Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I found Happiness

The other day the Pilot plucked an eyelash off my cheek, holding it out so that I could make a wish and blow it away. A silly notion, to wish upon a piece of eyelash. Eyelashes fall all the time, what makes it special? And yet, I went in for the wish. But then, I hesitated.
My go-to wish for birthday candles, shooting stars, and eyelashes had, for most of my adult life, been for happiness. Eyes squeezed tight, fists balled, thinking with all my might, I wish I could be happy again. I was finished with depressed, unwilling to be simply content. I wanted euphoria. I wanted to wake up every morning excited about the day ahead. I wanted to go to sleep with a smile on my face. I did not want to have to push myself through each moment of each day. And so, I wished for happiness.

I sat on the couch staring at the lash on his calloused finger. My wish on the tip of my brain. But another thought floated in. Why wish for something you already have? I was surrounded by happiness. I was sitting across from my love who was patiently waiting for me to relieve him of the eyelash. Sitting cozy in the apartment of a dear friend who after only a few short weeks knew all my hopes and dreams, laughing with a girl who just a few hours earlier had begged me to never leave Texas. I was drinking wine, telling stories and giggling. Staring at that simple eyelash I realized how happy I had become.

In high school I had moments of fleeting happiness. Mostly it was dramatic and heartbreaking filled with backstabbing and fair weather friends.
In college I was miserable from start to finish.
Then I found London. I was in a constant state of euphoria. I made amazing,lasting friends. I didn't think it was possible to ever be happier.
When I moved to Copenhagen I immediately realized I didn't fit. The leftover high of London quickly wore off as I struggled to make friends and find my niche. I gave up. I went home.
At home I took a look at the past five years. I had picked up and moved seven times. Seven times. It thrilled me yet terrified me. Why couldn't I stay put? Would I ever be able to settle down for a moment?

Three months ago I moved to Austin. It was a whim, a fancy, a "hey, I have nothing better to do and I hate the cold, so why not?!" 
My mother was cautious and nervous but supportive. "Just, please don't meet a Texas boy and never come back. Promise you'll come back!"
B3 warned me of the difficulties of starting over in a new city , wary of me venturing off on my own without a plan. "It will be exciting and terrifying and hard as hell and you'll want to give up. Don't give up."
Everyone simultaneously applauded my bravery and begged me not to go.
I prayed about it. I was slowly arriving to the point where I would give up on traveling around. I began to yearn for a permanent place. A home all my own. Friends who would last longer than a few months. I wanted solid relationships and the comfort of a city I knew like the back of my hand. I never settled long enough to discover secret hideaways and hole in the wall perfections.
I prayed that I would find my place. I prayed that if Austin wasn't my place I would find out soon, before I left, so I wouldn't have to continue moving all over the country, just searching for happiness.
I prayed for happiness and strength to get me through the difficult times; strength to keep myself from doubting my abilities. The first couple months (and still, yes, still) I prayed for the right kind of friendships, I prayed for friends who would make me a better person. I prayed for holy and beautiful friendships.

Now here I am. Three months in, absolutely in love with everything. In love with Austin, in love with my incredible group of friends, and head over heels in love with the Pilot. I am in awe of my own happiness, in awe of God’s blessings, in awe of life. I haven’t been able to write a single word lately because I am finding it impossible to put into words my elation and thanksgiving. I want to scream from the mountaintops (if Austin had mountains…) about how beautiful my life is. Sometimes I feel a little embarrassed, but I’m not sorry I’m happy! I’ve been waiting for this day. Searching for this day. Searching for the moment where my heart could rest, could let out a sigh of relief and just bask.
I’m so happy it almost hurts.

I squeezed my eyes shut, balled my fists and instead of wishing simply said thank you as I blew the lash to where wishes go.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I am from...

I am from green, rolling hills and dipping valleys, from plastic kites on top of breezy knolls.
I am from the maple trees and dripping sap, from the tangy scent of fresh cut grass.
I am from the dandelion speckled fields, from the red clover and daisies. I am from the wildflowers.
I am from Sunday lunches after church and summers on the stage, from painted faces and lullabies by the fire.
I am from the glacial gap and a million stars. I am from the fireflies and s’mores. I am from old red barns and hiding in the hay loft. I am from burning red foliage and jumping in piles of leaves.
I am from love and laughter and plump figures. I am from “you can do anything” and “reach past the stars.” I am from a gaggle of brothers and superman figurines. I am from forts in the woods, a house in a silo. I am from the land of make believe.
I am from a church of love and forgiveness. I am from a cross around your neck and above your bed. I am from multi-colored rosary beads and a mother blessing her children with holy water. I am from a deep faith that sometimes falters but never falls away.  
I am from a farmhouse and a picket fence, from welcoming arms and helpful hands. I am from dirt roads and swimming holes, from iced tea and chocolate chip cookies at 3 pm.
I am from strawberry rhubarb pies and corn mazes, from sorrel lining the hiking path. I am from hay bale hide and go seek.
I am from hot chocolate and racing toboggans. I am from the best sledding hill in town. I am from snowmen villages and snowball fights. I am from frost bitten toes and red cheeks.
I am from home videos and boxes of pictures that document thirty years. I am from a slideshow on a white wall. I am from mistakes made and lessons learned. I am from memories that will last a lifetime.
I am from laughing into the night and pancakes in the morning. I am from a cup of tea and a good book. I am from cuddles and friendly wrestling.
I am from Irish eyes, romantic hearts, and knocked knees. I am from adventure. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"The Evil" has subsided. It hasn't stopped, but it has calmed. It's on the back burner, simmering. It's enough to ignore. Enough that I have stopped crying at the very thought. Tears no longer stain my pillows each night. And so, to a point, we feel we may have grown stronger. We know it isn't over. We know we're far from being "in the clear." But we are out of the storm cloud. And now we wait. We wait to see if everything is ok or if everything is completely ruined.
I could break down. I could go mad. I cried to my mother that I wish I was there and that everything could be fixed. She told me to breath, to keep on living the beautiful life I've been given and to be thankful that I wasn't around. So I did what she said. I tried to forget and I rallied on.
And now, I am home. Not for moral support, not to try and  carry the burden. I am home to celebrate a life. To celebrate a new, beautiful, little girl as she enters the church. We are all here. Every brother and sister and wife. And although this has nothing to do with "the evil" and we have all agreed not to talk about "the evil," that this would be a "happy weekend," we all experienced a sense of relief as we gathered around our dinner table. We are all here. We all love each other incredibly. "The evil" had become so big, so horrid that we thought it would ruin our entire family, end our livelihood. And like anything that threatens a family's life, it brought us together. We say more "I love you"s and hug a bit tighter. It warms our heart and gives us comfort to know we are here for each other. We support each other. We will fight for each other. And no matter what falls apart, this family isn't going anywhere.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Leave of absence

Some terrible things have happened to my family recently that will be taking up all my extra time. I will be taking a leave of absence, the duration is undetermined.
If I could, I ask for your prayers and understanding and hope to see you all here when I return.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dear Sister,

