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Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

I used to be a dancer. I can hardly believe it myself, as these days any dancing is generally an alcohol-fueled error of judgment — but it’s true. All the way through high school, I was a (thick-limbed) ballerina.

One of the fundamentals in ballet is spotting, a technique used to execute turns without losing balance. By holding the head in place and focusing the eyes on a set mark, spotting allows for steady rotation of the body while delaying movement of the head until the last minute. When the turn reaches the point at which the dancer can’t physically keep the focus forward anymore, the head quickly spins and the eyes immediately reorient on the spot on which they’d been fixed before.

Like this:

Life can toss us around like a tumbleweed, can’t it? I recently told a friend, “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been!” and by the end of our conversation I found myself saying, “Actually, I think I’m the saddest I’ve ever been.” And both were true, at the same time, in the same set of circumstances. Maybe this means I’m like Anne of Green Gables, vacillating between “the wings of enchantment” and “the depths of despair.” Maybe it means I need more meds.

Or maybe it just means that being human can be a very disorienting experience. There are highs and there are lows, and there are winds that knock us off our feet and whip us around for a bit, and it can be difficult to remember which end is up.*

These days, I’m spinning like a trailer park in a tornado. Junk is flying around, and sometimes it feels scary — because this is dangerous, man. Someone could get hurt. I could get hurt.

But as I reel, I remember that the only way to keep from falling is to keep a steady gaze on what is true and will not change.

“You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.”
–Isaiah 26:3

Stay steady. Stay true. Whatever you’re going through, whatever tempest has swept you up in its path, keep your eyes straight ahead. It’s the only thing that can turn a whirl into a twirl.

*I once heard that if you’re ever caught in an avalanche and get buried by the snow, you might not know which way to dig in order to reach the surface. Here’s what you do: spit. Gravity will drag that dribble toward the ground, and then you know to claw like hell in the opposite direction. Good luck and you’re welcome.

“Point your hand over there”

Monday, February 7th, 2011

As inspired by this man…

… we’ve been working on our dance moves:

Double Dream Girls from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

The best moments are at 2:05 (“point your hand over there!”), 2:42 (“butterfly!”), 2:47 (“freestyle!”), and 2:52 (Becca’s amazing punch).

Hips don’t lie

Friday, January 14th, 2011

It’s clear from every wedding reception/bachelorette party/alcohol-fueled error of judgment that I am no dancer.  I’ve got rhythm, but I’m all kinds of awkward in my own skin – and this is never more obvious than when I am called upon to drop it like it’s hot.

But then there’s Zumba, the “Latin-based dance-fitness program” that has swept the nation.  I am, as usual, behind the times – tons of you have been on the Zumba train for years.  Case in point, here are my co-workers Emily and Kelli rocking their Zumba moves at Kelli’s wedding, because they are out-of-control awesome.

But I?  I’ve been too nervous to go.  Listen, I may be all lips and eyes, but I’m also all hips and thighs – two things that I don’t really feel like calling attention to.

But I’ve been hating the treadmill.  And last night, I was feeling brave, so I decided to try Zumba for the first time.

Our instructor was a Colombian man in a tight shirt who spoke broken English with a lisp, and said enthusiastic things like, “This class is crowd tonight!”  And it was – the room was packed from wall to wall.

And then the music started.

And then the dancing started.

And everyone was SO INTO IT.

Everything went so fast, and just when I would catch on to what was happening, the moves would change.  These people were like border collies, so attuned to their master’s instruction that at the flick of his wrist, boom – they were box-stepping.

I, on the other hand, was like a dog in socks, stiffly turning in circles.

Zumba is full of what some might call “uncivilized” moves – swivels and shimmies and gyrations (sorry for saying “gyrations”).  If it’s true that hips don’t lie, never has it been more obvious that I’m practically a Puritan.  I tried to be as “into it” as everyone else, and to just let my body do it’s thang – which worked for a little while, until I caught my reflection in the mirror and realized I was doing the Roger Rabbit.

But this burning up the dance floor apparently burns up the calories, and I have never had 60 minutes of cardio go so quickly.

So Zumba, you have not seen the last of me – or my hips.

Are you ready for joy?

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

One of my nearest and dearest, Christina, sent this to me yesterday.  She remembers well my deep and abiding love for “Newsies” (to this day, Jack Kelly might remain my biggest crush), and combined with my newfound fascination with one Lady Gaga, this is pure magic.

Who was your favorite newsie?

Out of the slumpy stagnation

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Some days, it’s easy to get stuck in the doldrums of life: wake up, brush teeth, go to work, email, lunch, email, home, run, shower, sleep. Rinse and repeat. That’s why last night it came as such a welcome surprise to be offered a ticket to the live show “Dancing With the Stars” – because anything out of the ordinary is exciting, especially when it involves sequins and a severely faux-hawked Lance Bass.

So yes, that is what I did last night. Andy Merrick and I sat in his company suite, and I had a free can of Michelob Ultra from the fridge, and we swung back and forth between conversation about life and conversation about the mambo. At one point, Toni Braxton sang “Un-break My Heart,” and I was informed that it was the second biggest selling single by a female of all time – right behind, as I guessed and then confirmed this morning online, “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. I’m only making a point of writing down this tidbit of information so that someday when I’m the real-life Slumdog Millionaire, I’ll remember back to this blog entry and know the answer.

But today, I am back to the slow and sapping work of being a temp-receptionist.

Sometimes, I think that my spiritual gift must be “discontentment” – it comes alarmingly naturally to me. There is always something more that I… want. Like purpose, or clout, or foxiness, or insurance, or a salary – because as much as I try to deny it, LORD HAVE MERCY, I am tempted by money.

But not today. I’m stomping that American-consumer-culture-devil down. And therefore, I now bring you “Things that AP is thankful for today”:

– A new president
– The return of “Lost” tonight
– Fingernail clippers
– Canned corn
– Windshield wipers
– My family (um, these are totally not in order – I do not value canned corn more than my family)
– Curbside recycle service
– Nordstrom’s generous return policy
Debbie Barnett’s cooking
– Indoor plumbing
– Legs that I can run on
– Friends who write me long emails and real letters
Aretha Franklin’s hat
– Edward Cullen
– The fact that vampires do not really exist (it’s the little things, these days, that I must cling to)

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.

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?