Saturday, February 27, 2010

Surprised by Joy

The Medical Spanish course requires so many hours of service credit. Today was my first day.

I was not looking forward to it.

Why? Because I'm not proud of my Spanish. Because it was from 10-2. Because these things require dealing with people and I just wanted to sleep in and have my Saturday.

Maybe you can guess what's coming. This tends to be the theme of my blog/life, my gloomy expectations that are smashed into a thousand pieces of joy.

Yes. It was wonderful. We were at a health fair, manning the dental education table. I had fun (so much), I had my presentation on dental care down and everyone was really sweet and patient with my Spanish. The kids were adorable beyond description of course, and the moms and dads were sweet and smiling. There are so many dads, is what I kept thinking, and later I processed my surprise and realized it's because you don't see that so much in my demographic. You know, families with dads still there and hugging their kids. I loved it. I loved it a lot. Tomorrow I'm going to a screening, and have no idea what awaits. But I have a much better attitude about it.

In other news, I am still in love with my Mr. Rogers red sneakers, and Drew and Ellie Holcomb are the best. Most adorable husband/wife in the world, and rich lovely music. Give 'em a listen.

And right now, I am exhausted. I would like to nap for two hours. But there are too many things this afternoon, and even some of them will have to give. Working out, working on thesis, shopping for dinner, making dinner, and it would be nice to have some introvert time to sort out my inner self (it's hard knowing how much attention to pay to my inside. Too much, and I get neurotic and morbid. Too little, and I forget who I am).

To the quad. To sunshine and outside when responsibility crowds.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Notes from the Front

This morning, before I really woke up, I thought I was back in my bedroom at the old house, the one we lived fifteen years, sleeping in the pink daybed I had til I was eleven. Then my roommate made a noise and I was very confused for a few minutes.

The last time I heard John Stone speak, on repentance, things converged in my life to one of those turning times, the kind you look back at again and again to remember how clear God is sometimes. This weekend, I heard him speak again, on the cross of Jesus. The same kind of convergence, though not as dramatic, and, I think, longer worked-out.

I am not going to exercise today. Usually I make this decision midday-afternoon. See what happens, hope that I can still squeeze it in. Not today. Exhaustion + tight schedule, pure and simple. Decide accordingly.

Leonardo was in a Monday mood yesterday. Sometimes, I try to cheer him up and it doesn't really work. Yesterday I decided to make fun of him instead and things were great. Moral: a little meanness can be very effective.

Lately I have been writing poems off Grimms' fairytales. Disturbing, deeply deeply disturbing. That is all. Ever read The Juniper Tree? My children will grow up on Beatrix Potter and A.A. Milne, thank you very much.

Yesterday, I put some clothes in the wash. Then I collapsed on the bed and fell asleep with my shoes on. The nap was much too short. And they were red sneakers that I bought for five bucks at WalMart. In case you were wondering.

I have not been dependent on coffee since early January. This is a good thing, I think. Today is a coffee day, though. In fact, a constant caffeine drip, that would be preferable. I'd even numb my fear of IVs. Ohhh. That is a tough decision . . . yes. The caffeine wins. Take my left hand, though.

Monday, February 15, 2010

P.S. I love you too

My shoes, my new and favorite black suede ruffled flats, have decided to run away. I run up the stairs, look down, and see a shoe resting several steps down. The first few times this happened, I felt like Cinderella. After another fifty get-away attempts, I just felt ticked.

Today, I did not see Leonardo because of President's Day. I was sad, but honestly not too sad because I had a bunch of work to do and he was probably having a great time because he wasn't in school. The point is, I had an extra hour or so I hadn't expected. So I sat in Harry's and worked on the short story that has been draining the life out of me. Then I had lunch with Erin, went to the library, and worked for almost two hours. 950 words later, story is done. It's about my great-great grandmother, Bathsheba Thornton. Yes, that really was her name. Glad the parents decided not to pass that one down.

In other news, this was a really happy Valentine's weekend. I didn't realize this until Erin said so yesterday, I suddenly saw it was so. I got to spend time with the perfect group of good friends on Friday. On Saturday night, Swing Kids kindly let us butt in on their dance and take the money for our mission trip. More friends there, and so much fun. Awkward, yes, to be dipped two dances in a row by short and silent men, but I am a writer. I welcome awkward. Good material. And on Sunday I watched I Capture the Castle with Joanna C. and two other awesome English major girls. They'd all read the book, too. We had ourselves a nice English major party, what with the BBC movie and tea and pastry.

Oh, and my cousin Brannon's email from last week. Brannon is 23. He and his twin were born super early, and he has some physical and mental challenges, but I for one think he does quite well. He's got email now, and it's the best thing ever. Here's part of his email.

Dear Anna,
Thank you for the Email you send me, It was really sweet of you as a cousin to send me that Email, and I appreciated it. My cold and allergies went away, and I have gone back to my normal walks. But last Wednesday, I was streching out of bed too hard, and I popped my back neck. My dad told me that my back neck was going to be sore, but when I got out of bed the next day, my back neck was feeling a lot better, it was just for 1 day for my back neck to start hurting, but I just hope I'll never strech out of bed like that again. I hope you found a Valentine, because Valentine's Day is on Sunday, I got to find myself a pretty girl to be my Valentine for Valentine's Day, so that I can start dating pretty soon. Maybe I should give a pretty girl some roses for Valentine's Day. I sure hope I can find a girlfriend pretty soon that is too crazy for me. Keep up with your schoolwork at Samford, and I hope you have a romantic Valentine's Day. We will hope to see you in Easter.
P.S I love you too.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

One down, five to go

I'm a pale shade of blue this morning. The kind that doesn't exactly keep me from life, just drains energy and makes me subdued.
Reason? I got my first grad school notification yesterday. From Wash. U. It was an "I am so sorry to inform you" notification.

