My Week 109: Hallowe’en Histrionics, Trump’s Alphabet, Plants to Kill

Thursday: Hallowe’en Histrionics

The things that people get all “up in arms” about these days is starting to astonish me. The most recent, down below our southern border (does that sound a little innuendo-y? Maybe it’s because so much of what is happening in the States has to do with sex and a lot of hot air) is about emails. People are all like “Oh My God. Emails. How dare anyone use their own private secure server to send emails?” Me, I worry, because I send work emails from home sometimes, and a lot of what I do is confidential, so if Wikileaks (which sounds like some kind of STD, honestly—like, “Have you been experiencing any Wikileakage from your private area?”) ever hacked my email, they might well expose the fact that I told someone they needed to add a semi-colon and maybe a “direct quotation to spice things up a little”. The same kind of astonishing stuff that’s in Hillary Clinton’s emails. Of course, “confidential” is not quite the same as “classified”, and as Donald Trump pointed out, “Hillary wasn’t smart enough to know that the C stood for classified”. Which tells us one more really important thing—that Donald Trump knows SOME of the letters of the alphabet. Not all of them, mind you, and of course in HIS alphabet book, the letter C stands for something quite different.

Reporter: Mr. Trump, can you recite the alphabet for us?
Trump: The alphabet is a great alphabet. I can recite the alphabet like you wouldn’t believe and it’s going to be great. “A” is for “A lot”, “B” is for “Bigly”, “C” is for—
Reporter: Wait! Is “C” almost the same as what “P” is for?
Trump: You know it! Grab them by the c—
Reporter: Back to you, Bob!

At any rate, the false equivalency of emails versus sexual assault is ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as the Facebook post that happened to appear on my newsfeed on Thursday, ONLY because my brother had commented on it. It came from a woman he knows who was railing on about how unfair it was that her kids weren’t allowed to wear Hallowe’en costumes to school. Seriously. With everything else that’s going on in the world, THIS is what you choose to complain about? How unfair it is that your kids can’t dress like robots or sexy nurses or whatnot and this is, like, depriving them somehow? Did the school say they also weren’t allowed to dress up at home and go get candy from their neighbours? Of course not. My brother, who has a PhD, made some sort of sensible comment about my nephew’s school, where they can wear orange T-shirts and have a parade or something. I don’t have a PhD, so I simply commented “Pubic School? HAHA!” because she’d spelled “public school” wrong, and it made me laugh more than the ludicrous nature of the post itself. But then I deleted my comment on the grounds that people HATE it when you point out their spelling mistakes even more than when you point out that their arguments are absurd. But here is why the WHOLE THING is absurd, for anyone who still thinks that schools suck for not letting kids dress up for Hallowe’en:

1) Hallowe’en was originally a festival celebrated by the pre-Christian Celts, so yes, a very small group of people in a very small area of the world. The Celts believed that November 1st was the beginning of the new year, and that on New Year’s Eve, October 31st, the veil between our world and the spirit world was at its most thin. The spirits of our loved ones could enter our plane, but so could demons. To ward them off, the Celts disguised themselves to avoid being harassed by evil spirits. Walmart was not involved back then, but mass marketing has turned this simple festival into a multi-million dollar extravaganza which apparently, some people, even if they aren’t of Celtic descent, feel entitled to.

2) Hallowe’en is one of many strange days that mass commerce has co-opted. Others include the feast day of St. Patrick, the feast day of St. Valentine, and the day designated as the birth of Jesus. Let’s start with St. Patrick’s Day. Would you want your children to go to school dressed as leprechauns and drink beer on March 17th? Why not? St. Patrick’s Day, or at least his feast day, has been around almost as long as All Hallows Eve—why not make schools responsible for THAT too? And what about Valentine’s Day? A lot of schools don’t allow Valentine ’s Day parties and such, and I agree because St. Valentine was BEHEADED for secretly performing marriages, something which Hallmark fails to mention. If you really want a traditional Valentine’s Day party, it wouldn’t involve cards with puppies who have hearts for eyes, or pink Jello shooters. It would be more about sadness and death. Just saying. And Christmas? Christmas is just great. Shut up about Christmas. There are presents and twinkly lights, which I think Jesus would approve of, although I also don’t think it should be celebrated in schools (See reasons 3 and 4). But it seems these days that stores move directly from Christmas to Valentine’s Day to St. Patrick’s Day to Canada Day (why not—it’s celebratable) to Hallowe’en, then we start the circle of life all over again. Next, they’ll be trying to figure out how to make money from Remembrance Day. Candy poppies, chocolate crosses, and decorating the lawn with tanks perhaps?

3) Hallowe’en is f*cking expensive. This is the main reason that schools have stopped allowing Hallowe’en parties, among other things. And I say this directly to the moronic woman who also posted a comment on Facebook decrying the “immigrants who have ruined it for everyone.” I can’t even respond to that because it’s at a level so far below rational thought that you’d get the bends when you came up from it. Immigrants have NOT ruined Hallowe’en. What “ruined” Hallowe’en, and other festivals, was the expectation that people should spend extraordinary amounts of money on costumes and candy and decorations. A lot of people simply can’t afford those things when they’re trying to put food on the table and pay the rent. It’s really hard on kids to NOT be able to participate in things at school. This is the same rationale that rightly stopped many schools from having Valentine’s Day parties, because buying Valentine’s Day cards or bringing cupcakes for the whole class is also expensive and absolutely not necessary. Kids have it hard enough without having to feel sh*tty that they can’t afford a cool costume or treats for the class. I just saw an ad from IKEA that said “Make yourself a last minute Hallowe’en ghost costume with one of our sheet sets. Only $49.99!” Even I can’t afford to ruin a $50 sheet set by cutting eye holes in it. Enough said.

