Creative Wednesdays: The Seventh Devil eBook

Just a quick post to let everyone who asked know that The Seventh Devil is now finally available as an eBook. You can find it here: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-seventh-devil

In case you scroll down for more product information, you should know that it’s all wrong. This book is 176 pages long, not 31, and about 53 000 words so it’s probably going to take more than an hour to read it. But if you do read it and like it, I’d love it if you could leave it some stars. See you on Sunday!

All The Pretty Dead Things, Some Exciting News

If I had to catalogue all the items in the antique market where I work, it would take me the rest of my life. With almost 1000 booths and three giant floors, there have to be millions of things there. Yet, surprisingly, some of the most popular, after vintage comic books, Pokemon cards, and old vinyl LPs, are dead things. Now don’t get all semantical on me—yes, I know that technically anything inanimate could be considered dead, but I’m talking about things that USED to be alive and now, are not, because we have two or three vendors who specialize in selling dead things:

1) Bones

Me: Are you ready to cash out?
Girl: Yes. Aren’t these cool? (points to a bundle of narrow bones)
Me: The tag says “cow bones”. Maybe.
Girl: What do you mean?
Me: How can you be certain? But don’t worry, I’m sure they’re not human.
Girl:
Me: Have a nice day!

2) Dehydrated animals

Me: Ooh, what do we have here? A “dessicated chick with moss miniature terrarium” (in the item description, I write ‘dead chicken baby’.) What are you going to do with it?
Guy: Put it on display with all the rest.
Me : Cool. Now that’s an interesting aesthetic.
Guy: A what?
Me: Have a great day!

3) Skeletons

Elderly Woman: Can you take both those bat skeletons encased in resin out of the showcase? I’d like to compare them and see which one is nicer.
Me: Certainly. Personally, I’d choose this one. It looks more dynamic, like it’s just about to take flight. If it wasn’t dead.
Elderly woman: You know, you’re right. That one IS nicer.

What I really wanted to say was, “NICER?! Lady, neither of them are nice! They’re dead f*cking bats.” But I restrained myself.

4) Jewelry made from animal bones

Me: (reads tag) “These earrings made from fox ribs are ethically sourced.” I suppose roadkill could be considered ethical if you don’t actively TRY to run small animals down with your car.
Boss: I think she gets them from an importer.
Me: Importing roadkill? Now there’s a niche market.
Boss: Too bad that raccoon you saw in your yard yesterday is gone. You could have made a fortune on it.
Me: I’ll stick to more traditional stuff, thanks. The only thing in my booth that was once alive is a vintage leather Harley Davidson ballcap.
Customer: Excuse me—I’m ready to pay.
Me: Here you go. Would you like a bag for your coyote foot?
Customer: Yes, please.
Me: Have a wonderful day.

In other exciting news, my second novel The Dome has been translated into Arabic. The physical copies won’t be available until closer to the summer but the Middle Eastern publisher is doing some great pre-promotion. The original cover was the Toronto skyline, but since they’re trying to make the setting a little less specific, here’s the new cover, which I quite like!

More Questions Than Answers

This week was insanely busy–I’m two chapters away from completing The Devil You Know (the sequel to The Seventh Devil), and 4 stories away from completing my second scary short story collection (tentatively titled Into Thin Air although I’m also thinking that Night Terrors would also work so if you have an opinion let me know), and I didn’t know what else to write about, so here’s a reboot of the time that Ken suggested that I answer questions from my fans, to which I replied, “I don’t have any.”

Ken: Fans or questions?
Me: Some of the former, but definitely none of the latter.
Ken: I’m your fan. Here’s a question: What would you NOT want to find in your house?
Me: What? Why are you asking me that?
Ken: Because a Florida man–
Me: ALWAYS the Florida man. What did he do this time?
Ken: Found an eleven foot alligator in his house.
Me: That. Definitely not that. What about you?
Ken: Ummm…snakes.
Me: You don’t like snakes? Since when?
Ken: Since always.
Me: 32 years and I did NOT know that.
Ken: I’m an enigma.

At any rate, I have no actual fan questions aside from the thousands of “how did you create your site and what theme do you use?” questions from the very many van, trailer, truck and RV owners who have recently proliferated my spam folder, so I made some questons up based on the notes and photos I found on my phone:

Fan Question 1) Is physics always right?

