My Week 65: Christmas Eve at the Emergency Room, Festive Misunderstandings

Christmas Eve at the Emergency Room

Christmas Eve started off well enough. I got all kinds of things done in the morning, including wrapping all the presents I’d bought the day before, and finishing decorating the house—I like to plan ahead, but only to a certain extent. Then I made a cheesecake to take to my brother’s house later for a family get together. Sometime around noon, I started feeling a little strange, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Right before we were about to leave, I went upstairs to finish getting ready, and that’s when I had a rather shocking revelation: something wasn’t in the place that it normally was. In fact, according to my rudimentary knowledge of female anatomy, something was definitely in a place that it should NEVER be. I had a moment of panic, then I did what any reasonable person would do—I screamed for Ken. After discussing it with him, I called my doctor’s emergency line. I got an answering machine which told me that no one was available to take my call. Which makes sense, right? I mean, why staff an emergency line on a holiday? People with holiday emergencies can just go f*ck themselves, or wait for the office to open on Tuesday. So I called Telehealth Ontario, and after a very convoluted conversation with a nurse, during which she told me several anecdotes about surrogate grandmothers and breastfeeding 12 year-olds, she told me what I had already assumed. I’m not going to get into the details—that’s not necessary; in fact, that’s the point of the story if you’re patient (no pun intended, haha)—but within the next 5 minutes, Ken and I were on our way to the hospital emergency room. I envisioned a ward of hundreds of sneezing, sniffling people, all in line ahead of me, but when we got there, it was actually really quiet. We saw the triage nurse within ten minutes, I got put in a bed in a private room with a nice, warm blanket, then we waited for the doctor. And we waited. And we waited. 2 hours later, I was visited by a lovely young man who looked African but was educated in England, judging by his charming accent and the way he exclaimed, “Bloody hell” as he tried unsuccessfully to make a 3D diagram of my problem out of Kleenex. In the end, he reassured me that while it was frightening, I would live to see Christmas, and he referred me to an OB/GYN who would call me to arrange an appointment. Also, he told me to go home, get lots of rest, and not do ANY work for the next few days, which is why I’m writing this a day early while Ken cleans the house and makes scones. But on the way home, I started to get really pissed off. I said to Ken, “This is SO unfair! I had to spend Christmas Eve in an emergency room, and it wasn’t even for some COOL reason. What am I supposed to say to people? Instead of being all like “Ooh, wow!”, people will just be worried. Why couldn’t it have been something like….” And here I was stumped.  I couldn’t think of anything offhand that would actually be a COOL reason to go to the emergency room. “Come on, Ken,” I said. “Think of something that would make people be all amazed.” So Ken and I tried to brainstorm:

Ken: I know. You broke your butt.
Me: In what possible universe would “breaking your butt” be cool?! That’s not cool, it’s just embarrassing!
Ken: Oh, ok…what about…getting shot in the butt?
Me: What?! How is that any better? It`s still your BUTT!
Ken: Well, maybe you got shot in the butt while you were trying to save someone from being kidnapped or something.
Me: It sounds more like you were running AWAY from kidnappers instead of trying to rescue someone from them. And it’s still your butt. Wait, what about this? You were carving the turkey for Christmas dinner and you accidentally cut off your finger, so you had to go to the emergency room to have it reattached.
Ken: THAT’S not cool.
Me: Why the f*ck not?!
Ken: You cut off your own finger. That’s not cool; that’s just careless.
Me: I’ve got nothing else.
Ken: Me neither.

Bottom line: There is NO cool reason to go to an emergency room.

Earlier that week: I have a festive misunderstanding.

Last Monday, I went out for lunch with my two aunts. We went to a local Indian restaurant called ‘Tandoori Night’, which is supposed to be one of the number one Indian restaurants in the region. It was a beautiful looking place with a lovely atmosphere, but things got off to a bit of a rocky start when the waiter, who seemed to be new, had difficulty describing the specials.

