it's a saturday evening, and i am home alone with charley, after a long day of starbucksland. as kevin and steve have both reminded me, i haven't written in a bit, after a prolific few days. so, here i am. not knowing if there is anything to say at all, considering the dry, non-cathartic journaling experience i just had.
an excerpt: One moment, please. Maybe inspiration will come in the changing of clothes…
Oh, but no. It didn’t come. Come on, girl, think.
quotable, eh? yeah. there are three pages of that kind of writing. still, i'm putting my fingers to the keys and writing. that must count for something, in a writing karma kind of way, right? (though, as a christian girl, i lean into the idea of grace much more than karma. i can't keep up with karma. i'm too much the procrastinator. but i digress.)
did you know that i had a birthday this week? i am the number 26 this year. it happened on the 26th: my golden birthday. my golden year. so shimmery. such promise of something gilded and precious. maybe no more precious than 24 or 47 or 9, but by the very association, i am perhaps required to pay more attention, to be a bit more carpe diem. i've even wondered if i need to make some sort of resolution. you know: how can i live better this year?
the only resolution i can think of tonight is to simply live. i wear a small golden white band on my finger these days; its shine is simplicity. no competition with diamonds. the small band itself is the ring. and it's absolutely gorgeous.
i'm coming back to life, paradoxically, this autumn, as everything outside me is settling down into a dreamless hibernation. i can pinpoint moments of a real pulse felt deep down. and it's coming in small moments of productivity, of dog kisses. of lingering embraces and an indian summer. if nothing else, i'm trying to remember and speak aloud with a voice all my own the very fact that i am still here and moving forward. into another year. into the heart of a life not yet lived. golden birthday or not, i'll resolve to keep remembering.
dear reader: if you are a bush supporter, i respect that. however, as a good democrat, i must do my patriotic duty by posting some helpful information for other fellow democrats (or republican kerry supporters, etc) to get more involved in the election. here is a great site devoted to garnering support from single moms in swing states. if you'd like to help their cause, you can find all the information you need at the site. for more information on the organization or for letter-writing addresses, you can email author and staunch democrat extraordinaire, anne lamott at email@example.com. she'll help you out.
and now back to our regularly non-partisan blogging...
come one, come all, to the basement next week. this is a show you don't want to miss. here are some details:
October 19th: Station Inn, Nashville
6-7pm Stillhouse Road CD Release Party
A brief concert featuring a handful of the musicians that were part of Stillhouse Road's creation (Dave Pomeroy, Rob Ickes, Pat McGrath, Kenny Hutson, Colin Linden and maybe a few extra surprises). No cover charge. CDs will be available for $15, along with Julie's official tour poster (wood cut print by Bryce McCloud @ Isle of Printing) available for the special price of $5. Come and join us for some good food "made from scratch" and some gooood music! (and be home by 8pm!)
Later that night October 19th: The Basement, Nashville
Double Bill: Amazing Boston-based singer-songwriter Kris Delmhorst and Julie Lee, each playing for 60 minutes.
The Basement is on 8th Avenue (same building as Grimey's record store). Doors open at 7pm (come right over from the Station Inn). Kris plays at 8pm. Julie goes on at 9pm with Kenny Hutson + friends
(and go buy julie's new record, stillhouse road. it is a classic.)
sometimes i don't know what to do with myself. or my moods. because i am a girl chock full of hormones (and vitamin c), and lately my moods have been rolling tennesse hills, as opposed to the now one-worded cliche: emotionalrollercoaster. they've been lush, alright, like tennessee in october: the valleys are deep and swelling, and the heights are never quite as high as you'd hope. naturally, i've lived much of the time in the tennessee valley, hoping for a higher perspective, and like trees turning gold overnight, i somehow found myself on top this weekend, bewildered at how quickly, how unexpectedly one can move from here to there.
it was a bit of that peace that passes understanding. it's not so much that such peace is the grandeur of the divine; it simply passed my understanding because i didn't understand how it happened at all. or how long it would last.
i woke up without it this morning, in a hormonal stupor that kept me in bed most of the day. i tried to summon back the momentum that moved me through the past 48 hours, but to no avail. so i slept. and cried some. and tried not to languish over the feeling of being plopped back down into the valley. i really, really wanted to just be thankful for the reprieve at all.
kevin and his two-year-old, josh, treated me to lunch this afternoon, even though i stared into space and had nothing to say. "we need to be good to annie," he told josh. "we need to give her hugs and take care of her." josh let me play with his train.
somehow, i made it over to becca's house tonight, for the monthly daughters of the king meeting. we st. augustine's women sat in the livingroom, as becca burned dried lavender as incense. we sipped wine from spongebob papercups, and i munched on carrots and cream cheese.
tonight, we talked about prayer: how we perceive it, how we do it, how we don't do it, and so on. the stories and confessions always abound with us, and tonight was no different. we talked about the struggles of praying in church, corporately, when there are noisy children all around. we talked about how much words fail us when we're praying alone. we talked about simple actions being intimate prayer. my hazy, distracted self moved slowly from observer to participant. i offered my thoughts, my hopes as well.
