November, 2007

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Every story has an ending

Friday, November 30th, 2007

[Attention: if you have not finished the Harry Potter series, don’t worry. There are NO PLOT SPOILERS in this blog. Read on, my readers. Read on.]

I just finished “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” which, if you’ve been living under a rock, is the seventh and final book of the Harry Potter series. The book came out in July, and because of life circumstances, I didn’t have the chance to read it until now. Somehow, I miraculously (or… magically…) made it until now without having the ending spoiled, but I began to realize that I was pushing my luck.

It became a race against time – I didn’t tell anyone what I was reading for fear that they might give away the ending. I snuck onto the plane to Richland on Tuesday, and as covertly as I could, slid the HUGE, HULKING volume from my bag, trying to block the title from everyone around me to avoid a plot-spoiling comment.

I have spent the past few nights lying awake in bed for hours and hours, turning pages and savoring each image. Each time that a chapter would come to a close, I would think, “Just one more.” This continued until my eyes saw spots and drooped unwittingly. And then, when I would wake up in the morning, before even brushing my teeth, I would simply roll over and open the book again.

And yes, I made it to the end of the book having maintained the surprise.

The ending of a series has always felt like a death to me. When I finished “Lord of the Rings,” I sat quietly in my little armchair for what felt like an eternity, just staring at the blank page at the end. A good story brings characters to life, and they become close companions. A poignant tale can delineate my thoughts, and punctuate my emotions. I am not ready to give up Harry and Hermione and Ron and the rest, just like I was not ready to give up Peter, Susan, Edmond, and Lucy.

I feel sad. When a family member dies, we have the promise of seeing them someday in heaven. Maybe it’s silly, but I wish I could see the Hogwarts crowd in heaven, too.

Of prime concern

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

In the days before Grandpa died, he was in-and-out of consciousness, and uncommunicative. There are many funeral details that never had the chance to be discussed – many of which we are sorting out today. But he was very clear about what he would like to be buried in: black pants, a flannel shirt, and a baseball cap.

I cannot think of anything more perfect.

And it’s good to know I come by my emphasis on wardrobe honestly. :)

A time for every purpose (including black dresses)

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

My dad and I are flying to Richland, WA, today to say our goodbyes to my grandpa. We bought last-minute tickets, and needless to say, the past 24 hours have been chaotic.

One of the tasks I had last night was to find something appropriate to wear to a memorial service. Now, given the circumstances, perhaps this should have been the last thing on my mind. Maybe this was a vain endeavor. But when it comes down to it, I simply do not own anything appropriate to wear to a funeral. Period. The only black dress that I own is a saucy little number that someone once called my “sex on a stick” dress. And can you imagine? The blatant impropriety? It would be the horrifying equivalent of wearing white to someone else’s wedding, or saying “bomb” on a plane.

And yes, even if I wore a shawl.

Earlier yesterday, at Dooce’s recommendation, I went out and bought these shoes – and on a terrific sale, I might add. So last night, I was searching for something that would complement my new wedges. Perhaps I was working backwards?

Here’s the problem with shopping for a funeral dress during the holidays: nothing is basic. Everything is flashy. Everything is jewel-toned and sparkly and velvet and see-through. Rule of thumb: funeral attire should not be capable of doubling as your New Years’ get-up. In fact, if you can even refer to something as “get-up,” then it should get the proverbial trap door.

In a brief hour and a half period, I searched high and low: Nordstrom, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Target, even Kohl’s (gasp) and Wal-Mart (scandal!). I ventured into stores playing music featuring backup singers who were panting. I saw sheaths that appeared to be shredded, but were, in fact, “meant to look that way.” What ever happened to a basic, affordable, modest-yet-well-cut dress? That I could possibly wear again?

I returned home defeated, empty-handed, with a blister from my new shoes. And I went up to my room, opened some boxes, and searched until I found a black skirt and top. That’ll do.

Perhaps my urgency in insisting that I find a new dress was in order to distract my mind from the fact that I am about to see death up close – something that has never happened before. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little bit scared.

And yet, selfishly, I pray that we arrive in time. I hope we’re not too late.

Quiet

Monday, November 26th, 2007

For the first time in months, I am experiencing a quiet moment. I suppose that I have had plenty of quiet hours in the car by myself throughout the fall, but this is the first time that I have been still, silent, with a hushed heart and nothing vying for my attention.

There are different types of “quiet.” Awkward silence. Screaming silence. Pregnant pause. That stale, uncomfortable deadening that occurs when there is no fan, no noise machine, as I try to fall asleep. Our culture tends to see “silence” as something bad, something to be avoided, and so we are constantly bombarded with an onslaught of stimulation. Noise, activity, electricity.

It is so overwhelming. There is no escaping the flurry of action.

