August, 2008

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D is for Dancing

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Many cool things happened this weekend. In what is becoming a regular occurrence for me, I met up with a blog stranger who turned out to be awesome in real life as well as on the interwebs. I went to the Bluebird, which never disappoints. I got my car washed for the first time in years. I imbibed a margarita AND sangria. I laughed a very genuine laugh:


Spin from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

And on Saturday night, I went dancing in the park.

Every Saturday night, a Big Band dance is held outside at Centennial Park (yes, where the full-scale replica of the Parthenon is… Nashville is so weird). Hundreds of people of all ages – from youngsters to oldies – come out to socialize and dance to the live music. From swing to tango to line dancing, people show up ready to groove beneath the stars and the twinkly lights strung around the dance floor.

Within the first 5 minutes, I was asked to dance by a physics professor. Not having any idea how to swing dance, I still said yes – and trust me. It is IMPOSSIBLE to swing dance without grinning. I promise – you can’t do it.

And when I returned to my friends, I proved that the Tennessee grammar is creeping in when I gleefully proclaimed, “I just swung danced!”

It was special and magical and good, old-fashioned, innocent fun. There is something so right and life-giving about multi-generational mingling. And partner dancing is a fabulous way to interact with others, having some really cool elements to it: leading, following, touch, communication, and of course, the aforementioned GRINNING.

I wish I had known about this before – they only do it during the summer. But that leaves me 3 more Saturdays to show up in a cute dress, since that’s what Nashville girls wear. Which makes me think: maybe I belong here after all?

"If You Asked Me To" – and I win – I might bring you along

Friday, August 15th, 2008

I admit it: I can be a bit of a cheap skate… although actually, I prefer to think of myself simply as one who finds “creative solutions that involve no money.” This past week, I found myself at a restaurant ordering – no joke “a water with no ice, and maybe could you just throw some extra fries on HER plate? Thanks.” I clip coupons. I buy used rather than new. Any leftover coffee in the coffee pot gets poured into a mug and put in the fridge, so every couple of days when I have a full cup, rather than making a fresh pot, I nuke the remains. I frequently take multiple laps around the grocery to eat 3 helpings of the free samples in place of lunch. Like today.


Afternoon Report from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

Okay, so that video started out being about free samples, but it wound up being a therapy session. Apologies. I’m really not as sad as I seem. Although I am every bit as weary as I look.

Back to business: I really, really love contests.

I enter as many contests as I can, always hoping that I’m going to win something for free. My thinking is that the more contests I enter, the better my chances will be at winning something – anything. My favorite kind of contest is when you don’t have to earn the prize – you just have to sign up online (because, another confession: I don’t really like to work?). In 2008, I have already won two contests – tickets to the opera back in January, and tickets to the Nashville Film Festival back in April. The restaurant from which I frequently pick up lunch for my co-workers offers a daily chance at a $1,000 prize, so long as I fill out the online survey.

So don’t think I haven’t entered this contest. And don’t pretend that if I win, you wouldn’t want to go.

Freedom and balance

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

I was in the dairy section of the grocery store last night when a crisis hit me like a rake to the face. Reaching for my usual quart of Dannon Light & Fit vanilla yogurt, I noticed three terrible words: “Great New Taste!”

What.

Why do they need to go changing my favorite yogurt? I don’t need it to have a “great new taste” – I loved the old taste. And! AND! What’s worse: it has increased from 80 calories per serving to 110 calories per serving. I DO NOT LIKE THIS. This is almost as bad as the day that they started packaging Tampax in bright orange wrappers – an absolute betrayal. How is one expected to be inconspicuous with something orange – the color of panic devices, like flares and Coast Guard buoys and the terrorist attack level “High”?

It’s not quite as bad as the day I found out that they no longer produce Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer in “Coffee”. But still. Completely unjust.

I come from a long line of calorie counters – it’s in my genes. At various points in my life, I have been absolutely ruled by the regimented balancing act of caloric consumption/expulsion. Last summer, I achieved what should have been a dieter’s nirvana, reaching the lowest weight of my life and fitting into the tiniest pants I’ve ever owned; however, I still felt a panic and a desperate need for control. I still saw my pipe-cleaner arms to be flabby, my thighs to be trunk-like, and my flat stomach to be completely unworthy of a bathing suit.

I couldn’t relish the accomplishment of it all. I was too busy worrying about gaining an ounce.

Since then, I have considerably loosened my tight rein on calorie counting. While my mind feels a little bit freer, my body is also a little bit heavier. What’s a girl to do?

