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The sky is falling, and other tales of woe

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Ever had one of those weeks?

Last Monday and Tuesday, I got four parking tickets in 24 hours. My license plates had expired at the end of March (news to me!), and before I could find an opening in my work schedule to hit the DMV, Denver’s parking patrol graced me. Four times.

I have to say, street parking enforcement in Denver is stricter than any other city in which I’ve lived. No matter the offense, THEY WILL CATCH YOU. I’d say that it’s the worst thing about this town, except then I remember how bad the boogers hurt (those who live in dry climates at high altitude surely understand), and allow the parking patrol to drop a notch on the Worst list.

When I finally made it to the DMV, they slapped me with a late fee and sent me on my merry way.

Late last week, I walked out into my backyard to find Foxy chewing on a chicken bone – just, you know, an instrument of canine death. I mentally accused every one of my neighbors of throwing leftover KFC over the fence into my yard, and cursed them along with their children and their children’s children.

The next day I saw a squirrel summit my fence with a chicken thigh in his clutches, and realized that the bone had likely been dropped by a varmint. I released my neighbors from vindictive mental prison, and instead, channeled my anger into psychic BBs aimed at a rodent – which really gets me nowhere (as opposed to despising my neighbors, which is obviously edifying).

When I was stopped at a red light at Colfax & Speer and I offered the homeless man on the corner a granola bar and he refused it, saying he doesn’t eat “that garbage,” I told him that his sign (“Anything helps”) was a lie. And as he walked angrily and aggressively toward my car and I frantically reached for the button to roll up the window, I thought, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME.

On Sunday, May 11, it started to snow. On Monday, May 12, it was still snowing. And just as my soul was withering up to die, my kitchen ceiling caved in* – as did my will to soldier on.

Let me tell you, you think life’s bad, and then your roof collapses*.

I’m leaving tomorrow for a work trip to Minnesota, and 12 hours after I get back, I’m leaving for a week in Nashville. My roof has one job – to keep everything out – and it’s failing. Work is busier than ever. I’m exhausted. There’s a lot of uncertainty in my life that I’m trying to beat back and not give the power to, but it feels impossible. I find myself craving things I don’t need – new clothes and new shoes and plane tickets to take me far away – but I know that they’re just misplaced desires. This ache can’t be fixed by money or things or security or control, all of which are just a fist full of water – the tighter I hold on, the more they slip through my fingers.

“You sound really stressed,” she said. And it was the best possible thing someone could offer – a simple acknowledgement that life feels out of control right now.

My throat got tight. “I am. I’m really stressed. I wish that just one thing was easier right now.” And then, the heart of the matter floated right up to the surface. “I need to find a way to be happy.”

And I’m not talking about a “look for the silver lining,” “there’s always something to be thankful for,” “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” kind of happy. I’m talking about laughing in the face of life’s trials and letting them roll off my back like a wet duck – because life’s too short to dwell on the nonsense. Do I trust that there’s a story bigger than I can see, and that it really doesn’t matter if the sky is falling, because my security lies somewhere other than my circumstances?

This is the question I’m asking myself today – because the older I get, the faster life goes. I don’t want to miss it.

*Very dramatic terms to describe a mere leak – although yes, thank you pessimist friends, I agree that the roofer is probably going to tell me, “There’s no such thing as a ‘mere’ leak.”

Trollhaugen

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Fear not, loyal readers – despite last week’s ridiculous debacle, Foxy and I have not been nabbed by the Canine Gestapo. It probably helped that I was out of town for the second half of last week, far from the arm of Colorado law in a mystical land called Wisconsin.

Actually, I was only in Wisconsin for one night. The bulk of my trip was spent in Minneapolis, a city I pop in and out of for work – but rather than holing up in a hotel room to order room service and catch up on “The Mindy Project” (not that I would have complained), I opted to spend Friday evening doing as the locals do. In this case, I was swept away to a truly bizarre place: Trollhaugen.

