I live in a very cool part of Athens called Normaltown, which I realize is a very silly and misleading name based on the information I just divulged about it being awesome. Normaltown is an amalgamation of all the best parts of the city: restaurants and architecture and music and history and industry and education and townies on bicycles. Sometimes when I’m sitting in my bed before 11PM in my sweatpants, listening to Katy Perry’s Roar on repeat… I think to myself "Wow I am so not cool enough to live here!" But then, before I know it… I am awoken by my neighbors’ free range chickens and I think… maybe it’s just a place where weird people live and so I fit right in. 

"Normal"town, I love you.

Because I am no good at going to the gym and don’t want to become a sedentary potato… I’ve started walking to work. In the midst of this new routine, I’ve discovered more and more lovely things about this neighborhood (see pictures above for visual evidence.) And of course, my walks wouldn’t be complete without a good playlist. 

I call this Friday Mixtape… The City Walkin’ And City Lovin’ Mix. Enjoy. 

++Subscribe and listen to all the Friday Mixtapes in one big awesome place

Y’all. You all. YALLLLLL. For real. Listen to me. 

My friend Karla is amazing and you should drop whatever you’re doing RIGHT NOW and go look at her stuff. Then buy her stuff. Then think in your mind how beautiful this will look in your house and wonder what it must be like to know Karla Pruitt. (It’s amazing.) 

Seriously, I am in love with these prints. I feel so honored to have gotten to take her portrait for her new site and I cannot WAIT to have these bad boys hanging on my walls. 

The Georgia On My Mind one just slays me. 

</end dramatic prose. just finished hanging out with teenagers. it rubs off on you, I tell ya.>

Life in the Classic City is good. It’s always good. But especially lately (see above :) . 

Spring finally decided to show up and my pasty white skin has started to look a little more alive. You can no longer see the veins through my translucent skin! JK. But seriously. 

Everyone’s always talking about spring as a time for renewal: new buds on the trees, out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new-spring-cleaning, fresh sunburns, long sunny days, the surge of vitamin d in the body… 

I’m always excited for spring and all it’s newness. But there’s a lot of scary newness/change on the horizon too… many of my friends are leaving Athens after this summer—- new jobs in DC and internships in Colorado, folks headed to the Big City and folks just moving on… 

And so with all this freshness is a sense of sadness for me too. This place that I love so much is facing so much change. I am facing so much change. 

It’s a little strange to be staying in the same place when so much is going to be different around me… but I’m excited to see where this crazy road of life is leading… 

Woof. 

Normally I’d be SO EXCITED THAT IT’S FRIDAYYYY but I am feeling very under-the-weather so I my enthusiasm is limited. Plus, I have a very big weekend ahead of me (bachelorette party! out-of-state friends in town! wedding! packing for a week at the beach! leaving for the beach!) 

All that said, if I can get through today, I think I can run on happy endorphins to make it through the weekend. Only time will tell. 

If the endorphins fail… there’s always music! Oh, and lots of meds. Here’s to surviving Friday and making it through the weekend AND PLEASE OH PLEASE DON’T LET THIS BE THE FLU RIGHT BEFORE THE BEACH… 

++All the Friday Tunes here!

I love Athens. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has spent any amount of time here to disagree with you. For some, it’s a kind of Neverland— a place that exists in memory as the hallowed ground on which the years 18-22 were joyously spent with cheap rent and flowing kegs and balancing research papers with afternoon naps and football games under a clear Georgia sky. For others, it’s an eclectic and creative haven, burgeoning with music and art and great food and more great food. It’s the land of a thousand coffee shops, bars, music venues, and places to brunch. But it’s a hard place to live, too. 

Hard in the sense that it’s transient. (I’ve talked about this before.) But it’s also hard because despite its cultural offerings and prevalent scene of academia, it’s a broken place. The poverty is astounding. The industrial and economic infrastructure is unstable. The city that is loved by so many is often left by so many.  Athens is able to remain a perfect snapshot in memory because if you don’t invest in the city, you never know its troubles, its depth, its bleakness. (People are like this, too, I think.)

I have felt (ever since I decided to stay here back in the summer of 2009 after graduating from UGA) a certain kinship with this place. Something holding me here. Some unfinished work or duty to remain in the city I love. I couldn’t exactly explain it, and many of my friends who served this place well and loved it just as I did moved on, beginning to love new places and new cities. We all did what we felt we needed to do. And I felt I needed to stay in Athens.

One of my best friends from college who now lives in Atlanta sent me a sermon a few months back from her church and said that she thought of me when she heard it. She and a number of my pals from UGA have grown to love Atlanta and many of them have “committed” to living in the city, probably forever. It’s not an easy thing to do when you’re a 20-something to say “This is my home. I am dedicated to its welfare. I am for the city.” especially when it’s so tempting to wander and explore and be transient and free and experimental*. The sermon, based on Jeremiah 29:4-8, was about establishing permanence, investing in infrastructure, and planning for a long and faithful work wherever the Lord sends you. And I think that’s what He’s doing with me here in Athens, with my friends in Atlanta, and a myriad of other people across the state, country, and globe. 

If you’re thinking about permanence, about your place in the world, about the brokenness of your city or your school or your town or your job… listen to this. Even if you’re reading this and are not a Christian… I urge you to listen.

Download Sermon: Renewal | Pastor Leonce Crump II

Every time he says “Atlanta” just swap it with your city. It probably applies. I could have written the whole sermon down, but here are some nuggets I found particularly helpful:

"You cannot will yourself to care about this city. The Holy Spirit has to break your heart for what breaks His."

"Pray that god would alter your heart so that you would not quit… that you would see the city the way He sees it and love it the way He loves it. And because of that, we seek its welfare so that it will reflect the glory of God."

