Thursday, October 28, 2004

Progress in the new life

Progress in my new life; voting ahead of time

Upon passing people in the halls at work, or in phone conversations or IM, everyone has the same question for me:

"So how's married life?"

As if in getting married I threw away all my old clothes, books, and apartment, and embarked on some brave new adventure. This is not so. It is true enough that all my old routines have been broken; that I have to constantly streatch my brain around the fact that things have indeed changed quite throughly at my apartment and that somehow more is expected of me by other people. But I'm still Elizabeth. I still have a difficult job, and I still read my comics every week. I still worry about my sisters and I still hate dress shoes and I still plan things at least six months in advance. I still have a nervous stomach and I still daydream a great deal too much. I still live in Atlanta, and I still love it here.

I did change my last name. I had not planned to, but The Republican's last name is rather rare and my old one rather common. The uniqueness of the name appealed to me, and I knew this change would please his parents, who are older and conservative and far too interested in me. I like them very much, but am also looking forward to the day when I am not so novel and interesting to them.

The truth is that I enjoyed my somewhat solitary life, punctuated by a party every other month or so where I could be hyper-social for a few days before retreating again to my room to read quietly, or to long walks where I could think quietly. I've been quite the party girl lately, and it wears a bit thin on the nerves.

This morning was the pinnacle, I think, of my nerves just being frayed and shot. I woke up and found I could not go to work; there was a family emergency that needed my attention most all morning. Work, of course, really shouldn't have been called off but there wasn't much I could do but resolve the issue that would have affected my life much more than a day of missed work. I hadn't much sleep the night before from a combination of visiting my Grandfather and quarreling with someone I care for a great deal. I spent the morning nervous and tired. By one o'clock all the drama had resolved itself but I felt the day had enough challenges already; there was nothing to do but go ahead and say the day was shot and attempt to vote.

Georgia has early voting all this week before the formal election in order to accomodate the record number of voters this year. I only had a two-hour wait down by 5 Points and The Underground. I went with a book in hand, as both Winn and others I knew had waited in line about 3 hours each earlier in the week. The line to vote wound out the side of the Fulton county building, up to the second floor and then to the fourth; the line wrapped around hallways and the entire space was packed with polite, patient, intense people determined to cast their Very Important Ballots. It is not only a hotly contested Presidential election, but here in Georgia we must also decide if gays should be constitutionally barred from marriage. I voted not to amend the constitution, and not to keep the current President. For good measure, I have been quietly distributing a radical political zine in favor of deposing Bush.

Pity The Republican; he has had to abandon his roots and vote Libertarian. He was disconsolate but resigned about his first formal defection from the Republican party line, but could not bring himself to vote for Kerry, whom we both agree is up to his neck in political shit. I feel a little dirty myself, as I have always previously voted Green. So we make a pair, both of us unsatisfied with our political options but at least feeling good about not voting for the current power while still managing to vote at all. Atlanta is one of the easier places in America to vote, as Mr. King once lived here, and Mr. Carter still maintains a residence in town.

I do not think we will know who the president is by Wednesday of next week. I can only hope that whatever the events are, they will not be too upsetting nor too dramatic, but I fear they may be, if not in Atlanta than in other towns.

Friday, October 15, 2004

October falls right into my lap

October blew in sooner than I expected, bringing with it cooler weather, my 28th birthday, and a host of party planning expectations. It's dark now when I go to work, and often windy as well. Atlanta's trees have begun to shed their leaves, and the homeless people look more tired and hungry.

I had a pretty fabulous birthday. Ford sent me a package of goodies, and The Republican bought me my first new pair of glasses in nearly four years. Dust called, and Kati and many others besides. There were comics and Indian food and snuggles a-plenty. I changed my name at the Social Security and DMV offices with a minimum of red tape hassle. Life is good.

This weekend my mother's family has set up a reception north of the city for me. The Republican's mother has planned us one the first weekend in November, and then there's one between Christmas and New Year's for the friends in Nashville. Plus, I've plans to hang out in Knoxville over Thanksgiving weekend. So I'll see all y'all soon.

