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Best Cousin Ever

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

I met my friend Nicole several years ago at the wedding of mutual friends. We bonded over gin & tonics, and stuck close together since we didn’t know many other people there. In the four busy years since we met, we’ve managed to get together a few times a year for drinks and gossip – and for being someone I see so infrequently, she’s still one of my favorite people.

A few weeks ago, we were texting back and forth, just catching up on life. Nicole mentioned that she’s dating someone, that she’s had a recent career change, and that since I’m single and fabulous (obviously), she wanted to set me up with her cousin. I trust her judgment of men, so I gave her the green light. She said she’d make the introduction.

Fast forward to this weekend. Nicole and I had made plans to meet for brunch, and as we texted about the time and place, she mentioned, “I know Chris wants to meet you too. Can we work him into the plan?” So on Saturday morning, I walked to Sassafras to meet Nicole and her cousin.

Nicole is the kind of person who sets everyone at ease, and Chris immediately struck me as the same. Conversation between the three of us was easy and pleasant, and I had the thought, “Everyone in their family must be so nice.” Nicole told me that Chris had moved into her house, which sounded kind of fun – because as a woman, what better roommate to have than your male cousin? He could reach the top shelf in the closet and lift the heavy things. They even bought new couches together – a true sign of a combined life, probably because Nicole is sweet and generous and wants him to feel at home, I thought. Chris told me that ever since moving in with Nicole, he’s become a runner; Nicole and all of her friends are marathoners, and if he wanted to join that group, it made a lot of sense to me that he would take up the same hobby.

Admittedly, I had never known cousins this close. It sounded like they do everything together, which felt a little odd. But just because I’m not as tight with MY cousins doesn’t mean that others couldn’t be – so I just accepted the fact that they’re best friends and ate my eggs.

Chris was good looking and interesting and quick to smile and so, so nice. But I wasn’t really feeling any kind of vibe between us, which was fine since we were all just having a casual brunch anyway. I was happy to have found a new friend, if nothing else.

About an hour into conversation, I realized I hadn’t heard about Nicole’s boyfriend yet. So I turned to her and asked, “Hey, aren’t you dating someone?”

She looked at me blankly. “Dating?”

Pause. Wrinkled forehead.

And then, with a quick shake of her head, like she was trying to rattle her thoughts into place, she gestured to Chris and said, “I’m dating Chris. This is CHRIS.”

And in that moment, all of the air sucked out of the room.

I looked down at my plate. When I lifted my eyes, Chris and Nicole were staring at me completely flummoxed. There was no getting out of this one, no way to gracefully play it off. Time to face the music.

“I’m sorry, I’m so confused,” I awkwardly blubbered, the red creeping up my cheeks. “I… I…”

“Oh my…” Nicole broke in, eyes wide, the realization suddenly all over her face. “Did you think this was my cousin?”

And we all died. Right there in our chairs, every one of us died a thousand deaths. I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed so hard – while simultaneously wanting to, you know, crawl underneath the table. While Nicole had been introducing me to her boyfriend, now she knew I had been SCOPING HIM OUT FOR MYSELF. No wonder I wasn’t feeling a vibe – the only vibe at that table was between Chris and Nicole. Who are not cousins. I wanted the chef to hit me over the head with a frying pan; please put me out of my misery.

Revisiting Nicole’s text, I realized that she had never said her cousin was coming to brunch – she said Chris was coming to brunch. And isn’t it just like a girl to make that mean whatever she wants it to mean? We then relived every twist and turn of the conversation up to that point, all of which added up to a weirdly intertwined cousin relationship, including a trip to Mexico – which I assumed was a family vacation? We laughed so hard we cried. And maybe I just cried.

Chris and Nicole say they’re going to get T-shirts that say “Best Cousin Ever.” As for me? I’ll go with “Moron.”
best_cousin_ever

SWF seeks That Person

Monday, January 20th, 2014

The moment I opened the door, I knew. The air was different. I just knew.

Throwing my purse and lunch bag to the couch, I made a beeline for her kennel, calling her name as I went. “Foxy? Foxy, are you okay?” I was sure of what I would find when I got to her, but had no idea the extent of the damage – until I crouched down and saw it with my own eyes.

I was immediately on the phone with the emergency vet.

“Hello, I have an emergency. Actually, it’s not an emergency-emergency, but just this thing that’s happened and my dog is in her kennel and I don’t know what to do.”

“It’s okay,” she said. “Slow down.”

“I mean, everything’s okay, it’s just that my dog – ”

“Do you have an emergency?”

“No. I mean yes! I mean, I don’t know. My dog is sick.”

“Your dog is sick?”

