Metatalktail Hour: Moments of grace March 7, 2020 1:42 PM   Subscribe

Happy weekend, Mefites! This weekend, Bella Donna says: I experienced an unexpected moment of grace while visiting my father in Colorado in his nursing home. Actually, I experienced two now that I think of it. I would like to suggest [...] Saturday MetaTalk kick off topic be about moments of grace, unexpected or otherwise.

As always this is a conversation starter not limiter; feel free to let us know what's going on with you generally. Just no politics please.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 1:42 PM (49 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

It's not exactly a moment of grace, but I'll share a little positive thing I'm thankful for right now. Yesterday our cat was sick, not really eating. I'm without the car today, so was worried if I had to take him to the vet how I'd manage -- but today he's looking somewhat better, and starting to eat again. Fingers crossed it continues.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:40 PM on March 7, 2020 [20 favorites]

About 15 years ago, my (then 10-year-old) son and a number of his friends made plans to do a day trip skiing at Mount Snow. The mother of one of the kids was taking them all. We made plans to meet at her house in Barre, MA at around 4:30 in the morning. So my son and I, bleary-eyed, got up, got dressed, grabbed his ski gear and opened the front door... to a big blustery snowstorm. We loaded the car and started the drive from Worcester to Barre in darkness, freezing temperatures and howling winds. The driving was slow and a little treacherous. Momentary whiteout conditions kept happening throughout the ride. We were alone in the world that was cold and dead as a tomb. No signs of civilization. No signs of life anywhere. As I drove through Rutland the snow kept blowing, often obscuring the houses we were passing and sometimes the road itself.

Then in the middle of the blizzard, in the middle of nowhere, the snow cleared for just a moment... and I glanced at a light to my left. It was four in the morning. The light was coming from the picture window of a small ranch house. In the window were a man and a woman in their 50s or 60s, impeccably dressed, waltzing with each other. I watched the scene for about two seconds, then the snow closed in again and it vanished.
posted by KazamaSmokers at 3:44 PM on March 7, 2020 [53 favorites]

My mom believes that medication has entirely resolved her dementia and is angry at not being trusted with things like car keys. She keeps wondering out loud if we're going to put her away- I don't know what to say. It's nearly inevitable that at some point she'll have to be in a facility. When I visit she wants to talk non-stop, which makes it hard to do any of the practical things that would help her and my dad. She'll tell me the same few stories, over and over again. My sibling gets very avoidant when I try to suggest that they might want to help in some way. I'm so angry and resentful about this- - I often wonder if we're going to have any relationship at all when it's all over with. I'm scared about my own old age.

I could use some grace today. Maybe it was my friend who took my sad and worried phone call and listened and told me she loved me and that I'm doing an adequate job. Maybe it was the other friend who went to dinner with me and took my mind off everything for a while.

Maybe keeping my grief and anger at bay also keeps me from experiencing whatever moments of grace come along.
posted by bunderful at 5:51 PM on March 7, 2020 [15 favorites]

The depression is pretty bad this week/month/year. I'm having issues at work and can't bear to reach out to anyone. Everything is tiring and I'm scraping by, but I wonder how much longer I'll have to deal with this debilitation. I'd like to go to work for a full work week. I'd like to go out to see a friend and not feel manic afterwards. I'd like to stop feeling like a scooped-out shell every time I do something beyond the bare taking-a-shower, putting-food-in-the-hole-in-my-face minimum.

Anyway. From experience I know that while feeling like this can happen often, it's not permanent. It's not forever, thank god. But sometimes the best you can do is wait for your internal weather to change. Today, I feel like a hideous blight on the couch. Tomorrow, maybe, I'll wake up and something will sit differently, and I'll have a little more breathing room. I'll have a little more energy, a little more optimism, and I'll call somebody up.

Anyway, this is to say that time is a grace too. As are we and our unfolding through it. I couldn't tell you this without having suffered a lot. But I can see you unfolding, and you are so precious even the act of watching you is a treasure.
posted by snerson at 6:17 PM on March 7, 2020 [42 favorites]

Snerson, you made tears come to my eyes. I hope tomorrow is a better day for you.
posted by bunderful at 6:26 PM on March 7, 2020 [6 favorites]

I need a better day as well. It's been a very crazed time at school and first thing Friday morning, as I was hanging with two little kids who were up all night being interviewed by social services and needed just a little kindness and care, I was called out because social services was at my school to do an emergency interview with 2 other kids.

Abuse had been proven and they were there to make an emergency determination about removing the kids from the home. I know the kids in question a bit--sometimes we draw pictures together and they like to make little kid crafts that are perfect.

So I sat and listened as the first kid was interviewed and she was not going to open her mouth for anything and the older kid opened their mouth, and in the same way kids talk about favorite Pokemon, this kid detailed things that kids should not know about. Bad things happen in her house. And I am sitting there trying to hold it together as I am writing down every terrible things she says, and the interview was over and the kids were immediately removed and I had to get a state police presence at the school because we knew the parents were going to show up and try to kill me and then I had to also spend the rest of the day putting out petty, stupid and bitchy fires with ignorant dbag teachers and all I wanted to do was have those parents come into my school so I could punch in their faces.

It was overwhelming and I went home to stare at the fireplace for 4 hours.

