My Week 256: I Walk The (Land) Line

Last week, Ken and I decided to get rid of our landline. We both have cell phones, and no one EVER calls us on the landline except for telemarketers. At first it was fun toying with them:

Telemarketer: Good day. I’m Sanjay, and I’m calling with an exciting offer to clean your ducts.
Me: Well, I don’t have any ducks, but I DO have a very dirty goose. Do you think your company can handle that? He gets a little hissy with strangers and might poop on your agent.
Telemarketer: Pardon me?
Me: Is the shampoo bio-degradable? Does it contain sulphates or is it like the stuff they advertise on TV when they have to rescue birds from oilspills?
Telemarketer: (*hangs up*)

After a while though, it gets boring:

Telemarketer: Good day. I’m Sanjay and I’m calling–
Me: It’s an open concept house. No ducts. Goodbye.

In fact, the last time an actual person I know called the house, it was over a month ago:

Me: Hello?
Dad: Were you exercising? You sound out of breath.
Me: Good one. No,  I was RUNNING FOR THE HOUSE PHONE. You know, my cell phone was right next to me.
Dad: Oh, ha ha. Anyway, I was calling for Ken.
Me: He’s out right now, sorry.
Dad: Well, when he gets home, can you ask him–
Me: Why don’t you call him on his cell phone and ask him yourself?
Dad: Oh, I, er—I don’t think I have his number.
Me: It’s 555-1236.
Dad: That number sounds really familiar.
Me: Maybe because it’s Ken’s CELL PHONE NUMBER.
Dad: No, I think it was a year.
Me: Like a year in the 13th century? Maybe it was a really bad year.
Dad: It was the Middle Ages. Presumably, they were ALL bad years. Anyway, I’ll call Ken myself.
Me: Are you going to call him on YOUR cell phone?
Dad: Oh, I, er—I left it in the car.

So most of the time, the house phone sits idle, and between the cost of the phone itself, the line to the house, and the long distance plan that costs up to $10 a month in service charges even though we no longer call anyone long distance, and the fact that we both have cell phones, the whole thing seemed kind of pointless. So I called Bell. I had to call them on the landline because I have a company cell phone with Rogers and I didn’t want to seem disloyal. Which is good because they put me through to their “Loyalty Department”. I explained to the woman what I wanted, which was to get rid of the home phone but keep the line for our satellite and internet because we live out in the country and have to be hardwired to everything. She was very sweet and understanding:

Bell Rep: I understand. You want to get rid of the home phone because you both have cell phones, am I correct?
Me: Yes, that’s right.
Bell Rep: Well, I can certainly do that. It just concerns me though.
Me: Why?
Bell Rep: Well, if you ever have to call 911 on your home phone, the police and ambulance will automatically have your address. What if you call 911 on your cell phone and you’re too incapacitated to tell them where you live?
Me: Isn’t what you’re describing a ‘worst case scenario’?
Bell Rep: Possibly, but—
Me: You had me at ‘911’.

I talked to her for a little while longer, then I got off the phone and found Ken:

Ken: Did you cancel the landline?
Me: Don’t be silly. Picture this scenario—I’m alone in the house and I’m having a heart attack, but I’m too incapacitated to tell the 911 operator where I live. I could DIE, KEN!
Ken: Okay, so we’re keeping the landline?
Me: Obviously. Also, a guy is coming tomorrow to install our new high speed internet. But we’re getting a discount on our movie package because we’re such good loyal customers. I think it will all balance out.

And now I have to cancel our long-distance plan. Wish me luck.

