August 26, 2005

fine, i'll prove it.

for the skeptics:


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dear mom:

i shaved my head just now.

i've never felt my own scalp before. it was time we were introduced.
there's nothing quite like starting over again.

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August 25, 2005

i am a cyborg...who is about to again make coffee.

i'll bet you didn't know, but this is truly who i am:

meanwhile, i made the phonecall i have put off for a few weeks. i called my old manager from starbucks, the one i worked at last summer. i asked for a job. he said okay. next week, i will rejoin the workforce once again as barista extraordinaire.

...i am ambivalent about this, honestly. while i am delighted to be making a wage again, it's always a little humbling to go back to something from which you thought you had moved on. you know?

however, i can truthfully say that i have missed working with my hands, getting coffee grounds underneath my fingernails, and chumming with the regulars. the work fits me well. on the best days, it feels like the gospel, because starbucks regulars rarely have interaction with other human beings. they are corporate usa, and their fuel is caffeine. i am their moment of human contact some days. i like to engage the busy in that moment when they pause (take out their check card, and wait for their drink).

on the worst days, i am a cog, and i want to tell said regulars to fuck off with their 3/4 decaf triple venti sugar free vanilla soy no foam extra hot latte. in a double cup.

let's hope i can keep a zenlike perspective as i dust off the old green apron.

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August 18, 2005

look what we got:

a brand new car!

2005 hyundai elantra with double digit mileage. fresh off the truck. just a baby.

she is zippy and sexy, full of hatchback goodness.

goal of the day: i must learn how not to stall on hills. especially in morning traffic.

i have learned that people don't like it when your zippy, sexy new car sits in the center lane, grunting at a green light. i am pretty sure they weren't honking for jesus this morning.

helen says i drive a 5 speed like i am 15. though i yell at her for this, because i want to drive like james bond, i know it is true. i'm honing my skills, however, and if i don't burn out the clutch (covered in the 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty), or wear out the tires from all my peeling out (also covered), i plan on becoming a fabulous driver by this afternoon.

for the record, i am not a perfectionista.
(but i may become a barista again soon.)

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August 13, 2005

nearly a year

a story untold could be the one that kills you.
-pat conroy

about a year ago, i checked myself into a psychiatric hospital. i wrote about it, indirectly last september. and now, a year later, i want to tell the story as i journaled it privately, in the hope that others like me can find a bit of revelation. or solace. empathy.

24 august 2004, 1 am

tonight, i am in the psyc ward of centennial hospital. i do not know what i am doing here, ultimately, or how this is going to make anything better, but. here i am. wearing a wristband. strip searched. drawstrings cut from my pants. i have spent the past four hours answering endless questions: do i have a suicide plan? do i want to hurt anyone else? etc. surreal does not describe it all...

i don't have the reserves anymore (to cope with just the daily fidelities...). it feels melodramatic to say that. and i know that my eyes are going to be widely opened upon interacting with the other patients. why are you here, anne? because your inconsolable outburst yesterday could have been your end. this, whatever it is, is a conscious choice to become well.

i want to shed my past. i want to simply become the woman i am becoming. i want to not fear that my life will kill me. and for now, i shall shower. "you'll have a lot to write about when you leave here," the hospital receptionist said. i know.

day one.
i'm propped up on my bed, awaiting kathy, my assigned nurse. she is bringing the klonopin. my eyes are shifty this morning, and i am nervous, overwhelmed. i am surrounded by such a sad group of peers. but the sun is shining through the closed blinds anyway, and so i am staring at its shadow on the floor. sleep came difficult last night, as m., my comatose roommate, snored and coughed loudly all night, making me shake.

this morning started early, 6 am. they drew blood from me, took my morning vitals. and then it was breakfast, and the two cigarette rationed smoking break. i met with my psychiatrist, dr. o., who asked another round of questions. he has assigned me the task of writing my life story in eight pages for my next appointment tomorrow morning.

since then, i have been zoned on klonopin. i've napped awhile...i think it is starting to storm outside. there is much writing to do. i should begin, i guess. more later.

