Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Pain - And Art - of Perseverance

Painting and running and reading and writing are all about the same. Start with a blank canvas before you. The artist. Take a breathe and take the plunge. At first, it's dark. It may take some time to adjust to the lighting, the air, the crispness of a jacket unbent, the brittle brushes, the uneven sidewalk or the very idea of plunging ahead when it makes so much more sense to stop and take a nap in front of the tv.

But keep going. And stay with me here.

The first mile or so, the first chapter or so, the first layer of acrylic...it's all the same to me. Painful.

But something in us tells us that it'll get better if we make it past this period of frustration. And more often than not, we keep going until we realize that moment of ugliness is behind us.

With running, it's about 1.5 to 2 miles. Rarely do I stop running before 4 miles and if I do, I force myself to endure another type of conditioning...mental conditioning...as in, I find it difficult to live with myself when I do not regularly run. So I make myself do it and feel great about it when I'm done. If I do endure pain - and I do - it falls on deaf ears.

With painting, it's when I make the transition from acrylic base coat to oil. Ahhhhh...oil...how I adore thee. Now that doesn't mean I have only one acrylic base coat. No. No. No. I could have dozens. You'll never know. Just know that I have both ears. And they are really nice ears, too.

With reading, I learned a long time ago that it's a duty and privilege to make it to the first 100 pages. If the book doesn't capture my attention by then, I am free to let go and maybe someday try again. (This happened to me the first time I read Anna Karenina. I cried for days to get through the book. Then when I did I hated it. Since that first time, I have reread it twice and have loved it each time. I cried still, but tears of things in addition to, and other than, pain.)

A place to start is indeed

A place to start...

An evening of my art

To get some sunshine into the darkness of Vincent...
this is a painting i did and a flower i am thinking about doing.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Who, among us, does not live too much in their heads? It's so easy to do because there is only so much living we can accomplish before we gotta take a break. We run. We write. We paint. We read, search, clean, walk, cook (or rather heat up) and stew. The rest of the time is spent thinking, talking and drinking.

I use the content of what I read - online, newspapers, favorite and/or mind-numbing bestseller fodder, literary periodocals, fashion and beauty magazines, billboards and more - to keep me running long distances. My mind never stops, so why should my body? It may not appear to be normal or even sometimes healthy, but the fact is that what I read I digest and analyze long after I have physically separated from the source of info.

So after my morning ingestion of one bowl of cereal, two cups of coffee and a banana, I'll grab the puppy and off to the trails we shall go. Now, I'm not at all certain what goes through the head of the dog, but for me...it's generally a theme of things that were either positioned well or well positioned. I call it "trendspotting." And to me, it means content that will allow a person to effectively communicate on all levels about trendy "hot" topics that deal with adult subject matter like technology, investing, marketing, sports, money, kids, real estate and career stuff. It's not too tricky. And you don't have to read or know everything. You just need to be familiar with the middle section of the WSJ, plus some fun stuff too. Keep up with all the kewl kids, ya know? That's why today I am featuring my latest points to ponder in trendsetting.

1. This idea of an "open internet." Check out the FCC recommendations on what needs to be done so that people can enjoy the internet and keep their privacy at the same time.
2. "Absurdity" in corporate marketing. A little diddy by IBM's self-proclaimed zany ad guy. This type of story makes me hopeful for two reasons: I am zany. I like absurdity. Especially in something as dry as corporate marketing.
3. "Listenomics" the Art and Science of Listenomics. The chaos theory meets internet meets techno geeks meets hollywood. Everybody knows that the nerd in high school is where it's at. You can read a few free chapters at this site or check out all the other places that have published more.
4. Nike Lunar Glide...it really is rocket science. Some stuff that NASA developed to store the shock and propel you in cushion. These are the very same shoes that my local running group is offering to members for a trial period. I've been afraid of the shoes for two reasons: I am new to the running group and didn't want to bother the Nike rep...aka...didn't want to look like a dork. 2. They are u-g-l-y. And I didn't want to look like a dork. I will be using the shoes at my next running club mtg. Who knows...maybe I will feel 10 years younger...
5. Speaking of rocket science, agelessness and innovation...Moon Zappa won't feel ten years older. Today she will feel 42. Happy birthday Moon Unit!

A Road Less Traveled is Like a Sock Never Worn

Terrific. Scientists are developing washers and dryers to be smart enough to power down during peak utility hours in order to save folks money.

[And who doesn't LOVE money?]