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My Week 255: Exercising Restraint, Fun At Home

I know that a lot of workplaces have group obsessions: some are fixated on a certain TV show, like Game of Thrones or Survivor (mostly because a lot of offices FUNCTION like Game of Thrones or Survivor, where they’re constantly trying to either stab each other in the back for control over Westeros or vote each other off the island), some have football/basketball/bowling pools where they discuss results ad nauseum, and some are relentless in their discussions about certain kinds of special diets and recipe swapping. I was never very much interested in any of these types of group activities—I might be in the hockey pool but my only contribution to any discussion about hockey is “That guy has a cool name. Why didn’t I pick him?!”— and I find myself in the same boat yet again. My colleagues are lovely people, a highly professional and somewhat esoteric group, who don’t watch a lot of TV, don’t follow sports, and aren’t really the “recipe-swapping” type. But they DO have a group obsession, and unfortunately for me, it’s EXERCISE. These people exercise ALL THE TIME. They talk about exercise, they have fitness plans, they are the most physically fit people I have ever met. It puts me to shame. I have to tell you right up front that I don’t exercise. EVER. My idea of exercising is pausing Netflix, walking downstairs to the refrigerator, and pouring another glass of wine. The closest I ever came to having an actual fitness plan was once, a few years ago, I bought a recumbent cycle, which is a kind of exercise cycle where you can sit in a comfortable reclining position while your feet do all the work. So it’s like walking fast, but the rest of your body gets to take a break. Awesome. And the best part is that you can drink while you do it. It was the most relaxing fitness plan ever—I would pour a glass of wine, sit in my Lazyboy/exercise machine and peddle away until I had burned off enough calories to offset the wine. After a while, the machine broke (I may or may not have spilled some Chardonnay on the control panel), and I moved on to a more satisfactory level of exercise, which is to say, none at all.

10 reps each side and don’t spill any!

But now I feel the peer pressure of working with people who LOVE to exercise. They all have these electronic wristband things that tell them how many steps they’ve taken in one day. How many f*cking STEPS, you heard me. Last month, after walking the perimeter of the conference centre where we were working in order to discuss plans for the day, one of my colleagues cheerfully announced that we had just put in 3, 000 steps. I was like, whuh? And she explained that her goal was to reach 10,000 steps each day so now she only had 7,000 to go. I wanted to ask if there was like a medal or some chocolate as a prize, because I would be all over that, but from what I gathered, it’s simply an intrinsically motivated goal, which is to say, THERE IS NO PRIZE AT ALL.

Then the other day we were sitting at lunch, and everyone was sharing their plans for later. One person was going to Zumba class (I thought Zumba was the name of the elephant in A Jungle Book, but apparently it’s some kind of weird Latin fusion/cardio/dance thing). Another person was going to Aquafit, which is exercise that takes place in the water. I call this “having a vigorous bath”, but apparently Aquafit is also a cardio thing for people who need low impact exercise, having blown out their knee last year doing extreme yoga. EXTREME YOGA? WTF? I can’t even sit cross-legged anymore, never mind “extreme” cross-legged sitting. Someone else was taking tennis lessons and was gearing up for a sweaty evening on the court. The last person was “going for a run” because she needed to get back into shape for a marathon next month. (Who in their right mind “goes for a run”? The only time I run is if something is chasing me). Then they all started reminiscing about other types of classes they had taken in the past, sharing war stories about step class, and crazy instructors who went too fast or were too demanding, and so on. Then there was a lull in the conversation, and they all looked at me expectantly. What was I going to say—“I tried kickboxing once but the gloves were too heavy”? So I smiled nervously, stopped eating my cheesecake and said, “Does anyone have a good recipe for quinoa?”

Fun At Home 1

Me: (*goes into Ken’s bathroom): Ergh! Why are all the toilet paper rolls white?! How am I supposed to make my toilet look like it’s smoking a cigar?
Ken: What?!
Me: Nothing. (*leaves bathroom)

10 minutes later

Me: Come and look at my toilet. I saw how to do this on Facebook.
Ken: Haha! Hey, the paper towel rolls are brown. We could use one of those and it would look like the toilet was smoking a cigarillo.
Me: See, this is why I married you.

Anybody got a light?

