The secret of life is butter. - Chef Didier, Last Holiday
Question #92293 posted on 06/22/2019 11:04 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board Alumni,

Let’s do a year in review. Anything interesting you’d like to share since last we heard from you?

-Popcorn Reader

A:

Dear Sam,

I taught the worst class of fifth grade demons imaginable and lived through it (barely; I spent the majority of the last two weeks of school in bed unable to move). 

In October we were sealed as a family. Also, yes. This is my original wedding dress. 

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Most adventurous was our family trip to China. 24 hours is a real long time for a toddler to not sleep, but it made the transition of time change easier? We took wedding pictures because I wanted to. AE94DCDD-A644-4F2F-8C42-8EC2BF433198.jpeg

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Then, because it was winter and a lifelong dream of mine, hubs and I took a childless trip to Harbin to see the world famous ice festival where I also got to hold an arctic fox (picture of the fox not included because I couldn’t get my face edits to save). E43B99A6-62BC-48D3-B70F-555356FCCC4C.jpeg

By the way, -30*C is really cold. Three layers of clothes plus a coat are not actually enough. 

The rest of the year has been pretty standard, daily stuff. However, Hubbers did just graduate with his Masters, so who knows what is in store next!

-Azriel 

A:

Dear Popcorn

After 200 weekly episodes of The Protagonist Podcast my co-host retired, but the podcast lives on! Now I have guests on every week to discuss a great character in a great story, many of whom you may know from this Board.

Also, my sister and I have a book, Cheers: A Cultural History, coming out next month.

-Humble Master

A:

Hello Kitty,

I decided to change research areas so I finished a Master's degree at Georgia Tech and now I'm at Penn State. Other than that, pretty much same ol' same ol'.

-M.O.D.A.Q.

A:

Dear PR,

A few highlights from the last year:

  • It took me nearly 29 years, but I've finally got a career-track job! I'm doing grant management for a local government in California, running the public services component of the Community Development Block Grant program along with a parallel local funding source. I know "mid-level government bureaucrat" doesn't sound like your typical dream job, but honestly it's perfect for me right now.
  • I started learning Danish on Duolingo last fall (my grandmother's grandparents all immigrated from Denmark in the late 1800s); I've been making the owl very sad since moving earlier this year, but one of these days I'll pick it up again.
  • We put up a bird feeder by our front window (which the cat absolutely loves to watch), and I've been getting serious about learning to recognize its visitors. We mostly get house sparrows and house finches, but lately oak titmice have been showing up too, digging through the rest of the feed for sunflower seeds which they then carry up to the fence and hammer at rather loudly. Eurasian collared doves will sometimes show up in pairs, but they're too big to land on the feeder itself so they have to hunt for scraps on the ground instead. The most unexpected appearance so far was a juvenile sharp-shinned hawk which also presumably wanted to eat at the feeder, but so far I haven't seen any evidence of hawk kills so I'm guessing it hasn't been back.
  • In other Bird News, since I walk to work and eat breakfast on the way, I've started giving bits of my breakfast to the neighborhood crows. I wouldn't say we're on friendly terms yet, but they definitely know who I am and what I'm carrying.
  • I finally did my first D&D campaign online with friends from South Dakota and I'm not sure how I managed to live nearly three decades without this being a part of my life. Alas, distance has brought that to an end, so I'm still on the hunt for a new group.
  • I've survived the first year of my post-school life. I don't miss school, but I never really appreciated how much I relied on being a student to define my social life and sense of direction. It turns out that never having a meaningful existence outside of school and church makes it kind of difficult to have a fulfilling life or develop close friendships when you don't go to school or church anymore. I'd like to say it's led to some sort of personal growth for me, but I just did the math and it turns out it's mostly led me to spend more than 10% of the last year playing Crusader Kings (think The Sims plus Civilization) and Europa Universalis (basically Imperialism: The Game). They're both admittedly very good games and thanks to the Wikipedia expeditions they've spawned I have learned a ton about history and geography, but my relationship with them has not been healthy at all. Hopefully I'll do better in the next year.

