from one junkie to another!

Hauntings (part 2) May 23, 2012

May 23, 2012

With additional thanks to Liz Wong, illustrator.

Previously on wordjunkies: Annie Maier is haunted by a ghost of earthly existence. Flesh and blood and yet also of her own creation. The identity of said being must remain hidden, due in part to Annie’s desire to remain among the living. When we left her, Annie was inching toward a conclusion: what did this specter have to do with forward motion, writing, and escape?

Before I jump to any hasty conclusions about the presence, temporality, and effect of my ghost, I must call the reader’s attention to the plural s at the end of this week’s (and last week’s) title. Hauntings.


Ah, a surprise! But maybe not. Perhaps you’re way ahead of me. Perhaps you noticed this “s” and made your own conclusions. No self-respecting human has just one haunter, after all, why should I be any different?

I am not. (That is, in a nutshell, the whole point of this blog. We are no different from one another. We look different, give or take a few centimeters between our eyes or drops of melanin in our skin, and we sometimes disagree on important issues like human rights, the efficacy of universal health care and voting regulations (to say nothing of the unimportant question of who might win American Idol), but beneath that, in the pulse and clatter of our veins, we are pretty uniformly crafted. A little blood, a little bone, a few pounds of viscous tissue and viola! a human.)

In fact, the second surprising outcome of my first visit to Life Coach Jackie was the discovery that my other ghost is quite regrettably, and no less irrevocably, dead. I can share his identity due to this state of non-temporality, as well as to the fact that he, my second ghost, Ghost #2, haunting plus “s,” is not a succubus (however reluctant) but is, rather, a poltergeist; in death as in life, he is here to support me, love me and cheer me on. (Because that’s something he and Ghost #1 have in common, though absolutely real the roles they each play in my life are manifestations of my own, often overwrought, psyche.)

It is my father to whom I refer—the venerable but no longer fleshy joseph Rizzo (b. 1936—d. 2007).

Now for the conclusion (which isn’t really, but it’s getting there): I had, in seeking Life Coach Jackie’s assistance, three goals—to complete the final edits on my book, to market my book, to get WordJunkiesPress off the ground, and to be able to leave the house on time each morning without causing myself a nervous breakdown. Primary among these was… well, they’re all primary. I can’t do 1-3 without doing 4; I can’t do 2 without 1… Pressed for an answer, by LC Jackie who could, after one brief phone call, see right through me, I chose number 1. Upon being asked to articulate this desire even further, I said, and I quote from however murky a memory, “I want to find out, and address, why I keep putting off the liberation of my completed but as yet homeless book.” I actually don’t think I used the word liberation. I think what I really said was closer to “ I want to know why I don’t get off my ass and send out my book.”

I didn’t tell Jackie the book’s title, or contents, upfront—not out of a desire to be duplicitous, but because it simply didn’t occur to me. The bizarreness of this statement points to my complete lack of self-awareness while also fully explaining the ease with which my ghosts (1 and 2) infiltrated my head. I mean, really, if I don’t even know I’m up there, how could I possibly be expected to detect anyone else?

Instead, LC Jackie had to do a little digging. Meditatively speaking, she picked up a series of impressions in association with my birth name, Annmarie Rizzo turned Ann Marie Rizzo turned, well, me. Interpreting those impressions was my job.

“The word I see for you” she said by way of intro, “is hesitancy.”

“HAHAHAHA!” I laughed aloud. Perhaps the only more accurate term would have been COMPLETE PARALYSIS!

“The image I see is that of a snake.”

Now, some people might not like being called a snake, but I adore the slinky slithery ophidians. To me they are mysterious and beautiful, adapted in a remarkable way to an environment that prefers long legs and shapely teeth over cold blood and venomous fangs. That they are also considered evil by the bible is just an added bonus.

“But,” LCJ continued, not knowing of my affinity and unwilling at this early date to put me off the whole EFT thing, “this snake has arms.” (I admit it, the arms did creep me out a bit.) “It appears to be shedding, but it’s only gotten half way—its, your, arms are pinned. Have you been having trouble writing?”

Writing? No. Publishing, speaking, putting myself OUT THERE? Why, yes. Yes, I have.

To be Continued….


