the last few days have been a flurry of social activity. i have developed the gift of keeping friends from previous jobs, and this weekend, all the worlds came together, creating a beautiful, energetic community.
ginger (from starbucks), tara (from initech, er sitel), greg (helen's friend from work), helen, and i spent saturday in the pool. afterward, we made fresh spring rolls, and had a lovely dinner, as you can see.
(l to r: erica, tara, ginger's hand, greg, me, helen)
the night did not end until nearly 4 am.
it was that good.
and, quite honestly, it was the first weekend that i truly felt at home in austin. the neighbors came around a lot for porch sits and cocktails, and we talked and laughed and watched sunsets. friends stayed a long time, and want to come back! i fell in love with them all.
this morning, my sister, peggy and family are all en route to austin for a visit. i haven't seen my niece and nephew for six months. even though they are 10 and 7, respectively, i will scoop them up in my arms like babies and kiss them endlessly.
also, as of yesterday, we now have a kitten. for the past month, we have kept helen's mom's kitten, chloe, as she has been traveling. you cannot leave a kitten for that long with girls like us. helen's mom realized this yesterday, and chloe is here to stay.
here she is with charley. this is the scene all day every day:
this is the life, kids.
if only i got paid for this kind of summer vacation...
well, here we are again. one week into this whole "unemployment" thing, and i find myself waking up at embarrassing hours in the afternoon. for example: at 3 pm today, i am lying in bed in pajamas, flanked by two sleeping dogs.
my responsibilities for the day include:
letting said dogs outside to pee.
reading ten pages of text for a freelance project
eating less cookies than i already have thus far today
driving to the store for catfood.
the last responsibility is where things get complicated, as a sublist is necessary. in order to get to the point of "driving", one must put on clothes. brush teeth. if one feels plucky, makeup may be an option. and then comes the interaction with other drivers on the road, other shoppers at the store.
i think i can do it, though.
as for now, i am one big lazy bone. and i find it laughable that i could really use a nap. i think i am inspired by this game, compliments of my friend lou.
so, i took on the day with a small explosion of cleaning. took out the recycling, scrubbed down the kitchen, loaded/unloaded the dishwasher, vacuumed up a small colony of now-displaced dust bunnies, and even did some laundry. afterwards, i read with an afternoon beer in hand.
later, it was off to the pool for some much needed sun to feed my brain and white, white skin. i stayed about two hours, caught up in my book, the sparrow. (thank you, marlei for recommending.) i am slackjawed by this story, much of which goes way over my right-brained head. i swam a bit as well; the recent rains have cooled the pool into something more desirable than a hot bath on a hot day.
as i headed inside, sopping wet in a towel, next door neighbor rachel was leaving her house. we chatted a moment, as i dripped on the concrete. i was saying something neighborly, when she interjected, "wow, annie. you look really good. totally rested. you just look vibrant."
i hugged her for that.
do you remember the song from the adventures of winnie the pooh about the rain? the rain rain rain came down down down ad nauseum. and something about poor piglet started baling. and then he started sailing. that's about all i remember.
anyway, it is the soundtrack of my morning.
finally, the rain here is substantial. the weather is cooler and ohso refreshing. i have been longing for a series of grey days (and not the kind that come from fires in mexico), and here they are! melancholy days are here again, and i am basking.
this morning, i am basking as an officially unemployed girl. the predicament of no income in the forseeable future has never been so fabulous. i want to do a little rain dance, and then come back inside and begin my steady diet of ramen and coffee from yesterday's grounds.
instead, i'll grind up the beans we have stored (thanks to kevin--xo), and have a little christmas blend this morning. and i will sit on the patio with my libary books and read, as the rain rain rain comes down down down.
and maybe, out of the depths of this fabulous freedom from oppression, i will start to write again.
if not, i will play online pool.
as some of you know, i have taken on the role of poetry editor over at relevant magazine. after months of delays, the new site, including the poetry column, is ready to launch any day now.
thus far, i have a few contributors lined up to showcase their original works. and i need many more. do you write poetry? would you like to see it published on a site with thousands of visitors a day? then email me!
right now, i am looking for summer-related poetry. you may interpret this theme however you like.
i am really excited about the talent pool of my readers over here in bananieworld. show me what yer workin wit.
oh kiddos, what a day it has been. i woke up in a haze this morning, and wore yesterday's hair to work (which happened to still look rather snappy). i have deliberately left out the details of recent work drama, because i am of the opinion that you shouldn't have to be stressed out about it too.
let's just say this: discontent with certain dynamics in the workplace have been simmering since may, and it all came to a boiling point two weeks ago, when i called that meeting. since then, the days have been seemingly normal (ie no mo drama), but my levels of panic, and ensuing lack of energy after hours, have continued to worsen.
this is a job i really wanted to keep as my own. i wanted to come aboard full time after my contract was up. however, after the discovery of real life in the office, i started struggling with the slow realization that i simply cannot cut it. the fine line between fiscal responsibility and psychological wellbeing has been a source of said panic.