“Yes!”

“Is she breathing?”

“Yes – ”

“Is she vomiting?”

“No – ”

“Is she conscious?”

“Yes!”

“Is she – ”

“Ma’am, my dog has had an explosion of diarrhea.”

I waited. Silence hung on the line. Finally,

“Is that why you called the emergency vet?”

I explained to her that my dog had been spayed on Friday, and that the clinic had told me to keep her incision dry at all costs, and that since I’m a rule follower to the fullest extent – I spent years using a full 1” of toothpaste on my toothbrush every time I brushed because that’s what the package told me to do – I wasn’t sure how to clean her without water hitting her belly, and also do you know how much toothpaste I was going through?

“Well, you’ll just need to be careful – keep her incision covered while you wash her off.”

“Ma’am, I don’t think you understand. My dog is covered – covered – in poop. There’s no way I can get her clean without washing every moment of her body.” I thought about some of those… moments… namely the ones beneath the tail… and what it was going to take to get her clean (that is, my own personal fortitude).

“You’ll probably want to get someone to help you. Just keep the incision covered and you’ll be fine. Good luck!”

And that was that.

I scrolled through the contacts in my phone wondering who to call. Because who is That Person? WHO IS THE ONE you count on in moments like these? I’ll be honest, I don’t think I have That Person* – because the yearbook didn’t call them out in the superlatives, “Friend Most Likely to Help Scrub Caked Shit Off Your Dog Whilst Protecting Her Lady Parts.” I knew that this was going to be a solo endeavor.

Like a surgeon in an OR, I prepared the bathroom. Towels – check. Dog shampoo – check. Hair in a ponytail – check. Okay. Let’s bring her in.

I opened the kennel door, and my crap-crusted dog bolted out like her life depended on it. “FOXY!” I screamed, as she tore under the dining room table, hiding between all of the chairs, rubbing poop into the rug. “No! Come here! COME HERE.” I pulled her out from under the table, and we retraced the brown paw prints back to the bathroom.

Friends, someday I will find the words – but tonight’s moments in that bathtub are beyond my current storytelling abilities. I am now familiar with areas of Foxy’s body that, frankly, I never want to think about ever again.

And I’m sure she feels the same way.

fox

*If you are That Person, please let me know. This is an arrangement best decided upon in advance, like the meeting place for your family if your house burns down or where you’ve stashed the fake passport when you need to make a run for it.

Annie Parsons, pure brawn

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Arriving home after work last night, I opened the living room curtains to let in some light. There on the windowpane was a spider, which, obviously, is just unacceptable. So I grabbed a flip-flop and swatted the glass.

And the entire window shattered.

I shattered my living room window with a flip-flop – because if there’s anything I’m made of, it’s unbridled strength.

My first reaction was laughter – the kind that you try to stifle so it winds up snorting out your nose. But then I thought of all the cuss words. My windows are from the 1920s – single-paned, wooden-framed, on tracks with weights in the walls to suspend them open – and they can’t be easy (or cheap) to repair.

I have homeowner’s insurance, of course, and like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. I’m sure that after the joy of paying a hefty deductible, I’ll be taken care of. But in the meantime, I’ve duct taped a mega piece of cardboard over the breach, my slapdash attempt at home security.

They say that women are like tea bags – we don’t know our own strength until we’re in hot water. Well guess what. Women are also like sledgehammers.

Think about THAT.

20 things learned in my 20s

Monday, July 30th, 2012

It’s the final week of my 20s, y’all.  I’m running down 30 like a lion runs down a gazelle, or, in the case of “The Lion King,” a wildebeest runs down Mufasa.  [Wah, wah – killjoy.]

Nothing against the 20s, but can everyone agree that they are some weird years?  Don’t get me wrong, the 20s haven’t been all bad – most of my best stories thus far happened in this decade – but I am ready to move beyond them.

However, I have learned a thing or two or twenty in my 20s.