I tried to wake up and do a thing but found I couldn't even put together much of a coherent thought, so I took the dogs for a walk but fuckity fuck fuck I couldn't escape it and now I know what real terrible shit is and this is a thing that happens in my shire and those poor little kids.

It just is so shit. THOSE POOR KIDS.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 7:24 PM on March 7, 2020 [38 favorites]

Ugh yes I said, that sucks. I'm a coordinator of Year 7 and I fielded the call on Friday from services saying that they have filed against the parents and are picking one of our kidlets up from school to remove him from the parents to care most likely out of area. (This isn't the first time.) It's an absolute kick in the guts, isn't it.

We'd been working closely with this kidlet because he would verbally spout crap in the yard and start stuff, trauma flight or fight stuff. But I wish he could have stayed.
posted by freethefeet at 8:23 PM on March 7, 2020 [7 favorites]

Hey y'all if you're somewhere on the planet where it's currently nighttime go take a gander at the moon and sky.

I'm getting ready to put my dad in hospice. He's just kind of rapidly declining. (I had to call 911 on xmas eve, he spent three days in the hospital, then five weeks in a rehab, and has been home since February 4th. It has been exhausting but necessary.) The grace in this is probably that I've been able to be sad about this and process feelings because most of the time my depression just makes feelings impossible for me to actually experience/have. There is also grace in being able to spend time with my dad while he's still half making some sense. His sense of humor is still pretty good right now.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 8:27 PM on March 7, 2020 [9 favorites]

So I think I've reached a state of grace in general where my anxiety is a companion but not my boss. I can still get upset but I don't... react the way I used to. In specific today I reached a state of grace when this puppy came in to my work. 4 months old- a Bulldog. Kept trying to gum my whole hand. Not only did I pet him, but lots of kids came up to babble about the puppy and the owner was very patient and sweet with them. Later when delivering soil to her car, she struck up a conversation with me about my (obvious) love of dogs. Sometimes when working retail- people, even people who like the attention you're giving their pooches- do not treat you like a human being. Today not only did the owner of this bulldog do that- but another woman while we were very busy kept asking me how long I'd been working here and if I enjoyed it and oh isn't that wonderful and finally- "when I plant these marigolds I'll think of you." Which was the nicest thing anyone has said to me this year so far. It wasn't just her- a couple I was helping, two men gently bickering in that sort of genial way old couples do, mainly about the pot needed to repot a houseplants and the soil needed, not only took my advice solemnly, but even mentioned to my manager "Oh they know what they're doing- we'll listen to them!" It's like the whole day was validating.

I have gotten my first real flush of herbs for the new year. And I've started putting them in new places. The mint thunderdome is dead- long live the herb thunderdome! The weather lately has been just bizzare- hot then cold then hot then cold and dry then wet. But the first true signs of spring are here- fresh growth and fresh flowers. Finally I have made another terrible tomato decision and have bought another crazy tomato. This one is a local cross that is described as "something you might see on Star Trek". Which well- in the latest episode of Picard there were tomatoes so clearly the universe is giving me a sign. Of course literally seconds after putting my little tomato into a bigger pot this morning the heavens opened and it started to rain.

But it's been such a dry February- the rain itself is a blessing.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:27 PM on March 7, 2020 [19 favorites]

My daughter is 13, and we've been giving her a bit of space to do her thing as she gets older. We have a card that we can transfer funds to for her allowance or any reason, which she can use as a debit card, or withdraw cash from ATM, that kind of thing. We can set it up so that after she does certain chores, she gets money credited to her. It's a good way for her to have some financial independence, learn some good spending and saving habits (the money can be allocated automatically for spending, savings, etc.), and also for us to transfer money to her in case of emergency.

Anyway, she went into Starbucks today to get a treat while we were nearby, and she texted to say that her card wasn't working. Still not sure what the deal is, sort of annoying, since there was plenty of funds there. But we high-tailed it over there to rescue her from deep embarrassment and pay for her purchase, and when we got there, we went up to the counter and said we'd like to pay for it, and unbeknownst to our daughter, someone in line had overheard and paid for everything! It was sitting at the pickup spot (and for some reason this went over my daughter's head). The barista pointed out the Good Samaritan. My daughter automatically went up to say thanks so much, and I followed, and offered to pay for the items. She said no, please don't, she just remembers being that age and being in a tight spot and wanted to do it.

On the way out, she said that it seemed like my daughter was a really good kid. Of course, I said "Yes, she is!" And inside I was beaming, because there is just something awesome about hearing someone else say that they like your kids. And that was just the cherry on top of them looking out for her in a way that was super kind. So, it was a gracious act of kindness in more than one way. Felt good.

PS - I just did the math and realized that I set up my metafilter account when my daughter was just a year old. I have no idea where the time went. I can clearly remember at the time being so tired because a one-year-old can be tiring and she wasn't always sleeping so great, but thinking it wouldn't last forever. Now I lose sleep because I'm concerned about her in different ways, and she sleeps like a rock.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:12 PM on March 7, 2020 [27 favorites]

The night before last, I was woken up by weird sounds on the side and front of my home, but I was surly from my night meds and somehow thought it might be raccoons or possums brawling, and by the time I went full alert and became alarmed by how loud the sounds got, it stopped. The next morning, I saw the outside of my home, splattered in dirt and blood and broken plants, so I called the police.