4) Newsflash: You can celebrate whatever the hell you want in the privacy of your own home but stop expecting schools to embrace your sh*t. When I was a kid, I don’t remember EVER wearing a costume to school, but it didn’t mean I couldn’t go out trick or treating that night. And my mom reminded me that the worst thing about Valentine’s Day, which WAS observed in schools for many years, was being the kid who DIDN’T get any Valentine cards. Not that SHE didn’t—she was so sweet that EVERYONE gave her cards, I’m sure. But if you’re the kind of person who says, “My child’s popular so I don’t have to care about all those other kids”, then maybe you’re the reason why schools had to start sending home lists of ALL the kids in the class so that no one would feel left out.

Now don’t get me wrong—I love Hallowe’en, and I usually dress up to greet the little trick or treaters that come to our door in the evening. And as I said, just because it doesn’t belong in schools doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate it if we want to. Worship bacon and eggs—I don’t care, so long as you’re not hurting anyone else or expecting the school to celebrate “All Day Breakfast Day!!”, although that WOULD be awesome. Hallowe’en is great because it allows people to break out of their shells and be the superhero or sexy firefighter they’ve always longed to be. Everybody’s getting in on the act now, even pets. I know a lot of people who are buying costumes for their cats or dogs, so I asked Titus how he felt about it:

Me: Do you want me to buy a Hallowe’en costume for you this year?
Titus: What the hell is Hallowe’en?
Me: You know—when kids come to the door and we give them candy.
Titus: Candy? You mean “sparkly kitty treats”?
Me: Disgusting. And for the last time, stay away from the litter box. No, I mean ACTUAL candy. The sugar kind.
Titus: Also acceptable. So what kind of costume were you thinking about?
Me: I could buy you a troll wig and you could be “Dog-ald Trump”.
Titus: The other dogs would think I was an idiot. Try again.
Me: I have a construction helmet and a reflective vest around here somewhere. You could be a construction worker.
Titus: You mean a SEXY construction worker.
Me: Maybe we should stick to something simple. How about just wearing a cape and a witch hat?
Titus: You mean a SEXY cape and a—
Me: Stop it! It’s not about being sexy.
Titus: I can’t help it. It’s in my nature. Check me out…
Me: Oh god—what IS that? Sexy ghost?.
Raven: Sweet Jesus, I’m living with a porn star.
Titus: You know it, baby.

titus-ghost

Friday: I get a new fern

If you’ve been following this site for a while, you’ll know I love plants, but I’m terrible at taking care of them. Still, my intentions are good, and it’s not my fault if they don’t ask for things like water or light. Communication is the key to a healthy existence after all, and plants can be strangely quiet and sulky. At any rate, my favourite plant is the fern, which for some reason, I always call a “willow” in my head. Last week, my aunt posted a picture of a willow, which is to say “fern”, on Facebook that she found in the brush yard of her town. A brush yard, for those of you who are wondering, is what we call the place where you can drop off your branches, leaves, and other garden trimmings to be mulched by the township. Anyway, she found this beautiful fern that someone had just thrown away and wondered if anyone wanted it. I immediately posted “Me!! Me!!” which caused Ken to post, “Don’t! You know she’ll just kill it!” And that’s nonsense, Ken, because I will love it and care for it. Then my aunt dropped it off at my house, and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s huge, like f*ckiing prehistoric, like it came straight outta Jurassic Park and a diplodocus should be nibbling on it. We all just stared at it for a while, trying to decide where to put it.

Me: It’s bigger than it looked in the picture…
Ken: If you kill this one, it would be like mass murder.
Me: I won’t kill it! I don’t think I CAN kill it. It’s bigger than the both of us. This fern would survive the zombie apocalypse.
Ken: Or a nuclear winter. I’m putting it in the dining room.
Me: OK, but you can’t forget to water it.
Ken: Me? You’re the one who wanted it. You take care of it.
Me: FINE, KEN. DON’T HELP.

But because everyone was riding me about how I “kill plants” and whatnot, I took a picture of my new fern and another fern I had that I was trying to bring back to life, and I posted them on Facebook with the caption “OMG! What happened? It was fine an hour ago!” My aunt replied, “That better be a joke unless Titus ate it, which is entirely possible.” And now I know what to do whenever I kill a plant. Just blame the dog. The sexy, ghostly dog.

 

 