I want to live in freedom from the oppression of low self-esteem, terrible body image, calorie counting, exercise obsession, and general control freakage. I’m not there yet. But I want to be. And for me, I think that “freedom” is going to have to mean weighing a few pounds more than I know that I could weigh. It’s going to mean not beating myself up over my caloric failures of the day when I crawl into bed at night. It’s going to mean recognizing and living out a healthy balance of enjoying food, and being active, and getting enough sleep, and having a glass of wine if I want one, but not having too many.

It’s going to mean eating the extra 30 calories of yogurt. And it’s going to mean not flipping out about it.

One of those days

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

I overslept. Again. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but for as long as I have been setting an alarm clock, come morning, I do not hear it. I mean, I must hear it at some level of consciousness, because I hit the snooze button. Excuse me, the “SNOOZ” button. Why do alarm clocks leave off the “e”? Or is that just mine?

Wait, is that true? Does my alarm clock really say “SNOOZ”? I think so. I can’t remember. I can’t say that I’ve ever “officially” checked; it just seems like that is what is embedded in the deepest subconscious part of my brain – the part that gives me REM cycles. I’ll have to do some reconnaissance and report back.

You know what’s funny? The phrase “snooz button.” Say it ten times fast, and try to keep from laughing.

You know what’s annoying? The phrase “alarm clock.” I bet that if, instead of a beeping, my alarm clock just said, “ALARM CLOCK. ALARM CLOCK. ALARM CLOCK,” over and over and over, I would get up and get on with my day.

So, late again, I jumped out of bed and threw on a t-shirt and a skirt and my red heels, and ran out the door. Things I neglected to think of:
• My skirt is covered in slop of some sort.
• My white t-shirt has a ketchup stain on it from the spicy fries I ate last night at the French Quarter, where I played a show with the fantastic Meg Allison and Josh Stevens.
• I’m not allowed to wear t-shirts to my BUSINESS PROFESSIONAL workplace.
• Having no time to do any quality control, the hair on the back of my head strangely resembles a mangy badger’s rump. I am so not as cute as this girl today.

I desperately want to be a morning person. They’re so chipper and spry and productive and put together. But I’m not really a night person either – I used to be, but now I am an old lady, in my late-mid-20’s, and go to bed by 10pm most nights.

So if I’m not a morning person, and I’m not a night person, I guess that just leaves me mid-day. And isn’t that the best time to be alive anyway? That’s when things happen. And today, the lunch hour part of my mid-day is going to include a free sample meal at my happy place: Whole Foods Market.

Look alike

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Has anyone ever said to you, “You remind me of someone – someone famous”? People have said this to me occasionally. I always desperately hope that they are referring to Liv Tyler, or Sara Evans, or some other buxom brunette beauty with a magnetism that the universe is drawn to.

But no. Too bad. It’s always Lilith from “Frasier.” Without fail. It must be the high forehead, pallid complexion, striking nose, perpetual eyebrow raise, and the pursed lips.

However, recently I’ve also been told that I am the spitting (albeit brunette) image of Jennifer Finnigan, an actress on a show called “Close to Home.” I’ve never watched it. I can see a resemblance, although I have sadder eyes. “Precious Moments” eyes. Maybe I should go blond – except that would be a DISASTER.

Which celebrities do YOU get compared to?

C is for the Cooking Frenchman, and Cheese

Monday, August 11th, 2008

On Friday afternoon, I returned home from work to find an enormous box on my front step. I ripped into it, and found a birthday present sent from none other than my favorite Greta in the whole world. It started with a birthday card that played “Mmm Bop” when I opened it (she knows me too well), and, among other things*, she included a CD with the words: “With love, from the Cooking Frenchman.”

Intriguing.

I popped it into my computer, and this is what I found:

The Cooking Frenchman from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

Life complete? I have a Cooking Frenchman extending an open invitation to Paris for wine & cheese – so I think YES. My favorite line: “Actually, my real name is Maxime, but people call me Max – and this is very cool.” Max, you fabulous man, you can expect me in Paris very soon.

*And by “other things,” I mean an illegally-shipped bottle of French wine, and a trio of Parisian cheeses that had gone un-refrigerated in the mail for 5 days en route to Nashville. I opened the box, and was OVERWHELMED by the smell.

Now, granted, French cheeses are typically stinky – and the longer they are left out of the refrigerator, the “riper” they become. But honestly. Could it possibly be safe?

Watch and see – that is, if you can focus beyond my angelic halo-glow. Why am I in front of the bright window, and only in one corner of the camera? Oh, the beguiling mysteries of my ways…

Will she survive? from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

Obviously, I blogged today. So yes, I lived. And a mighty congratulations to those of you who succeeded in watching these videos while at work. Lord knows that’s where I’m posting from.

Oh no.

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

This cannot be good.

