Sunshine, fog and love

Personal Narrative

I’m still waiting for the latest to sink in. Awareness comes in flashes, but it hasn’t quite settled in.

Maybe in a month? A season? I dunno. But seven days hasn’t been enough.

A week ago today Blue and I were married! I told him every day of our honeymoon it feels so surreal. I’m a wife now. And a stepmom. Wow.

Perhaps I’ll spend a few posts digging into these as I try these labels and responsibilities on for size.

The ceremony was short, sweet and intimate, and remains quite hazy in my memory. I was in a fog most of the proceedings, despite the clear, sunshiny day. Dina, our photographer, offered suggestions for poses and she had to repeat them all. I could hear her, but somehow she was talking to… someone else.

I didn’t feel nervous beforehand, despite the group of teenagers who walked by just before the bridesmaids went down the aisle. “Are you going to trip?” one asked. I’m sure I gave her my infamous side eye, but I responded with a shrug and something like, “who knows? I don’t plan to.”

When my uncle escorted me out the double doors, I found Blue and gave him the biggest smile. He matched it with his, waiting. I’d never experienced tunnel vision before that moment, but aside from the blur of guests standing, I didn’t see anything else. I wanted to get down the stairs safely and stand next to him, so I concentrated on that. Even the music – an upbeat tune from Earth, Wind and Fire – is hard to hear in my memories.

Friends and family posted a few snaps of us on social media, or emailed and texted us their faves. I’m floored to see them. That was US! We’re THEM! Each picture helps me recapture the moments I lost to the fog.

 

Tunnel vision.
Tunnel vision. Photo credit: Ray Gilstrap

 

Why cocostudio?

Personal Narrative

I can’t recall if Cean or John or figured it out first. We were high school classmates, and for one reason or another Cean I think (or maybe John) saw my name written out: Nicole Collier. Doodling or something, he noted the co in Nicole and the Co in Collier. In that instant, the nickname Coco was born.

It didn’t catch on. Well not really, anyway. People have always called me whatever suited them: Nicole, Colie, Nicolette, Lette, Nicki, Nic, and so on. Cean called me Coco and John called me NiCocoButterBeanSoup. Maybe one or two others jumped on the Cocowagon. Everyone else stuck with whichever version of Nicole they liked.

I thought coco was cute in print, so I began to write it everywhere.

Somewhere in the middle of the AOL and Geocities explosion, when everyone’s website had animated .gifs and embedded music, I taught myself basic HTML and built the first version of cocostudio. It was black with turquoise and white letters. And yes, music was embedded (Joe Sample).

Fast forward to graduate school. I wanted to try my hand at my own domain. So in November of 1999, a month before I was due to graduate, I bought cocostudio.com. It served as a portfolio site as I interviewed for teaching jobs. It was yellow then, with cheerful colors.

Over the past 14 years it has been an electronic resume, a clearinghouse for photographs and clips, a calling card for freelancing, even a journal of sorts, before blogging became a thing. Many times I’ve archived everything and started from scratch – sometimes promising and postponing relaunches for up to two years at a stretch.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 4.13.05 PM
One of my “coming soon” promises. John designed this logo. You may see it again one day…

I think I’d been nearing the two-year mark this time around, but here we are. Too many times I’ve let perfect be the enemy of good. And honestly, I’ve often let it be the enemy of progress. But this year is about action, vibration, movement. Building.

What’s in store for you?

Revelations

Personal Narrative

Every Valentine’s weekend, the magnificent dancers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater command center stage at the fabulous Fox. I’ve gone perhaps once every five years or so since I was a little girl. I don’t remember much about my first show other than I was there with my mom and one of her friends, and I was quietly awed about what I’d seen.

Since then, each time I’ve returned, the beauty, power and magic of Revelations is what I most long to see. Years I don’t go, I pacify myself with YouTube.

When I’m lucky, I find older videos, sometimes 20 years old, and watch them alongside the newer ones. The dancers’ athleticism and grace, and the pictures they create on stage are awe-inspiring.

Last year I hadn’t moved back to Atlanta by the time AAADT came and went. Still, I was disappointed I didn’t go to a show. I missed them. It’s been too long, I told Blue. I’m turning 40 next February. I have to go see Ailey next year. An early birthday gift.

Fox AileyThis year, just in time for the second great thaw of 2014, we went! I have rotating list of favorite things, and Revelations has a permanent place in the top five. I’m not alone:

More people have seen Revelations than any other modern dance work, and it has been enjoyed by over 23 million people in 71 countries across six continents.

