My Week 269: Launched, When Pigeons Attack

Last weekend, I had a book launch for my new novel The Dome (shameless plug, and if you read it and like it, can you please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads or whatnot? Also, here is a link to The Dome on Amazon.com (use Amazon.ca if you’re in Canada) before I get pigeoned to death lol!). Anyway, the local pub hosted it, and it was not without its funny moments. First, Ken had to go out of town suddenly in the morning and said to me, “Hey, I might be gone for a while so if you get a minute, can you decorate the cake?” We looked at each other for a second. I pointed to myself questioningly. He nodded in resignation then shrugged and left. This pantomime was in response to the fact that I decorate cakes in very much the same way that I wrap Christmas presents, which is to say, “like a small child”. But he’d applied the base coat—my only job was to pretty it up. He’d made two cakes and put them together to make a book shape. There was green and red icing, and a small CN Tower model. We had some muffins so I decided to take the top off one and use it for the SkyDome (that’s what it used to be called before it was bought by a series of corporations—it was called the Air Canada Centre at one point but I think it’s the Rogers Centre now, and I’m sure in a couple of years it will be owned by a beer company and be called something like The Heiny-Dome, but it will always be the SkyDome to me).

I put the model of the tower on one side, ripped the top off a muffin and stuck that next to it. It didn’t look much like the Toronto skyline, so I rooted around in a box of Hallowe’en candy and found some little Hershey bars that I could stick in the cake to look like skyscrapers. Then I wrote The Dome at the top. I stood back to examine my efforts and decided it needed something more, so I looked up images of maple leaves online and drew one on the left side. It wasn’t much of an improvement. The muffin was chocolate and it looked like someone had taken a dump on the cake.

I gave up, and went to get dressed. When Ken finally came home, he said, “What’s wrong?” I pointed wordlessly to the cake.

Ken: It looks great! The maple leaf is VERY professional, although I’m not quite sure what it’s for…
Me: It’s the symbol of the rebel movement IN THE NOVEL, KEN! Did you even read my book?!!
Ken: Oh right! Well, it looks just…super.
Me: No, it doesn’t. I suck at decorating.
Ken: I can salvage—I mean finish it for you. Don’t worry.

And he did. It looked much better after he worked on it, although he didn’t have a lot of time or supplies—the only thing left in the Hallowe’en box was licorice.

Then we got to the pub a little early to set up and it was PACKED WITH HUNTERS, and I was like, Oh god, are they going to be here all afternoon? There was a table of about 12 of them right in front of the stage area, so I jokingly yelled, “Hey, thanks for coming to my book launch!” and they all stared at me like I was a deer they wanted to shoot. Luckily, they were getting ready to go kill more stuff, and by the time the launch actually started, they were gone. The rest of the afternoon was fantastic, with between 50 to 60 people showing up. I did a reading and sold out all the books I’d brought with me. At one point during the afternoon, I started to tear up because I was overwhelmed by all the love and support I was getting from everyone. So thanks to all of you out there—it means a lot. And all the cake got eaten.

We now return to our irregular programming…

Last week, I went out for lunch with some friends from work. We were at a place called the Upper Deck where, in the summer, the windows are removed and it becomes an enormous patio. But the windows aren’t sealed tight in the winter and birds can still get in and out. We were sitting there talking and suddenly something plummeted from the ceiling and landed directly in my lap. I was mid-sentence and interrupted myself with a loud scream. Everyone, including ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE IN THE RESTAURANT, looked at me. I held up a giant pigeon feather and yelled, “What the f*ck!!” And it reminded me of the time a couple of summers ago, when something similar happened on a different patio.

Every restaurant in downtown Toronto, regardless of the size of their frontage, has at least one table out front in the summer, even if it blocks the sidewalk. Personally, I love relaxing on a nice patio with a cold glass of white wine in hand (even if said glass costs more than the actual bottle I can buy at the liquor store—Toronto prices are a rip-off), but there are some dangers to the patio life that need to be taken into consideration. First, you are an open target for panhandlers; to them, it must seem like shooting fish in a barrel. I’ve also heard stories of street people taking sips out of glasses or stealing fries off plates. But the biggest hazard to patio season is the wildlife, which brings me to the point of this story. I had gone with a group of colleagues after work for a drink. Patios are so popular in the summer that, when there’s no room on one, you can get put on a waiting list and the hostess will give you a disc that flashes and buzzes when there’s seating available. So after waiting for about 15 minutes, we made our way out to the patio at Jack Astor’s. It’s a great spot, high up and overlooking all the madness of Dundas Square, with misters that spray the air above you if things get too hot (I just realized that makes it sound a little like a gay bar—let me clarify that “misters” are large showerheads, not actual men. I was in a gay bar last summer and instead of spraying us with cooling water, the waiter yelled at my friend for putting her feet up on the outdoor patio chair. When I laughed and said, “Who are you, our mother?”, he replied, “Well, SOMEONE has to parent you, sweetheart!” It was fabulous).

