November 30, 2010

Unsolicited conversation in a Sam's Club parking lot

(Above: Hyperbole and a Half)


Sunday night, T and I are walking out of Sam's Club after picking up a gargantuan bag of Pupperoni (Slim-Jims for dogs!) and the 1 millionth package of cucumbers we've purchased in the last two months (because SOMEONE who is NOT ME keeps "forgetting to eat them" and letting them go bad) when it happens.

We're almost home free. We've unloaded our wares into the car, and I'm pushing the cart into the corral when I hear T say "Pardon?"

I look over, and a smoking couple (by which I mean they were smoking cigarettes in the parking lot, not that they were smoking hot -- they really, really weren't) is calling something to him from their car a few spaces away. I can't hear what they're saying, but I hear the word "vibe" and can see that tell-tale "Awkward!" look on T's face.

Oh, crap. Are we being propositioned by swingers in a Sam's Club parking lot?!

I debate escaping back into the safety of Sam's, but I can't just abandon my poor husband. I walk over.

"...yeah, it's a good little car," Smoking Man is saying. "Like I said, we got rid of our first one, and we always regretted it."

"Yep," Smoking Wife agrees, ashing her cigarette on the pavement.

I look at T. He has a pained look on his face that I don't quite understand, now that it's become clear the Smokers aren't trying to lure us back to their love dungeon. We make eye contact briefly and he gives me one of those "OMG, I can't say it out loud, but we need to get out of here" looks.

"Like I was telling your husband," Smoking Man says, addressing me directly now, "our son had a Pontiac Vibe (aha! I knew I'd heard the word "vibe"!) just like yours. Really good car. We all really loved it. Really loved it. And then he died."

Wait. What?

"Now the car we had after that, THAT was a story," Smoking Man says, chuckling.

This went on for the next 20 minutes.

It appeared that Smoking Couple had, tragically, lost their son a few years back. Which is a horrible, horrible thing to happen to anyone.

I'm just still not sure how they ended up talking about it with us, total strangers, in a Sam's Club parking lot. And it's not a conversation you can just end with a "Wow, that's really rough. Well, our ice cream is melting. See ya!"

And, you know. It's not their job to make me feel comfortable. Why SHOULDN'T they be able to tell random strangers about losing their son, and expect some compassion in return? Was it really so important that we get home RIGHT then to put our cucumbers in the fridge, where they will probably spoil yet again before someone eats them? Was it so awful that we spent a few awkward moments possibly helping someone voice their grief?

I...don't have a clever end to this post. It was just one of those strange things -- a conversation that left me feeling both uncomfortable (why are you telling me this again?) and sad. I kind of wanted to hug them; in the end we just said a goodbye as awkward as the conversation we'd just had.

How would you have handled this?

November 29, 2010

I may have to try this myself

Since he was a puppy, Bubba has slept in one of two ways.

1. Sprawled on his back like a cat:

2. On top of Murray:

(Murray always pretended to be annoyed, but I think he secretly liked the snuggles.)

Since he's gotten sick, it's harder for Bubba to climb onto the couch, and most of his previously-favored positions seem to be uncomfortable for him now.

So he has adapted.

Behold, the new sleeping position:

Always one leg out to the side.

As long as you're comfortable, baby dog.

November 28, 2010

Poll: Public birthday displays

(Taking a page from Iris Took's book and doing a quick Sunday poll...)

A few nights ago, we ate dinner at a large Italian restaurant in Columbus.

While we'd come to enjoy a relatively quiet family meal, it quickly became evident that the families in the surrounding tables were after a completely different experience.

It was going on all around us.

And I do mean ALL around us.

One after the other: Boom, boom, boom.


Commence clapping, hooting and/or hollering, and singing of the Happy Birthday song at ear-splitting volume, all while the birthday boy or girl themselves stands there, red-faced, trying to blend in with the red-and-white-checked tablecloths.

T beckoned to me. I leaned in to hear him over the din. "I love you, but if you ever do that to me, we're getting a divorce," he said with a completely straight face. I think he was only partially joking.

In addition to the spectacle of a few nights ago, I've been present at countless restaurant birthday singalongs. The most famous one in our family (even more so than when my mother donned a sombrero bigger than her head at the now-sadly-departed Chi-Chi's) is when my brother and I were forced to climb ON TOP OF OUR TABLE at Joe's Crab Shack and sing Happy ourselves.

While I'm not quite so mortified by the experience (or the threat of the experience) as T, at this point in my life I think I would gladly forgo the free dessert that generally comes with such things and celebrate my birthday in relative anonymity. I think my standing-on-tables days are over.

What do you think? Love the singing wait-staff and all-eyes-on-you experience? Hate it? Indifferent?

