My Week 144: Titus the Therapy Dog, It’s Coming From Inside the House

Titus the Therapy Dog

At the beginning of last week, someone in the office posted on our Staff site that the St. John’s Ambulance Society would be bringing therapy dogs into our building on Friday, and if anyone wanted to come and see them, they would be in the lobby from 11 am to 2 pm. You can only imagine how excited I was—I love dogs, and I only get to see Titus on weekends, thanks to living in a large city so I can be close to work. In the spring, we were doing an event off-site, and there was supposed to be someone coming with a miniature Chihuahua service dog, and it was all we could talk about for weeks. Of course, we were told that we weren’t allowed to PET the dog, since it was a working animal, and I was like, “What kind of service is THAT?” and I was secretly betting that the woman would let us pet it. I mean, what’s the point of having a tiny ball of adorable dogginess if you can’t share it with anyone, am I right? But if not, we would understand, and just stare at it lovingly. Then the day finally came, and we all, seemingly nonchalantly but inwardly super-pumped, strolled down to the room where the woman would be, only to discover that she hadn’t shown up for the event. It was such a letdown, and worse was when we went back to the office, and people kept asking, “Did you see the Chihuahua?” and it just kept bringing it all those feelings of disappointment back again.

Also, I regularly annoy people in my condo building when they bring their dogs onto the elevator, and I only speak to the dog, as in “So what’s your name? Are you a good girl? Are you going for a walk?” and the owners feel obliged to answer, but in my head, it’s actually the dog and me having a conversation. I also do that to small children, but THEIR parents don’t seem to mind, perhaps recognizing that their babies can’t talk. Unlike dogs, some of whom secretly can. Quite often when we’re out with Titus, people try to engage him in conversation, which he steadfastly ignores:

Random Stranger: Ooh, who’s a big boy? Who’s got a lovely coat? Does he like the vet?
Me: Titus?
Titus: What?
Me: The man was asking you questions. Why didn’t you answer?
Titus: I assumed he was being rhetorical. You know, if you leave people alone long enough, they eventually answer their own questions all by themselves.
Random Stranger: Ooh, YOU’RE the big boy! Yes, he’s so shiny. I’ll bet he LOVES the vet.
Titus: I rest my case.

So Friday came, but I got sidetracked by a PowerPoint I was working on, until suddenly it was around 1 pm, and somebody said, “Hey, did you see the dogs?” And I was like, “The dogs?! Are they still here?! Please tell me they’re still here!” And then I tried to coerce the nice gentleman I work with to come downstairs with me:

Me: There are dogs in the lobby! Come and pet them with me!
Colleague: Um, no, that’s OK.
Me: But you’re ALLOWED to pet them!
Colleague: I’m good, thanks. REALLY.

Then I remembered that I’d tried to get the same man to look at naked ladies last week, so he was probably suspicious that the dogs were a euphemism or something. Everybody else had already gone down to see the dogs (I know because I asked), but then one of my French colleagues came strolling by. I work with a lot of very cheery and easy-going Francophones, so I called out, “Hey! Il y a des chiens ici! Viens avec moi!” My French is not fantastic, but she said, “Ooh, oui, d’accord!” which of course sounded like “Ooh way dakkar,” because of the Quebecois’ broader accent, but she was nodding, so I guessed she was coming with me. Of course, I hadn’t been specific, and she didn’t know whether or not they were wild dogs and I was trying to help her escape, but again, the French are pretty laidback, so down we went.

There was a crowd of people surrounding three dogs and their handlers, but I kind of slid my way up to the front so I could pet them, on the grounds that I’d had an awkward morning (Slight tangent: I don’t think it’s fair that some people in our office don’t have nameplates on their cubicles. Two days prior, I was visited by two different women from the finance department. Then one of them called me and asked me to sign a document and bring it down to her on the floor below. I opened the door and I saw one of the women, but her cubicle didn’t have a name plate on it. She looked at me, and I looked at her. I didn’t know how to get out of it gracefully, so I held up the document game-show style, smiled cheekily, and said, “This is for Desiree!” in a kind of sing-songy way. So if SHE was Desiree, she would be like, “Oh thanks!” in the same sing-songy voice, and if she WASN’T, she could say, “I’ll bet she’ll be happy to get it!” and then I would know. As it turned out, she wasn’t Desiree, and her response was, “Desiree’s cubicle is right down there”, so I feel simultaneously clever, and awkward as f*ck. Tangent over.) Anyway, I NEEDED to pet a dog. I’ll bet people would have forgiven Donald Trump for pushing aside the Prime Minister of Montenegro if he’d been trying to get to a puppy.

