As you may have noticed, the blog has been a little quiet, and I slacked off and skipped last Sunday’s “Literary Libations”. In addition to the health issues, June has turned out to be quite the busy month for me, and I wish I had the same level of energy I once had, before I got sick. And old. OK, mostly old. The oldness is certainly to blame.

I’ll start off with talking about my favourite subject: me…and where other people are talking about me! :P Long ago, I did an author interview I figured the interviewer simply wasn’t interested in. As it so happens, she simply published many of them at the same time. While it was one of my first interviews and therefore not one of my best, and the interviewer spelled my name incorrectly, I enjoyed reading it because the questions were a bit different from the usual. If you’re interested, you can catch me talking about me here. You know you want to.

Every so often, you have an interesting weekend. This one was definitely an interesting one for me, one that started on Friday when I planned an event at an upscale restaurant that literally just opened a few weeks ago. I’d sent a friend of mine to scout it out, and she’d told me the menu was limited, but the decor was really nice. I later found out the dinner menu was more extensive, they had excellent martinis, and the place really is beautiful. I fully expect to see it on “Real Housewives Of Atlanta” sometime in the near future.

The staff was extremely friendly, and we had occasion to meet both the manager and the owner. I found out that the owner was my kind of guy, an exuberant Italian man from New Jersey, and he seems to treat his customers and his employees like family. The food was good, but overpriced. For instance, The Guy I Am Currently Dating and I ordered a bruschetta appetizer and decided to split an entree, so we could have dessert. I ended up going for the teriyaki chicken breast with pineapple salsa, because it seemed at least somewhat healthy.

To my surprise, the chicken arrived….and, well, that was it. No veggies, no potatoes, not even garnish on the plate. I absolutely realise why America is fat and unhealthy. 20 dollars either gets you one chicken breast without accompaniment, or enough food to feed 6 people at KFC.

The oddest thing was the drinks. We saw they had a special offering $5 martinis, which turned out to be only available upstairs in the lounge area. Downstairs, the same drink with Absolut vodka was $10-$12. Upstairs, the $5 martinis were made with Grey Goose, and significantly better. Of course, they were only for the ladies and only served until 11, facts not widely advertised until you received your bill.

Nevertheless, the club area was a fun bar, although a bit loud and with some flashing lights. There were couches, tables, a large dance floor, and once the crowd around the bar dissipated, it was a nice place to hang out. A friend of mine decided to leave early, and because she lived nearby, The Guy I Am Currently Dating drove her home. I went to pull up a chair and sit next to another friend of mine, one with whom I wished to exchange gossip and, you know, typical girl chat.

We talked for a bit, and that’s when things got weird. I somehow found myself rejected by an 80 year-old guy.

OK, maybe he wasn’t 80, but he was old. And boring. And, although I’m a modest person (sometimes), I definitely have to say I’m quite out of his league unless he happens to have invented the first dot matrix printer or something, and is one of Atlanta’s eligible millionaires.

When the seat on the other side of my friend opened up, he got up and moved to sit next to her, informing me “It was time to upgrade”. Really? I mean, WTF, dude? Is that not the rudest thing someone you don’t know could say?

The funniest part is that he seemed oblivious to the fact that we knew one another. He immediately “upgraded”, bought her a drink, and completely interrupted our conversation. From time to time, she would attempt to resume it. We took pictures together. The bartender brought us champagne, compliments of the owner (at my suggestion. :P ), and still, at one point he suggested we should get to know one another because we both played musical instruments. I don’t know how oblivious someone who has been on this planet for so long could be.

He then basically stalked her for the rest of the night, made her feel uncomfortable, and when she left, he grabbed his coat and made a quick exit as if hoping to catch her. The Guy I Am Currently Dating, whose job it is to oversee all damsels who may find themselves in distress (seriously, he often has a car full of women.), ran after her to make sure the guy didn’t have an opportunity to catch up with her. I later told the bouncer, who was cute and talkative in that Southern country way, that the feminist side of me was angry that girls should be made to feel so uncomfortable they choose to leave rather than cause a scene. On the other hand, I’d have had no problem making that guy feeling uncomfortable enough that he’d have left the building first, but my friend is far nicer than I happen to be.

