Monday, October 30, 2006

No, seriously

Sunday was a LONG day because I did not get home from the office until 1:45, and that's actually Monday morning, which was 16 hours after I arrived at the office on Sunday morning, and since I worked all weekend, except for the parts where I was either driving to work, driving home from work, driving an hour north to have lunch with my nephew or driving an hour south to the office after that lunch, or sleeping in my clothes on top of the covers so as not to waste valuable sleep time by putting on pajamas, I realize that I've spent this entire weekend either in a car or at a computer, so I've decided to buy a new car today. Because I don't need a new computer.

How's that for feminine logic? Makes perfect sense in my world.

I'm a bit on the fence with the color. Which should it be?

Glacier Blue Metallic with Gray Interior
Nighthawk Black Pearl with Black Interior

Keep in mind that the black one is waiting for me, meaning that it's at the dealership right now, has my name on it, and I could pick it up tonight. TONIGHT!!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Little Brown Birthday Girl

Because today is her 6th birthday, and because I'm never able to figure whether it's her face or her self that tickles me the most, and because I can't look at that face without smiling, even if it's her guilty face or her tough girl growling face, but especially her grinning face, and because she will be spending the day at my office with me, meaning not only that we both have to work on the weekend but that she has to work on her birthday, and because she makes me laugh, often, and smile even more, and because she's my Tiny Hiny, Cheyenna Banana Monster, Shorty, Sugar Butt, well, of course I took her to Starbuck's for a sample cup of whipped cream for her birthday breakfast. Of course I did.

Happy birthday my LBD.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A golden opportunity. Or not.

I could take this opportunity to wrap a rope around my neck. I could take this opportunity to pray in gratitude for the challenges I face that give me wisdom and strength. I could take it to set an example and lead the way. Or I could take it and preserve it in sacred thread and save for the dawn of a future moment.

I could take it and be less than I am, or more than I know how to be. Meaning, I could take it to shrink or stretch.

I could deny the moment and put it away, or breathe life into now and expand it for hours, days, the whole of my life.

That's the gist of the lessons I'm learning. The knowledge is obvious, but how or even if to act, that's not as clear.

I'll tell you something, there's a weight to this, a burden. It tires. It's not the brand of tired that a vacation cures. It's not the flavor of tired that sleep resolves. It is the color of tired that wonders day in and day out how it got to be this way and looks around and around and cannot find a reason, or a solution that resolves anything at all. It's a tired that is restless.

Running isn't the answer. Sleep isn't the answer. The answer is there though, right there. I can taste it, smell it, but it's around the corner, elusive like the stream of scent. Beyond me at the moment, but there. Much of my time is spent wondering where the solutions are. Much of my time is spent in prayer that I might be strong enough, patient enough, to live the questions until the answers form. Answers that will form in the shape of decisions.

Being without the answers, not making the decisions, is being without balance. And stumbling forward all the same.

When the surprises come, on these things I can rely

This house has its own fingerprint that, like all homes, you recognize after time. The upstairs thermostat clicks when the air kicks on. The third stair from the top creaks beneath your footstep. The bottom hinge of the pantry door squeeks. The piano in then entryway needs to be dusted. And tuned. The metal plate at the bottom of the patio door is loose. Familiar.

After a couple days, I settle in. My breathing matches the rhythm, rise and fall, the pulse of this house.

Hello? Is anyone there? Hello?

It's 1:35 in the morning. I hear her, jump out of bed, trip over Cheyenne and hit the floor. I want to cry out from the fear and surprise of suddenly being face down on the floor when five seconds ago I was sound asleep. Instead I scramble.

I'm coming Mom.

I fly down the stairs in the dark, only hearing my feet.

I just want to be sure that you know my new room number. I get to leave tomorrow and I want to be sure you know where to find me.

She's confused again. She hasn't had the confusion for a couple weeks now. I send out a rapid prayer that she is simply confused from waking out of a dream.

I put my fingers through her hair, I know where to find you Mom, don't worry, I know where to find you.

She looks at me, gratitude, need and love in her eyes. I sit with her while she falls back asleep. Guarding her, soothing her.

Returning upstairs, I crawl back into bed, pat Cheyenne's head, tell her I'm sorry for surprising her, and close my eyes.

I hear the air kick on and wait for the sure and comforting click of the thermostat. Three, two, one. It clicks. I breathe. The house and everything in it falls back asleep.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


When I stay at my Mother’s house, as I am doing now, there are at times long stretches of time where I feel that nothing is solid, not the walls, the rugs beneath my feet. The house itself seems a ghost, holding memories, saturated with times much livelier, times before grief, before change. Even the quiet is different, the absence of sound unbelievably loud.

