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Preview: Your Ill-fitting Overcoat

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat

Updated: 2014-10-03T03:15:27.819-05:00


Where the Sky Ends


I walked home tonight in the thinnest coat I've worn all year, just a layer of cotton between me and the cold. It's been a long winter, gray skies and icy streets, the promise of spring fainter by the day.

When I got home, I sat on my stoop for the longest time, head on the highest step and staring at the starless sky. The sky is so round from that angle, like the top of a snow globe, like if I reached far enough I could touch where the sky ends, hand smudging the glass.

There's a special kind of lonely when you're never alone, a layer between you and anything you touch. Sometimes I wish we could break open our brains and see each other's dreams, our pain and our joy and the ways we try so hard. I wonder if we'd love each other more or if we wouldn't need love at all.

It was cold for nearly April, bare branches and snow still in piles, but there was whiskey in my blood and one layer was enough. Head back, eyes open, I looked through my snow globe at the inky, empty sky. As my eyes adjusted to the dark, a single star appeared, a pinpoint in the black, and then another, and then a hundred one by one until the sky was full of lights, shining like glitter against the glass.

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What It Feels Like to Drown


The night before I cut my hair, I grieved it like a ghost. I'd spent three years growing it long and it was the color of honey and straw. I was afraid I wouldn't recognize myself.

"You don't have to cut it, you know," a friend said, "if it makes you feel so sad." But I knew that I did. Sometimes we mourn the loss of something but still need to let it go.

A month later, I look in the mirror each morning and think I can't believe I waited that long.

I'm feeling that way about a lot of things these days. Everything, almost. Goodbyes and closing doors, ends of chapters and lights turned off, open your fist and let it go. I'm swimming in the deepest ocean and the sandbar is farther than it looked. I'm treading water and wondering what it feels like to drown.




I turned thirty today. I always thought my twenties would be too hard to leave but you know? A decade's a mighty long time. I'm ready to say adieu.

This year was the nicest birthday I can recall. I was woken at 7 by birthday candles and a bottle of champagne, friends around the table and me in the least flattering pajamas I own. The day was filled with balloons and phone calls and unexpected kindness, chocolate-covered strawberries and the sagest advice.

I've learned a few lessons these past few days and I learned them in the right order, if that makes any sense. I am humbled and honored and so very okay. It's time to think more about loving and less about being loved.

Thirty used to sound like forever but the older I get, the younger I realize I am. I have wrinkles now, but only in the places that crease when I laugh.


Winter into Spring


 { photo by amelia john } | Like this post? Drop some change in the tip jar. [...]

On the Street Where You Live


It snowed last night.


A New Year


I rung in the new year with a purple wig and a 5 a.m. curfew. I danced, I laughed, I kissed a strange boy at midnight and never got his name. I'll be 30 this year, for whatever that's worth, and I guess it's time to get real. It's been that time for awhile.

I don't have resolutions for 2012; just mantras I'll be singing every day.

be vulnerable.

don't pretend to be aloof. don't pretend not to care. chin up, heart open.

be present.

stop compulsively checking my phone. stop living in the future and the past. stop distracting myself. when I'm reading a book, when I'm eating dinner, when I'm spending time with friends - be just where I am, and no place else.

be quiet.

I've learned how to tell people what I think; now I need to learn how to listen.

be compassionate.

stop being such a harsh judge of the people I love. stop being such a harsh judge of myself. we're all on a journey and what we need most is acceptance and love. plus: sometimes I'm wrong.

be brave.

talk to strangers. ask for what I want. remember that the best things in my life were the reward of the scariest things I've done.

I hope this year is everything you need it to be.


