October, 2007

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Resolute

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Listen up, Pounds,
I knew you would show up – it was inevitable. Throughout my life, you have come and gone as you have pleased, but The Big Trip in particular has been made of conditions favorable to you: travel, friends, 4,000 miles of sitting, delicious food, celebratory drink, and a complete and utter lack of routine or discipline. A few of you were welcome for a little while, but now? Really, Pounds? There are too many of you.

You have taken up residence wherever you have seen fit: a little here in the thigh, a little there in the waist. You never asked if I welcomed your company; you simply arrived, and then invited your friends. You have been sneaky – never fully crowding me out of my clothes, but just making them fit differently. And I did not pay a ridiculously high price for jeans only to have them optimistically tugged and stretched.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with you. With one halting hand at the end of a stiff arm, and the other beckoning you to come hither, obviously you may have been confused. I have sent you mixed messages, and for this, I apologize.

But how could I have acted any other way? How could I ever resist you? You have come cloaked in chocolately-fried-goodness, and have been effortlessly washed down in a deluge of red wine. We have had a love affair every night for weeks, but I have been dumbfounded and irritated to find you still at my side (and on my side) the morning after. You are annoying. You cramp my style. I do not want to share my young, single, glamorous existence with your vexatious kind. Get out of my bed, and off of my body.

Sorry, Pounds. It was fun while it lasted, but your day is over. I will destroy you with an arsenal of aerobic activity. One or two of you can stay, but the rest of you: prepare to perish.

See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya,
Annie

Something I should probably not admit

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Last night, I flew from Seattle back to Nashville. If there is one thing that I love about Southwest Airlines, it is the little travel snack box that they pass out to passengers. It is here, and only here, that I allow myself to indulge my secret shame.

Ritz. Cracker. Cheese. Sandwiches.

Oh yes, you know what I am talking about. The crispy, buttery, mouthwatering flavor of Ritz Crackers, coupled with cheese that has a texture akin to the dust from a moth’s wings. The packaging boldly claims, “MADE WITH REAL CHEESE!” but I know better. There is nothing legitimately “cheesish” about the filling, aside from the color – and even that is a bit too complex a shade of orange to be genuine.

I do the math, and I realize that each sandwich is worth 33 calories. I tell myself, “I will eat just one,” but it never turns out that way. I borderline inhale all 6 sandwiches, bringing me to a grand total of 200 calories of poison.

Crackers? Try crack.

And that is why I fly Southwest. Ding!

Losing teeth and growing up

Monday, October 29th, 2007

This weekend, I talked to a 7-year old girl who had recently lost her first tooth. A gap in her grin, Claire told me that no, it didn’t hurt when the tooth fell out. Something about the momentous occasion that losing your first tooth ever is took me back to my own experience of the occasion.

I remember having that tiny bottom baby tooth, no bigger than a Tic-Tac, wiggling back and forth, back and forth. My tongue would push it around each day, loosening its bond with the gum, fretfully anticipating the day when it would finally fall out. My older brother Jeremy had already lost several teeth, and he assured me that it was a crazy experience – painful and traumatic – a right of passage that he had survived, and valiantly, but not without agony. He encouraged me to tie a piece of dental floss around the tooth, and attach it to a door, which he offered to slam; this would be a far less torturous experience than the slow, natural process.

I was terrified.

In my limited knowledge, I believed my brother. My fear forced me into trusting that his experience would be mine, too – that this was going to be the most harrowing event of my young life. And there was no escaping it. Unquestionably, the tooth was going to fall out, like it or not – and I would probably lose a lethal amount of blood in the process.

How often do we take someone else’s word for it? I know that I regularly listen to other people’s accounts of their exploits, good or bad, and assume that if I tried the same thing, my experience would be identical. My fear keeps me firmly imprisoned in settling for the truth that others have experienced, and not challenging myself to test the waters on my own.

But I am relishing my new-found callously courageous existence. I am learning to trust my gut, and make bold moves simply because what if it works? I am finding the balance between listening to the advice of those trusted friends who have earned the right to speak into my life, and letting go of the inessential pointers from the peanut gallery.

