Going Where You’ve Never Been

October 21, 2012

I haven’t had much to say to share with the world in a while, but this I feel needs to be said.

I’m currently having a crisis of identity. Maybe that’s a little intense, but it’s how I feel at the moment.

I’ve known for a long time that I don’t want to be an artist. I knew years ago, but I was afraid to leave my photography program. After all those years of building a portfolio and learning everything I wanted about photography, I realized early on in my college studies that it wasn’t what I wanted. Unfortunately I was too chicken to do something about it.

A while ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is finishing med school this year. He asked me why I didn’t choose to study a science since it was clearly something that interested me. I can’t remember what my answer was to him then, but now I’m pretty sure I know what my answer is.

I don’t blame anyone but myself for not pursuing science. I went to a great school with extremely bright people. I have faith that all of my friends are going on to do great things as engineers, doctors, marine biologists, and teachers. I love them all, and I have no regrets about going to the only non-secular all-girl school in the Bay Area. I do, however, regret ever feeling like I wasn’t smart enough to study science.

Everyone around me was so fucking smart. A couple of my closest friends were on the robotics team for our school. I always thought it was the coolest thing that they built and programmed robots to compete with other robots around the country. (Seriously, how badass is that?) It’s not that they ever excluded me or anyone else. Everyone was encouraged to participate if they wanted. I just never took the initiative to ask.

It was pretty intimidating to be around people who studied the shit out of cool things. Everyone was so confident and good at what they loved, and I just never felt smart enough to be that cool. So instead I turned to photography because it was something I understood and enjoyed. It became something I wrapped my identity around, as most of us do with things we love growing up.

To be fair, my love of photography started before high school. But my passion for academics didn’t seem to grow the same way. It could be because I was home-schooled for a year, or because I had a bad science teacher one year and couldn’t pull my grades up. Maybe it’s because I felt that good grades were more important than simply enjoying the act of learning.

Regardless of why I didn’t pursue science then, the problem I face now is what to do about it. I am very tired of school and have no interest in returning; however, school seems to be the only option to fully invest myself in learning. I guess I could pick up a book and read, or listen to some Podcasts if I’m too lazy. But it’s just not the same. I read any science-related news I can that’s listed in my BBC newsfeed, even though I don’t understand it most of the time. I just searched for free science lectures near Atlanta, and the first search result for “free education” turned up seminars on dating. What the fuck.

My name is Sterling. I have a BFA in Photography & Imaging. I feel trapped with a misformed identity and a stunted career path. I am on a mission to…to…I don’t know. To do something about it I guess.

Calling Out from a Landfilled Life

February 19, 2011

Today I had an awesome day. I went to the locally-owned Libertine for a couple hours, then had lunch at the Yacht Club, then went shopping for an outfit at Rag O Rama to wear to the Dead Elvis show at Star Bar next weekend. Now I’m sitting on my roof in the beautiful weather.

Sure, I could’ve done something similar to this in NYC: walked around the village, had lunch at Corner Bistro, then chilled out in the park, or do something similar in Brooklyn. But when it comes down to it, NYC isn’t Atlanta. A weird comparison to make, I know, but NYC is old news. It will always change and it will always be great and it will always have something to offer. But Atlanta is like an undiscovered, awesome, sparkling gem that people won’t touch because it’s in the south. Someone came into Libertine today and complained about all the hipster Burning Man hippies living in Portland who ride their bikes drunk wearing all black at night.

San Francisco, NYC, Portland, and eventually Seattle all become the same thing: taken over by the next generation of yuppies and hippies trying to make the urban world a better place. I don’t think that will ever happen to Atlanta (knock on wood). I think anyone not from the south will be too intimidated to come here. Atlanta will go through its gentrification and will always have its issues, but when it comes down to it, Atlanta will almost always be the Atlanta people remember it to be.

And yes, that’s something great about NYC. (I can’t speak much for SF since I’ve never actually lived in the city. And LA doesn’t count because it sucks.) New York is always changing. People go to New York to introduce new ideas and try to make the next best thing. But New York has already lived through its glory days. Years from now it will have a revival, but right now it’s washed out. Nothing exciting is really going on, other than the usual NYC nonsense.

Atlanta, specifically Little 5 Points, is still growing and developing. There are times when I feel like I’m still part of the creation of this neighborhood. Can you imagine what it was like living in the West Village in the 70s? To be part of the identity of a neighborhood? That’s how I feel sometimes here. Everyone here works so hard not only for themselves, but for this city. For Little 5 Points. At least for now there’s very little gentrification from what I can see because most people have lived here since L5P came to be.

And sometimes it makes me sad to know that in 3 years I’ll probably leave for another city. But at the same time, I’m excited because if I hadn’t made the risky decision to move here, I never would have experienced all these amazing things. It’s obviously too early to tell, but when I make the decision to live somewhere of my own accord, I think I’ll have to move back here.

Now all I have to do is find a job I truly love.

