June, 2008

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What a good night’s sleep and a good hair day can do

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Regarding yesterday’s post, here’s what I am learning. When I am feeling super lame and lousy, I should ask myself the following questions:

• Have I gotten enough sleep? (Usually, if I am feeling terrible, the answer will be no. I am becoming more and more convinced that getting enough sleep should be my number one act of spiritual worship. Seriously.)
• Have I had enough caffeine? Have I had too much caffeine? (Caffeine is my drug of choice – two cups of coffee every morning. But when I miss those cups, or overdo it by drinking an ENTIRE POT, then I’m in trouble.)
• Am I eating the right things? (A meal of salty chips and queso, along with margaritas, does not constitute a well-balanced diet.)
• Am I exercising? (But. Guys. It’s just SO HOT here right now.)

And finally,

• Am I being overly sensitive?

Oooooh. Sensitive. Here’s the thing. Ever since I was a little girl, it has been pointed out to me that I am strong-willed. Stubborn. A perfectionist to the core. With a granite-like resolve, it’s hard to change my mind, or my behavior, or my beliefs. But every so often, something will strike a nerve, and I’ll have a meltdown. Contrary to my rock-solid façade, I can be thin-skinned.

It’s a good thing to be able to feel. The ability to feel allows me to experience empathy, and compassion, and joy. But to open myself up to the good inevitably means that I will occasionally experience what is at the opposite side of the spectrum: suckyness. The capacity to feel pain is actually a healthy thing; it’s a sign that my emotions are alive and well. The trick is to keep those emotions in check, and stop the downward spiral of negative self-talk before it gets out of hand.

Oprah, I’m available for your show anytime.

– – – – – – – –

Tonight, I am Kansas City bound. Tomorrow, I am 14-hours-in-a-Camry-with-my-family Colorado bound. I’m not sure when I’ll have the chance to post again. And given the fact that my mom called my weekend update videos “creepy,” I can’t promise that you’ll have another one on Monday. Then again, a Parsonspalooza Road Trip video might be in order… especially because this guy will be in the car.

Quick – what’s a stronger word for “lousy”?

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Some things have happened lately – some things that have left me feeling really lousy. Worse than lousy. I would say “shitty,” except then some people might get upset. So I’ll just leave it at lousy.

What are these “things” that have happened? Well, take your pick – there’s a panoply. But I don’t want to talk about them, because then you’ll know how lousy I am. And that would only make me feel lousier. But they involve miscommunication, and pride, and fear, and insecurity, and rejection. Aren’t those the worst things ever? Maybe not worse than war and famine and death. But still, pretty bad feelings.

Times like this make me want to throw in the towel. I feel like throwing my hands up in exasperation, and saying, “Fine, I GIVE UP.” I’m tired of trying, tired of tripping, tired of failing, tired of disappointing.

Sometimes I wish that Jesus would just come back.

I feel lousy. But today, I’m going to try to choose hope instead. I’m only a little ragamuffin, making my way as best as I know how. None of us will escape the hard times and the pain and the quiet moments where we question the value of who we are at our very core. But we are called to a long obedience in the same direction, day after day, no matter what. So…

Courage. Onward. And praise the Lord, really.

A smattering of recent dreams

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

I am leaving a green house where marijuana is being grown. It is dark outside. I am by the ocean. All of a sudden, from out of nowhere, I am attacked by a bison. At first, I think it is a buffalo. But as I yell, “I am being attacked by a buffalo!” some unknown voice responds, “It is not a buffalo – it is a bison.”

I am sitting on my red couch, staring straight ahead. Suddenly, earwigs come pouring out from under the couch cushions. They engulf my body. I scream.

I am in a corn field, running from a predator. At first, I don’t know who my enemy is, but eventually, I find that my pursuer is a psychopath who has painted his face chalky white. He jumps out from behind corn stalks, jazz hands raised, and yells, “AAAAGH!” in my face. I am terrified. But then, someone yells, “Cut!” and I realize that I am in a movie called “Something Whitey This Way Comes.”

– – – – – – – –

And now, as promised, another Weekend Update. My thoughts upon watching this video: “I should never speak extemporaneously on camera. I say um and so a lot. My nose is big. No it’s not, Annie. It’s handsome. Okay. It’s handsome. Why am I putting this on the internet? I don’t know. To keep people’s expectations of my cool factor in check? Yep. That’s why.”

Weekend Update 2 from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

Scraps of information

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Him: “So you drive an old car?”

Me: “She’s not old. She’s experienced.”

– – – – – – – –

Thanks, Matt Kirkland, for killing the magic. But in a most-awesome way.

– – – – – – – –

It doesn’t happen often. But when times are tough, I will occasionally wander over to People.com for some light, soul-sucking reading. Today, I found myself taking a “Whom would you rather date?” quiz, which placed a couple of “hot” young bucks side-by-side, and then let me cast my vote.

Maybe this means I’m completely un-hip, but I didn’t know who 75% of the candidates were. I’ve never watched “Gossip Girl.” I’ve never heard a Jonas Brothers song. “High School Musical” has never appealed to me. But these effeminate, coiffed girly-boys are prettier than I am. Is this the standard of attraction today?

