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All the shingle ladies

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

I’m sure you’ve been on the edge of your seat, just dying to know WHAT ON EARTH has transpired since my last blog. Here’s the answer:

1) I had to replace my entire HVAC system.
2) My abdominal pain turned out to be shingles. Because I am 72-years old.

The first thing makes me want a drink. The second thing means I can’t have one. A big old SIGH to all of it.

But despite it all, I recently told a friend, “I think I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.” And in that moment – not spectacular or special or particularly noteworthy in any way, just a regular moment – I really meant it. This fall has been so good to me. I’m well-rested, working only part-time (and loving it), taking the dog on so many walks, and peppering my schedule with life-giving people and events. It’s quiet a lot of the time, but it’s okay. My life is lacking nothing (except skinnier thighs, but what a stupid thing to let ruin my contentment).

On my birthday back in August, I realized that I only get a good year every three years (22, 25, 28, 31). This year, 34, I’m due. I’m happy to report that the pattern continues.

I don’t know what happens next or how long this particular day-to-day will look like it does right now, because I don’t know that my current circumstances feel all that permanent. But I’m grateful, and I want to remember it, shingles and all (except not the shingles).

Catching up with Little AP

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Raise your hand if you’ve been reading this blog since 2008.

[Hi Mom. Greta, of course. Hey there Valerie Morby!]

If you’ve been here for a while, you might remember the time that a 13-year old girl from Virginia googled her own name — which happened to be Annie Parsons — and landed on this site. A blog post later, she was cemented in Hootenannie lore as “Little Annie Parsons” — my very own Muppet Baby!

Well, you know what they say about time.
– It heals all wounds.
– It changes things.
– It’s money.
– It marches on*.

*The only applicable phrase, in this case.

Little AP is now TWENTY ONE years old. After our one and only meeting at a P.F. Chang’s in Nashville in 2009, we kept in spotty touch over the years — but I recently thought, “This is dumb. I want to catch up with that little sparklebug.”

APs at P.F. Chang's in 2009

APs at P.F. Chang’s in 2009

So here she is — back for your reading delight. And I mean it: this girl is absolutely delightful. You’ll see.

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Little AP! Oh my goodness, I’m so glad to connect with you. First of all, happy 21st birthday a few days ago! WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE. The last (and only) time I saw you, you were what, 13? Sunrise, sunset.
I am so glad to connect with you, too! And thank you for the birthday wishes. It’s so weird to think that it’s been 8 years since Google brought us together, but it’s definitely been an amazing 8 years.

So, first things first. I must know: have you ever learned to use chopsticks?
Yes! If I remember correctly, you gave me a crash course in chopsticks when we met at P.F. Chang’s. That’s the first time I really got the hang of it.

Proud of you. Now that that’s out of the way, we can actually dive in. A lot has happened in your world since we last spoke. You’ve obviously graduated from high school (I hope). Did you homeschool all the way through? What are you doing now?
Yes, I homeschooled all the way through high school! After I graduated, I got to start working for the theatre education program where I had been a student in high school. The program has been evolving and growing so much over the past few years, and now I get to teach theatre to kids and direct plays and musicals with youth actors. It such a fun, rewarding job. I’m also slowly wrapping up an education degree which I’ve had simmering on the back burner for a while. Other than that, I get to dabble in a lot of awesome stuff like costuming, comedy improv, music, and enjoying life with my family.

The current Little AP - what a beauty!

The current Little AP – what a beauty!

What are you really excited about these days?
I’m getting pretty excited about the numerous chances to get festive over the next few months. Birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas… I walked into a store the other day where they had both their Halloween and Christmas stuff out at once, and I flipped my lid. I know that we can throw around words like “commercialism” here, but I don’t care. It’s October and I’m excited for Christmas.

You’ve always been a big reader and lover of stories and the arts. Right now, today, tell us your favorite
– book: Right now I’m reading the massive Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce is also an all-time favorite.
– movie: Austenland, because it is ridiculous and delightful and it always puts me in a good mood.
– TV show: Ah! Too many. Let’s say Poldark.
– song:I Feel the Earth Move” by Carole King (a staple of my solo karaoke parties when I’m driving).
– musical: The tragically short-lived Tuck Everlasting.
– podcast: I don’t get to listen to it often, but I love Good Job, Brain, which is a super funny/smart pub trivia podcast.

I want people to know that you’re an amazing artist. Where can they see your work? And will you draw Foxy?
Thank you so much! Art is something that I’ve loved for a long time, and I recently decided to share my work more courageously. My art blog is the creatively-named anniedrawsthings.wordpress.com, and I recently joined Instagram, where I’m also @anniedrawsthings. The pieces that I post are a mix of character designs, illustrations, drawings based on books and TV, on-location landscapes, and anything else that happens. And I will totally draw Foxy!

