My Week 264: Sew What?

I’m pretty good at a bunch of stuff. For example, I’m crafty, and I can take a piece of junk that I found at the side of the road and turn it into something pretty. In fact, this week, I was in our garden shed and saw the bottom of an antique piano stool that I had picked up in the summer time, and I made a toilet paper holder out of it, a piece of doweling, and a small finial that Ken found in his workshop. It’s the most fancy f*cking toilet paper holder that you could imagine.

I can also paint, I write a bit, and I’m a decent cook. At the present moment, I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people, and the turkey is in the oven as we speak (just as it was about to go in, the power went off. Then it came back on. Then it went off again, and I looked to the sky and said, “Don’t make me f*cking come up there!” The power is now back on). But the one thing I can’t do, the one thing I’d really like to do, is sew. Oh, I can thread a needle and attach a button to a shirt in a passable way if you don’t look too closely, but I can’t actually sew. When I was in Grade 8, while all the boys were having a fantastic time in the Industrial Arts shop, all the girls had to take cooking and sewing in the Family Studies classroom, and isn’t that the most goddamn sexist thing you’ve ever heard of? As part of our final project, the girls each had to sew something using a sewing machine. I made a vest. It was blue corduroy on the outside and blue sateen on the inside. It was horrifyingly lopsided. The worst part was that I had no idea how to use the buttonholer on the machine so it was a buttonless vest. Needless to say, I failed  Family Studies, mostly because I was incredibly pissed off about not being able to make a cool wood-and-welded metal candle holder like the boys and, having been a smartass from a very early age, may or may not have answered the questions on the final exam with joke answers:

Question: What is a dart?
My Answer: Something you throw at a dartboard.

My parents were called in to meet with the teacher. They were naturally furious at my deliberate self-sabotage, and my punishment was that I wasn’t allowed to go to the Grade 8 graduation dance. This just made me hate sewing even more; however, I forgave my parents long ago when I realized it was much better to have a story about standing up against sexism and paying the price vs. a story about a lame dance.

Over the years, I’ve never needed to sew—it’s amazing what you can do with a staple gun. But recently, I had a dilemma. I’d seen a picture in a decorating magazine that I really liked, and decided to redo our upper foyer. The problem was that the picture featured these beautiful curtain panels, and I must have gone to over 10 different stores but I couldn’t find anything REMOTELY close. So I went to the local fabric store, found the perfect fabric and bought a sh*t ton of it in the hope that I could just hang it and no one would notice that the edges weren’t hemmed. As I was paying for it though, the woman behind the counter said, “Before you sew it, make sure you—”, and I interrupted her with “Oh, I’m not sewing it. I don’t know how to sew and I don’t have a machine.” But instead of looking at me like I was an idiot, she said, “No problem—let me get you some HEM TAPE”.

HEM TAPE?! Did any of you know that this miraculous invention actually existed? That all you need to do is put it on a piece of fabric, fold the fabric over it, and iron it, and then the edges are FUSED TOGETHER?! I couldn’t believe my luck! So I brought the fabric and the hem tape home, and looked for the iron, because I haven’t used an iron in over ten years. But I found it in a cupboard, blew the dust off it, located the ironing board behind a door, and got to work. In under an hour, I had two big curtain panels, which I hung with these clip things that go over the curtain rod. Here’s what they look like:

My Family Studies teacher would be so proud.

Two quick things:

First, I completely forgot that My Week 260 was the 5th anniversary of this blog. Yep, I’ve been giving you a glimpse of my weird-ass life every week for over 5 years. Some of you have been here from the beginning, some of you are newer to the game, and one of you is no longer here (I miss you, Harry) but I want to thank each and every one of you for your support and for reading this nonsense.

Second, a box containing the author copies of my new novel The Dome arrived on my porch this week. I couldn’t be more thrilled. Apparently it’s been shipped to all the major outlets now too, so if you pre-ordered it, you should be getting it soon, and it will be on store shelves in the next couple of weeks. Here’s the synopsis if you’re interested:

“It’s the year 2135, almost four decades since the Water Wars ended. Much of the continent is a desert wasteland, and the powerful Consortium rules Adanac, one of the few habitable areas remaining, with an iron fist.

Cee and Dee, 16-year-old twins who share a special, almost psychic bond, are runaways from a Consortium workhouse. Now living as Freeworlders in the largest tent city in Trillium province, they’re determined to survive—Dee spends her days thieving with her best friend Rogan, and Cee makes a living selling his handmade woodcarvings to the Fancies, the wealthy elite. Like all Freeworlders, life is a struggle, made worse by the constant threat of The Dome, where punishments for the slightest offense are meted out by the Dome Master.

