My Week 214: Let Your Backbone Slide

I have very sensitive skin. I don’t mean sensitive like I can’t use certain products or I get a rash—well, only if they have banana or avocado in them, but that’s related to my latex allergy more than my skin. What I mean is, I can’t stand certain things TOUCHING my skin. For example, I cut all the tags out of my clothes. Or sometimes I forget to do that, and then at some point, I RIP the f*ckers out. Last week, I was wearing a new pair of jeans, and I’d already taken the back tag out, but I hadn’t realized there was one down the side of the leg until I started walking to work. By the time I got to the office, I was just about out of my mind. So there I was, sitting at my desk, hunched over with my hand down the inside of my pants when my director walked by:

Director: Um…are you OK?!
Me: It’s a tag.
Director: A what?
Me: There’s a…(*rip*) tag, see?
Director (relieved): All right then.

And it is not at all uncommon for me to approach a co-worker with a pair of scissors and practically beg them, “Please cut this tag out!” People are always remarkably willing to do it, which is nice and perhaps a little worrisome, like what goes through someone’s mind at a moment like that? “Cool, I get to attack mydangblog’s blouse with scissors! Hope I don’t slip!” But you know, it’s a chance you take. Also, it’s a good reminder to be nice to people, just in case.

And if you think this is weird, let me also tell you that I haven’t worn a pair of pantyhose in over 20 years. Now, I know some of my readers will shrug and say, “Big deal—neither have I” but that’s because you’re men (although maybe some of you have, and just to clarify, that’s perfectly fine with me). I only started wearing dresses in the last couple of years thanks to the invention of footless tights. For some bizarre reason, I absolutely cannot put something on my body that stretches from my waist to my toes. The problem is that footless tights mostly come in just black, gray, and white, so it limits your wardrobe a bit. Last year, I thought “Hey. I’ve overcome so much in my life—I bet I could wear pantyhose again” so I bought a pair that were a lovely cream colour. The next morning I put them on, turned to walk out of my bedroom, said, “Nope. Nope nope nope!”, ripped them off, and threw them in the corner. Then I stood there breathing hard, full of hosiery hatred. Hard pass on the nylons.

I also don’t wear hats, wool, anything that itches, anything that touches my face, socks that are too tight, socks that are too loose…

But why am I telling you this? Because yesterday, I had to dress up in a costume and I thought I was going to die.

It was a charity walk, and our whole secret agency was participating. And because it’s getting close to Hallowe’en, the organizers announced that there would be a costume contest with prizes. I wasn’t really paying attention, but a bunch of people in the office came up with a group costume and a couple of weeks ago, they asked me if I wanted to join in. “Sure, whatevs,” I said, as one does. Over the next week, strange pieces of foam appeared in an empty cubicle, and when people asked, they were told that this was our costume—we were going to be a spine. Cool, right?  (If you google “Costume spine on parade”, you can see what it’s supposed to look like). There was also a very large pink thing that looked like a mushroom top, which was apparently the brain. So yesterday morning, we all assembled to put on our vertebrae, and that’s when the problem started. It was a big circle made of itchy foam, and it went over my head, with a peaked piece that was like a hat. Within 20 seconds, I knew this was a huge mistake. It was like being enveloped in clothing tags, and nylons, with tight AND loose socks thrown in for good measure. That’s how I felt. But I couldn’t take it off, because a) I’m a manager, and I have to be a good role model and b) the CEO was joining us and I didn’t want to come off like a big baby by tearing it into pieces and screaming at it. One of the other managers turned to me and said, “Isn’t this cool?!” and I just made a low, keening sound in reply.

Manager: What’s wrong?
Me (whispers): It burns.
Manager: Pardon?
Me: SO COOL.

But it really was the greatest group costume ever, with the guy wearing the brain at the front, and the rest of us (about 12 of us) dressed as vertebrae following along in a straight line behind him. People on the street pointed and applauded, cars honked at us as they went by, and we all smiled and waved. But my smile was more like a grimace as you can tell by this selfie that M took of us.