The dogs were beautiful, and totally calm as people petted them and scratched them behind their ears, but I noticed something weird—none of their tails were wagging, and none of them would make eye contact. Even if you tried to look at them, they would turn their heads away. In short, these dogs all seemed like they needed their OWN dogs to pet, because they all seemed depressed. I’ve never yet seen a dog that didn’t wag its tail when people were talking to it and petting it, unless it was scared. I mean, I don’t know a lot about therapy dogs, but the best thing about ANY dog is how happy they are to see YOU. That’s why dogs are so great. No matter how sh*tty you feel, the dog is always like, “Oh my god! You’re home! This is the best day ever!” So I got to pet the dogs, but the stress of worrying about how sad they looked cancelled out the therapy part of the experience. How do you even train a dog to NOT wag its tail? I kind of don’t want to think about it. One of the dogs, Tucker, was a Golden Retriever who even had his own business card, and on the business card, he had a huge smile on his face. In person though, it was like the time when T was around 7 years old and we took him to see Brent Butt, the comedian. We’d watched Brent on “Corner Gas” for years, and T loved him. His stand-up show was hilarious, and afterwards, he was signing autographs, so we lined up. When we got there, we told him how much T liked him and T told him how funny he thought the show was. Brent Butt just flatly said, “Thanks,” and turned away to the next person in line, like he was really bored. So maybe that was the problem—these dogs were temperamental celebrities. Anyway, I arrived home on Friday night:

Titus: You’re here!! This is the best day ever! Pop the cork on the champagne!
Me: I’m happy to see you too, buddy. C’mere and let me rub that tummy.
Titus: With pleasure! Wait—have you been around any other dogs today? Don’t lie. You know how good my sense of smell is. For example, I detect that you had white wine on the train—a Riesling, 2016, I believe.
Me: I ALWAYS have wine on the train, Sherlock. But yeah, they had therapy dogs at work.
Titus: Therapy dogs? Those guys have no sense of humour.
Me: I know, right? I guess I’m too used to you, you big goof.
Titus: That’s right, baby. I’m the only therapy you need.

Saturday: Lines of communication

On Friday, I went out for lunch with a couple of people from work to a local restaurant which serves ethnic cuisine. I don’t want to mention what kind, because I’ve had it before from different places without consequence. The meal I ordered didn’t look remotely like what it normally does, but I thought, Hey—maybe they are regional variations. It tasted OK, although it was a lot spicier than normal. Then for dinner that night, I had Cajun chicken wings and nachos with hot peppers. It’s no surprise then that I woke up about three o’clock in the morning feeling pretty sh*tty. I tossed and turned and finally went back to sleep around 6. When I woke up at 8, Ken had already gotten out of bed. I lay there for a while, all miserable and still feeling lousy, so I did what any normal person would do: I called Ken.

Phone rings and rings…

Ken (groggy): Uh…hello?
Me: It’s me.
Ken: Why are you calling me?
Me: I don’t feel well. What are you doing right now?
Ken: Well, I WAS having a nap on the couch. But then the phone rang and I had to get up to answer it, so thanks.
Me: Well, I tried your cell phone, but you didn’t pick up.
Ken: Why didn’t you just come downstairs?
Me: Because I’m all cozy.
Ken: Yeah, so was I, until I had to ANSWER THE PHONE.
Me: Can you bring up some batteries? I can’t turn the TV on because the remote is dead.
Ken: You could always get up and turn it on—Sigh. Never mind. I’ll be right up.
Me: Bring Titus with you. I need a hug.

 

My Week 143: Awkwardness at Work, 2 Quick Tales

I am sometimes awkward at work

Anyone who knows me (or visits this site frequently) knows that I can be a little awkward around other people. I quite often misinterpret the things other people say, mostly because in my head, life is like a Monty Python sketch, which is to say it’s weird, and funny, and quite often self-referential, like if you haven’t watched the show before, you might not understand the joke. For instance, the other day, I was going through some materials with a co-worker, looking for common patterns, when another colleague walked in and asked, “Have you found anything?”

“Well,” I answered, “it could be something, or it could just be a case of a million monkeys with a million typewriters.”

“Writing the bible. Right,” replied my colleague. And I so badly wanted to say, “Ah, you’ve seen this episode before,” but I didn’t, because that would be pushing my luck. And also, I wanted to hug her, because mostly when I say that, people think I’m either obsessed with monkeys, or don’t like the Bible. Not that I actually LIKE the Bible—I’m kind of ambivalent towards it, like if I was to review it, I would probably say something like “Choppy style, but interesting plot. A little too preachy for this critic. 3 out of 5 stars.”

