My Week 265: Let Them Eat Cake

I’ve been having food issues this week, which is to say that food is being weirder than usual. I mean, food is always a little weird when you think about it, like who was the first person who decided that eating something that shoots out of a chicken’s ass would be a great idea? Yet here we are, eating all-day breakfast like there’s no tomorrow. At any rate, I try to avoid the really weird sh*t, like peas, and I generally don’t have any issues. But this week, I’ve been making terrible food choices:

1) I love olives, especially ones stuffed with things. I used to buy this one particular brand that was stuffed with ancho peppers, but the company that made them discontinued them, which is always the way with virtually anything I like. So the other day, I was in the grocery store and saw olives stuffed with piri piri peppers, and I thought, ‘How much hotter could they be?’ Have you eaten one? Are you shaking your head at my childish naiveté right now? Are you picturing me screaming and swearing? (If you are, I hope I’m wearing something ridiculous like black leather chaps and a floral shower cap, to complement my very poor piri piri pepper eating decision.) It took over an hour before my mouth stopped feeling like a backyard barbeque. Never again.

2) On Tuesday, I needed yogurt for the morning because I was staying overnight in Toronto. I spent ten minutes looking at yogurt in the grocery store—why are there so many damn types of yogurt? But I finally picked one that said it didn’t contain any added sugar and it came in a four pack instead of a lifetime supply. It claimed to be raspberry. The next morning, I tried it and just about gagged. Have you ever accidentally drunk milk that was 2 weeks past the expiry date? I haven’t personally, but I’m guessing it would taste better than that yogurt. I went around my office exclaiming, “This yogurt is terrible! Does anyone want to try it?” because that’s what people do, but I had no takers. Until I passed by the cubicle of a new member of my team, who said, “Oh, I like that kind!” so I gave her the other three containers, and she OFFERED TO PAY ME FOR THEM. I did not take any money from her, just for the record.

3) Later in the week, I bought some raspberries. I like to eat fresh fruit every once in a while so that I don’t get scurvy. When I was a kid, I watched a movie about Captain Cook, and ever since, I’ve been paranoid about scurvy. Or maybe I just like saying the word ‘scurvy’. Either way, I bought raspberries. I took them to the kitchen at work and rinsed them in their container, then I sat at my desk all ready to eat them, when I noticed something crawling on one of them. I put on my reading glasses to get a better look and realized that it looked like a small worm. I went out and asked the very nice gentleman I work with to verify that it was indeed a worm, which he did by saying, “EW.”

Me: What should I do?
VNG: I think it’s OK to eat the rest. Just throw away the one with the worm.
Me: But I don’t want to kill the worm. It’s gone through so much already. It’s a survivor.
VNG: You could put it in that plant over there.
Me: Great idea! And the raspberry will decompose and become fertilizer for the plant. It’s a win-win.

4) The funniest thing that happened with food this week is that my team surprised me with an amazing cake that they had made to celebrate my second novel being released. That’s not the funny part—in fact, I was so taken aback at their thoughtfulness that I started to cry. I work with the best people and I am eternally grateful for that. The funny thing happened after we started cutting the cake. I said I would go to one of the other departments in the secret agency and invite them to join us, because the cake was gigantic. So I went to the other side of the office and said, “Hey, there’s cake!” to which I got soundly SHUSH!’d by the people there.

Me (whispering): But there’s cake.
Colleague 1 (whispering): Yes, we know!
Me: Why are we whispering?
Colleague 2: It’s cake for Suzanne. It’s a surprise!
Me: Uh…
Colleague 1: It’s her birthday. SHHH.

I should point out that there is another Suzanne in our office, so despite it being a bizarre coincidence, this made sense to me, and then the people from the other department decided to come and ooh and ah over MY cake even if they were saving room for the other Suzanne’s cake. But things got more confusing later:

Colleague 3: Hey! Happy birthday!
Me: Oh, it’s not my birthday.
Colleague 3: But somebody said there was cake for you.
Me: Yes, but it’s to celebrate my book.
Colleague 4: Hey Suzanne, happy birthday! Where’s the cake?
Me: Sigh. Right over there.

And it was the most beautiful cake anyone has ever made for me.

My Week 264: Sew What?

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Family Studies teacher would be so proud.

Two quick things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Week 263: My Hockey Fantasy

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

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

My own team meeting:

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

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

A Meeting with Procurement

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

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

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

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

Look who’s on top…

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

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

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

Fun Fact: Ken just read this post:

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