The DC Dilemma: Resolved?

October 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Well, maybe I wouldn’t go that far, but I would definitely go so far as to say I’ve made some progress towards a resolution. I had a bit of a reality check, you could call it, when I went to the beach with my mother and grandmother. overall, the trip was enjoyable, but on the last day in the last hours before we headed to the airport to go our separate ways, all the emotional baggage got laid out on the table in a wealth of tears, anger, and frustration. it was horrible, at least from my end. it was exactly what I didn’t want the trip to turn into, but family has a way of making things complicated.

I realized that there’s just too much between us that probably will never be resolved. my mother and I don’t see eye-to-eye on a number of important things, and I think those issues will always be between us. I made it my business to the best I could for my parents. I waited to have sex (probably should have waited longer in retrospect, but I did at least wait longer than my peers), I never tried drugs (which my father doesn’t seem to care about, saying that I “shouldn’t knock it till I’ve tried it”), I started working as soon as I was legally allowed (although I did babysit before then), and I did try to do well in school, even if I’m a somewhat lazy student. I tried my best to be a good kid for them by staying out of trouble and trying to secure a future for myself where I wouldn’t be dependent on them. But what they saw was something else. they saw me not helping me on the houses they built and they said they would be thrilled for me to move home and just live off them for another few years. they saw my commitment to my independence as some kind of rebellion or rejection of them, saw it as me wanting to get as far away from them as possible as fast as possible.

even when I finally fell in love and dated someone seriously for the first time (don’t get me wrong, I dated [a bunch of losers] in high school and college, but I was never *serious* about anyone), they saw my coming home to see him as a slap in the face because I didn’t come home to see them. I thought they would be happy for me, especially considering how painfully lonely I was throughout high school, but they saw him as a distraction, pulling my attention away from school and away from them. while they embraced him in person, they were never particularly encouraging or cheerful about me and alec being together. they didn’t like how much effort I put in and how little he put in in return. and when I moved to DC they had few encouraging words about alec and I moving in together. like it’s so much of me to ask for a little bit of hope, just as it’s so much to ask for a pat on the back every now and then.

my mother thinks that I moved to DC to get away from them, which is something that never crossed my mind (although I can say that after I moved out of their home, I never intended to move back in). it felt like a slap in the face to me, since I was moving to a place where I thought I would be happy, where I thought I would be able to find a job and make some kind of a life for myself. it had nothing to do with my parents at all, besides me thinking they would be happy for me to go since they always encouraged me to travel and get out of my comfort zone. I thought it was what they expected of me, for me to fly the next or flee the coup or whatever the phrase is. how wrong was I.

these things I don’t think we’ll ever see eye-to-eye on and we’ll always have a tension between us. even if I moved back to alabama, I think they would still feel resentful that I didn’t see them as much as they would like, that I wasn’t visiting enough to satisfy them. I think now I’m much more hesitant to move back because I don’t want to keep dealing with these issues. I’m so sick and tired of having to defend my decisions, and I’m tired of constantly feeling like I’m not doing what they wanted me to do.

but there are more problems than that, perhaps even more serious problems. I rarely buy into a social hierarchy. in fact, I would argue that I was raised not to. I wasn’t raised to say “yes, sir. no, ma’am.” and I wasn’t raised to respect someone just because they were older or because they held a certain position. my dad taught me to always be skeptical, always be questioning, and to never just take someone’s word (ironically, he never understood why I wouldn’t do what he told me to do when he told me to do it, because I never bought “because I said to” as a valid reason). and dad raised me, although perhaps he intended to keep it within our nuclear family, not to be afraid to ask questions or make a comment in any situation.

