Midtown Cat Studio


Image courtesy of the DLC. Licensed under CC BY SA.

It has occurred to me recently that I might benefit from therapy. However, released as I have been from the comforting bosom of student health care, I have no idea about how to seek out a therapist.

I figured I’d start with Yelp.

It turns out that, unfortunately, the same site that I use to find every taco joint in midtown Atlanta is not a particularly appropriate resource for mental health care. All of the results it turned up were for massage therapy and marital counseling.

I did learn that I live next to a massage place, though, so that’s very exciting.

After giving up on that particular failed Yelpisode, I busied myself with my new favorite hobby: listening to this song, on loop, forever. (Occasionally I get bored with it, at which point I break out the best “Seven Nation Army” cover.) Last week, to expand my horizons beyond those two songs, I made a Spotify playlist called “Pretending I Live in an Anthropologie,” intending to fill it mostly with wispy, acoustic pop in foreign languages.

For authenticity, I Googled “Anthropologie music,” which of course turned up a comprehensive list of the music they play in the stores, typed out by a former employee, because Internet.

I am officially at a point in my life where I am okay having my personal soundscape curated by Very Cool 25-year-olds managing retail. Sixteen-year-old me is side eyeing hard through time.

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One Week Out

Wedding Flowers

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 Existential Itching

Today I am going to talk about something that isn’t street festivals. (And lo, the small-but-dedicated blog audience cheered.) Instead of fried foods sold from tents, I want to talk about motivation–specifically, the complete lack of it that I have had since moving off campus.

I used to be the queen of Getting Shit Done (it’s like GTD with yelling). I was that weirdo that scheduled her homework six weeks in advance and then sat down and did it. I never pulled an all-nighter, and I was always in bed by midnight. My to-do list system detailed in that blog post worked very well for me.

Then senior year happened, and I just… stopped wanting to do what was on the list. I stopped wanting to check my email because doing so gave me a list of terrifying new things that I’d have to incorporate into my schedule. When my laptop charger died and my computer wasn’t terribly useable, I used this as an excuse to simply not look at online readings for a few weekends.

I’ve become a walking example of the creeping sense of dread that motivates people to be so on their Inbox Zero game. (For those who haven’t seen the original talk–which I highly recommend–Merlin Mann argues that allowing email to accumulate leads to this horrible dread where folks eventually shut down and quit processing anything, which is… not helpful.)

I’m pretty sure this is all due to the twin facts that I am currently living in a lovely, quiet, off-campus apartment and that I am underloading on classes.

Because here’s the thing: dorms suck in many different ways. (For example, shower vomit.) But as much as dorm life sucks, there is a great sense of camaraderie underlying it. Everyone is there for the same purpose, and being around peers who are constantly studying makes it very easy to do the same. That’s why you’re in the dorms, by their very nature, unless you’re someone’s off-campus boyfriend who’s living there for free and everyone hates you.

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Car Cake

Yesterday morning, I sat in my car and ate cheesecake.

I mean, I wasn’t alone. So there’s that. And no one at Emory shops at my grocery store, so it’s unlikely that anyone saw me. But outside of Your Dekalb Farmers Market, my friend and I ate (delicious) red velvet cheesecake and had a complete freakout. Because it’s senior year of undergrad, and that’s both terrifying and underwhelming. And that is a weird combination of feelings. So we drowned them in cake.

It’s terrifying because I only have nine-ish months (simultaneously a very long and very short period of time) to figure out what I’m going to be doing after undergrad. And I have had it beaten in to me by scare pieces about millennials that there are no jobs. And it would be one thing if–like some of my friends–I knew what I was doing when I finished school. But I don’t.

And at the same time, it feels totally insane to think about the end of school now, as it is a reasonable amount of time away and things could change dramatically in 9 months. I could physically create another small human out of my cells in that period of time! (I don’t plan to.) I could accomplish a lot in that span of time, but it still does not feel very long because it is all one unit–the school year–in my head.

I have a few friends who are engaged or on their way to being engaged (or are otherwise in fairly stable relationships that will probably last post-graduation). I am not, which is fine. The same is true of the friend that I was eating the cheesecake with. But there is something that makes both of us pretty jealous of those of our friends who have some sort of life plan in place at this point.