The Republican has been caring for me while I have a cold; he rubs my back and brings me herbal tea and generally does things that nobody else would. It is nice to have him here, proof against the winter, insulation against the lonely wind.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Best Blog in Atlanta

Creative Loafing recently voted this blog one of the best in Atlanta for 2004. I'm going to pretend I deserve this honor by allowing my ego to become inflated enough to interview myself. Also, doing this will make the losers feel better about losing, and allow me to post something less depressing than my last two posts, which, let's face it, were just a little bit down.

So, in light of the recent award, I humbly offer you this FAQ. If you know me, entertain yourself by picturing the archivist "work" me in glasses, khakis, and a button up blue shirt interviewing the "party" me, in contacts and jeans, and a button up blue shirt while you read this. If you don't know me, pretend that last sentance didn't make me sound a little flakey.

Q: So, did you nominate yourself, or what?

A: No, I didn't even know this award existed. I read the print version of Creative Loafing (CL) once a week usually, but last week I was out of town. When I came back, there was a note on my guest book from someone in Canada who mentioned they'd seen me in CL. I don't know the editors, nor anyone who works for CL. Honestly, I was thrilled, shocked, and surprised.

Q: That's a lot of adjectives.

A: Yes, yes it is. I feel that this award is sort of a default in a way because I have the mad grammar skillz, while so many of my compatriot bloggers have a problem distinguishing the plural from possessive form of "it is".

Q: But don't you often put up posts with spelling and capatlization errors?

A: Bite me.

Q: In its recommendation, CL called you "sweet". How do you feel about this assessment?

A: Well, I think maybe my blog comes across as sweet because I'm generally a happy person, but obviously my blog leads to the perception that I'm also light hearted. I plan on making sure that from now on I swear and discuss adult vices a little more. Maybe I'll wear my black leather pants while I type.

Q: So, the editors of CL like you! Do you think you can give up your day job now and indulge in your fantasy of being a professional writer?

A: Oh, hell no. CL already has two hip, alternative women columnists who observe wry things about living in Atlanta. I really doubt they need another. Besides, writers get paid, like…

Q: Like archivists?

A: Yes, and you're breaking from format.

Q: How mortified were you when you realized that hundreds of people had visited your web site expecting stories of Atlanta and by happenstance saw stories of Nashville instead that week?

A: Completely mortified. Again, if I had know they were issuing an award, I would have come up with something snappier and more ironic for random passers-by to read.

Q: So do you plan on altering your format now?

A: Hells, no. What do you think won me this award?

Q: So I heard that this other blog really won.

A: No, that was the popular pick. You're thinking of the guy who made cupcakes like Janet Jackson's boobs, got reviewed by the AJC and now is enrolled in a prestigious creative writing program. I was the critic's pick. Well, me and this one druggie guy. I bet the popluar pick gets his ass kissed by The New Yorker or Gourmet in a couple of years. Me, I get to know the editors thought I was better. It's like winning "Miss Congeniality".

Q: So you're loved by "the man". Will you get a tattoo now to re-establish you street cred?

A: I wish. My street cred is only that I live in Inman Park, and so in this blog I can say things like: There's a giant goddamn tree that Hurricane Ivan blew down in the park. When the hell is city going to come and bust that thing up?

Q: Good Swearing! Shake that sweetness!

A: I try.

Q: So what did you get for winning? Cash money? Prizes? A CL hoodie?

A: Nope. All I get is their paper for free every week, which is what I do anyway. As a side benefit though, I heard all the other bloggers in Atlanta now how to address me as "Queen of the Universe", but only in writing; in person I will prefer "Your Highness". Or they can salute, if they have food in their mouths.

Q: You don't mean that, do you?

A: No. In truth all we did was write Suzanne Van *******, who was in charge of the Cityscape section, a nice thank-you note.

Q: Is that the royal we?

A: No, you idiot, we're the same damn person. It is first person plural omniscient.

Q: Eager to show off that English BA, aren't we?

A: Yes, goddmanit, since all it's ever done was win us this award. Recognize!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Holy Shit, I'm famous.

Thanks, Creative Loafing. I heart you back.