They call Trollhaugen a “ski resort,” but it’s really just a hill in Dresser, Wisconsin. Maybe they piled up some dirt with bulldozers? Who knows. What’s important is that the slopes are open until 3am, which, judging by the festivities I witnessed in the lodge, I can only assume leads to many a drunken concussion. But if there’s anything I’m learning about the folks up north (or as the ‘Sconcies* say, nort’), it’s that they are hearty stock.

Drinks were $3.50 (read: three dollars and fifty cents). I ordered the cheese curds, because when in Wisconsin – although upon delivery, I found them to be nothing more than string cheese nuggets that were battered and fried. Again – NOT COMPLAINING. Just giving you an accurate vision. College-aged kids swept in and out of the lodge all night, en route to another kamikaze run down the snowy hill. I kept my parka on the entire time.

And so the evening passed.

The only people I knew were the band that was playing, so during their set, I did something that I’m finding I quite like: I talked to strangers. For being an introvert, I really love people – and given the three significant moves to different cities in my adult life, as well as my propensity to go places by myself, I’m getting pretty good at talking to the ones I don’t know. The trick is to swallow your pride and get nice and comfortable with the awkward, because of course it will be awkward – at least for the first sentence or two, if not the entire interaction. Oh well, get over it. There are worse things in life than awkwardness (see: tapeworms, the DMV, velour sweatsuits, hangnails, loud talkers on airplanes, paper cuts, grenades, running out of hot water when you still have conditioner in your hair, litter, wet socks, people saying “irregardless,” slow internet, the way your hands feel after peeling an orange, cold sores, SeaWorld, stepping on a thumbtack, dental work, passive aggression, Styrofoam, perhaps the way this blog is ending?).

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*I have zero idea if people from Wisconsin are known as ‘Sconcies, but if it’s not already a thing, please. Let’s make it a thing.

Hissy-fits and growing up

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

I woke up this morning to freezing temperatures, icy wind, and snow on the ground.

Not cool, April 9th. NOT COOL.

After several days of near-70 degree weather, I was starting to believe that spring was here to stay – but leave it up to April, the hormonal teenage girl of Colorado’s calendar year, to slam the proverbial door on that idea. She’s all “I HATE YOU” and then storms off to her room to hang out on Instagram, all the other months looking on befuddled.

And that’s the way it goes – two steps forward and one hissy-fit back.

Since my 30th birthday last summer, I’ve been making a conscious effort toward health and wholeness. With the realization that no one is going to fix me, I’ve taken personal responsibility seriously, owning up to some shortcomings, working on my (many) faults, and making the hard-fought choice to live and believe differently. For a while there, it was exciting – so much growth, so much change, hopeful rays of sunshine after what had felt like years of winter.

But then one day it snows – and it’s easy to forget how the warmth had felt.

Backsliding into the bleak is discouraging – dis-courage being the opposite of courage. It makes determination and backbone and fortitude and pluck seem futile. If you can’t feel the sun on your face, do you know it’s even there? If a tree falls in the forest, who wants to rub my shoulders?

But the cold can’t last forever. Time moves forward, never backward, and we’re headed for sunny days. Because no matter what April would have you believe, hormonal teenage girls always grow up.

At least, I’m trying.

False alarm

Friday, May 4th, 2012

I am spending the weekend in Boston with my dear friend Christina. Boston is one of my favorite cities, and Christina is one of my favorite friends, so in other words, everything is wonderful.

Before I boarded my flight on Thursday, I got an email from Christina saying, “Hope your flight leaves on time and that you’re not sitting next to another trademark weirdo” – bizarre plane-interactions seeming to be par for the course for me.

When I found myself seated next to a nondescript, completely silent gentleman, I was overjoyed. The 4-hour flight was without incident and without conversation – which equates to a hearty “hallelujah” from this introvert. We descended quietly into Boston, and I stared out the window at the clear night sky.

But as we taxied to the gate, something happened. Something surprising. Something shocking.

In the dark and silent plane, the man next to me suddenly yelled at the top of his lungs, “IT’S SNOWING!”

My head was suddenly on a swivel. Where do I look? Outside! At the man! Around at the other passengers! Back outside! Every person on the plane had turned to look at my row-mate, who was staring blankly ahead, ignoring all attention and acting as if nothing had happened.

It was not snowing.

