The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

So I’ve been working from home this past week and it looks like I’ll be there for a while longer. I don’t mind—I’ve worked from home before and I know how to pace myself and structure my day. I’m not going to lie and say that it’s been an easy transition—changes in routine have always posed a challenge to me. In fact, any kind of change can throw me into a tizzy—take, for example, Daylight Savings Time:

Ken: So I went around the house and changed all the clocks…
Me: What do you mean, ALL the clocks?!
Ken: I set all the clocks to the right time. It took me ages to fix the ones in the downstairs bathroom. There’s like fifteen of them.
Me: YOU CHANGED ALL THE TIMES ON MY VINTAGE CLOCK COLLECTION?
Ken: Hahaha. Just kidding.
Me: If only that was even remotely funny, KEN.

Because the whole point of the collection is that each clock presents the time when it finally stopped for good—it’s PERFORMANCE ART, KEN. And then the other day, Ken decided that he wanted to fix the ceiling in one of our guest bedrooms because there had been a leak a couple of years ago that caused a seam to bulge. I insisted that he cover everything with drop sheets because of the plaster and whatnot, assuming that he would leave everything just the way it was underneath. BUT NO. It turned out that he took everything off every surface and put things randomly in drawers, and when it came time to put it all back, I just about lost my mind until I remembered that I had photographs of the room and could recreate it exactly as it was.

As you may remember, I’ve written extensively, maybe even obsessively, about the bathroom stalls at work and which one is my current favourite at any given time. So, in honour of working from home, and being able to keep things as normal as possible, I present to you the bathrooms in my house in order of least to most favourite. (You’ll notice that they all have toilet paper. I was at the grocery store yesterday, and there was a skid of bulk TP that came 30 rolls to the pack. The limit per customer was 2, and there were actually people carrying 60 f*cking rolls of toilet paper home. How much do you sh*t, anyway? I stood there for a moment, contemplating the skid, but didn’t buy any because I currently have lots, and I really hope I’m not going to be pissed off at myself in a month. Anyway).

This bathroom is nice, but it’s narrow and far away from my current office space. Also, like Stall 1 at work, a ghost lives in it. This is the same ghost that opens the cupboard doors in the adjacent bedrooms. Also, you can see there’s a small sliding door in the wall—there was a vent pipe inside that led into the closet in the bedroom directly behind the bathroom. Last year, we were cleaning out the bedroom closet and realized the pipe just went directly from the bathroom into the closet floor and stopped there, so we pulled it out and discovered the most bizarre collection of things under the floor of the closet that someone in the past had thrown down the pipe in the bathroom, obviously not realizing that it wasn’t a MAGICAL pipe. There was a pair of boy’s underwear, a love letter written to the son of the previous occupant (“Hi Jordan, If you lik me, rite back” with a heart drawn in crayon. I guess he didn’t “lik” her since he threw the letter into the magic pipe) and a couple of condom wrappers, so maybe he changed his mind at some point? The weirdest thing was about 9 pairs of old panty hose, and I can’t even begin to explain THAT, having not owned a pair of panty hose for over twenty years, long before we bought this house.

This bathroom is very utilitarian, housing the laundry facilities as well. However, the knee-to cabinet ratio is a little tight for me. This is “Ken’s bathroom”. It has a nice shower, but I’m a bath girl. The last time I used the shower was the day I ran a gas-powered pressure sprayer over my foot. Ken carried me screaming into the shower to get the dirt out of my flayed toes because it was the closest bathroom to the incident. So it’s very handy in a medical emergency.

This is the bathroom where I keep the infamous vintage clock collection. I wrote a while ago about clocks, so you’ll remember that I have a lot of old clocks that don’t work scattered around the house, but this bathroom is where space and time converge. Also, I made that toilet paper holder out of an old piano stool base and a curtain rod, and at the time, people thought it was very ostentatious, but given the fact that toilet paper is currently as rare as rhodium, I think it’s a fitting tribute. I like this bathroom well enough, and it’s close to the back family room where we watch movies. You can dash to the toilet and still hear the dialogue if you keep the door slightly open. Much better acoustics than a movie theatre bathroom and much cleaner.

This is MY bathroom, and it’s the best one in the house as far as I’m concerned. It’s like Stall 5 at work, if Stall 5 was never used by anyone but me. It’s technically an ensuite for the master bedroom but it belongs to ME. It also has a balcony that you can sit out on in the summer, which is random for a bathroom, but this whole house has been reconfigured several times over the last 114 years, and apparently the bathroom used to be a kitchen when the upstairs of the house was 2 apartments. Ken and I just renovated it a couple of months ago. Originally, the walls were covered with giant damask roses, which I loved but which Ken CONSTANTLY complained about, so I finally gave in when we found all those doors for free at the side of the road and he proposed that we create a wall of doors. My favourite thing is the stained glass window panel we just installed, and which I promised to take a picture of, because last week when I introduced you all to Captain John Crapper, my friend Bryntin from O4FS wondered why the toilet was in the corner, and a couple of people asked to see the whole room. So here you are. In my favourite bathroom. A constant in a sea of change.

Also, if you’re wondering why on earth we have FOUR bathrooms for two people, let me just say that our house is in a very small town far from the city, and when we bought it over 15 years ago (when Kate was still at home), the price was incredibly low compared to what we could have gotten for the same money in town. Once we both retire, we’re hoping to turn it into a bed and breakfast, or a writing/photography retreat. As long as nobody moves my stuff or changes my clocks, it’ll be great.

My Week 191: Big Words, Flushed Away, My Superhero Posse

I like big words and I cannot lie.

I have a certain penchant for the multi-syllabic. I mean, why use a merely utilitarian word when a grandiose one will do? I have to be honest though—I don’t use unusual or archaic words in everyday conversation because I consciously think “Hey, it would really impress people if I said, ‘It’s not my forte’ as opposed to ‘It’s not my thing’”. I just really like words that are precise and carry a certain nuance, and I use them without even thinking about it, until someone looks at me and goes, “Huh?” Here are a couple of examples:

1) A few years ago, Ken and I were shopping for a new bedroom suite. We went to a local furniture store, and a very nice salesman started hovering, as they do, so we engaged him in conversation. When we told him we were looking for a king size headboard and footboard, he must have assumed we were tabloid celebrities who lived in Las Vegas because he immediately took us over to this incredibly overdone monstrosity in wood and gold lacquer.