the rest of the world doesn’t seem to function like this, and I’m learning it slowly as I go, but I still carefully pick and choose when I’m going to pretend to buy into said social hierarchy and when I’m not. but my parents have changed, it seems, in the past few years, or perhaps it’s a case of “do as I say, not as I do” and I just didn’t notice until recently. now they’re all about social hierarchies and they’re painfully cautious about these invisible social boundaries that I think are stupid to respect. now they’re all about not upsetting people, not “putting their noses where they don’t belong”, not interfering with anyone else’s lives. since when, right? who are these people? but in talking with my grandmother and in seeing the change my parents have undergone since they moved up to her land, I know the source. my grandmother has a very clear structure in her head on how people should function within their many complex relationships. this thinking, unfortunately for me, has spread to my parents so now there’s this hierarchy of who can say what to whom about what. example, I am not allowed to voice my opinion because I don’t live “on the mountain” (this is what the family compound is called, but really it applies to everyone who frequents the mountain, which naturally excludes me since I have lived in another state since I left for college). my grandmother tried to convince me that people shouldn’t comment on “family matters” and that family should deal with family. of course, I’m clearly family, but my opinion is only valid to a point because I don’t live on the mountain. it’s interesting to me, more as a social experiment than me being happy about watching my parents bow to this somewhat archaic view of social interaction, because of how restrictive it all is. in my household, you can say what you want, voice whatever thought you have, and people would be generally receptive to it (even if it was after a screaming match, we would come back together and talk it out). my parents didn’t raise me to not say things to people, to not comment when I had an observation or a question.

but now that’s all changed. now I’m supposed to keep my mouth shut and my thoughts to myself because I wouldn’t want to step on anyone’s toes or upset someone. they’re also really big on playing the “you don’t know enough because you don’t live amidst the action” card, which I have never in my life believed. there are select circumstances, very rare in the case of human beings, where a situation simply cannot be understood by those who were not present. but human beings have been around a while and honestly, I don’t think we’re unique. if people would stop being offended every time someone offered something contrary, then we’d all make a lot of progress in our communication! my dad certainly never cut me a break like that. if he wanted to ask a question, he asked it and he’d push until he got an answer so he could more clearly understand whatever situation he thought I was in. but now, things have changed. and I simply can’t live in a place and around people where I can’t voice my thoughts and opinions and ask questions without people freaking out and saying it’s none of my business or that I “have no right to comment.” fuck that. I have no interest in filtering myself, and if someone doesn’t like the questions I’m asking, then they probably don’t like the situation they’ve made for themselves and maybe they should think about that instead of being a drama queen about it. yeah? I know you agree.

now earlier in this entry, I did say I was tired of feeling like I have to constantly defend my choices, and that’s true. but it’s not because I don’t think the people who critique my choices don’t have a right to — you’re a human being, I’m a human being, we have the power to communicate and I have no problem with us choosing to use that power — it’s just that I’m tired of going in circles. I may not be explaining myself clearly enough, which means I may not be wholly understanding of my own situation. in that case, I need time to myself to work through my situation to figure things out. I think that’s a perfectly acceptable response to questions or comments, but so often people refuse to admit they haven’t thought everything through or they don’t want to admit the real reasons why they do things. just be honest! and then move on, instead of getting upset and thinking everything is a personal attack. I’m just tired of answering questions I’ve answered a million times. if you don’t like my answer, sorry. if my answer doesn’t put you at the center of my world, sorry. I’m learning the hard lesson that being alone is sometimes much easier than trying to maintain relationships with people, especially with these additions of crazy hierarchies of exclusion and privilege are added in. it left such a bad taste in my mouth, it honestly makes me not want to go home for christmas. but that would just seem mean, now, wouldn’t it.


Happy Halloween

October 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated. october hasn’t been the easiest month for me, but I’m learning a lot and I think I’m growing up by the day. it’s tough going though, and as usual I’m learning things the hard way. alas. anyway, I’ve done well with trying to be creative this month, with special thanks to my new iphone 4S. I’ll be honest… I bought it for the camera. it’s just so easy to get decent photos without having to carry around a big camera now!

our local grocery store isn't fantastic, but the apples just looked gorgeous! I took home four golden delicious apples, two yellow and two green. yum!

I made chocolate frogs with peanut butter filling to bring to work for our halloween party. I'm a terrible cook, so it was nice having a four ingredient recipe where all I had to do was microwave, stir, and pour! it's from the harry potter cookbook. naturally.

I also carved a pumpkin for a pumpkin decorating contest at the halloween party at work. I lost in all four categories, but I'm getting used to not being much a winner so it's okay. carving the pumpkin was really therapeutic.