Fun At Home 2

Ken: Aw, the screen on this door is ripping.
Me: Good job I bought some spline the other day.
Ken: Yes, I used that spline on the kitchen door.
Me: It’s good spline.
Ken: Very good spline.
Me: Do you think we just like saying ‘spline’ A LOT?
Ken: Yep.
Both: Spline, spline, spline, spline, spline!!!
Me: What a great word. Do you think it’s out of our system now?
Ken: I should spline so.

 

My Week 254: I Invent More Reality Shows and Alex Trebek Hosts Them

Lately, Ken and I have been consumed with watching reality shows. No, not reality shows like The Bachelor or Big Brother, which we have never watched because, let’s face it, even if you like those shows, you have to admit they’re pretty dumb:

The Bachelor

Bachelor Guy: I was going to give you a rose, but then you ate sushi in a weird way.
Girl: I’m so sad now.

Big Brother

House Guy: I was going to save you, but then you ate all the sushi.
Girl: I didn’t eat all the sushi. It was Bob! And he ate it in a weird way!
House Guy: Bob! I might have known. You are evicted!

And please bear in mind that I have NEVER watched either of these shows and just made the previous sh*t up based on what I’ve seen on Twitter. I have no idea if I’m even close.

Ken and I, however, have been watching these very avant-garde-y reality/competition shows. The first thing we really got into was Forged in Fire, where 4 blacksmiths faceoff against each other to create knives and daggers and swords and whatnot. In the first round, they have to make a weapon and then test it on stuff like dead fish and sheep carcasses. Then it’s narrowed down to two finalists who go back to their “home forge” to create a super-weapon and isn’t a HOME FORGE the most incredible thing that you could possibly have? Like, “Hey honey—I might be late for dinner because I’m making a giant f*cking sword in my HOME FORGE”. Anyway, it’s a very cool show, with a judge whose only job is to attack things with the contestants’ blades and then say, very proudly like a happy dad, “Your blade will cut. Your blade will kill.”

The newest show we just watched on Netflix is called “Blown Away” and it’s a glassblowing competition, which might sound kind of tame, but BELIEVE ME, it’s very awesome and also the glassblowers get quite bitchy with each other. It started with 10 competitors and every episode there was a challenge, with one person “blowing the judges away” (I’m sure EVERYONE is glad the word ‘away’ is in there) and one person being sent home for being an utter disappointment. Spoiler Alert: I’m going to give away the ending so don’t read this if you’re planning on watching the whole season. In the last episode, it came down to Janusz, a very experienced glassmaker who was very technical and talented, and Deborah, a rather nasty person who was not quite as talented, but who talked a good game. They were tasked with filling a gallery space with something “immersive”, whatever the f*ck that means. Janusz did a whole series of pieces on climate change and hope for the future, and Deborah made a giant fried egg, a frypan, and a bunch of very phallic sausages. The judges were struggling with the whole thing, but then Deborah cried and said that her piece represented the way she’d been marginalized her whole life and SHE WON. With BREAKFAST. And there is literally a petition on Change.org to award the $60 000 prize to Janusz, so you can tell how much people were into this show.

Which got me to thinking. If I could create a new reality show, what would it be? Here are a couple of thoughts. Also, for the purpose of this post, Alex Trebek is the host of every show, because he is the best host of everything and I love him.

Show 1: Tanked

This show is a fish tank decorating competition. Every week there’s a new theme.

Alex Trebek: All right, contestants! This week’s challenge was “The 19th Century”. First up is Donna. Tell us about your tank, Donna.
Donna: Well, Alex, I tried to capture the essence of The Industrial Revolution by pumping coal dust into the water. I think I killed all the fish, but the concept is pure.
Alex Trebek: Interesting. Bob, tell us about your tank.
Bob: All my fish are wearing bustles and bonnets. It’s a signature 19th century look.
Alex Trebek: The judges have made a decision. Bob, please hand in your scuba diver ornament.

And take the corset off that scuba diver, damn it!

