Saturday, November 29, 2008

Blueberries with Heathcliff

Lemon Cornmeal Cookies = Good

Lemon Cornmeal Cookie Dough = Better

Leftover Drippings of Lemon Cornmeal Dough with Frozen Blueberries = *blissful sigh* i.e., The Best Lunch Ever, i.e., Nobody's Here to Make Me Eat Real Food.

The antioxidants balance out the sugar, right? Oh, they'd just better. That's all I have to say.

My family is gone to the glorious (and wet) fields of Tuscaloosa. A week ago, I wanted to go too. I wanted to go when I imagined it as 55 degrees and sunny. Then yesterday came with nasty weather and the realization I had done nothing on my history presentation. So I had to settle for my oversize Alabama shirt ("est. 1831"), the T.V. version, and a day of solitude. Note: I can hear some of you scoffers now. "She won't REALLY turn on the television for the game." Oh yes I will. Mainly because I have been left instructions to tape this historic game. But I will
make myself sit down and watch some of it and I will keep it on the entire time. So there, cynics.

Family gone means my eating habits get . . . strange. Yes, that is a good word. It goes something like this:

Work on google earth presentation. Reach dead end. Wander to kitchen. Eat a bite of oatmeal-cherry cookie. Wander back to computer. Stare blankly at screen. Internal anguished scream. Add a map overlay. Wander to kitchen . . .

And so on, until I decided I could not. handle. google. earth. any. more. Emphatic period. So I made the Lemon Cornmeal Cookies to go along with the white elephant gift for the RUF Christmas party (I am very excited about my gift. Not to mention the fact that I found it for two dollars. Not to mention the fact that I got to write "FRAGILE" on it after I wrapped it up in brown paper. And no, it isn't a leg lamp. Oh. Sidetracked. Back to cookies). And when I was beaming at the little darlings through the oven window, the aforementioned Frozen Blueberries with Batter Remnants idea came and oh my heavens was it good. Then I had to take the cookies out and wrap them up and of course two got devoured along with countless broken pieces. So I made myself eat half a carton of yogurt for protein. And now the carrot bag is sitting on the counter to defer any worse sugar-carb binges. And hot lemon tea. Lemon tea is verrryyyy good. So are lemon cookies. UMM, subject change. I have to have just . . . one . . . NO.

School Update!!!!
Poetry Paper = Nine full pages, nine point five when I write the conclusion, the only thing left. Happy. I think I like this paper. Especially the part when I compare reading a Robert Penn Warren poem to a hobo jumping on a train.

Webfolio: I have my articles. I'm ready for Monday!

Brit. Lit.: Yeats and Auden wait to be printed out and stapled and turned in with a fatalistic sigh on Monday.

History: Google Earth Presentation. Shudder. Protestant mission schools of 19th century Syria are mildly interesting (on a good day). But there is nothing really fascinating to show geographically. "Yep, here's where they traded a donkey for a plot of land, but the Maronite sect burned down that school in 1843, and here's where they learned about blacksmithing . . ."
I am dangerously unmotivated about this presentation. Um. Help?

Legal Spanish: I just remembered I have a test on Thursday . . . yep. Better get on that.

But now the Sweet Dog and I will venture outside to be Emily Bronte and her loyal canine companion, wandering the moors in the rain and mist. Emily Bronte has to wander for a long time today. She has a weakness for Lemon Cookies.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Fields of Home

So I finally got a new template. No, I didn't make it. But if we were going to wait for Anna to figure out how to do that on her own, we were going to wait a long (long) time. And I don't know about you, but I'm ready for something other than blah generic-ness. Yay pretty flowers!

I was about to go to bed after I finished choosing/uploading the new layout. Then my foot fell asleep. Painfully. Asleep. So I'm sort of stuck here until it comes to life again, and I might as well write a post, yes? Yes. 

Home is amazing. Today is amazing. I worked a productive hour on my poetry paper, and killed a psychotic wasp, and chose balance instead of perfection, and baked chocolate-coconut-pecan-cherry oatmeal cookies, and re-worked a poem. A good day. A Very Good Day.