  1. Suitcases.  Do not own a gigantic suitcase.  You will be tempted to fill it up completely – which means it will weigh over 50 lbs. and result in a penalty fee at the airport.  Invest in a smaller bag to keep yourself in check – you won’t wear all of those shoes anyway.
  2. You can’t do everything.  Growing up in America, kids are taught that they can do anything.  And while it’s true that we have a tremendous amount of options and opportunities open to us, it’s important to remember that we cannot pursue every path.  Even the most abundant life involves choices – and saying yes to one thing oftentimes means saying no to a plethora of others.  This is okay.
  3. Learn what’s worth the investment.  Good concealer is.  A good sports bra is.  A good set of knives is.  Wine glasses, bangle bracelets, and sunglasses are not.
  4. Wherever you go, there you are.  When faced with the temptation to run – from a city, from a relationship, from a job – don’t count on the change of circumstances to fix your problems.  Three or six or nine months down the road, you’ll wake up and realize that you’re the same person dealing with the same stuff.  Tackle the real issues – which are probably with yourself, anyway.
  5. Don’t drink & Facebook.  Just don’t.
  6. Hang curtains.  It ain’t home until the curtains are hung.  As one who has moved a lot (a lot a lot), I’ve realized that fastest way to make a room feel “finished” is to hang curtains.  But you won’t find me wielding the drill – it’s good to have an excuse to talk to boys.
  7. Most conflict is fueled by fear.  When someone attacks you, it’s safe to say that in some capacity, they’re probably afraid.  Let this knowledge give you grace for that person.  On the flip side, when tempted to lash out, inspect your own heart for insecurity.  You’ll probably find it.
  8. You can either be right or be happy.  Have enough humility to not have to be right all the time.  I’m working on this one.
  9. No muffin tops.  Listen up, ladies: I have it on good authority that men do not care how much you weigh, nor what pant size you wear, nor any other kind of “number” you attach to your self-worth.  Take care of yourself.  Exercise in a way that feels enjoyable.  Eat colorful produce.  And then buy clothes that actually fit, no matter the size.
  10. Student loans are not “free money.” They are not.  You will pay – for a very long time.
  11. Dating.  I’ll just go ahead and say that 90% of dates are a waste of a Crest Whitestrip.  But that doesn’t mean that they’re a waste of time.  Sometimes you meet a good one, and sometimes you feel understood and seen, and sometimes you connect and talk and think and laugh, and sometimes you get kissed like the angels sing, and it’s… the best.
  12. A dog is a big responsibility.  But worth it.
  13. Nothing is unforgivable.  Growing up in the church, I was taught in a round-about way that certain sins are worse than others.  These days, I do not believe that this is true.  We are never past the point of forgiveness, and never too far gone for grace to hit us like a tidal wave.
  14. Don’t mess with your cowlicks.  You will not win.
  15. Dreams are important.  Pay attention to them, make time for them, foster them, and grow them.  The best dreams are the ones that you’ve had since you were too young to know your so-called limitations.
  16. Don’t let money be an obsession.  Be a good steward of your cash.  Watch where it goes, and be aware of how you’re spending it.  But good grief, sometimes it’s okay to spend the extra $4 for guacamole on the side.
  17. You cannot change your body.  Oh sure, you can gain or lose weight.  But your height?  Your hips?  The shape and length of your legs?  Those are here to stay.  Get nice and comfy with them – because no amount of dieting or running or stretching is going to change your basic body structure.
  18. Being single is hard, and being married will probably be hard – just like being single is great, and being married will probably be great.  No matter what relationship status you find yourself in, there are going to be tough parts and great parts.  There’s no use in playing the “grass is greener” game, because once we reach “the other side,” I’m pretty sure we’ll find that it’s all just grass.
  19. Trust your instincts.  You’ve lived long enough to know when to go with your gut.
  20. And finally, it’s okay to be happyIt’s okay to be happy!

I know that 30 is just a number, and that Saturday, August 4th will be just another day, but I can’t help but think that this birthday signifies the beginning of a new chapter.  It’s a cause for reflection – for looking back and remembering, and then looking ahead and hoping, and ultimately, feeling so thankful for the good gift that is my life.

iPhonetastic

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

I’m kind of a late bloomer.  I was born 2 weeks after my due date.  I didn’t kiss a boy until it was shocking that I hadn’t kissed a boy.  I still don’t know any rap songs.

But this week, finally, years after everyone else, I got an iPhone.

And it’s the most amazing thing ever.

I fought it for so long, telling myself that I didn’t need the bells and whistles, that I could plan in advance and MapQuest directions and write them out on a a Post-It note, that I could text just as well on a Samsung.

But an opportunity came along, as opportunities are wont to do.  And I’m not too proud to admit when I’m wrong.

I was wrong.

But now?  I am so, so right.

I mean, look.  I can use Instagram to make my sad, empty apartment with an ugly air conditioning unit look so… charming and wistful.

I know – effortless evocation.  Aren’t you so jealous of how awesome and romantic my homeless life is?

[Once again, I make my case for a Sarcasm font.]

What will become of me?  I already tracking my calories, and Facebooking on the go, and playing (and winning) Scrabble.  What’s next, geocaching?

Let’s not get crazy.

