Friday, December 23, 2011

it's the holiday season

There are so many things that could come up, so many questions that I have the wrong answers to.  I know that they're not the wrong answers, don't get too concerned here, because I'm learning about myself and what I think and the world and people and how to do life and be a person and I don't have anything figured out at all but I think that's probably a good sign, but my answers will be wrong to them.  And I don't want to cause a scene.  I don't want people to be hurt.  I don't want to have to defend the things I say or the way I act or the beliefs I do or do not hold.  I just want to be able to be me, to be the screwed up, anxiety-ridden, scared, doubtful, uncertain little person that I am every day, and have them say that that's ok, and that they'll still love me.  Because I don't need rules.  I don't need to hear what's right and wrong about my relationships or my future or my faith or my views.  I just need you to love me.  Because that's what family is for, isn't it?  I'm so scared of judgment.  Maybe because I know that so many things, so many of these wrong answers will lead to so much disappointment from all of them, over on that side, on that team.  How have I fallen so far?  How can they bring me back into the light, back into the fold?  Where did I go so wrong?

I don't feel wrong.  I'm not a disappointment.  So please don't be disappointed in me.  Christmas isn't supposed to be scary.  But I can't get away from the scenes that play themselves out in my head of shouting matches, of interrogations, of everything wrong.  Dread.  Fear.  Shaking.  I don't know what to do other than be me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

i'm probably procrastinating

Sometimes I wonder what I could do with all the space in my brain that's taken up with lyrics to worship songs.

Sometimes I don't know the difference between profanity and prayer.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dance

Because there is one color here and that's brown, or sepia if we must be specific, which we must because when you are stuck for words, get specific -- details, details!  There's the life in your words -- and it's where the light falls that matters.  You see skin and legs and muscle and pointed feet.  In the darkness, clothing and hair bleeds into background, into nothingness.  But it's in those midtones, the in-betweens that don't have names, but it's probably ok not to put a label on everything, that things get a little fuzzy.  Hands blur together, fingers touching or not touching, faces obscured, out of focus; shouldn't they be the focus?

No.  Body becomes movement becomes shape becomes art.  Take a picture.  Snap a memory of something you wouldn't remember without film and a lens because it'd be lost in the storm of moving limbs and thrown bodies.  Because we're all moving too quickly to be seen.  And you take a day, a moment, a class, and say explain it to me.  But you're can't -- you can't -- because the moment the words leave your lips they are sour with age, expiration.  And the subject is spinning away, blindly, like a top from a string, crashing into everything, speeding instead of slowing.  Never stopping.  Never still.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

billboard broadcast excerpts

She is lovely and wonderful and very capable of loving people and I just want to broadcast that on a fucking billboard that takes up the sky to people. But that wouldn’t make her believe it.

I don’t know how to say any more clearly that, “I love you so much and you are not a burden. I want to know you and I want to hear about your life and listen and hold you whenever and however much you need."

You feel so much. That means you’re alive. That means you’re a person.

I need you to be you, and that’s the only thing, and you are fantastic at that.

Monday, November 7, 2011

if we could just talk about me for a second

So, this blog goes through seasons of Anna-sometimes-has-artistically-vague-writing-spurts-and-needs-somewhere-to-word-vomit-here! type writing, and this may or may not have been one of those.

Sorry.

Anyway, I thought I'd take a second to update those of you who care at all a little bit about my life and what's happening right now (literally, right this second):
  • I'm drinking tea.  Decaf Earl Grey, of course.  Without milk, because I'm out.  It's really a pity.
  • I'm turning 22 next week.  That sounds a lot older than 21 in my head and it's a little scary.
  • I'm graduating from college in five weeks.  That's a lot less scary.
  • I live in a house with ten other women.
  • The only reason this is ok:
    • I have my own room.
    • Also, I love them.
  • I'm dating Joel.
  • I like him a lot.
  • I'm doing Nano again this year.  Current wc: 12,022/50,000.  I'm right on schedule.
  • I'm kicking my sister's ass at scrabble.
  • I'm listening to a playlist called "songs to throw yourself at."
  • I'd rather be sleeping almost all of the time.
  • I have almost nothing that looks like faith or God left in my life at this point.
  • I am utterly and completely content with the above statement.
  • My mug is now empty.
Weirdly egotistical post is weirdly egotistical.  I'm finished.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

that time of year

he came to a fork in the road.  he picked it up and kept walking.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

typical


because there are a few moments while I’m breathing that I think just for a second it would be nice to not have to be an introvert all the time, it would be nice not to be exhausted by all the noise and bustle and life that’s always happening.  but I’m so stuck inside my head, I don’t think you understand how that is.  because we all have our own ideas of what’s good and what’s best and what we need right now and it makes perfect sense (not always) to us and why can’t other people just understand that but I’m so tired and so tired and so tired and sometimes I just want to crawl into my bed and not get out for a really long time and no I don’t want company and no I don’t really want to talk about it.  and I have no idea why I have so much to give when it comes to some people but others are just the most draining.  and sometimes I don’t want to be a person any more.  I don’t want to think.  let me be Scarecrow before the trip to Oz.  Or Tinman.  Or Dorothy when she still thought there was no place like home but before she actually got there.  Because maybe the longing is better than the disappointment.

there are so many things I can’t think about because I feel the wrong things.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

[ ]

Because this is a perpetual day of silence, with the tape strapped over your mouth to keep from lying, lying, lying.  Because to open, to speak, to sing, would be lies.  And you are not a deceiver, you will try to reassure yourself every minute of every day.  To breathe would be lies.  Because no one knows the difference but you.  Quell your harmonies.  Still your dancing feet.

Because if you cannot speak your honesty, at least do not scream the lies.  Be still, appear reverent, while your heart burns with the knowledge that you lie to everyone, every day, by not coming to terms with the very person you are.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

mundane stories from everyday life


today
  I used the drain cover in my shower
  as a tiny cage
  to capture and then kill
  a crane fly
  that was trying to touch me.
  it was very successful.

Monday, September 12, 2011

other worlds are possible

On the far side of Tarbes, a tag artist had been at work.  Funky Chunky Mazee was the signature, and through the French, we couldn't figure out if Funky was saying that graffiti was an art, so in these days when art is a crime, that makes even noble Picasso a beast . . . or if what she meant was actually long live graffiti, the true art, and fuck Picasso that pretentious art world asshole.  Funky's second message was clearer: Think for yourself . . . contest the authorities, advised Funky.  Hibickina and I concurred with our absent new friend.  We were inspired to take the airbrushed ads on the wall behind us in our own inky tagging hands.  But the work day had just let out, and there were too many people on the sidewalks, hurrying past each other in high heels and wrinkled slacks.  I stood between the rows of glossy ads and the busy people who were inadvertently guarding them.  Everyone looked tired or worried and I thought again about the force of fear connecting all of us. 
When we peel back all the layers of pain and distrust and neurotic surface fears, what lies beneath is that infinite primal terror of being stuck forever with no love.  We have built our societies on the pursuit of success: traditionally that's meant beauty for women and power for men, although increasingly these overlap.  Daily, we see around us the dismissal of the ugly, the weak, the old, the powerless.  So we know that one day it could and can and will be us who are dismissed.  Whether we have the tools to fool everyone until we are old, or whether tomorrow someone sees our cracks and stains and rejects us, the fear of isolation is valid because all around us are images confirming that isolation is our destiny.  Buy your way out of isolation, out of dismissal and anonymity, say the corporations.  Try this product, this shampoo, this razor, this cellphone, this car . . . blah blah blah.  Buy in.  But the billboards of sexy girls gaining the attentions of powerful men are empty promises of reward when below them an old woman sits along at a bus stop. 
Corporations sell us tools to aid our division into leagues of power and beauty.  But they lose customers when people start crossing the lines of their own volition.  Often stories are the ways that lines get crossed. Stories enable us to imagine how it might feel, for a moment, to be the teller.  They show us all the places where we overlap and help us understand the places where we don't.  They offer us insight into other times and places, and through their intimacy, they make other worlds real.  They show us that other worlds are possible. 
Stories and streets are powerful venues for contradicting the imminent doom of loneliness.  The public art we make of ourselves in the street, the languages of our bodies tracing postures and assuming them, the paths of our eyes grazing each other, are either participatory or resistant.  Here, in public, we can choose to change our immediate world by remaking our myths and telling our own stories, by remembering how to ask and listen, and by learning to show our most real faces to each other and celebrating them.  Show your warts and you defy the very process of airbrushing the truth.  Risk smiling at the person sitting next to you on the bus, and immediately the message of isolation is undermined.  Not just for the two of you, but also for those watching this unusual event unfold.  The moment we notice that we can make fresh choices every minute, the moment we take Funky's advice and think for ourselves, it's easy to see that we're all in this together.  Isolation was somebody else's bad idea. 
-off the map
I love everything about this book.  Cover bent back, pages annotated with blue pen, Powell's sticker on back.  You can borrow it when I'm done.