November 27, 2010

Time has made him (misguidedly) bolder

I heard Gavin Rossdale's cover of Stevie Nicks's "Landslide" yesterday.

If you're going to cover a well-loved song, you really need to make sure that:

  1. You sing it in tune
  2. You try something different with it so it doesn't sound like straight-up (bad) karaoke, and/or sing a mind-blowingly amazing rendition of it
  3. You don't sing through your nose
  5. You don't sound like a goat

I really don't have anything against Gavin Rossdale, per se, but why would you do this??

It's like me trying to sing Whitney Houston. I don't have enough of a power voice (and I don't do enough crack, bahaha), and people would end up looking at their feet or at the ceiling, all embarrassed, trying not to make eye contact with me.

Gavin's voice isn't built for stripped-down acoustic jamming. It makes me uncomfortable, and really, Gavin, this is all about MY level of comfort. I'm surprised you didn't know that.

November 26, 2010

I am thankful for...

Thanksgiving was extra special, since we unexpectedly got to share it with my niece, who I hadn't seen since her birthday in August.

Later, at my brother's house, she rediscovered the Christmas tree with an appropriate amount of awe. I really just want to hug her constantly.

Sigh. It's been said before, but: How great is Thanksgiving? Great food, all the people you love in one room, hugs all around.

I don't know about you, but I'm not quite ready to return to the real world just yet.

Work, you are a cruel, cruel mistress. If tomorrow wasn't Saturday, and I wasn't still totally full of Thanksgiving warm-fuzziness, I would punch you right in the face.

November 25, 2010

Today is Thanksgiving!

I...just thought you should know that.


I hope you have a marvelous day, however and with whomever you choose to spend it!

Pictures of a happy, well-fed Written Permission family to follow.

November 24, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: When Good Pumpkins Go Bad

We are two happy pumpkins! Look at us smiling! We're glowing! Woohoo!


~Time passes~

~The wind blows~

~Rain falls~

~Temperatures drop below freezing~


Ohhhh, noooo. I'm so tired... Where are my teeth?
My jaunty stem belies the sadness of my shriveled soul.

I'm so ashamed...

Ugh. I just give up.



November 23, 2010

Embracing the nerd within

Do I love to read?

According to parental folklore, I taught myself to read when I was about three and a half with this collection of Beatrix Potter stories:

(There's an audiocassette somewhere of me reading to my parents, saying the "lippety, lippety" line from Peter Rabbit. Or "Pete-uhw Wabbit," as I apparently said back then. Aw.)

When I got to kindergarten, the teacher used to have me read to my classmates while she went to the restroom or made copies of...whatever you learn in kindergarten. Which I'm sure didn't isolate me from my classmates at ALL, and didn't have anything to do with the fact that I didn't have any friends in first grade. Thanks, Mrs. Mishler.

Aherm. Anyway.

I've loved books my entire life. My parents and grandparents gave me books (and then I started reading THEIR books), I bought them for a quarter at yard sales and flea markets, I raided the library and when I ran out? I re-read every book in our house. "Just let me finish this chapter" was something my parents (and, sometimes, my teachers) heard a lot growing up. To this day, I can't fall asleep until I've read for at least 15 minutes or so.

Reading settles me. It grounds me.

And while I still don't mind re-reading the books in my personal library, I'm always looking for new material.

My taste is pretty eclectic, but generally I love books about people -- with good dialogue, a plot that's at least not completely predictable, no 50-page descriptions of a forest of the side of a building, and relatable characters. If a book has these elements, it could be a murder mystery, chick-lit, whatever -- I'll read it.

Up until a year or so ago, whenever I heard about a book I wanted to read, I wrote it down in a little notebook I keep in my purse, like the nerd that was born all those years ago in kindergarten. (I embrace my nerdiness. Fighting it is useless.) Then I'd take it to the library or the bookstore and use it to make my selections.

It wasn't a bad little system. But it didn't help me remember what I thought of the book. My notebook didn't give me recommendations. And it lacked that 21st century flavor.


I can find, tag and rate every book I've ever read, and I can write reviews that other readers can see when they view the book. I can find and tag the books I want to read, see reviews from other people who've read the book and get recommendations for books I might like.

And I can organize my books into customizable bookshelves for easy perusing:

Inner nerd, smiling.

And, if you sign up? (It's free, by the way.) We can connect, and make recommendations for each other.

The "What I'm reading" section on this blog is connected directly to my "Currently Reading" shelf on

If you love books, check it out. And then connect to me! So we can, like, merge our nerdiness and create a nerdy dynasty. Or whatever.

