Ideas

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Life plans I’ve made in my mind

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

#1 — Quit your job, sell your house, buy a little camper, and drive around with Foxy. You’ll probably stay in the US, but the Canadian border is right there so be sure to keep both your passport and her vaccination papers in the glove box. A Scamp would be ideal, but a teardrop trailer is probably more realistic for towing behind the Subaru (get a trailer hitch installed, btw). I wonder if grizzly bears can rip the door off a camper? You need to stay in campgrounds that have actual bathroom facilities, because you require running water and a mirror in which to apply your $100 eye cream. Don’t sell that long leash at your yard sale next month, because when you sit in your lawn chair drinking boxed wine, Foxy will need to be tied to a tree so she doesn’t chase a rabbit and get eaten by a grizzly bear. Oh, and buy a lawn chair.

#2 — Train for a marathon. You’re 33-years old, for crying out loud, and your knees will only get worse. It’s now or never. It’s okay to start slow. Tomorrow morning go run a mile, and just build up from there. Never mind that running a mile sounds like torture, let alone 26.2. Achievement is more important than anything else, and think about how good your butt will look.

#3 — Move back to Seattle and get a Masters in Counseling. Maybe you would be good at it! You care about people, and all you ever want to do is talk about feelings anyway.

[searches 98103 in Zillow, loses all hope]

#4 — Never mind, you can’t pay money to go back to school. You need to make money. Stay where you are and throw everything you can into retirement. You’ve been doing that for years, but that financial guy says you’re behind — because don’t you have any concept of inflation?

#5 — Wait a second, don’t worry about money. Trust God. Birds of the air, lilies of the field. (But I really do want that $100 eye cream.)

#6 — Get a puppy. Foxy needs her very own dog.

#7 — Have a baby. There are lots of ways — just google it.

#8 — Move back to Nashville and do life with all of your old friends. It’s hotter than literal hell in the summer, and yeah there were those cockroaches and the possum that frequented your apartment on Music Row, but there are no better people on earth than your friends in Tennessee. What’s more important than relationships, anyway?

[searches 37206 in Zillow, loses all hope]

#9 — Do the Whole30.

#10 — Write more songs for one of the three recording projects you have in mind. Actually, just choose which one you want to make, and do it. DO IT. It’s so important that you be writing, creating, making, Annie. You’ve somehow allowed yourself to believe that writing isn’t something you’re qualified to do, and here I am, your better self, begging you to do whatever it takes to throw yourself into these songs. Please do it.

[prays that she can do it]

#11 — You should probably fall in love, never mind that you’re really bad at falling in love. Let’s skip this for now, maybe circle back later.

#12 — Minnesota isn’t bad, you know. Just be present. Be here now. Explore. Invite people over for dinner. Wallpaper the stairwell, and maybe get new kitchen cabinets at some point. One day you can build a garage, but only after you save enough to pay cash.

#13 — Go work for Dave Ramsey?

#14 — Move into your mom’s basement. Just regroup. If you didn’t have a mortgage, you could afford to do more yoga.

#15 — I’m loving the baby idea. Could the baby sleep in a teardrop trailer?

#16 — Colorado is the best. Move back to Denver and who cares what your job is as long as you’re able to get to the mountains every weekend.

[searches 80211 in Zillow, loses all hope]

#17 — Stop making plans and just go with the flow.

#18 — Don’t let your life pass you by.

#19 — Trust God, but tie your camel.

#20 — Get quiet. Listen. Go on a walk every morning and every night. Be kind. Be honest. Forgive. Forgive. Even yourself, forgive. Do your best. Don’t be afraid. Remember that you’re hemmed in, behind and before — and that somewhere in the jumble of Christmas lights, there’s still a straight line.

Wallpaper dreams

Wallpaper dreams

Ideas I like

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

“If you don’t have doubts you’re either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants-in-the-pants of faith. They keep it alive and moving.” –Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking

“The folk singer’s job is to comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable.” –Woody Guthrie

“No matter what your job, you’ll always find yourself in one of four stages: unconsciously incompetent, consciously incompetent, consciously competent, or unconsciously competent.” –Dave Fisher, my boss man

“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), ‘Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?’ chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” –Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

The most artistic Parsons

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

My sister Becca is a great gift-giver.  She puts a lot of time and thought and effort into the things that she gives people – and this past Christmas was no exception.

