February, 2008

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If looks could kill

Friday, February 29th, 2008

I love the Bluebird Café. It’s probably my favorite “thing to do” in Nashville. Since arriving here two months ago, I’ve been going about once a week, just to listen and enjoy the writers. If I’m with a friend, then typically we’ll sit and eat (I enjoy their Big Salad with grilled chicken), but if I’m by myself, I find a dark seat in one of the pews in the back. Last night was one of those nights.

The cardinal (haha, get it, like a bird?) rule at the Bluebird is “Shhhh!!” This a listening venue, a place that is all about the song, the writing, the exposing of story and emotion through music. People are expected to sit down and hush, primarily because this is the respectful thing to do, but also because why would you choose to miss out on the unfolding of some amazing songs? I feel like I am given a gift every time I sit at the Bluebird, and I am constantly inspired with ideas, which I rapidly scribble down in a little notebook that I carry in my purse.

Which is why last night, when two out-of-town businessmen at a table behind me couldn’t rip themselves out of their loud and sarcastic conversation, I was annoyed. No, I was more than annoyed. I was enraged.

They were in business casual khakis, each with a Bluetooth attached to his ear. I mean, really? At a restaurant? TAKE THAT THING OFF, YOU LOOK RIDICULOUS. They switched off between conversation with each other, and answering their cell phones. “Nah, man, we’re at the Bluebird. THE BLUEBIRD! Yeah, it’s this restaurant with music and shit. No, I’m in NASHVILLE. Going for drinks later – wanna meet up? Come ON, man! We’ll find some LADIES – hot chicks, you know what I’m saying?”

It was atrocious, and tasteless, and offensive. I felt insulted on behalf of the performers, and on behalf of the audience, and on behalf of myself.

I sat there stewing about it for a few minutes, but when their cackles reached a crescendo and no one was telling them to stop, I whipped my head around and glared at them – a long, deliberate, poisonous glare, first at one, and then at the other. You. And you. Better shut up. Or I will come back there and personally remove your vocal chords with my bare hands.

They both froze, mid-sentence, staring back at me. They were like cats that had been caught scratching the furniture: alert, but no sign of contrition. I turned back around.

But this was not the end of their erroneous behavior. Their voices continued to rise, over and over again, no matter how many times I mentally dealt them excessive violence.

At the end of the show, I stood up to gather my things, mourning the heist of a peaceful evening, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. “Excuse me, are you a writer?”

Oh look, it’s the spawn of Satan.

I mumbled something about “yeah, maybe, I guess, blog, songs about abortion…”

He smiled. “I could tell – you kept writing things down.”

Therefore. Obviously.

“We’re from out of town – Richmond, Virginia.”

Charming.

I was being cold. I was so not about to look this man in the eye, for fear of the eruption of venom I could feel building up toward my tongue.

“We’re going for drinks downtown – care to join us?”

OH NO YOU DIDN’T. Did you just hit on me? After I have done everything short of castrating you with my laser beam glare for the past hour? Are you that clueless, that moronic? What makes you think that I would consider spending ONE MORE MINUTE of my time talking to the men who completely violated the Bluebird code of conduct?

“No. Thank you, though.”

Some people.

Luckily, I get to go again tomorrow.

The Temptress Chronicles: III

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Breaking news: after a mere 2 ½ days, I was requested to remain with this financial firm indefinitely. No, they are not officially hiring me, but I will stay on as their temp until they decide what they want to do. It’s kind of like when a guy says that he doesn’t want to “date,” but still wants to make out. You know?

So, I guess that this ends The Temptress Chronicles. It could have been a fascinating series if I had had the opportunity to try out a bunch of different work environments: warehouse, door-to-door sales, data entry, box assembly, and other various riveting careers. But I will remain here in my quiet lobby, no sound aside from the air from the vents and the click-click-click of the keyboard.

I am not complaining.

This is manna.

The Temptress Chronicles: II

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

I checked in with my “agent” today – you know, the guy who is supposedly in charge of getting me jobs. I could call him a pimp, but I’m already calling myself the Temptress, and I’m pretty sure that all of that could add up to one hot mess. You can now probably Google “Annie Parsons hot temptress pimp mess,” and I’m sure that this will pop up.

I thanked this man for lining up this fabulous temp job for this week, and that I’m grateful for the opportunity and the income, and yes, I am dressing in “business professional” rather than “business casual” so don’t worry your pretty little head about a thing. Then, I got to my real questions: What about next week? Do you have a job for me for next week? I mean, I know I’m working here through Friday, but what about Monday? Am I going to be taken care of? Are you going to forget about me and give the job to someone else? Pay attention to me! What am I doing next week?

