Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Week 2 Log/Thoughts and Scents of Seduction

Monday: Day of Rest, I love you. I am not running, nor am I in the rain. I can't really walk, but never mind that.

Tuesday: OMG. WTF. LMAO (that's Limping My Ass Off). Three Mile Loop, why are you so f-ing difficult this morning? I am seriously discouraged and intend to find a new route tomorrow for the 4 miles.

Wednesday: It's hard to find the street signs for my new route in the dark. Oddly enough, I'm back at the house after a mere 25 minutes. You have to smart and directionally savvy to run marathons? Ruh roh.

Thursday: Six Mile Loop. How about this--in the future, I will take care not to make a neighborhood route that passes my 2 favorite breakfast restaurants. Especially right as they're pumping out their first amazing smells of the day.

shaaaaaannoooon! Stop running and eeeeaaaaat us!

The Upper Crust: You are cruel smell-jerks.

Seriously! Just stop jogging for a little bit and eat us, tasty breakfast foods!

The Omelettry: Also cruel smell-jerks. Your savory powers of seduction made a small tear slip down my cheek as I passed you up.

Paper Route Guy: you scared me to death in your slow-moving drive...creeping up behind me and throwing stuff. Good thing you were too far for my Mace, dude.

Pre-run coffee: you are clearly a bad idea as you almost made paper route guy induce a little leakage on my part. Maybe you did, but I couldn't tell through my 5 layers of clothing.

Port-O-Potty on Shoal Creek construction site: I really really really wanted to use you. But a Port-O-Potty on an empty lot, by the woods, in the dark? Sounds like a bad horror movie beginning, especially after being creeped out by a dude throwing things out of his 5-mile-an-hour PT Cruiser.

Shadow: You normally make me look tall and thin. Why then this morning, under the full moon, did you make me look pregnant? That's not very nice. You did prevent me from banging on the window at Upper Crust and asking for a cinnamon roll, so thanks for that I guess.

People who drive around before 5:30 AM: Where on earth are you going? Leave the road to the crazy pedestrians for heaven's sake and stay in bed where it's warm and doesn't smell like seducing omelettes.

Appetite: I am really extra mad at you. You have come between me and my favorite pants. We shall not be speaking today.

Friday: Nine Mile Loop. This got rounded down to 6. And I changed the "run" to "trot/walk".


Sunday: Long Run Day. Scary nervous morning, followed by happy run on Town Lake. Heck, it was raining last time I attempted this, and this morning it was not! Nor was the route covered in smells of seduction. If anything, it occasionally smelled like duck poop, which was helpful in my endeavor not to think of cinnamon rolls.

Parent-joggers on Town Lake: Props to you. Especially those of you pushing your twins in your all-terrain double stroller. While you almost knocked me in the lake because you took up so much trail space, I still think you're utterly amazing for being able to find your jogging clothes and get those kids out the door before 9 AM.

My sexy look-alike jogs Town Lake for the entertainment of hundreds!

Girl in plaid shorts/knee-highs/neon pink shoes: How do you run on your toes like that? Props to you, too. Your Mila Kunis looks in an impossibly Catholic schoolgirl running outfit gave the men on the trail a 2nd wind for much of the 4.5-mile loop. You should ignore the dirty looks the women were giving you and continue to enjoy being sexy while running...if anything, do it for a decidedly not sexy runner.

And that was Week 2. I'm still alive, and I can still walk, so perhaps I'll keep reporting on this process.

Maybe the reward for doing something like this is getting to look like Mila Kunis while out jogging! I could get behind that. Maybe not with little plaid shorts and knee-highs, but who knows?

That might be the secret outfit to combat chafing and she's the only one who knows it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Out of the Closet

Exciting news, blogreaders (both of you).

I found the Hidden Purchaser Within. Finally!

And all it took was a little torture.

Back story? Sure, why not. This is it:

In the last few weeks it has come to my attention that folks around me have been accomplishing feats of great athletic prowess.

Feat: Carlos at my office is training for a half marathon.

