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Springtime, come hither

Monday, February 15th, 2016

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I retreat from the Internet — and lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. An introvert can handle only so much extroversion before she caves in, like a molten lava cake, but way less hot.

Seriously, you should see how non-hot I am looking these days. I am bedraggled and dried out and pallid and puffy. Winter in Minnesota will do that to a girl. After that cold snap of sub-zero temperatures, the weather has been far more tolerable — but it’s still dark and icy and laze-inducing. I am willing along spring like a spectator at a marathon, except spring is the slowest one.

Please spring, even if it takes eleven hours, promise me you’ll cross the finish line. I hear there’s beer! And have I mentioned how hot you look?

Luckily I am leaving for Hong Kong on Thursday. Hong Kong is subtropical! Granted, it’s only supposed to be in the 60s and rainy, but bring on the balm. I plan on coming back with supple skin and the will to live.

Of course, I am terrified that my plane will crash into the ocean like Malaysian Flight 370, never to be found. My friends tell me to stop being morbid, but I’m hoping that by speaking my fears out loud they will lose their power, like shining a light into a 4-year old’s closet. (Except seriously, I just wrote my Last Will and Testament. I’m not joking. Last Thursday in the back row of a music event, I had Gabe and Maia sign as my two witnesses, all “I’m signin’, you’re signin’, we’re all signin’.”)

As for Foxy, I am flying Anna in from Colorado to stay with her while I’m gone. If I am flying my dog-sitter across the country, I am absolutely the 1%. It’s time for me to accept it and stop eating the heel of the bread because I think I’m poor.

I plan on living forever, a regular Tuck Everlasting — but if my plane goes down, know that I love you all, more than I love molten lava cake. I want to see Minneapolis in the springtime though, so count on my triumphant return.

As a parting gift, here’s me on Saturday, STANDING ON A LAKE, harnessing the power of the sun because it’s all I can do.

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Negative degrees equals negative feelings

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

It’s Tuesday afternoon. I am in the Kansas City airport at one of those Southwest standing desks charging my computer and sighing huffily because my flight from Minneapolis to New York had engine trouble, so I was re-routed through Kansas City, and now this flight is delayed, so it means less time in New York, and that feels sad. I love New York (however, I do not heart New York, so don’t worry about getting me the T-shirt). But I have to get there as soon as possible because going to be 30 degrees there, and I am going to bask in the heat like a cat on a warm brick sidewalk.

Listen, I don’t want to be one of Those People who complains about the cold. Complaining about the cold is always in vain — nothing I say or do can change the forecast, because no one messes with meteorology except that dome world in The Truman Show. But I do need to say this out loud, because I am nothing if not an emoter: The weather in Minneapolis has been colder than Elsa’s ice castle of solitude, and it’s frozen me straight through to what was once my beating heart. It’s affected me on a deep soul level, because I love to be outside, and when it’s below zero, I start to want to do crazy things that people do before they freeze to death, like think I’m warmer than I am and that it would be a good idea to take off my pants (see here). So when there are prolonged stretches of days that barely reach the positive digits, I want to take a swan dive into despair. Most likely sans pants.

I am committed to being outside anytime it’s above five degrees, and on those days I’m also committed to expressing an outrageous amount of gratitude. Anguish is all relative, as is the temperature. This will be the last time you hear me complain about the winter.*

*Not a promise.

My winter wardrobe

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

You know your heart is shifting in a hearty direction when you say “It’s only 10 degrees” and then go walk your dog because “It’s only 10 degrees” means “not that cold.”

But honestly, my first Minnesota winter has not been bad. November and December were almost warm, most days in the 30s and 40s; it snowed once or twice, but then melted (an anomaly, so I hear). Some lifelong Minnesotans have said that it’s been the warmest winter they can remember.

But it is only January 5.

I had a hunch that when I came back after the holidays, winter would really start — and I was right. We’re staring down a high of 1 degree (one singular degree) on Sunday, and in preparation, I’ve been doing some online shopping. I got almost everything on sale, because is pays to shop post-holidays.