My Sweet Bear,
I’ve been having difficulty starting this. How can I presume to have knowledge enough to advise you? But as your sister, as your sponsor, as one who loves you so incredibly much, I want to try.
Sometimes I cannot believe you are sixteen. It thrills me and terrifies me at the same time. I am thrilled to see the woman you are becoming – you are beautiful, smart, a leader. Every day I amazed at your poise, your demeanor, your ability to carry on with a smile despite your illness.
But I am terrified. Terrified of what the world may have in store for you. I am scared because I remember when I was sixteen. I remember the trials, obstacles and heartbreak. High school was full of pressure and temptation. I made mistakes and had many regrets. IF I could spare you from these mistakes and just provide you with the lessons I would. But you may not make the same mistakes. No, you won’t. You are smarter than that. You have seen what it did to me. Unfortunately, you will make your own mistakes. You will cry. You will hurt. But you will learn.
Of course there will be millions of wonderful experiences as well. You will discover new things, you will live new experience, and you will find love.
You will find love in true friendships, love in a boy who makes your belly erupt with butterflies. Love in a mother who is always there no matter what you do, who seems to understand your deepest fears, your deepest desires; love in a your father who you will begin to understand as you grow older, who at the perfect moment will show his love and support though he may falter in his understanding of the vast emotions you are experiencing. Love in your brothers who will always strive to protect you, who will always support you but expect you to try your hardest and do your best. Love in your sisters who have been there from the beginning, who no matter how much you change, will always be the same. They – we – will be the constants in your life.
Most important, you will find the love of God. It is the most complex, most difficult love to understand and occasionally, to accept. But it is the most rewarding love, the most fulfilling. This love fills you, guides you, comforts you. This love makes you; it makes all the other loves in your life. All of these loves carry you through the difficult times, the wonderful times, even the plain-old, nothing special times.
Remember that love.
So, my pretty little sister, what advice can I give you?
1.       Always be yourself. Do not be embarrassed by who you are. Do not change to please others – you will regret it later and it will cause lasting damage. This is not uncommon, especially as you near college. So hold on to yourself. Love who you are. (I do!)
2.       Do not give in to pressure. This may be the most difficult piece of advice to follow because you may not notice the pressure. It could come in the form of friends talking, your friends beginning to change, beginning to have new experiences. You may feel left out, you may feel embarrassed for not joining them. But again, be true to who you are. Hold out. I promise you, looking back you’ll never think you were old enough.
3.       Take advantage of opportunities. Travel, be spontaneous, love. Take chances.
4.       Volunteer – give back, immerse yourself in a life you have never experienced and make it better.
5.       Do not worry about what others expect you. Do not worry about following the social norm.
6.       Make sure you are happy. Do not settle with simply content.
7.       Live life completely. Laugh often. Sing and dance every day, even if it is just in the kitchen.
8.       Work hard, commit to your dreams and fulfill them.
9.       Exercise. Seriously, it’s good for the body and the soul.
10.   No matter what – this is so important that I am saying it again – know that God loves you. He does. He needs you and you need him. Catholicism may be difficult at times, you may doubt, you may fall away. But you must never turn away from God. Without him life is empty. I have turned away and this is a lesson I do not want you to have to experience to learn from. It was the most difficult, empty time in my life. You need God, Bear. His miracles are always surrounding us. His love showers us. Love him.

There is my little bit of knowledge. It’s not nearly enough but it is all I have. Together we will learn more. You are a beautiful person Bear, you have a beautiful soul, and I am so blessed to be your sister. I love you a ridiculous amount.

With faith and love,

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dear Crush,

Dear Pilot,
I am trying to put into words how I feel about you. When I say your name my stomach somersaults. When someone from home asks if I’ve met anyone here I immediately think of you and smile. Before I realized it I was planning my activities around you. Where you would be I would go. I will go. I find myself looking forward to each time I will see you and thinking of new opportunities for us to interact.
When asked what it was about you that I liked all I could say was you were flying high above the bar I had set. And that bar is pretty high. I like you because you make me want to be the best version of me possible. I like you because you have a southern drawl that makes me melt. I like you because when something goes wrong you go right to work trying to figure out how to fix it. I like you because you are kind, you have a great sense of humor, you can entertain an entire room with your thrilling stories. I like you because you sing at church without opening the hymnal. I like you because you make sly comments under your breath that make me giggle. But most of all, I like you because the first time I heard your voice I looked up at you and haven’t been able to look away since.
Sometimes when I allow myself to think too far ahead and let my imagination run wild I think perhaps you are the reason for Texas. You were the draw, the reason why God helped me to make my way down here without a plan. You are why every prayer was answered and nothing got in my way. I was meant to meet you, you were meant to meet me.
But that thought terrifies me. Because, what if it is not true? What if I have fallen head over heels in this short time and to you I’m just a girl. What if I flirt too much or too little? What if I scare you away? What if I’m not ready to meet the man who I’m meant to be with? What if the life I lived before doesn’t fit with the life you live now? What if I’m not meant for you but I’ve built you up so much no one will ever live up to you? What if I’m never more than that girl from Vermont to you?
Pilot, I want to be more than that girl. I want to be The Girl. The One. I want you to take me flying in the sunset. I want you to call me when you’ve had a good day and text me when you think of something funny. I want you to think of me when you need a happy thought. I want you to get butterflies when you hear my voice. I want your face to light up when you see me. I want to be the girl you take home to your parents, the girl you introduce to your childhood friends. I want to be the girl you take to Italy, the girl you want next to you on all your adventures.
How have you done this to me? To the girl who put up walls. The girl who goes on two dates and gets bored. How have you made such an impression on me that I have thrown out all of my tried and true ways to catch a man’s attention? Instead I’m nervous. I’m quieter than usual. I tiptoe. I want to build a friendship and mutual respect. I want to take this slowly and not mess anything up. Yet I’m impatient. I want you to call me now.  I want you to ask me out now. I want you to fall for me as I’ve fallen for you right now. Why do you have this affect on me? What will make it stop?
Yours, head over heels and completely confused, forever,

Friday, July 8, 2011

Annie, The Doppelganger

Have you ever seen How I Met Your Mother? It’s one of my favorite shows and recently I’ve gotten Madic into watching. Every once in awhile I sit on our floor with him and catch a few episodes on the computer. The latest one we watched was Doppelgangers. In the last scene Ted tells Robin that eventually we all become our own doppelganger; we are completely different people who just happen to look like us. Ted makes a comparison of their characters five years earlier. Maybe it was the sangria thinking, or maybe it was the nostalgia from an earlier conversation with my mother, but I started to think about how I was my own doppelganger.
Five years ago I had just graduated from high school. I was dating a boy I was convinced was the love of my life and just months from an engagement. I had decided to defer my college acceptance for a year to work a little and travel to the Dominican Republic to volunteer. I had my life completely planned out in front of me. Although I cannot remember my exact plans, I know they never involved me moving to Austin with Madic, signing a one year lease on an apartment we couldn’t afford to furnish. But here I am; sitting on the floor of an empty living room drinking gifted sangria and watching How I Met Your Mother with my best friend.
A number of things have changed since July 2006. The Boy and I went through a tumultuous breakup the likes I could have never imagined. I never finished college. I lived in London and Denmark. I fell in love with a frat boy from Maryland and then chose my own life path instead of following him. I moved back in with my parents. I picked up and moved to Texas without any plan, without any job… just following a dream.
Ted tells Robin that five years ago she was great, but her “doppelganger”, the Robin of now, was the greatest friend and most amazing person he’d ever met. How do I feel about my doppelganger? I am overflowing with pride. Sure, my life hasn’t turned out anything like I planned when I was eighteen. Of course I wanted to get a degree. Of course I had dreamed of marrying The Boy and starting a family. But I am so proud of where I am now. I’ve taken chances, I’ve gone on adventure after adventure, I have lived. And I’m nowhere close to being finished.
Maybe I’m a little nervous and occasionally frustrated about my job hunt and not really knowing anyone other than Madic. Maybe every once in awhile I question my decision and miss home, my family, my friends. But I love this city. I’m excited about my job prospects. I have been blessed in finding an amazing community of young, Catholic professionals. I am meeting new friends every day. I have also grown a considerable amount in the last five years. I am stronger, more independent, more mature, more grounded. I have had my heart broken, I’ve made compromises and mistakes, I’ve had regrets. But I have learned from it all.
This doppelganger, this version of Annie five years later, she is the girl – the woman – I’ve always wanted to be. I just had to grow up to figure it out. And you know what? I’m excited to find out who Annie will be five years from now, but I will not be at all surprised if she is nothing like me.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Crossing it off the List!

