The Vine, Anniversary Edition: April 26, 2010
A quick administrative note: I won't pick prize-winners until all the anniversary Vines have gone up; that'll give everyone a decent enough crack at answering. On to today's questions!
I have one for you and the readers. After 11 years of living mostly overseas in Australia, I am now returning home to Boston permanently. It's by choice, sort of: I've recently found that I've pretty much exhausted my visa options, and rather than try to spin it out any further on desperation, anxiety and no money, I'm going to go home and make my life where I'm safe and secure and have the novel options of full-time work, earning enough to live on properly, doing a masters, starting relationships unencumbered by visa end dates, and all those other things that I imagined I'd have in place long before I was 32.
The thing is, while I know that I'm making the right decision for my future, it's breaking my heart. I wanted so desperately to stay here in Sydney, and I have my friends here and my life here and so many things I love. I never seriously imagined moving back to Boston permanently, and while there are heaps of awesome things about Boston (both as a city and being closer to my roots there) I'm still afraid of how much pain is in store for me. I'm going back to no job, no money, a very small social circle — more like a triangle, really — and, god help me, living in my parents' house.
I know that I've got to find a balance between mourning the life I'm leaving behind me in Sydney and embracing the opportunities that will now be available to me. I'm scared that I'm going to get mired in the grief. I'm not good at letting go of things, and I have some anxiety problems on top of it. I went through a big break-up about 18 months ago (which brought about my visa problems to begin with), and it took me a long time to get over that 3-1/2-year relationship. I feel like leaving Sydney is going to be more like a break-up than anything else, which means that I'm now facing the end of an 11-year relationship, which is just…so much worse, and I'm not sure I'm up to it, you know?
So what I'm looking for is suggestions on how to deal with resettlement from you and from people who have been through it, especially people who moved super-long-distance and/or didn't go entirely by choice. How did you deal with the grief? How did you get back on your feet? How did you get your social circle up and running? And how did you balance keeping in touch with your loved ones in your previous home with letting go of your life there and moving on?
To clarify: I am NOT looking for suggestions about staying in Australia. I've done the research, I know how miniscule my chances are, and I know that I cannot bear to live with this anxiety and insecurity any longer. I want help moving on and restarting my life. I know that this is something that people do every day, and I know that this could be the best decision of my life IF I do it right. Any suggestions you and the readers could give would be very welcome.
There's No Place Like Home…Wherever That Is
I've lived in the same time zone my entire life, and never moved farther from where I grew up than I could drive in a day, so the readers will no doubt have better advice than mine.
But if you're already thinking about it as a break-up, it might not be the worst thing to treat it as you would the end of an interpersonal relationship. Not a "don't call Australia for 90 days" level of literalness, obviously, but some of the other tricks: trying to view it as the beginning of something, instead of the end; allowing yourself a certain amount of time each day to feel sad about it before moving on to another thing; accepting that we don't live in movies, and these things can take time to adjust to.
And now that I think about it, you may want to avoid calling Australia for 90 days. Well, don't call your friends for like a month or something, and don't go on Facebook for a while, because it's the same principle that applies to going to college — it's a good decision and you're excited about it, but it's also intimidating and overwhelming, and there's a temptation to call your high-school friends and write them letters and visit them and kind of try to keep one foot in your old life. We all did it, ain't nothing wrong with it, but people who kept doing it into sophomore year, it was like, why'd you come here?
You'll have days when it's hard and you feel horribly homesick, all the more so because you are "home" and you might feel like you "shouldn't." Just give yourself time. And see what the readers think. Readers?
Neither my sister (a librarian) nor I (not too shabby with the Google-fu) have been able to track this one down, but if Vine readers can not only identify a Seventeen magazine story about a gelatinous girl in a salad dressing bottle, but find the text online, what can they not do?
Our mother has often talked about a science-fiction short story that was very meaningful to her. As she did not share it with us at the time that she read it, I'm guessing it predates our being of an age to appreciate it, which means at the latest it's from the 1960s, but more likely from the 1950s.
Here's what she tells us about the story:
It is titled "The Curator."
It is set in a time when either most of humanity is either dead or doomed or suchlike; perhaps a select number has been able to evacuate Earth.
A man who knows he and human life on Earth are doomed still wants to preserve the best of what humankind has produced over the years. He travels around collecting items to put into a spaceship to be sent out away from Earth, hoping that someday someone will see them again. She specifically remembers that he cut the hands of Adam and God out of the Sistine Chapel as one of the items for the ship.
She still cries when she describes the story.
Trying to make my mom cry again (in a good way)
Hi Sars and the great Tomato Nation,
I just learned that April is National Poetry Month, which kind of makes me want to read more poetry. (You know, more than the none that I currently read.)
The trouble is that I'm a very literal person, so I have trouble figuring out what's being said if it's not explicitly stated. I think what I need is Poetry for Beginners — something that's pretty easily accessible.
