My Week 139: I Hate Showers

I Hate Showers

I’m a bather. I always have been, since the time I was young. I have fond memories of many bathtubs—the blue tub from my childhood, the long tub in our first apartment (from whose vantage I was fortunate enough to see a bat emerge from a hole in the ceiling), the deep tub that we bathed T in every night and in which there were more bathtub toys than child, and the current clawfoot tub in my ensuite bathroom that I’ve been lucky enough to have for over a decade. Last weekend, Ken took me away to an inn, and the room had a giant two-person Jacuzzi tub. It was amazing, and I grudgingly let him join me and then laughed as he kept squealing “So hot! So hot! How do you stand it?!” as he lowered himself slowly into the water. I just watched, bemused, because, like a smart lobster, I had gotten in early in the filling process and then turned the heat up so that I could acclimatize to it. He was like the angry lobster that gets plunged into the boiling water and then poisons everyone. OK, I know that PEOPLE do that to lobsters, and it’s not nice, but you get the analogy.

Anyway, directly opposing my love for bathing is my absolute f*cking loathing for showers. But why am I ranting about showers? Because in my new condo, I have to use one. Every goddamn day. I had originally planned to take the smaller bedroom and have the separate bathroom with the bathtub. That way, my roommate could have the larger room with the ensuite shower. Unfortunately, and somewhat tragically, my bed was too large for the second bedroom. I was faced with a terrible choice—give up the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in (even the one at home that Ken and I share pales in comparison), or take the larger room, with the ridiculous shower unit. And I say ridiculous on TOP of evil, because the shower stall is the same length as a bathtub stall, and it even has a f*cking faucet. Who in their right mind has the opportunity and space for a proper bathtub but goes, “I’ll just put in a double sized shower because who wouldn’t love THAT?” NOBODY, that’s who. Ultimately I chose a good night’s sleep over the bathtub on the grounds that I could “get used to it”.

But I can’t because this shower, it hates me as much as I hate it. This is how the stupid thing works—you turn on the water at the tap half-way up the wall, then you have to stand UNDER the showerhead to push down the plunger on the faucet down by the floor to start the shower part going. There are two shower heads—a hand-held one, and a wall one, and they’re controlled by another plunger on the wall shower head. There is no way in hell that I’m NOT getting soaked at any point in this exercise. In fact, the other day, I wanted to use the handheld shower to just wash my hair (a process that involves me contorting and bending at the waist to avoid getting my pajamas wet, even though no matter what I do, my cuffs and my feet still get soaked), but when I pushed down the plunger, the wall head burst into life and soaked the sh*t out of me. I actually screamed, both in shock and anger. The universe snickered.

But there are other reasons why showers are the worst thing ever:

1) Showers are creatures of evil. They were invented by someone who thought, “Mwah haha! How can I make people miserable and uncomfortable while they are trying to soap up and rinse parts of their body they can’t see?! I know—how about making them stand under stinging, randomly placed pricks of water? And to make it even better, the temperature of the water will fluctuate between ice-cold and scalding hot whenever someone else flushes the toilet. This is perfect!! Mwah haha!” Screw you, shower-inventor and your malevolent plans. Also, the other reason you can tell that showers are evil is that no one EVER baptised an adult by making them stand under a bucket of water. No, it’s total immersion for the healthy soul, people. Yes, I know babies have water sprinkled on their heads, and this is why babies HATE showers. Well, sensible babies, anyway.

2) Showers are terrible for the visually-impaired. I hate showers now, after my laser eye surgery, because they’re devil-spawn, but originally, I hated showers because I was almost legally blind. I couldn’t wear contact lenses while I was showering because the force of the water running down my face would knock them out and send them down the drain. If I DIDN’T wear contact lenses, I couldn’t see ANYTHING, including what I was using to wash my hair. In fact, once at a hotel, I reached out and instead of the tiny conditioner bottle, I grabbed the body lotion (because when you’re blind as a bat, the words ‘conditioner’ and ‘body lotion’ are pretty much identical) and slathered it all over my hair, and let me tell you, that sh*t was hard to get out. And I couldn’t wear glasses, because the other stupid thing that a shower does is…

3) Showers create steam. So on top of having to suffer through the torment of hot water, cold air, and then groping for your towel while water is dripping down your face and into your ears, you have to claw through clouds of fog to find a place to sit down and dry your feet. And the only place is the toilet. So there you are, sitting on the plastic toilet seat, trying to dry yourself off, shivering from the cold, and wondering what you did to deserve this misery. Bathtubs, of course, have a ledge which is perfectly designed to perch on while you towel off, still all warm and toasty inside from being immersed in glorious water.

4) Showers are noisy. How am I supposed to relax at the end of the day with the thunderous sound of water in my ears? Loud noises stress me out terribly, but at least with the bath, I can run it with the door shut, then get in and enjoy the quiet solitude. I don’t even let the water run out until I’m completely finished, just to preserve the sense of calm. Unlike a shower, where you go from the cacophony of the water to the chaos of the shower fan. It’s like some kind of medieval witch torture scenario—you’re naked, cold, half-drowned, and the mob/ceiling vent fan is screaming at you but you can’t see them through all the fog. Also, when you’re in the shower, with all the noise and the shower curtain obscuring your vision, you have NO IDEA if a serial killer is in your bathroom. I learned this from “Psycho” and I’ve never forgotten it.

5) Showers take away my autonomy. I like to CHOOSE what parts of me get wet. (And if, right now, you’re all like, “Ooh—that’s what SHE said,” then you’re obviously a shower person.)