I had to walk for 2.5 f*cking kilometres like that. That’s a little over a mile and a half. Luckily, I was distracted by the fact that it was difficult to see and I had to be careful not to trip on the sidewalk and fall down, thus breaking the spinal column. Also, while we were waiting to start the walk, they were playing music and I pretended I was Kanye West in a Perrier bottle (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IL_h9m_-HlE) by bouncing up and down.

On the upside though, we DID raise a lot of money for the charity. I don’t know if we won the prize because the second we finished the walk, I whipped the costume off and felt relief flood over me. And as we headed back to the office, we had this conversation:

Me: I overheard Donna say that when she saw us coming in the distance, she was a little shocked. She said “from far away you look like a COMPLETELY different body part”, but then she realized it was too long.
Co-Worker: I don’t get it. What other part of the body?
Me: You know—think about it. The first person is wearing a large pink thing that looks like a mushroom top, and the rest of us are like a straight shaft…
Co-worker: Uh…
Me: A penis. She meant a penis.
Co-worker: Oh my god! Did she really call you a penis?!
Me: No! She meant all of us, not just ME.
Co-worker: Thank goodness! Because you’re very pretty. You don’t look like a penis AT ALL.
Me: Aw, thanks! Maybe we should all stop saying penis now.
All: Right, yes, good idea, hahaha.

When we got back to the office, everyone was excited, and as we packed up the vertebrae, someone said, “Hey! Let’s use this again next year—we can paint all the pieces brown and go as a bookworm!” and now I have to quit my job.

Have a happy Hallowe’en everyone—I hope your costumes are comfortable!

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My Week 213: Speaking My Mind, I Am Your Sunshine

I, like many people, have difficulty speaking my mind. I’m usually a pretty polite person, and I’d prefer to engage, as one does, in passive aggressive banter rather than outright conflict:

Me: So I haven’t seen you all week, but you’re going away to a conference this weekend?
Ken: Is that OK?
Me: Fine. Whatever.
Ken: Are you sure? It doesn’t sound fine.
Me: No, Ken, it’s perfectly OK. You go be you. Don’t worry about me all alone here.
Titus (from other room): I’ll be here!!
Me (yells back): That’s right, you will! At least SOMEONE wants to spend time with me!
Ken: Sigh.

But we all know that passive aggression is not the best way to problem-solve, and as I write this, Ken is merrily enjoying himself in a place called Bolton instead of working on the porch with his loving wife sitting inside where it’s warm. I’m actually not really mad about it though because he had to sleep in a sleeping bag last night and that’s his karma.

But wouldn’t life be a lot simpler if we just asked for things outright? Case in point: last Friday, I was taking the subway from work to the train station with a couple of colleagues. It was standing room only, and we were holding onto the poles by the door to prevent ourselves from flying around the subway car every time it pulled into a station. There WOULD have been a seat right next to me, but it was occupied by the leg of a woman who was sitting in the seat next to it. She obviously didn’t want anyone sitting near her. Also, she was muttering to herself and pulling wads of used Kleenex out of one coat pocket and stuffing them into her other coat pocket. When she was finished, she would repeat the process in reverse. Anyway, I was standing there talking with my colleagues when the woman suddenly reached up, punched me in the arm, and yelled, “You need to stand over there! You’re too close to me. Go away!”

I was happy to oblige. Now, at first, I was kind of annoyed, but then I realized something: THIS WOMAN IS MY HERO. How many times have I been in a situation where I wanted to shout the exact same thing, but my politeness allowed me to suffer in silence? Just the week before, I was in Shoppers Drug Mart looking for hair styling products and it seemed like every single person in the Eaton Centre had decided to do the exact same thing. And for some reason, they were mostly men, so I couldn’t see over them, let alone reach anything on the shelves. Wouldn’t it have been fantastic if I could have just yelled, “You all need to f*ck off and go buy vitamins!” Or on a packed elevator to demand, “Everybody out on 15. No, I don’t care if it’s not your floor, LINDA—just get out!” Or at a meeting: “I don’t care how crowded it is around this table–if your chair bumps into mine one more time, I swear I will throat punch you, Bob.”