He wasn’t even sitting by the window.

Eventually, I took a cue from the man and stared straight ahead, too.

Runaway train/bus/thoughts

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

These days, life is like a runaway train.  It’s like that movie “Unstoppable,” except – spoiler alert! – that train actually stopped.  It’s not still barreling out of control through Pennsylvania.  Not that I’m barreling out of control through Pennsylvania, either, but…

Okay.  Analogy over.

All I’m saying is that life has been busy and full, and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon.  So maybe it’s less like “Unstoppable,” and more like the bus in “Speed.”  And I’m Sandra Bullock, somehow, so far, successfully navigating my way through a complicated network of roads, and thinking that I ran over a baby, but it wound up just being a baby carriage full of pop cans, and for the moment, we’re all just catching our breath.

First of all, I have news.  The Hooker House has a new addition: Becca and I have a new roommate.  She has moved into the room that used to be my home office, and if you’ve known the Parsons for any length of time, then there’s a chance you know her, too.

Her name is Hannah, and here she is as a child.

I know.  Things are about to get really good.

In other news, I’ve barely been sleeping in my own bed.  After six days at Sundance in Utah, I spent the first half of this week in Minneapolis for work.  This morning, I was supposed to fly to Seattle for a dear friend’s wedding, but Denver’s heavy blanket of snow canceled the flight.  I was rescheduled for an afternoon flight, but just got the call that they canceled that, too.

I’m not going to Seattle.  Frowny face.

My bedroom looks like a dirty bomb exploded.

I’ve switched to cash envelopes.  Dave Ramsey is really proud of me right now.  (Sidenote: I talk about Dave Ramsey like he’s a real person.  Yes, I KNOW that he’s a real person – but he doesn’t know who I am.  I talk about him like we have a personal relationship, and I imagine his reaction to all of my financial choices, sort of like when I was a kid and I imagined the various reactions to everything that I did by all seven members of the Baby-Sitters Club.  Mark my words: one day, when I’m debt free, Dave Ramsey will know who I am.  Oh yes.  He will know.)

I’m sure you’ve seen this video.  But I just have to make a point of saying that I have watched it over and over, and think it’s the greatest ever.  Dang, I miss “Veronica Mars.”

Tomorrow is my half-birthday, which means, yes, I have 6 months and 1 day left in my 20s.  I can’t wait to be in my 30s.  I’ve waited my whole life for my 30s.  People in your 30s, it’s the greatest, isn’t it?  Tell me that it’s the greatest.

And now, it’s time to figure out what my Friday is going to look like.  If it’s not going to include a trip to Seattle, then I’m sure it will consist of exciting things like “going to the gym” and “cleaning the kitchen” and “swinging by the dry cleaners.”  A little bit of snow has never scared Subaruthless.

Are you there, blog? It’s me, Annie.

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Don’t worry, I’m still here.

Not only am I HERE, but I am not depressed, despondent, or dead, either.  On the contrary, I am very much alive!  Thanks for being concerned, though, ye who have reached out.  I guess I’m just taking my time living life these days.

I have a new favorite song: “See You in the Spring” by the Court Yard Hounds and Jakob Dylan.  The subdued verses bloom into one of the most satisfying choruses I’ve ever heard.

You know how today is May 13th?  That makes yesterday May 12th.  And that makes it all the more astounding that yesterday it SNOWED.  It snowed here in Denver.  In mid-May.  It was actually one of the coldest days since I moved here – or maybe it just felt like it because I was outside at the Rockies game.  In the wintertime.

cimg2443

But here we were – bundled up.  Those are my lovely co-workers, Leigh and Gina.  And that is me in Gina’s boys’ x-large snowboarding jacket.  The Rockies won in the bottom of the 10th with a home run.  By that time, we couldn’t move our faces.

“Lost” is almost over – over forever.  Since I don’t own a TV, most Tuesday nights I go to the gym in hopes of one of the sets being tuned to ABC, fully prepared to elliptical my ass off (literally, hopefully) for the entire 60 minutes.  Usually, though, 24 Hour Fitness does not have ABC on – and I’m way too terrified to change the channel in front of all of the scary men glued to SportsCenter.  So I wind up watching “Lost” online later.