Sales Guy: What about this set? It’s really stunning.
Me: I don’t know. It’s a little ostentatious.
Sales Guy: Austin who?
Me: Um, like ornate and pretentious.
Sales Guy: I don’t know any of those words.
Me: Super fancy?
Sales Guy: Oh, sure, I can see that. Maybe this one over here…

2) I was down in Ohio with my rugby team and we stopped at an ‘All You Can Eat’ pizza place. I’m always amazed by American restaurants, with their gigantic servings. The cost was $7 and people were piling their plates sky-high with pizza then coming back for more. I was with a group of teenaged rugby players, and they were in seventh heaven, as you can well imagine. But I couldn’t find any knives and forks, so I said to the woman behind the counter,” Can you tell me where the cutlery is?” She looked at me blankly for a moment, so I repeated, “I can’t find the cutlery”.

 Server (long pause): I don’t know that word.
Me: Oh, um—utensils? For eating?
Server: You mean like a fork?
Me: Yes! Exactly like a fork.
Server: Oh! They’re over there by the soda.
Me: The what? Oh, you mean the pop? Thanks!

And this wasn’t me being a dick, seriously. For example, when you call Swiss Chalet here in Ontario to order take-out, the last thing they ask you before your order is complete is “Would you like condiments and utensils?” and you’re expected to know what that sh*t is or you don’t get your chicken.

But just because I like big words, doesn’t mean I’m actually smart in other ways. The other day, I was in a meeting with a director and some other managers (all women, thank goodness), and we were talking about some catering we’d just had. The catering company served Montreal Smoked Meat sandwiches almost every day, and I referred to it as ‘ubiquitous’, at which point, someone turned to me and said, “That’s a big word.” I replied, “Sorry, I meant, like, ‘monotonous”. But then the meeting continued and it went on for a while. I’d been drinking a LOT of green tea that morning, so when we got to the last item on the agenda, I said, “Will this be a long one? I have to use the Ladies, so if the answer’s ‘Yes’, I’ll just pop out really quickly.”

The director said, “Oh, just use the one in here.” For context, we weren’t having the meeting IN a bathroom—we were in a boardroom that actually had a full bathroom with a shower in it, for some bizarre and unknown reason. We all made jokes about how no one would listen to me, but for good measure, I turned the faucet on high just to drown out any obvious noise. When I was finished, I stood up, turned around, and was at a complete loss. There was no discernable way to flush the toilet. No lever, no handle, no button, nothing. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t stay in there forever—I mean, I was in the middle of a f*cking meeting. People were LITERALLY waiting for me to come out. So finally, I opened the door and stood there.

Director: What’s wrong?
Me: I—I don’t know how to flush the toilet…
Everyone: What?!
Me: There’s no mechanism that I can see whatsoever. I don’t know how to flush it.

One of the managers jumped up and came into the bathroom with me. She looked around and pressed a switch. The lights went off. She turned the lights back on, then we both stood there looking at the toilet.

Manager: She’s right. There’s no handle.
Director (coming over): No, there has to be.

Then we all stood there staring at the toilet. Finally, the director crouched down and looked around. “I think I see something!” she said. She reached around the back of the toilet and pushed a button, at which point the damned toilet flushed, and everyone dissolved into hysterical laughter.

Director: And now we all know how to flush this toilet.
Me: Indubitably. I mean, “Yup.”

Me and My Superhero Posse

On Thursday night, my train was an hour and a half late. We finally boarded, and I was talking to Ken on the phone when I found out that not only had I been seated in a foursome, which I hate, but also that he had just bought some antique windows for me, and one of the panes was broken.

Me: Are you f*cking kidding me?
Ken: The lady was really sorry. It broke in her car. She knocked five dollars off the price.
Me: Five dollars?! What am I supposed to do with a window with a broken pane?
Ken: We can fix it.
Me: OK. Sigh. Sorry. I’m really tired and a little punchy.

At which point I said to the three women sitting in the foursome with me: “Just to clarify—I won’t actually be punching anyone.” They all smiled and one of them said, “Oh, that’s OK”, like if I DID punch someone, she would be fine with it. They seemed like nice ladies. But because we were sitting in the back foursome, we were jointly responsible for breaking the window and helping people out of the train if it derailed, according to the conductor who explained how to get the hammer out of the box mounted above the window. Then I realized that the sticker on the window by the box looked exactly like Thor’s Hammer, and I said to the woman next to me, “Do you think if you just say ‘Hammer’, it will come flying out of the box right into your hand?” because why the hell WOULDN’T anyone wonder that, but she just kind of looked at me and shrugged, so obviously she was NOT going to be in my superhero gang.

Mjolnir, come here!

But now, I was not only tired, but a little sad at the thought that I didn’t have a superhero crew like Deadpool or Tony Stark or Starlord, so I messaged my friend M from work:

I was originally going to call myself Captain Middle-Aged Woman, but the superpowers of being financially responsible and possessing comfortable walking shoes didn’t seem like skills you would need in a fight against a supervillain unless it was Millennial Girl, and also M had some awesome ideas about our outerwear:

And it was nice to know that, on a day where work had been long and stressful, and the train was really late, that I, Trainwine, have friends who wouldn’t hesitate to be part of my superhero posse. I had a name for M, but I think in retrospect, I’m calling her “The Kickboxer”, because she broke her foot a while ago playing soccer, but she still went to kickboxing (here’s her blogsite–she just started out, so give her a read: I Left My Dress In the Fridge  ). We also decided our other friend should be “Italian Thunder” because she brings the boom AND the pasta to the party. So look out supervillains—Trainwine and her posse are coming (at least if it’s before 11 pm and it’s not raining because as everyone knows, I don’t dry well).  And if you, dear reader, want me to give you your own superhero name, ask for it in the comments and I will oblige. I think that just might be my idiom. Indubitably.

