pater Aletheias, but I'm still sorry to hear it.

I'm an atheist, but I see pastors as among the most important of our public intellectuals, and I can't help thinking that the best of you typically have the most trouble getting positions.
posted by jamjam at 9:35 PM on August 12, 2019 [5 favorites]

I loved your essay, Pater Aletheias. Honestly, it sounds very much to me like you are still ministering to people who need it, in a very direct way. I don’t know if that makes it ache any less.
posted by eirias at 9:58 PM on August 12, 2019 [5 favorites]

This topic hits close to home right now. It’s become clear that a big change in my life is needed but figuring out how is surprisingly hard. Best wishes and all the support to everyone who is making changes or has already made them.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:30 PM on August 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

My world is turmoil right now, but I've challenged myself to be able to do a flat-to-the-ground front split by the end of the year. And in general am challenging myself to do things I find uncomfortable to terrifying, like traveling alone, rock climbing (check- did that last weekend), and getting rid of possessions that aren't serving me.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:38 AM on August 13, 2019 [5 favorites]

Pater Aletheias—that’s a powerful essay. Thanks for sharing with us.
posted by bookmammal at 5:40 AM on August 13, 2019 [3 favorites]

After several years of taking CS classes, I'm taking a business school class this year. It's the first class towards a certificate in data analytics that may turn into a masters. Business school. Me. I am trying to wrap my head around this development. I am also trying to figure out if I should continue my trend of buying sparkly girly school supplies. It seemed cute and funny to do that when I was in classes with CS undergrads, but I feel like maybe it's a little obnoxious or trying-too-hard now that I'll be taking business classes with other adults. Maybe I'll go for modified sparkle princess this year. Still with the pretty colors but 50% less glitter, maybe?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:29 AM on August 13, 2019 [4 favorites]

Pater Aletheias, thank you for sharing, and your community is lucky to have you.

I'm currently serving on our church's ministerial search committee, and it's made me think a lot about how complicated ministers' lives must be. I wish you continued joy and grace on your journey.
posted by lazuli at 6:41 AM on August 13, 2019 [4 favorites]

Update: my friend is now stranded in Hong Kong on their way away.
This is incredibly awkward. We all hope that the airport is shut down for many days by effective protest.
posted by Acid Communist at 6:47 AM on August 13, 2019 [4 favorites]

Another new beginning, for me: our cat of 17 years passed a while ago, and it was one of the saddest things that's happened to us. A few weeks ago, we decided to adopt another cat, and fell for a shelter cat, about 3 or 4 years old, who'd been rescued from the feral cat colonies that apparently exist around Chilean prisons. We called her Asami (as in Korra and…). She's funny and cute, very skittish but also very demanding of attention and love.
She also has mange on both ears, and the vet says it's probably stress related and may take a few months to clear up. The vet's is 3 doors down from our house so we've taken her there a lot, but the cat really hates when we put her in the transport-thing and I don't think the vet approves of us.
It's been hard to try to make Asami feel welcome and calm and also have to hold her down to try to try put on the shampoo, rinse it out and then apply cream, and she complains and then hides under the bed and if feels like we're going back and forth with her all the time, because she just got here she's not really 'our' cat yet, and at the same I'm happy we're giving her a home and taking care of her. Small potatoes compared to other people's problems, I know.
posted by signal at 7:13 AM on August 13, 2019 [8 favorites]

I figured that was what that recent Ask was about, Pater Aletheias, but I'm still sorry to hear it.

A friend of mine recommended that I polish that blog post up for publication and submit it somewhere. I wanted a good quotation to set the tone at the beginning, and got several good options from that Ask. It would be nice for that essay to get a little wider circulation.

And, really, letting go of ministry has been good for me. I didn't use it in my essay, but I was really struck by the Marcus Aurelius line sohalt posted:

“Think of the life you have lived until now as over and, as a dead man, see what’s left as a bonus and live it according to Nature. Love the hand that fate deals you and play it as your own, for what could be more fitting?”
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:45 PM on August 13, 2019 [11 favorites]

I also like this Aurelius quote on life experience and coming around to live in accordance with your nature:

"So you know how things stand. Now forget what they think of you. Be satisfied if you can live the rest of your life, however short, as your nature demands. Focus on that, and don't let anything distract you. You've wandered all over and finally realized that you never found what you were after: how to live. Not in syllogisms, not in money, or fame, or self-indulgence. Nowhere."
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:19 AM on August 14, 2019 [4 favorites]

...I am 37 minutes from a meeting that may determine my fate at my current employer. Make that 36. Tick.
posted by wellred at 10:24 AM on August 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


the job I was being headhunted for is already gone to someone else

the agent is going to keep my resume on hand but it looks like it's back to the job boards for me

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:54 AM on August 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

Crossing my fingers for you!
posted by ellieBOA at 10:54 AM on August 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have seen that the WeWork three blocks from me is hiring, and the position has weird hours so they may not be getting any takers - but since it's only three blocks from me I would have no problem with the weird hours, I wouldn't even have to change my sleep schedule.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:55 AM on August 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

Fate is weird, but overall good...? this organization can be quite odd at times
posted by wellred at 11:32 AM on August 14, 2019 [5 favorites]

I seem to have been ghosted by the company I had a phone interview with. That's not a good sign.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:34 AM on August 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

I seem to have been ghosted by this guy and that's why I'm putting dating on hold. I was hoping to put it on hold for this guy to be #1 boyf.

posted by fluttering hellfire at 11:45 AM on August 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

That sucks. Ghosters suck. We need some real ghost-busters.