Monday, September 5, 2011

stamp

There’s ink on my skin that’s fading slowly, a rubber stamp instead of a needle.
It catches my eye like a shadow,
Like when you’re driving and the sun comes in through the windshield and hits the “you’ll need an oil change when –“ sticker just perfectly and casts it onto your body like a wound.
But this moves with me
Even in the dark.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

thoughts on the next five months

I feel like we're all on this conveyor belt, moving towards the end and we're moving at different speeds, and at graduation we're going to fall off the end, and it's ok because we're not falling off the end off a cliff or anything awful but we just sort of tumble off with a bit of a bump and land in this field.  And some people sprint off and hop right on another conveyor belt, and some people wander around a little dazed and then start marching off their own direction.  And some people hit the ground running and jump right into a new activity.  But I'm scared that I'll tumble off the end and just sit there, paralyzed with fear, unable to move the slightest bit, not sure where to go or what's next or how I'm even supposed to start to try and figure that out.  Like, I don't think I can explain how fucking scary this is for me.  I am literally terrified.  Writing this down is scaring the shit out of me.

Oh man.

I've been training my entire life for this moment but in spite of that I have no idea what to do.  Maybe it will make more sense soon?  Maybe things will fall into place.  Or maybe I'm just going to have to be in limbo for a few months and figure that out.  And that will be ok, and I'll figure it out and volunteer and see people and interact with the world.  I won't be sitting in a dark corner with no one around, rocking back and forth, ripping out my hair, while trying to figure out the answers to life's big questions.  I'll still be living.  And I'll figure things out.  And they're not going to look like plans I would make if I was even making plans so it's ok that they don't and that I don't have plans it's ok it's really ok everything will be well.  But I still am scared when I think about those things, a lot scared, and I think I needed to write that down and actually admit that that is how I'm feeling most of the time because people keep asking how I'm feeling about school starting again and then graduating and this is how I'm feeling thanks for asking.  I'm so scared.  But I know that it's not going to be the end of my life.  But I'm still scared.  Is that ok?

Please tell me that it's ok because sometimes I feel so alone in the ways that I feel about things but it so often turns out that we're all feeling the same things about the big things in life but we never share those with each other because we can't see inside of one another and we'll never admit to the bad feelings because for some wicked reason we've been taught that we're not supposed to feel these things even though it's so normal and everyone's feeling them why can't we just be honest with one another for once please?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

sand

You came home, lugging a suitcase full of sand.  I said, "This isn't exactly what I meant."  You took my hand and told me to stand inside.  "Now you can be somewhere else whenever you need."  It was better than a snow globe.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

pin

Yesterday you came home to find me clothes-pinning leaves back onto the branches of the tree that stands outside your front door.  You love the autumn.  You asked me why I was wasting clothes pins.

Monday, August 1, 2011

strange

Strangers are walking past but they're not strangers, they're your brothers and your second grade teachers and your third cousins and everyone you've ever known and they all seem to know each other without knowing each other and without knowing you because sometimes we have to pretend to be strangers, to be detached because we need independence or we need control but we're all the same in our differences and our longing to be known and held and loved without having to admit that we're fractured and flawed and don't have a clue.  So we just stand there sometimes, being nudged and knocked by the passing bodies or your mother, your grandmother, your insurance agent, until the ebbing starts to feel like the ocean and it turns out you've accidentally drowned.

Monday, July 25, 2011

choose

I'm standing in that spot where the tracks interlace.
You're screaming, "Just pick a path, sweetheart!
Just pick a path."
But the volume of your voice makes the hazy air
Swim in and out of focus, tracks twisting back and
Forth onto themselves and I can't tell the past from
The future.
Hands clapped over ears, humming loudly, swaying
On feet with knee socks bunched up around ankles.
Just pick a path, sweetheart.  Just pick a path.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

shore to shore

Because I think that when I think of the world, and I mean the whole world, like one of those maps spread out over the family room floor or a globe that glows from inside out, then the continents are like slices of earth as if someone took a cookie cutter and cut these chunks out and dropped them, floating, onto that big blue surface of the ocean. And when you reach the edges they drop off into nothingness. Here's the land. Here's the sea. Here's the line that divides them.

But I can't think that because I've sat on beaches in so many different states, different countries. I've sat on that line that isn't a line, half on shore, half in water, being pushed up and pulled back by waves that will not be contained. I've watched the tides flow in and rush out. I've touched that line, ran it through my hands, come away with shell fragments, sea glass, and scratches. This is land and this is sea. Come back tomorrow and it will have changed.

Because isn't everything like that, in a way?  You can't say this is where one thing ends and another begins. Our brains aren't quilts made by ten-year-olds with scraps of torn up fabric stitched together, plainly obvious when one thing switches to another. Our lives aren't pinstriped and painter's tape. We're blurred.

You're sitting on a beach right now, on that ever-shifting line. What do you think about that? Can we use this to describe everything? Because we're all here, in this world, living about our lives, experiencing the what sometimes seems so random ecstasy and melancholia that inhabits the human experience, trying to make sense out of anything, trying to be what we can. And when we're making rules (we call them laws because we'll always pretend to be grownups even when sidewalk chalk and fruit snacks haven't yet lost their luster), we forget that there aren't these cut and dried categories that people and places and thoughts and being fit into. You're not in this pit or that one. You're somewhere in between along with the rest of us, and we're all looking around, hugging our arms around ourselves, scared to death to be found out that we can't fit, we don't fit, we won't fit, into that perfect mold labeled "expectation." I'm sorry, but I don't. Because I'm nineteen different people and they're all flooding together, like wave upon wave upon wave, hitting that line, forcing it back and then forward and then back again.

You know when you cross a state line and you wouldn't know that you'd crossed it except for that sign and suddenly the speed limit's changed? Blink, and you'll think you're in the same place. But told that you're somewhere new, you'll think you're there. This is coming off so much less profound and important than it actually is in my head. Because maybe that's the one jagged-edged cliff that stays constant -- the eternal wall between the messes of thought and putting them down into something concretely comprehensible for the rest of the world to relate to. Because I swear we're all quite the same, living as well as we can, trying to line up our lives that are not made of straight lines, panicking when nothing goes quite to plan.

Scattered and more scattered. Like sneezing. Like running away. But you'll always leave a trail.

Perhaps a great adventure is in order. Perhaps the great adventure will be different than I see in my head, with less backpacking around uncharted jungles and more sitting in coffee shops, writing letters.  Because these are the small things that make life livable, worth something, original, mine. Because this life is mine. And I'm living it for me. And coming into the very solidly comforting knowledge that I do not want to be anyone else.

Wonder.

Words and words and writing and reading and book buying and sometimes page numbers are the only definition I can see in my life.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

impact

I’m constantly banging into that thick, transparent wall in between the explosion of thought and feeling and emotion and affection and the entirety of me that whirls around faster than I can follow between my ears and how it spits itself out onto the page, into an email, in pause-filled stammering sentences.  I wish, so desperately wish, that I could convey to you the depth of the things I think, feel, am at any moment.  Because the people, the dearest ones, in my life (probably you) do nothing but intensify the cacophony of chaotic colors swirling and smashing into one another in the way I see my world.  And I have yet to find a suitable outlet to show people the extent that I care, that they matter.