When devastating circumstances force the twins to become separated, all seems lost until the sudden appearance of a mysterious stranger who reveals some shocking truths. Rumours become reality, enemies become friends, and old foes resurface. Dee and Cee are tested to their limits as they confront the demons of their past and try to save the future, for themselves and all of Adanac.”

If you’re anywhere near the Drumbo Pub on the 9th, drop in for a drink. Happy Thanksgiving!

My Week 263: My Hockey Fantasy

Last year around this time, I posted about my first foray into the workplace hockey pool. It was confusing for some readers, who thought that “hockey pool” was a new-fangled type of sport in which you played hockey underwater and in retrospect, while that would be a VERY cool game, especially if there were sharks, I can see why it’s not in most people’s vernacular. So this year, to clarify things, I’ve titled the post “My Hockey Fantasy”. Because it’s about my fantasy hockey team, obviously, and not what you were thinking, which was most probably dirty, knowing you as well as I do.

Just like last year, the fantasy draft took place at a lunch meeting, and it was a bit of a relief because I had had several meetings that week, and they were all pretty serious and whatnot, and I had made a couple of lovely gaffes that haunt me as I write this several days later:

My own team meeting:

We had been advised that, to increase staff engagement, we should begin our team meetings with an icebreaker of some kind, like a TEDTalk or a mindfulness exercise, but I had neither of those things ready on short notice, so when everyone sat down, I was admittedly scrambling:

Me: Welcome, everyone. Bienvenue, mes amis.
Everyone: Good morning! Bonjour!
Me: I’d like to kick off this week’s meeting with a joke. What’s brown and sits in the middle of the forest?
Everyone: What? Quoi?
Me: Winnie’s Poo.
Everyone:
Me: I apologize. It’s the only joke I know.
Team Member (whispers): Je ne comprend pas. Qu’est-ce que ‘Winnie’s Poo’?
Team Member (whispers): Like the bear, but his poo.
Team Member (whispers): Ah.
Me: From now on, I’d like YOU to all take turns starting the meeting with a mindfulness exercise or a fun activity.
Everyone: Good idea. Oui.

A Meeting with Procurement

Director 1: So the other day I was at a symposium and the presenter had ‘walk-on music’, you know, like the way baseball players have when they come up to bat. It was great. The next time I present something, I want to walk on to ‘Celebrate by Kool and the Gang.
Director 2: Ooh, what a great idea. I’d want something with a country vibe, like ‘Boot Scootin’ Boogie’.
Me (without hesitation and already imagining my grand entrance in my head): I want ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’.
Directors:
Me: It’s by Def Leppard. It’s got a great beat…
Procurement Guy: Anyway, let’s look at these RFBs.

So suffice it to say that the Fantasy Hockey meeting was a real relief. The previous year, I’d come late to the pool, like I literally walked in after it had started and the ‘Commissioner’ had to create a new team just for me, which he cleverly called ‘Suzanne’s Team’, much to my absolute disappointment. This year, before we started going around the table with our picks, I asked if I could change my team name and was assured that I certainly could. And if you know me at all, you can guess right away what I picked:

Me: Player One. My new team name is Player One.
Commissioner: Player One, it is.
Everyone: Nice. Sweet.

Because there is no judgement in the hockey pool. And then every time it came around the table to me, the Commissioner would say, “Player One, who do you choose for your team?” and I would say, “That guy there with the hyphenated name. You have to be a really confident player if you expect the commentators to say all of THAT.”

Look who’s on top…

As you might know, I don’t choose my players based on anything like skill, points, or ranking. I choose them based on how much I like their name, or hair. I also try to stack my team with Toronto Maple Leafs because Canadian people are very optimistic and also deal with disappointment well. 

A couple of days later,  I was at our all-staff meeting and I was already a little distracted because there were presentations and one of the Directors did indeed have her walk-on music, and while she was talking, I was sitting at a table with my team in a lovely reverie, fantasizing about walking on to “Pour Some Sugar On Me” OR “Sugar How You Get So Fly (the Robin Schultz remix)” which would ALSO be very cool. Then out of the blue, the Director said, “Of course, this might be a straw man argument, and Suzanne will let me know if I’m on the right track.” Now, let me tell you that I honestly have no f*cking idea what any of that meant, but I am nothing if not quick off the mark, so I gave her a big smile and two thumbs up, like “You are good to go” and it was TERRIFYING.