I wrapped the wings almost the whole way around the pumpkin. they were really fun to carve!

i carved "happy hOWLoween!" across the top. it was alec's idea, because the best I could come up with was "have a hoot!" which seemed kind of....lame. hah, anyway, I liked alec's better.


talon detail! rawr. I mean... hoooot.

yeah, I’m definitely impressed with the new iphone camera. besides cropping, these are all straight out of the camera!

don’t forget the toasted pumpkin seeds!

it was my first time carving a pumpkin without my family, which I guess seems weird, but since I left for college (maybe even before that… because in high school I remember a year or two when we didn’t have a christmas tree) I just haven’t been on the ball with holidays. basically by the time I wrap my head around the holiday already being here, it’s already gone! so this year, I’m trying to be better about “getting with the holidays,” or whatever you want to call it (keeping up with the jones’s…?). admittedly, I only carved a pumpkin because work gave me a pumpkin for free, but the chocolate frogs I was planning on making. I bought the frog molds for the last harry potter film because I went to a pre-midnight-premier party, but the molds didn’t ship out in time. anyway, everyone at work loved them so I may make them again for christmas. I’m not going home for thanksgiving, and I don’t think alec is planning on it (we’ve had trouble sitting down and talking about when we’re going home and for how long), so I made us a dinner reservation at BLT Steak in DC on the day before thanksgiving. we’ve talked about going before, but life has been pretty busy. we really love gordon ramsay, so eating at one of his restaurants is pretty exciting. I’m fully prepared to drop a hundred bucks on the meal, so hopefully alec won’t mind I made dinner reservations instead of lunch.

I think my mom was the one who pushed holidays in our family. dad gets pretty grumpy around christmas time, but he used to enjoy scaring children when I was little. I think over time mom got tired of being the only one excited about decorating for holidays and just let it go, and the rest of us didn’t really notice. she’s in a better place now that they live up by my grandmother, because grandmother gets super excited about decorating and could probably use the extra helping hands. it was hard for me when I started the pumpkin because I’ve never done it without my mom there, and we haven’t carved pumpkins as a family in probably ten years. there’s definitely an order of operations there, and I tried my best to remember what all to do. I did well on everything except the pumpkin seeds, which are entirely too chewy to be fun to eat. there’s always next year, eh?

I’ve thought about getting a christmas tree. I won’t be here for christmas, but it would be nice to have one in the time leading up to when we leave to go home. there were a few years when as a family we would go chop down our own tree after picking the perfect one out of acres of evergreens. it was kind of miserable because of the cold weather and the hiking around and the arguing and the manual labor, but when you got some hot chocolate and loaded up the tree on top of the car, it was totally worth it! the downside of us getting a christmas tree now is that we just don’t have anything for it–we’d have to start totally from scratch. I don’t have string lights, I don’t have any decorations or ornaments, I don’t have a tree skirt or a stand. so that’s kind of a downer, because that’s a lot of money to spend when I don’t know if I’ll have the space to store those things where ever I’m living next year. gotta think about that, you know? plus we’d have to find the time to go and alec is insanely busy at work right now. his company is moving offices (to a much much bigger office, basically they bought an entire floor of an office building a few blocks away from the old office) for the first time in 11 years. he’s been staying late at work for the last week, and then he’s working all weekend setting things up at the new office after they moved all the computers on friday. so he’s going to be really busy getting everyone set up in the new space for the next few weeks at least. I’m not sure how long it will take until things go back to normal for him. it’s so funny because this is the first weekend I’ve been home since my last work trip of the year, and of course alec is spending the weekend at work. such is life, right?

I’ve seen a number of tutorials online that show how to make flowers out of tree leaves, so I might try that for a fall decoration, but it’s been such a wet month (actually it’s SNOWING right now. in DC. in october. insanity) I’m going to have to wait until the leaves dry out before I can go collect them. I guess decorations aren’t going to dramatically change my home, but I think a christmas tree would help since I’m going to be home for a much shorter time than alec. he’s planning on going down for over a week, which means I’ll be here by myself for a few days (or more), so it might be nice to have a christmas tree to enjoy. or maybe I’m just compensating for something or trying to distract myself from my current problems. who knows! at the very least, I hope you enjoyed the photos!

Create-A-Day: More of DC

October 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

eastern market -- so much larger than this. this is just one part of the very huge flea market + food market that happens every weekend year round. I would have stopped and shopped but I was in a hurry to homework.

busy cafes in eastern market.

halloween decorations are some of my favorites of the year. so much better than easter!

(sorry for the rotate problem… :/ erghs)

my favorite photo -- more DC houses! and trees, trees, trees.

sorry for the quality of these photos. I’ve been using my iphone for impromptu shots, but I hope to find some time in late October to take my real camera out for a stroll!