The police officer arrived quickly and was very kind, and suggested bleach for cleaning up. The speculation is that the man (who I later learned was seen by a neighbor, who had almost called the police) maybe knocked so hard and for so long it drew blood. Yes, of course I have bleach, and gloves, too. So I cleaned and cleaned, and it was exhausting, and the paint started changing color and I was kind of freaking out by that point.

But then it started raining. And it rained and rained and rained for hours, and it felt like a kind of grace for which I am grateful.
posted by katra at 9:32 PM on March 7, 2020 [12 favorites]

Everyone is a little on edge on campus because of coronavirus concerns, and my colleagues and I are urgently working on ways to keep our courses functional even if we need to go partially or fully online, and in the meantime, how to accommodate those who feel unsafe coming to big lectures. Everyone is doing what they can to help each other out.

As I was walking into class Friday, one of my students quietly said, "thanks for teaching us". Some comments later in the day made me realize some of my students are just hanging onto whatever shreds of routine and normalcy they can, as a means to distract themselves from freaking out.

My cats are continuing to fill all my needs for hugs, and they're doing a pretty good job of rotating to keep my lap full. We're enjoying a rainy introvert weekend inside, with chili for me and extra treats for them.
posted by ktkt at 9:53 PM on March 7, 2020 [7 favorites]

Thanks for this because tonight I lost most my grace when it comes to work. I'm tired that people who won't do their job, etc. But reading these comments, I feel more grateful and less stuck in my self because when I work I have an ackward grace...contradiction yes, but think of a penguin plating food, checking tickets and chopping tomatoe and doing well with a whistle and swirling garnish to boot.
posted by clavdivs at 10:25 PM on March 7, 2020 [9 favorites]

posted by clavdivs at 10:26 PM on March 7, 2020 [5 favorites]

My current commute is a one-mile walk each way. I stop at the same coffee shop every morning. Wednesday a few weeks ago I went to the counter with my usual, "hey, how are you?"

The guy behind the counter said, "blessed." I was ready to give a humorous or snarky response but he caught me off-guard. I thought frantically for something good about my life but only came up with "good for you." That conversation led me to think about what's good about my life.

The next Wednesday morning he said, "blessed and happy to be alive." I said "you have a great attitude," and he said, "it's a choice." And that made me contemplate how many of my own feelings I choose.

Last Wednesday when I walked in and saw him I had a sense of happiness and optimism before I even got to the counter. I'm surprised at how much he's affected me.

I think that's the closest I've felt of grace in awhile.
posted by bendy at 1:45 AM on March 8, 2020 [28 favorites]

A few years ago, I went to see my mom in the hospital. At that point in my life, I didn't have car and couldn't drive, so I took the bus. The way the itinerary worked, I had a lay-over in a neighboring city before I could catch another bus to the town her rural hospital was in. While I was waiting, somebody from her hospital called: They wanted to transfer her to a hospital in the city my lay-over was in so she could be seen by a specialist. She wasn't coherent and couldn't consent to the transfer, but she'd listed me as someone who could consent or refuse if she couldn't and given them my phone number. I consented.

I didn't get the connecting bus. A cousin of mine came to get me and take me to the hospital she'd been transferred to. After seeing a specialist, mom ended up agreeing to surgery which she knew could have fatal complications. She was totally lucid by then and didn't need anyone to consent on her behalf. I spent three days with her at hospital. She took the risk of complications very seriously. She knew she could die. She talked about ways she wanted her estate handled that went way beyond what was in her will, and she told me stories about her childhood I'd never heard before.

It turned out she did have complications, and she never regained consciousness after the surgery.

It means a lot to me I got to spend those three days with her and listen to her.
posted by nangar at 6:39 AM on March 8, 2020 [29 favorites]

A couple of months ago I was riding the bus. Two down-and-out guys at the front got into a confrontation, which turned into shouting and then shoving. One of them fell flat on his back and theatrically flung an uncapped bottle of brandy into the air.

At the back of the bus were a group of 19 year olds dressed up for a night on the town. One of them let out a giggle. (To be fair, it was a scene straight out of vaudeville.) The guy immediately lost interest in his original fight and rushed the back of the bus, screaming and throwing ineffective punches. Four of the kids grabbed his arms, picked up him, and rather gently pushed him out of the door of the stopped bus and onto the sidewalk, ten feet from a pair of cops. He got to his feet and began a full freak out, banging his palms on the bus window, throwing his body at the door, screaming obscenities. (He didn't leave any possessions on the bus. He pretty clearly wanted to continue the fight.)

The cops walked over, and to my astonishment, they did everything right. They asked his name and used it, never drew their weapons, and talked him down in less than a minute. They chatted briefly and then sent him stumbling home. They waved to the bus driver and we moved on. It was like watching a police training video. (It's good to know there are at least a few good apples on the force.)

I don't know what grace means. But, spending five minutes poised on the edge of extreme violence and then seeing everyone leave no worse off reminded me that people can be good.
posted by eotvos at 7:12 AM on March 8, 2020 [28 favorites]

I lost my wedding ring in September, while we were on a trip to Montana. I didn't lose it the obvious way (hiking in Glacier National Park), which made the loss that much more alarming. The day after it disappeared it turned up in a shoe in our luggage, apparently having fallen off while I hurriedly repacked so our hotel could relocate us.