25 august 2004
day 2.

am i really still here? much of yesterday is a klonopin haze, with cigarette breaks as reference points. i met with my care coordinator, my social worker, and nurse. kevin and becca came to see me. by early evening i was feeling really withdrawn. there is only so much a girl can take when surrounded by hopelessness. part of me wants to be the encourager of the inmates, the comic relief. oh, but that is the role i always take, isn't it? i get to put aside the whole reason i'm here. i can't do that right now. i may feel selfish for being so me-centered here, but this is about getting well again.

i rolled out of bed to meet with dr. o. this morning. the man holds nothing back. after reading what i'd written of my life (which wasn't much...), he said he thought i have a strong sense of ideals. i agree. he said that i mention peace a lot, but not love. i'm not exactly sure what to do with that.

26 august 2004
day 3.

today, i feel anxious, but i am immensely grateful for the light in this room, for crazy j. and his generosity with the gauloises. i'm living for the smoke breaks, for the chance to feel sun and wind, to see stars and the moon. every break is the evidence of time passing, of a few hours closer to my release from this place.

the days are a haze, and yesterday was a long nap. i'm interacting more, though, having spoken with my mother. the daughter in me over-ruled the mom-protector. and i called from the social worker's office. i told her i was here, and tried to explain why. she was calm...

by this time tomorrow, i'll be back in the real world, with all its cares at hand. but. for now, i'm still here, still watched and restricted. protected, ultimately. i'm trying to remain calm, to take in this whole experience, and leave a little more whole. dance of the dissident daughter has been a constant companion. sue monk kidd's journey--her leveling--is so much my own. the descent. the reseeding. all of it. i am being born again, i think.
in this sleepy place, i know a little bit about the hand of God. and sparks of wonder, of life after death, are still living in my belly.

i am so quick to create my symbols, come to my conclusions. but. i feel something different welling up inside me. something like a new season.

[finally, the entry i wrote two days after my release from the hospital. i had gone to sewanee, tn, with charley, to have a time of decompression in a cabin on a bluff, before heading back into my life. of having to explain my absence to my friends.]

29 August 2004
The deck.

The morning is a Sunday sunny breeze. Charley and I woke up early, and watched the slow mist dissipate over the hills. A grey morning has burst into a fullblown sunny day. The wind sings change: autumn is coming, and the trees are holding onto their green for just awhile longer now. Everything is in its right place: the clouds swim gently across the sky, and Charley is lying by my side. I’ve got Jolie Holland singing through the window and this is church.

I’m trying to breathe in the day, to prepare for re-entry. The dog and I will be leaving soon, as soon as the incense burns out. Nag champa is the scent of Sundays with Helen, like two weeks ago, when we opened all the windows, and she made me a steak. A lovely day.

I’m reading all about the pre-Christian labyrinth right now, about how it is a threaded journey into the womb: a death and rebirth. Helen and I walked that labyrinth, remember? We sat in the middle together awhile. I knelt facedown; she lifted her face, sitting lotus. But we met at center. We’re reaching, holding out for the life that calls our names. “Come and live,� it says. “Be born.� We are women who bear the weight of the world on our shoulders, and I pray that there comes a time when we can lay it all down.

As I typed, a hummingbird visited briefly. A goodbye before I even said hello. Charley didn’t notice.

What is the day saying to me? it says breathe, I think. Make your decisions, and your peace with them, and live your life. I’m slowly letting go of Nashville. I’m preparing to leave. I’m preparing to venture out of the safe borders of evangelical Christianity. My heart left a while ago. My body is catching up. I do believe in God. I do believe in God within without. I believe God is breathing in the trees, swimming in the skies, lying next to me. My fingers tingle to write my whole heart, uncensored: that it is MotherGod whom I need now, the one whose lap I am welcome to lie in and become whole. I dreamt of that as I lay in my hospital bed during the close-blinded sunny afternoons. Ah, there is my hummingbird again. Here and gone.