If so, I will remain single, thank you very much. Because if I MUST date someone, at least let him be manly.

– – – – – – – –

Maybe I’ll do another weekend update video. You never know. Stay tuned. And happy Friday.

Living in the present tense

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

I spend a lot of time in the past and in the future. I think back on how things once were, and I look ahead in anticipation of what might eventually come. It’s hard work to dwell in the present.

I am often tempted to look at my “present” as being on a merry-go-round. Life can be so daily, round and round it goes, and the humdrum nature of the mundane lulls me into a daze. I walk around like I am only half-alive, simply going through the motions: driving to work, answering emails, shopping for groceries, eating, walking, sleeping. And then I wake up the next day and do it all over again – trudging on the treadmill of life.

It’s so much easier to dwell in the concrete, already-happened reality of the past, or to dream about the limitless possibilities of the future. When it comes to my thought life, I often adopt the mindset of “Anywhere But Here.”

But the present is the only time that we can experience God’s love. The present is the only time that we can forgive. The present is the only time that we can accept grace. We can remember God’s faithfulness in the past, and look forward to it in the future with great expectation, but this moment is all that we really have. It is all that we are really promised.

Today, I am thinking about things in my past – the good, the bad, and the very, very ugly. I am tempted to allow these things to dictate my present state of mind – whether it is longing for the way that things once were, or harboring un-forgiveness for a time that I was wronged, or wishing to reverse some major regrets. But God says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19). I want to open my eyes to the new thing – the now.

I am also thinking about things in my future – the hopes and dreams, as well as the fears. It’s tempting to immerse myself in the unknown, and spend up all of my energy attempting to anticipate things that I really have no control over. I want to figure out what my future holds, and then plan for it – emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, financially. I want to have it all mapped out, so I won’t be thrown for a loop. But Jesus says, “Don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself” (Matthew 6:34). I want to take the energy that I have been spending on worrying and planning, and devote it to living fully in this present moment.

The present is not a waste of time. The present – this moment, what I am doing today, my tasks and activities and relationships and interactions – hold huge, miraculous meaning. And I want to start living like it.

Killing flies

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

I don’t want to grow up.

I don’t want to think about insurance, and a 401k, and heart disease, and my future. I don’t want to get creaky knees. I don’t want to learn how to cook a turkey. I don’t want to make hard decisions, and be the responsible one, and do my own taxes.

I really don’t want to buy a fly-swatter.

For some reason, buying a fly-swatter feels like this very adult thing to do. I’ve never bought a fly-swatter before, because my parents (the GROWN UPS) always had one. True, I have not lived with my parents for almost 8 years now, but somehow I have escaped ever needing one while not having access to one.

I currently have three monstrous, enormous flies in my apartment. They’re huge, and they’re like needy little kids, or puppies, in that when I’m home, they ALWAYS WANT TO HANG OUT WITH ME. They buzz and fly and land on my lotioned legs. My lotion must smell good – either that, or I smell like a pile of excrement. I suppose that flies aren’t too picky.

Last night, while reading in bed, the flies hummed around my head. I took my Paulo Coelho paperback and swatted at them a few times, but they couldn’t take the hint. Flies can be so rude.

I have waited a few days, thinking that they might just die in my apartment. But there are enough coffee grounds and banana peels in my trash can for them to live a long and satisfying life. It’s time that I take action.

It’s time to be a big girl. It’s time to buy a fly-swatter, and go on an insect-killing spree. It’s time to defend my house and home.

Everyone has to grow up some time. Unfortunately for the flies, the embracing of my adulthood is going to result in their rather violent demise. They will see my murderous form duplicated over and over in their multi-faceted eyes, and that will be the last thing that they see… and see… and see… before being flattened.

I’m pretty sure that I’ll let out a “HA-CHAH!” too. Because I am a grown up.

Flip-flop spirituality

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Last night at church, I sang with the band. I was wearing my Kenneth Cole wedge sandals – which, incidentally, are very cute but not very comfortable – and thus towered over the other girl I was singing with. She was wearing flip-flops.

I was so jealous.

I get a lot of comments on my shoes. I own three hanging shoe-bags full, and even still, I don’t have enough room for all of my pairs. I have hiking boots and cowboy boots and black leather riding boots. I have red heels and blue heels and strappy heels and heels that never should have been invented, they are so painful. If the government ever wants to really punish a terrorist, I have a horrendous pair of black peep-toe wedges that they can make him walk around in. I’d give him a few hours before he cracked and gave up all of his information, unable to take the raw rubbing and the blisters.

My point is this: I have shoes for every occasion, and a reason for every pair. Each pair serves a purpose. I like the practicality of it all: this pair for working out, this pair for making my legs look longer, that pair for the days when nothing but flats with a green ostrich print will do.

Flip-flops, on the other hand, serve no great purpose. No purpose, that is, except comfort.