But then I lost it again in January. It fell off at some point during my work day, and I neither felt nor heard it happen. I retraced my steps, looked in every box or bag I'd handled, even called the company's central support line to have them contact the person whose order I had fulfilled while covering for someone else. It was gone. Adding insult to injury, later that day I managed to lose something else I keep in my take-to-work bag: a 1-foot Apple Watch charging cable, which apparently magnetically stuck to something else long long enough to come out of the bag, but then dislodged itself, unnoticed at the time, outside the bag. I didn't notice that was missing until hours later, at home, as I went through the bag again. One day, one wedding ring, one stupidly expensive accessory.

My wife, who had been issuing regular admonishments that I needed to go to a jeweler to see about a sizing adjustment, was incredibly graceful about it. I was hopeful that the ring might turn up, and the next day at work I again retraced my steps, even staying after work to go again through all the boxes I'd touched the previous day. It was gone. The person from the support line even emailed me to say that the person whose order I had fulfilled had looked not just in the bag but in her car and hadn't found my ring. Everyone was very nice about it, but by all appearances it was lost for good.

A month (a month!) later, I briefly sat at somebody else's desk at work, and while sitting there I noticed a white cable sticking up out of her desk organizer. It was an Apple Watch charging cable. A 1-foot Apple Watch charging cable. Six feet from where I'd apparently lost it a month before. I thought, "huh. I should check lost & found to see if my ring turned up and nobody told me."

So I checked lost & found again. On the bottom, in a Ziplock bag, was a ring. My ring. No note, no card, no record of who returned it or how, but definitely my ring.
posted by fedward at 9:21 AM on March 8, 2020 [25 favorites]

I was celebrating my granddaughter’s third birthday with a small family group when the hospice called to let me know my dad had died. At the awful place where he had been forced to live since December 31st.

M was not his favorite nurse but she was my favorite nurse and M was holding his hand when my dad died a few hours ago. I think that qualifies as a form of grace. When I was there about three weeks ago, I complained to my dad about being single and having no one to help me put lotion on my back when my back was dry all the time. I was putting lotion on my hands when I said this. It was his lotion, really great prescription skin cream that I had brought from his home to the nursing home.

Do you want me to put some on you? he asked. Sure, I said. Then my elderly dad put lotion on my back. That was a moment of grace for both of us, I’m pretty sure. It sounds mundane, but my dad was never very nurturing as a parent. Moreover, now he was elderly and disabled, forced to be helped by strangers all the time. And by me during my visit. But during this brief interlude, my dad got to be a dad and to nurture me by rubbing lotion on my dry, needy back.

I am glad he is no longer suffering, and I am sad, too, of course. I am also really grateful for that moment of grace we shared as well the luxury I had as a self-employed writer to spend a little over four weeks with my dad before he died.

Farewell, Daddy. You weren’t a good father but you were an amazing human and a total character. I will miss you, and so will many others.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:29 AM on March 8, 2020 [53 favorites]

Bella Donna, I remember you posting recently about your father’s decline. My best to you. I hope you are surrounded by loved ones for as long as you need.
posted by eirias at 10:33 AM on March 8, 2020 [6 favorites]

My daughter’s had a rocky start to formal schooling over the last few years, as I’ve mentioned in this space, and though it’s been difficult it’s also been peppered with many odd moments of grace. My favorite of these: this fall we had a particularly difficult exchange with her main teacher in which we were urged to have her assessed for a serious, life-altering disability. I barely slept that night (the insomnia had been chronic, but that night was particularly bad, maybe an hour of sleep total). The next day was a retreat for my workplace, and I was at a part of the campus where I never go, one of those spaces that only exists for retreats and such. As I got on the elevator my mind was cloudy with worry about what this disability, if the teacher’s fears were well-founded, would mean for Little e’s future. Would her school refuse to serve her? It was a live question — they've expelled students for less. A man stepped in the elevator at the same time as me, walking with a guide dog. I guess he was there for a conference also because he was wearing a name tag. I reflexively checked the tag, for some reason, I don’t know why, we were not going to the same meeting, and though I don’t know him I recognized his name immediately. He is known in the area for being one of very few blind people in the United States to earn an MD; and I know a bit of his backstory because I used to work for the person who fought hard for the accommodations that made it possible for him to succeed. It was an incredible, timely reminder that difficult doesn’t mean impossible; that we get to be whole people; that good educators find meaning in meeting students where they are and helping them thrive.
posted by eirias at 11:14 AM on March 8, 2020 [21 favorites]

So last week had the potential to be very tense. An agency of work's major funder had requested we spend a few days to instruct them on how to make our devices locally. We spent a couple of weeks writing the course materials from scratch. I'd only met my co-presenter colleague for a couple of hours the week before, even though we've been on the same (Canada-wide) team for two years. We didn't exactly know what they wanted to hear, and we knew they'd bought a device that we absolutely hadn't recommended, we couldn't afford to buy or try and they were expecting training on. No pressure, right?

It went amazingly well. The team was really informal and just soaked up what we had for them. The 3d printer that they'd bought turned out to be better than we thought possible for their particular application. Everything just went right and I think we made a bunch of friends in the process.