Earthly Ghosts May 18, 2012

May 18, 2012

So, it turns out I’m haunted


  1. (of a place) frequented by a ghost
  2. having or showing signs of mental anguish or torment

The “place,” in this case, being my head. The “signs” including but not limited to cuticle biting, eye twitching, intermittent spells of spasticity and lassitude, anxiety (more or less constant), nightmares, night sweats, night terrors, and a fascination with death.

Far from being alarmed by said haunting, I am in fact quite relieved; I’ve known since pre-language toddlerhood that there was something other inhabiting the soft tissue encased in the slowly fusing bone mass that would become my skull. How nice, after all these years, to be able to address this suddenly concrete and thus assailable entity.

An aside: wouldn’t it be cool to find out that somewhere within the recesses of your body, perhaps buried deep within your liver or your spleen, there lurked a twin? I first heard of such a possibility on CSI, which was a decent series back before they killed off Gary Dourdan and William Peterson left the show. TV drama politics aside, the victim, who was really the perpetrator, did not take the news of his slightly unorthodox cohabitation well. (I can’t remember though if it got him arrested or got him off.) But really, think of the benefits! Live twins are said to be one of the closest, most perfect relations we can have, but even they, after all, have limitations. A micro-twin, on the other hand, would have all the benefits of a true mini-me without the obvious drawbacks. (Really, do I want another Annie Maier in my life? No. And you probably don’t either!) You could, for instance, call on your twin anytime of day or night without having to worry that he/she might not pick up the phone, or worse, that your brother/sister-in-law might pick up instead—because, clearly, if light-hearted banter was something you were good at, you probably wouldn’t be fantasizing about having a hairy bone mass lodged in your organs with whom you could have a conversation. You could visit without your twin without calling, take him/her out to dinner without a care as to who would pay the bill, and wear their clothes with complete impunity!

However, I digress.

My ghostly friend is neither dead nor encased safely in my spleen. And while I cannot reveal his/her identity, for fear of endangering the innocent (that is, me), I can say that he/she is someone with whom I am both intimately and irrevocably connected. I am not unique; we all  sanction the presence in our lives of at least one person who wants nothing more than to possess us. As is the case with my possessor, said people are often


  1. display, exhibition, presentation
  2. sign,indication, evidence, token, symptom, proof, substantiation, reflection, example, instance.
  3. outward or perceptible indication; materialization
  4. the state of being manifested, (that is) a conscious feeling, idea, and/or impulse that contains repressed psychic material

As such, my apparition at least must also, in addition to ruthless, insatiable and often cruel, be fairly labeled innocent. A fiend perhaps, but a reluctant fiend.

What, you may be wondering, if you are still here to wonder, in the hell has this to do with ANYTHING? It has to do with hesitation. With indecision. It has to do with goal setting, goal reaching, and self-constructed barriers. It has to do not with writing but with allowing what it is we have written to escape from our souls, our pens and and computer screens to a concrete existence in the greater, larger, infinitely more entertaining world. It has to do with my book. And maybe yours.

To be continued

(thank you to Liz Wong, illustrator)


The Complexities of Being a Shirley February 21, 2010

Filed under: Life — Annie Maier @ 9:55 pm
Tags: , ,

February 21, 2010

My uncle called me last week. I haven’t spoken to him in a year and a half, not because anyone was angry, but because the last time I called I had to tell him his sister (my Aunt Nokie) had passed away. He took the news very hard and I managed to forget that death and sadness weren’t my personal responsibilty. As a result, we haven’t spoken since. (He doesn’t call me, as it is a personal rule of his not to call anyone younger than him. This is entirely in keeping with the fact that he is a Shirley (my mom’s family) and Shirleys are nothing if not eccentric (Hey Oot! My sweet pea! My sunshine! My bundle of energy and light). It’s one of the reasons I love them. It’s also one of the reasons they make me crazy.)

My mom has a rule of her own. She doesn’t call (visit, speak to) anyone named Shirley. No siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, etc… She talks to my brother and I, sporadically (I think because we’re technically Rizzos), and her granddaughters. Period. This has been a recurring theme in her life, but this time it’s been about five years since she’s conversed with her family. A few years ago, I decided it made no sense for me to  follow suit, and so I try to keep tabs on everyone (except My Uncle Baba in California. I’ve only seen him about a dozen times in my life, and while I love him, I don’t know him. This makes me sad, but I haven’t the wherewithall to remedy it.). Nonetheless, we still manage to lose touch from time to time.