big-fern

dead-fern

My Week 108: I Get Flashed, I Hate You Facebook

Thursday: I get flashed by a street person

Isn’t that a great hook for this entry? You’d almost think that was the worst thing that happened to me on Thursday, but wait, no it wasn’t. The week was already having issues—the night before, I’d gone to the liquor store after work and bought wine for the rest of the team, which was exhausting (I must be exhausted right now, because I spelled “liquor” wrong three times according to the squiggly red line, and if anyone knows how to spell liquor, it’s ME). I bought the wine, and the guy at the cash register offered to “make the bags fancy” for me (no, that’s got nothing to do with being flashed, although it DOES sound like something a flasher would say). He folded them origami-style then stapled them so the tops looked like little fans—this took a while, much to the dismay of the people behind me in line who were looking very impatient and also thirsty. I took all four bottles to work, and sneakily placed them onto people’s desks for a nice surprise in the morning. Then, on my way back to my condo, I realized that I’d forgotten one person, an important person, and the only option was to go back to the liquor store, but if you understand anxiety at all, you’ll know I couldn’t go back to the SAME liquor store and be like “Hi, I need you to make this one more bag fancy while everyone waits and now you’re probably worried that I have some kind of fancy bag fetish that you are enabling (wow, that sounds even more flasher-y) and I should just go to the other liquor store, etc.” Which is what I did. But then I was worried that the fifth bag would look shabby, and I was trying to remember how the guy folded it and whatnot, and how I could buy a stapler, or at least do something pretty with scotch tape and cotton balls. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know I’m somewhat a disaster at anything requiring a lot of manual dexterity, and if I could have just shoved the wine into a gift bag with some crinkly tissue paper, which is what I do at Christmas, everything would have been fine. Except that the wine was already IN the bag, and I had no tissue paper. So I said to the guy at the checkout, “Any chance you can make a fancy top for this bag?” I wasn’t holding out much hope because, and I don’t want to sound like I’m stereotyping here, but the guy at the OTHER store was Asian, and origami is Asian, and the guy at this store was a middle-aged white guy who looked like he also just shoved gifts into bags with crumply tissue paper (THAT’S the stereotype, by the way—NOT the Asians and origami thing, which is just a coincidence). Sure enough, he said, “No, I’m no good at that kind of thing (stereotype proven), but Nancy can do it for you.” He pointed at the other cashier, and she said, “Sure, hon, I can make your bag fancy.” It was great, because she made it just like the other guy, and now all the bags looked the same, and no one would feel left out because their bag had snowflakes made out of Q-tips taped to the top instead of an origami fan. But then I had to go all the way back to the office to put the last bag in place. By the time I got back to my condo, I was ready to collapse, let me tell you. Even though my building, the two liquor stores, and my office are all within the same one block radius, it was still an arduous journey.

The next morning, everyone was hella pleased to find a bottle of wine miraculously appear on their desks, and I don’t want to brag, but that makes me a kind of saviour if I remember the Bible correctly. But then the merriment stopped, because this was the day that we were rolling out the pilot project we’d been working on for two years. And it rolled out, all right. Then it immediately rolled back in. We were devastated, having been promised by our secondary vendor that “It’s going to be great. Greater than great. It’s going to be so great you won’t even believe how great it is.” Apparently, this company was owned by Donald Trump, so in retrospect, that fact that it crashed and burned should not have been a surprise. At least it didn’t grab anyone’s private bits on the way down.

Anyhow, we were feeling pretty gloomy, but it was the middle of the work day, so no one could drink their wine. Instead, we decided to go to the diner up the street for lunch, where we could get some “comfort food”. I ordered the most Canadian comfort food of them all, poutine, and my two co-workers ordered nachos, all day breakfast (which is the best thing ever invented), grilled cheese, and so on. When my poutine came, I was shocked—it was more poutine than any reasonable human person could, or should, ever eat. I said to the waiter, “You guys might want to rethink your portion sizes—I would have paid 8.99 for less than half of this, and I couldn’t have even eaten half. There are poor, homeless people right outside your door, and I feel terrible just throwing away this much food.” Yes, I actually said that to him, which will turn out to be both prescient and ironic shortly. Well, you can’t take poutine with you because it gets too soggy and won’t reheat well, so I left it behind. We were heading back to the office, and I was still kind of railing about the waste and poor people having to eat out of dumpsters, when we passed the alley between the diner and the next building.

“All of the hungry people on the street here, and I just—ahhhhhhgggg!!!!” I shrieked.

“What?! What’s wrong??!!” my co-workers responded, but all I could do was point into the alley and yell “Penis! Penis!!” which of course made them look too at the homeless guy whose pants were around his thighs, struggling to pull them up. We walked away quickly, eyes averted. “I only got a crotch shot,” said one, “but it was bad enough.”

“I got the whole thing,” I said. “As if today wasn’t already awful. It’s like the perfect metaphor for my relationship with the universe right now.”

When I told my parents about the incident, my mom gasped. “Did you call the police?”

“No,” I said. “It’s not like he was waving it around on purpose or anything. It was no big deal. Literally.”

And that’s the long and short of the flasher story, the story of my fancy bags and his not-so-fancy ones.

trenchcoat-flasher

Tuesday: I hate you, Facebook

The other day, it occurred to me that if I was applying for a job and a potential employer looked at my Facebook page, there might be a problem. Not because I post racist memes or porn or anything—in fact, if you look at my page, it’s mostly funny stuff as well as animal videos. But I DO make my blog public on my Facebook site, and I’ve been doing that for years, and while my blog is pretty PG 13, there is the rather liberal use of the F word among other epithets, as well as some pretty irreverent humour. So what would be easier? Changing the status of every single individual post from the last almost three years, or changing my Facebook name to something not immediately identifiable as me? Ah, silly, stupid me.

I had just been reading the most ridiculous page that Facebook was asking me to “like”, about something called “Intermittent Fasting” which is when, every once in a while, you don’t eat for a few days. According to the page, it’s supposed to be “good for your body and soul”. There was even a calendar with a countdown to the word “Fasting” complete with an excited little exclamation mark and a happy face. Are you f*cking kidding me? What kind of first world crap is this? You know, people all over the world participate in “Intermittent Fasting” but they call it “Not having enough food to eat sometimes.” And I don’t think it makes either their bodies OR their souls feel any better to know that people in North America do it BY CHOICE. FOR FUN.

