My Week 168: June/September Relationships, A Micro-Story

Saturday: I realize I’m in a June/September relationship

Yesterday, Ken and I were driving back from grocery shopping when he said, “Can we stop at the cemetery?” While this might sound ominous to some people, I was actually really excited because someone in town has been playing a practical joke for weeks now, whereby they move the sign directing people to a new property development/subdivision in our small town to the outskirts, where it points right at the cemetery. The first time it happened, it was funny enough, but the person is nothing if not determined; despite the best efforts of the subdivision developer, the sign keeps magically reappearing across from the graveyard. I think it’s fairly obvious what kind of message the sign-thief is trying to send—that Drumbo is so boring that it might as well be a cemetery—but the big question is who? Is it a disgruntled teen, longing for the lights and action of the big city? Is it the previous developer, who wasn’t able to sell most of the lots and had to give the land up? (Also, it’s worthwhile to note that the previous development was called Aspen Hills, which is the most ironic name I could think of for a subdivision on completely flat land—luckily the new owners have called it “Oxford Meadows”, which makes more sense considering most of the lots are currently overgrown with weeds and wildflowers).

Anyway, it’s been giving us a bit of a chuckle, and yesterday, Ken wanted to get a picture of the whole scenario. So we stopped and Ken got out of the car, camera in hand. Ken takes a camera with him wherever he goes, “just in case”. He has a very popular Flickr account, and sometimes he gets over 8000 views in one day, so I cut him a little slack when he leans over and tries to shoot an interesting cloud through the windshield when I’m driving.

He got back into the car, having taken several photos of the sign and the cemetery, and then the fun began, as he tried to post the picture to Facebook. I watched him out of the corner of my eye, as he pressed buttons and muttered to himself:

Me: What’s going on?
Ken: Oh, nothing. I just have to—hmmm. Or maybe…
Me: Just use the image icon.
Ken: I will, after I write the post.
Me: You’re not done yet?
Ken: No, I’m trying to find Facebook.
Me: Maybe the problem is that you have a Blackberry. You know how the “interwebs” works, right? “I just can’t keep up with you kids and your newfangled gadgets and the Twitters. What ever happened to the good old days when people used typewriters?!” Oh wait, you ARE using a typewriter. Look at the keyboard on your phone.
Ken: Blackberries are great phones.
Me: Yeah, if you’re 75 years old. “I like to feel the keys go down when I press them, just like they did in the 1950s.” Also, could your screen be any smaller? No wonder you can’t find “the Facebook”.
Ken: Ha. Posted. So there. Oh wait, not yet—it’s a little laggy…by the way, Sheila has a flip phone with an ANTENNAE, so go make fun of her.

And then I was like, man, I really AM married to a senior citizen, because the thought had occurred to me earlier when we were in the grocery store, and all these old people kept greeting us.

Me: Who was that?
Ken: Oh, that’s Sheila. We’re on the Historical Society together.

Me: Who’s that?
Ken: That’s Bob. He curls at the same club as I do.

Then, 5 minutes later, we got stopped by an elderly couple:

Man: Oh hi, Ken!
Ken: Hey Gary. How are things?
Man: Good. We’re just here picking up some groceries for the Lion’s Club dinner on Wednesday.
Woman: Yes, it’s my turn to cook!
Ken: Ooh, I can’t wait!
Woman: See you both then!
Me: Oh, sorry, I won’t be there–I’m in Toronto that night. Darn.

You see, Ken recently became a Lion, which means he does civic duty type things like helping decorate the Lions Park trees with Christmas lights, or taking cookies to the Historical Society Sunday Tea (which I just had to wake him up from a nap to remind him to do). It’s probably quite telling that most of the members of these clubs refer to him as “the youngster” or “fresh blood”. In order to be initiated into the Lions, he had to learn the Lions Club roar, which is not as cool as the Mason’s secret handshake, and simply involves bending over at the waist, making your hands into little lions’ paws, then straightening up as you roar and reach your paws to the sky. He’s obliged me with a couple of demonstrations, and it’s kind of cute if you ignore the fact that a grown man is doing it.

In the long run, I’m glad that Ken is involved in so many community activities. It keeps him busy during the week when I’m not here, and the interaction with other people will keep him away from the Bingo Hall. But the dude needs a phone without an actual keyboard. Luckily, Christmas is coming. But now I’m getting worried that Ken is rubbing off on me, because last night at dinner, I dropped the F bomb in front of T and his girlfriend, and I put my hand over my mouth, apologized, and corrected it to “gosh darn”. Then I read back this post and realized that there isn’t a single epithet in it. My god—I’m an old f*cking woman!

Micro-Story

The other day, I was rummaging around in one of my desk drawers, and I found a piece of foolscap with the following written on it. It’s a little weird but I hope you enjoy it. It’s about karma, among other things:

The boy carefully opened the can of peas with a wooden-handled can opener. This would be his new killing jar, and therefore, couldn’t have any jagged metal edges which might damage his specimens. He dumped the peas into the garbage, and rinsed out the can. Then, taking down ether, plastic wrap, a rubber band, and cotton balls from the shelf above the sink, he prepared the chamber. When all was ready, he picked up his butterfly net and headed out the door, into the field behind his house. Putting his equipment down on a nearby rock, he waited for his prey to float by.

