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Let it go

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

This weekend, something that I wanted to work out didn’t work out, leaving me sad and disappointed. Then my bike seat broke. Then I tried to fix my bathtub drain, but realized I don’t have the right tools. Then several people told me, in various ways, that a dream that I’ve been working toward is a bad idea. Then, after dealing with shoddy, unreliable internet service for over a week, I came home yesterday afternoon to find that my actual electricity was gone.

Must be the wind, I thought, as I dialed Xcel to report the outage. I followed the prompts on the automated service, and then took Foxy on her lunchtime walk.

When I arrived back at the house, I got a phone call from someone in the Xcel customer support department. He asked me some questions about the meter (“It should be on the south side of the house”), so I found myself prowling through bushes, being poked in the eye by branches, and reading the unit number to the man on the phone – only for him to tell me that that’s the gas meter, and we need the electric meter.

That’s when I remembered I was on the north side of the house, and also, a moron.

So I headed around SOUTH into the backyard, crawled on a ledge, and had to touch dirty, rusty things, relaying meter readings to the man on the line, just to have him tell me that none of that helped him, so he would send a technician out – except, wait a second. What’s this?

He put me on hold while he took a look at my account, and eventually a new voice – a woman, probably Bad News Special Forces or something – came back on the line. Apparently, a neighbor had not paid her electric bill in quite some time, so they had disconnected her service – at least, what they thought was her service. Turns out they turned off mine instead.


Oh, and they wouldn’t be able to send someone to turn it back on until tomorrow.

And all of a sudden, it was just too much. Something snapped. This is when, to use a technical term, I lost my shit.

I have worked in customer service before, and still do, to a certain extent – which is why I couldn’t believe I was finding myself uttering words like “infuriating” and “unacceptable” and “immediately” and “you people” and “enraged” and “now – NOW.” My chest was tight but my tongue was loose. I was on an absolute rampage.

I spent the night at Becca and Mike’s, where Foxy whined non-stop in the darkness because that big yellow dog Grizz is RIGHT THROUGH THAT WALL. RIGHT THERE. HE’S THERE. I got a grand total of 2 hours sleep, and spent all day today feeling downright witless.

So now I’m home and the power is back on and I’m typing all of this out, and laughing because it’s so ridiculous. I’ve been sulking about things really not worth sulking about – especially since furrowing my eyebrows is the last thing I need to do more of, seeing as how that look is basically already my natural resting face.

The older I get, the more I realize my strong need for justice – which is unfortunate, since it’s also the more I realize that life just isn’t fair. Sometimes your neighbor doesn’t pay her bills, and you are the one inconvenienced. Sometimes you take good care of your things, and they break anyway. Sometimes someone else makes a decision, and your heart winds up paying a price.

We can try to legislate fairness into our lives, but it just isn’t going to happen.

I could be a sulker. I could resent people and situations and reality itself. I could shake my fist at heaven and tell everything to go to hell.

But to borrow an idea from Proverbs, I’d rather be clothed in strength and dignity, and laugh at the days to come – or you know, Frozen, and let it go.

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?”


“Is she breathing?”

“Yes – ”

“Is she vomiting?”

“No – ”

“Is she conscious?”


“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.


*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.


Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

I live a block from a city park where Foxy has made a lot of dog friends. There’s a huge grassy area in the middle, and a lot of dog owners have taken to letting their pups off leash to run like banshees. The Fox loves it, and there’s no better way to tire her out than to have her chase dogs 5 times her size.

The only catch: it’s illegal. I’d been warned by the other dog owners that city officials will ticket if they catch you with your dog off leash; the first time is $80, the second is $150, the third is $300, and most everyone I’ve met at the park has been ticketed at least once.

So yes, I’ve been warned. But I’m Annie Parsons and live on the edge of danger.

Today, on this beautifully bright morning, I bundled up and walked Foxy to the park. The sun was gleaming off the snow, and she couldn’t wait to chase the ball I’d brought. I did a quick spin-around and saw that the perimeter of the park was clear of any city trucks, then unleashed her to run like the unrefined mongrel she is. A few other people showed up, and we chatted as our dogs romped.

