March, 2008

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Let it be

Monday, March 31st, 2008

At the beginning of 2007, I had plans for my life. These dreams included a variety of comforts: relationships and love and meaning, income and stability, smiles and music and laughter. I dreamed of a tidy existence, from a job that I loved all the way to a front-loading, designer-color washer and dryer. I had mastered the art of keeping everything under control, including my reputation, my caloric intake, and my hair-do. I was fun at parties. People liked me. I giggled and grinned and elbowed and had terrific posture. Let’s be honest: Annie Parsons had it goin’ on.

But all of a sudden, through a variety of circumstances, I found my plans dissolving. I panicked as I thought, “My life is so not turning out the way that I planned.”

And then and there, Jesus took my hand and said, “Follow me.”

For the past year or so, I have been on a bizarre journey – one in which I have felt alternately fully alive and totally numb, inspired and despairing, buoyant and lead-like. I gave up my life of comfort and security, heading out into the unknown and keeping my eyes open for whatever I was supposed to see.

Most of the time, I have had no idea what I should be looking for.

Those closest to me have sometimes been confused. I have been confused.

Do not be fooled by my usually-sunny blog persona. I must tell you that I am currently walking through a hard, hard time. I would call it a “rough patch,” except for the fact that rough patches don’t include inconsolable sobbing and emotional paralysis. Rough patches do not include sitting at a green light, staring straight ahead, oblivious to the fact that I am blocking traffic. No, this is more than a rough patch. This is the desert, arid and lonely.

But I am beginning to suspect that this is not an accident. No. I believe that I have been led into this desert for a purpose. I have been progressively stripped of all of the things that I have looked to for meaning and comfort, and now it’s just me: poor and wretched, but somehow beloved. Can it be?

We live in a culture with a quick-fix mentality: when the going gets tough, shoot some tequila and buy a new pair of shoes. (Yahoo!) But maybe sometimes we’re just supposed to dwell in the desert – to engage the hard questions and to develop a thirst and to simply let it be.

I believe that I have not been abandoned in the desert. I believe, I believe, I believe. This is a season. And when it’s over, I will look back and see the fingerprints of God all over every part of the journey.

Hosea 2:14-15:
Therefore I am now going to allure her. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

Sunday Survey

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Hello, internet. Was your Saturday fabulous? Mine was. I went antiquing in Nolensville, which is a sentence I never thought I would say. I don’t think I like antiques OR Nolensville. But I found this cute little teal pitcher, so… score. Go me.


In the spirit of friendship and peace, I want to know who you are. Here – have an olive branch. So I came up with this handy-dandy poll! If you would be so kind, please let me know why you are reading this post today.

BFF, people. BFF.

76 through 100, and 2 bonus features

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Things I Must Do In My Lifetime
-or-
The Living Big – a detailed account

(continued…)

76) Make a balloon animal.
77) Have a respectable savings account.
78) Write an anonymous note and leave it for a stranger to find.
79) Find a cure for hiccups (I’m really close).
80) Figure out why everyone has suddenly started using the word “fierce.”
81) Renovate a kitchen.
82) Have a knock-out, dress-up, genuinely rockin’ New Year’s Eve.
83) Get highlights in my hair.
84) Let someone with the need live with me for free.
85) Somehow get my rugs from Seattle to where I live now.
86) Have a gift wrap drawer.
87) Learn to take beautiful pictures. Ashley?
88) Stay at a Bed & Breakfast.
89) Watch all 3 “Lord of the Rings” movies in one long day.
90) Feel good about my body.
91) Knit a scarf. So… learn to knit.
92) See “Lost” through to the universe-tilting, amazingly climactic ending.
93) Watch my nephews grow into excellent men.
94) Be passionate about a career. All ideas are welcome.
95) Have an “instant hot” faucet on my kitchen sink.
96) Invest.
97) Get my wine rack back from Miranda.
98) Learn to love without expecting anything in return.
99) Write the occasional good song.
100) Have something named after me: a street, a star, a brownie recipe… it could be anything.

BONUS FEATURE:

Things I am indifferent about, and thus do not need to do before I die:

1) Parasail.
2) Sky-dive.
3) Snorkel.
4) Experience the Bahamas.
5) Run a full marathon.
6) Eat pickles.
7) Swim with sharks or whales or any kind of sea creature.
8) Be famous.
9) Attend an NFL game.
10) Have surgery.
11) Spelunk.
12) Go to a Kenny Chesney concert.
13) Go back to school for a higher degree.
14) Run naked through a public place.
15) Register for china.