This afternoon we went to hear The Shoe Project Presents… Taking Steps. It was tremendously moving. One of ms scruss's former students was a speaker: she'd been a judge in Turkey and had been imprisoned in 2016. Her entire family had to flee to Canada.
posted by scruss at 3:56 PM on March 8, 2020 [6 favorites]

I was in a car accident in November, got T-boned by some idiot probably on their phone. Last car payment had been made the previous May. Car declared totaled.

Despite being told all my life that women can do anything, that’s not true at all. I do all right, but it’s damn hard living without a partner in one of the most expensive areas in the country, and my lack of savings terrifies me often. Now I have to go back to expensive-ass car payments on top of everything else.

So my uncle, who loves cars, takes an interest in the whole new-car-buying process, and does all the dickering (which I really can do myself, but it’s nice to have one less thing to do and it makes him happy).

Then we’re leaving the dealership and he asks how much I got from the insurance company. I tell him. He nods, said that his wife gave the go-ahead and that he is going to cover the remaining balance of the cost of the new car.

I stare at him and suddenly can’t talk, the lump in my throat is so big. “Wh-wha?” I croak. “Why?”

He doesn’t like to show emotions too much, so he just shrugs and says, “You take your [difficult] mother [his difficult sister] to church and grocery shopping every Sunday, and put up with all of her complaining and anxiety issues [which means I don’t have to deal with it]. We’re very grateful, so just consider this a thank-you gift for all the work you do.”
posted by sockerpup at 5:08 PM on March 8, 2020 [47 favorites]

For the last coupla days, I have had random thoughts about a close friend of mine. He was a fine wood worker, and a fine human being. I have a window to fix and he had a saying about putting things together with glue, which was, "Glue the shit out of it!" He showed me how to use waxed paper to keep glue from dripping where it shouldn't go, and then waxed paper releases from carpenter's glue, so you can sand the rest off, and finish the surface of things. I have some stuff to fix and I was thinking about him. He was the kind, kind of neighbor who climbs up and fixes your leaky roof, and won't take pay. I photographed a lot of his work. He created staircases and many other custom things, and restored some of the very fine Victorian porches, up on the Avenues district of Salt Lake City. I heard today he has passed, he has been on my mind for the last little bit. Grace to remember him before hearing he has gone.
posted by Oyéah at 6:16 PM on March 8, 2020 [13 favorites]

Years and years ago, I dated someone who, unbeknownst to me, was mainly dating me to make a person who’d broken their heart get jealous and rekindle the relationship. Surprisingly, this worked, and I was unceremoniously dumped. I was terribly sad for awhile, and to add insult to injury, my tomato plants were suddenly covered with aphids. I was in ugly depression territory until I trudged out to the garden one morning to try to murder the aphids. Instead, I found a swarm of ravenous ladybugs doing it for me, which felt like a supernatural gift. I’ve had big feelings for ladybugs since the day they saved my mental health.
posted by centrifugal at 7:36 PM on March 8, 2020 [26 favorites]

I got dumped today. It hurts a lot. I gave him my heart but he didn’t give me his. Fuck everything.
posted by rue72 at 8:02 PM on March 8, 2020 [12 favorites]

I'm going to a funeral tomorrow for the partner of a dear old friend. She's like a second mom to me, and I hope I can be a moment of grace for her on a very difficult day.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:57 PM on March 8, 2020 [9 favorites]

Yesterday I was umpire for a preseason practice match for my partner's team, a university women's Australian Rules football side. One player managed the sport's sublime act, the equivalent, only more-so, of a no-look pass in basketball or a nutmeg in soccer, to catch the ball ('mark') jumping and getting height on the back of the opposition player. Speccie! Video search 'best marks AFL' if you want to know why the sport is the greatest game in the world.

Everyone always says that we can't attain perfection, that it's an infinitely approachable standard we work towards to but never meet. I don't believe that, you see people hit perfection all the time; small transitory moments when things just line up. You've done it: the cook who poaches a perfect egg, the singer who hits the note, the joke you tell to the right friend in just the right way. This was for no score, didn't affect the outcome in any way, was not photographed, was in no way recorded for statistics, in a training match that mattered to nobody. It was half a second of absolute glory: contest, then up, over, the ball hit the woman's chest, stayed there, mark!
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:25 PM on March 8, 2020 [7 favorites]

So, yesterday was the Aurat March (Women's March) in many cities in Pakistan. It's the third year running Lahore has had it. It gets bigger each year. There were credible threats of violence from some more regressive groups (actual pelting of stones, bricks, and hot-chili-powder in Islamabad, so when I say credible, I mean it), but we marched. Mostly female police officers provided protection throughout. My 13-year-old son marched with me. I love that he's baffled by the existence of people who don't believe in gender equality. Like, we have managed to raise him, in Pakistan, to think that of course women are equal and how could anyone be stupid enough to argue against equal rights. And I love that my cousins, two younger women who were raised by not very well educated parents, who grew up seeing very clearly demarcated gender roles, in a family where 'decent women don't parade themselves in public,' made their posters and came and marched. And the vitriol from the jackasses gives me hope, because they are truly running scared. And this new anthem that the Women's Democratic Front released! I have been listening to on repeat since I heard it first. And I got to march with the feminists of the generation before mine, who were baton-charged in 1983, and the feminists of my own generation, who are gradually emerging from our indoctrinated-martial-law-educations, and the young feminists of today, and the kids who are growing up to be feminists. It was a good day.
posted by bardophile at 11:41 PM on March 8, 2020 [24 favorites]

Last night I was at a crowded event and a person was seated next to me who was rude and messy and kept manspreading into my space and I was FED UP. It turned out that he was one of the performers, and he eventually moved to a table that opened up, and then he got onstage.