The DC Dilemma Continues

October 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

So yesterday I spent a good hour or two looking at rentals and FSBOs in Birmingham (again) to see what my options were in the event that I choose to move back. And seriously, I could move back, even if it’s just for a couple years, it might be worth it to move back, spend some time with my family, and get bored enough to move back to DC. Of course, who knows what state I’ll be at the end of my master’s, but I like having options already planned in my head. There are some insanely gorgeous lofts available in downtown Birmingham. Apparently there’s a loft district? It’s close to the business district. Of course I’ve never heard of these districts in the ‘Ham and have no idea where they are. Birmingham is just such a small city, it’s basically “downtown” and “southside” for me. I know all the neighborhoods too, so it’s kind of a shrug to me if there are new “districts” since they’re each probably only a few blocks or so in size. there two really beautiful bungalow homes for sale (for ridiculously low prices, both under $250k) for sale as well. one of them I’m pretty sure my family looked at back in the day when we were thinking about moving “into town” from our country abode 45 minutes outside of Birmingham. I would say it’s odd that the house is back on the market, since it’s a stunning construction on a rather large plot of land for the suburbs, but I think it’s the location that hurts it. it’s not in the best part of town, and it’s kind of isolated, so I understand why some people might be like “OMG this house is amazing” but then realize after living there that it isn’t worth it to live that close to the airport. I ran the numbers, and if we were paying what we pay now per month as a 15 year mortgage, we could easily afford a $250k house. insanity. ANYWAY, beyond houses and fabulous lofts, there are more things at issue here.

when alec and I have talked about moving back home in the past, it was within a complex social mindset. we both feel that if we moved back home, we would be seen as failures, as if we “couldn’t cut it” in the big city. that couldn’t be father from the truth, of course, considering the insane accomplishments we’ve achieved in the “big city” especially considering our short time being here. we both upgraded within six months of being here from super shitty jobs that made us miserable to fairly high paying (we both make almost $40k/yr, which is pretty impressive to me at least considering we were both fresh out of college, from Alabama, in a new city, and in the worst recession in the US since the Great Depression) jobs that we enjoy. sure, we both complain about our jobs, but deep down I think we both enjoy them. furthermore, we moved from a shithole tiny 500 sq ft basement apartment with two windows, peeling linoleum floors over concrete, and a bedroom almost too small to fit our bed to our fantastic 2 br, hardwood floor, windows in every room, second floor with views onto the courtyard apartment. it’s astounding the amount we’ve achieved in such a short amount of time. at least, I’m astounded. sometimes I get really down on myself, beating myself up for not getting a museum job right off the bat or for not getting into the best graduate schools. but fuck that, I’m doing an awesome job and things are kind of amazing in my life right now. alec and I both have done SO much and come SO far in a year, we should be free to move home and not feel like failures.

I worry too, though, about what will happen when and if alec moves home. I’m sure he will at some point, because outside of his job, he seems unhappy. I know he misses his friends and his cars and the familiarity of his hometown. I miss my car too sometimes, even though it tried to kill me multiple times, the most recent time being when it tried to light itself on fire. ah good times. but in all seriousness, I think DC has been great for alec in that he’s finally on his own two feet. he’s supporting himself, he’s making new social connections instead of relying on the same relationships he’s had for the last ten years, he’s learning the twists and turns of a new city, and he’s exploring new parts of himself in many ways. it’s not my place to determine what’s best for him, and while I probably would never actually admit to him that I think this, but I think he would slide backwards if he were to move home. his friends are all still unemployed, still living off their parents, and most of them don’t see anything wrong with that. I don’t think alec sees anything wrong with that either, and that’s what worries me. he’s grown up a lot this past year, but he’s still got a lot to learn too. if he moves home, I’m worried he’ll get back with the same people and do the same shit they do, that he’ll lose the maturity and independence he’s fought for since he’s been in DC.

but there’s something in him that’s changed too, and it’s something I haven’t been able to figure out (that’s why I love this boy, because he’s anything but simple or clear. always interesting.). the few times I’ve mentioned going home to him, he hasn’t jumped on board like I always think he will. I keep thinking I’ll suggest it and he’ll be like “YES, let’s do it.” but he doesn’t. I know he misses his friends, his cars, his old routine. so why isn’t he jumping at the chance to go back? the only thing I can figure, and I think this is more a reflection of me than an accurate characterization of him, is that he’s realizing he’s outgrown his friends, he’s outgrown his old alabama life. it seems to me that the only reason he’s in DC is because of his job, but he’s also voiced in the past that he wouldn’t be opposed to moving back in with his mom until he could find a job in birmingham. so why would he want to stay here? I can’t figure it out. he complains a lot about how complicated the city is, how much effort and planning it takes just to go out to dinner, how horrible the crowds of people can be to navigate around. it doesn’t seem like he’s that interested in the goings-on in the city, especially since we’ve gone to very few events in the city together and to my knowledge he doesn’t go to any of them on his own. so I don’t understand why he’s not jumping at the chance to go home.