"Jesus wants far more than your stuff or your money… he wants your whole heart."

*And it’s not that those things are bad. In fact, I’d argue that a certain amount of wandering and exploration and transience is a good thing, especially for the young and unattached. But what would it look like if we invested in our cities, cared about its people, and sought to make it a better place?

After living here for 8 years, I definitely have a long and thorough list of “The Best Things About Athens.” The short list would just be one line that reads “Everything.” 

Two of the things that grace that list occurred this weekend and I’m always captivated, year after year, by how much I love them.

First, the lights downtown. Years ago, while still magical and whimsical in their own right, the lights only lined the downtown street of Clayton. Recently, all of downtown is decked. The large, real Christmas tree on display out in front of City Hall is now flanked by thousands of the twinkling tree lights, a luminescent homage to the beautiful season of Good Tidings and Great Joy. 

The second thing is Lessons and Carols at Redeemer. A traditional Christmas service that’s been performed since the 1800s, the nine lessons and carols detailing the birth of Christ is truly an experience that words can’t do justice. Since it happened last night… mark your calendars for next year. For reals. 

Athens Christmas Bokeh. #heyyy #athens

Tis the season in the pretty little city. #athens #uga (at City Hall)

I made this print and put it on some cards for Thank You Notes a while back— everyone I sent them to loved them and some even wondered if I had the print in a larger format or poster-sized! Always a nice feeling! (oh stop stop you’re making my blush…)

In my flattered laziness, it’s taken me until now to get something up online, but you can now buy the Glory Glory print (in gray or black) for $18, printed at 11x17 on heavyweight archival matte paper. Plus, 15% off today with the code: 12DAILYDEAL3 

Perfect for a Christmas gift or recent/almost UGA grad or newly admitted pup! I have some other posters collecting dust on my harddrive that I might be uploading in the future, so stay tuned and… Go Dawgs.  

The Glory Glory Print is perfect for the home of any Bulldog fan. Simple enough to blend with most home designs, but bold enough to let everyone know who you’re cheering for on Saturday. Glory Glory and Let’s Go Dawgs!

Gets prettier around here every day! #athens #boulevard (at The Boulevard Historic District)

My pal Alyssa and her pal Natasha set out to give a guide to Athens for Design Sponge and oh, is it pretty. Pretty to look at thanks to the designs of Sarah Lawrence and pretty to read because all of the places and things they chose are such lovely places and things. 

Come visit! Come stay! Move here! Whatever it takes! I love my little city! 

sarahclawrence:

I recently worked with two lovely ladies from Athens to make a city guide for Designsponge.com, a modern ladies’ design mecca. Natasha and Alyssa compiled a list of their favorite places here and I pulled my favorites from the list to make a map of the downtown area. This is the third map I’ve done for Athens, and I love these! 

Pumpkin pancakes at Mama’s Boy for Pancake Tuesday. I could die. #foodcoma #athens #pumpkinallthethings (Taken with Instagram at Mama’s Boy)

Yes, the Digital Atlanta Conference has been filled with learning awesome things about the tech and digital world from interesting people in cool jobs. But there’s also just a lot of ATL Love… folks who love their city and want to see it succeed, prosper, and define what’s on the horizon for technology, creativity, and well, living well. 

I was a little afraid all this ATL Love Talk was going to make me want to move to Atlanta (which has long been my nagging, irrational fear.) And while I do LOVE the people and the food and the creativity that makes up that city… I’m not yet convinced it’s the place for me. In a way, it made me more passionate about living in Athens. 

Athens, if you’ve ever been here you’ll know, is this wonderful little micro-city that breathes and synthesizes a unique culture flavor. It’s at one moment this robust, yuppy, scholastic enclave and the next it’s a teeming, swirling hotbed of music, art, and entertainment.  The food, outstanding. The people, so strange and smart. The architecture, southern hospitality and walkable streets make it a beauty to behold. 

Despite all that, Athens lacks a lot of what could make it into a world-class city where people want to live forever and not just an amazing college town where people stay for a few years before moving on to something more permanent. 

Athens is a transient place. As a permanent resident, this is something that aches my heart continually. I meet new people often knowing that they are only here for a season… mostly because of being in school or the lack of diverse career options. Athens is a training ground because of the University… and one that often feeds our talented residents to the nearest Big City when the pickin’s get slim. 

Don’t get me wrong: people love Athens. Anyone who has ever lived here will forever save a small part of their heart that is the shape of The Classic City.  But how do we build a community here that people want to invest in before they leave for something Bigger and Greater just down the road? I don’t have the answers but I’m excited to think about them and what it could mean for my beloved Pretty Little City. 

Monday Love - Normaltown 


I’m a big fan of projects. My Myers-Briggs test indicated I am bad at follow-through, so giving tasks the title of “Project!” really helps get me motivated to stick with something. Probably some left over fear from grade school about not getting A’s or getting into college, but I digress. 

The new project I’m tackling is really two-fold. First, I just moved to a new neighborhood and am constantly discovering new things about the city of Athens because of said-move.  What I’m talking about here, people, is food (if I’m being honest.) I’ve lived in this city for 7 (holy guacamole) years and the fact that there are still things to discover is one of my favorite things about this little Slice-o-Heaven. So, I’m starting, along with some of my friends, to do a Normaltown Food Discovery Adventure.  If you live in Athens or have been here for a visit, I’m hoping to enlighten you on some hidden gems off the beaten path. 

The second part of the project involves t-shirts and you (and your friends.) I’m just going to leave that tantalizing little nugget out there until more of the details come together… so stay tuned. 

Normaltown Food Discovery Adventure, commence!