My Week 238: It’s A Miracle

As I told you last week, I’m working off-site with no days off except for yesterday. I’m really tired and it’s making me a little punchy. I know this, because on Wednesday morning, I turned on my laptop and actually yelled at my computer boyfriend Carlo because once again, he pronounced my last name wrong, and I was like, “SAY MY NAME RIGHT, B*TCH!”. Luckily no one was around to hear me because I arrive at the site incredibly early to avoid rush hour. I normally don’t mind that Carlo says the last part of my surname like ‘Why-Talk’ instead of ‘Whit-ick’, because who would even think that was correct in the first place, but in retrospect, I think he might just be passive-aggressive, because he has no trouble with the part that I own; it’s the part that Ken owns that seems to irk him, so maybe it’s subtle jealousy. Or maybe it’s just Ken’s name in general, because even my Car Phone Lady has a problem with it:

Car Phone Lady: Ready.
Me: Call.
Car Phone Lady: Please say the name or number to call.
Me: Ken.
Car Phone Lady: Did you say ‘Karen’?
Me: No.
Car Phone Lady: Did you say ‘Joe’?
Me: NO! Ken. Call Ken!
Car Phone Lady: OK. Calling ‘Maria’.

I call Ken at least twice a day from my car when I’m commuting, but she always, like literally EVERY TIME, makes me confirm that I do indeed want to call Ken despite the fact that I never have to confirm anyone else, including ‘Mom and Dad’ or ‘Jong Uk Park’.

So there are several things irritating me, and when I told Ken last night that I was feeling punchy, he looked at me questioningly and I said, “That means I might punch you”, which I did at about 2 am when he wouldn’t stop snoring. Finally, I said, “You know what?! I’m going into the other room and I’m taking Quackers and Brian with me!!” and he said, “GOOD! Then you can’t hit me with them anymore!” (Quackers is a duck and Brian is a shark, in case you’ve forgotten.)

But the one good thing about being away from the office is that I’m almost next to the airport, and watching an airplane take off is something that never gets old for me. The other day, I was walking to the plaza to get lunch. I looked up as a huge jet roared by, and I thought ‘People are so smart. Look at that airplane. A monkey couldn’t invent an airplane. They aren’t even particularly good butlers.’ And I know this because I have done quite a bit of research on the topic “How to Train Your Monkey Butler” and let me tell you, it doesn’t sound very promising. So I was on a huge ‘people are so smart’ high until yesterday morning when I heard some cars pull up and I looked out my bathroom window at the church across the street. We live kitty-corner to two churches—I call them the “Platform Diving Jesus Church” and “The Other Church”. As you may guess, I don’t attend either of them. I got their names from the fact that a couple of years ago, the doors of the church directly across from us were painted with an angel on one side, and Jesus on the cross on the other, both in gold paint. It looks very nice up close (well, the angel does, but I always feel sad for Jesus), but from far away, it looks like Jesus is about to dive off a cliff or whatnot.

Am I right?

Anyway, from my bathroom window, I could see five men standing around a piano which was sitting on a flat cart on the church walkway. It looked like they had just unloaded it from a rather small mini-van—a feat unto itself, I would imagine. I could hear yelling, so I opened my balcony door. The men had surrounded the piano and were having a very loud discussion in what sounded like German. Were they an angry yet musical Saxon mob intent on a good sacking? After a few minutes though, it seemed like their intention was to put the piano INSIDE the church. And I say ‘seemed’ because they kept just wandering around the piano, staring at it dubiously, and talking a lot. I had nothing better to do, and it was a beautiful sunny morning, so I went out onto the balcony to watch.

After a lot more Germanic discussion, the youngest-looking guy ran over to the mini-van and brought out a long strap, which he looped around the piano. ‘Here we go,’ I thought. Nope. They all just stood back and stared at it again. I wanted to yell, “Just push the damn thing, for Christ’s sake!” which seemed appropriately church-y, but then the guy ran back to the mini-van. He reappeared with what looked like a gas can and at first I thought maybe they were going to set the piano on fire and claim an angel spoke to them from within it, like a ‘burning bush-type scenario’, so that they could blame God for not getting it inside the church. However, it was only a toolkit. The young guy took out a hammer and started hammering at something while the rest just stood around. One of the other men put his hood up, like he didn’t want to be recognized, and frankly I don’t blame him because I was at the point where I just wanted to march over and push the piano through the doors myself. Then the one with the hammer ran back to the mini-van and grabbed what I thought was a blanket of some kind, but it was just his coat, which he randomly donned, then he looped some kind of harness around his shoulders and waist. ‘Aha!’ I thought. ‘He’s going to hook himself to the piano and pull it in like a team of oxen’ but again, I was disappointed. And then I was really confused because they started pushing the piano down the walkway and I had a moment where I thought they were going to take a run at the door with it, but again, NOPE. They wheeled it back towards the mini-van and I was like “What? Don’t give up Hans, Karl, Kristoff, Otto, and Gunther!” (which is what I had affectionately started to call them in my head), but then they wheeled it PAST the mini-van and kept going. Down the street. I watched until they were out of sight, then I quickly got dressed and hopped in the car to see where they went, but they, and the piano, had disappeared like some kind of vaudevillian miracle. But then I had a terrible thought–what if I had just witnessed a crack German heist squad, not unlike the villains in Die Hard, actually ROBBING the church?! So I tried dialing 9-1-1, and the Car Phone Lady said, “OK. Calling Ken.”