Because people have this way of having profound impact upon my life.  And I think that’s important and it’s something I want to share with them but I don’t know how to do that.

How do you… how do you let people know their significance?  In words that sound stale and overused and grey in scribbled ink on torn out notebook paper?  Because it’s more than that.  You can’t be put down in words.  But that doesn’t mean that you are not of immense worth to me, to the world.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

definition

Sometimes I think my life is defined by the number of birds on the side of the highway I pass on the way to work, with eye sight shaded and music turned loud, fingers out the sunroof. How do birds get hit by cars? I mean squirrels, sure. Those morons are always sprinting across the road just as the UPS truck is pulling out, death wishes with furry grey tails they are, when they're not tight-roping across telephone lines or lurking in unsuspecting dumpsters. Possums, of course; blindly lumbering under your turning tires. But birds? Crows and pigeons and sparrows and gulls? They have the gift of flight, something we've longed for since the dawn of wishful thinking, and even they cannot avoid an instant, two-ton death?

There is a crow that's lying along that road, the name I don't know though I've driven on it nearly every day since I was eight-years-old, near-flattened to the black-top near the turn off for school. I saw it there yesterday morning. I saw it there yesterday afternoon, a little more flattened, a little more grey than black, turning into the cement on which it lay. I saw it there this morning, one wing sticking up straight, perpendicular to its death bed, the feathers fluttering in the breeze of a car zooming past at a breakneck thirty-six miles per hour, as though waving in greeting as I pass on the way south: "Have a good day." Will it be there tomorrow?

Sometimes I think my life is defined by the number of empty cathedrals I walk through, soaring ceilings causing cricks as you crane your neck upwards to make sure you don't miss a thing, because holiness hides in the highest of corners. Something about these big, empty rooms, sectioned by pews, organs, altars, demands reticence, slow steps, striding forward along the aisle way, can't stay still and stand in the back. Breathing deep, there's a certain smell that encompasses these old spaces, no matter where - Paris, Scotland, Seattle. They smell the same, like old books: a lingering presence of the thousands of feet who have paced these cement floors before, mounted these steps, gazed adoringly upwards at circles of glass and stone and story. So you breathe deep, closing your eyes, careful to let the exhaled sigh echo not too loudly.

There is a rainbow flag fluttering from the pole outside St. Mark's Cathedral, the church I'd only visited in the casualness of night before, the sanctuary coated in college students on blankets, in strangers leaning up against the same pillars, in hipsters straightening plaid as they stand for the apostles' creed. There is a earthy heaviness that accompanies the low-lighting and male harmonies of Sunday nights, the organ highs and lows that resound to the handful who'll stay after thirty minutes of can you call that church? There is still a reverence though, in the quietude of the wind of whispers, the shifting to face the front chapel. But walk in at one in the afternoon, and the light will knock you back, steal your lungs, and leave you, mouth open, staring.

"Oh my..."

The buckles on my boots jingle in the bright-white silence, bouncing off the thick-set columns holding up a dark-paneled ceiling. There's sunlight streaming through those many-paned windows. There are designs on those lanterns, blue and orange. No fear of tripping over someone's prayerful sleep. A lightness in the embrace of heavy holiness.

Sometimes I think my life is defined by reaching out. A note, an email, a letter, a smile. From you, from me. An acknowledgment that we are not living isolated on this tiny rock hurtling through space. We are not birds, hopping across busy streets, forgetting our wings in the face of certain destruction. We share things. We recognize the weight of what it means to be alive, to be breathing, to make choices, to say or not say what we think. We sink down onto that wooden pew that creaks under our weight, in the middle of the high-ceilinged sanctuary and know that someone has been their before, has felt that same awe, has breathed that same sun-lit air.

There is a restless itch behind my heart, something that says cry out to every person you pass that they are important and significant and matter, something that says be still, be silent, and be there. Something that asks is this enough.
(source)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

here and there

Because pretty soon we're going to look at one another from different cities.
Because this day will never happen again.
We'll be.
(photo credit)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Powell's in Portland in Pencil

Kneeling on concrete, cold where the floor meets bare skin, hands chalky from flipping pages, from breathing in wisdom, that old book smell.  Now here, looking out at bricks and fire escapes and one ways in the Pearl District, sitting at a counter in a room that almost just smells like bodies, pretending to belong.

Fingers trace the spines of small press chapbooks, eyes ache with too-old contacts, with sleepless nights, with life (there's life in these words; there's life in this complication; this is life.  We were missing it before).  We're all aspiring writers: what are you going to do to stand out?

I'm more and more rapidly approaching the point of just wanting to say "fuck it" and do this.  Fuck distance.  Fuck social expectations.  Fuck the rational or the right or the over-thinking.  If I say fuck enough, will that make me a hipster?

I'm a person who needs to reach out and hold on to things, which is why God and conversations are hard and people and letters are easier.  I need something to dig my nails into when I get scared, when my heart starts pounding, anything to stop the shaking.  I'm not saying you can't leave.  I'm just saying, don't be mad if I accidentally hold your hand every second that we're together because that makes you more real; that means that you're not just inside my head; that makes you distinct from me and could there be anything quite so liberating as coming into real-life contact with another individual, with someone who is not the crazy mess that is everything my senses take in, but is you, is real, is solid, is something that is not me.  You mean, I don't have to be isolated all the time?  Shut the fuck up.

In conclusion, this city is a hipster zoo and my breath is only steaming up the glass.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

seven and eighteen

So, I crashed into a wall at about an hour ago.  Not literally; don't fret.  Just one of those walls that jump out at you while you're shuffling along at half-a-jog, keeping up the energy, keeping up the positives, keeping up the motivation.  That wall says, "Maybe not," and all of a sudden you're sitting in mud at the base, with brick-burn on your face, looking up.

Maybe that metaphor was too extended.

My brain has reached capacity.  I can't find the right music.  Countdowns.  Words (listen to how the keys click).  A general state of shaking, deep breaths, long blinks.

Joel said today, "You're certainly not alone in your uncertainty."  There is a hopefulness in that, a solidarity, an essence of community.  My brain is muddled with abstractions, with trying to speak what I feel and trying to feel what's right.

Just sit for a minute, resting your head against the wall, humming to yourself, gathering the nerve (strength?  determination? sheer will power?) to stand up and clamber over to the other side.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

shut the front door

I think I've experienced nearly every emotion I have at some point today.  An adventure.

Jill's going to bed, but we just shared this lovely little conversation:
Me: Is it eighth week?  Is it ninth week?
Jill: It's ninth week.
Me: Shut the front door!
Got my second wind, fueled by laughing at everything and anything.  I've been in this state a lot this quarter.  It's not bad, but it does make people question my sanity.  Le shrug; what else is new?

Tomorrow's going to be good.  We're going to make it good.

Happy ninth week, lovelies.  How's it treating you?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

good things

1:23 AM.  Sitting on the little couch in my living room, surrounded by textbooks and anthologies and manuscripts and novels and an empty mug.  I've gotten to know the hours past midnight extremely well this quarter.  There's much to be said for familiarity - I'm actually quite fond of these late nights as I sit here, tip-tap-typing away.

This quarter has been new, and fresh, and filled to the brink with so many things.  There are moments when it overflows, when sleep and class and assignments don't happen on time because it turns out that there's not enough of that.  Time, that is.  I've run into quite the kerfuffle when everything I want to do in a day does not fit onto that clock face.

These are my good things: morning pages, drinking tea, walking in the springtime rain, Jill, reading, baking banana bread and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and snicker doodles, dreams, deep breaths, lyrics that say, "you know, you're not the only one who has ever felt this way," uncertainty, honest and open conversation, distractions, eye contact, hugs, still being able to laugh at myself every day, Joel.

What's good in your life right now?

