Profiled

A few days ago, I saw a red flag hovering above the LinkedIn app on my phone. “Ooh,” I thought. “Is someone interested in being my friend?” Now, I know that connections on LinkedIn aren’t technically called ‘friends’, but what exactly DO you call them? ‘Business peeps’? ‘Corporate posse’? ‘Kudo Klub’? (If you know anything about LinkedIn, you know it’s always pressuring you to send kudos to people as if the mere fact that you’ve been connected to them for five years is cause for celebration, like ‘You’ve never once LIKED MY POSTS, MARCIA, so kudos for that.’) At any rate, when I opened the app, I was even more excited to see that it was a personal message. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have been so thrilled but after socially isolating for over a year, any form of communication is exciting. Even the stupid Norton on my computer popping up to tell me it’s protected me from several threats recently is a bit of a thrill. Of course, Norton is just a tryhard, because I have the free version and Norton keeps trying to impress upon me how much better off I’d be if I paid for a better package. But why have a cow and buy milk, am I right?

So I clicked on the message icon in breathless anticipation. There was a message from Jarod. It read, “Hi Suzanne! I wanted to reach out because, based on your profile, I thought you might be interested in discussing your sports flooring needs. Please reach out to me anytime!” Now, there were several questions I had about this message:

1) Who the f*ck is Jarod?

2) What’s with all the exclamation marks? This is LinkedIn, not Twitter.

3) What in the name of all that is holy could possibly have led Jarod to read my profile and glean from it that I had ‘sports flooring needs?

4) What even IS sports flooring?

And because I had no interest in engaging with Jarod about his weird flooring fetish, I will answer these questions myself:

1) I have no goddamned idea. He is neither a Business Peep nor a member of my Corporate Posse.

2) Jarod is very excited about sports flooring and the idea of potentially connecting with me over it. Perhaps he envisions us, sipping wine on a terrace somewhere, discussing whatever the hell sports flooring is.

3) I re-examined my profile. It says my name and that I’m the author of Smile and The Dome (I should probably update that with my two new books, The Seventh Devil and Feasting Upon The Bones and if that isn’t a shameless plug, I don’t know what is). It also says I’ve been endorsed for Public Speaking and Educational Leadership despite the fact that the only thing I ever post on LinkedIn is my blog. Where, in ANY of that, is there the slightest indication that I’m a) athletic b) interested in sports c) interested in floors?

4) The only thing I can even think of is astroturf. Why would I ever in a million years need astroturf? I HAVE GRASS, JAROD. Or is sports flooring that bouncy stuff? Because that MIGHT be cool, maybe in like one room where you could go when you were stressed and just bounce around on your sports flooring like Tigger until you felt better. Then it occurred to me—could ‘sports flooring’ be a euphemism? But I couldn’t for the life of me think what it might be a euphemism for, so I asked Ken:

Me: What could an interest in sports flooring be a euphemism for? Like, you’re a professional killer and you bury someone under concrete at an arena?
Ken: That’s very dark. Hmm. The only euphemism about sports I’ve ever heard is ‘Water Sports’.
Me: Water sports? Like water polo?
Ken: No, like…”pee play”. You know, Golden Showers.
Me: EWWWWWW.

So I immediately wrote back to Jarod: I DON’T DO THAT. What a creep. Then I looked and realized I had two other messages, one from ‘Matt’, who wanted to know if I was interested in an AI Training Pilot Project. Now, if that’s a euphemism for teaching my robot butler how to bring me wine, count me in. The other was from someone who thinks I like camping. Guess which message I’ll be responding to based on my profile?

Quilt Update for those who are following: I’m now at 270 squares. Thanks to those who recommended the rotary cutter. That thing is a godsend.

Weekend Update

Well, Happy Easter Weekend to all of those who celebrate it and Happy Weekend to those who don’t. The mydangblog household doesn’t observe Easter particularly, but we do give each other chocolate according to pagan tradition, and chocolate is one of the few life’s pleasures left to us as we’re currently under yet another “lockdown that’s not really a lockdown”. As someone on the interweb succinctly put it: “I can go to Costco, but I can’t go to my barber. My barber can go to Costco but can’t give me a haircut. We can both be in Costco at the same time—maybe he can cut my hair in Costco.” People aren’t allowed to gather in groups of more than 5 people, but come Tuesday, classrooms will be full of 30 kids per room. Ultimately, I’m never sure if this is a pandemic or just a really bad Monty Python sketch.

At any rate, before I begin, I have three updates. First, an update on the quilt. I have, as of this day’s reckoning, cut 121 squares of denim with about 300 to go. I will be attempting to purchase a rotary cutter today on the advice of my many quilting friends (you never know how many you have until you tell people you’re making a quilt), if I can find a store that’s open.

Second, thanks to all of you, I did indeed win Spillwords Press Publication of the Month, and I am very thrilled and grateful to everyone who voted or tried to vote (that site is super-finicky) or even just clicked on it to read it because that counts too.