November 22, 2010

My best friend is a freak of nature

"Shan, c'mere -- you've gotta see these awful hats."

B, her mama and I are milling around the gift shop at a Cracker Barrel, smelling candles, pressing buttons that make felt-covered Santas dance and mocking some truly horrible T-shirt sayings.

I round the corner to where they're standing, facing a shelf full of half-off hats. And "awful" is being kind. They're floppy, they're in colors that don't (or shouldn't) exist in nature -- The CB is being optimistic with their "50% Off" sign.

I immediately throw a royal blue plaid newsboy cap (five words that should never be put together) and throw up a peace sign. B and her mom laugh obligingly.

After a few comments (from me) about how unnaturally large my head is, I pick up another plaid hat, this one with a strange buckle thing on the side, and hand it to B.

"Here," I snort. "Try this gem."

She pulls it on, and:

{Angels singing}

Her mom and I stare at her. "What?" B says self-consciously.

SHE LOOKS ADORABLE. How is this possible??

In the end, despite her protests that she's never worn a hat in her life other than her band uniform in high school, we basically force her to get the hat. Anyone who can take a ridiculous-looking piece of clothing and manage to make it look this adorable needs to share her gift with the world.

In other news, we had a wonderful day of eating, classical music and laughing until our stomachs hurt. And hats. Freakishly flattering hats.

I love you, B! You fabulous freak of nature. :)

November 21, 2010

You'll never guess what I'm doing today.





That's right, I'm getting married, getting a tattoo and then sitting on the lap of a really old dude in tights and a powdered wig.

Woohoo!! Somebody stop me!


OK, OK, I kid, I kid.

On today's agenda: My friend B and I are hitting church and doing some craft-y things with her mama, then meeting my parents in Columbus for a performance of Handel's Messiah. (That's Handel up there in the pilgrim shoes.)

A very busy day filled with a huge, heaping helping of a LOT of my favorite things: Singing hymns (no, really), knitting, live choral music (no, seriously, really) and hanging out with friends and family.

Sigh. I love this time of year.

November 20, 2010

Chair graffiti

My office is enormous. Last time I heard the human capacity quantified, it was somewhere around 10,000 people.

And, unlike most giant buildings, it's long instead of tall.

It's roughly the size of the Empire State Building lying on its side. For real.

Because it's so spread out, it has a huge, mall-like atrium running through its center, lined with towering trees, burbling pools and squashy armchairs where employees hold impromptu meetings and take personal calls throughout the day.

And, sometimes they nap. Really.

Just outside my wing of the building, one such arrangement of squashy chairs is nearly always occupied by a woman in her early 20s, usually clad in a very work-inappropriate outfit (think belly shirts exposing both muffin top and tramp stamp), talking loudly on a crystal-encrusted cell phone.

She's there almost every time I walk by. In the morning. Lunchtime. Mid-afternoon. When I go home in the evening. I find myself not only wondering when this woman ever gets any work done, but also: What can she possibly be talking about?

I think I know now:

Scrawled on the arm of her favorite squashy chair


That may be, Inappropriately-Dressed Loud-Talker. That may be. But something tells me that, if you worked a little bit harder and defaced your employers' property a little less, your life might improve.

This has been a public service announcement.

November 19, 2010

Schooled by The Universe

On the recommendation of my good friend Trophy Life, I signed up to receive daily notes from The Universe.

Little affirmations, warm fuzzies, deep thoughts, all addressed to me directly by the magic of technology. (Ooooweeeeooooooooo...)

They all begin as though we're in the middle of a conversation (The Universe and I, that is), or as though I've asked some very deep "meaning of life"-type question, and the Universe is now settling in to give me the answer.

Much like horoscopes, I believe the site sends out the same or similar sentiments to all of its subscribers. The idea is that this Universal wisdom can apply to anyone, and it's up to you how you apply it to your own life.'s kind of hard to feel special.

And I'll admit, sometimes they miss the mark. Sometimes it's a nice sentiment, but it really means nothing to me personally. And sometimes the messages just seem like a jumbled paragraph of nonsense, and I just click "Delete," shake my head and go about my day.

But every once in awhile, The Universe comes through with something that actually strikes a chord with me.

Well, actually, Shannon, you were different.

You didn't want a perfect life, a typical life, or even a normal life.

You wanted a one-of-a-kind.

How we doing?

The Universe

I've been having trouble lately with one thing in my life: Contentment.

Don't get me wrong: Love my husband. Love our dogs. Love our house. Love my job.

But I struggle sometimes with feeling OK with where my life is at exactly.this.moment. Not constantly thinking about what I think is missing, how my life is somehow lacking something or somethings that I see in the lives of everyone around me.

