My winter wardrobe

Written by hootenannie on 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).

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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?

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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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2015: Everything Changed and I Cried

Written by hootenannie on December 29th, 2015

There is no better summation of my 2015 than this: Everything Changed and I Cried.

I should caveat this by saying that right now, in the last days of the year, I am steady and stable and grateful for my life and current situation. It took a little while, but here I am.

But for the last 363 days until now, 2015 has been a doozy. One year ago today, I lived in Denver and had no inkling I was about to turn my entire world upside down with one little job application. Fast forward until now, having made it through five months of an interview process, an eventual job offer, the selling of one house, the purchasing of another, a cross-country move, the beginning of a new job (in a new role with new people and new responsibilities), and all that goes along with “starting over” in a new city, and here I stand, scratching my head and wondering where the year went.

Given that the last 12 months were a blur (I don’t remember the first half of the year at all), I figured I’d take a page from my girl Dani’s book and reflect via a listicle. If you’re a blogger (or even just a journaler), feel free to lift these questions — I found it to be a helpful way to sort out the past year.

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1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
I sold a house, moved for a job, mowed a lawn, and helped harvest honey on a friend’s farm.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
In the name of self-acceptance, I didn’t make any resolutions at the beginning of 2015. I am now feeling snarky about that concept, and would like to change everything about myself in order to be better, cooler, and prettier in 2016. My goals for the coming year will flow from this place of self-loathing.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Just about everyone, it feels like. Welcome Willa, Arthur, Adelay, Blake, Harriet, Autumn, Jenna, Griffin, Hank, Ramona, and many others! (Theo, Teddy, and Eliza just missed the cut, arriving in late December 2014.)

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, not even my car, thank God.

5. What countries did you visit?
USA all the way.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you didn’t have in 2015?
The runner’s booty.

7. What dates from 2015 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
July 3. I left Colorado and didn’t stop until I got to Minnesota.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
Accepting the fact that people do what makes sense to them, and it’s useless trying to control them. It’s even okay to forgive them.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I let my heart get entangled with someone who didn’t like me as much as I liked him. Such is life. I definitely wouldn’t call it a “failure,” though, since given the option, I think it’s always best to use one’s heart instead of protecting it. #noregrets

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I have been consistently dizzy for the past month, experiencing about two bloody noses per week (one of which occurred five minutes after I finished singing “Breath of Heaven” for my mom’s church on Christmas Eve — happy holidays). I am not dehydrated, so the only other option according to WebMD is that I have a fatal disease. Stay tuned!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A new house, obviously. But I’m also quite fond of my new pom-pom hat.

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12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Kristen, who quit her comfortable life in Denver to take a really difficult but important job in Jackson, Mississippi. Kayla, who went beast mode on her dreams and started a non-profit initiative designed to empower women. Anna Talley, who drove Foxy from Denver to Minneapolis. Becca Groves who, after being 10 days overdue, made it through a 54-hour labor to deliver sweet baby Hattie. Glennon Doyle Melton & friends who took actual action to assist with the refugee crisis. The guys with the eagle.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Donald Trump.

14. Where did most of your money go?
My fence. RIP, money.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I was really, really, really excited when I was offered the job I am now in. I also was really, really, really excited when Foxy finally arrived in Minnesota, bringing our month-long separation to a close. And I bought a ticket to Hong Kong for a trip that’s now only seven weeks away!

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
I wish I had a cooler answer, but “Stay a Little Longer” by the Brothers Osborne.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Sadder (only slightly). Fatter (only slightly). Poorer (but more money always comes). But I never want to say the sentence “I am sadder, fatter, and poorer than I was last year,” so let’s forget this ever happened, shall we?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Hiking while I lived in Colorado. I did a lot, but it’s never enough — especially now that I live in a less hike-worthy state (but nonetheless pretty and explore-able).

I also wish I had written more.

I also wish I had cooked more actual dinners.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Wasting time on social media.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
I woke up and drank coffee with my mom, then took Foxy on a walk, then read for a while, then ate grilled chicken and salad, then went to see Joy. No presents — that will happen tonight.

21. Did you fall in love?
No, but I suppose I could have if circumstances had been different. Ain’t that always the case.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Broadchurch. I started watching The Man in the High Castle this week (halfway through the short season), and can’t stop thinking about it.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate’s a very strong word, and I don’t hate anyone. No.