Anyway, I was all distracted by this, and toying around with changing my name EXACTLY so that I could write about this in a swear-y, irreverent way without potential employers being like “We don’t want her—she’s against Intermittent Fasting and likes too many kittens”. So I decided to try a variation of my name and it sounded OK, then Facebook was like “Review your changes”, so I clicked on the button. When the screen came up, I realized that I’d spelled my own name wrong. This happens to me quite frequently because my full name is really long and has a lot of consonants and vowels in it. No worries—I’d just go back and edit it…

And then I was like “What? WHAT?! F-CK YOU FACEBOOK!” because Facebook was like “You can’t change it back, sucker—you have to wait 60 days, because we’re just random like that.” I cursed the internet so hard that I think I might have been responsible for the DDOS on Friday. But then it occurred to me that now, the only people who can find me are people who actually know me, or dyslexics. Thanks, Facebook. But you still suck.

 

My Week 107: Justin Who? Fire Drill Fun

Sunday: Shocked by a hairdresser

I realize that when you read the above title, you might be worried that a) I was getting a haircut and the hairdresser, ignoring the warning labels, simultaneously stuck the hairdryer in the sink whilst grabbing my arm, thus giving both of us a nasty jolt or b) that the haircut went out of control and I ended up with a mohawk. Neither is true—my hair looks pretty much like it always does, and not like a troll doll OR Johnny Rotten. Here’s what actually happened:

The back of my hair was looking a little scruffy. I keep it cut fairly close to the back of my neck, and I don’t like seeing little wisps sticking out the side. It was getting too long though, so I called my usual awesome hairdresser, Emily, but she’s SO good that you have to book her well in advance. Normally, she can fit me in for a neck trim, but she was jammed with appointments. So I said to her, “Is it OK if I just go to one of those First Choice places?” because why WOULDN’T I ask permission from my hairdresser to go somewhere else? I know a lot of you totally get that. She was very understanding, so off I went to the local plaza.

When I pulled up, things looked pretty quiet. There were a couple of guys getting clippered, and I thought I might have to wait for a while, but then another woman, whose nametag read “Cathy” (well, it actually didn’t, but I don’t want to use her real name) came out of the back. She took my name and led me to her chair. I explained what I wanted. She said, “No problem , hun,” and started spraying water on me. Then she stopped and looked perplexed. “I guess I need my scissors,” she said, looking around. I said nothing, because I’ve learned that, given enough time, most people can figure things like that out for themselves. In truth, I saw a pair of scissors in her Barbicide container, but I just REALLY wanted to know how long it would take her. “Oh, there they are!” she laughed, 36.6 seconds later.

barbicide

She started snipping away, and seemed to be doing a passable job. Behind us, a man was getting a buzzcut and chatting with HIS stylist, whom he seemed to know. “Where are you going after?” she asked him.

“Downtown for the kegtapping,” he said. “Justin’s going to be there.”

“Cool,” she replied. “I wish I could go, but I have more appointments this afternoon.”

“I wish I could go,” I said to MY hairdresser. “I’d love to see Justin.”

“Justin who?” she answered.

I was a little taken aback, because it had been on the local news, but I said, “Justin Trudeau. He’s in town to ceremoniously “tap the keg” for Oktoberfest.”

“Oh,” she said. “I don’t know who that is. Is he famous or something?”

“Um,” I paused. “He’s the Prime Minister.”

“What, like OUR Prime Minister? Sorry, I don’t really follow politics.” Then she laughed. Not in a “just kidding” way, but in a slightly embarrassed kind of way.

“Who does, right?” I answered. “But he’s no Donald Trump, I can tell you that.”

At which point, she says, “I know! That guy’s crazy!! Did you hear what he did yesterday?”

So I was shocked, as I said at the beginning. But then I thought it made sense for two reasons. First, she “doesn’t follow politics” and what’s happening with the Trump campaign isn’t really politics—it’s a circus side show. Last week, I referred to Trump’s clown car, but then I saw on TV that he actually has a train. It’s called the “Trump Train” and the conductors are woman in pink shirts who yell, “Choo Choo, Trump Train, Choo Choo Trump Train.” They might think it’s cute, but they’re really setting themselves up for “derailing” jokes. Personally, I’d rather ride Via Business Class, and you know how I feel about THAT. Second, Canadians are blessed with a political leader in Trudeau who is and has been scandal-free, so no wonder he’s not more prevalent in the news. Because from what I’ve seen, the only way to catch the attention of the Canadian media these days is to say outrageous things and look like a Cheeto. So no wonder my poor hairdresser had no clue who Justin is—he’s actually focused on policy, both domestic and foreign, which doesn’t get him ANY traction with the media here, or anywhere else. On the other hand, our national affiliates are absolutely obsessed with Trump, reporting on his every ridiculous move, his most recent stupid statement. This morning, for example, he’s claiming the election is rigged, and that Hillary was on drugs during the last debate. “OMG,” everyone says, and rolls their eyes. “What will he do next?!” (That’s in Canada. Down in the States, half the population is screaming, “We knew it!! Hillary’s a dope fiend!!). At any rate, I’m happy that our Justin, like all truly competent politicians, keeps quietly plugging away, or tapping away, as the case may be. And I’ll bet HIS hairdresser knows who he is.

