My road trip so far

Written by hootenannie on September 3rd, 2016

My last day at my job was August 18, and the very next morning, I left Minneapolis for a 6,000-mile road trip. I’m two weeks in, and am having such a good time I’ve decided to never get a job again. I will buy a camper and live in KOAs around the country until the day I die, as long as that day comes before my savings account dries up (so… less than a year).

Then again, I would like to see Foxy graduate high school. So I will stay alive and get a job — BUT ONLY FOR THE DOG. As soon as she’s out of the house, I’ll feel free to spiral into squalor and financial ruin. It’s my life.

Speaking of Foxy, she and I are basically conjoined twins these days. We spend every waking minute together (and also every sleeping minute). I fear I’m setting her up for some serious heartbreak whenever it happens that I have to, I don’t know, run to the grocery store or something — but until that day comes, we’re a package deal, and she’s a happy dog. Even if she’s perfected the art of looking sad.

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So far, I’ve found myself in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas, and Colorado. Today, I point the steering wheel toward Bend, Oregon, and then eastern Washington. I’ve been staying with friends and family so far, but in the coming weeks I’ve booked a few Airbnbs. I’ve used Airbnb before, but always for an empty apartment. These next few stays, I’ll be renting a guest room in an inhabited house — one of which is on, no joke, Killannie Street. KILL ANNIE STREET. Listening to Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” to pump myself up.

Besides hiking in the mountains and seeing the Dixie Chicks in Denver (favorite concert of my life), of course the best thing about this trip has been catching up with some of my favorite people in some of my favorite places. Every stop, someone has asked me, “So, what’s next for you?” and my inclination is always to blurt out, “Move next door to you!” And it’s never an empty statement. I truly want to live next door to everyone I love (preferably aligned in a wheel with me as the hub) (don’t worry, I’ll situate you next to people you’ll like).

In all seriousness, plans are coming together for the fall. I’ve lined up a way to make some money (it’s not selling drugs), and other than employment, I’m not making any major changes right away. I’m not finished with Minneapolis, and am even excited to get back there.

Until then, hello from the road!

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A spacious place

Written by hootenannie on August 12th, 2016

About a month ago, I stubbed my toe so mightily I broke it.

toe

This is not an unusual occurrence for me. I suppose I walk with a lot of force? And into things? Is there honestly a better explanation for why one frequently stubs toes?

Last night, I was heading to the living room to watch Michael Phelps win all of those gold medals when I slammed — slammed — my right pinky toe into the foot of the couch. It might as well have been a sledgehammer to the foot. Pain shot up my leg like an electric current. I collapsed onto the couch and SCREAMED INTO A PILLOW, no words, just one long primal shriek muffled by a cushion from Target.

Remembering it this morning I giggle — because sheesh Annie, overdramatic much? It was one of those moments that made me grateful I live alone; no one should be forced to bear witness to such hysteria (although I will say that it did hurt like a mother-truckin’ cuss word). Foxy came running down the stairs and looked at me, then turned around and retreated back to her safe corner in my bedroom.

Today while out for a walk, one of Foxy’s feet collided with a large landscaping rock. I heard the hit, it was so hard. She stubbed her toe! We both froze, and then she curled her paw up underneath her, refusing to put any weight on it. She looked straight into my eyes, a big fat “What just happened?” and when I reached down for her, she willingly jumped into my arms like a toddler.

I carried all 40+ pounds of her for several city blocks, and wished for some giant to do the same for me.

Life is barreling forward — I’m wrapping up my job, heading into an unknown future, and while all I want to do is watch the Olympics and read my stack of books and have someone lift me up and carry the load, I’m moving too fast and running into things and screaming into pillows, a dog my only witness. It’s like the walls of my life are pressing in on me, the clutter tripping me up.

In many ways, this past year has been difficult. It’s been crowded and messy. The Dixie Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces” comes on the radio and I want to cry, because is there any better cure for spiritual congestion than space?

A week from today, Foxy and I are going to hit the road for a while. We’re going to drive around and go on some hikes and share a string cheese every day. I’m in search of space, both physical and mental, landscape and soulscape. By the time I get back to Minneapolis, I plan to have an answer to the “What’s next for you?” question.