-yayfulness

A:

Dear popcorn ~

Well, you asked for it. I really decided to give you my whole year. 

Some general things:

  • Last summer we hosted a family of semi-refugees in our basement. We had friends that moved to Nicaragua for a couple of years. They were planning to move back in August and had rented their house out until then. But then in April the people revolted against a very corrupt government  and the political unrest made it too unsafe to stay, so they fled the country within an hour of deciding to, taking with them only 1 suitcase for their family of 6! (The dad later went back and got two more suitcases.) They made it back to Utah safely, but had no where to live. So we gave up our basement and had a house of 4 adults and 7 kids aged 3-8 for the summer! (Actually, half of them aged up during that summer, so we ended age 3-9.) I have to admit, having two moms in the same house is the best ever. It's like having a sister wife, but without the husband sharing. Dream life. They're currently trying to convince us to move into their basement for this summer, because it was so nice. 
  • Our kids started and finished 4th grade, 1st grade, and Preschool.
  • Dragon Baby survived her absolute last-choice teacher and even grew to really like her. (I loved her to death. She was perfect for DB.) She also started gymnastics and is doing surprisingly well, given her height and genetics. She is leveling up much faster than any of us anticipated. Probably because she does gymnastics in all of her free time. We even have two lines of blue tape on our family room carpet to mimic a beam so she can practice her beam routine. We will be getting a bar as soon as we can figure out where to store it. She is going to be thrilled.
  • Niffler Baby managed to stop being terrified of going to school and has assured us that we won’t need to carry her into the classroom in 2nd grade. Here’s to hoping. She is an intense rule-follower and is always nervous to do something new, in case it's not allowed. She got prescription glasses this year and was terrified to wear them to school, because what if her teacher didn't let her?! (That might have actually been last year, now that I think of it.) She’s also fallen back in love with gymnastics. She took ballet and was in a Cinderella ballet. She also just auditioned for a play and got in! She will be the Chihuahua Narrator in 101 Dalmations soon.
  • Yellow 2.0 loves reading and is awesome at it. (Surprise!) He is a mini Yellow and I am absolutely in love with him. He learned to ride a pedal bike on Thursday. He just declared that his nym is Yellow Baby instead of Yellow 2.0, because all he wants is to be his older sisters (especially Niffler Baby). Though this past summer, with having 3 more boys in the house, he finally realized that there are non-stereotypical girl things that he likes as well. His favorite color has shifted from pink to orange. He is also really good at throwing balls. 
  • One set of grandparents went on a mission to Germany. They are the ones who have lived close to us our entire marriage, so that's been an adjustment. Yellow and I took a 10-day kid-free vacation to go visit them, though, and it was bliss.
  • The other set of grandparents finally just ended a drama-filled decade of trying to sell their farm this week. It is a miracle that it finally closed, and I'm still a little shocked it actually happened.
Some more specific things. I literally went through my entire calendar for the past year. To keep it from being a suuuuuper long post, I'm condensing it into one non-fleshed out list. Sorry if you don't know what half of it means.
  • All-nighter + hike + Parade of Homes
  • Girls Camp
  • Started a job 
  • Nana turned 98 (and 99!)
  • 4th of July in Idaho Falls
  • Yellow’s brother got married
  • Therapy for myself and Dragon Baby (both mental and physical therapy)
  • Hiking
  • First time waxing
  • Legoland
  • Separation Anxiety
  • DB started a book club
  • Yellow 2.0 is terrified of haircuts
  • Obstacle Warrior Kids Camp (Get Out Pass)
  • ”Ward in Heaven” ward Family History Goal
  • Lake Powell
  • Landscaping
  • Homemade applesauce
  • The Good Place
  • Take Home Library
  • 1 year of better dry eye
  • Discovered Citrus Pear
  • New nephew!
  • No Island Park Christmas/Yes Butter Yaki
  • Car wreck
  • New van!
  • Not allergic to tetanus vaccine! Fully vaccinated for the first time since age 18 when my first tetanus shot wore off.
  • Girl cousins overnighter
  • Spelling bees
  • RootsTech
  • Craft fair
  • Cinderella ballet
  • Started an Etsy business
  • Germany!!!
  • Electric Lawn Mower
  • 9 3/4 birthday party 
  • Gymnastics exhibition
  • Moab

It's been a great year!