(Just for the record, this is a criticism of the Canadian media, NOT the hairdressing profession. In fact, my regular stylist, Emily (which IS her real name and you should totally go to her), is 22 years old, owns her own business, and is extremely well-informed about world issues. She’s also very well-read, and likes to discuss books while she’s wrapping my hair in foil.)

Friday: Fire Drill fun

On Thursday, I was in the elevator and two guys got on. “Don’t forget about the fire drill tomorrow,” one of them said to the other.

“Oh,” I said. “Is it in the morning or afternoon?”

“Afternoon,” he answered. “Stay close to your coat—it’s supposed to be chilly.”

So that was a great heads-up, except that I almost immediately forgot about it until the next afternoon, when suddenly, the fire alarm went off. Everyone looked around nonchalantly, but then an announcement came over the PA system: “A fire alarm has been activated on Parking Level 2. The fire department has been dispatched. Exit the building immediately.” Then people started to get a little panicky. “Don’t worry,” I said. “I heard two guys talking about a drill yesterday in the elevator. I’m sure the announcement is just a trick or something.” But that didn’t seem to make people feel better, and then everyone started walking quickly towards the exit. Notice that I said “exit” singular, and not “exits” plural. Because, even though my office is in an 18-story building, there’s only ONE way out. Down the stairs. Along with EVERYONE ELSE who works in the building. And after meandering slowly down numerous double flights of stairs in a huge crowd of people I didn’t know, I commented to my co-worker, “This is crazy. If there was a real fire, we’d all be in serious trouble.” She replied, “Why the hell didn’t I change out of these heels?” which was a completely legit question, since our secret agency meeting place was on a side street two city blocks away. I suppose that’s in an attempt to disguise our identities, you know, like we’re just a group of tourists who happened to stop for a chat behind Loblaw’s. Nothing to see here; just move along. Ignore the man carrying the encrypted laptop. But then things got a little worrisome. Not because of the fire—at this point it became very clear that it was, in fact, a drill—but because there was no sign of any firetrucks. A ripple of dissatisfaction ran through the crowd.

“Where are the firefighters? We were promised firefighters!”

“If I had to walk down 15 flights of stairs, there should at least be firefighters!”

“What’s going on? Does anyone hear sirens?”

“This is ridiculous! You can’t just lie about calling the fire department! It’s not fair!”

And this wasn’t just the women. Men like firetrucks too, you know. But after a little while, we were all distracted by our Head of Human Resources, a very dapper guy who was now wearing not only his suit and tie, but a rather bold red ballcap with the words, “Fire Marshall” on it. We flocked to him to have our names checked off (to ensure none of us had perished in the fake fire?) and went back to the building. The elevators were back in service. 4 elevators for an eighteen-story building. It took a little while, but we finally all squeezed on at the ground floor, cheering and laughing. Then the elevator suddenly stopped at the sixth floor. We were all puzzled until the doors opened:

“Marcel!!” we all cheered. There was Marcel, one of our French co-workers, with a huge grin on his face. “I t’ought ze best t’ing would be to go up ze stairs partway. And ‘ere you are!”  With that, we welcomed him aboard and went back to work.

This might seem inconsequential or anti-climactic, but I tell this story to illustrate a point. That, given the state of some parts of the world right now, I am always grateful when the worst DOESN’T happen, when it’s a drill and not a tragedy, when the door opens and it’s a friend, when I get to spend time with people who see the humour in things, and when “another day at the office” is a good day. Even if there weren’t any firefighters.

My Week 106: What I Was Thinking, Sign of the Apocalypse

Saturday: I look at my notes

It’s been a pretty quiet week so far, and I wasn’t sure what to write about, mostly because I have a job interview on Wednesday for a permanent position within the secret agency (I’m currently seconded from another position), and as part of the pre-interview process, I had to write a 500-word essay addressing a specific topic. I spent a lot of the weekend working on it, and now my brain has gone a little numb. Normally, I can crank out 500 words in my sleep—right now some of you are probably saying to yourselves, “Sleep? Did she misspell ‘Drunk’?”—and you may or may not be correct. At any rate, these were 500 harder words, and the person who reads them might give me more money to do my job, unlike WordPress, which keeps telling me that I don’t have enough views to ever earn a living writing the fun kind of 500 words. I was in the throes of brain death, so I went back through my notes. I keep notes on my phone about things every week that might be worth writing about; usually by Saturday, I have a lot of ideas, and they don’t all make it into the weekly run-down. Sometimes they don’t make sense when I read them back later, or I’ve forgotten what I was thinking when I jotted it down. Anyhow, for your reading pleasure, here are a few of the weird notes that I found, and what I think they might mean:

1) Harassing wildlife

I think this one came after I heard a story about a co-worker who told everyone he quit smoking, then he snuck outside to have a cigarette. While he was puffing away, he looked up just as a Canada goose swooped down and attacked him, knocking him to the ground. He got up, dazed and confused, only to have the insane waterfowl take a second run at him, knocking him down again. I know this is all true, because it was captured by the security cameras, much to his dismay, more because of the cigarette than the goose from what I understand (we weren’t actually allowed to SEE the camera footage, but having it described to us was more than enough to send us into fits of hysterical laughter). Then, about two weeks later, I read in the paper about a guy who was charged with “wildlife harassment” because he was caught jumping out of a moving boat onto the back of a moose. And by caught, I mean he was stupid enough to post the video on Youtube (there’s a surprise—a guy trying to play rodeo with a full-sized moose being stupid?), and someone reported it. The moose looked genuinely terrified, not unlike my co-worker. But here’s the thing—a guy who scares a moose faces charges, but a goose who attacks a helpless man gets off scot-free? I’m seeing a bit of (just hit 500 words in less than half an hour for the record) a double standard here. The Canada goose is our national bird, and you can’t legally kill one, but still—it should have at least been fined. And the best part of this note on my phone is that it could apply to either story—a goose harassing a guy, or an idiot harassing a moose.

