The moon is full and bright. The palm trees outside are swaying like a hurricane.

I woke up an hour ago to the wind howling against my one window — a window so badly insulated that my curtains are moving even though the window is closed — and the moon shining so brightly through my other window, the itty-bitty porthole window by my bed, that I just awoke, extracted myself from my sleep cocoon, and constructed a curtain from thumbtacks and a bath towel.

It must be an exceptionally good night for werewolves.

The raccoons seemed happy earlier, their little raccoon feet scampering across the roof. Now they have likely blown away or been eaten. Or they are  making babies in the chimney. Chim, chim, cheree.

It is a good night for feeling a little crazy, for waking up in the middle of the night and whispering prayers, for ceasing the tossing and turning to reach over, snap on the light, and write. Now that I sit up, my head is drooping to the side. In the dark, I forgot I was tired. In the light, I’m so tired I can’t figure out a clever way to end this sentence.

I have a zit. I hope it’s gone tomorrow.

Sometimes it helps to cushion the real stresses in life by fretting about miniscule things.

Sometimes it helps to cushion the real stresses in life by getting a good night’s sleep.

Sometimes stresses get worse when one lies awake thinking about werewolves. Not the Twlight werewolves. Real werewolves. Gross, bony, evil werewolves with their giant, curved spinal cords, their knobby, branched fingers and razored fingernails, their dripping fangs, their rank breath, their coarse ugly hairs that grow from their stinky pores.

So, I have constructed a curtain out of a towel and thumbtacks, and I am hiding in my down blanket, hoping that now the wind will sing me to sleep. Hopefully the raccoons have satiated the werewolves’ ruthless hunger, and my towel-curtain will keep their snouts from poking in.

Good night, werewolves. Tomorrow you will just be little men again, awaking in ditches without your clothes.

Do other people sleep in such odd positions?

Lately I cannot fall asleep if any one of the following is not in place:

1. Lying flat on my back
2. Two pillows inside one pillow case under my knees
3. My special down pillow (that has three pillow cases on it because it has leaked feathers for the last 5 years) wadded up behind my neck
4. My down blanket folded in half for doubled warmth, tucked under my feet so they have a nice little warming pocket, and tucked around my body, like a mummy
5. My down blanket entirely covering my neck
6. A throw pillow slightly elevating my left shoulder

It occurred to me last night that this would be a nice position in which to die.

They could place pennies over my eyes, like in the olden days, and after enough days have passed to ascertain that I am, indeed, dead, they could lower my body on a gurney out the back window, and set my worldly remains afire on a raft in the Newport Canal.

My sleeping position would also be a nice way to experience chrysalis, I imagine, and no, that is not an illegal drug.

About a Boy

April 16, 2010

So, I drove up to Fullerton this evening to meet a guy.

I don’t say this very often about the guys I meet up with, but he was pretty special.

His name is Augustin Elias, but that’s kind of a big name of a little guy. So I’ll just call him Gus.

His older sister Nadia is one of my favorite little people ever. She calls me Miss Ann.

One of the hardest things about living so far away from my family is living far away from these two:

They call me Aunt Annie.

When I can’t live close to those who call me Aunt Annie, it sure is nice to have a couple of cuties who call me Miss Ann.

There’s the little burrito now.

I’m thankful to have old and dear friends nearby… and thankful that I get to watch Gus grow big.

Pus Eye

April 14, 2010

For the past few days, my boss Laura has been calling me “Pus Eye”.

Before you go calling the authorities for Employee Mistreatment, let me note that one conversation we had today went something like this:

Laura: I wish I didn’t look like I was 14 today. I’m wearing flats, and I look like I’m 4-foot-nothing.
Ann: Well, if it makes you feel any better, I haven’t showered for 3 days.
Cristina (chimes in): Really? Three days?
Ann: Yes. I’m conserving water. [Pauses]. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m really lazy.

That story was to illustrate that we have good, honest comraderie in my office. We don’t call one another Pus Eye and expect each other to cry about it.

But I did cry about it. Involuntarily.

Because my Pus Eye is also watering.

I think I have an infected tear duct, and the pus has filled the tear duct to the point that it will not drain my tears. Someone ought to create a product to fix this and call it Drano: For Eyes. Only that might not sell very well, so… forget that. Heh.

While my eye has been feeling (and looking) better today, the last few days have been rather tedious. Monday night was the worst. I won’t go into detail, but every-so-often, I’d have to wipe my eye of a substance similar to mucous. It was itchy and hurt a little and all red.

Before you ask if I have pink eye, the answer is no, I do not have pink eye, and that’s disgusting. I most certainly would not be sharing on my blog if I had pink eye, and if you know what pink eye really is, you know why.

It happened a lot to farm kids in rural Minnesota where I grew up.

After they had fertilized the fields, if you know what I mean.