And when I read this, it kind of stopped me for a second.

My life is mine.

I don't want cookie-cutter. I don't want someone else's idea of the perfect life, where everything happens perfectly and everything is perfectly timed.

I want one-of-a-kind. I want unique. I want MINE.

It's the last place I expected to find any kind of insight into my whole contentment conundrum -- or any actual life crisis, for that matter.

Well played, Universe. Well played.

November 18, 2010

NBX Vol. 4: Corporal punishment, disturbing sculptures and my reluctance to dampen an earnest author's spirit

(If you're asking yourself, "What the heck is this?" click here. Otherwise, read on for snarky fun times.)

  • Most awesomest blog name: ELECTRIC SPANKING ("Freaky sounds for freaky people. If you're upset and you don't want to be spanked, let me know..." This is a tagline of genius, folks. It's straightforward, it tells you exactly what to expect, and it gives you a way out if you're feeling uncomfortable. Don't want to be spanked? No problem! Just let him/her know. Besides its fabulous name, my favorite part of this blog was the post entitled "Disco Cop.")
  • So-ugly-it's-fabulous-est blog layout: Reflections from a Teachers Heart (So...I feel sort of bad bagging on this blog. The author seems so earnest and positive. Example: Things that make her happy? Sunsets. And the sound of children laughing. And, you know, I like orange! I really do. And I like vine-y...things, which are also featured prominently in her layout. There's just...a LOT of orange. And a LOT of vine-y things. Sorry, Happy Teacher.)
  • Most random blog post title (and/or title that lends itself the best to double-entendre or horrible puns): Decision Height, Oct. 12, "Lord, Don't Let Me Get Stapled" (It's just random enough to make you go "whuh?" Apparently, it's some kind of pilot's lingo. ...yeah, I don't know. But I give the author bonus points for his pleasing-to-the-eye blue-toned color scheme.)
  • Most engaging overall blog (for better or for worse): Food Blogga (The first two entries I read described, respectively, rosemary-spiced roasted nuts and a combo pecan/pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I want to marry the food she writes about. And, she writes about it engagingly; unlike some other food/recipe sites, it isn't just "Here's the recipe, it's really good, see ya!" Despite the iffy blog name and the odd-looking header, I'll definitely be returning to this one.)
  • Wild card: Hands-down creepiest piece of art I’ve ever laid eyes on: Jengalog, Super Sculpey mini-mouth (I don’t know if it’s that, proportionately, this fake mouth is frighteningly enormous; or if it’s the ass-chin; or if it’s because the tongue looks MOIST. But I could not stop staring at this thing FOREVER and it kind of haunts my dreams at night. Having browsed this guy’s site for a bit, I can safely say that his other stuff is both decent and less creepy. But still.)

Have you come across an awesomely-awful blog? Share it!

November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Ve hoff no ears here

November 16, 2010


You see a mug full of hot chocolatey goodness...

...I see the only thing getting me through 7.5 hours of conference calls.

(I'm not exaggerating. That's what's on my schedule for today. Hold me.)

(Also, I love this mug. It was a gift from my mama. I love her, too. :))

November 15, 2010

Workplace etiquette: A poll about The Pigs and other disturbing behavior

Bare feets.

Loves 'em.

I'm not a foot person by any means, but what is cuter than a baby's bare foot? And there's something freeing about running around naked from the ankle down. If I lived in a warm enough climate, I'd go barefoot at home 365 days a year, no question. I love to let the pigs wiggle.


Last week, I walked around the corner of my cube to the printer, which my team shares with an event-planning team in the next row of cubes. (I work for a giant corporation, so it isn't unusual to sit right next to people you never, ever interact with. Except when you're both at the printer.)

As I was waiting for my printed wares, around the corner came one of the event her bare feet.

Again: Big corporation. No one's wearing suits in our area, but neither are we preparing to attend a seaside campfire or lounge in a grassy meadow. Business casual is what we all subscribe to.

And this woman fit the bill, with her sweater set and gray trousers. Perhaps she was going for the fashion equivalent of the mullet: Business up top, party below the pant cuffs.

My reaction? "Ew." And then: "Ew! Ew ew EW!"

Because, first of all? While I absolutely kick off my shoes underneath my desk from time to time, it's just not right to expect my coworkers to bear the sight of them while taking an innocent stroll to the water fountain.

Second? There's no way there isn't some gross, funky stuff happening in corporate-office carpeting, and this woman is just asking for some kind of nasty fungal infection.

And third? Because she's flaunting her bare piggies all over our biz-nass, said fungal infection will eventually make its way into our (fabric-covered) cube walls, and I'll end up with pinkeye or staph or flesh-eating bacteria. Why is this woman messing with our cube farm homeostasis? Wasn't the fruit-fly infestation of 2008 enough? HOW FAR WILL IT GO, PEOPLE?!

