October 28, 2011

101 Things About Anima Sola — Updated

1. I carried around a picture of Anima Sola for many years.
2. I finally decided to get it tattooed on my right arm.
3. Anima Sola means "Lonely Soul." It represents the soul in purgatory.
4. My real name is Valency.
5. It is pronounced VAL--en--cee.
5. I was named after a character from a made-for-TV movie that aired the year I was born, called The People.
6. The People starred William Shatner.
7. The movie was based on the sci-fi book series by Zenna Henderson.
8. A college professor of mine gave me a copy of the book. I lost interest about half-way through.
9. The character Valency was an alien.
10. I was born in San Francisco in 1972.
11. My parents were hippies. They were married 2 weeks after I was born.
12. They divorced when I was 6. I was raised by my father.
13. I have a younger brother, with a completely "normal" name. Also, a half-sister and half-brother from my Mom's remarriage.
14. My mom is a red-head. I have brown hair like my dad, but I got my mom's freckles.
15. I get a sun-burn after about 15 minutes in the sun.
16. I went to six schools between Kindergarten and 1st grade.
17. I skipped 2nd grade. But then I got put back toward the end of the year because we got a new principal who didn't believe in grade skipping. I transferred to a Catholic school.
18. I had 10 years of Catholic school, the last 4 at an all-girls Catholic high school.
19. I begged my dad to send me to the all-girls school, because I was sick of boys.
20. After high-school, I took a year off to follow the Grateful Dead. I hitch-hiked with two girlfriends to New Jersey. We went to a truck stop in Indiana and got a ride with a trucker. He ditched us in Ohio when he realized we weren't "those" kind of girls. We got another ride with a real gentleman.
21. I imagined I was a whirling dervish when I danced at Dead shows.
22. If I could relive any time from my past, it would be following The Dead that summer.
23. I got married when I was 23. It lasted for 10 years.
24. Part of the reason my marriage ended was that I realized that I was a lesbian.
25. My mom and her mom are also lesbians.
26. I wonder which one of my two daughters might be a lesbian.
27. I was also a practicing pagan for 15 years. I started attending a Catholic church again to get the parishioner discount in order to send my oldest daughter to Kindergarten at the parish school.
28. I was hooked when I heard Delle Chatman give the Gospel and Homily one Sunday morning. I knew that my parish had gone renegade!
29. When I heard Delle speak, I cried. I swore I saw a halo above her head. I knew I had found a spiritual home and that I had to get to know this woman.
30. She became a spiritual-mother to me.
31. I began this blog in her memory. She told me that she thought I was very talented and should write more. She passed away in 2006 after a 4-year battle with Ovarian Cancer.
32. The tagline for this blog, "Your chains are broken darling, so why are you still standing here," I heard Delle say to me a few months after her death.
33. I don't often hear the voices of dead people, so I took this as an important message.
34. I am a graphic designer by trade, but I also have a few articles published.
35. I knew I wanted to be a graphic designer when I was in high school.
36. I inherited my artistic ability from my mother. She can draw a straight line without a ruler, perfectly.
37. It took me nine years to get my BA in Graphic Design. I worked and went to school part time, and took time off whilst having children. I scheduled my second child to be born during summer break.
38. Both of my children's names start with the letter M. I didn't do that on purpose.
39. I'm single...still searching for my soulmate. I'm a little weary from the search, but my heart, I have found, is pretty resilient.
40. I refer to my house as "The Estrogen House of Doom." Me, 2 girls and 2 female cats. Need I say more?
41. We generate an enormous amount of laundry, which is my absolute least favorite chore. I don't mind the washing part, but the folding and putting away part is horrid. Matching all-white socks will be my punishment in hell.
42. Along with the smell of tar. If I'm going to hell, there will be lots of burning tar.
43. I think I'm going to heaven, along with everyone else I love.
44. Otherwise heaven would not be "perfect."
45. A grade school teacher told me that Heaven IS perfect, and that if everyone I love wasn't there, then it meant I didn't really love them. I knew she was full of it when I was 9.
46. I've never stopped questioning authority. I have a finely-tuned bullshit detector.
47. Though in recent years, I've put up with more bullshit from those that I love than I should have. I've got a bit of a "suffering saint" complex.
48. Although I attend a Catholic church, I consider myself "christo-pagan." I don't image a solely male Deity, and I am keenly tuned into the wheel of the year. But I also feel a deep connection to the Mass, the saints, and the rituals of the Church.
49. Most pagans and most Catholics don't see how I can reconcile the two belief systems. I found it to be quite easy and natural.
50. I haven't found any religion that has a monopoly on truth. But seeds of truth lie in all of them.
51. I fainted when I got my first Holy Communion when I was 9. Some of my friends joke that this makes me a "mystic saint." I'm no saint, but I definitely tend toward mysticism.
52. I don't think I would continue to worship in the Catholic church if not for the many like-minded people I have encountered in my parish, particularly gay families and advocates for women's roles in the church.
53. I am a hard-core lefty. As in, I am left-handed and politically far left.
54. I worked as a graphic designer for the Communist Party for 3 years. I didn't join the party though, because I'm not THAT far left. I found their philosophy to be naive.
55. I am a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. I voted for a Republican once for Governor. My vote was validated when the Governor halted executions in our state. I am firmly against the death penalty.
56. I worry a lot about the state of our world, and what sort of future my children will have. I hope that they won't have to struggle as hard as I have had to.