It was a lazy, warm afternoon and his eyelids felt heavy as he watched the skies for any sign of the fluttering prize. Over the last two years, he had amassed quite a collection, from the simple Monarch to other, more exotic species, each carefully caught in his own net, and then executed in a tin can.

As he sat, cross-legged, patiently watching and waiting, he suddenly heard a loud voice from somewhere far above his head:

“Ew!! Mommy, a bug—kill it! Kill it!”

“It’s all right, sweetheart, I’ll get it.”

And with that, a giant shovel slammed down from the heavens and crushed him into oblivion.

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My Week 167: My Book, Titus Learns Some Shocking News, Beelzebub’s Elevator

Two Worlds Collide

Last week I mentioned that I’d just had my first novel published in my other, non-blogging life. In THAT life, I write Young Adult fiction and it’s very different from what I write here. I normally keep those two worlds separate, but I’ve had several people message me wanting to know more about the book. I’ve never been very comfortable with self-promotion (I was actually at Chapters Indigo yesterday to talk to them about an upcoming book signing, and I was super-nervous just to do that), but I’m going to put it out here. And please, if you’re really not interested in this, skip down to the next bit, where Titus and I have a revealing conversation. Anyway, this is my book. It’s called Smile.

Here’s the synopsis from the back of the book:

“Cassandra Wilson’s life isn’t easy. She’s spent most of her teenage years taking care of her much younger brother, working to support her widowed mother, coping with high school and its pressures, and still grieving over the death of her beloved father. The smile on her face has become an easy way of disguising her true feelings and the fact that she really isn’t sure who she is anymore. Her life suddenly begins to change when she learns that her mother has been secretly dating a co-worker for months and plans to introduce him to the family. Feeling betrayed, and fearing that her mother’s new boyfriend will try to take the place of her father, Cassandra decides it’s time to start living a little herself. That impulsive decision marks the beginning of a series of suspenseful twists, turns, and revelations involving a strange cast of characters who may just help her find what she’s looking for—a real reason to smile.”

The target audience is teens 12 to 18, although my twenty-year-old roommate in Toronto read it and said she loved it (so did my Mom and Dad, haha). I finished writing it about 5 years ago, and I sent it to a couple of publishers, who rejected it. Then I sent it out again last year, and it got picked up right away by a publishing house called Bookland Press, who apparently believe in me, which is very nice of them. One of the key points in the plot is that my main character, who’s 16 years old,  starts getting harassed by a guy at her school after she rebuffs his advances, and considering what’s happening in the world right now, it’s become more timely that I ever would have thought. Of course, that’s only ONE of the things she has to deal with, but I don’t want to give away too much. It’s available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters Indigo (in-store and on-line). If you buy it, cool. If you don’t buy it, also cool. If you like it and leave a review on any of the above websites, I will buy you a drink if you ever come to Toronto. But no pressure, obviously. I’d still buy you a drink if you came to Toronto. And now back to our regular (or irregular) programming…

Titus Learns the Shocking Truth

Titus: Hey. Congratulations on that Liebster award.
Me: Thanks.
Titus: I was just offered an award too. National Dog Magazine called and said I’d PROBABLY win Biggest Stud of the Year, but they wanted dick pics so I was like “I’ll consider it.”
Me: Did you actually just say “dick pics”?!
Titus: Well, technically you did…
Me: What?
Titus (under breath): Fourth wall baby, fourth wall.
Me: Anyway, you CAN’T be Stud of the Year.
Titus: Why the hell not? I’m super-sexy.
Me: For a very obvious reason. Or should I say, TWO very obvious reasons.
Titus: I’m not seeing your point.
Me: Because…how should I put this delicately? Because you don’t have any balls.
Titus: What do you mean, I don’t have any balls?! I have balls! I have balls all over this house!
Me: I’m not talking about the kind of balls you play with—don’t give me that look, smartass. I mean you’re lacking a vital part of the anatomy necessary for “studding”.
Titus: But the ladies love me!
Me: I’m sure they do. Listen, I know it’s a difficult thing to hear. All I can tell you is that they were removed long before you came to live with us.
Titus: You know, I’ve always felt like part of me was missing. Especially every time I lick my—
Me: Stop. I don’t need to know.
Titus: Well, I hope National Dog Magazine likes the pictures I sent them. Check this out! I might not have balls but I certainly make up for it in other areas!
Me: Classy.
Titus: That’s my middle name.

(*This came up in a different font–I don’t know why and I can’t change it–weird.)

“Lifting” Experiences

I hate elevators. I have hated them irrationally ever since I can remember, yet despite that, it’s been my fate to have lived or worked in many building where an elevator is mandatory. I would LOVE to be one of those people who can’t wait to get in their extra “steps” by climbing the stairs, but a) I have arthritis in my feet and b) even if I didn’t, I hate stairs because they make me wheezy. My condo in Toronto is on the 34th floor and my worst nightmare is having the fire alarm go off in the middle of the night, and instead of the concierge saying, “Please wait for further instructions”, he screams wildly, “Abandon ship! Fire in the hole!” and then we all have to go down 34 flights of stairs in our pajamas. OK, dying in a fire might be worse, but stairs also suck.