Third, and this ties into number 2, I’ve begun the sequel to The Seventh Devil. It’s called The Devil You Know, and now I have lots of names for the characters thanks to my promise to name them after anyone who voted for me.

And off we go on another foray into the strange world of Facebook Marketplace.

1) Drama: Free

You can just tell by the photo that Amanda is a very dramatic girl. It’s amazing to me that she isn’t charging more for her drama but maybe the lockdown is getting the better of her and she’s so bored she’s just willing to give it away. So I contacted her and asked about a sample:

Me: What kind of drama are you offering?
Amanda: Low level best friend drama, mid-range passive aggressive wife, and crazy ex-girlfriend.
Me: Can I try the crazy ex-girlfriend?
Amanda; I WILL SLASH YOUR TIRES, YOU BASTARD!!
Me: Wow, that IS intense. I think I’m good.
Amanda (sobbing): So that’s it? You’re just going to leave? WHY??!! I LOVE YOU!!
Me: Okay, have a good weekend.
Amanda: You too!

2) Bookshelf: It is issued.

It wasn’t so much the bookshelf in this ad but the description, which reads “Good bookshelf. We are moving. It is issued. Has a lot of place. It is useful.” So, these people are moving due to some kind of decree? Is there a dude whose job it is to randomly evict people with bookshelves, like, “I see you have a good, useful bookshelf. I must demand that you move immediately. Leave the bookshelf behind in this place. I have spoken.” I hope he doesn’t find out how many bookshelves I have—I have no intention of moving.

3) Self-portrait: 5 dollars

This is an excellent example of a post-modern charcoal sketch in the style of a young Matisse. Personally, I would title it “Artist Holding Boom Box”, but those could be boobs. And that’s the joy of art.

4) Custom Handmade Boat: $100

What a lovely, idyllic scene: A peaceful living room with birds merrily chirping in their cage, a puppy snoozing on his pillow, the sunlight spilling in through the cracks in the boat—wait, what? I’m guessing that the genius who handcrafted this boat has never actually been in one and is unaware that the key to building a seaworthy vessel is to ensure that the water STAYS ON THE OUTSIDE. Now, you may be thinking that the person meant a good bookshelf SHAPED like a boat, but the description below simply reiterates “Custom handmade boat”. This is the stuff for which relocation decrees are issued, my friends.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone—now I’m off to cut some denim.

Patching Things Up

A little while ago, I decided to make a quilt. Let me state upfront that I have never made a quilt before, have no idea how to make a quilt, and I don’t know how to sew. Yet, there I was, wide awake at 3 am one morning, considering the numerous pairs of old jeans currently in my closet, as one does, and wondering what to do with them. “I could make a patchwork quilt,” I decided, with the confidence of someone who has never made a patchwork quilt. But I am nothing if not determined, so here are the steps I’m following.

First, I had to decide how many squares I would need. I lay there at 3 am, doing math, and if that doesn’t tell you about my level of determination and/or boredom, I don’t know what will. So, a king-size bed is 72” wide and probably the same in length. No, I didn’t bother to actually MEASURE it at any point during this process and have yet to do so, and that’s just fine. Anyway, I need a 6 “ drop on either side, so this quilt will be 84” square. And if the patches of denim are each 4” and I have to cut them at 4 ½ so I have a hem around each one, that’s…well, I don’t know, but it’s a lot of f*cking squares. After some painful mental gymnastics, I finally resorted to using a calculator and discovered, to my horror, that I will need approximately 441 squares of denim. At first, I didn’t believe it, then I counted the number of squares on the patchwork quilt my mother-in-law made us and it was just about the same. How many pairs of jeans IS that? Am I actually going to have to buy more jeans just to make a damn quilt? Luckily, I have 14 pairs as well as a few of Kate’s old jeans, so I might be OK. Otherwise, they sell them cheap at the thrift store.

Next, I had to decide how to cut the squares. Note that at the time of this writing, I have not yet cut the squares. But when I DO, I’m going to make a cardboard template that I can trace around. Or maybe two. I need the squares to be 4” but as I said before, I need a border or something that I can sew, and it should probably be like a standard width or whatnot, because I don’t want people to think my quilt was made by an amateur.

Me: So when I make my template, should I make a big one and a small one, or a big one with holes at certain spots?
Ken: What are the holes for?
Me: So I can take a Sharpie and mark the places where the pins need to go. Ooh, I have to buy pins!
Ken: Can’t you just fold the fabric over the smaller piece of cardboard and mark it that way?
Me (scoffing): You obviously know nothing about quilting, Ken.

Now that the squares are hypothetically cut, I have to sew them together. Normally, I just use a staple gun when I work with fabric—in fact, I recovered all of our breakfast room chairs a couple of weeks ago and all I needed was a pair of scissors and a staple gun. At first, I figured I could just hand-sew the squares, like the way I sewed up a rip in Kate’s leggings the other day. But when I considered the sad state of my sewing basket (it’s actually a Quality Street tin with a hotel sewing kit in it) and the time it took me to thread the needle, let alone the ten minutes to stitch up a 1 inch rip, I decided against that. So I needed to buy a sewing machine. And wow, those f*ckers are expensive! Luckily, I was on Facebook Marketplace and saw an ad for an old Singer that some woman was selling for thirty-five bucks, which seemed like a good deal. And in the ad, to prove it worked, she was demonstrating sewing a piece of denim! Talk about kismet.

