Friday, May 29, 2009

Behold Your Fashion Future

I like to think of myself as a stylish lady. I fight the frump with killer heels, never leave the apartment without at least a little lip gloss, and have pretty much bought every dress that has ever been made. I figured I would roll into middle age and beyond with fabulosity and age-appropriate cool.

That is, until this morning. I realized that today's ensemble (bohemian top, capris, stripper-hippie heels, jangly bracelets) was just a few steps removed from an all-out Chico's catalogue doomsday. It's an easy and witless slide, like alcoholism or voting Republican.

Step one: Trade the bracelets for the dreaded Statement Necklace.

Step two: Trade the sexy heels for some sensible slides.

Step three: Trade the (somewhat) skin-baring top for something looser and less revealing.

Step four: The worst of all. The horror. The humanity! I'd trade the capris for something with a drawstring waist.

And the final result?

Not that I don't love Bea Arthur, because heaven knows the woman rocked...but that doesn't mean I would ever want to dress like her.

In the comments, tell me your fashion future. Or make me feel better about being only four steps removed from Dorothy Zbornak.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If I Die in a Bizarre Avocado Accident, Who Gets My CD Collection?

My guardian angels are probably sick of me.

I was a particularly loud, disobedient, and accident-prone child. Every time we drove past a church, my mother would contemplate leaving me on the front stoop. (By high school, she'd finally given up on this idea, as I could find my own way home.) Mom spent my first decade bouncing from one ER to the other, holding me down while I got stitches, and explaining that any Superman impression performed on a three-dollar skateboard would most likely end in tears, a fat lip, and a shattered garden gnome.

Adulthood hasn't improved matters. While I can somewhat modulate my voice, and I've grown a fairly reliable conscience, I'm still not too cognizant of safety matters. My nickname at the office is "Workman's Comp," taken from the (many) times I have stood on rolly chairs to reach the top shelf.

Home is just so much worse. I routinely stand on rickety stools, because I'm too lazy to buy a stepladder. I'm a self-taught cook, meaning that I chop vegetables in a manner reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands doing an impression of the Swedish Chef. I also cook on my gas stove while wearing long scarves, because, really, one must don their dangliest accessories when leaning over open flames.

But Monday was my finest moment. Not only did I do something so boneheaded I impressed even myself, I managed to find the only true flaw with being single and living alone:

When you live alone, and you're elbow-deep in avocado ectoplasmic goo, squishing, mashing, and making a fine mess while preparing guacamole...what do you do when the phone rings?

If you're a sensible person, you let voicemail pick it up. If you're a little more tightly wound, you grab some paper towels, and use them to pick up the phone. Or, if you're a little more peculiar, you're so busy playing with the avocado ectoplasm and rattling off Ghostbusters quotes to yourself that you barely even hear the phone.

However, if you're me, or someone nearly as special, this is what you do:

1. Attempt to answer vibrating, skittish cellphone with elbows.

2. Realize phone, elbows, and sleeves are now covered in avocado goo.

3. Watch phone squirt out of ninja elbow grip, slide across the counter and plummet into the sink.

4. Press phone between the elbows and lift.

5. Attempt to slide open phone, again with elbows.

6. Realize the futility of the situation.

7. To hell with futility. Futility is for wimps, losers, and German philosophers! Retrieve Wusthof chef's knife from counter.

8. Using chin, elbows, and a big scary knife (which wobbled quite close to both the chin and elbows), wedge open phone just before voicemail picks up.

9. Carry on conversation as normal.

In the comments, refuse to ever come over to my place for dinner, ever ever again. Or remind me what percentage of accidents occur in the home.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'm a Costco of Emotion

I have a surplus of feelings. I pull them around after me, like a little red wagon that comes to life and squawks for attention at irregular intervals. I laugh too loudly, and turn pink and ooze tears at the slightest provocation. I smirk at my own reflection, wince constantly, and jump out of my seat every time the phone rings.

My school reports had two main assessments: "has trouble with spatial relations," and, to no one's surprise, "high-strung."

I have yet to find a way to harness this surplus, and pass the savings on to you. I had a week of accumulated traumas and stresses, the sort that would be deemed a perfect storm if 'perfect storm' wasn't my second least-favorite cliche in the world. (The least favorite? "At the end of the day." That one makes me laugh, turn pink, cry, smirk, wince, jump, AND groan. I hurl metaphorical Gummi Bears at anybody who says it.)

So let's just call the last week one big honking mess.

And now I'm left with a new supply of surplus emotions, and nowhere to put them. And I think the best test of emotional maturity is knowing that you can't help what you feel, but you can help what you do about it. So what do I do about it?