Friday, May 6, 2011

burnt

I just burnt my hand, a real burning where you jerk your whole arm back and suck in your breath through your teeth in what’s almost a hiss, on steam from the electric kettle that was boiling in an effort to brew a cup of tea, to have something warm and sweet to hold on to because maybe that will stop my heart from pounding like it’s trying to break its way out of these ragtag bones, hammering like fingers shooting across keys, sharp clicks of words fired across the page like bullets, like heels clack-clicking across the library lobby floor, it’s my heart, it can’t be healthy, won’t it please



stop


My hands have been abused this quarter, this year. I can’t remember how many times I’ve burnt them, patches of skin turning red and shiny and raw, not prepared for movement or usage or touch. Maybe it’s a forgetfulness, a clumsiness, an immaturity. Maybe it’s something I’ll grow out of (yes, please! my fingers beg and plead). Maybe it’s a developing of scars, calluses, skin impervious to burns in the future. But that’s not how skin works. That’s not how life works.

Because, you see, we heal. We have this tendency, after years and journals filled and conversations had and tears and screaming so loudly you’re pretty sure you ripped your vocal chords and anger and revenge-seeking and prayer or deep thoughts or whatever you want to call it, after all of these things, we heal. Not the same person, not back to the way you were before, changed and transformed and wiser and (maybe) a bit more cautious, we are whole. And we reach out again to see if the water is ready.

Be careful? Please.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

summer reading

Yes, I'm planning that far ahead.  Here's my list:
  • White Oleander
  • The Book Thief
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • To the Lighthouse
  • Everything is Illuminated
  • Harry Potter (because the last movie is coming out and it feels like my childhood is ending)
  • everything by John Green
I will probably actually end up reading eighteen random books and none of these.  I'm also open to any and all suggestions.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rivers and Roads

Vicarious living is generally underrated.  Let's change this - it's not so bad.

Funny how an event like this will spur immediate reactions, concerns, discussions, and arguments, mainly through the thread of facebook status updates and tumblr quotes.  Funny how we all have an opinion so quickly when we were just huddled around a laptop as though it were a radio fifty years ago, watching the live stream of our president.  I may or may not have my own concerns, but I'm not adding my voice to the mix just yet.  However, this moment of Obama's speech tonight left me infinitely grateful:
As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not – and never will be – at war with Islam.
All our voices, clanging against one another, screaming to be heard.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

a list within a list

First, I really need to remember that when I'm absolutely flipping out for some reason the thing that tends to calm me down more than anything else is making a playlist personifying either how I'm feeling or how I want to be feeling right there in the moment.  Maybe its the methodical action of scrolling through artists or the unexplainable power of music.  Make a cup of tea, make a playlist, keep breathing.  Ok, we're hanging in there.

Second, I really miss Matt.  Seriously, where has he been?

Third, I really like making lists.  Previously, I was writing two in my journal, one about reasons why I probably believe in God, the other about the least convincing arguments for God that happen in my life.  There's something soothing about the structure and clarity of lists.  Probably why I'm using one right now.

Fourth, I really need to be productive.  There are eleven homework type things in my planner and I've only crossed one of them out.  Um, oh hey eighteen credits.

Fifth, I really like cats.  Sometimes I forget how much I like them until I'm around one (or around another cat person who gets really excited about his or her cats and shows me pictures of said cats when we stay up too late talking).  I find myself surrounded by cat-haters/dog-lovers too often in my life, so here I come in defense of cats.  They really are awesome.
  1. Cats are cuddly.  They are soft and furry and they smell good (well, they smell like cats, which I think is great).  One of my aunt's cats was brushing up against my legs all throughout dinner tonight.  He just wanted to say, "Hi!  I'm here! In case you wanted to give me something to eat, I would probably not say no!"  Cats are also pretty great at being both hand-warmers or pillows, depending on your need.
  2. Cats care about your health.  I can't tell you the number of times Chip has come up and sat on the book I was trying to read, or jumped up on the desk downstairs and sat directly in front of the computer screen.  In these instances, he is clearly telling me, "You've been focusing for too long and you're over-working your mind.  You need to take a break.  Perhaps this break includes petting me."  I would probably be suffering from eye-strain-induced-blindness right now if not for my cat.
  3. Cats are funny.  My mom plays this game when Chip is walking past; she'll move her foot just slightly to see if she can scare him.  Nine times out of ten, he'll ignore her because he has his ninja-foot-sensing-senses tuned to high.  But that tenth time, he'll hop about a foot in the air.  This is generally amusing to us.  Other times, he sprints around the house, attacking the carpet for no apparent reason.  He obviously knows that we need something to laugh at, and therefore takes it upon himself to be as entertaining as possible.
  4. Cats are protective.  I am certain beyond a doubt that, were my life ever threatened by a bird, a fat squirrel, a small child, or a friendly neighborhood cat, Chip would defend me to the death.  We've yet to test whether or not this bravado stands up without a sheet of glass separating him from his adversary, but I have full confidence in him.
  5. Cats are basically small, furry people who have tails and just happen to walk on four legs.  Cats have moods: one second they want to be petted, the next second they don't want anything to do with you.  I appreciate this about cats because I am like this.  You should be thankful that I don't have claws.  Cats are super independent.  Going on vacation for a week?  No worries, just leave out some food. No need for expensive kennels or paying people to come and house-sit.  Your cat has got it under control.  Basically, I like cats because cats are a lot like me.
  6. Cats are psychic.  Chip always starts sleeping on my bed a few days before I come home for a weekend or a break.  He knows.  My nana today said that it's probably because my parents say my name more in those days and he hears and understands.  Um, no.  He's a cat: the only words he understands are treat and I'm going to go change my sheets.  He's psychic.  Show me a dog who can predict the future.
Sixth, I really feel a lot better right now.  Had a moment of forgetting how to laugh at myself, but it's back.  Music, tea, lists, cats, trying to make you laugh - good for my soul.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy Week

I have so much I want to write about this week and this quarter and my life and the nonsense that is going on inside my head all the time, but I don't have words.  I'm sitting on the floor of my bedroom, in front of these mirrors I've been staring in since I was eight.  Rocking out to the National, I'm surrounded by books and manuscripts and notes and planners and prayer beads and cat hair.

I am in so far over my head this quarter.  Drowning has never been quite so delightful.
Because this is what I meant when I was talking to the you who lives in my head on the way up the hill, when I was speaking aloud and the girl walking behind me probably now thinks that a basket case lives in her building...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dear Library People,

Hi.

If you've not noticed, it's currently a beautiful day outside. There's this place called Martin Square just outside the front doors of this building, filled with sunshine and benches. It's a great place for a conversation. Might I suggest relocating?

It's not as though I don't love eavesdropping. Believe me, I do. But you're invading my silence. Just because you're whispering does not mean that you're not disturbing everyone on the third floor.

Seriously, this is the library. Shhh.

Love,
Anna

Thursday, April 14, 2011

dreams and dreaming

I have this dream that one day (maybe tomorrow or perhaps the day after), while walking to work, I will pass by those mailstop boxes and they will be bursting.  Every last one, full to its fullest with envelopes.  Not bills, not painfully dissapointing flyers from the career center, but letters.  Letters filled with stories, filled with memories, filled with feeling.  Letters written so quickly that you can barely read the handwriting, letters written so long they took extra postage.  Letters to you.

Two of the mailing workers will just be standing there, surrounded by more crates overflowing with letters, shrugging their shoulders; the mailboxes don't have the capacity to hold this much love.

Because, for some reason, all at once, everyone wanted to write a letter.  They wrote one to their best friend.  They wrote one to their nephew.  They wrote one to someone who might not know who they are but deserves a letter all the same.  Everyone tugged open that dusty stationary drawer and felt the muscles in their wrist cramp with writing, writing, writing.

And you'll walk up, clamber up on the stepstool, turn your dial counter clockwise-clockwise-counter clockwise, and pull out a fistful of love.  A physical manifestation of how valued you are by those people who care for you.  Ink bled onto paper to tell you why you mean something in this world.

