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Monday, July 1st, 2013

Yesterday, in the process of climbing Wilson Peak, I slipped on a steep snowfield and had to self-arrest. Now before you go thinking that I’m a badass who almost died, I should say that while I could have slid a good deal further than I did, even if I had hit the rocks below, I would have been okay; it wasn’t a lethal slope. But whatever the case, it’s shocking when the ground crumbles from beneath your feet and you suddenly find yourself in a free fall.

When I slipped, I immediately rolled onto my stomach and dug my fingers and toes into the snow. I had just about stopped myself when out of the corner of my eye, I saw Dan Clader flying through the air to tackle me (if you know Dan Clader, I’m sure you can picture this). To help stop my descent, he wound up straddling and half-sitting on me, which was one of the more horrifying/hilarious moments of my life – and while my first reaction was pissy annoyance that I had slipped at all, I wound up laughing hysterically, belly to the snow, with bloody knees and frozen fingers and no power to do much about it.

We eventually got off of the slope and finished the climb; I’ve now summited 32 of the 54 14ers, and am going for my 33rd tomorrow.

But today has been a rest day, and I’ve spent it in my hometown of Montrose, Colorado. I haven’t lived here in 13 years, my parents haven’t in 10, and I haven’t even visited for 2.5. While some things remain the same (this is the only place I’ve ever been where rather than digging out the old tree stump, people hire a chainsaw artist to carve it into a vicious, soaring eagle or three bear cubs in a totem pole: instant lawn art), so much of the town has changed. It sprawls out in every direction for miles further than I remember the boundaries to be. I know basically no one. Our old house has been painted so drastically differently, I barely recognize it. There are new businesses and new restaurants, while the storefronts for some shops I remember sit vacant.

And when I think about the life I used to have, the life my family used to have, all of a sudden I find myself in a free fall.

It’s so different. Everything is so different than it used to be, relationships and location and home. The familiar parts of this town are a palpable reminder of what my family has lost. The future looks nothing like what I envisioned as a child growing up in Montrose, and on my worst days (the past few days being some of the very worst), I feel like our inevitable fate is to tumble down the slippery slope and crash against the boulders of Rock Bottom.

We tend to think of “hope” as a positive feeling, one of potential and possibility and the anticipation that tomorrow will be better than today. But I’m realizing that hope is actually a painful emotion – because by its very definition, the thing we are longing for is not.

If it was, there would be no need for hope at all.

Hope is hard work. It’s an acknowledgement that things are not the way we wish they were – and yet, that it might not always feel this way. It’s a willingness to carry the uncomfortable weight of imperfection. It’s anticipation with no guarantee.

Maybe more than anything, it’s simply a decision against resignation.

So I dig in my fingers, dig in my toes, and self-arrest before hitting the bottom. There is so much more ahead, and I want to know what it is – because what if it’s worth seeing?


Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Hello?   (Helloooo?)   ((Helloooooooo?))

Is anyone still here?

If you’re wondering if the iPhone swallowed me, the answer is NO COMMENT.

I spent the weekend in my hometown of Montrose, Colorado.  I went over for a dentist appointment, since Dan Clader, D.D.S., is my longest term relationship to date (22 years).  After last summer’s debacle of ten cavities, I am happy to report that my complicated teeth are holding steady.  Zero cavities, no crowns necessary, keep on keeping on, and I just might keep my own teeth for a few more years.

While I was in Montrose, my friends Cyrus and Peder had a show lined up at a Mexican restaurant-slash-lounge, and asked if I would be the opening act.


They know that I say this in complete love: they are dirty Montrose at its finest.  How could I resist them?

Peder and I bonded over our turquoise accessories – although his being an authentic bolo tie, it was a little bit more ridiculously awesome than my tame Banana Republic flair.  I played 5 songs, and my dear friend Laura sang with me – more on her later this week.  I saw some people that I hadn’t seen in over 10 years.  It made me love Montrose even more than I already did.

You want to know what made me love Montrose EVEN more than that?

The fire dancer.

Oh yes.  Peder plays with the cutest, quirkiest band Cowboy & Indian, and during their set, through the windows behind the band, a Montrose man was feeling the spirit – and set batons aflame.


Hazardous?  Bizarre?  Amazing?  Yes, yes, and yes.

Just another night in Montrose, and just another day in my life.


Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Monday was a paid holiday, and I am taking tomorrow and Friday off.  That makes this a 2 day work week, and today my Friday.  Amen.

I’m not very good at “vacation.”  I travel a lot, and use every minute of the (very generous) vacation time that I am given – but I never take the time to just relax.  Relaxing makes me feel lazy – I’m too task-oriented and high-strung to relax*.  If I take time off, it is usually because I am flying to a wedding, or hitting the proverbial road, or spending a busy long weekend with friends – or, in the case of this week, climbing mountains and screaming at total strangers.

Let’s start with the first thing: climbing mountains.  Over the weekend, I absolutely destroyed the knuckles on my left hand.  How do I always wind up with bloody knuckles?  I mean, honestly – am I a Neanderthal, dragging my hands on the gravel behind me?  I never remember scraping them – I just look down and realize, “Oh, there are my bones.”  “Oh, there is blood.”  And then I spend the next 10 days breaking open the scabs every time I bend my fingers.