In addition to our “real” presents, she made everyone in our family an awesome dog portrait.  Weird?  NOT IF YOU’RE A PARSONS.

Becca knows that I like those dogs with floppy hair that falls into their eyes, so she made me this:

Isn’t that amazing?  I love it so much.  He’s my imaginary dog – the one that doesn’t care if I leave town for the weekend, or if I don’t come home for 12 hours straight, or if I don’t feed him.  He’s the best.

I think Becca should start a pet portrait business.  All in favor, say aye.

“Don’t you think it’s time?”

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Last night, I was working it at the gym with my iPod on shuffle, when this song came on.

Lazy Summer Love by annieparsons

Honest to goodness, I had all but forgotten that I ever wrote it.

This old demo made me remember what it felt like to write songs before anyone ever told me I was doing it wrong.  When I had an idea, I just wrote.  Unreserved.  I didn’t “know” enough to “know” what was wrong with my writing – which is what made it ME.

I miss that me.

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve written anything, music-wise.  I don’t even want to say how long, for fear of no longer being able to call myself a songwriter.

But I’ve been getting inspired again (why does it take senseless, underwhelming man-drama to stir it up?  And yes, that is all I’m saying).  I have ideas. I even think they’re good ideas.

And I want to write them.

These ideas have been bothering me for awhile now – like a stray hair that gets stuck to your shirt somewhere between the armpit and the elbow, brushing against the back of your arm, out of sight and out of reach.  Phantom pains.  Rogue apparitions.

It’s time for them to materialize.

So I’m telling you.  I’m going to write them.  I’m going to finish them.

Hold me to it.

Just don’t tell me how to do it.  This is going to happen my way.

Domesticating

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Yesterday, I had a hankering for something that, to my knowledge, did not exist.  So I took matters into my own hands and invented it.

The result is probably worthy of a Nobel Prize – that is, if there were a Nobel Prize for HOLLA.

See, if there are two things that I love in this world, they are coconut curry soup, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  Why not combine them, and create the most delicious thing imaginable:

Coconut Curry Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

As my former roommates Julie and Mel can attest to, I do not use recipes when baking cookies.  I just throw a dash of this, a scoop of that, a dollop of thus-and-such into a bowl, mix it up, say a prayer, and bake at 375 for 8 minutes.  So that’s what I did – but this time, I incorporated about a cup of coconut flakes and two tablespoons of curry powder – and some glugs of half-and-half, for good measure, and for posterity’s sake.

(I just really wanted to say “for posterity’s sake.”)

Not to hail my own self or anything, but… okay, fine.  The outcome was nothing short of genius.  I’m only worried that I will never be able to recreate it, what with my lack-of-recipe and all.

On the heels of a Saturday night achievement of Balsamic-Glazed Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato Rice and Steamed Broccoli (all perfectly timed, I might add, and served to my parents and sister on beautiful dishes in my very cute apartment – video tour to come), I am starting to think that Domestic Goddess is a title I am straight up owning.

cimg2206_2

Next up: the sewing of my own throw pillows – piping and all.  Stay tuned!

My brother, the inane genius

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Jeremy: “I have some great ideas for pictures on the cruise.”

Me: “Awesome!”

Jeremy: “I know.  There’s one shot that I’m positive I’ll have to get.”

Me: “Cool – what is it?”

Jeremy: “Well, it will be you, in some sort of dress.  And we’ll go to the very front of the boat.  And you’ll climb up on the railing, and spread out your arms.  And we’ll find a deckhand to come up behind you and whisper into your ear…”

titanic

Trust me: if we make this happen, you will be seeing it.

Begin

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Recording a song can be like architecture – you lay a foundation, and then build layers on top of it, one by one.

Yesterday, Josh and I made a scratch track, or a “shepherd,” as I like to call it – a single guitar track that will serve as the guide for the rest of the instruments of a particular song.  Everything else will be built around this track.  It’s an important first step.

But on its own, it’s a little bit sad-sounding.  When I have a certain final product in mind, full and dynamic, the small effort of a single guitar can make me doubt my efforts.  How could this lone track possibly be of any value?  It’s simple.  It’s rough.  It’s not even close to what I envisioned.

And yet, little by little, one piece at a time, we are able to add to that little shepherd track.  And with every layer, we get one step closer to the goal I had in mind.  Before I know it, I am listening to a full-bodied song – one that sounds like what I had hoped for all along.