As if that wasn't enough, the very same afternoon, this happened: I walked down the hall to the bathroom. Thankfully, we have separate bathrooms for men and women (as all public buildings -- and homes -- should), but we do have to walk right past the men's on the way to the women's. Right as I walked by, the men's door flung open, and a dude walked out...still tucking in his shirt and buckling his belt.

Wait, let me rephrase that.

A man walked out of the bathroom WITH HIS PANTS STILL UNDONE, shoving his shirt DOWN HIS PANTS with his hands while WALKING DOWN THE HALLWAY in full view of me and God and everyone.

I... Yeah. I couldn't believe my eyes, and I still can't.

So, friends, two questions for you today:
  1. Is it ever acceptable to go barefoot at work? If so, please cite examples.
  2. Why would a grown man who, presumably, has been IN THE WORLD, think it's OK to finish shuffling things around down there while walking down a well-traveled hallway?

Thank you. And a happy Monday to you and yours.

November 14, 2010

Fall: A one-photo photo gallery

Yesterday was the most beautiful, balmy, blue-skied fall day.

It was the kind of day that made me want to stand on our deck, look out at the countryside and just take long, deep, cleansing, celebratory breaths.

Today? It looks overcast and kind of yucky.

Luckily, I'm having a two-person dinner party with my BFF today, after which we will watch a horrible chick flick, do crafts and gossip.

So the weather can bite me.

November 13, 2010

Random Saturday-ness

1. The Fringe apple with the baby seeds makes my insides feel squirmy:

2. Some weird, horrible things are going on with my nose and sinuses; I haven't been able to properly breathe for weeks. The inside of my nose feels like a dry, barren wasteland, and in a desperate effort to see what was going on in there, I just used a hand mirror and the LED light on my Droid to look up my own nose. It wasn't my proudest moment.

3. Two weeks ago, I had never heard of Demi Lovato. How is she already famous enough to be in rehab?

4. Still cold in my house. (I think it might be warmer outside than it is in my house.) Still wearing my Snuggie. Still totally creeped out by Baby Tumor Snuggie.

5. I've always wanted red hair. Like, natural copper-red hair. I ended up with orange hair once, when the stylist at Fiesta Hair interpreted "Can you warm up my dark brown hair color?" as "Can you please bleach the crap out of my hair, leaving it with the consistency of straw, and then throw some orange dye on it in a misguided attempt to make up for your incompetence?"

6. Red hair DOES run in one side of my family and in T's family, so it's conceivable we could end up with a red-haired baby one of these days. Which should be fun to explain to people, since we both have dark brown hair, and people are judge-y.

7. T and I have been watching every season of Bones on Instant Netflix for the past month or so, and we're locked in a no-holds-barred, fight-to-the-death argument about who is the more beautiful Deschanel sister. (I say Zooey, he says Emily.)

Both of us can agree, though, that David Boreanaz is not nearly as hot as he thinks he is.

November 12, 2010

Let's talk about comments

Call me needy. Insecure. Whatever.

I'm a gal who needs feedback.

At work, I wanna know: Am I getting it right? Easy to work with? Producing quality material? Pushing back when I need to push back? Being flexible when I need to be flexible? Good or bad, I want the scoop.

I'm not doing the work for the feedback. But the feedback gives me fuel. It's what makes me want to keep going, keep doing my best.

And while this blog is hardly a job, it is the same in one big way.

Comments are fuel. They give me insight, help me learn about all of you, make me laugh.

They remind me that I'm not just writing these words and sending them out there into Internet-land to float around, unread and unloved.

I read a lot of blogs, and I'm completely guilty of dropping in, reading and going back to work without chiming in on the conversation, saying what I think or just telling the author I appreciate what they've written. And with so many of us doing NaBloPoMo this month...there's just so much to read!

So I've decided that part of my personal NaBloPoMo challenge is going to be about comments.

I can't promise I'll comment on every single thing you post. But I am going to be making a real effort to get in there more often.

I hope you'll do the same. :)

November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans Day

All you guys and gals out there? You know who you are.

~Thank you.~

(Special personal thanks to my Grandpa Ted, who served in Korea and Vietnam; my father-in-law, who served in Vietnam; and my Grandpa Ray and my dad, who were conscientious objectors in their respective days. Love you guys.)

November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Daylight Savings Time Blows

5:55 p.m.


November 9, 2010

NBX Vol 3: Creepy babies, bucketheads, bastards and whatever a "windover" is

So, when I decided to dive into this NaBloPoMo thing, one thing became quickly evident: I needed some ideas. And where better to turn than some of the old featurey-type things I abandoned this summer?

