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

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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.

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