I cannot help but think that Charley is the Holy Spirit canine incarnate. She does not leave my side (except for her romps in the woods), and I laugh wholeheartedly at her energy and joy. She is learning so quickly the commands to sit and stay, lie down. Good dog. She dances for treats, spins like a dancer. My graceful pup. She is on this journey with me. She is the one who tromps along with me.

There are stories in my heart to be told. I will survive this season of poverty, somehow. I will return to Starbucks tomorrow. I will resume my life. I will walk forward. I’ve got to let go of what has passed.

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August 12, 2005

when a girl cannot sleep.

i awoke at 5 am this morning, after tossing and turning for hours. the night previous was an epic nightmare of kidnap and murder of one of the children in my family.

the violence was nauseating.
the evil, palpable.

last night, i prayed for peaceful rest, like my mom taught me when i was little.

lord, keep anne warm, healthy, happy, and safe. give her dreams from you...

last night, i didn't dream.
when i woke up, i couldn't stay in bed.

so i put on a pot of coffee, and moved outdoors to the patio, where i sit now. charley is lying against the glass door, sleeping, her face pressed against the pane. she is snoring. the glass around her nose is foggy and wet. my guard dog.

now is that moment when the night sounds mingle with a brightening sky. the clouds are pinkening, and the sky behind them is a sleepy morning blue. trees are still in the humidity, and already i am sweating.

yet i am peaceful in this particular moment; the answer to a mother's prayer, one that stretches out across time to hold me from childhood to the uncertainty of now.

my mother sang rockabye after nightly childhood prayers.
when the bough inevitably broke every night, and the cradle fell, baby never came all the way down; the cradle did not crash into the ground. instead, my mother sang:

when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and jesus will catch you, cradle and all.

it's a long way down.
but my faith is still in the hope of the catching.

i'm my own little holden caulfield this morning, aren't i?

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August 11, 2005


alright, so i am well aware of how ridiculous it is to have:

two dogs
three cats
one turtle
one fish
one snail a condo.


i'll bet you can't blame me when you see how absolutely adorable they are today.

jesse and chloe.

lucy singing "ave maria".


claira and jesse.

and now, i am off to an interview. a job interview.

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August 6, 2005

amateur photoshopper

if i were in northern ireland today, it would look something like this:

castlerock copy.jpg

kevin and josh would be there.
charley would have climbed a cliff to try to play with chloe the kitten.
saint columba would be enjoying a cool glass of water and perhaps a marlboro light. i would have a sticker of jude, naturally, and a fancy decal of helen.

*photos courtesy of a website about saints, curtis, helen, [jp/p], and me.

/too much time on my hands today.

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time and days

saturday morning. it's after 11 already. i've spent the past hour or so in wonder of banksy, and his latest hijinks in the west bank. brilliant.

humidity has held time still for the past few days. there was a break in the morning yesterday, as i awoke to the remnants of small storms. the morning was drizzly and cool, and i drank 3 cups of french pressed coffee on the porch, as helen slept.

helen sleeps now, even. she's been asleep since thursday, when another migraine took her down. the medicine doesn't work. she is a zombie. a doctor visit yesterday concluded with plans for an MRI next week, and steroids to quell the pain in the meantime.

for now, we wait. she sleeps. i pace around the house, wanting to make it better. i drink copious amounts of coffee.

how could we have known how drastically our lives would change on may 19, when her bike collided with the stupidity of the austin water department?

oh time, heal the headaches.

we are awaiting new helmets for our new bicycles: yellow skull caps with the virgin of guadalupe on the back. we will be conspicuous, and hopefully protected by the holy decal.

i wish there were more stories/news/witty repartee to report from over here, but it's a cabin-crazy sort of quiet. my self-imposed unemployment must end something like immediately, and i am at a loss over what to do with myself. it's the proverbial quarter life malaise, i'm guessing. (throw in a few whispers of depression, and i'll be on the couch, drooling.)

i worry.
i shouldn't, but i do.

about helen's recovery.
about the debt collectors.
about needing to defer grad school for a semester.
about losing my faith.
about the $800 i have to fork out for a crown. [oh yes, i managed to crack a molar this week--while chewing soft crust pizza.]

that should about cover it for today.

huh. suddenly jon foreman is singing in my ear: we were meant to live for so much more.

