My Week 165: All I Want For Christmas Is A Transporter–But Not A Robot Cat

Yesterday, I turned 52. I keep thinking of myself as middle-aged, although if this is the middle, I want some kind of guarantee that I’m going to live to see 104. At what point do you stop being ‘middle-aged’, like what age is no longer realistic to double? 104 years old doesn’t seem like an impossibility any more, given advances in the medical field and the fact that people are more healthy than ever. A colleague from work lost her grandmother a while back, who had just turned 101, and the whole family was shocked because she was in such good health. Whereas, in 1850, most people could be expected to kick it before they turned 40, so I guess we’ve come far from the days of scurvy and black lung disease. And I say ‘I guess’, because frankly, I’m a little disappointed with the future I was promised when I was young. Not my own personal future, which has been pretty awesome, but the general future that was envisioned by cartoons, TV shows, and novelists, and which has completely failed to live up to expectations.

1) A couple of weeks ago, I was at a workshop, and we were invited to discuss what we thought the future would look like. Other people at the table were jabbering on about “entrepreneurship” and “global competencies”, but I was like, “Transporters. What’s the point of even HAVING a future if there aren’t any transporters to magically take you wherever you want to go?” Then the guy next to me whispered, “I don’t think you’re getting this” but I was like “NO. I TOTALLY get it. Star Trek built up my expectations, then betrayed me.” I mean, think of all the technologies that Star Trek predicted that we now have: doors that slide open when you stand in front of them, holograms, supercomputers that talk back to you, and a whole lotta other useless sh*t. But the one thing, the ONE THING that would really make MY life easier would be a transporter. Why have the science people been focusing their attention on building fancy coffee makers and rechargeable vacuums? I’ll bet James Dyson could figure out a way to transport astronauts to the International Space Station on a sub-molecular level if he put as much thought into a transporter as he did into a hand dryer. Why do I need to drive a car to the airport, get on a plane, and arrive in Paris 7 hours later, when I could just say “Teleportez-moi, Monsieur Scott!”?

2) Also, where are the goddamn flying cars? It’s bad enough that I can’t miraculously appear in Paris whenever I want, but my car doesn’t even FLY. Damn you, George Jetson. It’s 2017, and the best we can do is a ‘driverless’ Uber, which is just making a bad idea worse. And even worse is the fact that we still use dinosaur blood to run our stupid, non-flying cars, instead of electricity, like somehow, electric cars will destroy the world as we know it, or at least take money out of the pockets of billionaires.

3) When I was 6, I was obsessed with Aquaman. I was convinced that, by the time I grew up, there would actually be biodomes under the ocean where people could live in harmony with the creatures of the sea. I asked my gran one morning if she thought it would happen soon, and she said, “Never. People will never live under the sea.” And while her bad attitude made me angry, I knew that one day I would be vindicated. And I’m still waiting for that day to come. The only scientific advance that the people who created Aquaman are actually responsible for is casting Jason Momoa in the new Justice League movie, in which he will carry a sparkly trident and ride a shark. Yet I still can’t breathe underwater.

4) Where is my robot butler? I’ve made my peace with never having a monkey butler, despite recently having my hopes raised (I still think of you fondly, Ralph Van Wooster, and all the hijinks we would have gotten up to), but there is still nary a sign of the artificial intelligence that all the movies have been promising since I was a child. There are smart phones and smart homes and GPS in our cars and Siri/Cortana/Alexa, but where is the actual physical embodiment of the mechanical person who will do my bidding? The best we’ve come up with is a robot CAT. Why would I EVER want a robot that lies in front of the fireplace all day, sleeps next to my face at night, and surprises me by peeing on my rugs when it’s “in a mood”? Real cats can be dicks enough—why are we creating mechanical ones? And don’t be all like “Oh, come on, mydangblog, cats are so sweet.” Here’s what I had to deal with the other day:

Me: OK, I’m going out. I have to be at the car dealership in 15 minutes, so see you guys later.
Titus: OK, bye!!
Raven: I need to get into the kitchen. Open the gate.
Me: Sigh. Hurry up…What are you doing?
Raven: The dog is panting too hard. It’s off-putting.
Me: Don’t walk away from me. Do you want into the kitchen or not?
Raven: Yes. Open the gate.
Me: Here. It’s open. Let’s go!
Raven (sits back down): Nuh.
Me: I don’t have time for your bullsh*t, Raven! Fine—stay back here.
Raven (under breath): Boy, are you going to be surprised when you get home.

Let’s just forget robot cats and focus on robot monkey butlers. Then EVERYBODY wins.