Anyway, recently I got promoted, so I’ve gone from being able to wallow in my comfort zone to being right out there in the spotlight. And it’s hella uncomfortable. In work situations, I normally like to sit and listen, just observe, and I only say something if I think it’s important. In my head, I like to think I’m perceived thusly: “She doesn’t speak very often, but when she does, we all should listen.” Unfortunately, the reality is probably more like, “What the hell is she talking about NOW? It’s always monkeys, monkeys, monkeys.”

But since the promotion, when I’m in meetings, instead of just being able to sit there, listen, and make notes, I’m REQUIRED to speak. And it’s usually when I least expect it.

Director: And then the 4th quarter targets….
Other Director: The memo about this requires a decision note…
Chair: And now for a report from mydangblog.
Me: What?! I…We are an EFFECTIVE team.

You can tell that I was lost in thought, going through Tom Cruise movies in my head. Thank goodness I was stuck at Oblivion, and not Jerry Macguire, because “Show me the money!” might not have gone over as well. (Just for the record, they don’t actually call me ‘mydangblog’ at work, but it would be super-funny if they did.) And the other day, we were having a high up meeting, and we were told not to let people into the office without escorts, because it IS a secret agency, and there are a lot of confidential materials in the office that are not for the public’s eye. “In fact,” said one of the Directors, “this came about because last week, we discovered that a former employee was in the office, and no one knew about it.”

Me: What?! You mean, like, for days? Was he hiding somewhere? I KNEW we needed to clean up that storage room!
Director: No. He was only here for a couple of hours. He wasn’t hiding—he just wasn’t being escorted by the person who let him in.
Me: Oh, good, because otherwise that would have been REALLY disconcerting.
Director: Yes. Sigh.

Now that I’m a manager, I’m also responsible for a budget. And it’s a HUGE f*cking budget. When I was a high school department head, my total budget was $12 000, and I was responsible for every penny. I had an Excel spreadsheet with two columns: ‘What I Have’ and ‘What I Spent’. My only job was to make sure that ‘What I Spent’ was never more than ‘What I Have’. When I first saw my new budget, I was completely freaked out, and my first thought was, “I’m gonna need a bigger spreadsheet.” So I asked to have a meeting with the Manager of Finance:

Me: So I’m a little concerned about how I’m supposed to keep track of all this.
Finance Manager: Keep track?
Me: Well, there are over 200 budget lines with like another 500 sublines. Does the spreadsheet you sent me automatically calculate debits or do I have to do that manually? I think I should probably pin the calculator to the task bar if that’s the case, cuz this is gonna take a LOT of time.
Finance Manager: Uh, no. This is just ‘for your information’. We have a whole department that deals with budget calculations.
Me: Oh. OK. Cool.

And speaking of cool, the person who had my office before me had a big-ass fan. Me, I’m always cold, so I haven’t used it yet, but last week it was getting pretty hot, so I decided to turn it on.

Step 1) Plug fan in and press ‘Power’ button.
Step 2) Hold hand up in front of fan to see how cold the air is.
Step 3) Look at fan skeptically.
Step 4) Change the setting to high and place hand in front of fan again.
Step 5) Look at fan skeptically.
Step 6) Change setting to “Oscillate” and place hand in front of fan again.
Step 7) Turn fan off and then back on.
Step 8) Realize that fan is not a computer and that turning it off and on again made no difference.
Step 9) Pick up fan to shake it and discover that fan is facing backwards.
Step 10) Turn fan around so that it is no longer blowing cold air at the wall.

And finally, the coup de grace of my awkward week:

I work with a very nice gentleman about my own age. On Wednesday, I was having trouble with my computer, so I went over to his desk. He’s lucky, in that he has a window, but also unlucky, in that it looks right over into the highrise building next door. I was in the middle of a conversation with him when this happened:

Me: So are you having trouble with your drives? I can’t get anything to load.
Colleague: No, mine seem–
Me: Holy sh*t! There’s a girl in that window and she’s completely naked!
Colleague (clears throat): Oh, gosh. Anyway–
Me: No, seriously. Good lord! Okay, now she’s putting on underwear. Doesn’t she know we can see her?!
Colleague: Um, I actually can’t from where I’m sitting. So, have you tried restarting your com–
Me: She’s right there! Just stand up a little bit!
Colleague: No, that’s OK.

So I stood there for a little while longer until the girl was dressed and gone. It wasn’t until later that I realized that the poor guy was probably mortified and all like “Can’t we just talk about monkeys?!” And now, I feel terrible for trying to make him look at naked ladies . But probably not as terrible as the girl would be, if she knew that she can be seen in all her glory from our office windows.