Am I supposed to squash down all my ugly feelings until they explode from my ears, flood everything in sight, and eat away at the furniture like a hot-pink acidic Pepto-Bismol of the damned?

Or should I go condiment-style? Should I let out my feelings in tiny bursts at inappropriate times, like ketchup bottle explosions in rousing protest against receiving mayonnaisse on my hamburger?

Should I go numb, like a soul that has been strapped to a low-velocity vibrator for over twenty years?

Shall I do something constructive? I could build a beautiful cathedral out of the Popsicle sticks of my stress and pain and self-doubt. But with the real estate market being what it is, maybe I ought to be building townhouses or Dickensian debtors' prisons.

Or, I could mold my feelings into abstract clay forms and sell them at auction. But would there be any buyers?

Or, I suppose I could tell you all about it, but not really tell you, because these images don't even make sense to me. As far as outlets go, it's a pretty good one.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Warning Signals I Always Ignored

My wise and adorable friend Lemmonex offered some great tips today on mistakes women make while dating. They're mostly of the self-delusional, "I love him! I can fix him!" variety.

I thought I'd add some tips to help women determine whether their boyfriends are bad news, or quite possibly psycho loonies. As my last breakup involved changing the locks and circulating his description to my neighbors, landlord, and employer, I feel I am uniquely qualified. Much of this knowledge comes from over sixteen years of hilariously iffy taste and a kamikaze, devil-may-care approach to dating. (Also, I might like to learn things the hard way.)

Here, in rapid-fire list format, are the top ten ways to determine if the person you are dating is quite possibly a narcissistic emotional intelligence-deprived psycho loony:

1. He takes everything personally. My last boyfriend sulked for hours because he didn't like the ending of Slumdog Millionaire, and, in fact, felt the entire film had been deliberately engineeered to personally disappoint him.

2. Every cab ride home is contentious, usually because you're rehashing every microsecond of the evening to determine who behaved like the bigger dink.

3. He believes he's a vampire. (On the other hand, he had a leather jacket, drove a sweet vintage Mustang and my parents couldn't stand him. That's pretty hot for Hoodbridge.)

4. His idea of fun is spray-painting "Whore Bitch Slut" across the side of your house. Note: This was after my mom called the cops because he'd toilet-papered our trees, leaving me and my sister to pull everything down while Skye came up with a song called, "The Toilet Paper Trees Are Ready for Harvesting."

5. He has a bullet still lodged in his left thigh and an imaginary modeling career.

6. He wants a relationship. But he doesn't. But he does! But he doesn't!

7. He stops by your house to say hi. Your house in Woodbridge. Note: He lives in North Carolina. Also, I cannot remember if this was before or after he threw a rock through his own windshield and told people I'd done it.

8. You break up over a turkey, and the turkey was so totally worth it.

9. He doesn't like your friends, because they don't like him. Note: Friends? Almost always right in these cases.

10. He gets bitten by his own dog.

Anyone have one to add?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hair Crowdsourcing: The Results

I’ve been known to do some very awesome things to my hair color. There was that time in ninth grade I let my friend Molly give me a Manic Panic purple stripe. Or, there was that time in college I decided jet black would totally work on me…only to nearly jump out of my skin every time my hair would fall into my face (I thought it was a coordinated spider assault).

After a late rally for red, I decided to split the difference and go auburn. I also decided the easiest path was to hit the toiletries section of the Chinablock Bed Bath & Beyond. On Friday. After happy hour. And to take Zipcode with me and allow her to pick out the shade.

Well, really, it was a collaborative effort. We hovered around some Feria boxes, and a clerk suggested that we try her shade. As I’ve always said, anyone in a smock possesses the wisdom of Solomon. So we grabbed the box and drank our way down to Arlington.

Saturday, I decided to dye first and drink later. Wise, no?

I began to dig out my equipment: the box of dye. Olive oil (it gets hair color off skin). A 1995 counterfeit hfsTival t-shirt, complete with typos. And then I decided to look at the instructions.

I liked all the ones in all caps and boldface. CAREFULLY OPEN FERIA COLOR BOOSTER TUBE. USE CAUTION WHEN OPENING THE BOOSTER TUBE. DO NOT TAUNT HAPPY FUN BOOSTER TUBE. (Note: the contents of the booster tube were an arresting shade of menstrual red.)

After about an hour of smearing gooey dye into my hair, and then letting the color develop, it was time to rinse. Normally, you rinse out, then condition, and you’re done.

Not with this stuff. It’s always nice when your hair coloring has a half-life of a thousand years. I had to use the Rinsing Shampoo, which also included lots of capital letters and boldface. IT IS IMPORTANT TO SHAMPOO TWICE AFTER RINSING OFF MIXTURE TO AVOID STAINING ON TOWELS OR CLOTHING. Hrm. It took three passes with the shampoo, and about twenty minutes in the shower, to get all the dye out.