For any of you who may be new or who may have tried to block NBX out of your memory, please see What the heck is this?

Now that that's out of the way, let's dive right in, shall we?

  • Most awesomest blog name: Carnival of the Elitist Bastards (...I don't even know where to start. I love everything about this name. The blog and its self-same carnival is a celebration of the cerebral, which I can always get behind. And OK, yes, the stilted pirate-speak in the blog post updates gets waaaay old. But I'm down with any blog that begins its description with this: "You can help raise the level of our public discourse from the subgutter of stupidity in which it currently resides. All you have to do is celebrate your own intelligence.")
  • So-ugly-it's-fabulous-est blog layout: Baby Hiroshi (The colors...they assault my eyes. And the header. Well. It's just really creeping me out. It's a really cute baby, but there's just something...weird...about it.)
  • Most random blog post title (and/or title that lends itself the best to double-entendre or horrible puns): The Prettiest Girl in School
    (June 12, “Love Will Follow You to Your House and Hide There Until You Find It and Kill It (But It Will Never Die)”; I mean, really. That kind of blog title takes some commitment. As does the actual post, which is a poem about the author's love for...someone or something...that he apparently turned into a song. I have not heard this song, but apparently you can, if you so choose, by visiting his MySpace page. Just…fabulous.)
  • Most engaging overall blog (for better or for worse): Fluffy Windover's Diary (First, don’t ask me why, the word “fluffy” is inherently funny, every time. It just is. Second, I have no idea what a Windover is, but I like it. And third, the first sentence of the first entry I read was “I wish I could tell you that Edwin was done with talking about boobs.” That, my friends, is how to NOT bury the lead. Excellent work, Fluffy. My former editors would be very proud. And, the more I scanned her previous entries, the more convinced I became that it was not a fluke. Worth checking out. Surprisingly.)
  • Wild card: Best use of a toddler in a blog post: Travis, Ana and Aidan in the OC! (July 15, “Aidan can’t read without his bucket on his head” Because WHY would anyone want to? Love this kid.)

(Let me know if you come across an awesomely-awful blog that must be shared!)

November 8, 2010

This is super awkward, Nature.

Somehow, we have become "the dog people" in our neighborhood.

We live in the middle of nowhere, and not only do some of our (ahem) lovely neighbors let their dogs roam around freely with zero supervision, somehow our house and the surrounding 1/4-mile area has become the numero-uno dumping ground for unwanted dogs as well. And since we have dogs and I volunteer at the local dog shelter (or, at least, I did before Bubba got sick), all the neighbors call me.

"Uh, Shannon? There's this white dog in our yard? And he's chasing our cats. Can you come over?" what? They never really say. Chase the dog off? Assume it's friendly and try to coax it into my car and drive it to the shelter (which is perpetually over-booked)? Let it live in my basement? They don't care. All they want is the dog OFF their property, and they've elected me to deal with it.

This weekend, I got the call. "Um, Shannon? Could you -- and maybe T -- come up here? There's these two dogs here and...well, could you just come over?"


We trudged up the hill that separates our two houses. Our neighbor, her husband and their five-year-old son were standing in their driveway, looking across the road at two dogs in our other neighbor's yard.

The dogs were standing close together, not really moving. Something seemed...odd.

"Shannon, those dogs are hurting each other!" five-year-old C called to me as we walked up the hill. "Mom said they were playing, but they got stuck."

Oh. Oh, no.

Yep. The dogs were "playing" in that very special adult-dog way, and had gotten stuck together. Have you ever seen this happen? I'd only seen it once before, when our golden retrievers Heidi and Nugget got amorous one summer, and my brother and I got a firsthand lesson in "Why Saying 'No' Can Really Be Way Less Painful in the Long Run."

T took one look, turned around and headed back down the hill, tossing "Not it" over his shoulder.

Neighbor and her husband looked at me expectantly.

C continued staring across the road at the poor, humiliated dogs.

The dogs tried desperately not to make eye contact with any of us.

And I just stood there, torn between covering C's eyes and guiding him back up the driveway (WHY was he out there again?) and just making a break for it like cowardly (aka: smart) T.

Wait, are they expecting ME to do something about this?

Pull them apart? Push them...back together? Perform some sort of doggie relationship counseling so they can let go of their built-up resentment and get back to the lovin'?

Here's what ended up happening: I walked tentatively across the street toward the dogs (with absolutely ZERO plan in mind), saying "It's OK, it's OK" in the dogs' general direction for lack of anything better to say or do. Neighbor and husband got bored and went back inside, leaving C standing in the yard staring at us like a real-life National Geographic special.