Two Quick Stories:

Crazy for Adjectives:

Right now, I’m going through resumes for a position I’m hiring for. The one notable thing is that people really go a little overboard with their superlatives. Either that, or they REALLY want to work with me. I started making a list of things that people say that will not get them a foot in the door. First, there are the people who are ‘delighted’ to be applying for the position. These people are also possessed of ‘great enthusiasm’, as well as ‘great eagerness’. Then there are the people who are ‘extremely knowledgeable’ and are ‘highly adept’. Finally, there are those who tell me that ‘As you can see’, they will be an ‘excellent addition’ and a ‘valuable member’. Then I got the feeling that maybe they all thought they were applying for a position as “puppy petter” or “ice cream truck client”. I mean, my office is a great place to work, but it’s no kitten farm, so dial it back a notch, Skippy.

Nickels and Dimes:

I was on the train Friday night, and we were sitting in the station waiting to depart, when the guy in the seat across the aisle from me suddenly starting talking VERY LOUDLY to someone on his cellphone. It was his bank. He was angry because he had paid for something by cheque from his line of credit which he rarely did, and he was charged a service fee, which he had NEVER been charged before. Then he gave the person on the other end his account number and the answer to his secret question, AND the dollar amount of the cheque, which was $2, 226.00 and I was like, “That service charge must have been huge for him to do this in front of everyone”, and also “I could totally hack his account”, at which point, he said, “It was twenty-five cents. I don’t understand why I’m being charged to use my line of credit. I want it credited back to my account immediately.” I actually snickered out loud at how serious and pissy he was. Then the train left the station and he was quiet for a while, so I assumed the bank’s customer service representative told him he was silly, and to go away. But suddenly, after about 10 minutes, I heard him say, “Yes,” and I realized he was STILL on the phone. Then he said, “Thank you. I hope this never happens again.” I just love that the customer service rep. kept him on hold for so long, hoping that he would hang up. Yet, he persisted.

My Week 142: Which Wolverine is Which? and They Call Me The Streak

Friday: I am befuddled by Wolverine

I remember a time when superhero movies and shows were so much simpler. There was Batman (Godspeed, Adam West—to me, you will always be the BEST bat), who fought crime with his sidekick Robin. There was the cartoon Aquaman, who lived in an underwater kingdom and rode around on a seahorse with his sidekick Aqualad, fighting the forces of evil. Then, of course, there were Superman and Spiderman, each with their OWN show. Apparently at one point, the Flash appeared on the Superman cartoon, but other than that, there were no cross-overs, no re-imaginings, no “Origin” stories and no guest appearances. It was easy to keep straight. Then came the Superfriends, which Ken INSISTS on calling the “Justice League”, and yes, I know that was their official name, Ken, but the SHOW was called Superfriends. It made sense, because they all worked together to solve crime, instead of randomly appearing in each other’s movies. (As an aside, I’m including Rocket Robin Hood in my list of childhood cartoons, but that was someone’s drug-fuelled hallucination gone bad with its bizarre mix of the Middle Ages and futuristic technology—I’m surprised no one has remade this yet. Also, there was Hercules, which I believe was created by the same studio since the characters all looked the same. I was wracking my brains trying to find the theme to Rocket Robin Hood which included the words, “Softness in his eyes and iron in his thighs”, which sounds a little pervy for a kid’s cartoon, am I right? Then I remembered THAT was Hercules, which also might explain why I thought that Rocket Robin Hood fought the Minotaur and had a sidekick named Newt).

Then, on Friday night, Ken and I decided to rent a movie, and Logan was available. We started watching it and right away, I was confused:

Me: Why is Wolverine so old? Why is he driving a limo? Where are the rest of the X-Men?
Ken: This takes place in the future. It’s, like, a reboot—a totally different timeline.
Me: So, Jennifer Lawrence isn’t in this one?
Ken: Not sure. We’ll have to wait and see.
Me: Is that Stephen Merchant?! Ooh, is Ricky Gervais in this too? I could totally see him as, like, “Sarcastic Man”. His superpower would be destroying his enemies with the lowest form of wit.

(Warning: If you haven’t seen Logan yet, there might be a spoiler or two coming up.) Anyway, in THIS movie, Professor X is really old and there’s a new, young group of mutants created by an evil scientist and a random English dude who escape from the scientist’s evil laboratory, and then it turns into a really boring chase/fight sequence involving a little girl who’s apparently Wolverine’s test-tube daughter and some guy who’s a Wolverine clone. No one can kill anyone, until—well, I don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say an adamanatium bullet plays a role. Then Wolverine and Professor X both die, and I was so confused.