BONUS BONUS FEATURE:

When in doubt that life is worth living, that there is anything good or sunshiney or true, there’s always this:

51 through 75

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Things I Must Do In My Lifetime
-or-
The Living Big – a detailed account

(continued…)

51) Cultivate a bonsai tree.
52) Go whale watching.
53) Love the people who drive me the most crazy.
54) Live in Seattle again.
55) Ice skate without falling.
56) Read the entire Bible.
57) Eat at Canlis.
58) Send something to Post Secret.
59) Press pretty flowers, just because.
60) Milk a cow.
61) Go to a party on a roof-top deck.
62) Sit on a beach in New Zealand.
63) Master the art of barbequing.
64) Re-take-up scrapbooking. But this time, cooler. No more die-cuts.
65) Be someone’s hero.
66) Learn to bartend.
67) Hug a koala bear.
68) Hug my husband.
69) Hug my baby.
70) Change my own flat tire.
71) Fly first class.
72) Memorize how to make an origami crane.
73) Start a book club.
74) Throw a dinner party, complete with cloth napkins and place-cards.
75) Write a fan letter to Jim Halpert. Not John Krasinkski. Definitely Jim Halpert.

A report from the Island of Woebegone

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

We interrupt this 4-day series to bring you a special report.

Annie Parsons, the author of this blog, is feeling emotionally despondent.

Many things are to blame for this current lack of enthusiasm about life. It all started with her DNA strand, making her exceptionally susceptible to The Funk. But genetics are not fully at fault, as Annie has clawed her way back up the downward spiral many times before. No – this is different. This is largely a CIRCUMSTANTIAL downheartedness.

Consider the facts:
– Annie hates change.
– Annie hates transition.
– Annie loves feeling in control.

And:
– Annie’s life has been nothing but change lately.
– Annie’s life has been in constant transition for at least 9-months now.
– Annie feels out of control.

In a recent message to a friend, Annie said,
“It’s like this: the minute [this season of life began], someone pulled the plug at the bottom of my spirit. Everything felt fine for the first little bit, but now, all of a sudden, I’m like, I’M SPIRITUALLY BANKRUPT! HELP ME! HEEELLLLP MEEEEEE!! This [season] has felt equivalent to a month of Sundays. Actually, no – a month of Mondays, with PMS, and really bad hair. And I want to run screaming out the door.”

Annie knows that she will be alright. She always is. But today, she is praying for some little miracle, some small hopeful sign that will lift her spirits. She realizes that this is a prayer worth praying, because the last time that she prayed this prayer – in the midst of a heart-shredding day last year – she found out that there was an H&M a few blocks from the place she was staying.

In the meantime, she is putting one foot in front of the other.

My apologies for the virtual soul-barf of this post. I wish that I could be peppy all the time, and spread warmth and goodness and bubbles everywhere I go. But for right now, this is where I am. I hesitate in posting my gloom for you all to read, but I know that it’s important for me to write, even when it’s ugly. Thanks for reading despite my grungy reality.

26 through 50

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

Things I Must Do In My Lifetime
-or-
The Living Big – a detailed account

(continued…)

26) Own a Mazda 3 hatchback with seat-warmers and a stick-shift.
27) Go to Italy. Bask.
28) Try lobster.
29) Run a half-marathon.
30) Throw a surprise party for someone awesome.
31) Actually read all of the books that I own.
32) Learn how to use Photoshop.
33) Master my hair-do, my wardrobe, and my eating habits.
34) Go wine-tasting in Napa with some good friends.
35) Grow flowers in a window box.
36) Take an art class.
37) Be in another musical. One where I get to sing and shuffle-ball-change.
38) Drive the length of the BC coast.
39) Go on an Alaskan cruise.
40) Own a house with a barn so I can have little baby animals.
41) Ride in a helicopter.
42) Go to a major awards show. I don’t care what kind or which one.
43) Tie a tie.
44) Start my own business.
45) Have a porch swing.
46) Make frosting flowers.
47) Kick the body image issue.
48) Own my own set of tools in a cute, convenient case.
49) Ride a camel. Or an elephant, I guess. I’d settle for a donkey.
50) Mow a lawn – but preferably a small one, in cool weather, in a beautiful location, with mountains surrounding me, and birds chirping.

