So, this past weekend, I turned 22. Taylor Swift released a new single about just that thing. Coincidence? (Yes.)
And the thing is, I like it very much. It’s silly and fun and easy to scream along with while drunk, like Kimya Dawson without the addiction problems or depth. I mean, lyrics like:
We’re happy free confused and lonely in the best way
It’s miserable and magical, oh, yeah
Are painfully dumb, but they’re also really descriptive of the tail end of growing into an adult human being, which as a process is also pretty dumb. I mean, last week, I went out with coworkers and drank fancy bourbon in a cool bar when–not 10 minutes earlier–I had totally failed to parallel park in a non-embarrassing way, which is something that I should really Know How to Do by now. Continue reading →
This was a weekend of highs and lows. I will, as is my way, start with the lows:
First off, the actual temperature. It was snowing on Saturday, but–this being Atlanta–none of the snow stuck. So basically what happened is that small pieces of freezing rain made it hard to see and unpleasant to be outside. Y’all, I live in Atlanta. The social contract that we have with Our Lord Weather Jesus is that in exchange for living in a place that is pretty much going to give you asthma is that in does not snow in March. So, basically, ugh.
Low point number two is that I woke up on Sunday morning fresh-and-ready to do some Major Thesis Writing, which I had put off on Saturday in favor of grocery shopping with my dad, because a) I am a good child and b) there were almond horns to be had. This would have been fine except that–much like last Sunday, when I also tried to do some Major Thesis Writing–I woke up with a debilitating migraine. (It’s like my body knows what I’m about to do.) Trying to soldier on, I ate some cheese and drank some orange juice, at which my body pulled a walking octopus and “nope nope nope”d my string cheese right back out of me.
Is there anything better to start your morning with than freshly-regurgitated breakfast cheese, while blinded attempting to do something you don’t really want to do anyway?
And then, the first Gawker-featured scandal of 2013: our alumni magazine’s Letter from the President*, in which our university president wrote about American compromise, presumably in reference to the cuts. His example was not, as you might guess, the Bill of Rights, or a bicameral legislature. It was the 3/5 compromise. During Black History Month. A few weeks after a (terrible) student TV show made a lynching joke.
Like I said: rough couple of years. Courageous inquiry leads you to hire bad PR people, apparently.
And it is so, so frustrating to me because I want to like Emory. If I liked Emory, I would probably be less unhappy than I am. And I remember being at Oxford (referred to, horribly enough, as Emory’s “separate but equal” campus), and being–at least some of the time–really, truly happy about being there, even when I was frustrated with the institution. Continue reading →
I occasionally joke that I am a woman without hobbies. To some extent, this is true–when asked what I do for fun at job interviews (or, you know, dates, if I want to pretend to be less weird), I have difficulty coming up with anything. I like to take naps and listen to music while staring into space.
But, as this weekend reminded me, the joke isn’t entirely true. I know this because I indulged in almost all of my hobbies this weekend. To wit:
Organizing things: Something in my soul finds it deeply soothing to fold my clothing into bundles, and so I did. Every piece of underwear and every t-shirt I own is now ranger rolled, and opening my dresser is now a profoundly soothing experience. Neuroses!
Eating food on patios: I wound up lunching at Tomatillos, ie the only tex-mex place in Atlanta that isn’t trying to do some misguided fusion thing. For $5, they will give you pinto beans and cheese on your choice of tortilla. They have an outdoor patio, and sangria–like the tacos–is $5. There is nothing in life that I like quite so much as that kind of food, and this is the only place in town that approaches anything in the midwest. The weather was nice, and my friend was hysterical, and afterwards we got to go to a used book shop that had both a VC Andrews and a PG Wodehouse novel available for a reasonable price. (Did I buy the Wodehouse so the clerk wouldn’t judge me? Maaaaybe.)
Despite the gloom-and-doom* of last week’s post, this week has been remarkably uneventful. Not good, not bad, just… there.
There were good things that happened: I weathered my first corporate function (a birthday party) without shaming myself too badly. I’m baking brownies in a cast iron skillet. I watched the last three episodes with the Tenth Doctor on Doctor Who and cried disgusting snot tears. I considered re-reading Ender’s Game, but decided not to on the grounds that I had already cried too much for one weekend, in the good, cathartic, prompted-by-TV kind of way.
(Seriously, though, readers: is there anything that could have predicted my anthropology degree quite so well as my absolute, shuddering sobs when I got to the “the aliens are only trying to save their babies, and the humans didn’t understand“ twist at the end of that book? No. No there is not.)
Do you ever have such a wonderful weekend that–though you totally intend to update your blog–you spend most of it baking cookies, watching Shakespeare, and drinking sangria with your friends (followed by napping!) and totally forget? Just me? Oh, whoops.
This weekend was wonderful, because that is pretty much all that I did for it. (I took a break to read 200 pages of class things, which involved learning more disgusting facts about monkey sexual behavior, ie the most lasting educational legacy of my time at college, fun fact.) And you guys, it was necessary for me to continue to get out of bed.