So without further ado, I present to thee: Annie’s Winter Wardrobe (most of which has yet to arrive and thus be tried on, so there’s a chance I might not keep something).

parka

I am over-the-moon excited to receive this Patagonia parka. It looks to be crazy warm, and the wind/waterproof layer is going to save my hide. Plus, how cute is the grey/green combo?

boots

I purchased Sorels two years ago, and last winter the rubber split open, rendering them a tiny bit useless in the snow. Given that I had just passed the 12-month warranty mark (13 months, to be exact), they wouldn’t replace them (cool, Sorel). I’ve been limping through with an extra pair of wool socks, but it’s time for new boots. I like this North Face pair because they are basic and have zero fur. No boots with the fur for me.

gloves

I have CHAT (Cold Hands All the Time, copyright me), so I got these. They also come in neon green and I thought maybe I should get those so I would always be able to find my hands, but then I thought… they’re my hands. (SO DUMB PLEASE FORGET I EVER SAID THAT.)

hat

I got this pom-pom hat last week and basically haven’t taken it off since. I’m wearing it right now. I will be wearing it tomorrow. I never want to be without it. Ashley knitted me an cream-colored infinity scarf a few years ago, and I’m living in that, as well.

michael-michael-kors-knit-pom-pom-hat-womens-black

And since one can never have too many pom-pom hats, this one is on the way. The little metal plate will be removed immediately because it is dumb.

img-thing

And I’ve decided to wear more fuchsia, so here you go.

Bonus items: I got a down blanket for Christmas (my heart’s desire), and also a microwaveable rice bag from Aveda from a gift exchange. If you come over, chances are I will be wrapped in one or both. I’m also traveling with a down sleeping bag in the trunk of my car. I’m also hanging tough — as is Foxy.

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More adventures in flight

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

This morning when I woke up at 5am in Minneapolis, the “feels like” temperature was -30 degrees. “How am I going to make it from the hotel to my car?” I was legitimately afraid that somewhere in that 500 feet, I would freeze, suddenly, like a Neanderthal.

But my 7am flight would be leaving with or without me, so I made a run for it. It was like inhaling a block of dry ice – absolutely wicked, not in the Boston sense, but in the Witch of the West sense. My skin almost cracked right off me like a frozen shell. But because I am rugged in my soul – a hero, really – I made it.

As we lined up to board the plane, I put in my earplugs – because the only thing worse than being crammed into a tube with 150 other people is to be crammed into a tube with 150 other people that YOU CAN HEAR. Whenever I wear earplugs, I pull my hair over my ears so no one can see the bright blue foam – but this time, there in line, I was standing next to a man who was wearing earplugs too. Neon green.

And what on God’s earth convinced me that this would be a good idea, I will never know – but I caught his eye, tucked my hair behind my ear to reveal the earplug, and tapped it twice. Just like the early Christians would trace half a fish in the dirt with their toe, waiting for a stranger to complete it, it was our secret code. We were comrades – in the war against noise!

However (and telling the story now, I suppose predictably), Earplug Man did not see it this way. He quickly looked away and ignored me for the rest of the boarding process. I found my seat (far from this fellow noise hater), and we were off.

Mid-flight, it started. Music. Loud enough to hear through my earplugs.

“Give me the beat, boys, and free my soul…”

Someone was listening to the Doobie Brothers with no headphones on an airplane, which, in my mind, is worse than sin.

While the music was loud enough to cut through my earplugs, I couldn’t tell which direction it was coming from. I waited for the culprit’s seatmate or a flight attendant to politely ask them to stop disturbing their fellow passengers (because isn’t it a rule that you have to use headphones on an airplane?), but by now we were to the head-bobbing part where everything but the drums drops out and all of the DBros are singing a cappella in harmony and still, no one had intervened.

When Eric Clapton’s “Layla” started in, I shot up out of my seat like a Whac-A-Mole. WHO IS DOING THIS. WHO. My head on a swivel, I scanned the tops of heads looking for the miscreant, but the engines scrambled the sound and garbled my otherwise bionic hearing.