As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing better than soaking in a tub full of hot water to make you feel clean and shiny. Of course, there are people who don’t understand this. In fact, I was complaining to Ken about it just the other day:

Me: I hate showers. I’m so happy I’m home, and I can finally have a bath.
Ken: I don’t understand how you enjoy sitting in your own dirty water. It’s like swimming in a cesspool.
Me: What?! How the hell is it a “cesspool”? What do you think I DO all day? I work in an office. I’m not a f*cking mud wrestler! I don’t even sweat! How insulting.
Ken: I’d rather have a shower.
Me: Philistine.

And now, I’m done writing. Time for a bath.

 

My Week 138: Nothing to See Here, Pantless People, Text Convos

This is going to be a quickie, because not only is it Mother’s Day, but we’re also celebrating a milestone birthday for my dad. Ken and I just got back from a mystery weekend that he’d arranged. “Oh boy!” I said. “A surprise, travelling somewhere, being around strangers, AND not being at home all weekend? Well, that’s just…um.” I may or may not have been sarcastic when I said it, but at any rate, I had a great time once I got there. It was a quaint little inn on the shores of Lake Erie. We got there on Friday night, and decided to sit at the bar for a drink. After a little while, Ken said, “Is that frog wearing pants?” I was a little befuddled by this sudden change in conversational direction, until I realized that behind me on the bar was a statue of a giant frog, wearing a fancy jacket and dress shoes, sporting a monocle, and yes—not wearing any pants. In fact, as I turned, his froggy-parts were directly parallel with my face.

“Hm,” I said. “He’d be right at home in downtown Toronto.”

I say this because in the last couple of weeks, what with the weather getting slightly warmer, there have been several instances of people wandering around pantless. There’s the guy who wears the pink mini-kilt with nothing underneath, who demands that people look at his ass. He can get a bit aggressive with the whole “Look at my ass NOW!” thing. The man who stands outside my office building and hands out the free Metro paper is terrified of him. I know this because a little while ago, I was on my way to work and realized the Metro man was standing behind a column on the other side of the street, kind of peeking out as he drank a cup of coffee. I didn’t know why at first, like maybe he was taking a coffee break or something and didn’t want anyone to know, but when I crossed the street, the kilt guy was running back and forth in front of my office screaming at people. I waited until he ran to the corner, then hightailed it into my building and told the security guard:

Me: There’s a guy outside wearing a pink mini-kilt and yelling at people to look at his bum.
Security Guard: Sigh. Is he back? I already told him once that he had to leave.
Me: Well, tell him again. He’s bothering the Metro man.

(I feel very protective of the Metro man because he reminds me of Hodor, in that he’s a giant and doesn’t say much, except he always smiles and very quietly wishes me a good day.)

And the other day, there was a woman in the lobby of my office building who was completely naked from the waist down, screaming F*ck you! at anyone who looked at her. I missed that one, thank goodness, but I heard about it from several co-workers. And of course, on Wednesday, there was the charming fellow in front of my building who was WEARING pants, but insisted on thrusting his groin at everyone who passed by. I really needed to pop back to my condo to get some paperwork, but I had to wait until he was gone.

Which brings me to my point. The week before, I had borrowed a trolley from work to help move boxes to my new condo. It was an ordinary trolley, with a base of thick grey plastic. It had four wheels and a metal handle. Again, a perfectly ordinary trolley. Both times, when I brought it home, and then when I returned it, people on the street looked at me like I was crazy. Heads turned, eyebrows raised, and I was given a wide berth, and I was like, “Seriously?! This is the weirdest thing you’ve seen today?! There’s a guy on the corner with a megaphone telling people they’re all going to die because they’re sinners, there’s a woman sitting in the middle of the sidewalk rocking back and forth and yelling “Spare change” over and over, and Groin Man is merrily thrusting away. But I’M THE WEIRDO?” But I realize my mistake now—if I’d just been pantless and yelling, “Stop looking at my f*cking cart!” at everyone who passed by, no one would have given me a second thought. I guess people are so used to ‘crazy’ that ‘normal’ just scares the pants off them.

Other weird things I did this week:

Monday: We have the most random text conversations:

M: At the gym now.
Me: I admire you for working out this late. I’m just drinking wine and running a bath. #ThugLife
L: Again, I’m just watching the OJ movie and hula hooping.
Me: OK, so I just pulled my shower curtain rod down and some of the rings fell into the toilet. This thug life is NOT what I was promised.
L: I don’t think thugs worry about shower rings. They are too busy popping caps in asses.
Me: But I had to put my hand in the toilet. That’s pretty gangster.
L: Again, I don’t think a gangster would do that. But well done you!
Me: Hand in toilet. That’s 50 Cent sh*t right there.
L: I bet 50 Cent has NEVER put his hand in a toilet.
Me: If this is thug life, I’m outtie.
M: Article: “Police remove ‘angry’ beaver that stopped traffic.”
Me: Nothing quite like an angry beaver.
L: That’s what she said…

Tuesday:

It was my dad’s actual birthday on Tuesday, and I wanted to call him and wish him Happy Birthday, but it was busy at work and I was worried I’d get sidetracked. So I wrote “Call Dad” on the palm of my hand (yes, it’s my own personal Palm Pilot), so I’d remember. I called him around 9 am, sang him the birthday song, then a little while later I went to the bathroom to wash my hands, and I realized that I’d used a permanent marker, and it was NOT coming off. So not only did I look like a neglectful daughter who couldn’t remember to call her own dear dad unless she wrote it on her hand, I spent the rest of the day having people say, “Did you call your Dad yet?”

Thursday:

I ate a piece of chocolate that fell on the floor. In my defence, no one was looking, and I blew the germs off it.

Sunday:

T just gave me a Mother’s Day card with a gift certificate to the liquor store in it. Yeah, I raised that boy right.

