Woe

...now browsing by category

 

In which I drain my savings account

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Back in December, a natural gas leak was discovered in the crawl space beneath my house. The inspector from Xcel told me that it wasn’t urgent, and that I could have it repaired at my leisure (pronounced “lehh-zhure” in my mind). So this past Friday, I finally had someone come take a look. He shut off the gas, unplugged all of my appliances, and started testing.

Here is how a gas man “tests” for a natural gas leak: he uses a spray bottle of soapy water to mist the joints of your pipes (not an innuendo). If bubbles form, gas is leaking.

Well, bubbles were forming. Gas was leaking. It’s much worse than I was originally told: I need a full (multi-thousand dollar) replacement of all of my gas lines – that is, if I don’t fancy a dramatic death by explosion.

This worker would have started the job when he was here on Friday, except that my gas line actually runs from my cellar out beneath my neighbor’s house, and he will need to access their basement to complete the repair. My neighbors are out of town for the next week – and since the worker said that it would be dangerous to turn my gas back on, I have been gas-less for the past three days, and will be for at least four more.

But don’t cry for me Argentina – it’s basically like fancy camping. I have a comfy bed and electricity – at least, I did until my space heater blew the breaker (momentary setback). I have coffee in the mornings and a microwave to heat up the soup from my freezer. But I don’t have stovetop burners or an oven, a shower with hot water, or heat of any kind. Luckily, this week is off to an unseasonably warm start, so I don’t have to worry about my pipes freezing. I’m cooking in the CrockPot and wearing wool socks and counting my lucky stars not to be dead even though I haven’t taken a proper shower since Thursday.

On Saturday night, I crawled into bed and tucked the covers around myself like a burrito. It was 10:30 or so, because I am geriatric – and even though there was a party with a bonfire raging in the vacant lot across the alley behind my house, I put in earplugs and fell asleep.

When I awoke to shouting and laughter, I figured that I hadn’t been asleep long since the party was still going – but when I looked at the clock, it was 3:45am. “Seriously?” I thought. I walked to my kitchen window and looked outside – and yes indeed, the bonfire was in full force.

So I called 911. (See above: geriatric.)

I asked the operator for the non-emergency line, but she said she could help me. I told her that I needed a squad car (and yes, I called it that) dispatched to break up the party, and after taking down the information, she said she’d send someone as soon as possible.

An hour later, the drum circle started.

At 4:45 in the morning, my neighbors started a drum circle.

So I called back, this time to the non-emergency line like a decent human being (720-913-2000, FYI), and asked the status of my knight in shining cop uniform. They said that the night was busy, and assured me that they would send someone as soon as they could.

I hung up the phone and burst into tears because in that moment I so desperately wanted someone else to fight my battles for me. But then I pulled myself together and tugged on my boots and marched across the alley like a BAMF/high school chaperone, and informed them that they were at least 5 hours past their bedtime and could they PLEASE stop DRUMMING around their BONFIRE.

I didn’t stick around long enough to experience their reaction. I was too mortified at my old lady rage. I did a step-pivot and scurried back across the alley, blessing the darkness for shrouding my face, lest I see these hooligans in the daylight.

I slept from 6-8am, and then got up to go on a hike with Kristen. We made it a half mile before Foxy bounded up a hill and then started limping. After checking her paw for thorns and not finding any, I carried her back to the car, which is kind of like carrying a 4-year old without the benefit of legs that can wrap around your waist. As we drove home, I passed one of those traffic cameras that take your picture if you’re speeding – which I was (54 in a 45, which also happened to be a construction zone). The camera flashed, and I can now look forward to a hefty ticket in the mail.

Foxy’s limp worsened throughout the day and her paw swelled up, so I took her to the emergency vet. The x-rays revealed no breaks, but potential torn tendons. So I spent last night worrying that she would need surgery – but luckily the radiologist called with the report that she should heal up without it [cue the angel choir] and oh by the way, your bill will be $500.

So now it’s Monday and it’s back to work and I’m still without gas and my poor pup is on pain meds and all I want is some roasted vegetables and a bubble bath, and I guess that the moral of the story is that we don’t always get what we want.

Hope you had a better weekend than Foxy’s foot and my bank account.

SadFox_cropped

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.”

Yard work

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

I’m discovering that I’m no DIY-er – which is unfortunate, given that I’m also not made of money. When I first moved into the Shotgun, I painted a few walls – the first and last act of home improvement to be performed by my own hand. The slop-job of color application has bothered me every day since, and I recently bought a Groupon to have professionals come fix my domestic faux pas.

I used my tax return to have new windows installed – a relatively painless feat, since there are only two (one on the front of the house, one on the back). But the change has made such a difference, it’s given me the itch to upgrade a few other things – namely, the kitchen floors and counters (at some point), and the backyard.

