The idea was to take a longer break. Instead, it's been a couple of busy, messy, tiring months. But not without upsides!
I used the last weeks of the contract to do a bunch of reimbursable-ish traveling, meet correspondents from COVID time, and set up stuff for future projects. I thought it could be an opportunity for EU meetups but found no way to combine those two ends. For example, my 'stay' in Amsterdam was 14 hours: 2 spent getting to/from the railway, 10 on talking shop, and 2 naping before blazing through France. Scheduling conflicts kill, trying not to hate travel, emphasizing 'journey' in 'journeyman,' yo.
Done a bunch of interviews and spent quite a while weighing options in academia, each loaded with pros and cons. Declined a helluva prestigious postdoc abroad, instead deciding in favor of stability (EDIT: it was only for 1 year with slim chances of renewal). Although other engagements require me to stay put for a while, it is with no regrets. Even during the pandemic, I apparently had no problem working and studying a breadth of topics remotely with a proto-Erdosian amount of people. Since that was my motivation for leaving abroad, it made itself moot.
The new job is tricky to explain, but only because it's the administration's attempt at streamlining. It's pretty much a postdoc with a stupid name, but if I wow the committee after a two/three-year review, it's advanced to an assistant professorship. There's more, obviously, but neither you nor I should be arsed to care.
Why not look for something outside academia? Because I'm done looking. Also, the recruiters keep showing up with either laughably junior work or in things like finance. The first ones are like hiring veen to design mazes on the backs of menus and calendars. The second would kill me with boredom and unending acronyms. Better do something useful and up my lane, like write papers where peer-review is half the readership.
Don't know if renting out or lending a room or two wouldn't be prudent, though I still welcome an odd refugee short-term. Most get here through word of mouth, so at least there's a level of vouching. The ones who stayed before hop in from time to time, and I'm glad they're doing so well, at least materially. Had a couple interesting new ones, many scholars, and the usual late-comers going after their families. They're almost always interesting to talk to.
Family-wise, it's a can of worms. My brother left with his family to Germany, putting the house under my care. We also split and co-own to make eventual inheritance easier and much cheaper. This state will continue until all the legal crap is taken care of in the land of the Schnitzel. Started with our mother, who -- between substance abuse, concealed terminal diagnosis, concealed-cum-neglected mental disorder, hair-raising choices, and fucked-up worldview further degenerating over the years -- decided to step up her game and become a pain in everyone's arse. But, you know, this time on purpose. I don't want to go into further details, at least now, but hardly a day goes by when I'm not amazed by how well-adjusted we ended up being.
It's hard to believe that all people are fundamentally good, even in the Aquinian sense, when you see whatever time they have on petty conflicts. Especially after seeing how all the time we shared treated me like malfunctioning property rather than a son. What do I even do? There's no internal need or want to forgive a lifetime of being a despotic narcissist to someone who is reveling in it. On my part, the best attempt at reconciliation is to wish she won't suffer.
Anyway, I'm taking care of the house. Stocked the pantries, got a bunch of emergency supplies, and bought electric blankets just in case. Although we have solar panels and a heat pump, they don't provide enough to run without external power ("we'll expand next year" - since about 2014). It suffices to run the oven xor a few appliances, which is spiffy in my book. This is all just in case anyway; we had no power cuts, but there's no reason to be wasteful.
This week the roofers finally came to do repairs/checkups and replace rooftop windows. The roof covering will need a complete replacement in 2-3 years, but for now, I'll settle for ensuring we're ahead of leaks. Plus, even if logistics weren't terrible, it's not a winter job in this climate. Still, I'm thinking of buying as much as possible now-ish and storing it for later since it only begins to degenerate when exposed to UV. I also installed a couple additional solar panels on the walls, but separate from the rest, and have them dumping DC into a stack of car batteries. Too little power to bother connecting to the home grid, too much to trust I wouldn't fuck something up. Enough to help, if need be.
The garden is prepared for next year's herbs and vegetables, and there's probably enough time to dabble in hydroponics. Unfortunately, it's one of those more-trouble-than-it's-worth things unless you're willing to commit to 20m2 or more, which I'm on the fence about. Kinda getting that number out of my ass, but I've done it before. It took a comparable effort to maintain 1m as it did 9m while delivering proportional yield. I've also set my sights on making window shutters that'll be useful all year long. Not the hardest of projects, but not done by the most competent woodworker either. While on that, all windows should be replaced with three-pane ones, but again: not a winter job, supply=bananas.
I pondered testing my chemistry skill by making quetiapine in the shed. After studying it further, the process reads like a fucking lab nightmare from hell, and that's long before noting it's best made by reacting MDMA precursor/analog with assorted carcinogens. Don't worry; I can be dumb at times, though rarely that stupid. Still, with Russia being Russia, nobody's surprised I've been scoring extra prescriptions and stashing this stuff like Dr. House stashes Vicodin.
Prepper outlook? Hardly. Of all the mentioned things, if it's not something that should be done from prudence, I probably wanted to do it for a while but couldn't due to time/space/money/health/pandemic constraints.
Guess the therapy does some good. Less stressed, I continue to respond to medications, and talking with the doc allowed me to think about some past shit in a new way. Or the first way at all, really.
Wow. This was about three times shorter in my head, and I'm not even half the way through. We're done here, for sanity's sake.
EDIT: Wrote it super sleep-deprived, still on the fence if it's good idea to post it, but there it goes.