Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Missing New Orleans

Let me just first say that I'm liking Pittsburgh quite a lot. It's really a lovely city despite its reputation as an old steel town and thus somewhat backwards and dirty. Really, it cleans up nicely. Anyway, that said, I'm having a powerfully homesick for New Orleans type of moment. For one thing, it is less than 70 degrees here, and overcast. For another, I'm reading a book set in New Orleans, and Max and I have been suggesting restaurants and activities for a friend visiting NOLA this weekend, and it's making me want to get back in the rental truck and drive another 20 hours cross country, despite the threat of Gustav (what the hell kind of name is that, anyway?), and then eat myself silly for at least a week, because the restaurants in Pittsburgh just aren't up to snuff. Le sigh.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Small towns, porn stars, and ghetto Barbie

As you could probably glean from yesterday's post, I have not a damn thing to do. I'm still unemployed, am running out of money, and know a grand total of three people in my new city - my best friend from college, who is uber-busy with school right now, Max, and Max's best friend. Needless to say, there hasn't been a whole lot going on recently. Especially since the apartment pool closed for the summer, something about the lifeguards going back to school, which is a whole 'nother rant about how I don't need a lifeguard, and they never got there on time anyway, and how my tan was getting so awesome, dammit! Whatever.

My solution to my boredom problem is threefold: First, learn how to use the camera properly. This was Max's solution when I walked in to his man cave (his computer room) earlier and declared that I was "so motherf*&^ing bored." Second, pester Max more than usual. Sometimes, as above, it yields favorable results. Third, get a library card. Despite a weird fear of library books (not the books themselves, just the germs that I'm sure they contain. I mean, how many people have held them in their unwashed hands or sneezed or something while reading them? Best not to think of it), I've managed to check out about 20 or so since I went in two weeks ago. Since I'm apparently incapable of finishing one book before starting another, I'm now actively reading 7 of them at once. In no particular order:

Dark at the Roots (Sarah Thyre) - a memoir written by a comedian about growing up in a lower-middle class family in the Deep South. At times, it's really funny, like when she details playing "Poor Barbie" with her sisters. Other times, it's funny and also really depressing, like a puppy that's so ugly it's cute. When the depressing starts to outweigh the funny, I usually have to switch off to something else. In any case, I recommend it if you like David Sedaris-type books, although it doesn't rise to the level of hilarity experienced when reading "Me Talk Pretty One Day."

Way Off the Road (Bill Geist) - a collection of essay-type stories about the author's travels through small town America. I especially liked the bit about the entrepreneur who solves the town's prairie dog problem with what amounts to a giant vacuum.

Bridget Jones's Diary (Helen Fielding) - obviously people know what this is about. A bit trashy, but I like it that way.

Written on the Body (Jeanette Winterson) - can't decide if I like it yet, or what it's about really since I'm only about 10-15 pages in. I think it's supposed to be pretty steamy, and one of my best friends swears by her books, so I'm giving it a try.

The Social Lives of Dogs (Elizabeth Thomas) - an anthropological-type look at, obviously, the social behavior of dogs. I thought it might be dry, but it's much more novel-like than I thought it would be, and I really love it so far. Good for dog people.

Harry Potter 5 - uh, yeah, I'm sort of embarrassed to admit that I'm reading this for about the 12th time, but whatever. Judge me if you want, they're good stories.

How to Make Love Like a Porn Star (Jenna Jameson) - not even sure yet. I'm on page 42, and I'm totally baffled. Like, it starts off like it's going to be a thriller rather than a memoir, and the parts of the book have names like "The World's Fresh Ornament" (that's not even the most mystifying one, trust me). However, I've watched her E! True Hollywood Story about 6 times, so why not? So far though, odd.

And if I could make a recommendation, go get yourself "Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea" by Chelsea Handler. I laughed so hard I had to leave the pool because I was starting to embarrass myself. Just don't read it if you're easily offended. Seriously though, hi-lar-i-ous.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What Does Your List Say About You?

Did you know that there are whole websites dedicated to what people put on their grocery lists? There have even been books written based on people's lost and forgotten lists of things to shop for. One author turned herself into different characters based on these lists and the people that she imagined lay behind them. With that in mind, and because I have nothing better to do, let's look at my grocery lists for this week. I'm pretty sure that they say that I'm anal retentive.

