Friday, December 20, 2013

Time won't give me time...

I haven't touched this blog in half a year.

A lot has changed since then, or it's possible that nothing has changed at all. Your guess is as good as mine.

I decided it was best in the long-run for me to leave Austin and come back to Atlanta; the city I wanted to leave for most of my life. Austin was such a fun place to live. It just wasn't... home? I really wanted it to be, though. For what it's worth, I can't say that Atlanta really feels like home a lot of the time, but it is where I am, and most likely, where I will continue to be for a long time to come (although, let's face it; I am not very stable sometimes when it comes to this stuff). There are times when I daydream about buying a house, putting down some roots... that would be nice, but for now, it seems a bit unattainable.

The plus sides of being back here? It's great to be able to see my family more, especially my brother's children. No more booking a flight to come back for birthday parties, and no stressing myself out with trying to see my friends while coming out over a weekend. I was also very happy to be able to experience Autumn again, since that didn't really happen in Austin. The health issues I experienced while living in Austin have cleared up quite a bit, but who knows if that is a product of this new (rather, recycled) environment.

The downsides... I wish this list were much shorter than the one above, but so far, it isn't. At least it isn't substantially longer, though. My job is stressful and annoying. I miss my coworkers, the building, and the much more laid-back attitude that came with my former job. My larger salary doesn't do any good when everything here is more expensive, either, so I have started trying to bring in extra money here and there. The financial hit I took over the past 2 years hasn't done wonders for my self-esteem or general mood sometimes, so I'm doing my best to build it all back up, slowly but, hopefully, surely. I've had to re-learn how to be much more self-sufficient, since I'm no longer a partner in a team, but maybe having to remember how to fend for yourself isn't such a bad thing (though I wouldn't mind someone doing all the grocery shopping and cooking).

Overall, I feel like I am doing better in general. A little anxiety here and there (see: here), but I'm pretty happy for the most of it. I have a lot of love in my heart, and I am hopeful about what's to come. Important lessons have been learned, and now I can take steps to be a stronger person because of it.

All I know is that I've made it this far, so I suppose I can make it a little further.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Today was the last day of school.

I started my career in education in August of 2001, so I have had my fair share of last days of school. Even in the worst years, I usually get a little emotional when it's time to wrap it up for the summer. Experience has taught me that you never know if you will see people again, and that is especially true in a school environment. Life happens, people move. Kids go off to different schools, coworkers' spouses are transferred over the summer... that sort of thing. You know it's coming, but it's still difficult.

Today was a rough last day of school. Aside from the fact that I kept getting teary-eyed with the kids, I recently decided that it would be best for me to move back to Atlanta to be near my family after giving it a year here in Austin. Since I don't like when people just vanish, I figured I needed to announce this to people today. I could have easily slipped away over the summer, but that felt wrong - almost as wrong as my decision to go back to Atlanta feels when I roll it around in my head.

Do I like Atlanta? We have a rocky relationship, and that's a feeling that started a long time ago. There are things I love about the city- and those things are people. I miss my friends and my family. I don't like feeling like I'm a bad aunt/sister/daughter/granddaughter/niece/cousin because I can't show up to dinner on a random weeknight or make it to a birthday party or T-ball game without it being a big (expensive) deal. It hurts sometimes to miss out on the things my friends are doing. If my return to Atlanta, however, is anything like my previous time there, then I can be prepared for my family to find it too difficult to visit me, as I wouldn't live in the southern suburbs with the rest of them, or to feel lonely from a lack of a deep connection with anyone. I make more money in Atlanta, but the schools I've worked in have been rife with unnecessary drama and controversy. It's a city of failed relationships, bad habits, race issues, and humidity. Oy, the humidity! My family and friends there are wonderful, and I love them, but they don't/can't change the fact that I feel a sense of freedom and drive here in Austin that I didn't find back "home".

Things got off to a bumpy start with Austin. I moved here after an especially emotionally exhausting year, and I brought some of that baggage along with me (despite my best attempts not to). I started working at a brand new school with people who were coming together from several different places. I spent several days in the hospital, and that coupled with the cost of flights back home put me in a less-than-ideal financial scenario for a bit. I was hoping that people would come visit me in my new city, and although that hasn't happened yet, I am still hoping for that.

So, eleven months later, this is what I know.