My Week 184: A Can-Do Attitude, or Simply In The Can

On Thursday night, I was waiting for Ken to call. I’d come home early on the train for the Easter long weekend, and we needed to get some groceries due to all the stores being closed on Friday. Finally the phone rang:

Me: All I need is pie shells, baby spinach, and strawberries. I’ve got the rest covered.
Ken: OK. I need to get chocolate chips.
Me: Why?
Ken: I have to make cookies for the Heritage Society bake sale.
Me: Fine, but don’t buy the ones from Nestle.
Ken: OK.
Me (pause): Don’t you want to know why?
Ken: Oh. OK, why?
Me: Because of the whole water thing. Buy Chipits. They’re made by Hersheys.
Ken: OK.

And then I realized that Ken has adopted a “Can-Do” attitude. The “Can-Do” attitude is currently de rigeur in some circles right now, and it’s when you agree with something because disagreeing is either 1) too troublesome 2) no one would listen to you anyway, or 3) you simply don’t give a f*ck. I think in the case above, Ken was agreeing because of any one of those reasons, but I suspect it was number 1, since he knows how I get when I have a “bee in my bonnet”. Also, where the hell did the saying “bee in your bonnet” come from? Because I’ve always taken it to mean that you get really fixated on something and can’t let it go, whereas in reality, if I REALLY had a bee in my bonnet or whatever headgear I happened to be sporting, I would be freaking out, flailing madly, and completely unable to concentrate on anything but getting the bee out of my…oh wait, I get it now.

Anyway, this whole “Can-Do” attitude thing is everywhere. At work, we’re constantly being told to have one, even when it doesn’t make sense.

Guy: Hey, how about this crazy idea?!
Me: No, that won’t work because of—
Guy: Where’s your Can-Do attitude?!
Me: I’m just being realisti—
Guy: CAN-DO!!!
Me: OK. Whatevs.

So that’s a great example of reason 2. And a while ago, I was at the Landlord Tenant Board Office, filing a complaint. I was illegally evicted from my condo last year, and I also filed a lawsuit, so I can’t really get into a lot of details right now. But suffice it to say that the dude at the LTB was extremely patronizing and strange, prompting me to react under reason number 3.

LTB Dude: Come here. You’ve put the wrong postal code on this page. I can’t change it for you—I can only tell you about it.
Me: OK. Can I change it myself?
LTB Dude: Yes.
Me: Can I use your pen?
LTB Guy: Yes.
Me: OK. I fixed it.
LTB Guy: I’m only here to take your submission. I can’t comment on anything that I’ve read.
Me: OK.
LTB Guy: If you have any questions about the contents, I can’t answer them.
Me: OK.
LTB Guy: So you have to make sure that everything that you want to send to people is in here, because I can’t tell you if it’s not.
Me: OK.
LTB Guy: So you have to make sure it gets to them.
Me: OK.
LTB Guy: (stares).
Me: I have a lawyer. I’m sure it’s all fine.
LTB Guy: Well, maybe your lawyer should—
Me: O.K.!

Can-Do, baby. Not a single f*ck given.

But there ARE times when I’m a real Can-Do-er, an adventurer, willing to try something new and different. The other night, I was having dinner with my cousin, a really cool guy that I see about once a year. We were at a restaurant I’d never been to before and when we’d finished eating, I excused myself to go to the ladies room. I walked into the stall (there were only two, so I chose the one that seemed the most ghost-free), but the toilet looked very strange. I stared at it for a second, then the lid started to go up. ALL BY ITSELF. I had a moment of panic where I thought I had made a fatal, haunted mistake, but then I realized that the toilet had these warm, glowing blue and red lights. It was a ROBOT TOILET. I hesitated for a second, but I really had to go, so I sat down. There was what seemed to be a control bar on the wall next to the toilet, and I didn’t have my reading glasses on, but in a completely devil-may-care moment, I decided to push one of the buttons. Suddenly, I was being sprayed by jets of warm water. It was delightful. The problem, however, was that it was completely body temperature and after a minute or two, I couldn’t tell anymore whether the “water” was coming from me or the toilet and it seemed like I had been sitting there for a lot longer than necessary. I had no idea how to stop it, so I tried standing up in the hope that the spray was motion-sensored like the lid or something, but it wasn’t, and the higher I got, the higher the jets got, and I didn’t want to get soaked so I sat back down. Then I started pushing the other buttons on the wall-mounted bar. Apparently, the first one controlled the water pressure and the water was now more like a geyser than a gentle fountain. The next one controlled the position of the spray, and I had now gone from front to back—it was incredibly aggressive and somewhat “invasive” and I was starting to worry that I would never get out of the stall in one piece. Another one made the toilet seat heat up. The last button played classical music, because why the f*ck not? So there I was, on a hot toilet seat, my nether regions being blasted by jets of tepid water to the strains of Tchaikovsky when I finally found the “off” button. After I’d dried off, I came out of the bathroom laughing hysterically, so much so that I could barely explain to my cousin what had happened.

Me: OH MY GOD. That was the best toilet I’ve ever sat on!
Cousin: OK.
Me: I totally need one for my house!
Cousin: O.K.

Come to me, my love…

 

My Week 177: My Favourite Bathroom Stall and Other Questions I’ve Asked Myself

Questions That I’ve Asked Myself

A while ago, I was nominated for a Unique Blogger Award by my good blogger pal Cecilia, from Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks who writes wonderful posts about family, life, and cool DIY stuff. The post which, to me, best captures her writing and her warm personality is High School Planet Dance Notes: Tips for Survival, which made me laugh and get a little teary all at the same time.  Then last week, I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by another blogger pal, Brooke Breazeale of Summoning Magic: A Gypsy’s Tale, world traveller, humanitarian, and all around super writer. One of my favourite Gypsy posts is this one—it’s both eloquent and brutally honest: The Girl Who Bullied Me Gave Me My Greatest Gift. But this is not about these awards, which are great and made me feel truly blessed, but more about how I’m not good at follow-through. I have pretty strict rules about this blog—I only post once a week on Sunday, and I only ever post humorous stuff or political satire, because humour is what helps me get through life’s sh*t. So herein lies the dilemma—how do I honour these amazing women while at the same time doing my thing? But I’ve come up with a solution. You see, normally you respond to these nominations by answering questions that are posed to you or whatnot, and today I will be answering questions that I have posed to myself, based on the notes on my phone that I was going to write about this week anyway. I don’t know if these are the kind of questions that demonstrate the appropriate gravitas for this type of accolade, but it’s what you get when you nominate mydangblog.

