Art Everywhere, All the Time


Image courtesy of Elena Chapman. Licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.

I spent the past week and some change in London, my first visit there. It was, as you might imagine, an excellent trip for my flavor of nerd. So many museums! Free museums! With type specimens! So many type specimens.

I mean really. Y’all, on a whim, I visited the British Library. In their “treasures room,” I saw—in no particular order—the notated manuscript draft for Jane Eyre, a Gutenberg Bible, Austen’s hand-written draft of Persuasion, a letter by Darwin, a hand-written Sylvia Plath poem, and two (two!) of the original copies of the Magna Carta. This was in a single room, and doesn’t even include the section of books that were included just as art objects (they were, as you might imagine, covered in gilt and beautiful). In the room downstairs, I got to see one of Neil Gaiman’s original Sandman scripts.

I wandered into the Natural History Museum and saw mounts of Darwin’s pigeons and the type specimen for archaeopteryx. (That building, by the way, has dinosaurs and monkeys and beetles carved into the walls.) Halfway down the block I popped in the science museum and, after seeing a display of the sculpture that James Watt apparently took up after inventing steam engines, wandered upstairs, where I promptly lost my shit in front of Babbage’s reconstructed difference engine.

(Such a nerd am I that not only was I aware of Babbage’s part of things, but I had actually read a book about building that particular reconstruction of the difference engine, written by one of the people who spearheaded the project. Did you know that Babbage intentionally put half of the parts backwards in his plans, to confuse would-be copyright infringers?)

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Restarting holidays


Image courtesy of Ewan Munro. Licensed under CC BY SA.

It’s been a weird year for holidays. My mom dying hastened a process that, I think, happens in a lot of families—once the current crop of kids in the family grow to adulthood, there’s a lull in holiday celebrations until the now-adult children begin to have kids of their own.

A quiet July Fourth bled into a quiet Christmas, which turned into a quiet New Year’s and Valentine’s Day and birthday (Thanksgiving, since it involves food, remained more or less untouched). It’s been fine, but not ideal—I like holidays, I like tradition, I like a socially-sanctioned occasion to have parties and wear fancy shoes and eat tiny foods.

As has been mentioned before, my youthful religious upbringing was spotty at best: I’m nominally Jewish, but grew up celebrating non-religious Christmas and Easter with one half of the family, with religious (but confusing) Hanukkah at Thanksgiving with the other half. I didn’t do seders as a child, but attended a college where religious life is a Thing. It didn’t matter that I’m an atheist—I spent college attending Passover seders and Holi color fights on the quad and Lessons and Carols performances at Christmas. I enjoyed it all. Continue reading

Spring has sprung


Image courtesy of Dean Ward. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This unceasing shitshow of a winter is finally, finally over. Y’all, I knew going into this year that it was going to be the Worst, but my issues managed to dovetail quite nicely with a winter that just Would Not Quit. It was like the MRSA of weather, teasing us with the potential of spring every Saturday only to be cold and grey and miserable the rest of the week. And it went on like a freshman comp student who doesn’t understand that maximum page limits exist for a reason.

Spring has sprung, and my fellow residents of the Ent city are ecstatic. Piedmont Park is full of families with lawn chairs and picnic baskets, Grant Park has bikers on their way to the farmer’s market, everyone’s patios are finally opened and I can only imagine that no one in Cabbagetown will leave their porches for the next three months. Driving through Midtown today, I saw two cute young dudes (one in a belly shirt and skinny jeans, the other sporting a v-neck and shorts) recognize each other from across the street—one ran and no-shit leapt into the others arms, and he carried the dude into Blake’s.

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Human Interaction Good Times


Image courtesy of Jason Eppink. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This weekend, I volunteered at BaconFest, the annual Dad’s Garage tribute to bacon and beer. I did my eco-friendly part, and walked from my apartment to the venue using Atlanta’s super-excellent rails-to-trails program, the Beltline.

This was a mistake. First off, as I am reminded of while writing this, I am in terrible physical shape/do not consume enough milk, and if I walk at something speedier than an amble, my shins hurt for the next three days.

More than that, however, was the nice reminder that street harassment is a Thing. I normally assume that I don’t get harassed much out in public because I maintain an A+ bitchy resting face, or because I’m kind of mousy. Not (exclusively) so! I don’t get harassed out in public because I have the incredible good fortune to spend most of my transit time in the car. Continue reading

Delightful Terrible Decisions


Image courtesy of Robotclaw666. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

On weeknights, I’m normally in bed by 11pm. This past Wednesday, at 11pm I was in Athens, GA, watching Tinariwen play at the Georgia Theatre. It was an unusually exciting Wednesday.

Athens, mind you, is an hour and a half away (at best) from where I live. This was an objectively idiotic activity choice for a Wednesday evening, particularly given that I had to be back at work at 9 the next morning (and my long-suffering parent had to be at his early-morning fitness boot camp at 5:30). The band wasn’t even scheduled to be on stage until 10:15. But two factors swayed me: 1) the tickets were free due to my excellently swank job, and 2) Tinariwen is made up of Malian Tuareg rebels, and so I figured the likelihood of their coming back through Georgia might be small.

(Long-suffering parent introduced me to Tinariwen, so he wasn’t just there for moral support. Plus he also thought Athens was 45 minutes away, so, whoops.)