Me: I thought there was another X-Men movie coming out soon. How can that happen if Professor X is dead?
Ken: I think that’s a different timeline.
Me: How many f*cking timelines are there? This is so confusing.

Then, on Saturday afternoon, I started watching X-Men: Origins where Wolverine was part of a mercenary group that included Ryan Reynolds and Dominic Monaghan, and I was like, “What the hell? Is that DEADPOOL?! Are there HOBBITS in this movie?! This crossover thing has gone too far!” And in this one, Wolverine was a Canadian (yes, Canadian!) lumberjack. Was he ALWAYS Canadian, or are they setting up a new timeline where he works with Captain Canuck? (As another sidenote, Captain Canuck is the quintessential Canadian superhero—he has superstrength, an eidetic memory, is fully bilingual, and of course, polite. If he took his shirt off more often, Justin Trudeau could play him in the movie). After the first 10 minutes, I decided to stop watching because I needed to go back and start the X-Men series at the beginning. But trying to figure out where exactly the beginning IS seems like an impossible task, what with all the movies that are filmed later but take place BEFORE other things. It’s like Star Wars, where the first movie is Episode IV, but kids today think that’s the 4th movie, but it’s NOT, T. Or like the Alien series, where we were all like, “Is Prometheus a sequel or a prequel? Is Covenant a prequel to Prometheus? Why are we moving backwards? That’s not how time works, godammit!”

And then last night, I wanted to rewatch Suicide Squad because it was shot in Toronto right down the street from where I live, and they were all seemingly new superheroes, I think, but the movie was set in Gotham. Yes, Gotham, like where Batman is from. And then Batman was actually in it, and so was the lady from How to Get Away With Murder, and there was all this talk about Superman being dead, and I was like, “When did Superman die?! Was that at the end of Batman Vs. Superman?” Because I was asleep at that point, having been bored to tears by yet another insanely long fight scene where no one could win. And then, at the end, the credits started rolling:

Me: Don’t turn it off yet. There might be a teaser.
Ken: This is a DC Universe. Those only happen with Marvel. I think.
Me: What? Well, you never know. Just wait.

And sure enough, there WAS a teaser. And it was Ben Affleck as Batman with some kind of dossier, and in the dossier was f*cking AQUAMAN! But it wasn’t clear if he wanted to get the Superfriends back together or kill them all. And now, it’s just going to be a non-stop free-for-all of backstories, reimaginings, reboots, and timelines, until all universes are one and Rocket Robin Hood is protecting Sherwood Forest against the Joker in outer space with his trusty sidekick, Nightcrawler.

Saturday: Oh yeah, they call me The Streak

Last Saturday, I was in my bathroom upstairs getting ready for the day, and just about to have a bath, when I realized I was almost out of toilet paper. I was totally naked at the time, but Ken was outside doing yardwork, and no one could see me from the windows since our house is set back from the street, so I made my way downstairs to the cupboard where we keep the toilet paper, bottles of water, and other assorted beverages—a kind of all-purpose pantry, if you will. I was standing there with a roll of toilet paper in one hand, and a Vitamin Water in the other, when Ken, like the damned ninja he is, suddenly appeared with no warning. We stared at each other:

Ken: Well, hello there. I’m sure there’s a very interesting story behind this.
Me: Oh my god, Ken! You’re supposed to be outside! I’m naked!
Ken: Why yes. Yes, you are.
Me (running away): Stop looking at my ass!

Now, you’re probably thinking, “What’s the big deal? They’ve been married for 27 years. Surely, they’ve seen each other naked.” And you would be right, except this was broad daylight, in the middle of a room, and I was holding toilet paper and Ken was holding a garden trowel. If I was a more clever person, I might have responded with, “I’m so sorry—I have no money to pay you for your gardening services…” instead of fleeing like a streaker at a soccer game. But I’m just not comfortable being naked and running around the house unless I’m sure I’m completely alone, and even then it feels weird. Like, even in Toronto, when my roommate’s gone and I have the chain on the door so no one can sneak in, I still put on my pajamas before I leave the bathroom. I COULD run around naked, since the closest neighbour would need a high-powered telescope to see me, but you never know. Sometimes I just give the finger to my window on the off-chance that I’m being spied on, to let the other person know I see them, even though I don’t. And now what I think is that PARANOIA is my super-power, and I deserve a cross-over appearance in the Marvel/DC/Hanna Barbera universe. Just call me “Uncomfortably Naked Girl”.

My Week 141: OCD Much?

Wednesday: OCD much?