Ms. Ann - one of my mother's old college friends - drove over for Thanksgiving and I am glad, because she is one of the most entertaining people I know. When she called today, she had just (accidentally) washed her hair with the dog's shampoo (it smells like green apples, though, so disaster averted). And these things are every day events in her life, and that is why I like her so much. She attracts bizarre people, events and situations. All the time. And yet she still laughs, and often. And brings us pumpkin bread. 

I made my family watch Lars and the Real Girl last night, and they liked it too, and that made me happy. Tomorrow night: Mystery Science Theatre 3000 - Santa Conquers the Martians. 
What? What is this? Is it possible - that I can actually watch movies again without a) thinking of all the work I have to do, b) obsessively applying different schools of literary criticism to every scene, or c) falling asleep. 

In other news: last week, Erin and I gave all our friends Puritan names. It started as a joke in Prayership, and evolved into an absorbing game. Soon I found myself naming everything that crossed my path. You should try it too, with this link (thanks, Erin!). I'll be referring to it in a few years for my ten denim-suited children. "Prudence! Get off the roof! And Mercy, stop hitting Justice!"

And now I need bed badly, because the babies (alright, they're eight and six) are coming tomorrow - i.e., my two hell-raisin' little cousins David and Josh, who will drain every ounce of energy out of my weary bones. Good thing I love them. And I have a plan, which basically involves running around outside until they (or I) fall down. Of course, these are the cousins who proclaim, "We don't like outside!" Onto Plan B: Banister sliding. 

Draw my soul to Thee, my Lord,
Make me love Thy precious Word!
Bid me seek Thy smiling face,
Willing to be saved by grace.
Dearest Jesus, bid me come -
let me find Thyself my home. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

After Apple-Picking in Canada

Yeah, I should really be writing that 8 page Poetry paper right now. If it was two weeks ago, it would be a fun paper to write and I would pour my very soul into it. But it is Thanksgiving week and I get to go home tomorrow and see my mom and my dad and my brother and the Sweet Dog and walk around the Loop and bake pumpkin bread (and a recipe with cranberries that I saved back at fall break) and sleep in my bed and - but I need to write this paper so I can enjoy all that. 

So what justifies this irresponsible flight into blog-land when I should be thinking about Robert Penn Warren and how he's influenced my philosophy on line-breaks? Well, I will tell you.

Because I am RELIEVED. So, SO (so) relieved.


Because the internship I was stressing about because I hadn't heard anything back from the person who contacted me and told me I had it, and I have been sending emails and waking up in a ball of anxiety o'nights and imagining a horrible internship-less semester - that internship - is safe and solid and they still want me, whew. 

I'm glad. I dreamed last night that I applied for an internship in an apple orchard and lost it to two other people. I woke at 5:20 and got up, because sleep is futile after you miss the chance to work in an apple orchard. And so I am thankful. Very, very thankful. The stress knot in my chest just relaxed a little bit more. 

On Saturday I watched a movie, "Lars and the Real Girl." Now, I do not like watching movies much anymore (too many things to do, and I'm sitting here, watching a movie, and it's just making me more stressed). And when I first heard about the plot of this particular movie, it immediately landed in the category of "Movies I Have No Desire to Watch, Ever. Ever Ever Ever." I mean, a guy orders an adult toy that is basically a huge Barbie and thinks it is his girlfriend, and all his family and friends play along and pretend it's real? Nope. Not interested. Not at all. 

But then my friend Claire told me it was strangely charming and sweet. That made me re-consider my category placement. Then Anna Page told me that she really liked it. And this surprised me so much that when the Samford Film Club showed it Saturday afternoon, I went.

And I loved it. I loved it so much. It is not the stuff of dirty jokes and crass humor. Instead it is about a lonely guy who keeps emotionally isolating himself, and when he gets this delusion, the entire community surrounds him with support in pretending the thing is real. Including his church. It's set really far north, and the whole cold, grey atmosphere breaking into spring is beautiful, and the way Lars' brother and sister-in-law and friends love him is beautiful, and the scene where he finally lets someone touch his hand is beautiful, and I want to watch it again (and again.) 

You should watch it, too.

"Some places are forever afternoon."
-Richard Hugo

Friday, November 21, 2008

Return of the prodigal

It is Friday and I am wearing a pink sweater. What more have I to ask?