Now back to your regualrly scheduled navel gazing.

My Own Natural Bridge

The Republican and I were standing in the middle of Christi's new living room, getting married, when I noticed there was something wrong with his voice. I looked up into his eyes - I had been trying not to look at him, not to look at anything because formal ceremonies freak me out - but I looked up into his eyes just then and he almost lost it. He was Southern Man-Crying. All choked up, struggling to speak, no tears but clogged nose. So I said: "Don't cry! Don't cry, motherfucker, because then I'll cry."

And everyone cracked up. I'm so romantic. Christi took a break from her role as clergy and retrieved tissues while I, The Republican, Tony and Andrew were consumed by humor and a tidal wave of emotion I should have been more prepared for. I didn't expect to be so affected by the marriage ceremony. I did cry. The Republican blew his nose several times. We laughed. I think Andrew cried a little too.

After the ceremony Christi fed us all homemade apple pie, and Tony insisted on taking us all out to dinner. Then The Republican and I curled up under an old quilt loaned to us by Andrew, and that was it, folks, I was happily married.

Three days later I was driving to Harrisonburg, Virginia on my own. Just because I'm married doesn't mean that the world stopped. I just means that my home life has changed. I still have to work, and I'm still me. It's only that everything about my home life has changed, once again. I'm moving more towards being stable soon though. I hope.

I was driving up the interstate from Roanoke to Harrisonburg to work, and I noticed that this interstate that I was on repeatedly crossed Highway 11 , the metaphorical Road to Devon. Off of Highway 11 in Virginia is The Natural Bridge, a phenomenon that sparked one of Devon's best short stories. I thought a lot about Devon and Erin and Dust a lot on this trip. My old Scribbling Mob friends, they're mostly still single, or still in the same romantic cycles they were five years ago. I have broken free. I am still part of them, but I have taken this act, marriage, and separated myself a bit from their lot.

Harrisonburg is in north-west Virginia, and I thought that because of this, I might be able to meet Dust for a meal or talk or something. On the map, it only looked as though Morgantown were a couple of hours away, but on further investigation I found that the drive from Morgantown to Harrisonburg is over four hours. The map is flat, but Appalachia is not. Huge mountains lay between us, impossible to cross as we both had deadlines in the work we were meant to accomplish. Like everything between Dust and I, our timing was off, and the obstacles were just too big. Dust and I are still friends, but there will always be this between us: not enough time, and too many mountains.

I enjoyed visiting Harrisonburg, even if the quilt museum was closed on Tuesday and Wednesdays, precluding me from a visit. I flew back to Atlanta Wednesday night happy to see my new husband again, but with a heart full of lead for another reason. Wednesday morning, Dust and Jill's dad died.

I never met Mr. Collins in person, but I felt like I knew him after all the stories I'd heard. Mr. Collins was an alcoholic, just like my dad. Many of my friends have alcoholic fathers; having an alcoholic dad grants you an automatic pass into the secret club of the cynical, the clubhouse of black humor. Mr. Collins was a man that everyone remembered well. His funeral was large and attended by nearly everyone he'd ever met in his life, and they all sang his praises. I sent flowers, only to have everyone wonder who sent them at first. My last name has changed.

I didn't go to the funeral. It would have been the wrong place at the wrong time, my attempt to comfort friends would have only drawn attention away from their grief. I sat on the edge of my bed holding The Republican's hand that Friday morning and choked back tears. I didn't cry. Truthfully I am done crying this year. But I sat and had my moment of profound grief, another emotional wave to surf in a month where everything seems significant. Random acts of geography have displaced me from my life. I have crossed my own natural bridge and forgotten to bring a map. But really, I've been off map since I left grad school.

The Republican and I had a lovely weekend together, and then I was away from home again for another week; now I am home for the rest of the year, still working and still off map. I find that I don't worry so much, with The Republican around. He is reassuring, if just as lost as I am. It's nice to hear two footfalls for every one that I take, and it's nice, sometimes, to know that for once, I have changed something as permanently as I can. I am married. I crossed my natural bridge and burned some others behind it.