wordjunkies

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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….

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Expectation, Unreasonable or Otherwise April 6, 2012

Filed under: Philosophy,State of Mind,Writing/Words — Annie Maier @ 1:22 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Part 3; April 6, 2012

Previously on wordjunkies: Distressed at having been dissed by a quasi-friend and collaborator, Annie Maier took her disappointment and anger to the keyboard, hoping in the process to 1) catch and release said emotions (slippery little devils that they are), and 2) determine her role in the wake of said dissing. We now rejoin Annie, who sits sipping a now cooled coffee and reflecting upon the smoldering embers of her previous relationship.

Cool and warm: I need heat. I need movement and expression and closure. Except that I don’t. At least not the last part. An amazing thing has happened over the past few days. I’ve let it all go. I’m not angry. I’m not disappointed. I’m not concerned about my role in what I saw, six short days ago, as a disaster. Shit happens. I mean honestly. Everyday people step on one another and love one another and ignore one another, and life goes on. We move through the good and the bad with varying degrees of “success” (whatever that looks like). Hmmm. Maybe that’s my word for the day. Success. A new direction in the rant turned exploration turned musing turned miniature apex in my existence.

Success:

(noun)

  • the accomplishment of an aim or purpose
  • the attainment of popularity or profit
  • a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity

Let’s ignore number 2 for now, as popularity remains, to a geek like me, a completely unknown entity, and profit, well, profit and I have never, ever seen eye to eye. And, because I don’t believe people can be measured by nouns, let’s skip number 3 as well.

So number 1: What did I hope to accomplish in the penning of “Expectation”? The easiest answer is that I sought to vent what was quickly becoming a miasma of emotion. But the deeper, more honest answer is that I wanted to determine if there is a difference between anger and ill will. Between stating your mind and aiming to hurt someone.

Should you be so inclined, following me into this next installment will require a completely different bit of knowledge. As briefly as possible: boy met girl. Boy was black and white. Girl was gray. Boy and girl ignored all indications of color blindedness and married… No wait. We don’t need to go that far back! Remember when I said my husband patted me on the shoulder and urged me to wait? (I think that’s in Part 2.) Well, that was fine. It is, after all, in his nature to be cautious. But me? I’m more of a “oh, pretty rattlesnake!” sort of person. Anxiety has enough say in my life, I will not admit caution. Sunday, the day after I wrote the bridge-burning email, I said, aloud, “I hope I didn’t wound (insert person’s name).” Because that is what had concerned me from 3 to 5am as I alternated between counting fluffy miniature sheep and replaying the unfolding events of the weekend in a continual loop of baas and brain-words. And my husband, ever loving, ever supportive, ever practical, answered, “Of course you did. That was your intention when you wrote the email.”

Wound

(noun)

  • an injury to living tissue caused by a cut, blow, or other impact, typically one in which the skin is cut or broken.
  • an injury to a person’s feelings or reputation

(verb)

  • inflict an injury on (someone)
  • injure (a person’s feelings)

I was horrified dear reader. HOR-RI-FIED! 

My mate and I went back and forth for about an hour—him saying wounding was the intent, me saying wounding is NEVER my intent. Him saying wounding was inevitable, me saying wounding involves taking aim. Him saying wounding is a consequence of anger, me saying wounding is not a byproduct. Then, because I was damned if I was going to get pissed at him for something he hadn’t even been involved in, I threw my hands up (quite literally) and shouted that I just did not GET IT! I was incapable of processing his inability to see a distinction between speech and attack.

But the whole thing did make me wonder: Is there a difference?

That’s what the last three posts have been all about. And the answer? Well yes, dammit. There is a difference. While I did speak, I did not take aim. I had no intention of hurting the former quasi-friend and collaborator, only of saying to him/her “This SUCKS,” as clearly as I possibly could. I believe I did that. And I believe that, in writing this blog, I’ve come to accept that arson is sometimes necessary to integrity. Burned bridges be damned.