And so when I find myself alone – alone – in my parents’ house, in the aftermath of the busy hubbub of Thanksgiving week, filled with family and friends and food, I breathe. My sisters have each gone back to school, my dad is at work, and my mom has flown back to eastern Washington to be with her father as he dies.

I think of him this morning, old, sick, and uncomfortable. He has known that death is inevitable – but do any of us really think that it is coming for us? I wonder what is going through his mind, if his heart is gripped with fear or with peace? I suppose he has been given a gift in knowing that he is going – so many are not given the advantage of this knowledge – but along with this understanding, does terror come? I hope not.

God only knows what the coming week holds for my family. In the meantime, I am soaking in the quiet, and praying for the peace of my dear, sweet Grandpa.

Thankful

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Well, hello, pretties. Were you beginning to think I had abandoned you?

Never.

My deepest apologies for taking a few days off from blogdom. The Giving of Thanks took up much of the last couple of days. My holiday can be summed up as thus: all 9 members of my immediate family in my parent’s Kansas City house, plus my dear friends Mary and Rebekah in from Seattle and Omaha, respectively. We ate, drank, and were merry. We watched movies. We played with the little guys, the nephews. We shopped. We walked. We had a cheese plate THREE DAYS IN A ROW.

But now, on to today’s big event.

Throughout my life, I have had a wish list of a few things that I hope to someday – someday – purchase. It has been a long-shot of a list, which in the past has included things like a computer (check), a set of sharp knives (check), and a pair of black leather boots (oh yeah). I have taken a painfully long time to save up for those purchases, and have never regretted the money spent. Still on the list is a digital SLR and a Mazda 3. But today, my wish list has gotten just a little bit shorter, because…

I bought a Martin guitar.

And you guys? It is gorgeous. A spruce top, rosewood backing and sides, mahogany neck, and ebony fretboard. The sound is crisp and punchy and full and bright, and the inside of the case is that classic Martin green. I form a chord with my left hand, and strum with my right, and the sound that happens is downright musical.

What have I ever done to deserve the many, many gifts that I have been given? I’ll never know. But I do know that I am thankful, and that I’ll need to get to work to make myself worthy of this Martin. Let the guitar practice begin.

In a moment of self-doubt…

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

“I don’t know, Mom. I think I’m pretty good at a lot of things, but I’m not great at anything.”

“Except parallel parking.”

“Well yeah. There’s that.”

Confessions of a lazy dog walker

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a responsible soul. I show up when I say I will. I get things done. I check things off a to-do list like no one else. I do more than my fair-share of the class project. I help with the dishes, I pay my bills, I always restock the toilet paper.

But nobody’s perfect.

There are a few instances in which my diligence and responsibility are lacking. When my paper coffee cup is empty, I’ll sometimes leave it on the grocery store shelf, as I am too lazy to find a trash can (and hello – I have shopping to do). I have been known to throw my gum out of the car window – which is risky if you believe in “gum karma,” as I do. I am a firm believer that if one disposes of their gum in an irresponsible way, they will step in something sticky within 6 months. Don’t believe me? I dare you to try it.

However, the most audacious and careless thing that I do involves taking dogs on walks. Friends, I cannot bring myself to clean up dog poop. The conscientious dog-walker comes prepared with grocery sacks, ready to swoop down and scoop up whatever mess has been left in the neighbor’s flower garden. But I? Stand there, feigning ignorance, looking around casually until the dog is done doing his business. And then we swiftly walk away.

This is awful – I know it. It is disrespectful and rash. But the thought of cleaning it up is just so gross. I cannot handle the act of handling crap. Short of lugging an actual shovel with me, cleaning up after the dog would require me to actually feel the still-warm poop through the plastic bag. And that, my friends, is something that I am just unwilling to do.

However, I am beginning to believe that the same principle that comes into play with “gum karma” is true in this case, as well. Let’s call it “crap karma.”

This morning, I took Rowdy, the largest of my parent’s dogs, on a long walk. As usual, he did his business – in several carefully manicured lawns – and we quickly moved on. As we continued along the bike path, we came to a stretch of asphalt that falls underneath some power lines. And this is what I saw:


I should have known. But similar to Daniel in the Lion’s Den, or Natalie Maines at a concert in Dallas, I marched boldly into the line of fire. And you guys, quite literally, a shit storm ensued.

It was a Hiroshima of excrement. Droppings dropping all around me, I squealed and ran, Rowdy oblivious to the absolute HORROR that we were experiencing. It was as if the sky opened up and God boomed, “REPENT, ye woman of unclean morals… and unclean shirt, haha!”

Luckily, my hair remained untouched. But my shirt is most definitely splattered. And sadly, I STILL don’t know if this experience will be enough for me to start cleaning up after the dogs. I mean, I have my standards.

Happy birthday, Micah!

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

Driving flies past when you have a purpose. Yesterday, my purpose was to get from Nashville to Kansas City in time for my nephew Micah’s 4th birthday party.