 

My Week 137: Moving Stress, Teenager Reviews Movies

Well, it’s been one hell of a week, what with moving and all. Moving is superstressful at the best of times, and even more so when you had no intention of moving in the first place, so thank you, greedy landlord, for cashing in on the housing bubble in the big city, and forcing me to find new digs. The new place WILL be nice though, after I finish cleaning and replacing the bathroom cabinets that are covered in black mold. You might remember me telling you that every time I went to see the place, it was really awkward because the previous tenant, a university student, was half-naked. I should have realized at that point that people who are too lazy to dress themselves completely also can’t be bothered with things like making sure the microwave isn’t covered in layers of grease, that the floors don’t have mud all over them, and that the bathroom doesn’t require a hazmat suit to simply be IN it. Oh well—it seems to be my lot in life to take over places and have to clean the sh*t out of them. When Ken and I bought our cottage, it was the same deal, what with layers of dirt underneath the carpet and a stove so unsalvageable that we just tossed it out and bought a new one.

Of course, I left my condo in pristine condition, because I’m a grown-up. Also, because I was threatened with the cost of a cleaning crew if I didn’t, which I realize now was an empty threat, based on the fact that, according to my property manager, it’s a standard clause that all Tenant Termination agreements contain. If my current landlord had any balls, he would have charged half-naked girl, or at least paid ME for the cleaning, but that didn’t, and won’t happen, based on his reaction to the mold in the bathroom (by the way, he doesn’t speak English very well):

Me: What’s wrong with the cabinets?
Him: Oh, I don’ know—maybe jus’ dirty. I clean.
Me: I don’t think Windex will work. That’s mold between the veneer and the particle board.
Him: So sorry for the inconvenience.

I emailed him later and told him that Ken and I were taking the drawer fronts off and replacing them, and that I would let him know the cost, to which he again replied, “So sorry for the inconvenience.” I think he’s confusing ‘inconvenience’ with ‘fungal lung infection’, but hey, that’s the crazy English language for you.

I suppose it’s a testament to the power of my will (among other things) that we got the whole ordeal over and done with on Friday. Here are the things that the universe kept throwing in my way to overcome:

1) Late Thursday night, part of the ceiling in the elevator lobby suddenly collapsed. On Friday morning, my concierge told me that he couldn’t put the elevator on service for the two hours I’d booked, because they were already one elevator down, and that we would just have to load everything into the hall, then do the entire move in 20 minutes.

2) I was moving into the building next door, but it was pouring rain, and we had to traverse 75 feet of flooding pavement to get from one garage bay to another.

3) The garbage company hadn’t done their usual Thursday pick-up, and the garage bay of my building was full of giant dumpsters, so we had to take everything through a narrow hallway instead of the bay, and then try NOT to get hit by garbage trucks while carrying couches in the pouring rain.

4) My property manager showed up at 10 am to pick up the keys and said he couldn’t leave until the place was completely emptied. I suggested that perhaps he should pitch in and help if he wanted to be out of there before noon, given the circumstances. He said it was OK, because he had nowhere else to be and then he literally stood in the living room for the next two hours, fiddling with his phone. He DID carry the last box out of the apartment though, so that TOTALLY made up for the fact that I was charged 5 days rent for doing what the management company suggested and not moving out on the first, which pretty much cancelled out the incentive I was given for moving out a month early (it really didn’t make up for it, and I have the email to prove that I was told to move out on the fifth, so we’ll see).

5) I had no Allen key. No one had an Allen key. How do I have furniture that was put together with an Allen key, yet I have no f*cking Allen key? Luckily, I had a multi-purpose screwdriver that I bought at Loblaws. When I initially purchased it, I thought to myself, “When am I ever going to need anything other than a Robertson head, or maybe, worst case scenario, a Philips? What are all these other weird heads for? This one’s a f*cking hexagon—when would I ever need THAT?” Well, mystery solved.

I was fortunate though, to have the help of my family throughout this whole debacle, particularly T and my brother, who has a PhD and who is also extremely cheerful and strong. Between the two of them, they got all the heavy stuff moved in record time, and found a way to get around every obstacle the universe threw at us with dignity, grace, and a minimum of swearing. I was also lucky that the concierge of my former building kept “forgetting” to take the elevator off service, which gave us pretty much the entire two hours to get my stuff out. Also, T and I took the train back together, and, without asking, not only did he carry my suitcase for me, he held my hand on the packed, standing room only subway so that I wouldn’t fall over. I don’t mind telling you this, because he NEVER READS MY BLOG. So he’ll never know how much I appreciate the little things he does for me. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, no matter how sh*tty and stressful things are, I’m extremely lucky to have people in my life who care about me and who will go out of their way for me when I need it. From Ken, who made several trips to the city to help with the preliminaries but who couldn’t be there on moving day because of work, to my parents who were willing to help with anything I needed, to all the other family and friends who offered support and encouragement, all I can say is “Don’t be sad about losing this one, universe—you didn’t know what you were up against.”

Saturday: Teenage movie reviews

On the weekend, we like to pick a movie to watch together as a family in our back room. We have a sectional couch back there, and the first person to yell, “Long spot!” gets dibs on the part of the couch where you can stretch your legs out. Sometimes they’re new movies, but when there’s nothing good available, we delve into our own collection, much to T’s dismay. On Saturday night, we had “The Hobbit,” but then I got this intense desire to watch “Lady in the Water” directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

T: What’s it about?
Me: It’s about this apartment complex in Florida where the Super of the building discovers a mermaid in the pool. I don’t want to say much else and give it away, but it’s a great film.
T: Really? Is this going to be like when you made me watch “Bladerunner?”
Me: “Bladerunner” is an amazing movie! What are you talking about?
T: Amazing? Robots from the 80s with mullets?
Me: They didn’t have mullets! What are you talking about?
T: And Indiana Jones yelling, “Kill the robots! Kill the robots!” Yeah. Amazing.
Me: You’re a philistine.

So we watched “The Hobbit.” I kind of owed him.

My Week 136: Intruder Alert, Bad Slogan or Great Awareness Campaign?