During the break, still shaken by the fact that now everyone at the secret agency thought I was some kind of expert in debating, I went over to see the guy who is our hockey pool Commissioner on an unrelated matter, and suddenly he said to me very ominously, “By the way, don’t get too comfortable ON THE TOP.” I was quite taken aback, and about to respond that being on top is never really comfortable, when I realized he wasn’t talking about me being the new go-to for our Director on matters of rhetoric but he was, in fact, referring to the hockey pool. Apparently, Player One is currently in first place. Cue Def Leppard.

Fun Fact: Ken just read this post:

Ken: I was at a meeting the other day and the Minds-On was a video about a Canadian woman who came face-to-face with a cougar in the woods. She didn’t know what to do so she pulled out her phone, went to iTunes and started playing Metallica to scare it away. Then we had to say what song WE would use in the same situation.
Me (without hesitation): Beastie Boys, Sabotage.
Ken: NO WAY! That’s what I picked too!
Both: High five!!

 

My Week 262: All Along The Watchtower

A few weeks ago, I decided to decorate my bathroom. Well, I didn’t really DECIDE to do it; it was more of a defensive reaction to Ken constantly complaining that he hated the wallpaper. Personally, I love the wallpaper, which is a Waverly print of large cabbage roses, but for some reason, Ken finds it off-putting and outdated. Fair enough, since it’s been the same since we moved into the house 15 years ago and perhaps it was time for a change. So I scoured the decorating magazines that I regularly receive in the hope of finding inspiration. What my brain really wanted was something in cool, gray neutral tones, featuring a vanity with a marble top and brushed silver accessories like this:

Unfortunately, my heart had other ideas. I’m convinced at this point that in another life, I was a very gay Victorian man, if my interior design sense is any indication. And that’s not a stereotype—if you know anything at all about Oscar Wilde, you would know that his Aesthetic style was pretty much the way any man of certain proclivities back in the day would decorate:

And while a dining room like this (not mine…yet) might be horrifying to many of you, it fills me with joy. I will die on a hill of Persian rugs to defend this. And so it was that, instead of a sleek, modern white vanity with a smooth white marble top, I was immediately drawn to this particular monstrosity, which I ultimately decided that I couldn’t live without:

Plus it was on Facebook Marketplace and it was a great buy. Ken and I went out on Friday night after work to pick it up. Unfortunately, the granite countertop can’t be removed, so while Ken and the seller loaded it into our SUV, once we got it home, we were stymied. I don’t have anywhere near the upper body strength to help unload it, so it’s currently still in the vehicle.

At the same time, I was contacted through Marketplace about a small antique cupboard that I’m trying to sell. I’m only asking $25 but I can’t even GIVE the damn thing away. I had a woman who was supposed to come for it and stood me up twice, then gave ME a bad seller rating, and on Saturday, I once again was waiting for some rando to take it off my hands. Which brings me to the point of the story, which is less about furniture and more about why, on Saturday morning, I got out of the bath that I had just stepped into and ran downstairs to the door in my housecoat. As I had just been about to sit down, I happened to look out the window and saw two women coming up the walkway, and I assumed it was the person who was buying the cupboard arriving early. It wasn’t until I got downstairs, leaving wet footprints in my wake, that I realized one of the women was carrying a bible. But before I could beat a hasty, soggy retreat, they saw me and smiled and waved, so I had no choice but to open the door. They were, as you might have guessed, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and here is why they were standing on my doorstep:

A few years ago, the Jehovah’s Witnesses came by our house for the first time. I was never comfortable with the usual reaction that many people have to this circumstance, which is generally to tell them to go away and shut the door in their faces, so I politely took a pamphlet, thanked them, and wished them a good day. In retrospect, I think Option A might have been the better choice, because now they come by regularly, and they know me BY NAME. Let me just point out that the woman who came to our house on Saturday was accompanied by another younger woman, a complete stranger, yet she had the intel on us, like a religious Mata Hari, and called Titus by name. It occurred to me long ago that they imagine me as a new recruit. “Her dog licked me this time,” they might report back. “It’s a good sign—tell Jehovah that she could be one of the 144,000, and let Bob know he probably just lost his spot in Jehovah heaven.” Little do they know that Titus will lick anything–in fact, I just had to tell him to stop licking the refrigerator.

