Broken

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Soul-stomping

Friday, February 15th, 2013

I recently took my car in for a major repair – one that required taking the engine apart, and then putting it all back together. I knew that it was going to cost a painful amount of money, so when the mechanic called to tell me that the clutch was shot, too, I lowered my forehead to the table. “Uh huh,” I said. “You can fix that, too.” TAKE EVERY DOLLAR, man. It’s all yours.

Later that day when I picked up the car, I asked the mechanic if there was any way I could have known that the clutch was on its way out. He said, “You should have felt it in the pedal.” I shrugged, saying, “It felt normal to me – just the way it always feels.” I settled the bill and headed to the car.

As I drove away from the shop, I was surprised at how different the new clutch felt. It was so easy to press down; my left leg barely had to work. All of a sudden, shifting was no longer a full-body effort – it was a breeze. Everything seemed quieter, easier – and I realized that this wasn’t some fancy luxury, this was just the way that it was supposed to feel.

It’s funny how dysfunction can sneak up on us. We go about our busy lives, from one distraction to the next – and just as long as we keep moving, we don’t have time to notice what might be falling apart right beneath our feet. The growing noise becomes normal. The increasing struggle feels standard. And before we know it, something inside is burned out, worn down, used up.

These days, I’m becoming more and more aware of the beliefs and thought patterns that have made my life feel hard for a really long time. Years? Always? It’s hard to tell. All I know is that the mantras I’ve repeated for so long, framing the way I think about this life and my place in it, have advanced to a point that has made everything feel like a fight.

Just like my stubborn clutch, life has gradually become a soul-stomp. And I just thought that was normal.

Famously hard on myself, I have a habit of self-pressuring to be better, be more, do more. I have pushed myself hard and fast, aspiring toward a place where there is nothing left requiring relief, all the while ignoring the ever-growing trouble inside.

And sometimes, it isn’t until we experience something the way it should be that we realize just how bad off we’ve been.

I’m going through somewhat of a personal renaissance these days, feeling revived and encouraged and all-around refreshed, and through this, I’ve had a taste of what feels right. It makes me sad that I have spent so much of my life fighting against things that were broken to begin with – things that could have been easier, should have been easier. I want to live differently.

So today as I drive my car to work, with each easy push of the clutch I will remind myself that it’s okay to go easy. It’s okay to quit training for the half marathon for the sake of my back. It’s okay to fall a little short of my monthly savings account goal. It’s okay to order the bridesmaid dress in the size that I am, not the size that I want to be. It’s okay to be a beginner at something. It’s okay to not know what’s going to happen – because whatever happens, it’s not worth the soul-stomp.

Subaruined

Monday, November 21st, 2011

On Friday, I dropped my phone and shattered the screen, rendering it useless.

Irony is contacting the police to tell them that if they in fact find my stolen vehicle, please don’t call me – call my sister instead.

And then I asked, “By the way, any news?” And they said, “No.”

On Friday night, I sat in the living room, listening to feral cats fighting outside the front door. What else was there to do? I couldn’t drive anywhere, and I couldn’t call anyone. This must be what a 50s housewife felt like, when her husband would take the car to work in the city and she would be left stranded at home with no outside contact, speaking only to her mute household companions. Hers were babies. Mine are dogs.

On Saturday morning, I went for a terrible run. My brain felt spiky and sore. Down every street, I searched for my missing car. I quit after 6 1/2 miles, when I was planning on running 10.

Later that afternoon, I got the news (via my sister, who has laryngitis, which makes all of this that much more hilariously complicated) that my car had been recovered, that it was not drivable, and that it had been towed to an impound lot.

So Becca and I drove to the barren wasteland that is the Denver Impound Facility, and claimed poor, vandalized, un-drivable Subaruthless. The inside of the car is completely trashed – the ignition punched out, wires ripped, the dash hammered to sharp little plastic bits. There are no license plates. The car now sits at a body shop, ready for surgery.