All of a sudden, one of the women hissed, “TICKETER.” And sure enough, walking toward us was a man, notepad in hand, his white Parks & Rec truck at the curb.

So I did what any self-respecting person would do. I ran.

I grabbed Foxy and ran full speed in the other direction.

One glance over my shoulder, and I saw the city man about-face and head for his truck. He was going to circle the block and head me off at the corner – because is this girl seriously running?

But the thought of an $80 ticket was sickening, so I picked up speed, blessing the tread on my Sorels as I beat across the ice.

I made it to the edge of the park, and turned to see the truck about a half block back on the other side. The light was red, but we crossed the street anyway. I cut through a neighbor’s yard and into the alley behind my house, crouching behind the fence just in time to see the truck pass us by. Just like the movies.

And when I finally made it through my front door and locked it behind me, I closed the curtains, put my hands on either side of Foxy’s little furry face, and collapsed into a pile of giggles.

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 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.

For now, 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.

Trips, and trips

Friday, October 12th, 2012

I am a notoriously horrible suitcase packer.  If suitcase packing were a school, I would be the dunce.

I always pack too little or too much, and never the right quantities of anything.  I’ll pack running shoes, but no socks.  A light shirt, but a black bra.  No heels for dinners out, or no flats for walking the city.  Too many layers.  Too few layers.  Five dresses for two days.  No hair product.  Whatever.

It’s always bad.

And the fact that I know this about myself would make one think that I’d be extra prepared – make lists, plan out my outfits, check the weather, think ahead.  But it’s a major defect, a constipation of logic, an impediment that I cannot work or think or plan my way around.  If there is a suitcase to be packed, I will screw it up.

When I left the house on Wednesday, I drove for a block before I remembered.  OH.  UNDERWEAR.  So I pulled back in front of the house, ran inside, grabbed a handful of undergarments from my top drawer, and boldly carried them outside in my bare hands in broad daylight to stuff into my suitcases.  Hello, neighbors.  I climbed back behind the wheel of the car, and thought for a second: am I forgetting anything else?  Concluding that I indeed had everything I could possibly need, I took off for the airport.

Can you sense the impending doom?

When I opened my suitcase in New York, I found the following: all of the last-minute underwear, a ratty brown cardigan, and a white V-neck T-shirt.  Not the nice one.  The see-through, stretched out one that is good for absolutely nothing outside of a shopping trip to Wal-Mart.  To buy a new T-shirt.

So I spent yesterday in the same outfit I’d worn on the plane the day before, and by the evening, I smelled sour.  I took a quick shower, donned the gross white T-shirt, and looked at myself in the mirror.  “I can go to dinner in this,” I thought.  “I totally can.”

You know I totally couldn’t.

The clock told me I had 25 minutes until we were leaving for dinner, so I jumped on the elevator.  I’d spotted a Gap just down the block, and was on a mission to race to buy a new top.  Just as the elevator door opened, I pulled out my phone and called my mom, anxious to tell her about the ways of my idiotic packing.  She’s my mom – she has no choice but to indulge her daughter’s freak outs.

I was rushing through the lobby, talking fast, when all of a sudden I caught my toe on a rug and – phone catapulting through the air – dazzlingly, spectacularly tripped.

Like, people gasped.

There were probably 100 people in the lobby, and they all GASPED.

I didn’t waste any time.  I used my rug-burned hands to grab my phone off the floor – “Mom, are you there? Okay, so as I was saying” – and shoved through the revolving door.  The bellhops on the curb smirked as I walked past – because yes, they had seen me through the window.

I tornadoed through the Gap, grabbing all manner of pants and full-price sweaters.  I didn’t bother trying anything on; my bill came to $176.  I’ll return most of it tomorrow.

Moral of the story: learn to pack for a trip, lest you trip.

(Dumbest moral I’ve ever come up with.)

Miranda Sings

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

I have three favorite Mirandas.