On Thursday after work, Ken and I went to pick it up. What should have been a quick trip took a little longer than I expected because, even though I had already e-transferred her the $35, she hadn’t accepted it yet, and insisted that I wait while she booted up her Commodore 64. Then she got the answer to the security question wrong, even though I had messaged it to her and then told it to her AGAIN while standing in her kitchen, causing the transfer to fail which meant I had to resend it. Finally, she tried to print me off a receipt, even though I kept telling her I didn’t need one. Was she lonely? Maybe. Did she talk about making horse blankets and barn coats the entire time I was there? Yes, she did. Was that helpful to my quilt-making endeavours? No, it was not.

Sewing Lady: I have so many machines, it’s time to get rid of a few.
Me: What do you use them all for?
SL: Well, I use some of them to sew barn coats and horse blankets, but some of them are just for display. I really like sewing machines. I’ve been collecting them for years.
Me: Well, lucky for me you’re selling this one.
SL: I’ve taken off the plate and oiled it and set up the bobbin for you.
Me: Those are all English words, yet…
SL: It’s easy to use. See?
Me: That needle looks very sharp.

At any rate, the sewing machine is now sitting by the door where we left it. Today, I’m going to buy some pins and cardboard, and I will be giving regular updates on the quilt. Hopefully by this time next year, my mother-in-law will have taken pity on me and made the quilt for me. And that, my friends, is how you make a patchwork quilt.

Update: I have not yet purchased either pins or cardboard. Maybe tomorrow…

As I Was Saying

The other day, I was in a meeting, listening intently as one does, when suddenly a colleague said, “Yes, if we do that, it’s like killing two birds with one shovel.” I immediately did a double-take, first because things seemed to have escalated quickly from talking about policy decisions to violently murdering birds, and second, because as far as I know, the original saying is “Kill two birds with one stone” and where the hell did the shovel come from?! I mean, the original saying is bad enough—I suppose it means accomplishing two things at once, but who was the sadist who thought the best metaphor for that was the slaughter of our avian friends with projectiles? And now we’ve upped the game to some bizarre game of stealth, because there’s no way you can bludgeon two birds with one shovel unless you have the reflexes of a ninja (and the soul of a serial killer). And it got me thinking about other weird sayings:

1) A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush

Is it really though? Have you ever actually tried to hold a bird in your hand? Those little f*ckers get pretty pecky. I’d much rather have two birds merrily singing in a bush than one of them trying to bite my damn finger off.

2) Eating crow

This saying is interchangeable with “eating humble pie” and let me tell you, I’d much rather eat pie than a crow. Is the crow IN a pie? How is crow best served? Personally, if I was forced to eat a crow, I’d like it in a stir fry, smothered with spicy peanut sauce and served with a side of rice noodles. Or I could just not eat it at all, because according to the first idiom, I would have to kill it with a stone. Or a shovel. Neither of those options sounds appealing.

3) Throwing the baby out with the bathwater

Were old-timey people really this villainous, with their birdicide and baby neglect? I used to think that this expression meant one thing, but apparently I was wrong:

Me: So throwing the baby out with the bathwater refers to someone being stupid, right? Like “He’s so dumb, he threw the baby out with the bathwater.” And then he had to go get the baby and give it another bath because it was all muddy and whatnot?
Ken: No, it’s an old saying from when people only bathed once a week. First, the grandparents had a bath, then the parents, then all the kids. By the time the baby’s turn came, the water was so dirty that no one realized the baby was in the bathtub.
Me: So the person who was bathing the baby was like, “Yawn, think I’ll go have a drink” and just forgot about the baby? I suspect my initial assumption was right.
Ken: No, it means losing something you like along with something you don’t.
Me: Well, I like babies. I’m changing this to “throwing the pearls out with the jewelry box”.
Ken: Random, but OK.

4) Like taking candy from a baby

This expression is SUPPOSED to mean that something was really easy, but it’s completely inaccurate. Have you ever actually tried to take candy from a baby? They will scream and pout and generally make your life miserable. I wasn’t even allowed to dip into Kate’s Hallowe’en haul without being accused of grand larceny. Seriously. Just TRY taking candy from babies. They will cut you.

Of course, the current popular expression around our house is “YOU GO, PELETON!” because Peleton has upped their game with new commercials showing people exercising and being called out personally by the virtual trainers, and I really wanted a Peleton so that I could be part of the cool club. But they’re super-expensive, so instead, Ken promised to randomly yell, “YOU GO, PELETON!” or “YOU DID THAT, PELETON!” at me for encouragement. And the best part is that I don’t even have to exercise. Easy as crow pie.

