Saturday, June 28, 2003

A letter from 6 years ago

The letter came six years later

This week was finally all that I thought living in Atlanta would be.

Dinan, Ron and I went for walk through our neighborhood, and found the MARTA train station. It's close enough for me to consider taking the train everyday to work, and I'm going to try this plan starting Tuesday. I ran around the train station feeling like a million bucks, thinking I'm in civilization again, happy as a damn lark.

There was a cop hanging out at the train station talking to people loitering on benches. They were talking about the two big funerals, because the air above us buzzed with helicopters as the media came to feast. The first black mayor of Atlanta and the last segregationist governor of Georgia died within 48 hours of each other down here, and social weirdness ensued. Plus, the big gay pride parade was going on, and extra craziness was happening because of the supreme court ruling. This is such a great time to be alive.

I opened an account with the local credit union here in Little 5. My new bank is really personal and small and fitted with old wooden furnishings. The old-timey feel of the place is in contrast to the workers, who are tattooed, shaved, pierced, and generally unbearably hip. I felt like such a dork compared to the punks behind the counter. But I was happy to open an account there. I love my neighborhood.

It's good that I had such a nice week, because my sisters left Tuesday, and I felt all hollow afterwards. I miss them and worry about them a lot, but I've done all I can, and I just have to trust that they'll be Okay for a little while longer. People are always talking about how they'd love to be a kid again, but not me. When you're a kid you have no control over your surroundings, or the plans other people make for your day to day life. Growing up was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I remembered how happy each passing birthday has made me especially today, when I found a letter sent to me almost six years ago. Dinan and I were unpacking our books, building the small but diverse library we'll share in this new home. And I opened a couple of boxes of books that had been closed since January, 1998.

January 1998 was the last time I lived in a rental house. When I left that house - and the fiance I shared it with - I packed up a good many things that it would take me years to get back. Most of my furniture went into storage, along with pots and pans, silverware, and all those other things you can do without for a while.

Most of my stuff stayed in storage for two years, including my dating life; everything slowly phased itself back into my life bit by bit - half my kitchen stuff, summer of 1999, some furniture and knick knacks, summer 2001. I wasn't in possession of everything again until last month, when Ron and Dinan lent me space in their moving truck to get the last of it. A six drawer horizontal dresser, a couple of boxes of books I couldn't bare to give up but hadn't needed on hand. And in one of those boxes of books was my Senior High School yearbook. I grinned when I saw it; I had forgotten I even owned a yearbook.

I opened up the yearbook and it fell open to my picture right away, because on that page someone had left a folded note. It was a note from the ex-fiance, dated May 3rd, 1997. It was handwritten on a scrap of druggie computer art, and it said this:

I don't know when you may find this but may it serve as a reminder, if you ever need it, that I love you with all of my heart and I hope to remain at your side until the end of time...and then some.
Your Dearest,
T---- E---- S------------

When we were together, he was always doing stuff like that - leaving little notes or reassurances where he knew I'd find them. But of course I don't look at my yearbook that often, even when it's in my possession, and when we split seven months after he wrote the note, I had chucked the book into a box where it sat for six years.

It's even odder that I should find this note in June of 2003, just a week after I heard he's set to be married this summer up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. When I heard about his engagement, something deep and important settled inside of me. I know he's OK now, clean or not, medicated or not, poor or not. I don't have to worry about him anymore, because he's going to be settled now, safely kept well by his new wife.

I'm am fully exorcised of Tom, six years and several thousands of miles of traveling later. I have all my furniture again, all my books again, and a letter that I can read, six years after it was sent, without the slightest bit of regret that I never became Mrs. Scarborough.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

what you'll accept

One more week of June

So my personal philosophy for living has come down to this:

it's all about what you'll accept.

Like, I won't accept living anywhere but in Atlanta right now.

Because of this, I will accept driving a piece of metal, that, day by day, becomes less of a car and more of a vaguely car-shaped piece of metal that happens to move with a gasoline engine.

Erin and I had a writer's meeting scheduled this week, and despite the fact that I had major family drama going on, I had the meeting anyway. I considered calling her the night before and saying, hey, things are crazy, I don't know if we can do this right now; but she had all ready taken off work and we were both so excited about starting the project, I thought to hell with it and she came on down anyway. We had our meeting and made our plans. Our plans are fabulous. I expect to be holding my next self-publication in my hands by the end of January. And hopefully, when Erin come to visit for our next meeting in August, I won't be running out of the room every 10 minutes to talk in a back room with various relatives. I hope.

We used my new 18-month wall calendar to plan this huge project. I have a panel for each of the next 18 months on my wall, so I can plan the big plans, make the big dreams happen. Watch out. Beware my 18 month planner; it's mighty.

Just when I was all hyped up about my 18 month planner though, I visited one of my aunts who has now organized every day of her weekly routine into lists which she laminated and three hole punched into a binder. She can use dry-erase markers to check off what she's done. She even has a master grocery list made out in the order that food is organized in her local grocery store. I was so full of admiration and envy over her master binder skills that I almost fell over.

I am not going to accept a disorganized life. Right now the house we moved into is still just getting settled, and will be for another month, I fear. Most of the organizing has been done by my room mates Ron and Dinan, and I love them for their efforts. Still, I occasionally go completely stark raving bonkers because nothing in this house is in the same place from day to day yet. As stuff gets unpacked, the order of everything gets shuffled. I spent 20 minutes yesterday morning looking for the tea before I gave up. Dinan had just moved it from its commercial tea box into decorative tins.

