And now, for the weather

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Image courtesy of Loren Kerns. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Atlanta summer weather is unpredictable: the heat knob on the thermostat hover somewhere around the 90 degree range, and the humidity slider somewhere around 70%, but neither is particularly firmly set and sometimes the cat gets in and knocks them around a bit and weird things happen. For example, this year’s July 4th weekend was just a glorious kind of this-is-why-I-live-here set of days, with weather that felt made for sitting on a porch and feeling good about things (like the fact that malaria no longer is a thing here—thanks, mosquitos!). The air was, though not entirely devoid of its water weight, certainly breathable and minimally full of Things That Will Give You Asthma.

I spent most of the weekend days on porches (three different ones!) and most of the evenings drinking whiskey in places with big windows. I purchased (and wore, with abandon) a pair of what are pretty definitely mom shorts. I sat in the shade.

In contrast to that, last week the celestial cat got in and knocked the humidity knob to 11: roundabout lunchtime, the heavens opened up. Summertime in Atlanta contains a fair bit of rain, but most of it is of the 20 minutes and gone variety, a little natural afternoon shower. It’s tedious but not harmful—it takes a few weeks of that weather for us to even begin to worry that the ground has been made soft enough that the trees will start falling out, again.

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Summertime sadness

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

Summer is officially here. As far as I am concerned, it can peace out right now, because it has only been like two weeks and I am already beginning to form a horrifying exoskeleton of sweat and spray-on sunscreen that doesn’t even come off with a razor (because it’s summer now, and I have to pretend that I care about shaving for three months instead of being a hairy be-skirted weirdo like I normally am).

I will, with any luck, peel the extra layer from my body as soon as the temperature drops back below 80 and the swaddling blanket of Atlanta summer humidity retreats. I plan to emerge from my chrysalis like an unburnt, smelly butterfly and retreat into tights and cashmere until it ceases to be socially acceptable.

You know what I like about fall? The fact that I can be outside for more than 10 minutes without having to think of myself as having a carapace. (Also: pumpkins.) Continue reading

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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Monsoons and Flowers in the Attic

Me holding Flowers in the Attic.

Delighted and horrified in equal measure.

It is July in Atlanta, and that means one thing: it is monsoon season. When I moved here as a 12-year-old, I didn’t realize that Atlanta is actually secretly the subtropics. But, after 10 summers here, I can safely confirm: the weather here is surprisingly similar to India’s.

Every afternoon at about 3pm–starting last week, and (according to the weather report) continuing until we all drown–the skies open up with the wrath of god. The streets flood, lightening strikes, and traffic comes to the standstill that happens every time that Atlanta has weather. Like clockwork, it clears up by dinnertime and leaves the streets steaming in a way normally reserved for black markets in dystopian science fiction films.

It’s driving me a little stir crazy, not to mention ruining my shoes. I am not a fan. (Looking on the bright side, I am learning a lot about how quickly leather dries.) I need to find some way to occupy my now-shoeless time, and I have found it: Flowers in the Attic.

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Being Idle

I finally got around to reading “The ‘Busy’ Trap,” a NYT article that’s been making the rounds. I particularly enjoyed this quote:

Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.

This is something I used to write about with greater-than-normal frequency at HackCollege. Though the author of the NYT piece is talking about busyness as a specifically New York thing, I think it certainly manifests in universities like my own. Busyness–pulling all-nighters, not having time to do anything but eat, sleep a little, and study study study–is next to godliness for a certain kind of American college kid. And why wouldn’t it be? We’re never asked to consider if our work is valuable before we’re in college, and so we don’t once we’re there, either.

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Three Weeks Left

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Three weeks left in Senegal, which is terrifying and wonderful all at once. It’s put me in a weird place, because I have to deal in earnest with arrangements for the summer/rest of my life, and that’s always troublesome.

Also, over my lunch break, I launched a new business venture. (I also learned about setting a static homepage in WordPress! It was an exciting day.) I’m hoping to make some money by editing folks’ cover letters for them, so if that interests you/some recent college grad in your life, please get in touch. I work quickly, edit this particular kind of copy very well, and enjoy helping other people get really cool jobs. thousand.words.consulting@gmail.com

/selfpromotion

I’m not particularly interested in going into my conflicting emotions (they’re easy-enough to imagine–I will miss people here and yet I want to go home, which is the plight of everyone who has ever moved temporarily).

What I am interested in talking about is the obligation to feel.

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Decorating Back Home

I moved back home a little over six weeks ago. Since then, however, I’ve been feeling on edge. Because so much of my stuff is still in boxes until I move into my apartment next fall, it hardly feels like I actually live in my old room. It’s the sort of feeling I hate (and why I will probably never be a Paul Carr-style nomad). I really like having a space that I have control over. It’s part of why I’m that weird kid who reads Apartment Therapy even though I live in school housing.

So, last night, I finally figured out what about the arrangement was bugging me so much. I had no art on the walls. As anyone who’s seen my dorm can tell you, I pack it full of things: postcards, drawings, weird Chinese calendars from middle school, whatever. I have pretty minimal aesthetic sense when it comes to arranging things coherently, but I like pictures and compensate by just having a lot of them. My dorm art of choice has been sitting in a box since I moved back home. Last night I finally fished it out and–using tape and the excitingly-taboo push pins–hooked everything back up to my wall. Then I just kind of sat on my bed and looked at the art. It was the dweebiest thing ever, but I could just feel how much less stressed out I was. It’s awesome.

So, if you too are living at home, I highly recommend taping postcards to your wall. It’s an awesome way to distract yourself from the fact that you’re the sort of person who sits around and organizes paper into boxes on her wall at 11pm on a Friday. Plus: art!