57. Editing this list is harder than I thought it would be. I'm removing a lot of references to my ex-girlfriend and our life together — I truly believed we'd get married someday. Alas, we were not meant to be.
58. I'm going to turn 40 next year, and I'm still hoping that it's not to late to find my happily-ever-after. Call me a romantic sucker.
59. When I was a baby, I went to Hawaii and lived in a tree house for about a month. I'm not kidding. Did I mention that my parents were hippies?
60. The only time I have left the U.S. has been to go to Canada. World travel is on my list-of-things-to-do-while-I'm still-young-enough-to enjoy-it. Did I mention that I'll be 40 next year. Sigh.
61. I would like to visit India, Ireland and Paris, just off the top of my head.
62. I believe in Reincarnation. I have had Past-Life Regression, and it revealed two past lives.
63. I don't like to exercise. But I enjoy biking. Lately I've started biking to work, which I can convince myself is "commuting," not "exercise."
64. I have a rather large collection of sea glass from Lake Michigan.
65. I also collect crosses and Mary's. I love Catholic kitsch.
66. In addition to the Anima Sola tattoo, I have two others. The first one is a blue crescent moon with a sunburst over it. The other one is a pink and blue closed lotus flower, which symbolizes transformation.
67. I don't wear earrings or have any piercings because I am allergic to nickel.
68. I have a fetish for finding out about people's allergies, particularly if they are lethal.
69. I also have an odd fascination of cults and Free-masonry.
70. I think I would get a Masters of Theology degree if I thought it wouldn't be a total waste of money.
71. I think I'm very lucky to have found my passion in life and the ability to follow it (thus far).
72. Money isn't very important to me. It would be great not to struggle financially, but I can think of dozens of things that I value more than money.
73. My favorite magazine is Adbusters. For years I fantasized about moving to Vancouver and becoming the Art Director for Adbusters. Now I think that Vancouver is too far and too cold.
74. I am a total type-geek. I can usually point out fonts by name when I see them, and wax poetic about typographical characteristics. I am wild about em dashes. I'm told that Emily Dickinson had a thing for them too.
75. I designed my own font and named it after my daughters. It is a lowercase only font called "m & m."
76. I've always been a total cat person, but after adopting a dog with my ex-girlfriend, The Nurse, I crave and miss the dog every day. I may have been converted.
77. In addition to converting me to being a dog person, I will give The Nurse credit for steering me toward another passion — singing with Aria, an LGBTQA choir that has brought me more joy than I can express.
78. I had an evil-step-mother. She was married to my dad for 3 years. She used to give me the finger when no one was looking when I was 7 years old.
79. I swear a lot. My parents didn't care if we swore, and I ended up with a mouth like a truck-driver. I tell my kids that I don't mind an occasional bad word so long as it's in the right context: you can swear if you drop a jar of mayonnaise on your foot, but you can't call someone a name.
80. When I'm alone, I see it as an opportunity to sneak a hot bath. There are few pleasure in life as fine as a hot bath.
81. In winter, I take a hot bath almost every day. I can't stand being cold.
82. Although I hate the cold, I think Chicago is the best city that I've ever been too. The only other city I've seriously entertained living in is Boston — which is arguably colder.
83. Whenever I'm in Boston, I visit Salem, Mass. I have the odd sense that I've lived there before in another lifetime. The first time I was in Boston, I walked all around the city by myself (which is not at all on any kind of grid) and somehow knew I couldn't get lost there. In Salem I felt the same way.
84. Music is one of the most important things in my life. Nothing grounds me better or feeds my soul in the same way that music does.
85. I already have the music picked out that I want played/sung at my funeral.
86. I am increasingly fascinated with death, but not at all in a morbid way. I am interested in death as a process and spiritual transformation — something that we all must surrender to someday. I am more afraid of losing the people I love than I am of my own death.
87. I think that I must have been Middle Eastern in another life, because I could eat middle eastern food every day.
88. I also love sushi. And Ethiopian food.
89. I can't stand the taste of anything grape or cherry flavored. It reminds me of cough-syrup.
90. But I like real grapes and real cherries.
91. I'm allergic to red wine, but I drink it anyway. Some types don't affect me while others give me a 24-hour migraine that begins after just a few sips. I continue to experiment.
92. If I'm drinking hard liquor, it's likely Vodka. Anything other than Russian Vodka is swill.
93. I am very opinionated and I talk too much. But I strive not to be judgmental. I've learned over the years how to admit when I'm wrong, too.
94. I am very smart. Most of my friends are even smarter.
95. I pray every day. God answers, always. I've had strong faith since I was a small child, though neither of my parents were religious. My grandma used to take me to church with her occasionally when I was little. When I was 7, I asked my dad if I could become Catholic, and signed up for CCD classes.
96. I don't exercise every day. I wish I did. It's a personal failing of mine that I hope to remedy sometime before I keel over. I keep telling myself that if I just do it, I may grow to enjoy it. But I seldom do it.
97. If I had to guess, I would say that I'll probably die of Cancer. It runs in my family.
98. Family is pretty important to me. There are a lot of things that I hope to pass down to my kids. I'm pretty traditional in that regard.
99. I was born on the cusp of Taurus and Gemini. I thought I was a Gemini my whole life, with clearly more Gemini traits. But as I get older, I see quite a bit of Taurus too.
100. I can't really believe that I'm in my late 30s. I still feel like I did when I was about 17 most of the time.
101. I am fabulous.