~ Dragon Lady

A:

Dear Popcorn, 

I started taking one graduate class each semester to get a reading endorsement. It's basically a special sticker on my teaching license saying I'm super qualified to teach reading and writing. However, the classes aren't really for me and I'm spending more money on the courses than I'll get with the raise when I finish it SO I'm quitting that program after this term. The new plan is to get my Masters in Education with an administration license starting this January. We will see how that goes. 

I'm changing grade levels this fall! My little kiddos in first grade killed me this year so I needed a change. I'll be in 5th grade this fall and I'm so excited to not have to deal with untied shoes and reminding friends to leave their backpacks in the classroom because it's lunch time, not home time. 

I also went through the temple! I was really nervous but honestly there was nothing to stress about because most of what happens during the ceremony is published online through Temple Prep books or general info from the Church. Plus all the absolutely adorable older ladies helping me through everything and crying when I told them I was going through the first time really comforted me for some reason. 

Lastly, there's a boy! But it's like very early beginning stages so there's nothing to write too much about. Honestly the main reasons I mention him are because 1) I know he doesn't read the Board so it won't freak him out and 2) to remind myself when rereading my answers of how oblivious I can be when it comes to dating. 

-Ms.O'Malley

A:

Dear TARDIS,

This is gonna be about as scatterbrained as it felt.

Medical: around alumni week last year, I ended up getting my gallbladder out. Except, the symptoms persisted. Which was weird, since, y'know, I didn't have a gallbladder any more. I went in and had some blood tests done, which found out I'm allergic to eggs! I went to an allergist and did some further testing, and the good news is, it's relatively mild. That means I can have eggs that have been baked into things, which is amazing. All in all, pregnancy is ridiculous and messes up your body in ways you would never think about.

I've also now tried another half dozen medications for my anxiety/depression, as well as TMS. Plus, I took a genetic test that looked into my potential reactions to different meds. Long story short, none of it is quite working, so we're moving to Ohio. The biggest reason for it is to see if a change in altitude will help me feel better. We picked Ohio primarily because A) it's a place that gets snow and I love snow, and B) there are significantly fewer natural disasters, and C) low cost of living. Yeah, I know there are other problems with Ohio, but at least I don't have to worry about them on top of worrying about earthquakes or hurricanes. Ohio also has a lot of good resources for mental health, as well as the second-best medical system in the country.

Educational: I've been mulling over a genetic counseling masters for nearly a decade now. I finally decided to officially look into it more after finding out Boise State was offering an online masters program for it. After watching the online open house for it, though, I did a bit more research and then finally closed the book on ever doing it. I'm really interested in a lot of it, but it honestly wouldn't work for me.

While doing all of that, I ended up talking to Katya about potentially doing an MLS degree. It's a field that has a lot of different areas to go into, and there are some decent online programs. As a result of that, I've been doing some job shadowing at the HBLL with various people that Katya's put me in touch with. I'm not entirely sure whether or not I'll actually do the masters, but at the very least, I'm getting a lot of good information about things if I do end up deciding to get the degree.

Social: I made a good friend off of Twitter, and now we do movie nights together, which is really fun. Dragon Lady, Yellow, Spectre, and I have still been playing games together, which has been quite fun, if not slightly challenging with a toddler.

 

Honestly, I think this is all I'll say right now. Any other specifics you can either ask me about or I'll answer in a related question.

-Tally M.

A:

Dear Popcorn,

Things that haven't really changed in the past year:

Things that are different:

  • Around November of last year, I started to feel really burnt out from work. I'm dealing with it better now, but in December I realized that I don't want to work for this or really any other employer for the rest of my life. What I do want to do is start a bakery where I can just make bread all day. I think the first step is to sell homemade bread as a side gig, so if any readers live in/near Dallas and want some delicious sourdough, shoot me an email for the deets.
  • My favorite sister wanted to visit her mission plus some other places in Russia and invited me to join her, so I took a week off and went to Moscow and Saint Petersburg with her. I'll include more details in Board Question #92299.