Today, children, I am going to write about my brother Jim. I was already planning on a post on him (because he doesn't read this blog and so why not?) and this very day two things happened that made it very apropos:
1. I woke up with a tear-streaked face because I had one of those dreams where a family member dies and this time it was Jim, and for some reason a person was interviewing me about it, and the more I talked the harder I cried and it felt like I would never stop crying. Whew. Yes, I was glad to wake up.
2. Then I had an unexpected visit from him this afternoon, and we went to Moe's because he hadn't eaten breakfast or lunch (oh the collegiate life). Jim brings out my uninhibited side to the point of embarrassment, and while he told me stories I laughed until tears ran down my face, right there in the Moe's booth (yep, lots of weeping today). 

So all this made me think about him and the different roles he plays. You see, because there are only the two of us children, we have to make up for the lack of siblings. Hence, I am about five different sisters to him, and he has been about fifteen brothers to me. I will highlight three.

The Older Brother. This is the protective-voice-of-reason Jim. He irons his shirts. He drives a stick shift. It makes me feel naive and innocent and very un-muscular, and goes something like this:
Anna: So I was at Reed's bookstore, and -
Jim: Anna, don't go to downtown Birmingham by yourself. That's dangerous. 
Anna: I wasn't by myself, I -
Jim: I mean, go with a boy big enough to protect you. 

The Baby Brother: This is the over-grown five year old who knows he can get most things he wants by being endearing and making me laugh. He turns mad cartwheels in the yard, and sends me papers to edit at 11 the night before they're due, and pelts me with M&Ms from the 2nd floor landing, and asks me lots of questions:
"Anna, can you help me with my Spanish homework?"
"Anna, can you loan me $200 to buy a gun?"
Um, no. 

The Twin: My favorite Jim, because the corners of our brain that our exactly alike emerge. We talk about music, and find that we have (independent of each other) discovered the same artist. Or he will mutter some Simpsons' quote and we both break into raucous laughter. Or we talk about actual quasi-deep issues approaching the surface of Meaning of Life (we're getting there). I like this Jim because we are equals and partners in crime and - gasp - something like friends. 

Conclusion: I love my brother. We're going to watch Mystery Science Theatre 3000 next week! And trade music! And run around like crazy people with the dog! Is Thanksgiving here yet? Sigh.

Obsession of the month: Aldi's. As in the wholesale grocery store. I like it. I like it a lot. They sell FiberOne bars for nearly half the regular price. And you have to put in a quarter to get a shopping cart, so I get to take my own bags. And yogurt is 43 cents and it's pretty much amazing all around. Just . . . don't go there after dark. 

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cardigans and Carolina

So my parents commented on the last blog and it really made my day. Now I feel like I should be waving frantically: Hi Mom! Hi Dad! 

They're nice parents. I like them a lot.

Today: was hard. As in, doing too much thinking and not enough living in the moment. This is my struggle: I am an ideas person. I get excited about ideas. And I want to sit and talk with you about them all day and think about how WONDERFUL this idea is and then I forget about the whole carrying it out part. So theory is important. Reality is important. How to reconcile the twain? That's what I'm asking. 
And that's why today = struggle. Along with a few bouts of stumbling into a whirling vortex of I'll-never-get-better and I'm-so-afraid. But I managed to pull out of the tailspins pretty quickly, and that is good. 

Also good: RUF tonight, which I should be on my way to right now. Because there I will be surrounded by friends who love me and who I love, and sing good songs, and still my soul with truth for a while. And since I had to write a list poem for class, I've been in a list-y mood, so here's a recital of gifts that have fallen into my open hands:

-my brown cardigan. Trivial? Ha, no. I've longed after it for so long. And it makes me feel older. I don't know why. But it is good to feel twenty-two instead of twelve. I think I will wear it every day this week. Or - not. 

-RALPH STANLEY on Friday night who was AMAZING and I want to go live in the North Carolina mountains and have twelve children who will sing harmony and play the mandolin and banjo and guitar around my husband and me as we sit on the front porch in the starlit evening on quilts and rocking chairs with the most adorable babies crowded in my lap and hours and hours and HOURS of sweet bluegrass music. 