No. And my answer is in direct contradiction to a Jeopardy contestant who appeared a couple of years ago. Ken and I became obsessed with Jeopardy because there was a guy on who won over 2 million dollars. AMERICAN dollars. That’s like 7.5 gazillion Canadian dollars, although I might be slightly wrong on the conversion rate. Regardless of the money, we feel sorry for the people who had to go up against “James” since he always rang in first and usually got the answer right. If you’ve ever watched Jeopardy, you know that after the first commercial break, Alex Trebek used to always ask the contestants questions about themselves—the questions were cheesy and the answers sometimes cringe-worthy. So Alex asked this poor woman, “I understand you’re a physicist. Why do you like physics so much?” and she said, “Because physics is always right.” And I was like, “That’s BULLSH*T, BRENDA. Schrodinger’s Cat is not BOTH alive and dead. A cat is EITHER alive or dead, whether you can see it or not!” See, this is my issue with physics. You can’t claim that just because you put something in a box, that it exists in two simultaneous states. I mean, you can CLAIM it, but just because you say something doesn’t make it true. You can SPECULATE on the state of the cat, but that doesn’t change the fact that a cat isn’t f*cking magic. As you can see, I would have made an awesome physicist. And I would NEVER put a cat in a box, although if you’ve ever owned a cat, you know that they do love being in boxes.

Also, on the same show, Alex asked the other challenger, who was a Science teacher, this: “I understand that you use an unusual method to explain nuclear force to your students” and she said, “Yes, I tell them that protons and neutrons are attracted to each other the same way I’m attracted to Chris Hemsworth. Yowza.” OK, she didn’t really say ‘Yowza’ but as a former high school teacher, let me tell you that it’s completely inappropriate to talk about your imaginary love life with your students. EW. Just ew.

Fan Question 2) Who do you call if you have a noisy bathroom fan?

The sign reads “I fix noisy bath fans”

Apparently you call this guy—talk about a niche market. I can picture the high school Careers class with the teacher asking everyone, “So what do you want to do when you get out of high school?” and the one guy just lighting up: “I want to fix noisy bathroom fans!” and the teacher saying, “Amazing—there’s a school JUST for that! It’s called Hogwarts!” (I don’t know why I thought of Hogwarts, but it made me laugh so hard picturing this guy at a school for magic and wizardry pointing his wand and yelling ‘Reparo’ at bathroom fans. Also, his name in this strange divergency is ‘Tim’ as in the following conversation:

Dumbledore: Hmm. My bathroom fan seems to be on the fritz. Someone get Tim—he’s the best at repairing noisy bathroom fans.
Tim: Reparo!
Dumbledore: Thank you, Tim. Have a lemon drop.).

Fan Question 3) What has disappointed you most this week?

The other day at work, there was a noisy bathroom fan–just kidding. No, someone bought a vintage Mr. Peanut peanut butter maker. If you put peanuts in it and turned the crank handle, it would then dispense homemade peanut butter.

Me: So where does the peanut butter come out of?
Brenda: He’s holding a platter and it kind of squirts onto there.
Me: It doesn’t come out of his butt??!! What a wasted opportunity!

And it reminded me of the time when I was 8 and I had red measles. I was feverish and delirious, and my brother went to the store and bought me a present with his own money, which was very sweet. I opened my eyes and thought it was a super-cool fancy water gun, but when the delirium broke, I realized it was just a long stick of bubble gum. At least in my brother’s case, it was the thought that counts, but peanut butter that doesn’t come out of Mr. Peanut’s ass? That’s just mean.

Fan Question 4) Are you a professional antiques appraiser?

Yes, apparently I am. A few years ago, I was asked by the local Heritage society to act as an appraiser for their local “Antiques Roadshow” because Ken and I used to own an antique store. I hadn’t done any appraising for a few years, and I was super-nervous, but I had a lot of reference books and I knew a couple of the other appraisers. I held my own, being able to recognize a Parian statue, and accurately date a powder flask etc., and then a reporter from the local paper asked for a picture. And when it came out, there I was, using a magnifying glass on the bottom of a pewter tankard and looking like a slightly maniacal detective, but the description referred to me as a “professional appraiser”, and it was prophetic because now that I’m retired, I spend literally all day telling people what things are worth.

