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Northern exposure

Monday, June 9th, 2014

I spent the weekend in Minnesota along the edge of Lake Superior, an area called the North Shore. I’d been to Duluth once before – but that was in November, and I was really only there during the dark. I needed to see it in the summer, in the daylight.

I was not disappointed. Northern Minnesota is magic, and I had the dreamiest time.

On Friday, I drove north from Minneapolis and was in Duluth by 5pm. I checked into the Hampton Inn (which is basically just like the Hamptons), and immediately changed into my walking clothes; it was 85 degrees outside, and my very top #1 hobby is walking around. Talk about low-maintenance – someone marry me!


After a shower, I headed out on Friday night to realize a dream I’ve always held: to eat alone in a legitimate restaurant, a place with a menu and a server and a cloth napkin. For the amount that I hang out by myself, I don’t know that I’d ever gone out for the express purpose of dining alone – but I’m happy to report that everything went really well. I ordered Pinot Grigio and the truffle mac & cheese with bacon (a respectable Grown Up Lady meal). And because I tend to excel in situations where I don’t know anyone, I struck up conversation with the man sitting next to me.

He was a complete weirdo.

I wasn’t being flirty or anything – I just wanted to talk to someone. I wound up having my leftovers boxed up and walking back to the hotel, turning around every block or so to make sure he wasn’t following me. He wasn’t. I am not blogging from the grave. Hooray!

I had big plans for Saturday: I was going to hike 18 miles on the Superior Hiking Trail. With just 3 weeks to go until I set off to thru-hike the Colorado Trail, I felt the need to get some mileage in – but Mother Nature (that old hag) had other plans. When I woke up on Saturday, it was pouring rain.

Ever delusional, I got in my car at 7:30am and headed toward the trailhead. “It will burn off in the next 30 minutes,” I thought. “Rain never lasts.”

Oh sweetie. Welcome to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, all of which were apparently filled by ceaseless precipitation.

It kept raining. So I kept driving north. For hours. All the way to Canada.

And since I didn’t have my passport, nor a legitimate reason to flee the United States of America (besides the national debt, portion sizes, and Pat Robertson), I turned around. Still in the rain.

North Shore

When I stopped at the Java Moose in Grand Marais to order a chamomile tea, I noticed a massage parlor across the street – and it struck me. That would be a great place to wait out the weather. Whilst someone rubbed my body.

Let me tell you, the worst mistake I ever made was to have smelly massage oil smeared all over my skin, only to have the rain let up and therefore head out into the boggy, mosquito-ridden wilderness of Minnesota. I now have West Nile. I don’t even need a test – it’s just a fact.

I wound up hiking for a little bit around the Temperance River – which, for the record, shows no temperance. It shows rage.


Then I hiked 6ish miles around the Split Rock River, which I felt earned me all sorts of snacks and sweets. So I ate cookies and drove back to Duluth.

If you’re looking for natural beauty, lighthouses, interesting people-watching, and gift shops with names like Moose-scellaneous, get ye to the North Shore. It’s one of the most lovely, charming places I’ve ever been.


The whole time, I felt a million miles away from Seattle Pacific University, the school that used to be my address.

I don’t understand why some of us get to live longer than others. I don’t know why I was able to spend my weekend up to my eyeballs in beauty and charm, feeling wonderfully independent and alive, while others were forced to grieve. But I know that I can’t be okay unless you’re okay – because to quote the ever wise Frederick Buechner, “there can be no real peace for any of us until there is some measure of real peace for all of us.”

Seattle, from one waterside town to another, I’m sending you all my love.

How to write a Nicholas Sparks novel

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

First, set the scene: waterside.

Next, choose a random hobby – coin collecting, or stained glass windows, or composing music.  This hobby will help create a narrative arc that will act as a metaphor for deeper emotional storylines.

Now, take an unlikely couple.  At first, they don’t like each other, because they’re just too different.  In the beginning, she acts like she can’t stand him.  But his boyish persistence and charming wit eventually win her over.

Both individuals must be obscenely beautiful.  She has big eyes and long, flowing hair.  He has chiseled abs and a strong jaw.  They fall into a passionate chemistry, and yes, they have sex.  If it’s their first time, it’s usually on a wooden floor – and maybe during a rainstorm.

But wait!  There is trouble afoot – war, or someone is secretly dying, or their parents don’t approve.

They are torn apart – maybe during a rainstorm.

Time passes.

They get back together – maybe during a rainstorm.

The end.  Make millions of dollars.

Bailing (water, and out of Nashville)

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Now, you know I love me some Nashville, but two weeks is a long, long time to be away from home.  After 14 days of suitcase-living, I will board a plane tonight, and head westward back to Denver.  I am grateful for the time I’ve had here with my Tennessee family, but ready to get back to my ever-loving routine.

I hope the thrice-stolen Honda is still parked where I left it.

For those of you who don’t live in the area (or… don’t pay attention to the national news), you may not know that this weekend, Nashville got 18″ of rain – over 25% of the average yearly amount in just two days.  Having lived in the Northwest, I thought that I was used to a lot of rain – but the storms in the Southeast are truly astonishing.  I have never, ever seen so much rain in my life – for 48 hours, it was unrelenting, turning the streets into rivers and basements into swimming pools.  Everything flooded.  Buildings went floating down the interstate.  People were being rescued from their homes in canoes.  So many people lost so much.

But I watched the people that I love jump into action on behalf of others.  Bailing water from basements, checking in with each other to make sure they had what they needed, braving the flooded streets to give each other (um, me) rides…  It reminds me that in my two short years in Nashville, I somehow became a part of a true community, one that tangibly demonstrates servanthood and selflessness.  I saw it offered to others, and I felt it offered to myself.