Regardless of the fact that it was a creepy old stalker delivering it, I am still irritated by the comment. By the time you’re 80, you should know how to treat classy women. In my mind, that includes me. My friend is also a beautiful, intelligent, and classy woman…but it isn’t that often that people walk away from me, informing me they’re planning to upgrade. :P

I also had an unexpected and short visit from a good friend who was passing through my part of town, and took some time to catch up with me. This friend does not like to be mentioned on the blog, so I’m violating one of my rules here. However, we don’t get to see one another as often as I’d like, so it’s worth noting in a vague and positive way. :P

I think everyone has a larger group of friends and acquaintances in the world, but a very small and select number that can be described as “favourite people”. This friend most definitely falls into the latter category. There are some people in the world who, once you break down a certain number of barriers, reveal themselves to be among the most caring and uplifting people you know. I count this friend in that category, and we somehow have formed a very natural and authentic connection over the years. It is a unique dynamic and not always uncomplicated. There are few people with whom you can honestly share a full range of often-uncensored emotion and experience, and still like one other, and laugh at the absurdity of it all even when life is this complex and uncertain thing. Of course, this friend and I will likely never live in the same city, which makes actually getting to see one another a more valuable thing. (Sadly, this is true of many of my closest friends. I do have a few “favourite people” in Atlanta, and they play a huge role in keeping me in Atlanta. Atlanta is not one of my “favourite people”.)

Hey, wait a minute. Maybe it just means people like me more when they don’t live anywhere near me. :O (insert abject disillusionment here.)

Finally, I’m not sure if I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I felt like I needed a new and challenging project for the summer, especially since my physical being is still less than cooperative and I always seem to be too broke or too busy to travel. So, when I saw an introductory course being offered at Writers’ Village University for fiction writers, at a mere $10 fee, I decided to sign up.

I really had no idea what to expect, but the community seems very diverse and very supportive. There are some extremely skilled writers, and there are people like me, who have never taken an online workshop before. The “getting to know you” phase of things seemed to be successful, as people had a very positive response to “meeting” me (which is always a self-esteem boost, if you’re me.).

However, I feel like I might be a little out of my depth in this writing community. At the very least, it’s a humbling experience that points out, “Hey, my writing isn’t quite as appealing as I though. Maybe there’s a reason my collection was rejected.” Hopefully, I can learn from being surrounded by better and more imaginative writers.

The class hasn’t officially started yet, but they kicked things off with an optional writing prompt. The prompt for my room was to write a story about nature using words like “stapler”, “billboard”, “car”,”phone”, and “hard drive”. I sent what I concocted to The Guy I Am Currently Dating, and he said he liked it, but I suppose he’ll probably always say that. My reply to him was:


The comments left by the mentors leave me with the vague impression that they didn’t quite get it. Maybe they just didn’t like it that much, but I think more of the first. I notice that I don’t tell stories in a way that is as straightforward as some of the other people in my group, and I rely more on description and you needing to insert yourself into the situation.

Uh-oh. I think I might be creating the literary equivalent of Darren Aronofsky films when I write short stories. Oscar committee gives a thumbs up. People are like “WTF just happened?”.

Remember all those people who got mad when they thought the cable went out during the final episode of “The Sopranos”, but it was really the ending? Yeah. I’d have been responsible for something like that. *laughs*

I did get some positive feedback from other members of the class, but I’m looking forward to the challenges that come from writing with a very diverse and gifted group of people.

One of the cool things is that The Guy I Am Currently Dating, who is not a writer, but a very imaginative and talented person, decided to take the class with me. We’re in separate classrooms, but it’s fun to have someone with whom to share the journey. I don’t often share my work with people, so frankly, I’m never sure if anything I come up with is good or not. I always rather assume it’s not, but have not yet stumbled on to that secret of success that says, “Hey, your writing is now good! Isn’t that awesome?”

Regardless, I now have something interesting to do over the summer when I’m not out socializing or home watching Big Brother. Let’s face it, those things occupy 70% of my waking hours during the summer, because I still have not mentally accepted that I am an adult and need to work even if it’s July. In my mind, I’m on summer break! As it turns out, that’s not a thing in life when you’re old. :(

Now, if only I could get my body stabilized from the medication-change fiasco, I might be a pretty happy camper. Or, at least, a pretty content one. :)

Earlier this week, I was sad to hear of the passing of someone I knew during my theatrical days in NYC. We never got to the point where we were especially close, but we traveled in the same circles, and if something fun was going on, there was a good chance we’d both be there. Once we did get past that “Oh, hey, I remember you and your face looks familiar” stage of things, I discovered he was the kind of person with whom it was remarkably easy to have fun.

Theatre people, and artists in general, are most certainly a strange breed. Our parties don’t start until 11:30, because that’s the earliest most working actors and techies can conceivably get out of the theatre. We’re known to start drinking on a Monday afternoon, when the rest of the world has returned to work, because Monday is the night all the theatres are dark. We gather on rooftops and fire escapes and sing show tunes and manage to have fun, even though nobody ever has any money.

Yet, for some reason, there are people who love the life and the camaraderie built into a world that is, by nature, full of struggle and self-doubt and rejection and an utter lack of stability. When you’re working on a show, your company becomes your family. You run out of time to see your real family, your old friends, and dating is difficult—much less marriage, children, or relationships. Yet, somehow, it’s usually worth it.