Anything past graduation is a gigantic black hole, and that is incredibly frustrating. I’m the girl who plans her homework six weeks in advance! My main destresser is writing things down, in bulleted lists, and then doing what is on the lists. Not being able to do that for most of the next nine months is going to drive me insane. I don’t want a wedding, but stability of some kind would be nice.

The underwhelming part of this whole thing is the feeling that I am limping towards my finish at Emory without anything concrete to be moving towards. I am excited to be back, and to be academically engaged, and to learn and write a thesis. But (and perhaps this is true for everyone entering senior year) I feel less and less tied to the college. I’m simply continuing to do the things from the summer with the addition of classes, rather than starting a concrete new phase for the year.

One way or the other, I need the weird holding pattern of this summer to hurry up and finish. I start classes and two of my jobs this week. If I stay busy enough, there will be no more car cake. I hope.

And with that, I am off to my first class of the year.

Freshman Freakout

Freshmen move in was this weekend, which leads me to the horrifying suspicion that my senior year of school is really, truly starting soon. I feel more unprepared than I have felt for anything that I can remember.

This year, I worked as a tech for the incoming frosh–I helped them troubleshoot troublesome mobile devices, connect to the wifi, and set up their email. Since my normal job consists mostly of windexing tables in a room that has computers, I was mostly there to deal with the easy cases and charm moms while the professionals fixed the most difficult machines. This all would have been great (paid!) fun, had it not been for the fact that I had to be at school at 7 am on Saturday morning.

Let me tell you about the last time I was at school at 7 am on a Saturday:

Oh wait, I can’t. Because it has never happened. I got up at 5:30, and it was still the same color as it had been when I went to bed four hours before. It was the sort of thing where my body wasn’t even tired–just disoriented.

So, of the four hats I have worn for freshman move-in (freshman, RA, transfer student, and tech), this was certainly the earliest. To my employer’s credit, everyone felt so bad about the hours that they gave us a great breakfast buffet to choose from. And at least I wasn’t a manager–they had to be there at 6:30.

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Making Stuff, Doing Things, Stubbing Toes

My first semester of junior year is over. I’m not dead. I have all of my limbs, still, though my arms are uncomfortably sore and I think my kidneys are kind of twinging every time I move (at least one of those is from moving). All my earthly possessions—with the exception of some canned asparagus that I left my roommates, because I am a giver—are sitting in my parents’ house, waiting until I get tired of stubbing my toes on boxes for me to unpack them.

This was a weird semester. For one, I was kind of worried that I was going to get C’s in several of my classes, though so far that hasn’t happened. The experience has taught me that I’m no longer a good multiple choice test taker and that I have no ability to predict my own levels of success, which I could have told you four months ago without having to be reduced to manic hair-pulling during the semester, I’m pretty sure. Good to have my suspicions confirmed, I guess. Cortisol is healthy, right?

My major goal for the break is to finish the short story that I started early this semester and quit working on in order to spend more time on drinking heavily and whining about class. It involves zombies and booze. The other major plan is to push an ebook I wrote last semester through the painful process of being edited into something that won’t shame my ancestors into retroactive seppuku, and see about pushing it through Kindle land.

In the times when I’m not doing that, I’ll be busy moving back into the room that I’ll be leaving in two months, because my life basically consists of putting things into boxes and taking them back out in a somewhat irritating cycle. It’s either a terrible metaphor for my life or a sign that maybe I no longer need to bring a blow dryer with me everywhere now that my hair is two inches long.

My broader goal over the next couple of months is to start making some things. I don’t even care what, but my hands are itchy and my keyboard is getting all greasy because all I ever do is type. So, if everyone I know gets custom butter and some limoncello for Christmas? You’ll know that this is why.

Where I’ve Been

So! It has been a very long time since I updated this. (Sorry, three people who have told me they have this on their Google Reader. I love you all! Especially the ones I live with!) That is mostly the result of a) a bout of depression at the beginning of the semester that, I shit you not, ended in me crying to “Punked Up Kicks” in my Civic outside of a barbecue restaurant (no, I don’t know either) and b) lots of writing/legitimate employment at all of my other jobs.

These things keep me busy, because you guys, it is hard to come up with a new version of “don’t be an asshole on Twitter” each week for 500 words. True fact. As much as I am thankful to have the job and love my coworkers, it is kind of burn outy sometimes. Such is employment in knowledge work land!