(*It’s been pointed out to me by a couple of people that there was already an American reality show called “Tanked”. I’d never heard of it, but apparently it aired on the channel  ‘Animal Planet’. To clarify, their version was about INSTALLING giant fish tanks; mine is about DECORATING little fish tanks. Plus my show has Alex Trebek while their show’s hosts got divorced and the show got cancelled.)

Show 2: Stick It To Me

In this show, the competitors have to make everything out of popsicle sticks.

Alex Trebek: All right, contestants! This week’s challenge was “Iconic Buildings”. Donna, what happened here?!
Donna: Well, Alex, I tried to recreate the Eiffel Tower, but as anyone who’s ever participated in a team-building exercise knows, popsicle sticks aren’t stable at great heights, especially when all you have to attach them together is masking tape.
Alex Trebek: That’s a shame. Bob, tell me about your structure.
Bob: I built a scale model of the Globe Theatre.
Alex Trebek: Didn’t the Globe Theatre burn down?
Bob (*lighting match ominously*): That’s right, Alex.

This is how the Great Fire of London started, Bob.

Show 3: In the Bag

Who doesn’t love homemade purses?

Alex Trebek: I don’t understand what I’m still doing here.
Mydangblog: You’re the host of a reality show that I made up about people creating purses out of everyday household objects.
Alex Trebek: But–
Mydangblog: Shhhh. Everything is all right. Just ask about the purses.
Alex Trebek: So the challenge you were given was “purses made from clothing”. God, this is dreadful. Donna?
Donna:  I cut off the bottom of the sleeve of a sweatshirt and hemmed it, adding a piece of cord. It’s now a cute satchel.
Alex Trebek (sighs): Bob?
Bob: I made a cunning “manpurse” by cutting the legs off these jeans and hemming the thighs. You can wear it as a fanny pack OR a courier bag.
Alex Trebek: Can I please go back to Jeopardy now?
Mydangblog: OK, but I want to be an answer in the Potpourri category, like “Who is a funny Canadian blogger?”
Alex Trebek: You mean “Who is a WEIRD Canadian blogger who keeps breaking the 4th wall?
Mydangblog: I’m good either way.

Is that a wallet made out of a tube sock?

We now return to our regular program.

Gallery

On Writing Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Suzanne Craig-Whytock

I don’t normally post anything mid-week but I was interviewed by Paul Brookes about my writing and he did such a lovely job that I was compelled to post it!

The Wombwell Rainbow

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

Suzanne Craig-Whytock

is a writer from Ontario, Canada. Her first two novels, Smile and The Dome are published by Bookland Press (www.booklandpress.com). Her short fiction has appeared in Slippage Lit and is upcoming in XRAY Literary Magazine. She also writes poetry, and funny/weird things on her website mydangblog (http://educationalmentorship.com).

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write?

I’ve been writing in a variety of genres for as long as I…

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My Week 253: Squirrelling Around And Other Tales

I’m very tired right now. I know I’m very tired, because when I get very tired, I also get very swear-y, mostly at inanimate objects. To whit:

At the computer: “Why are you so f*cking SLOW?! Come on!!”

At the raspberry bushes in the garden: “Do you think I don’t see what you’re trying to do? Touch me again and I will DIG YOU OUT, you nasty piece of sh*t!”

At the driver ahead of me: “It’s a f*cking CORNER! Get around it—are you trying to make a goddamned meal of it?!”

At the movie last night: “Are you seriously trying to tell me that Dumbledore’s mom was some random lady who was LOST AT SEA?! That makes no f*cking sense, J.K. Rowling!”

At my car’s Bluetooth lady: “It’s KEN!! It’s always KEN! When will you f*cking LEARN??!!”

Yet despite my absolute fury at things that can’t talk back, I keep it all to myself when it comes to people. For example, yesterday I passed our dining room and noticed that Ken had draped all the cloth napkins that he had washed over the back of a dining chair literally 6 inches from the drawer WHERE THEY ARE KEPT. Did I yell and swear at him? No. I quietly put them away myself, because it was his birthday. But there is a middle ground, a “no man’s land” if you will, between inanimate objects and actual human people. This territory is known as The Squirrel.