Eye of the Needle

Last week, I got a new tattoo. I love tattoos—I already have five of them, and now that I have Prime TV, I’ve been bingewatching Ink Master, which is a great show with a surprising amount of drama. So I was super-excited to book an appointment with Nathan at New Rise Studio, who’s the son of one of Ken’s former colleagues, and I’ve been following Nathan’s work through her Facebook page for ages. I finally made the appointment with him at the beginning of December for a January date, and just before the glorious day came, we went into lockdown again, postponing everything indefinitely. I finally was able to get the new tattoo done last week and it turned out exactly the way I hoped. And Nathan was very cool and not at all freaky like the last guy I went to, who not only gave me a tattoo but also regaled me about the time he was a Chippendales’ dancer, and told me about his stepson’s sex life.

It might seem weird that I got my own book cover tattooed on my arm, like very narcissistic and whatnot, but I don’t care. I’d originally envisioned something much smaller and less ostentatious but when Nathan showed me what he’d designed, I thought, Why the hell not?

And now my plan is to get ALL my book covers tattooed on me at some point, so I’m literally covered in covers. But that isn’t why I’m telling you this story. No, I’m telling you this as the context for a very misogynistic conversation I had recently, and I couldn’t do anything about it.

This week, I got a call out of the blue to come the next day to a hospital where a surgeon would perform a procedure on my shoulder called ‘barbotage’, which is supposed to break up the calcium deposits in my shoulder and relieve the intense pain I’ve been in for months. You might remember that I had undergone shock wave therapy for the same thing, and I had to explain to several people that it wasn’t electroshock, like they were envisioning me with electrodes attached to my skull a la Frankenstein. The shock wave therapy, despite its hefty price tag (not all of it was covered by our provincial health program) didn’t work, obviously, since the calcium was still there like a rabid little ferret, chewing away on my tendons. I’m assuming that’s what a rabid ferret would do at any rate, as I have no actual experience with either rabies or ferrets. So I went to the hospital and was greeted by the ultrasound technician, who explained that she would use the ultrasound machine to guide the surgeon as he stuck a variety of needles into a variety of places in my shoulder, particularly this long tubular needle that he would use to break up the calcium. “Just to let you know,” she said ominously, “there’s a chance the tendon could tear, or you could get an infection. Also, it will bleed a bit. I’m obligated to tell you that.” It sounded TERRIFYING. But I thought “What would Dave Navarro do?” and I signed the release she gave me.

She left to go get the surgeon and I sat there waiting, almost sick with fear. They came back and after some chit chat (he had a deceptively charming English accent), I didn’t feel any more comforted:

 

Me: So I heard this procedure has a 90% success rate.
Surgeon: Meh. There haven’t been many clinical studies. It’s probably more like 60%. Fingers crossed.
Me:

Then he draped me and began the procedure:

Surgeon: I’m going to inject you with lidocaine. It will feel like a bee sting.
Me: Let me know when.
Surgeon: It’s already done. You’re okay?
Me: Yep.
Surgeon: Okay, now I’m going to inject your bursa with a local anaesthetic. Are you still good?
Me: I got a tattoo last week. This doesn’t hurt as much as that did, and the tattoo didn’t really hurt.
Surgeon: I’m going to insert the barbotage needle now…So you have a tattoo? My wife wants one, but I told her she wasn’t allowed to get one. And I told my kids that if either of THEM got one, they could find a new place to live.
Me:
Surgeon: How are you feeling? Just a few more minutes.
Me:

Like, what do you even say in response to that? I mean, I had a ton of things I could have said in response to that, but the dude had a giant needle stuck deep inside my shoulder, so I didn’t feel it was an appropriate moment to explain to him that we were living in the 21st century. I mean, could you imagine that kind of conversation at MY house?

Me: I’m going to get a tattoo.
Ken: You’re not allowed.
Me: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! See ya when it’s done, nerd.

The procedure was quickly finished up—it was nowhere near as bad as I’d thought—and he gave me some aftercare tips then vanished. Right before he left…I still didn’t say anything because what if I have to go back for another treatment? But if I do, I’m going to make sure I see Nathan FIRST.

Sh*t On A Stick

Yesterday morning, I woke up, opened my eyes and immediately grabbed my phone to text Ken (he was downstairs, but I’m lazy and the bed was so cozy):

I was filled with relief. And what could possibly have brought about this reverent—nay blissful—attitude towards the state of our dog’s bowels? Well, let’s backtrack a bit.

On Wednesday, I was in the middle of a meeting when Kate skidded into the room and announced loudly, “Atlas just threw up!” I managed to convince her that, having just been accepted into a Veterinary Technician program, cleaning it up would be great practice, so she did, and after my meeting was over, I went to investigate. It was A LOT. Then about half an hour after lunch, he did it again. And after his mid-afternoon snack. For dinner, we gave him a small amount of steamed rice and plain yogurt, and he seemed OK, so on Thursday morning, we gave him the same. Around 10 am, I let him out and he tossed up all the rice and yogurt. My heart sank, and I started immediately fearing the worst—either an obstruction or a tumour.