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Great White Whales (with Pockets)

Image courtesy of Brian Gratwicke. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I am fatter now than I was in college, and was fatter in college than I was in high school. This does not bother me particularly. Given the fact that I entered the world breeched and jaundiced, wound up with a paralyzed face during delivery, had (rather botched) eye surgery as a child, and have been blind as a bat since the age of 9, most of what I think about my person is “holy shit, I am a testament to the human brain’s ability to override natural selection despite nature’s attempts to kill us.” (#TeamThumbs.) At any previous point in history, I would be dead 3 times over by now.

That said, the confines of this particular meat sack have forced me to lose some truly spectacular items of clothing. This came to the forefront of my mind this weekend, as I was walking—drunk on Fuller’s ESB and cheese toast—around my hometown square. Stepping into the local hipster boutique (by “local,” I mean “the one on that side of the square,” since there’s approximately 7 in a half-mile radius), I saw an absolutely beautiful pair of knee-high, wooden-heeled, burgundy Frye boots in the most completely gorgeous, buttery leather. They were 40% off. They were the last pair in the store. They were my size.

They were also, in the way of Frye boots, designed for tiny-calved people: despite the fact that they fit my feet, I couldn’t zip them up over my legs. My calves, inherited from my father, are giant.

Before the white whale of discounted leather boots, though, there was a pink lace dress. It was picked up in a second-hand store in Arkansas for $25, and it dated from the 1940s. The core of it, a sheath, was pink silk, with rose lace overlay on the skirt and torso. A foot-wide band of the lining tied around as a belt. The dress, which managed to survive a particularly drunken New Year’s Eve freshman year of college, died at the Great Gatsby-themed party where this was taken. I ripped a side seam in the torso due to beer/becoming an adult weight/enthusiastic dancing. At some point I will fix it and sell the thing, because it is gorgeous. Continue reading

Being Welcomed to Nightvale


Image courtesy of Carolyn E Brown. Licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.

Last week, as a pre-birthday gift to myself (today marking my official entrance into either my very early mid-twenties or very late early twenties), I attended the Atlanta stop of the Welcome to Nightvale tour.

Welcome to Nightvale for the most-of-you who don’t listen to it, is a twice-monthly podcast that is probably best described as Prairie Home Companion written by Lovecraft. It is narrated by Cecil Baldwin (voiced by Cecil Baldwin), who is both the cypher for the town’s own weirdness (there are angels that don’t exist, a dog park which is forbidden, and librarians who are scaly and to be feared) and himself the sort of person who would volunteer to be a public-access radio host.

It was a lovely hour of live theatre, with some charming folk music thrown in for good measure. This I had expected. What I hadn’t expected was the completely delightful people-watching options afforded by attending an event full of nerdy, nerdy 16-year-olds (said, as a former 16-year-old nerd who is now the sort of person at nearly-23 who attends live recordings of podcasts by herself, with all the love in my heart).

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A Perfectly Lovely Sunday

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

I spent last Sunday vomiting up a wide variety of food and drink. Veggie burger. Orange juice. Blueberries. In my house. In my dad’s house. Out of a vehicle onto Morningside Drive, in front of a family out for a bike ride. (My profuse apologies to whoever’s streetfront that was.)

Unprepared as I was for the sudden strike of gastrointestinal upheaval, I wound up having to call my dad and ask him, feebly, to retrieve me so that if I collapsed from dehydration, someone would notice and take me to the hospital. (The cat, though he is a lovely roommate, is not very considerate about these things.)

I livetweeted the whole event, of course, because I am disgusting. When I returned to work on Tuesday, I was reminded of which coworkers follow me on Twitter, because they all started conversations with me by saying, “Oh good, you’re not throwing up anymore!” So that was illuminating.

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Teen Vampire Lego Frozen Camp


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

I occasionally joke that I don’t watch movies. There’s some grain of truth in it—I much prefer TV, if given control of the Netflix account—but just this week I saw two separate films in theaters, and another a few weeks before that. The issue is that the movies that I pay an unholy amount of money to see are not just a little bit embarrassing to disclose.

I haven’t seen a single serious film this year, but I have managed to see Frozen, The Lego Movie, and (most camp-fabulously) Vampire Academy. The first two made me cry. For all that I give off the impression of being a terrible snob, I delight in some particular campy-awful aspects of pop culture. I bored a coworker half to death with my Feelings* About Teen Vampires the other day, and then managed to fail to get a Big Lebowski joke***.

Y’all, I am failing hard at my East Coast Private Liberal Arts College snobbery.

(Maybe it’s because I went to a Methodist school. They’re so earnestly nice, guys. So nice.) Continue reading

Hanging out with my broken brain


Image courtesy of Scott1723. Licensed under CC 2.0.

I was 15 when I had my first migraine. My family was at a moderately-fancy movie theatre, and it was a bright grey day, and I looked over into the parking lot and noticed that it appeared to be moving, which seemed unusual. I poked my dad and asked him to confirm whether the parking lot was moving or whether I was having an aneurism.

On the downside, the parking lot wasn’t really moving. On the upside, not an aneurism!

The migraines, a legacy inherited from my dad’s side of the family, didn’t make much of an additional appearance until I was in college. Either I was a remarkably low-stress high school student, or something about routinely eating fruits and vegetables staved them off until I started feeding myself a diet consisting of store brand boxed wine and Amy’s microwaveable meals. Continue reading