Persecution and Martyrdom

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

So you know how it's a big cliche that people go to see therapists and blame everything on their mother? Well I'm here to tell you --

I have something I blame on my mother. :) Well, and my father.

You see, when I was four years old, my parents moved us from Morgantown, W.Va. in the northern part of the state to Huntington, W.Va. in the southern part of the state. No big deal, right? You would think not. However, in order to understand where this is going, you have to understand something about the state of West Virginia.

Not sure if you've picked up on this, but West Virginia does not have a good reputation in the United States concerning, well, just about anything whatsoever. We have more teenage pregnancies, more smokers, more obese people, etc. then pretty much anywhere else in the union. Except maybe Mississippi. In fact, West Virginia's unofficial motto is "Thank God for Mississippi" because if we rank 49th in something, chances are they're 50th. If we get any good press in the nation, it's usually because of one thing: our sports teams are doing well. Namely, the West Virginia University Mountaineers are doing well. And that's where our story really takes off.

West Virginia University is located in Morgantown, W.Va. Its colors are gold and blue and its football and basketball teams have a generally impressive reputation nationally. (However, please don't check the stats this year. If you can't help yourself, then please Google "Tavon Austin" or "Geno Smith.") The thing is -- the state of West Virginia has another school, Marshall University. It is located in Huntington, W.Va. Their colors are green and white and their teams are, frankly, crappy. Marshall used to have a good football team, but that was years ago and they have not been able to regain the glory days of the '90s. 

So, let's review: West Virginia University -- named after the state, colors are the state colors; Marshall University -- mostly completely unrelated to the state of West Virginia in general except it's located within the state lines. 

My mother grew up in Morgantown, my dad grew up in north central West Virginia, dad went to WVU, my grandparents are in Morgantown, my mom's sister is in Morgantown, my great aunts and uncles are all in Morgantown, etc. etc. Needless to say, I live in a family of die-hard WVU fans. And this really shouldn't be shocking, as most of the entire state of West Virginia are WVU fans. There is one exception -- those residing in the county of Cabell are Marshall fans. And by Marshall fans, I mean WVU HATERS. HATE. ERS. Below is a rendering of college football fandom in the state of West Virginia. The green represents where Marshall fans (and I) reside. The yellow represents where WVU fans live. 

So my four-year-old bred-to-love-WVU self was callously uprooted from my home in Morgantown to move to Huntington, home of Marshall fans. My parents had FIFTY FOUR COUNTIES of WVU fans in which to choose to live, but those hatas chose the ONE COUNTY where we would suffer endless persecution. The excuse they provide is "dad found a job here!" What kind of reason is that?! If WVU is a religion, then the Huntington Lafferres are its chief martyrs. I mean seriously -- when you cross the Cabell county line and enter into Putnam, BAM -- WVU fans. No one gives a little hootie patootie about Marshall outside of this county. 

I'm sure they do this outside of West Virginia, but in our city certain days of school were designated "wear your Marshall shirt to school day." Well that's cool, what if YOU DON'T HAVE ONE? Trying to get someone to watch the WVU game with you on Saturday? Say hello to hanging out with your parents only. Going on a date and hoping to find a mutual love of college football? BY ALL MEANS DON'T SAY THE LETTERS WVU. 

The thing is -- in my family, we are actually Marshall fans too. We want them to do well, watch their games and cheer them on. Do we get any reciprocal love from Marshall fans for our dear school? Pfffffffffffffffffff. Negative. 

All I'm saying is, it's not my fault that seeing those gold and blue jerseys jog onto the field with the sun beating down and the smell of the leaves in the air just does something to my heart. IT WAS THE WAY I WAS BORN. I have seen my grandmother get more upset about more WVU sports-related incidents than you would ever believe for a grandma. Let's just say. 

If I never get married because no one in this area can get past my love of the gold and blue, it will not be my fault. I'm looking at YOU Luke and Kathy Lafferre. I'm looking at you. 

Am I Right or am I Right?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I went to a baby shower yesterday for my friend, also named Anna. I don't know her well, we are friends through Junior League, but she is very sweet and I was so happy to celebrate her impending baby girl.

