A Busy Belated Labor Day

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Image courtesy of Pat Loika. Licensed under CCY BY 2.0.

Labor Day weekend is, as I have mentioned before, a Busy Weekend in Atlanta. Since, as a city, we don’t know how to schedule things in a reasonable fashion, Labor Day weekend is host to: Dragon Con (largest independent sci fi/fantasy convention in the country), the Decatur Book Festival (largest independent book festival in the country),  and Black Gay Pride (largest Black Gay Pride celebration in the country). Plus there’s a massive college football thing.

This happens every year. It is a delightful logistical nightmare. Several hundred thousand people with really intense, really disparate interests descend on a city that is an infrastructure nightmare at the best of times.

Labor Day weekend is, of course, the Best.

Normally, I confine myself to the quiet nerds at the Decatur Book Festival. They drink beer, (politely), and care about books (politely), and listen to readings (politely). They go home at 5. There are no after parties. But this year, I decided that I had to spend at least a day amongst the rowdier nerds: I was going to try to go to Dragon Con.

A bit of Dragon Con backstory: prior to this year, I had been to Dragon Con twice. I was 12 the first time and 13 the second, and at neither point was a chaperoned. It was terrifying. At the time (and this was 10 years ago, now), the con had somewhere around 17,000 attendees. It was crowded, and it was full of people in bondage gear, and it did not have anti-harassment policies on display. I got to see Anne McCaffrey speak, but made no effort to go back during high school or college.  Continue reading

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Personal adornment

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Image courtesy of Rachel Kramer. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Last weekend, I got a tattoo. It’s my second—the first is the VFD logo from the Series of Unfortunate Events, which half the world thinks is an Egyptian-inspired Playboy Bunny and has, in recent memory, basically only been correctly identified once, by a sorority sister’s tanked prom date, on a bus back from semi-forma–but the first of any notable size and color.

It took a week from me making the appointment to me being in the chair. In the meantime, I sent the poor man something like seven pictures of cedar waxwings, along with a random assortment of his other tattoos that I like with exciting comments like “I like these colors!” and “These are good lines?” and “I would like this pose unless that’s not possible in which case another pose is good.” For all that I was offended when my corporate personality test showed that I put relatively little consideration into my decisions, this experience does seem to have proved the thing right.

The experience itself was pleasant and relatively pain-free (thanks, insulating layer of arm fat!). I chose the artist because his portfolio book had a coworker’s tattoo in it. I like the tattoo and I like the coworker it’s on, so it seemed like a good omen. When I told this to the artist, he mentioned that he was actually responsible for a whole chunk of the tattoos on my coworkers (we’re a Very Hip Company). Chatting about mutual acquaintances filled up a not-small portion of the hour and a half that it took for the thing to be etched on my person, and helped pass the time. Continue reading

Being Welcomed to Nightvale

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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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Lunar New Year Fun

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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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Sleeping at Speedy Ortiz

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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

Chili Cookoff Memories

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Image courtesy of Jramspott. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I tend to think of myself as not particularly memorable–I’m quiet, average height, and brunette, and none of those things keep me fresh in folks’ minds. As such, it’s always kind of startling when someone does, in fact, remember that I attended something.

Earlier this weekend, I spent a few hours passing out shirts at the Atlanta Pride Festival, which was great fun. The Pride crowd are a friendly bunch, and everyone loves free t-shirts. Unfortunately, our popularity meant that our most-loved swag items (hats, this time) went quickly.

One of the folks who missed out on a hat knew what was up with the Atlanta festival scene, and asked us if we would be at the Chomp and Stomp. chili cookoff. We assured her we most likely would be, and she should be sure to come and see us–and our fresh batch of swag–there.

Chomp and Stomp is pretty much my favorite Atlanta festival, as it focuses on my favorite general part of festivals (food) and is in an utterly charming residential neighborhood named Cabbagetown. (I’ve always assumed the name was a slur towards an ethnic group, but the truth of that has faded to history.)

I had previously heard two versions of last year’s festival.

The first was mine. I was there with my parents, and I had just a week or two before applied to work at my current company. When we passed the swag booth I was delighted. It seemed like a good sign, and I was worried since I hadn’t heard back from them yet.

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Small Town Summer

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Image courtesy of Rysac1. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This weekend was a nice reminder that–no matter how far away you move from your parents’ house–Atlanta will always be a little bit of a small town.

It started with a party invite. A coworker of mine was having a birthday party at which he was going to have a rented inflatable slip and slide, which–of course–meant that I RSVP’d yes. (Also may have done a small “huzzah, work socialization!” dance. As you do.)

I secured the cooperation of a friend to attend with me and facilitate small talk, as a) friends allow you to beat a hasty exit if needed, and b) she can charm the pants off of anyone, and is as a result a fabulous party co-attendee.

Armed with the address and our smart phones, we headed off Saturday afternoon. Having glanced at the directions earlier in the day, I had assumed that the place was near our workplace, west of me. It was not. In fact, finding it involved driving through West Atlanta, past Bankhead, and into quasi-wilderness that looked more at home on the highway than the Atlanta city limits. We passed three cemeteries before we passed a school. After the school, we passed a crematory.

It was a little alarming.

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Ambient Human Presence

Jazz Festival

Original photo by Alex Cheek. Licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.

This weekend has been a reminder that I actually live in a city. With people. And Culture. Because this weekend was the Atlanta Jazz Festival, an annual event that–if traffic is any indication–draws everyone, from everywhere, to listen to music and/or drink margaritas sold by the yard.

(Yes, really, that is a thing you can buy at our festivals.)

And on some level, it was a little annoying. After all, driving back to my old place to give someone a blender yesterday took me an hour when it should have taken 20 minutes. There’s no way to spin that that doesn’t suck.

At the same time, it is difficult not to be a little happy when you see families carting kids off to go watch jazz in the park on a Sunday night. The weather is beautiful, and as I sit in my new studio I can hear the jazz coming through from the park. When I came home from getting groceries, my neighbors from the next building over were sitting in the street, drinking beer and petting their diverse variety of giant, excellent-seeming dogs.  Continue reading

One Week Out

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In the Venn Diagram of things that are both terrifying and true, the fact that I just meandered through my first post-graduate week is pretty firmly in the middle of the circle. And it wasn’t even like I had a boring, quiet week to help ease the transition–I managed to attend the (lovely, tasteful) wedding of a (lovely, tasteful) friend, pack the vast majority of my belongings, and haul my life across town.

So that’s been fun.

But in between assembling furniture and crowding six to a hotel room in south Georgia, a weird thing has happened. I’ve begun to gather glimpses of my looming adult life. The end of moving is in sight, and that means that soon enough I will have substantial free time in the mornings. I could take up running! Or sit in my local coffee shop and flirt with baristas before work! My tiny studio, which seems Parisian if you click your heels together three times and just believe, is within walking distance of Atlanta’s largest park, most famous art museum, and (to my knowledge) only botanical garden.

Y’all, I signed up for an improv class. On weekends. To expand my social circle. Truly, this is a brave new world. Continue reading

On Conference Excitement

Attendees at RespectCon 2013

This was an exciting week. Not in the way that last week was trip-to-Texas exciting. And emotionally different than the previous weekend’s trampolining exciting. But exciting nonetheless!

Most of that derived from the fact that RespectCon, the conference on sexual assault prevention/response that I helped organize, happened this past Friday. Like, actually happened. People came! Presentations were made! Cameron and I got to have a wonderful discussion about armadillos and leprosy! There was a hashtag!

So that was very nice. I think it went well. If it didn’t, then I know a lot of very polite, very convincing liars, which is emotionally equivalent.

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