Then the heavy blue door of the postage box snaps closed, and I snap back to living.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

an underground moment

This is a moment to spite the world just because you can.  This is a moment where relationships are fractured by shame, by our ultimate need to be strong, be independent, to prove that we have everything together.  Isn't this my life?  Isn't this the past ten days of saying screw the world just to see that I can, to prove that I mustn't always be a rule follower.  To hide; to run away and hide; to purposefully distance oneself from all others; to be an ugly person for the sake of feeling the dirt coating your skin; to feel pain to feel pleasure.

I know that the underground man is pushed to an extreme, but, really, who hasn't had their moments?  I'm living one right now.  To say that we have lived demands shame, selfishness, self-abuse, destroyed relationships, fractured dreams.  Without those, what do you know?

Perhaps the underground people are the hipsters, are this, our generation.  Or maybe we're just posers: pretending to live in this way while willfully soaking up the unending privileges we think we deserve.  Sitting in our coffins with our noses in the clouds.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

these are the good nights

These are the nights when the warmth lingers after the street lights are on, the sun-soaked pavement beneath soles says, "Yes, spring is here."  These are the nights when the city is awake with lights, when sitting on a wall and talking about family is perfection (and not the kind that destroys).  These are the nights when old age is sneaking up behind you, but with enough turns of the head you'll keep it at bay with your awareness.  These are the nights to remember, the good ones as well as the bad.

Friday, April 8, 2011

this isn't from today

and I'm in a much more stable place right now than I was when I wrote this.  And I honestly don't know how much of it is still true.  But it was true for me, every last word.  And there is significance in that.  And maybe I'm just trying to reach out, or trying to procrastinate, or probably a lot of both.  And I know that this is not a real way of reaching out.  And I'm sorry that I tend to get a bit foul-mouthed when I'm upset, but psychological-break-down-anna doesn't have a very extensive vocabulary.  Not that psychologically-stable-anna is that articulate to begin with.  Enough delay.

This is me at my most raw, talking to the person who knows me the deepest.  This is me trying to be honest.
Mattie, lately I go to church for the socializing aspect. I love singing. I love listening to Richard’s sermons and nodding along and taking my little notes. But I don’t have faith. I have right answers and a whole truck load of cynicism. I don’t pray and I don’t want to. I don’t read my Bible and I don’t want to. I don’t think about living in a way that is centered around God and whatever it is God might want for my life. I’m just living – just trying to get by. I’m trying to treat people right by my own moral code, the way I would want to be treated.

And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this.

Other than the fact that I won’t own up to anyone. Everyone thinks I’ve got my shit together. Man, I’m a good Christian. Fuck right answers.

How am I supposed to tell people that I don’t really believe in just about anything. I believe in people and in love and in stories and goodness and honesty and breathing. But those things don’t need God. I’m trying to figure out how to live in a way that’s not hurting others and that keeps me sane. I don’t know what it means that I just want to be by myself. Maybe I’ll change the world through these words. But I don’t really care. I’m just trying to make it through this life and, honestly, right now I can’t see the point of there being something bigger.

I don’t want to lie to the people I love. And I don’t want to stop going to church. But how do I come clean? Who do I tell and what do I say?

I believe in you more than I believe in my God. And, sweetheart, you’re me. So everything’s a little fucked up now, isn’t it?

Also, I fell in love with the perfect man. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about it before. He’s the only person I ever talk to God about. Because when I am ecstatic and walking up the hill, and just say, “God, you did an exceptionally good job with that one,” and then I tell him why. I don’t know what any of this says about me. I don’t know what I’m learning about myself.

I don’t know what I’m supposed to change. I don’t want to go back. I think maybe that’s my huge issue. I know where I’ve been in my life and I’ve been growing and learning so much. And my faith was so much stronger and so much more important to me in high school and freshman year. So, I think it looks like, were I to get all fired up about God again, I would only be going backwards instead of progressing. And that’s scary because it looks like stagnation instead of progress. Not that I’m super excited about progress, but I don’t want to stunt myself or be an idiot about things.

Can’t I still believe the things I believe without Christianity really being a part of that?

I think I’m having this crisis of faith a little too late. I feel like most of my friends have already been over this.

Maybe I’m slowly turning into you.

I just can’t handle people or noise and please please get away can’t you see you’re breaking me because I have to keep everything inside because I know that if I got upset and cried you would come and try to comfort me and I can’t don’t touch me please leave me alone and if I got upset and yelled then you would be hurt and cry or yell back and then I would feel guilty forever, which isn’t fair because I shouldn’t have to feel guilty for feeling things because I’m trying to have emotions, I’m just trying to be a normal person and keep breathing which is so hard sometimes why can’t we just live in our own big plastic bubbles so we can see each other and roll around and bump into each other but we’d be cushioned so we couldn’t hurt each other and if we needed to talk we could write post-its and stick them to the sides of the bubbles so we could read each others’ speech and I just need you at an arm’s length because I don’t know who I am and I am a fucking mess but I can never let you see that so please go to bed or go to class and shut the door and let me try and fix this I know I have a problem with control I FUCKING KNOW WHO I AM YOU THINK I DON’T KNOW MY FLAWS stop trying to psycho-analyze me because you don’t have anything figured out any more than I do.

Sweet pea, know that I’m not yelling at you. I love you. The day may come (it probably will) when the person I’m screaming at inside my head or with overly-loud typing is you, but today is not that day. But I need you to know that I appreciate your listening more than you can ever know. And I’m sorry I’ve had to write this out instead of just talking about it in person, but you know how I am. This way I was less distracted, forced to organize my thoughts, and I’ll have something to look back on so I can see how far I’ve come. Because everything is always better in the morning. And when it’s not, take a breath, crawl out of bed and live your life because this day is the only day you have right now and you might as well fucking do something with it.

Thank you for always letting me be the weak one. I really need that because no one else lets me. Thank you for having the most up-close and personal view of my flaws and faults and awfulness in the world and still loving me to death. Thank you for letting me be me, and I mean the actual me, not the person I pretend to be around every single person in my life, because it’s refreshing to not have to pretend, to know that I can be flawed and broken and awful and scream at you and you won’t ever abandon me and will always love me.

When did you become God to me?

I just tried to think of someone who I wanted to share this with ---

Awesome. Great. You heard that, right? I’ve managed to fuck up my roommate, probably the person who I care about most in the world.

Somebody please tell me that we’re all fakers, because if we’re not…

I can’t fix this. I can’t fix any of this. Fuck you, God; fuck you for not allowing me to just be. Couldn’t I have had a day, or an hour, more than five fucking minutes of trying to sit with this before you were all, “See? You’re a fuck up. You can’t do anything without me; everything fucking crumbles in your life. You ruin everything good. This is how you know you need me. This is how you know I’m real.” Fuck you.

How many times are you allowed to say “Fuck you” to God before he strikes you with a personalized lightning bolt? This is only partially rhetorical.

I understand Charlie’s reaching out to a stranger. I want to send this to a stranger, someone who I know is a good person but who doesn’t know me, just so someone knows. Because I’m trying to reach out, that’s why I was originally typing up these words but I cannot think of one person who I can send this to. And what does that say about my oh so highly-prized relationships that I pride myself on? That they mean absolutely nothing because I cannot be completely honest and vulnerable and fucked up little me with any of them.

I need someone to know me, someone who doesn’t live inside my head. I just need someone to know me, all of me, and still love me.

touch

on my love language:
But there’s so much significance in touch.  In leaning against one another while you’re sitting on a couch together, in walking arm in arm down the sidewalk, in nudging your shoulder with my nose, in twirl hugs.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

this is where a title goes

You trace the mismatched spines in the stale basement, pausing. Fingering through yellowed leaves you smile to yourself, mouthing words to yourself, sharing revelations with yourself. You make a gap on the top shelf, showing me where his books will fit when he writes them, where yours will fit if you take his last name, gathering dust, graying, dropping in price, losing their worth. I can’t catch a full breath, perching on a stepstool.

You slowly add to the stack in your arms, holding piles of massacred forests against your heart, making a home for yourself between the covers. You’re buying romance, religion, reality, to flip through and then stack on a shelf, alphabetically. I can’t understand your fascination, sipping at coffee.