Copy of a Copy


{ project mayhem }ME: so my bank is still in tampa for various reasons that i promise make senseME: (long, boring story about a stupid thing at my bank)ANNA: oh JEEEEZZZANNA: also "my bank is still in tampa for various reasons that i promise make sense" = lolME: it's because every time i tell someone that, they spend 15 minutes trying to convince me why i should move to a bank in madisonANNA: like, who am I to tell you where to bankME: right??ME: why do people even care?ME: there are only two things people care aboutME: me having a bank in madisonME: and me seeing "fight club"ANNA: I have stopped being like "WHAT OH MY GOD YOU'VE NEVER SEEN _______"ANNA: because it's really fucking annoyingME: it is super annoying!ME: but i can't stop doing itME: every time someone tells me they didn't see something, i have this immediate reflex to be like "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THAT"ME: even if it was just, like, an episode of MontelANNA: I think of it how my mom taught us to talk about other people's foodANNA: like, never be like "OMG GROSSSSSSSSSSS"ANNA: if they are literally eating it right thereANNA: like, even marmiteANNA: if someone was eating marmite in front of me I would be like "I don't care for that"ANNA: though it is satan foodANNA: so I try to make my reaction more like "oh, how interesting that you haven't seen Jurassic Park and I have seen it 100 times"ANNA: while in my mind I am like 'ARE YOU HUMAN AT ALL' | Like this post? Drop some change in the tip jar. [...]

The Fall


Fall has been magical this year. The leaves hung on forever, red and yellow against the bluest sky.    I'm head over heels in love with this city, with this house, with these people in my life. I don't know how I got so lucky, but I'm thankful every day.   I've been listening to this album on repeat for months. For the rest of my life, when I hear these songs I'll think of this moment in time - a cozy house, laughter around the table, and more joy than I thought I could fit in my heart. My first year here, I thought I knew where I was. Six and a half years later, this city is a different world to me; both bigger and smaller than I imagined it could be.I bought a real coat this year. I bought salt for the sidewalk and an umbrella for the rain. I'm more here than I used to | Like this post? Drop some change in the tip jar. [...]

Where I've Been


It has been recommended that I tell you I'm not dead.

I'm not dead.

I've been writing so much my fingers nearly fell from my hands. I've been traveling and working and cooking and decorating our new place. I've been listening to this and this and this and not much else.

We're sliding into winter here and I'm ready. I don't know when I've ever been more content.

Things That Are Never a Good Idea, an Incomplete List



6 a.m. flights
the big carton of ice cream
balancing an open bottle of nail polish on your knee/laptop/comforter
not writing it down
trying to be friends with an ex you're not over
that fourth margarita
home bikini waxes
reading the comments
"just resting your eyes"
cheap trash bags
big soda, long movie
new shoes, long walk
not trusting your gut
putting it off
not hitting save
faking it
hitting send when you're mad
low batteries
loaning anything you really need back


Asking For It


A man just screamed "GIVE IT TO ME" at me from his car. It was 6:00 PM, I was walking home from work, and just to give you a sense of the scandalous outfit I was wearing, it was a knee-length dress, leggings, flats, and a cardigan.

I wish I could say this was unusual, but it happens at least once a week. During peak periods, it might happen multiple times a day. It is a nonstop fucking onslaught and it never, ever ends. It doesn't matter what time it is. It doesn't matter what I'm wearing. It doesn't matter where I'm going or where I'm coming from. I don't know what I did in the past year to make men feel so goddamn threatened, but it is as palpable as it's ever been.

It's not flirting, it's aggression. It's not a compliment, it's a warning.

And I'm really, really over it.

You want me to "give it to you," bro? Well, here it fucking is:


The Hang Of It


I had this whole post written in my head, but then I realized all I wanted to say was this:

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation


I have no real survival instinct.If ever I was trapped in a rock slide on the Appalachian trail and had to saw off my own arm with a butter knife, you might as well start the funeral march now. I wouldn't leap from a 10-story building or crawl across the Sahara or kill a bear in the Alaskan wild. Sometimes just walking across a too-long parking lot, I'm tempted to collapse in a heap and give myself to the mercy of Jesus.And so it is with some eye-rolling that I tell you of my plan to escape.When other girls are listing baby names in the margins of their Five Star notebooks, I'm listing aliases: Eva, Sofia, Natasha. All the names I come up with make me sound like a Russian spy. I think more than anything I'm drawn to the drama-- waiting tables at a diner, sleeping in motels, bleaching my hair in the bathroom of a JC Penney. The truth is it'd be three days before I called my mother and the jig would be up. In addition to my supreme laziness, I haven't a drop of cunning.My reasons for escape are the usual: debt, ennui, a complete sickness of myself. I've been down too long, and sometimes I think Eva, Sofia, Natasha might know the way back up.This is all to say: I went on a road trip last week. Road trips are good for people who need a break and are bad for people who are broken. I gazed through the window at hillsides and farmland, rusted bridges and seaside cafes, and imagined myself in a new life. Passing through a rundown Kentucky town, I thought, "Maybe I could be happy here." A little shack behind the Church's Chicken, biscuits from the dumpster and sweet tea from the soda fountain. Something different.Oh, who am I kidding. I wouldn't last through lunch.{ ezu }It was the last ferry of the night. We were tired and hungry and sick of being in a car. We sat in white wooden chairs at the dock and let the wind tangle our hair. The ferry arrived and we shuffled on, heavy bags, leaden feet. We sat in a small, dark room in the ferry's hull. I folded my arms on the cold, Formica table and lowered my head. The ferry swayed from side to side, rocking me to sleep.The girls picked us up in a golf cart. I perched on the edge of the rear-facing seat, laden down with bags, nearly toppling out the back with every lurch and turn. It was nearly midnight and the island was shuttered tight, wind rustling the palms, big, empty houses looming up from the ground, dark against the moonlit sky. The road turned to sand and gravel, crunching under our wheels, and we were home.The house was sprawling, an endless maze of halls and double doors. There was a plate made up for us in the kitchen: oranges, Cheez-Its, little muffins from a gas station.My bedroom had french doors leading to a balcony that overlooked the Atlantic. I stepped outside and my breath caught in my throat. The whole world was a deep moonlit blue. The sky and sea went on forever, as far as my eyes could see. A full moon hung heavy in the sky and the ocean surged and swelled, waves crashing against the shore. The sound was enveloping, relentless. The air smelled like fish and my lips were salty from the ocean breeze. White wooden deck chairs gleamed in the moonlight like crooked ghosts.Once inside, I burrowed under my quilt, but the sound of the waves and the howling wind felt like an army battering the doors to get in. I tossed and turned for hours until finally, exhausted, I fell into the deepest sleep.{ hello, i love you }In the morning, the waves had calmed. Pelicans dipped lazily in the sea and a gentle breeze rustled the paper-dry fronds of the palmettos. We set the long table for breakfast: hot coffee, orange juice, a plate of buttermilk pancakes. A ceramic bowl of fluffy scrambled eggs. We opened the french doors and the big bay windows and let in the [...]

Mi Papa


Today's my daddy's birthday. I'm lucky to have him.


Of All The Girls I've Loved Before


I love Wisconsin.


Breaking It In


Our first party was meant to be a quiet affair: dinner, board games, just a handful of our closest friends.It was half an hour before we ran out of forks. And plates. And chairs.We never did play any board games.I think I'm going to like this | Like this post? Drop some change in the tip jar. [...]

In the End, I Ordered a Muffin


{ 234 }

"How are you" she asked, and I said I was well, and I said how are you, and she said she was well, and I stood half-asleep, pondered bagel or bread, "My face itches," she said, and I said what was that? "My face itches," she said, "you asked how I was." I'm sorry, I said, It could be your hat. She said, "It could be."




My walk to work was cold and quiet. It was three degrees below zero and the wind cut straight through my coat. I crossed the bridge over the Yahara, the sun in my eyes and the cold stinging my too-pink cheeks. Cars whooshed past me on the street, their drivers toasty and warm.

I stopped on the bridge, as I always do, leaning over the ledge to the river below. Each day is a different scene hidden from the cars above: ducks preening, waves lapping, the sun rising from the lake like fire. But today was an image I'd never seen before. Steam rose from the river like swirling smoke, sunlit like a morning ghost.