The thing is -- it was sort of weird to attend a baby shower for someone else named Anna. Even writing her a card was weird. "Anna -- Congratulations on your wonderful baby girl! I am so happy for you." And I sat there reading my own name being congratulated for being pregnant with a baby girl. And it just felt so... I don't know, a lot of things. Weird, sad, funny.

I realized that once you're pregnant and/or have had a baby, it's perfectly socially acceptable to say "I've always wanted to be a mom!" However, if you are a 28-year-old single girl, it is so totally NOT okay to say "I've always wanted to be a mom!" Because once that gem pops out of your mouth, you are desperate, lonely and crazy. Not to mention someone is going to pontificate about you and your "biological clock." (I hate that crap.)

The truth is, no one wants to be seen as desperate, lonely and/or crazy. Or any combination of the above. But I firmly believe -- no, I KNOW -- that there are many, many girls out there who are not desperate or crazy but who would very much like to get married and have a baby. These are professional women; they've gone to law school and medical school, they're journalists and they work at non-profits. They own their own homes or rent their own apartments, they pay all of their bills, they are interesting, funny, great conversationalists and tons of fun. And they would all like to get married and have a baby.

Does this mean that they are trying to marry themselves off to the next guy they brush into on the metro or the grocery store? Um, no. Does this mean that they plan their wedding to every guy they go on two dates with? Again, no. Please read again: they are not crazy. But why is it not okay to talk about an aspiration to be a mother? It's totally cool to aspire to be a doctor or a teacher or an astronaut. But "I would like to be a mom" -- you just zip that up right now! And also, buy yourself six cats and some XXL sweatpants because the desperation is wafting off of you like smog in LA and who wants that?

The older you get, the harder it gets too. Your friends have kids, you don't and they have those "moms night out!" nights together. To which you are, for obvious reasons, not invited. You also get to be on the receiving end of those sweet questions like "Why aren't you married?" Ummmm... honestly how does one answer that? "OhImean,well,marriedyouknow,ohisthatmyphoneringing?Gottago."

I guess what I'm trying to say is -- one day I would like to be married and have a baby. And quite clearly that is not an okay thing to publicly proclaim. I need to talk about my job or the dance studio or the Young Professionals Committee or the Junior League AND HOW MUCH I LOVE MY LIFE! !!!!! But I absolutely cannot even insinuate or even think to myself that I'd like a baby. Because that makes me desperate.

The thing is -- I do like my job. And the dance studio. And my life. I feel like I live a very full life with lots of love and interesting stories. But I don't think that's mutually exclusive with also wanting to be married with a baby one day. And having to feel like a weirdo for wanting that  makes it even worse. Like I know few people who even read this blog and I'm almost afraid to even write this here.

So what do we do besides have our middle-of-the-night parking lot with only one other girlfriend conversations about our hopes and worries? Maybe stop talking about it in the embarrassed, hushed tones like we're confessing we want to kick our dog or bought a fake Prada bag. Keep living our lives and praying for acceptance of God's will -- and also teaching 22 3- and 4-year-olds at ballet if you are so inclined. (And then going home later and thanking the Good Lord Jesus for the quiet of your house!)

All I'm saying is it's not cool to have to pretend you don't want something for your life that you want. I think if we brought this out into the open and made it okay, we'd find that our network is a LOT bigger than we even think.

7QTF: All I Know is I Don't Know

Friday, January 25, 2013

1. So I'd like to think I'm a pretty smart girl. I have my own apartment, I run a non-profit, people seem to feel like they can use big words when they talk to me. But this evening I was clicking around on Comcast OnDemand and it asked me if I wanted to watch my show regular or in HD. Now, I obviously know that HD stands for High Definition. But then it occurred to me...

2. What in the crap is high definition really? I mean I get that the picture is sharper blah blah but do I need a special TV for it? Or does everyone's TV have it? Can you just upgrade the TV you have? And do you know what else I honestly don't understand?...