 

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My Week 237: 3 AM Eternal Revisited

So I’m going through another bout of insomnia, a condition that I like to call “3 AM Eternal”, because I wake up around 3 o’clock in the morning and I think, “That’s OK—I still have a couple of hours until I have to get up”, and then I lie there for a f*cking ETERNITY before I fall back to sleep. And sometimes I DON’T fall back to sleep and then my mind just wanders down any number of bizarre paths. ‘Why don’t you get up and watch TV, or read a book or something?’ I hear you ask. The answer is simple: I love lying down. I mean, I am never so happy as when I am prone, snuggled under warm covers in a soft bed. Maybe it’s because so much of my day right now is spent standing and walking around a giant convention centre (which is also absolutely contributing to the insomnia), but the fact is that I am a horizontal person. And I’m sure that vertical people are very smug and proud of their defiance of gravity and whatnot, but they will never understand the pure and existential delight that I feel when I am flat on my back, glass of wine in hand. Yes, it IS difficult to drink wine while you’re lying down, but it’s a skill that many of us have carefully honed over the years. And if any of the wine happens to spill, Titus is always hovering nearby in the hope of lapping up a few precious drops (speaking of Titus, I’m alone in the house right now and he suddenly raced from the back family room to the front living room, where he leapt onto a chair and stared out the window. I said, “What’s wrong, buddy?” He didn’t answer. I looked out the window too, and saw nothing. A few seconds later, he muttered, “Never mind”, jumped down and ran to the back again. He’s a terrible guard dog.)

There’s nothing there. He’s just being a jerk.

But as I said, whilst I’m enjoying the wide-awake comfort of my bed, my mind tends to stagger from one absurd topic to another:

1) Is one of my co-workers a spy?

The other day, I was talking about motion sensor lights with a colleague and he said, “Oh, I have those. I also have security cameras all around the outside of my house.” “Ooh,” I said, “are you a spy?” and he laughed and said no, but kind of like, “Ha ha ha. NO.” And now I’m not sure, because isn’t that exactly what a spy WOULD say? Then he showed me his phone with four different screens displaying the view from each of his exterior cameras, and all I could think was what I would see if I mounted cameras all around the outside of MY house and was able to watch remotely: several tree rats doing sexy squirrel stuff (because it’s spring and tree rats are super-slutty), Jehovah’s Witnesses ringing the bell and then looking sad as they stuff The WatchTower between my doors, the meter reader trampling through my privet hedge to get to the gas meter, that one possum…frankly, it wouldn’t make for very scintillating viewing. Also, I had to google whether or not possums are nocturnal—the jury is out on that, but apparently people are very interested in possum trivia.

Possums are fascinating, I guess.

2) How much German do I know?

I took German for three years in high school. It’s remarkable how much I can remember at 3:30 in the morning. Ich gehe—I go. Ich spreche —I speak. Ich liebe—I love. Ich sehe—I see. I could conjugate German verbs all night. Ironically, I can’t remember the German word for ‘sleep’. My favourite German saying is “Das Mädchen hat Toilettenpapier auf ihrem Arsch“. If you want to know why, go back to My Week 146. My second favourite German saying is “Fritz fing fünf frische Fische” which is a tongue-twister that my high school German teacher used to make us say. It means “Fritz caught five fresh fish”. When I was in high school, I was pretty snarky (‘Just in high school?!’ I hear you say), and I used to mutter under my breath “F*ck Fritz and his five fresh fish” but now I have a lot of sympathy for Fritz, having to spend all day fishing just to feed his family, and I’m grateful that the fish are fresh and not frozen, because that would be frustrating for Fritz.

3) How hard would it be to learn to drive a forklift?

