December, 2008

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At the end

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

We are counting down to New Years’ Eve, making our plans for cocktail attire and merriment, or for Dick Clark and take-out, or wondering where that rogue kiss might land – in any case, looking forward to a fresh beginning and a brand new start.

But today, my great-grandma is dying.
And today, Ben is in his last moments.

What do you do at the end? There are no more words, and no more scriptures to be claimed, and no more ideas. There are prayers – there are always prayers, seamlessly woven into our thoughts, silent pleadings, and that last desperate shred of hope – but in the end, the end just… comes.

We weren’t made for death – yet none of us will make it off this earth alive. Not one of us will survive life.

Still. Death should never come, especially for one so small.

Please join me today in praying for comfort for both my legendary great-grandma, and for sweet, spunky, miraculous little Ben. And then pray for courage for those left behind – those whose hearts are crumbling even as I type.

W is for Writing

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Last night, I returned from Kansas City to Nashville and, upon depositing my suitcases at home, put a beer in my purse and drove to my old apartment to clean before my lease is up. And as I sipped on Red Hook and Swiffered the floors, I thought of what I’ve been learning about writing.

I thought about how writing songs is like working on a jigsaw puzzle, turning a piece this way and that, trying to figure out how it might fit – and when it doesn’t, trying it in a different place. Sometimes I start with the edge pieces and work my way in; other times, I begin with the lower left-hand corner and have absolutely no idea what might be forming… until suddenly, with a single certain piece falling into place, the big picture is made clear. That is an exciting thing – the brief moment of warmth in an otherwise desolate landscape.

I thought about how there is an art to attempting to live buoyantly and passionately, yet still having eyes to see and words to tell of darkness and hurt – for that is so much of the world that we live in, and it’s important that writers tell the truth. My favorite songs are sad ones; how can I write sad songs and still be a healthy and contented person? I want to figure that out.

I thought about how miraculous a privilege it is to birth something into the world, to bring forth a scene, a song, an emotion, and then step back and view it – something where there once was nothing.

I thought about how the practice of writing has made me more aware, more observant, with quivering ears attuned to any truth worth telling. And I thought about how the biggest gift that writing has given me is a greater appreciation for other people’s astounding words. I’m a better reader. I’m a better listener. And I love good songs even more than I did before.

I thought about the times that I have wished to write like Greta, or Allie. I thought about my deficit of poetical bones. (See? Super dumb sentence.)

But then I thought about how Stephanie called me out of the blue one day, and told me that something I had written brightened her otherwise dreary afternoon. And I had the distinct feeling that if my words could make a small-town Colorado housewife smile, then I was on the right path.

And I thought about the time that Duane encouraged me to change one of my songs – to revisit it, to perhaps rewrite part of it. And when I listened to his advice and did it, it WAS better. I became a better writer.

I thought of the card waiting in my mailbox last night from the friends saying, “We believe in you,” and how those words are worth more than any amount of money.

And I thought about all of you, continuing to land on this blog day after day, even when you know it’s a weekend and I won’t be writing, even when all I talk about is hair dye and shower curtains and bra shopping, even when I feel sorry for myself and am convinced that the sky is falling… you listen: strangers, many of you, giving me a moment of your attention each day. I am so grateful – because your permission that I be a person in process has given me the freedom to grow.

Writing is the only thing that I know I want to do for the rest of my life (that, and get as many shoulder rubs as I can). And I suspect that the more that I write, the more I will figure out that the real value lies in the doing of it. Even if nothing ever “happens.” Even if there is never a song published, or a book released, or a memoir read aloud on “Oprah.” I’ll be glad for the moments spent writing, stringing words together like beads on a thread – for it is in these moments that I feel like I might actually be living up to something.

Carol of the Belles

Thursday, December 25th, 2008


Carol of the Belles from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

Just like Elly May Clampett

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

The deed is done. I’m completely moved.


Get a Move On from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

Let’s hear it for the Handy Graham! I have amazing friends. And a ridiculous amount of crap.

What is it about cardboard boxes and newspaper that make your hands break open and bleed? My fragile little hands look like the Sahara right now – dry and cracked and miserable. I stayed up until 3am unpacking – the woman in me needs to nest as soon as possible – but at least now my room is relatively functional and livable.

Here are the things you should know about our new house:
• It has a front porch swing and a back deck and a red door.

• It has a (now they tell us, non-functioning) fireplace.

• It has granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.

• It has the best den in Nashville. (That might be an exaggeration, since I have not yet been to Alan Jackson’s.)

Here are the things you should know about my room:
• It’s the entire top floor of the house.

• It has significantly slanted ceilings.

• It has a chimney coming up through the middle.

• It has no door (but that’s nothing Graham can’t fix
).
• It has a 2-drawer file cabinet BUILT INTO THE WALL!

Here is the only thing you should know about my bathroom:



Shudder.

At last check, 85% of you voted that I should paint the walls, and yes, I agree. However, the landlords requested that a professional do the painting – and that’s about as high on my financial priority list as a colonic. So until future notice (and future money), I will live with a hybrid of the two options: baby blue walls WITH an orangey-peach shower curtain. Like sweet potato barf in a little boy’s nursery.

