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?