I just don’t want to live in alabama. I hate being so conscious of stereotypes, but I like being associated with a liberal, progressive, “artsy” city like DC, in contrast to the conservative, Christian, close-minded associations with alabama. when we first moved to alabama, I thought we were moving to the armpit of the universe. after I got into art school, I totally changed my mind, and by the time I got to college I was proud to say I was alabama and I actively tried to present myself as the “new alabamian”, a blatant contrast to the stereotype. but the recession has not been kind to alabama, and with recent anti-women’s rights laws and immigration crack-downs, I’ve returned to my feeling of semi-disgust for the state. there are racist, sexist, conservative idiots in every state (especially arizona and texas) but alabama seems to still be filled to the brim with them and it pains me to think about moving back and immersing myself in them. blerg. blech. belch. in DC I say “I’m pursuing my Master’s in Art History and I work at a non-profit” and people understand. they respect and value education. they actually know what non-profits are, which is a step up from alabama, and they see the significance of nonprofits in society. they see why I would want to study art history, and it makes sense for me to study it here in DC, in the midst of the museums. people don’t understand these things in alabama. the educational system (even through college) is treated as a day care center for people too lazy or drunk to raise their own kids. maybe I’m being too harsh, but what I’ve seen of alabama in the *ahem* ten or so years I lived there, I’ve hated.

despite all that, though, there are parts of alabama I absolutely love. people aren’t lying about the politeness and warmth of the southern people (assuming you’re the right color and in the right part of town). I miss how people hold doors for you, say good morning to you in the street, ask you how you are if you look like you’re feeling down. that’s more rare here in DC, but not unheard of. most of all, though, I appreciate the emphasis on family that the south seems to perpetuate. nothing is more important than family, not even football. well, family and food. the two things I love most! family in the south is some serious glue.

anyway, thoughts are still mulling over in my mind and decisions are far from being made, but I am structuring some plans for the future. I like making plans, I like seeing my options, and I like having goals whether they’re realistic or not, just because they help keep me going, keep me motivated. a few years in alabama wouldn’t hurt, and if I could work at the museum, then I could get my “three years of museum experience required” to get a job at any other museum in the country. plans are in the cooker. I’m just glad I don’t have to use the pressure cooker just yet.

The DC Dilemma

October 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ah, Washington, DC. I’ve lived here just over a year now and for the first time in my life, I honestly want to live here for longer than my lease length. The weather sucks, I’ll admit. Its summers are hotter and more humid than my homestate of Alabama (despite being 700+ miles north) and the winters…. Well, look, I’m used to a few months of 40 degree weather, maybe some clouds and some rain drops here and there, and *maybe* twenty days total per year that are under 40 degrees. DC doesn’t roll that way. Winter starts quite suddenly (fall isn’t big here) in October and lasts through April, and we consider ourselves lucky if we have a few days in the 40s. Most days are in the 20s with this awesome wind that blows from seemingly every direction at once and makes the temperature drop 15 degrees. It goes right through your wool coat, your scarf, your gloves, and your sweater to freeze your bones from the inside out. It’s literally painful to be outside when the wind is at its worst in the winter. DC also has exciting blizzards and ice storms that shut everything down and lead to nightmarish traffic jams and metro delays. During the ice storm last year, Alec and I just walked home because the delays were unimaginable. It’s a bit longer of a walk to the new apartment from work–about 4.5 miles–so I’m not sure what I’ll do this year if we experience another storm like that, but what’s a few miles in the ice, snow, wind, and below-freezing temperatures of DC…

Anyway, the weather is a downside, except for right now. Currently the weather is absolutely heavenly. Sunny, breezy, 70 degree weather. We’ve got the windows open, which is one of my absolute favorite things. Not only having lots of windows to open, which is a huge bonus and a definite upgrade from my last two apartments which were in basements, but being able enjoy the sounds of birds and the warmth of sunshine as a cool breeze blows across your skin makes this weather absolute perfection. This is the first weekend off I’ve had in over a month, so it’s been pretty darn fantastic sitting inside enjoying the weather outside through my many, many windows. We’re on the second floor too, so that helps with the breeze as well.

this isn't our place, but I wouldn't mind living here!