Today I was looking at my Eleventy before 30 list and realized I had checked a few things off without realizing it. I must say I felt a great sense of accomplishment and allowed myself a little gloat because it is the only thing I have accomplished in the last three weeks. So I'm celebrating. But just in my head, because I'm too broke to celebrate outwardly. Oh hey! Guess what! Rent's due today... So that's fun.
But really, looking over my list I'm happy. I have completed seven out of the 39 items on my list, and will soon complete at least two more, joining a book club and meeting a fellow blogger in real life (yay Brittany!) (and maybe three, if I get that job I really want to get - prayers and crossed fingers are accepted!). Which means in half a year I have (or will soon) completed nine tasks, putting me way ahead my goal. Of course the tasks I have accomplished have been the easier tasks (except, hey there friends, losing two dress sizes is anything but easy!), but maybe the momentum behind these will thrust me into completing the others.
Let's recap. Since starting my journey to Texas I have crossed off:
Psychic reading - This was a very silly endeavor in which I stumbled down Bourbon Street and caught a glimpse of a man setting up shop on the sidewalk. Palm Readings?? Yes, please! And so I plopped down as the chubby fellow with long hair and soft hands examined my left palm. I had a long life line, I would marry well and we would only separate upon his death. I would meet my husband in a learning environment and we will be blessed with three children. My career would have something to do with education or health. I have had three past lives (something I don't believe in at all). In two I was a stay at home mom, and in my last life I was a kindly gentleman. I giggled through most of it because really, how much can you believe of a man reading palms on the side of Bourbon Street? But I keep thinking about it and wondering when on earth I'll meet my husband.

Attend a music festival - Madic and I attended the Keep Austin Weird Festival last weekend. I loved the bands, got a terrible sunburn and free sunglasses from

Visit New Orleans - it was a silly time.

Sing Karaoke - This was a big deal for me. As outgoing as I am, as much as I really don't care how bad my singing voice is, I always, always chicken out. In the past month I have had three opportunities to sing karaoke and while all my friends stepped up to the mic, I stayed on the floor in front of the stage cheering them on. But finally, in New Orleans, where anything goes apparently I stepped up to the mic, not once, but twice. And it was horrible. Dreadful. I cannot sing. I think I scared some patrons out of the bar. Good news however, now I can say I have done it and I never have to do it again. Hurray.

Lose two dress sizes - this happened almost by accident. It came from being broke, so not snacking ever and eating very small portions. Also, I am unemployed so have to do something to fill my day and find myself at the gym every day, so much that it has started to become an obsession, and luckily, is paying off.

I am so excited to continue checking things off, starting next week at my first book club meeting (we read The Help) and when Brittany finally moves to Austin, and hopefully starting a nine to five job!

Tell me, do you have a list? Have you checked anything off lately?

Friday, June 24, 2011

I'm Their Favorite Celiac-ac-ac-ac-ac!

My amazing brother and sister-in-law (B3 and SIL) wrote this song for me on a long drive last summer. Going through old emails I found it, chuckled, and just had to share!

To the melody of "Movin Out" by Mr. Billy Joel

Annie's at work down the road at the Inn, saving her pennies for Denmark.
She traveled to London and soon decided, "I need to get out of this country".
Ah, but even when she's gone she's the best celiac- ac-ac-ac-ac-ac!
She doesn't eat gluten.
She will pass on the it-al-ian bread
Gluten Free keeps her so skinny!

On our big nights out, she shoots tequila to the boys bud lites;
and if it's pasta night than she's...eating rice, she's eating rice, no wheat.

Annie is my favorite celiac-ac-ac-ac-ac-ac!
She doesn't eat gluten.

It costs more for Annie to watch your kids
but she's definitely worth that much money.
BUT Annie's booked on Friday night...
She shoots tequila to the boys bud lites
and if it's pasta night than she's eating rice... she's eating rice... not wheat.

Annie is my favorite celiac-ac-ac-ac-ac-ac-ac!
She doesn't eat gluten.

Give Annie Jose and a fat wedge of lime,
she is her own bartender.
She wears cute British hats
and walks drunk down the street-
on a drunken tequila type bender.
I'll make her meat and cheese cause she's
my favorite celiac-ac-ac-ac-ac-ac
She doesn't eat gluten...

repeat chorus 3x

And here is the actual "Moving Out" song, in case you don't know the melody!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sweaty is the new Black

I have never sweat so much in my life. I didn’t even sweat this much when I lived in the Dominican and was forced to wear capris and heavy weight cotton crew neck t-shirts. So yeah, it’s a bit hot in Texas. Who would have thunk it?
Right now I can hear B4 shouting (all the way from Vermont – calm down! We all hear you!) “I told you you didn’t realize how hot it would be!” But I did realize. What I didn’t realize was people would continue to dress just the same way we dressed up in Vermont where it’s a balmy fifty degrees. I mean jeans? You’re wearing jeans??? Yeah, I’m pretty sure my jeans would melt to my body and never come off again. Oh the horror.
Also, apparently it isn’t appropriate to go around naked, or even half naked. Apparently you are supposed to wear real clothes, bra and underwear do not suffice. Which means we have a problem. In the beginning, I tried to comply. I mean, I’m pretty sure no one would hire me if I went to an interview with a lightweight (see also: slutty) skirt and bikini. *But you never know.* So I put on a nice, conservative skirt, a pretty blouse, and was on my way. It didn’t take five minutes before I had completely soaked through my shirt and there was sweat dripping, nay, pouring down my legs. Disgusting.
My only solution? Apply online a lot while sitting in my bedroom under the blasting ac wearing only my bathing suit. Once applications are all sent out, live in the pool. Hang around in bathing suit all day. Drink lots of water and occasionally pour an entire glass over your head. Try to only put real clothes on when absolutely necessary. Like when you really need a glass of wine and do not have any in your house so you quickly skip over to Wal-Mart and buy a bottle for $2.77.
Holy air mattress, I’m classy.
But for real, can we make an announcement that dressing slutty is ok during the long summer months as long as we’re doing it to keep cool? No objections, right? And wearing your bathing suit to the office is not only ok, it’s expected? Ok, great. That would be lovely.

Now I’m off to the pool.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


It's happening already. I thought I'd at least have a couple weeks before my life felt like it was crumbling around me. I had prepared for this after all. But with application after application without not even a "we reviewed your application" back, life is getting stressful. And when life gets stressful I find myself wanting to cry about everything.  For instance, today while I was on the elliptical in the gym watching E! (cause I'm cool like that) they were talking about Harry Potter and how this last movie was the end. Not something new, yet I teared up. What the heck Annie, pull it together! I don't really have an explanation, but maybe it was because Harry Potter ending represented my childhood ending, since the books began when I was ten and I've been obsessed with them from the very beginning. But, come on now, don't cry!

Then of course my mother called, full of information that my niece has a fever and my sister, who is visiting her, now has a fever as well and they are all sick and Annie, you sound sad, what's the matter? And all I can do is try to hold it together (because at this point I was in the public computer room in my apartment complex) and try to tell her I'm ok, just tired and stressed, then hurry off the phone.

It's probably because I haven't been eating well, and all I want is a gosh darn piece of chocolate cake already. Or the obvious, I've gotten over the excitement of moving to Austin and am now hitting the reality that no one actually wants to pay me to sit around and smile and eat chocolate cake. Shame.

For the moment I am avoiding anything even the least bit sad or gooshy (a blog post about a girl in love made me want to crawl up in my air mattress and cry my eyes out because I'm alone and probably always will be), trying to eat a bit more, and finishing up praying my novena to St. Joseph, hoping that by day 9 something miraculous will happen.