1 through 25

Monday, March 24th, 2008

I present to you a 4-day series:

Things I Must Do In My Lifetime
-or-
The Living Big – a detailed account

1) Learn how to make Keri Alexander’s chicken enchiladas.
2) Plant a rose bush.
3) Sing to old people in a nursing home.
4) Sew a quilt.
5) Help build a Habitat for Humanity house.
6) Figure out how to do my taxes without my dad.
7) Get to all 50 states.
8) See the bats fly out from under the bridge in Austin.
9) Drink more water.
10) Write a book of some sort.
11) See Matraca Berg, Patty Griffin, and Gretchen Peters live.
12) Be a dog owner.
13) Serve a volleyball over the net.
14) Do a recording project of my songs.
15) Bake pies. Lots and lots of pies.
16) Be present when a baby is born. It could be mine.
17) Play whiffle ball.
18) Backpack the Wonderland Trail.
19) Get one of those romantic mirror trays for my perfume bottles.
20) Picnic out of a picnic basket.
21) Paint my walls green or red or yellow or purple or something bodacious.
22) Canoe.
23) Play an open mic night in Nashville.
24) Take salsa dance lessons.
25) Learn how to make sushi.

And just like that…

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

… all of my wildest underdog Disney sports movie dreams came crashing down.

Bla bla BLAWG!

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Typically, I try to have some sort of “theme” to my posts: why I hate townhomes, the proper funeral attire, that one time I ripped out all of my eyelashes, etc. But today, I bring you a slapdash assortment of my thoughts.

1) Yesterday, I watched “A Mighty Heart.” It was terrible – and by that, I mean, it was incredibly well-done and well-acted, but an atrocious, true story. I remember when journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and held hostage in Pakistan back in 2002, but it was only a blip on my radar. A story on the news with a tragic ending… now, what am I having for dinner tonight? The actuality that his wife Marianne faced – the simultaneous fear and courage during his absence, the unspeakable horror at being told that he was beheaded, and the grace with which she faced a future without her husband – was absolutely moving. Angelina Jolie nailed the role: delicate, nuanced, and painful.

2) I went to the seafood bar at Whole Foods last night, and chose poorly: a terrible fish soup (made me want to vomit) and the octopus salad (not what I was hoping for at all). It makes me desperately excited for my trip to Seattle in a few weeks… excuse me, Graham – OUR trip! I am dreaming of Ivar’s Salmon House on Lake Union…

3) It is almost Easter, and Lent has passed me by basically without any acknowledgement. Having the season of Lent be such a large reality of my former job and community, I am dumbfounded as to how I never even noticed it this year. I feel like I’ve missed something. I honestly believe that the act of giving something up for 40 days is a refining and enriching process, and I am sad that I didn’t participate. I feel spiritually unprepared for Easter… although that doesn’t change my excited anticipation at the fact that I am seeing these guys this weekend. That’s right, another trip to Kansas. I hope I am awarded “Customer of the Year” in Southwest’s Spirit in-flight magazine.

4) I just painted my nails at my desk. At work. Where I get paid to paint my nails.

Holla!

Bracket racket, and "2"

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Yesterday was momentous, as I filled out my first-ever March Madness bracket.

The night before this happened, I was on the phone with Graham, asking, “So, this whole March Madness thing? Is it basketball? Why is it ‘madness’? Who plays? Everyone? And then each team that wins plays another team? Until one team wins the entire thing? What happens if you fill out your bracket with the right predictions? What do you win? Is this important at all?” Clueless.

For several years now, I have been invited to join the Clader family bracket, but have ignored the invitation. Because really, who cares, right? But not this year. This is the year of The Living Big, meaning that I need to do things that I normally might not do. March Madness bracketing is a perfect example of something I might not normally do.

Hannah sent me an invitation to join the bracketing mayhem, and I painstakingly filled out my prophecies. My process went like this:
a) Look at the two teams.
b) Read the names silently to myself.
c) Say the names out loud.
d) Choose based on phonetics, and whether or not I had ever heard of the school before.

There are a lot of colleges that I just didn’t know existed.

In the end, I wound up with Georgia winning the tournament. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but I like the sound of the word Georgia, and I definitely knew that it existed.

Bonus feature:
After finishing the bracket, I had the opportunity to enter something in a box labeled “Tiebreaker.” What were they asking for? A number? A yes/no? A person’s name? I went with my gut instinct and answered “2.” That sounded good. As it turns out, “Tiebreaker” is asking for the total score in the final game. So no, Annie, most likely, the answer will not be “2.” I think it’s safe to say that I will not win.