Doing things correctly

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Image courtesy of Vegan Feast Catering. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

There are some moments where, when you find yourself in the middle of them, you think: “I am doing things correctly.” Saturday night, as I sat down at a barstool with a gin and tonic in one hand and a Krispy Kreme donut in the other, I had one of those moments.

When folks talk about college as the best years of their lives, I am suspicious, because I don’t know about y’all but my college years never once paired glazed donut and gin, so, point and match to adulthood.

The glazed donut and gin combo happened early in the evening of the end-of-season party for the theatre. The night continued to live up to its promise, because alcohol and dancing and people who have a vested professional interest in other humans paying attention to them for being funny is a recipe for a grand ol’ time, particularly when the DJ is playing “Everybody” and folks are making a Really Concerted Effort to creep on the “am I sexual?” lyric. Continue reading

And now, for the weather

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Image courtesy of Loren Kerns. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Atlanta summer weather is unpredictable: the heat knob on the thermostat hover somewhere around the 90 degree range, and the humidity slider somewhere around 70%, but neither is particularly firmly set and sometimes the cat gets in and knocks them around a bit and weird things happen. For example, this year’s July 4th weekend was just a glorious kind of this-is-why-I-live-here set of days, with weather that felt made for sitting on a porch and feeling good about things (like the fact that malaria no longer is a thing here—thanks, mosquitos!). The air was, though not entirely devoid of its water weight, certainly breathable and minimally full of Things That Will Give You Asthma.

I spent most of the weekend days on porches (three different ones!) and most of the evenings drinking whiskey in places with big windows. I purchased (and wore, with abandon) a pair of what are pretty definitely mom shorts. I sat in the shade.

In contrast to that, last week the celestial cat got in and knocked the humidity knob to 11: roundabout lunchtime, the heavens opened up. Summertime in Atlanta contains a fair bit of rain, but most of it is of the 20 minutes and gone variety, a little natural afternoon shower. It’s tedious but not harmful—it takes a few weeks of that weather for us to even begin to worry that the ground has been made soft enough that the trees will start falling out, again.

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#FreeArtDecatur and Sodabooze

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Image courtesy of Emily Chapman. Art courtesy of _CheckTheBox_. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I grew up just outside of Decatur, an intown suburb of Atlanta that bills itself as “a city of homes, churches, and schools.” (Yes, really.) Though it’s not really Atlanta, in a metro area that still includes suburbs 2 hours outside of town, it is close enough. The town is basically what Berkley would be if it happened to be in Georgia; there are competing, longstanding independent coffee shops, and art fairs, and an annual book festival. A lot of earnest high school students are always around, playing ultimate frisbee.

It’s a lovely town. I would be charmed if I discovered it as an adult. But I didn’t, and as a result I’ve maintained an uneasy relationship with it into adulthood: I like it, I should like it, I am a product of it, but it seems like cheating to stay in it. I’m not establishing myself as an adult in any meaningful way if I’m still getting coffee at the same coffee shop I’ve been loitering at since I was 15, even if it’s a wonderful coffee shop (and I drink beer in it, now). So, I’ve been staying away, finding new coffee shops in my new neighborhood a few miles away. It’s been a good choice, I think.

But I was reminded how much I like the place this weekend, when I went back for the second annual Great Decatur Art Hunt. The event grew out of Free Art Friday/#FAFATL, a city-wide group of artists (loosely affiliated in some cases, unrelated in others) which drop art around town for folks to find. This was a concentrated version of that: starting at noon on Saturday, the artists gathered to drop art and watch as folks gathered it. Decatur was such the neighborhood for it: lots of families with small kids who wanted to participate, high walkability for finding drops on foot, a huge number of earnest people who Want to Support Art. Continue reading

Summertime sadness

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Image courtesy of Just_Go. Licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.

Summer is officially here. As far as I am concerned, it can peace out right now, because it has only been like two weeks and I am already beginning to form a horrifying exoskeleton of sweat and spray-on sunscreen that doesn’t even come off with a razor (because it’s summer now, and I have to pretend that I care about shaving for three months instead of being a hairy be-skirted weirdo like I normally am).

I will, with any luck, peel the extra layer from my body as soon as the temperature drops back below 80 and the swaddling blanket of Atlanta summer humidity retreats. I plan to emerge from my chrysalis like an unburnt, smelly butterfly and retreat into tights and cashmere until it ceases to be socially acceptable.

You know what I like about fall? The fact that I can be outside for more than 10 minutes without having to think of myself as having a carapace. (Also: pumpkins.) Continue reading

Personal adornment

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Image courtesy of Rachel Kramer. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Last weekend, I got a tattoo. It’s my second—the first is the VFD logo from the Series of Unfortunate Events, which half the world thinks is an Egyptian-inspired Playboy Bunny and has, in recent memory, basically only been correctly identified once, by a sorority sister’s tanked prom date, on a bus back from semi-forma–but the first of any notable size and color.

It took a week from me making the appointment to me being in the chair. In the meantime, I sent the poor man something like seven pictures of cedar waxwings, along with a random assortment of his other tattoos that I like with exciting comments like “I like these colors!” and “These are good lines?” and “I would like this pose unless that’s not possible in which case another pose is good.” For all that I was offended when my corporate personality test showed that I put relatively little consideration into my decisions, this experience does seem to have proved the thing right.