Everything Is Never As It Seems

January 13, 2011

My roommate’s friend stayed with us for these past couple of days. She grew up around Philadelphia, lived in San Francisco, and now she’s traveling around the world until she decides what to do next. She’s got a camping backpack and a couple other bags and that’s it.

It used to be a lifestyle I wanted to pursue, partially because my ex-boyfriend was similar: he grew up in DC, and before attending NYU, he lived in San Francisco for a year and traveled a bit. I wanted that hippie, bohemian, nomadic lifestyle. I wanted to travel around the world and meet random people and make art and live a colorful life, like Auntie Mame (which I watched last night).

There are a lot of choices I’ve made that led me away from that dream. I left NYC. I left the Bay Area. I walked away from some amazing job opportunities and comfortable lifestyles, and for what? To follow an Army boy? To have a job completely unrelated to art? To live nowhere near my family?

Oddly enough, it was all for love. I moved to Atlanta with nothing but my savings account. I knew no one, I had no job, no connections, nothing. I just moved here because I’m 22 and in love. It’s certainly not what I dreamed of doing, and it’s not what I thought I wanted to do, but here I am. And life is good when you have love. Except for when it lives 400 miles away.


January 11, 2011

It is day 2 of the Atlanta Snowpocalypse. The grocery stores are low on food. The booze is diminishing. The streets are blanketed in ice and what was once snow. There is no sound but the dripping from icicles to the ground. The city is deadly still, and I will party on through the snow days.

Originally I was going to tell you more about experiencing snow in Atlanta, but I just got an email from a peer of mine regarding photographers’ rights. This story is just wrong and it needs to be heard:

A friend of mine who is a photographer was severely beaten by police officers.  He was taking photographs out in the street, in public, and cops arrested him and charged him with resisting arrest after they smashed his head into the pavement and beat him so badly that he still has a bone sticking out of his shoulder.  He needs an operation but can not afford to take off work for that long.

That said, he asked me if I knew of any groups who fight for photographer’s rights, or resources and laws that clearly explain photographers rights, specifically in regards to public domain and shooting in public on the streets.  He is facing some serious charges in which he could see jail time and heavy fines.  I am not really familiar with laws and what the exact rules and regulations are regarding making photographs in public.  If anyone out there is familiar with this, please pass on whatever information you have or even what direction I may be able to guide him in.  This incident occurred in New Jersey if that is significant in terms of varying state laws.

The current war on photography and the camera seen as some tool linked with terrorism really pisses me off and in the end I think we all should be aware of our rights and know the specific laws regarding photography and public domain.  Perhaps if people have information about this they can reply to this list serve instead of emailing me directly so we all can have this information on file if we ever need it.

When one of us goes down, we must all join together, extend a hand and pick up our brothers and sisters.

Raise It Up

January 3, 2011

I always knew a select few people regularly read my cooking blog, but I recently learned that people have been checking up on me here. I find it sweet. So here’s what I’ve been up to.

Um…I don’t really have much to say. I guess that’s why I haven’t blogged in a month. Life is pretty routine. I still work at Arden’s Garden. I cook a lot (but forget to post about it all the time). I crochet. I write letters. Every once in a while I go out and venture into the world (usually to the Yacht Club). I guess the real reason I haven’t been having adventures is because I’m saving money for a car. Other than that, life is simple.

Though I guess I’ve been thinking about my photography and art, and I’ve made a new year’s resolution to have a significant amount of work done on my next photography project on military partners. My manfriend will finally move to Fort Benning in March, and hopefully I’ll have a car for the summer. I’ll have three different aspects of this project I’d like to achieve by December 31, 2011:

– Have a notebook dedicated solely to this project. Kind of a cop-out goal, but I still think it will help me organize my thoughts and research.
– Have at least 10 different articles/studies from at least 10 different sources about military partners. Again with the research. It’s difficult to find the information I need when no one has done anything about it.
– Photograph and interview at least one other person other than myself. Since I’m transferring from my self portraiture project to this one, I don’t think it’s fair to include myself as a significant part of this work.
– Apply for at least one grant. This one is ambitious, and I can only accomplish it once I’ve achieved the above goals.

So that’s what’s up I guess. More to come maybe.

Blast-Off Burlesque: I Use Lots of Fabulous Adjectives

December 4, 2010

Last night I went to see Blast-Off Burlesque at the Eyedrum. I had never been to a burlesque show, and all I knew to expect was awesome Vaudeville music and ridiculous costumes. The MC Armitage Shanks had one of the most beautiful singing voices. Every song he sang was amazing, and as I listen to his songs online, I can tell you that his live performance is a bazillion times better. His stage presence and personality just adds so much to his music.

My favorite performer was Sadie Hawkins, followed closely by Dickie Van Dyke. Sadie Hawkins is not only sexy and fabulous, but her performances were completely mesmerizing. Her performance on the lyra (aerial hoop) was so much fun to watch since she’s so fucking graceful doing crazy trick after trick on a hoop. And her burlesque act with the feather fans was tantalizing. It was the first time I’d ever seen such a performance live. Dickie Van Dyke was something I never thought I’d experience. It makes sense to me now, but I hadn’t realized there were burlesque drag kings. Regardless, he was sexy and amazing and so much fun to watch.