Sometimes it pays to go slowly.




{ hey katrina }I had the kind of New Year's we're told we're supposed to have: dancing and kissing and ten people to a car. Secret after-parties, breakdancing, the best burger of my life. Best friends. I'm $90 poorer and, two days later, my body is still sore. It's good to know we've still got it.I took a week off from work and spent it writing the first draft of a short screenplay. This is the biggest thing I've done as a grown up lady and sometimes I can't believe how far I've come. How far I have to go.It wasn't a good year, but it ended well.I'm moving, is the other thing. I wasn't planning to move. I'd told myself I'd stick it out. I'd already stuck it out, of course, for nearly two years, but my heels were dug in the dirt. It means something to have a home and he couldn't run me out of mine.But there was an incident last night. There is an 'incident' in my building about three times a week, but this one involved cops and cut lights and I am moving now. I was so afraid of being weak, but stubborn isn't the same as strong. I'm learning the difference still.I'm heartbroken to leave my sunny little studio. My leaky-and-loud, drafty-as-a-castle studio. I'm grieving this loss like a break-up. This place has been my home for nearly two years and I'm not ready, I'm not ready, I'm not ready.I feel cheated, but really it's just life, you know? We all get lost | Like this post? Drop some change in the tip jar. [...]

Better Living


So, I have this neighbor.He lives in the apartment below me. He has a penchant for heavy metal and the volume on his stereo is set permanently to 11. The preferred hour for his head-banging parties is approximately 3:30 in the morning, two or three nights a week.This, I can live with.He also has a yelling problem. And by a 'yelling problem' I mean that I don't believe he's spoken a sentence in his life that was not shouted as if from the edge of a cliff. He yells morning, noon, and night. From the window, from the balcony, from the comfort of his bed. The man lives to yell.But this, this I can live with.He also owns a bullhorn. It has several settings, one of which can only be labeled 'Olde Time Jalopy Horn' and which he uses more often than even the manufacturer could have hoped. When the weather's nice, he can while away an afternoon shouting through the bullhorn at passersby on the street. "He's got poop in his underpants!" he'll yell one minute. Moments later, he may simply shout: "Fart."The man is in his 50's, in case that wasn't clear.But this, too, I can live with.What I can't live with, or rather can but wish I didn't have to, is this: this man, this heavy-metal-blasting, four-AM-screaming, bullhorn-toting man, has the most sensitive, virginal fucking ears in the Upper Midwest. If I so much as tip-toe barefoot across my kitchen floor-- and believe me, I wouldn't dare make a sound louder than that-- he will scream obscenities that would make a prison guard blush. He will pound the floor and shout like I'm the goddamn Barnum & Bailey circus waking him at dawn with an elephant stampede.It. Is. Horrible.I've lived here now for nearly two years, the longest I've lived anywhere in my adult life, and I'm still not hardened to it. Every time he screams at me, I freeze, I cringe, and then I cry. I've stopped having friends over almost entirely, I never wear shoes in the house, I only clean when I know he's at work, and I'll sometimes go to bed thirsty because I can't bear to tip-toe back to the kitchen and risk being bellowed to smithereens.It's no way to live and I know that. I've discussed it with friends, coworkers, even my therapist. Everyone has a suggestion, none of which is something they'd likely do themselves. I've shouted back at him once or twice, and one particularly awful night I called the police, but quickly called them back and begged them not to come. The most common suggestion is to tell my landlord, but he knows, and there's nothing to be done. The man's a menace, but apparently a rent-paying one. Case closed.I've found a few strategies that seem to help. Loud fans. Padded socks. Breathing exercises. It's no way to live, and I know that. I could move, and some day I will, but for now, I have my reasons to stay.  { destroy what destroys you }With winter comes an early night, and with early night, comes me-never-cleaning-my-house. I can only clean by sunlight, and on weekends my neighbor is home, and the soft swooshing of the swiffer is simply too much for his ears.But this weekend, it had gone too far. Every surface of my apartment was not merely cluttered, but filthy. It needed a deep and detailed scrubbing and I was tired of putting it off. I collected a bushel of soaps and sponges, sunlight pouring through the windows, and for the first time in awhile, I felt strong and happy and good. I put on my apron and my Playtex gloves and I set about to work.I wasn't five minutes into the job when I gently set a plastic bottle of countertop cleaner on the kitchen floor and--"GET A FUCKING RUG![...]