I’ll be honest with you right up front. I don’t like squirrels. And I can already hear you protesting, “Aw, but they’re so cute!” and let me stop you right there. No. They are not “cute”. I have had many encounters with squirrels in my lifetime, and at no point was I distracted from their destructive behaviour, obnoxious attitudes, bizarre habits, or sarcastic temperaments by the thought, “Well, at least they’re cute”. Squirrels are the serial killers of the rodent world, the stuff that nightmares are made of. This actually happened to me when we had a cottage. A squirrel with an incredible sense of entitlement decided that she owned the place and she was super-intimidating. I started calling her “Charles Manson” until Ken pointed out that she had two rows of squirrel boobs, so I changed her name to “Squeaky Fromme”. One day I looked up at the roof, and saw her halfway in and halfway out of a little hole under the eaves, just hanging there staring at me like a furry gargoyle. I started screaming, and she took off. Later, Ken and I were sitting on the porch—I had my back to the driveway. Suddenly, I heard a noise, like a demon muttering, and I turned around—Squeaky was actually sneaking up on me. It turns out that she had taken up residence in our attic, where she had some babies who were also little dicks, running around and chewing on things at all hours of the day and night. We finally live-trapped them all and drove them out to the country. This is not a euphemism—even if I don’t like them, I would never deliberately hurt one.

But now, I’m experiencing déja vu, because the other day Ken called me to the window and said, “Look at that squirrel with a huge chunk of grass in its mouth. It’s climbing up the downspout—what do you think it’s doing?” and my response was “That little m*therf*cker!” because it was BUILDING A NEST under the decking of my balcony. So I went out and yelled “Hey!” and its head popped out, startled.

We stared at each other, and in that moment, we both knew the game was on. I ran upstairs and out onto the balcony, which caused Squirrel-y Dahmer to scramble out and run to the corner of the roofline where he sat, staring at me like I was some bee that he was worried about, which then prompted me to point at him and yell, “I SEE YOU! Don’t think for a minute that I don’t know what the f*ck you’re up to!!” because all I could keep thinking about was him popping up between the decking and biting my toes. After a few days of me randomly going out onto the balcony and stomping around, sending Titus out to intimidate him, and blasting heavy metal music at him, he seems to have run away, never to be seen again.

So, tired, yeah.

Here are some random notes from my phone.

1) Porta-potty relief

No, this is not the happy ending to a constipation story. What happened is this: When we work off-site, we have to have an extra outdoor bathroom trailer because many of our temporary staff are women and as we all know, women go to the bathroom constantly, especially if they don’t think they’ll be able to go to the bathroom for a while, even if they don’t really need to. So the line-up to the women’s bathroom is always extremely long. The problem is that the trailer is never level, but on an angle severe enough that I’m afraid to use it for fear of it toppling over. This wouldn’t pose a problem except that the windows and doors are always on the side that would hit the ground, thereby trapping me inside and causing me to drown in sewage. This is weird, yes? But not so weird that I don’t have a pact with a colleague who feels exactly the same way in which we notify each other when we’re going out there with the promise: “If I’m not back in 5 minutes, check that the porta-potty hasn’t fallen over.” But when we arrived at the site this time, she came to me very excited:

Colleague: The portable toilet trailer is here!
Me: Ergh. How bad is the angle?
Colleague: Pretty bad, but it’s set up perpendicular to the building this time so instead of toppling over, it would just roll down into the parking lot, hitting a bunch of cars!
Me: THAT is excellent news.
Colleague: I KNOW!!

2) I was thinking about the size of Siberia and I got scared.