In the meantime, I’m taping this verse to my steering wheel:
“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” —Psalm 18:19

Losing my eyesight, and my mind

Written by hootenannie on August 1st, 2016

HERE IS THE BACKSTORY:
Back in mid-June, I got pink eye — or if I want to sound older than a fourth grader, conjunctivitis. It was gross and ugly and uncomfortable and all of those things that you remember your childhood pink eye to be. I looked like I had been crying all the time, which, if you know me, isn’t all that hard to believe.

After a week with a goopy red eye and unusual blurry vision, I finally went to the MinuteClinic and got a prescription eye drop (EYE DROP #1). “The infection should be gone within 2-4 days,” the nurse practitioner told me. “If it isn’t, you need to see an ophthalmologist.”

Well, wouldn’t you know, I’m the lucky star who just couldn’t shake my conjunctivitis. So, after two weeks of pink eye, to the ophthalmologist I went. He did some tests, and discovered my cornea to be “incredibly infected.” He gave me a stronger eye drop (EYE DROP #2), and said that my affliction should be over within a week.

In the meantime, he checked my vision — something that historically had never been a problem for me, although things have been blurry lately — and, well, I NEED GLASSES. The doctor scheduled me to come back for another exam two weeks later, giving the drops a chance to work their magic, just in case my failing eyesight was at all tied to this sexy eye infection.

So ten days ago, I went back to the doctor for the follow-up exam. And because Annie Parsons is no quitter, the infection is STILL THERE. Surely I have broken some sort of record for “most consecutive days with a rotting eyeball.” He measured my eyesight again and still found it to be worthy of glasses, but gave me another prescription drop (EYE DROP #3), and asked me to come back in three weeks with a (hopefully) healed cornea. Late next week, I’ll return to pay a fourth co-pay for what I hope is my final exam, and walk out with a script for glasses.

So.

HERE IS THE REAL STORY:
As established, I have now been prescribed three different eye drops of various strength. The bottles all look pretty much the same, but I’ve been good at keeping them straight.

Until yesterday.

“Where did this fourth bottle come from?” I wondered. I mentally ticked back through my doctor’s visits, counting one, then two, then three prescriptions. There was not a fourth. Why did I have four bottles of eye drops?

Suddenly, all of the air sucked out of the room. The ground opened up beneath me and the earth swallowed me whole.

I remembered.

Two weeks ago, her eye had been goopy. I’d scrounged around through her stash of medicine from the past three years, and found her eye drops. The bottle looked the same as mine.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been using Foxy’s… expired… eye drops.

I don’t deserve to be an adult.

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Live frugally on surprise

Written by hootenannie on July 5th, 2016

Write in the middle of it.

That’s what someone told me to do. As an introvert, my inclination is to wait until things are settled, processed, and sorted before sharing news in any kind of broad way — but I’m realizing that it might be awhile before things are settled, processed, and sorted, so OH WHAT THE HECK.

A year after moving to Minneapolis (Sunday was my Minneversary), I’ve decided to leave my job, the one I moved across the country for. There are a lot of factors that went into this decision, and it was not one that I made lightly. That said, I have a lot of peace about the decision itself, even though it leaves me staring into a future I can’t yet see.

From a job to the city in which I live, everything feels very much up for grabs right now — and while I’m experiencing a sense of possibility and potential, every idea I explore has a cost, a rub. My friend Leigh Kramer once wrote about the “jar lid click” — the moment when everything lines up — and so far, none of my ideas have led to that intuitive sense of alignment.

I don’t know what I’m going to do.

I am not the “leap and the net will appear” girl. I am a planner, a preparer, a “that’s not in the budget” pragmatist. The fact that I quit a job without a new plan in place is so out of character, it makes me question everything I thought I knew about myself. (What if I start liking board games?)

But you know what? The best stories of my life have been the things I could never have predicted or manipulated into happening — like once writing a song about a snack bar that landed me a job, or buying the first and only house I looked at (happened in both Denver and Minneapolis), or meeting people I had no idea would change my life (I’m looking at you, Keri Alexander, Kari Medina, Katie Freeze, Carin Towne, a whole slew of folks in Nashville, gal pals in Denver, my nephews, Foxy Brains, and, okay, EVERYONE).

Here is an idea I like:

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I don’t know what’s coming next. But I’m going to try living frugally on surprise, the rhythm and simplicity of the unknown, and see what happens.