No, I believe Pus Eye is the result of a dangerous liaison. Instead of combining prescription drugs and alcohol, I combined mascara and sleep. For this problem, there ought to be preventative commercials featuring breakfast food.

This is your eye. This is your eye on old mascara.

Anyway, that’s not the point. I do have a point. But first, here is something else that is not the point:

Pus Eye has actually been kind of fun because I get to simulate crying at random moments. For example:

“Do you know Jessie?”
Eye fills up and tear rolls down cheek: “You don’t know how much I wish I could.”

“What are you doing?”
Eye fills up and tear rolls down cheek: “I am eating Cheerios. Grandpa used to eat Cheerios.”

“How is work going?”
Eye fills up and tear rolls down cheek: “They are calling me Pus Eye.”

The point is that the whole thing is making me think about that passage in the Bible where Jesus tells people not to try to pick the spec out of someone else’s eye without first removing the plank from our own.

There is a lot of gross stuff coming out of my eye. People see it and call tell there’s something wrong. It’s pretty easy for this intuitive brain to make a connection between my current physical ailments and my spiritual ailments. What would someone think if I walked up to her and told her that her eyeshadow is a terrible color while my eye is covered with pus?


They Bring May Flowers

April 12, 2010

Before we get into this post, I just want to share what my friend Lee Ella shared with me on my Facebook wall this morning: “Last night I dreamed you and I got in a fist fight at a skating rink. You kept screaming, ‘I must win because I’m wearing polyester.’ You were and you did. Way to go.”

I love it that 1. I won, 2. Lee Ella took the time to share this with me, and 3. Lee Ella has vivid dreams (about me).

It is raining today. The Californians are saying that June Gloom has come early. It is cold, and I am grateful that today is my day to work from home, where I can hole up in my little room, under my fluffy down blanket, and plow through my email inbox. The window is open even though it is cold outside. The smell of the rain feels as though it is refreshing my lungs — it is the same damp musty smell that saturated my dad’s auto repair shop when I was a little girl — and I don’t mind that my fingers have iced over.

I am thinking a lot about time lately. Last night on the phone with my mom, I was expressing some grievances about life. She expressed sympathy, and I said, “It’s okay. When it comes right down to it, someday I will die, and none of this will matter anymore.”

But I have dreams. I have things I want. Lately there is this one thing that I think of, and every time I think of it, my heart just naturally wells up with prayer. It seems that the wanting is rooting deep, deeper each day, and I struggle with how much I should pray, “Thy will be done,” and how much I should pray, “God, I want this.” So, typically, my little in-car or before-bed conversation goes something like this: “God, you know my heart,” and then I throw in something about how C.S. Lewis talks about the problem with us humans is not that we ask too much of God, but that we don’t ask enough.

God must be impressed with my intelligence when I mention C.S. Lewis.

So, needless to say, I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams lately. I love my life and my job — I love the present-tense of my life right now, but being only 27, there is much future-tense to be had.

The other day my dear old high school friend Ryan recorded this. I haven’t seen him in years — he lives in Berlin now. I’m excited to reconnect with him and learn about his life. Ryan is an incredible photographer. He has always been an immensely talented musician, and to hear him singing this was touching. His voice is so beautiful and melancholy, just like Ryan himself. He lets himself feel things. He is a tremendous artist and a loyal friend. So, yesterday I asked him if I could re-post this song for you all, because it resonated with me:

Have you been half asleep
And have you heard voices
I’ve heard them calling my name
Are these the sweet sounds that called
The young sailors
I think they’re one and the same
I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it
There’s something that I’m supposed to be

I have done a lot of things in my life, and I’ve come to a place where, even though things are tough at times, God has instilled in me a sense of peace and purpose. It’s really kind of surreal, given my record of anxiety. I’m thankful. The only way I can explain it is to say that his grace is sufficient for me, and his power is made perfect in my weakness.

The last few years have included a lot of hard decisions — the hardest ones I’ve ever made — and sometimes I am tempted to have regrets. What if I had gone to fashion school right out of high school instead of spending those years at college in Arkansas? What if I had taken this guy or that guy back and married him or him? It would be so nice to have a partner with whom to share this period of my life. What if I still lived close to my family?

It is a sacrifice to live this far away. It is a sacrifice to think about how big my niece and nephew are getting and that I am just this person who floats in and out of their lives during the holidays to get re-acquainted and then leave again. My favorite cousin is due to have a baby in August, and I so desperately want to go to Minnesota during that time, because it’s so, so important when a new person joins your family. It’s beautiful and terrifying all at the same time.

And then there are all these hopes and dreams that well up inside me at random moments. If my life were a musical, they are the moments I would break forth in song. I talked to my grandma on the phone last night. It seems that my life is the time for looking forward, and hers is the time for looking back.