5) Space Tourism. This might possibly be the greatest disappointment of them all. When I was a kid, people lived on the moon, they colonized Mars, and they travelled around the galaxy exploring strange new worlds. The actual real-life Voyager 1 was launched in 1977, and 40 years later, it’s JUST ABOUT to leave our solar system. Me, I want warp speed. We could have invented this a long time ago, but apparently scientists were too busy making blankets with arms in them, LED multicoloured flashing scarves, and realistic wind-up mice (“Watch their tails whir while they scurry across your floor!”). And yes, I DID just get my Bits and Pieces Christmas catalogue, and NO, there’s nothing future-y in it. Although you can relieve the stress you feel about not being able to live in a subdivision on Mars by purchasing a set of basketball net hats so that you and a co-worker can shoot balls at each other, although I think Human Resources might have an issue with that. It’s been almost 50 years since we first put a dude on the moon—how hard can it be to put a middle-aged woman on Uranus? (I am SO sorry about that one, but I couldn’t resist. I may be 52 physically, but I’m pretty much 13 years old in my head.)

All in all, by this point in time, I was really hoping that the world would have been more like Gene Roddenberry’s vision than George Orwell’s. Luckily, I still have another 52 years left, and Christmas is coming, so this middle-aged girl can dream.

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My Week 164: I Am Terrible At Being A Rebel

“Remember when the police called our house and said they had you in custody?” my mom asked the other day.

“Oh yeah,” I said. “Not one of my finer moments.”

“But you were just trying to do something nice,” she consoled me.

And for the record, I wasn’t ACTUALLY in police custody. In fact, I was sitting at the dinner table, completely oblivious, as my mother said, “What?!” into the phone and then gave me an ominous look. Here’s the whole story:

I was fourteen and I’d just started grade 9. I was in the bathroom at school when two girls came in. I knew one of them—“Mary Jane” had been a neighbour a long time ago, and the last I’d heard, she’d gotten into some kind of mysterious “trouble” and had been sent to juvenile detention. She was tough-looking, and so was the girl she was with. But Mary Jane recognized me:

Mary Jane: Hey. How have you been?
Me: Good. How about you?
Mary Jane: Not bad. So my friend and I have a problem. We really need to get jobs and make some money because we’re homeless. But we don’t have any ID. If you loan us yours, we can get jobs at the Fall Fair and be able to afford a place to live.
Me: OK. Here you go.

Yep, I handed over my Social Insurance Card, my birth certificate, AND my library card to these two girls without a second thought. Unfortunately, as it turned out, they had both just escaped from the juvenile detention centre where they had been sentenced to live for various crimes. So they WERE technically homeless…At any rate, they used my ID to try and get jobs at the Fair, someone recognized them, and they were re-arrested. But the police were confused at first about the identity of the girl Mary Jane was with, hence the phone call to my house. And then I had to go down to the station to pick up my ID. Instead of a tongue-lashing by the cops though, I got this:

Police Officer: Are you OK? The girls said they really threatened you and made you give them your ID.
Me: What? No, they didn’t. I felt sorry for them, so I just gave it to them.
Police Officer: Seriously? Because they were looking at additional charges for threatening you.
Me: Nope.
Police Officer: Then we need to have a serious discussion about what you did.

Apparently, you shouldn’t give anyone, let alone fugitives from the law, your identification. Something about “aiding and abetting” was mentioned, but I don’t remember much else since I was crying at that point. Part of it was because I was scared sh*tless but it was mostly because I realized in that moment that I would NEVER be a badass. Nope, I didn’t have a real rebel bone in my body. And it’s remained true for the rest of my life that, whenever I did something reckless, I was either too worried to enjoy it, or I got caught, which always takes the fun out of being “devil may care”. Essentially, I am a Goodass. Here are some examples:

1) The only time I skipped class in high school happened to be on the day of Parents’ Night. I’d completely forgotten about that fact, and had spent a glorious hour in the girls’ bathroom with a couple of friends, gossiping and smoking (yes, I smoked as a teenager, but in true goodass fashion, I developed asthma, so no glamourous smoking rebel life for me—just a wheezy one). Anyway, my parents came home from Parents’ Night really pissed off:

Mom: Where were you today during Social Studies?
Me: In class, of course, why?
Dad: Mr. McMullen wondered how you were feeling, since you were ABSENT.
Me: What? Me? No, I sit at the back—he must not have seen me…
Mom: Nice try. You’re grounded.

2) When I was teaching high school, I decided one day that I was going to bring a comfy chair into my classroom. I put it on a dolly and was just bringing it into the building when the head custodian saw me.

Custodian: No upholstered furniture allowed! They cause lice!
Me: What?
Custodian: Take it away!

Well, I was pretty steamed, and baffled by her logic regarding the lice, so I waited until the next day, and when the coast seemed clear, I enlisted another younger staff member to help me get it on the elevator to take up to my room. We loaded it, all nervous and watchful, but there was no one around. We rode up to the fourth floor. Then the elevator doors opened, and there she was, like some kind of giant wizard, waving her arms around:

Custodian: I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor! You shall not pass!! Also, take that chair right back down, and don’t try to sneak it in again!!
Us: Yes, Gandalf.
Custodian: Fly, you fools.