24. What was the best book you read?
My favorite book always tends to be the one I’m currently reading — which right now is All the Light We Cannot See.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Sean McConnell.

26. What did you want and get?
A house with a guest room, a yard, a front porch swing, and a basement.

27. What did you want and not get?
I can’t be trusted to answer this question. I could share an entire Rolodex of the things I wished for, but then Garth Brooks would start singing “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers” and I would be totally pwned.

28. What was your favorite film of 2015?
I watched so few movies in 2015. I never saw Inside Out, Star Wars, Creed, Trainwreck, Steve Jobs, Still Alice… in fact, the only movie I saw on this list of Top 100 Movies of 2015 is Selma. So I guess Selma? (To be fair, Selma was very good.)

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I went to work, had a visit from my mom and nephews at the office, and ate salmon and salad for dinner. I am now 33, the same age as Bridget Jones and Jesus.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
The runner’s booty.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2015?
Lazy and generally misguided.

32. What kept you sane?
Long walks and the occasional anti-anxiety pill (honesty is the best policy).

33. What political issue stirred you the most?
Gun control. There is absolutely zero reason why a civilian should have access to an assault rifle.

34. Who did you miss?
My girlfriends from Denver.

35. Who was the best new person you met?
Maia Tarrell.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
Don’t leave Foxy at a friend’s house with white carpet.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
When you see the one you used to love
Beneath the mistletoe
With a girl you’ve never seen before
Who’s dressed just like a ho-ho-ho

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All in all, 2015 was an exciting but stressful, transitional year that was a necessary step in order to get to a new chapter — one that I believe was the next right step. I am ready to see what 2016 holds, and I really hope it doesn’t include Donald Trump as president. Kumbaya.

Holly Jolly Melancholy Christmas

Written by hootenannie on December 18th, 2015

I know, I know. You have been observing my grace and aplomb at every twist and turn of the journey, wondering how on earth I’m such a charmingly positive and rosy person. You are amazed at my buoyant spirit and sweet disposition. I am a delight.

Alas, this is not the truth – and fine, you knew it all along. I am often cranky, frequently discouraged, and usually hungry (unrelated). And the happy, happy holidays tend to poke at me, making me want to overcompensate for what often feels like forced joy with an extra number of eye rolls.

But recently, I decided to snap out of it. I squashed down my drama, laughed at my ridiculousness, and then wrote a little song that made me giggle — a reminder that being me, crankiness and all, is actually pretty dang fun.

Holly Jolly Melancholy Christmas from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

In the palm of her hand

Written by hootenannie on December 4th, 2015

… even via a YouTube video. Jennifer Nettles has always been the real thing. All she has to do is stand there – she still sings the fire out of anything.

“I wasn’t lost until you found me.”

Finally, some good news

Written by hootenannie on November 30th, 2015

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This world can be a cruel place, cracked into sharp, broken pieces – and sadly, the worst tends to happen to the most vulnerable, whether animals, children, the poor, or the disenfranchised. It’s easy to feel small and helpless about it all.

But I’m learning that we don’t have to solve the entire puzzle. Our job is just to look at the broken pieces in front of us, and when we can, put them back together. Just that. Just today. It’s hard to see the bigger picture — but if we’re all doing our part? It starts to be that whole “on earth as it is in heaven” thing.

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Kudos to these adorable Canadian brothers for stopping their car, spending four minutes prying open a trap, and (after the greatest selfie of all time) setting this dadgum eagle FREE. This story is making the rounds on the internet as something awesome — but to me, it’s more than that. It’s redemption and deliverance and — forgive me if this is too much, but I’ll stand by it — salvation.

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Take it from Hadley

Written by hootenannie on November 12th, 2015

My sweet friend Hadley is six-years old, and one of the wisest, funniest, sweetest souls I know. I just had to share this articulate little Hadley-ism (which she said to her mama), because it cracks me up. She already gets it.

“It’s interesting how boys are so different when they’re little and when they’re grown up. Girls are mostly the same. Like, you and I are pretty much the same, except that you are in charge of me. But the boys I know don’t act like our Daddy does.”

Bouncing back and living forward

Written by hootenannie on November 10th, 2015

It is a truth universally acknowledged that we can’t always date who we want.

I’ve been both the rejector and the rejectee – and even if it’s mutual, it’s still the pits. Blame it on timing or distance or one person deciding that they’re just not that into the other; whatever the circumstance, love can knock the wind out of you.