I think this is what “growing up” feels like.

When my first tooth finally fell out, it was painless. I felt around with my tongue, detecting the vacant hole where the tooth had once stood, and thinking that the gap that was left felt impossibly large. I lived. And the next time, I wasn’t so afraid.

Things you will never hear me say

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

“Can I have your pickles?”
“Dream car? Buick LeSabre.”
“Please! Tell me more about your foot fungus!”
“This would look better in Comic Sans.”
“Wanna watch golf?”
“This dress? Oh – Chadwicks of Boston.”
“Please don’t rub my feet.”
“Let’s start a Dungeons & Dragons club.”
“Penetrate.” I can barely type it, let alone say it. [shudder]
“Man, I wish Savage Garden would cover ‘She’s Like the Wind.’”
“I quit my blog.”

The Cycle

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Stage 1: SHOCK
Whaaaaa…????

Stage 2: DENIAL
That did not just happen. No. It did not. [plugs ears] La la la la la – I can’t hear you. This is not real.

Stage 3: ANGER
[furrows brow] Stupid man. Stupid man in his house. He should clean up this sidewalk – yeah, that’s right, get out his LEAF BLOWER and earn his keep. I loathe this tree. How dare it drop it’s leaves on my path? And the imbecile who thought up concrete? For sidewalks? I HATE HIM I HATE HIM I HATE HIM. Who invented Seattle, anyway? This is all his fault.

Stage 4: DESPAIR
[lower lip sticks out in a pout] This sucks. This totally sucks. Everyone saw, and I am such a loser. I will NEVER be cool. And the sludge? All over everything? My life is in shambles.

And I’ll probably never have a boyfriend, either.

Stage 5: ACCEPTANCE
Yes. I just slipped on the sidewalk, doing nothing but walking and breathing air. My entire body fell to the ground. That car full of people saw… and that one, too. I quickly stood up, looking around like nothing had happened, but the mud splatter up my leg is a dead giveaway. It’s okay. Things like this happen. Thank God for washing machines and anonymity.

– – – – – – – –

Welcome to Seattle, where the mosaic of wet autumn leaves has slicked the sidewalk, making a simple path impassable. I suppose that the winsome days of fall have their price – unfortunately, my sweats and self-esteem were this morning’s casualties.

Being back here in Seattle is wonderful and serene. But I am happy to report that my sadness at no longer living in Seattle is outweighed by my absolute excitement to move to Nashville.

I am on the right path. Even when it’s covered in slippery, wet leaves.

Battling perfectionism

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Last night, I experienced two very wonderful things.

The first was tapas, which is Spanish for “order at least four.”

The second was open mic night at the Bluebird Café, which reminded me why I am extraordinarily excited to live in Nashville.

The songwriting that happens here is astonishing. I sat there all alone, wrapped in my coat and scarf, watching musician after musician take the stage to share their one song. Some were run of the mill, but others brought me to tears. A few caused me to have an actual physical reaction: goosebumps, an involuntary grin, misty eyes. It was simultaneously inspiring and terrifying to think that if I choose, when I live here I will have the opportunity to share my songs in the same way.

When it comes to songwriting, I go back and forth between feeling confident and hopeful, and entirely lame. Sometimes I think that I definitely have the instinct, the honesty, and the wit, and am only lacking the practice. “Craft” is something that must develop with time and experience – and who knows? With time, I might evolve into someone worth listening to. But other times, I feel overwhelmed at the task of creating something good, and since it doesn’t happen instantaneously and effortlessly, I sigh and decide that it’s not worth pursuing. That I will always be a phony.

Such is the life of a blatant perfectionist.

I do not want the latter to win out. I want to keep writing, and keep trying, and keep singing, even if no one ever looks my way twice. I do not want to give up on something that inspires such joy and satisfaction and wonder in me. I really, really love to write. And that should be enough to keep me hanging in there, even in the midst of the antagonistic voices in my head.

Nashville is overwhelmingly full of remarkable talent, and I’d best be quitting the comparison game right now if I have any hope of development. Because maybe – just maybe – I might actually have something to offer.