But I don’t want to be a Jehovah’s Witness. That sounds really whiny and self-centred, since I’d be such a victory for them and whatnot, but there are some serious drawbacks to joining them. First and foremost, I like Christmas, and I hear that you can’t celebrate Christmas or your birthday either if you’re JW. What kind of f*cking religion is THAT? No Christmas or birthday presents? Presents are great—even Jesus got presents. Second, they don’t drink. Right away, I foresee a problem with this—I would almost immediately rebel, and it would become obvious really quickly. “Hey did you see that sign of the apocalypse?” “Uh, no sorry, I was opening another bottle of wine…” (Actually, I just looked it up and they ARE allowed to drink in ‘moderation’, but unless ‘moderation’ means ‘as much as I want’, it’s pretty much a deal-breaker.) And lastly, and maybe most importantly, I could never get Ken to buy into whatever the JWs believe in, so he’d have to leave me. And I say it like that because I have no plan to move after all the decorating I’ve done, so he would have to get an apartment. But I’m a sucker for door to door salespeople, this is the problem. Once, Ken and I had some people over, and we were drinking ‘moderately’ when a guy came to the door selling golf packages to a local country club:

Me: Ken, this is a great deal. I’m totally buying one of these.
Ken: But we don’t golf.
Me: Yes, we do. We’ve golfed.
Ken: We went golfing once. And you were more interested in driving the cart than hitting the ball.
Me: You’re crazy. I love golf.
Ken: *rolls eyes*

So I bought the golf package. It’s still on my desk, two years later. I think it’s expired. Which brings me back to the fact that, just as I’m a lousy country club member, I would also be a terrible Witness. I would suck at going door to door and talking up Jehovah to people. I think it’s pretty well-known by now, if you come here often, that I’m not a huge fan of talking to strangers. I tried being an Avon lady once, but I never made any sales, and people LIKE Avon. I’d just end up throwing Watchtowers onto people’s porches and running away, like I used to do with Avon catalogues. (My favourite edition of The Watchtower was “Satan—is he real?” The article started, “Like carbon monoxide, Satan is invisible, very hard to detect, and extremely dangerous.” So if my carbon monoxide detector goes off, does that mean Satan is in my house? Should I call the fire department or a priest?) Ultimately, since I just don’t have it in me to be rude to people who are so pleasant (even though they are secretly scheming for my eternal soul), I think the best thing to do is leave a recycling bin on the porch full of wrapping paper, ribbons, and liquor bottles, and train Titus to stop licking strangers. Otherwise, I’ll be coming to a neighbourhood near you soon.

By the way, I just paid to have the ads removed from my site. Let me know if you’re still being harassed by pictures of foot fungus.

My Week 261: And Now For Something Completely Different

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about watching a woman walk up to the front of a train, hitting everyone in the head on her way by, and I remarked that it was like something out of a Monty Python sketch. For those of you who don’t know, Monty Python was not a person; it was an absurdist comedy troupe that formed in the late 60s. Over the course of the next couple of decades, they had a TV series, live concerts, and several movies including Monty Python and The Holy Grail and The Life of Brian. If you’ve never heard of them or seen any of their work, then I don’t even know what to tell you. But if you ARE familiar with Monty Python, you’ll understand when I say that it has occurred to me on more than one occasion, and more so recently, that my life is pretty much one long Monty Python sketch. They’re well-known for numerous hysterically surreal scenarios, and below you will find the parallel circumstances of some of these moments in my own life. There are five below—4 are slightly exaggerated for comedic purposes and one of them is absolutely as it happened. See if you can guess which one.

Pet Shop

Late afternoon. The 11th floor.

Me: I’m having an issue with my computer.
IT Guy: Ah, yes. The Lenovo. What’s the problem?
Me: I’ll tell you what the problem is, my lad. It’s broken.
IT Guy: Broken? Have you tried turning it off and on again?
Me: Yes. It’s definitely broken.
IT Guy: It’s probably just doing updates. Remarkable machine, the Lenovo. Lovely keyboard.
Me: The keyboard doesn’t enter into it, mate! It’s broken! (*bangs laptop against desk*)
IT Guy: There, see? It’s fine—the screen flickered.
Me: No, it didn’t! (*opens and closes lid rapidly*) Cortana! Oh, Cortana!! See, it’s not working. And don’t tell me it’s pining for the fjords.
IT Guy: Fjords? In Canada? Give it here. Right—it was just a password problem. I’ve unlocked it for you.
Me: I wish I was a lumberjack.
IT Guy: You’re ok.

Argument Clinic

Early morning. Alarm goes off.