Us: So what are the specials today?
Waiter: They’re all curry.
Aunt: What do you mean, ‘they’re all curry’?
Waiter: The chicken special is curry, the lamb special is curry, the beef special is curry. Aunt: What about the seafood special?
Waiter: It’s curry.
Aunt: Yes, I get that, but which curry is it? There are 3 different types of seafood curry on the menu.
Waiter: It’s the shrimp. Curry.
Me (trying to be helpful): I think he means that it’s shrimp with a curry sauce?
Waiter: Yes. Shrimp with a curry sauce.
Aunt (exasperated): OK, let me explain. There are 3 chicken curry dishes on the menu, and they are all different. Which one is it?
Waiter: It’s the one with the green chiles.
Aunt: Sigh. Just give me the Chicken Vindaloo.

5 minutes later, we heard the owner taking an order from the table behind us, and sure enough, he was pointing out each dish on the menu that was the special for the day, which made things a lot clearer. In the end, I ordered the Tandoori Chicken and it was absolutely delicious; the reviews weren’t lying. Aside from the waiter, who wasn’t a great communicator but was actually a pretty good waiter, we were all really happy with our food and the general experience. When we went to the counter to pay, we complimented the owner on the food, and I told him I’d definitely come back again, possibly with my husband. He was pleased and said, in his heavily accented English, “Vee’re also open on Christmas Day.” I expressed the thought that it would be awesome to have Indian take-out on Christmas Day, but my aunt said to him, “But that means you have to work though, right?” The conversation which ensued is a wonderful demonstration of how an accent can throw off an entire conversation, and make me look like an idiot at the same time.

Owner: Yes, I have to vork all day. It’s too bad—it’s a big Sikh day.
Me: Oh, what do you call it?
Owner: Tandoori Night.
Me: Like the restaurant? Cool.
Owner: Yes, that’s the name of the restaurant.
Me: Oh, I see. No, I meant, what do you call your Sikh day? Does it have a special name? Owner: No… (goes over to a table)
Aunt (sotto voce): You know, I don’t think he’s Sikh.
Me: But he said it was a big Sikh holiday. Maybe the other employees are Sikh? Although, I didn’t know the Sikhs had a celebration around this time of year…
(Owner returns)
Me to Owner: So, do you celebrate your special day at the same time as Christmas or do you have it some other time in December?
Owner (confused): We don’t have ANY celebrations in December.
Me: I’m sorry, I thought you said that Christmas was a big Sikh day…
Owner: Yes, because everyone calls in ‘seek’. No one wants to vork on Christmas. Just like New Year’s Day. They all go out and party, party, then they all call in seek, hahaha! So I have to vork.
Me: So not a holiday, then.
Owner: Not for me, hahaha!
Aunts: *hysterical laughter*
Me: Oh my god, I have never been so embarrassed in my life.
Aunts: *continue laughing hysterically*

Moral of the story: Know your religious festivals. Happy Kwanzaa, everyone.

My Week 64: Donald Trump Meets Justin Trudeau, Titus–Weapon of Mass Destruction

A Challenge

This week, our new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was subjected to the infamous MacLean’s magazine “60 second” pre-interview interview, where the interviewee is asked several questions in rapid-fire succession and has to answer in under a minute. Justin did well, from my perspective, but there was one gaffe regarding the existence of the Balkan States. I didn’t really notice, since I have ZERO knowledge of world geography, but other people were a little up in arms, including a lot of Balkan people, and my own beloved brother. He’s not a huge fan of Justin Trudeau, and he emailed me from the airport with his own short but hilarious pseudo-interview of the new Prime Minister. I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing an short excerpt here:

Q:  What about great explorers? Do you have a favourite?
A:  Well, my kids love Dora. She seems pretty cool.
Q:  Now, about those Baltic States…have you settled on a favourite yet?
A:  I sure have! I think that Latviania is totally awesome.

