Lunar New Year Fun


Image courtesy of Emily Chapman. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Despite Atlanta being a physically very large city (as evidenced by the recent, massive Snowpocalypse 2: Electric Bugaloo leaving folks with hour-plus commutes stranded on the highways), I spend my time in a small areas of town. I live and work in Midtown. I volunteer and drink cheap beer in Little Five Points. I went to school, grew up in, and now drink fancy beer in Decatur. The Westside, Mechanicsville, the Highlands–all within five miles of me–see me very rarely. I head outside the Perimeter maybe twice a year.

(Next time I complain of being bored in Atlanta with the same old things, feel free to point at this blog post and my completely habit-driven life. I’m like a hobbit.)

As a result, it was only through a friend’s invitation that I wound up out in Chamblee‘s Chinatown for this weekend’s Lunar New Year festival. It was completely delightful.

(Also, before you read this post, feel free to check out this excellent, wistful Toast piece on the new year: Your Third Grade Chinese New Year.)

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Religious metaphor swan


Image courtesy of Licensed under CC BY 2.0.


I’ve spent a lot of the last few weeks listening to Sufjan Stevens’ “Seven Swans” album, thanks to Spotify premium and a friend who–after getting a tattoo of a swan–reminded me of the thing’s existence. It is a lovely album, spare and Christian-y in the way that Sufjan Steven’s things are. I’ve been listening in particular to “All the Trees of the Field Shall Clap Their Hands.”

The song title, like most on the album, is a Bible reference. Because I was raised a heathen and my Methodist schooling mostly served to teach me about Hindu holidays, I didn’t know the verse. Google helped me out–thanks, Google!–and provided Isaiah 55:12:

For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands.”

Which is lovely. It is some Disney-level optimistic imagery. It is done justice by banjoes.

I’ve been thinking about the religious implications of the song this week, in part because I’m preparing to fly out of town for a cousin’s bat mitzvah this upcoming weekend. I’m excited to see the relatives, and pelt my cousin with marshmallows, and perhaps see what Nebraska has to offer.

Explaining my upcoming weekend plans has, however, led to multiple conversations about whether or not I am, in fact, Jewish. (Chapman is not, on the whole, a wildly common Jewish surname.)

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Sleeping at Speedy Ortiz


Image courtesy of Ethan M. Long. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This past weekend, I went to a concert for the first time in possibly several years (I’ve lost count). As anyone who follows me on Spotify can tell, my identity is not wrapped up in my musical choice: I alternate between listening to the Decemberists, the Avett Brothers, and Ke$ha more or less on loop. The process of finding new music is overwhelming to me, and so for the most part I don’t.

Needless to say, the show was not my idea–a friend texted me on Sunday evening, and reasoning that I didn’t have anything else planned, I agreed.

The show itself was at Wonderroot, a venue I had not been in since I was 16. It’s one of those all-purpose arts Things that I suspect most cities have–Atlanta has several–located in a big repurposed house with a recording studio and painting space and general artsy goings-on. There’s a community garden out back, because it’s that kind of place. They throw parties for folks who buy new art, and though I felt both too square and too old to be there, I am generally pleased that it exists.

The venue itself had all the aesthetic charm of someone’s Athens basement house show–dark and warm through other people’s body heat (and actually in a basement). Because I’m secretly a squirrel, the tight quarters and the darkness were fine by me. The fact that the beer was $1 a can was icing on the basement concert cake. I chatted with my friend and drank my beer and enjoyed being out of my element. Continue reading

In With the New


Image courtesy of Horia Varlan. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Next weekend, I begin round two of improv classes. I will no doubt continue my fine tradition of walking the thin line of complete mortification at my own failures while also being secretly quite pleased when things work out (improv, my personal life, whatever). I am very much looking forward to it.

The first time I took improv classes, my main takeaway was that even if I sucked–and I was very, very sure that I did–it was okay. I could fail and it would be fine. I could fail badly and it would be fine. Nothing would eat me. And as completely cheeseball as it is, that has stuck with me in the months since.

