I’ve been a Jackson resident for a week now. I have a post brewing about all the differences I’ve observed so far between Mississippi, but it has grown so big that I keep putting it off. I’m working on doing more posts in bullets, snippets, or photos, both for your sanity and mine. Here’s a rundown of Week 1 in Jacktown. Even though I spent most of my time this week at home settling in, a lot happened:
• Splurging at Target to organize Darren’s former bachelor pad. It’s a work in progress, but the place already looks much, much saner. Pictures of the transformation to follow.
• Finding the best organic foods and green cleaning products that Jackson has to offer. One of the biggest sacrifices I made in moving to Mississippi from the Bay Area is giving up the wealth of healthy food choices, particularly organics. They’re harder to find in Jackson, but they do exist. There’s a local co-op called Rainbow (like my favorite grocery in San Francisco), and the big-box Kroger has a solid selection of organic produce. I can’t describe how elated I felt to put vegetable after organic vegetable into the shopping cart, especially after a southern fried wedding week in New Orleans. Ironically, I felt like a kid in a candy store.
• Taking three yoga classes. My friend Tara, whom I know through Darren, just was named one of Jackson’s best yoga teachers. I never thought I had the patience for yoga — I prefer more active exercise like running or kickboxing — but I feel so balanced after class that I’m getting hooked. Plus, Power Yoga actually makes me sweat.
• Making significant progress on Lost. To catch up on Seasons 3 and 4 before last week’s premiere of Season 5, I’d been watching an average of two episodes per day since Christmas. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a more specific goal that I’ve worked toward, and I’m hoping to apply this process to the rest of my life. Even though I’m advancing steadily, I didn’t make my goal of catching up before the premiere last Wednesday, so I was banished to another room for two hours while Darren watched it by himself. At the commercial break, he would peek his head into the room and say with big eyes, “THIS IS SO CRAZY.” I know that we will repeat this maddening scene on Wednesday, since I still have 12 episodes of Season 4 to watch. Lost has become a ritual to reward myself at the end of each day.
• Taking my first writing class since….I can’t remember. The Editor of the Jackson Free Press teaches classes in creative nonfiction that incorporates personal narrative into reporting. I can’t think of a better fit for me, and I signed up for the month-long series starting next week. Going to the introductory seminar felt like coming home. Writing is something I’ve always done but haven’t studied in-depth since high school (even though I’ve taught writing to many kids), and taking classes makes me a little giddy.
• Getting assignments from the Jackson Free Press (the JFP) for four articles and a handful of sidebars. The JFP is an award-winning alternative news weekly like the SF Bay Guardian or Village Voice. It’s an excellent paper that’s kind of a big deal around here. Darren headed up their graphic design for three years, so it’s been easy to connect with the staff and get my writing in print. I am dying to share the things that I’m writing about — because I feel compelled to share everything — but I have to wait until publication so I don’t “scoop” myself.
• Being welcomed to my new home by the Best of Jackson. The JFP’s Best of Jackson issue bestows reader’s choice awards on local businesses and individuals such as “Best Place to Go Off Your Diet” and ” Best Place to Drown Your Sorrows” was published the week. Seeing all the featured bars, restaurants, and activities featured in the issue made me excited to be part of the Jackson community. The Best of Jackson party, attended by several hundred people and known as the best party of the year, only reinforced the feeling that this city is where I’m supposed to be right now.
It’s early yet, but so far I’m really happy here. I’m sleeping more, eating better, and exercising more than I do on my own, and I’m so grateful for a partner who keeps an eye on my health when I don’t do it for myself. We cook, go for walks, and laugh a lot.
I still sometimes wake up anxiously at 5 a.m. worrying about how I’ll make a living, and how I’ll ever learn to structure my own time. But this morning I realized that I have two things that people can go their whole lives seeking: love and passion (for writing, psychology, food, people, new learning…the list goes on). Money is something that’s much easier to control, and I’m told that if you follow your passion, it will follow. Well, here goes nothing.