This friend who passed away was, as he called himself, “a quirky homo chorus boy”. He was only 30, but in the world of musical theatre, it’s the age at which you need to start stepping out of the chorus, or risking the possibility that you’re never going to. I think he’s one of the ones who would have done that. In addition to being a gifted dancer, he also had a beautiful tenor voice that could handle every type of music with a certain joie de vivre. He would sing at parties, in the dressing room, at piano bars. Just like everyone else, he was struggling, hopping from tour to regional theatre and back again, but he was one of the ones who wouldn’t trade that life for anything else.

Off-stage, everyone loved him. There are different types of actors, and this friend was the one who always wanted to entertain, even after the curtain was down. If there was mischief, he was somewhere in the centre of the scheme. People naturally gravitated toward him, because he didn’t give the appearance of ever taking life too seriously.He did, but he didn’t let worries over money or a broken heart ever ruin that particular day with whomever he was around. As someone who takes feelings to heart and dwells on them and can’t find whatever it takes to ignore them and move on with my day (great for channeling your energy into artistic pursuits, terrible for being good company.), I always really admired that. Some people have the gift of free-spiritedness. Others, like me, may find it sometimes overshadowed by a certain amount of intensity and propensity toward the dramatic. This friend was someone perfect for my world; someone less narcissistic and more inclined to brush off every rejection or heartache with a few laughs and the knowledge that tomorrow was a new day.

Many years ago, I did a production of a little-known musical called “The Baker’s Wife”. (If you know it, I played Denise.) Knowing this, this friend took me to see a concert honouring Stephen Schwartz (the composer), and we smuggled cheap champagne in those eco-friendly thermos things everyone loved for awhile before most people gave up on saving the planet. We took the subway down to the Lower East Side afterwards, traipsing through the streets singing Liz Callaway songs and, as I recall, skipping through traffic. We ended up at a bar where we didn’t pay for a single drink. It was one of my best dates ever. (seriously, gay men are awesome at planning cool dates. There should be a book about this for straight men and lesbians. *laughs*)

I was really saddened to hear about this friend’s passing, and it kind of forced me to spend the week remembering the world of “Once Upon A Time”, where I lived a different sort of life and may have been a different sort of person, for better or for worse. I reached out to some people I knew from the “old days”. I remembered that, because I started performing at such a young age, my world was always filled with people who were “unconventional”. If my own family was both conservative and dysfunctional and little approval was given for anything, ever, the people with whom I spent time outside of that were generally proud to be eccentric. I had a lot of really great role models for living life on your own terms, and feeling free to be yourself, however fucked up you happened to be. It was always a conundrum from me, because that wasn’t the lesson that I got at home, at school, from my non-artistic friends. There, the rule was all about having people like you, approve of you, achieving things and being rewarded. That was much more important than any kind of authentic self. I think I grew up as a very divided person, knowing I was somehow not like everyone else, but feeling pressure to pretend so that everyone would always like me.

My best memories in life are of those people who made me feel that just being me made me special enough, likeable enough. This friend who passed away was one of those types of people, and the loss of everything he had to offer to the world leaves a space that can’t really be filled. I still think of him, and admire him, and the way he touched everyone he met…even people he barely knew. Some people love life and live with such enthusiasm, you can’t help but feel the same way for them being in your life.

The result of all this dwelling and feeling and intense introspection is a rather pronounced dissatisfaction with my life these days. I don’t know if I’d go back in time a decade or so in order to be that person I once was—I think I was both self-absorbed and self-destructive, and a bit of a diva. I lived very recklessly, didn’t forgive easily, and didn’t always consider the consequences of anything. I thought the adventure and the experience was enough. And, even when I ended up in Atlanta, I think I brought that attitude with me. I got myself hurt a great deal, and I know I hurt other people more than they deserved.

Yet, there’s this realisation I have sometimes that my life is boring. I sometimes think my friends—at least the ones who live in Atlanta and I’m able to see on a regular basis—are boring. I sometimes think I don’t actually have any friends in Atlanta, because although there are people in my life, I miss having that core group of personalities who are largely obligation-free and rate highly on the “openness to new experiences” chart. There is a focus on family and religion and conventionality and corporate life and attaining wealth and material goods that isn’t necessarily compatible with what I’m about, and it’s hard to meet people who don’t fit into that paradigm. In fact, the more people I meet in Atlanta, the more I’m bored to tears with about 90% of them.

Most of the people I meet don’t create things, and they don’t care that I create things. They’re willing to pay $14 for a drink, but not $8 for a book, which has really kind of dissuaded me from putting any energy into creative projects. (“Why pour your heart and soul and time and money into something if nobody freaking cares?). Most of the people I meet have clearly defined boundaries that simply aren’t open-minded enough to interest me (“I’d come to this, but I can’t really get into the idea of wearing a costume in public when it’s not Halloween.”) or have reasons or obligations that say “Oh, it’s 9:30, time to go home now.”