Let me tell you about my backyard. It’s tiny (the size of a parking space), it’s sun-beaten, and it has no water source. Foxy has dug several holes. The ground is dry and the growth patchy, but the plant life that does exist (i.e. weedy grass) grows with enthusiasm. Last summer, I eventually had to have a lawn company come spray the entire plot to kill what had grown to be waist-high – I didn’t know what else to do, given that I didn’t own a lawn mower, and even if I did, I’m sorry, how do you use a lawn mower?

I’m determined to stay on top of the yard this year. So on Saturday, I borrowed Erica’s weed whacker – a tool I previously had zero experience with – and went to town.

Yard3 collage with text.jpg

YARD1 collage with text.jpg

Yard2 collage with text.jpg

It’s like a really bad haircut. (And if you’re wondering what’s under that hatch, that’s a horror story for another day.)

Obviously, my best case scenario would be to have a water source, thus have a way to grow grass – so after I weed whacked, I had a plumber come by to tell me what it would take to get a spigot installed in the backyard.

I’ll tell you how much: one THOUSAND dollars. No thank you.

So I’m left without a good solution. Maybe I’ll just remodel my kitchen instead.

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.

Whoops.

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?”

“Yes!”

“Is she breathing?”

“Yes – ”

“Is she vomiting?”

“No – ”

“Is she conscious?”

“Yes!”

“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.

fox

*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.

Have I mentioned my state of physical woe?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Last Thursday morning, I was in a car accident.  Don’t worry – the Honda’s fine – or, at least she will be after the other guy’s insurance pays for a new $750 bumper.  Do you know what this means?  I am losing my bumper stickers.  All of them.  No more “FRESH BEER.”  No more “VIVA NASHVEGAS: EAT MORE RHINESTONES.”

This is probably for the best.

While my car will be spiffed up in no time, I am suffering the effects of whiplash.  My lash was whipped.  I am stiff and sore, and can barely turn to the left to check my blind spot when I drive.  I don’t even want to think about what further calamity this could lead to for the Honda.

But you can’t keep a badass down, and on Sunday, I walked a grand total of 17 miles – a 9 mile hike south of the city, and then an 8 mile walk back in Denver.  When I finally got home, with the force attainable only by a girl who had just walked 17 miles, I stubbed my toe on the couch.  I stubbed it so hard, so mightily, that I thought I was going to pass out from the pain.

It didn’t take long to figure out that my toe – the same one that I broke back in January – is blasted to smithereens.  I won’t go into the dirty details, but let’s just say that it’s swollen beyond recognition (I’m sorry, are you a toe?), and black, and the bruising wraps around to the bottom of my foot, spidering its way up the ball.

Sorry.  Maybe those were the dirty details.

So that brings us up to the present moment: ice on my foot, heat on my neck, wishing for whiskey.

Good morning.

In other news, look what happened to my sister.  She’s always getting picked up by guys.

I AM ONE GIANT STRESS BALL.

Monday, June 14th, 2010

I am flying to Nashville tonight, and am the world’s worst packer.  No, really.  War is to mankind as Annie is to packing.  I ruin everything.  I pack too little, or too much, or all the wrong shoes.

Speaking of shoes, I bought a yellow dress to wear to Brook & Cara’s wedding this weekend, and I don’t have the right shoes for it.  I’m panicking.  I don’t have time to go buy new shoes – and even if I did, what WOULD be the right shoes to wear with this yellow dress?

Also, I know: I bought a YELLOW dress, something I really thought should never happen.  But I was feeling ballsy, so I bought it.  When I told my mom, she said, “Yellow?  YELLOW?  Are you sure?”  So now my confidence is shaken.  I’m worried that I will look ugly in yellow.  It really isn’t my color, I know.  I should have known better.

Last night, I dreamed that the Honda was broken into, and my big red leather bag was stolen, along with my laptop, my wallet, and my calendar.  I was most upset about my calendar.

It’s 55 degrees in Denver, and my fingers and toes are frozen.  But I’m heading to Nashville where I am going to melt like jelly in a frying pan – and not in the good, fluttery, crush-worthy way.  In the “this must be what it feels like to die” kind of way.

All I want to do is tell you how I made homemade cantaloupe bruschetta yesterday, and how amazing it was.  But I can’t.  I can’t, because EVERYTHING FEELS WRONG RIGHT NOW.

!!!!!!! !! !! !! !! ! ! !!!!!!!! ! !!!!

If you can’t bear your ugly heart on the internet, well then.  I just don’t want to live in that kind of world.

Oh, for the LUV

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

I’ll just cut to the chase: Southwest Airlines lost my luggage this weekend.

