Voyage of Discovery

Well, it’s been another exciting week here in the house. Last week, I spoke of being like Magellan, and once again, I’ve been on a voyage of discovery:

1) I discover a solution

After 15 years of having a small sitting room, which is a misnomer in that it only seats three, and which is completely useless since anyone who visits us always comes in pairs, I looked around it on Tuesday and said to Ken, “You know, if we turn the loveseat so it’s perpendicular to the fireplace instead of facing it, sell that big-ass armchair no one ever sits in, buy a smaller chair, and move that wing chair over here, we could seat 4 people in this room.” Ken turned to me with the long-suffering look of a man who has suffered too long from impromptu furniture rearranging schemes. “Sure,” he said, “but all the stores are closed. Oh well. Maybe in a month.”

“But wait,” I said, and his long-suffering look turned into one of resignation, the resigned look of a man who knows that his wife has been perusing the local Buy and Sell sites. “I just saw the perfect chair on Facebook Marketplace. We can sell ours and buy THAT one.”

And that’s exactly what we did. The whole scheme was accomplished using social distancing, of course, which meant that the old couple who bought our big-ass chair refused any help as they staggered down the 100-foot long walkway to the sidewalk carrying it, and loaded it into their SUV. It was snowing and I felt awful, but they waved off any offer of assistance and then e-transferred me once it was safely stowed. Then Ken and I drove to a neighbouring town where the newest member of the family room awaited us on a porch.

“It’s beautiful,” I whispered.

“It’s heavy,” Ken answered.

Nevertheless, we/Ken got it loaded up, drove it home, and it now resides in our sitting room, filling me with the kind of joy you only feel when you’ve been locked inside your house for weeks. The new (pre-owned) chair is the one on the left. I don’t know about you, but I have no issue buying furniture second-hand—in fact, we got the loveseat in the picture from the Habitat For Humanity Restore Store for 80 bucks, and Ken and I made the coffee table out of an old pallet we found. 

2) I discover an impossible task

When I was a child, I suffered from a nasty skin condition called dyshidrosis that only affected my hands. The causes of dyshidrosis are still not-well-known today, but for some reason, 50 years ago, dermatologists thought that the oil in orange peel was one of the triggers and as a result, I wasn’t allowed to touch oranges. I’ve talked about my obsession with orange things before, but the one thing I never mentioned was my undying adoration for canned mandarin oranges, you know, the ones that come in the syrup. I long ago realized that orange peel wasn’t really a problem, so usually at work, I have a bag of mandarins in my office so I can have one with lunch every day and avoid scurvy. But then I was at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago and I realized that you can still get the canned ones, only they aren’t in cans anymore—they’re in these plastic cups with peel-off lids. I was super-excited, and at lunch the next day, I took one out of the cupboard and started to peel off the lid, which resulted in mandarin orange syrup squirting out all over me. “I’ll have to be more careful tomorrow,” I thought to myself, undaunted.

Tomorrow came, and again, despite my care, the syrup shot out. I’d learned my lesson and had it pointed away from me, so it ended up all over the floor, much to the delight of Titus.

Me: What the f*ck?!
Ken: You’re squeezing it. Don’t squeeze the cup when you peel off the lid.
Titus: You should totally squeeze the cup when you peel off the lid. This is yummy.
Me: I’m not squeezing it! And stop licking the floor!

The last part was for Titus, not Ken, just in case you’re worried that the furniture rearranging had finally sent him over the edge. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. There is no possible way to open a Del Monte Mandarin Orange Cup without having the f*cking juice jet out of it. But it’s still delicious.

3) I discover something new to worry about…

…because I don’t have enough things to worry about already. Anyway, I’ve been spending a LOT of time in online virtual meetings, on-camera most of the day, which is fine because I only have to look fancy from the waist up. From the waist down (no, I’m NOT naked!) I’m wearing pajama pants, fuzzy socks, and slippers. So I’m like a modern-day mullet: business up top and Netflix down below. Time has currently become a noun for both Ken and me:

Me: I’ve got a 9 o’clock.
Ken: Me too. Then I have a 1 o’clock.
Me: I’ve got an 11 o’clock, and then maybe a 2.

But on Wednesday, my 3 o’clock was cancelled, which gave me a chance to grab a snack. I had my phone in my pocket and I was on the way to the kitchen when the doorbell and the phone simultaneously rang. My reaction to this sudden ominous turn of events was to yell, “What the absolute f*ck is going on here?!?!!” as I went to answer the door at the same time as I put the phone to my ear. There was a man backing away from the door who called out, “It’s just your Staples order” as I heard people talking and laughing through the phone. I smiled and waved at the man, then took the phone away from my ear and realized to my horror that I was on a VIDEO CALL and that instead of seeing my face, everyone had a great close-up shot of the INSIDE OF MY EAR. And now, on top of everything else, I have to worry about whether or not the insides of my ears are clean, which I would hope they ARE, but how the hell would I know?! So in consolation, I opened my snack, wiped the mandarin juice off my pajama pants, and sat in my new chair.

As a postscript, I’m happy to tell you that my publisher has finally made both my novels available as Kobo e-books, which is great news because for the last two weeks, The Dome has been showing as “Currently Unavailable” on Amazon.ca and has disappeared completely from Amazon.com since somehow the title has been changed to “Dome” and the search link is broken. The word count for both Kobo e-books is completely wrong and less than half the actual words I wrote, unless a) Canadian words convert differently to American, like kilometres and miles or b) over half the words are actually missing, which will make it a real treat for readers to try and follow the plot. Here are the links in case anyone is interested:

The Dome: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-dome-11
Smile: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/smile-57

My Week 129: Sensitive Startle Response, We Find Oscar Wildefish

Wednesday: I live in a constant state of fear

I have an extremely sensitive startle response. No, not an actual syndrome like “Exaggerated Startle Response” where you go all stiff and can’t move (like a goat, but not as funny), nor do I have “Jumping Frenchmen of Maine” syndrome (yes, that IS a real thing involving a group of French-Canadian lumberjacks, and I realize that my attempt to elaborate on this only makes it sound weirder), or any other neurological disease for that matter—I’m just super-f*cking-jumpy. It’s annoying as hell, but it hasn’t been much of a problem until lately, when I began a new position with the secret agency. If you read last week’s post, you’ll remember that I now have my own office (complete with the awesome mini-fridge that I hauled up there myself), which is great, but also now a lot more people want to talk to me. That is also great, because my co-workers are terrific, but my desk is L-shaped and in the corner. And that means that most of the time, I’m working with my back to the door. I already had a problem with people coming up behind me in my cubicle, but I was in a fairly busy area so there was less chance of sudden noises. Also, my coworkers learned to sidle up towards me rather than suddenly appearing from around the corner of my cubicle wall, to avoid causing me to jump in the air and stifle a scream.