Let’s backtrack a little bit more. Atlas the monster dog, our canine enfant terrible, is a typical Lab. Which is to say, he will eat literally anything. I’ve pulled plastic tags, bottle caps, deck screws, my car key fob, and other assorted and bizarre items out of his mouth on a regular basis. A couple of weeks ago, he came into the house with a chunk of ice in his mouth (I’m in Canada and it’s winter) so I wasn’t too concerned, until Kate came home, saw him, and yelled, “Why the hell does the dog have glass in his mouth?!” Turns out it wasn’t ice. I have no idea where he could have gotten a large piece of glass from—Ken and I never put our recycling out back. I found him eating okra once outside too—I had to look it up, because I’ve never bought it before in my life. Where he gets this stuff is beyond me, and we’re also currently missing several jigsaw puzzle pieces and three of Kate’s earrings. So the idea of an obstruction was NOT far-fetched.

We took him to the vet on Thursday, where he spent the day, getting examined and tested. When Ken finally brought him home, he was tired but starving. The vet was pretty sure it wasn’t an obstruction, mostly because, as she put it, “He’s very…enthusiastic” which I took to mean that he was leaping into the air and yelling “Yee Hah!!” as he normally does whenever he knows liver treats are close by. She said to give him the stomach medicine she’d prescribed and not to feed him until Friday morning, then give him special canned food—one tablespoon every hour, and see if he held it down. But the most important thing was to make sure he was pooping. Which he didn’t. All day Friday, and all Friday night.

And then finally, it was Saturday morning and EUREKA!

Right now, I’m sure you’re saying to yourself, What the heck is going on here? This is supposed to be a HUMOUR BLOG. None of this sh*t  is funny! But wait—there’s more.

Me: So where’s the poo?
Ken: Just over by the fence.
Me: Have you examined it yet?
Ken: Of course not. I was saving it for you.
Me: Awesome, thanks!
Ken: You’re not going out NOW, are you? It’s minus 5 and you’re in your pajamas.
Me: I need a long stick.

And if you’re not laughing at the thought of me, out there in my pajamas and slippers, ankle deep in snow, poking through my dog’s poop with a stick, I don’t know what to tell you. I didn’t find anything unusual in it, more’s the pity:

Kate: Did Atlas poop out my earrings yet?
Me: Not yet. Maybe next time.

It’s nice to have something to look forward to, am I right?

The Shane Of It All

On Tuesday morning, I was getting ready for work when my phone rang. I wouldn’t normally answer an actual phone call that early (or any time really unless it was family) but it was a Toronto number and I work with several people who live there. So I put down my blush brush and said, “Hello?” A woman’s voice answered: “Hello, I’m calling from Doctor ____’s office for Shane Brien.”

And there it was. Like an elusive ghost from the past, Blazefordayz Shane had suddenly reappeared.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Shane hasn’t had this number for a few years.”

The woman sounded confused, but said, “Okay, thank you. Goodbye” and she hung up.

For those of you who haven’t been here long enough to know the saga of Shane Brien, let me remind you quickly. I received a company cell phone about 4 years ago. Almost immediately, I began getting text messages about Soca parties, Facetime calls from Shane’s mother, messages from Shane’s jealous girlfriend (“You better not be with that Angela”) and invitations from his friends to play soccer, go to Vegas, and smoke weed, as well as various job offers from temp companies. In fact, one of my favourites was the time I was offered a ‘warehouse’ job, and after a certain amount of contemplation, I offered to get a team together and requested the blueprints to the warehouse (you can read all about this in My Week 226: All About The Bordens). The response was a confused “What do you mean?” and I realized I may have misjudged the situation.

Over the years, the calls and messages have continued sporadically. I tried to hunt down Shane, but to no avail. Unfortunately, there are several ways to spell both ‘Shane’ and ‘Brien’, leading to about nine permutations, none of which matched anyone on social media that I could see. But I did find out tidbits of information first from a jewelry chain, who had the number associated with a Shane Brien in Brampton. He also had a Canadian Tire Points Card, long expired. And now this—a doctor’s office calling for him.

It made me very concerned. After all, Shane and I go way back, and at a certain point, I began to feel quite motherly towards him. But after all these years, people STILL don’t know he changed his number and they’re STILL looking for him? And then I had a terrible thought: What if Shane had been murdered?!

In case you’re wondering why this escalated so quickly, I started watching a crime show on Netflix about a hotel called The Cecil where people have died or disappeared from. In the very first episode about a Chinese student who went there and was never seen again, I immediately, after an aerial shot of the roof, announced, “She’s in the water tank.” Ken looked it up online, and she was, indeed, found in the water tank, obviously because ‘putting bodies in water tanks’ is the new ‘tossing them into a dumpster’ in the world of crime dramas, and I’m REALLY good at solving mysteries. But it got me thinking, What if…

So bear with me: Shane Brien, a popular young man, goes to a jewelry store to purchase two gifts, each an engraved bracelet. One is for his fiancé, and the other is for a woman named Angela whom he is seeing ‘on the side’. After a heavy night of drinking and Soca dancing, Shane inadvertently gives the wrong gift to the fiancé, who is understandably furious. Little does Shane know that ‘Darla’ (that’s what I’m calling her) is the type of woman that you should never scorn. She begins to plot and plan. She goes to Canadian Tire and drains Shane’s points account with the purchase of an air fryer to establish her alibi—she couldn’t possibly be responsible for Shane’s impending disappearance—after all, she just bought an air fryer to make him chicken wings for f*ck sake! (Darla swears a lot when she’s nervous).