 

Onward! or Life After Graduation January 27, 2012

Filed under: Naropa University,State of Mind — Annie Maier @ 10:44 pm
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A month and a half ago I was fretting over my thesis, wondering not if I’d get it done on time, as it was already completed, but if I could pinch and twist it to perfection in the time I had remaining.  I couldn’t of course; there is no perfection. But I did manage to get it into a condition I, with all my myriad OCD tendencies and accompanying anxieties, could submit without vomiting. Or at least one I could manage not to put my head in the oven over. (I know, suicide is not funny. It’s not a joke and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Having more than once fought the temptation to become one with natural gas, however, I feel I have the right to employ it, at least metaphorically speaking.)

After four months of frenzied research, weeks’ long writing binges followed by even longer editing purges, and countless refusals to go to dinner, take a walk, meet for coffee, or even on occasion to bathe, I took one last breath and clicked send. It was done, two years’ culmination of studies out of my hands and into those of my reader. (A shout here to the inestimable Lisa Birman, writer, instructor and reader extraordinaire! Look her up here: http://lisabirman.org/)

Along with an overwhelming sense of relief and even, briefly, something approaching pride, I was overcome by… inertia. Not physical inertia, it was the holidays after all and my daughter was coming home, and there were cards to make, presents to send, facebook statuses to post and check, but emotional, no SPIRITUAL, inertia. The kind that reaches in, grabs you by the liver and squeezes so tight you immediately resign yourself to not ever being able to think walk breathe straight again. Much less actually find the stamina or excitement or faith to produce another coherent word, written or otherwise. Because, more than anything, what I felt had come to an end was not my graduate school career, but my brief, shining moment of inclusion. That magical time period when I had gone to sleep connected to words and writers, woken up connected to words and writers and thought about words and writers nearly every moment in between. How, I wondered, would I ever be able to recapture the absolute joy that was my two years at Naropa?

With that question, I went about life in December—spending time with my daughter (home from London for a month, Wo-HOO!), reading some of the books I had put on hold since 2010, turning another year older, celebrating my anniversary, travelling to Maryland, Florida and Costa Rica.  Then Lauren left to go back to England, my husband returned to work and I realized, sonsofbitches!, I was on my own. No classes or classmates for inspiration, no deadlines for structure, no reading lists or essays or poems coming to me via the university portal.

Fortunately, I was somewhat prepared. Otherwise, it would have been back to the oven.

 

November 17, 2009 November 17, 2009

Filed under: Misguided Acts of Kindness — Annie Maier @ 11:08 pm
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A John            (Part 3)

“I’ve got everything I need,” he said. “I have a tent, and I get food stamps.”

“Oh.” I swallowed. “I just thought…” I drifted off. What did I think? I thought he was homeless, which was apparently correct, but I also thought that being homeless meant he needed my help. As his eyes finally met my own, I realized how wrong I had been. They were clear and direct – so deep a blue as to resemble the autumn sky above us. Intelligence was there, as was humility and, now that he had acknowledged me, compassion. He needed something, to be sure, but not from me. Not from anyone naïve enough to offer in such a way.

In the blank space of my dawning awareness, he glanced down at the plastic bag in my hand. I had been holding it slightly behind me – trying, I think, to hide my sudden embarrassment from him as well as the staring pairs of eyes from the road beside us.

“I understand that you don’t need anything,” I said, “but you might want something… a soda maybe or a sandwich.” I lifted the bag higher, thinking maybe he could be tempted. “Wanting is much different than needing, after all.”

He laughed and the remaining embers of his aloofness vanished. “This is true, but I don’t eat or drink anything when I’m out.” He gestured to the cross. “It’s just my way.”

I nodded, finally understanding. He might not word it this way, almost assuredly not being Catholic, but this was his penance. An Act of Contrition without words. Having formed this opinion, I immediately jumped to the next – no one could be sinful enough to warrant living in a tent, eating food supplied by an indifferent government and standing on the side of the road holding an enormous cross and praying no do-gooders will come along to spoil your solitude.   

“I’ve committed my share of sins in the past,” he continued, smiling at the memory. “Maybe more than my share. This is a small gesture to make amends.”