Now, though, I’m in a very quiet office with a door, and people come to the door without me being able to see them first, and I’ve been scared sh*tless no less than 13 times in the last 4 days, through no one’s fault but my own:

Coworker: Oh hey, can I—
Me: Agh!!
Coworker: Oh my god, I’m so sorry!
Me: Don’t be. It’s me, not you.

Of course, the best part is that my Director has the exact same startle response as me, and there’s nothing funnier (or more terrifying) than the two of us triggering each other:

Director: Oh hey, can I—
Me: Agh!!
Director: Agh!!!
Both: Oh my god, I’m so sorry!

It had become a bit of a running joke, to the point that last fall, my work partner L decided that the only thing to do, aside from making us wear bells around our necks was to buy us each a box of TicTacs that we could shake while we were approaching each other. Unfortunately, TicTacs are yummy and I ate all of mine, which kind of stymied the plan. At any rate, the one good thing is that I also now have a super-comfy office chair that has really great “give”, so when I jump three feet in the air, I land on a nice bouncy cushion and get to go “boing boing” for a minute while I’m catching my breath.

But I haven’t always had such a sensitive startle response—it’s gotten worse over the last few years for a couple of reasons I won’t get into. Anyway, here are the top ten things that now cause me to jump in the air, scream, and swoon, aside from people coming up behind me:

1) The text notification on my phone chiming.
2) The TV coming on too loudly.
3) Things dropping. (Like, literally anything—a pencil, a glass, my hairbrush…)
4) Ken walking into a room (but he does it quietly ON PURPOSE).
5) A car appearing in my blind spot (and no, it’s never a great idea to jump out of your seat whilst driving).
6) Birds. They fly by the window with no warning AT ALL because they’re dicks.
7) People sneezing. Someone in my office has a very loud sneeze and it scares the bejeezus out of me every damn time.
8) Car horns. Particularly hard to avoid in the downtown core where taxi drivers will literally honk at pigeons.
9) My alarm. I usually wake up before it goes off, then I forget to turn it off, and then it goes off and scares me. It’s a vicious cycle, and you’d think I would have figured this sh*t out by now.
10) The cat jumping onto the bed. I can always see Titus coming but Raven—she’s stealthy like a ninja.

Luckily, my coworkers are kind enough to try and help me out. On Friday, I heard a soft shuffling outside my office door that started getting louder. When I turned around, it was a colleague, who said, “I thought if I made a little noise first, it would give you some warning.” But I feel terrible that my bizarre reaction to normal human things makes THEM feel bad, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to resolve this. I can’t move my desk because it’s technically a counter that’s bolted to the wall, so I either get a mirror installed so I can see who’s coming up behind me, or I buy everyone in the office a lifetime supply of TicTacs.

Oscar Comes Home:

Last weekend, the official Quest for Oscar began. As per Mishima’s instructions, we were to seek out his nephew, Oscar Wildefish, in order that he might collect the inheritance left to him when Mishima passed away. You may recall that we had few clues, other than “he’s flamboyant, blue, and very witty”. Nevertheless, Ken and I set out to scour local pet stores. There are a LOT of fish out there, let me tell you, and while some of them were blue, none of them were particularly witty. We’d just about given up when we went into Petsmart and made our way to the fish section.

Ken: Oh look–here are some blue fish.
Me: Those are betas. Mishima was a goldfish, so…
Ken: Why couldn’t Oscar be a beta? It could have been like a mixed marriage or something.
Me: Betas aren’t witty. The last one we had was boring AF, remember? Let’s keep looking.

True to form, the blue betas weren’t saying anything. Then suddenly, I heard someone clear his throat:

Voice: Why, hello darling.
Me: Is that you, Oscar? Where are you?
Voice: Yes, ‘tis I, Oscar Wildefish. Look to your left.

And there, in a tank labelled Calico Ryukin Goldfish, was a baby blue, white, and gold fellow with delightful fins that looked like long chiffon sleeves. Definitely flamboyant.

Oscar: I’ve been waiting for you ever since I heard dear Uncle Mishy was unwell. The rumours of his death are apparently NOT exaggerated, judging by your appearance here in “Petsmart”, which is a misnomer if I’ve ever heard one. Honestly, I’m surrounded by dullards. It’s like a Donald Trump rally—non-stop complaining about immigrants every time someone new is put in the tank. I’m absolutely DYING for civilized company.
Me: I’m so happy we found you! Wait—you’re $12.99?! What kind of fish ARE you?
Oscar: Me? Sweetheart, I’m a delight, that’s what I am. And worth every penny. Now let’s go home. Adios, “Petsmart”.

So we brought Oscar home and he’s merrily preening in the reflective glass of his tank as we speak. He’s nicknamed the cat “Flossy” for some strange reason (and stranger still, she doesn’t seem to mind) and he and Titus are planning a picnic once the weather “becomes more charming”. But now, I have to go out and get him some new décor—it seems he’s not overly thrilled with the pagoda and says he’d prefer something “more glamourous”. So, new quest undertaken. I’ll keep you posted.

 