One is Seattle Miranda (who is actually now New York Miranda): sassy and styling, mother to two of the sweetest little boys, knows how to drive a stick shift and run in high heels and out-talk just about anyone.  Her wit and wisdom are astounding, and her belief in me as a human being both pumps me up and humbles me.

I also have Nashville Miranda, who is one of the greatest gifts I’ve been given.  She is easy like Sunday morning, unflappable, gliding through life with grace, poise, and humor.  A natural teacher, I learn from her all the time – and she is never too busy to ask the Good Questions, and talk about the Real Things.

And then… oh sweet mercy.

Then, there is Miranda Sings.

I remember when I first saw “Free Voice Lesson” on YouTube.  I was horrified – because I believed her.  She reminded me of girls that I studied music with in college, girls who sang just to hear themselves sing.  I KNOW PEOPLE LIKE THIS.  So it wasn’t outside my realm of possibility that this girl might actually exist.

Just watch.

But as it turns out, Miranda Sings is a character, a farce created by Colleen Ballinger (who is actually quite talented).  This satire has brought me so much entertainment, especially in the past few months.  If you hear me laughing from my bedroom late at night, it’s probably because I’m watching Miranda Sings.

Some recent favorites:

TOUR OF LONDON – mostly because I love the fact that she walked around London all alone making this video.

CHICK-FIL-A BREAKING NEWS – because she should have the right to marry a gay man.


VOICE LESSON! (PENTATONIX) – “Do you speak English?”


Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

When I was in high school, a traveling magician came to perform at my church.  I can’t remember if he had some evangelical message that tied in with his magic show, or if he was simply a man trying to make a living turning tricks in front of anyone who would watch – but regardless, there he was, right between the American flag and the Christian flag, onstage at First Presbyterian in Montrose, Colorado.

At one point, he requested a volunteer to come up onstage for one of his acts.  Thinking that I might have the chance to get sawed in half, I quickly shot up my hand.  And since I was the pastor’s daughter, yes, OF COURSE I was the chosen one.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t going to have the chance to pick a card any card, or be the recipient of the dove that he pulled out of a top hat.  The magician presented a mousetrap, locked and loaded, and then demonstrated how its spring-rigged action could snap a pencil in half.  And then he told me to stick my fingers in it.


So there I was, in front of God’s holy people, being admonished to trust a crazy traveling magic man with my extremities.  But I couldn’t back out.  So I stuck my fingers in the trap.  And with a wave of his wand or his scarf or whatever it is that he did, with a resounding thwack, the mousetrap came snapping shut.

I still have no idea how – but it didn’t touch my fingers.  I was standing there, right beside him, terrified that I was going to wind up with nubbin digits – and I still cannot explain how that mousetrap was able to clack shut without catching me.  But in any case, I screamed a scream that if you listen closely, you can still hear echoing from the year 1998.

Suffice it to say that I have been terrified of mousetraps ever since.

Fast forward to last night.  I was at the gym when I got Becca’s text saying that there was a mouse in our laundry room, and would I pick up some traps on my way home?

Sure I would.  And I’d get some black widow spray, too – because you guys, it’s the END TIMES at our house.  We are being overrun by demons.

At home in the kitchen, I carefully read the instructions and baited a mousetrap with peanut butter.  Visions of severed fingers dancing through my mind, I nervously pulled back the spring-loaded wire.  It locked into place.  I smiled, proud that I didn’t need a man or a parent or a magician to do it for me.  Holding my crowning glory of a baited trap, I walked toward the laundry room.

And right there in my hand, it SNAPPED SHUT, just grazing the side of my finger and catapulting the blob of peanut butter onto the kitchen wall.  Once again, I screamed like the end was nigh.

Judging by the current state of pests at our house, it just might be.


Monday, August 13th, 2012

A few weeks ago, I made an ill-advised decision: I was going to get bangs.