There are times when I am here that I look for my father, that I seek out places he was, evidence of him. I open the door to the hall closet, run my finger along the sleeves of his hunting jackets hanging there. I touch the curve on the base of a brass lamp on his desk, pick up a folder with words on the tab written in his hand. In his closet, I open his shoe shine kit, touch the soft bristles of the brush, smell the polish. I swing back and forth along the memory of watching him shine his shoes.

I reach for a sweatshirt in his closet. Faded sage green with Ducks Unlimited embroidered in yellow on the front. Slipping it on, pushing the sleeves up, I wrap my arms around it, around myself. Hugging that he was once in this shirt. Holding that connection. Warm and comforted.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Today, I head home. Though I haven't been homesick a single time on any of my travels lately, and though Houston is warm and very green, and lacks the charming personality of the places I've spent time this past week, it is a place that I'm looking forward to returning. Slightly changed, in the sense that I am calm, relaxed. That's what vacations should leave you with, absent of stress and replenished with calm. Even this quick turn around work trip has been just fine because Chester County Pennsylvania is in peak Fall colors and if you throw in that this is horse country, the birthplace of Smarty Jones and Barbaro, and my drive to work has been saturated with the view of horse farms and clusters of trees with full spreads of color, well, there's no stress to be found even if I went looking for it.

I have not once been homesick during this time, which tells me I needed the distance, just for a while, just to get my energy replenished, my spirit sated.

Still, a girl can only take just so much quaint perfection. After a while, you can start to miss the chaos that is normal to your life. So, naturally, I have missed that ill-behaved little girl of mine.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Turn around

My sister-in-law is a flight attendant. When we used to talk (we don't do that anymore) about her schedule, she'd tell me she had a turn around in this city, and then a turn around in that, meaning that she'd land and head out again on her next flight. It's tiring, what she does, I understand that. Especially because today after flying over the colors of the Green Mountains in Vermont, the Adirondacks in New York, and then over NYC, I changed planes and then we sat on the runway in Newark for 1.5 hours due to the weather in Houston. When we finally did take off, we were assured that there was no guarantee we'd arrive in Houston. So, I was not surprised when the pilot announced we were going to Corpus Christi and then we could go to Houston. I've flown from London in a shorter time.

But none of it bothered me. Not at all. Not the delay or the turbulence, the full plane, the crying babies in the seats in front of me. It was what it was. And I've had plenty of conversations with my sister-in-law to trust that air traffic control can inconvenience your plans, but, seriously, it's for your safety. And no one controls the weather.

Aside from that, what I had on my mind was these two munchkins and how silly and fun and delightful they are.


Oh, the turn around part. I arrived in Houston three hours later than what was scheduled. Nine hours from now, I'll be on another flight. Not quite a turn around in flight attendant speak, but for me, definitely. I'm heading to Philadelphia, for work. While I'm happy to return to cooler temperatures, and pleased that I packed for this trip last week, I must say that the anticipation of arriving at my destination is just not the same as it was when I was headed to Vermont.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The perfection of today

I'm standing in the middle of what they call their front yard and I call a meadow. The air smells of the sweet smoke from the fireplace, of leaves and moist soil. When I look to the north, I see snow dusted across the mountain top in the distance, to the west there are two shelves of clouds with enough space between to allow a bright orange strip of sunset to glow through. I turn towards the house, the life within framed by lights through the windows, the glow of the fireplace. Breathing deep, I think, remember this, take this home with you.

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Today was of the earth and all the gifts of color and life, of seasons and change. Today was about little hands, wide eyes and big experiences.

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Today we put out fingers in the dirt when we planted the bulbs that will break through in the spring, and we wrapped our hands around rakes to gather fallen leaves of autumn. We found ladybugs and rocks and even hugged a few trees. I stood still with rich soil clinging to my hands and leaf bits on my clothes, and returned to the sounds and smells from visiting my grandmother's house when I was a child. I remembered the crunch of the leaves on the sidewalk, the scratch of the rake, the joy of running and jumping into a big pile of leaves. I remembered my father standing near and delighting in my joy. I watch the girls plow through their own piles, listen to their laughter, hold tight the lines of the circles.

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I glance towards Troy, in his own moment with Caroline, joy and laughter, giggles and flight. My heart skips a beat in recognition. There is nothing in this world quite like the love and trust between a good father and a therefore happy daughter.