My Week 108: Indecent Exposure, I Hate You Facebook

Thursday: I get flashed by a street person

Isn’t that a great hook for this entry? You’d almost think that was the worst thing that happened to me on Thursday, but wait, no it wasn’t. The week was already having issues—the night before, I’d gone to the liquor store after work and bought wine for the rest of the team, which was exhausting (I must be exhausted right now, because I spelled “liquor” wrong three times according to the squiggly red line, and if anyone knows how to spell liquor, it’s ME). I bought the wine, and the guy at the cash register offered to “make the bags fancy” for me (no, that’s got nothing to do with being flashed, although it DOES sound like something a flasher would say). He folded them origami-style then stapled them so the tops looked like little fans—this took a while, much to the dismay of the people behind me in line who were looking very impatient and also thirsty. I took all four bottles to work, and sneakily placed them onto people’s desks for a nice surprise in the morning. Then, on my way back to my condo, I realized that I’d forgotten one person, an important person, and the only option was to go back to the liquor store, but if you understand anxiety at all, you’ll know I couldn’t go back to the SAME liquor store and be like “Hi, I need you to make this one more bag fancy while everyone waits and now you’re probably worried that I have some kind of fancy bag fetish that you are enabling (wow, that sounds even more flasher-y) and I should just go to the other liquor store, etc.” Which is what I did. But then I was worried that the fifth bag would look shabby, and I was trying to remember how the guy folded it and whatnot, and how I could buy a stapler, or at least do something pretty with scotch tape and cotton balls. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know I’m somewhat a disaster at anything requiring a lot of manual dexterity, and if I could have just shoved the wine into a gift bag with some crinkly tissue paper, which is what I do at Christmas, everything would have been fine. Except that the wine was already IN the bag, and I had no tissue paper. So I said to the guy at the checkout, “Any chance you can make a fancy top for this bag?” I wasn’t holding out much hope because, and I don’t want to sound like I’m stereotyping here, but the guy at the OTHER store was Asian, and origami is Asian, and the guy at this store was a middle-aged white guy who looked like he also just shoved gifts into bags with crumply tissue paper (THAT’S the stereotype, by the way—NOT the Asians and origami thing, which is just a coincidence). Sure enough, he said, “No, I’m no good at that kind of thing (stereotype proven), but Nancy can do it for you.” He pointed at the other cashier, and she said, “Sure, hon, I can make your bag fancy.” It was great, because she made it just like the other guy, and now all the bags looked the same, and no one would feel left out because their bag had snowflakes made out of Q-tips taped to the top instead of an origami fan. But then I had to go all the way back to the office to put the last bag in place. By the time I got back to my condo, I was ready to collapse, let me tell you. Even though my building, the two liquor stores, and my office are all within the same one block radius, it was still an arduous journey.

The next morning, everyone was extremely pleased to find a bottle of wine miraculously appear on their desks, and I don’t want to brag, but that makes me a kind of saviour if I remember the Bible correctly. But then the merriment stopped, because this was the day that we were rolling out the pilot project we’d been working on for two years. And it rolled out, all right. Then it immediately rolled back in. We were devastated, having been promised by our secondary vendor that “It’s going to be great. Greater than great. It’s going to be so great you won’t even believe how great it is.” Apparently, this company was owned by Donald Trump, so in retrospect, that fact that it crashed and burned should not have been a surprise. At least it didn’t grab anyone’s private bits on the way down.

Anyhow, we were feeling pretty gloomy, but it was the middle of the work day, so no one could drink their wine. Instead, we decided to go to the diner up the street for lunch, where we could get some “comfort food”. I ordered the most Canadian comfort food of them all, poutine, and my two co-workers ordered nachos, all day breakfast (which is the best thing ever invented), grilled cheese, and so on. When my poutine came, I was shocked—it was more poutine than any reasonable human person could, or should, ever eat. I said to the waiter, “You guys might want to rethink your portion sizes—I would have paid 8.99 for less than half of this, and I couldn’t have even eaten half. There are poor, homeless people right outside your door, and I feel terrible just throwing away this much food.” Yes, I actually said that to him, which will turn out to be both prescient and ironic shortly. Well, you can’t take poutine with you because it gets too soggy and won’t reheat well, so I left it behind. We were heading back to the office, and I was still kind of railing about the waste and poor people having to eat out of dumpsters, when we passed the alley between the diner and the next building.

“All of the hungry people on the street here, and I just—ahhhhhhgggg!!!!” I shrieked.

“What?! What’s wrong??!!” my co-workers responded, but all I could do was point into the alley and yell “Penis! Penis!!” which of course made them look too at the homeless guy whose pants were around his thighs, struggling to pull them up. We walked away quickly, eyes averted. “I only got a crotch shot,” said one, “but it was bad enough.”

“I got the whole thing,” I said. “As if today wasn’t already awful. It’s like the perfect metaphor for my relationship with the universe right now.”

When I told my parents about the incident, my mom gasped. “Did you call the police?”

“No,” I said. “It’s not like he was waving it around on purpose or anything. It was no big deal. Literally.”

And that’s the long and short of the flasher story, the story of my fancy bags and his not-so-fancy ones.

trenchcoat-flasher

Tuesday: I hate you, Facebook

The other day, it occurred to me that if I was applying for a job and a potential employer looked at my Facebook page, there might be a problem. Not because I post racist memes or porn or anything—in fact, if you look at my page, it’s mostly funny stuff as well as animal videos. But I DO make my blog public on my Facebook site, and I’ve been doing that for years, and while my blog is pretty PG 13, there is the rather liberal use of the F word among other epithets, as well as some pretty irreverent humour. So what would be easier? Changing the status of every single individual post from the last almost three years, or changing my Facebook name to something not immediately identifiable as me? Ah, silly, stupid me.

I had just been reading the most ridiculous page that Facebook was asking me to “like”, about something called “Intermittent Fasting” which is when, every once in a while, you don’t eat for a few days. According to the page, it’s supposed to be “good for your body and soul”. There was even a calendar with a countdown to the word “Fasting” complete with an excited little exclamation mark and a happy face. Are you f*cking kidding me? What kind of first world crap is this? You know, people all over the world participate in “Intermittent Fasting” but they call it “Not having enough food to eat sometimes.” And I don’t think it makes either their bodies OR their souls feel any better to know that people in North America do it BY CHOICE. FOR FUN.

Anyway, I was all distracted by this, and toying around with changing my name EXACTLY so that I could write about this in a swear-y, irreverent way without potential employers being like “We don’t want her—she’s against Intermittent Fasting and likes too many kittens”. So I decided to try a variation of my name and it sounded OK, then Facebook was like “Review your changes”, so I clicked on the button. When the screen came up, I realized that I’d spelled my own name wrong. This happens to me quite frequently because my full name is really long and has a lot of consonants and vowels in it. No worries—I’d just go back and edit it…

And then I was like “What? WHAT?! F-CK YOU FACEBOOK!” because Facebook was like “You can’t change it back, sucker—you have to wait 60 days, because we’re just random like that.” I cursed the internet so hard that I think I might have been responsible for the DDOS on Friday. But then it occurred to me that now, the only people who can find me are people who actually know me, or dyslexics. Thanks, Facebook. But you still suck.

 

My Week 102: True Colours, Disappointed by the Dump

Tuesday: I get my colours done

When I got back to work after my sojourn abroad in August, I received an email notifying me that I needed to attend a mandatory True Colours workshop, seeing as I’d missed the last two and needed to “catch up” before our All-Staff meeting on Wednesday. I went to my manager and asked if I really needed to go. “I already know my colours,” I said. “I’m a Winter.” But no—this wasn’t about my wardrobe. She explained that True Colours is a personality identification system. “Well, I’m a Scorpio,” I said. “And an ISFJ—I know that because I took a 5 minute internet quiz. Also, if I was a Game of Thrones character, I would be Arya, and if I was a geological thing-y, I would be ammolite. How much more analysis do I need?!” A lot, apparently, and there was no wheedling out of the workshop. I could have scheduled another surgery, and the trainer would have come to my bedside, that’s how seriously the agency is taking it. So on Tuesday afternoon, I walked over to the hotel with all the new employees to find out exactly who the hell I am.