-my British Lit paper which is behaving itself so beautifully. I want to beam: Good boys, Yeats and Auden! You make mother so proud. I love it when you play together so nicely. Maybe I won't have to deal with you at ALL over Thanksgiving break.  

-good church and Sunday School with wise women and random deep conversations with my roommate about actually trusting God instead of knowing glib answers

-my new black and cozy fleece which I plan on living in for the rest of the winter, thank you very much. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My major and I are friends again

Another post so soon? Why yes. Reason? Caffeine and literary analysis. I feel happy right now. 

This little black rain cloud of a British Lit. paper has been moping over me for a while now. And the more it loomed, the more I panicked. The more I panicked, the more writing paralysis settled. The more writing paralysis settled, the more I panicked. You get the picture. I went round and round: I have nothing to intelligent to say! What am I going to say! I cannot analyse any more! I cannot read another Auden poem! Can't I just go live with the gypsies for the rest of the semester! (I still feel this would solve a lot of problems. Gypsy life, that is. Bonfires. Dangly earrings. Sleeping in a wagon. And "caravan" is such a cool word. I digress.)

But today, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth and even resorting to an online personality taste as a time-wasting measure, I took my little self to the Third Floor of the Library. Where nooobody talks and all the serious science majors go to look haggard over their enormous books. Away from the computer. Away from chocolate. And it was just me and Auden and Yeats and girded up our loins and plowed through it for a while. 

Then. Oh, then. I went to the food court for the 2nd hour of pain and found companionship and hope for the future in sixteen ounces of a Pumpkin Spice cafe au lait. It sat by me and held my hand while I did some awesome close reading and covered pages in scrawled notes and even got excited to the point of notes like "the BIRDS in 'Sailing to Byzantium' and 'The Shield of Achilles'!!!!!!!!".

And now, I am going to take a walk. A very long walk. A very long walk to get out all the caffeine and excitement and relief that I actually have something semi-intelligent to say. BREATHE. Ahhh.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mercies of the mundane

Last week, I lost my USB stick. The stick in which rested the semester's work for the Journalism website class. The stick that represented every Monday for 10 weeks from 3:30-5:30. Losing it meant re-creating my entire website. 

So, I searched for it. I searched my desk. I searched it with a flashlight in my hand. I haunted the Campus Safety office and begged like a little orphan child at the library lost and found. And yet the entire time I had a strange resignation, the sort of feeling that doesn't even get really upset, just decides that it's gone and I'll  have to do all the work again.

And that's what I deserve. I deserve for it to be lying trampled and forever lost somewhere on the Samford sidewalks. I deserve to have spent this entire afternoon trying to do work I've already done. 

I do not deserve to have friends like Anna Page who urge me to go look one more time when I am about to troop off to the JMC lab. I do not deserve to reach into the bag I already searched three times and close my fingers around that elusive little thumb drive. 

My skeptic voice reasons against the idea of sovereignty in me being stupid and losing something and finding it again. But I choose to see the grace of God in a found thumb drive, in an afternoon spent with friends instead of work, because that's what all of life is - grace. More than I deserve. 

More mercies:
-getting the RUF Christmas party theme changed from "Tacky Holiday Sweater" (so last year) to "Redneck Christmas" (so . . . the Alabama RUF's party last year. Yes, I'm a shameless copycat). Right now Joanna and I are trying to decide between old-grandma-in-flannel-nightgown and overalls-pregnant-and-barefoot. Mmm, decisions. 

-my new coconut-lime lotion. I love it. So. Much. It is amazing and the coconut is Coconut coconut, not Sunscreen coconut. Why can't the whole world smell like coconut-lime? Or leaves burning? Or Stumptown coffee?

-I just went downstairs and found free for al cho-co-late in the kitchen. Hmm. Maybe this shouldn't count as a mercy. I've been eating insatiably in a vain effort to curb the stress (the voice of addiction: "Eat the Twix bar . . . it will make things hurt less." Insert evil laughter). 

-The sermon tonight. What gives us strength to count the cost and die? Jesus died for me. 

-Babysitting adorable Red Mountain babies on Sunday afternoon in their hip little outfits. And I get to see them next week too because I'm filling in for Erin again . . . I just might steal this job. 