Me: Ergh. I’m so tired. I wish I could just call in and take the day off like some people can.
Ken: Dan’s not coming into work?
Me: Who’s Dan?
Ken: Isn’t he the person who’s not coming into work?
Me: No, I said ‘Like people can’.
Ken: Was he off yesterday too?
Me: Who?!
Ken: That Dan guy.
Me: What the f*ck are you talking about?!
Ken: What are you trying to tell me?
Me: I’m tired and I don’t want to go to work! Why don’t you either follow along or go back to sleep?!
Ken: Be like Dan.
Me: This argument has gone on way too long.
Ken: Are you staying home today?
Me: This is futile.

Michelangelo and the Pope

Via email

Literary Magazine: Greetings. We really enjoyed your short story and would like to publish it. We just need you to make a few minor revisions.
Me: I can do that. What were you thinking?
Lit Mag: Get rid of the family next door. They’re not important to the plot and they push the word count up.
Me: Get rid of them? But they add a bit of colour to the setting. Plus, the father’s presence allows the reader to infer a lot about the way the town perceives the main character. He’s like an Everyman.
Lit Mag: All right. We can live with the family, but we need you to lose the last paragraph. Just end it with the boy and the woman eating watermelon.
Me: Lose the last paragraph?! That’s where you find out the husband is dead all along!
Lit Mag: The husband’s DEAD?! Thanks for the spoiler. Regardless, it’s not necessary.
Me: NOT NECESS—look mate, you don’t want a writer, you want a bloody stenographer!
Lit Mag: We’re a bloody small university press, we are! We may not know writing but we know what we like!

Four Yorkshiremen

Lunchtime. Jack’s Office.

Jack: Who’d have thought we’d be sitting here using “Teams” on our Iphones. I miss the old days. Do you know, they’re not even making laptops with CD drives in them anymore? I remember my first computer—it was a Commodore 64.
Me: Commodore 64? You were lucky. I typed my honours thesis on a Vic 20.
Jack: I remember doing a lot of my high school essays on an electric typewriter.
Me: Electric? Ooh, we used to DREAM of electric typewriters. I learned to type on an old manual that weighed more than you did.
Jack: At least with computers, you could save everything on diskette instead of having to use carbon paper. Remember those floppy discs?
Me: Floppy discs? You were lucky. Back in my day, we had to save all our data on CASSETTE TAPES. And when the data was saved, we had to go outside and lick the road clean with our tongues.
Jack: What?
Me: Nothing. Remember when we all had Blackberries?
Jack: Blackberry? You were lucky. I had a flip phone for years.
Me: Flip phones?! You were lucky to have one of THEM. Back in my day, we had car phones the size of a laptop bag that plugged into the car. And they were RADIOACTIVE. We DREAMED of flip phones.
Jack: But you try to tell the young people of today that–
Me: And they won’t believe you.

 The Spanish Inquisition

9 pm. The front door opens.

Me: Oh! It’s you!
Ken: Who were you expecting—the Spanish Inquisition?
Titus (*flies into room*): NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition!
Me: Nice cloak.

Our chief weapon is the element of surprise…

I’ve linked each title to the corresponding Python sketch, and here’s the link to all the Monty Python scripts from A-M here and from N-Z here in case you want to see how life imitates art.

My Week 260: Wardrobe Malfunctions

On Wednesday, I decided to do some laundry. When I went to take the clothes out of the dryer, it turned out I was missing a pair of underwear. This may sound like a First World problem, but it was my FAVOURITE pair of underwear (see Week 239 for more details), so it’s more akin to having my donkey go lame or having my crops ruined by drought. And it also begs the question: what the hell happened to my underwear? I’m pretty sure it went INTO the dryer, so what happened to it? Is there really an alternate universe where a strange little man says “Ooh, that’s just lovely. Feel that fabric! I MUST have this special underwear which is most certainly somebody’s favourite!” and then you never see it again?

Notice those gaping maws…

I checked the washing machine AND the dryer at least twice more and there was no sign of it. Then I searched my closet—same thing. Then I backtracked and followed my path from the laundry room up to the bedroom (I may or may not have stopped in the kitchen for some liquid refreshment to comfort myself over the loss). But now I’m worried that maybe it’s hiding in a pair of pants or a sweater or something, and that it will re-appear at an embarrassing moment. And while this may seem like a long-shot, believe me it’s not—I’ve had it happen before…

October, 1991: Ken and I had moved to Thunder Bay so that he could go to teacher’s college. I couldn’t find a paying job—there were 3 rounds of interviews just to be a waitress—so I started volunteering at a local public school. I went there every morning to help students in the “Literacy Centre”, which was, in reality, a small room with one computer. On the way to school that fateful morning, I was on the sidewalk in front of the building when I looked down and realized that the toe of a pair of pantyhose was peeking out from my pant leg. I stopped. The best way to remove it seemed to be to just pull on it. This was, of course, easier said than done, and I stood there for several minutes, bent over, tugging, hopping, and wriggling around until the offending piece of laundry was finally extricated from my trousers. I shoved it in my pocket, and went into the school. When I got into the “Literacy Centre”, the teacher I was volunteering with asked me, “Um…what were you doing outside?”

