while dreaming weird saturday morning dreams, i was woken up by josh outside my room.
josh: (loud) annnne?
me: (groggily, still dreaming) yes?
josh: there's a lady outside who wants to buy a couch. wanna sell yours?
me: (groggily, still dreaming) ok.
josh: ok. how much you wanna sell it for?
me: (ready to make money while groggy, still dreaming) start her at $20, give it to her for $10.
and now i'm awake, wondering if i have some new money.
since i am awake, i thought i'd hop online and catch up on some blog-reading. RACHEL gave me the link to her friend, SCOTT'S site, and also to his MOTHER'S. i've spent the last hour reading through the latter, and...well, i feel like i should have to pay money to read such good writing.
scott's mom (whose name is katy raymond) has an amazing gift of capturing moments--real, true moments--and chronicling them with such subtlety; i'm beyond impressed. and i think this capturing gift is trans-generational, because i'm experiencing the same thing with scott's words.
i feel like i've just been armed with new tools, new perspective, and i think i'll take up my own pen today.
today has been a day gone by too quickly. i cleaned my room and read some small wonder and listened to good music and ate lunch with constance and rode my horse and visited with friends, dana and myke.
and i bought a bulletin board. i hung it over madeleine l'engle's framed words: sometimes mercy and reconciliation can come to us through story.
some pictures hang loosely now. and i can't stop looking at them:
1. my nephew, bob's profile as he watches his big sister, alaina, ride the zoo train. bob's too afraid to ride it, but he watches protectively to make sure alaina is ok. he looks pensive and acutely aware of every detail, in his orange polar fleece.
2. my cat, buster, less than a year old in 1986. she's got her face in the camera, staring it down. she died in 1998 and was a creature of God her whole life. she slept at my feet when i was sick. she slept on my mom's chest every night after my father died. she knew what i needed, mom said. (i think my guardian angel was a cat.)
3. the big, black locomotives that used to come through town in the summers. the drone of the whistle is my groaning for childhood and daddy. we watched the trains together.
4. 1980. my mom wears a red handkerchief on her head, navy blue (p)leather jacket, star of david necklace and orange-ish pants. (she looks very cool.) my then eleven-year-old sister, eileen, is holding a two-year-old me. it's a beautiful moment.
5. percy priest lake, where dakota and i go every week. it's a horse-eye view.
i think i've lined up these photos like icons. they're all comfort and longing and the best of all is well.
i'm arming myself for the first anniversary of a personal, unforgettable violence, and i want to be ready.
again, sarah harmer: there are some things i got no feelings about, and there are some things i can't tell...
time for sleep now. church tomorrow. i haven't been in three weeks, and my soul feels dry. (hmm. too tired to write past cliche tonight. sorry, folks.)
a blackalicious line for y'all: "you can choose to say good morning, God or good God, morning..."
i'm eclectic girl today, who really has no business spending money, but couldn't resist on this not-too-balmy friday.
i'm rushing to blog as i'm finishing my lunch hour and need to do my proverbial fifteen minutes of actual work.
so. lunch hour. friday. i went to my friendly neighborhood borders.
and i bought blackalicious. and i bought barbara kingsolver's small wonder (thanks sparrow.)
re: blackalicious, i like how it has affected dear sarah harmer. read her own words right HERE.
my mindset today: i'm not saying anything, but i'm thinking a lot.
(also sarah harmer's words.)
pee ess can you tell i got my sarah harmer cds back from julie yesterday?
i'm studying buddhism again in school. i studied it in high school, with MoRo, who is still an integral part of my life. i studied buddhism in much the same context as i am now: a comparative study of world religions. but, what i missed when i was 17 i got last night. i heard mindfulness: everything is liturgy. nothing is exempt. brush your teeth, girl. and it is holy and good. keep your eyes open. remember? remember.
anne lamott reminded me the other day, as she asked through my car speakers: how alive are you willing to be?
how alive am i willing to be?
we need some more of this mindfulness in the world of Christianity, i think. we talk the language of joy complete and life more full and victorious (and what exactly do we mean by victorious, anyhow?) yet we miss the grace of our dailyness. or maybe it's just me.
no, i am not making plans for a conversion to buddhism--don't worry, mom--but i am most definitely borrowing its attentiveness today.
and how can we be numb if we are mindful? (that's the good news.)