I am so appreciative of my amazingly faithful friends. Five people showed up at my house with their cars and trucks, and after tirelessly loading and transporting and unloading useless things like my light-up globe and three suitcases of shoes and curtain rods and massive stacks of washcloths, not to mention a 13” TV with a rabbit ear antenna and built-in VHS, we had pizza and beer and were merry. At one point, I counted 13 cars outside. Julie and Melissa and I have a big desire that this be a house where people feel welcome, where people want to be, where people are loved – and if last night was any indication, we’re off to a good start.

(A video tour of the new house will surely happen in January – just give us some time to get settled!)

Place holder

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

A blog is coming after lunch. Patience, my people. I’m moving a little slow today…

V is for Vacate, and Vote

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Tonight, I am moving out of my sweet little Music Row apartment – the one that has held me for my first year in Nashville. When I moved in, I had a chair and a dresser; I slept on the hardwood floor in a sleeping bag, and drank my morning coffee wrapped in a blanket on a tiny rug I bought at T.J. Maxx. I cried a lot of nights, I cried a lot of mornings – and I stole an internet signal from the neighbors to frantically reach out to my far-away friends, desperate for any kind of connection. I was jobless, and relatively friendless, and in my most honest moments, absolutely hopeless.

I now look back on that time with nostalgia and sentimentality – those first few months were some of the most emotionally raw and honest I have ever experienced – but the truth of the matter is, I was terrified. I have never felt so alone. Every part of me wanted to run away – to go back to Seattle where I would be safe and loved.

Last night, as I looked around the now fully-furnished living room, piled high with boxes, my heart snuck up into my throat. I’m leaving what has become my HOME – the place where Christina sent a housewarming gift of stemless wine glasses, and then came to use them in person. The place where Greta and I got ready for the Opry, and talked until I cried. The place where I wrote some songs, and got brave enough to share them. The place where Mary and I were evangelized to by a homeless man. The place where Miranda and I accidentally split an entire jumbo bottle of chardonnay. The place where I baked for the ex-cons across the street. The place where my mom and I rehearsed for one of my shows. The place where Julie and I talked about breakups, and Miranda and I talked about breakups, and Meg and I talked about breakups. The place where I cut off my hair, and felt awesome… and then felt remorse. The place where Paul and Josh and I played Scrabble at 1am on Halloween. The place where Annie picked me up for the 5K. The place where my dad hung curtain rods, and the Handy Graham hung pictures. The place where I killed cockroaches. The place where the inaugural Running Club was held. The place where I realized that it’s a good thing that I moved to Nashville. The place where I realized that I’m pretty happy.

The place where I realized that God can take anything – an empty apartment, a broken heart, a lonely soul – and fill it to overflowing.

Tonight, a handful of friends will show up at my door, grab my boxes and bags and couch and bed and table and chairs, and move me to a new house – a house with two roommates and a front porch swing and a back deck and a fireplace. I could not be more thrilled – to be moving in with Julie and Melissa. To actually have furniture to be moved. To know friends who are so willing to help.

God is faithful. Here’s to signing on for another year of the Nashville unknown.

– – – – – – – –

And now, for a VOTE.

My new bathroom is painted my least favorite color in the universe… baby blue. Not a warm, robin egg blue… but cold and sharp. I have two options: take the time and effort to paint the walls a more neutral color so I can still use my terracotta paisley shower curtain, or to buy a new, somewhat-tolerable shower curtain that will match the color of my anti-dreams.

The walls would be tricky to paint – weird angles and a large possibility of drippage. It’s possible that I could find a shower curtain that I would like – I’m a big fan of turquoise, or brown, or the right shade of green. But it would have to be a good enough shower curtain to distract from the heinous color of the walls.

Ho-ho-holy wondering as I’m wandering

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Christmas is closing in all around me, like an army of ants on a stale, crusty French fry.

I am the French fry.

I have barely done any Christmas shopping, and with my big move happening in 3 days, I’m not sure when I’ll have the chance to get some ho-ho-ho-ing done.

(I don’t think that came out right.)

Today is our office Christmas party. I have always dreamed of going to some fancy work soirée – a cocktail party on a Friday night where I can wear satin and sequins, and the drinks are free, and the food is good, and no one leaves without a fabulous gift bag of goodies and maybe even a Christmas bonus. However, our party is scheduled from 1-3:30, and includes macaroni & cheese, a magic show, and balloon animals.

Oh sweet mercy, I SO HOPE that it winds up being as amazing as I think it will be! Pam Beasley’s got nothing on me. Well, I suppose she has Jim.

Whatever. In all honesty, “Christmas cheer” isn’t really my style. I hate eggnog. Christmas trees leak sap. I don’t even turn on my heater, let alone use precious wattage for twinkly lights. I’m not a “festive” person – I’m not an upbeat person in GENERAL – and I don’t like Christmas music. It’s too sappy. Too cheesy. Too contrived.

You want to know what would be my kind of Christmas song? “Holly Jolly Melancholy.” I’m going to write it… because someone already wrote this one.