That’s because last week I simultaneously started my first week of my last semester of college and my fancy new 40-hour-a-week, yes-we-have-a-401k-and-snacks job. Which is great! Employment is wonderful! My coworkers are a delight! The snacks are great! I am taking a class with someone famous enough to have a Wikipedia page!
And I am so! Very! Tired!
That + my weakling college vegetarian immune system meant that I spent most of last week sort-of-kind-of sick. You know, when you feel like you can’t legitimately take medication without Raising Eyebrows, but you would still prefer to stay in bed? Super fun!
Hello, friends! I am back from the frigid wastelands of Boston, which–though lovely–caused the lower part of my face to peel off. I am pleased to be back in my swampy, humid, grey homeland. (Besides, does Boston have a Twin Peaks-themed bar with a heated outdoor patio and funnel cake on the menu? Psh.)
The frozen tundra really was lovely, though. Boston is basically a European city, but in the US. I had a moment while I was there, where I was standing outside a CVS. Except across the street from me was the Boston Public Library, which is built as a fantastic public temple (it is so cool, you guys, I am a complete sucker for publicly funded monuments to education), and then on the remaining two corners that I could see were gigantic, cathedral esque Catholic churches. The library and the stained-glass church were in some sort of across-the-street staring contest. And I was sitting there with some hydrocortisone cream for my skin rash. And that is the kind of thing that just does not happen in Atlanta, or in any of the other places that I have lived. So that was wonderful. (Also wonderful: cannoli.)
There was a hilariously weird moment, however, that happened in the Boston Public Library. Led in to the space by my fantastic traveling companions (were it not for them, I would have missed the door), I spotted some big lion statues flanking one of the stair cases. We went up to get pictures in front of the big lions, because statuary! And then, we realized what the inscription on the lions was commemorating. (You can play along at home with this person’s vacation photos.)
The lions were a monument to the men of Massachusetts who had died or participated in Sherman’s March to the Sea. For those of you reading this from the UAE (WordPress tells me there are a few of you), Sherman’s March was a campaign during the civil war in which Sherman marched through the Southern US and–from Atlanta to Savannah–set All The Things on fire in order to capture them.
This was written a few weeks ago in preparation for my trip to Boston, where I am at this very moment ringing in the new year while being terribly, terribly cold. Enjoy!
In the shower today, I was thinking about this past year. There are some years where you can’t really remember what happened in them–they’re a pretty standard accumulation of the component parts that make up most of your life. This was not one of those.
This time last year, I was preparing to go to Dakar. I spent January through May of 2012 in West Africa, with a stopover in Barcelona and Paris. I had never been out of the country for that long, and I had never been to Africa or to Europe.
While in Dakar, I got used to taking cold showers and malaria pills. I sweated a lot. I drank in parks and was mopey and climbed inside a baobab tree and on a termite mound. I learned how to carry money, ID, and my phone tucked away in my bra after I had my phone stolen on my birthday. I was homesick. My dog died.
This year, my family finally relented: we bought a plastic Christmas tree.
When I say “my family,” of course, I really mean “my grandparents.” My immediate family, due to the fact that my mother is Jewish, has never had a Christmas tree. (We also used to celebrate Hanukkah at Thanksgiving. I had a religiously confusing childhood.) So every year that I can remember up until now, we have gone to my grandparents’ house and decorated the shedding fir tree in which between one and three cats have nested.
The whole week around Christmas is the most heavily-ritualized time of the year for me. The tree is the kick-off. Later on there’s a family viewing of the lights in the town square, then a singalong on Christmas Eve before we do presents Christmas morning. In between, there is ongoing gossip about people my dad went to high school with. We eat divinity and fudge. (Divinity is like fudge if you abandoned all pretense and just made it out of corn syrup. On a related note, my grandmother is from Alabama.) There are obligatory references to state and local Democratic politics, and there is a three-Clinton-reference quota.
While grabbing lunch with a friend a few weeks ago, I managed to move a conversation from lunch food to the overwhelming terror of family illness within the span of about ten minutes. She took up the conversational reins and–despite her best efforts–we moved from talking about finals to discussing the prospect of unemployment and destitution post-grad.
Clearly we needed cheering up in the form of obnoxiously-sized, frosted cookies. Cookies procured, we tried to find something nice to talk about. A few sentences later, we were talking about general ennui.
At this point we burst out laughing, because clearly we are broken in the sort of way that turns cookie cake into self-examination.
My friend drew a comparison to a mountain. No matter where our conversation started, we tumbled down the side of Mount Conversation–ricocheting off mountain goats (perhaps listening to the Mountain Goats) and rocky outcrops–and landed in the river of sadness.
In the four or five times I’ve seen her since this realization, we haven’t been able to escape it. It got to the point that a few nights ago I was joking about doing this family coat of arms craft with a crest composed of a mountain, with 40 of cheap malt liquor being poured out, down the mountain, into the river of tears. Perhaps with, “Where I go, sadness follows,” in Latin (for class!). Perhaps a tiny violin could be floating down the river.
At some point, we made the decision to give up trying to avoid our clearly melancholy inclinations. Continue reading →