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I remember again that, next to love, the most wonderful, most joyous thing we do is the sharing and trust that begin there. Friend to friend, lover to lover, parent to child.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Two friends

Last night, as the little ones were sleeping and Troy was watching television, Gus and I sat in the chairs pictured below. We held hands and delighted in the cold air, the still night, the dark sky and the many stars above us. We thanked each other for the long and rewarding path of our friendship, and we laughed at remembered times in the past. With tears in our eyes, we spoke of those who are no longer with us, and with a glimmer in our eyes, we spoke with love for those who are present. We remembered yesterday and rejoiced in the best of now. It was a gentle night, an easy conversation with no direction, two age-old friends sharing in the comfort of each other's presence and the satisfying feeling of the trust in our continued journey. Sweet is the peace and serenity I felt last night.

Two friends

This morning when we were in the bakery, the woman behind the counter looked at us and said, Are you two related? Gus and I looked at each other and smiled, then she looked back at the woman and said, No, but we should be.

Friday, October 13, 2006

This and this and this, and that and that

At an early hour this morning, the play group descended upon this house. What that means is that a number of little girls with precious faces and adorable outfits flew into the door and scoped out the place for the good stuff in the playroom. Good stuff in the form of toys they do not have at home, and upon seeing, makes their palms grow sweaty and their eyes roll back in their heads in a nirvana that is punctuated with body spasms. I learned on the last visit here that these precious, organic-food-fed angels always seem to simultaneously land on the desire of wanting the one meaningless plastic thing that the littlest one (Mrs. Booge) is holding. You can feel the tension because you know that any minute the recent nuclear tests that North Korea conducted would pale in comparison to what you're about to witness. Not wanting to repeat that particular thrill, I take off in the Mommy Van to Shelburne for a bit of Christmas shopping.

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The coolest thing about the stores in Shelburne is the people behind the counters, the locals who are more than willing to pull up their chair, pour you a cup of coffee and have a friendly exchange. Something about saying you're from Texas seems to warm Vermonter's heart. Which is a good thing in that fair exchange sort of way since it's 30 outside as I write this.

Lovebirds Art

After filling up more than one shopping bag and buying, of all things, the perfect trashcan for my livingroom - who doesn't want a metal sap bucket that's been painted red? - I strolled through an artist area, discovering the clay birds in the photos above. They were placed in small bare trees and it felt peaceful to be near them, like the feeling you get when children whisper.

When I got into the Mommy Van and headed towards home, what happened can only be described by me as awesome and, well, the rocker chick in me has to add, kick ass.

Back up. Yesterday, I drove along the neighboring road, listening to Classical music and thinking that the trumpets were perfect background for the colors surrounding me. Today, I got back to my roots. As I zipped up Route 7 and flew down I-89, I was turning up the volume as the local Classic Rock station offered me on a silver platter old Pink Floyd, Jefferson Starship, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and then a triple-play of Journey. At that, I turned the volume higher than that Mommy Van has known before.

Yesterday was a good day,
It's after midnight and I've got you on my mind.
Come with me never go away,
Every day we will fly, yeah.
That's the same way you love me.
(That's the same way she loves you).
Ooo, just the same way you do.
(Just the same way you do).

I don't think that nature requires a musical backdrop, but I do think that, given the choice, it's an incredible companion to the view.

In my world, there's no way you can listen to Journey while driving by this scene and not reach for the volume. That's when I realized that the coolest thing about rocking the Mommy Van is that the steering wheel does a fine job of doubling as the drum set.


Seen and heard

At snacktime, my friend asks her girls, Have we eaten any beans today? I don’t think so. Let’s eat some beans.

The two girls grumble. They have their eyes on the chips we bought at the grocery store earlier.

Mom [in cheerleader voice]: But beans are soooo good for you.

She looks at them, asks, What do beans do for you?

Little one 1: They make you toot.

Little one 2: Pooooop.

Mom: That’s right, beans make you toot and poop.

Little one 1: I’m the tooter!

Little one 2: Pooper!

And with that, the afternoon snack of beans is gobbled up with giggles.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Letting the pictures tell my story today

Colors Bursting

Pumpkin patch This one!