After about five minutes, the male dog did some kind of special move, and with a heart-wrenching yelp from the female (seriously: OW OW OW), they broke apart and immediately ran off in opposite directions. (I mean, wouldn't you?)

Relieved, I headed back to my house.

Oh, dammit.

"Shannon?" C was jogging behind me, on my heels. "Why were those dogs stuck together? How do they play? What makes them do that? Huh?"

Thanks, Nature. Thanks a crapload.

November 7, 2010

On a cold morning like this...

...I'm incredibly happy that I have one of these:

Between the Snuggie and snuggly lap-dog heat, I'm totally set. Bring it, Winter.


Also: Pretty sure this is one of the creepiest things I've ever seen:

November 6, 2010

I'm good, thanks.

I'm a huge fan of Glee.

I will proudly admit that I get a little bit high-school-girly-SQUEE when I see the finger-L come on the screen, and I really enjoyed the Rocky Horror Glee Show last week.

And I may or may not have purchased one of the soundtracks for Season 1.

But? I'm kind of tired of their semi-preachy commercials for recycling and the proper disposal of batteries and whether or not I'm going to hell if I don't have a low-flow toilet.

Listen, I get it. Kids watch the show. They look up to the cast. We want kids to recycle and care about the environment and do great things for the planet. I'm totally down with that. It's fine.

I just have a problem with taking life advice from someone who plays a fictional character, takes private jets to premieres and does a weekly juice cleanse to stay at a size 0.

It makes me super glad I DVR the show so I can fast-forward through it because: Enough.

November 5, 2010

How 'bout a recent blog find on a Friday?

It doesn't look as though this blogger needs any additional promotion from me (he has more than 25,000 fans on Facebook).

But I just found Jim's Pancakes, in which a father simply makes cool-shaped pancakes for his daughter, and I adore it, and I wanted to spotlight it on my blog. So hopefully he won't mind.

And by "cool-shaped" I don't mean the traditional triangle- and Mickey-Mouse-shaped pancakes. We're talking Homer Simpson, iPhones and this recent bee/beehive combo that made me wish fervently I had a chance of replicating it myself in the kitchen. (I don't.)

If you haven't seen it, check out his gallery -- preferably while you're eating lunch, since it's bound to make you hungry.

(I was about to say "Have a great weekend, everyone!" And then I realized: NaBloPoMo! I'll be back tomorrow! And hopefully so will you. Isn't this fun?)

November 4, 2010

Stuff on My Desk: Poster of Snow Tracks

OK. So. If you've been reading my blog for some time, you'll remember (or maybe you won't, who knows?) a little series I liked to call "Stuff on My Desk." It was fun, it was fabulous, it was loved by...few.

I stopped it awhile back because, frankly, there's only so much stuff on my desk.

This NaBloPoMo thing, however, has me running scared looking for topics. And I realized that, somehow, I'd left out bar-none the most popular item on my desk (or, technically, on my cube wall; now is not the time for semantics, a'ight?):


Dun dun dun!

(Did you just get a little shiver of excitement? Uh, me either. Let's just go with it.)

So, the poster. I got it from a designer I used to work with, who'd received it as a freebie from a stock photo company. I said to her, "Hey, designer" (which wasn't her actual name, but I can't REMEMBER her name just now, all right? Let's not dwell on it) "are you going to do anything with that poster? My cube's looking a little bare."

OK, take a good look at this poster. We're apparently looking at a parking lot. It's snowy. There are tire tracks. There are telephone poles. There are a few parked cars. And there are, inexplicably, boats. There are corners of buildings. There's possible evidence of either a road or railroad tracks in one corner.

Not exactly super art fabulosity personified.

But when I say this is the most popular item in my cube? It's because no fewer than 30-40 people (many of whom I'd never met before) have stopped by my desk with the EXPRESS PURPOSE of discussing the apparent profundity of this poster.

A sample conversation:

Me: (working, working, working)

Guy I've Never Seen Before: Hey, are you Shannon?

Me: (glancing pointedly at the nameplate adorning my cube) Um. Yes. Can I help you?

GINSB: I was walking past your cube last night and I saw this poster, and I just had to stop by and ask you: What does it mean?

Me: Excuse me?

GINSB: I mean, I stood here for probably 20 minutes last night just staring at it. Like, the tire tracks. And then the boats? I mean, what is this supposed to BE?

Me: (feverishly willing my phone to ring) Uh...a parking lot with some tire tracks and boats?