Another downside to DC is how expensive it is. I really want a house, with a yard and windows and a porch or two. It’s so stereotypical of the “american dream”, but I want my own place where I can paint the walls, hang bike racks from the ceiling, make my own dramatic changes, and most of all, where I know I’ll be living for more than a year. I want a home, dammit! DC is insanely expensive, though, so that puts a damper on my dream a bit. Yards, too, are scarce, or you have to trade off space with closeness to a metro. I quite like the metro and don’t at all miss driving (well, driving daily. I miss long weekend drives.) so I’d rather stay as close to a metro station as possible. That means prices go up, though, and square footage and yard space go down. The chances of seeing more than 5 stars a night go down as well, but in my DC fantasy, I will have a car for weekend drives down to shenandoah valley to picnic and/or camp. Shenandoah offers excellent star-gazing.

So why do I want to stay, considering the weather, expense, and crowdedness of urban living? MUSEUMS. museums. museums. museums. I’ve never been in a place with this much art, and there’s no where else in America with as many great FREE museums as DC. If I want to go say “what’s up” to Rembrandt, I can do it easily, without any planning or cost besides the metro trip there. There are exhibitions opening all the time here, so many that I still miss some (there was a fantastic wood exhibition at the Renwick that I missed. still upset about that.). even beyond exhibitions, there are always events going on at the museums for families, students, retirees, everyone! the arts here are inexhaustible. the only downside is the lack of ancient art in DC, but I can always go to NYC for that. Also, I do consider it a plus to be so close to both Philly and NYC in case I want to see an exhibition there, or maybe catch a broadway show? Bahah, I’ve never been to a broadway show, who am I kidding… but I guess it’s nice to have the option just a few hours away by train, car, or plane.

this woman has the most beautiful flowers in front of her house down the street from us. I love walking by her home!

there are other downsides, of course, mainly family related. Most of my family lives in the South, so I always have a fantasy buried deep in my mind of living close to them, in a world of big yards and rocking chairs on covered porches and eating frozen blackberries while watching the dogs play. big family meals at my grandmother’s house, meeting my parents for coffee downtown, breakfast at the original pancake house. you know, those kinds of things. things I want, almost desperately,  but things I don’t want enough to justify leaving the art-centered life I have in DC. a dollar goes a lot further down south, but here I’m making many more dollars than I would down there… so it’s kind of a balancing act. it’s not like I could make my salary down there. or could I? even if I could, what would I spend my free time doing? the Birmingham Museum of Art does what it can, but it’s still not the National Gallery, or the American Art Museum, or the Phillips… there aren’t even galleries left to balance out the lack of museums.

so I’m in a tough spot right now, trying to figure out where I want to be but finding no perfect place (ah, utopia, you tricky tricky thing). I could make it work in DC, but I would have to give up the fantasy of seeing my family more often than twice a year. I would have to give up a lot of things. and I have political and religiously related issues with alabama that I don’t have with DC. our capitol is incredibly diverse ethnically, religiously, politically, economically, and so on. I thrive on that diversity. I appreciate it every day. I get bored seeing just white people, or just black people, or just black and white people, which is all birmingham is to me. everyone speaks in a southern drawl (or at least a softly southern accent) and you almost never hear other languages. it just seems so closed to me, and the south is becoming increasingly conservative and republican by the day. I find that incredibly suffocating. but if I could stay in my $1,000/mo 4 bedroom home (believe me, I’ve scoped out the rentals and FSBOs in bham) then maybe I wouldn’t notice or care! hey, it could happen.

my walk home from eastern market. you never realize how many trees DC has until you try to photograph the neighborhoods. it's insane! and totally appreciated, even if I don't always notice all the green.

but for now, I’m tempted to stay in DC because I have to be here for another two years anyway (that Master’s degree thing), so I might as well enjoy the museums while I can in all their wonder, but I’m tempted to move back to birmingham to be closer to my family and to enjoy the value of a dollar. le sigh. decisions, decisions.