By the time “American Pie” rolled around, I felt myself shutting down. Everything within me was in agreement with Don McClean; this will be the day that I die. This will be the day that I die.

When I landed in San Francisco, it was 70 degrees, meaning that today I have experienced a 100 degree swing in temperature. I peeled off my down parka, changed from Sorels into flip-fops, and caught a cab into this gorgeous city. I’m here for work, just like I was in Minneapolis for work, and while I miss Foxy, I am grateful for a week of mixing it up – because there’s nothing like breaking routine to make me grateful to get back to routine.

In the meantime, I’m wishing this is how I got to San Francisco:

Flight of the Navigator

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.

Lately

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Contrary to popular belief, the world has not opened up and swallowed me whole.  Despite my silence in this space, I’ve been out and about, alive and kicking, moving and shaking, grabbing life by the horns (or whatever).

I’m not so delusional to think that my absence from the internet has ruined anyone’s life.  But my mom said that she misses my blog.  So I’m saying hello.

A few weeks ago, I completely paid off my credit card – and promptly cut it up into little pieces.  For me, a credit card has been a crutch to help me live beyond my means, and I just grew tired of having my money already spoken for whenever I would get a paycheck.  I can’t tell you how freeing it was when I got paid the other day to be able to choose where to put my money – which, for now, means throwing cash at paying off my car.  I’m not completely out of debt yet, but after years of feeling like I just couldn’t make any progress, in the last few months I’ve started to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Now, of course, not having a credit card has some downfalls.  I can’t purchase anything that I don’t have the money for RIGHT NOW.  This means that I’ve had to say no to several travel opportunities, which is tough for me.  For the past two years, I’ve rarely stayed in the same place for more than 10 days at a time, and spent a lot of money flying to see the people who are important to me.  But for now, those days are over – and the only tickets I can buy are more of a “sacrifice” than a “given.”

But as you may recall, commitment means freedom, and in the past few months of generally staying put, I have been growing some friendships here in Denver.  I’ve been social – maybe even too social (for this introvert) – and am learning a new work/life balance.

When walking outside to my car this morning, it was 55 degrees and smelled like spring.  Supposedly, March is Denver’s snowiest month, so we’re not out of the woods yet, but… I can’t tell you how hopeful that scent of dry dirt was.

Dry dirt = hope.  Someday I will write poetry.

I’ve embraced a “sort of vegan” diet as an experiment for a month.  So far, I feel like hell and would wring a cow’s neck for a slice of cheese.  Initially, I gave up meat, dairy, and eggs, but have reclaimed eggs with a vengeance, so I am definitely not living a full-on vegan lifestyle.  I feel very scatterbrained and willy-nilly about this whole thing, and while I recognize that our food system is scarily screwed up, I think that there are a lot of ways to “vote with your dollar” and make better nutritional choices.  I’m not sure that I’ll stick with the whole “no meat, no dairy” thing – but I’m giving it a few more weeks to see how I feel.

I’m late to the party on this, but Whitney Houston died.  What a tragic, senseless ending to a life of a woman who, at one point, had everything stacked in her favor.  Didn’t we almost have it all, Whitney?  Ugh.  It’s just so cliché, and so sad.  I ran across this isolated track of her vocals on “How Will I Know.”  She was incredible.

If you’re wondering about how Toad is doing, you should know that she fearlessly and ferociously chased a raccoon off our front yard the other night. She is a champion.

For those of you who I’ve been out of touch with, I’m sorry. I probably owe 80% of my friends some kind of personal communication. Life is different these days, and I’m just trying to find my stride. In the meantime, know that I’m thinking of you (even if I’m not buying a plane ticket to see you), and wishing that everyone that I loved could live in the same place.

Mid-week update

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

I’m still alive.  I’m here.  But I have been a blogging failure lately.  Let me see if I can catch you up a little bit.

After writing songs in Nashville all weekend, I began my Valentine’s Day by walking into the Nashville office and surprising my co-workers.  “It’s a Valentine’s miracle!” said Emily, because she is the cutest.