He then suggested that I do my own MacLean’s style interview with Justin this week, but I couldn’t do it, mostly because A) I like Justin Trudeau, and B) my brother already did a pretty stellar job. But there was a lot of potential for humour here, and as a result, I decide to recreate (or create, actually) the first meeting between Justin Trudeau, politician and person extraordinaire, with Donald Trump, neither of those. So here goes:

Donald: So what am I doing here again?
Aide: You’re meeting with Justin Trudeau, the newly elected Prime Minister of Canada. He’s interested in meeting with all the candidates for the American presidency. Just to be fair.
Justin: It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Trump.
Donald: So what, you’re like the King of the Arctic or something?
Justin (laughs gently): No, no, I’m the Prime Minister of Canada. Canada is the second largest country in the world after Russian in terms of landmass. It’s the world’s most educated country, and it has more lakes than all the other countries in the world combined.
Donald: What the f*ck ARE you, a geography teacher or something?
Justin: Well, I do have a working knowledge of geography. For example, the Balkan States definitely exists. In fact, though, I used to be a drama teacher.
Donald: All actors are gay, and I don’t give a sh*t about the Balcanadians. Save the drama for your mama, pretty boy. Now, what exactly do you want?
Justin: Well, you’re currently the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. I was just interested in your campaign platform, you know—what are your issues?
Donald: Well, I have a lot of issues–
Justin: Mm, yes, I’ve heard.
Donald: –but what I really want to do is bring American back to the Americans and dig it out of the hole that Muslim from Alaska put it in.
Justin (confused): Are you talking about President Obama? He’s not Muslim and he’s from Hawaii.
Donald: That’s what the Democrats would HAVE you believe. Anyway, who else have you met with?
Justin: I met with Jeb Bush…
Donald: Putz!
Justin: What?
Donald: Jeb Bush, not you.
Justin: Oh. Also, Ben Carson…
Donald: Ass! Again, Ben Carson, not you.
Justin: Why are you so derogatory about your colleagues? I quite liked Carly Fiorina… Donald: Woman! Again, Fiorina, not you, Justine.
Justin (rolls eyes): I feel like we’re not making much headway here. Why don’t I introduce you to some of MY colleagues? This is Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport. He used to be an astronaut, which is pretty cool. And this is Harjit Sajjan, my Minister of National Defence.
Donald (sotto voce): You know he’s wearing a towel on his head, right?
Justin: That’s a turban, Mr. Trump—he’s a Sikh.
Donald: So deporting him, then?
Justin: What?! NO. He’s a trusted member of my cabinet!
Donald: That’s what JFK said about Lee Harvey Oswald, and look how THAT turned out. Justin: I don’t think JFK EVER said that, and I find your comments racist and divisive.
Donald: Fine. But don’t come crying to me when he sneaks into that condemned row house you call an official residence and tries to blow you up in your bed.
Justin: 24 Sussex Drive isn’t a “condemned row house”. It’s a historical monument. I lived there as a child.
Donald: Holy sh*t, you’ve been Prime Minister since you were a kid? Why the hell have I never heard of you?
Justin: No, no, that was when my father was Prime Minister. There were others in between. Remember the guy in the sweater vest?
Donald: It rings a bell, although I don’t remember his name. Nice hair, though. By the way, have I told you my plans for my OWN official residence? I’m building a new Trump Tower on the grounds of the White House. Ivana is turning the White House into a retail store for her clothing line. Or is it Ivanka? Or Melania? Or Marla? God, I love the letters “I” and “M”. That’s why I’m so pissed at the Muslims. Islam stole my two favourite letters of the alphabet. What’s yours?
Justin: I like all the letters of the alphabet equally.
Donald: Jennifer Lawrence or Jennifer Lopez?
Justin: Uh…I’m a fan of theatre AND music…
Donald: No kidding, Justine. Scandinavia?
Justin: That’s a thing—wait, this is starting to sound really familiar. Are you working for MacLean’s magazine, by any chance?
Donald: Is that like Vogue or Cosmo? Oh hey, look who’s here! It’s my running mate, Kanye West!
Kanye: I’m the greatest living rock star!
Justin: You picked Kanye West to be your potential vice-president?!
Kanye: I named my new baby “Saint”. Saint West. (drops mike)
Justin: OK. First, where did you even GET a microphone from, and second, that wasn’t a dropworthy moment.
Kanye: Start learning the words to “Golddigger”, fool. It’s your new national anthem. Justin: Oh my God, I need a drink.
Donald: Attaboy. Just be drunk all the time. It works for me.