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I fainted. I am dead. Are you kidding me?? You captured her perfectly! I AM FRAMING THIS. Thank you! Hyperventilating, actually. This is my favorite thing that has ever been made! (Sorry, Hamilton.)

[pulls self together]

Wow. Okay. What do you love about living in Abingdon?
Everything. Seriously. It is such a vibrant, gorgeous place to call home, and I am in love with it. If I had to pick one thing, I’d say that I love being a part of such a tight-knit small town community while still having access to so much amazing local theatre, art, music, food, etc. There are a lot of unbelievably talented and kind people around.

What is something that you know you’re good at? What is something you would like to be better at? (Sorry for the dangling prepositions – I just can’t stand the thought of saying, “What is something at which you would like to be better?” Gag me.)
Ooh, this is a good/tough one. I have a pretty good memory, but I’d like to be better at using it for things other than trivia and song lyrics.

Who is someone you really admire?
I’ve always admired my sister Katie for being a generally wonderful person, but recently she’s started taking a botany class and pursuing her love of plants. Her hikes and field journals are so cool, and she has all of these awesome stories about the history behind local plants. If we’re talking famous people, I’d have to go with Julie Andrews, for obvious reasons.

I like that Katie and Julie Andrews belong on the same level. High praise for Fräulein Maria!

Do you have a bucket list? Name something that’s on it.
Travel is a huge item on my bucket list. I actually have a sub-bucket list of places I want to visit. Rome is on the top of that list, closely followed by pretty much everywhere in England.

What are you learning these days? Something deep and spiritual, or something surface level — it matters not to me.
On a deeper/spiritual level, I have been learning a lot about peace and surrender in this past year or so. I’m a worry-er and a people-pleaser by nature, which has led to over-commitment, stress, and a lot of tears. Recently God has put me in a million everyday situations where He has taught me to say no when I need to and trust that I am still loved, valued, and on the right track (and you’ll have to excuse my passive voice there). So much freedom has come from that.

On a surface level, I’m directing a show right now that has a lot of fight choreography in it, so I’ve been learning how pretend to stab people and fall down without getting hurt (much, I’m a wimp).

STAGE STABBING! That is so cool.

And finally, in the spirit of fall, are you a fan of the Pumpkin Spice Latte? I am not. But that doesn’t mean that all APs have to be anti-PSL.
I’m going to say something kind of shocking here: I have not had a Pumpkin Spice Latte yet. I just started drinking coffee regularly this year (my folks got a Keurig for Christmas and it became way too easy to get hooked), so this is my debut Pumpkin Spice Latte season. I’ll have to give it a try and get back to you.

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Can you handle it? She’s grown up, and awesome, and there’s no one I’d rather share a name with.

If you’re looking for a more mature Annie Parsons, obviously go to her. I’m still upset about Zayn leaving One Direction.

My road trip so far

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

My last day at my job was August 18, and the very next morning, I left Minneapolis for a 6,000-mile road trip. I’m two weeks in, and am having such a good time I’ve decided to never get a job again. I will buy a camper and live in KOAs around the country until the day I die, as long as that day comes before my savings account dries up (so… less than a year).

Then again, I would like to see Foxy graduate high school. So I will stay alive and get a job — BUT ONLY FOR THE DOG. As soon as she’s out of the house, I’ll feel free to spiral into squalor and financial ruin. It’s my life.

Speaking of Foxy, she and I are basically conjoined twins these days. We spend every waking minute together (and also every sleeping minute). I fear I’m setting her up for some serious heartbreak whenever it happens that I have to, I don’t know, run to the grocery store or something — but until that day comes, we’re a package deal, and she’s a happy dog. Even if she’s perfected the art of looking sad.

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 8.17.05 AM

So far, I’ve found myself in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas, and Colorado. Today, I point the steering wheel toward Bend, Oregon, and then eastern Washington. I’ve been staying with friends and family so far, but in the coming weeks I’ve booked a few Airbnbs. I’ve used Airbnb before, but always for an empty apartment. These next few stays, I’ll be renting a guest room in an inhabited house — one of which is on, no joke, Killannie Street. KILL ANNIE STREET. Listening to Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” to pump myself up.

Besides hiking in the mountains and seeing the Dixie Chicks in Denver (favorite concert of my life), of course the best thing about this trip has been catching up with some of my favorite people in some of my favorite places. Every stop, someone has asked me, “So, what’s next for you?” and my inclination is always to blurt out, “Move next door to you!” And it’s never an empty statement. I truly want to live next door to everyone I love (preferably aligned in a wheel with me as the hub) (don’t worry, I’ll situate you next to people you’ll like).

In all seriousness, plans are coming together for the fall. I’ve lined up a way to make some money (it’s not selling drugs), and other than employment, I’m not making any major changes right away. I’m not finished with Minneapolis, and am even excited to get back there.