Elevators, on the other hand, are the devil spawn of convenience and ease, but for some reason, they scare me silly. You know how, when you’re really stressed out, you dream about certain things? Well, I always know when my stress level is getting high because I’ll start having nightmares about out-of-control elevators, like the cable has snapped and the elevator I’m in is plummeting to the ground, or it flies out of the top of the building launching me into space, or other terrifying dream scenarios. I don’t know where this deep-seated subconscious fear comes from, since I don’t remember ever having an early childhood experience with a rogue elevator, but even as a rational (well, semi-rational) middle-aged woman, I WILL get out of an elevator if it even makes a weird noise.

As a quick side note, the elevators in my building have cameras in them, which I discovered one day when I was talking to the concierge. I realized that there was a little bank of tv screens behind his desk and 3 of the screens had interior shots of the elevators:

Me: You can see what people are doing in the elevators?
Concierge (laughs): Yep.
Me: So if, for example, I was alone on the elevator, and I happened to be dancing, you could see that?
Concierge: Yep.
Me: Oh.
Concierge: Don’t worry–I don’t judge. But you might want to get a couple of new moves.

Anyway, I’m not like some people, who can’t stand elevators because they have a fear of enclosed spaces, or hate being in close quarters with other people—in fact, I’m always happier when I’m NOT alone on an elevator, because I figure if something bad happens, the other person will know what to do. Case in point: Last week, I got on the elevator at work. We have 6 of them, and there’s always one that’s out of order, or acts wobbly, or makes screechy sounds, but I can always take another one that seems relatively normal. On the day in question, I finished work late, and got on the first elevator to arrive. The doors closed. I went to push the ‘L’ button (‘L’ for lobby), but instead, I accidentally hit the button next to it, which said ‘B’, which I assume, based on what happened next, stands for ‘Beelzebub’. The ‘B’ started flashing, and I realized I’d pushed the wrong button, so I pushed ‘L’. The ‘L’ light came on, then just as quickly blinked off. The ‘B’ was still flashing. Nothing was happening. I stabbed the ‘L’ button again—same thing. It lit up then went off. I realized that we weren’t moving, and that the ‘B’ button was still flashing at which point, I got super-panicky. Suddenly, the elevator gave a shudder and started moving and, I kid you not, I actually yelled out loud in anguish, “I don’t want to go to the basement!! Not the basement!!” just as the doors opened on a young guy standing in the lobby of the 15th floor.

“This isn’t the basement,” he said.

“Thank god you’re here,” I replied. “I was stuck in the elevator. The ‘B’ light kept blinking.”

“Oh,” he said. “If you want to go to the basement, you need a key as well. You have to be authorized.”

“I didn’t WANT to go to the basement. I hit the wrong button. If you hadn’t been there, who knows how long I would have been stuck. Thank you for saving me.”

“Uh, no problem. See, now we’re in the lobby. It’s all good.”

And it was, although I’m sure the poor guy thought I was overreacting and being super-dramatic, which would not be a lie. But I can tell you this: I will never take Elevator Number 4 and its direct line to the lair of Beelzebub again. I’d rather take the stairs.

 

 

 

 

My Week 166: Ich Liebster dich, Du Liebster mich

 

Well, it’s been a crazy week, which is to say much more crazy than normal. I don’t talk about it much here, since I try to keep my blog life and my ‘other’ life separate, mostly so that the people I work with don’t realize that I’m a LOT weirder and way more swear-y than they think I am, but I actually also write Young Adult Fiction, and my first novel was just published. On Tuesday, I was contacted by a local newspaper for an interview, and on Wednesday, I appeared not only on-line but also on the front page of the hard copy paper, like the WHOLE front page, with my picture literally a foot high. Slow news day, I guess, but my publisher was over the moon. But on top of all that, the ‘blog me’ also had a great week, because I was nominated for a Liebster Award by my blogger friend R.S. Noel, Creative Writer Who Thinks and Dreams in Realism, whose blog can be found here: https://rsnoel.com

R.S. Noel is an outstanding young blogger whose writing is carefully crafted and lovely. He writes fiction and non-fiction, focusing often on philosophy (but never in a boring way like Socrates) or music, or simply the aspects of his own life which have taught him important lessons. You need to read him–he’s honest and insightful.

Anyway, I was thrilled when he told me that he’d nominated me for a Liebster Award, and now I have to follow the rules set out whereby I answer the questions he posed. I’ll also be nominating 5 other bloggers that I admire, but you’ll have to read MY sh*t first, because it’s my damn award.

Question 1: Why did you start your own blog?

About 4 years ago, I was going through a hard time. If you’ve read me for a while, you’ll know that I used to work with a group of extremely nasty people. The harassment, especially by two of my male colleagues, was so terrible that I didn’t know what to do. So to save myself and my sanity, I started focusing on the funny things that were happening each week, and started writing them down. I already had a WordPress site that I’d been using professionally, but I completely revamped and reinvented it so that I could share my humour with the world, which also explains why the blog is mydangblog but the domain is educationalmentorship.com–I can’t for the life of me figure out how to change it and I quite often forget that Educationalmentorship is actually me because it sounds way too professional and fancy. But being able to do that, to shove aside the negativity and revel in life’s absurdities, is what drives me to write. Even though I’ve changed jobs and now work with some awesome people, I still write the blog because humour is important to me.