His songs weren't interesting and his voice was nothing to write home about, but... I don't know how he played that guitar how he did. I DON'T KNOW. Redemption.

(and I was sitting next to that one right person while watching him, which didn't hurt.)
posted by wellred at 5:23 AM on March 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

Last night my boyfriend and I went to Red Baraat's Holi show in Boston and by coincidence a friend of his who he hasn't seen in years was opening after the original opener backed out. She was really amazing. She had everyone in the audience sing 500 Miles together and it was very much a moment of grace. Then we danced like fools to Red Baraat, and then we went home and ate apricot and poppyseed hamantaschen and celebrated that we're still here.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:59 AM on March 9, 2020 [4 favorites]

I volunteered yesterday (domestic violence advocacy program embedded in the police department). We went out on a call, and after we were done, my partner cleared us over the radio, and the dispatcher said something like "Copy. Thanks so much for being available to assist us, we appreciate the partnership". It might not seem like much, but radio traffic is usually very tight, controlled and brief, and for him to take the time to broadcast that over the air (to everyone) was super sweet and touching.

It was followed later by an extremely traumatic phone call, but I'm trying to carry the grace and not the trauma.
posted by Gorgik at 8:10 AM on March 9, 2020 [12 favorites]

Saturday was the beginning of a weekend after my first week at a new job, one that finally (FINALLY!) seems like it will be stable and something I can do well - all around it's a good situation.

So Saturday morning I finally had the energy both to tackle some long-overdue house cleaning projects and some craft projects in one fell swoop (read: I got some bankers boxes to refile some financial papers, and I made the boxes look pretty by covering them with decorative paper). I got far enough ahead of the game that I also went out to the Brooklyn Museum for their monthly free Saturday hours; I often want to go but haven't had the spunk in a while. But that night I did.

Instead of heading straight home, I opted to walk to an ice cream shop in the area, pick up a bowl of ice cream and catch the bus from there the rest of the way. But I got caught up in a conversation with a young woman who had some similarly quirky interests, and we talked movies, ice cream, photography, and neighborhood exploration, and ended up trading contact info afterward. She went on to find her way to her own subway after, and I realized I was halfway home so I'd just walk the rest of the way.

About three blocks from home I found myself thinking back over the past few years, about how I hadn't had the bandwidth to even go out of the house much - Saturday nights I was usually recovering from the week at lackluster or demanding jobs, at denying myself things in the interest of money. I'd lived through it all, I'd made it out the other end, and I was now getting back to being the person I'd wanted to be all that time.

(the fact that I am also now 50 meant that I apparently can't walk from the Brooklyn Museum all the way home without having sore calves the following day, but I'm determined to make that a temporary side effect by walking way more often.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:20 AM on March 9, 2020 [17 favorites]

Maine winters are dark and cold. Yesterday it was 60F and it felt great. I'm having asthma and while Maine has no reported cases, being 60+ and having lung inflammation is a drag right now, esp. since it's cold-induced. In addition to a warm sunny day, with the time change, sunset wasn't until 6:30 p.m. It feels so great to be able to go outside.

I'm putting down some black plastic so the garden will warm up a bit sooner. And it's time to trap & relocate squirrels, because there was another mast year, and gobs of acorns means hordes of floofy-tailed bastidges who will ruin every tomato, even though they don't like tomatoes, also beans and any other veg. Be well, MeFites.
posted by theora55 at 1:45 PM on March 9, 2020 [5 favorites]

(That version of 'Summertime' is stupendous, thanks!)

A couple years ago, actually I guess it was maybe four or five, the kids' school had a class for Syrian refugees. Most of the schools here in Berlin had this. They were integration classes, made for kids to acclimate to living in Germany. This was the middle of the crissis, and a lot of Germany was less than exstatic about all the refugees, though it was the right thing to do. An equal amount of Germany thought, in the abstract, it was absolutely the right thing to do.

Twice a year the school does an assembly where the kids show what they've been up to. And this time the 'Integration Course' kids were going to get up and read short reports they'd written in German. Nice, right? Right - the kids' school is a nice, Burgerlich school, middle class, staid, a little left of center but only a little. So the kids are going to get up and show what they've learned of German. Just this is enough. But people are various and after two very prosaic reports about being glad to be in Germany, came (my son calls her one of the smart girls, that'll do) X. X told about how they had a cat in their old appartment where they lived in Aleppo, and when they had to leave they could not take the cat and she missed and worried about the cat for the year and a half it took them to get settled in Germany, one year in a camp at the Turkish border, one year various camps on their way to Berlin. And everytime she spoke with someone back home or who they had known back then, she asked if they had seen her cat. With the obvious answer. They get to Germany, live in one of the shelters for a bit until they are able to arrange an appartment and she is able to go to school. And she likes the school, and the friends she has made. And she is very grateful for the chance. But mostly, she is grateful that they were able to go to the rescue center and adopt a new kitten. To give a home.
Bluntly, the whole room started to bawl. That something done so easily (it cost the average German exactly nothing) could have such an effect - and, of course it did, but still.