Create-A-Day: Queen of Books

October 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

So I’m in grad school now, pursuing a Master’s degree in Art History with a Concentration in Museum Training. as usual my exceedingly high expectations for myself and my “stages in life” are unreasonable and unreachable. I’m working 20 hours a week, but I’ve been travelling for work every weekend as well, so it’s more like I’m working 40 hours a week (or more, depending on my travel schedule and how much my itinerary gets messed up) and taking a full course load. now, really, I’ve done crazy shit before and had schedules that are mindblowing to normal people, so this shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is taking its toll. I look like a zombie most of the time, I drink coffee instead of taking meals (I joke about it because I know it’s not healthy, but it’s the best I can do), and I get up earlier on the days that I *don’t* have work than when I have to go into work. sometimes in the mornings when I get up at 6am to do homework, I’ll spend a good ten minutes staring into the mirror examining the growing circles under my eyes. it’s fascinating, really, watching the changes to my body when it’s under this kind of pressure. paleness of the skin, dullness of the hair, losing a bit of weight even (woohoo! there’s always a bright side). but it’ll be worth it in the end. I don’t want to draw out my degree longer than two years and of course I don’t want to work less than 20 hours a week (um hello, rent doesn’t pay itself), so this is what my life is going to be for a while. just call me the queen of books:

don’t be silly — I had to buy more books than that just for this semester. at first I felt terribly intimidated, not so much by my classmates (yeah, right… they’re the same as undergrad kids practically), but the workload and the expectations of our teachers. their expectations are pretty high, and I had a bit of an adjustment period getting back into the swing of things, after all I had been out of school for a year. the trick is to be super duper organized, which luckily for me, I am naturally! I live my life by my planner, which I update weekly, double- and triple-check, and color code. I’m often left with the feeling/paralyzing fear that I’ve forgotten something important, but I doubt there’s anything I can do to fully alleviate that.

it’s nice to be using my brain again, I have to admit that. I used my brain a bit for work, but it’s like a very different way of thinking than how I think in school. the interest level is different too, as well. that’s to be expected, I’m sure, since I’m at the bottom of the totem pole in our company and my job is fairly limited as far as expanding my responsibilities goes, so the need for my brain to be super-engaged isn’t urgent. so my school brain is switched on now, and I think I’ve finally settled into the groove of school. I would even go so far as to say I’ve really been carrying at least two of my classes if not all three. when the prof asks a question I count to five and look around the room to see if anyone else is going to answer, and if no one does then I do. so I’m not exactly like hermoine, really, I’m less jumping up and down about knowing the answer (besides, half the time I just have a good guess). but it’s frustrating when I have this insane work schedule and I get to class and no one else has done the readings. I have about an hour a day when I’m not at work and not in class or doing schoolwork. just an hour to myself. what are these kids lives like without jobs and with the same courseload as me? it’s quite frustrating, but as always, my expectations are far too high for my classmates. but maybe I’m just not being fair. I don’t have the time to gather the necessary info I would need to make a fair judgment.

anyway, so I’ve been complaining a lot about yet another stage in my life where I feel disillusioned. you’d think sometime I would let go of the ideals I have about the world and just go with whatever is there before me. people say I’m too serious about things. people say I plan too much for the future. people say I have too vivid of an image for my life in ten years. people say a lot of things and pretty much my entire life I’ve never listened. I think things have turned out okay for me, and I always feel better, even when I make mistakes, knowing I did things my own way. it’s something about taking responsibility for my actions, but it’s more than that too. something to ponder I suppose.

and it’s not like I’m rigid. I am committed, definitely, but I’m also flexible (believe me, moving to DC was not my original plan, but I’m SO glad I did it). I’m currently working through some things, some future-related things. do I really want a phd? it’s going to be a lot work and a lot of expense (phd stipends are significantly less than what I make at my current job, and I would really just like to move up in the pay grade area). and would it really be worth it? I really just want to be well-educated. but I also have a very strong desire to have a house and a yard and a dining room table. that requires money. money I may or may not get after my phd, and money I certainly won’t have while I’m earning my phd unless I’m married to someone rich (yeah right). so my life is at a bit of a strange place. I want to plan for my post-Master’s future, but it’s hard when I can’t decide which future is more important, or at least which one I want right now.

of course my biggest goals right now are: 1. rock grad school, 2. rock work, 3. try to be happy with what I have while I have it. because everything in my life right now is temporary. everything.

Where Am I?

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