off to have dinner with julie. mexican! ole! (if only i had the authentic upside-down exclamation point here.)
i drove back to nashville last night, with anne lamott's word by word lecture tape to make me laugh and muse, and phonecalls from jenna and vicky to last nearly 100 miles each through ohio and kentucky, respectively. (and then there were the peanut butter m)
well. here i am, admittedly floundering a bit under the weight of make-up work, in the realms of school and work. i'll surface. i'm sure. no, really: i will.
getting myself out of pennsylvania was the hardest part. goodbyes on smoldering blacktop of parking lot after brunch. see you soons.
loss is big right now. and it was big there too, but i had space to hover wherever seemed comfortable. here: loss is the hardfelt emotions in the midst of the daily grind. there is no stopping. no naps. i'm having to suck it in and be the big girl who needs to simply get the work done, you know?
and in the recesses, i hear coldplay singing everything's not lost. it's a psalm 62, speak to your soul kind of lyric.
well. it's friday night in erie, pa. this week has found me submerged in something like my life, but without the daily fidelities to feel like foundation. no school. no work. no vacation. just this. i've swung between sad and numb and feeling guilty for once again being the girl with extenuating circumstances. however. this is where my whole world is right now, and although i didn't expect erie, i'm here. here. and it has been a gift, really.
i've gotten to see mom a lot, and talk with her, and eat with her, and watch spiderman with her. and time with mh at her favorite haunt today, joking and chasing the sadness away, was good for us. and the pricelessness of seeing my best friend, shannon, four months pregnant...we've seen so much together. it is good to be here.
i'm about to hit the road, taking the 65N to 71N to 271N to 90E route to erie, pa. it's a long drive. however, i've got plenty of cds and even a mini-cassette player, should i have any fantastic inspirations for the great american novel. (i'll let you know how that goes.)
aunt mary helen and i (and maybe even my mom!) are going to celebrate uncle jack together. we'll seek out iron city beer and maybe some good burgers. sounds good to me. let's keep each other company, i'm thinking.
i told nichole via email yesterday:
i'm praying for perspective...to not let the sting of death steal the depth of joy that is still present. there is so much that is still alive. like me.
we're tryin' we're hopin'
we're hurtin' we're lovin'
we're cryin' we're callin'
because we're not sure how this goes
(forward, ever forward...)
ow. still really sore from the four-hour, intense riding experience on a horse that is not my own on saturday. we're talking painkillers-and-stay-in-bed sore.
i have bruises in weird places, and it's hard to write just yet.
...check back later, please.
Tuesday, March 20, 2001
Well. I was wordless in florida. And the second I left I found myself feeling the oldest and youngest I have ever been in my life. And I’m not sure if I will ever get my words around the myriad emotions, visions, joys and sorrows I experienced this weekend, but. But. It was good. Uncle Jack is a beautiful old man now with boundless energy. And his ‘oldness’ broke me initially. As did aunt rona’s. but jack was like a boy and rona a mom, and their white hair and wrinkled faces disappeared moments after I arrived. Uncle jack’s blindness has made a lot of the dailies hard for him…and I got to help with the little things. Like programming the keyless entry code to his new car. Or helping him cook dinner on the grill. Or getting the beer. Or changing the blade on his razor. Just like bessie glass’ “consecrated chicken soup” I felt like I got to be a part of the consecrated changing of the razorblade. Uncle jack and I went to mass together, and during the sign of peace, he kissed me on the lips. And when I left them yesterday, aunt rona packed me carrots and grapes, uncle jack slipped me $60, and they stood outside arm in arm and watched me go. And my mind’s eye, that perfect camera, will NEVER forget seeing uncle jack wave to me, smiling like the sailorsuit boy pictures I scavenged from the attic, just smiling and waving, blindly. My uncle.
uncle jack died today. i found out about an hour ago. and all i can do is make phonecalls to the people i love. uncle jack died, i say, then i have to hang up because i can't say anything more. and maybe i'm too raw to write tonight. i probably am. God rest him.
well. i just returned from a night of celebration with constance
well. i just returned from a night of celebration with constance, as she has just finished her book. (i'm so proud.)
we had a lovely dinner (albeit at the bar) at pf chang's, and then we whisked ourselves across the street to the movie theater and watched the divine secrets of the ya ya sisterhood.
yes, i really saw it. and.
yes, i liked it.