afterward, charley and i took a walk around centennial park after dark. we walked around the manmade pond, glistening with the city lights. the ducks were bobbing silhouettes which charley ignored. (she preferred chasing paperbags.) tonight is grey and cool, with the night sounds in gentle transition from crickets to rustling leaves across the pavement. we walked around in the midst of it all, and my head was empty. i just walked forward, forward, holding the leash. this is prayer too, i hoped to myself for a moment, to be out of bed long enough to commune with my friends and dog. this isn't the exuberance of an energized mood, but it's my own presence in my day nonetheless. maybe that's enough. i hope so.
look what i did with my saturday night. i've now added articles and stories and reviews that i've written. just look to your left. i hope you enjoy reading bios.
oh, and sorry for so many word downloads. i promise they are virus-free (bananie's honor).
There is so much to report about the past few weeks, and I really don’t know where to begin on this lazy Saturday evening. I guess I’ll begin with the day itself, from the perspective of a girl on a porch with a good cup of whiskey coffee, and the world’s best dog by her side.
Dar Williams is singing “The Beauty of the Rain”, and the night is cool, grey. Much like the cosiness of a dry evening on Iona, two years ago. I feel so far removed from the wonder of much of that time anymore (and anything else), but there are bits of me that ache with longing and shadows of remembrance, like ancient celtic crosses, still standing after all this time, leaning always toward heaven. Days like today wake up my memory.
So. The night. Tonight, I feel strangely calm, and I think that much of it comes with sleeping this afternoon. I’ve been so sleep deprived lately, living in this constant stupor, trying to put one foot in front of the next, and slowly, it’s been working. I’ve worked through the fog at Starbucks, steaming milk like it’s a vocation, helping customers like they’re my lifeline. And they have been. Every day, a small miracle happens at Starbucks, a story or two entrusted to me as evidence that I am alive. Like sweet Ted, the man with small browning teeth and clear blue eyes who reminds me of my father. We always smile at the fact that we remember each other’s names, even when we haven’t seen each other in months. I hand him his soy chai and ask about his days. Last week he told me that he was clinging to the reality that this year is better than last. Because last year, his 11 year old nephew accidentally died by strangling himself in attempt to feel the high of being a woozy boy. Ted’s blue eyes tear as he tells me his story. And all I can say is “God bless you, friend.” We sit silent on either side of a drive-thru window, and he finally smiles slowly, and drives away. See you soon.
Then there is Diane--DeeDee--with her decaf breve misto. She hugs me every time she sees me, tells me what a special girl she thinks I am. She first loved me because of the kinship of a shared daughters’ cross around each of our necks. She is all joy and gospel, but one day she told me that her little granddaughter had just died of leukemia. “Pray for us,” she pleaded. I said I would. And I did. Yesterday, she held my hands, and said “Thank you for praying. We’re all trying to keep on living.”
On Friday morning, Tom brought me his silver travel mug, as he does every morning, and as I filled it with his coffee and two pumps of mocha, he told me he was off to Atlanta to watch the game. “Catch a flyball for me,” I said as he walked out the door. This morning, he walked in with a boyish grin on his usually serious face. “Ask and ye shall receive,” he said as he handed me his mug. He presented a scuffed baseball from his jacket pocket. “I caught a flyball for you.”
Yesterday, my favorite massage therapist, Pat, Holland-born and Montreal-raised, sat with her 17 year old daughter, Catherine, in the café, drinking a soy white mocha and iced soy latte, respectively, as they do every day. “Annie, you’ve been working too hard,” she said, and pulled out a chair. I leaned on it, instead of sitting down. “That light in your eyes is missing. Are you ok?”
“I’m ok, Pat,” I assured her. “It’s just been a long, hard season, and I’m waiting for some sort of relief.”
“It’s all gonna be ok, honey,” she replied. “The season is going to end, and things are going to be new for you. Maybe you need to think about that when you wake up in the morning. That things can be different than they are now. Maybe there are some things you need to simply let go of, you know, ease off some of the burden you’ve been carrying.”
“You’re right,” I said, trying not to cry.
“Give me a hug,” Pat said, reaching toward me. My drivethru headset bumped her temple and fell down around my neck. We giggled. She promised to fit me in for a hot stone massage soon.
You know, every day, I am praying, like Over the Rhine prays in their song, “Give me Strength”: give me eyes to see the world surrounding me. And every day, I’m walking through that fog of unbelief and helplessness, serving, in whatever capacity, the need to take responsibility for my life. I am not happy being a girl with high honors and a great degree slinging coffee to suburban Franklin, Tennessee. But, I’m doing it, and I’m trying to be present in the work hours, and to be aware of their sanctity, as Etty Hillesum taught me to do. Strangely enough, it’s the working hours that are giving me the strength to bear the weight of the rest of my life. Strength to live as a still-standing cross, with tired arms reaching always to the reality of a sky bigger and more wide-open than my tired little heart. And it’s my customers who are teaching me to keep my eyes open. There are so many stories to be honored, so many needs coming through the drivethru on a daily basis. No one just wants a cup of coffee.