And today, to de-stress, I am going to put down my computer, stop checking my phone every two minutes, and go relax by the pool.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My House

I didn't have time to say goodbye. It had been the longest I had been home since I graduated high school, it had become familiar again, routine. It had become my life.
I had planned to do all of my "lasts." One last dinner at the restaurant, one last breakfast at the inn, one last sleep in my bed, one last fun day with my sisters, one last tea with my mom. But it all came on so fast. I was too busy to think about my lasts, to plan them. I don't remember my last breakfast or my last dinner because I didn't think it would be the last. My sisters were too busy and never home the week before. My mom was working every day while I was packing. The night before I left I was too occupied with what I may have forgotten and what I still needed to pack to appreciate my last sleep in my bed.
But did it really matter? The bed part I mean, things with my family I still ache for. But the bed I have slept in for the last six months wasn't "my" bed. It was the guest bed, in the guest room, where I had set up shop temporarily. My bed, if you can call it that since I only had it for two years before I moved out when I was 18, was now Bear's. My room was now Bear's. My room doesn't look anything like it did when I was in high school. It's a different color, rearranged just a bit differently, and covered in Bear's personality. And yet I still ache for it.
It's silly. I haven't lived in that house in five years. It was only my home for eight years, we had lived in two others (that I remember) before that. I have returned and left countless times. Yet this time, this time I have a special ache. A sad homesick - and I've only been gone a week - wishing I had made my rounds and said my proper goodbyes. Because this time, there will be no going back.

When my parents first announced they were selling the house, my sisters were distraught. I, however, felt ambivalent. They were going to move to the inn, right down the road; to the place that dominated my childhood memories. The inn is, and always will be, my real home. It was where I spent every free moment, where I made most of my closest friends, where I laughed, and grew, and loved. Where I discovered my love for horses and working with children, where I saw the praise and admiration in my father's eyes. It's where everything started.
So the fact that we were selling the house did not seem to mean much to me. Until I left. I realized, although I had only spent eight years of my life in that house, they were my most formidable years. Ten to eighteen. It was where I cried out all my adolescent tears, where I giggled over my first love, where I hid from the terrors of high school. It was the house I carved my name into; in a closet in one of my rooms, to leave my mark, so I could show it to my grandchildren as an old woman.
It's where I used to day dream I'd be proposed, out in the apple orchard just outside our front door. It's where I had always imagined my wedding reception would be, the twinkling lights and me in my white dress out on the back patio.
We had built the house to be our very own. It was designed specifically for our large family. We had the hopes and dreams that it would stay for generations. That children upon grandchildren upon great grandchildren would run through its halls, build forts in each room, and explore the large yard and woods.
Life, however, had other plans. It is sad it will no longer be our little home. But thankfully we can transfer those dreams back to the inn, where my parents began. Back to the small farmhouse they first moved into 27 years ago; with three little boys and great faith that they could survive the country. Five more children, four houses later, they are returning. Back to the simple roots of our little inn. Back to where my first memories began.

And maybe, back to where new memories and dreams will begin.

'welcome home'

Monday, June 13, 2011

A peek at the road trip, and cheap wine

Last night I got drunk off a three dollar bottle of wine. Actually, it was $2.77, and I'm not proud of it. but let me explain (also, the shift key on this computer doesn't really work (and neither does the space key apparently) so I apologize for some errors).
Madic and I had decided the only way to make it safely through our moving process (2,000+ miles of driving, countless hours in a cramped car, and a broken ipod) was to treat it as a full blown road trip. Which means - go all out - spend money without thinking about it - cry later.

This meant packing our entire lives into a tiny subaru sedan - so much that we had zero visibility and very, very little leg room (my legs are still getting used to the fact that they can stretch out). This meant deciding, once we found out we had no where to stay in Pennsylvania or Maryland, to drive through the night and sleep two hours in the parking lot of a Huddle Hut somewhere in Virginia - actually I only slept an hour because I was convinced someone was going to break into the car and kill me.

Thankfully we stopped in at my aunt's house in North Carolina where she fed us, gave us a bathroom to shower in, and got us sufficiently drunk. She also provided a pool where we spent two days being extremely lazy and dreaming of moving to Charlotte rather than Austin (that may have just been me).

Then it was off again, and oh, look at that! Our path to Austin went straight through New Orleans. We stopped for two nights. And this is where things got messy. Madic and I morphed into full vacation mode. We were in New Orleans! We had to try everything - do everything. Eat craw fish to our hearts content, sample alligator, drink a Jester, drink a hand grenade, sing karaoke, ride a bull, dance in the streets. And somehow wake up and do it all over again. We had no hesitation dolling out money, sad to say a fifty dollar bill came out a couple of times. We were there to have fun.

Soon the fun was over, we crammed back into our little sedan and set off again. About halfway through that last eight hour drive, it hit us. Holy craw fish we have no money. It was a stressful drive. When we finally got into our apartment, paid our first months rent, got the batteries to blow up our air mattresses and bought a $25.00 coffee table (our one piece of furniture) off craigslist, there was little left for anything else. (Don't be concerned, this does not include the next couple months rent - I've got that covered. Food on the other hand...).
We got to work scrambling for jobs. Sending out resume after resume, stopping in to pick up applications to any establishment that would hand one out. I've been living off peanut butter and rice and salsa. Which brought me to yesterday, strolling around the Wal-Mart Superstore hoping to find a cheap loaf of gluten free bread, but instead stumbled across a display of wine for $2.77. I stared at the display for awhile, fighting with my inner wine snob. It had been five days since I had any alcohol and a week since I had wine. And I love my glass of wine a few nights a week. So I picked one up and hurried away.
I planned to have only one glass, but after the debacle of trying to open it (how did I forget my wine key???) I needed two. And that cheap bottle of wine packed a lot of punch. Drunk.

My question is, how in the world can anyone sell wine that cheap?? what is it made of?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My back hurts, apologies

I'm laying on the floor in the middle of Madic's room while he sleeps beside me. This is the only place in the entire apartment where we can steal internet. It's sad. But at the moment I am searching for the best internet providers so I can hang out in the comfort of my own room, on my little air mattress surrounded by a whole lotta nothing. Yep, I don't have any furniture.
When I say this out loud to real live people they look at me like I'm nuts. Maybe it's because they were already wide eyed and open mouthed at the fact that I was planning to move 2,000 miles away from their comfort zone without a plan other than apply to a million and one jobs and hope one of them falls in love with me. And if that didn't work out, sell myself online. Just Kidding. Sheesh. But really, to me, either thing is not crazy, it's an adventure. It's called taking chances, stepping out of your comfort zone - and not even that far out! It's called learning.

And that is all I have to say at the moment because my back already hurts sitting here. I know, I fail. But this is called living - not having time or the ability to skype, and you all dealing with it.
Just kidding on the harsh attitude, I'm tired. But I really love you all.
And HI! to my new followers! Please leave me a comment to introduce yourselves - I want to learn all about you.

I promise when I can sit right in my own room (or at a library) I will write you a beautifully ridiculous post about all my (mis)adventures on my road trip.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Remember that time I actually wrote but then my blog just turned into sharing links? Yeah...

Yes, I haven't written at all and I've just started to share my favorite links which is turning out to be really lame because it was supposed to be a "follow Friday" post and I've posted on Sunday two out of the three times. BUT I have good excuses I swear!
Over the past week I met up with *most* of the wonderful people I met in London. It was a week where we drank a lot of champagne and cider, danced throughout Boston, sang karaoke, danced with Ed MacFarlane from Friendly Fires (in love) and giggled, laughed, chatted and gossiped to our hearts content. It was an amazing week with some people who know me best of all, even though they met me only a year and a half ago. I hate leaving them.

This week I am packing up, and Friday Madic and I begin our journey to Austin. I'm nervous with excitement. It seems a bit surreal. But I cannot wait!

I hope you are having a fantastic Memorial Day weekend! We're having a lot of family time, gathering around my new nephew and cooing, while my mother is slowly realizing this is my last weekend home and is getting overly sentimental. Ah family. I love it.

And now, a few of my favorite posts from the past week, with a lot of explanation :). I may have missed a few fantastic ones while I was away so if you know of a fantastic post that just stands out, please let me know!