I don’t think it would be very hard. It looks like a golf cart with arms, and I can totally drive a golf cart—in fact, being able to drive the golf cart is the ONLY reason I ever go golfing. How fast does a forklift go? Could I drive around town with it? If Ken got one too, could we have Transformer-style battles? So many questions. But you know what would be even better? Remember in Aliens how Sigourney Weaver wore that human forklift suit? That. That’s what I want. I haven’t gotten a Hamacher Schlepper catalogue for a while but maybe they’re selling them next to their insanely priced life-size fake robot. And now I know what I want to do when I retire—being a human forklift would be the best job ever and it wouldn’t affect my pension like working at a private school would. Also, not as dangerous as planning warehouse heists.

My retirement plan

4) Here’s a poem I wrote at around 4:30 am when sleep became a hopeless desire and I had a panic attack at the thought of being so tired that I might fall asleep driving:

Are you afraid
When you see the clock move
Forward
Marking out the remainder
Of your life
In incremental pieces?

5) It’s fifteen minutes before my alarm goes o….why are there dozens of Asian children doing some kind of line dance in this parking lot to a Gary Numan song?! Why is it my job to bring them individually wrapped chocolates every time the music stops?! Why are the children I don’t get to in time disappearing into oblivion?! Why can’t I just dream about puppies? Sigh.

By the way, if you’re reading my blog and you see an ad for the “Gut Doctor”, I can save you the 45 minutes it takes to find out what his three superfoods are. They are chicory root, probiotic TCPs, and Vitamin B Complex. He never actually tells you what vegetable to throw out, FYI. And I don’t make a single cent off any of his sh*t.

My Week 236: Highway to Hell, Dancing in the Closet

So starting this past Thursday, I am once again working off-site, which means that my morning commute has changed quite a bit. Instead of leaving my condo, going down in one elevator, crossing the street, and going up to my office in another elevator, I now have to drive on the world’s worst highway for an hour and a half. This is an estimate—the time can change depending on the stupidity of other drivers and something that traffic reporters insist on calling “volume”, which is just a nice way of saying there are way too many f*cking cars on the road. I won’t bore you with the details—I’ve written plenty about the Highway of Hell in the past. But Saturday morning’s commute was the worst thing I’ve ever had to do.

It was pouring rain, and it was 6:00 am, so also pitch black out thanks to Daylight Savings Time. I had thought initially about taking the back way, but Ken was listening to the traffic report and there was an accident on one of those roads. It involved a cattle truck. There were cows on the road. Literal cows. Of the Holstein variety. So I had no choice but to take the highway. I knew I was going to have problems about ten minutes into the drive to GET to the highway when it was raining so hard that I couldn’t see the lines on the road, but I thought I would be OK. I was wrong. I pulled onto the on-ramp and was immediately hit by the spray of a truck barreling past. I don’t know how HE could see anything, but he was going like a bat out of hell—a blind bat to be exact. I started driving and thought, “I need to get off this highway now” but I couldn’t see well enough to even figure out where any exits were, and in a horrifying twist of fate, I had left my cell phone at home in the charger, so I couldn’t even do what any normal person would do, which would be to call Ken. So I carried on, hunched over the wheel, terrified that at any moment, I would either go off the road or be hit by a transport truck. I did this for over an hour. In the pouring rain. In the dark.

I can’t even describe how I felt—the closest feeling would be the time that my gas fireplace started making a loud grinding sound and black smoke started pouring out of it, and I thought the house was going to blow up. My knuckles were white, my shoulders were screaming with tension, and I couldn’t even cry because I knew if I did, the visibility would only get worse.

Finally, I got to the convention centre’s access road, and breathed a huge sigh of relief. I pulled into the parking lot, put the car into park, and then, just as I thought my ordeal was finally over, a GIANT F*CKING SPIDER chose that exact moment to swing down from my visor. My reaction was to scream, and then I became convinced that I actually HAD died on the road and I was now in hell. Let me clarify that I don’t normally have a fear of spiders but I was really stressed out and this one was black and hairy and the size of a quarter and I didn’t have any Kleenex to catch it with because at a stoplight 5 minutes prior, I had used the only tissue in my possession, then I rolled down the window and surreptitiously tossed it out onto the road on the grounds that paper is essentially wood fibre and natural and whatnot, and NOT litter, but now I was obviously being punished by the environmental gods. So I grabbed my wallet and tried to whack the giant spider out the window but I missed and it fell off its creepy webstring and seemed to disappear perhaps into my boot, which caused me to scream again and jump out of the car, stomping my feet vigorously because as you all know, if a spider is in your boot, the most appropriate thing to do is crush it into your sock, because why the f*ck wouldn’t I want a spider corpse in my boot all day? But when I took my boot off, there was no spider, which means it’s still hiding somewhere in my car.

So to make a long story short, I need to buy another car.