That means we can be washing our laundry at 3 am instead of sleeping, in order to save a few bucks. Not bad, but come up with the dryer that kicks out that pile of second socks and we have something real to celebrate. Talk about saving money. It took me forever to find the perfect running sock. Literally, I only found one and the dryer ate the other. Twice. Ugh. So now I run around with one right foot labeled Teko and one unnamed generic sock on the left. Check out a few reviews for yourself at Runner's World as they attempt to write up a run down on darn socks. My preference is to make sure that the sock has wicking technology because nothing is worse that slipping and sliding in your own foot sweat. And I know it sounds ridiculous, but I prefer the socks that are marked one for the right foot and one for the left foot. It makes my feet feel special. Plus, when I wake up early and hit the trails, I sometimes don't wake up until the third mile, so having someone else dress me is essential. Finally, the cuteness factor is actually not a bad thing in running. Some people have lucky socks and some people show off a little individualism via their footwear. During a longer run, it's not a bad thing to focus on. Finally, a sock should be comfortable when in the shoe and when walking around the house. If it's too tight or the arch support is too lax or too constraining, it'll only seem worse after you start into a run. As with most advice in life, if it works...use it. If it doesn't...don't.

Just be careful when you choose to use. You could end up saving money if you play your cards - or wash your socks - during the off peak hours.

Friday, September 25, 2009

She Ate Her Own Kidney?

Check out this headline:

"Runner Survived 3 days without water -- with one kidney"

Is it me or does that almost imply that she almost had to eat both kidneys? Or perhaps she intentionally rationed herself to only one kidney in order to see what she could withstand. I can see her live interview:

"Phew! I was really getting worried there near the end! Sure glad you came to get me when you did!"

There are problems with this story and the way it is being reported for sure. The fact is that it's not a story at all. Nothing horrible or wonderful happened. Runner woman ran off and got lost. People found her later and she's okay. End of story.

Fact is, the part of her story that is amazing is what is truly lost. This lady is a ultramarathoner. That's a person who can run 100 miles at a time. A person, I said. Not using a bike and not driving a car. 100 freaking miles in running shoes with water on her back. Now that's a story!

Tell me more about this. I'm interested because I'm a runner. But I'm no ultramarathoner.

The trouble here is that some editor thought..."how can we make this bleed? how can we make this controversial? how can we make this appeal to EVERYONE?"

The answer? You can't. Just do the best you can and you'll be successful.

Ha! So much easier said than done...

An afternoon of crap...

A fine pile of garbage pressed together. (I realize it's blurry. Consider it a favor.)

An afternoon of art...

impressionism at its finest

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ageful Rageful Wear

A quick follow-up to yesterday's rant of how much I hate beauty products that promise to make us look younger if only because we can no longer afford to eat thanks to the high price of youth...I turn on my handy dandy laptop today to find this interesting article on a fast approaching immortality...http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/6217676/Immortality-only-20-years-away-says-scientist.html

Really? Do we want to live forever? Somedays I'm pretty sure I don't want to make it past lunch.

Anyway, if we do in fact, live forever, I want to wear something by fashion clothes designer Dallin Chase. I stumbled across this little ray of sunshine after a friend sent me to Sierra Trading Company to look for better running shoes. (Yes...as a sidenote...I am finding it difficult to continue a hard core workout regiment now that the half marathon is over...) And alas...Dallin was in my lap. And love it do I. The ultimate wear-ability meets high couture. It's all the rage these days. Really fun pieces that can also make a way into the office or a late night date. Good stuff.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Agelessness Overated and Overpriced

So I'm having some imsomnia lately. I blame it on the pre-marathon jitters. But now that the marathon is over, I will blame it on the fact that it happened so fast.

It's a lot like the aging process really. We do nothing but ache for days when we are older, more independent, happy and 21. Right?

Then that time comes and we are drunk for an entire year. Maybe we get married or have kids or graduate with a degree in something that didn't require much effort. Like law. Or engineering. Or corporate bullshitting. But I digress.

We awaken to decide that growing up - old - is not nearly as fascinating as we would have come to believe. In fact, most of us would go back to experience some of the finer things in life...like traveling abroad, traveling alone or better, entirely avoiding the walk of shame. In some cases, it was the run of shame, yes?

So that's why I find it especially painful to open my inbox at 4 am after yet another sleepless night only to be acousted by this. "Ageless hair technology," it is called. My ass. $195 for a tiny tube of something that promises to take the bite out of how old and pathetic we feel each and every morning? So light and airy that it's perfectly fine for every day use? Come on now. How gullible are we? Of course you want us to use it every day. It costs $195 per bottle. That's nearly $10 per use. Talk about salon products in the privacy of your own bathroom. Apparently they come with the salon price too. (Isn't this the same concept as buying a tiny tub of Ben & Jerry's for $40? Who would do that? Don't answer if you would, by the way. Bad idea.)