On top of that, Atlanta’s transportation system makes it pretty impossible to have a crazy adventure. You can’t go out on the town and party and take the subway home. There always has to be a designated driver. You always have to pay for parking. When you get where you’re going, you’re not terribly likely to meet interesting strangers (it’s more of a once-in-a-while occasion.), so you have to convince a group of friends to be willing to go out with you. The older I get, the more difficult this becomes.

I’m well aware that Atlanta doesn’t like me much more than I like it.. Even though I run a social group where people become friends, people rarely reach out to *me* because they’d like to be friends. It’s rare that people contact me to say, “Hey, do you want to get together and do something?”, unless they’re already a good friend. I know there are a number of reasons for this: I’m not single, I’m not in my 20′s, I’m kind of a pain because I don’t have a car, and there are a lot of people with whom I just share few interests. (I hate hiking, I don’t get up before 12, I’m not into healthy eating and wellness, I don’t watch sci-fi, I don’t have children.) I prefer making deeper emotional and intellectual connections over meeting people for the sake of meeting people. I already have thousands of acquaintances. What I need are friends who like me enough to call me up and ask if I want to do something, preferably something new and different.

While I find my directness with people, my flirtatious banter, my snarky sense of humour, and my rather boisterous, extroverted style of communication to be endearing, it turns out that Atlanta does not agree. I’ve been called rude. I’ve been called a whore, a homewrecker, and just “that guy’s fat girlfriend”. I’ve heard people say they can’t stand my need to be the centre of attention, and that my personality is the type that just sucks the air of the room. I’ve offended people just by showing up. I’ve had strangers remark on my social drinking, my fashion choices, and even the timbre of my voice. So, it is quite possible my lack of a core group of friends with whom I find it easy to relate and bond and have adventures is due to this: In the South, most people just don’t like me.

It’s sad, but I know it’s not just all me. There are people all over the world who would love to live closer to me, or to have the opportunity to have adventures with me on a more frequent basis. I have really strong friendships with some really interesting people. Some are based in a shared love of life and adventure, some are based on a romantic connection that morphs into a true friendship, and some are based on an emotional or intellectual bond that just oddly exists. I know right away when I meet this kind of person—someone who genuinely interests me—and it’s a shame that I’m the sort for which this kind of connectivity happens with other human beings maybe twice a year, if I’m lucky. The result is that those who know me the best and whom I enjoy the most are rarely in the same place at the same time, and even if they live in Atlanta, circumstances are such that I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like.

I’ve been told by a number of my friends—who, on the whole, tend to be more introverted souls than myself, but people who can be inspired to have fun new experiences “outside the comfort zone”, under the right circumstances— that I have a way of making the world a more interesting place to be and bringing things to life. People have told me that when I am gone, the exact same place or experience simply isn’t the same, and I am greatly complimented by the fact that there are people in my life who genuinely feel that way about me.

Yet, the problem is that most people in Atlanta—even those I consider good friends—don’t feel that way about me. And, also, there are times when I need to meet someone who inspires *me* to feel that way about life. Those types of people show up maybe once every two years if I’m fortunate, and those connections don’t always work out in the long run.

I realise my friends are not boring. If anything, I am the one who is boring, because I have long since ceased to find a genuine sense of adventure or romance or elation in most things. Life feels generally repetitive, and I suppose it’s a side effect of having crossed many things off of my bucket list at somewhat of an early age. I don’t always know how to feel inspired to have an adventurous next 30 years of my life. When I do find those experiences, or meet people who seem to naturally evoke them, they are surprising—I am shocked by the ability of another person to make me feel like a younger, lighter, more enthusiastic version of myself. A very few people in this world are able to make me open my eyes in the morning and feel excited about the day to come, so when I find that, I tend to place more value on it than perhaps I should.

I sometimes think Atlanta is simply too small and too conservative to provide whatever it is I am looking for, and that’s sad, because I have a great guy who’d be devastated if I left—-but I’m not sure it would be inspiration enough for him to leave with me. Other times, I think I just am not meeting the right people, and the inaccessibility of living in a city where one needs to drive to experience the city will always be a hindrance for me. Most of the time, I think that the prevailing attitudes and social viewpoints, and the things on which most people in this area are focused, is simply not compatible with who I am as a person. I don’t consider myself odd and eccentric, or overbearingly extroverted or even rude. I just want to live in a world where people embrace diversity, variety, taking down emotional walls, and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. I’m annoyed when people don’t want to do things because there are costumes involved, or you have to drive two miles to another place, or because the event is in the wrong part of town.