I feel better already just thinking about it. And in the spirit of throat punching and yelling at people to f*ck off, I’m happy to announce that I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award, which is “peer recognition for bloggers who inspire positivity and joy”. The irony is not lost on me. I was nominated by a very cool guy, Simon Farnell of Planet Simon. Check him out—he writes about science, technology, inventions, and also writes great sci-fi fiction. He’s also very upbeat, positive, and engaging, which explains why he was given the award before nominating me. In keeping with things of this nature, I have to answer some questions, but as usual, I’m going to answer some of his questions but mostly the ones I created for myself:

1) What country do you come from?

This is an easy one. Canada. That’s why I’m so full of humour and vigour, and extra ‘u’s, and maple syrup. And it’s ‘zed’ not ‘zee’.

2) Have you solved the mystery of the mouthguard you found on the floor?

No, I have not. I even called the dentist to find out if we had gotten another mouthguard made for Tristan and forgot about it. The receptionist said no and was a little freaked out by the story when I told her about finding the mysterious mouthguard in the middle of the floor where it had suddenly, magically appeared. I feel like I need to try it on again one more time, just to make sure it’s not mine, but that could just be an excuse to swish wine around in my mouth.

3) What place are you in currently in the hockey pool?

I’m in second place. I WAS in first but one of my Andersons got injured and can’t play for a few days. What a baby.

4) Have you discovered how you are like Jeffrey yet?

No. I finally got up the nerve to ask my colleague and he laughed gently and said, “Oh, I don’t know. You both have the same…persona.” He wouldn’t say any more than that. But Jeffrey is in our hockey pool, and guess who’s in first place ahead of me? So maybe we’re both really good at hockey stuff.

5) What is your dream destination?

The Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Ken and I have already booked our trip there for next summer.

6) Why did you burst out laughing in a meeting on Thursday?

We were looking at a prototype for an approval process and one of the managers said, “See—if I click this we can see the work flow” and he did, and the screen said, “Your flow is running”. So I snickered, but then I looked around the room and no one else was laughing so I didn’t make the joke I was going to make. I’ll bet that lady on the subway would have said it though.

7) What is your favourite movie?

I have a LOT of favourite movies. Right now it’s a tie between Alien Vs. Predator, Pitch Black/The Chronicles of Riddick, and Mad Max: Fury Road. You’d never guess I actually have a minor degree in Film Studies. Also, I just saw Venom yesterday, and as someone with a minor degree in Film Studies, I can give you my professional opinion: it sucked.

8) What crazy thing did you do on Friday night?

Ken and I went out for dinner and I had a couple of glasses of wine, so I made him take me to get my ears double pierced.

9) Are you happy with your current life?

Well, I just got my ears double-pierced, so yeah, I’m living my best life, obvs. Seriously though, I decided a few weeks ago (the week I met Gary Numan all by myself even though I was full of anxiety) that I was going to do things even if the thought of them scared me.  And there is nothing scarier than letting a total stranger punch holes in your ears.

10) Do you have any new and interesting bathroom stories?

Somebody’s a little anal.

Why, yes I do. A couple of weeks ago, I was in a professional office building and needed to use the facilities. As I sat there, I realized that this sign was on the inside of the stall door. I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a more micro-managed bathroom in my life. I mean, how many rules do you need to have? What kind of people normally utilize this facility that warrants a poster like this? Were there problems in the past with people just throwing their used TP on the floor in disdain, or having riots like in the movie Carrie where the other girls attack Sissy Spacek with tampons? At the bottom in very small print, it says, ‘Help and support Little Miss Tidy’. I don’t know who that is, but she deserves a good swirly.