Question Number 1: Which bathroom at work is your favourite?

Ah, now THAT is an excellent question. At work, there are five bathroom stalls in the ladies bathroom. Stall 5 is my favourite, because it’s against the far wall with no other stall to the left, so if stall 4 is empty, I ALWAYS use Stall 5. However, if stall 4 is occupied, then I immediately go to Stall 2 if the ones on either side are both empty. I NEVER use Stall 1 because a ghost lives in it. Stall 4 always smells weird. Also, I heard that the number 4 is considered unlucky in some cultures, and no one wants to be unlucky in a public bathroom. I WILL use Stall 3 in an absolute emergency. 

Bathroom Stall Overall Ranking:

5: 1
2: 2
4: 3
3: 4
1: Boo.

Question Number 2: Do you have any other bathroom stories you’d like to share?

Why yes, I actually do. A couple of weeks ago, I was on the train, and I had to use the facilities. I try to avoid this like the plague for three reasons. First, you could actually GET the plague from a train bathroom. Second, the bathrooms on the train always smell like urine, and third, if the train derails, I would have no advance warning to brace myself against the toilet and the far wall, as one does. But I’d had a little wine, and decided that I couldn’t wait until I got back to my condo. I went in, shut the door, and slid the bolt across to lock it. I was just finished, and was standing in front of the mirror, not because I wanted to look at myself but because if you stand in front of the toilet and the train shakes, you might end up IN the toilet, instead of bouncing off the door. My legs were apart for stability, and my pants were pulled up at the back, but they were open in the front because I hadn’t started zipping yet. Suddenly the bathroom door flew open. A man was standing there, staring at me in shock. I pulled my top down over the front of my pants and gave a small shriek, but not before I looked in the mirror and caught the eye of a guy sitting across from the bathroom. He looked away, smiling to himself, and in that fraction of a second, I was pleased to note that I was wearing the nice underwear. Then the man who opened the door slammed it back shut, leaving me there mortified. So now what? I couldn’t stay in the bathroom forever; aside from the fact that the smell of pee was getting very heady, my wine was back at my seat. So I straightened myself up, opened the door, apologized to the man who’d opened the door for not locking it properly (because that’s what Canadians do), marched to my seat and tossed back my wine. Like a boss.

Question Number 3: Have you been in any car accidents lately?

Funny you should ask. Right after Christmas, I went to the mall to spend my gift money. On the way back, I stopped at a Yield sign because a car was coming the other way. Suddenly, my car jerked forward, because the person behind me was unaware that sometimes people have to actually stop at Yield signs in order to actually Yield, and he ran into me. It was about -30 degrees, but I put the car in ‘Park’ and got out. He was sitting there in his mini-van, looking annoyed. I gave him a “WTF?” kind of arm raise and went to his window, which he reluctantly rolled down. He was a tiny elderly man. He was wearing a fedora and an alpaca overcoat, which made him look like a cartoon character.

Me: You hit my car.
Him: I thought you’d started moving.
Me: Well, you’d better get out and look at the damage with me.
Him: But I’m on my way to work.
Me: Buddy, you just hit my car. You’re not going anywhere for a little while.
Him: But I’m going to be late.
Me: Dude. Come on.

So we pulled into a parking lot around the corner. At this point, I think he realized that things were getting serious, and he started apologizing profusely. As it was, he’d just taken a bit of paint off my trim kit, and honestly, it was so f*cking cold that it wasn’t worth the bother of making him feel any worse than he seemed to. “Well,” I said finally. “I can get some touch-up paint. Now, skedaddle.” OK, I didn’t actually say “skedaddle”, but that would have been funny, and totally in keeping with the way he jumped back into his mini-van and took off. Just like a cartoon character would.

Question Number 4: Have you had any weird dreams lately?

I had a really weird dream last night, but it involved my dad saying a naughty word in reference to a man’s special parts, a word he would NEVER say in real life because he is dignified and mature, and also if he did say it in real life, it would be in a very broad Scottish accent and no one would understand him, unlike in my dream, where he kept saying it and everyone, including my mother who was also in the dream, just nodded sagely in agreement. But the other night, I DID have a dream I can tell you about. It was nighttime and Titus was running around the house, so I let him out into the backyard. Suddenly, he transformed into a small, female Asian child who was tending a fire in a firepit. I told her it was too close to the fence next door and might set it on fire, so she started piling rocks onto the firepit, but that wasn’t helping. I got a hose and started to spray the fire to put it out, then suddenly Gene Wilder’s head appeared in the firepit, and I sprayed him in the face. He started screaming and I woke up. Ta dah. Go interpret THAT sh*t.

Question Number 5: Are you good at math?

No. The other day, I was trying to do 2017 minus 24, and kept coming up with 1983. Then I would add 1983 and 24, and come up with 2007. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong, so I asked someone I work with, who said, “It’s OK. You take 4 away from 7, which gives you 3. Then you borrow 10 from a friend so that you can take 2 away from 11.” And even now, I only THINK that’s what he said, because it still doesn’t make sense, even though I know it’s right, and maybe the problem was that my stupid friend wouldn’t loan me 10 because he’s a dick. Or maybe I just suck at math.

There you have it. I hope that I’ve fulfilled my obligation. The other thing I’m supposed to do is nominate other bloggers, which I’m happy to do, because I love all your writing. However, a lot of my blogger colleagues have received these awards already, and I don’t want to overtax anyone by making them answer my questions. So if you have never been nominated for an award, and you’d like to be, just message me and next week, I’ll nominate you, because you all deserve it anyway. Don’t be shy. The only rule is that you have to answer the 5 questions above. But if you don’t have a second bathroom story, you can substitute a question of your own. And this better not be like the time when I was a radio DJ with a classical music show, and I ran a contest, and the only person who called in was my mom.

My Week 155: The Ravings of a Madwoman, I Am Officially Bug-Free

Tuesday: The ravings of a madwoman

On Tuesday night, I fell asleep early. At some point, I started dreaming that I was having a conversation with someone. I don’t know who it was, but I was absolutely DAZZLING the person with my wit, to the point that I started to wake up, and decided that what I had been saying was so incredible that I absolutely HAD to write it down. I reached for my phone, and wrote out in my notepad what I was sure was the start of a brilliant story. I managed to get as much down as I could before I fell back to sleep with my phone in my hand, but I was sure that I’d remember everything else in the morning. Then I promptly forgot about the whole episode until late Wednesday afternoon.