And now, to relieve the tension, here’s something a little more funny. As I was getting dressed this morning in the dark, I tried to turn on my closet light, but I was too tired to do the dance properly. I hit the closet light with a pair of underwear to activate the motion sensor, and remembered something I wrote a long time ago, which will explain what I mean by ‘dance’:

One Friday night, I came home from Toronto. I went into the walk-in closet to get changed, reached up to pull the chain on the light to turn it on, but couldn’t find it.

Ken: The chain broke this week.
Me: How do I get the light on then?
Ken: I installed a motion detector light bulb.
Me: But I’m IN the closet. Why hasn’t it come on?
Ken:  You have to come out of the closet. Now walk to the right, along the side of the bed. Now walk to the left and move towards the bathroom door. Take two steps forward, then hop one step back on kind of an angle.
Me: What?
Ken: You did it wrong that time. Try it again. This time, make it more of a 30 degree angle instead of a 45 degree angle.
Me: Can’t you just get another chain?
Ken: No, this is much better. Oh, by the way, when you’re finished, you have to shut the closet door. If Titus walks past, he triggers the light and it will wake you up.
Me: I didn’t realize Titus could do Country Line Dancing.
Titus: Pivot, Turn, and Quick-Ball Change! Yeehaw!
Ken: You’ll get used to it.

Ken was right. Now, if I want the closet light on, I just hum “Achy, Breaky Heart”, the magic takes over, and it’s all good.

My Week 235: Home Alone

For the past few days, Ken was at a conference in one of our western provinces, and I had to come home early to take care of Titus, which meant being in the house by myself, something I despise. Even in Toronto, I have a roommate because I hate being alone at night (also, the rent is outrageous and I couldn’t afford to live there without her). When I first moved to Toronto, my condo was paid for by my company because I was on temporary contract, so I didn’t have a roommate, and it was awful. I came home from work every night and literally searched the entire condo, which didn’t take long because it was only 600 square feet. Still, I would call Ken while I looked in the closets, under the bed, and behind the giant column in the corner where only a very thin robber could squeeze. I don’t know what I thought would happen if I actually DID find someone—put Ken on speakerphone and have him sternly order the intruder out? Say “You’ll be sorry when my husband gets here–in two hours”?

It’s even harder at home because we have a very large, late 1800s Victorian house with a full walk-up attic, and searching it would take a really long time. There are 6 doors leading to the outside on the main floor alone, and a balcony door upstairs, although I doubt a burglar would bother climbing up to the porch roof when there are SO MANY DAMNED ACCESS POINTS ALREADY. Before I go to bed, I make sure ALL of them are locked, and that all the outside lights are on. And then I’m locked IN the house, which creaks and makes weird sounds. Oh, it’s not haunted though—I used to live in a house that was haunted and this one definitely isn’t, which is one good thing at least, and if you’re interested in the haunted house, you can read all about it in My Week 69: Ghost Stories.

I was talking to one of my aunts last night, and she hates being alone in the house too.

Aunt: Is everything locked up?
Me: Yes. I double-checked. And I can lock myself in the bedroom now—there’s a hook on the inside of the door.
Aunt: What kind of weaponry are we talking about?
Me: A baseball bat in the bedroom, another one by the toilet in the ensuite, and a hammer on the window ledge.
Aunt:
Me: Too much? I know it sounds crazy.
Aunt: Oh no—I was just wondering why you didn’t mention the pepperspray.
Me: Damn! I left it in Toronto.
Aunt: I keep mine in my bedside table.
Me: Ooh, good thinking.

It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one in the family who is well-armed.

But wait, I hear you say—you’re not BY YOURSELF; you have Titus. Well, let me relieve you of any delusion you may have had that Titus can be counted on in a crisis. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that he has no problem with intruders in the house—our doorstep has been crossed by bats, birds, squirrels, raccoons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses and he has batted nary an eyelash. In fact, the last time a squirrel got in the house, I was convinced it was a burglar, and as I was creeping towards our family room with a giant knife in my hand, trembling with fear, he lay on the living room couch and barely lifted his head when I shrieked in horror at the sight of the tree rat climbing my wall. In fact, the only time he DOES lift his head is when we’re lying in bed all locked in and cozy, and suddenly he pretends to hear a noise and jumps off the bed:

Me: What?! Why are your ears up?
Titus: I thought I heard something.
Me: Like what?
Titus: Oh, uh, like a…hey, open the door and I’ll go see.
Me: Don’t lie. I’m not letting you out of here.
Titus: But I’m bored!
Me: It’s 3 o’clock in the morning!! How are you ‘BORED’?! Go the f*ck to sleep like a normal dog.
Titus: OK, ok, I’ll stay in here. Can you at least put Netflix on?
Me: Fine, but no cooking shows—I don’t want you drooling on the bed.
Titus: Is there any wine left?
Me: What do you think?
Titus: Lush.