-The Entomophagist

A:

Dear Kvothe,

The last year has been a pretty important year in the life. There was a good portion of last year in which I was really having a hard time between the stress of work, emotional stress, spiritual stress, etc., I was not in a good place. But amidst all of that, I made a very big decision and decided to move positions at work. The transition happened in August, and it was like a switch had been flipped in my life. I was instantly less stressed and way happier! I feel like in the time since I’ve been able to learn more about who I am and what I value. Life is now pretty good. I’ve completed my transition to being a super-granola, vegan, feminist, mountain woman who can really only be found running in the mountains or climbing in the gym. I also took the GRE and crushed it. I'm applying to grad schools in the fall. 

But really the most important highlight of the last year that you should know about is my dating spreadsheet.

Or as I like to call it my Date Tracker.

For much of my romantic life, I’ve fallen into a very clear pattern that can be broken into the following steps:

Step 1: Spot target "There is a very attractive man in my presence who is (likely) unknown to me. I’m going to woo the crap out of him."

Step 2: Woo the crap out of him This usually involves attempts at befriending and “putting myself out there”

Step 3: It doesn’t work Sometimes there is a lot of flirting; sometimes he just thinks I’m weird. Either way it never goes anywhere.

Step 4: Mope and refuse to move on

Repeat.

After going through a particularly long and painful version of this cycle, I decided, “goshdangit, I am a strong independent woman, and I don’t need this crap anymore.” And I changed the cycle.

I bought a book.

I downloaded every dating app ever (Tinder, Mutual, Bumble, Hinge, and Coffee Meets Bagel, specifically).

And I started swiping.

Within a few days I had two dates lined up with two separate guys from Tinder, two days in a row. Both of them turned out to be just a little too interested in Flat Earth theories...

After that though, I just started lining up a lot of dates with a lot of guys from these apps, mostly with the sole focus of having experiences and I decided that I should track it all in a spreadsheet and in order do some statistical analysis. In my data I collected basic information such as age, race, education level, height, religion, profession, hometown, hair color, and eye color. I also included data on who-asked-who out, the app we had met on, time between first-contact and first-date, length of the date, after-date texting, amount of touching during the date, and whether or not interactions were terminated following the date. I also had interactive variables for attractiveness and quality of date that were based on personality and physical attractiveness and quality of activity, conversation, and general enjoyment, respectively.

And so I proceeded to go on 20 dates over the next three months. I went out with a Provo-bro, a guy with tattoo sleeves, a gun slinger, a musician, several, engineers, two vegans, and at least one confirmed flat-earther.

So I haven’t actually done much analysis of the data at this point, but here are my preliminary findings.  The data appears to show that I am more interested in brunettes and red-heads than blondes; its easiest to go on dates from Tinder than any other dating app. Some statistical testing indicates a positive correlation between my overall level of attraction and the following variables: quality of conversation, perceived physical attractiveness, and expressed interest in me (measured by the variables “amount of physical contact” and “who asked who out”). Also, an interesting statistic: 44.4 percent of men I dated during this time were engineers.

All of that said, I would note that I don’t feel like I have quite a large enough sample-size to draw real conclusions, and my boyfriend of the last 7 months doesn’t approve of gathering more data. Also, the fact that he makes up for a quarter of the dates listed in my tracker somewhat skews the data as well. Additional sampling and further analysis are required to expand the conclusions of this analysis.

If you feel like to you need a copy of the data to validate my conclusions, or require additional details of my analysis, hit me up. Or if you want to hear some ridiculous stories. Because there were a lot.