The good news is that I finally heard back from that company! They went with someone else.

But unlike my last job interview, I managed to get through this one without saying "there is no ethical consumption under capitalism," so I consider that a minor personal victory.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:41 PM on August 14, 2019 [10 favorites]

I joined a weightlifting (i.e., Olympic weightlifting) gym.

I've chatted with a couple of my fellow new students, and it's hilarious how many of us got interested in weightlifting because we saw a video and thought, "That's looks so cool!"

Sadly, those videos are the highlights reel cherry-picked from a very long and tedious training montage. It turns out real weightlifters spend a lot of time slowly sliding PVC pipes up and down their bellies. And I love even that, God help me.

An unexpected benefit of weightlifting: China has medalled enough that this is one of the few sports where Asians are not stereotyped as bad at it. Actually, it's the only sport coming to mind right now where Asians are not-stereotyped-as-bad for not-unfortunate reasons. (As an example of a sport where Asians are not-stereotyped-as-bad for unfortunate reasons, think judo.)
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 10:26 PM on August 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

DingoMutt, congrats! Your SLP questions on AskMe helped me decide to enroll in Intro to Linguistics this fall so I can start to take my prereqs for the master's program! First day of school is in a couple weeks, and I am excited and nervous and want to go out and buy a new notebook and fresh pencils, though I'm sure I'll be the only person in the room writing things down on paper.

I got promoted & this is my first full week with my new responsibilities. I'm taking over for someone who just retired after nearly 30 years in the role, so there's been a lot of figuring out where I do things the old way and where I can make things a little more efficient without ruffling feathers. I like the work and love my coworkers, so I'm pretty excited about it.

Still can't do any high-impact exercise post concussion so I'm getting into rock climbing. It's like a puzzle that hurts!
posted by coppermoss at 5:17 AM on August 15, 2019 [5 favorites]

My first week at my new job has gone so well that I’m worried - like, “it’s too good to be true I don’t think I deserve this” worried. But I’m trying to shush my anxiety and enjoy the fact that my boss is nice and not a minion of Satan, her expectations are reasonable, and I have a nice job with nice people and I’ll be doing useful work. So for people in one form of job hell or another hang in there!
posted by billiebee at 5:45 AM on August 15, 2019 [9 favorites]

That's AWESOME, coppermoss! I loved my prereq courses and would do this whole thing over again in a heartbeat. And heck yes to buying new school supplies - that never gets old! I may have a drawer literally overflowing with pens and pencils now, but by god, I neeeeeeeeded new ones every term.

Best of luck to you!!
posted by DingoMutt at 9:54 AM on August 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

We're in the weird liminal state at work where the students aren't back yet, clearing is underway and most of my summer projects are completed (well, I still have to write a wiki page on the new RFID system and close off a few loose ends with the campus that has shut.)

It's definitely starting to feel more..autumnal, which is a bit weird for the middle of August but there we are, so I am quite excited to start nesting into the house. We've finally got to the point where the outdoor cupboard is not a holding space for cardboard boxes (as we don't drive, we have to cut them up slowly for the once a fortnight recycling bin or try lug a bunch to the dump as a pedestrian, which is...not ideal.) and I can see my spare freezer again, so I'm looking forward to setting that up as the Bulk Cooking facility. I just need to figure out getting a replacement bottom drawer when it seems the manufacturer reused the model number, because all the drawers on the spares websites are Not For This One (I have been bitten before.)

New class wise, I am looking into learning BSL at level one after learning and then helping teach the Guiding promise during a big camp. We have done Deaf awareness sessions with Guides before, so I can do very basic stuff and it's just really clicked with me. Plus, I'd love to be able to help as an adhoc interpreter at work as well because that has been an issue in the past.
posted by halcyonday at 4:50 AM on August 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I just got some bad news. Skip this comment if you don't want to hear it. I wouldn't share it here, but I needed to put it out there somewhere.


We just found out that my cousin died. He was 25. He probably overdosed, but it could have been a brain injury as well. We weren't close, and I hadn't seen him in years, but the whole family is really shaken up. What a tragedy. He had a rough life.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:47 PM on August 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I’m sorry to hear that, 25 is so young. Some people get a really raw deal and it’s hard to watch the loss of what might have been. Sorry for your family’s loss. Take care of yourself.
posted by billiebee at 1:11 PM on August 16, 2019

So sorry for your loss, shapes that haunt the dusk. Losing family is jarring and upsetting even when you're not 'close' - and like billiebee says, 25 is so awfully young. My best to you and your family.
posted by DingoMutt at 1:37 PM on August 16, 2019

Shapes, so sorry to hear that. Sending love.
posted by ellieBOA at 12:20 AM on August 17, 2019

I almost forgot I'd written that. Thank you for the kind words. I genuinely appreciate them.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:37 AM on August 17, 2019

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