Anyway, things were going really well, and I was totally relaxing into my drink, when I realized that there was a pigeon wandering around near our table. Pigeons are the panhandlers of the bird world—they have no problem at all approaching you to scam you out of your food or give you pamphlets about the impending apocalypse. I was doing my best to ignore the pigeon, who was getting closer all the time, but then I laughed at someone’s joke, turned my head, and for a horrifying split second, the pigeon and I made eye contact. Even though I looked away really quickly, the pigeon took this as an obvious invitation to join us, and began sidling over towards my chair. I tried to pretend it wasn’t there, but the effort of keeping one eye on the pigeon and participating in the conversation was making me more and more distracted and a little afraid. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE birds. I get super excited every time I see an owl on a hydro line, and Ken and I will race from window to window to watch a humming bird buzzing around our flower garden. But the pigeons in Toronto are another matter altogether. They have no fear of humans whatsoever, and they have these malevolent, beady little eyes that follow your every movement. So there I was, minding my own business and being stalked by a pigeon. Then someone asked me a question; I took my eyes off it for a second, and suddenly I couldn’t see it anymore. Then I felt something brush my leg, and when I looked under the table, the pigeon was NEXT TO MY FOOT. I moved my foot in a panic which made the pigeon fly up and start hitting my leg with its wings and talons. I screamed and thrashed at it—which made everyone at the table look at me like I was some kind of lunatic, but then I said, “Pigeon!” and they all smiled and nodded knowingly. So now, even though I love patio season, I’m also super-paranoid about pigeon attacks, and with good reason, if I’m not even safe from them in the winter. In fact, I’m a little suspicious of all birds in Toronto right now—on Wednesday, I was out with a friend when a sparrow landed on the sidewalk next to me. Instinctively, I told it to f*ck off and it flew away. You never know—it could have been the advance scout for a party of attack pigeons. I’m not taking any chances.

My Week 268: In Space, No One Can Hear You Drinking Wine

The other day, Ken and I were watching the news and there was a story on about the International Space Station. It was due to receive a shipment of supplies, among which was 12 bottles of fine French wine. “See,” I said, “I could totally be an astronaut if there was wine involved.” And then the story continued to explain that the astronauts wouldn’t be DRINKING the wine—it was an experiment to see how wine AGES IN SPACE. First of all, does anyone actually age wine? Aren’t you just supposed to drink it right away? I mean, the only time I EVER aged wine was when I had a bottle of Chardonnay and somehow it rolled under the couch, and I didn’t find it until we were re-arranging the furniture. And let me tell you, a Chardonnay that’s been lying next to a heating vent for three years pretty much tastes like cat piss. Well, at first anyway—then you get used to it. (Just kidding—I threw it out after the first glass).

At the wine store where my family “makes” wine, the owner is always telling me off for not filling the bottles high enough, because “too much oxygen will get in and, over time, will spoil the wine”, and I’m like, “How long do you think this case is sitting around for? Cuz I’ll be back next month.” And I put “makes” in quotations marks because our role is to order it, pay for it, then come back after 4 weeks and bottle it. What happens in between, I have no idea. All I know is that we show up at our appointment time, and put the wine in the bottles like a well-oiled Rube Goldberg Machine, with me filling the bottles, Dad corking, Mom as the label affixer extraordinaire, and Ken melting the foils on. We have it down to a fine art. (Fun Fact: I couldn’t remember the name of the Machine initially, and all I kept thinking of was a “RuPaul Machine”, but that would involve us the four of us being in drag and throwing shade at each other while we worked, and MY GOD, wouldn’t that be f*cking awesome?).

At any rate, as soon as we heard about the wine being aged in space, I said, “Well, I guess I couldn’t be an astronaut after all if there’s no wine. Watch—I’d get caught sneaking it and NASA would send me home on the next Russian shuttle” and Ken laughed and said, “That’s the ONLY reason?!” and he was right. Here are three other reasons why I could never be an astronaut:

1) I hate countdowns.