scary-goose

2) GMO Scaremongering

This came after an article posted on Facebook by someone about salmon that have their DNA spliced with a different kind of fish so that they mature faster. Regular salmon stock is apparently dwindling due to overfishing, so these genetically modified salmon can be farmed (which is a nice way of saying ‘sold for food’) instead. All the regular salmon were happy, but the person who posted it was all like “It’s tampering with the natural world—it’s wrong and it will give us all cancer and kill us.” If tampering with the natural world will kill me, I should have died the last time I ate a Honeycrisp apple, because it’s a hybrid apple. And now, while researching “how are hybrid apples made”, I read an article that just told me I was dumb for thinking that the deliberate cross-pollination of other apples to make hybrids are the same as scientists manipulating genetic material to create things which would never happen in nature. What? Like a regular salmon COULDN’T have a one-night stand with a more mature fish? Wait, do salmons even have sex? This note is generating more questions than answers. Anyway, unless it’s a potato that produces its own pesticide, which was a real thing and got banned because it was a stupidly dangerous idea, given that potatoes have a nasty streak and already try to poison us with their green skins and sh*t, I have no problem eating mutant food. Maybe I should, I don’t know, but I’m sure not taking advice from anything I see on Facebook. And if the scientists are listening, then I would LOVE it if you could just invent a bacon I could have without having to ‘farm’ a pig. Now that would be something.

3) Don’t f*ck with the gluten-free

This came about not long ago when, for a family occasion, Ken insisted on making Nanaimo bars. If you don’t know what these are, they are delicious Canadian confections made with chocolate and a bunch of other stuff, and named after a place in British Columbia. I asked him if they had wheat flour in them, and he said, “Yes”, so I said, “Can you make them with gluten-free flour so I can have one?” and he said, “No. But you can just eat the part that doesn’t have gluten in it.” And I was like, “Oh really?” So the next time we had salad, I put the same salad dressing on his salad as mine, even though he prefers Raspberry Vinaigrette to Creamy Asian Sesame. When he complained, I told him to just eat the parts that didn’t have salad dressing on them. Mwah haha.

4) Lesbians kissing

Two weeks ago, I was walking down the street behind two women. I wasn’t really paying attention, but as I got closer, I realized they were holding hands. Then one looked at the other adoringly and gave her a big smoochy kiss, and I was like “Aw, that’s so sweet.” But two young guys passing the other way saw them too, and turned around giggling and pointing at them. I wanted to give them a smack and say, “It’s 2016—grow the f*ck up,” but the women didn’t seem to notice, maybe because they were minding their own damn business instead of other people’s. I didn’t write about this originally because it’s not a very long story, and not particularly funny. It WOULD have been funny if the two guys had then been attacked by a Canada goose, but that didn’t happen. Sorry.

5) Alltop

Last week, I applied to an online article site to host my blog. Just for fun. But it wasn’t, because the first thing I had to do was fill in an application that wanted to know what my RSS feed was. And I was like, “How the hell should I know?” So I asked a guy from work who has his own website, but he didn’t know either. So I googled it, and entered what I thought was the right thing. Then I submitted my application, and got a message back saying that the site would let me know within six weeks whether my blog was accepted or not, but if it wasn’t, they wouldn’t tell me why. What kind of douche-y attitude is THAT? They did give a list of potential reasons, like “This site is not in English”, “This site is promoting a business”, “This site does not have enough original content”, etc. I looked at the list and mentally checked off everything, but the very next morning, I got a rejection notice which said, “Although we can’t provide a specific reason why we could not include your site, here are the most common reasons.” And then at the bottom it said, “You might find it useful to test your Feed.” What is that? They can’t tell me why, but they can drop a f*cking hint? There was a link to a Feed Validator, and it said my feed was fine, whatever that means, but I wanted to write back and say, “Dammit Jim, I’m a blogger not a computer scientist.” So maybe my content just sucks. Or Alltop does. Or maybe it’s all the swearing. Who the f*ck knows?

Sunday: Sign of the apocalypse (No, this isn’t about Donald Trump. But it could be.)

On the way to my in-laws today for a Thanksgiving lunch, Ken and I passed a large sign outside a store. The sign read, “Dipped bacon caramel turkey.” The store was called “The Sweet Shoppe”—or at least that’s what it said in faded blue letters. I’ve been obsessing about this all day:

Me: What could it mean?
Ken: Maybe it’s some kind of Thanksgiving candy?
Me: With a randomly generated name that includes all the things people love but would be disgusting in that combination?
Ken: It doesn’t sound very good. Maybe that’s why the store is closed. They can’t make money on their weird candy.
Me: Do you think it could be like a turkey wrapped in bacon then dipped in caramel?
Ken: Maybe it’s four different things that they sell individually.
Me: A candy store that sells turkey? Or bacon?
Ken: Maybe the bacon is dipped in something. Like sea salt.
Me: Why would anyone do that? Bacon is already salty. God, I wish that store had been open.