Or I might buy a bed & breakfast. (I’ll add it to this list.)

We can never go back

Written by hootenannie on June 11th, 2016

If you really want to torture yourself, keep your email address linked with the house you used to own in a city where real estate is on a rapid upward trajectory. Once a week or so, you’ll get an update that tells you how much the value of your former home has increased, i.e. how much money you didn’t make because you sold when you did. Bless.

Yesterday, I finally (mercifully) cut the Zillow cord with the Shotgun, my old, charming, 11-foot wide, 600 square foot house in Denver. I loved that nest, and it was the perfect place for me to live for the years I spent there — but that season is over. I made a choice, which led to a decision tree of other choices, all of which ultimately led my life 900 miles away to Minneapolis.

The cruelest question in the world is “what if.”

And yet, we ask it all the time, don’t we? What if I had stayed? What if I had gone? What if I had said yes? What if I had said no? What if I had met that person, or not met that person, or met that person at a different time? What if I had never left my house in Denver and now was sitting on an 11-foot wide MOUNTAIN OF GOLD.

Dumb, all of it.

Asking “what if” keeps us stuck, mentally revising the past toward a future that will never actually be. It’s a waste of energy and a waste of heart. Like Joy Williams sings, “We can never go back, we can only go on and on and on.”

Real estate profits are the least of it — because that stuff doesn’t matter, really. It’s about owning your life, owning your decisions, blessing the good, and wrestling the bad (which, by the way, would exist no matter which path you would have chosen). It’s about seeing your story for the adventure that it is, and realizing that certain things aren’t up to you, anyway. It’s about knowing that it’s a privilege to have a choice at all.

If you struggle with feeling alone, or anxious, or frantic because life doesn’t look the way you imagined it would — well, me too. Keep going, though, because we can never go back. We might as well move forward, because who knows what might be up there?

Here is what I’m learning

Written by hootenannie on May 25th, 2016

Some uncomfortable situations are worth stretching and growing for; others might only make you unhappy. It’s important — and sometimes difficult — to know the difference.

It doesn’t matter if it takes you five minutes or five years: As soon as you know a romantic interest should no longer be a romantic interest, cross him off the list. With a Sharpie.

Time is the new money — that is, until a 50-foot tree limb snaps and almost crushes your car in the driveway. When you fork over $450 to have some guy saw it down and haul it away, you realize that in certain situations your time is kind of worthless and money is, in fact, worth a lot.

At the end of the day, dogs are just wild animals. So when yours hunts, chases, catches, kills, rips apart, and swallows a rabbit, come on, man, don’t be so surprised.

If the only food you stock in your house is eggs, apples, string cheese, and Wheat Thins and it makes you feel sad but you still don’t change your ways, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Wherever you go, there you are. The grass is never greener; it’s all just grass.

The opposite of mending fences

Written by hootenannie on April 23rd, 2016

If you know me at all, you know my fence. Installing it was a huge deal in my life, and I talk about it to basically everyone I know. (I never promised I was cool.)

But when I moved into the house, there was an old stretch of a privacy fence at the top of the driveway, separate from my Fence of Glory. Maybe 12 feet long, it didn’t enclose anything — it was just a strip leftover from what had once been a full fence around the backyard. It served no purpose for me, except to hide my shovels behind. One of the most un-exciting things about being a homeowner is the fact that one has multiple shovels.

Last week when I returned from a work trip, I found that the old fence had fallen over.

Fence 1

And lest the neighbors start looking at my dilapidated house and thinking I’m a meth cook or something, this weekend I ripped it out with my own two hands.

I borrowed a few things from the neighbors — a drill, a sledgehammer, and a crowbar — and got to work. Most of it was easy to disassemble, just removing the screws from the boards and stacking them one at a time. But when it got down to just the frame, I had to get down to business. It was crowbar time.

So I crowbarred, and sometimes I sledgehammered, and the whole thing was very Chip and Jojo except my hair will never be as thick and luscious as hers. But I was DOING IT.

Fence 2

At one point, I yanked on a board and the whole frame came crashing to the ground — and instinctively, much like the time I watched 10 Cloverfield Lane, I screamed.

A man was walking by. “You okay?” he called.

“Yeah, sorry. I’m just being a girl.”

He looked at the fence and then looked back at me, felled fence and crowbar in hand. “It doesn’t look like it.”