I love my job. I have ideas I want to implement, the workspace is just aesthetically amazing, and I have a great group of colleagues that have become my best friends here. Did I mention I work with cute little kids who say/do some really funny and adorable things on a daily basis? There is also a really great support system of librarians in my district, and I know that doesn't happen everywhere.

Aside from work, I have a great boyfriend who does an excellent job at being a true partner. A lot of the time I put up walls and make myself distant, and that is something I need to work on no matter where I live. Somewhere along the line I picked up this whole self-destructive thing, and it's really not a good look for me. Hopefully recognizing and admitting this is at least a baby step in the right direction, along with remembering and appreciating the work he has put into making us, well, us. I've dated my fair share of guys over the years, and he is a rare find when it comes to being emotionally available, caring, and patient. Did I mention he loves to cook? This goes really well with my love of eating! We have some different ideas on things, but there is room for compromise and growth.

Austin has little things that I enjoy, and I'm not sure if a suitable Atlanta replacement exists for them. I love Pinballz, the giant arcade near my apartment. I could kill hours in Half Price Books. There is a river/lake downtown, and although the trees are not as tall and majestic as the ones back east, the rolling hills here make for lovely scenery (not to mention all the open sky). I'm involved in a community-run radio station, where, if I put in enough time, I can eventually wind up with my own show. The cinema scene here is in a completely different league than Atlanta, and you're never more than a stone's throw away from some tasty tacos.

Today as my boss announced to my coworkers that I was not coming back next year, I cried. I cried when my coworkers gave me hugs and said they would miss me next year. I cried in the library by myself after everyone had gone. I sent out an email to the librarians' listserv saying I was leaving, and I cried while doing that. I went to an engagement party for a coworker, enjoying a vast, blue sky as I sipped margaritas by the pool and laughed with friends and strangers. It felt like home, and it was the first time in a few days where I didn't want to burst into tears.

I'm not proud of myself for making a fairly major decision that I want to reverse so quickly, especially after having to declare it so many people today. I have changed my mind before, and I imagine it reflects poorly on me to a degree. That being said, I will not be proud of myself for going back to Atlanta out of a sense of guilt or obligation, and I really won't be proud if I get there and get right back into my old habits and mindset.  I suppose I am The Girl Who Cried Atlanta. In the wise words of The Human League, "I'm only human, born to make mistakes", and today has shown me that abandoning this leg of my journey so quickly might just be a mistake.

I love you deep down, Atlanta, but I have to do what feels best in my heart and mind - not what makes me want to cry and/or vomit all day.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Why I Don't Like Easter

Tomorrow is Easter. Children are excited about egg hunts and candy. Adults are rejoicing the resurrection of their savior (if they believe in that sort of thing). What a lovely time, right?

Wrong. I do not like Easter. Here are some reasons why.

Like other holidays, Easter has just become an onslaught of retail overkill. BUY THINGS! And better yet, buy them earlier and earlier each year. If you want to keep it secular, that's cool. Make Easter another Valentine's Day, where the focus is candy and cards and other tchotchkes. But, if you want it to serve as a day of remembering that a man gave up his life for the sins of the world, maybe tone it down on the junk factor. As I am writing this, a Party City commercial with a re-worked version of Lou Bega's "Mambo No. 5" is on TV, really driving this whole point home. UGH.

Easter also loses a lot of points because it is a holiday based on celebrating a death. This is bizarre to me. Why would you want to do that? And do it so joyously? And then go eat a ham (which is something that your risen savior would not have eaten, by the way)? I understand that the main focus is the resurrection, but you can't have that without the less-than-pleasant events that lead up to it. Throw in Lent, and you have an entire month of buzz-kill.

In 2001, my Papaw spent his last hours of life in the ICU on Easter Sunday. The doctor told us there was nothing more they could do, and he died early the following morning. In 2003, my Grandaddy Bob (who was not a grandfather, but my grandmother's uncle who raised my mother) suffered a major heart attack at a family Easter lunch and died. 

Losing Papaw and Grandaddy is why I really don't like Easter. The rest is just filler. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Not what you thought...

I am 100% European.