ProNUNciation, not proNOUNciation

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”

This, one of my favorite quotes, is by a man whose name I did not know how to pronounce – that is, until yesterday.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Now, I don’t sprechen no Deutsch.  So the fact that I’ve spent the last 10 years referring to this man as “Geth” is, on the one hand, understandable – and on the other hand, totally mortifying.

Sort of like yesterday at lunch, when I ordered the “tuna niçoise” salad – and right then and there, the waiter CORRECTED me.  “Not ‘ni-swahhhhh.’ ‘Nee-SWAHZZZZZ.'”

Well, es-CUUUUUZE.

She sushis

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Check out what I made!

She’s a beaut.

I’ve always wanted to learn how to roll my own sushi, and being in Portland – a city of the aquatic variety – last night was my chance.  My friend and co-worker Molly took me to a place called Hipcooks, where we spent three hours learning the basics of sushi-making.  In the process, I snuck more scraps of raw fish than humanly possible.

No, truly – I defied the laws of science.  Someone give me a badge.

Will I ever make sushi in the privacy of my own home?  I don’t know – can sushi be made in a food processor?  Then probably not.

But I can now check #25 off my list!

Oh, for the LUV

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

I’ll just cut to the chase: Southwest Airlines lost my luggage this weekend.

[insert me telling you how this sent me for a minor emotional tailspin, and how I was sick as a dog, and almost broke down and gave up, but soldiered on – for the children, really, and for America]

Flying from Nashville to Austin on Friday night, I was exhausted.  I was getting sick – and I had no Kleenex.  So on the plane, to my horror and shame, I had no choice but to use my sleeve to wipe my insanely runny nose.  Multiple times.

Southwest offered to reimburse me for $50 worth of necessities until they found my bags – which, when you are in town for a wedding, and all you have is the mucus-crusted cardigan on your back, won’t get you very far.  But I appreciated the gesture, and went to Target to max out on the necessary toiletries, medications, and two pairs of underwear.

Why two pairs?  Because I wasn’t sure what kind of a dress I would wind up wearing, and any woman can tell you that different dresses call for different undergarments.  Just… I just needed both pairs, okay?  Always be prepared.

I found a dress and shoes at TJ Maxx, took a hot shower, my meds kicked in, and a great time was had by all at Joey and Sam’s fabulous wedding.  All’s well that ends well, right?

Not so fast, sparky.

Southwest decided to itemize my Target receipt, saying that they weren’t sure that all of these things were truly “necessary” to my survival without my luggage.  Things that made the cut, no questions asked?  Cosmetics.  Medicine.  Eyedrops.  Tampons.  Thanks, guys, for deeming tampons “necessary.”  You are too kind.

The complication?  The underwear.

Apparently, because the luggage was returned within 24 hours, only one of the pairs was considered “necessary.”  And so there at the Southwest counter, I was asked to indicate which pair I wore that day – bikini or thong.  Multiple times, I was asked out loud, “Which pair did you need today?  The bikini or the thong?”

You will never know.

But Southwest does.

I’ll never work(out) in this town again

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

My parents recently enrolled in a gym called Fitness 19 – named such because it’s open 19 hours a day.  Oh, Coloradans – you are so clever with your words!

Due to her recent surgeries, Mom hasn’t been to Fitness 19 in awhile – leaving her membership card available to yours truly.  My workouts on Saturday and Sunday were awesome – convincing me that I might actually acclimate to Mile High altitude, finally get the runner’s booty, and basically win the Nashville half-marathon that I’m registered for in April.  So last night, I went again.

I handed my (mom’s) card to the man behind the counter, and he scanned it.  “Thanks, Susan,” he said.  I smiled at him, and went to the magazine rack to choose some smut to read while on the treadmill.

“Wait – Susan?”

I froze.

“Susan, I think there’s a problem.”

I slowly turned around and faced him.

“Susan, when is your birthday?”

My mind raced.  “June 21.”

“What year?”

My mind raced even faster.  “Nineteen fifty-fii… SHOOT.”  I said it out loud.  “SHOOT.”

“You were not born in the fifties.”

And then, some bizarre calm overtook me.  Like a sociopath, I cooly stated, “You are right.”

He was serious.  “This is not your card.”

Again, conscienceless, “No.  It’s my mom’s.”

He was adamant.  “You cannot work out using another person’s membership.”

“Okay.”  Pregnant pause.  “But can I work out right now?”

He let me run for 40 very awkward minutes on the treadmill.  I ran like I have never run before.  It will be the last that Fitness 19 ever sees of me.

I will never have roommates again.

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

And no, not because it’s been so awful.

Only because nobody else could ever, ever compare.

jam2

jam1

j_a_m

jam4

jam5

jam6

I will always be a JAM girl.

And now, excuse me while I go weep.