3. The economy. Inflation, raising the national interest rate, the debt ceiling. I seriously just do not get it. Possibly this makes me sound incredibly ignorant, but I'm going to stand up and say I'M A SMART PERSON BUT I DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW THE ECONOMY WORKS. Like the value of the dollar changes and things that used to cost $1.23 now cost $4.88? I'm pretty sure Emma Watson doesn't get it either.

4. Along with that I do not understand the stock market. People buy shares and invest their money in things and the Dow Jones Industrial Average goes up and goes down. I truly could not type one full sentence about how this works or makes people money.

5. Mortgage rates. I understand what a mortgage is, but what does 3% fixed over 30 years mean? How much are you really paying for this house? And why is the system set up this way? Why does it take so long to pay for your house? And in related news, what is home equity? ME AND THIS GUY WANT TO KNOW WHY WE JUST CAN'T PAY MONEY FOR THINGS WE BUY?

6. What is an alternator and what does it do? I understand that it's something in your car and it breaks but I have no clue what it looks like, what it controls or why it's important.

7. Companies like Twitter and Facebook and Instagram -- how do they make money? People don't pay to use them, and I'm pretty sure neither Twitter nor Instagram have advertisements on them, so seriously how do they stick around and how are their employees getting paid?

I'm sure you totally think that I am the stupidest person in the world, but I stand by my position that I am not the only smart person in the world who just does not understand how some things work. I think some people are just afraid of looking stupid. And I guess I am too. But no more. I don't understand and I'm not afraid to say it.

Go see Jen to spend time with the less confused.

Friday Eve

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sometimes I have a bad day or am tired or worn out, but then I look down and I remember:

There is a rabbit under my bed.

A rabbit who may or may not have a drinking problem. 


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Can we all just agree to agree that the three worst chores on the planet are laundry, taking out the trash and getting your oil changed?

Honestly I think my least favorite of the least favorites is laundry. I would rather do anything than laundry. I would rather scrub my toilet with no gloves and a toothbrush than do laundry. I think it's because there is absolutely no instant gratification with laundry. First you have to sort it, then you have to wash a load, then you have to put it in the dryer or on the drying rack, then you have to repeat with another load, then when it's dry you have to fold it or hang it up. Or if you're me, you leave it in the laundry closet until the second coming.

I tell you, laundry is from the devil. No way is Michael the Archangel or Noah or my grandpa up in heaven doing laundry.

Typically, the way I operate is to pile all my clean laundry into the one laundry basket I own and just keep piling it and piling it. As long as it's "in" that basket, then it really hasn't gotten too out of  hand. It pretty  much takes me realizing that I have literally dressed myself from clothes only located in the laundry basket for several days in a row to actually put my crap away.

I didn't realize how bad it had gotten until the other day.

All that stuff is "in" the basket, right?
In that basket I found my Christmas pajamas. As in, the pajamas I wore on Christmas Day. The Christmas Day that occurred about a month ago. I also found a dress I wore during Nutcracker tech week. Nutcracker was Dec. 8 and 9. I think the most telling detail was the individual pairs of underwear located in that basket. Guess how many.


36. THIRTY-SIX. I honestly didn't even know I owned that many pairs of underwear. Do you know how many people live here? Guess how many.


1 (one). ME.



Monday, January 21, 2013

I burned my hand last night. I was reaching in the oven to pull out my dinner, and my hand rubbed right against the hot part at the top of the oven.

I was pulling out this really delicious veggie lasagna I had made myself.

BWHAHAHAHAHA. No way dude. I was pulling out the Taco Bell I had drive thru'd and placed in the oven on warm so it would stay sort of hot while I showered. Turning the oven on was a bigger step in the cooking department than I've taken in a while.

"I made myself." As if.

Faith the Size of a Small Rabbit

Sunday, January 20, 2013

This is Snicks. He sometimes likes to sleep with his face smashed up on the wall. I think it's so funny so I like to capture it on "film" -- via my digital iPhone cameraaaa -- from time to time.

As I took this picture today, I thought about how much faith Snickers has in me. He sleeps soundly knowing that I will protect him. He has faith that when he wakes up there will be food for him to eat, water for him to drink and a clean place for him to go to the bathroom. He has faith that I will hug him and love him and meet all of his needs.

