Shotgun for sale

Written by hootenannie on May 26th, 2015

As of tonight, my house is on the market. And given all I have accomplished in the last seven days, I feel like nothing less than a freaking superhero (I call dibs on the name Trixie Firecracker).

In addition to holding down my full-time job (three more days!), I have moved 30 boxes, a bookshelf, a cabinet, and a flat screen TV to my sister’s garage, completely de-cluttered and neutralized my house, found a potential new home in Minneapolis, number crunched while comparing estimates from five different lenders, made some emotional decisions and a few rational ones, had an honest conversation with someone I care about, sent a few of the longest emails I’ve ever written in my life, flown to Portland, been stuck with acupuncture needles in a friend’s living room, attended a wedding for some favorite folks, slept in my own bed, my sister’s bed, and a hide-a-bed, deep cleaned my house, vacuumed the cobwebs off the ceiling, weed wacked the backyard, laid mulch in a flowerbed, organized the basement, and somehow managed not to eat my feelings. (Except that pulled pork mac & cheese. But it could have been so much worse.)

According to my FitBit, my resting heart rate is generally around 57. One day last week, it was consistently 81 all day long, even when I was just sitting at my computer – a physical manifestation of the state of my emotions. Things have been BANANAS.

Speaking of bananas, I don’t really buy them anymore. Sure, I like bananas – but I never want a whole one. And when you try to save the other half for later, the open end gets mushy.

But let me tell you, I’ve learned a lot about selling a house (it is my first time, after all). And one thing I know: when it comes to strangers traipsing through your house deciding whether they’re willing to pay you some percentage of a million dollars for it, YOU STOCK YOUR DAMN FRUIT BASKET.

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You also adorn the tables and nooks with fresh flowers.

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And God forbid anyone find anything in your home that tells them what sort of a person you are: all books, pictures, toiletries, toys, trinkets, and general shrines to Tim Riggins must be packed up and stowed far, far away. The potential buyers have to get the idea that your home is warm and inviting, yet still be able to envision making the space their own. Not that anyone could argue with Riggins.

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I adore this little Shotgun house. I’ve only been here for two years, but in that time it’s felt more like “home” than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. I’ve taken good care of it, and put as much money as I could afford into improvements: new windows, new kitchen floors, and – get excited, buyers – brand new natural gas lines! This air is safe to breathe.

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My favorite things about my house are the skylights, the interior brick, the original hardwoods, the high ceilings, the gas stove, the claw foot tub, the insane water pressure, and the location – good grief, the location. Less than a mile to downtown, a half mile to REI, three blocks to the football stadium, two blocks to the Platte River bike trail, one block to Jefferson Park and a B-Cycle station, and around the corner from a little French restaurant.

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Plus, whoever gets to live here next will surely feel my spirit lurking – and there is no price tag for that.

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So come and get it, folks! This house is about to fly.

North

Written by hootenannie on May 19th, 2015

If you know my sister Becca, you know she’s all about dogs. She always has been; her first word was “woof-woof.” In addition to running a dog rescue (whence came Foxy!), she has three dogs of her own – and they’re like her kids. So when she and my brother-in-law decided to go to Seattle, they called in only the best.

Annie the Dog Nanny.

Foxy and I moved into Becca and Michael’s house on Saturday night, and it’s been the Wild West ever since. I’m playing defense against a collective 200 pounds of canine. Things I will need to replace before they get home: Bulleit and a lot of chocolate chips.

In the midst of it all, I am wrapping up my job, selling my house, and looking for a new place to live – because I forgot to tell you:

I’m moving to Minnesota.

Two weeks ago, I gave my notice at work. I am leaving what has been a gift of a job for what is sure to be a challenging, soulful adventure of a next chapter: I’m moving to Minneapolis to work for my favorite public radio show, On Being with Krista Tippett.

For over eight years, this has been a blog mostly about my feelings – so don’t think I’m going to stop now.

What can I say about my 5 ½ years in Denver? They have been the toughest years of my life, minus 6th grade when all of the girls turned mean. Cancer brought me here, divorce made me stay. I watched my family disintegrate, and a few relationships of my own. I’ve said such horrible things to God, it’s a wonder he still loves me. I’ve lost hope, battled depression, and numbed the pain with all sorts of soul novocain.

Denver made me write this song. (And as always, forgive the guitar.)

[Song has been taken down. Maybe you’ll hear it again someday.]

But it’s not lost on me that the hardest years were spent in the most beautiful place. It’s like someone knew I would need the beauty.