Who’s the lush?

As you can see, he’s not much use in the watchdog department. For all his formidable size—100 pounds of extra-tall black Lab—and intimidating bark, he’s pretty much a big suck. But I’m sure if there WAS someone in the house, he’d be all over them. Especially if they had wine.

Here’s a quick, funny story for you:

Once, when I was teaching, my class was studying Lysistrata by Aristophanes. The students were seniors and it was an academic class, so the kids decided they wanted to act it out. Authentically. If you know anything about early Greek theatre, all the parts were played by men, and they differentiated between the sexes using masks, and because this was a comedy, the ‘men’ were also identified with exaggerated fake phalluses and the ‘women’ with exaggerated fake boobs. So on the day of the performance, the students all dressed up, with the girls taking the male roles and vice versa, just for fun. So there they were, all wearing togas made out of bedsheets, Hallowe’en masks on their faces, the girls swinging long balloons and pool noodles strapped around their waists and the boys strutting with balloons and basketballs tied to their chests. Just as the largest boy in the class said his line in excellent falsetto, “Indeed, I believe I could—I practice the kick-dancing!” and demonstrated thusly, the classroom door opened and my new principal walked in. She stopped and stared:

Principal:
Me: We’re doing a play.
Principal:
Me: It’s Greek…
Principal: I needed to talk to you about something but it can wait.

She left, and as soon as the door shut, the whole class erupted in laughter. I didn’t know what would happen next, but when I saw her again, her only comment was, “It looked like they were having a good time.” I mention all of this now, because I was reminded of it last week when I yelled the word “Herpes!!” across the aisle to a colleague just as one of the big bosses was walking by. She also stopped and stared, and I explained that it was something I was reading. I showed her and she laughed, kind of like “Ah. Ha ha ha” and walked away. Sigh. At least I didn’t say ‘penis’ again.

My Week 234: Up On The Roof

As many of you know, I’m from a very small town, but I work in Toronto, so during the week, I live downtown in a condo. I’m on the 34th floor. I have a balcony but I never go out there, not because I’m afraid of heights but because I’m afraid of falling FROM them. But the view from my windows is always very interesting, because I can see into other buildings as well as being able to look down on other roofs, and I’ve seen some crazy stuff. One of the buildings opposite had this naked mannequin in the window for the longest time. Once in a while, it sported a jaunty fedora, but it never wore pants. EVER. I’m just glad I had the posterior view because looking at mannequin junk every day would be very disconcerting.

Look at my bum!

 Last week, I was looking out my bedroom window, which overlooks another building. I’ve seen it hundreds of times, but I’ve never actually paid attention to the thing that I suddenly noticed and am now absolutely befuddled by. Take a look at the picture below. It shows the side of a building with a beautiful mural celebrating singers and venues in Toronto. There’s also a rooftop which features a ladder.

Ladder to nowhere

 Now think about the ladder. What is the deal with that f*cking ladder? It comes out of a brick wall, goes down and then along the roof, then suddenly stops. It’s not high enough to reach the next level of the roof, and it’s above the door in the brick. If you look closely you can tell that it doesn’t go INTO the brick—it’s just attached to it. It’s either performance art making a statement about the futility of life or a very poorly designed roller coaster.

When I first moved to Toronto in 2015, I lived a different building on the 27th floor. I was initially alarmed by how high up I was, and the fact that I had floor to ceiling windows made me a little dizzy. But I soon learned to love the view—I could see the sun rising over the lake in the morning, and the city lights were gorgeous at night. But the best part was that the condo directly overlooked the roof of the building next door, which, when I moved in, featured a lovely roof garden with raised boxes of shrubberies, lighted paths, benches, and whatnot. Then around the beginning of March, I looked out and saw a crew of workers starting to dismantle the whole thing. I was initially dismayed, but not long after they ripped it apart and took it down to bare concrete, they started laying new rubber membrane and then putting down patterned paving stones. I had ongoing hope that one day it would become an even more beautiful rooftop garden. But the PACE of the workers concerned me. There were 4 men–they arrived around 7 am every morning, and they were gone by the time I got home from work. And after a month, they hadn’t even finished LAYING the paving stones. One Thursday night when I got in, it seemed that all of the stones were in place. Except for ONE SPOT, where there was a hole with a single paving stone missing. I assumed they had left it because it was quitting time, and that it would be easy to finish up the next morning, but I was wrong.