3) A few years ago now, all the stores instituted a policy where you have to pay for grocery bags. But at the Zehr’s self-checkout, the machine asks you to indicate “how many bags you wish to purchase”. And so for years, I thought I was being a tiny bit of a badass by always indicating “0”, because frankly, I didn’t WISH to purchase ANY damn bags. I justified it by blaming Zehr’s for being semantically challenged. Then, a couple of weeks ago, a friend pointed out that Zehrs donates the money from the bags to charity, and now, instead of feeling like a rebel, I just feel guilty for depriving the children, and if they don’t get toys for Christmas, it will be all my fault. So now, I always pay for one more bag than I’m actually using to make up for it.

4) When I’m taking the train home from Toronto, I always have a glass of wine from the bar cart. It’s not particularly good wine, and it costs $7 for a very small glass, but still, it’s nice at the end of a long week to start early. A while ago, a friend at work gave everyone this new wine that came in cans. I tried it and it was actually pretty good, and not very expensive. “And the best part,” said my friend, “is that it looks just like a soda can so you could drink it on the train and no one would ever know!” So that Friday, I got on the train with my secret can of wine. Then the bar cart came:

Janet: The usual?
Me: No, I’m fine thanks.
Janet (confused): Are you sure you don’t want anything?
Me: Oh no, I’m good.
Janet: Hmmm. So you’re not feeling well. Let me know if there’s anything I can do.

(I call the conductor Janet because she looks and acts just like the character Janet in that TV show “The Good Place”, which is my new favourite comedy, and our conversations usually go like this:

Me: Janet?
Janet: Hello!
Me: Can I get some wine?
Janet: OK! Here.)

Anyway, after she continued down the aisle, I surreptitiously opened my can of wine. But I couldn’t enjoy it for two reasons: first, the conductor kept coming by to check on me because apparently she thought I must be sick, so I had to keep hiding it, and second, they made the usual announcement about not having personal alcoholic beverages on the train, and I started obsessing that another passenger would see that the can said ‘Sauvignon Blanc’ and not ‘Sprite’, turn me in, and I would be forced off the train at Aldershot after having my sad wine can confiscated.

I suppose in the long run, being a goodass is better for me, because anytime I do something even mildly rebellious, I just worry, and it takes the fun out of it. Like whenever I’m at Starbucks and they insist on writing my name on the cup, I tell them it’s Bob. But the barista always gives me a dirty look, and then I feel bad, like I need to explain that I’m not mocking HIM, just his stupid store policy. The only time I truly embrace my badass side is when it comes to protecting the people I love. Once T’s Grade 1 teacher was mean to him and made him cry, so I confronted the jerk on the playground and tore him a new one. Then I sat in a comfy chair, smoked a cigarette, and drank canned wine that I had triple-bagged like a boss.

My Week 163: Drama at the Dentist, Titus Has a Hallowe’en Surprise For Us

I’ve never had a problem going to the dentist. I mean, like most people, I don’t enjoy having someone else’s hands in my mouth (already I can hear the voices saying “Speak for yourself”—this is a PG site, so back off), but I’m not petrified, and I don’t avoid going like some people. In my previous workplace, we had a great dental plan, but there were so many people with really awful teeth that it seemed like a lot of people avoided the dentist like the plague, which is the time period when, I believe, that dentists were invented and were used mostly for implanting dead peoples’ teeth into rich peoples’ mouths. I used to work with a guy who was so scared of the dentist that he had to have laughing gas just for a cleaning. I had laughing gas only once, when I had my wisdom teeth out, and all I remember is that it was the surgeon’s birthday and he had helium balloons in the corner, which were apparently the funniest f*cking thing I had EVER seen, to the point where he got really mad and said, “Stop laughing!” And I was like, “This is your fault, you hilarious bastard!” then he hooked me up to an IV and I don’t remember anything after that, except that having your wisdom teeth pulled out REALLY takes the smile off your face. But even THAT experience didn’t sour me on dentistry. Apparently, according to my dentist, I have “boring teeth”, which might sound like an insult, but he said it’s way better than HIS teeth—he’s had three root canals, four crowns, and multiple fillings, which is weird because you’d think with all his access to floss and sh*t that he’d be completely tuned up. I really wanted to ask if he did the repair work himself, like that Mr. Bean show where he gets sick of waiting for the dentist and starts messing with the dentist’s tools and ends up drilling into several teeth, but he had his hands in my mouth so I couldn’t.