As for the results, well, they’re interesting. I don't post photos of myself, so you'll have to use your imaginations. It turned out exactly like the color on the box…the box of animal crackers, that is. I’ve dubbed this shade Thermonuclear Auburn, and it tends to glow preternaturally in the sunlight. It’s sort of fun, really.

Though, maybe next time I'll consult a professional. Or, at least, take a Breathalyzer with me to the drugstore.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Crowdsourcing My Hair

I suffer from a highly conflicted form of vanity: I don't really care too much about how I look, but I want a lot of attention for the fact that I'm not vain.

I've spent the last two days demanding that my friends choose my next hair color. Stick with the reddish, or go back to dark brown? Granted, these changes are so imperceptible that I'm more or less asking them to choose between ecru and bone. (What? Exactly.)

The scariest option so far has been that I return to my natural color (thanks, Tyler!). Sure...if I had the faintest clue what that was. In fact, one of the meanest things anyone can do to me in a round of Trivial Pursuit is ask, "For the pie...WHAT IS YOUR NATURAL HAIRCOLOR?" My heart stops for a minute, then I realize the joke. And I start to throw things. (I'm a little slow on the uptake...I had to be TOLD Spinal Tap wasn't a real band.)

Then there are suggestions that I get highlights, or go to a salon. No way...that's like saying I should upgrade from my Wal-Mart brand cocaine. Whatever a salon can do, I can do better with a $9 bottle of Feria, two glasses of wine, and some olive oil for the inevitable drips.
Now that I've written an entire post about my hair, it's time for you to vote. Red or brown? And, since I don't post photos of myself, many of you are doing this blind. That's what makes it awesome.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Tale of Happy Fun Loft

Our sophomore year of college, my roommate Hoyden and I seized upon a wild and brilliant idea. We would loft our beds! We'd maximize our floorspace! It would be completely awesome, like a treehouse with booze.

The first step was finding a loft. We rapidly procured one from an off-campus Christian collective for $40. Several "facts" were left out of this "deal."

1. The loft had been stored in some sort of medieval dungeon, and the wood was damp and warped.

2. The loft, a double, was actually the size of a small village.

3. Make that a BIG village.

4. The loft required assembly.

So, once the Christians had departed, it was time for the Stoners. See, down the hall from us, there were these two guys. They were, without a doubt, the most famous people in Alexander Dorm. (Even more famous than the guys who would stay up all night watching pornographic screensavers, and then sleep all day, mostly because the Porno Screensaver guys had all flunked out the year before.)

The Stoners were the only people on the hall with a toolkit. The toolkit was used to construct proceedingly more elaborate pot-smoking equipment. I have a theory that if one-tenth of one percent of the energy devoted to Weed Science was directed toward the other sciences, we'd have cured cancer and colonized Mars by now. They grew pot in their room, held Harvest Festivals, and still achieved GPAs that were approximately double my own.

Hoyden and I seized upon a plan: we would ply the boys with liquor, and they would help us assemble our loft! Flaws in the plan:

1. Stoner guys are not master builders.

2. Being 19-year-old girls, our drink of choice was the glorious, calcium-fortified White Russian.

3. Stoner guys drinking girl drinks are really not master builders.

The loft was eventually...aloft. Thanks to the warped wood, lack of instructions, consistent errors in spatial relations and the varying levels of sobriety involved, our loft resembled a sort of lumberyard parabola. The slightest of touches would set the whole thing quivering like a porn star gearing up for her big interracial stereo repairman scene.

We dubbed it Happy Fun Loft. Do not taunt Happy Fun Loft. Do not have any sort of active dreams while sleeping in Happy Fun Loft. Do not have any sort of, uh, active in Happy Fun Loft.

The final step was Loft Inspection. We passed with flying colors. Those flying colors being:

1. Screw that minor in Women's Studies! Time to flirt with the inspection guy!

2. Hey, that redhead from Maine thinks you're pretty cute.

3. What? She totally does!

4. We passed? Thank you! Thank you so much! (There may have been a curtsy.)

5. Hoyden, I didn't REALLY pimp you out. It was all implication. A pimplication, if you will. A pimplication for the simplification of our lives.

Happy Fun Loft survived many things. Parties. That time I stood up and vacuumed the quilts. More parties.

And, lastly, what is either the best punchline of any blog post of mine, ever, or, completely abundantly over the line of good taste (stop reading NOW, Skye! Look over here! Otters are awesome.):

I lost my virginity in Happy Fun Loft. The loft didn't wobble, not one little bit.

