Monday, March 27, 2006

Due Date

Since midnight I've been on that arbitrary date the medical profession calls a due date. Today is the best guess of the date I will start labor. I am doubtful. I am also very tired. I am also at work. I could go home and no one would fault me; but the idea of sitting around the house waiting for my uterus to contract in a meaningful way sounds tedious and boring beyond measure. Besides, it's just not me.

I woke up this morning in the middle of a nightmare. I dreamt that I had promised a lecture to my old Job That Ate My Life. I dreamt that for some reson I told them I would lecture today, on my due date, in Nashville. But of course I had promised to lecture on a topic that I knew but had never given before, and I didn't have my slides approved. I had no power point, no handouts for the students, and no idea why they were asking me to go to and from Nashville on my due date. So I took the train to my old office to try and sort the situation out, but when I got there the building was nearly abandoned; all the workers had left and the only people still there were too busy to deal with me. I thought about going into my old space and trying to cobble together a lecture from my old notes. When I got to my old cubicle, my former supervisor had gutted all my old notes and turned the notebooks into awful scrapbooks. I woke up confused.

Some time within the next week, I'll have a baby. This entry makes no sense. I make no sense. I know what comes next: labor, birth, 12 weeks of maternity leave, the husband quits his job, in the fall he starts law school. I continue along my career path, mounting exhibits and sorting through the lost letters and photographs of people long dead. Isn't it important to know what happened, so that we can try and imagine what comes next? I'm an archivist. I arrange, describe, learn, educate, I swim in the past but did you know chemistry is more important to my job than history? If the Ph balance is off in that paper, it's all for nothing, acids will eat our memories, photographs curl and fade, and the electric hum of the internet needs constant maintence in order to be readable.

That's what I would have said in my nightmare lecture, if I had been forced to give it. History is now chemical and electrical, just like your dreams. And just like your dreams, it's all about perception. I know what comes next, in my own personal chemistry. I just don't know when the hormones and water will release, when the specific nerve connections will fire, or for how long. I know that I am tired. I know I am typing nonsense. I know the hind parts of my brain dedicated to instinct will take over soon. I know I'll still be an individual when this is all over, but I will have a new and independant little person to help along for the next couple of decades.

I know everything will be just fine. I just don't know how much longer I get to be in this window, between the projected date of birth and the actual act. While I wait, I'll fight the decay of cultural memory. After all, that's my job.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Nashvillians in Atlanta

"[Tennessee]Senate Bill 3794 (House Bill 3798), legislation that would make it illegal to sell, advertise, publish or exhibit to another person any three-dimensional device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs. For that matter, if you offer to show someone your dildo collection, or possess a vibrator with the intent to show it to someone, you'd be violating this proposed state law.

The seventh set of Nashville stories

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18


In the past year and a half a number of Nashvillians I know have moved to Atlanta. The job market in Tennessee has always been tight, and, by my observation, only seems to be getting worse. The problem isn't unemployment, but underemployment. I always had to work two part time jobs there because I couldn't find a full time job in the service sector. The same is true today, and the problem seems to be growing as more local businesses are replaced with chain stores.

There's our friends Daniel and Raven, who bartend at the Fox. Recently they accepted another Nashville refugee, Cole, who is job seeking in Little 5. Both Raven and Daniel were able to get hired on, full time, in a job that was willing to train them in a skill that they can use to support themselves even if their current jobs at the Fox end. Daniel has used his year and a half here most wisely, and is now considering saving up money to follow his dreams to New York, where he'd like to work as a manager in an off-broadway playhouse. Daniel is a former theater major, and all he's ever wanted to do is work behind the scenes at theaters. He's thriving here. His other roomies are less complacent, but I have hope they'll find their place here before too long.

Then there's my sister, who has for the past 6 months worked at a vegetarian grocery store and has been trained there as a Vegan cook. She's thinking about culinary school now. Her job will be giving her health care benefits soon, something an 18 year old in the Nashville job market scarcely dream of. Likewise, a friend of my sister's moved down here last month with $300 in her pocket after months of struggling to get her bosses in Nashville to give her more than 25 hours a week. Within two weeks the friend had a full time hostess job at a local restaurant that begged her to work overtime when another employee quit - to go to an even better job!

I worry about the 10,000 Bell South employees that will be laid off here in Atlanta with the AT&T merger, and how that will affect our good job market. There are plenty of jobs here on the low end of the service sector for sure - if you want to work in a restaurant, hotel, or bar, your prospects are good in Atlanta. I'm more worried about the white collar workers. We were able to absorb so many people from New Orleans in the past year with scarcely an eyeblink, thanks to the aggressive expansion into tourism. But we need more jobs in the mid-level for people with kids - jobs in banking and other markets to replace those lost telecom slots and the ever shrinking Delta job pool. I'm curious to see how long the good job market lasts here. Curious and hopeful, for both a place a love and people I want to see succeed.

Heck, even Dust had an interview down here in the past week, down at our excellent puppet museum. He is planning to move here even if the job doesn't come through, because he feels the job market will allow him to find something theater related.


My in-laws drove down from Nashville last weekend to help us make the house ready for the baby. Our converted warehouse needed some spaces walled off. We made a pantry under the stairs, fixed my broken curtain rod over the laundry area, and even made spaces to keep the cat boxes hidden under the stairs as well.