I’ve walked thousands and thousands of miles. I’ve climbed mountains – I’m up to 35 14ers, with 19 to go. I spent 11 days on a solo backpacking trip, digging deeper than I knew I could dig. I’ve learned to own my finances, my career, a dog, and a house. If Seattle is where I became Annie and Nashville is where I became a woman (sorry for saying that), Denver is where I became an adult – a reluctant transition, but true nonetheless. I’ve made a handful of incredible girlfriends, the kind that make it hard to leave. I’ve been to counseling – gracious, have I been to counseling. I’ve stopped blaming my parents for everything that’s wrong in my life.

As it turns out, I am sad to leave Denver – but not as excited as I am for a new adventure.

I will miss my perfect tiny house and my friends and the weather and the mountains. But I know that there’s something for me in Minnesota – lakes and forests and people and meaningful work. And mosquitos. And snow. But I’m choosing to believe that richness awaits. I can’t wait to tell you about it. I can’t wait to learn it for myself. I might even start going to church again.

Until then, I am frantically wrapping up my time with LÄRABAR/General Mills. Yesterday I wrote a “manual” for how to do my job. So far it’s 17 pages long. I’m getting my ducks in a row to sell my house, and looking for another in Minneapolis (tell me, is 40% of my income too much to spend on a mortgage?).

And I’m dog-sitting for my sister. Maybe these dogs will come visit me in Minnesota.

My roots are up, and I’m headed north. There is so much to be nervous about, and so much to be grateful for. Thanks for sticking with me, no matter the gap between posts, no matter the city in which I live.

See you soon, Minneapolis!

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An eensy weensy check-in

Written by hootenannie on April 23rd, 2015

Some seasons can’t be wrapped up into compact little blog posts. So let’s just pretend that I haven’t not written here for a while – at least anything of substance – and catch up free-form. Like a meandering conversation – but with me talking into a megaphone (everyone’s dream).

We’ll start with the most important things, such as my sadness over Zayn leaving One Direction. Where do broken hearts go, Zayn? Things will never be the same. In light of his departure, I have reordered my ranking of best voice to worst voice to Zayn, Liam, Harry, Niall, Louis (Louis will always be last) – because what can I say? Absence makes the heart grow fonder. We didn’t know what we had when we had Zayn. Paved paradise and all that.

Now, an explanation for why I’ve been a bit MIA. In the past three weeks, I’ve been in nine different states (Foxy joining me for eight): Colorado, obviously. Then Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Kansas, and Minnesota. I am finally back home for the next two and a half weeks, reacquainting myself with my morning routine, exercise, and dry air. Each time I’ve reentered Colorado in the past few weeks, I’ve gotten a bloody nose. Love, your ideal woman.

Speaking of Foxy (not that we were, but let’s do), I thought about creating an ongoing series on this blog called Fox News – but then I remembered that it would all kind of be the same. She’s the best! I love her! We go on walks! She doesn’t eat her food! She’s scared of strangers and kids and balloons! She loves kittens! So there’s your Fox News, no Ann Coulter necessary. And if you’re feeling nostalgic, here’s a Then & Now warm fuzzy.

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I’ve made a list of things I want very much, but for financial reasons will need to pace myself in the procurement thereof. In no particular order, here they are: a new bike, a Shark vacuum, a FitBit, a new rolly suitcase, a grown-up size CrockPot (right now I just have a little one), a new Sonicare toothbrush (mine died), and an entirely new wardrobe.

I am still working from my dining room, which means that I am still living in squalor, like a natural foods Grey Gardens. One hundred square feet is simply not enough space to house all of the STUFF my job requires, so it’s all spilling out into the rest of my 500 square feet and making me twitch.

And with that, I’ll let you get back to your day. Keep going! Pink bunny with the drum.

Time to face the fax

Written by hootenannie on April 14th, 2015

Here is a verbatim transcription of a voicemail I received today.

Hey Anne, this is Customer Service at Blue Cross Blue Shield. And I see you spoke to someone on 4/9 (about 5 days ago) and she gave you a fax number – I didn’t see a fax come in yet, so, um. If we do receive a fax or if you’re getting ready to fax something or just faxed it it’s best to do it during our business hours, which is Central Time, 7am to 8pm or Fridays 9am-8pm, so we can identify the fax and get it worked on. If we don’t expect a fax it just goes to an electronic place – a fax folder – so. If you haven’t faxed it yet, we’ll open a new inquiry based on the receipt of the new fax. So if you’re getting ready to fax it, give us a call at Customer Service. And if you just faxed it or you’re getting ready to fax something, give us a call at that time so we can attach the fax to the work and get it worked on right away. Otherwise, if we don’t get any heads up, let’s say, we might not get a look at the fax right away because there’s no one manning the fax machine. So let us know when you’re going to fax it or if you just faxed it so we can attach work to it and get it worked on right away. Thanks.