Feat: Dude in the security department at work is deciding when to do his next Ironman competition.

Feat: Both Meg and my older brother have recently completed marathons.

See? Feats, everywhere! Even my dad recently took up racquetball. People are just doing really impressive stuff.

For some reason, last week I found these amazing feats particularly inspiring. And I decided last Monday that I didn't want my greatest athletic accomplishment of late to be surviving all day at work in a pair of high heels.

I signed up for the Big D Marathon in Dallas.

So I'm not a runner. I ran when I was a chubby kid, but only if there was an ice cream truck in front of me. I played soccer as a tween, but I was the goalie. Even the sport I "played" in college--rowing--is done sitting down.

If you've had the pleasure to meet me in person, you know that I am not built for speed, either. Left to my own devices and free of any knowledge of calories, I'd make a great bouncer or linebacker. There is evidence of this available via photos from my very early 20s.
This is exactly how I look while running--arms flailing and mouth gaping

Clearly this knowledge did not stop my fantasizing. I still signed up for the Big D. I downloaded a 13-week training schedule and hit the treadmill two whole days in a row. Yesss! Day 1--I ran 3 miles! Day 2--I ran 4 miles!

Feeling confident, I confided in my seasoned marathon-running coworker. "You're training on a treadmill?" he asked.

"Um...yes. Is that okay?"

Scoff scoff scoff scoff. "Sure," he told me between scoffs. "If there's a tornado."

Wind completely out of sails. Regroup.

Day 3 called for 6 miles. I was very, very disappointed to see that there were NO tornados that morning. Nor was there any heat. Seriously, coworker, why did you have to tell me that?

Whatever. I still had visions of being super athletic and finishing a marathon. I intended to complete the run.

I pulled on tights, sweat pants, and a shirt. And then another shirt, and a 3rd shirt, a 4th shirt, and then a 5th shirt for good measure. And a hat and gloves.

Similar running outfit

Somehow I managed to trot around the neighborhoods for the next hour and then roll back up into my house.

Holy cow, I made it. I even felt like I could've gone farther! Perhaps because I'd been taking in carbs like an animal hoarder takes in ugly cats, who knows.

Day 4--9 miles. Right, so same story as the day before: I donned my entire wardrobe and trotted around the neighborhood. Thank you, carbs, I did it without a problem!

Well, almost...

Okaaaay. So let me tell you a funny story about a thing called chafing.

Or how's this: I'll be modest instead and just assure you that all the internet forums addressing chafing lie. They LIE about chafing. They lie because they say it happens around sports bras and waistbands and armpits.

This is a huge load of crap. Bull, baloney, poppycock. I chafe in none of these areas.

Undoubtedly these folks are just too embarrassed to admit that chafing is a private-parts issue; they don't want to spoil their righteous image of Perfect Sculpted Athlete Warrior with tales of a sore butt crack.

Fine. I don't need to find the answer to this sad predicament on the internet. I can solve it myself. I love the prospect of underpants full of vaseline. I enjoy painful experimentation with different running garments. And it's super f-ing fun to limp around the office all day like I've been testing out my new palomino.

So yeah. The first 60 seconds of the post-run shower revealed to me the horrors of chafing, and it's been just peachy ever since. Even better, it rained on Sunday, the day of the 12-miler. Rain, but no tornados.

Let's just say the honeymoon was over. All my visions of super atheltic awesomeness were washed away in that rain. Cue the animal montage:

This is how I felt afterwards

Or actually more like this
So here I am, confessing (in a somewhat public way) that I intend to run a marathon. Mostly because I know that shame will prevent me from quitting, and I also write about it because this is what caused me to go to RunTex and buy a new pair of shoes. That's right, I purchased an article of clothing.

The salesguy was really nice. He didn't even make fun of my flat flat feet or my inexperience in choosing proper socks.

"I don't really have much of an arch," I told him as he measured me.

"Yes. I see that," he tastefully replied.

"I seem to be having problems with blisters on long runs," I added.

"What kind of sock material do you prefer?"