 

Same Women, New Roles August 29, 2009

Filed under: Philosophy — Annie Maier @ 12:00 am
Tags: , ,

 

August 27, 2009

 

Helping my daughter pack up her apartment in Manteo, NC to prepare for a move to Maryland over the weekend marked yet another milestone in my ever diminishing role in life as a mother. That makes the third this year – many more and my mommy gene, which has already shrunk to the size of a malnourished pea, will be unrecognizable from its once robust self.) Compared to the previous two events, one being her college graduation in May and the other, a mere fortnight later, her wailing the words “wine, man, mistake” into the phone from 2100 miles away without a trace of irony, this latest seems relatively minor. How else to explain the blasé attitude of everyone around me? No one, not even those directly related, seems to understand the import and effect of this change. Not my husband, who simply pats my head and says, “Poor Annie,” nor my daughter, who pats my head in exactly the same way and says (in a tone more pleased than commiserate), “Poor li’l Mommy.” Others – to whom I turn but don’t generally rely on for emotional support and it’s a damn good thing – are just as clueless. My mother, who never wanted to be a parent in the first place and so cannot understand how liberation from one’s child could be anything but cause for lengthy celebration, tells me to get over it. My brother, whose daughters, at the ages of 20 and 28, still live at home, tells me I’ve always been too close to Lauren. (That is, he says, the downfall of birthing but one child.) Even my friends, many of who are in the same situation and so seem to understand but are, like everyone else, busy with their own milestones, greet any attempts at self-absorbed whining on my part with tales of their own woe. Then there is my husband’s family, important to this tale because in the process of moving away from her parental home, my only child has moved closer to that of my in-laws.

But back to the weekend:

I spent most of Friday afternoon weeping. In between I stripped Lauren’s bed here at home, washed what few items of adolescent-era clothing that still remained in her closet, packed up a few books and folded it all into giant plastic trash bags. The next day, her father and I drove seven hours through a driving, eternal rainstorm, spent the night in an overpriced (but lovely) inn in Manteo, got up at 8am to help her pack up her VW Beetle (in the continuing rain) and then treated her to a hasty lunch, after which she said goodbye and headed for Maryland – land of her birth and home of several generations of Maiers – not one of them her mother.

I understand, of course, that all children grow up and move away – that is after all what we raise them to do. If they can’t we worry over whatever issue(s) makes autonomy impossible and if they don’t we bitch about their reluctance to be responsible adults. And Lauren has always been frighteningly independent, starting at age three when she informed me, quite cheerfully, that she would be moving out as soon as possible. But it’s not like she simply headed north for an apartment close to her job or a room in some random stranger’s house – she’s actually living with her grandmother (and aunt and ten-year-old cousin). Now, I adore Billy’s mother. At 89 years old, she still follows the Baltimore Orioles, keeps a lovely garden and works one day a week at an auto parts store. My niece, Anna, is also extremely high on my list of favorite people. And though my relationship with my sister-in-law is a bit stickier, I trust her implicitly with my child.

Except that my child isn’t a child. She’s a young woman who has, for the last five years, lived on her own, coming and going and dreaming at will. Aside from school, she’s lived in England, traveled to Scotland, Greece and Turkey, spent two summers in Brevard and one on Roanoke Island. She’s stretched and grown in ways that amaze me. And make me proud. And I cannot stand the thought that anything might come between her and newfound independence.  

I know from experience that the Maiers, for all their warmth and loveliness, are a straight-laced, righteous lot, following all rules (particularly those of the Catholic church – which Lauren, her father and I have studiously avoided for several years), and just as eagerly upholding them. Which leaves me torn: Even as I let Lauren go, I have an overwhelming desire to protect her, as I always have, from those who say “No.” Not no you can’t stick a pen in that socket, or turn your music so high grandma’s ears bleed or move that guy into the basement. But no you can’t run, leap, stretch, try, fail, fall, hurt yourself. No you can’t google Wicca, talk to strangers, walk to work. I want to protect her from what Joseph Campbell calls “Thou Shalt” (as in shalt not); from religious repression, institutional dogma, cultural sophistication and societal demands for conformity. From caution and hesitancy and empty obligation. I want to spare her the suffocation of my own youth (and even adulthood). I want her to be a decent, kind, productive human being, but I also want her to continue to grow in as many directions possible. So while part of me, the mature-Mommy part (remember, it’s shrinking!) is grateful that she will have a safe haven in Washington and that she will get to spend time with her grandmother, aunt and niece at this stage in all of their lives, another part, a larger part, wants her back on her own, safe in the knowledge that nothing, nothing is more important than her dreams.

 

 
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