GINSB: But if you REALLY look at it, like, the tire tracks? Some of them don't seem to do anything but just drive in circles. Like, they never parked; they just drove around. And then those footprints -- I mean, they don't even LEAD anywhere. (leaning forward, really getting into this now) I've been thinking about this all night. I just HAD to come over and ask you about it. I mean, I'm thinking, "Where did she get this poster? What does it MEAN?"

Me: Uhhh...I got it for free? From an old co-worker? And...I just needed something on that wall there. So...I have no idea what it "means." It's just kind of taking up space.

GINSB: (visibly disappointed) Oh. Oh, OK. I just thought...OK, never mind. (dejectedly walks away)

Me: Sigh.


I've had nearly identical conversations with at least two dozen colleagues and a handful of cleaning staff. And I know that the above seems sort of farcical in its earnestness, but I'm here to tell you: It ain't.

Everyone wants to know: WHAT DOES IT MEAN??

They cannot fathom that I just hung up this CLEARLY PROFOUND AND FULL OF THE MEANING OF LIFE poster because I wanted something to take up space.

And, I suppose, if you look at it long enough to see all the little pieces and parts of it, it IS kind of a cool photograph.

But I'm here today to say, now and forever, THAT'S ALL IT IS.

Unless you also see something totally deep and profound, and you really want to study and worship it, in which case there are apparently some like-minded individuals at my office ready to join your Church of the Snowy Tracks.

May peace be with you.

PS: Am I crazy for kind of liking the name Ginsbey?

November 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Bros. Just hangin'.

(An extra-special shot because they don't do this so much these days.)

November 2, 2010

You can look nuts while doing it; just DO it.

Early this morning, I dragged myself out of bed.

It was still dark, and it was freezing -- FREEZING -- in my house.

I didn't even take off my pajamas.

I threw on some cargo pants over my super-sexy flannel PJ pants, and a long-sleeved T-shirt over my thrift-store nightshirt.

I stuck my feet into some hideous, blue-and-green-striped socks and then the clunky brown clogs I wear to weed my flowerbeds.

I pulled a University of Virginia knit hat over my sleep-disheveled hair, and topped it all off with a big, puffy coat with the hood pulled up.

I basically looked homeless. Or crazy. Or like I live in the movie 8 Mile.

But when I got to the county building, they didn't even blink. They just let me vote.

Did you vote? No? Go! Do it! I have now proven that no one even cares if you look like a crazy, homeless white rapper while doing it.

(But you should at least brush your teeth. I mean, that's just common courtesy.)

It's totally easy. No excuses. Now, shoo!

November 1, 2010

NaBloPoMo: I am awesome at jumping on bandwagons

Lately, I've been having a problem.

I come to my little bloggy-blog, and I look it in the face, and I think, "Oh, Lord. There's so much blank whiteness! What am I going to write about? Nooooooooo..." And then I curl up into the fetal position and cry a little.

This is not to say I don't have ideas. In fact, I had about 12 ideas for posts while I was walking to my car after work on Friday. But when I got to my car and whipped out the Post-It function on my phone to record them? Wsshhhht -- gone.

Apparently, for me, blog post ideas are like dreams. Or the pain of childbirth (according to men). One moment they're there, crystalized, humming with perfection. The next, ooh shiny! I'm distracted by a squirrel and then poof! Into the ether. Sad face.

And, like everyone, I'm a busy gal. At the end of the day, I'm poopered. Unsurprisingly, vegging out after work (aka: staring blanking at mediocre television) often wins out over blogging (aka: staring blankly at the words "New Post" as I try in vain to remember the idea I had earlier that day).

So. Something clearly needs to change. And that something is this: NaBloPoMo.

It sort of sounds like something you'd find growing on your kidney, but no! It's National Blog Posting Month.

What this means: Every day in November (yes, even Saturdays and Sundays; they don't take kindly to cheaters over in NaBloVille), I will post something here. EVERY DAY. That's so many days! And, just given the laws of physics or relativity or gravity (I'm bad at science), some of those posts are BOUND to not suck.

And, to help me capture those fleeting, ephemeral ideas that hit me in the parking lot and right before I go to bed, I'm going to be carrying around this little gem, too:

(I've decided to name her Gertrude. Just don't tell T. She's actually his, and he frowns on the naming of inanimate objects. But the spirit of Gert cannot be contained.)


Gert is a voice recorder! Which means I'll either look completely crazy talking into this little handheld device, or people will think I'm a spy. I'm kind of OK with either.

What this means for you: Not only will I have more ideas to share with you, I also promise to share at least one of my sure-to-be-nonsensical-and-rambling messages to myself, word for word.

And so it begins. This is entry number one! This is totally easy!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's entry, in which I panic because really? Posting EVERY day? What was I thinking?!

I'm Reading:


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