Saturday, December 28, 2002

Season for lists

Stuff I learned this year
a list for the season of lists

1) I belong in Atlanta.

2) Interpersonal relationships are the most important thing in life. Yes, your friends are more important than your career; in fact,you are more likely to have a successful career because of friendships rather than hard work.

3) The cycle of poverty is much more difficult to break than most people suspect.

4) Success is a tricky word. I used to think success meant financial stability. After this year, I think success means just getting to live your life the way you want. In this light, a homeless junkie is just as successful as Bill Gates. So success isn't so important to me any more - I would never live like Bill Gates.

5) The idea that higher education leads to more money is a myth. The truth is, the statistic that says you will earn more over your lifetime if you have a degree is a flawed statistic. The results are skewed because it has always been that traditionally, people who could afford college started out with more money than the rest of us, and that's really why they'll earn more over their lifetimes. Sure, education can give you a little leg up - but not to the great heights we've been told. This myth of more money earning power is sold to us by university business offices, which are out to make more money for the university.

5a) The pursuit of education for the love of learning is a noble cause. The only reason anyone should go to school after age 16 is to pursue knowledge you can only get at school, like how to deal with asshole professors or how to live off ramen noodles and hummus. These really are life skills - I'm not being snarky!

6) Tea time with friends is a most pleasant thing. Whatever I'm doing, I'd almost always rather be somewhere drinking something hot, eating dessert, and talking to someone I love.

7) The empire is falling, but that's OK; once Rome fell, the Romans didn't dissapear. They just became Italians.

7a) I believe in WW3. I used to think this was nuts, now I wonder if it hasn't all ready started.

8) Family therapy is a very helpful thing, even if you have to go all by yourself.

9) It's just as wrong to make a child your goal in life as it is to make a husband your goal in life. Other people are not your goals to be reached. I still want children of my own, but I'm a lot less rushed and under the gun about it. Yeah, I'm getting older, and yes, I'd really like to be pregnant one day (as I've always said, as soon as I'm not so damned poor). But once I realized the inherent vice of making another human being a goal to be attained, I realized I had to shift my naturally ambitious nature to quest for a more appropriate goal than motherhood of someone who had no say in the matter.

10) I want a house more than anything else in the world. I want a house by the time I'm 30. Ambitious, I know, but what did you expect after number 9?

11) Hello, my name is Elizabeth, and I only date men if there's no possible way I could ever be entirely happy with them.

11a) Just because I recognize a negative pattern doesn't mean I have any plans to change my behavior right away. In fact, I have no idea how to stop this behavior, or even if I should make an effort to correct what most people would regard as a serious problem.

12) It's really important that I make a stable place for my teen age sister to crash land when she needs to.

13) I'm incredibly glad my family here in Atlanta has given me this opportunity to learn from them. I learn so much every single day from Audrey, Jamie, Colin, Laura, Doug, Ellie and Ruel, the Nortons, the Gordons, the Naspinskis, and all the other people I come into contact with. It's pretty amazing, and I hope one day I can make them understand how important all this has been to me. I missed out on these lessons of family behavior for a lot of reasons, and I can't believe how long I lived not knowing some of the incredibly subtle interactions that have to occur in order for a family and society to run smoothly.

13a) I'd never have just one kid. I understand my parents didn't have a lot of money, but wow - it's so important to have siblings, and an extended family network. I got my sisters late enough to have a very different relationship with them than most people have with their siblings.

13b) When I say family network, I'd like people to note I'm not actually related to many of the people listed in 12. A family network can totally consist of a lot of people who come together to support one another.

13c) So I really do consider my family not just to be my mom, dad, and sisters in Nashville, but most of the people who were at my graduation party in Murfreesboro, or my birthday party in Morristown. Sure, some of the relationships are more distant than others, but let's face it - we all network and support each other to an incredible degree.

14) Because we support each other, we rock.

happy New Year. The next one just has to be better than the one before it.

Friday, December 20, 2002

The Blue Collar High

The Blue Collar High

There is no place I'd rather be during the holiday season other than Atlanta.

The days fluctuate between the high thirties and the mid fifties, temperature wise. One day a couple of weeks ago, it rained terribly cold and hard, so my fellow Georgians sensibly shut down their schools, drove home from work, and stayed with their families just in case the roads might ice up. I was grinning like an idiot all through the bad storm, because really the day was just like typical New England weather. It was windy and gray and the rain had little particles of ice in it. During the "bad weather", the thermometer never dropped below 20 degrees. Ah, my homeland. I really haven't worn sweaters more than a few times so far this winter - you can get by with long sleeve shirts and a good jacket most of the time here. Hats and gloves are needed on the colder days, but you won't need them every day until we're well into January.

Also, I hadn't realized up in Boston how much I missed Southern suburban lawn displays at Christmastime. Flashing lights, inflatable snowmen, deer with animatronics motion. Down the street from my cousin's house, Santa busily brings Peace on Earth to everyone every night. Nativity scenes here are strangely elaborate, often giving the infant Jesus the benefit of a wishing well or brightly wrapped modern presents in addition to the visiting Shepard and wise men. The louder, the brighter, the more inventive the lawn art, the more I get a kick out of it.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that this holiday season rocks. I'm working again, and I'm truly where I want to be right now. It's not cold, and I feel like - well, like the atheist in me is comfortable here, even amidst all the religious stuff. I suppose in Nashville there was always such a churchy note to the season I got my fun squished, and in Boston I disliked how the town got half-empty between semesters. Atlanta, like with most other things, is just right.