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Tjhese! Perfect

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Their love of purple and gold started at a young age

Vikings Fans

Around here, the fan on the left answers to Mrs. Booge and the fan on the right, Lovey. Mrs. Booge and Lovey have sung one version or another of the Vikings' Fight song about 75 times since I've been here. In the car, in the kitchen, at the dinner table, in the grocery store, in the bathroom, walking down the hall, in the yard - whenever and wherever their team spirit moves them, they don't hesitate to break out in song. My favorite part is the end where they shout, GOOOOOoooo Vikings, then throw their hands up in the air and say, Tut down.

Their father is very proud.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Feast on the wind

A single yellow leaf is carried by the wind above my head. It dances and curls on the air, flutters, pauses, and falls below the propelling current, spinning slowly down in a spiral towards earth. The wind gusts and claps, roars then whispers. A thousand leaves are the chorus of the sound, flung from their branches in the woods and into the open meadow. The sky rains yellow and orange. Leaves land in my hair, on my lap. In my hand.

Catherine calls me Ann Allson. Caroline says, AnnOwlsin. The little one (Caroline, or Mrs. Booge) wiggles out of my lap and part runs, part toddles down the hill drunk on her joy. Catherine hears a train in the distance, lifts her head, squeals and claps her hands. Choo-choo.

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I walk the hill, breathe the air. My path is dappled with soft October sunlight. A certain quietness falls over the land. I see the dormant plants, consider the seasons, consider the changes in my life. I hold my arms out, palms up, turn around in a circle and spin in the surrounding color.
At the dinner table tonight, the little one stretched her hand across the table to hold my own for grace. Her sister, though, wanted to tell a story. Caroline rolled her eyes and squeezed my finger. When Catherine finished grace and said, Amen, Caroline shook her head up and down in the affirmative and enthusiastically responded, YEAH.

A voice my own tells me to pay attention. These moments in my life lately, they are the moments of gentle hands and golden light, moments of truth. The moments where all that I love and all that loves me are here again, alive again, hopeful again. Promising again.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Up up and away and outta here

I'm off to Vermont at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning. I'm heading to five days with my dear friend, her delightful husband and their two totally squeezable, lovable and highly tickleable little girls. I'm off to cold temperatures and warm jackets, to giggles and wiggles and champagne toasts by the fire. I'm off to chase leaves of gold and red, and valley mists of grayish blue. I'm off for five days of little socks and adorable boots, toenail painting and bedtime story reading.

What's best about this vacation is that when I booked it, it was somewhat of a desperate measure. Okay, not somewhat. Definitely desperate. And necessary. Maybe it's because I've sought and am receiving help through someone who is a professional, and maybe it's because the distance between the night before I left for Chicago when I felt so low that I'd sell my soul to Satan to avoid feeling that much pain again, is growing more distant with each passing day. I don't know, but I do know that the past few weeks have been nothing short of my feeling loved, understood, cared for. It doesn't change the depression and it doesn't erase the low self esteem, it doesn't change the enormity of emotions, but it does make me realize that I am not alone in this journey. I am with friends, and not only do they try to understand, but they love me. And, don't go throwing up your breakfast or anything, but that love, it's keeping me steady.

What I'm thinking about right now is the send-off I received. A few people out there are proud of me. A few people out there love me and believe in me. They say things like, I admire you, or, Your strength is awesome, or, my favorite, Your father would be very proud of you. I feel like a school girl with a gold star when I hear those words. And I know they're true. I've realized lately that friends see the effort, they know the juggling and the devotion. With support like that, the word that comes to mind is immeasurable.

Clear and true: With you, I can fly.


Notice the angle of this shot, how I'm standing to the side of her and she's not looking at me? What she's doing is pleading with my friend to pick the ball up and throw it again just like he did the last time. Because it's so much fun to actually run and chase the ball, as opposed to when I throw it and it either lands only a few feet away or hits the tree and bounces and rolls back to my feet. I threw it one time and she dropped it as his feet to see what he might offer. She didn't invite me to her game again that afternoon.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Friends are friends and pals are pals

He calls me when his flight arrives. I hang up the phone and close my eyes. I cannot wait to see him.

He's driving west on Westheimer. I'm driving east. I dial his number.

You'll want to turn your radio to 93.7.

Ah, Led Zeppelin, luv.

I have no concern at all that I don't know where I'm going and neither does he. I know we'll find it and I know we'll find each other. I drive on, each light bringing me closer.

I ring him again, tell him I've found a hotel, that I'll pull in to see if they have a room. As I pull in, he laughs, says I'm right behind you.

That timing is not unusual.