“That’s right!” I said to myself. “I wrote some pretty clever sh*t on Tuesday night. Let’s see what I said.” And I was excited because the last time I had dreamed something and wrote it down, it was the beginning of the short story I wrote with dream Eric McCormack (see My Week 119: Donut Store Memories). So I opened my notepad, and this is what I wrote at 12:15 am:

And then I was like “What the f*ck does any of that MEAN? This isn’t genius—this is lunacy!”

Who exactly was I talking to in my dream that would have spawned such nonsense? An alcoholic socialist with a penchant for dirty martinis? And what the hell is a “mushroom ring of hope”? I know that sometimes mushrooms grow in a circle, and then people call it a “fairy ring”, but I doubt that it would inspire hope in people who are “left of centre”. If anything, they would just want to EAT the mushrooms, what with them being organic and natural and whatnot, or throw them at the fascists in a display of fungal rage. Also, I like olives, don’t find them hard to stomach at all, and am not convinced that people who CAN stomach olives are particularly better-equipped than anyone else to handle most things. So who knows what was going on in my brain when I wrote this stuff down, but it certainly wasn’t the epiphany I was hoping for.

But I got worried that I couldn’t remember what the random notations in my notepad meant, so I scrolled through to see what other gems I had written down. These others, of course, were transcribed when I was awake, but without context, make just as little sense. For example:

1) “Charmin on the puppy pad”.

I wrote this down at the Pearson Airport. I was waiting in line for the bathroom, because I am a woman, and women go to the bathroom 5 times as often as they actually need to, hence the long line-ups. Also, it takes longer for a woman to go the bathroom, because first you have to hang up your purse, and if there’s no hook, you have to try and balance your purse on the top of the toilet paper dispenser or on another surface because the last thing you want is your purse touching the floor. Then, you have to line the toilet seat with toilet paper so that your skin is separated from the plastic. Or you can crouch, if you’re one of those old-school gals who still believes you can catch germs from the toilet seat, but then you spray everywhere, which makes it worse for other people, so just stop it. Personally, I always choose the special stall with its own sink and soap so that I can just WASH the toilet seat, but they’re not always available.

Next, you have to pull your pants down, or pull your skirt up, ensuring AGAIN that nothing touches any public surface. Next, the underwear comes down, just to around knee height—higher and you can’t sit properly; lower and you run the risk of it either touching the floor, or people in the other stalls being able to see it, which is a big deal if you’re wearing your old “travel” underwear instead of your pretty “on the cruise ship” panties. Finally, you can do what you came in there to do. Then there’s a whole lot involved in the cleaning up process, which I won’t get into because I already said “panties” and for some of you, that’s almost too much as it is, and finally, of course, there’s the handwashing and drying. I don’t know about the other gender, but handwashing is extremely de rigeur for women—just try walking directly from the stall to the exit without hitting the sink, and listen to the gasps of disbelief. Mothers will whisper to their daughters, “That woman is going straight to hell.” Anyway, to make a long story shorter than the wait to use the women’s bathroom, I was standing in line when a woman came in behind me with a tiny white dog. The dog was sporting a giant, pink bow, and wearing a pink tutu. I sh*t you not. The woman proceeded to pull a puppy pad out of her purse, lay it on the ground, and start exclaiming, “Peepee, Charmin—go peepee, Charmin.” Yes. The dog’s name was Charmin. She named her dog after toilet paper and was now trying to get it to pee on a pad on the floor of a public women’s bathroom. And I’m still not sure whether I wrote that down because it was ironic, or because it was disgusting. And when the dog was done peeing, NEITHER of them washed their hands. Straight to hell, people.

2) “German Pillage Festival”

When we were in the UK, we passed a sign at the side of the road, and I thought it said “German Pillage Festival”. What it actually said was “German Village Festival” but at first I was like “I thought only the Vikings did that…are they talking about the Visigoths maybe? I think they pillaged a little…but why is there a festival to celebrate pillaging? Will there be fake-looting for the kiddies? Maybe there are sacks of candy to represent all the sacking…” But then I realized it said “Village” and I assume it just meant there was lederhosen, sausage and beer, and no looting at all. Also, I just realized that I didn’t know what exactly “sacking” meant, except that pillaging is defined as “looting, robbing, sacking” and other activities, but when I looked up “sacking” on the internet, all I got was “the act of sacking someone or something; a coarse material for making sacks”, so I can offer you no insights on that.

3) “Prince of Whales”

K was telling us in the car that when she was in elementary school, her teacher was explaining to the class about how the Prince of Whales had just gotten re-married. She was confused, because she didn’t know that whales had a monarchy, and all she could picture was a giant whale wearing a crown and she was alternately baffled and amused. When she talked to the other kids after class, it turns out that ALL of them also thought the teacher was referring to a marine animal rather than Prince Charles. And it made me think about how adults make assumptions about context, which reminded me of the time when I was 7 and I asked my mom what the word “ejaculate” meant. My poor mother went into a lengthy explanation that completely confounded me, given the context. When she finally asked, “Where did you hear that word, anyway?”, I told her I’d read it in one of my books. “’Goodness me!!’ ejaculated Nan’” I read to her (I think it was a Bobbsey Twins book), and my mom was just like, “Oh. Ahem. Well, that’s different. It means she was surprised.” That seemed MUCH more appropriate than what she’d previously told me. Given the context.

So there you go. Sometimes things make sense; sometimes they don’t.

Wednesday: The ravings of a madwoman Part 2

I’ve had a small rash on the side of my nose for about 6 weeks now. It’s not super-noticeable, especially since I wear make-up during the day, but it’s incredibly itchy. I’ve tried everything—over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, moisturizer, rubbing alcohol, acne stuff—but nothing works. Then I was telling a friend at work that I was pretty sure it was some weird type of eczema, and she said that her naturopath gave her some special cream for eczema and the next time she was there, she would pick me up some. She gave it to me on Wednesday. I was dying to try it, mostly because I wanted to tear my skin off of the .5 square centimetre patch that the eczema was affecting.