I’m the kind of person who thinks counting down is stressful. Like, when they say, “3, 2, 1, Blast-off!!”— do we blast off when we SAY “Blast off” or right AFTER we say it? And I know that some people HATE it when you ask questions for clarification and will get irrationally angry at you (*fake cough* NASA *fake cough*), but if I’m pushing a button that will launch me into space, I should probably know the EXACT moment to do it.

2) I abhor a vacuum.

I’m very much like nature in a lot of ways. For example, I have done several Facebook quizzes and know that if I was a fossil, I would be ammonite, if I was a dinosaur, I would be a Triceratops, and if I was a flower, I would be a lily, which is a weird coincidence because my first name is Hebrew for Lily. Anyway, just like nature, I hate vacuums. They are extremely noisy and yes, I know that a space vacuum is completely different, but I’m sure I would hate it too.

3) There are no Fluevogs in space.

Fluevogs are very fancy shoes, with only around 300 made in each style, and I have just discovered them. A couple of weeks ago, some of the women I work with went on an expedition to the Fluevog store, but I had to catch the train and couldn’t go. The next day they all came in wearing these outrageously cool shoes, all in different styles and colours—I heard someone once describe Fluevogs as the kind of shoes you would wear to an Alice In Wonderland Tea Party, and it’s true. I was super-jealous, and I wanted a pair too, but there was no way I was getting to the store anytime soon, so I checked the local Facebook Buy and Sell site and wouldn’t you know it? There was a pair in my size being sold for HALF PRICE by a woman who was a mutual friend of one of my friends, which meant we were almost sisters, and her house was on my way home from the train station. She’s only worn them once and they were gorgeous, so I bought them. When I got home, I showed them to Ken who said, “Aren’t those heels a little high? How are you going to walk in them when you have arthritis?” Silly Ken. You don’t WALK in Fluevogs. You just stand there feeling glorious. I don’t think NASA would appreciate me wearing pose-y shoes with my space suit, and I sure as hell couldn’t do a space walk in them, but DAMN they are f*cking fabulous. My Director saw them and called them “Bathroom Shoes” because you wear them somewhere special where you only have to walk to the bathroom and back in them. But wait—if space is a gravity-free environment, I COULD probably wear them all day.

So hey, NASA, if you’re interested in a middle-aged woman who’s ready to drink all your wine, is named after a flower, and who is prepared to drive your spaceship in the most kick-ass shoes you’ve ever seen, give me a call in 3, 2, 1…

My Week 267: Testing Myself

A few months ago, you may remember, I was at my doctor’s. He has the worst bedside manner ever, but during this particular conversation, he got very animated; in fact, he got more excited than I’d ever seen him, because I had asked about a colon cancer screening kit:

Me: I’m really sorry but the requisition you gave me 3 years ago expired. I know I should have taken care of this sooner but–
Doctor: No! Don’t worry about it! Because there’s a new kit, and it’s EVEN BETTER than the old one!!
Me: So I can get one of the new ones?
Doctor: YES! Call the office on Monday!!

Well, Monday came and Monday went—in fact, many, many Mondays came and went—but I finally called the office last week and asked for one of the new kits. The receptionist said it would arrive in a couple of days, and when I came home on Thursday, there was an appropriately brown envelope waiting for me. I opened it up and Ken and I examined it:

Ken: There’s only one test tube! Aw, you’re so lucky!
Me: Um, why?
Ken: My kit had 3. I had to do it three days in a row.
Me: Ugh! As if one day isn’t bad enough.
Ken: You could do it tomorrow.
Me: No, I’ll wait until the weekend when I can be sure that I’ll be in my own bathroom, and not in the bathroom at the train station.

And on Friday morning, I WAS in the bathroom at the train station, and it seemed like a real missed opportunity. But then on Saturday morning, it was time. The brown envelope contained the following: a folded up piece of tissue paper, a little ziplock bag containing a vial that had a tiny spatula attached to the cap, an instruction sheet, and another pre-paid return envelope, this one yellow. Ken and I have been binge-watching Rupaul’s Drag Race, which is an AWESOME show, so when I said, “OK, it’s time”, Ken’s immediate response was, “Good luck. And DON’T f*ck it up.”

So I went upstairs and looked at the instructions very carefully. They were absolutely bizarre, and a little juvenile, but easy to understand, as you can see:

When I came downstairs later, Ken asked, “Well?”