Most of my time, though, has been dedicated to wrangling passage to the exciting west African nation of Senegal for next semester. It has a jazz scene and a legacy of slavery and beaches, so basically there’s something for everyone. Including, hopefully, a visa for me!

Fun fact: the visa application for Senegal is like two pages long and appears to have been made in MS Word in 1998. It is the best. My friend getting a visa to Switzerland had to submit her high school diploma in triplicate. Third world is where it’s at, guys.

So, stay tuned for what will no doubt be another update in 4 months from now after I’m about to leave Dakar, illustrated with a YouTube video and a camera phone picture because that is how I roll. Thanks for tuning in, y’all.

Things I Have Discussed in an Academic Context This Week (And Professors’ Responses Therein)

My favorite part of being an anthro major is that, in an attempt to make their lectures relevant to students, professors sometimes take things to strange places. The best of these are the ones that give you alarming insights into your professors’ lives and/or American cultural phenomena that you are otherwise unaware of.

Pubic Hair Shaving During Labor: “American hospitals do that? I mean, it’s a head. It’s not like it’s easy to miss.” There were hand gestures.

BDSM: “Some people find some aspects of this arousing in some contexts.” There were pictures.

Groundhog Day: “You mean High Holidays?” (I have a cold. Same professor as the first quote. When it was explained to her that Americans really do look at a small mammal for weather advice, she was somewhat taken aback and apparently delighted.)

May Day: “We build big poles and dance around them. They say it’s a cross, I say it’s a penis.”

Strong candidates that did not make the list this week include foreskins, asexuality, and episiotomies.

Week of Suck

Y’all, it has not been a good week for me. In fact, it has not really been a good week for anyone I know. In order to keep ourselves from just laying down in dispair, my roommates and I have started a Week of Suck competition. Here are the options:

Me: On Wednesday, walked to the local taco place because they were having a fundraising night for my sister’s crew team. They screwed up my taco order with chicken instead of tofu, and then wouldn’t donate the proceeds from my order anyway. Then attempted to walk to a stand-up comedian, but gave up after the roommate I was going with didn’t get in touch because her phone had died and my taco was dripping on me. Went to volunteer at the women’s health clinic today, and managed to lose my keys in the rain for a panic-stricken twenty minutes because apparently God is mad at me. Told the volunteer coordinator I had rushed a sorority; she responded with, “Oh, you kidder!” I was not kidding.

G: In doing a project in iMovie for work, has managed to prompt the phrase “Wow, I’ve never seen that error message before!” not once, but twice. As a result, was forced to sit at a single computer and redo her project twice. Was going to go to a carnival today, after finally slogging through the iMovie project from hell, but was unable to because all of the rides were rendered unusable by the very rain that I was searching for my car keys in.

A: Computer hard drive failed earlier in the week, taking with it her project on urban poverty and a paper on Locke (about whom she has written roughly this same essay for three different classes). Came to the computer lab the next day in order to work on the paper. Apparently managed to render it read-only, meaning that when she sent her (now late) paper to her professor, it was only half a page long. He informed her of this. The paper was unrecoverable. Wrote the paper a third time. Sent it, and a receipt for her broken computer, to her professor. Was told by her professor that he could not use a PDF receipt and was asked if she could reformat it. Still does not have a computer.

B: Earlier this week, while working as a clinic aid, was shat on. Then, after depositing money in her account today, went grocery shopping for the first time in several weeks. At this point, she discovered that she had lost her debit card. Had to put everything back.

B wins, with A in second place. But seriously, world? Boo.

Poets and Mathematicians

“I stayed away from mathematics not so much because I knew it would be hard work as because of the amount of time I knew it would take, hours spent in a field where I was not a natural.”

— Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg is a poet, the author of my favorite poem. I’ve been thinking a lot about his quote this past week, which I’ve spent reading through the Zen Valedictorian articles over at Study Hacks. The articles are a better-expressed version of a life outlook that I’ve written about some on HackCollege, and which I espouse to anyone who will stand still in person: at some point, being the over-stressed, over-extended student in an attempt to be Tracy Flick will fail you. More importantly, even if it’s something that you can manage, at least for a little while, it’s still not an efficient use of your time. The students who stand out are the ones who become very good at something they enjoy. Colleges don’t tell their students that, though, and so you get the sort of student that the Zen Valedictorian articles are critiquing–over-worked and not particularly outstanding.

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