Personally, I had never even considered the size of Siberia or why that should be frightening but I overheard a guy on the train say this to someone he was talking to on the phone, and it sounded very intriguing. Then later, I heard him say “It’s a monster but it’s in the form of a deer standing perfectly erect” and I didn’t know if he was still talking about Siberia or something else, but the whole conversation made me realize that my porta-potty story was pretty normal.

It’s actually terrifyingly large. Who knew?

3) Meeting Cindy Bankstock

A few weeks ago, some of us from work went to a presentation. We walked in and were met by a woman who introduced herself as Cindy Bankstock (not her real name). I was immediately incensed. Not because of her name, silly—I’m not THAT tired. No, last year, I had applied for a position with another unit, the manager of which was Cindy. I love my job, but this was exactly the same kind of job AND only a 40 minute drive from my house, so it would have been perfect. I had all the qualifications, including having done the same work before, but surprisingly, I didn’t even get an interview. So I emailed Cindy, expressing my thanks for her consideration of my application and my regret at not being interviewed. I wasn’t expecting anything, but she wrote back and offered to give me feedback on my application. I thought it wouldn’t hurt, so I agreed. She sent me an official telephone meeting invite for the next week, but it was on Easter Monday. Still, she had sent the invite so I figured she was happy to do it on our day off. I had family over, but I disappeared upstairs at the designated time and waited for the phone to ring. And waited. And waited, until it was obvious that she wasn’t calling. So I emailed her and said I was sorry we hadn’t been able to speak—perhaps we could reschedule? And I never heard from her again, until I came face to face with her at this presentation. She introduced herself, as I said, and then I introduced MYSELF. I enunciated my name very slowly and clearly, then I stared at her. And like a squirrel, she stared back. Then she ran away, never to be seen again, leaving the rest of her team to do the presentation. And I didn’t even have to stomp around.

My Week 252: Outdoor Living, Jason Says Goodbye

Recently Ken and I had our 29th anniversary, and we decided to buy some outdoor furniture for the porch Ken is putting on the front of the house. It’s almost finished and it looks great, but if we’re going to use it, we need somewhere to sit. And here’s the first thing I discovered—patio furniture is REALLY f*cking expensive. Apparently, they’re all made of some kind of weird resin now that are supposed to last forever and costs a fortune. Well, if I’m not going to be buried with it, I really don’t see the point. The second thing I discovered is that Ken has no sense of humour, because whenever we’re in a store and the salesperson asked if we need help, I say, in an Irish accent, “I’m looking for Paddy. Paddy O’Furniture” and Ken never even cracks a smile. I mean, who WOULDN’T find that funny? The salespeople always laugh VERY heartily as they try to offload their outrageously costly goods onto us. On Saturday afternoon, Ken and I went out to see if there were any sales on:

Ken: I really don’t see the point in spending exuberant amounts of money on porch furniture.
Me: I think you mean ‘exorbitant’.
Ken: Huh?
Me: It’s not ‘exuberant’. That means, like, REALLY happy.
Ken: OK, but if you did decide to spend that much on patio furniture, you’d have to be pretty happy about it.
Me: HERE IS ALL MY MONEY! WHEEE!! Ah, I see what you mean.

We made our way to Lowes, where they were having a terrific sale, and then we met Roger, who sweetened the deal by allowing us a ‘scratch and save’ card even though the furniture we wanted was on clearance. We ended up getting a very good deal, so while it wasn’t exorbitant, it WAS exuberant.

And it seems like everyone is trying to spruce up their property right now, which brings me to the point of this seemingly mundane exploration of a particular Saturday morning in the hell that is a Canadian summer. 32 degrees Celsius, 45 with the humidex as the weather experts like to remind us. (Saturday was also Tristan’s 21st birthday, so we all went out to an outdoor paintball place with the lovely V and her family, which is how you should ALWAYS spend three hours in extremely hot weather. I did not ‘paintball’—I was the official photographer, and I was still on the verge of heatstroke. But Happy Birthday, Tristan—you’re the best son a mother could ask for.)

