Thoughts

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Labor Day

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

I don’t feel much like getting up from this bed. My legs are stretched out in front of me and crossed at the ankles, left over right, giving me a good view of my newly pedicured toes. I broke one of them a few years ago – stubbed it on my couch, the one I bought brand new – and it still juts high above the other four, like an adobe hill out of the desert, the kind that gutsy kids use as a bike ramp.

It’s been years since I’ve ridden a bike, even though the Trek I got for my 14th birthday is currently crammed into the mudroom of my house, the front wheel turned perpendicular to the rest of the frame, blocking the doorway. I step over it whenever I go into the backyard, which is infrequent now that Toad is gone. I keep thinking I should put air in these tires. I should ride to work. Or I could try to sell it. Homeowners can always use extra cash.

It stresses me out, money. It always has. When I was a kid, I would pull the dollar bills out of my piggy bank and count them, splaying them across my bedspread, the ones together, the fives. Then I would walk across the hallway to the laundry room, set up the ironing board, and turn the iron to low. The literal smoothening of my money somehow translated, and when the stack of bills was crisp and orderly, so was my spirit – at least, so I thought.

Last night in a church pew, I wrote my September budget on a Post-It note. I had not been to church in – months? It must be. And already, the rhythm of the service felt unfamiliar. Do we really stand for this long? Funny, I went to church nearly every Sunday for 30 years, but take me out for just a few months and all of a sudden attending feels new.

I like it when things feel new and fresh. I also like it when things feel familiar and routine. This desire for both roots and wings is a tug-of-war, and I’m right in the middle of it, and I don’t know if I’ll be pulled to one side or the other or just torn in half.

They – three different friends now – say that they think I’m “on the verge.” Of what, they don’t really know, and it would be silly to speculate. But I feel it, too – the sense that something is almost. I wonder if it will feel like roots or like wings.

So I pray. I think that prayer is important – not so much because I think God will do what I ask, but because it reminds me that I’m not him. Not so much because God is a shelter from the storm, but because I hope he’ll stand out in the rain with me. Not so much because it leads to the absence of pain, but to the presence of love.

Re-solutions

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Last Tuesday morning, I poured myself a cup of coffee and crawled back into bed. To be fair, this is what I do every single morning (don’t judge my self-indulgences, except when they include reality TV). But Tuesday was no ordinary day – Tuesday was New Year’s Day, which means I needed to make my New Year’s resolutions.

My resolutions. My re-solutions. My attempts to re-solve myself – because every single year, I think that I can. And every single year, I’m disappointed to figure out that I can’t: I cannot solve myself, no matter how many times I try. No amount of accomplishment, weight loss, or personal virtue can fix me, or any one of us.

Often, I wish that I could solve myself, because wouldn’t it be great to be in the driver’s seat of my own life. Wouldn’t it be great to call all the shots and know that if I tried hard enough, prayed hard enough, was good enough – poof – I’d be fixed. I’d be better. I’d be awesome. Best of all, I’d be in control.

I’m not big on poetry, but I remember William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus” from AP College English during my senior year of high school. An ode to self-reliance and resilience, the last two lines go:

I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

I don’t know about you, but after all of my years of control-freaking, all of a sudden, that thought exhausts me. I do not want to be the master of my fate or the captain of my soul.

So this year, my “resolutions” are being reframed.

Don’t get me wrong – I have some hopes and plans for the year (climb 7 14ers, write 4 songs, run 1 half-marathon, have 0 nervous breakdowns). But if these goals come from a place of “because this will solve me,” then I’m going to wind up sorely disappointed – again.

So no more re-solutions. No more mastering my fate, or captaining my soul. Just some hopes, and daily little steps, and trusting that I’m exactly where I need to be in this moment, even if nothing is is “solved.”

The “right” person

Friday, September 14th, 2012

These days, when asked about my love life (thanks, everyone!), my response has been, “I’m not focusing on finding the right person – I’m just trying to be the right person.”

Good one, eh?

Here’s the only trouble with that statement, romantically focused or not: who gets to define what the “right” person looks like?  You?  My family?  My married friends?  My single friends?  My boss?  My books?  My church?  Or, scariest of all, me?