Me: It was really stressful.
Ken: Why? Did you put the paper in the toilet first like it said?
Me: Yes. And then I went. It was a really good one. Almost too good.
Ken: Because?
Me: Because you have to swirl the spatula around in it, and then put the spatula back into the vial, and the opening is REALLY narrow, and there was a lot on it, so I had to keep trying to wipe off the excess so that it didn’t get on the outside of the container.
Ken: *laughs hysterically*
Me: I didn’t imagine I would be spending Saturday morning leaning over a toilet full of a steaming pile of poo, worrying about offending some unknown lab technician with my clumsy vial-handling skills. Also, the instructions were very unclear about where the wiping took place in this whole process, so I had to improv that part. I can’t believe you did this three days in a row.
Ken: No wonder your doctor was so excited.
Me: And now I’m worried that I did it wrong because my poo didn’t look like the one in the picture, and I just did kind of a whimsical swirl in it but this picture shows the person swiping from side to side, and maybe I really did f*ck it up.
Ken: Sashay away.

And quite possibly I AM overthinking it, but 23andMe sent me a SECOND DNA KIT because I hadn’t done the first one right, and all that involved was spitting into a test tube. I don’t know what it’s like where you all live, but I’m in Canada, so this is free, and there are some poor lab techs out there who must have to deal with hundreds of poo vials a week and I just want to make their lives a little easier. Maybe I’ll spray some perfume on the envelope as a goodwill gesture.

Last week, my niece was very proud that she was good in math, and this week I was also proud of my math skills (until I talked to Ken):

1) My director called me in to discuss my budget. “I know it’s right,” I said, ‘because I used a calculator”, and she said, “Good job.”

2) I was on the train, sitting with my friend Max, and he was mad because all the stores are now decorated for Christmas, and holidays are just an excuse to sell stuff. “Did you know,” he said, “that yesterday was National Sandwich Day?!”

Me: Did you have a sandwich in honour of this special day?
Max: No, I did not.
Me: Personally, I prefer Pi Day.
Max: What kind of pie?
Me: No, like 22 divided by seven. I think that’s on July 22nd.
Max: (*looks it up*) It says here it’s on March 14. That’s a Saturday.
Me: Ooh, then it could be a whole Pi weekend, because Pi is 3.1415. What’s Pi for anyway?
Max: I think it’s to calculate the area of a circle.
Me: Why would you ever need to do THAT? Just buy enough floor tile to make a square and trim stuff away. Is it some theoretical bullsh*t thing, like Schrödinger’s Cat?
Max: No. It’s probably for things in nature, like calculating area in the ocean.
Me: Like what, how big is the Bermuda Triangle? Oh wait, that’s a triangle. I think you use a different formula for that. It’s the Pythagorean theorem.
Max: Are you sure?
Me: Andre! Andre! How do you calculate the area of a triangle?
Andre, The New Train Car Attendant: You use the Pythagorean theorem.
Me: See? I told you I was good at math.
Max: Happy National Vinegar Day, by the way.

3) And then Ken read the above and said, “What are you talking about?

Me: It’s the Pythagorean theorem. A squared times B cubed or whatnot, and some other stuff gives you the area of a triangle.
Ken: No, it doesn’t! That’s what you use if you don’t know the length of the hypotenuse of a right angled triangle. And it’s A squared plus B squared equals C squared. Your whole train car sucks at math.
Me: Then how do you calculate the area of a triangle, if you’re so smart?!
Ken: Height times base divided by two.

Me: Shantay, you stay.

My Week 266: Toys For Girls And Boys

So a couple of weeks ago, I was talking to Leslie, one of the “train gang ladies”, which makes us sound a lot more badass than we actually are, but really means that we all just take the train every day and stand around chatting about which train car attendant is the cutest, or meanest. Anyway, Leslie is really into Harry Potter and she told me that Chapters had their Harry Potter Lego Advent calendars for sale. And I was super-excited because I love Harry Potter. I don’t particularly like Lego myself, having realized a very long time ago that, while it’s great fun to put together, what the f*ck do you do with it afterwards? It just sits on a shelf collecting dust and if you try to play with it, it breaks into tiny pieces that you will inevitably step on. But the Advent calendar is a tiny spark of daily fun, and later, I can roleplay scenes from the Harry Potter movies for Titus. With the Lego figures. Obviously.

But it reminded me of the year that I forgot to order our Lego Advent Calendar. It was close to the beginning of December and all the good ones were sold out so I was getting panicky, but one night I was on our local Buy and Sell group and someone had a new Lego Advent Calendar for sale. I was immediately all over it. “But”, the woman cautioned, “it’s GIRL LEGO.”