Question 2: If you could travel back in time, what time period would you visit and why?

That’s a tough one. We all romanticize the past to a certain extent, but the truth is that things were pretty smelly before deodorant and sewage treatment plants were invented, and most time periods were extremely violent. I guess if you pushed me, I’d say…I’ll get back to this one. OK, I’ve done all the other questions. I’m still stuck. OK—dinosaurs. I would want to see dinosaurs with my own eyes. Then I could help museums by letting them know whether or not dinosaurs had skin or feathers. I’d be incredibly popular amongst the paleontology set.

Question 3: Favourite food/drink?

Bacon-wrapped filet mignon and white wine. Yeah, I know you’re supposed to drink red wine with red meat, but I’m a rebel. I don’t care what the snooty waiter thinks. I live life MY way, and my way is Chardonnay.

Question 4: Who is the most influential person in your life (famous or not)?

My son, T. I’ve become a better person because of him, because I want him to be proud of me.

Question 5: What is your favourite animal?

I have two. I adore dogs, and my favourite dog is Titus, my 100 pound black Labrador. He’s got the sweetest personality on the planet, and he’s a killer with the witty one-liners. I could talk to him all day. My fictional favourite animal is the Zebrasus, which is a cross between a zebra and Pegasus. They smoke cigars and wear Mardi Gras beads because they’re cool and sassy.

Question 6: What is your favourite season and why?

Summer, because I’m always cold, and summer is the only time of the year when I don’t have to put the seat heater on in my car.

Question 7: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I would want the power to cut off people’s internet permanently when they say stupid things on social media. I can hear someone saying, “But mydangblog, who are you to judge what’s stupid or not?” To which I reply, “That’s stupid. You’re cut off.” I’d be f*cking GREAT at judging that. Think of how much more we would ALL enjoy social media if the racists, sexists, homophobes, and general assholes were relegated back to being the town idiots who sit in local bars, where people are too busy having a good time to pay attention to their drunken musings. Also, I would like invisibility, because that would just be fun.

Question 8: What is your top Bucket-List item? Why?

I would have said “being a published novelist” but that’s just happened, so I’m going to say “moving to a country property with a river or creek, or some type of flowing water”. I want to sit on the bank of a stream in the sunshine, listening to the birds and thinking about how beautiful the world truly is. Ken and I used to have a property like that but we sold it because the house was so close to the road that we couldn’t open our windows without feeling like we were actually on the asphalt. But I miss the water.

Question 9: Who is your favourite musical artist?

Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters. He’s a musical genius and a really good guy. If you want to know more about how I really feel, read My Week 42: Kanye Vs. Dave and Dad. There’s a T-chart, so you know it’s very scientific:

Question 10: What has been your most rewarding moment as a blogger?

Every time I get a new follower, I feel incredibly blessed. If I can make one person laugh a day, then I have fulfilled my purpose and kept good faith with myself.

And now, in no particular order, are the fellow bloggers that I’m nominating for the 2017 Liebster award:

Freethinkers Anonymous

The Problem with Ciara is…

Greater Than Gravity

Spooky Action At A Distance

The Rise and Fall of Harry Hamid

And here are the ten questions that I have for you, my dear nominees:

1) Why do you write?
2) Which of your own blog posts should people read if they want to really know you?
3) Best hybrid animal and why?
4) Flowers or chocolate?
5) What was your favourite childhood toy?
6) What is one thing about your life that you would change?
7) Who is your favourite writer?
8) Are you crafty? (Either ‘cunning’ or ‘able to make crafts’)
9) What movie do you like to watch over and over? Why?
10) What makes you laugh?

Thanks again to R.S. Noel for the nomination, and to all the other bloggers and readers out there who make up this amazing and supportive community!

My Week 165: All I Want For Christmas Is A Transporter–But Not A Robot Cat

Yesterday, I turned 52. I keep thinking of myself as middle-aged, although if this is the middle, I want some kind of guarantee that I’m going to live to see 104. At what point do you stop being ‘middle-aged’, like what age is no longer realistic to double? 104 years old doesn’t seem like an impossibility any more, given advances in the medical field and the fact that people are more healthy than ever. A colleague from work lost her grandmother a while back, who had just turned 101, and the whole family was shocked because she was in such good health. Whereas, in 1850, most people could be expected to kick it before they turned 40, so I guess we’ve come far from the days of scurvy and black lung disease. And I say ‘I guess’, because frankly, I’m a little disappointed with the future I was promised when I was young. Not my own personal future, which has been pretty awesome, but the general future that was envisioned by cartoons, TV shows, and novelists, and which has completely failed to live up to expectations.

1) A couple of weeks ago, I was at a workshop, and we were invited to discuss what we thought the future would look like. Other people at the table were jabbering on about “entrepreneurship” and “global competencies”, but I was like, “Transporters. What’s the point of even HAVING a future if there aren’t any transporters to magically take you wherever you want to go?” Then the guy next to me whispered, “I don’t think you’re getting this” but I was like “NO. I TOTALLY get it. Star Trek built up my expectations, then betrayed me.” I mean, think of all the technologies that Star Trek predicted that we now have: doors that slide open when you stand in front of them, holograms, supercomputers that talk back to you, and a whole lotta other useless sh*t. But the one thing, the ONE THING that would really make MY life easier would be a transporter. Why have the science people been focusing their attention on building fancy coffee makers and rechargeable vacuums? I’ll bet James Dyson could figure out a way to transport astronauts to the International Space Station on a sub-molecular level if he put as much thought into a transporter as he did into a hand dryer. Why do I need to drive a car to the airport, get on a plane, and arrive in Paris 7 hours later, when I could just say “Teleportez-moi, Monsieur Scott!”?