The first thing we had to do, according to the trainer, who was the most cheerful and perky woman I’ve ever met, was to look at 4 cards and order them according to how much I liked them. The yellow card looked like a nasty mustard-coloured quilt. I would never put it on a bed in my house, so I set it aside for the time being. The blue card looked like water going down the toilet, and the orange card reminded me of what I see when the eye doctor flashes that strong light at you and you can see what’s inside your own eye. The green card was OK—it reminded me of that really cool computer screen image in The Matrix with all the dripping numbers and lines and stuff. I love The Matrix—the costumes and special effects are amazing, the characters all have awesome names like Trinity and Cipher, and Hugo Weaving is a total super-villain. So I picked the Green card, then the Gold quilt-y one next because even though it was yellow, you could probably display it with the right décor. I picked the Blue one third, because it was kind of tropical once you got past the 2000 Flushes vibe, and the Orange one last because, well, something had to be last. Then we had to rank a bunch of adjectives and assign them numbers from 1 to 4 based on how much we agreed with the words. And then we had to ADD UP THE NUMBERS. At which point, I got confused, because my numbers refused to add up to 60, mostly because I did it wrong and gave some things all 4s instead of ranking everything. So I just eyeballed the whole thing and decided that I was Green. Which meant I had to go and sit at a table with people I didn’t know and talk about myself and my feelings, because why WOULDN’T I want to do that? I’ll tell you why—because I’d rather gouge out my own laser-perfect eyes than do that. Especially since we had to, as a group, fill in columns in a chart about our Joys and Strengths and Weaknesses as the Greens in the room. But the other people at my table seemed nice, and after some very hesitant offerings, we were able to put two or three things on our chart paper. Of course, the Blues had two full pages, the Golds had everything in organized subheadings, and the Oranges, who had finished before everyone, looked restless.

Before we started sharing our answers with the whole group, the trainer told us that True Colours was totally legit, that it came from the work of Carl Jung and was based on his theories about temperament. And I was like, “Great. I just had my personality mansplained to me. Thanks, Carl Jung.” According to Jung, or whoever is making money off his theories, Greens “seek knowledge and understanding, live by their own standards, need explanations and answers, value intelligence, insight, fairness, and justice, and are non-conformists, visionaries, and problem-solvers.” I was like, “Just because I picked the Matrix card?!” But it WAS a fairly good description, especially since I’m not adventurous, overly emotional (unless my only child has just abandoned me to go off to university), or nitpicky (well, maybe a LITTLE nitpicky, but Gold is my second colour).

Then we started sharing our chart paper answers, and the trainer filled in or re-spun things if we got them wrong ie: “What the Green group means when they say they value family is that they LIKE them, but they don’t NEED them every day.” This made us Greens a little annoyed, since it was completely inaccurate, but we tolerated it because we didn’t want to come off looking all emotional and what-not like the Blues. My own feelings were more than a little ruffled though, when she told everyone that Greens are often perceived as robotic and impersonal, kind of like Dr. Spock. Plus, I SO badly wanted to yell out “MR. Spock. MISTER!” I was glad I didn’t though when, later, we read the list of Green traits and “quick to point out other people’s mistakes” was one of them. Coincidentally, I had recently done an online quiz “Which Star Trek character are you?” and I HAD gotten Mr. Spock. But only because 1) I had chosen the blue uniform because there were no black leather ones like in The Matrix and 2) I chose “Transporter” as the best invention because what is there NOT to love about being able to get from place to place in under 30 seconds? Have you ever tried to go ANYWHERE on the 401? I’ve wasted more hours sitting on that damn highway than I’ve spent taking personality quizzes.

spock_fascinating

Overall, things weren’t going too badly for me, but then the worst part of the afternoon happened when we had to also do a checklist to decide whether we were introverts or extroverts. I already know the answer to that, thanks to years of hating crowds and feeling socially awkward around everyone but my family. The trainer was circulating, and stood looking at my finished checklist, which had me at 39 Introvert points and 6 Extrovert points. Now, you’d think as a professional trainer in this sh*t, she would know better than to single out a Green Introvert, but she called out to the whole group and asked who knew me well enough to say whether they agreed with my calculations. But as I’d mentioned, the rest of the people there were either new employees or worked in different departments, and had just met me. Finally another manager said, “I thought she was probably Gold,” and I was like “Fair enough!” because I do LOVE details and lists and things, but mostly because I really needed the attention to not be focused on me. Finally, the afternoon was over, and I was awarded a binder and told to bring it to the All-Staff meeting the next day.

The following morning, our entire staff gathered together for a variety of important announcements, then we were instructed to sit at tables with other members of our “Colour” group. I found myself flanked by two psychometricians, an editor, a Math team member, and someone from Layout. I was all Sesame Street, like ‘One of these things is not like the other,” and started getting more and more uncomfortable as the morning progressed. The first activity was called “The Bear”. We had to decide what we would do if we were confronted by a bear. Now, if you visit this site regularly, you’ll know that I’m the f*cking QUEEN of Worst Case Scenarios, and I have a plan for everything, including bear encounters and bouncy castles that somehow become untethered. So I said, “Make yourself as large as possible and make as much noise as you can to intimidate the bear. Playing dead doesn’t work worth sh*t, as Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in The Revenant can attest to. Believe me—I’ve researched this.” The rest of the group accepted my logic and wrote it down. But when we had to share with the staff, we came very close to being accused of not really being Green, because our answer was wrong and Gold-ish, apparently. Thank god the editor had added, “Resign yourself to the idea that you’re probably going to die,” or we would have been called out as frauds. Especially since the OTHER Green table was obviously trying too hard and wrote down, “Why is there a bear? Where did it come from? What kind of bear is it?” This is how Greens are supposed to react, according to the science of it all. And sure, if I ever DID encounter a bear, the phrase “Why the f*ck is there a bear here?!!” would be running through my mind as I was simultaneously screaming and trying to look bigger than I am.