This is what I learned from an at-home DNA ancestry test I took recently. Looking at my physical attributes, this isn't shocking at all. I have blue eyes, pretty fair skin, and light brown hair. The part that leaves me scratching my head just a bit is that for as long as I can remember, my maternal relatives have asserted that my great-grandmother was "full-blood" Creek Indian, and my great-great-great grandfather was Cherokee. Bear in mind that when I was a child, our family consisted of FIVE generations, so it wasn't like these people were long-gone and forgotten.

Of course, I am not sure how much stock to put in an at-home DNA ancestry test that I ordered online. The main reason I ordered it was to determine my other half's "mystery meat" status, as I like to call it (he's adopted). For the record, he's 86% European and 14% East Asian, which confirms my suspicions that his ancestors were Bedouin or something (if you could see his beard, you would know what I mean). There's a good chance that the test is complete bunk, or that I swabbed my cheek the wrong way. There's also a good chance that my relatives are just misinformed, and that's what bothers me most.

If I am in fact as European as the test said I am, I do not feel like I have lost any piece of my identity. My grandmother and step-grandfather live on a Reservation, so I've always been connected to Native America in that regard. As someone who converted to Judaism, I know that your bloodline does not always determine everything about who you really are. I'm wondering if I should tell my relatives that they may not actually be part-Cherokee or Creek or whatever else. Maybe I should just let them think what they think, because it's not hurting anybody (and as previously mentioned, the test could be wrong).

Part of me really wants to get to the bottom of this, though. Unfortunately, my ancestors did not seem to be as meticulous as I am when it comes to record-keeping and data, so I can't lean on that for any guidance. Maybe I will just take a test from a different company and see what it says. If anything, I just think it would be interesting to know, and I imagine some of my relatives would find it mildly intriguing.

What region of Europe is known for big butts, because clearly that's where my people were from.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Tears (and passing out) for fears...

I am not afraid of much.

Bugs, while sometimes annoying, do not give me the heebie jeebies. I can handle heights, as long as I don't have to walk a tightrope or something ridiculous. Since I've never had a cavity, going to the dentist does not send me into a tailspin - I get a free toothbrush! How can you beat that? Now that I am slightly older and wiser, I have moved past the abstract fear of "being alone", whatever that means. I stopped being afraid of the dark before I got into Kindergarten.

If you want to to incite full-blown fear in me, take me to get blood-work or shots.

Yes, everybody knows someone who is at least a little squeamish about needles. I have friends who ENJOY donating blood, something I cannot even begin to understand. Sure, I can grasp the need/benefit, but let's just say I won't be assisting the Red Cross anytime soon, considering that just seeing a blood drive in progress somewhere is enough to throw my nervous system into overdrive.

Since this is something I've been battling for about fifteen years, I have developed some strategies that (sometimes) work for me. First, I try to sit very still and make sure I am inhaling and exhaling properly. I picture a "happy place" and focus in on that. Niiiiiiice and calm. Once it is time for the work to be done, I lie down (I learned the hard way that sitting upright does not work for me), put cold,wet paper towels behind my neck and over my forehead and eyes, and if possible, chew gum. I make small talk with the lab tech, and absolutely DO NOT want to hear what is happening with the process. Best-case scenario, they get what they need, and I leave feeling only slightly nervous (but don't get me started on having to remove the bandage or see the bruise afterward).

Today was not a best-case scenario. I showed up at the lab, feeling very anxious. The folks in the waiting area probably thought I was doing some sort of Lamaze homework, as I was sitting with very pronounced posture, taking awkward, controlled breaths. My hands were sweaty, and I did not like the feel of my feet touching the ground. Once I was called back into the room, I tried to employ my normal methods, but they weren't working. I start nervously laughing, which then turns into crying. I start to convulse, and feel like I am going to vomit. Next thing I know, there is an additional tech in the room, and they keep asking, "are you with us?". I was told to slowly drink some water, and heard that my color was still gone. They made sure I was able to sit up and stay standing for several minutes without passing out before I was able to leave.

This is all well and good, except for the fact that they didn't even get any blood. That's right. I freaked out and passed out before a needle even came into the equation. Sometime around the rubber tube being tied around my arm and being told to make a fist, I just lost it. Now I have to go back again, and you can be sure that I am going to ask my doctor for some sort of sedative to get me through this (since they are going to need seven vials, I will need all the help I can get). You would think that if I passed out, they could just go ahead and take all the blood they needed, but I guess things don't work like that (except for in urban legends, where you end up in a bath full of ice and realize your kidneys are gone).