Last week, I was looking at Facebook, and someone had posted an article about one of the many Kardashian creatures and her apparent OCD. The Kardashian in question is “Kloe”, and maybe she thinks she has OCD, but I took one look at her refrigerator and freezer, and I was like “No. Just no.” Because her refrigerator and freezer made MY OCD flare up like fireworks on Victoria Day. First, her refrigerator was JAM-PACKED full of stuff. And maybe it was organized by type, but the pickle jars were all squished up against each other (who the hell needs 6 jars of pickles anyway), the salad dressing was nestled up against the mustard, and there was no satisfying equi-distance between ANYTHING. But the worst part was that there were 6 butter sticks which were NOT stacked evenly, and the margarine tubs were on a tippy, nay, haphazard angle. Lady, just because you have six cans of Red Bull lined up in a row doesn’t mean anything other than you’re probably more wired than most people. Also, the sheer amount of stuff in that refrigerator mostly proves you’re some kind of self-indulgent shopaholic with more money than brains—or OCD. Then I read on about how she takes several boxes of Oreos and tosses them into jars. Jars! You’re taking Oreos out of their neat straight rows and dumping them willy-nilly into glass containers, where the cookie dust gets all over everything. And what if some of them break in the process? Now you can’t even eat them.

So I was irked. My own OCD isn’t even that bad on most days—in fact, you might not even notice it, unless you look around my house and realize that all objects of décor are organized in patterns of fives (and sometimes threes or sevens), or you’ve watched me put groceries on the conveyer belt in a symmetrical fashion according to size and shape and with one inch of space between all items, or you’ve seen me in the bathroom washing my hands simply because doing that fills me with a sense of profound relief, or you’ve noticed that my thumbs are bleeding because my dermatophagia (which thank goodness is limited to my cuticles) is out of control right now and I’m not sure why.

Ken barely notices my own ‘quirks’, but a couple of weeks ago, it became VERY apparent, when I came home from Toronto and went into my bathroom:

Me: WHAT THE F*CK?!
Ken: What’s wrong?!
Me: The little clock goes on the right! The RIGHT!! Why can’t she remember that? It’s not difficult! There are only two directions—right and left. The little clock always goes on the right!! At a certain point, you’ve got to think she’s doing it on purpose!
Ken: Sigh.

The “she” in question was our new house cleaner. Now, before you start lumping me in with the Kardashians, like I have so much money that I can afford a maid, let me clarify that she only comes in once every two weeks, just to do the basics. With me in Toronto all week, and only seeing Ken on the weekends, the last thing we wanted to do was spend all day Saturday cleaning the house. Plus, I have to write, and dusting gets in the way of that. Obviously, a dirty house is a problem for me, hence hiring someone to help out. The cleaner is young and relatively inexpensive, but also apparently oblivious to the order of things. The first week that she came, she had left the cupboard in the kitchen in total disarray, causing me to have a small breakdown. “She moved EVERYTHING!!” I cried to Ken. He kindly suggested I get out the photographs so that I could put everything back. Yes, photographs. I take photographs of the way I’ve arranged things so that I know how to put them back, just in case. It’s especially helpful at Christmas, when I want to place ornaments in the exact same position as the year previous.  So I spent a good hour putting things back where they were supposed to be. Now, of course, I’m used to the fact that every other weekend, I’ll come home to subtle disarray, but there’s also some stress-relief involved as re-order my world and then stand back and admire the renewed symmetry.

I think a big part of the problem is that I don’t like strangers touching my stuff, so hiring a stranger whose sole job is to touch my stuff was bound to be a problem. One that I’m slowly getting used to. But this past weekend, Ken and I had a garage sale, so you can only imagine how high my stress level shot up, as stranger after stranger wandered around my yard, picking up things and putting them down in different places than the ones I’d assigned to them. It took all I had not to follow people around, re-arranging behind them, or not yelling, “If you don’t want to buy that, can you please put it back where you found it?!”

Plus I hate how judge-y people are at yard sales:

Woman: Will you do better than $20 dollars for this table?
Me: It’s from the late 1800s, so no, I’m sorry.
Woman: But the legs are a little rickety. Will you go $15?
Me: No, sorry.
Woman: Hmph. Then I’ll pass.
Me: No problem. Can you please put it back where you found it?

