Alabama: Year One

It’s been such a year and I’d venture to say it has been the best one I’ve had so far. I am going to be in Alabama for another three years – one more year in Birmingham, then two years in Montgomery. I’m in a really positive place and am genuinely excited about the future, instead of mostly afraid of it, which is a really nice change of pace. Things between Edward and I are going great. I don’t know if I’ve ever been crazier about or more in love with him than I am lately. We got married in December and didn’t really expect it to change our relationship much, but it did. We thought we would still just be us, Kait & Edward, and in some ways we still are but something about the ritual of a wedding and the new labels of “married,” “husband” & “wife” changed things. It’s been a very positive change and we are very pleasantly surprised by it.

Edward just finished his first year of medical school and has started his summer research position. Being married to a medical student is not the easiest of circumstances but we are getting better and better at it. I get lonely when he has an especially busy week or month with school but I’m finally starting to make my own friends down here and building a bit more of my own life in Birmingham, so I am not as dependent on him for everything socially as I was before. I also learned something about myself recently – I have trouble telling the difference between boredom and loneliness, they feel almost the same to me, so staying busier actually keeps me a lot happier and less anxious. One of my new favorite things is this app I found where you can organize to do lists into folders and such and check things off the lists as you complete them. The app makes a very satisfying sound when you check an item off as done. I add things to it constantly as I think or remember things I could/should do then whenever I have time to spare I do something from one of the lists. It’s so simple but it’s made me a lot happier, more productive, less bored, less lonely, less anxious and just better at life.

I have become a hardcore coffee drinker.

I joke to Edward that I consider myself to be 70% artist and 30% housewife. I divide my days between creating and doing the apartment/life things. I used to HATE housework but I’ve realized the power of great audiobooks. The work gets done faster and kind of mindlessly because I am so lost in the story and it isn’t actually unpleasant at all anymore. So I’ve finally figured out that trick. I’ve been reading a lot too – real books, books on my Nook & audiobooks. “Life is so much better in a book haze,” as my old friend, Brittney Lewis, told me when we were talking recently.

Lately I’ve been very focused on photography but I heard an author I really admire speak today and it reminded me how much I love writing and how therapeutic and pleasurable it is for me (though admittedly sometimes emotionally exhausting). I’m not planning on chasing publication in the near future though. I have two independently published books out right now – one of some creative non-fiction I wrote when I was eighteen years old that doesn’t do much for me anymore and a book of poems and photographs. The first one was actually quite a project for me for a few weeks because I had gotten embarrassed about it when I was a freshman in college in 2010 and taken it off the market. Then this winter I found a used copy of it, decided it should be out in the world as a part of my origins and body of work even if I wasn’t very proud of it anymore, retyped the whole manuscript from the used copy I’d found because I did not have the original manuscript files anymore and republished it as a second edition. The book of poems was just a way to release the ghosts (literary sage burning), finally stop futzing around with old pieces and clear the space in myself to begin writing new things.

Lately I’ve also gotten really into essential oils and incense. I bought an instant camera and a bunch of film and have been experimenting with that. I’ve been playing with filming little videos on my DSLR (Francis) because that’s a new skill I want to develop. I’ve been teaching myself new things about Photoshop. I’ve become more interested in the stars and the cycles of the moon. I bought a deck of tarot cards that I fell in love with and have been slowly teaching myself how to read them. I’ve become even more of a gardener. Our apartment is filled with plants, they’re on almost every surface, that I tend to and our balcony is a little jungle of flowers, herbs and vegetables. I was proud of myself when I grew kale, lettuce, basil & cherry tomatoes that Edward and I were able to use in our cooking.

I’m working on a manuscript called Mercurial and plan, instead of publishing it like the others, to just record myself reading it in parts and share them online. I’m bored with independently publishing books for now and this plan makes writing feel like a fresh medium again. I like that people will have to hear my words in my own voice instead of their own.

I’ve also been keeping myself busy with my 365 Project and my new Magical Objects Series. I’ve done a bunch of photoshoots for clients and have been selling prints of some of my work.

There has been some really hard stuff with my family (meaning parents and siblings) but I am feeling less weighed down by it all then I used to get. Not my circus, not my monkeys – I have my own little life to live now.

Edward and I have gone on many adventures in the past year when he’s had a free weekend or a little time off from medical school. We went to a drive-through safari in Georgia where I loved the giraffes and deer but the petting zoo made me cry, checked out two different cave systems, Rock City, New Orleans as a little mini-honeymoon after the holidays (we went on a ghost tour and saw the grave of Marie Laveau!), visited the Great Smokey Mountains for the second time together and it was trippy because we were driving the same roads and but talking about how much had changed in our lives since the first time we’d been there almost exactly a year before, visited our old city of Saint Louis and went to the highest point in Alabama, which was beautiful.

I got a new tattoo this year, bringing my tally up to, I think, nine.

We got Sam, our great dane, shortly before Edward started medical school, I think we had just gotten him when I wrote that original post about our first month in Alabama, and he’s now a big, boney goofball who weighs 20 lbs more than I do, full of love, hilarity, annoyance, copious amount of drool and sweetness. Lena is doing well. Sam adores Lena but the feeling is not mutual. Lena liked being an only child. I had a beta fish for a while but then I accidentally killed him while trying to clean his bowl. I felt terrible about it.

Today Edward & I ran errands and hung out and did a little housework together because it is Saturday. I woke up three hours before Edward so I got a lot of my artist work done then. Tonight we are going to drive a ways out from the city to go stargazing then come home and drink some champagne.

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