I spent Winter Break wondering what all the fuss was about.
If you have an even less dignified tale of virginity loss, you are welcome to post it in the comments.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A Dear Mom Travelogue

Back before the Internet, when we'd wear bonnets and churn our own butter, I used to come up with all sorts of ways to practice writing. I'd write letters to whomever I happened to be thinking of at the moment, from wherever I happened to be. I've decided to get back in the habit, because everyone loves to get a letter. But, as a nod to modern times, I'll be posting them online as well. (Next step? iPod. Oh, who are we kidding?)

Dear Mom,

I write this from somewhere between Minneapolis and San Francisco. The family in front of me is wearing surgical masks as a classy nod to swine flu. It's a level of paranoia that would do Australia proud. I am in the window seat, and the young man next to me is so profoundly asleep that he is most likely still drunk from the night before. Naturally, this is the time that my bladder has decided to assert itself.

More pressing is the teenager in front of me, who feels compelled to punch me in the kidneys every time she rummages through her seat compartment.

On the plus side, I had the entire row to myself from Washington to Minneapolis. And, on both flights, I was gifted with a full can of ginger ale. (Though, considering I've yet to extricate myself from the big sleeping dude, I may live to regret that one.)

Victory! Restroom achieved! On behalf of my entire endocrine system, thank you Jesus.

Come and visit me soon, just try not to sit next to the sleeping Colossus on the long haul from Sydney.

Love, Shannon

Monday, May 04, 2009

What Have You Done, Lords of Science?

It's budget season at work. We each submitted proposals on how we could spend money in creative ways, that would make us better at our jobs. As I am a thoroughly sick human being, and a bit of a narcissist, and I love clones, and my proposal was looking a little thin...I included self-cloning as a bullet point.

As I am more thoroughly sick than you ever realized, I even asked my friend Len at the Max Planck Institute in Potsdam, Germany, to run the numbers and come back with an estimate. And, because Len is also a thoroughly sick person, he did it!
Here we go:

Hey Shannon, goodmorning.I just did a total cost based analysis for the cloning and then had it wiped away by a Netscape page change.

So you now get the short answer:

budget: around 75K mostly for surgery (ie. egg isolation and embryo implantation)

company: to cover costs, around 150 - 250K

This is also assuming that they can get the science perfected, but to be honest, the procedure itself is quite simple.

1. isolate egg from you, remove nucleus - easy

2. isolate cell from you - easy

3. reprogram cell back to totipotent status (like a stem cell) - hard

4. put nucleus from 3 into de-nucleated egg -easy

5. let develop into embryo - hard

6. implant - easy

7. nine months later change diapers - hard
the scientific problems are mostly with steps 3 and 5, which are connected.
Basically what happens these days is that the embryo grows to the blastula stage and then things go wrong.The other option is to put you in a zerox machine, but then you would come out black. How about a mimeograph maghine, then you would be blue, a bit smeared, and smelling of alchol. :)hope this helps!gotta go work.


First off, Len, I am pretty much always blue, a bit smeared, and smelling of alcohol.
Second, this totally doesn't jibe with my plans: which had been to create an army of insta-Shannons. You could each have your very own me! I could give myself out as party favors, send my clones on first dates so they could report back as to whether I should attend the second date, and perhaps, if I found the time, take over the world.

But, until the science catches up, you'll have to just settle for one of me.

(If you heard a wheezing sound, that was the entire Earth breathing a sigh of relief.)

In the comments, tell me how many clones you'd need to screw in a lightbulb. Also, let me know if you'd like to start a band called, "Blastula Stage."

Friday, May 01, 2009

I Left My Brain in San Francisco

Wednesday, my alarm went off at 4:00 am. I was awake and showered before my newspaper was even delivered. I made it to the mythical Terminal A of National Airport, got patted down by the TSA (and, uh, kind of enjoyed it), and wound my way to San Francisco.

Wheels down in San Francisco 11:30ish their time, hit the hotel at 12:30, check into my complimentary suite (free suite, bitches!), frantic changing of clothes/ironing a blouse while I was wearing it/patting down my hair with body lotion, lunch meeting at 1:00, site visit until 5:15, dinner reservations 5:45 (Slanted Door! Yum! Until I fell asleep face first into my glass noodles).

I realized I was too tired to party like a rock star in my rock star suite, so I settled for catching up on some work and doing a lap of my parlor, singing We Are the Champions. (Incidentally, that's how I react to all the good things in life.)

Thursday, up, showered, 8:30 flight, back in DC 7:00, home by 7:30, completely conked out by 9:30.

My circadian rhythms have a techno beat, I've spent the last few days in airports among people wearing surgical masks, I've sent nearly a dozen bizarre text message distress signals, and, moreover...the next jackass who reclines his seat until his head is in my lap is at least going to have to buy me dinner first.

My brain is fried. More next week.