Have I mentioned that I am the kind of girl who likes things to be lined up, for sure, scheduled, signed sealed delivered? My life isn’t looking that way right now. And it’s hard. There is no way of knowing where – or if – I will be working next week.

But then, I remember the Israelites wandering in the desert. God always provided manna, but only enough for one day. When the people tried to stockpile and gather so much that they would have the assurance of having enough for tomorrow, it rotted before they were able to eat it.

So I am choosing to be grateful for today’s income, and for today’s needs being met. And I am trusting that the same will be true of tomorrow, the next day, and the next.

The Temptress Chronicles: I

Monday, February 25th, 2008

As the newly crowned Queen of Temp Work – the Temptress, if you will – I received my first job assignment. This week, all week, I am the receptionist at a swanky financial firm on West End. From my 11th story perch, I preside over downtown Nashville with a foxy hair-do and high heels that click on the marble floors. I feel positively posh.

My duties are simple: answer and transfer. I answer the phone, and then pass it along to whoever the call is for. I have now been here for almost 9 hours, and the phone has rung three times all day. Luckily, my pleasant and largely invisible co-workers have given me the go-ahead to do whatever I want to do: email, read, what-have-you. I don’t know if they knew that they were sanctioning “blogging,” but nevertheless, here we are.

My friend Sarah, who is also a temp, wrote me a little word of encouragement on my Facebook profile, and it feels fitting to share it here. Call it a benediction.

“We are the hobos of the working world. Don’t stay in one place too long, keep your head down, and keep moving. As long as you have a tin can and a good pair of shoes you will be okay. As for eye contact, don’t make it.”

Amen, sister. Amen.

Spoken and heard

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

The past week or so has been spent in relative solitude. I have been alone in my apartment for hours and hours (and, um, days) at a time, allowing the silence to overwhelm and consume me. As an introvert, the more time I spend alone, the more time I want to spend alone… and this can quickly reach an unhealthy place.

The other morning, I woke up. I sat up. I listened. And it was quiet – silent, even. I looked around my room, and didn’t hear anything. My eyes were taking in my surroundings, but my ears were not registering any stimuli. Then my brain gears started turning, and I started to wonder. So I spoke.

“Am I deaf?”

And I heard myself.

I know… always so dramatic.

The break up

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

My love,

You know the old saying, “It’s not you, it’s me”?

Well, sorry. This time, it is definitely you.

We’ve been together for a long time. So long, in fact, that I can scarcely remember a time when we were apart. There was that one time during my freshman year of college when I needed some space, and space we took. But in your absence, I gained a ton of weight and my face ballooned up like a chipmunk. I missed you. I begged God that you would return to me.

And you did. Slowly but surely, you came back. Ever since that traumatic experience, I have clung tightly to you. You have been safe. You have been secure. You have made me look good.

At least, you used to.

Lately, I’ve been realizing what a hassle you are. You promise to be low-maintenance, but you actually take up too much time. You assure me that you’ll behave, but then you wig out and go nuts. Certain people have told me that you make me beautiful, so I’ve kept you around. But the truth is, I’ve wanted you gone for a long time.

I’ve waited. For many reasons, I’ve waited. I’ve waited until “after I’m skinnier,” I’ve waited until “after I get married,” I’ve waited until “after I’ve convinced Nashville that I am glamorous.” But when I woke up this morning, I could wait no more.

I’m sorry. I know that I will probably eventually shed tears, but not today. You’ve done nothing but take, and it’s time that you be cut off – literally. I’m leaving you for my new lover, Bob.

Cutting and running,
Annie

Why I’m here

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this whole Nashville thing.

I’ve been here for 7 weeks now, and they have been challenging, hard weeks. The questioning and stress that happens during transition is unsettling, and in no way have I been immune from this rough passage. I have wondered if I made the right decision in moving here, or if I have anything to offer musically. And even then, I wonder if I even want to be a part of the music that’s happening here?

Nashville is weird – I knew this before I moved here. Everyone is a musician, and it seems like you’re either “in” or “trying to get in,” which essentially translates to “cool” or “trying to be cool.” There’s a whole lot of name dropping going on, and a ridiculous amount of schmoozing. And largely, the people who succeed in this business are the people with a hot image and a tone tweaker. That’s not what I want.

I have been sorting through a lot of this stuff on my own. I do not need people like Mr. West Virginia WTF, who I met yesterday, to shove this information down my throat.