Fax count? 18.

The amount I understand why faxing is still a thing? Zero.

Clouds

Written by hootenannie on April 7th, 2015

I travel a lot, which means that I drive to the airport a lot. If you know Denver International Airport, you know that it’s a) full of conspiracy theories, and b) SO FAR AWAY FROM DENVER. Peña Boulevard is paved with good intentions, but mostly a dull drive.

Except for the clouds.

For the longest time, there was an art installation in a field just west of the road to DIA, and it was one of my favorite things. “Why do you like it so much?” people would ask. I don’t know. Why do I like chocolate, or the color green? I just do. It was delightful and whimsical and just totally unnecessary – no one NEEDS cloud towers – but aren’t you glad they exist?

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(Art by Christopher M. Lavery. Photo credit.)

Sometime in the last year, the clouds vanished. It didn’t exactly make a difference to my life or anything, but it really bummed me out. Why did they take them down? Where could they have gone? How sad that a bright spot in my regular drive to DIA just up and disappeared.

But just now, I took Foxy on a lunchtime walk. I wasn’t half a block from my house when I rounded the corner and, there across the freeway, I saw them.

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The clouds are right around the corner from my house! Albeit in a hideous location. But there they are! I found them!

I don’t know if they’re just in a holding cell until they’re moved to their intended spot, or if that empty parking lot in the shadow of Elitch’s is their final destination (which would be a strange choice). For now, I’m just glad to know that they still exist. It gives me hope that the good things can continue, like the Velveteen Rabbit.

The three nicest things anyone has ever said to me

Written by hootenannie on March 12th, 2015

From a mom of 4 wild ass monkey boys: “I want a girl just like you in my family.”

From a mom of twins whom I’ve still never met, pre-teens at the time: “I wish my girls could know you.”

From a kindred spirit gal in Louisiana: “I like you. You’re like when little kids want to hold hands with you.”

I’m not writing these things down to toot my own horn. I just want to have a record stating that the nicest compliments don’t have to be romantic – and that parents who associate you with good things when it comes to their children is possibly the highest praise one could ask for.

To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Annie recommends

Written by hootenannie on March 9th, 2015

The past several weeks have been so full. I’ve had multiple work trips (Minneapolis, San Francisco, Anaheim), three humongous work events, houseguests, family visits, and a particular emotional roller coaster that’s still unfolding.

With each close friend that I confide in, I realize that my heart is hoping more and more for a certain outcome, and how disappointed I’ll be if it doesn’t happen. But what’s the alternative? Not hoping at all? Novocain to the heart? We were never meant for dull souls. As a friend said to me last week, “Sometimes it’s good for us – getting our hopes up.” And so I hope, and I wait, and trust that whatever the outcome, I’ll make it through because I’ve been through worse.

I’ll tell you if it happens. And I’ll probably tell you if it doesn’t.

In any case, there are all sorts of other people saying and doing things worth sharing. So here are some of my top picks.

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I recently met Nashville singer-songwriter and all around superstar Annalise Emerick, and heard her play a song that I capital L LOVE. Listen to “Patti Smith.”

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Do you know about Kara Tippetts? Her widely read blog is chronicling her last days on this earth – and just about every post makes me want to throw my computer across the room, it’s so unfair. Just six years older than me and one hour south, Kara is dying of cancer. Just yesterday, I watched the trailer for a documentary about her life and imminent death, and openly wept in my kitchen. Will we ever understand why some families are dealt the short stick?

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My very favorite podcast, On Being with Krista Tippett, is a conversation about faith, religion, psychology, race, art, science, and ethics (my very broad summation), and I can’t get enough of it. I’ve recently been going back and re-listening to some of my favorite episodes, and ran across one that is so encouraging and life-giving, I want to pass it along. What happens when you get a Jewish rabbi, a Christian bishop, a Muslim scholar, and the Dalai Lama in the same room for a conversation? I cannot recommend this program enough.

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My friend Hilary Oliver (she looks like Gwyneth Paltrow, and also you should read her blog) recently shared a quote that stopped me in my tracks. To live like this!

“In boldly setting out toward ends, one risks disappointments;
But one also obtains unhoped-for results;
Caution condemns to mediocrity.”
-Simone de Beauvoir

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That’s all for today. Until we meet again, remember to be like Ariel (“I want more…”), Belle (“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere…”) and when it comes to hope, fine, Pocahontas: “How high will the sycamore grow? If you cut it down, then you’ll never know.”

A meandering take on honesty, vulnerability, and courage

Written by hootenannie on February 24th, 2015

I hate conflict and I hate humiliation. If someone wants to have an honest conversation that would require me to say something that might hurt their feelings, I turn tail and run like a deer. I’m learning to be better, be braver – but I know that no matter how good I get at it, I’ll always have a hard time with the type of honesty called BRUTAL honesty.

