Monday, May 30, 2005

The lot unbuilt upon

My new condo borders one of the many urban brownlots along the old train lines here in Atlanta. When factories had to back up to the train lines to get their goods to market, my section of town was a bustling production corridor. But times changed and trucks took over as the main mode of transport; while the train yard near my new house is always bustling with work and movement, it is the movement of train containers onto and off of trucks. Factories can be way out on Peachtree Industrial where there's lots more space and the property taxes are cheap. Then they can load all their goods onto a truck and have the truck drive to the train yard - and hey, while it's there - the truck can pick up raw materials that have shipped up from the port in Savannah.

All of this is a way of explaining why my area of town has slowly turned from factories to abandoned factories that crumbled into urban brownlots into slow creeping gentrification. My condo is in a converted warehouse, and next door to my condo is an eight foot wooden fence. Inside that fence is a mess of voracious kudzu that covers loads of scrap lumber, old tires, and the back of a rusting semi. When we bought the condo a couple of months ago, the kudzu was asleep for the winter still, a brown gray creeping skeleton that allowed us to see all the trash underneath. Now the kudzu is a lush green carpet that keeps trying to climb over the fence and eat my patio.

Developers want to take the zudzu covered lot and turn it into a neat development of "affordable" townhomes. I put affordable in quotes because I don't trust developers. What they think are affordable starter homes often aren't. Many of the new condo developments around my area are quite posh - marble countertops luxury bathrooms and other add-ins make the price of some places quite out of reach. There are some affordable townhomes near me, but they have a hard time selling because the property taxes in this area are very high, and the market has gone soft with over- saturation. There are simply too many condos on the market in Atlanta right now, and that's how the husband and I managed to get one at all.

Anyhow, I feel a little guilty. I chucked some scrap wood into the brownlot today, confident in the knowledge that kudzu would soon cover my crime. I, the husband, and our friend Daniel have been trying and so far failing in some home improvements today. We royally screwed up at least one entire 4 by 4, trying to cut it into equal lengths at 45 degrees. If you've ever tried to spilt a long piece of wood at a 45 degree angle, you'll understand our problems. It was a first attempt that went horribly awry, and took us at least an hour and a half and a change of saw blades to accomplish. In the end we were just covered in saw dust and feeling bad.

We all looked at each other, and the mangled 4 by 4, after our mistake was realized. "Look", I said, "Let's just chuck the bastard over the fence, and never speak of this again." Daniel felt bad about this. We all did. As the 4 by 4 was heaved over the fence, I realized I'd feel guilty for some time. Not just for public littering, but also for wasting wood. But after heaving that 4 by 4 away I let it all go. Sometimes you just have to put your mistakes behind you. What I want to tell you is that when I heaved that 4 by 4 into the brownlot, I attached a lot of of failures to it mentally. There's been quite a few things lately hanging out in my head that my concience wouldn't let me get rid of. When I fail, I tend to sit around trying to fix my failures for far too long. Sometimes, you just have to chuck a project or section of your life over the fence and let it go.

After the old heave-ho, Daniel expressed his remorse. "But what about when people find the 4 by 4? What the hell will they think happened to it?"

"I know nothing about this piece of wood you've mentioned." I said. Then I went into the house and made a cake.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I have yet to hang pictures

Here in Atlanta, the pollen count is so high that everyone is a little bit sick, it seems. Thick blooms in my neighbor's careful landscaping make me want to strangle him. Why are flowers os important? I have a neat row of marigolds and that's enough for me.

My aunt and uncle both got some sort of nose infection from the over-exuberant flowers this year, and when I went to visit them my cousin Ruel was asleep on the couch despite the 6 o'clock hour. I passed them illegal fireworks I bought from a market on the Tennessee border for our fourth of July party. So much has happened to my family in the past year. I'm almost ready to write about it. Maybe I will this weekend. I am looking forward to the fourth of July this year for the first time in several years.

Audrey and Jamie have had a little girl, Laura Kate. I went to see them and the new cousin a week or so ago. It was nice to meet a new family member, to see her pink and small and wonder what she'll be like. I saw Colin as well, and he surprised me; he's really a little boy now, skinned knees and gruffer voice. All of my cousins age a bit when I'm not looking. Audrey talked to me about pregnancy and childbirth and we both wondered when it would be my turn. I am not pregnant. If I am not pregnant by Christmas, it will be time to make an appointment with someone who can use science to tell me why I can't seem to make this magic happen. Maybe I am too much of a skeptic to create new life.