i don't know why it was today that made me brave and/or irresponsible. maybe it was the weekend: staying in bed all day saturday, and then feeling the need to self-medicate all day on a perfectly restful sunday. something simply struck me this morning as i scanned my badge and walked into the office. i turned on the lights, fired up the computer, sipped my coffee, and thought: enough.
i sat on the idea of putting in notice all day. i wavered. in the end, however, i had a phone conversation with my boss at the temp agency, and told her that i can't pull it off anymore. my last day will be friday.
i have never quit a job before. i've parted ways with employers, for one reason or another, but have never properly quit because i could no longer handle it. it's a rather humbling experience. scary too, because the income goes away next week.
and it was in the midst of this that i got the email from saint edward's:
I am delighted to report that the MLA Committee has recommended your unconditional admission to our program. Your essay was certainly a lovely one, speaking a powerful language of becoming and testifying to your rich experiences...
these words made me brave.
what made me braver still was when i sat alone at mozart's, by the water. phone by my side, i was waiting for the phonecall from my boss. i was waiting to quit. the heat was stifling. the fans were loud and useless. my phone rang. i laid it all bare. the conversation ended. and then, it started to rain. thick and heavy tear drops fell from a single cloud in the sky. people ran for cover with newspapers over their heads. and i walked calmly to my car. i drove home with the windows open.
i've just been accepted into the St. Edward's masters program.
more news to come...
i think that it must be an (un?)written rule that when writers are stuck, or empty, or bored with their undertakings, they overload themselves with books. naturally, there are many reasons for this phenomenon:
1. to see how other authors pull it all off
2. to fill up on other inspiration and ideas
3. to steal said ideas and call them your own
4. pure, unadulterated procrastination
5. to distract themselves from pesky panic attacks.
as for me, i choose options 1-5.
and the books?
let's see. i've been raiding the library for various james baldwin essays, as well as eudora welty's the optimist's daughter. i confess, i'm having trouble getting interested in the latter. does that make me less educated?
i've also been frequenting amazon's zshops, where one pays $4.00 for shipping on a $.97 used book. i like this arrangement. thus far, i'm developing quite the collection:
a book (whose title eludes me at the moment) about sexual/spiritual development of anne frank and etty hillesum through study of their holocaust writings. a bit heavy, really.
nick hornby's a long way down. good novel of why/how not to commit suicide.
stiff: the curious lives of human cadavers by mary roach. morbidly entertaining. quite enlightening, too.
a complicated kindness by miriam toews. good old-fashioned story about being ostracized from your community.
encyclopedia of an ordinary life by amy krouse rosenthal. genius. and funny. very anne lamott in abc order.
travels with charley by steinbeck. awaiting this one. but it sure looks good. i thought i'd read it with my charleydog.
so there you have it: my summer reading list. any other suggestions for me?
pee ess: for a nice summer list of new books, salon is always a good source...
welcome back to me. i've been home a little more than 48 hours now, and migraine con cramps withstanding, now is a good time for a bit of reflection.
first. apology to friends i did not see. mister perry, i received your voicemail invitation to a fantastic saturday night at the exit/in, and i apologize for not calling you back. and to jillymae and carlen and steve (who i'm not sure was even in nashville at all...), i regret not being able to get together with you.
here's the thing. it should come as no surprise that i am a recovering bananie. just read last year's scant blog entries. i'm still surfacing from a rough, rough year of a crippling sort of depression. panic attacks aside, i've made (by the grace of God and effexor) wonderful progress back into the land of the living. and so i was exceedingly excited, with new shoes and all, to land in nashville for fun times and libations with the dear friends i miss.
unfortunately, things did not go as planned. i wound up crashing a bit, and spending a lot of time lounging on marlei's couch, while she poured the wine or made the milkshakes. i watched movies and read a lot. i had wonderful visits with nicole and kevin, who came to me.
ironically, i was beginning to feel a lot better by my last day in nashville. my darling friend jamesy travelled down from bowling green, ky to spend a small afternoon with me. we sat mostly at cafe coco, drinking happy hour beer, and playing with his intimidating camera.
i was finally in that get-up-and-go mood, but had to get up and go to the airport, where the closest thing to hanging out with friends was when william hung got off a southwest flight with an entourage of mom and dad. (remember? 15 minutes of american idol fame--the pitiful parody kind--with "she bangs" off key and sickly endearing.) people pointed and chanted "she bangs she bangs she moves she moves" as he walked by waving. ah, america. such fireworks.
it really was wonderful to be in nashville, even though i felt guilty about not seeing many of the folks i wanted to. i got to have a couple of beers with julie, and we chatted about life and music and funny things, and she even gave me a copy of a new song. she's perfectly adapted a poem by christina rosetti, which i would like to share here, if i may:
by Christina Rossetti
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.
But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.
Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you standing at that door.
Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.
and those words, honestly, sum it all up. the journey of coming to life, that is.