You are speaking in tongues of rhetoric and narrative, tossing Woolf and Joyce and Nouwen and Eggers all together. I can’t pretend to listen to you much longer.

“You need to find someone who’ll wander shelves with you in stuffy bookstores. Someone who loves this as much as you do.” “I know.”

Your eyes are back on that top shelf, hands reaching for the space that holds an impossible fantasy. Tomes topple from your arms, laying where they fall like so many corpses, lifeless. You kneel in their midst. I can’t see your face anymore. Don’t hide from me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I think I need a new town, to leave this all behind

Hot chocolate: I'm drinking some.

Just finished packing.  The Beatles made a good soundtrack.  One duffel filled with clothes, one backpack stuffed with books.  One of my favorite things about packing is picking out the outfit I'm going to wear the next day.  I'm not one to choose my clothes the night before at any other time, but it's both necessary and fun to do so before flying.  Finding the right combination of comfort and cuteness, mixing in the fact that it might be snowing when I land is a fun challenge.  Plus shoes that aren't a hassle to take off and put on.

I'm just rambling, mostly because I think I need to write something before I leave, you know, to keep the three of you who read my blog in the loop.  I'm really excited.  I'll try not to have too much fun without you.  But I get to see Sarah and Jon and they are two of my most favorite people in the world.  And I really love new places.  I like being a stranger.

Take off is in twelve hours.  I'll be the one smiling out the window, watching the world fall away, with her nose stuck in a book for the rest of the flight.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

more war?

The world is falling apart.

While I walked around a lake, a piece cracked off beneath my feet. I picked it up. It’s in my pocket. My fingers wrap around it when they’re numb with cold – something to hold on to when there is more news of war, more news of disaster, more news of death, more news of horror.

The world is falling apart. I’m trying to hold on to this one small piece. But it’s crumbling to dust beneath my touch, from squeezing too desperately.

I can think of a thousand reasons why I don’t believe in you.

Friday, March 18, 2011

morphed is a funny word

Yes, I know it's two in the morning.  Welcome to my new favorite time to blog.  I'm slowly working on my revision for Fiction that's due tomorrow.  Just hit four thousand words.  It strikes me as funny in that odd way that when I originally wrote this piece it was an earnest attempt to write something happy, just for the sake of seeing whether or not I could.  And with this rewrite, it's morphed into one of the darkest things I've ever written.  Now, I don't have a very good perspective on it right now, so I could be overexaggerating (pet peeve) but it's making me sad.

Maybe listening to Bright Eyes isn't helping much.

Today is going to be a beautiful day.  A final for grammar, turning in this revision, and a friend date with Joel.  And then it's spring break.  How did that sneak up on us?

She said, "I think I'll go to Boston..."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

f r i e n d s

Sorry about the length of this post - the majority of it was penned at three in the morning.

--

Friends are great.  Friends are my favorite (not favorite in that way I call every second thing that crosses my mind a favorite, but a legitimate favorite, promise).  Sit up with someone at the kitchen table, talking about relationships and independence and God and learning and struggles and people and articulating doctrine versus living doctrine, eating cheese and chocolate chips, and then tell me that friends are not your favorite.

Thanks for tonight, Jill.  Finals week is the one for staying up late.  While most people would have used the hours drinking thirteen cups of coffee at a wild study break in Gwinn and then actually studying, our Robbins After Dark was much more appealing.  Thanks for letting me be vulnerable in our relationship while I talked about my struggle with being vulnerable in relationships.  I appreciate you more than you know.

Friends, friends.  I think our perception of friendship is skewed.  Blame facebook, blame the weird little bubble we live in, blame the deliberate privacy screens we all throw up between ourselves and others.  I think we need a re-evaluation of language when it comes to friendship.  I find the phrases "Oh my gosh, I want to be friends with them," and "friend crush" tripping off my tongue more than is probably healthy.  Especially since the word "friend" encompasses so many different types of relationships and I'm not sure which type I mean.

Let's break it down.  Here are the people I encounter in a typical day in the life.  Take today, for instance:
  • Stranger strangers: this is someone you've never seen before in your life.  Random freshman in the library, that guy waiting at the bus stop, your checker at Trader Joes.  Defined as strangers.
  • Familiar strangers: this is someone whom you don't know, but know, you know?  The people you pass every day when you take the same paths between classes, the guy who works at the Teacup, that one kid from your USEM who you haven't ever had a conversation with.  You might know their name, major, dorm, but that's all.  Defined as strangers.
  • Acquaintances: this is someone whom you know, but don't know.  That person you have two classes with this quarter, a friend of a friend, someone you've been introduced to multiple times.  Maybe you've shared in a conversation; you're probably on smile basis when you pass on the street, maybe even "hi" basis if you're bold.  Defined as strangers or friends, depending on the story you're telling (most often described as "So, this kid in my class").
  • Acquaintance friends: this is someone whom you know and are comfortable sharing in conversation with but have never dipped down into anything deeper.  That guy who works at the desk next to yours, a good friend's roommate, the nine other people who shared that boring class with you last quarter.  Defined as friends.
  • Friends: this is someone who has reached hugging basis, whom you know a bit more than the typical "Hey, how are you?" of acquaintance friends.  Those girls who lived on your floor, those kids you went to school with for eleven years, the cousins you see on every Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Defined as friends.
  • Good friends: this is someone who knows the bad in you as well as the good, someone with whom you can be honest, someone who knows a little of your past, of your struggles, of the person you've been and the person you're becoming.  This is someone who has seen you cry, who has gotten into a huge fight with you but still loves you, the person who is important enough to schedule time for to make sure you see them on a weekly basis.  This is someone who has had an impact on your life because you have known them.  Defined as friends.
  • Soul friends:  this is someone who has had a profound impact on your life.  I can count my soul friends on one hand, minus a couple of fingers.  This is someone who knows you.  This is the one person you want to spend time with when the rest of the world has you feeling awful/homicidal/dejected.  Defined as friends.
The last four and a half categories are all called friends when you're talking about them.  But they are so vastly different.  I'm calling for a revolution in language.  Because some random kid in my class whom I talked to that one time in the library when we were both working on our papers does not warrant the same label as my roommate who stays up way too late, listening to me talk about things I've never talked about with anyone.

Perhaps I'm too liberal with the label of friend.  This is where I'll blame facebook.  "Oh yeah, we're friends."  No, you're not.  Do you know where they're from?  How many brothers or sisters they have?  Do you know what they want to do with their life?  Do you know what their laugh sounds like?

There's something beautiful in the progression of relationships, though, in having someone climb these tiers into your life, into your heart.  Sometimes people never progress.  Sometimes people jump whole steps in one moment, going from acquaintances to good friends with one moment of shocking vulnerability. 

Not everyone fits into one of these categories.  And, unfortunately, it's possible for people to fall down the tiers.  Some sort of pyramid is formed here.  I find that I focus more on wanting to make my acquaintances, acquaintance friends and friends into the same group; I want to know and hug and be comfortable around as many people as possible.  But shouldn't my focus be on gaining more good friends?  More soul friends?

There has to be something pertinent about the desire to be known by a lot of people.  But what do I mean when I say known?  Is hugging basis really enough for me?

I think, somewhere in the back of my independent mind, I think it is.  But, even further back than that, buried underneath some random facts about James Joyce, my high school fight song, and the entire prologue to the movie version of the Fellowship of the Ring, I know that is not enough.  I need to be known.  To be forced out of my comfortable, singular existence.  I need to question people, and be questioned in return.  I need to be forced to think about things, to hear ideas from other peoples' minds.  I need people to come alongside me and say, "I know you.  And because I know you, I know some thing's wrong, even when you're trying to hide it underneath a smile and a hug and a squeeze of the arm."  I need someone who will be there to offer help even when I am too stubborn to ask for it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

just keep swimming

I wonder every single day if everyone else argues with themselves inside their heads as much as I do.  Do you?

We all pretend we're so normal while trying to cram blue-books-worth of knowledge in among the song lyrics and mean girls quotes and made up arguments that you sometimes can't remember were made up.