Be here now

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Okay, let’s level.

I have been on The Big Trip for 6-weeks now, and in the midst of having a blast, today is the first day that I have had to remind myself, “You are having fun. No really, this is a GOOD thing. You are happy and doing well. Believe it.” I am having an amazing time seeing new cities, visiting friends, exploring, and meeting new people – but… ugh, I don’t know. I am such a nester. I love having my home, my stuff, my routine, and the feeling that I am being productive. And after 6-weeks without a real home, or job, or sense of stability, I am starting to feel a little bit sad.

It is amazing to be here in Nashville, the city that I will soon call “home.” It is a vibrant community, full of young energy and music and interesting people. There is life to be lived here, and I cannot wait to jump in head-first in January. But right now, I feel a little bit crippled in that I DON’T live here, DON’T have a home, DON’T have a job, DON’T have any idea what my life here will look like. So how do I engage? How do I approach the city and the people? I am currently without definition. I don’t know how delineate myself, aside from being a girl with a suitcase who forgot all of her jewelry in Kansas City.

But I suppose that life cannot wait. I cannot just pause until January, when I assume my life will really begin again. This is my life, right here, right now. It’s a time unlike any other I will probably ever have.

And so on Saturday night, when I was being driven by a quadrapilegic in a wheelchair-accessible van to former-President Andrew Jackson’s homestead for a haunted tour of the grounds, I had to pinch myself. When a new friend took me to a bar set up in a greenhouse and opened my car door for me just because this is what guys in the south do, I had to chuckle. When I attended a church service alone and cried through all of the music just because it is amazing to hear an entire room of people sing, I simply sat in wonder. Is this my life?

Yes. Yes it is. And I choose to be here now.

A real live racer

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

Hearken back to May, when I wrote about just a few of the dreams and goals I have for my life. Scroll down, down, down, and you will read, “I want to run in a race.” I am proud to announce that today, that dream became a reality.

Guess who just ran a 5K? [thumbs] THIS girl!

And I ran the whole way! Didn’t stop for air or anything! This is a big deal mainly because I have not run/jogged/trotted since June. Oh, I’ve been busy slaying mountains and the like, but running is a different beast. It doesn’t come naturally. So I feel proud.

It was a beautiful, crisp, autumn morning, and I even got to run through crunchy leaves. It was my first real “fall” experience since I left on The Big Trip, as everywhere I have been until how has been hot and muggy and annoyingly sunny. I was surprised at how everyone was so excited to run – from 5-year old kids to men and women in their 60’s. There was even a man who was juggling bean bags as he ran.

Okay, I’ll be honest: HE was irritatingly perky.

But I finished! Good job, self! And I even won a travel mug from the raffle at the end.

AND! I SAW AMY GRANT AT THE PARK!

A Tennessee delicacy

Friday, October 19th, 2007

Tonight, I ate a Ritz cracker topped with cheddar cheese, yellow mustard, and red onion. And then, I ate another one, and another one, and another one. And I liked it.

How to write a country song

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

1) Be born with a melancholy spirit.

2) Go out and get your heart broken. Love deeply and without reservation, and do not brace yourself for the inevitable pummeling to follow. Do this as many times as it takes to completely crush your spirit.

3) Withdraw from society. Solitude is best; however, a few companions are permissible: a bottle of red wine, “Grey’s Anatomy” on DVD, and a dog (optional, and preferably a tick-ridden coon hound).

4) Feel sorry for yourself.

5) Emerge to be surprised by hope. This can be found in various places: a child’s laugh, a generous word, a street corner kiss.

6) Now you are ready to write. Hum a little bar. Now put words to it. For words ending in “-ing,” replace the g with an ‘: cheatin’, drinkin’, achin’. Or, if you are Kenny Chesney, “beach bummin'” and “high school football playin'” work well.

7) Attempt to strike a balance between “pitiful” and “triumphant.”

I am in Nashville. I arrived through a corridor of flaming red and rusty leaves, tornadoes on my heels and pure possibility stretched out ahead. And I feel like my heart is beating.