And I'm just a person.

If Snicks has all this endless faith in me, I wondered why sometimes it's so hard to have faith that my heavenly Father will meet all of my needs. I worry constantly -- all day long -- about so many things: projects at work and whether I'll get them done correctly or on time; the dance studio and the millions of things that must be done there daily, the least of which being I have kids who need loved; my future and the possibility of marriage and a family; my mental health; the needs of my family and friends. Worry worry WORRY.

I think I could stand to take a lesson from Snickers the Bunny and have faith that I have a Parent who meets all of my needs, already knows my future and has a beautiful plan for me -- if I only open my heart up to His will and quit trying to do things by myself my own way.

 Like my favorite song of the moment says: to You my future is a memory cause You're already there.

Scratch and Sniff

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The other day I was at my desk, writing a check to pay the studio's gas bill when I noticed something curious along with the bill.

There was a single-sheet insert, with a title that said something like "Know the Signs of a Natural Gas Leak." Usually something I wouldn't pay attention to, but something else caught my attention. The sheet invited me to scratch and sniff an emblem at the top of the sheet in order to teach myself and my family what natural gas smells like.

I was so taken aback. I mean most people know what gas smells like, right? And there was absolutely no way that Mountaineer Gas added the appalling scent of natural gas to this paper in order to invite me to sniff it. So I did what any normal person would do -- I scratched and sniffed.

And gagged.

Now I don't know about you, but scratch and sniff is a sacred part of my childhood, as I grew up in the '90s. It was beyond, like, the coolest thing ever to have scratch and sniff stickers or those amazing markers that smelled like chocolate, lemon or licorice. It seems like Mountaineer Gas must have been the uncool kid on the block and still harboring jealous feelings over the wonderful scent of a grape scratch and sniff sticker. Why else would you force unsuspecting customers to put the scent of natural gas right up close under their nose and sniff it? 

I sat for a minute wondering if I had really just scratched and sniffed that gassy smell. And in order to make up my mind over whether or not that had really just happened --

I sniffed again.

I REALLY like to follow directions.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Joining up this week with Jen and the gang!

1. The other day I received an email from the American Red Cross, informing me that if I donated blood in the next month or so I would receive a coupon for a free Dunkin' Donut. So you're probably thinking, dude, that's amazing! Right. It would be... if there was a Dunkin' Donuts anywhere near where I live. My love of donuts is pretty much legendary, and to be teased like that just really tore my heart out. However, I pulled it together when I got this apology email today:

It takes a big man to apologize, Red Cross. I accept.

2. Inevitably, every time I go to donate blood or have my blood taken, I am complimented on the sheer number of outstanding veins I have to choose from. I am totally taking this as a compliment. Some people have good hair, I have good veins. And I would argue that at the end of the day and the chips are down, only one of those two things is going to prevent you from the pain of double-stick hell. And it's not the hair. Just sayin'. 

3. My legendary love of donuts is second only to my legendary ability to eat food that has fallen on the floor. I observe the 30-second rule, and usually longer, if it "looks clean." One time my family and I were playing that game Apples to Apples and the question was asked "Which of these players is most likely to eat food off the floor?" The unanimous response, "Anna." And that's no small feat. There are seven people in my family. It stands to reason, then, as I was eating a cream cheese bagel sandwich in the car yesterday and half of it fell on the floor of the car, I picked it right back up. I gave it a quick look  and saw a pink sequin attached. I picked the sequin off and ate it. I feel that so much about my life could be explained by that incident.

4. I was thinking the other day about why I love the show "Once Upon a Time" so much, and I came up with three main reasons:

a. It teaches you to always have hope,  no matter what.
b. It teaches you that there is such a thing as true love and it's the most powerful magic of all.
c. One of the main themes is good always defeats evil.

You know who else is trying to teach us those things? God.