Pick Your Poison


I have this.


And I'm not afraid to use it.


This Is the Thing





{ weird friends }I slipped today, for the hundred-thousandth time in the snow. There are people who love snow, people who complain every day that it doesn't come down, saying, "When will it snow? Why doesn't it snow?" Upon hearing this plea, my instinctual gut reaction is to slap the person in the face. This strikes me as a disproportionate response, so instead I make a mere silent oath that should this person die while I am living, I will not attend their funeral.I have a friend who gets migraines. And when I say she gets migraines, what I mean is that she's had a migraine every day for at least ten months. It is unimaginable. But what triggers her migraines, possibly more than beer or loud music or lack of sleep, is sunshine. Sunshine. The more beautiful the day, the worse she feels, so that when someone chirps sweetly, "I hope the sun comes out!" her instinctual gut reaction is probably illegal in most of the 50 states.And so I slipped today, for the hundred-thousandth time in the snow, a patch of ice on a dark sidewalk. I swore, nearly fell, caught myself in time. I saw, a block ahead, a man walking toward me and I cringed. I wondered if he'd seen me, but as he neared I realized that he hadn't seen at all. He tapped his cane on the frozen ground, feeling for objects in his path. "It's icy up there," I warned as we passed. He said, "Yup." | Like this post? Drop some change in the tip jar. [...]



I was going to copy this rejection slip and modify it for my failed first dates.

But then I realized it doesn't need to be modified.


Before It Slits Your Throat


 { invasão de espaço pessoal }For two months, I wouldn't sit. I jittered like a wind-up toy, filling my nights with faces and lights, ablaze like a fire in the driest wood. I thought I was just having fun.One night, I tried to stay in. Calendar cleared, doors locked tight, the still and the silence engulfed me. I put on my coat and went out. "I'm not afraid to be alone," I thought, "I just don't prefer it."I got sick, then, an autumn cold. I spent four days alone, sick in a bed too big for only me. I was alone with my ghosts and they wrecked me. They'd waited so quietly. { ronnienoir }Fall has turned to winter in this town between two lakes. The color has washed from the sky. The last feathers of fall clung to the branches in fistfuls; they shuddered in the wind, and fell. It's colder now.My favorite time is twilight: lamp-lit windows with the shades still drawn. Woodsmoke and wind chimes. My boots make echoes on the silent street, hands in my pockets, humming. I watch families through the windows: setting silver, fork on the left. We all want the same thing, I think. { 7twenty7 }When he left, I was so angry. Of all the reasons I had to be mad, the one that stuck was so silly: I saw your baby pictures. Boring ones, funny ones, ones that made me want to have a family of our own. It's like naming a chicken before you slit its throat; it boards in a room in your heart.It'll be a year next month. That's a long time for so tight a grip. It feels more like a feat than a failure. Rebound and ricochet, my heart's like a yo-yo, always coming back. I'd rather be wrong, to be honest.I've been going, and growing, lit like a lamp on the longest path. I made a wrong turn, somewhere. I opened my heart so wide that I closed it back again. Seeking turned to taking and courage turned to pride; there was something good there, but I passed it. I don't listen anymore, is the thing. I always think I know what you're about to say.{ polli }But sometimes on these cloudless days, the air crisp as a new dollar bill, sky flat and gray as a windless sea, hands in my pockets, humming, I catch myself laughing out loud. There's joy in there, somewhere. It's a secret I keep from | Like this post? Drop some change in the tip jar. [...]