Until then, hello from the road!

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Christmas lights, Christmas miracles

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Greetings from my pit of convalescence.

On Monday, I came down with a bout of the Mighty Influenza, and while I’m mostly back to normal now, I still can’t breathe all the way to the bottom of my lungs. My house is littered with dirty dishes, blankets, dog toys, and tissues that as soon as I blow my nose into, Foxy tries to eat.

On Day 1 of this sickness, I came home from work early with heavy, achy limbs and a wicked headache. I felt atrocious. But as I made a beeline from the car to my front door, my only hope being the bed inside, I noticed something different about my house. And when I stepped up on the porch, I saw it.

lights

That, my friends, is my front porch wrapped in Christmas lights, and a note from an anonymous someone telling me to plug them in.

And then my heart exploded with sprinkles.

It’s no secret that I have a hard time with festive merriment; remember, “convivial hullabaloo just isn’t really in my nature.” And while I actually love Christmas lights, I would never, EVER take the initiative to put them up myself. The fact that someone (I still don’t know who) not only had the idea, but actually took the time to flash-decorate my house for me is one of the sweetest gestures ever offered my way.

When I plugged them in, all but one strand lit up, leaving a dark spot in the midst of the bright colors. No complaints from me, though – because given the lack of cheer that would otherwise be my front porch, 3 out of 4 strands ain’t bad. Even in the midst of my sickness, I proudly plugged them in every night this week.

Last night, I was finally feeling up for some social interaction, so I plugged in my lights and went out for a bit.

And when I came home, all of the lights were working.

Christmas miracles just keep happening.

Introducing Foxy Brains

Monday, November 4th, 2013

My sister Becca works for All Aboard Animal Rescue, where they pull dogs from high-kill shelters – usually in New Mexico – and bring them to Colorado to adopt them out. Coloradans love dogs. The state animal is probably a Shelter Dog.

About a week ago, I went to one of her adoption events to hold the puppies brought up through the Underground Tailroad (come on, that’s too good), needing a snuggle fix. Since it was the week of Halloween, all of the puppies had been given spooky-themed names: Goblin, Creepy, Crawly, Spider. I was not going to bring one home – but maybe I was asking for it. I fell in love.

Her name was Brains.

puppy

You don’t want the responsibility of a dog, people say. You travel too much. You’ll lose your freedom. And it’s true – ever since Toad died in July, I’ve really enjoyed having the ability to go wherever, whenever, without the worry of “I have to get home to let the dog out.” Life has been manageable. It’s been easy. I’ve been footloose and fancy-free.

But I’ve also been lonely. And self-focused. And a tiny bit bored.

These are not themes that belong in the life of Annie Parsons.

So after a few days in Minnesota for a work trip, I got back to Denver on Saturday and took custody of my new best friend.

foxy

She’s a 9-week old mongrel – maybe part Australian Shepherd, part Border Collie, part extra fluff. Her ears are lopsided, one of them being closer to the middle of her forehead than the other – and her little eyebrows are expressive and close together. Meal time is the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to her. Bath time is the worst. She is smart and curious, and sleeps through the night in her crate like a champ. So far, her favorite things are her squeaky turtle and my bed skirt.

And since there is no other word I’d rather have my name associated with on a regular basis, her name is Foxy – Foxy Brains, because she’s more than just a pretty face.

She’s about to ruin my life. For the better.

foxy3

The art of the non-sad

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Last week, Carmen left a comment on one of my posts that completely resonated with me:

For the last 1.75 years I have eliminated all sad music from any playlist I can control and axed sad movies. Guess what. IT IS AWESOME. I am all about melancholy, but some seasons require axing all extraneous sadness. I recommend this. You’ll love it. Get trashy movies and books, action and stupidity, and fill extra moments with hilariosity.

I could not agree more.  Last spring, when I was going through the darkest season of my life to date (which, in some ways, continues today), I watched a devastating, raw documentary called “Dear Zachary” that just about did me in.  I cried for days, and walked around with puffy eyes in a dark haze that just wouldn’t lift.  Right then and there, I chose to take a break from sad movies, music, and books.  Life is heavy enough – and while I definitely see a time and a place for sharing our tragedies and our struggles and our heartbreak (because you know I love a good wallow), there are times when we’re just not strong enough for it.

For me, right now, sad stories and words just crush me down, down, down – like a trash compactor*.

So I’ve cleared my Netflix queue of anything dark (aufedersein, Holocaust), and am skipping the sad songs on my iTunes (sayonora, um, most of my music), and have abandoned Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” (for now) in favor of more delightful, fluffy reading.

Here are my recommendations for a few non-sad things to be consumed.