October 26, 2011


I'm watching closely the story out of Minnesota, where the Archbishop there has put the church's tax-exempt status at risk by ordering all of the local dioceses to organize committees to act as political advocates against a constitutional amendment to legalize gay marriage on the state ballot. It's a sad state of affairs when an issue that is not endorsed by lay Catholics (only 35% support a ban according to a recent poll) is deemed the number one issue that must dominate all resources. I seriously would like to know how they can continue to claim to operate as a church with tax-exempt status, while simultaneously operating a grassroots political campaign. Constitution anyone?

October 24, 2011

The PhDs

Two out of three PhDs agree — it's time for AnimaSola to start dating. The kind of casual dating where you are broadening your horizons and getting to know people slowly, and letting them get to know you. The kind of dating where you arrive at a restaurant holding hands, linger over dinner, stare into each others eyes — but don't necessarily leave together. The kind of dating where I can be totally selfish and choosy, really focusing on the type of person I might want to get to know better, opening myself up to wide circle.

There are two women I am seeing right now...both PhDs...both beautiful, smart, intoxicating....but so very different too. One I know very well already, the other I'm just getting to know...but I'm still not ready to be exclusive with anyone. I think this might be the healthiest way I've approached dating in awhile (ever?), but I will have to see if I can maintain it. In the past I've found it too complex and felt too emotionally conflicted to date more than one person. I think the trick is to not rush into anything too intimate and to just keep things very casual.

But, of course, intimacy is where the prize lay. It's what we crave, on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. But I think it's wise not to rush into that intimate relationship — both with a new lover and the same could be said religiously. It's all about building relationship. How many people blindly follow a religion and really don't feel connected to their God? Are these the same people who stay in dead relationships out of a sense of duty? Not to mention, I have to be sure that I have the goods to deliver myself before I can connect with someone else in that way, first and foremost.

So, as in my spiritual life where I have dipped into many spiritual wells in search for truth, I am now applying the same philosophy to my romantic life: cast a wide net in search of a soulmate. Don't rush things with the first person who comes along, as has been my past history. I'm hoping that I will have the same kind of romantic success that I've had spiritually — at the very least, it should be an interesting journey.