But there is a silver lining. Along with everything else in the glove box, guess what’s missing? $100 worth of unpaid parking tickets. I’m not paying anything I can’t find.*

In the meantime, I am still phoneless. All of you boys who are texting me because you want to marry me? I’m not getting those messages. Consider alternate methods of communication, such as pigeon carrier, smoke signal, or a St. Bernard with a note in a tube around its neck.

*Yes, I know.  This could totally backfire on me.

The saddest day

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

I know.  You have been nervously refreshing the page every moment since last Friday, awaiting an update as to the Honda’s fate.

Well, people, I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that I’m alive.

The bad news is that if oil were blood, my engine would be the beaches of Normandy.

The burning rubber smell of last week was due to an oil leak on par with the BP debacle of 2010 – but I had that under control, and it wasn’t the Honda’s demise.  The unrelated, unexpected, and ultimate downfall came when the timing belt snapped, and there was internal damage to the engine.

The good news is that this happened Sunday morning 8 miles outside of Kansas City, and I’ve been able to stay with my brother and sister-in-law and nephews.

The bad news is that I will never drive the Honda again.

I will never drive the Honda again.

This isn’t how I imagined it would happen.  After all I’ve been through with and in this small-but-mighty car, I envisioned the end to be the engine catching on fire, or hitting a bighorn sheep or something.  I kind of hoped for a more spectacular blaze of glory.  Instead, death came quickly and silently, rolling the Honda to a quiet stop on the shoulder of I-70.

The nail in the coffin was the price quote for a full repair.  Dude, if I had that much money, I would buy Christian Bale to CARRY ME AROUND.

So just after it’s 21st birthday, I am selling my beloved Honda for salvage.  The money I’ll get isn’t enough to cover what I’ve spent in the last 24 hours.  I know, it’s just money.  But still – lame, right?

As for me, I am stranded in Kansas City.

And I haven’t been home for 6 weeks.

I’ll let you figure out how I’m doing.

Rest in peace, old Honda friend.  Here’s to the good times.

Things you are surely dying to know

Monday, May 24th, 2010

And a good Monday morning to you.  Yes, YOU.  Thanks for being here!

How are you today?

After Friday’s post of sunshine and daisies and love, I spent the weekend in the same blissful state.  I took long walks, had some good talks with friends, and bought a new pair of shoes that Karmen says make me strut (heeeeey!).  I saw a karate class of little kids practicing outside, yelling “yah!” and “hah!”  I found the Denver Farmers Market, where I sampled salsa and jam and cheese.  I bought myself a bouquet of gorgeous peonies, and they’re sitting in my living room next to the stained glass kaleidoscope that my aunt made years ago.

You have no idea how happy that picture, that sight, that moment, makes me.

I also got a haircut – the first haircut I have gotten in Denver.  I still like to think of Faith in Seattle and Erika in Nashville as “my” stylists… and to be honest, I don’t really want anyone else.  But alas, the shag was starting to get to me, and you have to LIVE where you are, right?  Time to find a Denver girl.  So, find a Denver girl I did.

She told me she was going to give me “Hot Veronica” hair, and I pretended that I knew what she was talking about and was like, “BRING. IT. ON.”  Nothing says “Annie Parsons” like “Hot Veronica,” right?  Well, word to the wise, people: do not come home from the salon and curiously Google “Hot Veronica” – especially you, Little Annie Parsons – this is not a good thing to do.  Instead, just check it out:

That is all the “Hot Veronica” you need to know.  I am Hot Veronica personified.

Or something.

Anyway, the weekend was fabulous.  All except for one thing.

Remember how on Friday morning I said that the Honda started “every time”?

On Friday night in ghettoville, it broke down three times in one mile.  After the battery being jumped twice by strangers, and unscrewing the gas cap to make sure it wasn’t vapor lock (the things I’ve learned!), and having the guy on the corner who was holding the sign pointing toward the marijuana clinic tell me that his dad was a mechanic for 52 years, I just called my ever-faithful AAA.  And they sent a tow truck.  And I now have a new $400 alternator.  Yay, me!

Sigh.

And don’t you worry, little cupcakes – my thoughts on “Lost” are coming tomorrow.  If you haven’t watched yet, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Musicless

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

I am spoiled, and I am the first to admit it.  Why, you ask?  Well, among many other reasons, I have two identical black Macbooks – one personal, and one for work.  Let’s be real: that is just ridiculous.  More than anyone could ever ask for.