So, I’m not going to have any regrets. I’m just going to strive to trust that God knows my heart and that whatever I’m supposed to be, I’ll be.

Transitional Forms

April 11, 2010

Sometimes things just strike me as remarkably funny, and I cannot explain why they make me laugh.

For example:

Pretty soon they’re going to be telling us that people evolved from cats.

I am sorry if you did not laugh. I recognize that sometimes my humor does not translate. Like the time my co-worker was wondering why her desk had a small, cubby space in it, enclosed by a small, swinging door.

“It is not useful space,” she said.

I told her, “It is where the puppies are kept.”

And I still laugh out loud about that moment.

You do not need to tell me. I know it is not really funny.

Tonight a friend asked me if I have any trips planned lately. I was at an event for the nonprofit I work for.

“No,” I said. “I am not planning on going anywhere for a little while. I’m just really happy. I love my house. I love my friends. I love my job. I’m staying put.”

It was great to be able to say that and mean it.

In a few months, the tourists will start to come. Before they get here, it is good to remember that this is just down the road from where I sleep each night:

One way a storm is building.

The other way, there’s this.

And this. I will never get over this.

But the best of all is this…

I don’t know what my life would be without this.

These are ladies I work with: my boss, my co-worker, and our former intern. Tonight we worked an event together, and I am reminded again how grateful I am to have them close. And to have a job that I believe in and love.

Life isn’t always easy, but God is so, so faithful.

Remember back a few years ago, when I started this blog, and I moved to California, and I didn’t know where this California adventure would lead me or if I would even be able to stay here? Remember? This is why I’m here. And it feels so good to know that.

So, thank you God, for revealing your faithfulness to me this weekend, through the beauty of this place, and the beauty of my friends.

So, this happened back in December, and it was really funny. But maybe you had to be there.

I have a brother. He is older than me and lives in South Dakota and teaches at a university. He is a smarty pants, and I miss him. He likes to read books and gave me a book for Christmas called The Ugly American. I thought he was trying to tell me something passive-aggressively. And then he told me that it is about cultural awareness — an area in which many Americans are lacking. Both of us travel to Asia for our jobs. It’s kind of neat to have that in common as adults. Someday I hope we will be able to hang out in India together.

My brother also really likes basketball. He has two kids, a girl and a boy, and I love them. When we were both at our parents’ house in Minnesota over Christmas, my brother was trying to watch a game on ESPN. However, his children were not in support of this decision. They protested, and my brother, being a good father, found a solution for the issue:

A Lady’s Boudoir

April 8, 2010

I’m very creative.

Which is what I say because my bedroom is messy all the time.

However, my friend Amy is coming to visit tomorrow from Nebraska (yipee-ay-i-eee!), so I figured I’d better clean up, else she would take one look at my room and book a hotel.

This is the first room I have inhabited for more than a year in the last 8 years. I know, I know, that’s crazy, what am I thinking, that’s a lot of shoveling stuff from one place to another. You don’t need to tell me that. The hop-scotch life was getting rather old. I’m starting to feel at home here, so I’m kind of proud of my little fox hole. It’s the first room I’ve had in a long time that didn’t sit halfway in cardboard boxes. It feels good to have a home. We ladies figure none of us will ever move unless one of us gets engaged, or our landlord kicks us out. So, I feel good about finally having a room that I plan on keeping as long as possible. I’ve actually spent some time making my little foxhole a refuge. Sometimes (read: most of the time) I don’t want to leave this room. And now, since it’s especially tidy, I may just use all my sick days.

Just kidding. Sort of.

In case you’re wondering, this is where most of the magic happens.

I’m sorry the first two pictures are a little fuzzy. They looked terrible with the flash on — not at all the lighting my room typically has.

Sometimes when I feel like I want to purchase more clothes, it is nice to organize the ones I have.
Then I get super excited about what I already have.

Sometimes I read.

It’s safe to say that I have a problem. A good bag is like a good pair of shoes.
It never goes out of style. It always fits.

Where I’m sitting right now… mmm…

Remember a few years back when I said that skinny jeans were a trend I would never embrace? Well, as of today, whoopsie.

It all started with my first L.A. roommate Julie. Julie is one of the tiniest people I know. Julie wears the skinny jeans, and she rocks them. I am 5’4” and 120lbs, not a large person by any means, but Julie still makes me feel like a yeti.

This is a picture of a man standing next to a yeti, at a time when Photoshop was only a glimmer in its daddy’s eye.

This is a picture of me standing next to Julie. We are the two in the center. Do you see it? Yeti.

I almost want to place a quarter in this picture to give you some perspective.

(Pay no attention to the belly button. I was channeling Carrie Bradshaw.)

In other news, I love it that Julie poses for the camera, like the photographer is someone very important, when really he was just some guy at the Grove who was gracious enough not to steal my camera. As a result, Julie has a high ratio of good pictures to not-good pictures. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad picture of her.