I'm tired.  I'm frustrated.  I have a lot of excuses for both of these things, but none of them matter.  We're all tired.  We're all frustrated.  And letting that be the only thing we can think about is not helping any of us. 

I was lecturing myself last yesterday (do you ever do that, either?), reminding myself how, contrary to how I would like to think, I don't have everything figured out.  I don't know any more than anyone else.  We're all stumbling along, trying to live, figuring things out at the same time, making messes.  No one needs to be taking shit from anyone else.  We're all doing our best.

I'm sorry that I pretend to have everything figured out.  I don't.  Remind me to admit that every once in a while.

It's spring.  Spring is new, fresh, rebirth, life.  Spring is the reminder of why we even bother getting through the winter each year.  Spring is the whisper of what's to come.

We're all going to get through it.  And we're all going to be ok.

Also, I made a tumblr because I'm a conformist.  Don't worry, though; this is still my first love.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dear sore throat,

Hey old friend. 

Look, I know I've been ignoring you for a few weeks now.  You've been consistently pursuing me, leaving notes, calling day and night, and I am so grateful for your faithfulness.  Please know I never want to ignore you like this.

That being said, I have to let you know that I just don't have time for you.  I could maybe squeeze you in on Friday evening for a few hours, or anytime between March nineteenth and the twenty-second.  But besides that, we might have to put off hanging out until the summer.   Now,  I know that seems like a really long time, but health and I have been really happy together and I don't want to screw things up now after all this time.

I know you understand.  Please know that I think of you with each cup of tea and downing of obscene amounts of vitamin C.  I would appreciate it if you would heed this note and give me a little space.  My table neighbors in the library are judging the throat-clearing noise I keep making on your behalf.

We'll talk soon, I'm sure.

Love,
Anna

tenth

This quarter, I have perfected the art of:
  • walking down steep hills in heels
  • sentence diagramming
  • saying the opposite of what I think
  • procrastinating
  • acting like a child
  • getting by on less sleep than I'd like
  • steeping the weakest tea imaginable
We can all probably tell which week of the quarter it is by measuring two things: darkness of the circles beneath our eyes and the number of empty tables in the library.

In the end, it comes down to the little things, like the moment when you stop avoiding the puddles and start aiming for them instead.

Monday, March 7, 2011

late night chocolate chips

It's one of those nights where I can't go to bed.  What if something happens and I miss it?  Right, something very exciting and earth-moving is about to occur in the middle of my half-lit, empty apartment.  I'm avoiding the silence, the inevitable staring up at the dark ceiling with my arms crossed behind my head, patiently watching sleep's evasive tendencies.  That quiet; that stillness, heavy with thought; half-formed identities winding their ways across the cracks in the ceiling; lines of poetry weaving internal rhyme and caesura, promising to be there in the morning to be written, but always escaping to somewhere just beyond grasp like a dream you forget to remember while brushing your teeth.

Jill and I adventured up the hill to Safeway to buy chocolate chips (and juice) at 10:30, talking self-defense, hop-scotching over puddles due to gaping holes in the soles of my shoes.  Adventuring down, we spoke of fasting and of prayer.

Something I've just realized while staring up at the Christmas lights strung around the living room, the cheap lighting solution you can only get away with in your apartment until you're twenty-four and then the judgment will come raining down, is that I always have the perfect sentences to say when I'm being inauthentic, but I can't string two words together when I'm actually trying to be honest.  I always have the right answer.  Fuck the right answer.  I want sincerity.

We bruise so easily.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

a way of looking at things

This quote came up on my dashboard, reminding me why I love the History Boys so much:
The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - that you'd thought special, particular to you.  And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you've never met, maybe ever someone long dead.  And it's as if a hand has come out, and taken yours."
Perfectly expresses that feeling we've all had so many times in the midst of those little black lines.  There's something so intimate about reading and writing; I don't think I'll ever understand the power of words for bringing about beauty, bringing about understanding.

It's one of those quiet, melancholy afternoons where you could sit and be and watch the sun strain through the clouds with the occasional sigh and be perfectly content to do almost nothing besides breathing and tea-sipping if only the reality of pages needing to be typed were not hanging over your head.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

journal making

There should be some deep fear squeezing my heart to the point of paralysis, but I'm fine other than the seven seconds it took to write that first independent clause.  When I say, "I'm not too worried about it," I'm not lying through my teeth.  Maybe that means I'm disillusioned, maybe I'm just a moron.  That's fine.  I'm not too worried about it.

Sticky hands.  There's something deeply cathartic about being able to rip apart books and glue them back together in new ways.  I love watching people smashed together in new ways.  I love your eyes on mine.  Mod podge is the smell of someone's childhood - not mine.

"Watch me!  Watch me drink this whole Capri Sun in one second!"  Paul, you just summed up my entire elementary existence.

I love when we get to act like children.  Maybe it's because we are writers, poets, painters, artists, that we cling to the old, the nostalgic.  It's not a longing for the past; it's a recognition that we are still those children, chasing and being chased at recess, learning to play chess in sixth grade math, decorating tri-fold display boards for science fairs; those children are still inside of us, still so integral to who we are and how we have our being.  We are aware of and unafraid to acknowledge that truth.  Rather, we embrace it, digging into our silly side, not afraid to give in to fits of giggles, not ashamed to love dirt cups, unleashed from our need to be adults.

Because we're not adults.  And we're not children.  We're just us.  Maybe you're going home next weekend, or you're getting married soon, and you're graduating.  But you're still just you.  And I love that.

stretch

Remember, remember when the sun was shining so hard that we were banished outside because of parental concern, so we took up the Boggle board, those lettered-dice clattering for four days straight, and sat at a picnic table to play.  And no one would play with us because we’d wipe the floor with them and we got too competitive because I was winning and pretended not to care and you were losing and pretended not to care. 
Remember, remember when we got tired of being around those so much older and those so much younger so we ran away to the fort to make a music video, just the three of us.  And we could sing and swear without anyone listening in and it was a sweet release of realization that we are all so incredibly diverse but we could not love each other more. 
Remember, remember heated topics over coffee, squeezed-shut eyes against the smoke, sunsets sinking over the Sound.  Remember, remember. 
Years stretch.  Love does, too.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rainy Weather Friend

I ran away from home again today.  Up the hill in a little pink hat that whispers, "Please don't run me over," to the rain soaked cars all trying to get somewhere on a grey day, rain day, Tuesday.  Drops drip down the sandwich board, a world of world-class tea.  I'm expecting the paint to run, but the water stays clear.

This corner is dreary in the winter, all grey and bricks.  The too light sky seems endless, reaching up and up forever while smothering with its weight.

You'll eventually grow up into yourself; that much I can promise you.

Rain really is my favorite.  I love everything about this weather: the sound, being inside while it's raining, being outside while it's raining, the smell, the cold.  I make up excuses to go walking, though none of my shoes are waterproof.  It makes me want to be by myself.  But most weather makes me want to be by myself.

I think that's what amazes me most about Jill.  We are near opposites (if Myers-Briggs is to be trusted) but I don't hesitate to call her my soul mate.  She is one of the only people I've come into contact with whom I never get tired of being around.  Even in my most hermit-like moments, it is lovely to be with her.  She is one of the ones I love so much that I'm not sure what I would do were she ever to get sick of me.  I know that I am more than blessed to have found a kindred soul such as hers.

Walking past Max's room, I know that the one thing I need in my future home, more than five hundred books, more than a cat, more than a partner, roommate, friend, is a piano.  Because I need something to drown out the screaming with beauty, to take cacophony and turn it to concertos.  Because beauty will save the world.

I am desperately waiting for you.
He had the distracted, insistent friendliness of one who has no time to re-establish intimacy; it must be taken as read.  -A Soldier's Embrace
I see this in my friendships and I hate it.  I'm scared that eventually all my relationships will look like this.  I am a friendship addict.  New friends are fun, but new friends eventually become friends, and friends aren't as fun.  So you get more new friends.  I'm that college student who throws away her dirty dishes and buys new ones instead of getting out the soap.