2) Also, where are the goddamn flying cars? It’s bad enough that I can’t miraculously appear in Paris whenever I want, but my car doesn’t even FLY. Damn you, George Jetson. It’s 2017, and the best we can do is a ‘driverless’ Uber, which is just making a bad idea worse. And even worse is the fact that we still use dinosaur blood to run our stupid, non-flying cars, instead of electricity, like somehow, electric cars will destroy the world as we know it, or at least take money out of the pockets of billionaires.

3) When I was 6, I was obsessed with Aquaman. I was convinced that, by the time I grew up, there would actually be biodomes under the ocean where people could live in harmony with the creatures of the sea. I asked my gran one morning if she thought it would happen soon, and she said, “Never. People will never live under the sea.” And while her bad attitude made me angry, I knew that one day I would be vindicated. And I’m still waiting for that day to come. The only scientific advance that the people who created Aquaman are actually responsible for is casting Jason Momoa in the new Justice League movie, in which he will carry a sparkly trident and ride a shark. Yet I still can’t breathe underwater.

4) Where is my robot butler? I’ve made my peace with never having a monkey butler, despite recently having my hopes raised (I still think of you fondly, Ralph Van Wooster, and all the hijinks we would have gotten up to), but there is still nary a sign of the artificial intelligence that all the movies have been promising since I was a child. There are smart phones and smart homes and GPS in our cars and Siri/Cortana/Alexa, but where is the actual physical embodiment of the mechanical person who will do my bidding? The best we’ve come up with is a robot CAT. Why would I EVER want a robot that lies in front of the fireplace all day, sleeps next to my face at night, and surprises me by peeing on my rugs when it’s “in a mood”? Real cats can be dicks enough—why are we creating mechanical ones? And don’t be all like “Oh, come on, mydangblog, cats are so sweet.” Here’s what I had to deal with the other day:

Me: OK, I’m going out. I have to be at the car dealership in 15 minutes, so see you guys later.
Titus: OK, bye!!
Raven: I need to get into the kitchen. Open the gate.
Me: Sigh. Hurry up…What are you doing?
Raven: The dog is panting too hard. It’s off-putting.
Me: Don’t walk away from me. Do you want into the kitchen or not?
Raven: Yes. Open the gate.
Me: Here. It’s open. Let’s go!
Raven (sits back down): Nuh.
Me: I don’t have time for your bullsh*t, Raven! Fine—stay back here.
Raven (under breath): Boy, are you going to be surprised when you get home.

Let’s just forget robot cats and focus on robot monkey butlers. Then EVERYBODY wins.

5) Space Tourism. This might possibly be the greatest disappointment of them all. When I was a kid, people lived on the moon, they colonized Mars, and they travelled around the galaxy exploring strange new worlds. The actual real-life Voyager 1 was launched in 1977, and 40 years later, it’s JUST ABOUT to leave our solar system. Me, I want warp speed. We could have invented this a long time ago, but apparently scientists were too busy making blankets with arms in them, LED multicoloured flashing scarves, and realistic wind-up mice (“Watch their tails whir while they scurry across your floor!”). And yes, I DID just get my Bits and Pieces Christmas catalogue, and NO, there’s nothing future-y in it. Although you can relieve the stress you feel about not being able to live in a subdivision on Mars by purchasing a set of basketball net hats so that you and a co-worker can shoot balls at each other, although I think Human Resources might have an issue with that. It’s been almost 50 years since we first put a dude on the moon—how hard can it be to put a middle-aged woman on Uranus? (I am SO sorry about that one, but I couldn’t resist. I may be 52 physically, but I’m pretty much 13 years old in my head.)

All in all, by this point in time, I was really hoping that the world would have been more like Gene Roddenberry’s vision than George Orwell’s. Luckily, I still have another 52 years left, and Christmas is coming, so this middle-aged girl can dream.

My Week 164: I Am Terrible At Being A Rebel

“Remember when the police called our house and said they had you in custody?” my mom asked the other day.

“Oh yeah,” I said. “Not one of my finer moments.”

“But you were just trying to do something nice,” she consoled me.

And for the record, I wasn’t ACTUALLY in police custody. In fact, I was sitting at the dinner table, completely oblivious, as my mother said, “What?!” into the phone and then gave me an ominous look. Here’s the whole story:

I was fourteen and I’d just started grade 9. I was in the bathroom at school when two girls came in. I knew one of them—“Mary Jane” had been a neighbour a long time ago, and the last I’d heard, she’d gotten into some kind of mysterious “trouble” and had been sent to juvenile detention. She was tough-looking, and so was the girl she was with. But Mary Jane recognized me:

Mary Jane: Hey. How have you been?
Me: Good. How about you?
Mary Jane: Not bad. So my friend and I have a problem. We really need to get jobs and make some money because we’re homeless. But we don’t have any ID. If you loan us yours, we can get jobs at the Fall Fair and be able to afford a place to live.
Me: OK. Here you go.