The past few years of my life have been nothing short of a war zone, and while the dust is finally starting to settle, my ears are still ringing.  I’m looking around at the landscape of a life that I did not plan, and my eyes are having trouble focusing.  I’m still walking a little wounded, trying like hell not to fidget with my bound-up broken bones, hoping to give them a chance to heal.

And all the while, I’m telling myself, “Be the right person.  Be the right person!”

Famously hard on myself, I have defined being the “right” person as achieving, succeeding, pushing myself, doing more, being better, and never, ever sitting still.  At some point, I decided that not reaching my goals makes me a Failure, that changing my course makes me a Quitter, and that not winning makes me a Loser.

So in the midst of the chaos and the noise and the still-settling dust, I spin my wheels, straining and striving and trying SO HARD to be the “right” person – based only on my own harsh definition.

But what if instead of trying to be the right person, the goal was just to be?  Period.  Just to be – with joy and gratitude and the will to breathe each and every day.  Regardless of whether I meet my arbitrary goals.  Despite my inevitable shortcomings.  Whether or not I “achieve” much of anything.

Because, as my mom reminded me, “there is grace to cover it all.”  (Sometimes, my mom sounds like Jesus.)

Maybe when we stop trying to be the “right” person, and allow ourselves to just be, we’re exactly who we are – which is who we should be, anyway.

One month from tomorrow

Monday, January 24th, 2011

I don’t know which is more exciting.

I have new songs.

And I’m going to Haiti.

Seriously: explosion of confetti and excitement and exclamation points right →here←.

Ever since my sister Sarah moved to Haiti last June, I have dreamed of an opportunity to see her life there.  One month from tomorrow, I’m getting my chance – seven days and seven nights at Mission of Hope.

What happens at Mission of Hope, you ask?

Well, they have a school, and a home for orphans, and a medical clinic, and a nutrition program.  They also have a new small business initiative called 3 Cords, which employs amputee women, empowering them to make hand-crafts, cards, and jewelry.  I’ll probably get to experience a little bit of each of these things.  I’ll also probably experience tarantulas and dirty feet and mangoes and a little boy named Tee Kervins.  I can’t wait to meet Tee Kervins, just so I can say his name.

Try it.  Tee Kervins.

See?

Of course, I’m a bit nervous about being taken out of my comfort zone, even for a short time.  I’m someone who likes control and safety and rat-free apartments.  And when I’m honest, sometimes it feels easier to just go about my daily business, blind to the pain and sadness and poverty that might be found elsewhere.

But I believe that it’s important – important, and even necessary – to be inconvenienced.

And I also believe that when I am in Haiti, I will find more joy than sadness, more strength than fear, and more hope than despair.  It just might change my life.

So, back to these new songs of mine.

I recorded three new demos with some co-workers when I was in Nashville in December, and even from just a little home studio, I’d say they turned out gems.  I would love for you to hear them – and if you feel so inclined, they’re available for a minimum $10 donation.  The money will help offset the cost of this trip to Haiti – because go figure, it costs a lot to get to the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

Thanks, as always, for reading, and listening, and following along with this little life of mine.  I can’t wait to tell you stories from my trip.

Clouds

Monday, October 25th, 2010

It’s Monday morning, and deliciously stormy outside.  I look out the office windows to the east, where the land stretches flat all the way to Kansas, and see clouds the color of polished steel.  I’m alone at work this week, sipping on hot tea to placate the angry porcupine that wants to nest on my throat.

Yesterday at church, I saw 6 people whose names I knew.  I got hugs from 4 of them.  It’s nice to have people who know your name.

Later on, as I drove up a windy road to Evergreen, what’s left of the leaves on the trees blustered and blew, twinkling in the wind, matching the shade of the double-yellow lines on the blacktop.  I found a network of trails and went on an easy hike, dreamed of having a dog, and watched the sky as it did things like this.

It’s easy to feel small and alone – but that doesn’t mean that we have to feel afraid.

Galloping ostrich brain

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

I am alone in the office this week.  But don’t worry – being alone has never been reason for my brain to get bored.  Au contraire – being alone usually results in my brain galloping full-speed ahead, albeit awkwardly, kind of like that ostrich in “Swiss Family Robinson.”

So let me go ahead and tell you some of what has been on my mind today.

Mix up “congenial” and “jovial” and you get “convivial.”  Fantastic!