Sincerely,
The Soulful Ginger

A:

Dear Popcorn Reader,

By and large, things are pretty much the same. I stay home with the kids. I keep them alive and try to keep the house more or less in order. So far I'm 100% on the former, and the latter is iffy but I have small children so I try to cut myself some slack. My life feels mostly boring and predictable, but I concede that things could be worse, so maybe I should be grateful for the mundane. Anyway, here are a few highlights from the past year:

  • Took the kids to Disneyland. I know some people are all about toddlers at Disneyland, but it was really stressful for me. We'll probably wait until everyone can ride all the rides and tolerate long lines before we take them again.
  • Saw the space shuttle Endeavor. It is so huge, and such a small portion of its mass is occupied by humans. Science is awesome.
  • Taught myself how to paint watercolor galaxies for some house decor. Watched Bob Ross for ambience. It's easy and fun.
  • Hosted three epic Harry Potter parties. One for my baby, one for friends, and one for book club. We ate a feast in the Great Hall, played quidditch, faced off in trivia, and did a horcrux scavenger hunt. I went all-out in the decor including textbooks, quills, floating candles, potions, and a brick wall to enter Platform 9 3/4. I plan on doing it again this fall, and if my ambitions and energies align, it will include an escape room.
  • Survived Christmas with my in-laws. Vowed to never travel for Christmas again.
  • Tutored students in high school and college math.
  • Used Youtube to fix three joy-cons with floating joysticks and one that had been thrown in the toilet by a baby-that-shall-not-be-named.
  • Watched four different musicals at the Eccles Theater, and, as of today, became a season ticket holder!
  • Accidentally discovered and got sucked into the world of e-sports. I find the concept weirdly fascinating.
  • Baked many cookies, cakes, and pies.

May your year be as boring as you want it to be, with a touch of excitement sprinkled on top.

--Maven

A:

Dear person,

My life is surviving graduate school. I am finishing up my third year and it was actually pretty awesome! It was so much better than the first two years. Here are some things that have happened:

Last summer I had the most amazing summer job. I learned so much and had a lot of fun. 

In September some of my family members moved to Provo. It's been fantastic to have them here!

In October I escaped my previous research mentor (who was bad) and officially have a new research mentor (who is amazing).

In December I defended my dissertation prospectus.

In February I got a grant to write a book with a colleague this summer. It was a long shot but somehow we ended up getting it. It's very nice to get paid to write about my favorite subject in the world.

In March I passed my program's worst and most notorious comprehensive exam, which is a practical presentation... with distinction! It was one of the most surprising moments of my life and felt like a turning point for me as a graduate student and future professional. My confidence in my ability to succeed in my career increased perceptibly after this happened.

In March I found out I would have a really awesome job next year. It's going to be a serious party. 

In April I found out I would get to return to my amazing summer job from last year. It was kind of a last minute surprise, I didn't think it would happen. But it did! 

And at the end of May, just a few days ago, I received a notification that said I passed my last comprehensive exam. I am now officially a doctoral candidate. 

-Sheebs

A:

Dear Apricot Tree,

A lot of things happened this year, and even more in the last few months, but the most important of all of them is that I fulfilled my lifelong dream of getting my very own cat:

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He's cute and cuddly and a weirdo, so we get along well.

And no, he did not like the cat sweatshirt. But I still love him.

Love,

-the Goose Girl

A:

Dear friend,

It has been probably one of the busiest and tumultuous years of my life. Here are a few key milestones:

  • In August, I graduated BYU with an English degree–right by the skin of my teeth! I took my Independent Study German test on the very last day you could do it, which was also my birthday. It was stressful, but it's over and still somewhat bittersweet.

  • Also in August, I had an OCD breakdown that I still haven't fully recovered from but is much better than it was then. Luckily, my parents let me stay with them for a few months and my current employer has good mental health care and lets me work remotely when I need to. It's been really hard but, weirdly, also one of the more spiritually comforting experiences of my life. I still wish it didn't happen, but it is what it is.

  • But in October, I got a job at an educational non-profit as a marketing writer! It's been a good and fulfilling job, and I'm planning to stay there until I figure out what to do about grad school. I also moved into my first apartment without roommates which, in comparison to women's housing at BYU, is pretty much heaven.