Type type type.  This is a sacrifice.

We’ll see if the weather allows for me to climb two 14ers in the next couple of days.

As for the screaming at total strangers, well – when two pit bulls attacked my dear old dog Rowdy, snarling and growling and biting, and their owner made no move to stop them, it felt like a fair trade.  Your dog snaps, I snap.

Obscenities were screamed (yes, the worst of the bad words), as well as a threat to call the police.  It was out of control.  I was out of control.

Maybe I need a vacation after all.

*I need** an intervention.  Seriously.  I don’t think I will ever relax unless someone hog-ties me and forces me to.

**You know what ELSE I need?   Seven fillings.  I went to the dentist and they found SEVEN cavities.  I have excellent dental hygiene, and haven’t had a cavity in 10 years.  What is going ON?  It’s going to be a 4-hour torture session (not to mention a hefty wad of cash) to get these bad boys taken care of.

Gah, I say.  GAH.

Holiday weekend

Monday, July 5th, 2010

As we waited for the sun to sink in the west, 4-year old Kate asked me why the fireworks hadn’t started yet.

“Because,” I explained, “the sky is still light.  The sun needs to travel all the way to California before it will be dark.”

I felt proud of my explanation – until little Annabelle piped up, “I thought the EARTH turned.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I was owned by a 6-year old.

For the rest of the details of my holiday weekend, watch this:

This Land from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

Denver: treating me well

Monday, January 18th, 2010

A childhood friend from my hometown of Montrose, CO, is being featured on Tom Brokaw’s documentary, “American Character Along Highway 50,” which airs tonight at 8/7c on the USA Network.  Watching Jeff’s clip reminds me of just how beautiful western Colorado is – one of those things that I didn’t appreciate until I moved away.  If you can, tune in; I’ve watched some of the teaser videos, and it looks fascinating.

Also, Tom Brokaw… who doesn’t love Tom Brokaw??

– – – – – – – –

I hate it when people just write recaps of “what I did this weekend” – because BOOOORING – but I’m sorry, this was a great weekend.  Why, pray tell?  Well…

– I spent Friday night at a private party for the PBR – the bull riders, not the beer – and Pat Green winked at me from onstage.
– My dad came over on Saturday morning and helped me hang up my curtain rods and do all sorts of other “dad” things.
– I sold my couch on Craigslist for $15 more than what I paid for it…
– … so I bought these towels (please don’t look at the price, it’s embarrassing).
– I went on a long run (7.3 miles at a mile high – not too shabby).
– I had Thai food with two new friends, Karmen and Scotty – and they’re really great!  Finding good people in a new city is an amazing thing.
– Duane was the East Nasty of the Week.
– One of my best friends from high school who lives in the Denver area had her first baby – welcome, Noelle Elizabeth!
– I went on a 6-mile walk around the city.
– I drove the hour down to my parents’ last night.

I don’t know, it was just a really great weekend.  Productive without being work, fun without being exhausting.  So far, this move has been surprisingly okay.


Cowgirls and Indians

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

One of the biggest draws to spend the summertime in Montrose revolves around some of our favorite friends, who we refer to simply as “the Hong Kong boys.” Several Indian families who live in Hong Kong also own vacation homes in my humble little cowpoke hometown, and for years, the summertime has meant reunions.

These guys are generous, thoughtful, intelligent, funny, and most of all, they know how to play. They even get ME, typically straight-laced and pulled together, to play along. I’m not a “game person,” but they can somehow convince me to play anything: soccer, pool, Mafia, ping-pong, etc. I am grateful for their silly, fun-loving spirits, and the playful side that they bring out in me.

Last night, we talked about the concept of arranged marriages. All I’m saying is that currently, these guys are my future children’s only chance at pigmentation.

Only in Montrose

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

… could I go from this, to this, to this:

I attended the Wedding of the Century on Saturday night, complete with butterflies in the mountain air and champagne toasting.

Since then, we have been hiking, eating, sleeping, seeing friends, reading, and drinking lots of coffee. It’s been the best vacation ever.

When I was in high school, I couldn’t wait to get out of Montrose. I was ready for the city life, and Seattle didn’t disappoint. But this visit, for the first time in the 8 years since I left, I am starting to think that maybe I’ll live in Montrose again at some point. Now that they finally have a Target, I wouldn’t want for anything.

Stay tuned for my next post, probably entitled something like “Cowgirls and Indians.” See? Now you can’t wait to read it.


Monday, February 11th, 2008

All day, the clock has ticked on. And all day, I have frantically thought, “What can I blog about?” Some days are just like that – nothing in particular that strikes my mind. Other days, I write 4 or 5 entries, and store them up for days like today.

But I’m out of those entries.

And so, as the clock is approaching midnight, and I want to have a blog posted before Monday is over, I reach back in the far recesses of my mind to bring you this gem. It has nothing to do with today. It has nothing to do with anything I have experienced recently. It is simply a story that I should share, if for no other reason than it is horrifying.