Friday: Titus, weapon of mass destruction

Titus has been having some issues of his own lately, mostly involving damage and injury to both people AND household items. Last month, he enthusiastically jumped at K, and they cracked skulls hard enough to give K an actual concussion, confirmed by our family physician. Then he punched Ken in the head during a particularly exciting wrestling match, leaving Ken with a large gash on his forehead. Living in Toronto has exempted me from much of the carnage, although he DID whack me in the face the other day while trying to give me a “high-five”. But apparently, he saved the best of himself for the moment I came home for Christmas holidays. Yesterday morning before Ken left for work, he told me this:

Ken: Titus threw up this morning.
Me: What? Is he OK?
Ken: I think so. He ate breakfast, then he had “sexy time” with his dog cushion. I think he just got carried away and overdid it.
Me: Oh god—I didn’t need to know ANY of that.

Later though, he was acting a little weird. I came back from an eye doctor’s appointment and was in the middle of making lunch, when he wanted to go outside. I let him out, and saw him do some “business”. 5 minutes later, he wanted out again. More business, this time “number two”. He should have been good for the next couple of hours, but no—within 5 minutes, he was back at the door again. I told him that I wasn’t running a flophouse, and it wasn’t a revolving door, so he could just stay in for a while. He looked at me strangely, then threw up all over our breakfast room. I mean ALL OVER. Piles and piles of ALL OVER. I freaked out and put him outside where he did it again. So I did what any reasonable person would do—I called Ken.

Ken: Hey. I’m driving back from lunch with some people from work. You’re on speaker phone.
Me: Titus is really sick. Come home! I’ve never seen so much vomit. It’s like he’s been saving it up for DAYS. The rug by the patio door is a complete write-off.
Everyone: Ewwwww.
Ken: I have to work until 7 tonight.
Everyone: No, you don’t, Ken.
Ken: Ok, I’ll be home soon.

Right before Ken came home, the phone rang. It was a telemarketer. Within the next two minutes, the following happened:

1) The telemarketer tried to convince me to sign up for an On-Star plan for my car.
2) Titus started to heave by the door.
3) I screamed into the phone, “Titus, NO! Not THAT rug too!”
4) The telemarketer said, “Pardon? Were you talking to me?”
5) Ken came walking towards the house.
6) I screamed “Titus! Go outside!” and I opened the door and pushed him towards Ken, but he wouldn’t budge. I said to the telemarketer, “My dog is about to throw up. I can’t talk now.”
7) The telemarketer offered to call me back AFTER the dog had thrown up. I apologized to the telemarketer for screaming in her ear.
8) Titus vomited all over the floor.
9) Ken said, “Why are you on the phone when the dog is puking right in front of you? You don’t even drive the car enough to pay for an On-Star plan. It’s not worth the money.”
10) I informed Ken that I had no interest in discussing the prudence of an On-Star plan at that moment, because I was too busy cleaning up dog puke. I believe my exact words were “What the F*CK, Ken?!!”
11) Ken took Titus outside.

We still have no idea what caused this extraordinary episode. For dinner, I made him steamed rice (Titus, not Ken), and he seemed to be fine. Today, I made him homemade natural dog cookies, and he drooled excitedly. Things seem to be back to normal. Except that I’m down one small Persian rug, and I felt so bad about the telemarketer that when she called back, I signed up for a hardware update. The universe works in mysterious ways.