Now, according to the rules, I’m supposed to nominate other people for this award. Frankly, I follow a lot of people, and you all make me happy, so it’s really hard to narrow the list down without me worrying that I’ve left someone out, but here are some people who are very positive and would probably never throat punch anyone–but they can tell you that for themselves. Also, my nominees have to answer question 1 and 5-10, but 2, 3, and 4 are yours to create.

Often Off-Topic

SKYEENT

Ms Graceful…Not!

Candidkay

BiffSockPow

The Lockwood Echo

Was That My Out Loud Voice?

Greater Than Gravity

Superman Can’t Find a Phone Booth

I’m Sick and So Are You

 

My Week 212: Doing The Math

Math Story 1

The other day, Ken and I were having a discussion about the newest educational fad: Growth Mindset. This is fancy term, based on “brain research”, that people can learn to do things if they BELIEVE they can do them. So you can see why it’s so fancy and all—pretty complex stuff. And you can also see why Boards of Education are spending money like crazy to teach people how to implement it in the classroom. I’m sure there’s nothing more motivating to a struggling student than yelling at them “If you can see it, you can be it!” (Growth Mindset sounds suspiciously like the lyrics to an R. Kelly song. He believed he could fly, although I don’t think that worked out too well for him). I wish my high school math teacher had quoted Boyz to Men to me—for sure, I’d be a quantum physicist now, instead of a smartass who can’t figure out what half of ¾ of a cup of flour is (I just eyeball it). Anyway, I was like, “So after years of NOT being able to do complicated math, if I only BELIEVE hard enough that I can do it, I’ll be able to learn it?” Ken assured me that it was true. But that night I had a nightmare where I was trying to do math, and f*cking it up royally. Then suddenly, the numbers all turned into little roasting chickens in their own casserole dishes, and instead of doing math, I was basting them with a red wine sauce that I had made and worrying that they were going to dry out in the oven. Even my subconscious knows where my strengths are. But maybe that’s all changing, because on the weekend, Tristan was doing his math homework:

T: Math, math, blah, blah, dividing by zero.
Me: Oh, that’s easy. Whenever you divide by zero, you end up with the same number you started with. Like 15 divided by zero is 15.
T: No, it’s not! You can’t divide by zero.
Me: Sure you can. I have 15 things. There’s zero things that go into it, so I still have 15 things.
T: That’s NOT how it works. It’s impossible. See, if I put 15 divided by zero into my calculator, it says “Error”.
Me: I paid good money for that calculator—what’s wrong with it?
T: Nothing! You just can’t divide by zero.
Me: But I just did.
T: But you’re wrong. Zero would go into 15 an infinite number of times, so it can’t be calculated.
Me: But I just calculated it.
T: NO, YOU DIDN’T.
Me: Look. If you have 15 slices of bacon, and you try to divide them by zero, how many slices of bacon do you have left? 15! Because you have eaten zero of them!
T: 15 is the REMAINDER. IS there bacon?
Me: Sure. Do you want 15 slices or zero?

Math Story 2

I have a Chuck Norris desk calendar that Ken gave me last Christmas. I love it. I don’t know what it is about Chuck Norris jokes that always make me laugh, but there are several people in the office who appreciate them too. If I have one that’s specific to a particular person, I give it to them at the end of the day just for fun. For example, in February there was a page that said, “Once Chuck Norris roundhouse kicked an exclamation point. That’s how question marks came into existence”, so I gave it to one of our editors. She thought it was really funny and pinned it up on her cubicle. Most people have embraced the Chuck Norris calendar, so when I got a page the other day that said, “Chuck Norris is the last digit of pi”, I knew exactly who it should go to—one of the new women in the office who specializes in math-type things. The problem was that in the picture, Chuck wasn’t wearing a shirt, and personally, I think that in a professional office, we probably shouldn’t be putting up pictures of half-naked men. Or women. (Funny story—I used to work with another math-type person who put up an 8 x 10 glossy picture of a very good-looking young man in her cubicle. He was naked from the waist up. I mentioned it to someone, as in “I don’t know if that’s very appropriate” and the person responded, “Oh, it’s OK—that’s her son.” I’ll leave it to you to consider whether that’s actually a funny story or just super-creepy.). So anyway, I very carefully took a sticky note, traced Chuck’s torso, coloured it in with black marker, and then cut it out and taped it on. It looked just like a very stylish T-shirt. I took it over to her, and said, “I thought you might appreciate this”, but she just looked at it with a weirdly dubious expression.