5. There are few things in this world that excite me more than an awesome snack coupon from Cinemark Theaters. My sister Erin got me started on these things, and the best part is they deliver them in your email box once a week, usually on Wednesdays. Sometimes they are not awesome (don't need a hot dog and nachos while I'm seeing a movie, thanks) but when they are buy a drink, get a free popcorn or the other way around, I am SOLD. Like I will search for movies to see to use the coupon. Last Saturday I saw "Zero Dark Thirty" with my friend Jenna because I had a coupon for a free small popcorn if I bought a large drink. (And also because I like Jenna.) This weekend I'm going to see "Silver Linings Playbook" with Erin because we both got a coupon for a free medium popcorn with the purchase of any size drink. Now, I know that these are marketing ploys to get you to a. See movies you could live without seeing and 2. Buy larger snacks than you need, but guess what? It works on me.

6. I heard this story on the radio today and I just think it's the sweetest thing ever.

7. The other day the Good Lord forced me to pray for someone that I literally had zero interest in praying for. Like negative zero interest. I had received a lot of support for something and just finished publicly proclaiming that I was grateful and would pray for each person individually. I looked up at God and was like "No way, right?" and God said "Yes.  Now." And so I said "Well technically I mentioned a certain AMOUNT of people so I don't have to, right? God: BLANK LOOK AT ME. So I did. I prayed. I wasn't really sure what to say and I have absolutely no idea why God forced me to do that, be He did, so I did. Spiritual growth, party of one.

Have a great weekend! And go see Jen! 

My Biological Rabbit

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Snicks has what my sister Erin calls a "feeding station" in the living room. (I guess that's because he has another food station in another room, but I just feel that if I'm eating and watching TV, he should also be allowed to eat and watch TV but that's for another day.) He has a little dishtowel by the wall with one bowl of food and another of water. 

The other day I watched him push the food bowl about 8 inches off the towel so that he could lay on the towel. And, no lie, about 15 minutes later he decided he was finished laying on the towel... and he moved the bowl back to its proper place.

I often wonder if people can tell that Snicks is adopted and not my biological son. But then I see things like this and I realize -- people know he's mine. 

Where I've Been... or the Night Bishop Fulton Sheen Saved My Life

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

October 5. That's the last time I posted on this blog. I could say I got busy (true) or that I just couldn't think of anything to write about (sort of true) but neither one of those things are true true.

The simple reason I stopped writing is -- Anna didn't believe in magic anymore.

And when you have a blog called "Anna Who is Magic" not believing in magic is a major problem. So is disappointing the person who convinced you you've always been magic in the first place, Story. (Read "About Me" and "The Story" for the details.)

Anna? You stopped believing in magic? What the what? I know what you're thinking. I started as the director of a dance studio, which I've always wanted to do; I got a job as the managing editor of a magazine, which I've wanted to do since I was 14; and I got the surgery that changed my life. If those things aren't magic, then what is?

Oh, I'm right there with you. Lots of lovely things happened to me. I am fortunate in so many ways. Good friends, great family, nice apartment, Baby Snickers. But when your mind gets sick and turns on you, then it doesn't matter how much you have or how many people love you. It gets very, very dark. I'm already the poster child for one disorder (no, really, like I'm on TV talking about it) so I'm not sure I want to be for another. But if you've been there then you absolutely know what I'm talking about. You're not crazy, you still go to work and school, you see your friends, but you're still just down. Like you don't have any hope, you don't know what you're doing with your life. There is no more magic.

The week between Christmas and New Years was the worst. And that's supposed to be a very magical time of year. But it just wasn't. It was marked with inexplicable sadness, darkness and wondering what the heck it was that I was doing with my life. Hard to explain but, again, you've been there = you know. If you've never experienced that, I am so happy for you, and the best way I can think to describe it is THERE IS NO MORE MAGIC.

Two Saturday evenings ago I was home by myself, lying on the couch and watching TV, but more than that -- I was going through all those feelings again. Recalling things I've done in my past and feeling so guilty about them I was paralyzed, wondering if I was going to be living in my garage apartment forever alone with the rabbit, wondering if I should be living in the town I am or if I was supposed to be somewhere else. On and on and on. And I wondered -- what is really the point of my life? I had a very George Bailey moment, and, I'm not sure how Jimmy Stewart felt about it, but that moment did not feel good.