I may or may not (or may) have recently spent $800 on a variety of bridesmaid dresses from J.Crew.  Don’t worry – the losers will be returned post-haste – that is, unless I decide that I WANT a variety of taffeta gowns in Aluminum.

Waffles are just pancakes with topography.

There are few places on earth more soul-sucking than the Verizon Wireless store.

Please, Honda.  Please please please last forever.  I have no Plan B.

Tic-tac-toe, 5 in a row

Friday, May 28th, 2010

I am always making lists.  I cannot operate with out lists.  They make me feel productive and safe.

Why “safe”?  Don’t ask me these questions.  It’s how I FEEL.  I don’t need to have a REASON.  GAWL.

[When I was a teenager, "gawl" was my biggest expression of disgust.  I said it ALL THE TIME.  My siblings will still occasionally bring it up, throwing the word at me, faces all repulsed and contorted and dramatic.  Apparently, that is how they remember me at age 14.

I couldn't help it, though - it wasn't easy being SUPERIOR to EVERYONE.  In the UNIVERSE.  FOREVER.  INFINITY.  GAWL.]

Anyway, I just made a list of “actors I do not trust.”  I wrote it on a Post-It note.  It says:
Tom Cruise
Nicolas Cage
Charlie Sheen

And I felt like telling you.

Now, I feel it necessary to acknowledge that I might be wasting your time these days… but then again, you’re HERE, aren’t you?  Lurking in the shadows?  Creepily reading my thoughts?  Distractedly entertained for roughly 45 seconds every day this week?

Heeeyyy-ooooooh, it’s been awhile since I’ve gotten 5 in a row!  I should take myself out for a nice steak dinner.  Congrats, self.

I’m taking my ping-ponging thoughts elsewhere before someone loses an eye.  I’ll see you on Monday.

Don’t pretend like you won’t be back.  I love you.

I’ll be me and you be you.

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

In this life of trying to figure out who we are, when it comes down to it, we all just wind up being ourselves.

Rather than finding this discouraging, today, I find it freeing.

Little thoughts

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

I’m sorry that I don’t write about health care or anything important at all.

- – - – - – - -

I have an announcement to make:

I MADE A FRIEND!  I know, high-five.

His name is Chris – some of you out in blog land even know him – and he is a darling.  He came over for DiGiorno Pizza last night, and then I sent him home with cookies.

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Also, there’s this:

First Day from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

That’s my mom and her neighbor boys on the first day of school in 1961.  So cute, huh?  I hope my kids have red hair.

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At the gym last night, I saw a very skinny girl walking through the weight machines toward the locker room with a gigantic pair of hedge shears.  Just needed to tell someone.

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My current favorite word is “bunk.”  You know, as in, “That’s a load of bunk!”  Also: bunk-beds. Also: bunko.

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On Monday night, I will be seeing Patty Griffin play at the Paramount Theater here in Denver.  And if you never hear from me again, it’s because she played “Goodbye” and I melted into a puddle and was soaked up by the sidewalk.

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I cannot believe that Miley Cyrus was the “mentor” on American Idol this week.

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I cannot believe that Miley Cyrus is famous, period.

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Do you have any idea how much I want a milkshake?

Maundering pondering :: redux

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Man.  Yesterday’s post really took it out of me.  It’s not easy talking about my skivvies to the entire Internet.  I could hardly sleep last night, knowing that the words “bikini” and “thong” were just… OUT THERE.  Attached to MY HONORABLE NAME.

When it comes to entertainment value, anything that I say after yesterday’s post is only going to be a let down.  Nothing humiliating, bawdy, or awkward has happened in the last 24 hours – and even though I never set out with this as a goal, it seems as though “humor trumps dignity” is becoming my new creed.

Here’s a question: is this a plus-size model?

picture-3

I DIDN’T THINK SO EITHER.  Sheesh, Macy’s.  For crying out loud.

Here’s another question: do you call them clementines, cuties, or satsumas?

orange

Speaking of clementines, in another life, I am going to name my children Clementine, Sparrow, and Bluebell.  I can’t do it in THIS life, because what would people think?  But deep down, I love these names.  Maybe I should get some livestock – I could name a cow Bluebell, no questions asked.  When it comes to bovines, you can get away with anything.

Just watch “Food, Inc.

And… that’s all I’ve got today.