100 Awesome Things: Being Single - Heck yes it's awesome! and, the opening poem makes me giggle.

Confessions of a Love Addict: Welcome to Oblivion - I read this just after I returned from an afternoon with my cousins and their babies. While I was there all I kept thinking about was how much I wanted a baby. One cousin (my very best friend growing up) laughed at me and said "Oh Annie I want you to have one too, I can't wait until our babies can play together, but you need a man first, and it doesn't look like you're in a rush for that." And oh, how true that is. But there are moments, here and there, when my niece (that's what I call my cousins' children, I'm always "Auntie Annie") starts running away, then turns a bit and reaches out her hand, inviting me to run with her, or when she stumbles exhausted into my arms, nestles into my neck and falls asleep... my heart swells, and its as if my entire body aches for one of my own. So to come home, turn on my computer, and see this post in my inbox, made me feel a bit better. I know it will happen someday, but it doesn't help to try to plan it out, that will just make you ache more. Also the friend she was talking about in this post sounds a lot like me - I can't figure out my dream job - I see no long term with any boy, I'm just me, searching for happiness.

Almost Fearless: It Doesn't Count If You're Not At Home - Honestly everything on Almost Fearless I'm in love with. I have complete life envy. This is actually a guest post, so now I covet this blogger's life as well. I now stalk follow his blog. I hope someday I will meet a man who wants to drop everything, start a mobile/online career, and travel the world with our adorable curly headed babies (so - my future husband better have curly hair 'cause mine is as straight as a board).

Eleni Zoe: My best friend's shoes  - I loved this post, if you read it, and check the comments you'll notice I cried a bit when reading it. Things you should know: everything makes me cry but most of all talking about weddings, best friends, and funerals will absolutely bring out the tears. And this has it all.

Bluebird Rising: My Oprah lives in Brooklyn - is there a family and friends theme this week? maybe it's because I'm soaking up my last week with my family and best friends, so I'm feeling sentimental. But this post really touched me. Also, you probably already know how much I love Amy.

cheers loves.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do not trust anyone. And the unmentionable.

I feel the need to describe the terrors of Celiac Disease.
Terror meaning you cannot trust anyone - ever. Even your own sweet grandmother who is just trying to fatten you up and put a smile on your face. Because your dear sweet grandmother is getting old and she just may pick up the wrong cake mix and give you a piece of moist chocolate cake assuring you its gluten free, made especially for you because you missed out on the blueberry cobbler the day before. And you gobble it down as soon as you get home from work and then maybe you have another piece because, well, it was a hard day at work. Then a few hours later you are snuggled up in dream land, dreaming about Jake Gyllenhal and Prince Harry vying for your love while you walk down your old street in London and all of a sudden something seems horribly wrong, but you aren't sure what it is. You grasp at your stomach and moan. You realize it's not just in your dream, that there in your little bed you are moaning and tossing and your insides have lit on fire and are trying desperately to make an escape through your belly button.
So you rush to the bathroom, and unmentionable things occur. Your mother, hearing your moans, arrives in the bathroom. She is welcomed with the sight of you cross legged on the floor, head resting on the toilet seat, tears streaming down your face from the pain.
"What's wrong?" she asks, wishing there was something she could do to fix it, but six years of this terror tells her it is hopeless.
"That. cake. was. not. glu-ten. free." you let out, trying to catch your breath. After another unmentionable you tell your mother to return to bed, there is nothing to be done. And it continues. All night long. And you are just so tired. So you curl up and try to fall asleep but your dreams are littered with terror, and you rip awake again in time to put your head into the toilet once more. And it continues.
The next day you try to eat, but your stomach rebels, your small intestines alight with flame. You writhe in pain. And you laugh at the only time you never got sick, because you were in a foreign place, because you didn't know anyone well enough to trust them with your food, because you questioned every waiter, read every label. But at home, with the people you love, you let your guard down. You think that people know you enough, that your parents and your grandparents have cooked for you enough to know to read labels as well. You forget that everyone makes mistakes. You forget that your grandmother can be a bit absent minded. And you get sick.
And that is my terror of living with Celiac Disease.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday's Favorites of the Week

Happy Friday friends! Although the forecast called for rain and thunderstorms all day we are enjoying warm weather, a bit of sun, and a slight breeze that keeps sweeping beautiful aromas into my office. I have gone outside to slip my feet out of my flats and gripped the green grass in my toes, reveling in the tiny hint of summer.  It's a feeling that overpowers the fact that I am working all weekend.

I want to welcome all of my new readers, I am so glad you came to visit! It warms my heart! If you are new please leave me a comment so I can come and visit your blog!

Today I have some wonderful posts from the past week, featuring some of my favorite bloggers and even a few blogs I just found this week. I hope you enjoy!

This Girl's Journey: Things I have Learnt While Traveling - I have traveling on the mind this week! And I completely agree with some of the things she wrote (some things I have yet to experience... like Italy!).

Get The Words Out: 5 Loves on Monday - You should probably know that if there is a post that has anything to do with Jane Austin in my little blog-o-sphere it will wind up here. Yes, I'm that kind of girl.

Riding Giraffes in Stilettos: Things I know for sure - Another "things I know for sure" post, this time from one of my favorite blogs in all the world - Precious and Jemily have perfected the "champagne lifestyle, lemonade money" way of life.

Confessions of a Love Addict: If the World Ends  - I don't really believe the world is going to end tomorrow (do you?) but it's interesting to think about what it would mean, what today would be like, if it really did.

I <3 Vegetables: 5 day challenge - $2 a day - I think it is so wonderful she took up this challenge and brought awareness to all of the hungry out there.

Hope Dies Last: Quiver - I felt like she was writing as me. Can anyone say, "The Boy"

Wine Will Fix It: Into the Tea Leaves - I love this little story.

40:20 Vision: Who are the Real Relationship Role Models? - I am very blessed to have my parents as wonderful role models, as well as B1 and E, married 8 years now, young but strong.

What was your favorite from the week?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

An Adventure in Wales

I was sitting on the front stoop coffee in hand, sunglasses shielding the late morning sun smiling at the empty Friday before me.  As I turned my face towards the beating sun the phone rang. I stared grumpily at Penn’s number. Why on earth was he calling and did he really have to interrupt my peaceful love affair with the long awaited sun?
"Hello?” I spoke into the phone trying to hide my annoyance. Penn responded quickly, “We have an extra train ticket. One of the boys couldn’t come last minute. Do you want to? If you can make it in forty-five minutes the ticket is yours.”
No longer annoyed and all thoughts of a peaceful, relaxing weekend rushed from my head. I jumped from the stoop and into the house. Running into my room, I grabbed pieces of clothing and a toothbrush on the way in and threw them all into a backpack. No idea what to pack, I just tossed random shirts and shorts and socks into the bag, along with face wash and a toothbrush, the bare necessities. The boys had said they were going to Wales for a coasteering weekend and I had wanted in since the beginning but the trip was planned months in advance and did not have room for a fifth person, so I leapt at the chance before thinking it through completely.
It wasn’t until I had met up with the boys and boarded the train I started to doubt my haste actions. Sitting beside Penn as he enthusiastically discussed the coming weekend with Mike and Matt across the isle, I realized this may have been a mistake. Although in relatively good shape, and ready to take on any adventure, I was still a girl heading to Wales with three very in shape men to kayak and climb rocks in the middle of the ocean. What had I let myself get into? I took a deep breath and focused on the landscape racing by outside the window. As we left the city my breath became less forced, and my grip loosened on the armrest. As each field of sheep passed a new calm set in.
Haverfordwest station was surrounded by mountains rich with greenery with little houses tucked into their folds. So long in the city, I had forgotten the joy of seeing only green. We boarded a bus and set off on a half hour ride even deeper into the country. The roads grew narrower the higher the bus climbed into the mountains of Wales. It tumbled up hills and emerged onto Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The lodge was nestled into the mountain, not far from the small town of Mathry. Standing in the drive of the lodge, surrounded only by cows, I looked at the boys. Identical stunned expressions looked back at me. A swell of pride moved up my chest and emerged on my face in a smile. I may have been the only girl on the trip, but I was a country girl and these were city men through and through.