Seriously. An antique side table worth 5 times the price and she passed at $20 because the legs were a little “rickety”. What, was she planning to sit on it? Otherwise, it was just fine as a table. But we did sell a lot of stuff, including Frank the stuffed fish whose story you can read about in My Week 34. A woman came very early, and bought a lot of things for exactly the price we were asking and never haggled once. She admired Frank, who we’d pulled out of the shed to put by the side of the road on the grounds that neither of us REALLY wanted a dead fish in the house, so I told her she could have him for free. She loaded all of her purchases into her car, then suddenly she came back to the house. “Here,” she said, holding out a $10 bill. “That’s for the fish. I know he’s worth a lot more.” When we protested that no, she could just have him, she insisted, and tucked the bill into a glass on the table. “Don’t argue,” she laughed, and then drove away.

The other best part of the morning was when my aunts came for a visit. After looking around for a while, one of them asked if she could dig up a little bit of Solomon’s Seal from my garden for hers. They both disappeared for a minute, then my other aunt came around the corner of the house with the plant hanging out of a bag.

“Hey,” I yelled. “That crazy woman is taking plants from the garden!! Lady! Those aren’t for sale!!”

Then I realized that some of my prospective customers were looking at her, as she blithely made her way to the car. “Do you want me to stop her?” one man asked, concerned.

“No,” I laughed. “She’s family. It’s all good.” Because family is ALLOWED to touch my stuff.

My Week 140: Titus Shows Off at the Vet, Wonder Woman and Sexism

Saturday: Titus goes to the vet

On Friday night, Ken reminded me that Titus had his yearly vet appointment. He’s a pretty healthy dog, so he hasn’t actually seen the vet since this time last year. I had errands to do, but I agreed to go in my car and meet them there—not because I didn’t think Ken could do it on his own, but because I like to make sure we’re not getting soaked for extra tests. You know how veterinarians are always upselling procedures to make a profit. Not that there’s anything wrong with that—they need to make a living like the rest of us—but does a dog REALLY need a hearing test? If you open a bag of chips, and your dog doesn’t immediately appear next to you no matter where he is in the house, then your dog has a hearing problem, and it shouldn’t cost $200 to tell you that.

Anyway, on Saturday morning, I said to Titus, “Hey buddy, guess what? We’re going for a car ride!”

He immediately looked both intrigued and suspicious. “Where are we going?”

Me: The VET! It’s going to be awesome!
Titus: How is that ‘awesome’? The last time I went there, she stuck a needle in my ass. Wait—is that the place where they have those Liver Treats?
Me: Why, yes. Yes, it is.
Titus: Ok, cool.

So we got him into Ken’s SUV, where he insisted in sitting up front, and we both set off in separate vehicles. I got there at the same time as them, and I was all like, “Hey, buddy, did you have fun in the car?” but Titus was too concerned with smelling EVERY CORNER of the door frame, then EVERY CORNER the waiting room, straining against his collar, wheezing like an emphysemic old man, and whispering “So many messages…”. We managed to get him to sit still long enough on the scale to get his weight, which was 41.7 kilos. That sounded like a lot, and I was trying to do the conversion math in my head but failing I just looked it up—92 pounds). I was convinced that Titus had gotten a little ‘chunky’ over the last few months, but when the vet tech came in, she confirmed that his weight last year was 41.1 kilos.

Titus: Ha!! And you called me ‘chunky’. I’m svelte, baby. Cheese slices for everyone!!
Me: Well, I’m sorry, but you looked bigger.
Titus: That’s just my personality. I’m larger than life.

Then the vet tech gave us a form to fill in, because Titus is now technically a “senior dog”, having attained the age of 8 years old. There was a series of questions which we had to answer on a scale of zero to 3.

Ken: Does your pet seem listless?
Me (watching Titus run back and forth between the counter and the door): That would be zero.
Ken: Does your pet urinate outside the litter box?
Me: I’m confused. Is he supposed to HAVE a litter box? How big would it have to be?
Ken: I think this is a generic dog/cat survey, so I’m just going to say ‘Non-Applicable’. Has your pet’s appetite increased?
Me: He’s a Lab. I don’t think there’s an end to his appetite. Is the next question, ‘Has your pet’s appetite decreased?’ cuz you can say zero to that one too.
Ken: Ok. When your pet barks, does he dribble a little urine?
Titus: WHAT?! (Looking at floor)…Actually, maybe a little right then.
Me: No, that’s just drool. Stop staring at the treat jar.

Then our vet came in, and, long story short, she was VERY impressed with his health. Then she tried to extend his back legs and looked a little concerned:

Vet: He doesn’t want me to manipulate his right leg. Has he been favouring it?
Me: No, but every so often, it goes out from under him a bit.
Vet: Could be early hip dysplasia. We’ll have to keep an eye on it, and start him on joint health supplements. Of course, we could X-ray it right now…
Titus: Death Ray?! I’d rather smoke a joint.
Me: A ‘joint health supplement’ is a vitamin, not marijuana.