But on with my story: this morning, a co-worker brought me a pile of gifts to wrap. I’m the temp-receptionist – it’s my job – and in all honesty, I’m a ridiculously good present-wrapper. I can tie a bow like nobody’s business. So I was working my way through the pile of gifts, and for the very first time in my entire life I swear, I peeked at my present.

I have literally never peeked at one of my presents before. Ever. “Conscientious” is my middle name… except, of course, when it comes to cleaning up dog poop.

Anyway, the gift that I “didn’t” see: a glittery cowboy boot Christmas ornament.

And I love it. Really and truly, I do. Being the bah-humbug-er that I have been, I don’t have a single Christmas ornament – I don’t have a single Christmas decoration. This is my first one. And even with tree to hang it on, it made me happy to be thought of by my favorite co-worker. Maybe I’m not such a Grinch after all…

The night the Annies shook their groove thang

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

So there I was. I had run 4.3 miles, rounded up some moving boxes, taken a hot bath, eaten some summer sausage as a late dinner (I know – what on earth? WHY do I have two gigantic summer sausages in my fridge?), and was wearing my flannel duck pajamas (don’t judge), ready to turn in early for the night. When this Annie called me.

And before you could say “fat salami links,” I was in my skinny jeans and heels, slapping on some lip gloss, and oomphing my hair as I ran out the door. Because I’m sorry, but when certain girlfriends call, you have no choice but to put on your Go Get ‘Ems and hit the town.

The details are probably not bloggable, because some stories are not mine to share. But let’s just say that the evening took us places we could not have planned. And when you find yourself on a honky tonk dance floor with your pals the Hollywood actor and the country rock star, and there are air kisses being traded and tourist pictures being taken, and your friend gets up with the band to sing “Blue Suede Shoes,” and you dance even though you don’t dance, and you feel happy to be single, and you don’t make it home until 2am, and you only get a few hours of sleep before rolling into work looking like a complete and total train wreck just in time for the company Christmas picture…

Let’s just say that I may have found the reason for my boring job.

Because I don’t know that I could handle much more excitement than I experienced last night.

Something small

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

At church on Sunday night, the pastor mentioned that in all of his interactions with people of my generation, the overwhelming majority of us feel apathetic and bored. I know that I do – at least, very often I do. We’re all wrestling with the questions, “What is my purpose?” “What am I good at?” “What is going to fulfill me?” “What am I doing with my life?”

I have no idea. It freaks me out. And I have to admit – when I was 13, I wasn’t exactly envisioning a future of being several years out of college, single, uninsured, totally broke, and working a dead-end temp job. I must make my parents so proud…

On Monday, I had lunch with some girlfriends. One is a gifted freelance writer – on her own schedule, working on a book that is going to be incredible. One works with the baseball team of a local university – the lone girl surrounded by cute boys all day long. One is legitimately famous – all over CMT – gorgeous and glamorous and currently nominated for, you know, a GRAMMY.

And after lunch, I went back to my silent, hourly-wage temp job – the one that is rapidly sucking my mind dry, like that tube at the dentist that catches all of your extra spit.

It’s hard to not play the comparison game. It’s hard to not look around and consequently feel lame. It’s hard to not give into the voices that say that my life is purposeless. It’s hard to fight the urge to allow my circumstances to define me. It’s hard to not feel apathetic and bored.

But I don’t want to be too big to do something small.

I have a choice – to focus on all of the bad things, or on all of the good things. Today, I choose to be grateful for a job that pays my bills. For a quiet room to sit and write in. For no one hanging over my shoulder. For the opportunity to be in touch every day with the people that I love. For the gift of no job-related stress. For a bottomless bowl of office candy.

And… for the abundance of good things that I have going on OUTSIDE of work.

I have no guarantee that I’ll ever have a job that is fulfilling – but maybe my job isn’t SUPPOSED to fulfill me. In the meantime, there is something to be said for patience.

"That woman"

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Quick show of hands – who here has had a crush? At some point? At any point?

You, without your hand raised: you are a liar.

If you have ever had a crush, well then. Go listen to my latest song, “Make a Mess,” on my MySpace. I feel confident in saying that I love this one. We just finished it, and I think that Josh is a sonic genius. The textures and lovely sounds that he layers on my tracks make me so happy. I have amazingly talented friends – ones who are far more gifted than I – and for that, I’m so grateful.

Speaking of songs, a few weeks ago I played a few songs at a show in East Nashville. My good friend Paul was playing, too, and so we chimed in on each other’s songs – singing harmonies and whatnot. I just got an email from Paul saying that he was talking to someone who had been at the show, and she told him, “You did a great job – and it was very nice of that woman to sing with you.”

“That woman.”

For some reason, this makes me laugh so hard! Welcome to womanhood, Annie. You’ve officially been accepted*.

– – – – – – – –

Update:
* Paul would like me to announce to the blog world that when he sent me the email relaying this woman’s comment, his exact words were, “Welcome to adulthood, you’ve been accepted.” He felt that I plagiarized him in this post – to which I reply, “So?”