As soon as I got home from work, I washed the make-up off the side of my nose, and applied the special cream, which was made with all kinds of lovely ingredients, including lavender oil and shea butter. I slathered it on; it smelled heavenly. But within 5 minutes, the itching got intensely worse to the point that it felt like I had bugs crawling under my skin. Then I had an awful thought: What if there really WERE bugs crawling under my skin??!! What if, instead of eczema, it was some kind of infestation, and the only thing this cream had done was make the bugs very, VERY angry?!

And that was when I made the fatal mistake of Googling “I think I have bugs under the skin on my face.” The internet is a wonderful place indeed, but if you ever think you have bugs under your skin, don’t try searching for it, and especially DON’T LOOK AT GOOGLE IMAGES. The internet is also wonderful for locating the nearest walk-in clinic. There was one a block away from me, and it closed in half an hour, so I raced down there.

Receptionist: Can I help you?
Me (whispering): I have this rash next to my nose and it won’t go away.
Receptionist: Well, we’re almost closed. Can you come back tomorrow?
Me (whispering): Um…I just REALLY need someone to look at it and tell me there are no bugs.
Receptionist: Sigh. I can squeeze you in. Fill out this form.

I was sitting in the doctor’s office in less than 10 minutes, something of a walk-in clinic miracle.

Doctor: How can I help you today?
Me: Can you please look at this rash and tell me that I don’t have bugs living under my skin? It’s really itchy and it won’t go away.
Doctor: Hmm. No, I think it’s just slightly infected. I’ll give you a prescription for an antibiotic ointment and some stronger hydrocortisone. You can mix them together and it should be gone in about 5 days, but keep using it for 10 just in case.
Me: So no bugs?
Doctor: Well, if you mean, like bacteria, then yes. But if you mean actual bugs, then no.
Me: Okay, cool.

Only then was I able to relax, and it was in that moment I realized that earlier, I had been cooking dinner, and I had dropped a potato tossed in olive oil and seasoning on my track pants, which were now not only baggy and old, but also stained. I had also spilled wine on my hoodie. So there I was in a pink, boozy hoodie, stained track pants, and turquoise running shoes with no socks, whispering about having bugs under my skin. Thank god I was in the heart of downtown Toronto, where no one gave me a second glance.

Now, after almost 4 days, the rash, and the itching, are almost gone. So I am officially bug-free. And the only thing left to do is figure out why I wrote the words, “Mission Middle Fingers” in my phone notepad. Genius or lunatic? You decide….

My Week 82: North Carolina vs. Bracebridge, Ontario, Big-Ass Clock Crisis

Wednesday: Weird bathroom laws versus weird noise laws

I was talking to a friend last Wednesday who happens to be gay, and whose girlfriend is very androgynous-looking, and she was up in arms about the bizarre law that North Carolina imposed regarding transgender people having to use the bathroom of the gender they were at birth. That in itself sounds complicated enough, but more perplexing to me was the fact that the law is called HB2. In my world, that’s a type of pencil, with the H standing for “hardness” and the B standing for “blackness”, so my first thought was that it was also some kind of racist law, but in fact, it’s just a moronic law, and the HB stands for “House Bill”. And that in itself is ironic, because it has nothing to do with the bathroom in your house, but with PUBLIC bathrooms. Then my friend showed me a picture on her phone of a guy who was very muscular, sporting a goatee, and who was covered with tattoos. “Wow,” I said. “He reminds me of Adam Levine.”

“He was born a woman,” she responded. “In North Carolina, he would have to use the same bathroom as you, or he’d be breaking the law.”

“What?!” I exclaimed. “I don’t want that dude in a bathroom with me. I’ve had to CLEAN men’s bathrooms—they definitely need their own space!”

Now, this might sound sexist, but it’s based on empirical evidence from two sources. First, if you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that I worked in a donut store when I was younger, and the worst part about it was having to clean the men’s room at the end of my shift (I describe it in full detail In My Week 67: Disturbing Trends in Men’s Fashion, where I reveal the origins of the “poo beard”). Second, which you don’t know, is that a few years ago, I worked in a school which converted the 2 staff bathrooms in the main office into “gender-neutral spaces” to accommodate any transgender students we had. It was a great idea for the transgender kids, who never caused any consternation—the staff whole-heartedly embraced the idea of giving them a safe space—but the office ladies were aghast by the end of the week for quite a different reason. Apparently, there was at least one male administrator who couldn’t aim well, and the constant urine on the toilet and surrounding floor was freaking them out. Also, the men were in LOVE with the expensive hand soaps that the ladies had specially bought, and were using them in copious quantities. I was just impressed that they were at least WASHING their hands, but I recall one woman crying out in frustration, “It used to be such a NICE bathroom! Now, it’s just gross, and there’s never any soap!!”

And this is why the North Carolina law is so ridiculous. Well, one of the many reasons. It seems to me that they’ve suddenly entered the Dark Ages, when people believed that tomatoes were poisonous, that demons caused illnesses, that education made women infertile, and that autism was the direct result of childhood vaccinations. But that’s House Bill 3, which I believe the intelligent North Carolinian politicians are working on right now. Then I got to wondering what the underlying agenda might actually be, because I can’t believe people are stupid enough to honestly care what birth-gender the person in the stall next to you might be. Honestly, when I’m performing a bodily function, that’s really not on my radar. So it occurred to me that there might be a hidden rationale for this irrationality:

1) It’s a special infrastructure project designed to increase employment rates. Obviously, NC will have to hire special “inspectors” who will ensure that people are going into the right bathrooms. What KIND of inspection that will involve will probably decide the pay scale. Also, the birth certificate industry will spike, as people will have to carry those with them all the time, in case they need to pee. It’s tremendously forward-thinking—well done, Pat McCrory, for trying to improve the North Carolina economy. The whole world is proud of you.

2) It’s a secret plan to make all bathrooms “co-ed”. Think about it. If you make men who look like women use men’s bathrooms, and women who look like men use women’s bathrooms, then it’s a f*cking free-for-all. Also, it’s very confusing, and just writing that sentence took me three minutes because I was trying to make sure it was logical, and I’m still rereading it to make sure it’s correct. Which makes me think that if I’m having this much trouble with the logistics, then maybe the whole Bill was just a huge misunderstanding, and that it was passed because the General Assembly thought they were just CONFIRMING that men’s bathrooms were for people who looked like men, and women’s bathrooms were for people who looked like women, and no one was worried about transgenderism at all.

