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Archive for the ‘Atlanta’ Category

Some 30 years after my introduction to the sultry musical magician known as Prince, I finally got to see him in concert.

It would turn out to be his second-to-last performance.

Prince

Prince hit the airwaves with Purple Rain when I was 12 years old and newly “into” music, and I saw the movie at a friend’s 13-year-old birthday party. Not to go all get-off-my-lawn on you, but 13-year-olds were less world-weary back in those days, so Prince’s overtly sexual performances and offstage antics in that movie were eye-opening for us, a group of relatively sheltered girls in South Mississippi.

Suddenly, guys who could dance were HOT (Dirty Dancing was still three years away). Guys who wore skintight jumpsuits, high-heeled boots and ruffled blouses were HOT.

I say guys here, but I really mean just the one guy. Sure, we had David Bowie on the charts already, but he was still two years away from his turn in Labyrinth, another movie that illustrated the utter hotness of guys who danced in skintight pants, high-heeled boots and ruffled blouses.

Prince sang about sex in ways that even 13-year-old girls sensed were more empowering than creepy, more poetic than dirty.

For example, this passage from When Doves Cry starts out as a well-crafted poem, then turns erotic:

Dream if you can a courtyard
An ocean of violets in bloom
Animals strike curious poses
They feel the heat
The heat between me and you

I could go on – the man had SO MANY songs.

I can only say that Prince’s April 14 concerts were pure magic – even though I was only able to go to the first, everything I’ve heard assures me that the second was just as good, if not better.

When I learned it was only going to be Prince and a piano on the stage, I briefly worried. It sounded very Las Vegas, very gimmicky.

I had faith that Prince wouldn’t do gimmicky, however, and I was right.

From the moment he stepped onto the stage, emerging from a cloud of fog, I went pure fangirl. Understand, I’ve seen A LOT of concerts, and never have I spontaneously high-fived strangers, screamed uncontrollably and danced with no thought of remaining inside of my own personal body space.

This is what it must have been like to see The Beatles in 1964.

He looked and sounded amazing. He didn’t have to adjust his songs down to meet any reduction in vocal capacity, a trick that I’ve seen other older singers use. His voice had lost absolutely no range over the years.

I came out of the Fox wanting an album filled with Prince singing his songs accompanied only by his own piano-playing. There was nothing Vegas about it – every song was pure feeling and talent. He could have sung it all without the piano and it would have suffered little.

I almost didn’t go. We missed the initial ticket sale and were already slated to be out of town on the original performance date. Had he not postponed his shows by a week, we wouldn’t have been able to go.

Thirty years. That’s a mighty long time.

And it was worth every minute.

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panniers

Maybe it’s a character flaw, but to be inspired to walk, run or bicycle, I need a destination.

That destination may be somewhat impractical – this is the time of the year, for example, when I try to talk the husband into strolls through the back, sorta swampy part of Piedmont Park, in hopes of spotting snakes. I’ve also had a bit of success getting him to stroll to the dog park, even though we have neither dogs nor any intention of getting dogs.

My go-to destination since we moved to Atlanta has been Trader Joe’s. It’s just within walking distance, although it’s a tad far in really cold or really hot weather. The parking lot is impossible to negotiate most of the time, however, and I would walk twice as far to avoid the ridiculous process of stealthily driving around trying to spot someone leaving. (Yes, there is overflow parking in the back lot by the movie theater, but it comes with its own set of problems, namely aggressive drivers who are angry that they were forced to use the overflow parking lot.)

But the walk is a slog, time-wise, 20-something minutes each way, with refrigerated items suffering in the sun all the way home on hot, sunny days. Not to mention my tendency to suddenly remember that I need 3 pounds of apples AND 3 pounds of potatoes, adding unplanned weight to the bags.

My rarely-used bicycle was, of course, the answer, but the only suitable bag choice, my reliable black JanSport book bag, didn’t hold very much, left a big sweat stain on my back and made the ride home less than enjoyable.

Finally, the husband remembered than panniers were a thing, and we were soon ordering bags and a rack from Nashbar. The Townie was our bag (technically basket) of choice, and we chose the Axiom Journey bike rack to hang it from.

The verdict? So far, so good. The bags hold a little more than I usually get during a standard shopping trip, and the three attachment accessories (hooks, Velcro and a bungee cord) mean they don’t bounce around too much, even with filled with groceries. As you can see, I forgot to bring bags to put inside the bags during the excitement surrounding my first trip with the new setup; the Townies are especially sturdy when the groceries are secured inside another bag and, therefore, aren’t bumping around inside.