Friday: Intruder Alert

I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion that I’m the Queen of Worst Case Scenarios. My intense planning and preparation ensures that I WILL survive a bear attack, sniper fire, a bouncy castle mishap, or a myriad of other assorted and unexpected situations. My friends and loved ones are no strangers to my forethought—a few months ago at work, I discovered that a co-worker’s brother was a firefighter:

Me: Your brother is a firefighter?! Can you text him and ask how high the ladder on the truck goes? Cuz I’m on the 27th floor and I’m worried about how I’ll get rescued if the building sets on fire.
M: OK…he says ‘Not that high’.
Me: But what do I do then? Is there like a giant fire crane that can get me out? This is real.
M: Um…he says ‘No. You basically just have to wait for the firefighters to come up the stairs and get you, because 27 is too high up for anything else’. Sorry.
Me: Ask him if I should get one of those rope fire ladders with the hooks. I could hook it around the top of the balcony then climb down to the next balcony, and so on, until I was low enough for the ladder.
M: Aren’t you afraid of heights? Are you really going to swing down on ropes from 300 feet up in the air?
Me: So it’s just wet towels under the door and wait for rescue along with everyone else from like the third floor up? I’m so f*cked. I ALWAYS get served last.

And it’s true. My food at restaurants always comes after everyone else’s, and on the train, no matter where I’m sitting, the bar cart will come down the aisle, and I’ll be like, “Can I have—“ and the conductor will say, “We’re starting at the other end, but we’ll be with you soon,” which is always a lie because inevitably there are a dozen people who all want coffee and hot meals, then want to pay with credit cards and suddenly we’re in Brantford and I haven’t even had a glass of wine yet.

But then I googled “How do people who live in high rises get rescued from fires?” and I got a couple of helpful hints, like did you know that high rises have interior fire-separated stairwell shafts? There were also instructions for creating your own “High rise Fire Survival Kit”, so now I have to buy a whistle and a white pillow case to signal for help (or to indicate surrender in case of an insurgence).

Anyway, long story short, I like to plan for the worst, which is why there is a bat in my bathroom. No, not a sonar-using, flappy, mammal/reptile/dinosaur ancestor, but a wooden baseball bat. It used to be under the bed, which seems like a solid place to keep a bat (and also handy for poking out the remote control if it fell back behind our headboard), but one day, I was in the bathroom, and it occurred to me that if someone snuck into our bedroom, the intruder could easily just crawl all the way around the base of the bed, hidden by the bedskirt, and I’d never know until it was too late to get my bat. I don’t know why, but I get super-jumpy sometimes when I’m alone, like as soon as I come home to my condo, I call Ken and then look under the bed and in the closets to make sure I’m alone. Yes, I know that Ken couldn’t do anything via telephone if there actually WAS someone under my bed, but at least I could scream I LOVE YOU! before I bashed the intruder’s brains in with the hammer I keep on my nightstand.

But Ken has a lot to answer for himself, particularly because he knows how easily startled I am. A couple of weeks ago, I was chopping vegetables when he suddenly appeared out of nowhere:

Me: Jesus Christ!! What the f*ck!!
Ken: What? Didn’t you hear me coming?
Me: NO, KEN, I didn’t hear you coming, because you snuck up on me on PURPOSE!
Ken: No, I didn’t. Can you please put the knife down?

At which point I realized I was subconsciously brandishing the vegetable knife rather menacingly. But he WILL wander around the house like a stealth ninja. I should have known it was Ken, though, because I have Titus trained to recognize strange noises and react to them:

Me: What’s that?!
Titus: Just the neighbourhood kids. Put “Friends” back on—this is The One with the Sandwich. I love sandwiches.

But on Friday morning, having taken the day off, I was looking forward to a good sleep-in. Titus had come back upstairs and was settled comfortably in next to me and we were having a nice doze, when suddenly I heard the sounds of someone walking around in the hallway. I jerked up, and so did Titus.

Me: What’s that?!
Titus: I don’t know!
Me: You go see and I’ll get the bat!

Titus bounded off the bed and headed into the hall, while I ran into the bathroom. I grabbed the bat and tiptoed out with it high over my head…to find Ken standing in the middle of the room in his bathrobe.

Me: What the f*ck, Ken?!! Why are you still here? It’s quarter after 8!
Ken: I had a late meeting so I decided to hang out with you for a bit. Were you seriously going to hit me with that bat?
Me: I still might. You scared the sh*t out of me.
Ken: Why would you think it was an intruder? It could have been T.
Me: Don’t be ridiculous–i
t’s only 8:15! There’s no way T would be up this early. And you’re supposed to be at work. Besides, you fooled Titus too.
Titus: Yeah, dude. Not cool.

But at least I know the system works. And the next time there’s a fire alarm in my condo building, I’m going to try the stairs and see how far I get.

Also Friday: The worst slogan ever or a clever awareness campaign?

On Friday, T and I planned an afternoon of lunch, movies, and shopping for books at Chapters. He’s finally home from university for the summer and I hadn’t had much of a chance to spend time with him, so it was wonderful. But at the restaurant, while we were waiting for our food, we saw something that made us at first bemused, then later hysterical. The hostess showed three people, a man and two women, to a table across the room, and as they passed, we both saw the slogan on the backs of their matching T-shirts and were both like, “What?!”

And before I tell you what it said, I just want to reinforce that I would never make fun of someone with cancer, or make light of any kind of cancer, but honest to God, the backs of their royal blue T-shirts said this in large white letters:

“Cancer touched my butt, so I kicked it’s”.

