The sky is falling, and other tales of woe


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.”



  1. mom on May 13, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    this is one of the messages I was telling you about last night. I am listening to it this morning, and trying to believe it for myself, and praying its content for you.
    You are loved….fiercely loved. Call the roofer! Eat the granola bar yourself! Can’t WAIT to see you!

  2. Erin on May 13, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    Love the image of you talking to the homeless guy – it’s only funny because I’ve been there, and I get it.

  3. Heidi on May 13, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    As much as I hate all of this for you, I LOVE the above comment from your mom. Keep breathing, dear friend.

  4. Sarah Kate on May 13, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    All I’m saying is that homeless dude lives in the wrong city if he does not like granola. Come on.

    Seriously though, I know your week has sucked but you brought laughter to mine. Wish I was closer and could pour the wine-or at least hang out while a repair guy came when you’re out of town. It will work out!

  5. shanna mallon on May 13, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    The paragraph about the homeless man made me laugh out loud at Provence and then read those lines to my friends. Annie! You see so much! It’s a blessing and a curse and it’s beautiful and it’s hard. I wish I could buy you dinner tonight.

  6. Stephie on May 13, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    1. We once got a ticket for expired Washington State plates while parked in DIA long term parking. Ass. Hats.

    2. I read the granola bar excerpt to my coworker and we’re rolling on the floor laughing.

    3. LOVE YOU

  7. Stephie on May 13, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    4. Apparently I’ve been in D.C. too long b/c I felt the need to clarify that Washington is a “State” just now.

  8. Andy on May 13, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Hi Annie! What a mystery is this life! So much pain for so many people. It gets hidden behind Instagrams and tweets and possessions and experiences nowadays. But some people – like you, Annie – write about what’s really happening inside. And I just wanted you to know that I hear what you’re saying here and I’m thankful you’re honest about what you experience in life.

    You asked if your security lies somewhere other than your circumstances… Isn’t that the question! Does God allow these tough things into our lives to force us to a place where we have to say, “Do I REALLY believe in you and your goodness even when there are, externally, many bad things happening in my life?” It’s tough going. I wonder if there are battles that happen in our soul between the side that says, “God is still good” and the one that says, “God has forgotten you.” And maybe the discomfort in our souls (which seems to go well beyond the disappointment of our physical circumstances) is proof that something is happening inside us in the spiritual realm.

    David wrote in Psalm 18 about a time he was under the pile. “The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.” He talks about what God can do… “my God turns my darkness into light.” But it doesn’t always happen right away. And I don’t know why. We often interpret it as a lack of his love for us.

    What if God breaks our physical lives to build our spiritual ones? To force us to the security of the unseen rather than the seen (the circumstances)?

    Maybe. Or maybe this is all just a cruel joke. I think that about 10% of the time myself.

    All I know is that when things are the darkest, all we should really focus on is the next step. Just one more step. I wrote about depression on my blog a couple weeks ago. I don’t know if you read it, but at the end of the post, I talk about walking that one more step. Here’s the link…

    I pray for you right now, Annie…. I pray God will do for you like he did for David… “It is God who arms me with strength.” Somehow. I don’t know how that works. But I’m believing he will give you the strength for one more step and that the Holy Spirit will somehow make you into the woman he desires through these difficulties. You’re a winner. Big time. Even when it might feel like you’re the loser. Forgive my unsolicited, extended comment. May God lead you in the way everlasting, Annie. -andy

  9. Rosemary on May 13, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    Annie, when my life got bad, really bad, I thought about all the people in the world who would gladly trade places with me. I had no money coming in, nothing tangible on the horizon and a house needing ALL major repairs. I finally said to myself “okay, at best I sell this place, move into a one-bedroom place and scrape together a meager existence.” Not what I’d envisioned for myself or hoped for. But, I concluded that I would survive. And so I proceeded.
    Then Joe showed up. And despite all my failures and fledgeling successes, a huge shift occurred. You may be in a better place than you know. And, your writing is a testimony to tremendous internal resources. Love, Rosemary

  10. Leigh Kramer on May 13, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    My ceiling isn’t currently leaking but I feel like I’m right there with you. There’s some good honesty and wisdom in your words, even if you’re not entirely aware of it.

    If you have room in your schedule, I’m buying you coffee while you’re in Nashville.

  11. Greta on May 13, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    Annie, you are one of the only people I know who had enough grace and wit to tell her woes honestly, but still make them so funny, and tongue-in-cheek. I laughed all the way through the first half of this (“because that’s obviously edifying”) and then just FELT for you because of how you got honest and real at the end.

    The fact that you can be honest and even humorous about these things is proof you have strength and energy to carry on. You’re not doing this alone and you’re not LETTING yourself do it alone; you’re inviting wise people (and even strangers) in, acknowledging the complexity and your not-knowingness (which is valiant all by itself) and you’re not giving up. In stating you need “to find a way to be happy,” you acknowledge there IS a way to be found, there IS hope. That’s so big Annie, and you haven’t always been there.

    Carry on AP. you’ve been through worse than this! I believe in you and in the goodness and purpose of God. Love love love you.

  12. kimberly on May 13, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    oh annie. I can’t stop laughing at your homeless granola hater. if it makes you feel any better, we were in the weight room stretching after practice this afternoon, when one of my boys asked to borrow my phone. but instead of calling his dad like normal, he plugged it into the sound system, and girl talk immediately started playing, and the first words out were MOVE, BITCH! GET OUT THE WAY! coach of the year. sooooo great.

  13. Janelle from Canada on May 14, 2014 at 5:16 AM

    Oh Annie, from a girl who feels this so deeply right now, your words are a refreshing reminder that I’m not alone. Two weeks ago I bravely broke my nanny contract (as the price of gas here went up and I was paying $500/mo. to commute). My last day of work, I got a chip in my windshield which now stretches all the way across (illegal, thus needs replacing). Monday, I started my new nanny job closer to home, alas last night landed myself in the hospital with at least two days I won’t be getting income… Oh and still single, in debt and massively frustrated with my purpose. I love you dearly and I’m so thankful for your raw authenticity and friendship. Xo.

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