My Week 63: I Have Holiday Inadequacy, A Stream of Consciousness Religious Moment

Thursday: This holiday season is making me feel incompetent

I’ve always considered myself a fairly creative person. My house is decorated nicely, I write middling well, I can paint a little, and make craft-y type things when the mood strikes. But lately, I’ve come to realize that there are people out there who are WAY more creative than me. Case in point—in the last couple of weeks, people at work have been decorating their cubicles for Christmas. It started off with just a few co-workers hanging snowflake ornaments and tinsel on their fabric walls. I was feeling pretty satisfied with my design—a miniature stocking that I grabbed out of the closet at home, and a paper snowflake that a colleague made for me one afternoon—he was practicing making them from instructions from the internet so he could impress his wife on the weekend. So I ended up with something like this:

Bare cubicle

Not bad right? Understated and elegant, with a homemade touch. Added bonus—I found a red pushpin on the floor, and I used it to secure the snowflake in keeping with my colour scheme. Brilliant planning, I’d have to say. Sure, I could have gone a little more crazy, but I didn’t want people to think I had too much time on my hands.

But then, I came in on Thursday morning to discover that the people in the department up the aisle from mine had decorated THEIR cubicles. Here are a few examples:

Cubicle 2



Cubicle 1

Cubicle 3 version 2

A Reindeer stable?! An entire Christmas house, held up with yardsticks?! An “homage” to the ugly Christmas sweater?! One woman had gone with the theme “Christmas in the Tropics”, having made palm trees out of construction paper and coconuts out of brown balloons. Suddenly, I was feeling angsty, but I comforted myself that at least my display was cost efficient. Then I happened to remark to one of the women, “Oh, you guys have really gone all out!” and she cheerfully replied, “Oh, this is all from the dollar store— it just took a few bucks and some imagination!” So while I have a ‘few bucks’, apparently I’m lacking in the imagination component of the holiday season.

And to make matters worse, there’s Secret Santa. You may remember that I’ve had issues in the past with this torturous aspect of the workplace, but this year it seems that I may be the ‘Bad Santa’. I’ve been doing all right myself, having received some decent little tokens from my ‘giver’, but I’m starting to feel that I’m not doing enough for my ‘receiver’. I organized several treats for my SS, based on her list of likes and dislikes, and thought that it would be enough to wait until she was away from her desk, then run by her cubicle and toss something on her keyboard without getting caught. Holy sh*t, was I wrong, based on the mayhem around me. One woman came back from lunch and discovered a half-dozen red roses carefully arranged in a vase on her desk. Another colleague was sent on a scavenger hunt (which started with a poem, 6 stanzas long, written in iambic pentameter and mounted on a piece of yellow shirtboard) and ended with her finding an assortment of clues and goodies scattered throughout the office and all tastefully wrapped in yellow tissue paper. The icing on the Christmas cake was the cubicle that was decorated some time in the night as a representation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The entire space was domed with red tinsel garlands hanging from the ceiling. There was a sign on the outside of the cubicle which read “1. Shelter  2. Fire  3. Food  4. Drink” and so on, with ‘Shelter’ crossed out. We were simultaneously amazed and jealous, and more than a little worried about how Fire would be represented the next day. But fear not—her Secret Santa created a campfire out of construction paper, and a bundle of handmade twig pencils, complete with a giant marshmallow on a stick. Seriously, WTF? I mean, how are the rest of us supposed to compete with THAT? The best I had done so far was scribble “I hope you like this chocolate” on a post-it note and stick it to a pack of Lindor. It’s not that I don’t WANT to be more clever—I have great ideas but I just don’t have the energy to put them into action. For example, I had this brainstorm that I would take the box of fruit-flavoured mini-candy canes I got her and strew all 60 of them around her cubicle, then put the empty box on her desk with an Elf on the Shelf in it, like HE’D done it. But I couldn’t find an Elf, and it was late, so I just tossed them around, stuck a couple in her shoes, and went home. I don’t think she was impressed because by the time I got to work the next morning, there wasn’t a single candy cane in sight. Then I worried that maybe she was a real neat-freak, and that instead of being charmed, she was pissed that she had to clean up the mess. Then she spent the rest of the day eating oranges and apples. I know this, because I kept sneaking by her desk to see if she was enjoying the candy canes, but I never saw them again. I know it’s all supposed to be in fun, and everyone keeps saying, “Oh, it’s the thought that counts,” but why can’t people just be as mediocre as ME? When the bar is set too high, we ALL suffer. Except the people who have time to write sonnets. My only hope is that when we have our big ‘reveal’ next week, she’s able to see that my intentions were good, and that if I’d had the time, energy, and wherewithal, it would have been…well, something amazing, I’m sure. Plus, there’s a bag of potato chips waiting for her on Monday morning—maybe I’ll get wild and put a bow on it.