It was clear that this was a man who had desperately wanted to be a part of the music business at one point, but had been burned by the system, and had never “made it” in the way that he wanted to. His reaction: hate Nashville, despise the music business, and take it upon himself to discourage every young person who moves to town for music. And I’m sorry, but that just rubs me the wrong way.

I am fully aware of so much that is disturbing and cheap about what happens on Music Row, which is why it’s a good thing that I’m not trying to be the next American Idol or Nashville Star. I simply love music, and especially a specific brand of country music – the singer/songwriter stuff along the lines of Lori McKenna, Matraca Berg, Gretchen Peters, and Patty Griffin. I am here because I want to learn.

And I believe in the beauty of having dreams, and pursuing them regardless of money or convenience or assurance.

Even if nothing “happens.”

Following through on something that you believe in is always worth it, always.

I don’t know how long I’ll live here, and I don’t have any illusions that I am going to have a career making music. I just want to be involved with the music that I love in any way that I can, even if it’s just as a listener. I am clinging to the hope and joy that has miraculously been instilled in my heart, and continue to press on through all of the negative, dissenting voices.

Why blogging pays off

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

I am a permanence kind of girl. I like things to be guaranteed, absolute, forever and ever.

But in the past 6 months, my life has been lacking in the whole “permanence” department. Change has been my only constant. Which is why this morning, when I took a job that begins with “temporary,” I felt like God was pointing at me and saying, “Haha, sucka!”

I spent 3 1/2 hours at the temp agency, interviewing and testing my skills on the computer. And I feel compelled to announce that I have THE HIGHEST SCORES THEY HAVE EVER SEEN. I am the victor, the champion, the valedictorian of temp work. I don’t know if this should make me laugh or cry.

I type 96 words per minute. And I attribute every swift key stroke to this blog – and you, my faithful readers.

Watch

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

When I graduated from college, I had a party. I didn’t really expect it, but people brought me presents. Let this be a lesson to all of you slackers out there: don’t quit, because in the end, YOU TOO could be the recipient of a ceramic candle holder in the shape of a flip-flop.

Actually, a lot of my college graduation gifts were pretty great. Bottles of wine and champagne, Philosophy body wash, a towel set from Restoration Hardware, and lots of cash.

But my favorite gift came from Luke.

At the time, Luke was almost 5. I had lived with Luke’s family for a while a few years prior, and he won my heart with his big blue eyes and genuine adoration of everyone he came across. Luke is the kind of kid that you want to want to dip in chocolate and wrap in sunshine and then put in a picture frame on your wall, just because that kind of goodness deserves to be kept around permanently.

That day, Luke approached me with a small box wrapped in tissue paper. His mom explained that they had spent hours at the mall, searching for the exact right present. As Renee would make suggestions, and point out various items, Luke would say, “No, Mom. I know what I want to get her.” He proceeded to wander aimlessly through the stores, eyes always looking, and continually turning down his mother’s ideas. “No, Mom. I know what I want to get her.”

When she asked him what he was looking for, he simply replied, “I know what it is. I just need to find it.”

Finally, they wandered into a kitchen store. And there, high on a rack, was a small magnet in the shape of an owl. “That’s it,” he said.

And through all of my moving and purging and traveling, that owl magnet has somehow always made the cut, again and again. And now, once again, it has wound up on my refrigerator.

Luke knew what he was looking for – he just didn’t know what it looked like. But when he saw it, he recognized it. I love that.

I hope that my life can be a reflection of that watchful perseverance. In so many situations, I know what I’m looking for – I just don’t know what it looks like. But I will keep looking, keep watching, keep searching – and hopefully, when I see it, I will recognize it.

The discipline of waiting

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Someday, I will have all 4 hubcaps for my Honda. Someday, I will not have to use milk crates as furniture. Someday, I will climb the cliffs of Cinque Terre. Someday, I will own a very grown-up chocolate brown couch. Someday, I will read the classics. Someday, I will have medical insurance. Someday, I will be a dog-owner. Someday, I will learn to be comfortable in my own skin. Someday, I will have income. Someday, I will feel a bit more stable.

But not today.

Today, I will buy a new filter for my thrift store purchased Brita water pitcher. Today, I will search for a long butane lighter to figure out how to light my gas stove. Today, I will live in Nashville. Today, I will be thankful for a car that starts. Today, I will eat a dinner of ham and cheese samples at the grocery store. Today, I will smile during a nightly phone call. Today, I will wrap myself in my red coat and wool socks. Today, I will look forward to someday.

And that is enough for today.