I laughed, then realized he was serious. "Um...cotton?" Spun gold? Hemp? Sewn-together dollar bills? What options are there?

Apparently cotton is unacceptable as it holds all your sweat, thereby creating perfect blistering conditions.

Great, the situation on my feet was my fault.

He sold me socks that, from the packaging, look like they could run the marathon better without me. Performance socks. Fabulous.

Should say "No Blisters, Cotton-Sock-Wearing Moron!"

He also outfitted me in shoes that can be seen from space. Yes, NASA recorded these puppies last time they passed over. Salesdude assured me that I'd need a size larger than my normal 9.5, and I believed him (he knew so much about socks!)

They make my feet look ugly and huge, and as you can see from the photos they are roughly the size of my refrigerator. But they are oh-so-comfortable when I run.

They don't do anything for my chafing, but again, I'm figuring that part out on my own.

Anyway, encouraged by the shoe purchase, I popped into Banana Republic and found pants similar to a pair I'd loved in a recent Real Simple article.

In my size, on sale, and ready to go home with me. Unlike the new shoes and socks, they did not make me feel dumb, flat-footed, or huge, so I considered them a great purchase.

And that's it. I've broken the spell, and I've come out of the closet...about my recent activities: I'm running, and while it's not attractive in the least, now I really have to stay committed. Because both of you know about it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Free-Range Chicken Employee Shopper

Chalk it up to inertia. Call it force of habit. Sometimes it's hard to stop what you've been doing for a long time.
Shopping? No, I know nothing but this cage. I shall stay here!

After a particularly long day of work at Mirror Lake, we'd often find ourselves gathered together in the main room of the office. The clock would clearly read 6 p.m., perhaps even 7 p.m., and there we'd remain, haggard and confused employees unsure as to what to do after 12 or 13 hours of work.

It reminded me of Michael Pollan's free-range chickens. In his book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, he exposes what he calls the pastoral story woven by big "organic" stores like Whole Foods.

He tells this story via a visit to a free-range chicken's coop, where the designation only means that the chicken has a door opened to a little lawn during the last 2 weeks of its life.

Unaccustomed to such freedom, such chickens rarely step out of the coop. The door remains open, unused.

"Hey, Rosie, what's that?" "Who knows. Let's just keep on pecking."

I remarked to my fellow employees that we were like the chickens. The door was open, but we were too accustomed to being productive in the office and didn't know how to leave.

Sigh. People very seldom find me as humorous as I think I am.

Well now I'm going to continue to beat this comparison. I can't bring myself to buy anything, but I should be having a freakin' shopping spree at this point. I'm the chicken in the coop with the open door.

Okay, okay, unfair. Unfair on many counts. First and foremost, unfair to subject you to my overused comparison. But this is my forum, so I'm only kinda sorry about that.

Unfair to compare my notbuyingness to being caged. I trust at this point you are familiar with my penchant for the melodramatic and know how to laugh with me. Or at.

Also unfair to say I can't bring myself to buy anything. I have, in fact, had no trouble pumping cash into the home furnishing economy of greater Austin. (I've also promised Brendon that I will let our poor little debit card recover from all the swiping I've done with it.) We now own a coffee table and a picnic table, so there are slightly less neanderthal-style meals taken in our home.

(A proper table civilizes the ceremony of a meal tremendously by taking the plate out of one's lap. The Clarks are a fancy family, folks. We put coasters under our beers now, too.)

I also have been privileged to visit Anthropologie and acquire a fabulous set of jammies, so unfair to say I have not bought any clothes at all. I used a gift card that was so very kindly mailed to me as a present to use on the 1st of January. Now I sit in very soft jammies when I write blog posts, and I am super thankful (thanks, Eric and Virginia!).

Actually having a conversation with myself in the dressing room. Yeah, that happens.

But the crazy shopping spree I envisioned for this month is just not coming to pass. I tried on the cutest Muffy/Spencer style sweater at Tommy Bahama, but I couldn't bring myself to take it home. Even though it would have been perfect for when we take sunset cruises on the yacht. In Monaco.