Mostly our conversations involve him griping about the fact that I’m allergic to latex so he has to wear vinyl gloves “just for me” and “they don’t fit properly and they’re hard to get on because there’s no powder”. And that’s a way worse inconvenience than me swelling up and choking, which is why I left my last dentist, who was like “there’s no such thing as a latex allergy—stop being a baby and breathe properly”. Yesterday though, my current dentist was quite pleased because he’s got these new blue gloves that are more comfortable. Of course, he still came in the room with the latex ones on, but my hygienist gave him this crazy signal like she was swatting at bee or something and he came back with the non-death-inducing ones.

I love my hygienist. Her name is Harmony, and she’s very much like her name. We like all the same TV shows, and manage to talk about them while she has sharp hooks in my mouth. I’ve been going to her for several years, and there’s never been an incident until yesterday, which simply proves that the universe is spinning out of control. We were discussing the finer points of “Game of Thrones,” and we have this system where she says something, and then I wait until she clears her hands before I answer. She does this regularly, so our timing is usually pretty good, but yesterday, she was like “Could you believe that scene at the end with Sansa?” and I waited a second, then started to respond with, “I know, right?!” when GASP!

Me: Oh my god! I just bit you!
Harmony: Uh, it wasn’t hard.
Me: I’ve never bitten ANYONE before!
Harmony: It’s OK. I’ve actually been bitten before. Usually by little kids. They bite a lot harder.
Me: I’m so sorry.
Harmony: Seriously, it wasn’t that bad.

But then, at the end of the appointment, she told me that she might not be working there any longer, because she had an interview to be an “International Dental Recruiter”. And I pictured her going home and saying to her husband, “It was the last straw. If I can’t even count on mydangblog not to bite me like some insane middle-aged vampire, what’s the point? I gave her some bullsh*t story about becoming an International Dental Recruiter” and he would be like, “What the hell is an International Dental Recruiter?” and Harmony would say, “I just made that sh*t up. I’m done, Stan.” (I don’t know if her husband’s name is actually Stan, but I could totally hear her saying “Stan” in her voice.)

Anyway, I’m sad at being all bite-y and forcing my hygienist to find a new job, but then again, it also just occurred to me that I’ve been going to Harmony for years, and she never looks older than 25. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her reflected in that tiny mirror she uses for checking the backs of my teeth, and sometimes, she digs a little too hard with the pick and it makes my gums bleed, but when she says sorry, she sound a little too cheerful. So who’s the vampire now, HARMONY?

Hallowe’en Surprise

Me: I can’t believe that, out of all the candy you gave out, all we have left are a bunch of mini-Mr. Goodbars and Wunderbars. I’ve never even heard of either of them. What happened to all the Aeros and Kitkats?!
Ken: I don’t know. I tried to be random…
Me: What the hell is a Wunderbar anyway?
Ken: Ooh, it’s yummy. It tastes like chocolate and butter.
Me: What?! That’s gross. Give me one…ohhh, that’s actually quite tasty. But still. What happened to all the candy?
Ken: I left some packets of Swedish berries on the counter for you. Just because you ate them already, don’t get mad at me.
Me: No, you didn’t. There were ZERO packages of any type of decent candy on the counter.
Ken: Yes, I DID. They were right there…
Titus (clears throat): Ahem. I thought those were for me.
Me: You ate my Swedish Berries?
Titus: Were they yours? They were delicious.
Me: Were there any Fuzzy Peaches?
Titus: There may or may not have been some Fuzzy Peaches.
Me: Dammit—I love the Fuzzy Peaches!
Ken: What happened to the wrappers? I don’t see them anywhere.
Titus: Oh, you’ll be seeing them eventually. Trick or treat.

 

My Week 162: Indigenous Discussions, Scientology, and the Cultural Appropriation of Iceland

This will be a quick one, because I spent most of this weekend at a conference. It was sponsored by the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Education Association. It was a humbling experience, and I really learned a lot. The biggest thing I learned was that Indigenous people are angry AF. And with good reason. Of course, they express that anger in a very polite, articulate, and dignified way, but there’s no question that they are supremely pissed.

I’m going to give you an analogy that will demonstrate the reason for their anger, but first a little context: This past week, the Church of Scientology took over a building in a town near here, a building that used to be a community centre, and they have converted it into their cultish administration offices which “will serve as a rallying point for Scientology activities across the country.” In case you’ve forgotten, Scientologists are a weird-ass cult founded in the mid-50s by a not-particularly-talented science fiction novelist, and they believe that aliens led by a dude named Xenu, “tyrant ruler of the Galactic Confederacy”, came to Earth 75 million years ago in giant spacecrafts. Then the aliens blew themselves up in volcanoes using hydrogen bombs, and their evil souls to this day try to inhabit regular people bodies. Now, if you don’t know anything about Scientology and think I’m making this sh*t up, I’m actually not. I guess in the long run, their belief system isn’t any stranger than most religions and it might be difficult to differentiate it from other belief systems, except that I doubt Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and all those other guys were failed writers who were trying to make money and evade taxes. The founders of most religions aren’t even aware that they’re founding ANYTHING at the time, unlike L. Ron Hubbard, who actively petitioned to have his science fiction tale recognized as one. At any rate, the people of Guelph organized a peaceful protest, and then the Grand Swami of Scientology (OK, she’s not really called that, but it sounds like it would fit nicely into their idiom) made a statement discrediting the protesters as a “hate group”.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the analogy. Let’s imagine that a couple of Scientologists come to your house one day, and they want to borrow a cup of sugar.