...this is incredibly difficult for me to admit, honestly. i've turned into a bit of a film snob over the past couple of years, and when i hear descriptions like "pandering cliche" (see cnn.com's review) of movies such as ya ya, i automatically cross said movies off my "list". however, with t-bone burnett involved in a soundtrack featuring artists like alison krauss and lauryn hill, i was curious. and then, i find out that maggie smith is in it, playing a precocious louisiana woman. i love maggie smith. i will gladly watch sister act just to see her. anyway, anyway. t-bone and maggie are not my main reasons for liking this movie. i liked it so much because i feel it.
the ya ya story has so much to do with how i'm endeavoring to live my life: to find out who i am, where i come from. to honor the stories. to keep them like treasures and share them like gifts. the good and the bad. the joy and the suffering. (it's all we got, you know.) and this movie spoke that kind of truth to me.
when something speaks to your soul--and your soul responds--it's an important, sacred moment. and really, who the hell wants a movie to do that kind of work? doesn't that feel cheap, or like manipulation? i don't want sandra bullock to move my soul. how embarrassing. however...
it happened. i feel it. and i am incredibly aware of the non-linear emotional weight of memory. it's always there, of course, but a soul-stirring like tonight makes me all the more aware. and such movement gives me permission to grieve, to exhale. to remember. furthermore, i get to plug these emotions into a holiday we call father's day: an upside-down kind of celebration anymore that allows me to simultaneously honor my loss of father as well as gratefully acknowledge all the other dads around me.
the irony is that a movie celebrating the legacy of women (and a supposed pandering cliche at that) is the threshold for father's day weekend for me. huh.
and i am off to east tennessee tomorrow morning and early to visit jim. my car is full of cowboy belongings: saddle and bags, blankets and other tack. transistor radio and king james bible. zigzag tobacco. and boots.
yeehaw. and peace.
(oh and pee ess: thank all of yews for coming around 1000 times tonight. i am very blessed by your continued presence.)
A sense of the presence of the Great Unnamable may burst through the seeming ordinariness of life, Samuel Palmer says. And I really can't get past it, mostly because I'm desperate for the bursting. It's night as I write this, and I'm dog-sitting. It's a quiet screened-in porch kind of night, with Damien Rice singing, "why'd you sing alleluia if it means nothing to ya?" The dogs are sleeping at my feet, and the crickets are awake. Is this the bursting through of the presence? Is that what I sense here?
Or. Is the Great Unnamable always bursting forth, right in front of us, and we simply miss it? Annie Dillard quotes a rabbi (whose name I forget) in her book, For the Time Being: "It is men who are absent, never grace." And Becca once preached, "vision is sight with grace." Is there alwaysthe chance for vision to sense the Unnamable presence if I would simply show myself as present? Is that what Samuel meant when he said, "Here I am" in the middle of the night? I really do ask myself such questions over basil pasta and wine, on Tuesday nights.
And I do think that maybe the answer to my questions is "yes." Show up, girl. My friend, Sarah, had her own Samuel on Sunday night. He is a six-and-a-half pound kingdom of God. And I held him tonight, nestled in the crook of my right arm, for an hour. He slept. His sister, Dorothy, kissed his head relentlessly. And he slept. My busy mind hushed immediately at his stillness, and bowed reverently. We simply sat together on the couch, Sam and I, as Sarah ate cake in the other room and chatted with her mothers, who have come to welcome the boy. And, if you ask me if all was well for our hour, I would simply smile at you. Of course.
if you like good writing about important things to know, then--by all means--visit jayne's blog today. (right now, even.)
her experience so beats the rainforest cafe.
so. here is the short version of my daily thoughts as of late: should i go to ireland?
yes, yes, i was just there (i remember), but i have the chance to go again and for awhile. to write. to be. to live. and, of course i want to go; there are so many fantastic friends there who i love very much...
so go, right? but. of course, such good things are contingent on a lot of other things, i.e. money, job security, and the big et cetera.
so. wisdom. discernment. a plan. i am trying to figure it all out.
karen (whom i wish the whole world could know) reminded me of a "model" of discernment that she taught me once before: live life as though i've made the decision to go: for a day, a week, a month, and see how i feel. write it. experience it. believe it. pray it. then, do the opposite and again, just see how it all ends up in my mind and heart.