I flew back to Denver to find all of the ice and snow melted.  After several weeks of sub-zero temperatures, I’ve welcomed the 60 degree weather like I would a visit from… something… warm… and sunny.

I am suddenly overwhelmed at all that the next few months will hold.  Between now and the end of April, you might find me in Denver, Haiti, Southern California, Montrose, Boston, Kansas City, or Nashville.  My goal to *stay put* in 2011 hasn’t really been coming true.

I am still looking for a car.

Last night, I made mango chicken curry that really didn’t taste good at all.  I’m not too proud to admit utter and complete failure.  The chicken was overcooked and the onions were undercooked, and I accidentally flung couscous all over the kitchen floor (“accidentally” being superfluous, since who ever means to fling couscous?).

This weekend will be a hunting and gathering mission – just call me Sacagawea (unnecessary? Probably).  I’m getting ready for my trip to Haiti, and leave a week from Friday.  Since there is no Haitian mail system in place, we can’t mail anything to Sarah – so I am filling her list of “wants,” including blueberry muffin mix and hot chocolate and toiletries.

Work has been keeping me busy, and when the whistle blows, the last thing I want to do is spend more time online.  So naturally, I’m behind on personal emails and blogging and such.  If anything exciting happens, I promise I’ll write about it – but if I don’t, it’s safe to assume that I’m just plugging along, living quietly, trusting Frederick Buechner’s words that “all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”

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.

Life and books and such

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Wow.

Ever since last Monday’s blog, you have returned day after day, expecting to see something new posted.

But NO.  Here a crotch, there a crotch, everywhere a crotch, crotch – day after day after day.

My most sincere apologies for the assault on your eyes for an entire week.  Last Monday night brought some sudden news that took me out of town for the rest of the week – I’m sure that I’ll unpack some of that in the coming days.

In the meantime, spring has DONE SPRUNG here in Denver.  I returned on Saturday to trees in full bloom and 70 degrees of sunshiny weather.  I don’t have to wear a coat anymore, and I am sneezing like the dickens (whatever that means).  I would be tempted to get outside and do some more hiking, but I’m home just long enough to repack my bags and fly to Nashville tomorrow night for two weeks.  I have a half-marathon to run on Saturday, and will spend some time working from the Nashville office.

Let’s talk about books.  After several false starts, I am finally reading “The Poisonwood Bible.”  Any recommendations for summer reading?  You’d better believe I’ll be reading “Beatrice and Virgil” – I can’t wait.

If you haven’t read these, I suggest:
Plainsong
The History of Love
Water for Elephants
Peace Like a River

Living here

Monday, January 25th, 2010

The Colorado air is dry.

This parched feeling is all-pervasive, making itself known in every part of my body.  My skin is the Sahara, my eyeballs, sandpaper.  I smile, and my bottom lip splits like the back of Chris Farley’s coat.  My hands are cracking, my cuticles flaking.  I cannot drink enough water.

Short from slathering myself with lard, there’s not much I can do about it.  Still, I will take dry over humid any day.

Denver is incredibly sunny – over 300 days a year of sunshine.  Right now, even though it’s 16 degrees outside, the light is intense.  Seattle being my one true love, this brightness is an adjustment for me.   My eyes are wimpy and require sunglasses basically all the time.  I’m wearing sunscreen like it’s my job; being a mile closer to the sun than I was before, I walk down the block and come back pink.  I need to get a hat – I’m sensitive, folks.  Even my lips are freckled.

I am suspicious that every person I see out and about is an Olympic athlete.  Denver is a ridiculously active city – even more than Seattle, it seems.  Everyone looks young and healthy and fit and strong.

And having run 7.6 miles at a Mile High altitude yesterday morning, I dare say that I fit right in.

Speaking of health, on Friday night, I got a bee in my bonnet.  And after a 2-hour wait at the very fabulous Root Down, I GOT MY BEET SALAD THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

beets

It was not nearly as good as Fuel‘s.  But the cheese plate and wine made up for it.

So… scratch that thing I said about “health.”