I explained that I had an issue with a misplaced pair of pantyhose, and asked, “Why? Could you see me?”
“Yes,” she replied, “Yes, we could.”

We?! Who the f*ck was WE?! Well, it turned out that she had been in the grade 2 classroom next door, and she, along with 25 seven-year-olds, watched out the windows in gleeful fascination at my bizarre behaviour. Of course, they couldn’t see the pantyhose from that far away–all they could see was me doing an insane dance on the sidewalk. Thankfully, I was able to produce the nylons from my pocket to prove that I wasn’t drunk, or hallucinating about being attacked by a swarm of bees. But that’s not the only time I’ve had problems with underwear and sidewalks…

March 1998: I was about 5 months pregnant, and was getting very uncomfortable with a variety of articles of clothing. I’d resorted to wearing flannel shirts and sweat pants a lot, but I had to give a workshop in Dundas. I found the only dressy clothes that still fit me and put them on in an attempt to look professional. Ken offered to drive me, since I had no idea how to get to Dundas, and this was long before the days of GPS. On the way home, I was feeling all twisty and itchy, and I said to Ken that I really wanted to take off my bra. He said, “Go ahead. NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW.” (When you read that last line, pretend that it was said very ominously, and that it was accompanied by a roll of thunder or an echo or something.) Taking his advice, I wriggled out of the bra and tossed it aside. A while later, we were going through the small town 5 minutes down the road from where we lived, and we decided to stop at the local video store. “I can’t go in,” I said. “I’m not wearing a bra.”

“Just put on your raincoat,” said Ken. “NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW.” (This time, pretend that he laughed maniacally and that everything went red and flame-y for a second.)

Again, taking his advice, I put on my raincoat, and in we went to peruse the shelves of VHS tapes. Suddenly, the door opened, and this huge guy wearing a red lumberjack jacket and work boots stomped in. And he was TWIRLING MY BRA AROUND HIS FINGER.

“Hey, Darlene,” he laughed, as he addressed the video store clerk. “Is this yours? I found it on the sidewalk outside the store.”

“Not mine!” answered the clerk. “And it wasn’t there when I went out for a smoke a few minutes ago!”

And then, like a slow motion nightmare, they both turned and looked directly at me. In that moment, I had a choice—I could lie, and everyone would know I was lying, or I could salvage what dignity I had left. So I stalked over to the guy, grabbed my bra out of his grubby hands, and walked out of the store. Well, it was an expensive bra. Ken and I tried to piece the whole mystery together, and all we could figure is that, when I tossed the bra aside twenty minutes earlier, it must have landed on the floor of the car, and it caught on my heel when I got out, leaving Joe Lumberjack to retrieve it. Needless to say, we never went back to that store again.

In conclusion, I need to find my underwear before it finds me.

Also, I recently had a humorous article featured in Women Writers, Women(s) Books on “Questions You Should Never Ask A Writer”. It’s light-hearted and you can read it here.

 

My Week 259: Does This Answer Your Question?

So I was recently tagged for a couple of blogger awards, and I know some people don’t like this, but for me, it’s always a chance to have a bit of fun with the questions. The first award was the Mystery Blogger award, and I was nominated by Simon from Beyond The Infinite, a cool blog about science, space, and exploring the universe. As a part of this award, I’m supposed to tell you three things about myself, and then answer five questions:

3 Things

1) In real life, people think I’m a very serious, professional person.
2) I collect small jewellery boxes that are made with seashells.
3) I talk to stuffed animals, just in case.

You can never have too many.

5 Questions

1) What is the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

This ad, on a buy and sell site. It’s unsettling and at the same time, intriguing. Is it a challenge? Like, if I really want those beanie babies, am I willing to pay $200 AND defeat The Gatekeeper? And it doesn’t even say HOW MANY beanie babies there are. Who would post an ad for stuffed toys and accompany it with a picture so intimidating? Is the person selling the beanie babies against their will and this is a warning? I can just see someone taking their small child to pick up them up and being confronted by this person screaming “YOU CAN’T HAVE MY BEANIE BABIES!!!” You’d be scarred for life. This ad is strange and it really does engender more questions than answers.