Yep, I handed over my Social Insurance Card, my birth certificate, AND my library card to these two girls without a second thought. Unfortunately, as it turned out, they had both just escaped from the juvenile detention centre where they had been sentenced to live for various crimes. So they WERE technically homeless…At any rate, they used my ID to try and get jobs at the Fair, someone recognized them, and they were re-arrested. But the police were confused at first about the identity of the girl Mary Jane was with, hence the phone call to my house. And then I had to go down to the station to pick up my ID. Instead of a tongue-lashing by the cops though, I got this:

Police Officer: Are you OK? The girls said they really threatened you and made you give them your ID.
Me: What? No, they didn’t. I felt sorry for them, so I just gave it to them.
Police Officer: Seriously? Because they were looking at additional charges for threatening you.
Me: Nope.
Police Officer: Then we need to have a serious discussion about what you did.

Apparently, you shouldn’t give anyone, let alone fugitives from the law, your identification. Something about “aiding and abetting” was mentioned, but I don’t remember much else since I was crying at that point. Part of it was because I was scared sh*tless but it was mostly because I realized in that moment that I would NEVER be a badass. Nope, I didn’t have a real rebel bone in my body. And it’s remained true for the rest of my life that, whenever I did something reckless, I was either too worried to enjoy it, or I got caught, which always takes the fun out of being “devil may care”. Essentially, I am a Goodass. Here are some examples:

1) The only time I skipped class in high school happened to be on the day of Parents’ Night. I’d completely forgotten about that fact, and had spent a glorious hour in the girls’ bathroom with a couple of friends, gossiping and smoking (yes, I smoked as a teenager, but in true goodass fashion, I developed asthma, so no glamourous smoking rebel life for me—just a wheezy one). Anyway, my parents came home from Parents’ Night really pissed off:

Mom: Where were you today during Social Studies?
Me: In class, of course, why?
Dad: Mr. McMullen wondered how you were feeling, since you were ABSENT.
Me: What? Me? No, I sit at the back—he must not have seen me…
Mom: Nice try. You’re grounded.

2) When I was teaching high school, I decided one day that I was going to bring a comfy chair into my classroom. I put it on a dolly and was just wheeling it into the building when the head custodian saw me.

Custodian: No upholstered furniture allowed! They cause lice!
Me: What?
Custodian: Take it away!

Well, I was pretty steamed, and baffled by her logic regarding the lice, so I waited until the next day, and when the coast seemed clear, I enlisted another younger staff member to help me get it on the elevator to take up to my room. We loaded it, all nervous and watchful, but there was no one around. We rode up to the fourth floor. Then the elevator doors opened, and there she was, like some kind of giant wizard, waving her arms around:

Custodian: I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor! You shall not pass!! Also, take that chair right back down, and don’t try to sneak it in again!!
Us: Yes, High School Gandalf.
Custodian: Fly, you fools.

3) A few years ago now, all the stores instituted a policy where you have to pay for grocery bags. But at the Zehr’s self-checkout, the machine asks you to indicate “how many bags you wish to purchase”. And so for years, I thought I was being a tiny bit of a badass by always indicating “0”, because frankly, I didn’t WISH to purchase ANY damn bags. I justified it by blaming Zehr’s for being semantically challenged. Then, a couple of weeks ago, a friend pointed out that Zehrs donates the money from the bags to charity, and now, instead of feeling like a rebel, I just feel guilty for depriving the children, and if they don’t get toys for Christmas, it will be all my fault. So now, I always pay for one more bag than I’m actually using to make up for it.

4) When I’m taking the train home from Toronto, I always have a glass of wine from the bar cart. It’s not particularly good wine, and it costs $7 for a very small glass, but still, it’s nice at the end of a long week to start early. A while ago, a friend at work gave everyone this new wine that came in cans. I tried it and it was actually pretty good, and not very expensive. “And the best part,” said my friend, “is that it looks just like a soda can so you could drink it on the train and no one would ever know!” So that Friday, I got on the train with my secret can of wine. Then the bar cart came:

Janet: The usual?
Me: No, I’m fine thanks.
Janet (confused): Are you sure you don’t want anything?
Me: Oh no, I’m good.
Janet: Hmmm. So you’re not feeling well. Let me know if there’s anything I can do.

I call the conductor Janet because she looks and acts just like the character Janet in that TV show “The Good Place”, which is my new favourite comedy, and our conversations usually go like this:

Me: Janet?
Janet: Hello!
Me: Can I get some wine?
Janet: OK! Here.

Anyway, after she continued down the aisle, I surreptitiously opened my can of wine. But I couldn’t enjoy it for two reasons: first, the conductor kept coming by to check on me because apparently she thought I must be sick, so I had to keep hiding it, and second, they made the usual announcement about not having personal alcoholic beverages on the train, and I started obsessing that another passenger would see that the can said ‘Sauvignon Blanc’ and not ‘Sprite’, turn me in, and I would be forced off the train at Aldershot after having my sad wine can confiscated.