Despite today's failure, I'm doing much better with this than I used to. I can remember being at the doctor sometime in 2000, and the blood draw required someone to hold down each leg, someone to hold down each arm, and someone to actually draw the blood. Apparently flailing and hitting a nurse is frowned upon in the medical world! Somewhere along the way, the number of people involved whittled down, and now I can get it knocked out with just one tech (assuming I don't faint; that always crowds up the room with folks). Baby steps!

I am not sure of the genesis of this fear. I remember not really enjoying shots as a child, but I don't remember having a complete breakdown. The first instance I can really recall is being tested for mono after an outbreak among kids in marching band (I tested negative). The gal missed a vein or something, and this suction/gurgle sound came from my arm. The only other somewhat-related memory I have is seeing blood in the catheter tubes attached to my grandfather when he died. I sat on the floor and just stared at the tubes, realizing that was the last bits of him flowing away.

Although this is one of those quirky things that makes me who I am, I am very serious about trying to overcome it. I do not want to be in a situation where I can't help someone who is bleeding (this doesn't freak me out as much as the thought of having blood drawn), and if I ever want to have children, I imagine I am in for quite a few needles here and there. I have never put much stock into things like hypnosis, but I am ready to go out on a limb if it means a future without freaking out unsuspecting lab technicians and embarrassing myself in the process.

So, who wants to go get a tattoo with me? Just kidding, of course...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A ship without a rudder's like a ship without a rudder...

Being a trailblazer can be a headache.

I suppose that in the past, times were simpler, and a person's path was probably quite similar to their parents' or even their grandparents'. Historically, my trajectory as a woman would most likely include (possibly) finishing high school, where I had probably already met the man who would end up being my husband. I would marry young, and start having children fairly quickly. I would live close to where I grew up, unless I married a military man, and then I could be whisked away for a while. At some point, I might contribute to the family with a secretarial job, if I even worked at all.

This is the schema that guided my life growing up. For background: my parents met in high school, married as soon as my mom graduated, and had me seven years later. I grew up having "young" parents. I can remember when my parents became the age I am now, and it freaks me out just a bit. Go back one generation earlier, and I have a grandmother who walked down the isle a few months shy of her fourteenth birthday (something that probably wasn't very uncommon in post-war times in the mountains of Georgia). Go forward a generation, and there is my brother who said "I do" when he was 21 (and on my 29th birthday, nonetheless). At seven years my junior, he has a spouse, three children, and a house; a true adult.

One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong. And it's me.

At the ripe ol' age of 33, I have yet to be a blushing bride. I do not have kids. I went to college three times (gotta do something, right?). As far as I know, there is not another woman in the history of my family who has been in the same situation (and considering five generations were living when I was a child, I have a pretty decent grip on who's who). If there was a woman who shared my experiences, she is long-gone and forgotten. No one remembers her fondly, and no amazing stories keep her spirit alive - not even as the fun aunt!

I know it is not fair or healthy to compare my experiences to those of my brother, parents, grandparents, or anyone else for that matter. We are all unique snowflakes, and variety is the spice of life! Things are not how I planned, but that doesn't mean I am not doing well in this life. I have friends (even if they are mostly in another time zone), I am relatively healthy, and I have almost-constant access to 80's and 90's pop music.

Sometimes I just wish I could visit my past self and gently advise her that she might not want to put so much stock in things happening the way they did for others, because that would have really helped (and changed) a lot. Instead of being a teacher and librarian (because working in a school was a wise choice for having a family), I might have gone into radio or become a flight attendant. I wouldn't have looked at guys I met in high school and college as potential husbands/fathers of my children, and could have dated like a normal young adult.

At least I know I have kept some therapists fed along the way, so something good came from all of this!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Make new friends, but keep the old?

One of the bits and pieces of life that I've been thinking about quite a bit since moving away is the concept of friendship.

What makes someone a "friend"? I imagine that question doesn't come with a standard, across-the-board answer, and the lines between friends and mere acquaintances can be blurry. Throw in our love affair with technology, and it muddies it up even more. As of this moment, I have 526 friends on Facebook. I imagine that is significantly less than some, and much more than others. Of those 526 folks, who would I actually consider a real friend? Additionally, which ones think of me as a real friend, and not just a source of pictures, songs, and random thoughts?