On Friday morning, I got up, and the crew was there. They were too far away to really identify but there were 4 guys—let’s call them Bill, Frank, Bob, and Monty. Over the course of the next hour, as I was getting ready for work, I was fascinated by their activity—or lack thereof—as you can tell by this chronicle which I have named “The Tale of the Hole”:

7:02 – Bill, Frank, and Monty are wandering aimlessly around the roof. Bob comes out of a porta-potty. (I have NO idea how they got a porta-potty up there.) I go into the bathroom and wash my face.

7:05 – Bill is staring at the hole. Frank is leaning against the wall, having a smoke. I put in my contact lenses.

7:07 – Bill is standing IN the hole. Frank is staring at him. I wash my hair.

7:10 – Bill and Frank are BOTH standing in the hole. It’s a tight fit AND they’re facing each other. I dry my hair.

7:15 – Frank is standing in the hole. Bill is about 10 feet away, lying on his stomach facing the hole and using his thumb as a gauge. For what exactly, I have no idea. Monty is hovering nearby. No sign of Bob. I pour out some cereal and go back into the bathroom to put on some make-up.

7:20 – Frank is out of the hole, and Bill is once again in it. He’s jumping up and down. Frank observes him carefully. I put my cereal bowl in the sink and apply mascara.

7:22 – Frank and Bill are kneeling on either side of the hole. They are facing each other and look like they are genuflecting. Perhaps a small god lives in the hole. I brush my teeth.

7:24 – Monty is standing in the hole. Frank and Bill observe him carefully. Could it be a time-travel portal? Maybe that explains what happened to Bob, whom I haven’t seen in a little while. No, wait—Bob has just come out of the porta-potty again. So much for the time-travel theory. Unless the porta-potty IS the portal. Hmmm. I go into my room to get dressed.

7:29 – Monty and Bill are standing next to the hole. Bob has made his way over, and seems to be instructing Frank on how to kill an imaginary insect by stomping repeatedly on it with his foot. He stomps, then looks encouragingly at Frank, who then stomps a little himself. They continue this for several minutes. I pack my lunch.

7:33 – Bob and Frank are still “killing insects”. Monty and Bill are now both lying on their stomachs across from each other, facing the hole, and both are using their thumbs as gauges. Again, for what, I have no idea. I get my bags ready to leave.

As I leave, Bill is once again IN the hole. Monty, Frank, and Bob are observing him carefully. I have hope that, based on the efforts of the morning, the hole will be filled by the time I get home from work.

4:30 – I arrive at my condo, anxious to see what progress the crew have made. Not only is the hole still visible, there are now at least 14 other holes where once there were none. It’s going to be a long summer.

So many holes…

And it was a very long time before that roof was finished—if you want to know what happened next, check out My Week 94: Sexy Roof Time.

I’m actually moving home at the end of April to start commuting  to work daily by train. I’m really excited about it, but I WILL miss the views.

My Week 233: All The Weird Things

It’s been a strange time lately, a time when all the weird things are happening. If you read The Mystery of the Tip Sheet on the Table, I should tell you that was only the “Tip” of the iceberg, haha, and I apologize for the terrible pun, but I’ve certainly had some experiences in the last three weeks that have been completely outside my wheelhouse, and most of them have to do with the magical world of math. I call it “magical” because there are formulas, and also whenever I see someone solve an equation, I squeal excitedly and exclaim breathlessly with child-like wonder, “How did you do that?!” Here are the 5 strange things that have beset my life recently:

1) I applied for a job closer to home. I love my current job, but I have to live in the city during the week, and it’s getting pretty sketchy downtown. The job was kind of the same as what I do now, I thought, and to be honest, I didn’t really want to change jobs immediately, but at the bottom of the job posting it said that eligible candidates would be put in a pool for future positions, and that seemed like a great opportunity. So I applied, and lo and behold, I got an email about an interview. And at the bottom of the email was a description of the interview telling me that I would have to prepare a presentation for the interview panel. On MATH. My first reaction was, “Did they even LOOK at my resume?” Because I have a lot of qualifications and experience, none of which have anything at ALL to do with the numbers or adding or dividing or whatnot. The closest I’ve ever come to doing math professionally was teaching Life of Pi. And then it said at the bottom of the description that there would be a TEST at the end of the interview, and I was like, “What? A MATH TEST?!” because nowhere in the job description had it even mentioned math at all, and it seemed pretty obvious by then that they probably already had someone for the job, someone who was, perhaps, good at math. So when the place called me to confirm that I got the invite, I actually had to ask the woman, “So is the test at the end a math test?” because if it was, there was no point in going, but she said she didn’t think so, that it was probably a “scenario”. Which it was. And ironically, I totally ROCKED the math presentation, but I blew the “scenario” which was writing a letter in response to someone who was very angry. I responded the way I normally would—no, not by saying “Take a f*cking step back”—but in a professional way which is “Please provide more information to help me understand your anger.” It turns out though, that apparently I was supposed to direct them to a variety of different websites where they could explore their feelings themselves. Ultimately, it was not fun, but I DID get put into the pool for future positions, mostly on the merit of my math presentation, which is another one of life’s great mysteries.