I’ve grown really hesitant about writing about singleness online, mostly because sometimes it brings up some well-meaning but largely unhelpful responses (not from YOU, my compassionate friends. But from The Others). For example:

  • Love will find you when you’re not looking. I would wager that 95% of couples I know were “looking” when they found each other – cab light on, antenna up, and putting out the vibe.
  • Just be content with God alone – then he’ll bring you a husband. As if marriage is a reward for the very most devoted. Super lame formula.
  • Maybe you should try online dating. It’s 2015 – of course I’ve tried online dating! A bunch of times. And while I know plenty of people who have had great success with it, I hate online dating more than I hate pickles, which is a lot, which is why I don’t do it anymore. It just doesn’t jive with me. If this decreases my “odds,” so be it.
  • I can’t understand why you’re single. While I know this is usually meant as an encouragement, it insinuates that there must be a “reason” I’m single. What if there’s no reason, except that I am? I can’t give a reason.
  • You should enjoy this time. I am enjoying this time. I am traveling, spending and giving money the way I deem best, investing in friends both male and female, pursuing some passions, learning, moving where and when I want to, and reveling in the delicious silence of living alone. Silence is a gift. Someday when babies are screaming and – God forbid – Caillou is blaring, I will shoot up my veins with the stored silence of these quiet days. I am taking full advantage of this relatively uncomplicated life and living well, as best as I know how.
  • You’re just too intimidating. I can’t tell if that’s an insult or a compliment, but either way, I am drawn to men with guts.
  • Here’s a rough one: Pity.
  • And finally, my favorite flurry of contradictions: You should flirt. You should play hard to get. Stop being picky. Keep your standards high. Look for a guy at church. Look for a guy at a bar. Look for a guy on the top of a mountain. Put yourself out there. Just pray about it. Try harder. Just stop trying.

May I gently suggest some alternative things to say to a friend who happens to be single and hopes to someday not be?

  • I think you’re a catch. That is, if you really do think that. If the person is a schmuck, well, I suppose you’re allowed to say that too.
  • I’m sorry that this feels hard today. Regardless of one’s relationship status, I think we can all agree that some days are great and some days suck.
  • I am so hopeful. This one is especially good when the other person is tired of hoping. I’ve found it really nice to occasionally let someone else carry the hope for me, like a really huge backpack, until I know I can take it back.
  • You’re doing a good job. Period.

These days, I can honestly say that most of the time, being single doesn’t make me sad – because in so many ways, I love it! Even when I experience false starts. When the guy I’d been on three dates with and decided that I really liked texted me when I was at Home Depot to say he thought we should just be friends, or another guy called me before a first date to tell me that God had told him not to take me out (?), or even in the wake of a recent romantic bummer, I’m bouncing back and living forward – which is the healthiest thing to do, no matter if one is single, dating, or married.

We can’t always date who we want. We can’t engineer our lives to manipulate our futures. We can’t speed up time, and we can’t predict what’s going to happen next. We can’t control another person. We can’t “If You Build It, They Will Come” love – unless you are building a brewery.

But we can still choose to be happy. And I’m getting pretty good at the choosing.

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False humility and hashtags

Written by hootenannie on November 9th, 2015

Over the last year or so, women (and some men) have been embracing the hashtag #iwokeuplikethis, posting pictures of themselves “first thing in the morning” in the name of being #real and #authentic. While I know that some of these posts are meant to be funny, and some come from a genuine place of embracing oneself au naturel, I’m struck by many of these images as being carefully staged and posed: steaming cup of coffee in hand, messy hair that conveniently resembles that of a sex kitten, wearing a chemise, nestled up in a white duvet. The only sign of morning face is calculatingly smudged eyeliner. The images are often run through a filter, which makes anyone’s skin look like that of a glowing angel. She probably recruited her boyfriend or roommate to take the shot, after being #awakelikethis long enough to get the lighting right.

(Fine. I never found a picture that was ALL of those things – but I found those elements in a bunch of different shots, and combined them for a super #iwokeuplikethis conglomeration. You can see it, right?)

But the picture isn’t really the issue for me. I can’t fully know the intent behind each of these posts – but sometimes, they have long captions that reek of what I can only call false humility.