Now, back to the books. Wish me luck.

Made To Measure

It’s been a busy week, so here are some things that have been happening, in no particular order:

1) I was out driving and realized that I was very close to the next mileage milestone, which was 99999 kilometres, followed immediately by 100000. My car is a 2013 and because I lived in Toronto during the week for several years, I didn’t drive it much. In fact, looking at my last mileage post, the incredibly funny and somewhat juvenile 80085 (my car has a digital readout and that spells BOOBS, in case you had any doubt that this blog was sophisticated and adult-ish in the non-porn way), I see that I posted my BOOBS picture on August 23, 2020. Yes, it took me a year and a half to drive not quite 20 000 kilometres (that would be around 12, 427 miles for my Imperial friends). But by the time I realized I was almost at another photo-worthy moment, however, I was in my driveway, the odometer read 99996, and I was too tired to drive around the block several times, so I decided to wait until the next morning when I had to see my doctor about sudden tinnitus in my right ear. And even though I had to pull over twice in the space of two minutes to get 99999 and then 100000, I still made my appointment on time. I do this for YOU and not me, so I hope you appreciate my efforts.

2) I was cleaning out a kitchen cupboard and I found a small, antique salt shaker far in the back. I couldn’t remember buying it but it was pretty so I took it out to examine it. When I shook it, something rattled. I got excited for a second but then I realized it was just an old cork that was inside, so I grabbed it and pulled it out. But something was still rattling—there was a piece of paper in there, tightly folded up. I was immediately intrigued—could it be a secret message? Directions to treasure? A cry for help? A love note? The possibilities were endless, but they ended when I extracted the paper with tweezers, unfolded it breathlessly, and realized that it was blank. WHO DOES THIS? Who would put a blank piece of paper into an antique salt shaker?! A friend suggested that maybe the message was written in invisible ink, but when I held a lighter up to it, it burned like any other stupid piece of paper. What a letdown.

3) Ken and I decided to rearrange our living room a bit and get a larger bookcase. He was going to build one, but with the price of wood, we decided to try buying one secondhand first, which meant a foray into Facebook Marketplace. One of the first posts to pop up was for a fairly simple wall unit listed for $150.

When I scrolled down to the description, it said this: “No idea how big it is.” Seriously? How do you have a piece of furniture and be at a complete loss as to its size? If only there was an easy way to find out. So here are some suggestions, QUINN:

A) You can measure it with a measuring tape.
B) You don’t have a measuring tape? Borrow one from a friend.
C) You don’t have any friends? I’m not surprised, given your lack of interest in things like measurement. But you could try frame of reference, like, ‘I’m 6 feet tall and it’s slightly shorter than me, and when I lie down, it’s slightly longer than me.”
D) You don’t know how tall you are? Go to a local convenience store and stand next to the entrance. There’s a height bar RIGHT THERE.

At any rate, we bought a very nice shelving unit from a man who had taken the time to discover its dimensions all on his own. And now my living room is in chaos as we move things around and have to sell a china cabinet. I wonder how tall it is…?

I Scream, You Scream

The other day, Kate and I were driving on the 401, the ridiculously busy highway that stretches across Ontario, and the traffic was heavy, mostly with trucks. But not the usual kind of transport trucks—no, these were random ‘wide load’ trucks, or dump trucks, or trucks carrying large sheets of glass or drywall. Finally, we passed something strange:

Kate: Is that a…streetsweeper?
Me: It looks like it. Weird.
Kate: Like it just drives from town to town on the highway, looking for streets to sweep?
Me (fake English accent): Good day to you, my lady. Would you care to have your street swept? Or perhaps have your knives sharpened?
Kate (laughs): What’s with the knives?

So I explained to her that, when I was a kid, there used to be a guy who travelled around different neighbourhoods on a large tricycle with a grinder mounted on the back, and for a dollar, he would offer to sharpen your knives and scissors. It was the worst, not because people would come running out of their houses brandishing sharp, deadly instruments (and this is obviously where the saying ‘don’t run with scissors’ came from), but—and I don’t know if it was the same for you or not—the knife guy had the EXACT SAME BELL AS THE ICE CREAM TRUCK.