At the end of the day, no matter what the reasoning, the whole thing is outrageously stupid. Does anyone REALLY believe that a person would undergo years of therapy, hormone treatments, and painful surgeries just so they can spy on people in public bathrooms? Like there’s a whole crew of guys waiting for “Sally”, who used to be “Bob”, to come out of the ladies room, ready to pepper her with questions like “Was it clean? Was there fancy soap? Did you see any boobies? Did a pillowfight break out?” And women? There’s no way IN HELL that a woman becomes a man just to use a men’s bathroom. Trust me on this.

I asked Ken if he’d ever been in a men’s room with a woman:

Ken: It happened once. I went into the bathroom at ________, and there was a woman standing there, looking at herself in the mirror.
Me: What did you do?
Ken: I went over to the urinal and used it.
Me: Like, right in front of her?
Ken: We didn’t make eye contact or anything. What was I supposed to do? I went in because I had to use the bathroom, so I did. I don’t know if she was a cross-dresser or transgender or whatever, and I didn’t really care. I just wanted to pee.

So there you go, North Carolina—take some advice from a man who lives in the 21st century and stop worrying about 15th century problems.

transgender bathroom sign

In contrast to the backwater ways of North Carolina, recently the town of Bracebridge, Ontario came into the new age when it repealed an old noise bylaw that banned “hooting and hollering.” Yes, it’s now completely legal to hoot, holler, or make other “human noises” in this Northern town. At least until 2 am, when you could be fined for “drunken singing” or other disruptions to the peace. These are the things we worry about in Canada. Use whatever bathroom you want, but be considerate about where and when you hoot. Here’s the link to the full article, because honestly, I can’t make it any funnier than what it already is. My favourite line is “Stakiw [the Chief Bylaw Officer] said his department hasn’t been dealing with a hooting “crisis,” but had received some inquiries about kids and summer camps, which prompted the town to look into updating its current laws.” Oh, Canada—it doesn’t get better than this. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/03/23/hooting-and-hollering-now-legal-in-bracebridge-ont.html

Friday: I have a big-ass clock crisis

Last weekend, I saw an ad on a local buy and sell site for an antique clock. It didn’t work, but the price was right and the case was pretty. I decided it would make a really great little jewelry cabinet, so I contacted the guy and arranged to come by on my way back from Toronto to pick it up. When I got there, right on time, he was like, “What? I thought you were coming tomorrow. I’m just going out for a ride on my motorcycle and the clock is in the basement.” He said this like it made absolutely logical sense. Then again, the weather WAS charming, and riding a motorcycle is like smoking crack for some people, so I said I’d come by the next day. After a series of confusing messages (at one point, he said, “I’m here” and I thought he meant outside my house, so I spent ten minutes waiting for him to come to the door, but he meant HIS house), I drove to his place to pick up the clock. It was sitting in his garage, and it was WAYYY bigger than I thought it was. I had pictured it as being less than a foot tall, but it was, in fact, over three feet tall, and much too large for a jewelry cabinet, unless you were a member of the Royal Family. Still, it was beautiful, so I put it in the car, and brought it home. It weighed a TON (I discovered later that it still had the original lead weights inside), and I struggled to get it up onto the kitchen counter, where it has stayed until last night. Mostly because I have NO IDEA where to put it. Ken said I should sell it for parts, but here’s the issue: it still had the original paper label inside it, and after doing some research, it turns out it’s a very rare “Chauncey Boardman” American clock from the early 1800s.

Me: I can’t gut it for parts, Ken. It’s 200 years old! There weren’t even PEOPLE in Canada back then.
Ken: Um…I’m going to say that’s incorrect.
Me: Well, fine. Maybe there were people, but they couldn’t tell time.
Ken: Well, obviously they could tell time, but there were no Canadian clock manufacturers during that period. There would have only been individual watchmakers. I saw this documentary last week about…

I have no idea what happened in the documentary because I tuned out, and started mentally going through rooms to see where I could put the clock. When I tuned back in, Ken was talking about ANOTHER documentary about pygmy goats, or Shakespeare’s skull or something, so I started physically walking around the house to try and figure out where a 3 foot high clock could possibly go. On Thursday night, I promised Ken on my honour as a woman that I would find a place for it, and get it off the kitchen counter. Last night, it was still on the counter…

 

My Week 78: I’m Not an Intellectual, Another Haunted Bathroom

Tuesday: I am NOT an intellectual

On Tuesday morning, I discovered, to my horror, that I had made a mistake. It wasn’t an unfixable mistake, and I’d caught it before it caused a problem, but still, it was a mistake. I pride myself on being very meticulous and careful, and it made me feel suddenly like I didn’t know my own mind anymore. Two of my wonderful colleagues saw that I was upset, and comforted me. “It’s happened to all of us,” said one. “You should feel good that you found it before it was too late.” “Come for sushi with us,” said the other. “It will make you feel better.” Oh, the irony. So we went to a local sushi place, them so that they could keep discussing a meeting they’d been to that morning, and me so that I could drown my sorrows in teriyaki and seaweed. I should tell you right up front that I have a severe shellfish allergy, so when I ordered, I asked for the vegetarian rolls with my chicken instead of the California rolls. “You know it’s not real crab in the California rolls, right?” said one colleague. “Real crab is too expensive—it’s probably hake.” Well, I didn’t know what that was either, and I wasn’t willing to risk my epipen finding out, although both of the other women jokingly thought it might be a fun experiment. Then, while we waited for the food, they began debating. Both women have Ph.Ds, so right away, I was feeling a little intimidated by their knowledge and experience, having only two Bachelor’s degrees and an incomplete M.A., so I stayed quiet. Then the food came, and I discovered to my horror, for the second time that day, that I had made a mistake, because the vegetarian rolls contained not only cucumber, but also avocado. WTF, Sushi Star?! I know that some people “like” eating avocado, in the same way I imagine that some people “like” natural childbirth—which is to say, it’s a totally masochistic thing to do, and there’s no medal waiting for you when you’re finished, although you think you deserve one. (This, of course, is just my opinion. If you can have a baby without drugs, or eat avocado without gagging, then go for it. Just don’t be all braggy and sh*t.) Anyway, I decided to try one roll, just to see if I could stomach it. The answer was a clear NO. And just in case you think this is just me being bizarre, here’s a link to an article that I found called “20 Pieces of Proof That Avocadoes are the Worst and Should Be Stopped”