People in Atlanta seem to have a lot of “rules” for how they should live, how *you* should live, and what’s considered “fun”. It makes it really hard for me to meet anyone with whom I really bond, and when I do, that interest in “I’d like to get to know you better” isn’t always reciprocated. (I know one person who has seemed to call up every girl he knows to hang out as platonic friends, but has never once so much as contacted me outside of an event. I actually think he’s a fun person, but I find it off-putting that he would not like me in a one-on-one setting.)

Maybe I don’t really know what I’m looking for in terms of “fun” and adventure and meeting new people…but I know it when I find it. Most of the time, I know instantaneously that there’s the potential for me to “connect” with someone. Somehow, an overwhelming number of those people I’d consider “people with whom I connect” live in NYC, Philadelphia, D.C., or California. Sometimes, I miss those people greatly, and wonder what it is about me that makes people in Atlanta unresponsive to friendship with me. Maybe it’s not just me. Maybe people here just generally don’t “connect”, and although it’s a city, there’s truly not that much to do that hasn’t been done before.

Maybe I’ve simply been here too long. I remember feeling excited about this place when I first moved here. Yet, for me, some places may be more suited to me than others—but enjoying life is all about the people with whom you choose to share it.

I need more people, and more sharing….and I miss the days when that came so easily. I miss living somewhere that a majority of people actually like me, relate to me, and invite me out for drinks or coffee or want me at their parties. That has not been Atlanta for me, despite the few wonderful friends I’ve made over the years, and I somehow don’t think it ever will be.

I sometimes just wonder why this is the only place I’ve ever been that I’ve failed to charm people or to make a group of friends who actually want to get out and do things. Perhaps, over the past decade, I’ve lost whatever it was that made me endearing to people to begin with. Or maybe I’m just at that age where life is supposed to be about marriage and kids and stability and owning your house—and cities where there is less focus on those things are going to be a better fit for me.

I think it’s no accident that the people with whom I bond the most quickly are either well-traveled, extremely accomplished and/or creative, and/or open to new and different experiences. I just wish it weren’t so hard to find those people, and have them be around my age group, and have some type of commonality with me.

I wish that, every so often, someone would pick up the phone and express a desire to hang out. Because, really and truly, I’m a nice person. I may even be fun. Some people go as far as to use words like “vivacious” and “inspiring”. Those people exaggerate, but the point is, I like to keep life interesting. But it’s hard for me to do that without partners-in-crime. I’ve never been the “neverending circle of acquaintances” type of girl.

Usually, when I feel this way, someone or something positive shows up in my world, and totally starts it spinning on its axis for awhile. I don’t particularly mind that. It keeps life interesting. It’s almost an unexpected answer from the Universe, pointing out, “Maybe this is what you’ve been looking for?”

Yet, that hasn’t happened over the past few months, and I’ve felt a little melancholy. Instead, I’ve been suffering loss and estrangement and a general sense of “There has to be more to life than what I’m letting in right now.” I wish I were the sort of person who could be happy with the simple things—-a solid relationship with one person, a small group of friends I see on occasion, the TV shows I love—and sometimes, I can be content with that. But after about 3 or 4 weeks, the restlessness returns, and I need to feel there is so much more out there in the world.

Whatever it is, I want it.

I know, I know. I haven’t really been around much, but I have a very good excuse. I’ve been traipsing through North Carolina for the past week or so. There’s a lot to share, so I’ll do a series of posts on my adventures, but I’ll start out with chatting about spending some time in the thriving metropolis of Durham, NC. :P

Of course, the immediate response to telling people this is “Why?!?!”, but it’s kind of funny the way things worked out. I initially had hoped to take 2 weeks’ vacation in June to travel to NYC and Philly as I always do, but thanks to the inner ear disorder, I can’t fly. I’m also still not strong enough for spending 20 hours on Greyhound. Conveniently, I have a friend in Durham who visited me in ATL a few months back, and with whom I wanted to spend more quality time so we might get to know one another a little better, and since that city is the approximate halfway point to NYC, I thought I’d stop there.

As it turned out, plans didn’t work as well as I’d have wanted them to. The Chinatown bus line shut down, and the extensive travel I wanted to pursue in mid-summer is something I’m still not strong enough to handle, from a physical perspective. Also, if you’ve been reading my blog over the past months, you’ve seen that things with this potential new friend have been chaotic, to say the least. Yet, I still decided it was worthwhile stopping by to visit, even if the attempt to spend time together was disastrous and we ended up never speaking again. (yes, there was reason to consider this as a possible outcome, but friendship drama is another blog for another day.) I also made plans to stop and visit a few friends in Charlotte on the way home to Atlanta (also another blog entry for another day.). Charlotte isn’t very far from here, but it’s one of those cities that you pass through, rather than purposely go to *visit*…so, I decided it was time to do so. The result is that, within the span of a week, I saw many, many small towns and medium-sized cities throughout North Carolina.