I suppose in the long run, being a goodass is better for me, because anytime I do something even mildly rebellious, I just worry, and it takes the fun out of it. Like whenever I’m at Starbucks and they insist on writing my name on the cup, I tell them it’s Bob. But the barista always gives me a dirty look, and then I feel bad, like I need to explain that I’m not mocking HIM, just his stupid store policy. The only time I truly embrace my badass side is when it comes to protecting the people I love. Once T’s Grade 1 teacher was mean to him and made him cry, so I confronted the jerk on the playground and tore him a new one. Then I sat in a comfy chair, smoked a cigarette, and drank canned wine that I had triple-bagged. Like a boss.

My Week 163: Drama at the Dentist, Titus Has a Hallowe’en Surprise For Us

I’ve never had a problem going to the dentist. I mean, like most people, I don’t enjoy having someone else’s hands in my mouth (already I can hear the voices saying “Speak for yourself”—this is a PG site, so back off), but I’m not petrified, and I don’t avoid going like some people. In my previous workplace, we had a great dental plan, but there were so many people with really awful teeth that it seemed like a lot of people avoided the dentist like the plague, which is the time period when, I believe, that dentists were invented and were used mostly for implanting dead peoples’ teeth into rich peoples’ mouths. I used to work with a guy who was so scared of the dentist that he had to have laughing gas just for a cleaning. I had laughing gas only once, when I had my wisdom teeth out, and all I remember is that it was the surgeon’s birthday and he had helium balloons in the corner, which were apparently the funniest f*cking thing I had EVER seen, to the point where he got really mad and said, “Stop laughing!” And I was like, “This is your fault, you hilarious bastard!” then he hooked me up to an IV and I don’t remember anything after that, except that having your wisdom teeth pulled out REALLY takes the smile off your face. But even THAT experience didn’t sour me on dentistry. Apparently, according to my dentist, I have “boring teeth”, which might sound like an insult, but he said it’s way better than HIS teeth—he’s had three root canals, four crowns, and multiple fillings, which is weird because you’d think with all his access to floss and sh*t that he’d be completely tuned up. I really wanted to ask if he did the repair work himself, like that Mr. Bean show where he gets sick of waiting for the dentist and starts messing with the dentist’s tools and ends up drilling into several teeth, but he had his hands in my mouth so I couldn’t.

Mostly our conversations involve him griping about the fact that I’m allergic to latex so he has to wear vinyl gloves “just for me” and “they don’t fit properly and they’re hard to get on because there’s no powder”. And that’s a way worse inconvenience than me swelling up and choking, which is why I left my last dentist, who was like “there’s no such thing as a latex allergy—stop being a baby and breathe properly”. Yesterday though, my current dentist was quite pleased because he’s got these new blue gloves that are more comfortable. Of course, he still came in the room with the latex ones on, but my hygienist gave him this crazy signal like she was swatting at bee or something and he came back with the non-death-inducing ones.

I love my hygienist. Her name is Harmony, and she’s very much like her name. We like all the same TV shows, and manage to talk about them while she has sharp hooks in my mouth. I’ve been going to her for several years, and there’s never been an incident until yesterday, which simply proves that the universe is spinning out of control. We were discussing the finer points of “Game of Thrones,” and we have this system where she says something, and then I wait until she clears her hands before I answer. She does this regularly, so our timing is usually pretty good, but yesterday, she was like “Could you believe that scene at the end with Sansa?” and I waited a second, then started to respond with, “I know, right?!” when GASP!

Me: Oh my god! I just bit you!
Harmony: Uh, it wasn’t hard.
Me: I’ve never bitten ANYONE before!
Harmony: It’s OK. I’ve actually been bitten before. Usually by little kids. They bite a lot harder.
Me: I’m so sorry.
Harmony: Seriously, it wasn’t that bad.

But then, at the end of the appointment, she told me that she might not be working there any longer, because she had an interview to be an “International Dental Recruiter”. And I pictured her going home and saying to her husband, “It was the last straw. If I can’t even count on mydangblog not to bite me like some insane middle-aged vampire, what’s the point? I gave her some bullsh*t story about becoming an International Dental Recruiter” and he would be like, “What the hell is an International Dental Recruiter?” and Harmony would say, “I just made that sh*t up. I’m done, Stan.” (I don’t know if her husband’s name is actually Stan, but I could totally hear her saying “Stan” in her voice.)

Anyway, I’m sad at being all bite-y and forcing my hygienist to find a new job, but then again, it also just occurred to me that I’ve been going to Harmony for years, and she never looks older than 25. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her reflected in that tiny mirror she uses for checking the backs of my teeth, and sometimes, she digs a little too hard with the pick and it makes my gums bleed, but when she says sorry, she sound a little too cheerful. So who’s the vampire now, HARMONY?

Hallowe’en Surprise

Me: I can’t believe that, out of all the candy you gave out, all we have left are a bunch of mini-Mr. Goodbars and Wunderbars. I’ve never even heard of either of them. What happened to all the Aeros and Kitkats?!
Ken: I don’t know. I tried to be random…
Me: What the hell is a Wunderbar anyway?
Ken: Ooh, it’s yummy. It tastes like chocolate and butter.
Me: What?! That’s gross. Give me one…ohhh, that’s actually quite tasty. But still. What happened to all the candy?
Ken: I left some packets of Swedish berries on the counter for you. Just because you ate them already, don’t get mad at me.
Me: No, you didn’t. There were ZERO packages of any type of decent candy on the counter.
Ken: Yes, I DID. They were right there…
Titus (clears throat): Ahem. I thought those were for me.
Me: You ate my Swedish Berries?
Titus: Were they yours? They were delicious.
Me: Were there any Fuzzy Peaches?
Titus: There may or may not have been some Fuzzy Peaches.
Me: Dammit—I love the Fuzzy Peaches!
Ken: What happened to the wrappers? I don’t see them anywhere.
Titus: Oh, you’ll be seeing them eventually. Trick or treat.