If you have the opportunity to experience Ailey in general and Revelations in particular, don’t miss it.

No School, No Lunch

Education, Politics, News & Notable

From NPR: When cold snaps and blizzards shutter schools, kids miss more than their daily lessons. Some miss out on the day’s nutritious meal as well.

Blue and I talked about this when the metro area shut down two weeks ago. Some folks were home when horrendous traffic and inclement weather collided in Atlanta, but thousands of others ended up stuck in the worst jam they’ve ever experienced.

People slept in their cars or abandoned them and hoofed it to nearby friends, restaurants and stores. But there were hundreds of students who had no such options – instead, they ended up at school over night when their buses were unable to maneuver the slick hills home.

For many parents, this may have been a nightmare. Many, but perhaps not all. For a few, knowing their child is at school with access to heat, running water and food, might be a comfort.

Over half of Georgia’s students live in poverty. I was a classroom teacher in what was then a middle class section of metro Atlanta. Even so, there were students who couldn’t always bathe at home and used makeshift facilities at the school, students who would’ve been cold without the socks, blankets and coats donated, or who were hungry but for free breakfast and lunch. We were never quite sure about their dinner. This was in the early 2000s and the poverty rate has increased since then.

So here we are, a mere two weeks away from the last winter storm, and kids are once again out for several days in a row. Parents with the resources to stockpile groceries did so, as evidenced by the numerous pictures tweeted from throughout the metro area earlier in the week. But still we wondered: What about parents who can’t afford take off work and are still expected to go? What about those who can’t stock up on food?

Summer Lunch
Hunger isn’t relegated to winter. When school is out for the summer, many students go hungry without community support. Growing up, I spent a good portion of my summer break in Savannah. In the afternoons, a truck would pull up to the park across from my grandmother’s house, and a throng of kids would crowd around. What are they doing? I remember asking once. Getting lunch, she explained. Grandma didn’t elaborate aside from explaining it was a special program and we already had lunch here. But given what I now know about some of the demographics of the area, I wonder if it was a free lunch program.

As The Washington Post has reported, one program in Tennessee retrofitted a bus carrying sack lunches and delivered free meals to kids in impoverished areas.

With Georgia’s slick, hilly roads, and kids who simply don’t have the wardrobe to brave the elements, we understand why schools and businesses close. But those in other quarters do wonder if keeping schools open isn’t the better response:

When schools close because of extreme cold, especially in areas where many families struggle to pay for heat as well, Alexander wonders whether closing schools is the best way to go.

“It seems to me the best place to be is in school,” she says. “At least we can get the kids a hot meal.”

Read the NPR article here.

Where to?

30 Day Blog Challenge

So I’m moving, that much is clear, but it seems the where to is a great deal muddier. The short answer is, back home. It’s second nature to call Atlanta home, since that’s where I was born and raised, but honestly, I feel funny about it. In the technical sense, it is or was home, but as I wrote in November:

What is home, exactly? A place or a moment that resonates. It’s gathering of old friends around a good game of Taboo. A visit to the tried and true corner barbershop one Saturday morning.  Sometimes home is less fleeting. It’s a city where sunshine runs rampant. A house you’ve built with your partner. Whenever, wherever your heart feels welcomed and your spirit feels at ease, is home.

Moments and people in Atlanta resonated that way, but as a city, Atlanta never felt like home. At the time I penned that post, I felt pulled to leave this place, despite the fact I am definitely home here. It seems I was in Tampa for a reason and a season, but not a lifetime; and here at the dawn of Spring, it’s time to make a new start in an old haunt.

4 days. #countdown

NaBloPoMo March 2013

 

Looking forward.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative

A funny thing happened on the way to work. No, not really. But I needed a way to start today’s blog post, and, why not? Nothing to make you chuckle, but I did find today worthy of note…

As I drove through the more rural areas of Tampa Bay, I was greeted by canopy trees! If you’ve never spent time in Tallahassee, Florida, you may not be familiar with the canopy roads. These are long streets lined on either side by huge oaks dripping with Spanish moss. They hang over the roads like umbrellas, providing shade for the passing motorists. Canopies! And although the sight in Tampa Bay did not approach that glory, it was lovely to see the familiar splendor.

It reminded me of Tallahassee, yes, but also of St. Pete which has its own share of mossy oaks, and of my first love away from home – Savannah. Memories of Savannah summers are incomplete if they don’t include the endless sightings of Spanish moss. And just like that, I had fond memories of Georgia, and found myself looking forward (finally) to the move.

7 days left. #countdown