  • My partner and I broke up for a few months, but we got back together a couple of weeks ago. So we'll see how it goes? I've discovered that it's hard on both of us to be in a mixed-faith relationship, and some of my OCD issues really burdened him for a few months. Life is messy, and so are relationships.

  • I got a dog! Her name is Yoda and she's a chihuahua. I never thought I'd want a chihuahua, but she's such a sweetheart and I wouldn't want any dog but her.

-Van Goff

A:

Dear yosef,

A couple highlights/lowlights

  • I got married, which I talk more about in Board Question #92290. It is awesome, and so many times I just feel like I didn't know life could be this good.
  • I feel an unprecedented sense of ownership over my living space, even though it's basically still a little college apartment. Currently there's a ton of paper cutouts on my wall as I try to figure out a gallery arrangements for all our photos we haven't hung up. Sometimes I stop and wonder if I am the kind of person that wants a gallery wall. 
  • I barely made it through a few more semesters and will officially finish my BS in August. And I love my major and I love the professors, but I think I'll be done with school for a while after August. 
  • I've discovered that I really like cooking, and definitely prefer it to baking. 
  • I now understand how people get sucked into video games. I had a good month or two when Breath of the Wild was a pretty regular part of my schedule and I'm a big fan. 
  • Had a couple family health scares/deaths throughout the year. It kind of felt like emotional whiplash sometimes to deal with grief and keep trudging through everything else, and it probably contributed to wanting a break from school. 
  • I've realized that I'm pretty sure I have some mild PTSD from when I had a bad reaction to medication a couple years ago. I've reflected a lot of what really happened (because my memory has a lot of gaps from that time) and how it still affects me and that's been helpful, but I'll still randomly have a slew of intrusive thoughts or have a surprisingly strong reaction to pretty innocuous things. It's definitely less disruptive than it has been, but I think I still have a lot of work to do.

Take care,

-Auto Surf

A:

Dear Reader,

I did a lot of things I thought only grown-ups do, like get a mortgage and travel the world and pay medical bills, so I guess that's a thing now?
  • Went on my first cruise (Alaska!)
  • Taught an ASL class for my ward
  • Bought our first house and a car (with El-ahrairah)
  • Got a steroid injection and custom brace to fix issues with my wrist
  • Went to Athens, Olympia, Delphi, and Santorini in Greece
  • Started learning Mandarin Chinese with an online course
  • Currently about 5 weeks along with Baby #2

-Owlet

A:

Dear You, the Reader,

I...

  • Got hand, foot, and mouth disease.
  • Attended a wedding.
  • Got all caught up with the Marvel movies.
  • Went on my first cruise.
  • Ran a blood drive.
  • Defeated pirates.
  • Bought a car.
  • Learned how to chase after a toddler.
  • Attended a funeral.
  • Got turned to stone.
  • Went to Europe for the first time.
  • Planted my very own garden.
  • In my very own house.
  • Which I bought with my very own money. Well, actually most of it was somebody else's money. But close enough, right?
  • Shoveled snow way too many times.
  • Attended a funeral
  • Saw a majority of my team at work leave.
  • Milked a goat.

-El-ahrairah

A:

Dear Popcorn,

I passed the Praxis, which is the test teachers need to take in order to teach, in the top 5% nationwide!

I did my student teaching with the Mentor Teacher from the Black Lagoon. Long story short, she had to get emergency brain surgery (not her fault), but this meant I ended up having to put in 12 hour days to do everything completely by myself, all while not getting paid (but the school still had to hire substitute teachers to come sit in the back of my classroom and get paid to do literally nothing, while I worked my butt off for free). Then my mentor teacher came back and sneakily badmouthed me to everyone else in the school for no reason, and gave bad references to other schools I was applying for jobs at. But I survived and never have to work with her again, so at least there's that.

I graduated from BYU!

I moved out of Provo, and the grocery stores all have great produce now that they're not being picked over by a gazillion BYU students.

I got a job! Starting in August I'll be teaching 9th grade geography and 8th grade US history, and I am honestly so pumped. 