The ice cream truck was, obviously, a fan favourite in our neck of the woods, and on a summer afternoon, you’d hear the faint ringing of the ice cream bell as it approached your street, and then all the children would beg their parents for a nickel or a dime, and we’d all run out and crowd around it, flush with loose change and excitement. But every once in a while, you’d hear a distant bell, and you’d grab your change and race to the street, and there would be the f*cking knife guy, with his adult sized kiddie bike and his stupid grinder, yelling “Bring your knives, bring your scissors”, as if he had some kind of bizarre death wish, because WE ALL WANTED TO STAB HIM WITH SAID KNIVES AND SCISSORS. Except for Mrs. Robertson, who always trotted out to greet him with an armful of kitchen tools, and what the heck was she butchering that she needed her knives sharpened that often?

At any rate, it was one of childhood’s greatest letdowns, hearing the ice cream truck only to discover it was the knife guy. Unless you were Mrs. Robertson.

In other news, every day when I pull into the parking lot at work, I see this:

It’s the height of irony, because the truck belongs to the owner of the garage, and that truck is parked there EVERY morning in front of the door upon which the owner has clearly painted “DO NOT BLOCK DOOR” in very large letters. Also, the owner of the garage AND truck felt it necessary to do fancy ‘O’s so that people would understand they’re not zeroes and wouldn’t be confused. As if THAT’S the most confusing thing about this whole situation.

Ups And Downs

This week, something amazing happened. It was a dream come true. No, I didn’t win a Nobel Prize for Sassy Literature—I didn’t even get the writer’s grant I’d applied for which, even though it was a long shot, still really made me sad. But then I was at work, and I got the opportunity to do something I’ve wanted for a long time. And if you’re thinking, “Mydangblog finally got to drive a forklift!”, you’d be sadly mistaken and also, driving a forklift around an antiques market would be a very bad idea, and I’ve always thought the saying, “Like a bull in a china shop” should really be “Like a forklift in an antiques market”. No, the exciting news is this—I got trained to operate the elevator! And while this doesn’t sound very earthshattering, given that most elevators are easily operated by literally a small child, and I myself have operated many in the past by pushing the up button or the down button, or in one terrifying case, the emergency call button, this elevator is very different, as you can see here:

The actual elevator is on a different floor in this picture. This is just the shaft.

It’s technically a freight elevator, and it looks f*cking terrifying, am I right? Like the gaping maw into hell, or a cave where vampires live. And it was my greatest heart’s desire to be able to run it all by myself. Now, thanks to my 21-year-old boss, who showed me how to use the buttons on the outside to bring it either up or down to our floor, then pull up and lower the gate, and use the buttons on the inside to take it either upstairs or to the basement, I am now officially trained to operate the elevator. How hard can it be? you ask. IT DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY STOP AT EACH FLOOR, BOB. That’s right—you have to wait until you get close to even with the next floor and then let go of the button. My boss told me a trick—there’s a slight click right before the elevator and the floor line up, so you can kind of predict when to stop. Here are some other helpful tips he gave me:

1. Don’t stick your foot in the gap between the elevator floor and the elevator shaft.
2. If you stop too high, don’t push the down button right away. Give it a second—any abrupt jerking can pull the elevator off its track.
3. The gate on Floor 3 only goes up three quarters of the way, so don’t try to force it or it’ll get stuck and you’ll never be able to lower it.
4. The elevator won’t move if the gate is open. The gate won’t open if the elevator isn’t there. This prevents clumsy people or small children from falling into the shaft.
5. Don’t jump up and down with excitement. You’ll knock the elevator off its track.

As you can see, operating a freight elevator, particularly one this old, is tricky and serious business, business which I have yet to put into practice, because all last week, whenever I tried to encourage someone to put their stuff on it, I got no takers. And I say ‘stuff’ because we’re not allowed to transport passengers in it, only their antiques.

Me: Hey Frank, that looks like a lot of boxes. You can put them on the elevator if you want.
Frank: No, that’s ok. I don’t mind carrying them up.
Me: But the elevator would be more efficient. I can—
Frank: No, I’m good. Hey! Did you tell anyone about that clock?
Me: The one I bought from you three months ago off the loading dock?
Frank: SSSSSHHHHHH!!! We shouldn’t be seen together!