After dinner, the boys and I walked down the road just as the sun began to set. The dusk that crept up around us made the country look eerie yet wonderful. The grey blue sky peeped through the black branches and critters moved unseen around us. The dirt road was narrow with banks rising high over our heads on either side limiting our view of the country. We walked along silently, reveling in the fresh air and quiet. But it wasn’t quiet; it was just a different kind of noise. Not the noise of taxis rushing by or yelling pedestrians or car alarms going off. It was the bleating of sheep, the deep moan of a cow, the rustle of bird wings through the trees. The air was full of sound, but it was peaceful and soothing. Soon the road opened up and the silhouette of a barn appeared. It welcomed us with a pungent perfume and the shadow of large animals pawing in their paddocks.
“Is that a cow?” Mike whispered. I chuckled under my breath at just how city these boys were. He walked closer but stopped three meters shy of the gate. “Is it ok if I’m here?” His voice was low as he looked back at us. I continued to laugh but nodded my head as I joined him. “I have never been this close to a cow before and I have to come all the way to Wales to do it!” Just then a cow near us tried to mount another and Mike hopped away. “Didn’t think I’d ever see that either!” he laughed as he tried to hide his rush away from the fence.

The cows woke us bright and early the next morning and I was lured down the stairs by the smell of bacon. The lodge owners set out a delicious breakfast to prepare us for the day ahead. “Heyo!” A Welsh voice boomed as the four of us sat down. “Name’s John, welcome to Wales! You lads ready for the day ahead? Excuse me, lady, are you ready too? You think you can handle this?” He added when he spotted me standing a foot below the boys. Color rising in my cheeks, I instantly became aware of how frail I was, but beamed back at him.
 “Can’t wait!” My voice sounded only a bit more stable than my legs quavering underneath me. John threw his head back and laughed.
“Don’t you worry; I won’t let anything happen to you. Have some breakfast and I’ll catch you all in a few minutes.” He turned and walked away while the boys laughed at my red face.
Behind the kitchen a shed filled with coasteering gear awaited us. The four of us jumped, pulled, and tugged our way into the winter wet suits. Although struggling with the suits and looking a bit ridiculous, it felt great to put it on. I felt legitimate.
A van took us down to the water. As we hopped out and onto the beach we paused in amazement. I had no idea places like this existed in Great Britain. The view before me was something I had reserved in my mind for tropical islands and the southern coasts of Spain, Italy, or Greece. Jagged cliffs rose high around me, and before me splashed a sea as blue as the sky above. The soft waves lapping against the pebble beach and the call of seagulls flying above set the perfect soundtrack to the striking contrast of the black cliffs and sapphire sea, I was transported to a distant exotic world.
Breaking the silence, the boys began to clip on their gear but I paused a moment longer. This time it wasn’t the beauty that delayed me, but my own apprehension. The worry of the day before crept over me and I once again doubted my abilities. A hard hip check broke through my thoughts and tossed me into the sand.
 “Get your stuff together lady, we’re going in!” John stood above me, his eyes bright with laughter and dancing with mischief as he pulled me back onto my feet. He clipped my lifejacket, double checked my helmet, then turned to the water and with a wave of an arm shouted to the group, “Let’s go!” 
Where exactly they were going, I wasn’t sure. And judging by the surprised faces around me neither did anyone else but we followed him anyway. The group trudged straight out into the sea. At first the water seemed warm but soon enough infiltrated our wetsuits and seemed to turn to ice. “The trick is to get completely wet right away,” John yelled to us as he dove under the waves, “a layer of water will get between you and the suit and your body heat will keep it warm, you just have to get swimming.” And he pushed off towards a rock in the distance. Cautiously I followed, dunking my head under the frigid waters, stifling the screams trying to escape from my chest in rebellion.
The rock poked out of the sea ominously. It was steep with jagged edges and when John yelled to us to climb on up, I thought he was joking. But he jumped on the rock with ease and headed up to the ledge before I could voice my doubt. Penn clambered up in front of me quickly, although not as gracefully. I grabbed on to a jagged edge, thankful for my gloves, and pulled myself up. The gloves latched on to the barnacles speckling the rocks surface enabling a strong grip.
A small channel ran between the rock and the cliffs. The water appeared calm as our group approached but, as the last gloved hand clasped to the side of the mountainous rock, giant waves billowed through loosening our grips and throwing us back to where we started.
“We’re going through there. We can wait for the waves to die down… or we can have a little fun.” John looked at us devilishly. My heart quickened as Penn squeezed my arm – his eyes matching John’s.
“Ready for this?” He gave me a challenging grin. But something had happened to me from the moment I submerged myself beneath the water. As the sea seeped into my wetsuit my hesitations, my fear, all of my worry left me. I was in. I grinned back at Penn and we swam towards the crashing waves.
In a moment we lost all control of our destination as a wall of water came crashing down on us. I felt a pull behind me but tried to swim on into the crest of the wave. It lifted me high above the others. I thrust myself into it and rose further but quickly crashed down and was pulled under. The life jacket brought me back up, and gasping for breath I spotted another coming for me. Penn was nowhere in sight. But there whoops and cheers of the group who had stayed behind. They were having fun, it was all ok. I gave into the next wave but barely caught my breath before another one came. Just as I thought I would never get through I felt someone clasp onto my arm and pull me towards the other end of the channel.
“Just let the next wave take us into the rock,” Penn yelled over the rush of the wave. I grabbed his hand and together we were pushed to the rock. It wasn’t graceful. The wave pushed Penn around so his back faced the rock. Our hands separated and I was propelled forward into him as we both crashed into the jagged surface, Penn taking the brunt of the crash. We clambered onto the rock and collapsed. John and the rest of the group made their way easily through the channel and quickly joined us, the waves having died down just as we reached solid ground.
“Are you okay?” John called out. I struggled to my feet, but was hindered by the laughter billowing from me.
“That was amazing!” Was all I could get out. I was laughing and gasping for air, my legs shaking from the rush of adrenaline now pulsing through my veins. “What’s next?” John laughed as he pointed to a ledge higher up the rock.
“Ready to jump?” He started climbing up. “I wonder if it’s deep enough.” And in a moment he was in the air and into the water. He emerged with a cheer. “Just jump straight out, keep your legs together and arms crossed, it’s great!”
I jumped with a squeal. Surrounded by cliffs on the coast of Wales, I flew through the air and dropped 30 feet into the icy sea. I was free, full of life, bursting with excitement. I crashed into the ocean, my lungs once again rebelling against the cold and the sudden rush of water. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I just want to travel

A couple days ago I announced to my mother I had made another career change, and then five minutes later I took it back.
"I don't know what I want to do! I just want to travel, that's it, just travel." I whined. Living back at home I've become such an amazing whiner.
"Then why are you plopping yourself down in Texas for a year?" Mom responded defiantly - Mom has also become very snappy. Oh we make a happy household.
"Because I've always wanted to live in Texas! So I'm trying it out. And then in a year I'll go to Nepal for three months, then I'll come  back and make more money then go --"
"ANNIE!" My mom interrupted me with an abrupt yell, "I want grandchildren!"
"Well in order for you to get grandchildren from me I need to find a man, and I don't see that happening any time soon."
"Not at the rate you're going! Why can't you just sit still for a minute and allow a man to actually meet you!"
"If he can't keep up he's not worth it! Oh and Mom, I am your fifth child, why don't you go bother the married children. Or even the ones who are in relationships." Also, side note here, she does have two granddaughters already, but they live in Denmark, and that makes her sad. She wants grandchildren stateside. "Also!" I begin to storm, "I am only twenty-three years old!" Here's the problem with that argument: all of the females in my family have either married, had a child, or had a very serious boyfriend that would quickly lead to marriage by the time they were my age. Usually by the age of twenty-one. My family is used to that. They expect that. I even expected it.
At nineteen I thought I had my life mapped out for me. I had a date picked out for my wedding to "the love of my life." We had a plan to live in Spain for a few years and come back home to start having babies.  Even after things crashed and burned with The Boy I still thought of myself as a girl who would settle down young, with a handsome man, have babies right away - and lots of them, live in the country with the white picket fence and a family dog.
I can't pinpoint when things began to change. But after living in Europe, after halfheartedly going on dates, meeting a wonderful man but losing him again due to distance, I realized that I didn't just want to be a wife and mother. I want to live my own life, have my own plans, be my own complete person.
Yes, of course I would still like to meet a man someday, I still absolutely want to have children, but I am in no rush. I am twenty-three, I have years ahead of me. Right now, I need to figure out what kind of life I want to live, who I want to be, where I want to be. And maybe, someday, someone will come along who wants the same things out of life, and we will continue to travel side by side.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A London Walk

A travel writing piece I did while in London. Our assignment was to go for a hundred meter walk and write about it... 