It's not often that I see him, but it is often that I think about him. Was he the one who got away? Perhaps. But after all these years, he's also the one who has stayed in my life, the one I still carry in my heart. After all these years, he's my favorite song, a deeper breath, a contented sigh. In the end, that's so much better.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

She Me Us

The left shoe of a worn pair of Canvas All Stars is under the barstool. The right is on its side under the dining table, toe pointing towards its mate. A purple duffle bag stuffed with clothes is on the Windsor chair. Textbooks and notebooks are cracked open on the dining table. A stack of photography books on the coffee table. On the green chair is her camera, and the sweater she wishes it was cold enough to wear.

Tired from a long day, I pull my car into the garage beside hers. Thinking about dinner and her homework and what I need to take care of tonight so that I don't have to wake at 4:00 tomorrow morning, I take a breath and turn the knob.

Her familiar voice, excited, Hi Aunt Alison!

Music. Her living here is music to me.

She changes the rhythm, adds colors that melt and run together, adds lift and glow to my world.

She studies Biology at the dining table while I make our salads, spread sauce on the pizza crust, sprinkle the cheese and place in the oven. I tell her, In 20 minutes, dinner will be ready.

There's value in routine, meaning in the mundane. I return emails while she studies. We eat our dinner, laugh as Cheyenne and her cat, Flo, test the space between them, us and the food. We talk about the day. Her day, my day. We float our words to tomorrow.

I have to work late and then stay at Mom's tomorrow night, you'll take care of Cheyenne?

She tells me she will, asks me to wake her up before I go to work in the morning.

Little plans, small details, schedules and favors between a team of two.

She gets up to do the dishes. I lean back into the couch, and watch her, love her.

Every morning when I leave to work, and each night when I go to bed, the exchange between us is my telling her how happy I am that she's here with me, and her telling me how happy she is to be here.

Like the dimly lit theater after the show is over, it many ways, it's the best part.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pink pink moon

At a paid professional's suggestion, I'm reading a book on self-esteem, something I am apparently lacking in large amounts. Normally when I read any sort of book, outside of fiction, that I can in any way relate to, I do so with a highlighter in hand, shading in pink the string of words that either interest me, enlighten me, or that I recognize within myself.

I'm on page 55 of my prescriptive book and I can tell you that there's a lot of pink on the pages. A lot of pink that makes me see that there's a lot of work to do.

If I want to get out of the pink.

That's okay to know, because it shows me I'm on the right path, but it's hard to write, that the truth is I recognize myself in the pink.

Specific details are historic and personal, but tonight I lived why I am still highlighting.

I'm going to shift perspective for you.

You try. You try to sit unaffected when someone you love tells you that your love is not enough. Because that person wants more, different, more than you can offer, more than your truth (other than your truth). Persuasive attempts begin. The familiar argument begins. You hear that what you feel is not enough, not good enough, not enough enough. What you feel, what you have to offer, no matter, it's not enough. Seriously, sit still and listen to that. The words you are hearing say that everything you have to give is just short of enough.

No matter what you feel, what you want, you fail. Just short.

Now, look at all the places in your life where, try as you might, you cannot find a way to make a difference, all the people you love and want to save, if not at least reach, all the tools you have? Not enough.


Listen to not enough. Try to explain the value of what you do feel, of what you can offer. Try. Watch the eyes of someone you love tell you that your love is not enough.

Got it? Okay then, now tell me how much pink your book would have.

Hurry home, I'm sooooooo bored just waiting here at the top of the stairs for you to walk through that door


Monday, October 02, 2006

Keep the flame alive

Hey, how was your weekend?

Mine? Good, good thanks. It started after work on Friday with a reunion and a margarita. Later, I exchanged some emails with a Robert Earl Keen fan who needed some company, and who referred to me as a Good Egg. As far as name-calling faves go, next to Doll, it doesn't get better. Cheyenne and I played in the pool Saturday morning, Texas Tech won the game Saturday afternoon, and the Texans won their game Sunday. The weekend closed last night at a rally for peace with a thousand candles around the reflecting pool outside City Hall, in honor of Mahatma Ghandi. At the water's edge, between my niece and me stood a little girl who had pushed her way between us the way that only children can get away with. She wore a bright green Sari and equally bright green Crocs with the letter J in one of the holes. She was dark-eyed and eager, happy to be holding her own candle and wiggling with the thrill at seeing the many candles burning across the pond. A breeze kicked up and she cupped her fingers around the flickering flame, and excitedly said, "Oooh, oooh, don't let our fires blow out."

In so many ways, her words captured it all.

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