I am convinced that we can draw direct parallels between our feet and our souls. So often, I want to cover up my feet, or encapsulate them in sometimes-painful casings for the sake of vanity. I don’t want anyone to see me with my guard down, and so I mask my anxiety with leather and rubber and color. In the same way, I like to keep the ugly parts of my personality carefully contained, out of sight of the general public. I cover up my flaws with a shimmering personality and a cute bow. Or if things are really bad, I will simply elevate myself to appear above it all.

When I wear flip-flops, I am forced to not be a control freak. I can’t hide my chipped toenail polish or my calluses or my cracked heels. I can’t ward off the wet dirt creeping onto my feet from the recently watered lawn. I can’t run fast and far. It’s just me and my dirty, unglamorous feet.

But it feels good. It feels good to let it all out there, bug bites and all. It feels good to be kind to my poor, aching feet. And it feels good to not care what they look like.

So thank God for flip-flops.

…okay, and thank God for these, too.

– – – – – – – –

Bonus feature:
Here’s a little weekend update video for you, recorded yesterday afternoon. Why a video? I don’t know – because I can.

Weekend Update from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

Less wireless

Friday, June 13th, 2008

When I moved into my apartment in February, there was a strong, unprotected wireless signal for me to pick up on. But now, it’s broken. Broken like Shania’s heart. Twenty-four days ago, the signal disappeared, and so during the evenings and weekends, I have been left internet-less.

This is probably a good thing. Having a desk job that requires no responsibility with the exception of answering the phone (that rings approximately 3 times each day – and at least once, it’s a wrong number), I spend 8 hours, Monday through Friday, staring at my computer screen. I check emails as soon as they arrive, I respond to wall posts and blog posts and comments and messages in real time, I read CNN.com and NYTimes.com and dooce.com. I leave work feeling exhausted from all that I’ve DONE, even though I haven’t DONE anything. The cyber world is a dangerous world to get wrapped up in, and something awful is happening to my brain.

My creativity is seeping away. And I am becoming lazy.

Does anyone else feel this way? The internet is a convenient tool, and makes our lives so much easier. But when it takes the place of real-life communication, or gives the brain a quick-fix of instant stimulation or distraction, we wither.

I’m withering.

I am so thankful that it is Friday afternoon, because this means that for 2 glorious days, I will not be sitting in front of a computer. My eyes will be given a break from that terrible glare that causes me to leave work doing a slow-blink. I will bask in the glory of being far-removed from the instant fingertip access that I have to information – information thought up by OTHER minds, and presented to me by OTHER people, and funny stories about OTHER worlds.

This weekend, I will think and create and read and play my guitar and MAYBE interact with real humans. If they’re lucky.

All you never wanted to know

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Behold: the fruits of my internet labor, for your benefit! These are just a few of the many things I have run across as of late. Now, read and learn.

Should I take a lemon wedge in my water?
No. Make that a hell, no.

What are some things that I might get someday?
This, and this, and the Bluebird Cafe version of this. Still this. This might be appropriate, too.

Where did the phrase “balls to the wall” come from?
“The expression comes from the world of military aviation. In many planes, control sticks are topped with a ball-shaped grip. One such control is the throttle—to get maximum power you push it all the way forward, to the front of the cockpit, or firewall (so-called because it prevents an engine fire from reaching the rest of the plane). Another control is the joystick—pushing it forward sends a plane into a dive. So, literally pushing the balls to the (fire)wall would put a plane into a maximum-speed dive, and figuratively going balls to the wall is doing something all-out, with maximum effort. The phrase is essentially the aeronautical equivalent of the automotive “pedal to the metal.” (from this site – thanks, Carl!)

Where can I find cheap fancy groceries in Nashville?

Yeehaw, Fan Fair!

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

If you were to ask me what my idea of hell is, I would mention many things: citrus toothpaste. Windchimes and windsocks. Patent leather. Blisters. Cats.

But oddly enough, the two biggest components that make up my idea of hell probably aren’t too far off: huge crowds, and hot hot heat.

I experienced both this past weekend.

The CMA Music Festival, otherwise known as Fan Fair, hit the city of Nashville last Thursday, and plowed straight through until Sunday night. Four days of non-stop concerts, autograph lines, photo-ops, $7 Bud Lights, and me. With a 4-day pass. I somehow lived to tell the tale.

Put me in a stadium with 50,000 people, sweat beading on my forehead, and Bucky Covington taking the stage, and invariably, I’m going to be looking for something to distract me. I took to wandering, and created a little masterpiece to share with you the joys of Fan Fair.

Watching white people dance from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

Don’t you feel like you were there? There were banana clips and bandanas, fanny packs and farmer tans. I two-stepped with cowboys, and made friends with Australians, and sweat (sweated? swat? swote?) at least 5 pounds off in my quest to find water. It truly could have been a miserable experience if I didn’t have such wonderful company along the way.

And if there was any doubt as to how hot it was, just check out my forehead.

By the end, I was done. No more Fan Fair. Give me AC. Give me water. Give me a shower. And give me a long, long time to sleep.