Grocery list #1 (there are two - although they contain the same items, they're organized differently)
Hmmm, bad picture, but you can probably get the point. First, ingredients are organized according to recipe, with miscellaneous items at the bottom. The list is italicized because I put each item in italics as it was added to Grocery list #2:

Grocery list #2, if you can see it properly, is ordered according to section of the grocery store, so that I can start at produce and work my way through in the most efficient way possible. The grocery store that I go to is always insanely busy, and rather huge, so it works best this way and makes me less irritable by the time that I leave.

Looking at the above, I realize now what my grocery list says about me. First, I'm crazy and probably afflicted with OCD. I'm definitely anal retentive. I've managed to somehow memorize my entire grocery store's layout in less than a month of shopping there. I like to think that all of this adds to my charm, but in any case, at least I'm efficient. And to think I was worried there might be some embarrassing item on the lists.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mmmm, gooey

So, since I started my maybe/maybe not half-marathon training 2.5 weeks ago, I've run about 36 miles. Woot! That's about 15 miles per week, and this weekend starts the longer runs. Since I nearly passed out the other day from overexertion and not properly fueling myself, I decided it was time for some sports nutrition type stuff. Enter Gu (or, in this case, CarbBoom, but same difference really). If you've never had the pleasure, Gu and its ilk are energy gels, meaning that they're little packets of carbohydrate-heavy gel that you take before and during long runs. Although they don't taste all that bad, sort of like a melty sweetart, the texture is problematic. Most of my friends are aware of my texture problems, meaning that I don't eat bread pudding, no matter what it tastes like, or tofu, or other foods falling into the mushy category. It just grosses me out. Well, Gu-type products have a texture roughly approximating that of Vaseline. In order to get it down, I basically put as much as I can in my mouth and quickly gulp some water to wash it down. Tasty, huh? However, the little packets do really work, and I went for a long run today without any of the jelly-legs feeling that I was experiencing the other day. So despite my aversion to the texture, the benefits of not feeling like a bowl of Jello far outweigh my problems with melty-Jello-like texture.

Today's mileage count: 4.1

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cranky Feminist Ranting - Update

I'm worried that in addition to sounding slightly insane yesterday, I may have also been slightly offensive. It happens sometimes. The point is, what I was trying to say is that I am sick of being coddled and analyzed simply because of my gender. I would like to watch a commercial without thinking of the meaning behind it and how it might subtly be affecting the way that I feel about myself. I would like to put some clothes on without thinking about my motivations for wearing this particular outfit over that one. I would like to simply wonder whether I look good today without wondering how society has shaped my definition of "looks good." That's all.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I Hate Ridiculous Feminists, Part 1

Not all feminists, mind you. I only target the ridiculous ones. Some of my best friends are feminists. I consider myself one. But I have to admit, I've gotten sick of every little fucking thing being related back to the fact that I'm a female. Yes, I'm a girl/woman. Yes, I have a vagina. Yes, there are breasts involved too. That does not mean that every article I read about women and such womanly attributes needs to protect me from feeling the slightest bit bad about my body. Let's discuss.

Several years ago, eating disorders became a big deal. Everything was blamed, from parents to the fashion industry. The fashion industry seems to have lost the battle. Lucifer himself has a better public image. But, as far as I can tell anyway, nothing was ever said about one's own fragile psychology. Speaking as someone who was anorexic for years, I can say for damn sure that it had nothing to do with the fashion industry. It had little to do with my parents. It had to do with me, and feeling out of control. If there was anything to be protected from, it was myself. In fact, I'm so sick of hearing the fashion industry blamed for my teenage self's poor self-image that I now react unfavorably to any attempt to protect my fragile feminine self. Screw your BMI. Runway shows are about the clothes, not about the models. There's actually a reason they pick the girls who look like hangers. How come it all of the sudden became about how women felt about themselves? Now, before you judge me for the last comment, look at men's fashion. Behold the male model:

Hold on a sec, I'm still beholding. What? Oh, right. Okay, back to the post. I'm guessing your boyfriend/best friend/dude sitting to your right doesn't look like that. I'm also betting you've never read an article talking about how ads like this are harming the poor, fragile male psyche. So why do I need to be protected? And while we're at it, there are certain things out there that aren't exactly acceptable. Fat is a problem people. You can accept it or not, but it'll still kill you. In fact, it's about to take precedence over all those cigarettes that I smoked during the bar exam.