Since I first took classes, I’ve continued with my volunteering at that improv theatre (I’ve quit writing about it because “this weekend I sold people tickets, drank beer, and hauled trash” is only compelling fodder for so many entries). Most nights that I’m there, I sell tickets to folks. When I started that volunteer position, I was actively, painfully terrible at it. I blushed and stuttered and couldn’t tear the ticket stock right. I was very sweaty. It was mortifying. Continue reading

Out with the old


Image courtesy of Micurs. Licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.

“But I do think that 2012 showed me that I can do a hell of a lot in a pretty short span of time, and that no matter what 2013 brings it cannot possibly cover the insane emotional ground of 2012′s travel-dead dog-malaria-cancer-job hunt extravaganza.”

Me, this time last year. Sucker.

I am very, very ready for 2013 to go crawl off and die in a haze of fireworks. Because this year? Was awful. Thinking about it the other day, I realized that in the last 12 months my mother died, I spent 6 months lost and sad crying in my car just constantly, I spent 5 months working overnight in a shift that kind of made me crazy, and I had one car totalled and another de-bumpered. In the middle, I made a moderate ass of myself on Twitter, and after dropping my honors thesis I  managed (though I did not blog it at the time), to turn in a final paper in a graduate course on completely the wrong topic. Two days ago, my radiator exploded, nearly killing my cat and ruining my things. Continue reading

Cat Drool


My cat has been Going Through Some Things recently. At least, I assume so–I’m hard-pressed to find alternative explanations for why he has suddenly quit sleeping on a piled quilt at the foot of my bed, and started headbutting me with his drooling mouth instead. I think he is a delightful cat, but this is Not Ideal.

If I roll over to avoid his loving drool, he follows me and starts again. If I roll onto my stomach, he begins nibbling my ears. If I move him off of me, he meows the most plaintive meow I have ever heard. It’s become a little bit like what I imagine owning a very anxious, very small labrador retriever would be like. Needless to say, I haven’t been sleeping very well.

It’s hard to stay mad at the cat, though. After all–as evidenced by the fact that he will occasionally try to eat paint off the walls of my apartment–he’s not 100% on the same page as the world around him. That has to be stressful, particularly if you’re only 12 pounds.

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Return from BullCon


Image courtesy of Julie Lavoie. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I spent this weekend in Miami, in a very fancy hotel, planning my 2014, reflecting on my 2013, and wearing a jaunty white hat with a glitter unicorn horn on it. It was a very nerdy, very delightful way to spend my post-Thanksgiving weekend after what has been, to put it mildly, A Year.

It turns out that career networking conferences are totally great when they’re full of Cuban food and delightful people from the internet. Who knew?

For those who I haven’t told about this approximately 8000 times in the last few months, I was attending BullCon 2013, the first (hopefully annual) conference attached to the career column (and now, store) Bullish, written by a woman named Jen Dziura for ladies who want to Get Shit Done. It’s a column (and a conference) for the sort of folks who think an article named “Maybe Work-Life Balance Means You Need to Work More” is funny and inspiring, rather than cause for alarm. The mascot is a purple bullicorn (bull + unicorn) named Sheila.

The full conference was covered in admirable detail by my roommate (also an Emily), whose articles you can read here. All of the panels were useful and fun and funny, but thinking about what I was going to write while sitting in the airport lounge waiting for my flight home, one part of the conference really stood out for me. In the middle of Jen Dziura’s panel on designing your 2014, sitting by the pool and filling out the truly gigantic worksheet packet that she had charged us with completing, I set about defining my values.

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State parks, the New Deal, and kayaks


Image courtesy of Cliff1066. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

As part of my apparent thirst to spend as much of November away from my home as humanly possible, I spent this past weekend in FDR State Park, in a delightful cabin, with friends and beer and a lovely view. There was kayaking. Marshmallows were roasted.

You may be wondering why Georgia has a park named after a famous lefty president from New York. (You should have paid attention in Georgia History, dear reader. Those of you not from here, you get a pass.) It’s due in part to the nearby Little White House, FDR’s second home, where he routinely traveled to bathe in the nearby warm springs in order to help his polio and–though not mentioned by the lovely displays in the Little White House museum–be with his mistress. Continue reading