[insert me telling you how this sent me for a minor emotional tailspin, and how I was sick as a dog, and almost broke down and gave up, but soldiered on – for the children, really, and for America]

Flying from Nashville to Austin on Friday night, I was exhausted.  I was getting sick – and I had no Kleenex.  So on the plane, to my horror and shame, I had no choice but to use my sleeve to wipe my insanely runny nose.  Multiple times.

Southwest offered to reimburse me for $50 worth of necessities until they found my bags – which, when you are in town for a wedding, and all you have is the mucus-crusted cardigan on your back, won’t get you very far.  But I appreciated the gesture, and went to Target to max out on the necessary toiletries, medications, and two pairs of underwear.

Why two pairs?  Because I wasn’t sure what kind of a dress I would wind up wearing, and any woman can tell you that different dresses call for different undergarments.  Just… I just needed both pairs, okay?  Always be prepared.

I found a dress and shoes at TJ Maxx, took a hot shower, my meds kicked in, and a great time was had by all at Joey and Sam’s fabulous wedding.  All’s well that ends well, right?

Not so fast, sparky.

Southwest decided to itemize my Target receipt, saying that they weren’t sure that all of these things were truly “necessary” to my survival without my luggage.  Things that made the cut, no questions asked?  Cosmetics.  Medicine.  Eyedrops.  Tampons.  Thanks, guys, for deeming tampons “necessary.”  You are too kind.

The complication?  The underwear.

Apparently, because the luggage was returned within 24 hours, only one of the pairs was considered “necessary.”  And so there at the Southwest counter, I was asked to indicate which pair I wore that day – bikini or thong.  Multiple times, I was asked out loud, “Which pair did you need today?  The bikini or the thong?”

You will never know.

But Southwest does.

Couches and men

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

You’re dying to know about the Great Sofa Hunt.

Here’s the thing: I wish that I could be content with just any couch.  But if there is one word to describe Annie Parsons, it is “particular” – just ask my poor parents who have watched me for 1 score and 7 years (often with much chagrin – sorry, Mom and Dad).  I am so persnickety, it’s appalling.

Because I don’t have a lot of money, one would think that I would be happy with whatever might get tossed my way – but nay, I say to thee.

NAY.

Because I don’t have a lot of money, that is ALL THE MORE REASON to invest my dollars wisely.  It might not make a lot of sense, I know, but here is my line of thinking: why spend $200 dollars on something heinous that will make me miserable and ashamed every time I lay my poor, unfortunate eyes on it when I could spend $1,000 on something that will make my heart burst with sprinkles?  I would rather pay more money once than less money what would wind up being multiple times.

The obvious trouble is that I usually do not have confetti-inducing funds just lying in a manila envelope under my mattress.  If I did, I sure wouldn’t be driving a 20-year old Honda Accord – but then again, that’s EXACTLY why I’m driving a 20-year old Honda Accord.  I could go out right now and buy a 1993 Saturn (no offense, if that’s you), but why would I do that when what I really want is keyless entry and seat warmers?  It’s worth waiting for.

Does this make sense to anyone but me?

In other words, I am still couchless.

And single, as it were.

There are probably some parallels there.

Musicless

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

I am spoiled, and I am the first to admit it.  Why, you ask?  Well, among many other reasons, I have two identical black Macbooks – one personal, and one for work.  Let’s be real: that is just ridiculous.  More than anyone could ever ask for.

But last week, my personal Macbook went kaput.  It’s broken – broken like… searching for a simile… broken like… my toe?  Except my toe has a fighting chance at mending – and I really don’t think that the computer will be resurrected.  I turn it on, and it pulls up a white screen.  That’s all.  It’s like the moment after Juliette hits the bomb with the rock, except it never skips to the credits.  Eternal nuclear uncertainty.

Get over it, Annie – right?  I mean, I have a WHOLE OTHER COMPUTER.  But my personal laptop held all of my iTunes, all of my pictures, all of my super secret documents that no one is ever allowed to see.  Most of it is backed up on an external hard drive, but I don’t want to put it on my work computer.  So there it will remain – locked up forever.

Mostly this is bad because I want to sync my iPod to my iTunes to get my new music and podcasts.  And not only can I not put them on my iPod, I can’t even access my iTunes at all.  I am SOOOOOOO BORED with my current selection of songs (I only have ninety million or something).  And Ira Glass is saying things that I might never get to hear – which makes me panic.

IRA!!!!  I NEED YOU!!!!!!!!

I had recently downloaded Sara Groves’ latest, “Fireflies and Songs,” but have no way of hearing it again.  Lady Antebellum has a new album released today.  The Handy Graham recommended Sarah Jarosz – and since he was the first one to tell me about eastmountainsouth, I trust him – not that it matters, since I can’t get my grubby paws on these songs.

Today, I have India Arie and Phil Collins on YouTube.  It’s all I have left.