2) If you could travel to any planet, which one would it be?

Uranus. Duh. Don’t you know me at all?

3) Do you ever give your cars (or other transportation) names?

No. I have a Chevy Sonic, and I call it “The Sonic”. Wait—I guess that’s kind of a name. In fact, it’s a very cool name, like a superhero name for someone who could fly faster than the speed of sound (is that actually even fast? I’m not as science-y as Simon so maybe he knows), or can destroy things with sonic waves. Wow, and I thought the coolest nickname would be Player One—now I want The Sonic, like Suzanne “The Sonic” Craig-Whytock.

4) What’s your weirdest habit?

Me: What’s my weirdest habit?
Ken: Obsessing over a piece of furniture or a vase being moved 5 millimetres from where you put it, and then yelling, ‘What the f*ck?! Why is it out of place?!’
Me: That’s not weird—it’s because I worry about ghosts, and THAT’S PERFECTLY NORMAL, KEN.

5) What are your 3 desert island must haves?

Ken, Titus, and an unending supply of white wine. I’d add my son, but I know he has better things to do than hang out with a drunk castaway.

I was also nommed for the Real Neat Blog Award, also by Simon, and the fact that he thought of me for both of these is incredibly kind and thoughtful, and I thank him very much. Some of these are his questions; some I just made up.

1) What was the funniest thing that you saw yesterday?

I was on the train sitting towards the back, and an elderly woman behind me got up and started walking towards the front of the car. She had a giant duffle bag slung over one shoulder and as she made her way up the aisle, she whacked everyone sitting in the aisle seat on the head with the bag. Hard. It was like something out of Monty Python, watching the reactions of each person as she hit them suddenly from behind, and her seeming obliviousness to the fact that she was leaving such mayhem in her wake.

2) What little known fact would you tell people about yourself?

My nickname is “The Sonic”.

3) Are you good at making speeches?

No. For example, last week at work, we were saying goodbye to some of our summer students, and one of my colleagues announced that I would be making a speech. I laughed and reached into my pocket to jokingly mime taking out a prepared speech but instead pulled out an actual piece of paper that said ‘chúc mừng năm mới’, which means ‘Happy New Year’ in Vietnamese. So I said THAT. People were confused. But here’s a little background as to why there was a piece of paper in my pocket that said ‘Happy New Year’ in Vietnamese. Several years ago, I was the principal of an International Languages site. The school had 13 different language groups who all liked to celebrate various occasions, and they each felt it was important that I, as the principal, welcomed the parents and guests in the large auditorium. Unfortunately, I don’t speak 13 languages, so they would all give me a greeting in Arabic, Farsi, Vietnamese, and whatnot. The MC would get up and start the show in their home language with me waiting in the wings. Then suddenly, the MC would turn and yell, “And SUZANNE!!!” I was always, without exception, taken completely unawares, and would have to rush up to the stage with my piece of paper, the greeting spelled out phonetically in my hand, and the crowd would go wild as I butchered their mother tongue.

4) Have you once again changed your favourite bathroom stall at work?

Why yes, I have. If you’ve been following along, it was initially Stall 5, but then I realized that the toilet paper in that stall ran out much earlier than all the other stalls, which meant that a great many other people had also designated it as the most desirable. I switched to Stall 2, but recently, it’s become less hygienic than I like. Stall 3 is uncomfortably in the middle and the door is usually closed, which is completely f*cking off-putting, and Stall 1, as we know, is haunted. So I’ve resigned myself to Stall 4, even though in some cultures, 4 is an unlucky number. Fortunately, the number 4 is relatively meaningless to me, like most numbers. Also, you probably know by now that if you nominate me for any type of award, there WILL be a discussion about bathroom stalls.

5) Favourite comedian?

John Mulaney. He’s hysterically clever.

6) Is that ghost still haunting your house?

I don’t think so. A couple of weeks ago, I went into the haunted room and the chandelier started flickering, so I whispered, “Shhhh. Everything is OK.” The flickering stopped and there hasn’t been an incident since.

7) What should new followers to this blog expect?

A lot of swearing, mostly.

Also, as some of you know, I write short fiction and a bit of poetry, but those things are very different than this blog or my novels. I recently had a piece of flash fiction featured in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, so if you care to read it, you can find it here.

My Week 258: What’s The Point?