Sigh. Mixed feelings, as always. It would've been nice for the first news to be acceptance. And it would've been really nice to have St. Louis as an option. Then again, I am already torn and leaning closer to home. And like A.P. said, if all the schools say no that makes my decision much easier. In fact, that would be excellent. Clear-cut direction, God, that is what I like. None of this uncertainty stuff.

And I get to the end of the week and realize things have been hard (inside my head, I mean) and I haven't been dealing with it very well. It's not that life- there have been many bright things. But sometimes I hurtle through the days and then find myself wishing to weep out the frustration and pain, to grieve the heaviness of life.

Now I feel the urge to qualify. There is so much good in my life. Like last night, resting with friends who know me, the comfort of laughter and saying whatever came into our heads and knowing it was safe. Or the bird I saw on my way to work the other day, that made me smile because it was so fat and funny. Things like chai tea and high merriment with my roommate.

And snow. Which is funny, because I didn't want it to come. Too mush and mess. And now that it's here, I am enchanted in spite of myself.

Oh, and also: friends who do things like this to your car

Monday, February 8, 2010


Every Monday morning, I get to go to a nearby elementary school. I see Leonardo and we write a story with his spelling words and read Henry and Mudge and he tells me his own stories. Because he is one of those people who sees life as an epic adventure. That's why school makes him a little bit cranky sometimes. Nothing is routine to him.

Last week, I got a card from my best boy. It had all my favorite things: butterflies, flowers, and lots of pink and red. He'd spent a lot of time on it. It made my eyes go all wet and blurry for a moment.

In the card, he wrote his name in cursive and used the word "spectacular." I smile all over again when I read that word.

Besides being an awesome storyteller, Leo also loves animals and knows more about them than I do. So now he brings his animal book every week and he is so interested he reads hard words without realizing they are hard. Did you know that cheetahs are not considered big cats because they cannot roar? We both felt sorry for the cheetah.

I never wanted to be an elementary school teacher. You can't adequately help all the kids, and most of the time is spent in discipline. I still feel that way.

But I love working with Leonardo. I love it when we find new and fun ways to practice spelling, I love it when he sounds out words right, I love to see the light of understanding come on in his eyes. And I love what Mrs. T., the ESL teacher, does. She works one-on-one or in very small groups with the ESL kids, and her classroom is a safe place for them. They laugh, they feel confident.

So all this has confused my career plan. I love literature and analysis, I love thinking big thoughts. But I also love what I get to do with Leonardo. And I don't want to stop.
This has messed up my tidy post-graduation path. And I don't know which way to go.

One thing is for sure: this kid has got my heart.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Home. A gold blanket and the most comfortable couch in the world. The rattle of the dryer (laundry noises=love). The sweet grey dog curled up dry in the basement. And the sound of rain on the porch and roof and windows.

I am content. And, lately, hopeful. It came pretty easy last week. This week - it's a fight.

Go back to this: hope is a practice, not a feeling. A tightrope of trust I'm only just learning to walk.

Tonight, I rest in that.

Tomorrow: busy. But good busy. Cooking and cleaning and m-a-y-b-e homework busy.
Hard part: Deciding what to cook. For the concert snacks, that is. Strawberry shortcake cake? Chocolate nut bark? Pecan shortbread? Cake pops? Nut butter cups? Raspberry twists? Choices, choices. Suggestions welcome.

To clear up some confusion: First of all, I forget that people read this blog more than once in a blue moon. And did not think anyone would catch the V-day joke. The boy in my life is named Leonardo, and he is ten years old, and every Monday I go to his school and we practice spelling and reading and he manipulates my heart strings. And because he is hilarious and sweet and amazing and I want to adopt him, he is getting his own special Leonardo post in the very near future. Yay Leo!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My heart is a winter sky

Photo by Pete Sy

Today, I wore my hair curly and drank vanilla caramel truffle tea.

I wrestled with lots of heavy thoughts by 1 pm, and had to fight very hard to keep my eyes open in Shakespeare. I didn't really win.

I dreamed that I married a super nice guy named Darcy, and I was miserable because he was so nice but I didn't love him and was afraid to cancel the wedding because we spent so much money on invitations.

In the dream, my dad and I drank mojitos and he said I should have the marriage annulled. My dad would never drink a mojito. Or advise an annullment.

I had supper with Joanna and Deborah and English major Joanna, and ate left-over bake sale cookies back in the room.

And I wore a pink shirt and decided to write a blog post instead of working on my thesis.

Semi-guilty announcement: I now have class only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It feels a little bit wrong. And a lot wonderful. The thing is, my classes are pretty much all writing classes. That means I have to actually do work on the non-class days.

RUF had a bake sale today, and the cookies I made all sold. That made me feel like a real woman. The cupcakes I made did not all sell. That made me question my cupcake decorating skills. Which could pass for a third grader's.

And this evening I got to hang out at the Sterlings and laugh and talk with Susie and some really wonderful girls. I laughed a lot. I needed it. I also ate a lot of m&ms. Those I did not need.

Stay tuned for up-coming episodes, which will feature such issues as the Stephen Gordon house concert (come one, come all, this Saturday!), updates on the salamander quest, and a post on the amazing boy named Leonardo in my life. Stay tuned, kids.