October 20, 2011

'Kick Me'

How can a day begin so great, and end so terrible? I swear, sometimes it feels as if the universe itself is conspiring against me. Are you out there God, it's me, Anima Sola? I mean...really?
I think I'm too nice for my own good. I need to stand up for myself a little better. At work, in my love life, with my kids...I am the one always left holding the bag. I must be some sort of glutton for punishment -- or a super-submissive who is begging to be punished. Please 'kick me,' but wait till I'm down. Wait till I've jumped through the hoops first. Wait till I've exhausted myself....THEN, please, 'kick me.' I'll do anything you ask of me...anything at all to show you that I deserve it.

I am getting out of town for the weekend, and not a moment too soon. A change of scenery might provide the shift that I'm needing. I need to break free from ... EVERYTHING and just clear my head and heart. What a better way to do that than an Halloween party in a college town?

October 17, 2011

Love is my religion — part II

My blog has gotten off-track, as is wont to happen when one's emotions are in a bit of a tailspin. So I've been digging through my archives and looking for bits of my own wisdom to set me right again.
It's difficult to write about spiritual matters when your Spirit is wounded. Conversely, I also found it hard to write when I was deeply in love, because I wanted to focus all of my spiritual energy into my relationship. It takes an enormous amount of balance for me to effectively write about my spiritual life. Right now, I'm praying for the desire to embrace forgiveness, as my priest suggested. Anger kills my ability to effectively write about spiritual matters — except to point out the obvious: that it is a chain that binds me until I choose to release myself from it. I have all of this emotion, much of it negative, and I'm directing it all inward right now. Of course, this has manifested as physical illness (I'm not going to go into the details). I truly feel possessed by demons!

Amazingly, I still have managed to maintain some logical perspective. I know most of my suffering is self-wrought. But I also know that I had few good choices about some things and when an animal is wounded, it will take a protective stance. I don't regret my decisions — I just regret that I had to make them at all. I know that I have an enormous amount of love inside of me, beneath the anger and the hurt that will eventually break free again — because my nature is loving and kind and eventually, forgiving. I know it's there, because I've been able to tap into it time and again for the people all around me who are hurting and suffering to a much deeper extent than I am. And they seem drawn to me. I am cognizant of that fact -- that I am drawing in people who are hurt and needy right now. Helping them is probably where my own salvation and recovery lies — because we teach what we most need to learn. As I teach them to love themselves and change the negative voices in their heads, I remember that I too need to listen to love inside and let go of the anger and repair the hurt.

October 16, 2011

2 months

I found myself sobbing today, and it took me by surprise — until I realized the date. It has been exactly 2 months since The Nurse and I broke up, and my body was reminding me of that painful day. I know that it will get easier in time, but until then I am in this sort of painful limbo. I've become an expert recluse and fooler of my friends. I am "ok," I tell them, and for the most part I am. I mean, what I am going through is not unlike what anyone goes through during a painful breakup. Yet everywhere I go, people ask me if The Nurse and I have reunited yet! "No," I tell them, "we've really ended our relationship this time. We don't even speak to each other anymore, actually." It's a fair question, I concede. The last year of our relationship certainly was dramatic.

I just hate this whole fucking experience. I wish this didn't have to suck so much. Today I'm feel raw and just so sad about it all. What a fucking sad situation! That when we see each other, we don't even speak! Just so much pain there. Not to mention the dozen or so songs that are now blacklisted for me. Totally ruined. You will not see my fingers fly faster to change the station than if Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros Home or, god forbid, Patty Griffin's Heavenly Day comes on. To hear even half a verse would be sure death. My iPod is now a war zone full of dangerous landmines. On the bright side, this has forced me to seek out all new music, because I cannot live a day without music.
I've been sick for two weeks, my defenses are down. I'm feeling weak and just so pissed off at myself for putting myself in a situation that has caused me such heartbreak.
At least I'm getting out of town next week. Maybe some distance will help me out.

October 07, 2011


When I woke up this morning, the anniversary was present in my mind. I'm not absolutely certain of the exact date, but it's been about a year since I grabbed all the narcotics from my lingerie drawer and locked myself in the bathroom, huddled on the floor, praying and trying to muster up the willpower to not take them and end my life. I wasn't alone in the apartment that day, or I might not be here today. The Nurse was on the other end of that bathroom door and was able to break through my spiral of thoughts just long enough for me to go running into the neighborhood, and finally to seek help. It was the second time in my life — and the first time since I was a young teenager — that I had been brought to the brink of suicide.