Here is my take: these brilliant marketers have caught on to what I call the "ageful" factor. It's a combination of the normal aging process, rage, awful, regretful and more things rolled together to form this hybrid idea of people and products who are - or suffer from - the ageful factor. It's a time when folks - generally women - hit a space in life where the dawning fact is that time is marching on and nothing can stop it. A few things are promising to hinder the battle wounds, but nothing will stop the clock. And while every person needs to have a little umph and glamour in their daily routine, I feel insulted to think that we are so desperate to spend more than 10 times the price for regular formulated salon specialty hair care products for the simple addition of a word to the packaging.

This is just enough to send me looking for my next half marathon. Ha. I'll show them. Maybe I'll try a full or an iron woman. Talk about not aging. I may just run time backward...then bottle it all up and sell it to the rest of the desperate and deserving women in our world. 'Cept I will only charge what it costs me plus enough to buy these. I'm not greedy, I just don't wanna grow up.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nothing Beyond Crap

I finished the half on Lakeshore Drive and I'm happy to report that it was EZ.
Not that I think 13.1 miles is half of anything. It's half of NOTHING. At least that was what I was being told through most of the race. Actually, it was what I read through most of the race as the gentleman in front of me served nicely as a pacesetter for a 9:30 mile. It was a good race, an easy race. Lots of great volunteers and cheerleaders pretty much the entire route. The weather was perfect and then maybe started getting hot during the last couple miles.

So the real news is that my basement has been tiled. The very same day I ran the race. Not so smart. Because I didn't hire help. I first got up early and raced to the race where I raced for 13.1 miles, then I ran back home and ripped all the carpet off the floor and started cementing slate tiles to the poured concrete. Then I proceeded to grout the whole project but by this time I was BEYOND exhausted. So my grout job looks like CRAP.

So to top it off, did you know that some corporations have now started using automated "Go to hell," letters when they send out bulk notes of, "We don't want you to work here, thank you very much..."

Yeah. Yeah. We are all too familiar with the bulk go to hell note that includes the following line, "Do not respond to this email. It was automatically generated..."

But have you got a go to hell letter that didn't actually tell you to get to hell. You know why the body of the letter didn't have to tell you? Because it's in the f'ing subject line. I kid you not.

To: Jeni on the Run
Subject: The position has been filled. You were not selected.
From: Large Insurance Company in the Midwest that should know better than to treat people like numbers (or do they?)

And then in the body of the letter, they also include a "Do not respond..." line and another note or two about how they would prefer that you were never born or something heartfelt like that. Now, I jest of course, but the truth is that every person - a copywriter - who writes up a letter like that in standard form absolutely has to lead with something a million times more appealing than what I actually received in my inbox. I have to think that college educated literature buffs are more human, humane and personable than a note that reads, "You were not selected," in the subject line.

So what happens between that little letter of lost love and my inbox? Crap. Only crap happens. Supervisors, managers, editors, department heads, lawyers, HR managers, more managers and more...until the original copywriter says, "I gotta eat. Whatever you want..."

And then goes to lunch. And then that copywriter finds that nothing except crap is available at the shoddy cafeteria and slowly over the course of a day - a year - a career - loses interest in remaining humane and eventually starts spitting out crap the first draft.

To make up for it, we run marathons. Half marathons. Tile perfectly pleasant carpeted basements and purchase unnecessary Pottery Barn components to sit atop new tile. Unsightly grout and all.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Autographs as Evidence

Not that anyone would know the difference, but my daughter forged my signature today. With my permission. With a visual aid as her support. That which I sent to her from my mobile phone. That is, she sent me a text from the bus asking for my permission to forge my signature on a science safety slip or something we had discussed the night earlier. Something, may I state, that I had asked for during said discussion, only to be met with a roll of the eyes, a toss of the hair and and a, "Okay, god, mom, I'll get it later."

Little did we both realize later would be a time when 1. she was on the bus going to school 2. I would not be on the bus with her.

So I send a text back that read, "Okay - not that anyone would know it's a forge...." Meaning that no one at her new school knew my signature so anything that she wrote would appear to be valid.

So she sent me a text back, asking for a photo of my signature so that she could mimic my style and essence. Oh my god child. Really? Okay. Really. I did it. God bless social media, eh?