 

My Week 162: Indigenous Discussions, Scientology, and the Cultural Appropriation of Iceland

This will be a quick one, because I spent most of this weekend at a conference. It was sponsored by the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Education Association. It was a humbling experience, and I really learned a lot. The biggest thing I learned was that Indigenous people are angry AF. And with good reason. Of course, they express that anger in a very polite, articulate, and dignified way, but there’s no question that they are supremely pissed.

I’m going to give you an analogy that will demonstrate the reason for their anger, but first a little context: This past week, the Church of Scientology took over a building in a town near here, a building that used to be a community centre, and they have converted it into their cultish administration offices which “will serve as a rallying point for Scientology activities across the country.” In case you’ve forgotten, Scientologists are a weird-ass cult founded in the mid-50s by a not-particularly-talented science fiction novelist, and they believe that aliens led by a dude named Xenu, “tyrant ruler of the Galactic Confederacy”, came to Earth 75 million years ago in giant spacecrafts. Then the aliens blew themselves up in volcanoes using hydrogen bombs, and their evil souls to this day try to inhabit regular people bodies. Now, if you don’t know anything about Scientology and think I’m making this sh*t up, I’m actually not. I guess in the long run, their belief system isn’t any stranger than most religions and it might be difficult to differentiate it from other belief systems, except that I doubt Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and all those other guys were failed writers who were trying to make money and evade taxes. The founders of most religions aren’t even aware that they’re founding ANYTHING at the time, unlike L. Ron Hubbard, who actively petitioned to have his science fiction tale recognized as one. At any rate, the people of Guelph organized a peaceful protest, and then the Grand Swami of Scientology (OK, she’s not really called that, but it sounds like it would fit nicely into their idiom) made a statement discrediting the protesters as a “hate group”.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the analogy. Let’s imagine that a couple of Scientologists come to your house one day, and they want to borrow a cup of sugar.

“No problem,” you say. “Here you go.”

“Gosh, thanks,” say the Scientologists, giving you the Vulcan salute or whatnot. “We might need more someday.”

“That’s fine,” you say. “I have lots. I’m happy to share.”

The next week, they come back, only this time there are 50 of them and they have phasers. They drag you out of your house and force you to live in the garden shed out back. Then they kill your dog, take your children away, sending them to weird-ass Scientology school, and you never see them again. Oh, and they also give you smallpox.

Are you mad?

The issues of our Indigenous people are certainly more complex than this (and don’t actually involve Scientology), but I hope you take my point.

I also went to a workshop on cultural appropriation, and it was really timely because right now it’s almost Hallowe’en, and Indigenous folk are really sick and tired of “Indian Princess” costumes. Even the name is offensive. I was actually shocked this summer when I went to a conference in the States, and one of the presenters actually referred to Indigenous people as “American Indians”. I was like, “You mean people from Southeast Asia who now live in the United States? That’s a very specific subgrouping.” But no, he meant Indigenous people. And they would really, really appreciate it if everyone stopped dressing their kids up like cultural stereotypes. If you really want to dress your child in the costume of another culture, may I recommend “Icelandic Stewardess”? When we flew back from the UK last summer on IcelandAir, they were actually selling “flight crew dresses” for girls aged 2 to 7. Apparently these are “elegant hats and dresses in the style of an Icelandair flight attendant”. They also cost 50 Euros, which is about $75 Canadian, so I guess they’re better quality than the Walmart Icelandic Stewardess costumes. Also, shoes seem to be optional.

The other interesting thing that happened was that I was standing in the hallway waiting for Ken to finish his session (yes, we were both there for work—nothing more romantic than spending the weekend together at a conference), when a woman (non-Indigenous) and her male companion stopped close by to me. All of a sudden, the woman burst out with, “The f*ckng British. They ruined the world! F*ck them.” I was a little taken aback, and really wanted to respond with “The British? Don’t you mean the Romans?!” because the Romans were basically the master colonizers, and did to the Celts and many other cultures exactly what the Brits eventually did. But no one ever blames the Italians for ANYTHING, except taking a dive in soccer. Anyway, I was really perturbed by this and would really have loved to discuss it with her, but she seemed super angry and aggressive and swear-y so I left it alone. Then, as luck would have it, she ended up in my last session. She still seemed angry and aggressive, admonishing someone in our group that “our task wasn’t to make comments, but only to ask questions as per the protocol”, but I thought I might broach it with her at the end of the session, you know, just for fun like. But at the end, she went up to the session leader and suddenly burst into tears. Turns out she had been given a Native Studies class to teach. She was starting “Residential Schools” on Monday and had no idea how to teach it properly, knowing what she knew now. And I get that—it WAS overwhelming, and hard, and beautiful but I’m sure as hell glad I went. Meegwetch.