Isn’t it magic-y?

2) I went to empty my blog spam folder, which usually contains about 30 comments about Nike shoes or Viagra, and there were 1, 167 spam comments in there. They were all for CBD oil (derived from marijuana). So I emptied the spam folder, and three days later, there were another 2, 000 messages, again for CBD oil, and all I could think was “Someone REALLY wants me to get high”. But then I did a little research and it turns out that CBD oil isn’t psychoactive, so I’m not sure what’s going on there, but the Viagra people need to step up their game.

3) I had to go by myself to do a presentation (this time on my actual work instead of magic-y math sh*t) to a group of around 60 people. I don’t enjoy standing up in front of people at any given moment—I don’t even say much in meetings when I’m sitting down—but someone had to do it, and I was that someone. I stayed in a hotel the night before because the weather was supposed to be lousy for travelling the next day. I decided to order some Swiss Chalet chicken, and then stay in for the night watching the Oscars. I called up Swiss Chalet and asked for delivery, but when the woman gave me the total, I realize I didn’t have any money so I said, “Oh, I don’t have any cash on me. Will the guy take Visa or is there something else I need to do?” and then I realized to my horror that it sounded like I was offering to instigate a porn scene where the lady doesn’t have money but offers to “take it out in trade” with the nubile young delivery man. Luckily, you can pay for Swiss Chalet over the phone,  and a very sturdy older lady came to my hotel room, so no worries there. But then, incredibly, the hotel TV had 54 channels and not one was showing the Oscars, so I ended up watching porn. No I didn’t. That was a joke. I ended up watching a Flip or Flop Nashville marathon.

The presentation the next day went OK, except for the snarky guy sitting right in front of the podium who kept muttering under his breath and rolling his eyes, which was very distracting. At one point, he raised his hand to angrily complain about how hard it was to use a particular report, and I felt like saying, “Well, toilet training is hard too, but I assume you’ve figured that one out.” Instead I just smiled and said, “Here are some websites you can use to explore your feelings about this issue.”

4) Then I got back to the office and was asked to start supervising, in addition to my own team, another team whose job revolves completely around MATH. My reaction again was “Have you even LOOKED at my resume?!” And now not only do I have to try and understand math in English, I also have to try and understand it in FRENCH, because we have two official languages, and math is hard in both of them. At least the people are nice and don’t roll their eyes at me.

5) On Tuesday, I raced to get dinner finished and get ready for bed so that I could be all cozy on the couch in my pajamas in time for my favourite new TV show The Launch (it’s Canadian). I made it with a minute to spare and yelled to my roommate, “Come on, it’s almost starting!” Then I went up and down the guide and couldn’t find it on anywhere. “I don’t understand” I said. “Are they on hiatus already” and my roommate said, “Isn’t The Launch on Wednesdays?” and I said “Yes,” and she said, “Today is Tuesday”, and this is what too much math does to you. So we resigned ourselves to watching The Voice and I was trying to figure out Instagram when I realized my young cousin was starting some ‘live’ video thing so I clicked on it. He and his friend were talking, then suddenly he said, “Hi Suzanne”, and I shrieked and threw the phone down and said to my roommate, “Oh my god, can he SEE me?!” She started laughing hysterically and explained how your name comes up at the bottom so that people know you’re watching, and it reminded me of the first time I tried to send a fax, and panicked when the paper went into the fax machine because there was a phone number on the back of the form that I needed. The secretary at the school also laughed hysterically just like my roommate and explained that the paper would come back out once it had been scanned. “Did you think the fax machine magically transported the actual paper to the person you’re sending it to?” she asked.  “Of course not—that would be ridiculous,” I said, but in my head I was like, “Yes. Yes, I totally f*cking did.” Because faxes are magical. Just like math.

(I just had a short story published in the inaugural issue of a terrific literary magazine called Slippage Lit. It’s called Perfect Food, and if you want to read it, click here: https://www.slippagelit.com/perfectfood)

 

My Week 232: The Mystery of the Tip Sheet on the Table

Something very strange happened to me this week, a mystery worthy of Nancy Drew, and if you’re familiar with the intrepid young detective, you’ll be happy to note that, just like Nancy, I was wearing pearls, and my handbag matched my pumps. Because nothing screams “I can solve crimes better than the Hardy Boys!” like wardrobe coordination. If you come here often, you’ll know I’m quite frequently beset by mysteries—there are so many, including The Mystery of the Mouthguard on the Landing (still unsolved), The Mystery of the Box of Porn on the Porch (it was the wife of the local church deacon—who’d have thought?!), The Mystery of the Salt in My Hair (we’ll never know), and more recently, Who The F*ck Is Daniel: A Netflix Original.