The travel time to Trader Joe’s has been reduced to a mere 10 minutes, provided I catch the light at 10th and Monroe the right way, and go full speed down every available hill (which, of course, I totally do). The trip back takes a couple of extra minutes – you can’t go downhill on both parts of the journey, after all, and no matter how well-balanced the load is, it still adds weight to the ride.

All that time saved means more time to look for snakes and watch dogs. And I haven’t even mentioned the chipmunks.

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When we moved out of the house in Huntsville, I left my “china cabinet” behind. An IKEA shelf-turned-cabinet via the addition of a few doors, it was still in great shape (although mysteriously unphotographed), but entirely too heavy to move. Taking apart IKEA products seems inadvisable, especially products with hinges because, man, those things are hard to get right the FIRST time.

Thus, my favorite sunflower-patterned plates and bowls have been trapped in storage for the past year because buying furniture is THE WORST. Last month’s storage room flood destroyed one of my boxes, however, so the need to unload everything became a little more urgent.

Another trip to IKEA, another shelf-turned cabinet. This time we went for wide instead of tall, and chose a design that required six tiny doors instead of two or four larger ones. The hinge installation actually went pretty smoothly after we got a rhythm going – we almost went for eight doors, but figured out the liquor bottles were pretty attractive on their own.

Is it going to be too heavy to move? Oh yeah. But at a price of around $150, I can afford to pass it on in a couple of years if necessary. Our building has a healthy IKEA-reselling network, and not feeling obligated to move heavy furniture all over the place makes me extremely portable.

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I don’t know what to do with the two tins of cat ashes sitting on my top shelf.

I never intended to keep them forever — I’m not exactly an ashes-on-the-mantel kind of girl. I couldn’t WAIT to get my dad’s ashes out of the house, heading to New Orleans to scatter them in the Mississippi River as soon as I could after they arrived in the mail.

In. The. Mail.

IMG_0205

And it’s not like I want to scatter them someplace where I can return in reverence year after year — if I want to remember my cats, I can remember my cats anywhere.

I have two tins of cat ashes only because I thought that I should scatter Yin and Yang at the same time. They were together pretty much 24-7 for more than 14 years, after all.

We lived in a quite nondescript subdivision when they showed up, then moved to another subdivision, then moved to yet another subdivision before heading to Atlanta, where I don’t even have a potted plant, much less a yard or a garden. Besides, one of the reasons for moving to Atlanta was so we could be mobile, so it’s not like this place is necessarily going to be “home” forever.

In other words, I have manufactured a relatively rootless existence for myself, with no appropriately resting place for beloved pets. Dilemma.

They’re cool hanging out on the top shelf for now, I’m sure. There’s no higher spot in the condo, save for the top of the kitchen cabinets, which, I have to admit, they would have found a way to climb onto during their glory days.

Maybe this is one of those solutions that hits you out of the blue, like realizing that you can wear the same dress at the Monday-night conference reception AND on Wednesday so you won’t have to pack so many outfits.

I just want it to hit me: The cats would LOVE it here. Let’s go get the ashes.

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Clockwise from top left: triple chocolate cake (probably), peach sliders, salted caramel cake.

When people in Atlanta learn about my love of a good doughnut, they invariably give me a knowing look and say, “Oh, you HAVE to go to Sublime Doughnuts.”

So I did. Meh. They seemed like doughnuts that were trying too hard. I know it seems weird to say that a doughnut is too sweet, but those doughnuts were way too sweet.

Luckily, my doughnut salvation appeared in the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival’s tasting tent. The Revolution Doughnuts table was freshly out of peach sliders, but the reps were on board for doughnut chat, complete with a knowledgeable sidebar on our favorite New York breakfast haunt, the Doughnut Plant.

A couple of weeks later, we made the 15-minute journey to Decatur.

The peach sliders? Everything a fruit-themed doughnut should be, and more. The fruit was fresh and deliciously sweet, while the doughnut itself was rather neutral, allowing the peach flavor to shine.

My other selection was the salted caramel, which offered a nice balance of a slightly salty icing over a delicately textured, sweet (but not too sweet) cake doughnut. The husband chose (I think) a triple chocolate cake doughnut, which was delightfully chocolatey without going overboard.