how quickly we forget what we're taught. i was thankful for the refresher course.
pray for me, friends.
aunt mary helen is 85 today. she is my dad's big sister, and one of my dearest friends. she is my history. she remembers.
i've always known her as garrulous and full of mccarthy-style stories. grandmothers. grandfathers. cousins and friends. all are carefully chronicled in her head. dad was the same, and offered all stories to anyone who would listen. i never listened. and then his stories were silenced with his death. but. aunt mary helen is very much alive.
i asked her to tell me everything she knows a couple years ago. and she said yes. six months later, i had in my hands a notebook full of her life. i'm still transcribing it. the family journal. my mccarthy people are resurrected by her words. do you know what that means? (i still have my family.)
in honor of mh and her birthday, here are a couple exerpts:
Let’s see what bull I can remember today. Anne, I know you are mostly interested in your Dad and I’ll admit he was an interesting fellow. There is so much family stuff that I want you to know about. You are really the first family person to want to know these things. I’m sure some of the stuff affects all of us but I also think some of the old stuff is worth repeating...
After a few years Uncle Bert built a 2 car garage that faced the driveway. He decided to build a new outhouse and put it behind the garage. The inside bathroom was used for night visits only. Before he started he was going around having everyone sit on brown paper and he circled the sitter. He was –he said—getting the size of its hole. When they finally got the outhouse built they had to have a dedication. Uncle Jim was home from Congress at that time and he was asked to speak. Of course, we had to have a parade. Can you imagine getting away with that today? Everyone was dressed up and we closed off a main highway for a length of time. Having a politician in charge helped. My Uncle Bert was grand marshall. He had on a white bathrobe and wore a small wastebasket on his head with a head of string mop over it and carried a broom as a baton. My mom wore a pair of Uncle Bert's BVD’s –she had a red jacket on and a hat with a bunch of flowers. Her nose was really red. Must explain about the BVD’s. they were a summer underwear for men made out of thin cotton, not knit, more like a handkerchief. They had buttons down the front and a slit in back for use. My mom was about 5’6” but Uncle Bert was 6’3” and probably had the largest size made. She was a beauty I’ll tell you. The crotch was below her knees. All of us kids were parading with pots and spoons. What fun.
This is the stuff, friends.
i'm listening to my friend, susan, sing on the cd-r she made me:
bring on the wonder/bring on the song/i pushed you down deep in my soul for too long.
she makes me miss ireland. she makes me remember wonder.
(we often confuse amusement with wonder, i've been told. the former is cheap and the latter, real)
last night we had these fantastic lightning storms. for a few moments, i was trapped in my car in the driveway under the deluge.
and i remembered the days of childhood and science class and wonder and fear: metal + lightning = bad. so, in my anne-head, there would be no eating with forks (or any other silverware) during thunderstorms, of course. i had many such theories about storm safety.
anyway, tonight in class this question was posed: can you recall an instance in your life when all was well with your soul?
we were then given 10 minutes to write. would you like to know what i wrote? sure. of course you do. well then; here you go:
I. i was 10, i think. winter. december probably. i'd been outside playing in my backyard, rolling heaping mounds of snow for snowmen--covered in leaves from the recent autumn underneath the white. i was tired. hot in my snowsuit. i lay down flat on my back for relief, snow covering my ears. the whole world was muffled. i could hear myself blink. i stared at the blank grey sky through barren maple branches and simply sighed. i held my breath, thinking that if this kind of quiet was what death is, i'd be ok.
II. ireland. "close your eyes; i want to show you something," jenna says. ok. i follow blindly. with permission to open eyes, i look down. and at my feet is the glorious rock and green of a north sea cliff, with hundreds of seagulls swarming and nesting. six feet below me, a mama gull nestles into a mossy nook and she stares at me head on. i stare back. "i'm no threat," i think to her. "I'm just looking." she continues to stare me down, unblinking. this is a bit awkward. it feels like ireland is staring at me.
i look up and around. the sea. the meadows. the green on blue and the sheep. it's all really real. no, really...it is. i look back down at the still-staring seagull, and she dares me not to believe.
(the end and goodnight.)