I looked over and hit the guide button on my remote control. I don't even remember what was on, but apparently I didn't feel like watching it anymore. The first thing I saw was a show called "Life is Worth Living," and it surprised me. Like -- God? Excuse me, is this thing on? GOD? Did you hear me? You heard me, right? Or is this a coincidence? I hit the button, and realized the show was on EWTN.

Now, let me pause here to say I am a cradle Catholic. Baptized, First Communion, Confirmation, church every sunday, etc. As of late, I had not been attending mass, not really doing any reading, anything like that. God was there when I felt like talking to Him, I ignored him when I didn't want to care. My experience to that point with EWTN was teasing my dad for the amount of time he spent watching the network on TV and listening to it on the radio. (And if you don't know what EWTN is, pretty much it's the Catholic Channel.) Let's just say I wasn't EWTN's #1 fan, sending emails to Mother Angelica or Facebook friends with Marcus Grodi, just sayin'.

Anywho, I watched the show. It was 30 minutes long. It was a re-run of an old show that used to air on television, starring Venerable (at the time Archbishop) Fulton Sheen. So I watched the whole thing. And he said something that really spoke to me. He said "It is one thing to get off the right road. It is another to throw away the map." And I thought -- Anna, you are off the right road but you have NOT thrown away the map. It's not too late... you aren't lost for good.

(Are you totally bored now? I sort of am. Don't blame you.)

After that show went off, Mother Angelica Live Classics (best show title ever because is that even possible?) came on. Oh Mother Angelica. She talked a lot too (Don't these shows sound horribly boring? They're really not.) and one thing she said was "We must persevere through our loneliness." Now, loneliness is something I really was struggling with, so that sentence really helped me out. I heard it and was like -- we MUST. We = me. I MUST.

So I sat up.

That does not sound like a big deal, but it was. I sat up. I picked up the computer and googled "Fulton Sheen." The man wrote books, so I ordered them. EWTN had some more programming on, so I kept watching it. I got up the next morning and went to mass. And after 28 years of going to church, it finally hit me -- life is not about the things I want to do and the fun I want to have and the trips I want to go on. It's about God and what He wants for me. I don't know what happened, but my heart finally got it. It was lighter. It just felt lighter. It was just like the darkness went away.

And ever since that Saturday night, I have just felt different. The guilt dissipated. I now know that you ask for forgiveness, you get it, you move on. I realized that God's up there minding the fence and trying to help me find out what He wants for me. And He hears me. I realized that you can't have it both ways or sit on the fence -- you have to choose. What kind of person are you? If you try to do that, that's what makes you crazy because you're trying to be two people -- and you're neither one of them! I feel like my heart is more open. Will sad things still happen? Oh for sure. Will I have frustrating days? Yes, in fact I did today. But when I feel myself going back down into the darkness, I remind myself about the magic, and I shift my perspective back.

So now that you've read all this you're probably wondering if I'm going to join the convent or never change my channel from EWTN or read a book by someone whose first name is not "Saint." Um, no. In fact, I'm watching Dance Moms right now. :) Point is, I don't intend this to be a blog about being Catholic. First, because I don't know enough about it to talk about it. And second, because people like  Jen and Mary already do it WAY better, and I love reading their stuff. A blog I really admire is Grace Patton's because she never comes out and retypes the Catechism or says "God" every other word. What she does is talk about her life, and mass and being Catholic are just part of her every day life and that's what I aspire to. Also, so is being funny, but that's neither here nor there.* This is a blog about my life and what's going on, and THIS is what's been going on lately.

Also, I'd like to look back on this post in a few years and remember about the night Fulton J. Sheen saved my life.

Anna who believes in magic... again. And for good this time.

*In the effort of full disclosure, I should probably say that I am absolutely dying for Grace to be my friend. Oh, and Ashley too. These people are about my age, and really, I don't have that many Catholic friends. In fact, I have one, so I awkwardly admire Grace from afar. And Ashley just displays the kind of attitude I also need to be displaying. 
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