When I was a junior in high school, I went to prom with sweet Dylan Schoo. (That is not the horrifying part.) We stayed up all night with our friends, watching movies and talking and laughing, and the next morning, his mom made breakfast for all of us. Then, I went to church, and stayed up all Sunday long. When I finally crashed into bed on Sunday night, I was exhausted. So naturally, I overslept on Monday morning.

The alarm went off; I was late for school. I jumped out of bed, and frantically threw on clothes. I sat at my mirror, quickly applying makeup, making sure that my eyeliner was extra dark to hide my tired eyes. Though it didn’t make sense, as I was already running behind, I decided to take the extra second to use that pesky contraption called the “eyelash curler.”

I am not a frequent user of the eyelash curler. In fact, I think it’s quite silly. It’s the kind of apparatus that men will sit around a campfire debating its actual existence – as in, the men who live with women against the men who do not. A small metal clamp that women place against their eyelid, thus curling their eyelashes? Who knew?

But on that fateful morning, I clamped.

I clamped hard.

I clamped so hard that when my elbow slipped off of the desk, I ripped every last eyelash from my right eyelid.

If you are wincing as you are reading this, YES, IT HURT THAT BAD. The pain was intense, but it did not hold a candle to the alarm I felt when I opened my eyes and saw the eyelash curler still clenching every single one of my eyelashes. In my hand. Detached from my face.

There were tears. There was panic. There was absolute frenzied hysteria. In fact, I got in my truck and drove straight to the church where my mom was in a prayer meeting. I marched in and interrupted these ladies’ communion with the Lord because I’M SORRY BUT THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT.

I wore fake eyelashes for 3 months, until the real ones grew back.

The end.

Signs and sights of Montrose

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

This morning, I leave my hometown of Montrose, CO, for the next stage of The Big Trip. But before I do, I would like to provide you with some images of small town life.

Let’s begin with the hair salons. These are some of my favorites:

This woman is so alluring, I can hardly stand it.

Personally, if I was Dick Todd, I would be pissed. Or pizzed.

A grammatically incorrect title, superfluous capital letters, a frightening picture. These models had to be outsourced – I’ve never seen them at Wal-Mart.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Now, onto the matter of public art, which is a new development. I don’t remember Montrose being quite so creative and progressive.

I don’t know what this means.

Or this. But I’m sensing that the same artist was commissioned?

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph? Peter, Paul, and Mary? WHO?
Every town should have a pair of life-sized, majestic, rusted horses.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

And just for fun, a few more signs:

For those nights when you just can’t decide between chips & salsa or garlic bread. Have both. And partake of their $1.99 margaritas on Thursday nights!


And on that inspirational note, I must go load my car and hit the road. Colorado Springs tonight, Denver tomorrow, and by Saturday evening, I will have made it through Hades (western Kansas) and be snuggling with my nephews in Kansas City.

Awkward vs. Awkwarder

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Last night, I attended a 5th-8th grade volleyball showdown, held in the gym of a local church. The contenders?

The Christian Schoolers (the Knights) vs. the Homeschoolers (the Flames).

I was there in support of my friend Kellyn, who was celebrating her 11th birthday on the volleyball court as one of the Knights. Technically, it was a girl’s volleyball tournament, but the homeschool team was co-ed for lack of players. But even with boys, the Flames were snuffed out in a mighty way by the Knights.

Since I served time as both a homeschooler (7th and 9th grades) and a Christian schooler (8th grade), I feel as though I have the authority, expertise, and first-hand experience to expound on the peculiar, offbeat nature of last night’s crowd.

Let’s start with the homeschoolers. What is it with homeschoolers being so obviously conspicuous? (And what is it with me being so excessively redundant?) All of the girls wearing homemade plaid jumpers and knock-off Keds, their long, straight braids and bangs topping their heads, led by their matron, Captain Mother Conservative. Arguably, not the most alluring of attire – and yet somehow, it must be working for them as the moms continue to get pregnant. They drive their 15-passenger vans and somehow manage to educate at least 7 children in different grades and levels of cognition.

I stand in awe, actually. Homeschooling, when done well, renders well-educated, well-spoken, polite, cool humans. I don’t think I could ever homeschool my kids. I’m going to need time to read US Weekly and go shopping and drink mid-day margaritas.

Then there were the Christian schoolers – fairly normal kids… although I saw several moms with bitchin’ woman-mullets and at least one dad with traces of Skoal on the corners of his mouth. I overheard conversations on the evils of evolutionism, “Church Putt-Putt” night at the local mini-golf course, and required chapel attendance.

Mostly, I was entertained at the exchange between players between volleyball serves. The process was as follows:
1) Kid serves ball.
2) Ball doesn’t make it over the net.
3) All players immediately swarm the server for high-fives.

In the same way that I might “cheers” to beers with a table of friends, these kids made sure that they high-fived every. single. one. of their teammates, every. single. time. Because if you miss even one other person, ever, it’s bad etiquette.

And God forbid they be awkward.