When he first got to the city I warned him about the pace everyone kept. "Londoners are always in a hurry. Taxis and buses are on a mission, they will not slow down for you. Pedestrians will over take you, walk through you." But he still walks slowly, even crossing the streets, which makes me fear for his life. Seeing my exasperated face he simply said, "What's the rush? We can't see anything if we rush." But I had become accustomed to the London rush, it felt unnatural to walk slow. But he is right, if we only focused on our destination we would miss out on the journey. So we head towards Kensington Gardens.
Normally, back home, I wouldn’t go out on a day like this. Rainy, murky days are excuses to stay inside. We must avoid the weather and the mud. Where I come from there’s a lot of mud. But London has no mud and the puddles are minimal despite the continuous fall of rain. At first Jake complained about the rain, but if he wanted to see the real London, this was it.
A young woman walks by on her cell phone. I notice her shoes, I’m always noticing shoes. They are boots, could be Fryes, camel in colour, expensive. I point them out to Jake, but while I notice shoes, he notices cars. And the cars are beautiful on my street, and expensive. I have never seen so many expensive cars in one place, and Jake is mesmerized. I don't know the names of any of the cars, which he cannot believe, but I've already moved on. As I turn to my right I see the opposite of wealth. “Burney” is the homeless man on our street. Very elderly, he wears an old suit and ratty sneakers. He sleeps on the front stoop of number 44, Burney House (from which he gets his name) where he meticulously folds and unfolds his cardboard house, sleeping odd hours, and heading off all night. Today we catch him packing up his house. For the first time I notice his rolling suitcase. I have never seen him with it before, and wonder briefly what could be in it. He wears only his suit and sneakers every day. He does not have a hat or mittens or a coat to wear over his suit. I shiver thinking about it. Jake and I look at each other, I see color rising on his face, probably mirroring my own. We marvel at all this wealth while he packs up his cardboard home.
A few steps more and Gloucester Road comes into view. Gloucester Arms is just ahead of me across “hell road,” a nickname lovingly given to it by the Richmond students who refuse to walk to the side with the cross walk. Instead they dodge the oncoming fury of taxis and buses who have no intention of slowing down, let alone stopping.
The road is busy as usual, but thankfully no buses. I hop around a couple taxis, Jake is meandering along behind me and narrowly avoids being clipped by the Tiffany taxi. I love the taxis here and although it almost ended my dear friend's life, the Tiffany one is my favourite, very elaborately done, in the famous Tiffany blue, very hard to miss. But even the plain black taxis are elegant, not an eye sore like the yellow taxis of New York, glaringly obvious even on the darkest nights. London taxis are so chic, so very London. You almost expect the taxi driver to hop out, open your door and say “Your coach, m’lady” with a bow. But Jake says no taxis for us, the best way to experience a new place is to walk around.
We turn right on Gloucester Road where I point out Gloucester Arms, a great place to get fish and chips, a pint, and meet forty year old Irish men. While we pass by the shops I look in, a couple Indian restaurants line the street, as well as a small twenty-four hour convenient store that sells two pound samosas, and the small man behind the counter always expects me to buy a beer, I never do. A couple windows down is a pastry shop. We stop to look longingly at the delicacies behind the glass and I notice a small sign in front of a piece of chocolate cake, "Gluten Free, Suitable for Coeliacs." I grab at Jake's hand, we run in quickly for a piece of cake then continue on towards the park for a small picnic.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Name, Follow Friday (er, Sunday), and a Little Bit of Love!

On Friday I wanted to do a wonderful Follow Friday post for you all, I had been planning it all week, but then Blogger hiccuped so much it passed out and I was left with just twitter to announce my love. And then my Twitter stopped working and so glared at my computer until I got out of work (what? actually do work at work, no thank you!). When I got home my internet wasn't working at all. So I opened a bottle of wine and watched Reba with my mom (she's obsessed with Reba, records every rerun there is, and Lifetime also loves Reba, so there are a lot of reruns). So that was my Friday, hooray!
Yesterday work was slow yet again. I started poking around my blog and realized, although I love Albert Einstein's quote, it just didn't seem to fit. Also, there are about fifty blogs with the same name. I needed something different.
When I first started college, right around the time The Boy and I broke up, my mantra became "Believe."
Believe that things will get better. Believe that this was the right decision. Believe in love, despite it all. Also, Believe that the Red Sox will win the World Series - and they did friends, they did. My mom bought me a wooden BELIEVE sign that hung above my bed until it got lost in one of my many moves (I'm asking for a new one before I leave for Austin).
"Believe" has so much optimism behind it, so much possibility. So much inspiration. Please take a look at my "I Believe" page for some more inspiration, and let me know what you believe.

Why "Believe You Me"? My name couldn't just be "believe" and I have always thought that phrase was silly, and like to use it a lot, and then giggle.

The pirate ship: do you see it? why is it there? I love pirates! I really do. Have you read the True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle? I want that kind of life. Except for the framed for murder part... Also my nickname from Bear is Pirate as a result of the best Thanksgiving we ever had, a story that is perhaps for another day.
I have to clarify, because I was yelled at during a heated game of Apples to Apples about how horrible real pirates are. I don't like real pirates, I like the ones in fairy tales, make believe, Peter Pan.

Now on to my "Follow Friday" post:
I used to have a "blogs I love" page, but really I love a lot of blogs, so I've decided to start a new series where I link you to my favorite posts of the week. So, without further ado...

Thought Catalog: Ten Reasons Why Being Single Sucks  - Honestly, I don't think being single is that bad. Although I miss Penn occasionally, I'm pretty content. But this line just made me chuckle :
"A single person’s substitute for sex is a glass of wine, and an order of chicken tika marsala while watching old episodes of 30 Rock. To get some kicks, maybe they will wear something provocative for the delivery man"

Just a Titch: On Tug of War

Oh Hello Friend: Collections/Jane Austen - because you should all know how much I love Jane Austen

Almost Fearless: Crash Course on Getting a Job on a Cruise Ship - I really love everything about this blog. They are living the life I want. And this post made me go, "hm, maybe I'll do that." Because I never want to stop traveling!

Life Begins Now: 6 ways to tell you've been traveling for awhile - it reminded me that it has been too long since I've traveled.

Bluebird Rising: The Night the Rain Came - I just loved this.

Harbor Cottage: Things I know for certain - I thought this was a fun concept, and tried to think about what I knew for certain. Turns out, not much...

Hate You Probably: Good Game Life - so horrifying it's funny.

Kissed a Frog: Follower Love  - Ok, maybe I'm a little biased because she talks about me! But you should read her anyway, she's great!

Sailing Bo: turn off your tv - everything Bo writes, I love.

And there you have it! Go read them and love them!
And I want to welcome anyone who found me via #FF! And to thank those of you who recommended me! I love it/you/this! 

Friday, May 13, 2011

She Lived With Laughter in Her Heart

I believe my epitaph (or I hope) will read, “She lived with Laughter in Her Heart.” At my house we have a sign that says “Live, Laugh, Love,” a saying that has exploded within the young lady population. It’s something to live by, and I believe my saying ties it all together.

My parents taught us to give everything of ourselves, to help others at every opportunity possible; to be aware that we are not the only ones in the world. They encouraged seizing the day, making the most of our one life, getting as much out of it as possible. They encouraged happiness and laughter and brotherly love. They encouraged adventure and fun and spirituality. They encouraged life.
My older brothers helped to enforce the idea of living into my days. They always did their best, were involved in anything they could. They followed their dreams, never worried about them not coming true. They always did what made them happy and what would benefit others the most. They learned not only in the classroom but around the world. They opened their lives to different cultures, different ideas, and different religions.