Today I walked around a city block in order to avoid a precious little stranger with a clipboard.  I already rejected him once with an easy lie that I was in a hurry (yeah, big rush to buy some vitamin C.  That needs to happen right this second) and I didn't want to walk back past him and face his judgment as he watched me mosey on into the Teacup.  So I walked around the block.  This is a story about the kind of person I am.  I'm not sure I like it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

a small safe place in a troubling world

Rainy sounds drown out the silently disappointing snow.  I miss autumn - bring back those leaves and those breezes and those October days warm enough to pretend it's summer and those clouds and those sunrises over the mountains you can watch with your hands cupped around a mug of tea and your breath billowing out, visible.

My arsenal is filled with vitamin c and hot water.

There's been a certain unexpectedness to these last weeks, a learning that only sleeplessness can bring, a laughter that only being caught talking to yourself by a stranger can bring, a loneliness that only silence can bring.

I have a lot to say about this, but I've tried countless times to find the right words.  They are elusive.  I'm sorry I cannot be perfectly articulate like you are.

In the end, it comes down to this:
Dear friend,
Know that you are loved.  Know that I want you to find a small safe place in the midst of a troubling world and I will do everything that I can to help bring that about.  I don't know what that looks like, I'm not sure I've seen it yet, but you deserve safety and comfort and the stability of knowing that you will not be betrayed or exploited or bullied.  You are worth so much.  Keep breathing.
Love,
Anna

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

You.

You. Yes, you. I am writing this for you.

I know you are reading this. And I want you to know I am writing this for you. No one else will understand. No one else knows. They think that this is for them. But it’s not. I am writing this for you.

I want you to know, life…it’s hard. Every day can be a challenge. It can be a challenge to get up in the morning. To get yourself out of bed. To put on that smile. But I want you to know, that smile is what keeps me going some days. You need to remember, even through the tough times, you are amazing. You really are.

You should be happy. You are gorgeous.

I know that the weather might not be perfect. You might have to turn your back to the wind or feel the cold nipping at your nose. But you know what, at least you are there to feel it. At least you can enjoy the sun’s warm rays on your face. Or that cold February wind biting at your cheeks. You know what that means?

You are alive.

Everything will be okay.

source: here

Monday, February 14, 2011

gratitude

Thanks, Jill, for serious talks with childish snacks.  Thanks, Allyson, for being amazing (because you are amazing).  Thanks, Bubba, for the best hugs.  Thanks, Em, for your caring even when you're feeling your worst.

And thanks to You, for your patience when I am the slowest learner, when I'm still not sure what I've learned.
It's empty in the valley of your heart.
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you've left behind.

The harvest left no food for you to eat.
You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
But I have seen the same;
I know the shame in your defeat.

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck.

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways;
I'll know my name as it's called again.

Cause I have other things to fill my time.
You take what is yours and I'll take mine.
Now let me at the truth
Which will refresh my broken mind.


So tie me to a post and block my ears.
I can see widows and orphans through my tears.
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears.


So come out of your cave walking on your hands
And see the world hanging upside down.
You can understand dependence
When you know the maker's hand.
So make your siren's call
And sing all you want:
I will not hear what you have to say

Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it's meant to be.
And I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck.

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways;
I'll know my name as it's called again.
-- The Cave, Mumford & Sons

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

When I sit in the library

I know it's dark outside because half of what I see is tables and chairs and florescent lights and cold drafts outside the window. I glanced down, and in those ten seconds the street lights clicked on.

Evening is a fading.  Is there a moment when it's afternoon and the next is evening?  When does evening turn to night?

If I have learned one thing this quarter, it's that definite answers are dangerous. Straight lines are rare. We're all a little blurred.

Five minutes ago, I would have walked home through the alley without a second thought. Now, though, I'll take the long way home, after three hours of stolen sight tick past.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Moats and Boats and Waterfalls

I don't think "my ears feel weird" is a valid medical complaint.  Not one that will allow me to skip out on my midterm tomorrow at least.

Patience.  We're begging.

Jill and I have been playing on the swings across the street.  I swear, there's no better feeling - the closest we'll come to flying.  Racing through the cold air, lungs stinging with each breath, hands going numb wrapped around chains, legs tiring from pumping.  Nothing beats it.

My three skills: cookie baking, sentence diagramming, and locating books in libraries super fast.  My future looks incredibly promising.

Perspective on life has gotten really small; I'm trying to blow it back out instead of sitting here stewing in frustrations and judgments.
I am the Lord,
Your Holy One,
Israel's Creator,
Your King.
Isaiah 43:15
When sleep is not a cure all, water.  And more water.  And perhaps a little tea.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

perfect imperfections

I'm still waiting to find your flaws, to revel in your imperfections and soak up your humanity.  I want moments that make you ugly so that we can be the same.  Let me see those beautiful flaws so I am not the only one imperfect. 

Show me.

I promise I'll love you more for it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I should be sleeping

At some point, I'm sure, the twenty-ninth of any month won't make me sigh and think about time.  At some point, knowing me, we've years of sighing left.

Sometimes I don't know what to do besides keep on breathing, breath after breath, because that's all I know how to do.  But even when I think too hard about that, it becomes a struggle of the highest degree.

I don't know how to live this life.  I feel like I'm wasting every second.

I want to find some beautiful place to get lost, to run away merely for the sake of seeing if anyone would follow me.  Is it destructive to want to feel like someone needs you?

Sometimes I pretend that you're sitting next to me to see how it affects how I live my life.

I'm waiting for this day:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Occasionally, I rhyme:

Never have I known a distance so acutely,
Never before realized the definition of alone.
Plugged in, staring down at backlit screens,
Gifting silence to a “hi” when you come home.
Empty doesn’t always correspond with emptiness
Because this room is empty, though it’s full.
I can’t explain in sense what makes my heart catch,
Some fear for an eternity built of this lull.
Because, really, what is hell but lifelong silence
When others are close enough to share a word?
But, instead of utilizing vocal chords,
We’ll all stare down at processed little worlds.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nested Sets of Hypotheticals

It's not enough to exchange nice words, encouraging sentiments, and I love yous without living real life together.  But can we live real life together when this country is stretching itself between us?

It's not enough to flee from problems, to pack up a bag and sprint, whether up hill or down, leaving a mug of tea steaming on the table, forgotten.  But how do you stay when the urge to run threatens you with its force?

It's not enough to pretend to live, to surround yourself with people and music, noise and books, laughter and hugs, when you don't really know anyone or are known by anyone.  But how do you settle and deepen and cut things out, narrowing your view, when there is so much you want to see, hear, and taste?

I know it's not enough and that's why I panic.

It's a funny thing, panic.  It's effects are long-lasting, that shaky uncertainty of forgetting everything, failing everyone, certain helplessness to do anything.  As you try (and beg) to talk yourself down off that ledge of your heart beating so fast surely you're going to die, of too much breath (too much life) that you're killing yourself, nothing makes it ok except the passage of time, of watching the minutes tick past and knowing that this too will pass.  Funny when the cause and the cure are the same.

Maybe that's why I run, because being somewhere new gives the illusion of time going faster, going slower, not existing.  It's a chance to step outside my existence of expectations and supposed to bes and actually be; to breathe, not too little and not too much, but enough to keep the seconds, pulse-like, ticking.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Postcards

Because everybody should be proud of what they’re good at but sometimes that’s a challenge which is what Mom calls things that are hard to do and you might have to hear someone else say they’re proud of you before you can be proud of yourself even if it’s just a stranger who sent you a postcard by mistake.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Also, a picture of books

The phrase "don't take this the wrong way, but" should never be used.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The right words

My dear,

I want to change the world with the right words. I want to confess my love to you with the right words. I want to nurture a life with the right words.

I have the right ideas, but my words are too… complicated. I need to simplify them, so that people won’t get lost in the dark when they see and hear them. I want them to shine like beacons of light in a world of overly complicated darkness.

One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.

Truly yours,
Jean-Louis “Jack” Kerouac
I want this, too.