And I think they must have been home-made T-shirts because of the “it’s” (it is) instead of the possessive “its” (as in the butt belonging to cancer, which makes the whole thing even weirder). Also, we wondered if they were in some kind of butt-cancer club together, which would explain why they were they all wearing the same T-shirt, like maybe they had just done a fundraiser for butt cancer? I mean, I know there are several types of cancer that affect the posterior area, including cancer of the buttocks, but is “Butt Cancer” really a good catch-all term for them? Like, you donate money for research and you get a tax receipt thanking you for helping to stop Butt Cancer? I suppose it would probably be even more disconcerting to be wearing a T-shirt that said, “Cancer touched my rectum so I kicked it’s”, and at any rate, they seemed to be really happy and healthy-looking, so I guess they really DID kick cancer’s butt.

But in the car later, on the way home, T and I began to imagine other body parts that one could substitute for butt and there were definitely a couple that would have made the slogan even more eye-catching—the two frontrunners were “balls” and “boob”. Then I looked up “Cancer touched my butt… and discovered there are TONS of T-shirts that say “Cancer touched my breast/boob so I kicked its butt!”, but none for “balls”, which frankly would be an even better slogan ie. “Cancer touched my balls so I kicked it in the nuts”. There was a hoodie though that said, “Cancer touched my butt so I had to kick its ass” and even though it looked professionally done, it still sounded weird, but it had a blue ribbon on it, so apparently that one was talking about PROSTATE cancer. I don’t know about you, but “Cancer touched my prostate…” doesn’t sound much better than butt, and it still makes me wonder why the two women were wearing the T-shirts too, if it really was about prostate cancer. The important thing though, is that I spent over 48 hours wondering about this, and looking it up, so if those people were going for an awareness campaign, it totally worked. I am now more aware of Butt Cancer than anyone else I know, and I share my awareness with you. You’re welcome.

 

My Week 135: Leo Causes a Rift in the Universe, the Maple Leafs Save the Galaxy, and Other Musings

Things that make me go Hmm….

Last week was a long week, what with me getting up at 5:00 am and battling traffic to get into the GTA every day, working until 5, and then battling traffic to get back home again. I thought to myself, “If I had to do this every day for the rest of my career, I would gouge out my own eyes. And go on disability because of the blindness.” That might sound dramatic, (like when I said the other day that I didn’t want to go to lunch in the rain because “I don’t dry well”), because if worse came to worst, I could just quit, but that’s how much I absolutely f*cking hate driving on the 401, which gets more and more absurd every year, with traffic slowing down randomly and creeping along simply because of “volume”, which is radio-traffic-report lingo for TOO MANY GOD-DAMN CARS ON THE ROAD. And believe me, I would take public transit, if there was any available to my off-site work location. I would ride a BURRO ON A DIRT ROAD to my work location if that was possible (and if it got me there by 7:30, but burros are notoriously tardy, so…)

At any rate, I had a LOT of time in the car to ponder the state of the increasingly bizarre world. And it IS bizarre. And becoming more so every day. Why is that, you ask? Well, let me tell you exactly why, based on a theory developed by me and my work partner L one day early last year (I can’t remember who exactly said which bit, but this was an approximation of the conversation we had one gloomy day after Donald Trump was gaining traction in the polls:

Me: The world is going crazy. It’s like living in “backwards land”.
L: I blame Leo.
Me: Leonardo DiCaprio? Why?
L: When he finally won the Oscar for Best Actor, it ripped a hole in the universe.
Me: You mean like, an anomaly that destroyed the fabric of time and space?
L: Yup. It opened a portal into another dimension.
Me: Which will allow Trump to win, because that’s what has happened in a parallel universe?
L: Exactly.
Me: But “The Revenant” WAS pretty good.
L: Not THAT good.

And while we both have maybe watched a little too much Dr. Who, the theory makes sense. After Leo got his Oscar, celebrities started dying, Brexit happened, and Trump became the President-elect. And that’s just a drop in the bizarro bucket. I googled “the strangest things that happened in 2016” and got like over a thousand hits. When I did the same for 2015, I got 5 hits, and then “Weird and Wonderful Things that Happened at the Zoo”.

So yeah, 2016 was an anomaly, and although, right now, 2017 is like “Hold my beer”, because it’s just as f-ed up frankly, I think we’ll be seeing a course correction soon. Right now, the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the play-offs. The last time this happened was 2004, the year that the Mayans predicted the world would end. And it didn’t, because the Leafs made the play-offs and closed another time/space rift that occurred in 2003 after Roman Polanski won an Oscar for best director, subsequently allowing George W. Bush to win a second term (and apparently Meryl Streep gave Polanski a standing ovation—this is true because I checked with Snopes.com. And now I think Meryl Streep also has something to do with all of this, like she’s an interstellar, cross-universe traveller whose only job is to stir sh*t up like she did in 2003, and again at the 2017 Academy Awards where she slammed Donald Trump and started a war with North Korea. OK, that hasn’t happened YET, but who knows if it’s all part of her insidious plan?). Long story short, I am convinced that world events are simply the machinations of the dastardly Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences trying to mess with the space/time continuum. Luckily, we have the plucky heroes of Canada’s favourite hockey franchise, there to win the hearts and souls of the galaxy. They might never attain the Stanley Cup, but what’s that in the face of saving the universe?

Other Weird Things:

The Carlton Cinema audiences don’t understand drama:

The Carlton Cinema is very close to where I live in the city, but I have to stop going there, because the audiences are f*cking me up and making me think I don’t understand movies. A couple of years ago, my brother and I went to see a film there, purportedly a drama, but the audience kept laughing so hysterically that I got all stressed out. I asked my brother, who has a PhD, what was so funny, and he said, “I don’t know.” Then a while ago, within the same two week period, I saw both “Split” (M. Night Shyamalan’s film about a man with Dissociative Identity Disorder who kidnaps three girls), and “Get Out” (a psychological thriller by Jordan Peele). In both cases, the audience members at the Carlton laughed their asses off at every single scene, and I was soooo confused. Until last night, when I re-watched “Split” with Ken, T, and his girlfriend, and NO ONE LAUGHED, stupid Carlton Audience. You need to grow up.