I’ve always felt the absence of my family. My father (even when he was alive), my mom, my brother. My dad was an only child, and because of a deep and abiding rift in his extended family, I’ve never known any of my Rizzo relatives. Some of them came to my wedding, but they were there more for my dad, and I’ve not seen them since. (I did have a very close relationship with his mom and aunt. They died in 1984 and 1992.) Mom’s family – her mother, six siblings and their many children – are the only extended family I’ve ever had. Because they were in and out of our lives,  I often went huge lengths of time without seeing or hearing from them.

So I was both elated and alarmed to hear Uncle Richard on the other end of the line. He sounded great, though, hailing me as he always has – “What’s up, Lucy Brown?” (I’ve no idea why he calls me this, except that all Shirleys have at least five nicknames. Not counting the names I’ve been given by Eric and Dad, I am or have in my life been Louie, Lurch, Loo Loo, Me Ooch and Ewtie Pewtie – that last one even has a song. I’ve also been known as Pumkin, but this doesn’t count as I think every child in America spends some time under that moniker. Uncle Richard is, however, the only one to use Lucy Brown. He somehow escaped the nickname curse – I think because he had the misfortune of spending the first half of his life as Dickie.) Anyway – what was up was that my aunt and uncle were going to be in Charlotte for a few days and wanted to see my mom. I don’t mind being the go-between. I have in fact been pleading with my mother to talk to Uncle Richard for years. But I was terrified of having to confront her yet again with him waiting down the street to find out if she would see him. How in the hell, I wondered would I tell him if she refused? 

At this point in the story, I realize I have far more to say about all of this than I thought. I have reams of homework waiting for me, so the rest of this story will have to wait until tomorrow. For now, I will say – Mom didn’t refuse. She acted like I had lost my mind for thinking she would. For about the zillionth time in our relationship, I almost fainted with relief, realizing that I had once again misread my mother’s complex and ever changing mind.  


December 7, 2009 December 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Annie Maier @ 10:48 am
Tags: , ,


In Honor of Joe Rizzo (December 6, 1936 – May 27, 2005)

Yesterday was my father’s birthday. I still miss him, but I’m glad he’s at peace, whatever that looks like. Sadness comes and goes, along with my notions of death. Mostly, I invision him as floating around with me – little particles dispersed in the eternity of air and earth and water that surrounds us all. As comforting as that idea is, the whole invisible thing is a drag. I wish I could see him if even for a moment, to make sure he is okay and that he could hear me when I talk. And if he could, what would I tell him? How much I love him, of course. But that’s an involuntary reflex generated by loss. One thing my father never had cause to doubt was the love of his children. (If I couldn’t sit here and know I did everything I could to communicate my love to my father, I would never accomplish another thing. I would be too busy consuming and being consumed by remorse. Not being a huge fan of regret, I try to keep that in mind.)

So, what would I say?

 I would tell him that life is short. That blood pressure is still undervalued and Rizzos are not inherently unlucky. I would tell him he deserved every bit of love he received in this life, and more. That death isn’t, I hope, as bad as he expected. That Lauren and Cat and Bon are doing great; Eric less so. Mama is Mama – that shouldn’t surprise him, and hopefully my saying so would no longer anger him. Finally, I would tell him happiness is not impossible.

My dad was a silent man, though, in the manner of those uncomfortable in their own skin. We share that, and the sharing made conversation between us sporadic and trivial. I don’t imagine he would care much for post mortem postulations any more than he did pre-death small talk. In my dreams, whenever he reappears, healthy and unchanged, it’s always with an air of nonchalance. No one comments on his long absence or on his former illness. It’s not that I don’t recognize both, I just decide to leave well enough alone. “He’s back,” I think, and that is enough. Sometimes, at the end of the dream, he gets sick again. Sometimes I realize I am dreaming and that he is dead. Even then, I don’t comment, I just watch to see how he takes the transformation. He doesn’t usually take it well. Neither do I. In this life, my waking life, any words would depend on time and circumstance. If we had a few days I’d say too little; a few minutes and I’d most assuredly say too much. Caught unaware – Daddy, hey, what are you doing here? – there’s a good possibility that I wouldn’t say anything of consequence. So, how’s it going? See anyone you know floating around the universe? If, implausibly, death had changed him, made him relaxed and confident, I’d let him take the lead.

But maybe none of that is important.

Maybe all I would really need to tell him is Happy Birthday, Pate. Hope you’re enjoying the afterlife. 


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