My cousins have set up a rock-on live Christmas tree in their house. It's classic - tiny colored bulbs, toy ornaments and candy canes. Every time I get near it I just go nuts. It's perfect. It's beautiful.

I've been working 12 hour nights, starting with a four hour shift at the theater box office and then trotting across the street to do an eight hour overnight shift at Target. I'm so glad to be working again that I honestly don't mind the long hours, and the constant sleep deprivation kind of gets me high! After the first three nights I had eight separate entirely amazing personal revelations. It was like working all those hours set explosions off in my head, and a chain reaction of new thoughts flooded my head in a bizarre euphoric blast. Only time will tell if these new ideas are going to stick around and alter my personality or if I'll reject all the changes to my personal philosophies once I've had some time to really sleep.

Crazy. Working long nights is like being buzzed - in a way I've never been before - and it really has affected me, maybe permanently. Why wasn't this ever mentioned in DARE? After 1 a.m. I have bloody brilliant thoughts for a couple of hours - my mind races while my body keeps moving. Around 4 a.m. I hit what's called "flow state", and my mind shuts down everything but surface thought and my body moves almost on its own accord. As I shift boxes and display merchadise, I catch the wave of sweet endorphins that almost turn me on. As I type this at 8 a.m., I'm actually a little hyper, but making a ton of mistakes spellcheck will have to clean up. I'm also a little incoherent. I hope this all makes sense...happy holidays, everybody. I'm drunk on the blue collar high.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Elizabeth Revisited

Revisiting Me

I have three jobs again. Target, a movie theater, and babysitting in order to get rides to and from both those places, and

I'm back to myself again. The old me.

Working like hell, keeping my eye on my goals and

to hell with everything else.

It feels good to slip back into this rythm

the heavy bass of blue collar work

side by side with a dozen others just like me

twenty-somethings who work like dogs, swear like pirates, and party like deamons when given the chance.

My throat is allready sore

with an infection I picked up at the store

but I'll work through it anyway, and spend my day off sleeping.

My body is a service industry machine

pain means nothing to me

all that matters is the tommorrow I promised myself

and this time I mean it

when I say that things are gonna change

if I just stick to my plans.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

House doesn't always mean a place

House doesn't always mean a place.

Last Sunday, sometime around 4am, I stood with my friend Cairy on a balcony that looked over a mass of 200 odd half naked souls dancing to heavy electronic bass. The people seethed and bounced and collided with the beat, and I was mesmerized. It had been so very, very long since I had seen that kind of mass - longer since I had been part of it.

"That's what techno music was really made for" I commented, my eyes glazed over in wonder and delight. I just wanted to watch.

"It's house, not techno," Cairy said. He was stagger leaning on me, the result of having drunk near inhuman amounts of alcohol. Words were fighting their way out of his mouth. "We have…we have to go down there."

"No way." We were actually trying to meet Skeet at the door, where he was waiting for us. We had been in the club for over five hours, watching the floorshow, drinking and laughing in a section away from the dance floor. We had lost Skeet in the crowd, and Cairy was so drunk he could barely stand upright, never mind dance.

"I have to get down there." He was beyond arguing with, and I had to admit I needed to get down there too. We went down the staircase and just…walked…stumbled…bounced a little across a portion of the sea of dancers and back. We didn't fit in on the floor - we were dressed for the chilly club, not for dancing, and so looked like two lost bikers in the middle of a few hundred of Atlanta's half naked beautiful people.

And while we were down on the floor you could feel the energy and the rhythm, not just from the music but generated by the people, having fun and not giving a damn about anything else in the world except this dance floor, right here, right now. We walked off the floor with other people's sweat on us, glowing much like…well, like when you're in that other situation that covers you with someone else's sweat. But we two had only been walking across a floor. It was beyond description by mere words.

When Cairy and I found Skeet again at the door, he looked like some strange elf staggering around our world quite by mistake. Even in the winter, the water hangs in the air here at all hours of the night. I was so tired nothing seemed real.

I'm glad Cairy and Skeet came into town. We really did have a lovely time.

And they helped me find pieces of myself I'd been missing for a while.

We found the neighborhood where I'm going to live as soon as I move back into town. This is also the neighborhood where I plan on living the rest of my life, if it's at all possible. The guys and I went out and found Little 5 Points again. Little 5 Points in Atlanta is a lot like the Village in Nashville or Allston in Boston. It's the funky-cool neighborhood of bungalow style houses built before World War 2, situated comfortably close to a healthy grocer's, a comic book shop, and a post office. These are the things in combination that make a place suitable for Elizabeth habitation.

There's also a lovely park nearby Little 5, and plenty of public transportation. So I've found my ideal spot for nesting - now all I need is a mere $300,000 in order to buy my house. Well, of course I'll rent there first. There were little signs in all the shop windows declaring Little 5 points a hate-free zone. I kept grinning and asking people how much they paid in rent as we walked around. I was flooded with lots of good feelings about the place.

Later, after Little 5 points and drinking like a fish and dancing into the dawn and laughing my ass off at Cairy and Skeet, who've been making me laugh since I was 14 years old - after that -

I started working towards the new plan, with a little help from my new job.

90 days - car (March)

180 days - 2 bedroom apartment (June)

300 days - Party at my place (end of August, beginning of September)

House - a music, a place, my new obsessive goal.