But she’s a small woman—how on earth will she exact her revenge on the duplicitous Shane? Then she has a brainstorm—she calls a ‘temp agency’ which is really a front for a criminal enterprise and asks to hire a ‘cleaner’. And as everyone knows, if a ‘warehouse job’ is a money heist, then a ‘cleaning service’ is obviously who you call when you want someone disappeared.

The ‘cleaning service’ is expensive, but Darla has access to all of Shane’s accounts as well as his passwords. She arranges to have them send Shane a text message advertising a rooftop SOCA party. Party of ONE, but Shane doesn’t know that yet.

“I’ll meet you there,” Darla says with a sweet smile. But she doesn’t. She just sits at home eating chicken wings (those air fryers are pretty goddamn awesome), waiting for the call telling her the ordeal is over. The ‘cleaning company’, in the meantime, has lured poor Shane up to the rooftop of a local hotel with the promise of sweet Soca music, and deposited him in the water tank. He’s never seen again.

Darla, of course, has the password to his cellphone account, which she cancels, although she continues to text Shane to establish a solid alibi and also throw suspicion onto ‘that Angela’. But the one thing she didn’t count on was that Shane’s cell phone number would be passed on to me, a crime drama afficionado. I hope I’m wrong about all this, but I rarely am.

Of course, there could be a much simpler explanation—Shane got a new cell phone and forgot to tell people he’d changed his number. But somehow, I doubt it…

Also, check back here on Wednesday for Creative Wednesdays—I have a big announcement!

Tested To My Limits

So last week, I had the MRI I was telling you about, and unfortunately, I didn’t sprout forklift arms. Not even fork hands, which would also have been cool, although somewhat of a step down. But I quickly got over it because this week, I had to have a CAT scan on my head to try and figure out why I haven’t been able to breathe out of my left nostril for a very long time. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do anything special for it, except for show up at the hospital early yesterday morning.

I was sitting in the waiting room when the radiologist came to get me. He called my name and introduced himself and my blood ran cold. “Yello,” he said. “My name is Sergei. I vill be doing your CAT scan. Come vis me.” Yes, he was Russian. Now, I have absolutely nothing against Russians, but several years ago, I almost caused an international incident with our Soviet comrades when I said the following as part of a post about giving up some of my organs to science:

“Just the other day, I read an article on an actual legitimate internet site about Russian researchers who are on the brink of being able to do a head transplant. They even have a patient lined up for the procedure, believe it or not. This, of course, led me to wonder though–under what possible circumstances would you EVER need a head transplant?! How the hell did you manage to get yourself decapitated in the first place? And if it were possible to re-attach a head to a body, wouldn’t you want your OWN head back? Where would you even find a body that had also lost its head so you could put the two of them together? Kate says that it’s for people who are quadriplegic, so that they can have more mobility, but in that case, wouldn’t it be a better use of medical research to figure out how to fix a spine, rather than aspire to be Dr. Frankenstein? Trust the Russians to do things the hard way—this is why they lost the war. Which war, you ask? Take your pick. I did some internet fact-checking because as we all know, historical accuracy isn’t one of my strengths, and it turns out that they lost almost every war they’ve ever been involved in. Sorry, Russia. They DID win the space race though, so hats off for that.”

Then a few days later, I was looking at my site statistics and realized that someone from Russia was reading my blog. So I did what any rational person would do under similar circumstances: I freaked out and called Ken:

Me: I think I’ve just caused an international incident.
Ken: What are you talking about?
Me: Remember last week when I was dissing the Russians for losing a lot of wars? Well, someone from Russia is reading my blog. What if it’s the KGB? What if they want my head?!
Ken: HAHAHAHA
Me: It’s not funny. If I go out for groceries and never come back, you’ll know why.
Ken: I’m sure no one is coming all the way from Russia to kidnap you and steal your head just because you said they were bad at war.
Me: YOU DON’T KNOW THAT, KEN!

So I spent several months afterwards worrying constantly about being reprimanded by Justin Trudeau for violating some kind of peace treaty, as one does, or having my head affixed atop a figure skater. I finally stopped thinking about it and assumed the Russians had forgiven me. But just when I thought that I had nicely dodged not only an international incident AND potential decapitation, I found myself at the mercy of Sergei, as he directed me to lie down on the bed and commanded “Tip your chin up, pliz.” I was just on the verge of yelling out, “No one is going to want my head—my mind is like a cross between a Monty Python sketch and a jukebox that never stops playing! It will make whoever you donate it to go crazy! Also, I said ALMOST all the wars–I’m sure you’ve won a couple, but history is not my strong suit!”—when I heard Sergei’s voice in the speaker above my head: “You’re all finished,” he said. “Have a nice day.”