Watching
I am loving “Parenthood” on DVD.  I’ve caught episodes on-and-off over the last couple of years, but I’m starting at the beginning and working my way through.  What great, lovable characters, and relatively true-to-life situations.  For all of my bad boy crushes (Tim Riggins, anyone?), when it comes down to it, I’m just looking for a man like Adam Braverman.

The Human Experience” is a fantastic documentary about man’s search for meaning.  The filmmakers and their mission completely charmed me.  Soak it up.

And I’m pretty sure that “Being Elmo” is going to be so sweet, so poignant.

Reading
I bought Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” at Target, and trust me: this book will cure whatever ails you.  Except maybe kennel cough.

A few years back, Rod bought me “I’m Down,” and I still laugh when I think about certain parts.

Also, my good friend Annie Downs is currently blogging a 31-day series on courage, and I’m loving it.  Mostly it’s just because I miss Annie Downs all the way to Scotland, which is where she is currently living, and getting a virtual dose of her every day in October is doing my heart good.

Listening
This one’s tough for me, since I’m obsessed with songs that gut me – I am masochism personified.

I have had to curb my repeat-listens of Jill Andrews’ “Sinking Ship,” because oh man, it’s cutting deep.  She has this line that’s like, “You told me lies with your hands and the truth with your lips,” and I’m like, “Oh my word” because she must have read my diary.  And then she says this thing about, “I’m searching, now not finding a better part of me, ’cause I want it back,” and that’s it.  I can no longer function.

So maybe don’t listen to that one.

But definitely listen to “Heart of the World” by Lady Antebellum.

And Sara Groves‘ latest, “Invisible Empires,” is just… so good.  “Open My Hands” is a current favorite track, as well as “Obsolete.”

And you should for sure listen to songs by Marc Scibilia.  I don’t really know how to get your hands on his music, but go on a hunt to find “Something Good in This World” and “How Bad We Need Each Other” and “Ain’t My Home.”  This guy knows what’s up.

What about you – know of anything non-sad that we should check out?

*When I was younger, I SO wanted a trash compactor in the kitchen.  Only our rich friends had them, so I associated the trash compactor with wealth, luxury, and ease.  The moral of the story is: kids, please dream bigger dreams.

Hooker House #1

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

I’ve had a number of requests (okay, fine – just two – heyyyy, Greta and Julie!) for pictures of the Hooker House.

I’m one who likes to have things settled just so before a grand reveal.  And because of my persnickety nature and tight budget, it’s going to take awhile before I’m ready to explode our new home onto the World Wide Web.

However, with some help last night from one Jonathan Dalby (who, as I informed him last night, was once called “unfortunately good looking” – congrats, Dalbs), the living room is finally looking pretty complete.  Here’s a glimpse.

I know.  A FIREPLACE.  How picturesque is the Hooker House??

I mean, you know.  For being a garden-level apartment and all.

Announcing…

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

It’s been a long time.

I’ve searched and searched.

I’ve been scammed.

I’ve been disappointed.

I’ve been tempted to give up all hope.

But yesterday, my dreams came true.

Because when it comes to a car hunt, you can’t just be ruthless.

Be Subaruthless.

The [weekend]

Monday, August 16th, 2010

What did I [climb]: Pike’s Peak – all by myself, and SO FAST.  Seriously, I hope this doesn’t come off as all braggy-face of me, but I scampered up the entire mountain, and barely broke a sweat.

Sir Edmund Hillary?  How about Sir ANNIE PARSONS.

What did I [burn]: the backs of my calves.  Why does this always happen?  Why doesn’t the sun wrap around to my shins, too, bathing all 360 degrees of my legs in that horrible blazing Vitamin D?  It’s a mystery, and that’s why so is mankind.  [If you get that joke, you win.]

What did I [buy]: two new pairs of Toms.  I couldn’t decide, so I bought both.  Let’s hear it for happy feet – and shoes for kids!



What did I [hear]:
the golden, dulcet voice of Jonatha Brooke – live.  Oh sweet Moses, y’all.  Do you know about this woman?  KNOW ABOUT HER.  Her “Ten Cent Wings” album is something special – trust me (and really, trust Duane, who originally spread the good news).

What did I [make]: jalapeño hummus.  My new food processor is changing my life.

What did I [feel]: so sad, and so happy.  These days, I’m feeling both, and more than ever – like the spectrum is growing, like my capacity for the extremes keeps increasing.  I wonder if this will continue as I get older – until one day, the sad and the happy will stretch out from my heart in opposite directions, hugging the globe and meeting in Madagascar.

I have a million little pieces glued together for my heart.

I don’t know that that’s a bad thing.

Slate grey and fabulous

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

I have officially reached adulthood, and ordered my very first piece of brand new, custom furniture.

It should be here in a few weeks.

In a world where I trust that I will always have what I NEED, it’s a humbling luxury to – every now and then – get what I WANT.  I am a super lucky girl.

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