I remember enjoying some of John Donne's work when I encountered it in college, and Sidney Lanier's "The Marshes of Glynn" was another that I really liked. I'd like to try to stretch myself just a bit, but don't know where to start. Any recommendations? Bonus points for material that's in the public domain and easily findable online. Thanks a million!
Perhaps not quite as literal as Constance Brennan, but close
Hi, Sars and Tomato Nation…
I have been tormented by the image from a book I must have read between second and fifth grade of the main character's younger sibling eating — barf — peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches. Specifically, gloppy, messy, dripping peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches. I feel like this is a minor part of a beloved and re-read book…one of the L'Engle books about the Austin family? A Judy Blume book? Help!
Google searches have turned up, unbelievably, nothing but recipes…RECIPES!!!…for the horrific-sounding peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich. Who would want a recipe for that? And, who would need a recipe for that? Isn't it just PB and mayo on bread?
Hey Sars and Readers!
I'm looking for a book. I don't have a lot of specifics so I am hoping someone will be able to piece something together from what little I remember.
This book was listed as a choice on a school summer-reading list one year. I think I read it in early high school, but it could have been middle school, so sometime between the years of 1992-1995, though it may have been published anytime prior to that. It was a short story (possibly a poem, but I don't think so).
The key components I remember include: a lighthouse keeper, an island or other remote area of land which contained the lighthouse, a crane or other sea bird which returned to the lonely lighthouse keeper each year.
I think the lighthouse keeper was an old man, possibly Asian? Or maybe the cover of the book had an origami crane on it and I am projecting. There may or may not have been a young child involved who came to visit the old man? And the old man might have been teaching him life lessons or something via the crane? Or maybe there was no child at all, and it was just the crane who he talked to? There may have been a broken wing/arm/leg involved somewhere with someone needing to tend to the injury…
All I know is that one year the bird and/or child stopped visiting because he/it was injured and/or died and it was very sad. Or maybe the old man died. Or both. It's all very jumbled in my brain! I believe there were a few line drawing/sketch-type illustrations. I thought the title might have had the word "crane" or "lighthouse keeper" in it, but I've searched Amazon for all children's and YA books with those words in the titles and nothing is similar.
I would love to re-read this story. Googling has been futile. There are a few Asian stories involving cranes, but it is NOT the story about the girl with cancer and the paper cranes, or the story about the crane wife.
Thanks for any leads!
Cranes on the brains
Here's another shoe plea for you and the readers.
I'm starting nursing school this year. This means I'll need some seriously supportive and comfortable footwear. There are plenty of nurse blogs with suggestions, but they rarely apply to me because I happen to be a guy. Male nurses are still something of a minority and I haven't found any shoes marketed straight to us.
The major difficulty is that, as part of my student uniform, the shoes have to be solid white and without any non-white markings or logos. That means I can't just follow my druthers and go with a really good pair of hiking boots.
The only all-white shoes I've ever owned were cheap sneakers, and they would never have held up to an eight- or twelve-hour shift of standing and walking. Worse, regular sneakers are not waterproof — and hopefully I need not explain why that's an important consideration in a hospital situation.
In what brand or style might a shoe-challenged dude find this sort of thing?
Short Scrubs, Long Jacket
…Clogs? My friends in the health field swear by them for long days, and I found a small selection on Zappos.com; the Dansko Professional is all white, including the sole. You could check Endless.com and shoes.com as well.
My usual Google-voodoo has not worked. Technically it is something my mom remembers, but I doubt that she thinks about it very often — it's me that really wants this mystery solved!
Okay, so this is something that aired on TV, most likely in the '80s, most likely on PBS. It sounds like a Twilight Zone episode or a Ray Bradbury type of a thing, but searches into those areas have left me without a solid lead, so it may have even been a movie of some sort.
A few things my mom remembers:
- In this town/planet/whatever, the currency is minutes of your life (i.e. you want to buy lunch, that will cost you 15 minutes). You can also earn minutes just like you would earn money.
- When you run out of time, you die. So, you can live for a very long time if you are "rich" or frugal with your life minutes.
- I think she said there was some sort of credit-card type of thing that held your balance. They would swipe it to pay for things.
- One person was desperately trying to beg minutes from people since she was nearly out of them.
- The most chilling moment she relayed to me involved a compulsive gambler at a slot machine who had to just keep trying one more time to hit the jackpot. The gambler didn't win — instead, he/she ran out of time and died on the spot.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? The concept creeps me right out and I'd love to see it someday. If anyone can help, I'd be much obliged. I don't want my life minutes to expire before I figure this out!
Hey Mom, keep your other weird movie memories to yourself, okay?
Tags: Ask The Readers city living John Donne Madeleine L'Engle popcult Ray Bradbury retail Sidney Lanier