While listening to that scratch track yesterday, I had the distinct thought, “Remember this.”  When you are aiming at the target but have no idea how you’re going to hit it.  When you have the destination but no roadmap.  When you have the dream but no way of knowing how to reach it.  When all you have is the first step.

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Sending out an SOS

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Confession: I haven’t written a song since November.

GAH.  I don’t want anyone to know that!  I am such a fraud.

I feel like a snail – one that has been left out in the brutal sunshine, shriveled up inside its flimsy shell.  I feel no inspiration.  I have no ideas.

Oh, sure.  One might argue that I’ve had a few other things going on in recent months, taking a lot of my time and energy.  But still.  When I’m not writing – not outputting in some way – something important inside of me feels dead.

All I feel is tired.  Craving time alone, or maybe just an old dog, or a little toddler to snuggle.  I don’t want to have to explain myself to anyone.  I don’t want to have to find words to voice anything – because how can I possibly express what I’m feeling?

Huh.  This is an inconvenient stance for a so-called songwriter to take.

But I’ve been here before.  Remember?  And so I’m taking the same approach as last time, and giving myself the grace of filling up my mind with other stories, other songs, other ideas.  It worked last time – I wound up writing some new songs that I’m quite fond of, a few of which you HAVEN’T EVEN HEARD YET.

(Annie Parsons’ EP, coming soon someday to a website near you.)

So I need your help again.  What should I fill my mind with?  It can be a song, a book, an essay, a website, an article, a movie… what do you feel inspired by, or just plain enjoy?

I just finished season 1 of “Heroes,” and in spite of a ridiculous plotline and an often painful script, that was some good entertainment.  Destiny!  Purpose!  Exploding humans!  I’ve been listening to some great songs – Julie Miller’s “Give Me an Ocean,” and Kasey Chambers’ “Nothing At All,” and Vienna Teng’s “City Hall.”  And it is difficult to make me much happier than to turn on “This American Life” or “The Moth.”

On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been reading “The Catcher in the Rye” for TWO WHOLE MONTHS, and have recently decided not to finish it – because it is depressing as hell and let’s be honest: if I haven’t finished it by now, then I really don’t care at all about Holden Caulfield (case in point – I had to Google the book just now to remember his name).

Let’s all kick-start our hearts, shall we?  What do you love?

Have you seen my imagination? I think it’s missing.

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

From 2002 until 2005, I was Annie the Nanny for two little boys in Seattle. The first year was a full-time job, and the next two were part-time as I finished school. These little guys were my funny companions, my paper airplane playmates, the reason that I wanted to pull my hair out and the reason that my heart spilled over with love. Even after I finished my stint as their nanny, I continued to see them about once each week. Now that I’m in Nashville, I miss them a lot.

One of their favorite treats was to be told stories – stories made up on the fly, extemporaneously, in real time, with virtually no prep.

Ready, go.

In fact, my very first day on the job, it was requested of me to tell a story that integrated the lives of a Red-Tailed Hawk, a Black Widow Spider, and a Hyena. Welcome.

I found that, when telling stories about fictional characters in fantastical scenarios, my mind would tend to go blank, and then I would scramble. Put on the spot, my best character names were drawn directly from prescription drugs: “Captain… Zoloft, and his flunky… Prednisone!” In order to avoid the inevitable panic that would set in on the days when I had absolutely no creative spark, I began to build upon two series of stories; it was easier to make up something on the fly when I had already developed some characters to draw from.

My first series: “Crabs on the Loose.”

It was not about an STD.

My second series: “Annie Queen of Doom.”

“Annie Queen of Doom” starred myself, naturally – cloaked in a black cape and wearing excessive amounts of eyeliner – and two Komodo dragons, named after the boys. These illustrious characters lived on Mt. Distromotry (a fictional term which, very technically, translates to “acid mixed with lava”), next to the Bog of Eternal Stench, where they often battled Emperor Badbum. Emperor Badbum was constantly after the Rainbow Sapphire, buried deep within the bowels of Mt. Distromotry, and so our heroes were always on guard. He was a terrible enemy, but he had one weakness: crying babies. And so when Annie Queen of Doom and her Komodo dragons would march into battle, they would push trams full of wailing infants.

Sometimes I wonder what happened to my creativity.