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August 1, 2005

against all odds

the weather in austin (or, as some call it: hell's rental space), always seems to beat the odds.

today, like every summer day, the heat is stifling. the thermostat lingers near the 100 degree mark. the dogs sleep on their backs in the air conditioned living room. and i sweat.

we watch the news. the 10 day forecast is always the same: 20% chance of rain underneath ten big suns.

as i sit beside a cold beer at the green muse, hoping for some words to find me (they rarely find me at home anymore), the clouds are rolling in. the wind is picking up. a clap of thunder. the distinct smell of wet concrete in the distance: here comes a storm. though my back is still feeling the heat from the sun beating down five minutes ago, the green muse is now grey overhead. rain beats down on the tin roof overhead like applause.

here is the trouble with writing austin storms realtime: it has already passed. the sun is reappearing, and sticky humidity is to ensue. so it goes.

i'll take what i can get.

i experienced a weekend of similarily small miracles with my family. i trekked up to dallas on thursday, sitting in the middle seat between my niece and nephew, who were all too happy to talk nonstop during the trip. when we weren't sampling texmex a la uncle julio's, or sitting on the couch watching the movie, fat albert over and over, we were at the pool.

my sister eileen's boyfriend lives in one of those swanky suburban neighborhoods of frisco (texas), and the neighborhood pool is actually a small water park: four pools, two with waterfalls, one with a mushroom thingy, and one with a proper waterslide.

my niece, alaina, is a fish; she has been swimming laps since she was six. and so she slid down that slide, into the 4 1/2 foot pool, in every way imaginable. on her back. on her belly. backwards. backwards on her belly.

my nephew, bob, on the other hand, is a lot more like me: he is deathly afraid of anything out of his control. i.e. water. and waterslides. on his first day at the pool, bobby hung by the edge of the pool nervously. he rode the slide only after much pressure, and wasn't sure what he thought about it afterward.

however, as a 7 year old kid, of course, he wanted to ride the slide. you could see it in his eyes every time he watched alaina spash into the pool. and so, his mom bought him a life jacket.

we convinced bob that he would most definitely stay afloat while in the jacket. he tested it out awhile, swimming along the wall of the pool. and then he ventured away from the wall. he splashed around a bit. then flailed. then jumped up and down. then swam on his back awhile. finally convinced, he ran up the stairs (as we grownups yelled "bobby! walk!" such killjoys.) and carefully mounted the slide. he pushed off, and from the bottom, i heard the happy screams of a boy unafraid, going down a waterslide.

bobby emerged at the bottom with an openmouthed grin. choking on a mouthful of water, he laughed and clapped his hands. "ohmygod you guys, that was SO FUN!" he said, and ran up the steps again. and again. and again.

by yesterday afternoon, bob was the waterslide connosieur. he quickly outranked his sister in points for style, poise, speed, and daredevilish creativity.

my god, he made me so proud. he even swam underwater, sans jacket.

i know the following smacks of chicken soup for the soul cliche, but my nephew's confidence in that life jacket to hold him up was quite awe-inspiring. my boy was absolutely fearless when he wore that thing.

i still have panic attacks often. i know that they stem from irrational fear, from fear unknown, of the big world around me. i had one on friday night, and found myself vomiting flautas and margaritas in the tiny stall of a frisco bar, when i was supposed to be out and having a great time with my sisters. nothing specific brought it on. and nothing but expulsion would alleviate. and i missed most of the evening.

i wonder what it takes to believe in my abilility to float. i wonder if i'll ever remember.

i know that my chemical cocktail serves its purpose, but it is not the life jacket. it simply enables me to feel the lifejacket at all. it is my job to believe that i won't drown, if only for the fact that i haven't drowned yet.

for now, i'm taking the subtle cues of my nephew, the careful daredevil, and my niece, who doesn't even think about floating. she simply swims and smiles.

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