At any rate, I’m biding my time. One day, someone will come along with a table or a large lamp and will need it taken upstairs, and I’ll be right there waiting. And then I’ll get one of the guys to come and open the gate because it’s really heavy and I can’t do that by myself because of my shoulder tendonitis, but once the gate’s up and they’ve loaded the table and they’ve shut the gate for me, I know how to get that table up to the next floor. All by myself.

The Importance of Pronouns; Cannons and Cocaine

I had the tremendous pleasure of being featured on the fab writer da-AL’s website/podcast Happiness Between Tails last week. My guest post was a short history of pronouns, and why people should stop worrying about what pronouns other people choose to use. You can read it, or listen to it, here: https://happinessbetweentails.com/2022/02/23/pronouns-suzanne-craig-whytock-podcast-henna-artist-alka-joshi/#comment-223338

There’s also a lovely intro by my friend da-AL and a very large picture of my face, and if you recall last week’s post, you can decide for yourself if I look like I qualify for the seniors’ discount.

In other news, I had what was probably the weirdest conversation I’ve ever had with anyone in my life last week. We get a lot of interesting characters coming into the antique warehouse where I work, but this guy took the cake, ate it, and then ran away with the plate. I was walking down one of the aisles, when a rather scruffy-looking man gestured at me. He was holding a tiny brass cannon about 6 inches long mounted on a wooden base.

Man: Isn’t this cool?
Me: Yes, it’s really cute.
Man: Do you think it works?
Me: You mean like, shoot cannon balls?
Man: Yeah. It looks like it could work.
Me: I think it’s a replica.
Man: But the metal’s really thick. Do you think I could drill a hole in it and get it to shoot cannonballs?
Me: Like put a fuse in the end, fill it with gunpowder, packing, and bb pellets or something?
Man (eyes light up): Ooh, good idea!
Me: No, I would worry that the brass might get damaged.
Man: Oh yeah, you’re probably right.

And I’m sure you’re thinking that THIS was the weird conversation, yet it’s not. Later, the same man asked me if I could open up a showcase so that he could look at a pair of high-powered binoculars:

Me: Here you are. They’re a very good price.
Man (holds binoculars up to his eyes): I was under police surveillance once… (pauses, readjusts binoculars, peers through them) …because I sell a lot of cocaine… (pauses, readjusts binoculars, peers through them) …and the police could see me from over a kilometre away. It was crazy.
Me: I hear the same thing is true of sniper scopes.
Man (hands me back binoculars): Yeah. It’s a good job they weren’t trying to shoot me.
Me: So that’s a no on the binoculars?
Man: Yeah, you can put them back. I’ll just take the cannon.

I have never in my life tried so hard not to laugh, but he was dead serious. And he sells a lot of cocaine.

Not cocaine. In case you were wondering.

A Senior Moment

As you may recall, Ken and I recently set up a booth in the antique shop where I currently work part-time. The space I have now is twice as large as the booth I used to have, which means I have to do a lot more buying if I want to keep up with sales. Not that it’s a problem—I love to shop. But where do I buy things cheap enough that I can resell them? Thrift stores, of course (or what some of you would call charity shops). It’s amazing how many cool things you can find at second-hand places that can be refinished, refreshed, or refurbished. So I’ve been regularly haunting Goodwill, Value Village and a couple of other places where I’ve found some great stuff—well, great if you’re willing to put in a little elbow grease. For example, the other day, I got a couple of old sewing machine drawers for 6 bucks each—a little chalk paint and new knobs, and they’re ready for resale. Or check out below the coatrack that I made out of a single footboard, a couple of old shoe forms, and some fancy hooks.

But I have to keep my overhead low, which is why the other day, I had an experience that was both amazing and troubling.

I’d been at my hairdresser’s and she mentioned a thrift store in another town called Talize, which I’d never heard of, but apparently they have a ton of locations in Ontario. I needed to visit my Lancôme lady anyway, and this Talize store was just down the street. I had been astonished to discover that my tiny, perfect, and young-looking Lancôme lady Rosina had a twenty-seven-year-old son, since she looks about twenty-seven herself, but then I remembered that we’d known each other for over fifteen years, so she must be older than I thought. At any rate, she told ME that I didn’t look old enough to have a twenty-four-year-old daughter, and I know that’s just to keep me buying serum, but still, I walked away with a bit of a glow.