When Doors Don’t Open:

Yesterday, Ken and I went out for Round Two of stool shopping (when I was finished writing this post, I asked Ken to read it and tell me if I needed to add anything, at which point he said, “A ‘stool’ joke. You really missed an opportunity for humour there.” OK, honey). At the third store, we approached the doors and they didn’t open. I stood there, completely befuddled and disoriented, until Ken said, “You need to pull the handle. Welcome back to the 1900s.” It was like the time the battery on my car fob died and I had no idea how to get into the car, until Ken reminded me that the key would still open the lock on the door. His timing was impeccable, because I was seriously considering just smashing the window in so that I wouldn’t be late to work.

As a side note, we didn’t find any stools AGAIN, which prompted me to say very loudly and angrily, “F*ck stool shopping. I have some fabric and a staple gun. Let’s just fix the ones we have.” Which we did, and I didn’t even need the fabric because once Ken repaired the broken seats, I got out-voted by everyone who thought the leather still looked really good. Even though I was like, “What do you want, this old leather, or this REALLY beautiful fabric?” and then I was accused of “being manipulative” and “trying to sway popular opinion with my adjectives.”

My Bluetooth Speaks Better Italian than Me:

The other day I needed to call a co-worker to tell her I was running late because of highway “volume”. I tried using her first name twice, but the Bluetooth Lady in my rental car just kept saying, “Do you mean ‘Margaret’? Do you mean ‘Marion”? (those are my aunts), and I was like NO!!! So I said my co-worker’s full name, but because her last name is Italian and the Bluetooth Lady was already struggling, I said it phonetically. And then the Bluetooth Lady said, “Do you mean _____?” and pronounced her last name with a perfect Italian accent, like she was schooling me or whatnot. And I was like “if you can figure this out, why did you have so much damn trouble with a perfectly easy to understand FIRST NAME and then claim you couldn’t understand my commands?!” She would fit right into the Carlton Cinema crowd.

Insects as Art and Neil Hedley:

This morning, Ken and I were watching the news (on CBC, because I no longer watch CTV since I got into a Twitter feud with a dude named Neil Hedley, who’s an announcer with some radio station called Zoom-a Radio, which I have never even heard of nor listened to, like most people, I imagine. The fact that CTV chooses someone like him with zero political knowledge and the thinnest skin possible makes me dismiss them as a serious news source. My Twitter feud with him started when Trump tried his initial Muslim ban. The news anchor asked Neil why he thought that Trump had only targeted 6 countries, to which Neil replied, “Maybe he knows something we don’t know. He’s the one who gets intelligence briefings.” So I tweeted to him that perhaps he had fanned the flames of racism by implying that the six countries were guilty of something more than NOT having oil or Trump Towers, and he just went off on me like the baby he apparently is. And he never did clarify what he meant, although he claimed I “missed his point”. Of course, the very next week, he made fun of Eastern Canadians by mocking them with a stereotyped accent but I left it alone on the grounds that he really is too stupid to bother with. People like that will never be self-reflective, only defensive. Kind of like what’s happening all around the world right now.) Anyway, Ken and I were watching CBC, and there was a story about a woman who has a new exhibit in an art gallery. Her “art” is pinning insects to the walls of said gallery in different patterns. Real insects. Dead insects. That she buys on Ebay. The art gallery owner was ecstatic and claimed that her exhibition was “perfect for Canada’s 150th birthday”. I said to Ken, “If I went to a graveyard and dug up a bunch of corpses, and laid them out in a Fibonacci sequence on the floor of the Art Gallery of Ontario, I could be famous too.” The Canadian Mint also put out a special $3 coin to celebrate our 150th. Not a coin worth $1.50, which might make SOME kind of sense, but no, three bucks. Except it costs $19.95 to buy one.  But if you think insects and nonsensical monetary denominations are yet another indicator of a world gone mad, just remember that the Toronto Maple Leafs are the REAL Guardians of the Galaxy, and one day they will save us all. Go Leafs Go.

My Week 134: Failing at Adulting, Toronto the Weird

Thursday: Failing at Adulting 101

Currently, I’m working off-site at a large convention centre with approximately 1500 strangers. They’re all adults, ostensibly—well, they mostly LOOK like adults, but based on the last couple of weeks, some of them really aren’t sure what being an adult means. The first thing that always strikes me each year (because we do this every year around the same time) is the fact that, at the end of the day, people, I mean, like, grown-ass human beings, will RUN from their areas to the parking lot to get into their cars 10 seconds ahead of everyone else. Yeah, I get that it’s hard to get out of the parking lot when 1500 other people are trying to do the same thing, but where the hell are you going that you can’t sit and listen to some tunes for 5 minutes while the police (yes, we actually hire police to direct the traffic) sort that sh*t out? They RUN. It’s unbelievable. We have to put up signs that say “No Running In The Halls” like it’s elementary school, and then stand there like hall monitors, yelling, “Slow down! You’re going to get hurt!” But wait—it gets better. Here are the top five craziest things that prove a lot of people really need a maturity check:

1) The two women who gave one of our supervisors the finger when they tried to sneak out early. He called to them and reminded them that the work day wasn’t yet over, and that was their reaction, as they laughed and walked out the door anyway. The supervisor in question is a sweet little retired guy. Unfortunately he couldn’t identify them:

Me: OMG—who were they? I have no problem firing them tomorrow!
Supervisor: They were girls. They were wearing coats…
Me: Well, that narrows it down.

2) The guy who almost hit another employee who was walking to his car, then screamed at him to “Get off the f*cking road!” The pedestrian was quite shaken by the experience, but again, couldn’t identify the driver in his panic to not have both legs broken by the guy’s bumper. Luckily, the experience didn’t shake his sense of humour, and a couple of days later, he offered to get down on the floor and let us “drag him back to his chair United Airlines style” as a way to stop other people from trying to sneak out before the end of the day. We were sorely tempted, trust me, but we’re a Crown entity, so try explaining THAT to the Queen when she sees it on Youtube.