I live: As I heard stories and watched the lives of my brothers, I knew that life was nothing to take for granted. I wanted my part of it, and I wanted to give my part as well. So I did it. I became involved in many organizations in high school, I volunteered as much as possible. And, taking a leaf out of one brothers’ book, I took a year off after high school and moved to the Dominican Republic. I lived at an orphanage and taught English and volunteered at the local hospital. I savored every moment, whether in the classroom, at the hospital, or just out in the streets playing with the children.

I love: I hold every moment close to me. I reveled in the eyes of my young niece as she spoke her very first word. I felt the excitement of my sister’s first high school dance. I burst with pride and warmth when my brother proposed to the love of his life. I live for these moments, these moments of pure happiness and innocence. Of pure love. I love life. I love all the possibilities around me. I love the fact that everyone has a chance to make a better world.

I laugh: I am known for my smile and my laughter. I am known for my unfailing optimism, my energy, and my craving for adventure. There are countless moments around the dinner table I will never forget, where all ten of us dissolve into laughter we cannot suppress, where food goes untouched for minutes before we can compose ourselves enough to eat. There are study sessions and coffee breaks that are interrupted by giggles and cackles, telling that life is being enjoyed. Laughter rings through my house, whether at home or at school, raw and completely free. We are happy, despite the situations around us.

We are together, we are loved, we are whole, we are happy.

I am not one to sit back and let the world pass by. If there is something I want to do, I am going to do it. I cannot merely breathe through life. I must live it too. I have an urge to go out and save the world, and I am going to do everything I can to make it happen, with laughter in my heart.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

London Love

A couple of weeks ago, just like millions of other people all around the world, I tuned into the Royal Wedding. Yes, I thought the dress was very pretty, yes I absolutely adored the hats - even the ridiculous WTF? hats, yes I had a forty minute conversation with Panda about how awful, just plain awful, Chelsy Davy looked and Harry should clearly drop her and find me. Stat.
But the real reason I watched it? It was in London. Because watching the panoramic views of all of the London landmarks transported me back to the happiest six months of my life. The memories came flooding back, and I just let them take over. I sat back and relived it all, and couldn't keep the happiness from gushing out of me.
I closed my eyes and saw...
Panda and I getting completely lost and turned around and late meeting DT at Westminster Abbey. Completely smitten with Miss Mary and her bedazzled reading glasses. The way DT looked at her, his darling wife, his "English Rose," which curiously mirrored the expression he had when explaining Anne Boleyn, and pointing out Queen Elizabeth's tomb.
Penn and I deciding to see every sight in London without taking the tube until I finally broke down and cried about my poor little feet just in front of the Gherkin. And yet we still continued to walk over the bridge and to the Tower of London where I glared at him and proclaimed "Off with your head!"
Taking three hours to walk through Portobello Road Market, driving the boys crazy and finally sending them off to find food while we stopped at every booth, sifted through clothes, antiques, handmade items, and bought dresses, scarves, and earrings.
Walking with Professor Jackson through back streets. He made us notice the graffiti, appreciate the graffiti, causing me to not be able to look at graffiti ever again without thinking of him.
Professors announcing we will be spending the last forty minutes of class in the pub discussing "deep topics"
Chasing buses in stilettos at 3 am because we couldn't find where the N9 stopped.
Sitting in the back of a cab with Sie, Panda, and Stien rocking out to Sie's ipod as she took videos while we giggled and sang in our tequila voices.
Coming back from Spain, Wales, Paris, Ireland, and stepping out of the Gloucester Road tube station and getting the overwhelming sense of "I'm home."
Following DT to East London and down some streets to a small cafe that served jellied eel. Trying the jellied eel and trying not to gag as the woman behind the counter gently suggests we try it with pepper.
Exploring St James' park on St Patrick's day, half fuddled and overly giggly as DT explained torch bearers and brought us down a quaint mews.
Heading to the outskirts of London, far down along the Thames, to DT's favorite pub. We drank pints and played trivia and danced all the way home. Panda taking DT's phone to talk to Mary, telling her how much we all loved him, to which she replied, "Oh no, he got you all drunk."
Running around Picadilly Circus, seeing Les Miserables, visiting every market, every museum, castles, and palaces. Always having something to do, something to see. Staying out past midnight every night yet still able to wake up at seven am to jog in Hyde Park and attend every class. Finding "our pub" "our restaurant." Settling in to a routine yet still adding new and exciting things.
And finally, laying in the middle of Regeant's Park, beaming up at Penn, Sie, and Panda, gushing, "This can't be real life!"

If I could, I'd return in an instant. But then again, would London be the same as my London? The London of 2010. Because yes, the experiences were wonderful, but it was the people who really made it. I didn't know a single person when I headed to London, but quickly I made some of the greatest friendships of my life. Without them, London just wouldn't be my London. I'd need to scoop up Sie and Panda and take them with me. Until then, I'll just look at pictures, and take advantage of the national news when it decides to go Britain-crazy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Boy, a finale

When I found out The Boy was applying to grad school in Austin, well, let's just say I didn't take it well. As I explained before, I have been trying to get away from him for almost four years now. Wow. Four years. 
A week after I found out, I was in Copenhagen and finally able to cry into my best friend Neen's arms about how unfair life can be. We drank wine, we talked about how I could ever have loved a boy like him. She reminded me how far I have come, how much I learned from that relationship, how I won't make the same mistakes I made before.
And then we stopped talking about it. We drank more wine, some vodka, some rum, some gin, and we had fun. 

Today she emailed me,

"The Boy's facebook says he didnt get in to utexas. i did a little dance for you when i saw that, then i felt petty for a second, then that went away and i did another little dance."

That's my best friend. And, my God, did that lift a huge weight off of my chest.

Today "The Boy" is featured at Check the Box Entertainment!
Do you follow Check the Box? I have been for awhile now, and their posts are so relate-able! Head on over to their blog to see my post, and explore the rest of the site!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Deep breaths before my breathing turns to fire

In the past week I have come up with at least five new blog topics, but I haven't been able to write them down, and they disappear. I've been busy. My mind has been otherwise occupied. I have been sick. And most of all, I have been stressed.
It could be the combination of lousy weather, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, lack of proper meals, and the fact that I am moving in one month and have nothing packed or planned out. I don't know why I said "could be." It absolutely is a combination of all those things that have caused me to stress out, grind my teeth, snap at my sisters, parents, best friends, and develop an unexplained illness.
And so, I am grumpy. Cranky. Irritable. a bitch.
Yes, I admit it, I am absolutely no fun to be around. Not. At. All. And I feel terrible about it because I only have one month at home. I don't want my mother to be glad to be rid of me, I want her to actually miss me. I want my sisters to remember that I was a ridiculous amount of fun, and my father to think of me as a hard, diligent worker who always had a smile on her face (hm, it sounds like I'm dying...). I just want to be the real Annie before I leave. Not some terrible, nasty witch.
So I have made some changes, I quit my second job so I can get more sleep. I've rearranged my hours so I have time to exercise, time to plan healthy meals, time to pack and time to just breathe.
I have also cut down on blogging, as you can see. I will not be posting every day, or every other day, or maybe even every week. And I may not be reading your blogs either, so please excuse my absence of commenting.
I will be answering emails, and sending out a twitter update once in awhile, but for the most part, I'm trying to stay away from the computer. I'm trying to just enjoy my final month here. I'm trying to soak in sisterly bonding, help my mother out around the house, visit friends, and plan my reunion with my friends from London.
I will be getting a massage, gardening, reading, playing board games, and frolicking through the meadows as I come to terms with my decision to not spend another summer in the beautiful country side.
I will be laughing. Running. Dancing. Singing. Packing. Playing. Drinking. Eating. Loving. Oh, and some more packing.
I promise to be back soon! Until then, go have some fun!