I have been so buried by work that I forgot this weekend would be Memorial Day weekend. I was so happy to discover I had Monday off I nearly cried. I still haven't hung pictures in the new house. I still haven't bought blinds or curtains. Because I went to Nashville to visit family this weekend, I didn't get a day home to clean the house, and it's a wreck. When I come home from work during the week I either have to keep working at home to keep up with my workload and/or I'm so drained I don't want to do anything but read to try and relax. I am increasingly glad I put in my resignation at work. I only have about 3 more months to go before I'm finished with The Job That Ate My Life. I'm so burned out, I find myself wishing I didn't have to work at all. Economic reality demands that I can't stay home, and right now that just kills me.

Two of my oldest friends are getting maried this summer. Both are people I didn't think would ever get married. I can only hope that their marriages make them as happy as mine has made me. Even though work is a huge drain, I recognise that before I was married, I managed the work load by simply working all the time. I neglected my personal life for my career. And now that I have this rich beautiful life away from my career, the career pales by comparison. I hope that a new job will make me happier, that a new job will kill the greedy want of staying home all day. Truthfully, if one of us stays home, it should proably not be me.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

I can probably keep swimming

Tonight the husband is out gaming, and I am home organizing my comic book collection into big old wooden filing cabinets we found at a used furniture store over in Poncey Highlands. I am filing my comics in hanging folders, alpha by title - except for all the Tim Hunter books, because, dear god, alpha by title would just be a disaster there - they are filed like this:

Hunter, Tim - Life during Wartime
Hunter, Tim - Age of Magic
Hunter, Tim - Names of Magic
Hunter, Tim - Books of Magic

The filing and sorting is soothing, and calms my archival nerves, the ones that get rumpled every day by disorganization. Have you any idea what it is like to grow up in a house where your parents can't remember where they put anything? We are all products of our environments. I miss my sisters so much this weekend - Sara in particular lately, because she is good moving help and good company when you are cleaning something. I miss Abby because I see things she would like to do or try all the time. There is a new shop down in Little 5 she would love. Sara will have her GED and driver's liscense soon, and Abby should be on Summer break now. I want them to visit.

The husband and I have been in the new house now for six weeks, and while we achieved a decent level of near tidy-ness last week I still don't consider the house to have been clean yet once. Maybe tomorrow this will happen, when I hang pictures. But then, I have to work at home on a Sunday again tomorrow in order to catch up from all the out-of-office work I did *again* this week. Oh, and I need to look for a new job, and I need to call my mom, and I need to find some curtains, or blinds or something, because we don't have any. And I need, I need, I need...more time. There is too much to do still. Oh, I'm calmer about it lately, but the tide of life is still high, the current is still pulling at my ankles. I have to get a new job, one that requires little to no travel.

I'm trying to get pregnant. Wish me luck.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Normality Drive

I feel much calmer this weekend. Life seems to be moving forward, and steady cleaning and cooking in the new house is helping me feel less frustrated with the state of things. We had our planning meeting at work where my department gets together once a quarter and syncs up calendars for the next five or six months, and when I wrote down that my last day was September 30th, and had that confirmed, I felt a great sense of peace come over me. I have had it out of my system now; my work does not define me, my career is not the most important thing in my life.

Audrey gave birth to a new cousin last night, Laura Kate, and I expect the husband and I will get to go see everyone soon to celebrate the new family member. Mother's Day is coming up, and I plan on inviting my mother and Grandma Alice to come visit my new house. I miss them, and my sisters. Everyone will have to visit to see the new baby, and I will be happy to see them all as well. I do not visit with my family as much as I would like under happy circumstances. I would like to play with Ellie, Colin, and Ruel. I can't remember the last time I really had a chance. And besides, it is almost time for the blackberries to be out in the wooded lot behind my uncle's house, thick and dark and ripe as big as your thumb, it is time for cobbler and ice cream and the sun hot on the back of my neck.

All of this is a way of saying, I suppose, that summer is here at last. I know that the calendar says that summer is not here yet, but it is May Day, and the festivals have begun here in Atlanta. The Inman Park had its tour of homes last weekend, and there's an outdoor public art festival in Freedom Park this weekend, and I am cleaning and baking in the house that my husband has bought us, and I am happy. The sun is out. I'm going to find a new job, and then I can make a baby of my own. I am nesting. We are having friends over for dinner for the first time tomorrow night. I have cabinets full of food and kisses whenever I ask for them and soon I will have the time to write for myself. Things get better, a little bit at a time, all the time.

I miss you; come visit. We have the guest bed set up now with clean sheets. I have ordered a new tea cup to replace that one that got broken so long ago. Come and visit, and I will make you breakfast, and we can sit and talk about the books that we have read and make collages on the kitchen table if we want or try that complicated recipe or draw comics and print up a 'zine. We can laugh about the bad things that have happened in the last year, too. The long dark windy rainy times are almost past. It's summer, I don't care what the calendar says.