But I didn’t need the store to be open, as it turned out, because I have Google. I couldn’t believe it when I typed in “Dipped bacon caramel turkey” and discovered that bacon dipped in caramel and sea salt is actually a thing. I don’t know where the turkey comes in, but all the recipes I found called for turkey bacon. And while I don’t have turkey bacon currently in my refrigerator, I DO have left-over turkey, bacon, caramel sauce, and baker’s chocolate. I’ll let you know how it turns out. This could be the start of a new career if my job interview doesn’t go well…

 

My Week 105: Business Class, Trump’s Clown Car, Dirty Pencils and Other Stuff

Friday Night: I have insomnia for many reasons

I got home from Toronto on Friday night after a fairly non-eventful train ride. I was seated next to an elderly woman who immediately pulled out a book—always a good sign, because while I’m too kind to NOT talk to strangers on a train and often find them very interesting, I was tired and just wanted to do a little reading of my own. Also, the bar cart came by almost right away, and no one raised an eyebrow when I asked for TWO white wines. I always follow that up loudly and wearily with “It’s been one of those weeks” so that I won’t get judged by my fellow passengers for being some kind of middle-aged “Girl on the Train”—the fact of the matter is that normally the week is fine but I’m just hella thirsty. The conductor never seems to care, but this time though, he chuckled and said, “Good idea—I won’t be back for a while.” So there I was, nestled into my reclining pleather seat, headphones on, book open, happily sipping away. Right before my station, I DID have a nice conversation with my seat partner, who was 76 and going to visit her twin sister for their birthday. Then Ken picked me up, we had Swiss Chalet take-out, watched a little TV, then went to bed. So you see, it should have been a great night for sleeping. But no.

I woke up at 2 am like a shot. I don’t know why. I had a headache and I was thirsty, so I went downstairs for a juicebox and some Advil (I’m sure right now you’re thinking “What the f*ck? This is the most boring sh*t I’ve ever read!” Just wait—it might get funnier). I got back into bed, and I lay there. And lay there. And lay there, getting more pissed off. Because every time I started to doze off, something would happen to wake me up again—Ken would snore and I’d have to hit him, Raven would start punching me in the back, Titus was having some kind of weird dream that made him twitch and snort, then it was raining and I felt compelled to get up and verify that fact for god knows what reason. Then the worst thing happened—suddenly, Titus jumped off the bed, went out into the hall, then FELL DOWN THE STAIRS. Under normal circumstances, he sounds like a herd of elephants going either up or down, but this time, the only way I can describe it is to say it sounded like a herd of elephants collapsing in a heap and then tumbling to the bottom. I screamed, “Titus!” and Ken, like the Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland, said sleepily, “Titus went downstairs.” Then he closed his eyes and went back to sleep while I ran out of the room. I turned the lights on and there was Titus at the bottom of the stairs, blinking and looking a little dazed. I was like, “Oh my god—are you OK?!”

Titus: I’m fine. Nothing to see here…
Me: What the hell were you doing?
Titus: I was going downstairs. Duh. How much wine did you drink on the train, anyway?
Me: Why were you going downstairs?
Titus: I was bored.
Me: What do you mean, bored?! It’s 3 o’clock in the morning. Why weren’t you sleeping like a normal, human—I mean, a normal dog? Wait a minute—were you sneaking down to look for food?
Titus: I may or may not have been thinking about the French fry you may or may not have dropped on the floor…
Ken (from the bedroom): What are you guys doing?! You’re keeping me awake!

Well, Titus seemed fine and managed to jump back up on the bed quite agilely, so no harm done. Except that I was now WIDE awake, with no hope of sleep on the horizon. All I could do was lie there and think about all the things that week that had perplexed, baffled, and annoyed me. Because unlike most weeks, it actually WAS one of those weeks:

Sunday: I forgot to buy my train ticket back to Toronto until late Sunday afternoon, and by that time everything was sold out except Business class. I was initially mad, but then I thought , hey, it might be nice to upgrade just this once, even if it IS double the cost of a regular ticket. There must be perks, or why would anyone pay for it? Turns out, because they’re idiots. First, there’s no Business Class Lounge in the train station where I depart from, so take THAT off the list. There IS a large handicapped washroom, and a vending machine, but it’s still not very lounge-y (mostly because the toilet doesn’t flush properly and is always clogged toilet paper, and the vending machine only sells Coke). Second, Business Class is supposed to get Priority Boarding. When the train pulled in, I made my way up to the door of Car 1 with another older guy in a suit. We waited. The door to Car 3 opened and a female conductor got out. She yelled something at us, and gestured. The older guy said, “Just wait—sometimes it takes them a minute to open the Business Class door.” But the female conductor kept yelling and gesturing, so I finally said to him, “She works this train a lot—she’s not very nice, so I’d pay attention to her or she might just “forget” to bring the bar cart by.” And he said, “You’re right, she might—we better go down there.” At which point, we had to wait BEHIND all the other Economy Class riders before we got on board. Priority boarding, my ass. Third, the conductor for Car 1 was actually standing right next to the door when we finally made our way down the aisle to the end. And the luggage rack was a third the size of the regular racks. I said, “Where am I supposed to put my suitcase?” and he JUST SHRUGGED. And I was like, “Seriously. There’s no room here.” So he slowly reached up and moved a gym bag off the second level and said, “There you go.” I said, “I can’t lift this up that high” and he just looked at me. So I turned around, threw my stuff on my seat, and deadlifted my f*cking suitcase up, with him watching. In Economy Class, they ALWAYS help with luggage. It was like I was in Reverse World, where you pay more for sh*t but get less for your money. And even though he came by 4 times with the bar cart and offered to “top me up” every time, I still didn’t forgive him. So what exactly is the bonus of Business Class, you ask? Well, apparently you get dinner and free booze. So, essentially I paid an extra $45 for a $7 glass of wine, and food that I didn’t eat because it was 8:30 at night, and who the hell thinks, “I’d better hold off eating at a normal human time cuz I’ll be getting a yummy box of train food right before bed”? I’m buying my train tickets a week ahead from now on, just to be sure.