(http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/entertainment/a38880/20-reasons-avocados-worst/)

Let me remind you at this point that the conversation was still swirling around me—I believe the topic at this point was “how do we really define homogeny?” But I can’t be sure, because I was more focused on how to get the avocado out of the next sushi roll without the whole thing falling apart. I tried poking it out with my chopstick, but the damn stuff was so soft that my chopstick just went right through. And then I had the secondary issue of having avocado-slime-covered chopsticks, and I had to scrape the green paste off against the side of the bento box. I couldn’t just bang it out of the roll, so finally, I resorted to trying to push it out with my finger. Which only resulted in getting avocado all over my fingers, and my sushi rolls falling apart into a heap. So there I was, up to my elbows in pasty, slimy avocado. Obviously, this was the moment I decided that it would be a good time to engage in the conversation, which had turned to “Name one country that is truly homogeneous.” Distracted by my predicament, staring at my hands and wondering where the napkins were hiding, I blurted out “China.” The conversation stopped dead. My two colleagues turned to look at me, probably for the first time since the whole avocado debacle had begun. “What?” said one. “There are at least 14 different dialects spoken across 8 distinct regions of China!” (I’m making those numbers up—I was still too distracted by my predicament to really pay attention). The lecture on Chinese culture continued, and I was beginning to regret my sad, Dormouse-like contribution when the other woman countered, “No, she’s absolutely right. This adds a whole other layer to the issue–how do we differentiate between the political will to create the perception of homogeny, and true diversity?” and in my head, I was like “Hell Yeah! I win, stupid avocado!” Apparently, they were so embroiled in the debate that neither of them had noticed my dissected lunch, or the fact that I was trying to scrape green goo out from under my fingernails. At least that’s what I thought until later. One of the women invited me over for dinner, and when her husband told us enthusiastically that he had put avocado in the salad, she leaned over to me and whispered, “Don’t worry—you can pick it out.” Avocado – 1, Intellectualism – 0.

avocado

Thursday: I encounter yet ANOTHER bathroom ghost

Bathrooms have always been a source of anxiety for me. Mostly because of the ghosts. If you’ve read My Week 69: Ghost Stories, you’ll know what I mean. First, there was the ghost in my own bathroom, then there was the ghost in the bathroom at The Keg. Sure, I have other anxieties about bathrooms, especially public ones, like flushing no matter what I’m doing so that no one will hear me, or worrying about someone going into the stall right after me and judging me harshly. In fact, I’ve been known to say to a co-worker who’s just come in, “You might want to avoid stall 5”. I never know if that’s more awkward than just letting the person go in and hope they have a cold or something—either way, bathrooms stress me out. And now, I have another reason to fear the bathrooms at work, since I had a close encounter of a ghostly kind.

On Thursday afternoon, not long after lunch, I walked down the hall to the bathroom. Things were pretty quiet, it being a snow day and everything, so not a lot of people were around. I took the time to stop and congratulate the receptionist, a lovely younger woman, on her recent engagement. We chatted for a bit, then I continued on my way. I opened the outer door to the facilities, and then pushed at the inner door, at which point I realized that the motion-sensitive lights were off. As they began to come on, I heard the most terrifying noise—it sounded like someone in the first stall was freaking out and slamming the toilet paper dispenser. I could see a shadow flickering, and thought for a second that it was the building’s custodian replacing the roll or something, but then I realized that there was NO ONE IN THE STALL. Without even thinking, I tore out of there like a bat out of hell and ran around behind the reception desk, shaking. “What happened?!” asked the receptionist.

“There’s something in the bathroom!” I said, hyperventilating.

“What are you talking about? What’s in the bathroom?! I thought I heard banging—what was it?!” she demanded.

“I don’t know, but there’s definitely something in there!”

I described to her what happened, and after a minute, she agreed to go back in with me and check it out. This was NOT a decision that either of us took lightly, and we tiptoed to the door, and very cautiously re-opened it. “Where was the noise coming from?” she asked.

“The first stall,” I answered. “Oh my god, not the first stall!” she exclaimed. “That stall is haunted! The receptionist who used to work here told me that!”

At which point, we both ran out of the bathroom back to the reception desk. “I can’t go back in there,” I said. “What am I going to do? I really need to go.”

“Use the one downstairs,” she said. “Here’s the code.”

So I went downstairs, but it was almost as bad, maybe because I was still shaken up. But the door creaked like someone crying, which freaked me out, and there was a dark room at the back with a couch in it that I had to check first to make sure no one was hiding in it.

The rest of the afternoon was stressful. My work partner had left to visit her parents, and I needed to use the bathroom one more time before I got on the train, but there was no one to come with me. I wandered past reception again, hoping that I could catch someone going in the ‘bathroom of death’ and wander in behind her. I was in luck—another co-worker was chatting with the receptionist.

“You wouldn’t happen to be on your way to the ladies’ room?” I asked.

“I was…why?” she asked suspiciously. “What’s going on?”

I was looking hedgy, and the receptionist was giggling. “Oh, nothing. I just had something weird happen earlier, and it freaked me out a little.”

I explained to her what happened, and she said, “Oh, I know what that was!”

We went into the bathroom, and without fear or hesitation, she opened the door to the first stall. “See the automated sanitary dispenser? It’s broken. When the overhead lights come on, it triggers the sensor in the lid, and it flaps up and down like crazy. Makes a terrible noise.” She demonstrated, and sure enough, that was what I heard. I sagged in relief, then we both looked at each other and started to laugh hysterically. We went back out to the reception area and told the receptionist what had happened.

“Oh, no,” she said. “That’s not what the other woman used to say. She said that the door to the stall would swing open and shut all by itself.”

My co-worker and I looked at each other nervously. “Must just be the wind,” I said, and we all agreed to agree.