You might think we spend every Saturday morning in Decatur now, but doughnuts are a sometime food. Plus, the line at Revolution Doughnuts isn’t exactly inviting; a 20-minute wait in Georgia’s summer sun does not exactly whet the appetite.

We’ve decided that all future visits will be to-go orders; the chaos of such a small dining area (you have to cross the children’s play area to reach the coffee station, a seemingly dangerous path while holding a cup of hot java) isn’t conducive to a relaxing breakfast.

Plus — sorry Atlanta — people-watching in New York City is way more interesting.

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photo

I’m not a person who gets attached to things – I have spent a great deal of effort trying to free myself from the tyranny of stuff, to make my household easier to maintain, enjoy and, if necessary, uproot. There were really only two pieces of furniture that HAD to make the move to Atlanta: My grandmother’s awesome spice cabinet and the Swedish-design kitchen table the husband and I bought before we were even married (the table isn’t so much an emotional attachment as an awesomeness attachment – it’s extendable via two inserts that stay underneath the table until you gently pull the two ends out, revealing a six-top in place of the previous four-top).

So I’m as surprised as everyone else to find myself unwilling to give up my nearly-11-year-old car, Pica.

I find myself comparing him to an old pair of jeans: I slip into his seat and everything just feels right.

He’s only got a little over 80,000 miles on him, which I like to imagine makes him a tween in car mileage years. And he had some tween problems this summer: We just paid an enormous amount of money for a new AC compressor (I would argue that making it through 10.5 brutal Southern summers is enough for one poor little compressor) and new bushings, among a couple of other minor fixes.

It was a bill that was high enough to justify keeping him for at least another 8 months. Or so goes my argument.

If (when) I have to buy another car, I’ll buy another Mini. They’re the perfect size for driving around Atlanta, and they’re laughably nimble in parking garages.

They’re also super fun to drive.

Pica’s biggest negative in the city is his six-gear manual transmission. He rarely sees the interstate anymore, meaning that the short slog to work involves shifting from first, second and third, back to neutral for the next red light, then repeating. I don’t mind, really, but he’s probably going to work his way through a clutch at some point, and real transmission problems could signal the end of arguable financial benefits to keeping him.

Of course, I’m also averaging less than 50 miles a week, given my extremely short commute and the weekend walkability of our neighborhood. It somehow seems stupid to trade him in for something newer that will travel less than an average of 250 miles a month, the occasional road trip not included.

Although his interior is in great shape (the second rule of Mini Club is you never eat or drink in your Mini), save for a few mysterious bumps and scratches on the glove compartment door (get your act together, rogue passengers), his rear trunk emblem has started to flake. I think it’s quite fetching, like a cool scar, so it stays. Also, we all know that it’s bad luck to start fixing small cosmetic details on a really old car.

Face it: new upholstery = new water pump. Science.

So, Pica stays in the picture. For now, and for the foreseeable future in which I keep coming up with valid let’s-keep-him arguments.

You’ll pry his keys from my still-warm yet extremely sad fingers.

 

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So … it’s been awhile. I’m back in Atlanta, this time with the husband and the cat, and I’ve returned to the job that I loved but had to leave last year to return to Alabama.

Everything is pretty awesome, overall.

We’re renting a two-bedroom condo in a very walkable part of the city. I can’t walk to work, mind you, but I can walk to a huge park in addition to several grocery stores, museums and restaurants. We have so many entertainment options that I barely know where to begin.

It’s the life-changing adventure that I wanted last year, but I guess I was too early.

Best news: Yang, pictured above, settled right into his city digs. I was afraid he would be too high up to really see anything, but it turns out that he likes to watch the cars driving around below. At night, he perches on his cat condo and watches the city lights, near and far.

Snowmageddon arrived on the third day I was here; like any survivor of multiple hurricanes, however, I was prepared. I stocked up on groceries well before the snow started falling and kicked back to watch the traffic build (I didn’t start work until this week). The husband faced a two-hour commute instead of his usual half hour, but once he was home we unpacked, caught up on “Justified” episodes and drank a lot of coffee (me)/hot chocolate (him). We attempted a romantic walk in the snow, but our trek was foiled when the snow quickly turned to slippery ice. That’s just how snow rolls in the South.

I feel like I’ve finally found  my home planet — not Atlanta itself, per se, but an escape from Suburbia.

This is huge. This is FUN.

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