I even tried to pose like the lady in the dressing room picture frame.

"Spencer, dahling, I think I see another yacht on the horizon."

Tragic, I know. It gets worse:

I found a beautiful sweater dress at Marshalls. It was cute and such a steal and induced some crazy dressing-room-dancing.

But I just didn't...need it. The motivation to take it to the counter and make it mine totally eluded me.

You're so vain. Betcha think this blog is about you.

Same with the pants at Buffalo Exchange. Same with the shoes at Macy's.

I've lost my mojo, guys. The door's open, but I can't be bothered to go out.

I'm a freakin' chicken.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Responsibilities: I'm Looking For Better Payout

Spencer, dahling, I do believe our prompt payments have made the hydrangeas bloom fluffier this year!
As we get older and take on more responsibilities, I feel like childhood traumas and insecurities should likewise be cancelled out.

I thought about this last night after we paid the mortgage. I started to get ready for bed. There was a zit on my chin. Ew. On my 27-year-old chin.

I briefly considered whether it's just been there the last 12 years and I never looked closely enough to notice it.

Nope. Definitely a brand new blob of grossness on my face.

WTF, and I mean it. We're being...responsible! We pay grown-up bills, and we do it on time. If getting married and moving somewhere new didn't mark our passage into adulthood, all the doggone paperwork for this house should have.

I'm pretty sure I signed away acne in one of those forms.

This is how it should go:

Brendon and Shannon log on to their bank's website and make their mortgage payment. On time.
They hold hands while they do it.
They compliment each other on their internet skills.
The bank accepts payment.
The young couple then lovingly tells one another how important they are.
Then they enroll in a marriage enrichment class at the local Y and go pick up litter at the park.

And as a result, they have perfect complexions. Like adults:

Perfect World Adult Decisions Skin
Yeah, I know, we're finding out that this is not the case.

And that's not the only mature aspect of adulthood with which I have beef. There are a few others that ought to offer reciprocating benefits...benefits that should've come with the end of childhood anyway:
  • Going to work. Regularly. This should = End of Nightmares
Seriously, last night I had a nightmare about a puppy wreaking havoc at my mom's house. For some reason it was my fault, and when I tried to employ Cesar's method, everyone laughed at me.

And then I couldn't play the piano and somehow wound up naked in my Calculus class with a surprise test.

Again, I'm 27, and I go to work every day! Even when I want to sleep in. I do not want these kinds of dreams anymore.

  • Making Dinner. This should = No Longer Worrying About Not Feeling Cool
In other words, a good home-cooked lasagna should translate into invites to birthday parties and really fabulous haircuts.

    • Having a budget. This should = Not Falling Down 
    Seriously, have any of you recently bit the dust? It's pretty stinkin' lame as an adult. I mean, it sucked as a kid, but as an adult a bruise on your forearm and bandaids on your face do not reflect well.

    And you're being so responsible about spending, too. You should thereby defy gravity.

    • Not hitting your siblings. This should = No Longer Seeking Dad's Approval
    Not that I think I ever hit my brothers or sister. But I think a lot of people did. So it must be some sign of maturity to not succumb to sibling violence. 

    Love us and Dad will love you even more
    Why oh why then do I still want Dad to be proud of me? Why do I secretly hope he'll hang my paycheck up on the fridge next to my drawing of a turkey I made by outlining my hand?

    "Look, everyone, my daughter's an artist...AND she gets paid!" 

    Why do I want anyone's approval? I don't even hit when I'm mad! That should free me of this dumb trait.

    • Having a savings account with a balance greater than $0. This should = Not Having to Pee at Inopportune Moments
    I promised myself when I turned 26 that I would no longer "hold it" in any situation. I was an adult, so I would excuse myself to pee whenever necessary.

    "Good job, Shannon! I see that you're saving. Come use me whenever you want."

      This has in no way panned out. I'll wait in a meeting for hours until all the men adjourn. Even though I am now responsible enough to put a few pennies in my savings account every week, I'm still wiggling in my chair half the time.