Never mind that my hair grows straight back, not forward, and naturally parts down the middle – very Alanis Morissette. I’ve spent years training it to part on the side, blow-drying the hell out of my cowlicks – but if I don’t deal with it immediately after taking a shower, my hair falls back into its natural “Jagged Little Pill” state. With this knowledge, I’m not sure why I thought that a high-maintenance cut was something I wanted –

Oh wait, yes I do. And it’s called CARLY RAE JEPSEN.

Come on.  That is the best hair I’ve ever seen. Oh, sure, as my co-workers reminded me – she is wearing PLENTY of extensions and volumizers in this picture, not to mention her hair was styled by a PROFESSIONAL. No matter – I was convinced that I, too, could be coifed like this every day.

I marched myself into the salon, and told the stylist that I wanted bangs. She hesitated – was I sure? Yes, I was sure. She inspected my hair – did I realize how much work it would take every morning to make it lay the way I wanted it to? Yes, I understood (but come on, it’s not going to take THAT much work).

The stylist told me that she wouldn’t give me bangs like Carly Rae Jepsen – but that she recommended a more “in between” style – TRAINING WHEEL BANGS, if you will. She would cut them short enough that I could start working them forward, but they’d still be long enough that I could pin them back if I wanted.

It wasn’t what I had in mind.  But then again, I hate conflict – and SHE was the one holding the shears. Half-heartedly, I agreed to it.

BAD. Bad, Annie. BAD BAD BAD.

Here is what I’ve learned about bangs: you’re either in or you’re out. Go big or go home. It’s all or nothing. Because when your bangs are too long to be bangs and too short to be tucked behind your ear, here is what happens:

Annie, meet your new strand.

This is three weeks after the initial cut, so we’ve obviously come a long way. But initially, my hair was in my eyes all of the live-long day, and resulted in me pinning them back for my 30th birthday party, which made me have UGLY HAIR for my 30th birthday party – one of the sadder things that has ever happened to me. Drama.

It still hangs in my eyes, and it’s still not long enough to tuck behind my ear completely – but a month from now, it will all be over. My “in between” bangs will be back to a reasonable, blessed length, and I’ll move on with my life, and never ask for bangs again.

Anyway, there you have it: the backstory for #14.

Hips don’t lie

Friday, January 14th, 2011

It’s clear from every wedding reception/bachelorette party/alcohol-fueled error of judgment that I am no dancer.  I’ve got rhythm, but I’m all kinds of awkward in my own skin – and this is never more obvious than when I am called upon to drop it like it’s hot.

But then there’s Zumba, the “Latin-based dance-fitness program” that has swept the nation.  I am, as usual, behind the times – tons of you have been on the Zumba train for years.  Case in point, here are my co-workers Emily and Kelli rocking their Zumba moves at Kelli’s wedding, because they are out-of-control awesome.

But I?  I’ve been too nervous to go.  Listen, I may be all lips and eyes, but I’m also all hips and thighs – two things that I don’t really feel like calling attention to.

But I’ve been hating the treadmill.  And last night, I was feeling brave, so I decided to try Zumba for the first time.

Our instructor was a Colombian man in a tight shirt who spoke broken English with a lisp, and said enthusiastic things like, “This class is crowd tonight!”  And it was – the room was packed from wall to wall.

And then the music started.

And then the dancing started.

And everyone was SO INTO IT.

Everything went so fast, and just when I would catch on to what was happening, the moves would change.  These people were like border collies, so attuned to their master’s instruction that at the flick of his wrist, boom – they were box-stepping.

I, on the other hand, was like a dog in socks, stiffly turning in circles.

Zumba is full of what some might call “uncivilized” moves – swivels and shimmies and gyrations (sorry for saying “gyrations”).  If it’s true that hips don’t lie, never has it been more obvious that I’m practically a Puritan.  I tried to be as “into it” as everyone else, and to just let my body do it’s thang – which worked for a little while, until I caught my reflection in the mirror and realized I was doing the Roger Rabbit.

But this burning up the dance floor apparently burns up the calories, and I have never had 60 minutes of cardio go so quickly.

So Zumba, you have not seen the last of me – or my hips.

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.