So I have to accept disorganization now, because that's the way it is. But everything is changing, I'm busy all the time, and soon it will all get better. I know it will. It's marked down on my 18 month calendar.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

More than Zero

More than Zero

I quit the job where I had an office (an office with my name upon the door) on Peachtree street 6 weeks ago. I spent four weeks without a job, tidying up family affairs and preparing for the move. I mean, I had no job, but I was very, very busy every one of those days. And the minute, the very second I could have had a little breather and really enjoyed my joblessness - maybe hung around sleeping until noon or something - I started another job so I could pay my bills.

I've been shelving for Borders.

I have another professional job lined up, but it doesn't start until the end of the month. So I had to do something for July's rent money. It's the best of all retail arrangements, really; half of my shift is completed before the store opens for customers, and I've rang exactly two sales on the registers. The downside to avoiding customers is that I have to wake up at 4:30 every morning so I can be at work by 6, and after 8 hours of unpacking book boxes, I have no inclination to unpack my own boxes at home. So my move-in is still stilted and my own room unpleasant, while I spent most of my time organizing the bookstore. I pass out around 8 pm every night - and I'm terribly guilty-feeling about this because my teenage sister Sara is still with me. I should be more fun. I try, but it's kind of hard to be full of fun after stocking things all day. I've promised to be more fun after I go back to a 9 to 5 job, but I think she'll be with my grandparents by then.

I do love being around books again; I love having instant access to the newest thing. I probably spent more of my childhood in Narnia, Middle Earth, and on Pern than in the real world. As a consequence everything in my life relates to some book I've read somehow, and I interact best with those who relate their thoughts through quotes gleaned from a million novels, movies, and television shows.

For instance, a couple of months ago it occurred to me that all my romantic relationships are like the experience I have when I read a Bret Easton Ellis novel. They're not at all like the actual text of a Bret Easton Ellis novel, but like my experience of reading one of his books.

First, I hear all about the book, maybe see it around a few places. Everyone raves about how good it is. "Have you read American Psycho? Oh, it's brilliant! You should really read it!"

I ask around about the book, and it's recommended by everyone. Some controversy may be discussed at this point, but in a good way; everyone has a different opinion about the book (guy). But everyone agrees I should at least give the novel a try; after all, I do read a lot.

So I pick up the book - Glamorama, or Less Than Zero, or American Psycho, or whatever. And I'm hooked right away! The prose is constructed in this way that makes me totally wish I could write like Bret Easton Ellis, and his subtext is just...he just blows me away. I tell everyone how much I'm enjoying this novel. I brag on it. People give each other secretive glances when I say this, and ask me how far I've gotten into the story in a sly kind of way.

This should be a tip-off, but after the first few chapters, I'm not going to stop reading the book now.

Things progress. They progress in the way a Bret Easton Ellis novel always progresses; he abandons his witty surface prose halfway through the book and the story gets raw, the subtext becomes a weapon. I am annoyed, but won;t quit reading. By the end of the novel, I feel embarrassed for liking it. The ending is morally indefensible, and a little gross. But I still like the book; I can't quite get over how good the beginning was, how much his prose caught me, despite the fact that the ending was so disturbing I'll never read it again.

I try to discuss my feelings about the novel with friends, but none of them quite understand what I'm trying to say. They can't get why I still like Bret Easton Ellis after what he did, right there at the end. But I do like him. And even though the book is over between us, I secretly go back and read the first few chapters over again from time to time.

And really, what's the harm in that?

Thursday, June 05, 2003



Dinan and I were laughing exhaustedly last weekend as we moved into the new house. WE were laughing about that old sketch on Sesame Street, the one where Grover runs up to the wall and yells NEAR! and then he runs away again and yells FAR! and then he repeats himself a few times until you've got the concept, near and far.

Now we are near. We live in Atlanta. Not near Atlanta, or on the perimeter, or even in Druid Hills. We live in 30307, Fulton county, Inman Park, the neighborhood right in Little 5 Points. We live in the bottom half of a 1920's house so big that our apartment is bigger than my parent's house. We have a rock on Southern Front porch, a slimy Koi Pond in the back, and fireplaces in our bedrooms. We have a huge kitchen and an entirely separate dining room. We have hardwood floors, high ceilings, and two full baths, one with a rock - on claw footed tub that I can fully recline in. We even have a study for books and computer work and comfortable guest sleeping in.

We also have one of the world's biggest messes. It's huge and old and in the right spot but entirely filthy. Our cats are everywhere. Our stuff is in all kinds of boxes, and will take another week or two to sort out. I hate my daybed so much that I have abdicated it to my sister Sara, who is with me for a little while yet. My back hurts, I have bruises on my palms and feet, and I'm entirely flat busted broke for right now.

But we did it. We got here, into the place of our dreams. And to do it there has been crying and yelling and sacrifice and not enough sleep. And I've had to go work for Borders again for a while, busted myself back to Blue Collar for this crumbling ruin of happiness, this giant Victorian/Bungalow beauty whose maintence problems would make Bob Vila weep. We're here, we did it, and soon there will be parties, and planning, and independant publishing if I have my way.

And comfy pillows, and good food, and lots of laughter and quiet niceness. There are ceiling fans and cool drinks here, and this is where I belong, I am back in the city, and I will not be pried from it.