I am ready to leave today.  But I will never get used to saying goodbye.


Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Yesterday, I worked Ye Olde Temp Job until about 3:30, and as I was walking out to my car, I thought to myself, “Tut tut, looks like rain.”  I was wearing a white button-down shirt, and decided against a stop at the grocery store, because what if it rains?  And my shirt becomes see-through?  Kroger is not ready for that.

Harris Teeter, perhaps – since they have already seen other things.

But not Kroger.  The little lambs.

So I drove home.  And as I did, the thunder and lightning began.  I had the distinct thought, “What if I am struck by lightning today?”  That morning when I woke up, I didn’t think this shall be the day that I shall be struck by lightning – but I bet every person who has ever been struck by lightning would say the same thing.  I totally freaked myself out.

There were tornados in Nashville yesterday.  I’ve never lived in a place with tornados before, so I don’t really have any idea what the protocol is.  Go to the basement, I suppose?  Except our basement floods when it rains.  And I have visions of being like Leo in “Titanic,” chained to a pipe in a lower-level holding room, trapped as the water rises higher and higher… and I CAN’T GO UPSTAIRS BECAUSE I WILL DIE BY TORNADO.

But… well.  It was totally fine.  I am alive.  I never saw a tornado.  Wasn’t struck by lightning.  Didn’t drown.

Guys.  Sometimes I just like to write dramatically about minuscule, harmless, meaningless details of my day.


Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

If you had the chance to register for a free 1ml sample of a “unique unisex cologne,” which fragrance would you choose?

  • Grease Monkey
  • The Love of Money
  • Pumpkin Spice
  • Cajun Delight
  • Burning Rubber
  • Fourth of July
  • Ash Tray
  • Magazine Pages
  • Fresh Bread
  • Hot Cookies

Again. Just… hypothetically.

I’m going with Cajun Delight. Because nothing says “sexy” like boiled crawfish.

– – – – – – – –

It is a deliciously rainy day in Nashville, and I am wearing a green, orange, and black dress with my black leather boots. In this weather and this kind of outfit, I feel more at home than I have in almost a year. It’s a good feeling, even in the face of a worsening sickness.

The Presidential Debate was held last night at Belmont University, a block from my apartment. The city was in a tizzy all day, what with picketers and ralliers and those hoping for a glimpse of a motorcade. I had been wondering where the attractive men in Nashville were hiding; a brief walk-through at the Belmont Block Party beforehand afforded me the answer. I watched the debate, and didn’t feel like there was anything said that was surprising or game-changing or “OMG”-worthy.

But I do know this: Obama is not the Antichrist, and McCain is not the Sith Lord, both of which I’ve heard them called. I’m ready for the election to be over. I know who has my vote. Until then, may God save me from the sound bite.

Things I do not understand:

Friday, September 5th, 2008

The word “sigh”
What about the combination of the letters S-I-G-H makes people think of the actual act of sighing? When I sigh, I don’t say “Siiiiiiigh.” I don’t understand. I am perplexed.

“Dilemma” vs. “dilemna”
A few years ago, my dad asked me how I spelled the word “dilemma.”


He and my mom looked at each other flabbergasted, shaking their heads, saying, “No! It is not a double M! It has an N: D-I-L-E-M-N-A.” Dilemna. Really? A silent N? Both of my parents agreed that as children, this was the way they had learned to spell the word – although I have yet to find a dictionary or source that validates or explains historically the “mn” spelling.

A quick internet investigation proved that my parents are not delusional (even though we Parsons kids definitely accused them of being such) – it seems as if an entire generation was taught to spell this word in a way that is no longer recognized as legitimate. Why? If it works for “solemn” or “condemn,” why not “dilemna”?

Computer storage
I have no idea what a KB or an MB or a GB is. I don’t know what’s the biggest. I don’t know how much space I have left on my Macbook, and I don’t know how to check. I don’t know how to conserve room. I don’t know what to get rid of. I have no concept of how big a Word document or a picture or an mp3 is. I might be ready to explode, but I won’t know until it’s too late. The same is true when it comes to guacamole.

Buy one get one free
Why can’t I just… get one free?

But one thing I DO understand:
It’s raining! Its raaaaaaaiiining in Nashville!!! Let’s sing the “Doxology.”


Saturday, March 15th, 2008

You can take the girl out of Seattle, but…

It started as such a good idea. On New Years’ Day, Greta had done a mega-Seattle walk, 10+ miles with her digital camera, taking pictures of noteworthy things. So, I decided that today, I would follow suit and take several hours to explore Nashville on foot, using my new camera to document the things that caught my attention.

Above is the only picture that I took.

The first hour of the walk, I talked on the phone and ignored my surroundings. I wound up at Crema, a new-ish coffee shop with the best Americano I have had in Nashville to date. At this point, the sky was getting darker and heavier, and my Seattle instincts told me that rain was on the way.

As I weighed my options – brave the rain or stay at Crema forever – I perused the art on the walls at the coffee shop. They are currently featuring works by Aaron Grayum – delightful, whimsical paintings based on his childhood. Particularly, this one stood out:

It was a sign, right? I should brave the storm, right?

I did.

There comes a point in every girl’s life when it is simply impossible to be any more wet. And at that point, you boldly stand on street corners, embracing the fact that the passing cars will send tidal waves your way. You do not avoid, but rather, walk straight through puddles, allowing water to slosh into your sneakers. You smile at your fellow man caught in the same storm, bound together by your drenched circumstances.

And when you get home, you peel the 10 lbs. worth of wet cotton off of your body and take the most luxuriously hot shower known to man. And you know that that? What you just did? When you let your mascara run and didn’t care that your hair got ruined and accepted the fact that I am powerless over this situation so I might as well enjoy it? Is liberation.