I can't speak for others and  how they define friendship. Quite honestly, I am not even sure how I would define it myself these days. Leaving my hometown has left me taking a good look at those people I consider my friends, and I wonder if we were as good of friends as I thought. For the most of it, there seems to be a lot more "out of sight, out of mind" than "absence makes the heart grow fonder". Airfare ain't cheap (and I certainly don't expect to be playing hostess with the mostest on a regular basis), but I had hoped that by now, someone would have made their way to visit for a weekend. If it weren't for the internet, I imagine I would have lost contact with most people by now. Perhaps that is just how modern life is, and to be blunt, I don't like it one bit.

My goal is to be a good friend. The catch? You have to tell me what that means to you, which yes, might involve introspection and communication. For me, you can be a good friend by remembering/recognizing that I exist outside of the internet (to those of you who send physical mail and remember how to carry on phone conversations, thank you). Life is short, relatively speaking, and the little things do matter. I challenge you to be a good (or better) friend to someone today, while you still have the chance to do so.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

... and the pursuit of happiness

What makes you happy?

Does what make you happy keep you happy?

My other half gave me a great gift for Valentine's Day. I've been wanting to learn how to do something with my sewing machine for a while, so he purchased me a gift card for an intro sewing class. This kills two birds with one stone, in that maybe, just maybe, there will be some potential friends there (and I'll come home with a drawstring bag and pillow that a child could have done better with). When I think of the things I probably should be doing with my time, they all include some sort of hobby.

As a kid, I had LOTS of hobbies. I loved to draw, read, do latch-hook kits, write stories, you name it. As an adult, I get frustrated that my drawing is not that great, reading (even a really great book) lulls me into a slumber, and this blog is a testament to my writing prowess. I wonder at what point did that part of me who could while away hours with something other than Investigation Discovery and naps disappear. Even more importantly, I wonder how I can get that part of me back.

Maybe it's time to buy some new latch-hook kits...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Where did you come from, where did you go?

I've heard it said before that it isn't where you're from, but where you're going.

I am from the South (just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, to be exact). My family has lived in the same area for a long time, mostly contained within a 50-mile radius. No one ever leaves it seems. Except me. I suppose you could say that I possess some black sheep tendencies. Coming from a pretty traditionally Southern family, the fact that I am well into my 30's and have never been married or had a child is a bit... different? Add that to the fact that I thought it would be fun to earn three different degrees, and you have a gal who has never really fit in the family mold (and we won't even dig into religious/political views right now).

Living somewhere outside of Atlanta was something that had been on my radar since, well, since forever. I toyed with (threatened?) moving for years, but things always dissolved. After a particularly turbulent 2011 (starting a job that I loved, selling my house, moving in with my love interest only to be dumped very shortly after, finding out I might lose the job that I loved), I decided to bite the bullet and do what I had thought about doing for years.

So, here I am. Austin has been "home" since July, and I can honestly say I am still going through the adjustment phase. I have found restaurants I enjoy, activities I like doing, a super-supportive dude, and have even learned my way around town without having to rely on the navigation system in my car. Making new friends is difficult, even though I adamantly told myself (and others) that it couldn't be that hard, and I wouldn't be one of those people who had a hard time forming new relationships.

Boy, is my face red...

In a perfect world, I could somehow combine the great things about both Austin and Atlanta, and we would all live happily ever after. Austin would have more trees and cooler weather. Atlanta would have more of Austin's vibe. I could go see my nephew play tee-ball without spending 10% of my monthly income  to pay for a plane ticket (Austin would also adopt Atlanta's higher educator salaries). The last thing I want to do is fall prey to the "grass is always greener" syndrome, but I know this much; I miss certain people, places, and things about Atlanta more than I ever thought I would (or could).

Could I get a side of fries with that crow, please?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

You know that thing...

When you start a blog, and you realize you have no clue where to start? That.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Off we go...

I think a lot. And I mean A LOT. 

I think I have always been a thinker. It's one of those things that's a blessing and a curse. More often than not, it just fills my head with lots of minutiae, and instead of trying to convey feelings through the posting of songs/videos on Facebook, I've decided to "use my words", if you will.

Will you? Great! Let's go!