3) The people who, when asked on a survey to offer suggestions on how to make the work experience more positive, wrote things like, “footrests for everyone”, “reinstate coffee at lunch or I’m never coming back”, or “let us leave early”. I guess it’s the little things that matter. The REALLY LITTLE things. (By the way, we provide free coffee and tea at both morning and afternoon breaks).

4) The tiny woman who failed to pass her qualifying test three times (in order to work for us, everyone has to pass a test after intensive training) and refused to leave. Her reason (which was delivered in whispers):

Tiny Woman: Do you not understand? This is not fair to me. The other people in my group passed because I explained all the answers to them.
Me: If you gave them all the answers, then why didn’t YOU pass?
Tiny Woman: You don’t understand.
Me: That makes two of us.

She was whispering-ly adamant, and we almost had to call security to escort her out.

5) The icing on the cake came on Thursday. One large group of people (about 250 of them) were completely finished their work about 15 minutes before the end of the day. Their manager asked me if they could leave early, and I was like, “Well, it’s the afternoon before the Easter long weekend, so tell them they can go if they all exit out the cafeteria very quietly so that no one else sees them leaving and gets all distracted.” So she made that announcement, and after reading the above scenarios, you can probably guess what happened next. The second she put down the microphone, people started running out of the room, heading towards the main exit. My colleague and I hurried after them to start diverting them towards the cafeteria, at which point this huge guy comes barrelling towards me:

Me: I’m sorry, sir, but you’ll have to go out through the cafeteria.
Man: WHAT!!! WHY DO THEY GET TO GO THAT WAY???
Me: Well, they didn’t listen to instructions. We need you all to go out through the cafeteria.
Man: THAT’S NOT FAIR!!! THAT’S NOT FAIR!!!!!

And then he screamed something at me like, “Do as I say, not as I do!” and I seriously thought he was going to hit me because he literally had to walk 30 extra feet to get to his car.

But it gets better. Because of their riotous departure, the other groups in other rooms also started running out, until the whole scene resembled something from Dante’s Inferno, and God was like, “Nooo! You NEVER let them out early!” and I was like some sad-ass angel yelling, “I know that NOW, GOD!” But what I really wanted to do was scream, “THIS IS WHY WE CAN NEVER HAVE NICE THINGS!!” to the backs of the multitude, who I will never let out early again.

Saturday: Old Man Kicking Pigeons

I was looking for something to write about and checked my phone, where I keep notes. The only thing I’d put in there recently was “Old Man Kicking Pigeons”. I saw this at Dundas Square, a place in central downtown Toronto where strange things happen on a daily basis. The man was about 6 feet tall, wearing a dress shirt, dress pants, and leather shoes. He had white hair and a neatly trimmed white beard. And he was stomping around, Frankenstein-style, with his arms out in front of him, trying to kick the pigeons that were landing on the sidewalk to peck at crumbs and then running out onto the road to flail at them. Now, you might be all like “That’s horrible!”, but don’t worry because downtown pigeons are clever as f*ck, and instinctively can dodge cars, pedestrians, raccoons, and crazy old dudes. But this wasn’t even the weirdest thing that I saw there that day. There was also a woman dressed as Alice In Wonderland, but she had a rabbit face and ears and was standing on a large box. There was a man with a cat that does tricks like dancing on its back legs or jumping onto his shoulders, which, I suppose is pretty tricksy for a cat, considering Raven just gives me the death stare when I say, “Come here”. There are fire-eaters, proselytizers, steel drum musicians, sidewalk chalk artists, and someone wandering around wearing a poo emoji hat for who knows what reason. It’s like the worst circus in the world, but it’s free (unless you volunteer to pay for the ‘free’ Bible/Koran or give someone money for miming how to get out of a box), but everyone wants to see it. There are actually “sightseeing bus tours” in Toronto, these double decker jobs that stop at Dundas Square and everyone piles out and takes selfies with Alice and the guy with the “The Apocalypse is Nigh” sign (he actually has a very nice smile, which he doesn’t get to use much due to the end of the world coming and whatnot). And all I can think is how cool this must seem to all the tourists. But to me, the coolest thing is that it’s the only intersection with diagonal as well as straight pedestrian crossings, so suddenly the light will change and people are traversing the road in this incredibly orderly pattern, kind of like that city scene in The Matrix, only instead of the lady in red, there’s a homeless guy with his pants down around his knees and Neo is selling knock-off handbags while Mr. Smith is kicking pigeons. Toronto—it’s weird and wonderful, but mostly weird.

 

My Week 133: I Have a Wee Rant About Why Kids Are Important

Friday: It gets funny after the first bit…

One of my favourite sayings is “It’s easier to build a child than repair an adult”. I’ve worked with children, teenagers, and adult learners most of my life, so I can attest to the fact that the saying is absolutely true. About twenty years ago, I taught at an adult high school, and witnessed first-hand the struggles that my adult students went through—the same ones they went through as teenagers the first time through high school, repeating the same patterns over and over again. I had Charlie, a fifty-year-old truck driver who was more comfortable behind the wheel than behind a desk; Lorna, who helped her husband run their own business and was now retired, but who was ashamed to have never graduated; Mohammed and Abdi, two Somali brothers who had difficulty with English but tried SO hard; Jack, whose early experiences with teachers as a child with undiagnosed AD/HD had made him hate school; Linda, whose epilepsy medication didn’t always cut it, and the seizures were still such a source of embarrassment for her that she would skip class for days after one, and so many more people who just wanted to feel a sense of achievement by graduating from high school (Lorna’s grandkids came and cheered when she got her diploma). But they were a terrific group—I still have the card they all signed for me at the end of the year.