After the excitement of the bear attack, which had the Blues huddling together for comfort, and the Oranges sacrificing a member of the team so the rest of them could run away, we had to write down the things that stressed out our colour and what other people could do to help us. The Blues right away were like, “It stresses us when people take a tone, or aren’t nice to us.” The trainer asked what would help them, and the Greens all muttered under their breath, “Stop being so damned over-sensitive. That’ll help.” But that was another wrong answer because the whole point of the workshop was to help us understand each other so that we could work more effectively together. That made total sense to me, and then I was like, “OK, Bob—I will try to be more understanding of your Orange-ness when you don’t have a plan and won’t stop distracting us with your jokes, mountain climbing analogies, and popcorn machine.” Sigh. It’s so hard being Green when your main stressor is “people who aren’t logical” because there’s so much illogic in the world. Take, for example, racism. I hate racism in any form, not because I’m all sad about it and sh*t, but because it doesn’t make any logical sense to look down on an entire race of people because their skin has more melanin in it, or because they believe in one God or five gods or no god at all. If we all treated each other equally, the world would have more peace than war. Quite frankly, it’s a lack of logic that makes the world such a difficult place. And bears.

Saturday: I am disappointed by the dump

Ken has spent the last few weeks building a new lawnmower shed to replace the sh*tty little metal one with the broken door that stood at the back of the patio for ages. But he had to do it in fine Ken style, which is to say that the new shed is a gorgeous rustic barnboard structure, over twice as big as the previous shed, and decorated with trim and interesting salvage materials. As you can see from the picture, It’s beautiful, and you could easily use it as a small cottage, and I’m a little jealous of my lawnmower now.

new-shed

In the process of cleaning the previous shed out, he put aside a couple of boxes of old paint and things which couldn’t go out in the regular garbage, with the intention of disposing of them once the new shed was finished, which happened last week. So on Saturday morning, he woke me up.

Ken: I’m going to the dump to get rid of that old paint and the old stereo. Do you want to come?
Me: The Dump?! Hell yeah! I love the dump!
Ken: Slow down there. It’s just the transfer station in Salford. You’re not allowed to take stuff.
Me: Then WHAT is the point of going? What if I see something I want? I can’t touch it?!
Ken: They’re pretty strict about that kind of thing.
Me: But that’s not logical. Why should something stay in the garbage if someone else can use it?
Ken: You don’t have to come if you don’t want to.
Me: FINE, KEN. I’m coming to the dump.

I remember when I was a kid, going to a junkyard with my dad when he needed a part for something. Dad was a toolmaker by trade, and could make you just about anything with an Allen key and scrap metal. I don’t know what he was looking for, but I remember staring in awe at all the cool junk, and wishing I was bigger and had a shopping cart. Plus, at the time, I was obsessed with a series of novels called “The Three Investigators”, whose office was a trailer in a junkyard owned by the main character’s uncle. I wanted to be just like Jupiter Jones, live in a junkyard, and solve mysteries. Unfortunately, that never happened—I can’t even solve The Mystery of the Salt in My Hair, or The Case of the Missing Earring Back. But still, a girl can dream. Then a couple of years ago, Ken and I went to a local dump, where we found a grandfather clock in a bin. We drove the car up close, and I opened the door to shield Ken from the sightline of the woman in the office while he went down into the bin and retrieved the clock. So I know that rules can be broken if you’re sneaky and careful, and I was secretly excited about the trip to the transfer station. Who knew what treasures awaited us?

None, as it turned out. The place was super-regulated, with workers EVERYWHERE. We got told to pull up to the building with the pink computer monitor (technically it was neon orange, but I’m trying to curb my Greenness and not be so quick to point out people’s mistakes), and unload our boxes. The guy said, “You don’t have to wait—you can leave.” It was heartbreaking—as we drove away, I was sure I saw an old wooden door sticking out of a bin, and I was like, “Noooo…..” as we went through the gates. I was really feeling glum and disappointed when Ken decided to take one of his notorious “short cuts” down a side road. We passed a little house set back from the road, but on the front lawn, there were two tents with tables set up. “It’s a yard sale!” I said. “Go back!”

“I don’t see a sign,” said Ken.

“Trust me. There are random things on tables, and an old guy sitting in a chair. Go back.”

And I was right. It WAS a yard sale. Most of the stuff was pretty crappy, but among the detritus, I managed to find a 19th century lavender dip-molded bottle and a turned wooden bowl. Together, they would have been $6, but the guy let me have them both for 5 bucks. And the moral of the story is “It’s all about the journey, not the destination.” Also, “one person’s junk is another person’s treasure.” And finally, “Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness has never been to a yard sale.”

My Week 95: Weird Dreams, Raven the Pokemon

Saturday: I have weird dreams.

I’ve been a very vivid dreamer since as far back as I remember. In fact, I can still recall the first nightmare I had when I must have been about six. In the dream, I was lying in bed, watching a TV screen which had appeared on my wall. The setting was a small town, where a killer had poisoned all the food and drinks. When people ate the food, they turned completely white and died; when they drank anything, they turned completely black and died. It was a black and white TV, so that’s all I got—they might have actually turned red or yellow—who am to say. Nevertheless, I screamed so loudly that my mom came running in, and slept with me for the rest of the night. I still have a catalogue of dreams in my head, going back years—one of the downsides of having a somewhat eidetic memory—and I’m still a vivid dreamer, although my nightlife isn’t always as sinister anymore. You may remember not long ago, when I described a really funny dream I’d had where I was explaining algebraic concepts to a group of students. Okay, I realize that doesn’t sound particularly funny in and of itself, but the actual hilarious part of THAT dream was that my explanation was correct, considering how bad I actually am at math. I would love to know how I can understand something in a dream and be so completely sh*tty at it in real life.

Case in point: yesterday, we had a birthday party for Ken and K. Ken was turning 50, and K had just turned 18, so it was a milestone occasion. Almost the whole family came, and it was a lovely day, except for the fact that I still wasn’t feeling well, and Ken was running around setting everything up, serving people, and generally doing all the stuff I would normally do if I was more mobile. All the guests were helping out, but still—it was Ken’s party, and I was feeling really guilty for just lying in a lounge chair with a glass of wine. I was also feeling super-anxious, because we were sitting outside on the lawn, overshadowed by this gigantic ash tree which had recently succumbed to Ash Bore Beetle disease. So yeah, it was a big-ass dead tree which has been dropping more branches than microphones at a Kanye West concert. Which is to say, randomly and without any apparent reason. We’re having it taken down soon, but if you know anything about me, you’ll know that I’m the f*cking queen of Worst Case Scenario Plans. So I had one for the tree, obviously. Then Ken’s mom remarked that the tree looked like it was dead.

Ken’s Mom: Is that tree completely dead now?
Me: Yes, but don’t worry—I have a plan. If it starts to fall, we can all run around the side of the house. The house will protect us from being crushed by it.
Ken’s Mom (dark, ominous laughter): None of us can run that fast.