      • Acknowledging and dealing with imperfections. This should = No More Imperfections.
      I step on the scale. The number has gone up...significantly since before Thanksgiving. 

      The digital readout on the scale manages to look like a sad face with a little tear dripping down its cheek.

      I tell myself that real women have curves, feel happy, then get off and eat the bowl of Christmas candy.

      Yup, all of it.

      This should make me weigh 125 lbs and somehow make my boobs really perky. Automatically:
        Acknowledging that I feel like this...
        ...should make me look like this. Yup.

        Whatever. I guess I'll go to work now. 

        I'll even brush my teeth and let people merge in traffic. I'm pretty sure this will result in a pony and tickets to the circus.

        Wednesday, January 5, 2011

        Meow, Right?

        Lots of awesome stuff happens at the office. I'm especially thankful for the verbal magic.

        In cubes, coworkers are often heard and not seen. The disembodied voices floating over my cube walls do all kinds of amazing things.

        One guy sings in the morning. At first I thought he just liked to listen to Seal to get pumped up for his sales calls, but it turns out he also enjoys an occasional early morning Keane Karaoke session from time to time.

        Frankly this impresses me. That's a level of self-consciousness I still haven't surpassed, and this guy makes it obvious to me by being comfortable enough with himself to have a little Mariah moment in the mornings.

        But self-confidence can go too far. And it has: meowing at the office ought to be a no-no. Well, purring at the office.

        Not a coworker.
        I heard another body-less voice on a phone conversation the other day, and suddenly it made a meowing/purring/crazy noise.

        Not a funny meow, but a more dubious one. Naughty.

        I almost didn't even acknowledge it, but then Candice popped up on my screen with a big, "NO. GROSS."

        Candice is the only other female within a meow's throw of my desk, and judging by her covert instant message, she was not happy about hearing what ought to spring exclusively from cute kittens. Or maybe also Super Troopers.

        I've heard that men, left to their own devices, often revert to more caveman-like behavior. B works out on a platform in the Gulf of Mexico, and he says there are plenty of farts, fart jokes, and "male conversations" (probably about farts, or hookers and farts).

        This he attributes to the lack of female presence and says it's reminiscent of his days in the Navy.

        Though this is kind of like the "If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one there..."

        But still I believe it. Obviously I can't say I've been around men when no women are present, but I've seen evidence of the all-male-situation effects.

        Evidence: B lived in a house of all guys in college, where many women certainly visited (often), but did not actually live. There was cinder block furniture. Dishes were stored in the sink, and dirty photos in the kitchen drawers. Now I prefer to keep my dishes in the drawers and my porn in a more private place, but this is an all-male environment, remember?

        Anyway, back to the office. My suspicions are that most of the guys at our office sometimes forget about us ladies. We aren't numerous, but we are still there. So please, don't purr into the phone. Especially around phrases like, "Ooh...that sounds hot," and "That's what she said."


        Of course, while we're talking office lingo, let's go ahead and deal with the other offenders. Right?

        You know this guy. His conversation filler is the "right?" question. Overused and really crazy-sounding, I do believe that "right?" is the over-30 crowd's "like".

        Which means that in 2.5 years, I'll quit saying "like" every 2 seconds and switch over to this one. Aw. And this is what I'll sounds like:

        "I'm the network architect, right? So what I need from you is to really look at this list of alarms, right? This is a team meeting, right?"

        Right. I get it. I really do. Why do you keep asking me that? Do I really look like I'm not following? Does it make you feel like my little brain is keeping up when you keep asking me that?

        I try to lean in a little and really open my eyes wide when people do this. I want them to see that I'm listening, that I'm processing. I want them to feel confident in my listening skills.

        I try to remind myself not to respond to each of their "right?" questions.

        Maybe I should meow.

        The Pilot is a bit funnier than Mr. Right? Why? Because he flies at work! And he wants you to see things from his point of view...way, way up in the sky.

        Perhaps even 30,000 feet. Sound familiar?

        "So we're looking at this deployment from a 30,000 foot view," he says. I'm sorry? What was that? When did "from a bird's-eye view" get a specific height?