-Alta

A:

Dear Reader,

Well, I graduated, moved to Texas, and started my first real job at a tech company. Being out of school still feels weird. I keep expecting someone to jump out and give me a midterm, but that doesn't happen. My job is actually super chill and I like it a lot. I'm glad that all my confusing and frustrating job hunting last year worked out towards something I'm enjoying.

I've played some exceptional video games in the past year! I didn't know video games could approach true art, but Celeste, Hollow Knight, and Undertale really did it. Those were wonderfully crafted, transformative experiences. I'm still trying to figure out how to talk about video games with people because there's some stigma with the hobby. But it's fun to get involved with the gaming community on YouTube and Reddit and Twitter. The community aspect of it all is just about as fun as the games themselves.

Good thing I have a job now so I can properly fuel my gaming hobby. And my eating hobby. I've been cooking a lot.

I'm also really getting into home audio. I finally saved up enough money to buy some nice tower speakers, and I'm really enjoying them.

-Kirito

A:

Dear Popcorn,

I indirectly work for the government of a foreign country. I have free Comcast Business wireless that is from a school I live next to.

I've discovered I'm polyamorous but I don't, erm, "practice" it so to speak. I have been thinking about it for years, and it is true. Not gonna say any more about this.

Having another baby this year.

Might be getting a promotion soon, as well as a new place to live.

So....it's been an interesting year, I'd say.

--Gonna be a little Incognito here for obvious reasons...

A:

Dear MJ, 

Finishing up intern year in Emergency Medicine and feeling good about it. Some of that is because I'll never have to work on the wards of the hospital or in the VA ever again unless I choose to! Finally feel like I've made the transition from pretending to be a doctor to actually feeling more like a doctor. If you came into the ED dying I'd usually know what to do to help you not die for at least a few minutes in most scenarios, isn't that reassuring? Now the next couple of years are about refining that and seeing a higher volume of patients.

THANKS, 

- Commander Keen 

A:

Dear Reader,

I'm honestly not ready to talk about everything that has happened to me in the past year. A lot of it was bad and is still rather raw, but here are some good things:

  • Celebrated my one year anniversary with Rubik, who is still the greatest person I know. We did lots of fun stuff together last summer and have plans to do a bunch more fun stuff this summer.
  • Studied for and took the GRE in the span of a few days and (thankfully) kind of killed it. (I should also say that Rubik and I got THE EXACT SAME SCORES on all three sections, meaning we will never have to argue about who is smarter.)
  • Both Rubik and I will be going to grad school in the fall! He's studying computer engineering and I'm studying mass communications. I'm excited about the prospect of studying something that will potentially lead to a career I won't despise. (It turns out my desire to teach stemmed more from a simple wish to contribute to society and less from my actual wants, skills, and personality. It was not a good fit.)
  • Expanded on my interests and beliefs quite a bit. I started reading the news a lot more often, got really into cooking, and became a feminist.
  • Discovered THE GREATEST HARMON'S GROCERY STORE IN THE WORLD. It became our oasis and was legitimately my favorite thing about the suburban city we lived in. 

I feel very confident that the coming year will be better than this last one, as life has improved by about 1,000 times over the past few months.

Love,

Vienna

A:

Hi Popcorn!

Wow, compared to pretty much everyone else, this is going to be downright mundane! Best that it's towards the bottom, I suppose.

Since I didn't stop in for last year's alumni week (or most of the previous ones), I'll generally summarize bits of the past few years in general. Caution: wall of text approaching. Nevertheless, read on if interested.

  • In 2012, I finished my engineering master's and went off to accept a decent, stable job. Seven years later, here I am still working at that job. On the whole, it's been pretty great; I couldn't ask for a more meaningful mission or better coworkers. I'm starting to feel an itch to change things up a bit, though (which, for someone who generally abhors change, is saying a lot), so we'll see. I should probably remind myself more often that I'm only young and unattached once!