So yeah, my anxiety was peaking, and I’m going to use that as an excuse for the ridiculously awful attempt at a speech that I made after Ken and K had opened their presents. Ken started to thank people for coming, but I was like, “Wait—I have a special toast.”

Me: This has been a year of milestones for our family. I mean, like, since last July, not since January. A calendar year, let’s say. Anyway, last year, Ken and I celebrated our 50th anniversary—
Everyone: 25th!!
Me: What? Oh right, of course. Ken’s 50. We’ve been MARRIED for 25 years. Anyway, then I turned 50, and now Ken’s turned 50 and that’s really special because 25 and 25 is 50…
Everyone: ??
Me: And of course, K is 18 and an official adult, which is also really special, and now she’s going to university. So.
Ken: Yes. It occurred to me the other day how important these connections are to us all. I look around and see these people who are so important to our lives, coming together in kinship and love, and it’s a very special thing. Thank you all for coming.
Me: Wait! I’m not done yet! Anyway, Ken and I now have been together more than half of our lives, since we’re both 50 and well, half of 50 is 25—wait, is that MORE than half? Regardless, it’s been a wonderful first half—
Ken’s Mom (dark, ominous laughter): The next half might not be as good though.
Me: Anyhow, I’m drunk.

I wasn’t actually drunk, but being intoxicated was a better excuse than being sh*tty with numbers. I learned two things that day. First, instead of winging it, you should always plan your toast carefully and ensure there is no MATH in it. Second, that Ken’s Mom is a lovely woman but she’s kind of like Donald Trump at the Republican Convention, all gloom and doom and “the apocalypse is coming” at parties. Frankly, I would have preferred it if she was more like Melania—even if it meant getting Rickrolled.*

*MY mom is going to read this and be like, “I don’t understand the ending. What does “Rickrolled” mean?” It’s when someone pranks you by getting you to click a link that takes you to a clip of Rick Astley singing “Never Gonna Give You Up”. Melania Trump included words from that song in her plagiarized speech, and it seemed like someone had done a little Rickroll there. Glen Beck claimed someone did it deliberately to humiliate her, but I don’t think she needed any help. Love you, Mom.

So back to dreams. In my dreams, not only am I good at math, I can cut my own hair, fall from great heights without dying when I hit the ground, speak and understand foreign languages, and escape from serial killers. I’m also a pretty competent firefighter. The other night I had the following dream: my parents were at our house, and I was telling them about a dream I’d just had (yes, within the dream I was currently having) where they were dressed as detectives in trenchcoats and fedoras and carrying giant magnifying glasses (although it seems to me now that my mom was wearing a pith helmet instead of a fedora. She’s got great fashion sense.). Anyway, as I was describing the dream to them and they were laughing, I looked out the door and saw that there was a pick-up truck on fire on our lawn. I ran outside, grabbed the garden hose and started to spray down the truck (it was a vintage 50s pick-up, turquoise with white stripes and trim, just in case you’re wondering). Unfortunately, the hose tap wasn’t turned on all the way, so I started screaming for K to come out and turn it up. She, of course, was wearing her gaming headphones and didn’t hear me as usual, so I had to do it myself, all the while yelling at my parents to call 911. As I was putting out the fire, I saw a figure lurking in the bushes and realized it was the arsonist. I was just about to discover the person’s identity, when Ken woke me up. AND NOW I”LL NEVER KNOW, KEN!! It makes me crazy how I can’t stay AWAKE for the ends of TV shows, and I can’t stay ASLEEP for the ends of dreams.

My favourite dream of all is a recurring one, where I discover that our house has a secret wing. It’s a long hallway with three bedrooms on the right, and two bathrooms on the left, one on each end. It’s always SUPER-creepy and very cold, because no one has been in it for years, but it changes, and that’s what makes it fascinating. Sometimes the rooms are filled with antique furniture, sometimes they’re completely barren except for a few odds and ends in the closet, and sometimes the dresser drawers are full of vintage toys. The bathrooms—you don’t go in them. You can look in, but you just know better than to go in, like in “The Shining.” And even though it’s kind of scary, I always wake up happy that I’ve been able to explore it again.

When I came out of the anaesthetic after my surgery, I was dreaming that I was at a rock quarry with a group of friends and family. I was sitting on a rock, contemplating going in the water, and it was a beautiful day. I was really happy because I thought, “Either I’m still alive and dreaming, or this is a pretty sweet afterlife.” Then the nurse woke me up. Or DID she?! Maybe this is the dream, and the quarry is the reality. Either way, I’ll still suck at math.

Sunday: Raven the Pokémon

Raven: What the hell? Why did you just lob a tennis ball at me?!
Me: I’m playing Pokémon Go. I’m adding you to my collection.
Raven: Is that why the stupid fish has been calling me “Catchou”? That scaly little bastard! You know, I read his tweet. The reason I sneeze all the time is because my ancestors were so f*cking overbred that my nose is flat. YOU try breathing with your face all smushed in.
Me: C’mon, play along. Jump in this bag.
Raven: You and your non-virtual version of a virtual game can piss off. I’m trying to sleep here. Go find “Titusaurus Dix”. I’m sure he’ll play.
Me: You’re no fun, you know that?
Titus: Throw the ball, throw the ball!
Me: It’s nice that SOMEONE wants to be a Pokémon.
Raven: I think your gonna need a bigger bag.
catchou2

My Week 66: I Get My Eyeballs Lasered, Raven Loses Bathroom Privileges

Monday: I get my eyeballs lasered.

Two weeks ago, I saw my eye doctor for a variety of reasons, and at the end of the appointment, he basically told me that the only thing that would truly make a difference to my abysmal vision was laser eye surgery. While this may sound really cool and superhero-ish, like having your eyes get turned into lasers so you can cut things like metal and sandwiches, and defeat your enemies all with your laser eye superpower, it’s really not like that at all. As I discovered. What it actually meant was that a surgeon would use a laser to reshape my corneas, enabling me to see properly for the first time in about 40 years without really thick glasses or annoying specially made contact lenses. I used to laugh at the eye doctor’s when he would ask me to read the smallest line I could see on the chart without my glasses, and I would be like, “Chart? What chart? Where am I right now? Where did you go?!”  Once when K was a baby, she woke up in the middle of the night screaming, and without thinking I raced to her room. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see where I was going and I slammed into the doorframe and broke my toe.