The experience itself was pleasant and relatively pain-free (thanks, insulating layer of arm fat!). I chose the artist because his portfolio book had a coworker’s tattoo in it. I like the tattoo and I like the coworker it’s on, so it seemed like a good omen. When I told this to the artist, he mentioned that he was actually responsible for a whole chunk of the tattoos on my coworkers (we’re a Very Hip Company). Chatting about mutual acquaintances filled up a not-small portion of the hour and a half that it took for the thing to be etched on my person, and helped pass the time. Continue reading

Resting months

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Image by Emily Chapman. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

It is somewhat distressing to me that being happy has significantly reduced the amount of things I have to blog about. Working overnight is no longer making me hallucinate bugs on my wall. My remaining parent is in good health, except for a knee thing from him working out All the Time. Not a single child has recently pelted me with rocks while yelling slurs at me.

Y’all, it is difficult to make a narrative out of “this weekend I ate a lot of cheese toast and watched roller derby and read Holidays on Ice and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.” I did do those things! They were wonderful! I have a lot of feelings about the differences between the novel and the film version of N&N. One is of course the  Levithan-iest thing to ever Levithan, which—he seems really nice, and I enjoyed watching him speak at Decatur Book Festival last year, but many of his books read a little bit like fanfiction, in terms of the long, long sentences, and that’s not bad but it is jarring to read in published work. I enjoyed the book a very great deal. The film has my favorite sex scene ever, and a deeply charming turn by Michael Cera, and I made my sister watch it while I was in London with her because I am the sort of mildly-obnoxious human who will take advantage of international travel to work around her own country’s licensing restrictions. Continue reading

Art Everywhere, All the Time

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Image courtesy of Elena Chapman. Licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.

I spent the past week and some change in London, my first visit there. It was, as you might imagine, an excellent trip for my flavor of nerd. So many museums! Free museums! With type specimens! So many type specimens.

I mean really. Y’all, on a whim, I visited the British Library. In their “treasures room,” I saw—in no particular order—the notated manuscript draft for Jane Eyre, a Gutenberg Bible, Austen’s hand-written draft of Persuasion, a letter by Darwin, a hand-written Sylvia Plath poem, and two (two!) of the original copies of the Magna Carta. This was in a single room, and doesn’t even include the section of books that were included just as art objects (they were, as you might imagine, covered in gilt and beautiful). In the room downstairs, I got to see one of Neil Gaiman’s original Sandman scripts.

I wandered into the Natural History Museum and saw mounts of Darwin’s pigeons and the type specimen for archaeopteryx. (That building, by the way, has dinosaurs and monkeys and beetles carved into the walls.) Halfway down the block I popped in the science museum and, after seeing a display of the sculpture that James Watt apparently took up after inventing steam engines, wandered upstairs, where I promptly lost my shit in front of Babbage’s reconstructed difference engine.

(Such a nerd am I that not only was I aware of Babbage’s part of things, but I had actually read a book about building that particular reconstruction of the difference engine, written by one of the people who spearheaded the project. Did you know that Babbage intentionally put half of the parts backwards in his plans, to confuse would-be copyright infringers?)

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Restarting holidays

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Image courtesy of Ewan Munro. Licensed under CC BY SA.

It’s been a weird year for holidays. My mom dying hastened a process that, I think, happens in a lot of families—once the current crop of kids in the family grow to adulthood, there’s a lull in holiday celebrations until the now-adult children begin to have kids of their own.

A quiet July Fourth bled into a quiet Christmas, which turned into a quiet New Year’s and Valentine’s Day and birthday (Thanksgiving, since it involves food, remained more or less untouched). It’s been fine, but not ideal—I like holidays, I like tradition, I like a socially-sanctioned occasion to have parties and wear fancy shoes and eat tiny foods.

As has been mentioned before, my youthful religious upbringing was spotty at best: I’m nominally Jewish, but grew up celebrating non-religious Christmas and Easter with one half of the family, with religious (but confusing) Hanukkah at Thanksgiving with the other half. I didn’t do seders as a child, but attended a college where religious life is a Thing. It didn’t matter that I’m an atheist—I spent college attending Passover seders and Holi color fights on the quad and Lessons and Carols performances at Christmas. I enjoyed it all. Continue reading

Spring has sprung

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Image courtesy of Dean Ward. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This unceasing shitshow of a winter is finally, finally over. Y’all, I knew going into this year that it was going to be the Worst, but my issues managed to dovetail quite nicely with a winter that just Would Not Quit. It was like the MRSA of weather, teasing us with the potential of spring every Saturday only to be cold and grey and miserable the rest of the week. And it went on like a freshman comp student who doesn’t understand that maximum page limits exist for a reason.

Spring has sprung, and my fellow residents of the Ent city are ecstatic. Piedmont Park is full of families with lawn chairs and picnic baskets, Grant Park has bikers on their way to the farmer’s market, everyone’s patios are finally opened and I can only imagine that no one in Cabbagetown will leave their porches for the next three months. Driving through Midtown today, I saw two cute young dudes (one in a belly shirt and skinny jeans, the other sporting a v-neck and shorts) recognize each other from across the street—one ran and no-shit leapt into the others arms, and he carried the dude into Blake’s.

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Human Interaction Good Times

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Image courtesy of Jason Eppink. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This weekend, I volunteered at BaconFest, the annual Dad’s Garage tribute to bacon and beer. I did my eco-friendly part, and walked from my apartment to the venue using Atlanta’s super-excellent rails-to-trails program, the Beltline.

This was a mistake. First off, as I am reminded of while writing this, I am in terrible physical shape/do not consume enough milk, and if I walk at something speedier than an amble, my shins hurt for the next three days.

More than that, however, was the nice reminder that street harassment is a Thing. I normally assume that I don’t get harassed much out in public because I maintain an A+ bitchy resting face, or because I’m kind of mousy. Not (exclusively) so! I don’t get harassed out in public because I have the incredible good fortune to spend most of my transit time in the car. Continue reading