On Thursday, I got a message from Tristan that cleaners had come into his apartment unit and thrown away a wide variety of his personal belongings, including his shoes, his own cleaning supplies and garbage can (ironic), all his forks except for one, one oven mitt but not both (bizarre), and his toaster, among other things. He was furious; I was livid. Apparently, because he has a private room and bathroom in a “pod” with four other rooms and a common living and kitchen area, the property management company took it upon themselves to “clean” the units for the start of the new school year. He tried talking to the property manager, whose attitude was “too bad”, so I said, “Do you want me to call?” And you know how serious it is when your 21-year-old, who prides himself on his independence, says “Yes”. On Thursday night, I talked to my brother, who has a Ph.D. and got some legal advice, then I planned what I was going to say. So on Friday, I finally, after quite the run around, got in contact with the property manager, whose only excuse was “we told them in July that the cleaners were coming.” In response to that, here is an analogy that I used with her (sans the swearing):

I lived in a condo for the last four years. Every year, we would be given notice that technicians were coming to service the furnace and we had to make sure that our furniture was at least three feet away from the furnace unit. One year, I forgot to move my furniture. You know what happened? They left me a note saying that they were unable to clean my furnace. You know what didn’t happen? They didn’t steal my F*CKING COUCH.

 I also explained that, as per the Landlord Tenant Act AND the lease he signed, she was required to give him 24 hours’ notice to even enter the unit, and that I wanted his stuff back, to which she replied, “It’s already gone. They were supposed to label their stuff or put it in their rooms—we sent an email.”  So I said, “Fine, send me the email.” She did, and I read it:

Property Manager: You see the email?
Me: Yes, I’m looking at it right now.
PM: So you see? We told them.
Me: Interesting. Unfortunately, there’s NOTHING in this email that says you’re going to THROW AWAY his personal belongings if he doesn’t put them in his room. And the only things that were supposed to be labeled were items in the cupboards and refrigerator, which I assume refers to food.
PM (long pause): How much do you want?

We settled on a parking discount. And why am I telling you all this? Because the silver lining to this strange tale is that I had just gotten my most recent points offer from President’s Choice Optimum (a grocery chain and drug store here) and I could earn points on cleaning supplies. Tristan offered to replace his mop, broom, bucket, etc. himself, but I was like, “No. Let me do it. It will be my pleasure” and he rolled his eyes knowingly and said, “You get points for this, right?” AND I DID.

I earn points the way some people used to clip coupons. I plan my grocery shopping around what items will get me the most points that week, and I use the points I’ve accumulated to buy other things, like really expensive face cream that I wouldn’t bother with otherwise. The other day, I was in Shopper’s Drug Mart, and the deal was ‘spend $50.00 and get back 15 000 points’, which is equivalent to fifteen bucks. That’s like (at this moment, I am desperately trying to figure out the percentage so as to dazzle you with my math skills but sadly, I’ve come up short) a GAZILLION percent discount. Or maybe 30-ish. Who’s to say? Math is a strange beast. But it was a great deal nevertheless. But then, the points didn’t appear on my statement, and my recourse was to talk to the points people. I was on the phone with ‘Carlos’, a lovely man with a delightful accent, for over half an hour, and he was finally able to restore them to my account. Half an hour on the telephone, you say? Hey, it was fifteen dollars. And I have to buy my baby new shoes.

Also, a couple of weeks ago, I entered a comedy writing contest. I don’t know why. But I did, and the first thing you had to do was come up with 5-10 headlines/titles that would explain your premise. They gave some examples and they were all very long and detailed titles, for instance, “I Want A Man Who Understands My Need For Grocery Store Points And Only Shops At President’s Choice”. And I was like, What? Why would I want to give away the point of a story ahead of time? I mean, I could have called this post “How I Made An Asian Woman Give Me A Parking Discount Using My Knowledge Of The Landlord/Tenant Act” but would you bother reading it since the headline already told you exactly what happened? It’s like those long trailers for a comedy that show you all the funniest parts of the movie, and then what’s the point of even going to see it? So the other Sunday, Ken and I were staffing the local Heritage Museum because it was our turn, and since it’s extremely rare that anyone EVER visits the local Heritage Museum, I enlisted Ken into helping me write catchy headlines:

Ken: How about ‘Fax Machines Are The Future’?
Me: Is that supposed to be ironic? I don’t think I can write about that.
Ken: OK—how about ‘Automatic Doors And How to Use Them’?
Me: No.
Ken: Um…’Quilts Are Hard To Make But Easy To Hang On A Wall’–
Me: You’re just looking at things in this room, aren’t you?
Ken: I think the fax machine one has some potential. Like, why is there even a fax machine here? Who faxes anything anymore?
Me: This is pointless.

So there you go. Aren’t you glad I didn’t give it all away with the title?