Anyway, never mind why I always need to be protected from feeling bad about myself, why is every goddamn women's fitness post somehow about my relationship to my body and how media, etc. is damaging it? Maybe I'm wearing a running skirt because it's comfortable and doesn't ride up. I can tell you it has nothing to do with looking sexy. A fitness blog I occasionally read, however, went totally apeshit on girls who run in skirts recently, claiming that as women, it's always about being sexy and stylish and clearly shouldn't be. Obviously, it claimed, if you're running in a skirt, your main concern is clearly not fitness. Your choice of attire has nothing to do with comfort and the fact that they don't ride up (the article has since been removed since the poor author felt attacked. Apparently a lot of people felt the same way that I do about her harsh blogging, but she couldn't stand harsh criticism). Today, I read another way off post, ostensibly talking about women and their sexy clothes, but ending up totally jumbled. You let me know if you can glean a coherent point from that, but the way I read it is thus: the fact that I occasionally wear a corset has nothing to do with curviness, or sexiness, or a desire to pleasantly surprise my boyfriend. It's because I need to be both hot and protected at the same time. Protected from what, I'm not sure, but clearly being semi-correct doesn't matter in the world of women's body-blogging.

Basically, my point is this: I am woman, hear me roar, or whine, or cry, or tell you that I need to lose a few. Do not tell me that this or that or the other thing is responsible for the way that I feel about me. Do not confuse EVERYTHING with the way that I feel about my body. It is my own, and the fact is, you're pissing me off way more than the size 00 girl sauntering down the runway.

Also, can I just rip off John Stewart for a second and cap off this angry little post with your "feel good about yourself no matter what" Moment of Zen: Dove, creator of the Campaign For Real Beauty, is owned by Unilever, which also owns Axe, creator of many, many commercials featuring naughty vixens overcome by the deployment of icky male body spray, and creators of the Naughty to Nice Program, designed to rehabilitate nice girls led astray by their delicious product. Can you say hypocrite? Because I'm pretty sure that, in this case, it rhymes with feminist.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hot in Here

Another running post ahead...if you're sick of me babbling about my exercise routine, feel free to skip this one. What I really need is a secondary blog like my friend Abbott's, where I can talk about running without worrying that my core audience (of like, six people) isn't listening. That way, running people can make fun of my progress, and people who'd rather hear me babble about the rest of my life can do so here. Anyway...

Here's something I don't get. I get hot when I run, like I'm assuming most people do. This is despite the fact that I may be the slowest runner in the world. Really. Imagine yourself walking at a normal pace. Now imagine that you're going at the same pace, but you're bouncing slightly while wearing short shorts and sweating profusely. This is what I look like when I run. The thing I don't get is, my temperature when running is nothing compared to what happens when I stop. I'm pretty sure that every blood vessel in my whole body heats up and goes directly to my face, which immediately turns tomato red and seemingly pulses with heat. It makes no sense whatsoever. If someone can explain this to me I'd really appreciate it.

I ran another 5K this morning. See, I'm sort of training for a half-marathon. I say sort of because I'm not making any commitments. When I commit to running that far, I get scared that I can't do it and stop, so for now, I'm just following the training schedule and seeing how I do. If I make it to 13.1 miles, good for me. If not, well, I never said I would, so there. See, 13.1 miles is a long way. If most people walk about a 16-minute mile, it would take you about 3.5 hours to walk that far. That's probably also how long it would take me to run it. Also, there are no half-marathons coming up, so there's that too. The training schedule is set out in this book. It's written by Dawn Dais, a self-proclaimed couch potato and another slow runner who decides to run a marathon. She says if she can do it, anyone can, so I'm testing that hypothesis. I'd also like to test the hypothesis that when training for such an event, you can pig out on whatever you want guilt-free. I imagine that'll be the easier part of this little experiment. So anyway, I'm planning on setting up another blog for the training stuff, I just have to think of a catchy title. I'll let you know when I do. For now, I feel like someone beat my legs with a stick, so I'm not feeling really creative. Any suggestions would of course be appreciated.

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