So I went to the consultation, mostly for my own safety, and to my surprise, the clinic was able to do the surgery a week later. I was initially really pumped about it, but as the days wore on, I also started to get a little (OK, a lot) nervous about it, mostly because they give you a LOT of information about EXACTLY what happens, and frankly, I would have been good not knowing ANY of it. Plus, as you may remember, I’d had that incident on Christmas Eve which sent me to the emergency room, and I was still feeling kind of lousy and out of sorts. But I decided to persevere, and on Monday morning, Ken and I went to the laser clinic, all ready for the eyeball carving. We could both tell my anxiety was peaking, because when we got to the clinic, there were three people in the waiting room, and they all had these little blue bags that looked like travel kits or something, and name tags. Then I went in for the last check on my eyes before the procedure, and no one gave me anything. I went back to the waiting room and whispered to Ken, “I didn’t get a bag.” Ken looked around and told me not to worry, that the bags must be for something else. Then another guy came in, and after his final eye check, he came back out to the waiting room WITH A BLUE BAG. At this point, I couldn’t keep it in any longer, and I just kind of burst out, in front of everyone, “Um…I don’t have a bag. Am I supposed to have a bag? Because everyone else has a bag. Sorry, it just seems like I’m the only one without a bag here.” I realize that I most likely sounded like a five year-old, but WTF? There could have been important stuff in the bag, like a valuable prize or coupons for Pizza Hut. The only other time I’d seen a bag that was even vaguely similar was when my brother used to fly first class and he would give me the “first class kit” they hand out to people who can afford to fly first class. These kits always contained things like “Soothing Temple Balm”, or “Refreshing Lip Gel”, or sleeping masks—all things designed to reduce the stress level of the first class passengers, because obviously they’re the ones who need the stress reduction, not the poor passengers in Economy all squished in like sardines with screaming babies and NO FREE ALCOHOL. Obviously. And of course, the biggest irony was that if it WAS a stress-relief kit, I was the one person in the waiting room who seemed to really need it and I DIDN’T HAVE ONE. But it was OK–the nurse came over right away and apologized profusely for forgetting to give my bag and my name tag, which apparently was super-important in helping everyone remember what number to set the laser to or whatever.

When I finally felt like enough time had passed to make it look like I wasn’t extremely dying to see what was in the bag, I opened it. Man, was I disappointed. It was a pair of dark sunglasses, two night shields, a roll of surgical tape, and a very complex eyedrop schedule. The night shields and tape were for “when I was sleeping”, although I had no idea how I was going to sleep with giant clear plastic circles taped to my face, waking up to put in eyedrops every f*cking hour. But I’d made such a fuss about the bag that I didn’t feel like I could back out at this point, and very soon I found myself in the “prep” room, where the prep entailed sitting in a super-comfy leather recliner and being give a healthy dose of Ativan, the sublingual kind that melts under your tongue and starts to act within about 30 seconds. So I very quickly went from 60 to zero, and pretty much no longer cared about the blue bag, laser beams, or forgetting to stay still and having my nose accidentally cut off (you might think that was a bizarre fear, but when I was lying there, the surgeon actually said, “Turn your head slightly to the left—we don’t want the laser to hit your nose.” So there.) Also, the music that was playing was modern pop music, and NOT Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, so I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get “Clockwork Orange’d”.

I’m not going into details about the actual procedure itself because I recognize that some people are already very sensitive about even the THOUGHT of someone touching their eyes—suffice it to say that the whole thing was quick, like under eight minutes with only about 75 seconds of that actually under the two different lasers, virtually painless, and when it was over, I could f*cking see. Like, REALLY see. Things were a little hazy at first, but over the course of the day, that went away, and by dinnertime, I could read the titles on the books across the room. Of course, there were some cons to the whole ordeal. For example, I can’t see in the dark like a cat the way I’d hoped, or look through walls with super X-ray vision like they used to promise in the ads in comic books, you may remember, right next to the ads for Sea Monkeys—nope, it’s just normal 20/20 eyesight. And you could tell how many years I’d been wearing contact lenses, because I keep freaking myself out. For example, I woke up in the middle of the night on Tuesday, and my first panicked thought was “Holy Sh*t, I fell asleep with my contacts in!” But I hadn’t. I could just see everything clearly in the moonlight—in fact, I could see the moonlight. And I was able to make my way to the bathroom without tripping on the dog, or running into a door. And here’s the other great thing—I was feeling pretty bad the whole past week, because in an earlier blog, I had offered to donate a certain body part to Russian scientists with the promise that it was in great shape, much better than any of my other organs, but after Christmas Eve, I felt like I would have to renege on that promise. But now, I can donate my eyes to them and avoid yet another international incident.  And as for the blue bag, I’ve been taking it with me everywhere. Not only does it hold all my eye paraphernalia, it makes people think I’ve been flying first class.

Wednesday: Raven loses her bathroom privileges

I realized this week that my bathroom didn’t smell the way it always does, which is soapy and fresh and lady-like (most of the time, until Ken uses it, which ticks me off because he has his own bathroom and it’s not my fault that mine is closer to our bed). No, it smelled of cat urine. I have a litter box in the corner for Raven to supplement the one downstairs (for a tiny cat, she has a major output) but Ken cleans it out every day, so it’s never been a problem. But by Wednesday, it smelled less like my bathroom and more like an outhouse in the middle of a forest that only cats used, and because only cats used it, it never got cleaned, because they’re cats. This is sometimes called circular logic, but if you’re a cat owner, you will totally get it. At any rate, I got really fed up, and decided to replace the whole litter box, you know, just throw it all in the garbage and buy a new one. So I tossed it all in a big black garbage bag, and put it outside. Then I went back into my bathroom and everything still reeked. I sniffed around and realized then to my horror that the rug next to my bathtub was the source of the odour. It was a cat piss nightmare. I threw it out the nearest door, sprayed the floor with bleach, then waited. Sure enough, about 15 minutes later, the little diva came strolling in. She walked to the middle of the room, turned towards the litter box, then did a double-take when she realized it was gone and that there was a lovely wastebasket in its place.

Raven: What the hell is going on? Where’s my toilet?
Me: BOTH your toilets are in the garbage. You just lost bathroom privileges for good. Raven: What are you talking about?! Why?
Me: Remember a few months ago, when you were peeing on the bathmat and I had to throw it away? I told you if you did it again, you could kiss the upstairs bathroom goodbye.
Raven: But it was cosy…
Me: Toilets aren’t supposed to be “cosy”! Besides, this was an area rug. It was low pile and definitely NOT cosy.
Raven: Yeah, but it had a nice floral pattern. It was like taking a leak outside in the garden. You could almost hear the birds chirping.
Me: If you want to hear the birds chirping, I can permanently accommodate you.
Raven (leaving): Screw you.
Me: And stay out of the closet!!