Durham is an interesting little city. It’s home to Duke University, and about 20 minutes away is the town of Chapel Hill, a pretty vibrant area dominated by the presence of UNC. I’ve been to the Raleigh-Durham area before; this was actually my third or fourth visit. However, in the past, my travels were confined to the Raleigh side of things, and the Research Triangle area. I never actually made it into Durham or Chapel Hill, because I didn’t have much reason to travel that far. Like Atlanta, and most of the Southeast, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill is obnoxiously spread out and suffers from urban sprawl that seems designed just to make people buy more gas and newer cars, and only have friends who live within a 10 mile radius. The entire Triangle area is larger than the state of Rhode Island, so for a non-driving Northeasterner like myself, it’s indeed culture shock.

I have a lot of stories and adventures I could share, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll list the things I do and do not like about the Durham area. (strangely, for a big city girl, I found it WAY more charming than I expected.)

Stuff the Durham area has going for it:

*People are really nice. Yes, you might say people are nice anywhere, but it’s not true. I’ve never spent much time in Southern small towns, but this one had a level of friendliness I’ve only seen before in New Orleans and Biloxi. Strangers will talk to you. Everywhere I went, I met someone. People carried my bags, opened car doors, bought me drinks and coffee shop items, and wanted random pictures of or with me. Perhaps it’s just a natural openness about those who live in the area, or perhaps it’s because I’m a little bit of a novelty for the area…I can honestly say I didn’t find one person who looked, acted, or had a type of energy that resembled mine. When you’re a little different, people will either love or hate you, but I overwhelmingly felt a sense that everywhere I went, I encountered someone who was charmed by me. Being a little narcissistic, I can’t say I didn’t appreciate that. :P

*You feel a little like you’ve stepped out of “Pleasantville”, and it’s charming. Unlike many cities who once served a different function, Durham hasn’t torn down the old buildings of its small-town tobacco roots in order to build skyscrapers and condos. Near where I was staying, there was a pharmacy within a one block radius, and it was a 1950′s style pharmacy. No CVS, Rite Aid, or large chains. Similarly, all the coffeeshops, cafes, and bars were independent, one-of-a-kind places. I didn’t see a single Starbucks. I mentioned to my friend that I half-expected to see a milkshake shop, and I wanted to go there. He responded by telling me there was one, and now I’ll have to visit in the future to see a number of things I didn’t get to see this time around, but that is one tourist experience I am holding him to. *laughs* There was even a vintage shop that made me wish I’d brought nothing but one outfit and a a mostly empty bag. For someone like me, who is decidedly urban and modern but charmed by the attractions of time periods long abandoned, the combination of old and new delighted me.

*There’s a kick-ass performing arts center. As a performer, I tend to judge a city on the amount of culture it has to offer, an arena in which Atlanta falls sadly short, for a city as large as it is. My visit to Durham happened to coincide with the closing week of the 2nd national company’s tour of “West Side Story”, so of course I was excited to see that. What I did not expect was how expansive, modern, and downright cool the Durham Performing Arts Center is. It may be better than our Cobb Energy Center, in both design and acoustics. I also mentioned that I’d have to pay a return visit when it coincided with a show I wanted to see, because I *loved* that theatre. As it happened, I was staying at the same hotel as the company, and ran into one of the cast members during check-out, who thought she knew me. She didn’t, but we do have mutual friends on tours with different shows, so it is possible our paths had crossed at one point. It’s odd how small the world can be.

*There are a lot of cool places to hang out and explore for a small city. There were many things I just didn’t get to, especially in terms of restaurants and bars with interesting ambiance. Yet, there’s also places to go if you just want to chill and spend a low-key night hanging out with friends. I literally sat on a lawn (while sober) and talked with my friend as cars drove by and occasionally beeped or said hello to us. It was actually really fun, and the sort of thing the less extroverted side of me secretly likes. You just can’t really *do* that here in Atlanta–you’ll either get approached by people who creep you out, or a cop will yell at you for loitering.

Once I began to figure out how to navigate the area, and where things were located, I started to see Durham as less of a small town and more as a little city that happens to have retained a lot of small-town charm. People who know me will find it quite odd that I would enjoy the culture of such a small place, but I did. I found people to be refreshingly down-to-earth, open, and while there might be a soda fountain, an old-school pharmacy, and lots of places with the word “BBQ” in the name, there’s also a lot of what I enjoy: tapas bars with good martinis, independent coffee shops, people who appreciate art, music, and culture, and are open enough to talk to strangers or pay a compliment just to make someone’s day a little nicer. However, there were a few things that make me understand why my friend doesn’t necessarily intend to call the place home on a permanent basis.