The glow continued on into Talize, where I discovered a fancy plate stand, a wicker suitcase, an old washboard, and a couple of wine goblets. Then I got to the cash register. “That’ll be 18.35,” the cashier said. “Unless you qualify for one of our discounts.”

“Which discount?” I asked.

“Well, we have a senior’s discount. You’d qualify for that.”

The glow faded. And even though their seniors’ discount was for 55 and up, I still felt a little betrayed by Rosina, who had assured me, prior to my purchase, that I didn’t look a day over 45, and the cashier had immediately clocked me as being at least my own goddamn age. But then, the cashier recalculated the sale. “16.50. You saved 10%.”  

And I was so excited that I did what any normal person would do—I called Ken. “I’m a senior!” I said. “Do you know what that means?”

“That when you crouch down, it hurts to stand back up?”

“Also that. But it means that I get a discount at Talize. Ooh, I wonder what age you have to be to qualify for a discount at Chez VV? Let me look…what the hell? SIXTY? The nerve. How does Value Village expect us poor pensioners to afford their sh*t? Oh well, three more years to go.”

And I can’t wait.

I made this too! It’s our company name!

It’s A Small World After All

Many years ago, I was sitting and watching Kate’s kung fu practice when the woman next to me, the parent of another student, struck up a conversation with me. The small talk quickly turned to pets. “I have a yellow Lab named Saxon and a Golden Retriever named Bets,” I said.

She paused. “You have a yellow Lab named Saxon? I used to have a yellow Lab named Saxon.”

I was intrigued. “Did you used to live in New Hamburg on XX street?”

“Yes, about seven years ago. We had to give our dogs up when we moved to England. We just came back last year!”

Turns out, I had bought her dog. I didn’t even remember what she’d looked like back then, because I was so fixated on the dog herself, and if you know anything about me at all, you’ll know that if you think I’m saying hello to you, I’m actually talking to your dog, so it’s not unusual that nothing about the woman would have rung a bell. But it was great to show her pictures of Saxon, and she felt really good knowing that she’d made the right decision and that Saxon was well-cared for. At the time, I said to myself, “What a small world.” And last week, another incident happened that reminded me it truly is.

About a month ago, I bought a small black dresser at a thrift store out of town. I didn’t have any space in my booth, and it needed a little paint touch-up so it sat in the corner of our family room for a while. But last weekend, I got ambitious and repainted the top, then decided to take the drawers out and give them a freshening up as well. But when the drawers were all out, I realized that there was something in the bottom of the dresser. It was a driver’s license. I pulled it out and then got a flashlight to check for anything else—sure enough, there was a college student card in there as well. They both belonged to the same girl. Her name (which I won’t tell you here) sounded really familiar, but I didn’t recognize her—I mean, why would I? The address on the ID was from a particular part of Toronto where I’d never been, and the ID was ten years old. And of course, if you know anything about me at all, you’ll know my mind went immediately to SERIAL KILLER. As in, a serial killer murdered this girl then donated, as serial killers do, some items to a charity shop, forgetting that his trophies were in the bottom. I was determined to find out who the mysterious young woman was, and perhaps solve a crime! The program she was taking at college was on the student card, so I went to LinkedIn, assuming that she’d continued in that profession. Nothing. Until I added the name of the college to the search. Tada! It came up with a picture of what seemed to be the same girl but with a different last name. But she hadn’t posted anything for over a year, and the website link on her profile had been de-activated. The plot thickened.

“I’m pretty sure she was murdered,” I propounded to my 21-year-old boss at work.

“Or maybe she had a baby and she’s on maternity leave,” he replied. Unlikely, but I wasn’t going to argue with the kid who signs my pay cheques.

That night, I had a brainstorm. I would try to find her under the new name on Facebook. I began the search, and she came up right away, because WE HAVE A MUTUAL FRIEND. And we have a mutual friend who’s a former student of mine because she used to go to the high school where I taught over 17 years ago. AND I TAUGHT HER SISTER.