Do good. It's a superpower.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:21 PM on March 9, 2020 [16 favorites]

(Yes I said... tells a story about intervening in the lives of abused kids, which seems to have been a very upsetting and angering experience.)

I'm sorry, Yes I said.

I guess this was your turn to be the blessing.

And I apologize if my saying this seems pat or is in any other way annoying.
posted by cattypist at 9:55 PM on March 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Or maybe I should have said, I guess this was your turn to provide the blessing? Writing is hard.
posted by cattypist at 9:59 PM on March 9, 2020

Sounds like you really stepped up and did a good job.
posted by cattypist at 10:00 PM on March 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

I mentioned this in a previous MeTa that in late January my elderly but previously very healthy dad had a bad fall. It was a total freak accident and if he had fallen slightly differently it could have just made him a little sore for a couple of days, or it could have killed him. As it turned out, he injured his spinal cord and he is now affected with quadriplegia.

At first he had no limb function, but with surgery and rehab, he has slowly regained hand function to the point where he can feed himself, turn the pages of a book, and write the numbers in a sudoku puzzle. He could not do any of those things after the accident—either the nurses or my mother or I would feed him and brush his teeth. My mom and I would read to him. We would keep him company and entertain him, because hospitals are sure boring.

Lately, he has even taken a few steps while holding on to parallel bars.

It is a miracle to see him improving day by day. I am thankful I’ve been able to spend so much time with him (and my mother, to support her). My parents have provided me with love and nurturing my whole life and I am grateful to be able to do it for them now.

Throughout this whole thing, my dad has been remarkably philosophical. None of this is ideal, to be sure, but he has retained his sense of humour and intellectual curiosity. He has embraced his rehab fully and attends all the optional education sessions and therapies, including art therapy and music therapy (“Why not?” he says). He has made friends with the other nice people on the spinal floor in the rehab facility—which is wonderful and fully covered and oh my god I can’t tell you how grateful I am to live in a place with socialized medicine.

Anyway, that’s where my moments of grace have been lately. Seeing the love my parents have for each other, being able to care for my dad, watching him improve so steadily. Life won’t be the same for him or any of us, but I think he’s going to be okay.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:09 AM on March 10, 2020 [9 favorites]

Today, as I was wrestling my toddler to the sink and forcing him to wash his hands, I suddenly realized: This is what every parent around the world is doing right now. I mean maybe not at that very second, but likely within in the past 10 hours, depending on time zone. Think of it, all over the world, toddlers melting down with soapy hands...threenagers screaming that they're going to run away....tweens rolling their eyes...teenagers yelling how much they hate their lives...and exasperated parents saying "Just WASH YOUR HANDS!!"
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:08 AM on March 10, 2020 [7 favorites]

After my dad died suddenly then my cat died horrifically of a surgery complication and also suddenly... and I was very deep in the depths of blaming myself for that... I had my other cat Deedee, a very willful and dainty lady, who always had to do things her own way and wasn't much of cuddle cat. My boy cat, Torrin, had been the biggest cuddler in the world. If he wasn't in my lap or against my leg at night, he was probably off dreaming about it.

Torrin would always sleep on the outside of the bed, against my left leg, even though I'd pick him up like he was a slice of pizza and I was a spatula and move him to my right leg which I preferred. No, he'd just get up and move back.

I was laying in bed very late at night a few months after, I'd woken up and just started crying that sort of deep inside cry where you're not really doing anything except vibrate while leaking air in a high pitched whine and also tears everywhere and feeling this horrible fullness in your chest like it has to explode. I'm laying there for a minute when I feel the tiniest lump appear and lay down exactly in the spot he would lay in. Just like he would. Which is not a thing my girl cat had ever done. I didn't move and I didn't check to be sure it was Deedee and not a ghost cat, but I was so grateful to whichever cat was laying against my leg right then.

It happened one other time, also when I was crying. I didn't check then either.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:43 AM on March 10, 2020 [21 favorites]

So this just happened. My little brother has Down syndrome and lives a couple of states away. I texted him last night trying to entice him into coming to my home so I can help him through this thing. I told him he didn't have to worry about his job because I could pay his bills, and that I would rather we all go through this together.

He's over 50 and very high functioning, so he can usually take care of himself just fine, but I know things are likely to go a little sideways in the coming weeks and I'm worried about him. When he called me this afternoon in response to the text, he told me that he wasn't coming. When I asked why he said that at the factory where he's worked as a janitor for the last thirty years, they actually just hired two new janitors because they really need to keep the place clean now, so no one gets sick. And he's been doing it the longest so he's the best at it. It kind of floored me. I really want him here where I can help him and protect him, but he wants to continue working so that other people can continue working. And he wasn't persuadable.

