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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!

foxy3

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.

In the palm of her hand

Friday, December 4th, 2015

… even via a YouTube video. Jennifer Nettles has always been the real thing. All she has to do is stand there – she still sings the fire out of anything.

“I wasn’t lost until you found me.”

Finally, some good news

Monday, November 30th, 2015

eagle

This world can be a cruel place, cracked into sharp, broken pieces – and sadly, the worst tends to happen to the most vulnerable, whether animals, children, the poor, or the disenfranchised. It’s easy to feel small and helpless about it all.

But I’m learning that we don’t have to solve the entire puzzle. Our job is just to look at the broken pieces in front of us, and when we can, put them back together. Just that. Just today. It’s hard to see the bigger picture — but if we’re all doing our part? It starts to be that whole “on earth as it is in heaven” thing.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 12.05.09 PM

Kudos to these adorable Canadian brothers for stopping their car, spending four minutes prying open a trap, and (after the greatest selfie of all time) setting this dadgum eagle FREE. This story is making the rounds on the internet as something awesome — but to me, it’s more than that. It’s redemption and deliverance and — forgive me if this is too much, but I’ll stand by it — salvation.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 12.06.01 PM

Tea party

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

For anyone who is a fan of the tea served at Aveda salons but doesn’t want to spend the the NINETEEN dollars for 20 tea bags, I have discovered an alternative:

Yogi Egyptian Licorice Mint Tea

YT14-EgyptianLicoriceMint-NewDesign-V1-3DLeft-300DPI-RGB

It tastes just the same, and you can get it on Amazon for $0.20/serving as opposed to the $0.95/serving Aveda brand. That is a 79% savings.

I am here for you. Namaste.

Clouds

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

I travel a lot, which means that I drive to the airport a lot. If you know Denver International Airport, you know that it’s a) full of conspiracy theories, and b) SO FAR AWAY FROM DENVER. Peña Boulevard is paved with good intentions, but mostly a dull drive.

Except for the clouds.

For the longest time, there was an art installation in a field just west of the road to DIA, and it was one of my favorite things. “Why do you like it so much?” people would ask. I don’t know. Why do I like chocolate, or the color green? I just do. It was delightful and whimsical and just totally unnecessary – no one NEEDS cloud towers – but aren’t you glad they exist?

Clouds
(Art by Christopher M. Lavery. Photo credit.)

Sometime in the last year, the clouds vanished. It didn’t exactly make a difference to my life or anything, but it really bummed me out. Why did they take them down? Where could they have gone? How sad that a bright spot in my regular drive to DIA just up and disappeared.

But just now, I took Foxy on a lunchtime walk. I wasn’t half a block from my house when I rounded the corner and, there across the freeway, I saw them.

Clouds2

The clouds are right around the corner from my house! Albeit in a hideous location. But there they are! I found them!

I don’t know if they’re just in a holding cell until they’re moved to their intended spot, or if that empty parking lot in the shadow of Elitch’s is their final destination (which would be a strange choice). For now, I’m just glad to know that they still exist. It gives me hope that the good things can continue, like the Velveteen Rabbit.

The three nicest things anyone has ever said to me

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

From a mom of 4 wild ass monkey boys: “I want a girl just like you in my family.”

From a mom of twins whom I’ve still never met, pre-teens at the time: “I wish my girls could know you.”

From a kindred spirit gal in Louisiana: “I like you. You’re like when little kids want to hold hands with you.”

I’m not writing these things down to toot my own horn. I just want to have a record stating that the nicest compliments don’t have to be romantic – and that parents who associate you with good things when it comes to their children is possibly the highest praise one could ask for.

To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

swing

Boy oh boy band

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

Half a lifetime ago, I was somewhat of a boy band aficionado. My childhood was soaked in New Kids on the Block, but things really picked up speed in the late 90s when we had so many options: Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees, Hanson, Backstreet Boys, and the ultimate, NSYNC.

I was obsessed with NSYNC. I knew every piece of trivia, every nuance to every song (remember when Justin dropped down the shaft and landed in a crouch and then did that chin-lift/smile at the camera and we all dropped dead of love?), and the fact that JC’s last name was pronounced “sha-ZAY.” When I was 17, Laura and I drove 5 hours to Denver for their show at Mile High Stadium, and after the opening acts (Pink and Sisqo), screamed like maniacs along with tens of thousands of other girls. It was their “No Strings Attached” tour – you know the one. The one in which they were lowered to the stage like marionettes? YES.

nsync

When I went to college and became an adult in the eyes of the law, NSYNC dropped on the list of “things worth losing my mind over.” I realized that I probably wasn’t going to wind up marrying JC. Justin was going solo. Lance had been batting for the other team all along. Besides, at that point there was SO MUCH Shania and Faith and Martina and Dixie Chicks to listen to. I heard about the new groups – O-Town and Westlife and eventually the Jonas Brothers – but really, the boy band era was over for me.