Then it was time for the shots, which Titus didn’t even notice because he was too busy eating Liver Treats to distract him. We also reluctantly agreed to bloodwork to test for heartworm, liver and kidney function, as well as flea and tick medication, and the dollar signs were just ringing up loud in my head. But after the blood was taken, the vet made him a special bandage with a little heart on it, so that totally made up for the incredible cost. At one point, she left, and Ken whispered. “What do you think? Like, $300?” and I was like, “No way—at least $500.” And yeah, guess who was right?

The best part though, was that when we came out, the place was packed, and everyone turned to look at Titus. I couldn’t have been prouder in that moment, as they ooh’ed and ah’ed over him. “What a gorgeous dog,” said one woman. “He’s a giant!” said another. People commented on his shiny coat, how well-behaved he was, and what a beautiful smile he had. None of this was lost on Titus, who’s nothing if not a showman.

Titus: Let’s do our routine—really give them something to remember. We’ll put that Shih Tzu over there to shame.
Me: OK—ready? Sit. Stay. Bang! You’re dead…OK, you’re just wounded…Fine, you’re alive—roll over.

Then he gave the crowd high fives, and everyone, including the snooty little Shih Tzu, was suitably impressed. So I guess the vet bill, which I put on Visa and will be paying off in installments, was totally worth it.

Women Only

So this week, I’ve been reading about how some guys are really upset because there are special “Women Only” showings of the new Wonder Woman movie. But I understand why they’re upset about this, because every time I’ve done “Women Only” things, men always complain about it:

1) Ringette

When I was 7 years old, I started playing Ringette. Ringette, at that time, was a Women Only sport. Of course, what I really wanted to play was hockey, but at the time women’s hockey teams were extremely rare, and girls weren’t allowed to play on boy’s hockey teams. I played Ringette until I was 14 and it was always an all-girls team. Of course, there was no body checking, or pucks, but it was still a pretty cool game. Then the guys started complaining that they wanted to play Ringette too, so now, of course, there are men’s ringette teams.

2) Brownies and Girl Guides

As a kid, I was really into nature and hiking in the forest, and basically just doing cool stuff, so I joined the Brownies. What I really wanted to join was the Cub Scouts, but girls weren’t allowed to join the Cub Scouts. I became a Brownie and got badges for sewing and cooking instead of making fires and killing bears and sh*t. But hey—I got to dance around a toadstool and my leaders were named after owls. Now, of course, thanks to boys wanting to join the Girl Guides, there are unisex troops, and adventure groups for both sexes.

3) Home Ec.

When I was in Grade 8, I was in a ‘girls only’ Home Economics class. Well, ALL the Home Economics classes were girls only. The boys got to take Industrial Arts where, instead of cooking and sewing and learning to apply make-up, they got to weld and do woodwork. But what I really wanted to take was Industrial Arts, and one day, my dream came true. The boys and girls switched classes for one period, and the Home Economics teacher made cookies for the boys while they watched, and the Industrial Arts teacher made us all key chains. I could have made my own f*cking key chain, but the teacher didn’t want me to burn my fingers melting the plastic in the electronic frying pan. Silly guy—I KNEW how to use an electric frying pan because I’d been taking Home Economics for almost a year. But I guess boys really like to make cookies because now all of these classes are co-ed.

My point? Well, women have lost all the bastions of their womenhood to men. Everything is co-ed now, thanks to men complaining that they’re being left out of all the cool stuff. All we want is the ability to do something without the opposite gender constantly wanting to join in and make things equal. Is that so wrong? I mean, men have been saying that for years.

Sarcasm aside, I think it’s a bit hysterical that a lot of the same men who are upset about not being able to see Wonder Woman would never have complained when women were FORCED to have Women Only things, like the Lioness Club instead of the Lion’s Club, or the Rebekah Lodge because women weren’t allowed to be Masons, or any other “women’s branch” of any fraternal organization, or sport, or activity because they weren’t ALLOWED to be a part of the men stuff. T pointed out that saying it’s ok because men did it to women for years doesn’t make it right, and I told him that I didn’t actually think it WAS right. It’s just ironic. And if it’s any consolation to the men out there, Wonder Woman is still wearing a ridiculously skimpy outfit. But of course, next thing you know, Batman is going to be complaining about why he can’t fight crime in a bustier too, and all the superheroes will be wearing lingerie. But that’s equality for you.

My Week 139: I Hate Showers

I Hate Showers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other weird things I did this week:

Monday: We have the most random text conversations:

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

Tuesday:

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

Thursday:

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

Sunday:

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