Perhaps it was some kind of karma — Atonement — that on the one year anniversary of that incident I would find myself on the other end of the door today. A good friend had been talking about his lows and his struggles for days, and had even started talking about suicide from a "philosophical perspective." "If I feel like ending my life," he argued, "why can't I do it without judgement and shame?" I chimed in that it was because "life was fucking precious, even in the struggle," and he softened and convinced me that he wasn't really considering it. But just one day later, he was on the floor, clutching a bottle of Hydrocodone and a bottle of Valium — the exact same combination of pills I had held in my hand exactly a year to the day earlier. ( I later checked my diary to confirm the date).

They say that God works in mysterious ways. I was able to calm my friend. He was actually very rational — having gone through bouts of suicide and depression all of his life. He knew that he needed to see his doctor, adjust his medication, get through the really tough times he's been going through, keep reaching out to friends. And I was reminded how far I have come in the last year, from clutching my own handful of pills and ruminating about throwing myself in front of a speeding L train to being more grounded and feeling safe again. The abuse of my childhood has left a wound that can leave me devastated in an instant when the right triggers come along. I am thankful that a year later, I was strong enough to be there for another person and was sincere when I said that life felt precious — such a difference a year can make.

October 05, 2011

Chin up

As much as I've been whining and in my "poor me" heartbroken state these days — out of the blue today a woman I've known for some time told me that she had been thinking of asking me out (despite some things that would probably make a relationship not a good idea). Nevertheless, it was a nice to hear that she considered me "kind, smart and beautiful." Sigh. Keep your chin up, girlie.

October 04, 2011

Missed You

I have to admit, I'm long overdue for re-writing 101 Things about AnimaSola. Look for that soon. And when I do, I'm sure one of those things will be that I am absolutely obsessed with the 'missed connections' section on craigslist. They are hilarious...and yes, I'm that "15 watt bulb of glimmering hope" that believes anything this romantic could actually happen.

The Saturday night rapists

When we were leaving family therapy, Little M tugged at my shirt and said, "Mom, look at the sign. For a minute I thought it said 'the rapists' instead of therapists."
I told her that it was something that many others had noted before about the profession.

I put on my new silver dress and purple lace stockings, fixed my hair and makeup and put on my new little suede boots. It wasn't so bad, heading out alone. In no time, I would be surrounded by women — find a friend. Have a drink. Have another. The bar fills up. I find a friend — a therapist by trade. She tells that "the first person you have sex with, I'm not gonna lie — it's gonna be really hard. I cried all night afterward, the first time after my breakup with ____. But it's got to be done. Just turn off your emotions. "

I'm shaken by what I see as some really fucked-up advice by someone who comes across as pretty emotionally dead to me. Really? Is this what needs to be done? I need to have emotionless sex with a woman I pick up in a bar to get over my ex? Is this the only way? And then I'll cry all night? And this will help me? I fail to see the logic. This sounds like something utterly damaging — and something that would make me miss her even more.

Not that I'm pretending to be above it. Not that it hasn't occurred to me or that I haven't walked down that road in the past. I'm not a saint. Maybe I just know better now. Maybe I'd just rather feel this kind of pain — the pain of loneliness and heartbreak — than that kind of pain — the pain of emptiness and loveless cheap sex. You can't get rid of your emotions — well, actually, you can — but I don't want to. It's the best thing about me. So I'd rather just feel whatever I need to until it heals after it's due time. And that sucks -- but you can't fuck it away in someone else's arms. You'd just be damaging yourself more, and probably another person as well.

Leaving the bar, I head to a birthday party. Champagne. Wine. Cake. Flirting. But who are we kidding? Any woman who would be interested in me is exactly the kind of woman I would want nothing to do with right now. Attracted to someone going through a breakup? What's wrong with you? I don't want to be rescued, I don't want to be comforted, I don't want anything, really. Maybe I just want to be told how hot I look in this new dress — because it doesn't get any better than this ladies! This is all I've got! But that's all I can give...my presence for a few hours, a conversation over drinks, and then it's time to call it a night.