*Everything is just so damned spread out. Strangely, it’s easier to get around and navigate without a car than Atlanta is, but there’s no subway system, and when you’re dealing with a city that’s really a metro area consisting of 4 cities, you kind of have to pick one part of town and stick to it. Being a non-driver, I couldn’t live there for more than two weeks without a LOT of friends to take me places. I wish that Southern cities, in general, were more accessible to other ways of getting around that don’t involve a car.

*It’s North Carolina. Seriously, every time I overheard two or more women my age having a conversation, it revolved around babies, day care, lactation counseling, husbands, the search for husbands, and biological clocks. Either that, or “Did you see what she’s wearing?”, “Look how tiny she is!”, and “My sorority sister just had this beautiful wedding…”. This drives me crazy in Atlanta, because I can’t relate in even the slightest, but is far more pronounced in North Carolina. I’m sure there are places in which the intellectuals, the free-thinkers, the hippies, and other “unconventional” folks hang out and talk about different things, but I had to restrain the urge to let the women of North Carolina know that feminism kicked in 50 years ago. I also ran into a contingent of perfect, blonde, blue-eyed Stepford Wives who I’m fairly certain mistook me for Lady Gaga. If I lived in North Carolina, I’m pretty sure I’d die alone with 50 cats. It and I just have different life philosophies. *lol*

*Pepsi. Yeah. Pepsi products are everywhere. When I finally went somewhere that sold bottles of Coke, I had that same feeling you’d get from discovering a 20 dollar bill on the street. I *hate* Pepsi. Enough said.

All in all, I have plenty of lovely things to say about the area, and will definitely consider a return visit in the future, on my way to NYC (talk about culture shock! *lol*). I felt pretty much the same way about Durham that I felt about Greenville, SC: that it seemed so contrary to my nature to find a place so small to be fun and charming. The thing that both places have in common is they both have downtown areas that are walkable and rapidly growing in terms of culture and restaurants/bars/coffeeshops. Both are decidedly un-corporate (unlike Atlanta and Charlotte), probably because the presence of academic institutions influences the culture more than large corporations. There’s something I really like about those kind of places; it’s why I largely dislike Atlanta, but find certain neighbourhoods, such as Decatur and L5P/Va-Hi to be places I could be happy living.

Maybe Seattle is more up my alley than I think….*laughs*

“I often think about
Where I went wrong;
The more I do,
The less I know.
But I know I have a fickle heart,
And a bitterness,
And a wandering eye,
And a heaviness in my head.”

—Adele, “Don’t You Remember?”

Today was yet another extraordinarily stressful day, waiting to see what’s going to happen to me with my apartment/living situation. I was initially quite encouraged, as the lady in the rental office made it seem as if it were a done deal….there just remained the technicality of getting my roommate and The Guy I Am Currently Dating to the leasing office at the same time to sign the paperwork.

The problems started when my roommate, who initially said he’d move out in 2 weeks, decided he wanted to leave in two DAYS. At first, he mentioned the possibility of driving all the way to Jacksonville, and then driving back to take care of the lease and pay me the almost $400 in back rent he owes me. I instinctively know this will not happen; if he leaves without taking care of things, he never will.

Now, of course, I’m terrified that’s precisely what’s going to happen…even though The Guy I Am Currently Dating is willing to put his name on the apartment for me, he can’t do so without my roommate being present to transfer things. They’ve set up an appointment with the lady in the leasing office to do this at 7 PM tomorrow night, but my roommate left nearly 12 hours ago and said “I know you’re stressed, but you need to have faith that I’m not going to leave without this being taken care of.” Of course I don’t, and it isn’t helping that he sent me a text saying he would be home late since he was “going to spend the night with a hottie”. In the many years we’ve lived together, he’s never done that, and either it’s the oddest timing ever…or my intuition is right to be distrustful. I just want this all taken care of so that I can cease feeling anxious about the future each and every day. :(

Yesterday, I mentioned I’d tell you the story of how I met a friend for the first time this past weekend; in fact, a friend who was really a stranger who turned out to be a friend. I’d know of this person and heard many stories about him over the years, as he was the roommate of one of my best friends while they were both at Berkeley. However, this guy and I were never friends; in fact, he advised my friend to kind of move past dealing with me and get over me when we had long periods of time that were filled with a lot of drama and emotion. In turn, I dismissed this guy as exceedingly judgmental, and formed a pretty solid idea, based on our contrasting characters, that we’d never get along. We were all in our early 20′s at this time (though me a bit later than the two of them. *laughs*), and as intelligent people in our early 20′s, thought we knew everything about everything. :P

Of course, when I went through some negative things in my life, my friend went to his roommate to share/vent about things I’d done, things that had happened to me, and his generally troubled emotional state. When this old friend and I would spend time together, and things wouldn’t go as well as planned, it was his roommate who would inevitably be around to listen to the drama. So, it wasn’t unreasonable to expect that said roommate had a certain picture of me that wasn’t altogether flattering, yet was aware that I had some charming and quirky attributes that made me an interesting person to get to know regardless.