“No problem,” you say. “Here you go.”

“Gosh, thanks,” say the Scientologists, giving you the Vulcan salute or whatnot. “We might need more someday.”

“That’s fine,” you say. “I have lots. I’m happy to share.”

The next week, they come back, only this time there are 50 of them and they have phasers. They drag you out of your house and force you to live in the garden shed out back. Then they kill your dog, take your children away, sending them to weird-ass Scientology school, and you never see them again. Oh, and they also give you smallpox.

Are you mad?

The issues of our Indigenous people are certainly more complex than this (and don’t actually involve Scientology), but I hope you take my point.

I also went to a workshop on cultural appropriation, and it was really timely because right now it’s almost Hallowe’en, and Indigenous folk are really sick and tired of “Indian Princess” costumes. Even the name is offensive. I was actually shocked this summer when I went to a conference in the States, and one of the presenters actually referred to Indigenous people as “American Indians”. I was like, “You mean people from Southeast Asia who now live in the United States? That’s a very specific subgrouping.” But no, he meant Indigenous people. And they would really, really appreciate it if everyone stopped dressing their kids up like cultural stereotypes. If you really want to dress your child in the costume of another culture, may I recommend “Icelandic Stewardess”? When we flew back from the UK last summer on IcelandAir, they were actually selling “flight crew dresses” for girls aged 2 to 7. Apparently these are “elegant hats and dresses in the style of an Icelandair flight attendant”. They also cost 50 Euros, which is about $75 Canadian, so I guess they’re better quality than the Walmart Icelandic Stewardess costumes.

The other interesting thing that happened was that I was standing in the hallway waiting for Ken to finish his session (yes, we were both there for work—nothing more romantic than spending the weekend together at a conference), when a woman (non-Indigenous) and her male companion stopped close by to me. All of a sudden, the woman burst out with, “The f*ckng British. They ruined the world! F*ck them.” I was a little taken aback, and really wanted to respond with “The British? Don’t you mean the Romans?!” because the Romans were basically the master colonizers, and did to the Celts and many other cultures exactly what the Brits eventually did. But no one ever blames the Italians for ANYTHING, except taking a dive in soccer. Anyway, I was really perturbed by this and would really have loved to discuss it with her, but she seemed super angry and aggressive and swear-y so I left it alone. Then, as luck would have it, she ended up in my last session. She still seemed angry and aggressive, admonishing someone in our group that “our task wasn’t to make comments, but only to ask questions as per the protocol”, but I thought I might broach it with her at the end of the session, you know, just for fun like. But at the end, she went up to the session leader and suddenly burst into tears. Turns out she had been given a Native Studies class to teach. She was starting “Residential Schools” on Monday and had no idea how to teach it properly, knowing what she knew now. And I get that—it WAS overwhelming, and hard, and beautiful but I’m sure as hell glad I went. Meegwetch.

 

My Week 161: Meetings Are Hard, I Swear at the Police

So this week, I found out that my immediate boss had been promoted. I’ve been doing her job for a few months, but no one said anything to me about what would happen with my position. I didn’t want to ask because why poke the bear, right? (Not that she’s a bear—she’s actually lovely). But the date was quickly approaching when my term was supposed to end, and I wasn’t sure what to do, because I’ve kind of gotten pretty homey with her office, having installed my Retro Coca-Cola mini-fridge, my single-serve Keurig, and an assortment of family pictures, vintage wooden boxes, my melty Salvador Dali clock, and sundry other items. Not to mention things like binders and extra computer monitors and a drawer full of about 17 pairs of reading glasses and five different types of green tea. Was I supposed to wait until the last minute and then throw it all on a wheely cart or something? I was getting a little stressed out, especially since people in upper management were avoiding me like the plague and I was starting to get worried. Then, late on Wednesday afternoon, I got a call that the CEO wanted to see me, and I got a bit panicky. Why? Because I was recently nominated to chair one of our weekly meetings, and for the first week, I thought it would be nice to bring snacks to make up for the fact that I was very nervous about having to steer the group and be the one to say things like “in respect of the time, I think we should move on—let’s take this conversation off-line (which is something that I have to say now that I’m a manager. I was at another management workshop on Monday, and the presenter said that. I turned to the woman next to me, and said, “I didn’t think we were ON-LINE” and she just looked at me like I was crazy and responded, “We ARE.” And I so badly wanted to say “NO! This is not TRON!” but I didn’t, because one of my directors was sitting at the table with me also, and I didn’t think that would help my case.)