-Derek Webb songs. 

Beloved, listen to me
don't believe all that you see
and don't you ever let anyone tell you
that there's anything that you need
but Me

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The sun still comes up

And that title is the only commentary on the elections that you'll get here.

I am writing because I am an English major. No, this is not as obvious as it sounds. I should be studying for the Legal Spanish test tomorrow that is going to chew me up and spit me out in a crumpled mess in the front of the World Languages building. But after studying for an entire forty minutes (sarcasm), my concentration is shot. My psyche is scarred. And I turn to my blog in desperation.

I am an English major because I I can only write papers. Even if it's a boring paper. Even if it's an excrutiating paper that makes me think until my head hurts. At least you can get absorbed in a paper, because it occupies your mind and you are engaged and pouring your life-blood into it and it hurts but at least you're not staring at a study sheet.

So. Instead of studying, I am going to tell you, you darling blog-reading people, what I did yesterday. I went home.

Ostensibly to vote. In reality because I needed to get away, to escape to peace for a little while, and goodness but I didn't want to come back. I pulled around the curve and saw flaming trees riding the little curved field (by the house with the weird dog statues) and suddenly I just wanted to get out of the car and lie in the field and not go back to school ever, ever, ever. Not just school, either. Life. And I went home and my mother hugged me. And I made chocolate chip pumpkin bread and walked in the sunset with the Sweet Dog.
Then my daddy came home and hugged me and that is what I have been needing, oh, so much. And we sat with Mom and ate roasted vegetables and I talked to him for a long time and felt better.

In short: It is good to have somewhere to run to. It does not solve things. But it makes them bearable. And so I go home, where I feel so close to the sky and the trees are brilliant in the burnished fields and my mother is in the kitchen watching Rachel Ray make gourmet sloppy joes.

Love is from no distance calling, faithful as the rising sun
Warms the bitter heart and heartache till the east of eden's gone
Clouds of fear and misconception, wax and wane as if the moon
So is in a sense forsaken, till the will of God be known
As a songbird that has fallen, only to regain the sky,
from this frozen shadow valley they must be revived

-"As a Songbird That Has Fallen," Cold Mountain soundtrack

Monday, November 3, 2008

On this week's edition . . .

This post was going to be hyper like a six year old after a hard day's night of trick-or-treating. 

Then. I took a shower. 

I love hot showers. I love them best at night. Probably because it reminds me of when I was small and baths were always at night (why did I hate baths so much? It was always fun after you got in - endless things to pretend in the water. Like the mermaid scene in "Peter Pan." Or baptizing Barbies. Or - my personal favorite - Jesus turning the water into wine. Favorite Bible story growing up, hands down. Wow. Tangent. Back to showers).  
And now I feel like my mind is on some form of muscle relaxant. No filter. As you likely gathered from the endless parentheticals. So instead of anything coherent, I'm taking the easy way out and doing a "Highlights from the Week" segment here on Anna's blog. 

Highlight #1: Hallowe'en party on Friday night. Because I won $10 for my Girl with a Pearl Earring costume. I love Free Stuff. However. I do not watch movies anymore, because college has given me the attention span of a two year old and I keep thinking of all the other things I could be doing. So I was going to do the trendy blog thing and host a giveaway of my hard-won money. Then Jim called last night and I remembered that I love him a lot and promised the tickets to him. Sorry. 

Highlight #2: Eating an ice cream cone in the sun today with friends on either side. Waffle cone. Sun. Fountain. Friends. Happiness. 

Highlight #3: I had never seen "Singing in the Rain" all the way through. Not until yesterday, that is. I don't remember why I didn't find it charming before. But I like it obsessively now. The colors. The corny humor that makes me laugh way too loud. The Good Morning song (love). Yes. It's good.

Highlight #4: The morning light sheening through deep translucent red leaves. I see it every day on the way to breakfast and hurt a little from sheer beauty each time. 

Highlight #5: Doing laundry tonight with Bounce dryer sheets. Simple pleasures, folks. Simple pleasures. 

P.S. I am well now. As proven by my consuming as much peanut butter, chocolate and coffee as I can get my hands on. Yay.