I was talking to my roommate who came with me, who had always been interested in pin-up and burlesque and oddity culture. She said she didn’t see much of a difference between dancers at strip clubs and dancers in this show – it’s all skin and music and fun. I guess I hadn’t really thought about it before, but I guess the biggest difference between the two is the audience, because they’re the ones that create any stigma. If the same kind of audience from the Blast-Off Burlesque show went to any strip club in Miami or NYC, what would it be like? Or vice versa?

I don’t know. Just thoughts. In any case, new life goal: to be a burlesque baton twirler, i.e. be able to strip while twirling baton.

First Star I See Tonight

November 10, 2010

This morning I was unusually perky and happy. I wasn’t entirely sure why, but then I realized that I am, in fact, very very very happy here in Atlanta.

I was so scared that I wouldn’t like it. I was afraid that I couldn’t find a job. I thought I wouldn’t make many friends. But lo and behold I have achieved all those fabulous things and more. I am living the dreams of 13-year-old me (well, some of those dreams). Last night I took a fire safety course with Jamie from The Hot Toddies and learned how to use fire fans and fire batons.

Oh, right, I forgot to mention: I’ve joined a baton twirling brigade called Turnin’ TriXXX here in Little 5 Points. I used to twirl baton in high school, and Turnin’ TriXXX happens to be a fierce force of women who want to be fabulous and cute and twirl baton. I had been meaning to post about this, but clearly I’m just so important and busy that I…haven’t. Anyway, we were in the L5P Halloween Parade, which was freaky and awesome. This is a picture of me being fabulous as my alter ego, Anita Valentine:

Turnin' TriXXX at the Little 5 Points Parade! (i'm the one on the left)

Anyway, back to flaming batons and fans. I’ve wanted to twirl fire batons since I learned how to twirl. Now I’m completely in love with it and want to do it all the time. I want to photograph myself nude with those fans (preferably lit). I just want to be as much a part of this culture as I can be. I’m so happy here just doing my own thing. Being in Atlanta is more about the community I live in, rather than the people I work with. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy working for Arden’s Garden, but what has truly shaped my experience here is Little 5 Points and the wonderful people at the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club. So in case you weren’t sure if I’m having a good time here, I’m not. I’m having the best time here.

fire fans! sooo much fun

Let’s Make It Work Tonight

October 3, 2010

So after being here for two weeks and only blogging once, I’ve been thinking “Ok, what will I blog about next?” I feel like since I write about my food experiences on my Cooking with Class blog, I have to write about other experiences here. But for anyone who knows me, I love food, and food is just a big part of my life. But I finally have a story.

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Candler Park or L5P?

September 22, 2010

Now that I’ve settled in a bit, I want to tell you all about my first few days in Atlanta. I posted about my adventures to The Vortex and the Atlanta Arts Festival on my Cooking with Class blog, but, of course, there’s more to it.

I didn’t think I’d come to love Atlanta as quickly as I did. I’m in Little 5 Points, though someone recently informed me that I actually live in Candler Park. Regardless, the people are so friendly, and whenever someone walks into a coffee shop or grocery store, everyone seems to know each other. There’s a lot of funky stores, bars, and cafes around (I guess kind of like Williamsburg), so I’m always finding new places and meeting new people.

I guess I’m surprised with how much I like Atlanta, and how quickly I’ve learned to love it. Everyone I’ve encountered is just doing her own thing and living life. There’s much less of a rat race feeling here. (That could also be because I’m unemployed.) While I had an amazing support system in NYC, I really feel like I could ask almost any stranger for help, and they’d show me around Atlanta like I was a visiting family member.

This all being said, it’s still really difficult being here without my man friend. As much as this decision was about my own happiness, it was about him. It’s hard doing all of this for a relationship that doesn’t seem tangible. I took a leap of faith to Atlanta with no job, friends, or connections, and so far I’m still standing. But the leap of faith I took was for love, and that love simply isn’t present in my every day life. And when it comes down to it, it never will be. Once he gets to Georgia, I’ll see him hopefully every weekend, but who knows. It’s hard feeling alone when you know you’re not, and it’s hard believing in a relationship you feel only you are working for.

I know that if he could, he would be here with me. But the military is super not cool like that and doesn’t want its people to be happy. (And a side note: how can the military claim it stands for and defends human rights when it denies its own people expression of sexual identity?) It doesn’t make life easy. It makes relationships hard. But I guess, as Tom Hanks says in A League of Their Own, “The hard is what makes it great.”

BSG review: Home part 2

September 7, 2010

OK, I’ve discovered some really great things since I’ve been cleaning out my room. I really need to post some poetry and short stories I wrote when I was in high school. It’s all just kind of ridiculous. Anyway, as promised, I will continue with my reviews of BSG episodes. I have all my reviews written down, I just haven’t had time to post them.

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