In the first week of this summer I received an amazing email from East Carolina University. I had been approved for my research grant that would allow me to travel to Atlanta GA to study neon glass bending at The Neon Company. I have always been fascinated with the glowing lights that pepper the skyline in most major cities. While researching for my grant application I discovered the slow and steady decline in places like The Neon Co due to the popularity of LED lights.
This saddened me and sparked a line of telephone calls across the east coast. Needless to say, not many places that were still doing Neon wanted a random 23 year-old-female insurance liability wandering around their sharp and dangerous workshops. So by the fourteenth phone call I was about to give up, until I spoke with Gregg Brenner. Gregg asked me “why the heck I would want to learn neon?” Essentially my justification boiled down to “I am a crazy graduate student and It sounds like fun+ I have never been to Atlanta” ( I will think of the big obnoxious reason for this work later, right now I just want to make glowing shit!) To which Gregg so eloquently replied…”Well sure, come on down”. Two weeks later, I was on my way!
The list of wonderfulness on my way down includes but is not limited to:
South of the border a kitschtastic summer wonderland where I finally was able to procure the holy grail of tackiness….a south of the border sombrero ash tray!
The Delorean below 88mph…
Traveling radioactive material.
AND a man in front of me at the drive through at taco bell paid for my crunchwrap supreme!
I am not sure if it was just my excited optimism, in going to a unknown city to learn a material that was altogether a mystery. Or the knowledge that for two short weeks I had allowed myself to relinquish control of my life and just be a gypsy on the hot streets of Atlanta. Whatever it was, it felt good to just be moving away from where I was towards who I would be. As the miles clicked away on my odometer I could feel the weight of graduate school, past relationships, missed opportunities and of course student loans start to lighten and finally float away. A solid eight hours of good music, munchies, and reflecting on how lucky you are to be where you are, surrounded by so many amazing people, prepared me for the undertaking ahead. I did not know where exactly I was going or what I would do when I got there, but I was certain of one thing, shenanigans were on the horizon. To be continued…
Stay tuned for Part two of said shenanigans in the coming days!