I watched “The Voice” tonight, and anytime a singer would get a zero chair turn, I would have to mute the TV and look away. I can’t handle it. Heartbreak breaks my heart. And even if these people weren’t completely heartbroken, I was heartbroken.

As my sister-in-law recently pointed out, I am a professional empathizer. And maybe that’s my issue – I internalize events around me, for better and for worse.

A few months ago, I heard that an entire herd of elk fell through the ice of a reservoir in Pagosa Springs. All 20 of them were found the next day, frozen to death. I thought of their panic, however animalistic, and I cried.

A few days ago, I saw a 4-year old girl run full-force across an airport to jump into her grandma’s arms. I witnessed her beautiful and wholehearted freedom, and I cried.

I want to have it both ways. I want to block out the bad and experience the good, but that just isn’t possible. An open heart means that I accept the joy and the pain in equal measure.

I once heard an interview with J.K. Rowling in which she said something like, “Courage is the most important virtue, because it’s the only one we can’t fake.” Courage is strength IN THE FACE of one’s fear. I can pretend to be kind, pretend to be gracious – but courageous? The very definition acknowledges that we are not yet the thing that we hope to be – but we choose it anyway.

It takes courage to be honest and vulnerable. It takes courage to let your guard down and allow the world to beat at your heart. It takes courage to hear about animals dying and not want to die, or to witness absolute freedom and imagine your own self free.

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I’ll just leave my heart right here

Written by hootenannie on February 20th, 2015

All of San Francisco is a protest to the uniform and utilitarian. I will never not wish for more time here.

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More adventures in flight

Written by hootenannie on February 18th, 2015

This morning when I woke up at 5am in Minneapolis, the “feels like” temperature was -30 degrees. “How am I going to make it from the hotel to my car?” I was legitimately afraid that somewhere in that 500 feet, I would freeze, suddenly, like a Neanderthal.

But my 7am flight would be leaving with or without me, so I made a run for it. It was like inhaling a block of dry ice – absolutely wicked, not in the Boston sense, but in the Witch of the West sense. My skin almost cracked right off me like a frozen shell. But because I am rugged in my soul – a hero, really – I made it.

As we lined up to board the plane, I put in my earplugs – because the only thing worse than being crammed into a tube with 150 other people is to be crammed into a tube with 150 other people that YOU CAN HEAR. Whenever I wear earplugs, I pull my hair over my ears so no one can see the bright blue foam – but this time, there in line, I was standing next to a man who was wearing earplugs too. Neon green.

And what on God’s earth convinced me that this would be a good idea, I will never know – but I caught his eye, tucked my hair behind my ear to reveal the earplug, and tapped it twice. Just like the early Christians would trace half a fish in the dirt with their toe, waiting for a stranger to complete it, it was our secret code. We were comrades – in the war against noise!

However (and telling the story now, I suppose predictably), Earplug Man did not see it this way. He quickly looked away and ignored me for the rest of the boarding process. I found my seat (far from this fellow noise hater), and we were off.

Mid-flight, it started. Music. Loud enough to hear through my earplugs.

“Give me the beat, boys, and free my soul…”

Someone was listening to the Doobie Brothers with no headphones on an airplane, which, in my mind, is worse than sin.

While the music was loud enough to cut through my earplugs, I couldn’t tell which direction it was coming from. I waited for the culprit’s seatmate or a flight attendant to politely ask them to stop disturbing their fellow passengers (because isn’t it a rule that you have to use headphones on an airplane?), but by now we were to the head-bobbing part where everything but the drums drops out and all of the DBros are singing a cappella in harmony and still, no one had intervened.

When Eric Clapton’s “Layla” started in, I shot up out of my seat like a Whac-A-Mole. WHO IS DOING THIS. WHO. My head on a swivel, I scanned the tops of heads looking for the miscreant, but the engines scrambled the sound and garbled my otherwise bionic hearing.

By the time “American Pie” rolled around, I felt myself shutting down. Everything within me was in agreement with Don McClean; this will be the day that I die. This will surely be the day that I die.

When I landed in San Francisco, it was 70 degrees, meaning that today I have experienced a 100 degree swing in temperature. I peeled off my down parka, changed from Sorels into flip-fops, and caught a cab into this gorgeous city. I’m here for work, just like I was in Minneapolis for work, and while I miss Foxy, I am grateful for a week of mixing it up – because there’s nothing like breaking routine to make me grateful to get back to routine.

In the meantime, I’m wishing this is how I got to San Francisco:

Flight of the Navigator