“Spasibo,” I answered, just to be on the safe side.

I’m including the picture below because I know a lot of people have been feeling down lately, and after I took it, I said, “This looks like a beacon of hope.” Of course, that could just be me all tired and sentimental after a week of medical testing, but you have to admit, it’s peaceful and pretty.

The Art Of The Deal

It’s been yet another one of those weeks where the days seem to blur into each other, and where the highlight was receiving a conference call before 7:30 in the morning from a colleague who had butt-dialled the entire team. Cue several confused voices all worried that something major was going on, but all we could hear in the background was the sound of someone getting ready for work. Because I’m me, I posted a gif in the team chat a while later that said, “When you pocket-dial the entire team…” with a picture of Hugh Laurie from House going, “Oops” (I didn’t say butt-dial in the team chat because I’m a professional, dammit). Later, I noticed that everyone but the culprit had reacted to the gif, so I got suspicious and messaged him:

Me: Did you like the gif I posted?
Colleague: Yes, lol.
Me: You know why I posted it, right?
Colleague: No, why?

At that point, I may or may not have led him to believe that it was a video call, and he was momentarily horrified:

Colleague: What was on screen?!
Me: Well…
Colleague: Seriously? Omg???

I finally put him out of his misery and assured him that it was audio only. I can’t be too judgmental though—I’m the one who answers video calls by putting the phone to my ear, which I’m sure my co-workers appreciate.

At any rate, this week I was looking for cheap jigsaw puzzles and happened to be on Facebook Marketplace. Some of the ads are quite interesting as I’ve discussed before and, based on what I’ve seen, it occurs to me that I could make a fortune at helping people market their crap on there. So here are my four tips to making a great sale:

1) Truth in advertising

If you’re trying to sell something, it’s important that you’re honest with your customers and this advertisement is demonstrably inaccurate. There is no old ass in this painting anywhere—no elderly politician, no giant donkey, no wrinkled butt to be seen. The only ass in the picture belongs to the boar and it looks remarkably youthful. I was expecting something completely different based on the description, as you can well imagine. Also, it’s become de rigeur to set a price of $123 if you have no clue how much something is worth, yet below it says, “Sold at auction for €3000 euros which is like $4600 Canadian”. So the painting is already sold? Is this just someone bragging? Instead of sending the polite auto-message that says “Good afternoon, is this still available?”, I really wanted to send, “WTF is this?” But then I checked the profile picture of the seller, which featured a young couple who looked as though they imbibed frequently on certain mind-altering substances, and suddenly the whole thing made sense in a drug-fuelled fantasy kind of way. Still, the truth is important and this old ass painting has yet to sell.

2) Clarity

While this ad is accurate—there ‘is’ indeed two of them—the question remains: Two of WHAT? And the question remains unanswered in the description below, which simply reiterates, “There is two of them”. Did the person who posted this ad really think the picture speaks for itself? Because the only thing it’s saying to me is “There is two of them.” After that, I’m at a loss. Clarity—because none of us are f*cking mind readers.

3) Don’t get too fancy

I’ve never been to Antigue Dispaly, which I assume is one of the minor islands off the coast of Antigua. And I also don’t know how many styles of cabinets they make there, but I’m assuming at least 16 based on this ad. But is all of that really necessary? Do you really need to dazzle potential customers with your exotic Antigue wood? IT’S A CABINET. No one cares where it comes from, Bob. If it was that rare, you’d be asking a hell of a lot more than $175 so take it down a notch.

4) Be willing to compromise

This ad is a perfect example of someone who truly understands marketing. First, it’s completely accurate and honest. The ad description says “Sold” and it’s a picture of the word “Sold”. Second, it’s very clearly written and easily understandable—nothing convoluted here. Third, it’s not fancy—there’s no swirly font, and it just screams simplicity the way it’s on a piece of lined paper and whatnot. Finally, Debbra knows that her audience appreciates a good buy and has dropped the rather hefty asking price by 50% for a quick sale. This is what it’s all about, people.

I hope you appreciate my sound marketing advice, and with that in mind, I leave you to guess what this ad featuring Sir Turdalot is for (hint—he’s not for sale).

Jumping The Shark

OK, so this week has been pretty busy, I’m exhausted, and around midnight last night, I had still had nothing in mind to write about. Then, just as I was drifting off to sleep, a voice in my head said, “Sharks are so cool.” I woke Ken up and said, “In the morning, remind me that I need to write about sharks.” He was like, “Sharks. Right.” But then I wrote it down myself because I knew he wouldn’t remember; in fact, I just asked him a minute ago to remind me what I told him last night and he said, “Glass. You were going to write about glass.” Unfortunately, I am nowhere near as obsessed with glass as I am with sharks. And I know that sounds weird, living nowhere near an ocean as I do, but I’ve had a thing for sharks ever since I was little and we were in England, where we watched some fishermen inspect their haul and throw all the dogfish back in the water.