Anyway, as I’ve been driving around town, I’ve had the chance to notice some of the strange lawn ornaments that people like to decorate their yards with. Personally, I love garden statuary, and we have a few around the property, but it’s a full acre so they’re not overwhelming like some places I’ve seen where there’s a gnome every two feet. Here are a few things that I’ve seen lately though that really generate more questions than answers:

1) The Godfather Flower Bed

Let me make you an offer you can’t refuse.

I mean, what kind of horse farm IS this? Can you imagine the conversation that must have inspired this particular outdoor motif?

Horse Dude: Hey, I was thinking about the best way to advertise our horse farm.
Horse Lady: A statue of a horse?
Horse Dude: No. Just the head. People will know we mean business.
Horse Woman: Eccellente!

2) The Ozzy Osbourne Collection

Is that a bat or a dove?

I saw a woman buying one of these at Home Depot. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t it look like she’s about to bite the head off that bird?! And like she’s already done it a few times already? Put her next to the horse head—she’ll be right at home.

3) The Rainbow Rooster

Cock-a-doodle-doo.

We saw this 6 foot tall fellow outside a house on a back country road. What would possess someone to put the Kellogg’s Corn Flake Rooster on their lawn? I like cereal as much as the next person, but I certainly have no interest in having a giant leprechaun greet our visitors. But if I DID have a giant leprechaun, guess what I would name him? That’s right. Paddy. Paddy O’Furniture. Man, that never gets old.

As I said, Ken and I have several pieces of garden statuary around the property: there’s Harry the Heron, who stands by our back door, a statue of Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream underneath a shaded arbour in the back, and a small black cat, curled up and sleeping, that we put on the bench over Raven’s grave. But I think my favourite piece of garden art is definitely “Dog in a Box”:

 

Jason Says Goodbye

You may remember a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Jason Momoa and how his cardboard likeness had been watching over us at our secret location. But now it seems that maybe Aquaman himself was responsible for all the water mishaps we’d been having  because last Wednesday, the skies opened, and a torrential rain flooded the building. We literally had to evacuate over 800 people because water was shooting up like geysers out of the drains and it was dangerously close to all the electrical stuff. In addition, the parking lot flooded and my car was one aisle over from floating away. We put Jason up on a table out of harm’s way, where he stood watching us enigmatically. Or was it SMUGLY, like a god toying with his creations? At any rate, the next day, my colleague came in, quietly packed Jason into his box and took him home. Personally, I’ll miss his calm presence, but I won’t miss his watery antics.

 

My Week 251: Heimliching Everyone

As I said last week, I’m currently working offsite with several hundred people, which means that we’re required by law to have a medic in the building, Usually, it’s boring AF for the medic, and the days are long, but last Monday, we were all outside enjoying the sun at lunch when we noticed a woman holding her throat. Someone asked, “Are you OK?” but she shook her head and croaked out “Choking!” She seemed like she was in a lot of distress, but before I had the chance to Heimlich her, someone yelled, “Get the medic!” which seemed a much more efficient  (albeit disappointing for me) way to go since I’ve never actually done the Heimlich manoeuvre despite being trained how. And let me tell you–I have never seen another human being move so fast. We ran into the medic room and yelled “Someone is choking outside” and the guy was out of there like The Flash. I could almost hear him thinking, “This is my moment!!”

But the whole situation reminded me of the time I got an opportunity to take a two-day first aid certification course. I’d always wanted to do this, mostly because of my fascination with the Heimlich manoeuvre, and an almost compulsive desire to perform it on someone, or at least perform it CORRECTLY. It was a course set up exclusively for my workplace, so one morning, some of us went to a nearby hotel to learn all about CPR, bandaging wounds, what to do if you’re hit by lightning, and field surgery. I think my expectations were a little high, especially around the surgery part, because we were only being certified as Level C “first aiders” and not actual medical doctors. I DID learn about being hit by lightning. If it happens, you’re probably toast and that was a terrible pun.