        The cool thing is, the more important you are, the higher you fly. I've been in meetings where guys let me in on their 50,000 foot view. Once someone came back from looking at a project from 100,000 feet!

        Amazing. Utterly.


        Saturday, January 1, 2011

        Sexy Grilled Cheese Diet. And Velvet.

        Pardon the boobage; husbands cannot be trusted with camera angles
        There should be very important conclusions.

        Without shopping, there has been time to contemplate the universe. Tough, personal examinations have been made.

        The female heart of darkness is...dark. And without fashionable accessories.

        Okay, enough histrionics. Life has been just fine without purchasing new clothes or accessorizing with the latest stuff. A little challenging at times, but that's all.

        Not really sure if I'm any wiser for it. Or deeper. Or introspective.

        Example: 2 days ago I heard a statistic claiming most women think about food more often than sex. This hurt my feelings. I feel like it reflects poorly on women somehow.

        Brendon balked, immediately twisting it to imagine women thinking about food as often as men think about sex. Something cartoon-style--like we have a perpetual thought bubble above our head with a leg of lamb in it.

        I don't like lamb. I like sex, though.

        I think I'm allowed to publicly say that now that I'm married. The sex part, not the lamb. Upon getting married, I did not sigh with relief knowing I could finally freely admit to the world how I'd always felt about lamb chops.

        Anyway, so this is how introspective I've become: I decided that from now on, when I think about food, I'll change my mind to think about sex instead. I don't want to hear that statistic gaining strength. I want to single-handedly change it with my own super powerful brain.

        Brendon's playing the part of Encouraging Husband on this one. He really admires my stance on this.

        But here's how it worked:

        My growling stomach actually woke me up the first night. Like the growl was a part of the dream, and then I woke up afraid thinking a big scary creature was outside my window (that this still happens at age 27 really disappoints my whole image of adulthood).

        Adult Shannon kicked in. "Just my stomach," I thought. I must be hungry.

        Mmm, food sounds good...I mean, sexy sexy sex sounds good. Think about sexy sexy sex!

        Daniel Craig or Eva Green are EACH sexy enough on their own. This image should work!
        Try as I might, I couldn't think of anything hot n' heavy. Only hot n' cheesy. Like visions of grilled cheese and nachos and things like this:

        At least it's a sexy grilled cheese, right? 

        It was a rough, hungry night.

        So I don't know if this is going to work so well. Maybe the statistic is true and cannot be changed.

        But that's not even the point; I was telling you this to help prove that I have not achieved enlightenment through this little endeavor. Like you haven't noticed for yourself.

        Maybe there have been a few minor personal improvements. But I think I'm still the same slightly looney Shannon.

        Case in point--I went to a New Year's Eve party last night, and I chose to wear velvet. Aqua velvet, with sequins, and my disco pumps.

        What is mother of pearl? I don't really know, but it's on these heels, and it's what's saved this pair of pumps from several clothing donations. Nothing says classy like satin and mother of pearl.

        Come on now, this was the last time I had to choose from what I already own, so I intended to go out with a bang. A big hair bang, because you really ought to have crimped hair when wearing aqua velvet.

        It's been a couple of decades since my hair's been crimped. This is the sex kitten hotness I envisioned for the overall look:

        Well, without the rusty car of course. 

        As usual, my vision didn't exactly materialize. This is more of what came out:

        Gosh I love the interwebs for giving us these amazing images!
        See the similarities?

        Anyway, so now here we are, New Year's Day and the experiment is over. You're wondering if I could possibly continue to talk about myself here, and the answer is yes. I'm not finished with this post yet. Or this blog.

        Conclusions? Yes, but nothing mind-blowing.

        But it's New Year's Day and I'm a little sleepy. (That's the grown-up way of saying hungover, and I'm an adult now and use big girl words.)

        So non-mind-blowing conclusions will have to come another day.

        In the meantime, I'm going to go wash the crimp out of my hair. And try to think about Brendon's biceps instead of a big, cheese-covered breakfast.