“What are those?” I asked. “They’re so CUTE!”

“They’re dogfish,” my mother said. “They’re like tiny sharks.”

And I was like, if this is how adorable a TINY shark is, imagine how majorly awesome a HUGE shark would be!! So this week, in honour of sharks, here are my top 5 Shark Moments, in chronological order:

1) When I was around 9, my grandmother offered to take me to the movies in another city, which involved a very long bus trip. This was in the days when the cinemas were on Main Street instead of in a strip mall or a ‘cineplex’. When we got there, there were two movie theatres on the same block. One was playing “Blazing Saddles”, the G rated comedy she was SUPPOSED to take me to see. The other theatre was playing “Jaws”. I begged her instead to take me to see “Jaws”, although I didn’t have to try to hard—my gran was one of those ‘laissez-faire’ English people, and her response was “Whatevs. Don’t tell yer mam.” If you’ve ever seen “Jaws”, you’ll know that by the end of the first minute, I was absolutely terrified. But after a little while, the terror turned into fascination, and by the end of the movie, I was kind of cheering for the shark, especially after that woman slapped Sheriff Brody, and I was like, “It’s not his fault—maybe you shouldn’t have let your kid swim in shark-infested waters—it’s not like he didn’t TRY to warn you. And don’t be blaming the shark either—he’s just doing what sharks DO.” By the time the movie finished, when the shark makes its first real appearance, I was in love. Later that week, I saw in the TV guide that there was a movie on about a shark, and I begged my mom to stay up late and watch it. She was confused but reluctantly agreed. Then the movie started:

Me: When will we see the shark?
Mom: What shark?
Me: The movie is about a lone shark. Like Jaws.
Mom: (laughing) Uh no—it’s about a ‘loan shark’. That’s a man you borrow money from, and if you don’t pay him back, he breaks your legs.
Me: What?! I’m going to bed.

2) The next year, when I was 10, my brother and I were absolutely fanatical about this novelty record that had just been released called “Santa Jaws”. It was a collection of Christmas carols, all rewritten to include sharks. Our favourite was “God rest ye merry gentlemen/You’re not so merry now./The seaside signs said not to swim/But you swam anyhow.” It was brilliant. I just looked it up, and you can listen to it on Youtube (here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELZGHmrF9pA )

3) When Kate was little, I somehow transferred my love of sharks to her. When she was about 5, she had her heart set on dressing up like a shark for Hallowe’en. But try finding a shark costume anywhere—apparently the costume people think it’s OK to dress up like vampires, zombies, or culturally inappropriate Indigenous princesses, but sharks? They’re just too scary. The best I could do was find a dolphin costume, to whose mouth I stapled sharp, cardboard teeth. Kate was only 5, so she didn’t know any different, but I was like, “Aw man—that dorsal fin is all wrong. I hope the other kids don’t make fun of her.” She still got lots of candy, despite the dorsal fin debacle.

4) A few years ago, I bought myself a shark puppet. It was on sale at the local store, and I brought it home and named it Marcelle. Whenever our previous dog Titus was getting too hyper, I would put it on and speak to him in a deep, sharky voice:

Titus: There’s food! Food on the coffeetable! This is the best day ever—wheeee!!!
Marcelle: SIT DOWN.
Titus: Whuh—who are you?
Marcelle: I’m your worst nightmare. It’s time to be a good boy. Now, SIT!
Titus: (sitting) I don’t think this is ecologically accurate—
Marcelle: No food for you!

Eventually, I gave Marcelle to a colleague’s little boy. He was just too hard on Titus. I eventually replaced Marcelle with a small stuffed shark that I named Brian. Then we got Atlas:

Atlas: Mine!
Me: No, you can’t have him.
Atlas: But I want him. I will eat him.
Me: Not if he eats you first, buddy.

So I had to put Brian on a high shelf out of Atlas’s reach, for his own good.

5) I saw Sharkwater, that documentary about sharks, and it made me cry. Then I went with my parents to Turks and Caicos, and my dad and I went snorkeling. The tour took us out to a place called Stingray Cove, where they had a lot of little stingrays that for some reason, they wanted you to hold and kiss. So we did, suddenly, the tour guide yelled, “Shark!” And I was like “Ooh, where?!”  Turns out they were small lemon sharks, who grow quite big and can be very aggressive towards stingrays. I thought it was the best thing ever, but the tour guides were all upset because they make their livelihood taking people out to kiss the stingrays, and didn’t want the sharks to hurt them.

So there I was, standing waist-deep in water with my underwater camera, trying to get a picture of a shark, with these local guys all yelling at me to ‘Get out of the water!’ and ‘Stop encouraging the sharks!’  and ‘You’re going to get bit, crazy Canadian lady!’ I DID get a blurry picture of one of them before it suddenly occurred to me that, despite my tremendous sympathy for them, a shark might not know the difference between my leg and a stingray. And they already have a bad enough reputation without the headline “Ungrateful shark eats Canadian shark ally.”

Anyway, there you have it. Sharks. Because glass is dumb.