Me: It’s Chuck Norris.
Her: OK.
Me: It’s a joke about math.
Her: OK.
Me: I thought you might like it. I made him a shirt.
Her: Oh.

So I left it on her table and walked away. Later, I went by, and it was still there, but the tiny T-shirt I’d made had been carefully peeled away.

Math Story 3

So this is technically not a math story, but it has numbers in it. If you remember, I joined a hockey pool a couple of weeks ago. I made my picks based on some pretty random factors—I now have a Mr. Smith and a Mr. Anderson in keeping with my Matrix theme, and I picked up a guy called Kailer Yamamoto, because I thought it was a cool name and someone had scooped up Yanni Gourde right before my turn. At any rate, I am currently in first place out of 16 teams with quite a healthy points lead, which led to some subtle accusations that I might be a ringer:

Co-Worker: So. You’re in first place. Guess you know a bit more about hockey than you let on.
Me: Uh, no—I mean, I understand hockey, but I don’t follow statistics or anything. I don’t even know who won the thingy last year.
Co-Worker: If you’re referring to the Stanley Cup, it was the Washington Capitals, as I’m sure you’re aware.
Me: No, I…I’m sure I’ll be in last place by the end of the season and you’ll win the $560 dollars.
Co-Worker: $320. There are 16 of us, remember?

Of course, he was only pretending to give me a hard time, because he’s a pretty decent guy, but that still hasn’t stopped me from calling out, “I’m number 1!” every time I go by his office. Because 1 is the best number.

 

My Week 211: Classics with a Twist

It’s Thanksgiving Weekend here in Canada and I’m hosting 12 people, so here’s a throwback for you that I hope you might like!

Classics with a Twist

A little while ago, my brother and I went to the Carlton Street Cinema to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I love the Carlton Street Cinema because a) it’s literally right across the street from my condo, so if I go there and the theatre is too crowded, I can just leave and not feel like I wasted a huge trip or anything b) they serve wine and c) there’s wine, which I might have already mentioned. It’s not a VIP cinema or anything; in fact, the individual theatres are just a little bigger than the media room at a really rich person’s house, so when I go there, I can pretend that I’M the rich person and everyone else in the theatre are my guests, except, unlike my own house, I can’t scream, “Will you shut the f*ck up?!” at the people down front who won’t stop talking and giggling. Which happened when we were there with a particularly annoying threesome consisting of an elderly man and two female companions, who laughed hysterically and loudly at the most inappropriate moments, causing me to ask my brother, “What the hell is so funny?” My brother, who has a Ph.D, explained it thusly: “I have no idea. Maybe they’re stoned.”

At any rate, I didn’t know what to expect with the movie. Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite novels, and when it was originally written, there was nary a hint of zombie within its pages. I figured it would just be a cheesy excuse for blood and gore, wrapped in an Edwardian cloak. I was actually pleasantly surprised that not only was the original storyline intact, the integration of the zombie storyline was well-done and not illogical at all. Well, except for the fact that there were ZOMBIES. You can never really get away from the illogic of that. Still. But then my brother told me that there was another Jane Austen rewrite called Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and I was like “WTF? Now we’re really stretching it. I’ve read that book, and it took place mostly on the moors–there was literally one scene that took place near open water! Is this going to be like Snow Sharks, where scientists resurrect an ancient giant shark that had been frozen in ice and it swims through the snow, attacking unwary skiers?” Okay, yes, I DID watch that movie, whose budget was approximately $7000, most of which was spent on the giant shark head that you can see in the poster. Just the head. They couldn’t afford the rest of the shark. I have, however, not yet seen Avalanche Sharks, the synopsis of which states “a bikini contest turns into a horrifying affair when it is hit by a shark avalanche”.