I’ve run across images from women (and an increasing number of teenage girls) who wax poetic about the terror of exposing their physical imperfections, only to get comments about how stunning they are. They call out their flaws, in turn receiving adoration for their courage to share. They talk about humbling themselves, which results in their followers thinking they’re amazing for being so humble. It seems to work like reverse psychology: By talking about how imperfect I am, people will tell me that I’m perfect. Some of these women have tens of thousands of followers, and when they address the question that they claim “so many” people are asking them – How did you get so many followers? – they attribute it to being so #real and #authentic.

Rather than telling people that we are #real and #authentic, why don’t we just live real and authentic?

Any of us is capable of taking something good – humility, for example – and twisting it into something selfish. I know I am. In a world where we’re taught to be defensive and cynical, we’re not exactly invited to celebrate our confidence out loud – and so we shroud our proud moments or the things we like about ourselves in a humblebrag, all the while hoping for the validation we’ve been craving all along: acceptance, admiration, and love.

What if we just said what we meant?

When someone gets a piece published in a magazine, she shouldn’t have to express being “grateful” and “humbled” by it, all the while secretly wanting everyone she knows to read it and share the link. It should be okay to say, “I love this piece that I wrote, and I’m proud as punch that this publication loved it too!”

When someone loses 20 pounds, he shouldn’t have to brush off recognition of his hard work by saying “Oh, I’m nowhere near my goal,” while covertly savoring the positive response and being hungry for more. It should be okay to say, “I know, I’m killing it!”

When someone is told “You look really pretty today,” she shouldn’t have to clam up and deflect the compliment. It’s perfectly okay to just smile and say, “Thank you.”

And when someone feels the urge to pose for an #iwokeuplikethis shot, styled however they like, it should be okay for the caption to read, “Here’s me in the morning. #iwokeuplikethis” without listing all of the reasons she doesn’t deserve to post the picture, all the while knowing she looks pretty hot for an #iwokeuplikethis shot and hoping for compliments. Sure, it’s a little narcissistic – but it’s more honest than feigning a lack of vanity.

In our false humility, we are projecting the message of “I’m not that great,” while secretly hoping that we actually are. We are assuming that there isn’t enough wonderful to go around, leaving all of the worth to the girls with the thigh gaps and perfect skin, even though we are desperate for the world to find us beautiful. We are protecting ourselves against the potential accusation that someone will find us arrogant, even when we know we’ve done a pretty great job.

But in a way, false humility is the same thing as arrogance – because either way, we’re giving ourselves too much credit.

Confidence in our worth is not the same thing as arrogance. Confidence in our worth is claiming what is true: We are unique and irreplaceable. Our worth isn’t based on who we are or what we do. Our worth is intrinsic, built-in, and doesn’t in fact depend on us – which, ironically, is the genesis of true humility.

I want to live this way. Just don’t expect me to post an #iwokeuplikethis, because the world is not ready for my nightguard. #real #authentic

Tea party

Written by hootenannie on October 28th, 2015

For anyone who is a fan of the tea served at Aveda salons but doesn’t want to spend the the NINETEEN dollars for 20 tea bags, I have discovered an alternative:

Yogi Egyptian Licorice Mint Tea

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It tastes just the same, and you can get it on Amazon for $0.20/serving as opposed to the $0.95/serving Aveda brand. That is a 79% savings.

I am here for you. Namaste.

My cattle panel fence

Written by hootenannie on October 27th, 2015

This is going to expose me for being the spoiled brat of a consumerist that I am, but here it goes anyway: I still have an iPhone 4 and it’s RUINING MY LIFE. *throws self on ground to flail*

A rundown of my first world phone problems: It’s slow. I try to slide the bar to answer a call and it just sits there. Siri is broken; she sounds like a smoker from Boca Raton. When I use Maps for directions, there’s a delay that results in me being told to exit about five seconds too late. And the camera — you know, the 5 megapixel camera that used to feel so extravagantly advanced — is absolute crap.

So when it came time to photograph the finished product of the cedar-framed cattle panel fence I had installed, the iPhone just wouldn’t do. Nay, I say to thee. This was an occasion for a good old fashioned digital camera — just like the pioneers used.

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I love my fence so much, and in a way, it’s changed my everyday life. It’s absolutely luxurious to be able to throw Foxy outside in the morning and not have to follow her; she can hunt squirrels to her heart’s content while I make my coffee. I love the fact that the entire yard is enclosed, so if I want to sit on my front porch swing (because I have a front porch swing, just like I’ve wished for my entire life), Foxy can hang around. I may not have the most up-to-date phone — but damn it, I have a fence surrounding a tiny little dream house, and that means that life is pretty extravagant.