Anyway, for the first week as chair, I brought miniature Hershey’s chocolate bars, and everyone was like, “Oooh! Good job, mydangblog!” and they ate them all up. So I decided for the next week that I would really have to up my game. Then I was at Winner’s in the checkout aisle where they have all the good snacks, and I saw these little crates full of liqueur-filled chocolates. I mean, how do you make chocolate one step better? You throw alcohol into the mix, am I right?! I bought two crates—one with chocolates filled with tequila, and one that was labelled “Mojito”. Who wouldn’t like that? Well, as it turns out, no one. I’d put the little bottles into a bowl, and placed it on the table. Everyone looked at it. “Aren’t they cute?” I said excitedly. “They have liqueur in them. Please, help yourselves.” Nobody moved. Then one of the Directors next to me cleared his throat, laughed in a kind of weird way, and said loudly, “Oh, I think it’s a little early in the day for that, heh heh.” Then everyone else was like, “No thanks…I couldn’t possibly…” and the bowl sat there in the middle of the table like my own personal alcoholic badge of shame. At the end of the meeting, I cheerily invited people to take some with them “for later, wink, wink” but people were like “Oh, tequila makes me wild—I better not” or “It’s too late in the season for a mojito” and I was left with the bowl, a mounting sense of trepidation, and an uncertainty about exactly when mojito season was.

 

So you can see why when I was called to the CEO’s office, I was a little nervous. Had she heard about my “liqueur-filled chocolate faux pas”? I walked in with a pen, a notebook, and one of my many pairs of reading glasses, just in case I had to take notes about how not to encourage inebriation amongst my co-workers. As luck would have it, however, she was actually offering me an extension of my manager’s position:

CEO: So we discussed your position at the Executive meeting…
Me (silently): Please don’t say ‘tequila’…
CEO: And we all feel that you’re doing an excellent job, so we’ve decided to extend your position, if you’re willing to continue.
Me: Oh, that’s a relief!
CEO (confused): Does that mean you accept?
Me: Yes, sure, great.
CEO: Would you like to think about it?
Me: Do I NEED to think about it? I mean, if you WANT me to—
CEO (laughs): No, you don’t have to if you don’t want to. But don’t say anything to anyone until we have a chance to make an official announcement, please.
Me: Oh, OK. But I can tell my husband, right? And my mom?
CEO: What? Uh, yes. That’s fine.
Me: Super. Thanks again.

So I left her office. I was really excited, even though I’m not great at sharing that kind of thing publicly, so as I walked down the row of cubicles, I checked to see if anyone was looking. There was no one around, so I randomly jumped in the air and clicked my heels together. Then I kept walking. I thought it was all good until a while later, when one of the other managers came to see me about something. Then at the end of the conversation, I realized that I hadn’t been as inconspicuous as I thought:

Manager: By the way. What the hell was with the heel-clicking earlier?
Me: Oh my god, you saw that?!
Manager (laughing): Yeah. It was kind of awesome. I told your Director about it, and when I tried to imitate you, I almost fell down.
Me: You told the Director?! Oh my god, I’m so embarrassed. What did she say?
Manager: She thought it was hilarious. Don’t be embarassed. There’s nothing wrong with clicking your heels together. People should do it more often.

Anyway, it all worked out OK, despite the booze and acting like a middle-aged leprechaun. One of the things I have to do as a manager is attend a lot of meetings. And I’ve gotten really good at attending them (mostly because when they go into my calendar, I automatically get a 15 minute reminder before they start, so I’m never late). I realized the other day that, essentially, my role in meetings involves several important jobs. First, I have to listen and take notes. This can often be hard, because a lot of my meetings involve people who like to speak using solely acronyms, like “So we have the PRRT for the TIA and the MOU”, and for a long time, I would be like WTF? Three weeks ago, I was at a meeting and had to leave early, so I said, “TTFN” but no one got it. Anyway, by this point, I have a pretty good glossary of “The Initials of Stuff and What They Stand For”. My other job is also very important: when someone says, “Are we all OK with this?” I nod very vigorously, and when someone says, “Are there any questions?”, I shake my head very vigorously (even though I just want to whisper, “SO MANY.”). But I like to support my co-workers, and I’m nothing if not a team player. And for this week’s snack, I’m considering chocolate spiders. Everyone likes those, don’t they?