Anyway, I got to thinking that maybe I should hop on this bandwagon, and I came up with a few ideas of my own for integrated storylines.

1) Gone With The Wind and Chupacabras: On the eve of her debutante ball, the vivacious Scarlet O’Hara finds herself defending Tara, and her inept suitors, against a swarm of small, spiky, bear-like, goat-sucking creatures. Casting aside her idyllic plantation upbringing, she devotes the remainder of her life to protecting the South, declaring “I’ll never go swordless again!” With the help of the dashing Rhett Butler, and her devoted servants (“I don’t know nuthing ‘bout killing chupacabras, Miss Scarlet! But I’ll learn!”), she drives back the chupacabra hordes with nothing but her trusty sabre and her wit. Her job is, of course, made easier by the almost complete lack of goats in Georgia. Ultimately, however, she is betrayed by Rhett Butler, who unbeknown to anyone, is the Chupacabra King and is planning to take his minions to the North. When Scarlett finds out, she’s appalled:

Scarlet: Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?
Rhett: Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
Scarlet: Well, f*ck you then. Prissy, hand me my sword. It’s time the Chupacabra King lost his crown.

2) Citizen Kane, Sasquatch Slayer: On his deathbed, Charles Foster Kane, newspaper tycoon extraordinaire, and a bit of a d-bag, utters his final words: “Rosebud”. No one knows what it means. His private life was a mystery; however, throughout the film, via the use of tabloid-esque newsreels, it is slowly revealed that he had another calling aside from the news business: to hunt down and slay every Sasquatch in the country. Taken in as a child by a millionaire, William Thatcher, Kane is trained in the art of surveillance and becomes noted, and ridiculed, for his numerous Sasquatch sightings. He builds a “scandal sheet” empire, based on stories about alien invasions, government conspiracies, two-headed babies, and the Kardashians. All the while craving respect and legitimacy, he turns to hunting Sasquatches in order to prove to the world that he’s not a madman. He runs for governor, with the campaign slogan “The truth is out there” and posters featuring blurry photos of Bigfoot. After a devastating loss at the polls, he builds a fantastical estate, “Xanadu”, where he lives in isolation until his death. Once the contents of the estate are inventoried, it is revealed that “Rosebud” is the name on a glass showcase found in a hidden room on the estate. It contains a stuffed, 6 foot-tall, ape-like creature.

3) The Wizard of Jackalopes: A young, mid-west farm girl gets caught in a hurricane and finds herself in a strange land. After cavorting and singing with a group of tiny, hard-drinking people, she meets a couple of witches, one good, but a little creepy and passive-aggressive, and one who seems to be bad, but whose redeeming quality is that she loved her dead sister whose crushed body lies under the farm girl’s flying barn. The bad witch vows vengeance and disappears in a cloud of red smoke. The farm girl, whose wide-eyed innocence quickly becomes super-annoying, teams up with a robot, a zombie, and a griffin in order to make their way to the Emerald City and meet a wizard who can solve all their problems. After a series of misadventures, they are confronted by the bad witch and her army of jackalopes, giant rabbits with fierce teeth and deer antlers, and are forced to fight to the death. They all die. (I have to stop here, because when I was a kid, there were so many commercials in The Wizard of Oz that the damn movie was over three hours long, and I always fell asleep at about the half-way point. I have no idea how it actually ends.)

So there you have it—three fresh ways to look at the classics. I also have another idea about an FBI agent, haunted by a childhood attack by killer lambs, who is chasing her serial killer nemesis, an unhinged fellow who likes to dress in sheepskin and calls himself The Mutton Man, but it’s not “fleshed out” yet, haha.