(Yes, Pandora, I’m still listening.)

Anyway, on from the yeti and the belly button and back to the real issue: Skinny Jeans.

My excuse for not wearing skinny jeans even though Julie looks amazing in them is that she’s about two sizes smaller than I. Of course she can rock the skinny jeans. She’s skinny.

Gradually my Skinny Jean Avoidance has been breaking, bombarded by three specific recent events and culminating today, a day when I am, indeed, wearing skinny jeans. Avoidance be darned (not like socks — the other kind of darning). I am told that the brain naturally thinks in increments of 3’s, 5’s and 10’s. I am convinced that this is why my resolve so easily crumbled.

A few months ago my friend Lindsay bought her first pair of skinny jeans. My co-workers, Laura and Cristina and I met up with her for lunch at this fantastic little Orange County eatery called Side Street Café. She walked in sporting her own pair of skinny jeans and gave a testimonial – a story similar to mine – about the gradual breakdown of her own Skinny Jean Avoidance. Lindsay runs marathons and does Cross Fit and swims. She’s a personal trainer. She’s hot. Of course she can rock the skinny jeans. She’s skinny.

Then, THEN I happened upon a post by one of my favorite bloggers, The Pioneer Woman. I can’t find the post right now, but you should check out her site. She’s better than the cat’s meow. She’s the dog’s pajamas. She writes that big, flowy tops must be paired with skinny jeans, otherwise one looks frumpy. I will believe The Pioneer Woman, because I love her. She is a trusted friend who barely knows that I exist. Still, if she says so… and I think this was a pivotal moment for me, only further exacerbated by the following. (I like using the word exacerbate. It sounds kind of dirty, but it’s not. I’m edgy like that.)

A few months back I jetted up to San Francisco for the weekend to visit my college best friend Leah. Don’t I sound fabulous when I say that I jetted up to San Francisco? This is the kind of glamour I am living here, people. It is the kind of glamour where I sleep on her suede green couch in her living room. It is the kind of glamour that exists in always finding sand in my bed at home. It is the kind of glamour that dwells in the fact that my neighborhood reeks like an oil refinery at 8 p.m. every day. I am convinced the neighbors and I are slowly becoming retarded.

What I’m saying here is that sometimes my life sounds glamorous, but it’s really just life. Though I love my life, it’s a sacrifice to live far away from my family. And I pay mucho dinero to live aqui. Just didn’t want anyone to think that I think my life is more glamorous than it is. In fact, on this particular trip to San Francisco I sat in berry cobbler.

One of Leah’s fabulous friends hosted a fabulous party. We all cooked southern food and wore pearls. We ate pulled pork. We stood in the kitchen in our pearls, discussing cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, until Leah aptly pointed out that we were playing the part of Southern women too well.

Before the party, we had the challenge of transporting to the party three people and enough food to feed a whale in Leah’s Mini Cooper. While we were loading up the car, we set a pan of berry cobbler in the backseat. At the time we departed, I lifted the berry cobbler off the seat, not realizing that it had leaked onto the seat, and held the pan in my lap. As we walked up the many flights of stairs to the party location, Leah’s roommate Erin sympathetically informed me that I had cobbler on my assets.

Thankfully we were planning on returning to Leah’s to drop off her car and take the cable car back now that the food was deposited. That way we didn’t have to find parking and could return to Leah’s from any place in the city without having to return to the party location to pick up her car. So, I said to the ladies, “I promise I didn’t get my period.” And they laughed, and I went back to Leah’s to change. I was wearing a cute dress with boots. But then I had to change into the only jeans I brought. Jeans that were not skinny jeans. And everyone else who was wearing jeans wore skinny jeans.

Here we are:

We are all so pretty, but I am not wearing skinny jeans.

It’s funny how perceptions of things change. I’ve spent the past year getting used to my body settling into its womanliness. I’ve reached the age where it doesn’t miraculously stay skinny. I’ve got some hips. I’ve got some thighs. I’ve always perceived that I could not wear skinny jeans because my lower half is not skinny. But, today, I decided to change my perception of more than just a flighty trend. I’m changing my perception of my body. Because when it comes right down to it, who cares if I’m not as skinny as my friends. I’m rocking the skinny jeans.

I thought I would never do this, but here is a photo of my lower half in the skinny jeans. Go ahead and mock if you wish.

And, while we’re drowning in narcissism, here’s my new haircut.

I like to call it Woman Hair.

It is a phrase coined by my co-worker Cristina, in reference to when a woman takes special care to style her hair.

And finally, because this post is not yet long enough, here’s something very special to me. I am glad to have its support as I learn to wear skinny jeans:

It is the coffee mug I have had since I student taught high school English in the good ol’ days. See how I nestle it to me, like a valued pet? It says, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.”

Thank you for supporting me during this meaningful time.