HERE are some of the pics from the england/ireland trip, taken by curtis' digital camera.
morning class was cancelled. evening class dismissed after 10 minutes of syllabus review. i had unexpected free hours in my very hot and humid day. i spent both at bongo java, quietly. my morning hour and my night hour were both wonderful. this morning, i caught up on my nashville independent film festival details, and this evening i spent writing my june installment of 'anne's journal' for findingbalance.
jim called tonight. jim is my stetson hat-wearing, boot-n-spurs clad cowboy friend: grandfather i never had; the man who taught me to ride horses.
lately, there has been scandal at the stables: jim was fired. and for no good reason. and now my life at the stables feels tenuous.
jim doesn't know that he saved a big part of me when he taught me to ride. last summer was a summer i'd like to forget. except for jim. with a smoky, texan voice and clear blue eyes looking through a weathered face, he'd tell me, "you'll be alright, babe."
i believed him.
(and i'm alright.)
so. jim called me tonight. he's got a gig leading trail rides at big south fork park in jamestown, tennessee. he invited me down for a weekend, with this promise: "we'll get ya fixed up with a bed and a pony under ya, and you can help me lead trail rides and you can have some time to write."
he told me that he wants me to be whole. i sniffled a bit. he said: "babe, the good is good. the bad is good. it's all the good lord's grace. and that's whatcha get."
i think i'll be heading east to jamestown next weekend.
so. you can leave comments again, if you are so inclined. (please be so inclined. your comments validate my existence.)
a big, fat thank yew to the bracketed and slashed one for being online at the precise moment which one can sign up to use yaccs comments. you see, they only take 100 new users a day, starting at midnight, and since i have not recently been online at precisely midnight, i've had to wait. one more day. one more day. but, sweet jamesy helped me out. and here we are.
KEITH once tried to be amongst the first 100 people on the jelly belly website in order to win some free jellybean goodness, but he never did succeed (it would have helped to have known [jp/p] at this point in life, eh keith?)
oh, friends, there is much to tell you, but it's so friggin hot in nashville, and i'm too lethargic to do much more than eat my maggie moo's lemon sorbet.
(and don't forget to comment. it's good for you. like vegetables.)
today has been one of those lonely sorts of days (aside from being so friggin hot) where i've been in my car a lot, distracted. sad. hot. but i've touched fingertips with people, which is nice.
at 23 years old, i pulled my first grey hair this morning, while cat-sitting for a friend in green hills.
also pulled a tick off my face. i don't know where that came from, but i'll bet it has something to do with horseback riding yesterday.
i went to church. a 7 year old girl named tanisha asked me to hoola hoop with her. i sucked.
ate triscuits and cheese with tanisha. enjoyed a homily from a guest priest, a hobbily old man who--sitting down as he preached--asked, what, friends, are pulpits for?
i liked him, although he kind of hurled the host at me during communion, like a frisbee. sudden burst of energy? not sure.
(the body of christ; the bread of heaven...GO LONG!)
i had lunch with my boston-dwelling friend, vicky, who has graced nashville with her presence for the past week. before wednesday, i hadn't seen her in two years, so it's been such joy to have her around. we've spent some good time together, talking hard things and beautiful things, as well as the silly. (insert cats and horses here.)
we planned the movies based on our lives today: winona rider or carrie-anne moss will play vicky, and angelina jolie or kate winslet will play me. (we're hot girls, apparently.)
vicky went home. and i'm sad.
am i boring you with my day yet? good. read on. it doesn't get any more exciting...
drove around listening to the bootleg of patty griffin's silver bell cd, which was never released, looking for the cheapest price for moby's new cd. i've never been into moby all that much, i confess, but after spending days with dear, moby-obsessed jude in london, i hear we are all made of stars in my head all the time, and i almost believe it. and for $13.99, i now own it.
then i saw my dulcimer-playing friend, linda, in her nashville dulcimer quartet, as they debuted their cd at jj's market. had a beer, ate some cheese and crackers, and left. the quartet was great, but i was feeling incredibly antisocial and tired and hot.
and then i watched mulholland drive with the cats, but stopped when it started to get all the more creepy, because i wanted betty/diane to be happy.
and now, i'm in bed with the cats. vicky just called to say she's arrived in boston safely. and patty griffin was playing in the background. it is the soundtrack of so many people's lives right now. we're all experiencing this collective heartbreaking hopefulness. i like it like that.
tomorrow is another day. it is monday. my sister, peggy's birthday. jim and kim's anniversary. my first day of summer classes.