The instructor, Dave, was a very interesting and well-experienced former fire captain, who had some amazing stories to tell about traumatic situations and injuries, the vast majority of which seemed to have happened to his own family and friends. And himself most of all. By the second day, we’d heard all about how his wife had been in a car accident and permanently crushed her foot, his daughter had broken her femur, his grandson had almost choked to death on an Arrowroot cookie, his son came close to dying in an avalanche, and he himself had almost bled to death after being sliced open by a broken bottle during yet another car accident. I think my favourite story was how he stabbed a steak knife completely through his palm getting it out of the dishwasher. Dave was serious injury karma, and I was convinced that at least one of our group was NOT going to make it to the weekend. But we did, and here are some of the highlights of the training:

1) On each table, there were several CPR mannequins. They were just heads and torso but their mouths were wide open, and I kept picturing them lined up like some sort of bizarre (and strangely sexual) choir. We decided to name ours “Phil”. Phil was a good sport and let us merrily pound away on his chest, yelling “Come back to us, Phil! You can do it! Phil, you’re alive!! We saved Phil!!”, and high-fiving each other.

Come back to us, Phil!

2) I realized that I had some colleagues with obvious drama backgrounds, as we had to roleplay various incidents in our groups. For our “practice exam”, my group was given the scenario that one of us was lying “supine” on the floor, having slipped and fallen down the stairs, and couldn’t feel her legs. It seemed really straightforward at first, but then the scenario said, “Suddenly she begins to vomit. What do you do?” We were given a chance to practice the scene, then we had to perform it in front of the whole class, which made me super anxious because I’m a terrible actor and get really self-conscious. Things were going quite well—we were doing everything according to the book and had just gotten her into “recovery position” when one of my colleagues got a little carried away by the drama and yelled, “Oh no—she’s stopped breathing!” We all paused and just stared at her, including our hapless victim. I was like, “WTF, JANET?! That’s NOT in our scenario! We just saved her! No more acting!” but Dave was super enthusiastic and said, “Ooh, I love it—keep going!” Personally, I was fine with letting her die and failing the course, but our group was full of over-achievers so she survived.

3) We also had to perform CPR on a baby doll. After being instructed on how to do it, we each had to get up and demonstrate what we’d learned in front of the class. The first few people tried to determine responsiveness by calling “Baby, Baby! Wake up!”, so everyone else, including me, followed suit, until one of our male colleagues got up, frantically ran to the doll, and yelled, “Samantha! Samantha! Wake up! Oh no, my baby girl is unresponsive!”, and everyone after him called the baby something different. I was like “What?! We’re allowed to NAME the baby?! Why didn’t someone tell me?!” because I had the perfect name ready. It’s “Shane”. See? It works for a boy OR a girl. Or a warehouse worker who can blaze for dayz.

Aside from all the thespian-y stuff, I DID learn some pretty cool things, like when people stop breathing, they go very pale, and their nipples lose colour. We watched a video of a man in England being revived with CPR, and Dave pointed out that “the English are a very pasty bunch even when they ARE breathing, so if you’re not sure, check their nipples”. And yes,  I also learned the Heimlich manoeuvre, which came in really handy at dinner a couple of nights later, when Ken started to choke.

Me: Are you OK? Do you need the Heimlich manoeuvre?!
Ken: No—cough—I just swallowed the wrong way.
Me: Stand up! Really, I’ve got this. Prepare to be Heimliched!
Ken: No! I’m fine—do I need to show you my nipples to prove it?
Me: Sigh.

As a side note, let me just say that the night before training started, as I was leaving work, my director said, “Have fun at first aid training,” and I responded with “It’s going to be great—Heimliching EVERYONE by the time it’s over, just wait!” She smiled and said, “All right then.” Yep. Say “Heimliching” out loud. Not the way to impress your boss. What WOULD have impressed her was if I had saved the choking woman, but NO, the medic had to go and do his job. But I don’t know how well-trained he was because he didn’t check her nipples.