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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What I’m Doing Right Now.

I wish I could change the title of this blog to “Manifatlanta”, because that is where I am now trying to move.  After a crappy 2013, I’m doing a change of scenery again.  And I’m traveling a lot.  Here are some of the things I am doing, have been doing, and will be doing so far in 2014.  This is going to be kind of disjointed.  Major life transitions disjoint my brain.  So does my on-the-road diet (CAFFEINE IS JOY!!!!!!!!!!).

This is a Walking Dead joke. But it’s also what I’ve been up to: “I’ve got stuff. I’m doin’ things.”

I’ve been watching The Walking Dead.  I like it very, very much.  That show just gets me.  And I get it.  We love each other.  I’ve also been looking at a lot of Walking Dead memes.  I love those too.  Most of them are hilarious.  Like the one above.

I’ve been scouting a new life in Atlanta.  I went in January, and I’m here now.  I’m couchsurfing.  I’m looking for a second job (I got a first one as editor and ghostwriter).  I’m looking for a place to live in mid-April.

I’m moving in mid-April.  I’m moving to Atlanta.  I have an internal tantrum about twice a day because I don’t really want to grow up and move away.  I want my entire life to be the same forever.  Except not.  I’m scared.  Of course I’m scared.  If I wasn’t scared, this would be a safe path.  But adult me has to tell little girl me that several times daily.

I’m going to NYC in April.  My mother’s and my birthdays fall on consecutive weekends, so I’m going up on a Friday, spending the weekend with friends, staying for the week, then hanging out with my mom and aunt.  It’ll be pretty amazing.  I’m taking the bus.  And I’m going to read poetry at The Bowery.

I’m auditioning for Jeopardy!.  That’s right: I took the test, and I got an audition.  It’s in Chicago.  So I’m going Austin–>Atlanta–>Chicago–>Austin–>Atlanta–>NYC–>Atlanta in the space of about 5 weeks.  I’ll let y’all know if I get to go to San Francisco to maybe be on the show (or wherever it shoots–California’s really big).

I saw 300 in IMAX and 3D and was depressed for an entire day (so was Aunt Kathy, who saw it with me).  It was 300 with more gore, more unhealthy sex, less art, and less hotness.  We finally got some ice cream to cheer us up.  It kind of worked.  Man, that was so depressing.

I saw snow.  It was Snowpocalypse, Part II, during my January trip, so that was pretty cool.

Seriously.  I can’t oversell this: I look up Walking Dead memes every day or every other day.  I can’t post my favorite here, but this one is the one I quote most (yes, I’ve taken to quoting memes).

Ok.  Carmen’s on her way to pick me up from Octane, so I’m posting this as-is.  More sometime, but just so you know, “I’m doin’ stuff.  I got 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

Does Blogging Count As Work…? (and Other Reflections on May)

I remembered this morning that a major purpose of this blog is to update people on my life.  February was the month in which I moved.  March was the month in which I adjusted.  April was the month in which I got healthy (mentally and physically).  And May was supposed to be the month in which I scheduled.

On April 31st, I blocked out every moment of May in iCal.  I went into the month with vastly improved bipolar assessment scores and a proper balance of medications (possibly for the first time in years).  I was doing freelance media work for my dad.  I had a professional caregiver to relieve me of my duty for a few key hours each day.  I was blogging regularly and staying involved at church.  And I was looking forward to a month of constant productivity.

There was not one day in May that I stuck to my schedule.  But I was productive.  I spent a lot of time in FinalCut working on the fourth project my dad has given me since I returned.  I worked on the church bulletin.  I blogged an awful lot.  I went to appointments, helped out with bible study, and dashed back and forth between Mom’s house and Kathy’s.  I had an outline of a schedule, and, although I did not stick to it, I completed all of the tasks which I had laid out for myself.  I think I had two hours on a slow day (none on a busy one) in which to catch my breath and find some calm.

Yet I feel like I failed in May.  And here is why: I performed many tasks each day, but I did not weigh each task appropriately.  Waking up, I did not think, “I need to cut Sequence 1 (for which I will be paid).  I need to invoice the deposit on this project (so I can get paid).  I need to submit these insurance claims (so I can get paid back).”  Instead, I woke up of a morning and thought “I need to email Carmen.  I need to sync my Fitbit.  I need to wash that dress before Judy gets here.”  And I did need to do each of those things.  But I did not need to do them first.  Everything got accomplished, but I was often breathing easy on the minutiae and scrambling to deliver important things.

June is going to be a looooooooooooong month (30 days of mentally tapping my foot for July 3rd, when I will see Cee again).  And I will not be scheduling every detail.  I think I learned my lesson in productivity.  What I need to do now is learn to prioritize. June is also going to be a month of upheaval, as we prepare to make a major caregiving transition and as I move into my aunt’s house and take on more work for my church.  I do not expect this month to be stable.  What I expect is to lay a solid framework for a stable July, in which my job, church, blog, family, and self are in balance.  I’m not entirely sure how this is going to be accomplished.  But I’m pretty sure it begins with me finishing up this post and getting to work on Sequence 4.

Because today I resolve to prioritize.

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Okay, maybe my work isn’t so bad…

{Please feel free to leave a comment with your own thoughts on prioritization or tips for being more productive. I would welcome any advice.}