On my end, I’d heard (and seen) that the roommate was the kind of person who was not only introverted and academic, but liked a certain amount of solitude, and disliked clingy or emotionally needy people. Meanwhile, I am the sort of person who can’t be alone for too long, but needs a certain amount of personal space, and also to be reminded that I am liked and admired on a regular basis. Logically, there was never any reason to assume we’d have cause to be friends.

Yet, somehow, we started talking, via Facebook and text, in a way that was very infrequent and somewhat impersonal. However, it seemed the more we started to talk to one another, the more I noticed similarities within the differences. 8 years after we’d first been made aware of the other person’s existence, I found out he was planning a tour to some of the Southeastern cities (he attends school in another Southern city, about 7 hours from here, so while it seems on the map we might be close, we’re really not…unless you’re on an airplane.) , and wanted to visit Atlanta.

The visit was interesting, as he changed his plans and abandoned a stay in Macon to meet up with me and some other people at a burlesque show. It was a good time, and he seemed interested in getting to know different people, but I didn’t feel we particularly clicked in any extraordinary way. It was more of the sort of thing that came off as, “You’re interesting enough, but there are people I might have more fascinating conversation with”. It also didn’t hurt that one of the members of the party was an extremely attractive young burlesque dancer; as I told a friend of mine, “Who am I to think most people I’d know would choose to talk to me over taking the opportunity to get to know a highly attractive burlesque dancer?” Yet, I am me, so I do of course think that…and was rather put off by that whole situation. When he left the festivities fairly early, I wasn’t even certain if we’d meet up the next day.

However, we did, and it appeared to be the case that we communicated much better and found one another more entertaining company in a one-on-one scenario. That’s not typically the case for me; I tend to feel less at ease around new people one-on-one, rather than in a group, unless I somehow feel a connection with them in some way. It’s the primary reason I have a horrible history of turning friends into lovers and vice versa; I just really need to feel drawn toward a person to spend any length of one-on-one time with them.

I certainly didn’t expect to feel that bond with my friend after the burlesque show outing, but was pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was to talk and laugh with him for hours. In fact, I believe I talked and laughed so much that I delayed his leaving town by several hours; long enough that he had time to meet The Guy I Am Currently Dating, and as expected, the two of them seemed to get on very well almost immediately.

Somewhere, between the hours of talking about everything and laughing at nothing, I realised this person with whom I felt I’d nothing in common and whom I sensed disinterest from upon our initial meeting was actually neither my polar opposite, nor indifferent to my friendship. One of the observations we made was that although we seem to take completely opposite routes to get a certain place, we seem to end up at the same destination. Although the way we live our lives in completely opposite ways and by almost opposing philosophies, much of who we are is fundamentally in sync. It’s a weird sort of synchronicity, that someone who not only doesn’t look at life through the same sort of world view and has opposing personality characteristics and ambitions, and is in fact someone who challenges you in some ways, can also be someone with whom you feel a connection.

Sometimes, I have a sense about people. I know a lot of people, but genuinely trust and connect with a select few, and it’s a largely intuitive process. Sadly, it’s why I don’t always spend as much time calling people up and asking them to dinner or if they want to see a concert or do whatever, and some people mistake me for unapproachable..or as an old friend of mine would term it, “aloof”. I am easy to get to know, but difficult to befriend. Yet, I often have an unmistakable sense when someone is the right kind of friend for me, and is put in my life’s journey for a specific reason.

I do not know the reason, of course, but I am glad for the odd way that life works out sometimes, by putting people in your path you never really saw being there. I have a strong intuitive sense that there will be another 8 years of either connecting, or mis-connecting, or both, in the future. And it makes me happy to have unexpectedly stumbled upon a person with whom I see a genuine friendship developing, either despite, or because of, the fact we continue to live a safe distance apart from one another. *laughs*

I will say, overall, I’ve had some of the most memorable experiences possible with meeting strangers, whether through friends or via the internet or whatnot. They aren’t ever people from across town, they aren’t ever people with whom I’d cross paths if not for synchronicity…and they have all either impacted my life a tremendous amount, are still an important part of my life, or both.

There’s something to be said for taking a risk or two, after all…*laughs*

On a final note, Gotye and Kimbra’s “Somebody I Used To Know” was briefly dislodged from my head for nearly 24 hours by a listen to Adele’s “21″. Today, it was put back, by friends pointing out that I’d gotten it stuck in their heads. :P It was solidified by a friend sharing this uber-funny video, which is a parody of a cover of the song. Even if you’d never seen the cover (I hadn’t, but watched it before the parody.), it’s great and worth a watch.

Parody On “Somebody That I Used To Know”