Monday: I watched the US Election debate. I don’t know why people hate Hillary Clinton so much. I’m from Canada, and from here, she seems pretty OK. Unlike her opponent, Donald Trump, who is quite frankly, the most stupid person I’ve ever seen on television, and if he wins the election, American has just turned itself into a giant clown car with Trump at the wheel. And that put me in mind of those rival car commercials—Matthew McConaughey for Lincoln and Kit Harrington for Infiniti, where they both drive around and Matthew says profoundly strange things which lack context, and Kit recites William Blake poems. I imagined Donald Trump in his clown car with America in the back and he was like, “Ok you guys, shut up. Shut Up! Now, listen to me. “Mary had a little lamb— No, wait, what am I saying, it was a HUGE lamb. It was the hugest lamb ever, like I can’t even tell you how bigly that lamb was, it was so huge. I always have the biggest lambs and the greatest too, because I’m going to make lambs great again. And my lamb has the whitest fleece, you wouldn’t believe how white its fleece is, and it’s white because I’m smart, like the smartest person in American, smarter even than those guys on Jeopardy, like I could win Jeopardy forever, and always get Final Jeopardy, because my lamb is the best lamb. And if you say anything mean about my lamb, I will wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and tweet about how fat you are.” Yes, America, this could be your next Commander in Chief. Just pray he hits “Tweet” and not “Launch”.

Tuesday: I was watching The Voice. I love the singing, and the way the coaches banter and tease each other. However, on Tuesday, during one such witty exchange with Adam Levine, Blake Shelton pointed at his jeans and jean jacket and referred to it as a “Canadian tuxedo”. And I was like “WTF Blake?!” I have never in my life heard that expression, and it doesn’t even make sense. I live in a small town, and also the biggest city in Canada, and I can count on one hand the last time I saw a guy wearing a jean jacket ANYWHERE, let alone to a fancy occasion. The Canadian tuxedo is like every other ACTUAL tuxedo, except that it comes with thermal underwear, a bib for when they serve the poutine, and a special pocket for your loonies and toonies. If you’re going to perpetuate stereotypes about Canadians, Blake Shelton, make sure you get them right.

Wednesday: I really wanted to go for a swim, but I still can’t because I just got a new tattoo (and had an old one redone) so I can’t put them in water for too long. I was bemoaning the fact that I was missing the exercise, and my co-worker said, “How long is the pool?” I only do the breaststroke, and I couldn’t think of any other way to describe it other than to say “It’s about 9 strokes of the breast.” And now swimming sounds kind of dirty, or kinky, and maybe I should just use the treadmill.

Thursday: I went to Loblaw’s and saw Old John on the way. I asked him if he wanted anything, and he asked for a loaf of white bread and some Cheez Whiz. I was only in the grocery store for literally 10 minutes, and when I came out, he was gone. This has happened before, but the last time it was orange juice, and I could drink it myself. But now I had ten dollars’ worth of gluten and cheese glue, and what the hell was I going to do with THAT? And could I find another homeless guy to give it to? No! The one night I have a veritable feast for someone, they’ve all decided to find another street to panhandle on. Talk about inconsiderate. I finally found someone the next morning outside the drug store, all wrapped up in a sleeping bag, so I gently set it down next to him, because I didn’t want him to wake up and be like “Cheez Whiz? Um, no thanks.” And of course, now I’m worried about Old John, because the last time he disappeared, he was in the hospital. He better show up next week, and when he does, I’m buying him some bread and Cheez Whiz and he can damn well eat it. I’m not mad at HIM, of course. I’m mad at the company that charges $6.99 for a jar of something that tastes like sh*t, and he loves it but he can’t afford it. And on the other side of the coin, Casa Loma, one of Toronto’s big tourist attractions, has been turned into a Hallowe’en House of Horrors at a cost of 1.5 million dollars. 1.5 million dollars for Hallowe’en, when there are people who can’t afford bread and slimey cheese. Trick or treat.

Friday: We’ve been making powerpoints for the last three weeks to train people with. I hate powerpoint, but by now, I’m the f*cking Queen of powerpoint, having made so many that my desktop is a slideshow nightmare. By Friday, we were getting a little giddy about what we were doing, putting in random pieces of clip art, colouring our fonts in weird colours, and just getting all crazy in the way that secret agency workers often do. You know you’ve had enough when this is the conversation:

L: We need to take out that pencil guy graphic.
Me: But he’s cute and happy. He reminds me of the Microsoft paperclip, but not quite so smug and patronizing, you know?
L: Look at his pencil tip. It’s not appropriate.
Me: It DOES look kind of dirty, the way it’s down between his legs. Who would design something like that? Children use this program!
L: Pedo pencil needs to go.
Me: I agree. There must be a non-sexual pencil out there somewhere.

pencil-person-cartoon-hi

So there you have it. And remember, I didn’t say it WOULD get funnier; I said it MIGHT get funnier. And now I’m going back to bed with a glass of wine.