So I messaged her, hoping that saying “Hey, I found your ID in an old dresser that I bought at a thrift store—do you want it back?” wouldn’t be creepy AF. I did preface it with the fact that we had a mutual friend, and that I taught at her former high school. Still, she was a little hesitant when she replied, asking me to send pictures of the ID, so I did, as well as a picture of the dresser, and then she was delighted. Apparently, she’d had that dresser as a teen and loved it—her mom had recently donated it, and she didn’t know how the cards got in there, but could I mail them back to her? Also, she was on maternity leave. So mystery solved. What a small world indeed. And the best part is, I can incorporate my original serial killer version into my new novel, The Devil You Know (the sequel to The Seventh Devil), which I’m only four chapters away from completing.

In other news, we now have a cat. Kate applied to adopt one of the school cats (the students are allowed to do this at the end of each year) and she brought her back this reading week for a home visit. She’s an absolutely adorable, tiny tuxedo cat, but until she’s no longer the property of the college, I can’t post pictures of her on social media. Then prepare for the deluge. As for Atlas, he’s completely befuddled because we have to keep them separated until they get used to each other so in lieu of a picture of the kitty, here’s my sweet boy:

Cleanliness Is Next To Craziness

On Thursday, I had to go to the dentist for a cleaning. I used to have this awesome hygienist named Harmony, who was as serene as her name, and we loved all the same TV shows. She did most of the talking but we had a good rhythm where she would take out the pick so that I could quickly reply about things like which series had the best ending, Breaking Bad or Dexter? But Harmony was off for a while and now she doesn’t work on Thursdays and Fridays, which are the only days that I have available now that I work at an antique market. So my last few appointments were with hygienists that I didn’t know. The one who cleaned my teeth a couple of years ago was hilarious and told me how she hides chocolate in Tampax boxes so her husband won’t find it, and the one I saw in the summer was very nice and not-crazy at all, but the one on Thursday was a legit nutbar. It started when she came out to get me:

Hygienist: Susan?
Me: It’s Suzanne.
Hygienist: What’s the difference?
Me: Aside from them being two completely different names, they’re spelled differently.
Hygienist: How do you spell ‘Susan’?

After we’d sorted out the Suzanne/Susan debacle (seriously, it’s like seeing the name Derek and insisting that the person’s name is Drake), she got to work. And immediately launched into her life story, which I will break down here:

She used to be a world class professional athlete in a sport that I won’t name and she travelled the world from the age of 11 and lived with families in a variety of countries but came home rarely because her father was a mentally and emotionally abusive narcissist who only loved her when she was winning. She quit the sport because it was toxic and destroying her health and the people who are competing in the Olympics right now are the same people she trained with (which I thought was strange since she looked ((from the mask up)) about forty) and she is full of regret and devasted that she can no longer compete. Also, she hates being a dental hygienist because she doesn’t believe in dentistry—

At which point, I interrupted to point out that it was very important to one’s physical health to clean one’s teeth regularly—

Yes, she knew that but it was all the other stuff about dentistry she didn’t believe in, like fluoride for example, which is like a poison that will kill you and she doesn’t even use toothpaste with flouride in it and that I should watch this documentary from the 1970s that proves flouride is superdangerous, by the way, did I want fluoride this visit? ( I didn’t, not because it’s poisonous but because it’s sticky and I don’t like the banana flavour they use, and I don’t want to get into a debate with ANYONE about fluoride), and that people say that everything is meant to be but she doesn’t believe that because her life is truly awful, and people don’t realize that when they look at the sport she used to compete in how awful it is, and she did things that she thought were normal but now she knows that they weren’t, and what’s your favourite colour?( purple) so here’s a purple toothbrush and some floss for you to take home.

And I don’t want to sound judge-y because she was truly an unhappy soul but I DON’T KNOW HER and it was EXHAUSTING. Then the dentist came in, and despite the fact that my chart clearly, and for the last TWENTY YEARS, says I’m allergic to latex, he went for my mouth with latex gloves on. I stopped him and reminded him, and he did what he always does, which is to make a huge fuss about having to take the latex gloves off, re-sanitize his hands and put on vinyl—“Oh, my hands!”—to which I replied, “Your hands? Well, wait until you see my mouth after you put your latexy fingers in them. By the way, is my EpiPen close by?”

And even though I had no cavities, I didn’t even get a f*cking lollipop because the four-year-old ahead of me took the last one. At least I don’t have to go back for six months.