But that phase couldn’t last forever. Because One Direction.

One Direction burst on the scene a few years ago with the kind of hooky, catchy, bubblegum pop appropriate for their fresh-faced, teenage selves. They spun on the beach and played in the waves with their arms spread and bounced a lot. They were babies. And I tuned them out. Sure, I knew their big songs from the radio – but I wasn’t paying attention. I certainly didn’t know any of their names.

1D

That was then. But this is now. HARRY ZAYN LOUIS LIAM NIALL.

Say what you will about my musical taste – but about a year ago, I heard “Story of My Life” and thought, “This is surprisingly good.” So I looked up the video, and found them all… adorable. Suddenly I was captivated by these guys – not in a predatory, pedophile kind of way (ew), but just because they’re incredibly likeable. They’re funny. They’re well-spoken. And despite millions of dollars and a mind-boggling level of fame, they’ve somehow managed not to go the way of the Biebs (that is, psycho).

one direction

I don’t want to marry them – I just want to cook them soup.

I think that what I like most about these guys is that with the exception of Harry (who between his style, charisma, and swagger is obviously Best in Show), I don’t think they were destined to be famous. They have average-to-good voices. They have average-to-good looks. They DO have fantastic hair, every one of them – but if they’d never had a stylist, they’d still look like they did before fame:

OneDirection

But they had a chance at fame and jumped on it. What are the odds?

Recently, in an effort to ignore all of the horrible news in the world, I went on a YouTube binge and watched, um, A LOT of videos of these guys – because if you have a choice between depression and joy, please just choose joy. One Direction is so much better than fear and sadness and terrorism (no one can challenge that statement). Anyway, this “research” led me to some opinions – which I will share here in a bulleted list:

  • Their voices, best to worst: Liam, Harry, Zayn, Niall, Louis.
  • Their current hair, best to worst: Harry, Zayn, Niall, Louis, Liam.
  • Their style, best to worst: TIE BETWEEN ALL OF THEM. Good job, stylist.
  • Who I want to hang out with, most to least: Niall, Harry, Louis, Liam, Zayn.
  • Current favorite song: “Steal My Girl,” duh.
  • Sure, Harry is the favorite of millions of girls. But that still leaves at least several hundred thousand girls who find each of the other guys their favorite. So no one can feel sorry for any of them.

Well, if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably a 14-year old girl and my new best friend.  And if after all this you STILL can’t get behind One Direction, at least watch this cover of “Story of My Life.”

Okay, and fine – also watch this. It’s a nugget of fun:

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

Like family

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Okay. I’m back. I’ve begrudgingly re-entered Real Life after being whisked away for a week in Never-Neverland – that is, a week in California with Gregory Alan Isakov and a related cast of characters.

You know the situation – LÄRABAR held a singer-songwriter contest and three artists won a chance to open for Greg – and since this project was my baby, I flew west to manage the shows. We started in San Diego, then moved up to LA, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco. We wound up the PCH, and I visited San Francisco for the first (but surely not the last) time. I got some much-needed quality time with my sister-in-law, Ashley. And all week long, I fell more and more head-over-heels for my new friends – the contest winners, the Kris Orlowski guys, and of course, Sir GAI and his band.

There is something about getting away from the day-to-day routine that snaps you out of bad habits and ruts. It opens up the horizon and awakens possibility. It reveals fears and insecurities and the places where you grasp for control. And as one of these dear new friends reminded me one night, the thing that you’re clinging most tightly to is probably the thing you most need to let go of.

He’s right, you know. The only way to receive anything is to open your hands.

I’m back in Denver now, and opening up Outlook crumpled my soul like a piece of paper. Email is a hazard of any job, I know – it just feels particularly cruel after such a rejuvenating time AWAY from it.

I’m so sad that this project is over. But last week slapped my heart awake, and I’m just really thankful that it happened at all. I can’t pretend to know how or why it made me feel this way, but here it is: I trust that there is so much good ahead.

In the meantime, check out the pictures from the shows, captured by the one and only Ashley Parsons:
San Diego
Santa Barbara
San Francisco

On Friday night when the goodbyes were happening and I was dreading walking away, Greg hugged me and said, “This feels like family.” And it did.