Don’t Bother None

August 24, 2011

A phrase I’ve seen discussed recently in “civilian vs military” blogs, posts, and articles is “It’s what you signed up for.” It’s essentially a fuck you to military servicepeople and their families, kind of like “You knew what you were getting yourself into.” And I’ll admit it, I’ve said it to my man buddy. It’s a mean thing to say, but to be honest, it’s how I felt. When I considered doing ROTC, I truly thought about what it would mean, and eventually I decided not to join because I knew it would be a load of bullshit and I wouldn’t truly get to fight for what I wanted. (Yes, there was a time when I considered ROTC, but then realized that any photographs I’d take would be property of the government, and I’d essentially lose my copyrights.)

My manfriend has to do the stupidest things, like stay awake for 24 hours to do nothing and then go straight into work. The day before 4th of July weekend he had to run a poorly planned ridiculous obstacle course for 6 hours with no food or water. If there’s ever another debt ceiling debate that goes on too long, he has to work without pay because he’s considered “essential.” I agree that things like this, yes, you can absolutely be angry about and things that shouldn’t happen. But as I’ve said to him, did you seriously not expect this absurd bullshit from the military? No, it’s not “what you signed up for,” but was it not expected with the territory?

To me, this is different from the hardships that aren’t outlined in the job descriptions or the common-knowledge adversities (at least, what I would consider “common knowledge”). When military partners and families struggle with the emotional impact of deployment, of moving from place to place, of isolation from the rest of the population…no. No one signs up for these things. But from what I can see, the military blogging community tells similar stories to each other, and although it’s on the internet for everyone to see, no one’s looking for it.

And this is why I desperately want (need?) to start my photography project. I’m not very experienced with the military lifestyle, but I also wouldn’t consider myself a typical civilian either. I feel very in between the worlds, and so I believe that I am in the position to bring both worlds together. Not that I’m going to single-handedly bridge the ginormous gap, but I believe I can contribute to it in a way few people can or will.

Anyway, maybe I’ll include some of this in my grant proposals. But first, I have to make some work. That’s the worst part about all this: I can’t ask for money until I’ve gotten started on the project, but I can’t really start the project until I have money. Oh, the vicious cycles of applying for grants and loans…


Erased Me From Your Memory

April 27, 2011

I’ve had a few interesting conversations the past couple weeks. They all seem to revolve around the theme of change and growth. As I’ve written here before, I can’t believe I’ve done what I’ve done. I took a huge leap of faith and started from scratch in a completely new city. I remember people telling me that I wouldn’t like Atlanta, or that I was making a poor decision to leave my connections behind, or that I’d miss New York City too much to make it in a new place.

Whether or not these things are true, I like feeling like I proved people wrong, or at least that I impressed them with how amazing my life is now. Sure, in NYC I’d probably be doing something I love, like working for a non-profit or a film festival. In other aspects of my life, however, I don’t think I would’ve challenged myself. In Fall 2009 I started taking belly dancing classes with a friend and I loved it. I continued to go on a regular basis, but I eventually stopped going because it didn’t really fit into my routine I had created for myself. And I remember being really sad about it because I felt like that belly dancing class represented a part of me I felt was lost or stunted.

Here in Atlanta, my job certainly isn’t the highlight of my time here, but I’m doing things that make me happy. I feel like I’m growing as a person. I definitely have my regular bar and I don’t go out all the time to try new places with my roommates, but I’m twirling baton, which has been a dream I shelved years ago. I never would’ve pursued this in NYC or even California like I have here. Turnin’ TriXXX has opened my eyes to the things I can do. Silly sounding, I know, but I never would’ve committed myself to something like this if I even had a hint of structure or routine to my life.

see? life is good for me. i'm awesome.

I guess my point is this: you can’t hate on people who feel like drones in their own life. I’ve been there, and it feels super lame. I wouldn’t suggest you leave everything behind tomorrow to learn to play some obscure instrument in some rural Indian town, but I would encourage you to leave your routine behind. I still have my routines, like making myself eggs and toast every morning before work, but I genuinely feel like every day is a clean slate.

Try it. You might like it.


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.


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


All Through the Daylight

October 13, 2010

After watching the most recent How I Met Your Mother, and after glancing over this article, I wonder for the first time since arriving in Atlanta: do I miss New York City?

I certainly get a knot in my stomach, thinking about all the things that could’ve been if I had stayed. I’d see my old friends. I’d be there for the great things. I’d explore new worlds. I’d experience things that just don’t exist anywhere else. But at the same time, I feel like Atlanta has embraced me in a way New York never would. It’s easy to be alone in NYC, and I liked that for a while. But here, I’m clearly part of a community. I feel important even to the people I don’t know. I see people on the street and think, “You and I may not know each other or be friends today, but we will be soon.”

I enjoy feeling like I’m part of something. As much as I found a place for myself in New York, I felt so incredibly lost. I had loved NYC so hard, and I couldn’t see a difference between what I wanted and what the City seemed to demand of me. I loved feeling like I was a small yet integral part of NYC. But eventually I lost that feeling and I changed. I’ll continue to change, and if I ever want to return, NYC will be there, but for now, Atlanta is home.


I Want to be a Billionaire

October 4, 2010

So to follow up my previous post, I just have to say I’ve met a lot of cool people. I haven’t really met anyone younger than I am, and so it’s almost difficult to be around people who have more life experience than I do. I’m constantly changing my opinions and evolving and growing and whatever, but I currently just feel overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge and thought-provoking discussions I’ve had today.

Well, not just today, but within the past few days. It’s hard feeling so grounded in one thing (like love) but feeling so lost on other things (like how to be in love). I think when it comes down to it, I have to do what I always do – stick to my gut and just live my own life. I know people offer their opinions and beliefs and stories to guide me, but at the end of the day, no one holds my hand. It’s OK for me to disagree with or dislike something someone says or the way they judge me.

As this buddy of mine said earlier, when we interact with each other, we’re interacting in this present moment, but both of us are made up of millions of other things that have already happened. It takes a while for other people to understand who we are and possibly what we will become. And when it comes to love, no one can tell you or teach you or guide you. You just have to take the leap on your own and hope you land on your two feet.