  • Speaking of which...dating prospects here in this isolated outpost of the Desert Southwest have been rather slim. It's hard to do much when there really aren't many gals around who are educated, motivated, healthy, and active in the Church. I'm beginning to resign myself to the fact that, barring a miracle, a long-distance relationship is likely the only realistic path. Consequently, I've attended a handful of midsingles conferences (since I am now of such age) and have enjoyed making some good friends, but nothing has progressed beyond that. Around Christmas, my sister finally prevailed upon me to give Mutual a try. It's reminded me that there are stellar women in every corner of the country, but it's also made me realize how valuable getting to know people in person really is--which is hard when they're off in those other corners! So, the long relationship road appears to have some ways to go yet.

  • My interest in the field of human factors engineering, which started just as I began my master's work at BYU, has continued to grow. This past year I've taken advantage of some tuition assistance at work to take courses in that vein from the online HF master's program offered by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Furthermore, with a couple classes now under my belt and a couple more planned for this summer/fall, I felt qualified to apply for an open position in my organization's human factors department recently. Regardless of the outcome I'm enjoying the progression, but this latest development may finally turn a long-time interest into an exciting shift in my career path. Tune in next year to find out what happens!

  • Two years ago, I joined a mountain rescue team! It's a volunteer group that specializes in technical rescue (cliffs, ropes, that sort of thing). I've learned a great deal from the requisite training and subsequent team camaraderie, and it's a great way to merge my love of the outdoors with a desire to serve my community. (I first took an earnest interest in joining during the tumultuous summer/fall of 2016--a time when serving the community and promoting unity was on my mind a lot.) Also, in contrast to most of the local Church singles population, my teammates are, as you can imagine, a very active and outdoorsy group, so they're a lot of fun to be around (enthusiasm for alcohol and profanity notwithstanding). Indeed, between my coworkers and and my teammates, most of my social circles now lie outside the Church--a definite difference from my BYU days!

  • Nerd points: I found D&D! A few years ago, I joined a campaign that a friend from my ward was organizing, and that group lasted a couple fun years. More recently, I've been playing with a great group of coworkers. How did I not encounter this earlier?? One of life's many mysteries, I suppose.

  • More nerd points: I leveled up in my Star Wars fandom! A year ago, I was your average SW movie fan-since-childhood. Then, Solo came out, and (minor spoilers) Darth Maul made his holographic cameo at the end. Curiosity piqued, I dug into that unexpected oddity ("Didn't he die in, like, 1999?") and discovered the canon series The Clone Wars, in which we learn that (spoilers) he somehow managed to survive lightsaber bisection + tumbling into an abyss. So that led me to watch that whole series, as well as to invest in an on-sale bundle of (non-canon) Star Wars games on Steam, which introduced me to such characters as Kyle Katarn, Darth Revan, the Exile, Kreia, Kyle Katarn, etc. Bottom line: I'm now far more versed on such topics as Kashyyyk, Korriban, kyber crystals, constructing lightsabers, crazy Mandalorians, kath hounds...and so forth. I have indeed taken my first steps into a larger world!

  • Other random accomplishments of varying import since retiring as a writer, such as:
    • Backpacking in the Grand Canyon!
    • Visiting Italy!
    • Finally joining Facebook in 2016!
    • Serving as assistant scoutmaster!
    • Meeting Gary Johnson on a random Southwest flight!
    • Learning to telemark ski! (SO MUCH FUN)
    • Growing a beard for the first time! Then getting called as a temple worker two months later!
    • Helping organize a midsingles ward!
    • Serving on a grand jury!
    • Gaining two nephews!

In truth, it's hard to complain. There's always room for improvement, but life has been pretty good to me these past few years. If anything, being aware of that room for improvement just motivates me to try harder, grow more, and become increasingly open to change (even if I'm still not a fan!).

So, to employ a cliche phrase, onward and upward!

- The Detective

A:

Dear Penelope,

In the past year, I have:

  • Graduated from BYU
  • Got into grad school for Speech-Language Pathology
  • Moved to Texas
  • Got a dog
  • Hit 1,000 followers on twitter

I start grad school in the fall and I'm so excited. I'm super passionate about my field and I'm ready to go!

-Adelaide