But this one? This one is freaking me out more than all of them put together. Here’s the scenario:

On Wednesday, I was working late, trying to create one Excel spreadsheet by cobbling together the information from about three others. I was having a terrible time so I wandered out of my office and found that there were a couple of people on our floor. I asked the first woman if she knew anything about copying and pasting into Excel, and she replied, “Mais non, pas vraiment—I tink you jus’ ‘ighlight de cell and right-click” (she’s very French, as you can see). I made my way back to my office but on the way, I realized that one of my team members was still working, so I asked her. She was a little more familiar with the hidden ways of Microsoft so she came back to my office with me and we kind of stared at it for a while, and then she said, “I really tink you jus’ ‘ighlight de cell and right-click comme ca” (she’s also French, obvs), and she did it, and the cell moved. So I thought I was all set, but ultimately it didn’t work for reasons which will bore the sh*t out of you, and this preamble is already too long. I finally resorted to individually copying and pasting each of about 150 cells. Then I went home.

The next morning, I opened my office door, and there, right smack in the middle of my table was a “2013 Excel Tip Sheet”. And I was like, “Aw, I work with such nice people!” I went to thank the first colleague and she looked puzzled. “Non, it was not moi,” she said. Then my team member arrived and I brought the Tip Sheet out and said, “Thank you so much for this—it was very thoughtful” and her brow furrowed and she said, “It was not moi.” And then another team member said, “Don’t you lock your office when you leave? How did someone get in there to put it on your table?” and I had a sudden epiphany that made my blood run cold. Someone HAD been in my office! But it was still locked when I arrived on Thursday morning, so how could this have happened?!

The evidence.

And it was terrible because, first and foremost, I LOVE my office. It’s my sanctum sanctorum, my beautiful refuge. It’s bright and airy, and big enough to hold team meetings in, and I have plants and a mini-frig and assorted antique boxes and my signed Gary Numan poster on the wall. It’s the best office of all of them, except for the senior exec. offices. It’s a fact, although sometimes it sounds like I’m bragging. For example, the other day, a new manager started. We needed to have a joint Skype meeting with our director so we had to decide whose office to use:

Me: So do you want to use yours or mine?
New Guy: It doesn’t really matter.
Me: We should probably use mine. It’s big and it has a window. You can see the CN Tower.
Other Colleague: Haha—are you bragging?
Me: No! It’s just that mine is really bright and comfortable. I have 3 screens and those nice wheely chairs…
Other Colleague: So braggy…
Me: No, I…
New Guy (looks around his own small office with no windows and only two screens): Sigh. Yours is fine.
Me: Do you like cappuccino? I have a Keurig.

But now, my office had been violated and I was beside myself. And to make matters worse, we all decided that the only way anyone could have known about my Excel problem was if my office was also BUGGED. Someone has heard all the crazy things that happen in there, which is mostly me having fairly mundane meetings, me singing off-key, me swearing at the computer, and me whispering, “Math…so much math” under my breath (which is a story for next week). And while the idea that we have an office spy and I need a cone of silence seems outlandish, it’s more logical than any of the other solutions I can think of:

1) My office is haunted by a software-savvy ghost. This is highly doubtful because I was given no assistance whatsoever with the Adobe debacle of 2017.

2) I’m being anonymously gaslit (or is it “gaslighted”?). Again, doubtful. I’ve been gaslit before, and it wasn’t anywhere NEAR this helpful:

Bob: I never said that.
Me: You said it to my face yesterday.
Bob: No, I didn’t. You’re imagining things. What are you going to accuse me of next? Telling everyone you suck at Excel?!
Me: You did that last week…
Bob: Maybe you shouldn’t have taken me off FACEBOOK!!

3) The only person who has a key to my office is someone on the cleaning staff. Could it have been a helpful custodian who also moonlights as an IT trouble-shooter and overheard me swearing at my computer? But if that was true, wouldn’t there have also been a cheery sticky note attached to the Tip Sheet that said, “Have an Excel-ent day!”?

But I’ve formulated a secret plan. I have an antique cheese box on the table that contains individually wrapped chocolate squares. I keep it filled in case any of my co-workers are in need of a quick pick-me-up, and I can use this to my advantage. No, I am NOT going to poison the chocolates—I’m a detective, not a serial killer. Instead, I’ve carefully counted the number of chocolates in the box. When I get to work on Monday, we’ll see if any have been taken over the weekend. And if the spy happens to be reading this—do you have anything on how to do a Google Hangout?