At the other end of the spectrum are the wee ones, so fresh and full of enthusiasm, an excitement for living that sometimes gets hammered out of them too soon. The other day, I was remembering something I witnessed about 5 years ago, and which still makes me so upset: I was at the grocery store, and I saw a woman come in with the most adorable looking boy about 5 years-old. As they passed me, I could hear him saying, “Mommy, can I drive the little cart? The little cart? Mommy, can I?” He was asking over and over, looking up at her, trying to get her attention. There’s no way she couldn’t have heard him, but she kept ignoring him until they walked past the little grocery carts that the stores have for kids (so that they can feel like big people) and disappeared into the aisles. I wanted to call after her, “Would it f*cking kill you to just let the kid drive the f*cking little cart?” I mean, I don’t know what was going on in her life that she thought it was OK to just blow him off like he wasn’t important, and maybe she was just having a bad day, but it infuriated me. Just like the other day, when my brother was telling me about a child in my nephew’s grade one class. Apparently, “Eddie” has trouble getting along with the other kids, so while everyone else sits at tables in groups of 5, Eddie sits at a desk by himself in the corner. Every day. All day long. All I could think is “What the f*ck is wrong with Eddie’s parents that they aren’t freaking about their six-year-old being isolated like that?” And while you might be thinking, “Well, I wouldn’t want my kid sitting next to Eddie if Eddie can’t behave”, how is Eddie going ever going to get along with ANYONE if he’s continually isolated? The Eddie of today becomes the Jack of tomorrow, and you can take that to the f*cking bank. But I’m not blaming Eddie’s teacher, although it’s a pretty stupid solution. No, this is down to Eddie’s parents, who NEVER come to parent night, activity days, observation days, weekly skating, swimming and so on. My brother, in the three years that my nephew has been in the same class as Eddie, has ever met either of them. Again, I don’t know their circumstances but I keep thinking of Eddie, skating by himself when the other kids have a mom or dad there, and it makes me sad. Which leads me to the main point, and yes I do have one: I was reading a little while ago about some so-called parenting guru who said that our children shouldn’t be the most important things in our lives. And I was like, “You’re an idiot.” And here is why he is completely wrong.

*Disclaimer: If you think your children are the most important things in your life, but you let them do whatever the hell they want and spoil them rotten, you’re doing it wrong.

1) Your children are responsible for what happens to you when you get old. Treat them well, and teach them to be responsible and caring adults, and you’ll probably end up in an upscale retirement home with people who don’t make you feel terrible when you wet the bed. Or maybe you can even live WITH your children if you went all out and took them to the movies once in a while, rented a cottage in the summer to have special family times, or let them drive the LITTLE CART. Treat them like crap and you’ll end up on an ice floe, or in a nursing home that serves mystery meat and has bingo every single night (yes, I know—some people like bingo. I’m NOT one of them), and they won’t come to visit.

2) Adults have pretty much f*cked up the world at this point. Global warming, species going extinct every minute, Donald Trump, oceans choked with plastic—we OWE them. The least we can do is mentor them and help them see the world as the precious thing that it is, not a commodity to be exploited until it runs dry. And buy them a puppy. Every child should have a puppy. Children who are allergic to dogs can have those hairless Chihuahua things. If you don’t like dogs, either suck it up, or buy them a cat. Or a monkey butler. If my parents had bought me a monkey butler, I would have a PhD in Environmental Science and I would have cured global warming AND cancer by now. They DID get me a kitten, so at least I have two undergraduate degrees. But no matter what the pet is, help them to learn how to be responsible for it.

3) What else is MORE important than our children? Seriously? The stuff that we decorate our homes with? The cars we drive? Our jobs? Getting away from the kids to hang with other adults? When I was a kid, I don’t remember that we didn’t have a lot of money. I DO remember family car trips to little towns on a Sunday, walking through the bush and identifying trees at a local arboretum, going with my dad to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and buying treats for my mom who was sleeping in after a long week of looking after me and my brother. My family (Mom, Dad, my brother and me) spent a lot of time together, learning how to be in the world and how to be responsible for it. I’m eternally grateful to my parents for always thinking “what would be nice for the kids?”, not only when I was young, but as an adult. It didn’t make me “entitled”, and by the way, most young people today aren’t either, despite what the people who make their money from certain parenting blogs, fake news magazines, and internet clickbait try to tell you. Face it—we’re all gonna die. “Things” are irrelevant, but leaving this world with the memories of a day at the beach, or being able to laugh around the dinner table because you didn’t make your kid eat broccoli but gave him hot dogs instead aren’t.

4) To continue, my second favourite saying is “The most important things in life aren’t things.” I’m the mother to a wonderful 18 year-old, and yes, so-called “Parenting Expert”, he is the centre of my universe. I don’t apologize for that. I can buy whatever the hell I want. I can go to the Dollar Store and get crap for my house, save up and buy crap I don’t need, or surround myself with stuff that doesn’t matter. The only thing I can’t buy is a child who is OK in the world. That, I have to work at. I also had to work at GETTING a child, because you can’t just buy one of them either, like a puppy or a kitten (or a monkey butler). Ken and I tried for a long time to have a baby, and we had some tragedy along the way. When my son was finally born, I was incredibly grateful to the universe for that gift. Because that’s what kids are. A f*cking gift. If you can’t see that, if you want to discount children as the most important thing in your life because some dude named Leonard Sax says you’re a failure as a parent because you like to give your child choices and make them a responsible and active voice in the family dynamic, then don’t complain when the nurse won’t make you hot dogs or cry because the polar bears all died.

*I’m really tired and may or may not have had a couple of glasses of wine, one of which I just spilled on myself. Yeah, it’s a bit of a rant. Next week it’ll be funny—I promise.