Vexillology

Friday, August 8th, 2008

It’s finally here: 08.08.08. How cute. If I were the marrying kind, perhaps I would choose to have a wedding on this oh-so-memorable date. But you know, I’ve always loved October. Maybe I should shoot for a wedding on 10.10.10. It’s a Sunday. Consider this my save the date – groom to be interpolated later. Maybe I’ll be like the presidential candidates, saving the grand REVEALING of their running mates until the last possible second.

Surprise, Mom. It’s Mick Jagger.

Today marks the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing. I’ll be honest: I have not been excited in the slightest about this summer’s Olympic games. There has been so much controversy, from political tensions to riots at the torch relays to steroids to the revoking of Joey Cheek’s visa… Why should I get excited? There’s not exactly a lot to celebrate in our world right now.

But this morning on the Today show, I heard that out of the 205 countries that are participating in this summer’s games, 87 have never won a medal. Not one. Ever. For the overwhelming majority of the athletes who will march into China’s National Stadium today, they have no chance at winning; rather, this is the achievement – simply to be there. We might not ever know their names or their stories, but they have worked and toiled and sacrificed for years to reach this point. And that is worth both my attention and my accolades.

I understand that Michael Phelps has the very good chance at winning 8 gold medals in the various swim-events. And wouldn’t that be amazing? Making him, an insanely ripped man in a Speedo, the most decorated Olympian EVER, in all of history? However, always one to root for the underdog, part of me wonders if anyone might have the chance of beating him. Because wouldn’t THAT be even MORE amazing?

It could happen, you know. Because for some absurd reason, Phelps is currently sporting some Fu Manchu action. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t swimmers go to great length to SHED all of their hair? Anyway.


I’ll be watching tonight, if for no other reason than the fact that my Word of the Day from Dictionary.com is:

vexillology \vek-sil-AHL-uh-jee\, noun:
The study of flags.

It’s a sign.

– – – – – – – –

And finally, as a follow-up:

Turns out I was wrong:
I am dark enough for beige.
I stand corrected.

Forgiveness

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

When I was in Kansas City last weekend, I confessed to my mom that I am really angry with someone. Really mad. I am harboring some strong unforgiveness toward this person for wronging me – and trust me, I was wronged. This person did some sloppy things, and I was the recipient of the mud-to-the-face.

But my mom, as usual, had some wise words. She said that forgiveness is letting go of your “right” to harm the other person, no matter how justified your anger might be. She said that forgiveness is being willing to carry the pain, until the day that it doesn’t hurt anymore. And she said that forgiveness starts with choosing to forgive, and then praying that someday, your feelings will match that choice.

I believe in forgiveness. I believe that choosing to love rather than harm is always the right decision. And I believe that our hearts can be healed, no matter how bad it might feel right now.

There is always more to be said

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

If you believe that I have already covered the topic of the Nashville heat to satisfaction, that I have fulfilled my word quota on the subject, that I couldn’t possibly have more to say about living in the never-ending doldrums of sultry torment… THINK AGAIN.

There is no insulation in the walls of my home, and so the wimpy window air conditioner unit doesn’t make a difference. Last night was the hottest night so far, and my apartment would not cool down, no matter what. I have taken to freezing my Nalgene water bottle, and then sleeping with it in my bed at night. How resourceful – I’m a regular PRAIRIE WOMAN. It doesn’t really help, but it makes me feel like I’m doing something to combat the swelter.

A couple of weeks ago, I put on my fall clothes. I just put them on, and stood in front of the mirror, scarf and all. And then I peeled them off. I needed to remind myself that it won’t always be this way, and better days are coming, and there is hope. Incidentally, these are also the words that crisis counselors are trained to give suicidal individuals, but I digress.

Last night, I told Debbie that if I had known how miserable the summer was going to be, I never would have moved here. Maybe it’s good that I didn’t know, because I’m serious: I would not have come. I solemnly swore to her that this will be my only summer in Nashville, and that I’ll move away before June 1 next year. She told me that that’s what she said 11 years ago. I do not like those words.

I have been in an outrageously bad mood for a full 2 months, ever since my lunchtime walks around Centennial Park were terminated due to the sizzling air and scorching sun. Now, the only walking that I do is down 4 flights of stairs in the parking garage to cross over to my office building. Ever since it has gotten unbearably hot, do you want to know what the stairwell smells like? A carnival. Humid and dirty, stale popcorn and urine, old newspapers and staph infections. That is what I get to walk through on my way to work.

So Seattle, enjoy your day. No, I mean it: SOAK IT UP. Relish your 83 degrees of gorgeous bliss, with the mountains and the ocean and your patio happy hours. Think of me – whose next patio happy hour will likely be in November – in sheer misery, with no ability to think of a blog topic outside of the heat.