Thursday: I swear at the police

On Thursday night, I was out for dinner with my brother, sister-in-law and some friends to celebrate my sister-in-law’s father’s birthday. A few days prior, I had gotten a phone message from a guy with a very heavy accent telling me that I was in serious trouble and that if I didn’t immediately call him back, he would be forced to contact the police and that I should retain a lawyer. It sounded very ominous, and also like the total scam that it was, not unlike the calls that were making the rounds last year from “Revenue Canada” which instructed people to send iTunes gift cards to Paypal accounts OR ELSE, and some people actually did. I called the number back so I could give the dude a piece of my mind, but as per usual, the number was no longer in service. In addition, I’ve also been getting slammed with text messages from a bank that I don’t deal with, telling me that my account is compromised. It was scary at first, but then I realized they must have me confused with someone else, like the guy who keeps texting me with pithy sayings like, “Hey Shane! Blazefor dayz!” even though I keep telling him I’m not really “Shane” and that I haven’t “blazed” for innumerable dayz.

Anyway, I was sitting at dinner when the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number but I answered it, and a recorded message said, “This call may be recorded for Quality Assurance purposes”, then a very stern-sounding man said, “Hello. I’m calling from the Police Services Board.” And how did I respond? I cut him off and said, “Yeah, right. F*ck off” and I hung up. Then I called the number back. And it said, “Welcome to the Police Services Board Fundraising Line, helping children everywhere.” I immediately hung up and gasped in shock. What had I done?! Had I just effectively black-balled myself? What if I had an emergency and had to dial 9-1-1? Would they say, “Oh right…it’s mydangblog. Yeah, you’re a funny one. F*ck off with your emergency”? So I did what any normal person would do. No, I didn’t call Ken, because this was one of the few times that wouldn’t have helped. Instead, I called the number back:

Recorded Voice: You have reached the Police Services Board Fundraising Line. Please leave a message after the tone.
Me: Um, hi. So a little while ago, somebody from your fundraising campaign called me, and I thought it was a scam, so I was really, really rude to the person. I might have used a swear word. Anyway, I feel really bad about it, and I would like to sincerely apologize to him. And the children. So, um, really sorry. Thanks.

Hopefully, they can hear how sincere I am (since I used so many ‘reallys’, which is always a sign of good intentions), and not put me on a “Do Not Respond” list. Because otherwise, FYI, TBH, I am truly SOL, LOL. FML. CYA.

 

Gord Downie: The Best of Us.

I NEVER post mid-week, but this week, I have to. Gord Downie is dead.  I am gutted. I suppose it was silly to believe that he would survive the type of brain cancer that he had, but I’m at heart an optimist, despite my consistent obsession with worst case scenarios. I’ve spent a good portion of this evening singing snatches of his songs, and crying. I may be a little drunk right now. Here is what I wrote a few months ago, at the Canada-wide broadcast of the Hip’s final tour:

Saturday Night: The Tragically Hip

hip2

Last night was the final show of the Tragically Hip’s final concert tour. The lead singer, Gord Downie, has incurable brain cancer, and rather than fade away, he’s going out in fine Canadian style by bringing the country together. You might have seen the memes about Canada being closed for the night because our national broadcaster, the CBC, was showing the concert live across the nation for those who couldn’t get tickets to be there in person. Free. No commercial breaks. 3 hours of song. So that we could all embrace the band whose music was the soundtrack to so many of our lives. Hundreds of thousands of people watching all at the same time, some at huge parties with massive screens, some at home with the people they love, watching a man give everything he had left to the nation HE loves. It was inspiring and heartbreaking all at the same time. It seems incredibly unfair that Gord Downie, man, machine, poem, will soon be lost to us, just when we need him most. And when the time comes, we’ll miss him fully and completely. Just wait and you’ll see.

Here’s the link to one of my favourite Hip songs—Nautical Disaster.

Gord Downie was the best of us. I have no more words.

My Week 160: Naptime at Bladerunner 2049, Russian Cowboys

Naptime at Bladerunner 2049

The other day, I went to see the new Bladerunner movie with my brother. He got tickets to the VIP theatre, and if you don’t know what that is, it’s like a luxury theatre where the chairs are all like giant La-Z-Boys (which, by the way, is a TERRIBLE name for a piece of furniture—after a long day, how is it lazy to want to sink into a reclining piece of heaven? It should be called a “You-Deserve-This-Goddamn-It-Boy” and then you would lie back and be like, “You’re f*cking right, I do” instead of “Did you just insult me, comfortable yet strangely passive-aggressive chair?” Anyway, I digress). The VIP theatre also offers dinner and bar service delivered right to your seat by the staff, so my brother and I ordered our usual pulled-pork poutine, and a nice bottle of wine. The movie, for some unknown reason, was in 3D. Let me tell you, there’s nothing more annoying than trying to eat pulled pork poutine in the dark WHILST wearing 3D glasses—talk about a messy proposition. So if you’re planning on seeing it, and you have to choose between regular and 3D, let me tell you that, like most movies in 3D lately, there is absolutely no reason to pay extra. Unless there are flying snakes or sharks in a tornado, the use of 3D is pretty redundant in most movies, and especially in Bladerunner, which isn’t really an action movie at all—trust me, at almost three hours running time, it’s pretty contemplative. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy it—I completely did, and I had no weird questions to ask about it afterward. But the best, like the most f*cking amazing part of the whole experience, was that I managed to STAY AWAKE for the entire three hours. If you’ve read me for a while, you’ll know that I am renowned for falling asleep at the movies. You may recall that in My Week 79: Naptime at Batman Vs. Superman, I missed most of the film and woke up profoundly confused, and I was too embarrassed to ask my brother, who has a Ph.D., to explain it to me. Here’s a recap:

1) Why was Batman so pissed off at Superman?
2) Why did the angry Facebook guy want to kill Superman?
3) What was the point of two superheroes, both of whom are impervious to physical damage from the other, insisting on trying to beat the sh*t out of each other for three hours when it’s obvious that NO ONE is going to win?
4) What was with the gratuitous 15 minute scene of a shirtless Ben Affleck doing pull-ups and hitting a tractor tire with a sledgehammer? (Sure, he was very muscular, but also a little hairy and sweaty, and not in that GOOD way).
5) What kind of coincidence is it that Superman and Batman both have moms with the same name, and that once Batman finds out, they immediately become best friends instead of two guys trying to destroy each other? Did they have the SAME mom? Are they actually half-brothers or something?
6) How does an underground lake turn a normal, dead guy into a gigantic, disgustingly slimy superhuman who can only be killed by kryptonite?
7) Where the HELL did Wonderwoman come from and why did she look so happy to be there? And don’t even get me started on Aquaman and that weird-ass cameo where he looked like a character from Game of Thrones (not surprisingly) and came out of his little cave looking all sleepy and blinky, then stabbed the camera and swam away.
8) But the biggest question I had of all was this: Why did no one, in the entire movie, punch Jessie Eisenberg in the face? Because I sure as hell wanted to, mostly because of his bad acting (dude, you will NEVER be Heath Ledger, so don’t even try), but also because he’s just so f*cking annoying in everything he’s ever been in. At the end, Batman goes to see him in the “lunatic asylum” and he’s got his Batman brand all ready (by the way, when did Batman start branding people like cattle?), and I was like, “Please, god, just do this one thing for me,” but instead, Batman punched the wall and left.
9) And then the last scene of the movie was a zoom-in on the same bizarre painting of the same space harpies from an earlier scene, only now it was hung the other way, like it was an omen, or maybe a flashback, or maybe foreshadowing, only I was like, “I’m done. I can’t even.” And then we left the theatre:

Brother: That was great! Did you like it?
Me: Yeah, I guess. It was a little long. I was kind of bored by the end.
Brother: Bored? Really? What about the scene where…
Me: Oh yeah! That was a great scene!
Brother: And the scene when…
Me: I know, right? Talk about crazy!
Brother: I loved the part where…
Me: Me too. What a moment!

The best thing was that he seemed completely unaware that I’d been asleep for any length of time. But I had a sneaking suspicion that his inquisition may or may not have been motivated by a desire to watch me squirm, and at Bladerunner 2049, I finally got my revenge.

About half an hour into the movie, I realized that my brother hadn’t taken a sip of wine for a while. I took off my 3D glasses and looked more closely. Sure enough, his eyes were closed. At a certain point, his head tipped kind of sideways, and his jaw dropped open. Yes—my brother was asleep. After a while, he woke up, looked around surreptitiously, then poured each of us another glass of wine. I maintained my innocent façade until the movie was over. As we were walking out, we began to share our thoughts:

Brother: That was pretty amazing.
Me: I know, right? So beautifully shot.
Brother: A great sequel.
Me: And what about the part with the wings? Could you believe it when THAT happened?!
Brother (slight pause): I know! Such a moment.
Me: I can’t believe they didn’t play up the “wing” angle a little more. It would have made such sense.
Brother: It was a great motif, for sure.
Me: What a missed opportunity. Do you remember in the original Bladerunner at the end when Roy releases the dove in the rain? Can you imagine the parallelism if Ryan Gosling had been there in the snow, and then the wings had just opened?!
Brother: It would have really tied everything together!

Just to clarify, there are NO wings in the movie. Ultimately, I can’t tell if my brother was playing along because HE was asleep, or if he thought that I was asleep and that I’d had some weird, pulled-pork and wine-induced hallucination based on the fact that Ryan Gosling is named after a tiny goose and maybe would have wings in my imagination.

Still, the movie was great, and made total sense, unlike the original film Westworld, which Ken and I just watched on the weekend. We had seen the new series and were pretty impressed, but I wanted to see what the source material was like. Overall, it was a good piece for the 70s, with one major exception. The main villain in the film was played by Yul Brynner. Which would be fine in any other circumstance, except Westworld is about a fantasy vacation land where people can pretend to live in the Old West. In what possible universe would a short, bald Russian guy be believable as an American cowboy?! Then again, considering the state of American politics, I’m just going to leave that there.