Friday: I have a stream of consciousness religious moment

On Friday, we were talking at work, and someone mentioned that Kanye West and one of the Kardashians (I can never remember which one is which—they all look alike thanks to the wonders of cosmetic surgery, and they all seem to be pregnant all the f*cking time) had another baby. You might remember how I ripped Kanye West for naming his first baby “North”—that’s right, North West. North West of where I am is Manitoba, which seems to me to be a much better name for a baby than a compass direction, but if you think I have no imagination, I’m feeling pretty good next to old Kanye. Especially right now. Because my first reaction was, “Did he name this baby ‘South’? It’s a great theme—two more kids and he could easily find his way to his own ass.” But alas, no. This baby, he named “Saint”. Yes, Saint West, the patron saint of stupid parents everywhere. And then I was confused, because it seemed a little sacreligious, but a friend pointed out that ‘Santo’ was a very popular boy’s name in Italian, and it means ‘Saint’. Which got me to thinking about how other cultures have no trouble naming their children after religious figures. For example, there are a LOT of Hispanic men named Jesus, which I believe is pronounced ‘Hey Zeus’, and which I also think is an awesome name—it kind of channels ‘Son of God’ and ‘Lightning Bolt Guy’ all at the same time. And this seems to work for them, but how weird would it be if I had named my son ‘Jesus’, like the actual ‘Gee Zus’ pronunciation? I come from a Scottish/English background, and I know people would have thought I was being a little presumptuous, like I thought my kid was the next Messiah or something. Which got me to thinking about Jesus, and the fact that the church across the road recently had their doors redesigned. On one door is an angel, painted in gold, hovering in mid-air. The other door is where things get weird. It’s supposed to be Jesus on the cross, but whoever painted it did Jesus in REALLY dark gold paint, and the cross in light gold, so from across the street, it looks like Jesus is standing on the edge of a diving platform, getting ready to do a double pike, three and a half turn twist. It’s very disconcerting. In fact, I can see him right now, and all I can think about is Jesus getting the gold medal at the Olympics, which would have been a much nicer thing to happen to him. And then churches would be full of swimming pools instead of pews and ALL the water would be holy. Oh yeah. See, maybe I am more creative than I thought.

My Week 62: I Finally Meet The Serial Killer Upstairs, I Make Faux Pas

Tuesday: I meet the Serial Killer upstairs

If you read this blog with any kind of regularity (thanks!) you’ll know that I’ve been plagued by an upstairs neighbour who likes to hammer, saw, and generally make the kind of noises that I have associated with building a cage for his kidnapping victims. These noises regularly take place in the middle of the night, causing me to call the concierge in our building on more than one occasion.