I cannot believe that he is 4. I cannot believe that it has been 4 years since the cold night when I stood on the sidewalk outside the Guild Theater in Seattle and listened to a message from my mom, telling me that he was here. The introduction of Micah and Tyler into the Parsons family has set my heart on a carnival ride, and made me aware of just how much love I am capable of.

If I love my nephews this much, how much more will I love my own children? There is no way to comprehend it.

Micah and Tyler are obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine. Now, that’s all well and good… if you like pansy trains with British accents. I knew that Micah would be receiving plenty of Thomas paraphernalia from others, and I wanted to get him something flashy, something bold, something rad. And when I found a REMOTE CONTROL TARANTULA… well…


Micah’s Tarantula from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

The birthday boy with his Auntie Rah Rah:

Then Micah got the camera and snapped a shot:

And of course, these boys could only come from two majestic human beings:
It is good to be a part of the Parsons family. Right, Micah and Tyler? You’ll learn…

Nashvillian adventures

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

This is my third stint in Nashville this fall, and am I ever glad. When I pulled into town on Tuesday night, I had an odd sense that, “Ah, I’m home.” Is that strange? Seattle will always feel like home to me, but that does not mean that another place can’t feel equally “right.”

I like it.

Yesterday morning I spent a good three hours at a coffee shop called Portland Brew, which is cool for several reasons: 1) the coffee is great, 2) the parking lot is full of beater cars with Apple stickers on them, and 3) the people-watching is fantastic. So, there I am, type-type-typing away, when all of a sudden something scratched my wrist. What? I look down at my computer and see that HOLY COW MY COMPUTER IS BROKEN. The plastic had straight-up cracked, and was hanging off the edge like a hang-nail.

Now, you must understand that in my mind, this event translated to, “I am so sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I cannot say for certain, but there is a good chance that your ability to speak, hear, and see are about to be ripped away from you. I am not sure that you will ever regain a portal to the outside world.” Without my computer, I am… I am nothing.

So I emailed my new friend Cameron and asked him for directions to the nearest Apple store. He sent me in the direction of the Green Hills Mall.

Things I learned at the Green Hills Mall:
1) There is an Apple store, and they have the ability to fix my computer for $0.00. Word to the wise: invest in AppleCare. It is soooooo worth it.
2) There is a Macy’s, and they sold me a shirt for $0.01. So what if it’s an ugly striped polo. I bought it so I could write about it in my blog.
3) Alison Krauss shops there. I would know, because I WALKED RIGHT PAST HER. This is my new reality.

I am so grateful that when I move here in January, I will already have the lay of the land, have met some wonderful people, and feel connected to the social scene.

Now, if only I could find a place to live and a job…

No time for that. I’m going to meet friends for a Predators game.

Closing down shop

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

I am about to do something that is momentous and monumental. I am about to shut down my original MySpace profile.

Ever since I created my music MySpace page, it has been too much work to keep up with dual profiles. My internet time has been inconsistent this fall, and so there have been many days where I ask the question, “Will I check my personal page, or my music page?” because Lord knows I can’t do both.

Well, I’ve been faced with this Sophie’s Choice for far too long. And as Thoreau says, “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”

MySpace has been a revolutionary tool for so many people. At it’s best, it’s an amazing way to network and keep tabs on friends and family. Granted, at it’s worst, it’s a conduit for pedophiles and serial killers to track their victims. But for me, it has brought nothing but happiness and the miraculous ability to shadow boys that I have crushes on.

I have met wonderful friends through MySpace, including my dear friend Sarah here in Nashville who has been instrumental in my decision to actually move here. I love having the ability to stay in touch with my friends who are splayed all over the country and the world. I am friends with about half the city of Anchorage via MySpace. And even my mom has joined in the fun, and has enjoyed “getting to know” my friends via their profiles.

Oh yeah, by the way, if you don’t want my mom checking out your page, you’d best be making your profile private. I, for one, think that private profiles are lame. Go big or go home. If you’re going to display something on the internet, you’d better feel comfortable with anyone coming across it.

Said the girl with the very public internet life, who ends many days with the words, “Open mouth, insert foot.”

There are some sad things about pulling the plug on my personal page. For example, my music page does not give me the ability to tell anyone which high school I went to, and thus opening the door for me to declare that I was the prom queen. The only reason that this is worth mentioning is that I never got anything from being the prom queen aside from the ability to say, “I was the prom queen.” Therefore, I must say it whenever I have the chance.

Also, I got in on the MySpace action fairly early on, and therefore I wore the “Cool Badge” of having been a member since the dawn of time. Now, my new profile will say, “Member since 09/24/2007.” So uncool. So behind the times.

Not to mention the fact that I very well might lose my high place in various friend’s Top 8.

But regardless, here I go. Farewell, original MySpace membership. Thanks for the laughs, awkward wall posts, and boy-stalking memories. See you on the music side.