Damn straight, man.

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Life plans I’ve made in my mind

Written by hootenannie on April 7th, 2016

#1 — Quit your job, sell your house, buy a little camper, and drive around with Foxy. You’ll probably stay in the US, but the Canadian border is right there so be sure to keep both your passport and her vaccination papers in the glove box. A Scamp would be ideal, but a teardrop trailer is probably more realistic for towing behind the Subaru (get a trailer hitch installed, btw). I wonder if grizzly bears can rip the door off a camper? You need to stay in campgrounds that have actual bathroom facilities, because you require running water and a mirror in which to apply your $100 eye cream. Don’t sell that long leash at your yard sale next month, because when you sit in your lawn chair drinking boxed wine, Foxy will need to be tied to a tree so she doesn’t chase a rabbit and get eaten by a grizzly bear. Oh, and buy a lawn chair.

#2 — Train for a marathon. You’re 33-years old, for crying out loud, and your knees will only get worse. It’s now or never. It’s okay to start slow. Tomorrow morning go run a mile, and just build up from there. Never mind that running a mile sounds like torture, let alone 26.2. Achievement is more important than anything else, and think about how good your butt will look.

#3 — Move back to Seattle and get a Masters in Counseling. Maybe you would be good at it! You care about people, and all you ever want to do is talk about feelings anyway.

[searches 98103 in Zillow, loses all hope]

#4 — Never mind, you can’t pay money to go back to school. You need to make money. Stay where you are and throw everything you can into retirement. You’ve been doing that for years, but that financial guy says you’re behind — because don’t you have any concept of inflation?

#5 — Wait a second, don’t worry about money. Trust God. Birds of the air, lilies of the field. (But I really do want that $100 eye cream.)

#6 — Get a puppy. Foxy needs her very own dog.

#7 — Have a baby. There are lots of ways — just google it.

#8 — Move back to Nashville and do life with all of your old friends. It’s hotter than literal hell in the summer, and yeah there were those cockroaches and the possum that frequented your apartment on Music Row, but there are no better people on earth than your friends in Tennessee. What’s more important than relationships, anyway?

[searches 37206 in Zillow, loses all hope]

#9 — Do the Whole30.

#10 — Write more songs for one of the three recording projects you have in mind. Actually, just choose which one you want to make, and do it. DO IT. It’s so important that you be writing, creating, making, Annie. You’ve somehow allowed yourself to believe that writing isn’t something you’re qualified to do, and here I am, your better self, begging you to do whatever it takes to throw yourself into these songs. Please do it.

[prays that she can do it]

#11 — You should probably fall in love, never mind that you’re really bad at falling in love. Let’s skip this for now, maybe circle back later.

#12 — Minnesota isn’t bad, you know. Just be present. Be here now. Explore. Invite people over for dinner. Wallpaper the stairwell, and maybe get new kitchen cabinets at some point. One day you can build a garage, but only after you save enough to pay cash.

#13 — Go work for Dave Ramsey?

#14 — Move into your mom’s basement. Just regroup. If you didn’t have a mortgage, you could afford to do more yoga.

#15 — I’m loving the baby idea. Could the baby sleep in a teardrop trailer?

#16 — Colorado is the best. Move back to Denver and who cares what your job is as long as you’re able to get to the mountains every weekend.

[searches 80211 in Zillow, loses all hope]

#17 — Stop making plans and just go with the flow.

#18 — Don’t let your life pass you by.

#19 — Trust God, but tie your camel.

#20 — Get quiet. Listen. Go on a walk every morning and every night. Be kind. Be honest. Forgive. Forgive. Even yourself, forgive. Do your best. Don’t be afraid. Remember that you’re hemmed in, behind and before — and that somewhere in the jumble of Christmas lights, there’s still a straight line.

Wallpaper dreams

Wallpaper dreams

And a really great song about how love is the best

Written by hootenannie on March 16th, 2016

I mean, it’s only fair. (Watch until the end!)

Really great songs about how love is the worst

Written by hootenannie on March 16th, 2016

My friend Carin Towne introduced me to “The Blade,” and I can’t get over it. Ashley Monroe gets better and better.

And while we’re listening to sad stuff, I recently found this miserably beautiful cover by Rose Cousins. Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?

That’s all for today. [scurries back to cave]