On Tuesday, I invited a friend over for dinner and drinks, and since we both had errands, she agreed to come by around 5:30. I bought some groceries and arrived home around 4:30, excited to have someone to cook for—I love cooking, but sometimes I get carried away and end up eating fettucine al fredo or cauliflower casserole for the next four days. Within two minutes of putting away the groceries, though, the racket started. It sounded like the guy upstairs was either throwing furniture around his condo like he was Jason Statham in some kind of ninja battle (choose any Jason Stratham movie for this scenario because it happens in ALL of them), or his latest victim was trying to escape. It was crazy loud and very unnerving, so when my friend arrived, I went down to meet her in the lobby, and spoke to the concierge, another new young man whose English was equally as suspect as all the others.

Me: The tenant in the unit above me is making terrible noise. It sounds like he’s throwing furniture around.
Concierge: Today is not moving day.
Me: What? No, I know that. I’ve had trouble with this before. I’m just letting you know that if it hasn’t stopped making noise by 10 o’clock, I’ll be calling you to talk to him.
Concierge: OK.

So my friend and I went upstairs. At this point, the furniture-tossing had turned into the usual hammering. She was astounded at the noise, having heard me complain about it on several occasions, but maybe she thought I was exaggerating. We ate to the hammer’s rhythm, then tried to relax and have a couple of drinks, but we were both distracted, and the speculation re: the upstairs tenant’s activities got more and more silly as we had more and more drinks. I stuck to my “serial killer” premise, but she was convinced he was a vampire who was building his own coffin room where no sunlight could penetrate. She finally left around 8:45, and I went down with her. We both told the concierge how ridiculous the noise level was. “See,” I said. “Even my friend can tell you how annoying it is, and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to be done any time soon.” The concierge was very sympathetic, and assured me that he was prepared to deal with it. Little did I know that this concierge took his job very seriously, and was going to take matters into his own hands. But not in that good way, where he dangles the guy off the balcony and makes him swear to shut the f*ck up, like Jason Statham in pretty much every one of his films.

I’d just finished having a bath, and was standing there in my pajamas, taking out my contact lenses, when I thought I heard a knock at the door. Nobody EVER knocks on my door, but I thought I should take a look just to be sure. I have a peephole, which I hate using, because I read a horror novel once about a giant, possessed teddy bear, and when it knocked on the main character’s door and he looked through the peephole, IT WAS STARING INTO THE PEEPHOLE BACK AT HIM. So I approached the peephole with caution—it was kind of steamed up from my bath, but there was definitely someone standing there. I don`t have a chain, so I did the next best thing—I yelled through the door:

Me: Can I help you?
Guy: I’m your upstairs neighbour.

At this point, I just about fainted. What the f*ck was he doing at my door??!  I didn’t know what to say, so I yelled back, very innocently:

Me: Oh, hi. What’s up?
Guy: The concierge said I was making too much noise and it was bothering you. I’ve come to apologize.

And right away in my head I was like ‘Ha Ha—I was right! He’s definitely a serial killer. He doesn’t want trouble from ANYONE!’ Unlike a vampire, who would have snuck in through my balcony door in a cloud of mist, and turned me into a creature of the night for payback. But I was still really freaked out. At the same time, I’m also Canadian, and talking through the door just seemed rude. So I opened the door and we continued thusly:

Me: Yes, it’s been kind of noisy.
Guy: I’m putting in a new floor. The concierge suggested that I come and talk to you, so we could establish a schedule that would be acceptable to you.

The concierge told him to come and talk to me?! Even if he wasn’t a serial killer, what if he’d been really pissed off that I’d complained about him, and instead of apologizing, he’d come to yell at me? Now I was scared AND angry. But that’s a good combination if I’m about to battle a man who wants to put me in a box for his own sick amusement. Except for the fact that I could only see out of one eye, having been in the PROCESS of removing my contact lenses when he knocked. Well, if it came down to a fight, I could squint.

Me: Oh…well, I guess any time before 10 pm is fine, now that I know what you’re doing. Just as long as it’s not the middle of the night, it’s fine.
Guy: I don’t know what you mean. I never work in the middle of the night.