But last week, my personal Macbook went kaput.  It’s broken – broken like… searching for a simile… broken like… my toe?  Except my toe has a fighting chance at mending – and I really don’t think that the computer will be resurrected.  I turn it on, and it pulls up a white screen.  That’s all.  It’s like the moment after Juliette hits the bomb with the rock, except it never skips to the credits.  Eternal nuclear uncertainty.

Get over it, Annie – right?  I mean, I have a WHOLE OTHER COMPUTER.  But my personal laptop held all of my iTunes, all of my pictures, all of my super secret documents that no one is ever allowed to see.  Most of it is backed up on an external hard drive, but I don’t want to put it on my work computer.  So there it will remain – locked up forever.

Mostly this is bad because I want to sync my iPod to my iTunes to get my new music and podcasts.  And not only can I not put them on my iPod, I can’t even access my iTunes at all.  I am SOOOOOOO BORED with my current selection of songs (I only have ninety million or something).  And Ira Glass is saying things that I might never get to hear – which makes me panic.

IRA!!!!  I NEED YOU!!!!!!!!

I had recently downloaded Sara Groves’ latest, “Fireflies and Songs,” but have no way of hearing it again.  Lady Antebellum has a new album released today.  The Handy Graham recommended Sarah Jarosz – and since he was the first one to tell me about eastmountainsouth, I trust him – not that it matters, since I can’t get my grubby paws on these songs.

Today, I have India Arie and Phil Collins on YouTube.  It’s all I have left.

Prayers in the dark

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

I was awake from 2-5am for no real reason at all.  I just woke up out of a dead sleep, and my eyes stayed open for three hours.

I tried all sorts of things – reading, watching a movie, thinking about boring things, tossing and turning, changing the temperature, changing my blanket situation, moving out to the living room for awhile – but nothing worked.  Thoughts were racing through my head – stress, mostly, I think.

I had a lot of heavy things on my mind last night – Haiti being the biggest.  I’m a bit slow on the uptake, not having a TV; I knew that Haiti had been hit by an earthquake, but I had no idea the actual extent of the tragedy until I started reading articles and watching CNN.com videos last night.

If it hadn’t been for chemotherapy, my parents and my sister Sarah would have been in Haiti right now.

Sarah spent last summer working with Mission of Hope in Haiti, and fell in love with the people.  The plan had been to take my parents back with her in January – right now.  It’s a sweet mercy and a complete mystery why things happen the way they do.

These were the kids whose prayers were mine last night.  It’s important for me to see their faces.

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haiti

wendolyn

Nashville

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Some of my best moments have been in this town.  But also, some of my hardest.

Isn’t that the way it goes?  The joy and pain are always intermingled.  It’s impossible to separate them – the laughter and the tears – because life cannot be compartmentalized like a preschooler’s cubby wall.  There is always something difficult to deal with – and there is always something to be thankful for.

It occurred to me the other night – Nashville did not fix me.  I didn’t realize that I had the expectation that it would – not until my mom got cancer and all of a sudden I am leaving this town as big a tangled mess as I have ever been.  Nashville did not heal those wounded places deep inside me, didn’t fulfill those dreams and unidentified desires that I’ve always had, didn’t make me cooler or smarter or prettier or more at peace.

I cried to my dad a couple of nights ago, telling him that as I prepare to leave, I feel an unexpected sense of disappointment.  It surprised me.  I didn’t know I felt disappointed – but I do.  I definitely do.  Nashville didn’t fix me; in fact, in some ways, it ripped those wounds open even wider.

I’ll be honest: I am a wreck these days – a bona fide disaster.  If you don’t think so, that’s because you don’t know me – or because I’m a seriously good faker.

But the people that do know?  They make up the biggest part of why I will always and forever be grateful for my time spent in Nashville.  They have not fixed me – but they have put an arm around me.  The “fingerprints of God,” my dad called them.

We are all weak.  But it’s better to know that we are.