If you haven’t watched the episode from Tuesday night, don’t worry – no spoilers here.  Except, I will say one thing: Allison Janney is one crazy mofo.  I LOVE HER.  Such a freak.

Last night, a guy asked me if I would refer to a certain movie as a “romantic comedy.”  I informed him that we well-seasoned ladies call them “RoCos,” thank you very much.

The other night, I was lying in bed when I saw a SPIDER crawl out from under the sheets.  I quickly killed it – but I didn’t scream.  I just went on reading.  And I slept in the bed.  This, I believe, is what we call “progress.”

Some people pay off their student loans.  I buy plane tickets to people’s weddings.  I can’t help it, though – I love these friends.

You know who else I love?  My family.  And tomorrow, I will slide behind the wheel of the 20-year old Honda to drive to Kansas City once again to be with them.  Nine hours there on Friday, and nine hours back on Sunday – a straight-shot on I-70.  Remind me to renew my AAA before 5am tomorrow morning.

Up to my crotch

Monday, April 12th, 2010

“At least it will make a good blog,” I laughed.

“What will you title it?” he asked.

I thought for a second, but really, there was only one choice: “‘Up to my crotch,’ of course.”

– – – – – – – –

See, what happened is… I have a friend named Bennett.  He and I knew each other when we lived in Seattle, but in the last few years, had totally fallen out of touch – until I ran into him at a church here in Denver last month.  I didn’t know he lived here, he didn’t know I lived here – there was hugging and exclaiming.

Yesterday, Bennett and I went hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.  He is rugged and outdoorsy and works at REI, so he is a good person to follow into the wilderness.  The first two miles of the trail were snowy, but we only sunk in to our ankles or so.  It was promising to be a doable 8 miler.

But then.

“Look at that mountain,” Bennett said.  “We could climb it.”

I followed his stare to a 12,000 foot peak.  “THAT?” I asked.  “THAT is not on the path.”  A planner to the extreme, I have a hard time deviating from any original goal.  THAT mountain was not a part of my Sunday ambition.

“It wouldn’t take that long.  We could be at the top in an hour,” he said.  Bennett knows these things.  He cuts his own trails all the time.  He drives a 4-Runner and has a dog.  He owns, like, FIVE backpacks.  Plus, he is very tall.

And I, thirsty for adventure and a well-deserved beer at the end of the day, found myself saying, “Okay!”

We left the path, and began to cut our own across a snowy field.  Bennett went first, and I followed literally in his footsteps, stretching to place my foot where his had been by matching his very long stride.  “How tall are you?” I asked.  “6’3″,” he answered.  I grunted.

The snow got deeper and deeper, and suddenly, with one step, Bennett’s foot sunk and his entire leg was submerged.  The snow had to be at least 4 feet deep, and the sun had softened it just enough that it would no longer hold our weight.

Disaster?  Turn back now?  Not when you have a MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB.

I followed Bennett for two hours, one step at a time, across the snowy terrain and precisely in his footsteps – meaning that I was bending my knees up to hip-level, only to plunge my feet down into holes made by Bennett’s very long legs.  Sometimes, the holes were so deep that my foot would not reach the bottom, and I would be stuck, UP TO MY CROTCH, in snow.  And then, with both legs floating in holes so deep that I had no solid ground beneath my feet, immobile and helpless, I would call for Bennett – and he would come back and pluck me out of the ground.

Like a carrot.

We did not make it to the top of the mountain.  But our 4-hour adventure did result in me writing a blog featuring the ugliest word in the world – twice.

rmnp

This is CRAZY.

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Yesterday, my favorite Handy Graham gave me a ring – not a diamond ring (I should be so lucky), just a phone call.

We shot the breeze for a few minutes, and then he asked, “How’s it going there?  Are you doing okay?”  It was earnest and sincere.  My eyes stung for a few seconds, I blinked a few times to compose myself, and then told him.

For the rest of you, I bucked up and made a video.

Denverado from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

It was -12 (that would be MINUS TWELVE DEGREES) when I woke up this morning.