I told him if they shut down the factory that he should immediately call me and I'll come get him, and he agreed. And we agreed to contact each other daily over texts. I wanted to protect him but he wants to protect the other factory workers. I'm very worried about him, but I'm also incredibly proud of him.
posted by Stanczyk at 4:24 PM on March 10, 2020 [32 favorites]

Stanczyk, you and your brother are amazing.
posted by Gorgik at 6:38 AM on March 11, 2020

This past Sunday, I was the worship leader at my UU congregation and the topic my minister and I were talking about was boundaries. Unfortunately, there were two anti-choice protesters with vile signs perched on either side of the driveway of our congregation, yelling at anyone who entered. They were at the Lutheran church a few blocks away the weekend prior so it was assumed it was our turn next.

The minister was aware of them when I'd arrived and was preparing to go out to talk to them. I (6'6") offered to accompany her (5'0") for concerns of safety and strength in numbers. They listened to nothing she had to say, of course, but her ability to attempt to calmly engage with them, over their shouting, was something to experience. My default reaction is to ignore or get angry and I'd lost sight of how sad and scared these protesters are and how those emotions are manifesting in their actions. There are so many battles we can never win but sometimes we need to try, to show up, to be present to witness.
posted by Twicketface at 6:59 AM on March 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

Today, in a single glimmer of hope during a mediocre week, I went to an excellent work-organised group discussion with colleagues on some statistics from the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap report for International Women's Day.

We looked at country-by-country numbers (with the home countries of the attendees printed out for discussion) and compared experiences from our own lives across country lines. It was interesting thinking about how people who share an office with me have come from such radically different backgrounds, and yet common themes of resilience and solidarity really shone through.

In some ways, it was the kind of utterly normal event I'd expect at any company these days, but that's exactly why it was brilliant: in the bustle of our utterly frantic yet miraculously functional coronavirus response, I've been quietly pleased to see us insist on maintaining our inclusion work, ordinarily sadly an afterthought, even when students aren't around.
posted by mdonley at 8:13 AM on March 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

These come up from time to time:

We played at an upscale retirement center that day. OOTFA gigs are catch as catch can, sometimes with four or five fiddlers and two or three guitar players, sometimes with seven fiddlers and one guitar player; you get the idea. That day about fifteen of us played to a crowd of maybe a hundred residents--a main floor and a mezzanine filled with seniors, (as we are called, whether we like it or not).

Our facilitator told the audience to shout out a few requests, and we'd try to get to them if we knew them. Several old-time song titles came at us, and we got to most of them. I heard a faint shout for "Wildwood Flower" from the back of the room, but after an hour and a half, when we'd done our set and were rolling up the equipment, we'd not done "Wildwood Flower."

I asked one of the fiddlers if she'd like to back me up on that song, and we went to the back of the room. I asked around for who wanted it, and an old fellow about my age raised his hand, and I asked his name. He said Ed. I said, okay, Ed, this is for you.

So I flatpicked two verses, and Melinda did a fiddle break, and I did another guitar break and we both did the last round together. At the end, Ed came up to us and said that was his wife's favorite song. I could see tears. He said he hadn't heard it in thirty years.

As Melinda and I went back up to the stage I could see that she was almost in tears, and I was getting a bit choked up, too. "That's why we do this," she said.

I've been playing with the fiddlers for about six or seven years, now, in both Oregon and hear in Idaho. I'm hoping doing this for the folks that are in assisted care and retirement homes will eventually elevate me to one of the higher circles of hell when my day of reckoning finally comes.
posted by mule98J at 10:38 AM on March 11, 2020 [9 favorites]

mule98J, my dad was staying in one of those places recently and I promise that you are doing good works. You know this but you are giving your audience moments of grace every time you play. What a wonderful story!
posted by Bella Donna at 3:46 PM on March 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

I don't know if it's weird to talk about yourself, but I had to go back out to a Safeway a bit south of where I live today, because I'd discovered when I got back from my food stocking-up run Tuesday that my receipt was really, really weird, and included the guy ahead of me's SNAP purchases mixed in with mine. Like, not even above or below my purchases and I just accidentally got their receipt too, but actually mixed in, including his SNAP debit folded in with my debit card total. I marked all my own purchases and totaled them, and it seemed right, but I don't know how SNAP works and saw this alarmingly large number being debited from his account, so I grumbled my way down to the store because I really didn't want that poor guy and his cute little kid to have to pay because of the error. It's hard enough to raise a kid when you need assistance.

The customer service manager had never seen anything like it, and couldn't even figure out how it happened. I told her that the checker was obviously overwhelmed with the crowds, and that I think my debit was charged what looked to be a proper amount, but I was concerned for the guy's SNAP benefits being maxed out at a terrible time for that. She kept telling me how sweet I was, what a great person I was for doing something about it. That is not something I ever really hear from anyone, and it almost made me cry, because I'm so stressed out about the pandemic right now and I wasn't super happy about having to go down there again. I had to try hard not to cry because I didn't want to touch my face.

She kept the receipt to talk to the checker and see if they could figure it out, but I emphasized I didn't want anyone to get in trouble, circumstances are very very unusual right now. Which made her tell me some more how sweet I am. It's not that I want to get sick (I'm in an at-risk population), but I feel a lot better about the potential risk knowing that the kid won't miss out on peanut butter or a corn dog later in the month.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 5:39 PM on March 12, 2020 [5 favorites]

kitten kaboodle, what a good thing you did! Thank you for sharing it. Reading your comment made my day better, truly.
posted by Bella Donna at 5:21 AM on March 13, 2020

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