I was like “So? What difference does it make?” and I bought it. Unfortunately, I was misled by my own naiveté, which had caused me to envision a bulldozer driven by a yellow lady Lego instead of a yellow man Lego. No, gentle reader, the difference was much bigger than that. I knew it when I saw the title on the box. It said Lego Friends; the “i” was DOTTED WITH A HEART, and I was immediately infuriated. Here’s what I bought. Two female dolls, and their little doll house. The “Lego” figures looked like Polly Pockets, or miniature Barbies, NOT those awesome Lego guys with the pointy heads you can put helmets and sh*t on. These girls apparently lived together and liked to cook in their kitchen with the pink blender and purple mixing bowl that came with the kit. They had a pink and purple couch, a pink and purple toboggan, pink presents, and a white kitty cat who was wearing a purple collar with a pink heart on it. And the worst part was that virtually nothing needed to be assembled. I could forgive the colour scheme (personally I LOVE the colour purple) and the cutesy hearts, because assembly is the great equalizer. However, Lego seemed to think that girls are too clumsy or stupid to put things together the way boys can, so almost everything was preassembled for them. Anyway, I was shocked that in the 21st century, this kind of blatant sexism still exists, that according to Lego, all girls like hearts, the colours purple and pink exclusively, kitty cats, and cooking, and have trouble with manual dexterity. But on the box, there’s a warning that the kit isn’t suitable for children under 3—Lego claims it’s because of a choking hazard, but I think this just gives all of us a chance to make sure our little girls play with lots of regular “boy” Lego before they turn three and have to be exposed to the ridiculous world of Lego stereotypes. Then again, when I examined the scene on the box more closely, the two girls were obviously living together, cosying up on the couch to exchange pink presents, and were planning to host a dinner party with their kitty. Could Lego, in an extremely subtle and subversive way, have created the first Lego Lesbian Couple? Maybe I was wrong about Lego after all.

But then I started to do a little more investigating and realized that, unless Lego had created an entire COLONY of queer women, they were just plain old sexist. Case in point, the Lego Friends “Lighthouse Rescue Centre” where you can join Mia, Emma and their girlfriends (the only characters pictured on the box are female) as they cavort with sea lions, and holy sh*t is that a heart on the jetski?! I don’t know about you, but I’ve NEVER seen a PINK lighthouse, let alone one with a waterslide. Compare this to the Lego Helicopter Rescue kit that features four dudes (only guys are featured on the box) and a very realistic hospital, ambulance, and helicopter.

Now, I don’t mean to imply that there’s anything wrong with a girl liking pink things, or kitties, or make-up—god knows, I love ALL those things and got my hair coloured purple on Saturday—I just think children should have a choice that isn’t based on gender stereotypes forced onto them by companies like Lego. Boys can like pink lighthouses and girls can like red helicopters. And people can be whoever and whatever they want to be.

I think back to my own childhood and wonder how I managed to escape those same media stereotypes and ended up being the person I am today. (My grade 5 teacher told my parents that I was “bossy and outspoken”—you’re goddamn right I am.) I had Barbies, and a Barbie camper, but we also had the “cowboy people”, one of whom was Cowboy Jane, whose only goal in life was to f*ck with Barbie by kidnapping her baby for a hefty ransom when she was on one of her many camping trips. Finally, my brother, who has a Ph. D., and I decided to test the laws of gravity, physics, and thermodynamics all at the same time by sticking matches in the side panels of Barbie’s camper, setting it alight, and launching it into our swimming pool from my second story bedroom window (don’t tell my Mom).

Today, I’m looking after the adorable child of my brother and sister-in-law, who agrees with me that people should be able to like whatever they want—she reminded me that even though she likes pink, she also likes red and black. Right now she’s wearing a sweatshirt with a unicorn on it and she’s drawing a very realistic picture of an egg:

Me: What are you good at?
C: Um…I’m very good at drawing things.
Me: You are.
C: I’m really good at math. I’m also very good at painting. And building things.
Me: You ARE. Anything else?
C: I’m good at being kind to people and also being helpful.
Me: That’s a very important thing for everybody to be good at.
C: I’m good at paying attention. Every day at school I get a sticker for paying attention. I DO have a lot of stickers.
Me: Awesome.
C: Also, I’m going to be a veterinarian one day.
Me: Excellent.

My Week 265: Let Them Eat Cake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Week 264: Sew What?

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Family Studies teacher would be so proud.

Two quick things:

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

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

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

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

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

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