The upside, so I initially thought, was that I no longer had to keep the door partially closed and locked with a hook to prevent Titus from running in and eating the “delicious kitty candy” from the litter box. But apparently both my pets are asshats, because the next day, Titus wandered in through the now-wide open door and ripped apart the garbage. Personally, I think the cat put him up to it.

My Week 3 – Thanksgiving and Irrational Fears

Monday, when Ken and I ponder the meaning of Thanksgiving:

So we just celebrated Thanksgiving, and Ken and I were driving down to the cottage. It occurred to me that it was weird that we celebrate Thanksgiving in October and the Americans celebrate it in November, and what’s it all about anyway? And this is the conversation that ensued. Just for the record, Ken and I aren’t fussy about the accuracy of our facts:

Me: So why do we celebrate Thanksgiving in October and the Americans do it in November? What’s with that?
Ken: I don’t know—maybe their harvest is later than ours since they’re further south. They’re both just about giving thanks for a good harvest anyway.
Me: That’s not why the Americans celebrate Thanksgiving—they didn’t HAVE a harvest, that was the whole point. The Puritans came over here completely ill-equipped to survive. They were literally starving to death, and the Indians shared THEIR harvest with them, and basically saved their lives.
Ken: Oh yeah—“Thanks so much for your generosity—in return, here’s some small pox.”
Me: I know, right? “And some alcohol.” That’s gratitude for you. Do you think the native Americans “celebrate” Thanksgiving, or do they secretly call it something different, like “The Day We Wish You’d Never Shown Up”?
Ken: All I know is that Sherman Alexie just tweeted out that in celebration of Columbus Day, he was launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to build a time machine, so that he could go back in time and stop Columbus from finding the New World.
Me: Seems about right.

Wednesday: I realize that I’m even worse at small talk than I am at actual conversations.

I know I’ve already demonstrated my shortcomings when it comes to contributing to conversations with people I know, but that pales in comparison to my struggles with small talk. Here’s an example. I had to get my car’s thermostat replaced last week, so I took it to the car dealership, and they gave me a rental car, since I’m now a “VIP” by way of the fact that I’ve bought 3 cars from the same car guy (mostly because now I know him and we NEVER HAVE TO MAKE SMALL TALK). He’s great, and he doesn’t mind if I text him at dinner to see if I can test drive stuff (As a side note, I thought he was still at work, and when I realized that he was at home, I was horrified because I absolutely avoid imposing myself on anyone except my family, but he was really nice about it, and set up the test drive anyway).

Anyway, they called for a shuttle driver, who wanted to talk about the weather, and traffic, and that was OK because all I had to do was say, Mm hmm, and Right, and Really? and things like that. But then I got to the car rental place, and the rental guy was one of those SUPER-FRIENDLY people who wants to chat, and that‘s when things got uncomfortable. I’m kind of an introvert, and I was tired, and it was the end of a long day, so I can’t really be held responsible for the verbal fiasco to come. He proudly announced that he was going to give me the “brother” to my car, so I was kind of hyped up, thinking I was getting an awesome ride, then he took me outside and presented me with a Chevy Cruze. It was navy blue, and kind of scruffy. He looked at me expectantly, and I didn’t know what to say, so I said, “A Cruze. My dad says it has a good engine.” Then the conversation took a bizarre turn. (Mom, I need a favour. I know that you’ll be reading this before Dad, so I need you to promise to read this story OUT LOUD to him, and when you get to this part, skip over it. Make something up, like the guy asked me out and I initially accepted because I was so flustered, then I had to break it to him that I was happily married. Seriously. I swear to God I will do anything for you, including taking you to the casino if you do this for me.) OK. The rental guy looked at me and asked, “Oh, does your Dad work for GM?”  and then I became confused, (because how is that in any sense of the word, a LOGICAL connection?) and I said, without thinking, “Nuh, he’s just some old guy.” I knew as soon as I said it that it wasn’t even close to being an appropriate response, and to make things worse, the rental guy gave me a funny look, and said, “OK then,” in that kind of dismissive way people have, and I tried to make things better by explaining that my father was a retired teacher, etc. and not even that old, but VERY SMART when it came to cars. This, unfortunately encouraged him, and he started talking about his wife the teacher, and how she had to teach some students whose family got blown up on a boat (?) but I wasn’t really listening and just fell back on Mm hmm, and Right, and Really? which seems in retrospect to always be the safe, non-offensive choice for someone who isn’t good at small talk.

Friday: I catalogue some of the things I’m irrationally afraid of, and Ken makes them worse.

I don’t suffer from any kind of anxiety, I really don’t, but for some reason, I have certain irrational fears that I can’t explain, like being afraid of stepping on a nail sticking out of a wooden board, falling onto a table saw, and other highly improbable things involving sharp objects. I can usually quell these fears, except that I’m married to a man who takes extreme delight in making them worse. Case in point: I have a morbid fear of nail guns. Ken was using one this weekend, and I had to keep going into the bedroom because I was afraid of getting shot with it. When Ken pointed out that it was absolutely impossible that he could shoot me with it because of its safety guard, I reminded HIM that that was exactly what he said about the electric staple gun, right before he shot a staple past my head and that I didn’t trust ANY so-called “safety technology” regarding sharp, missile-like objects when it was in his hands. Sure enough, not much later, he dropped the nail gun on the floor, tip-down, and came close to shooting a nail into his foot. (He will claim that I am exaggerating in a “lying” kind of way, but I’m just telling it like I saw it.)

Aside from sharp things, the other source of my panic is the idea of someone kidnapping my child. My 16 year-old, six-foot-one, blue belt in Kung Fu child. But still. Even today, I worry to the point of hyperventilating if she goes to the store around the corner (literally around the corner) by herself. I take great pride in disguising these feelings, and try not to worry overly about her leaving school property and being accosted by a gang of human traffickers. But a few days ago, I was telling Ken about this, and he quite calmly informed me that he would NEVER pay a kidnapping ransom, because according to MacLean’s magazine, you only embolden the kidnappers and cause them to kidnap more people when you pay their ransom demands. I pointed out that we only have one child, so there wouldn’t BE any more kidnappings, but he said he had his principles and I just had to accept them, and that if I was ever kidnapped, he wouldn’t cough up the cash for me either, and that I would have to understand the nature of his sacrifice. “I’d be doing it for the good of all society,” he said. Now, I’m pretty sure he was just teasing, but then it occurred to me that this might be the nail gun thing all over again, so I plan to start saving up, just in case.