The husband and his father also spent an entire day in the urban brown lot next to our warehouse shifting trash away from our building, where it was causing drainage problems. The irresponsible landowner next door keeps his lot junky, in part because he is angry the neighborhood won't allow him to build crappy duplexes there. The neighborhood wants single-unit family dwellings, and it's their right to use every Atlanta law on the books to block a man who has lost several lawsuits over his past construction projects.

My father-in-law was impressed by the quality of "construction trash" people just left laying around in Atlanta. I suspect he chucked several pieces of wood and pipe and plastic sheeting in the back of his pickup truck before he left. He just couldn't believe anyone would leave such treasure laying around. Most of the city mystifies and frustrates him. He didn't believe me when I told him it was illegal to leave your dog in a parked car here (I didn't try to explain how dangerous this is to dogs, because he wouldn't have believed that either).

The weekend ended with me nervously gripping the bottom of the pickup truck passenger seat as my very rural father-in-law rode down Peachtree Street at 15 mph, in the middle of two lanes, gawking at things as I tried to direct him to Cafe Intermezzo. The husband and his mother were following us in another car, and thank god, because I was sure that at any moment we might get plowed by an actual Atlanta driver. We did manage to convince the father-in-law that next time they drive down they should come in the mother-in-law's sedan instead of the truck, and that valet parking was perfectly safe. He remains irritated at the idea of not being able to park his own car.

My father-in-law was also confused by my method of dealing with racial jokes. He kept trying to make me laugh by telling me a joke about black drivers, but I just acted really stupid and kept saying "What?", and "But that guy over there isn't driving like that", and "I don't get it" and such, pretending to be totally uncomprehending until he gave up and stopped trying to tell the racist joke. I taught myself this method for dealing with people of his generation after long years of hearing much the same from my Grandfather. I love the older men in my life, and pretending that they're speaking a foreign language is easiest way around their nasty old jokes. I'm really, really glad my in-laws are so helpful. I'm also really relieved they live four hours away.


The baby will be here around the end of the month, and that will add one more to the Atlanta population, someone who is actually from here. But the numbers of people moving here from somewhere else are staggering. One of my midwives and two of the other couples in our birthing group are from the west coast. They all live on my side of town. Then there are all the Nashvillians I haven't mentioned who want to move here, but are scared to jump out of the relatively secure jobs they might have back in Tennessee.

My friends Tony and Andrew, the baby's Godparents, are the friends I most want to see get a chance at Atlanta. Andrew even works for Coca-Cola, and started chasing job prospects back in December. We are all rooting for Andrew, because he deserves to work for big Coca-Cola, and he's ready for that next income boost in his career. Plus, I want the baby's support network to be as big as possible.

I have to chase down Skeet and try to convince him again. I consider my friends V. and his new wife to be likely Atlanta prospects as V. also works for a corporation with a regional headquarters here in town. I am working on wooing as many people as I can to my area. Part of this is selfish. Part of this is because Tennessee scares me anymore, when I am there. The Southern Baptist Convention believes in theocracy as a viable form of government, and they are based in Nashville. Here in Atlanta I live between the crazy old hippies in Lake Claire and the crazy old civil rights preachers in Sweet Auburn. Jimmy Carter, both literally and figuratively, has got my back. I feel safe and a little insulated from the political neo-con waves here.

I have managed to successfully nest in Little 5. I have my sister three blocks away in one direction, the bartender guys three blocks in another direction. Then I have my sister's friends 4 blocks away, which I still count as support network. I have joined my condo association board to try and improve our property. I am helping more friends move here, and they are benefiting from the city I love. I am raising a family here, and it is better than Nashville in all respects I care about. I think my mother will leave Nashville in the next decade, and most likely move somewhere here in Georgia.

You should, too.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Winter is over

I'm going ahead and annoucing that winter is over here in Atlanta, even though I know this annoucement will come back and bite me in the ass. We never got our once-a-year snow day here this year; it was a winter of cold rains with no relief of having school or work closed because of ice. Still, when I stepped outside yesterday to the 69 degree bright and sunny day, the fruit trees were starting to bloom and there was the unmistakable air of spring about everything.

At my house we closed off the dark cold season with a horrible round of bronchitis. I was put on bed rest for three days and told that if I got dehydrated I'd end up in early labor, and so I was to drink a gallon of water every 12 hours. The husband stayed home with me to watch me worriedly as I faded in and out of nasty coughing spells and drugged sleep. We had to take my tempreture every hour or so to make sure I didn't get too hot for the baby. The husband ended up getting the same sickness himself, and is still at home in bed with the sweaty mess. Our baby was generally imprevious, rolling around in my stomach, annoyed by the change in daily routine sickness brought. A trip to the midwives Thursday night gave me the breifest of last ultrasound glimpses at the person who we'll meet at the end of the month. I saw only the top of my firstborn's head, and the midwife's sigh of relief:

"Plenty of water in there, and the baby's head is down. Look at that nice, round head!"

Strong heartbeat, lots of movement, and I had even managed to gain a pound despite sickness. The baby will be here in less than a month now, and I have become boring because I can write of little else. The husband worries a lot about delivery; I don't. I worry about bringing the baby home more than labor. Labor only lasts a number of hours. Having the baby home lasts 20 years or so, and the first bit is going to be the most challenging. Everything will be different, once again. Of course I am terrified and excited all at the same time.