I wanted to snicker at the sheer audacity of THAT lie. But I didn’t want to tempt fate, so I just quickly muttered, “Ok then, I guess we’ll just agree to disagree”, then carried on:

Me: All right then. Let’s just say anytime during the day, and all weekend if you like, since I’m not here on the weekends, and not after 10 pm.
Guy: Sure, that sounds fine. Thanks. The new floor is really well insulated, so once it’s in, you should never hear anything from my unit. Goodnight then.

I shut the door, and did what any sensible person would do—I called Ken. But he wasn’t home, so I talked to K:

Me: The serial killer from upstairs just came to my door!
K: What serial killer?
Me: Oh my god, don’t you EVER read my blog?!
K: Not usually, no.
Me: Never mind. Tell your dad to call me when he gets in. If I’m still alive….

But sure enough, the serial killer upstairs has kept to his word. He might only be replacing 3 square feet a day, judging by how long it’s taking him, but he stopped every night this week by 9. He doesn’t want ANY trouble.

Friday: I make a series of faux pas

On Friday, I was talking to a colleague and eating popcorn at the same time. I’m not very coordinated, and every time I tried to put a handful in my mouth, I would drop a few pieces on the floor. And then we would both have to chase after them and pick them up, since our agency has this crazy policy that you can’t just leave food on the floor because it attracts rodents. After a few forays under desks to find the popcorn, laughing hysterically at my lack of coordination while we did it, I finally gave up and put the bag away. A little while later, I was standing in a group of people discussing serious type issues. I looked down and realized that there was popcorn in the pashmina/scarf I had around my neck. Without thinking, I picked it out of my scarf and ate it. Then I looked up and realized that everyone was staring at me. Because I just ATE FOOD OUT OF MY CLOTHING. And to make matters worse, another piece had fallen out of my scarf and was lying on the floor in the middle of our group. I could have (and was) totally embarrassed, but luckily, I work with really nice people, and when I started to laugh at the absurdity of what I’d just done, so did they, and we all ended up with tears rolling down our faces at the sight of me using my scarf as a place to “save food for later”. But over the next 24 hours, I made several missteps that remind me how difficult I find having conversations.

1) At the doctor’s office. I had a check-up with my doctor who, when he discovered that I had just turned 50, got very excited. Not because he was happy for me, but because there are several new ‘protocols’ that have to be followed when you become a certain age.

Doctor: So here’s a requisition for a mammogram—
Me: Yuck.
Doctor: Ha ha, I know. So you just call and make an appointment—you can do this yourself and then you’ll be in their system. Also, here’s a home test for colon cancer screening–
Me: A home test? What?
Doctor: Oh yes, the instructions are inside this envelope. You just send it in—the postage is pre-paid, and once you’re in their system, they’ll send you yearly reminders. Also, the Pap test–
Me: I have to do THAT at home?! How do I do THAT??!!
Doctor: Um, no, I just meant that you’ll receive automatic reminders about when you’re due for one. There’s no home test for that. Obviously.

2) At the variety store where K works. I went to give him his lunch and she was really excited about a magnet she’d found. It was one of those magnets that will pick up anything and then not let it go without tremendous effort. But then I got worried:

Me: Take it easy with that thing. Don’t put it near your…you know.
K: What? Mom, I don’t think you understand how magnets work. My ‘you know’ is not made of metal.
Me: Well, it’s a really strong magnet. It could rip the iron out of your blood. I hear an MRI can do that, and it’s a giant magnet.
K: This magnet is used to open the locks on that cabinet. Do you really think it could do that AND rip the iron out of your blood?
Me: Well, just be careful.

3) While building a hall tree. I convinced Ken to build me a hall tree out of a couple of old doors, a table, and some cool hardware. He was installing the hooks and my dad was helping:

Dad: That wood is pretty thick. Should you drill a pilot hole first?
Ken: No, I think I can do this by hand.
Me: Yeah, Dad, Ken is a pretty forceful screwer. Wait—I…sigh.