Life in Atlanta

Whenever I travel or go home, I am invariably asked how I like Atlanta.  Every time, I respond with variations on vagary, generally offering the impression that I do not love the city, but I do like my life here.  I do so because it is difficult for me to communicate through small talk all of the wonderful and awful things that have happened to me here, and to wrap them up into a judgement on the city itself.

The truth is that I love the life I have built for myself in Atlanta.  Since my first visit here, my schedule every week revolves around the fixed point of Thursday night Bible study.  My best friend’s brother and his wife host at their home, where between eight and twenty people gather for dinner, community, and a well-researched analysis of one chapter from whichever book of the Bible we are studying at the time.  Afterward, we play games or Smash Bros., or just enjoy good conversation, often over a beer.  I arrive early every week to help get the house ready, and that is usually where I write these posts.

When I moved here, I had a job lined up as a barista.  I was at that job for about nine months, but I left in January of last year.  Since then, I have worked every Friday cleaning my friends’ house, sold salsas and tamales at a farmers’ market in the summer, folded laundry for a family in the suburbs, and taken on freelance work for my dad.  In my off times from those jobs, I workout, look for other jobs, and generally reevaluate my life.  I also travel a bit, and I have had the privilege to host my friends and family in Atlanta.

Most importantly, I have nurtured a community of friends here.  I hang out with various parts of that friend group weekly, and we usually keep one of the many Atlanta goings-on on our horizon.  So far my favorite is Matilda’s, an art gallery and outdoor concert venue that hosts local artists.  We took several bottles of wine, fancy snacks, and a few friends to see Blair Crimmins and the Hookers there, and thus found the formula for an excellent evening.

There were so many times in the past year that I felt tempted to see my move to Atlanta as a mistake.  I felt that the city was rejecting me like a transplanted organ.  I know now–I knew then–that that perspective was wrong.  It takes time to settle in a new place, to build a new community.  Moreover, it takes faith that the seeds you plant are worth cultivating.  Right now, I am experiencing the joy of seeing those seeds yield true fruit.  But there were times, along the way, when I thought my plants would not flower, and there were plenty of seeds that never sprouted.  I stayed because I believed that God had brought me here for a purpose.

I have a wonderful life in Atlanta.  It still has its difficulties and complications, but it is, overall, fruitful.  I know that such a life could be cultivated anywhere.  But I am glad it is here.

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Year-End Wrap-Up

2015 was epically horrible for me.  It was worse than 2013, which I did not think possible.  I lost my job.  I lived in 8 places in less than six months.  I was sick three times in three months.  I was betrayed by people whom I considered friends.  I lost my sense of self, my sense of purpose, my direction, and my will to apply for jobs.  It was genuinely an awful year.

So, as I look back, I feel that I should give thanks.  Thank you to my family and friends, who were nothing but supportive (emotionally and financially), who listened to me endlessly and offered counsel when asked for, and who made me feel a sense of worth, even in my darkest moments.  Thank you to my roommate, who is so kind, so gracious, and such a joy to be around (even if her cat is redefining “needy” for me).  Thank you to my church for bringing me into your community and giving me a way to serve.  Thank you to the people who have employed me, sometimes in the face of minimal qualifications.

Thank you, most of all, to God, who is with me through all things, who has taken care of me, who gave me such a unique and supportive family, and who has constantly placed exceptional people in my life.

I look forward to a better, and bloggier, 2016.  Happy New Year!

 

Life (Well, Winter 2012) in Pictures

I’m starting to think it’s the worst idea in the world to organize my pictures by which iPhone I took them on.  I guess that, when I set up the system, I was mentally organizing the phases of my life by which iPhone I had.  That was stupid.  I should be doing them by year.

I wanted to find an amateur photo shoot I did while at Treat Design Group of Cheryl’s diamonds stacked with tile samples for the guest-house bathroom.  All I could remember was that I’d taken the pictures in late 2012, so I decided it was just time to sort through iPhone pictures from late 2012.  What I found was a section of pictures completely devoid of Carmen, and suddenly I saw a part of my life completely devoid of Carmen.  It made me think about what defined my life in that odd period between when my life in Houston changed and when I moved my life to Austin.

1) Different people, different places…Let me be clear: A lot of the people in these pictures were friends with whom I already hung out.  But I found that the nature of my relationships changed.  I mended old wounds and pursued people more deeply.  I made my home in different houses.  And I spent a lot of time with my bosses, whom I adored (and still do).  I knew that I was on the verge of leaving, but I also craved social relationships, some of which I knew I would not maintain.  I branched out while disentangling my roots.

2) Christmas, Christmas, Christmas…I threw myself into making homemade coasters for everyone.  It was one of the most fun, most exhausting, most satisfying projects I have ever done.  Here is some of my work, which I want to one day sell on Etsy (yeah, that’s its own thing.

3) Those two actually pretty much cover it.  Sorry, but I have to get back to work.  😛  …Oh, wait!  Here’s a link to my diamonds photo shoot, among other things.

Over It.

All:

So…I haven’t been here in a while.  And I’ve really missed it.  I’ve missed it so much that I’ve agonized over my leave of absence.  I started three drafts that didn’t go anywhere.  Because my life wasn’t going anywhere.  Because I was in the throes of a depressive episode.

That’s actually what it’s called.  It can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, and I don’t know how to predict the start and stop dates.  I know that it broke yesterday because I woke up and felt, for the first time in about five weeks, like I could engage with the world without feeling panic or pain.

This is not going to be a real post; I just wanted to let y’all know that I’m back and blogging again.  I’m still not sure whether anything I drafted is usable, but I am lucky enough to have plenty of other ideas orbiting the peripheral thinkspace around my conscious mind.  In the meantime, thanks to everyone who ticked up my Stats feeding on stale posts…it’s so nice to know that I don’t have to be to-the-minute current to still be considered relevant.

One more thought: the rock to which I have lately been anchored has shifted under choppy seas, and I must attach to a more constant point.  I know what this point ought to be, but getting there is difficult.  Your good thoughts and prayers are much appreciated during this confusing time in my life, which may not be an experience alien to your own.

Love & blessings,

Ingrid