My Week 166: Ich Liebster dich, Du Liebster mich


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

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

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

Question 1: Why did you start your own blog?

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

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

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

Question 3: Favourite food/drink?

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

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

My daughter, K. I’ve become a better person because of her, because I want her to be proud of me.

Question 5: What is your favourite animal?

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

Question 6: What is your favourite season and why?

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

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

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

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

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

Question 9: Who is your favourite musical artist?

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

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

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

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

Freethinkers Anonymous

The Problem with Ciara is…

Greater Than Gravity

Spooky Action At A Distance

The Rise and Fall of Harry Hamid

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

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

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

My Week 145: Line-ups Are Hell, The Todd

Tuesday to Friday: I Go Abroad

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been conspicuously AFK this week (“away from keyboard” for those of you who don’t watch The Big Bang Theory).  I was in a different country and my laptop wouldn’t work because the hotel wifi was ‘open’ as opposed to ‘secured’. Every time I tried to open Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, or even my own work drives (you can see how I prioritize when I have free wifi, right?), I would get a message saying that someone might be trying to hack into my system.  I was like, “Listen, laptop. You’re not the boss of me,” but the laptop didn’t give a sh*t and refused to let me connect with the world like a mean babysitter. Sure, I had my phone, but I HATE trying to read and comment on things via a handheld device. I really need a full keyboard to feel articulate. Also my hands are gigantic, so I make so many typos with my phone that I get frustrated.

That having been said, the conference was very interesting and I was with a couple of really nice guys from work who made sure I didn’t get lost or get on the wrong plane. I’ve never actually travelled out of the country by myself before, and Ken usually arranges everything, and keeps all the pertinent itinerary materials in a file folder in order of date, while I’m all ‘devil-may-care’ and try to throw him off by insisting on unscheduled stops at scenic bars and such. But I was feeling super-confident because I’d gone and booked my own transit to the airport from downtown and I’d made my OWN file folder. Then I got to the airport. I walked inside and immediately had a panic attack. There were kiosks and line-ups and counters and people, and I didn’t know how to even begin. So I did what any normal person would do—I called Ken. But just as the phone was ringing, I saw one of my colleagues, and he was like “Great, you’re here. Have you checked in yet? You do that here—let me show you” and I was SO relieved that I hung up the phone.

Then Ken messaged me to say “Why did you call? Are you OK?” But I’d just exchanged Blackberry PINs with my colleague, and when I sent back a reply to Ken that said, “Yes” with two great big HEARTS, it accidentally went to the guy I work with. I was mortified and didn’t know what to do, because he hadn’t seen it yet. By this time, our other co-worker had arrived, and when I told him what had happened, he said, “Don’t say anything. Later, I’m going to whisper, ‘I think mydangblog has a crush on you—have you checked your messages lately?’ and we’ll see what he says.” I was even more appalled but then I realized 2 things: 1) that both these guys had a good sense of humour and that 2) I should probably stop making fun of Ken with his “file folder system” and his “knowledge of airports”.

We arrived at our destination without incident, and the rest of the trip was excellent. But it occurred to me over and over again, that the main problem with any kind of travel is other people. That is to say, other people who are ahead of you in any kind of line-up and who have seemingly complicated issues that inevitably delay you from doing the things you need to do:

1) The bank

I had to get American money for the trip. I went to a bank. I stood in line for 20 minutes while the tellers were each dealing with people who apparently had never been in a bank before. One girl was asking numerous questions and signing several documents, another guy was just standing there while three bank employees looked at a computer terminal, another woman just looked confused and kept digging in her purse for god-knows-what and handing the teller the same piece of paper back, and so on. When it was finally my turn, I went to the teller with 3 twenty-dollar bills in my hand and said, “Here is 60 dollars Canadian. I would like this turned into as much American money as you can.” I had my 44 bucks and 5 cents in under 2 minutes, and I was like, “The rest of you in line can thank me NOW.”

2) The airport

Both coming and going, the airport was another place where people who don’t know what they’re doing hold up lines. Yes, I was confused and didn’t know where to go when I arrived, but I DIDN’T stand in a line just to ask someone. If my colleague hadn’t appeared and if Ken hadn’t answered the phone, I would have simply Googled “What do you do when you get to the airport?” Either that or called my Mom.

At the self-baggage check, we literally had to wait 5 minutes for a family who was standing there, discussing and debating what to do with their luggage. The sign clearly read, “Place bag on belt.” I don’t know what there was to talk about—it’s four words. And an ARROW.

On the way back, there was literally no one at the airport and there were only two people in line ahead of us at the Air Canada desk, with two service representatives. Guess how long it took to get a boarding pass? You can probably imagine, given the nature of people in line-ups. At one point, the guy ahead of me had 4 clerks staring back and forth between his passport and a computer terminal. Then one of the clerks got on the PHONE. The other person in line ahead of us was busy repacking his suitcase, because it was over the weight limit. You know how I knew my suitcase was UNDER the weight limit? Because I had it weighed at the hotel. Also, he had two sets of golf clubs that were being inspected ONE BY ONE by a security guard. Who the hell travels alone with TWO sets of golf clubs?!

When I DID step up to the counter to check in and get my boarding pass, I had my passport open to the right page to expedite the process. The woman looked at my passport and asked me, “What’s your country of origin?” I really wanted to say, “You’re looking at my passport right now. I believe that information is readily available to you on the page you’re currently staring at, so FIGURE IT OUT.” What I actually did was say “Canada”. But when she asked, “Are you travelling alone?”, I refrained from answering, “Do you see anyone else standing here?!” and I just pretended not to hear the question. Eventually, she DID figure that one out.

3) On the plane

What was I waiting for on the plane, you ask? The bar cart, obviously. And it would have been there in fine time if the old dude in the second row hadn’t wanted to know the ingredients of each and every menu item:

Old Dude (pointing to cart): What’s that?
Flight Attendant: That’s hummus.
Old Dude: What’s hummus?
Flight Attendant: It’s a spread made out of chick peas.
Old Dude (pointing to cart): Oh. What’s that?
Flight Attendant: It’s another type of hummus.
Old Dude: What’s in it?
Me: F*ckity f*ck f*ck can a girl get a damned drink before this plane lands??!!

I didn’t need to know about the hummus, or what was in the ‘Fiesta Snack Pack’, or the ‘Airline Surprise’, because I had read the MENU that Air Canada thoughtfully provides to every passenger.

To paraphrase Jean Paul Sartre, “Hell is other people ahead of you in line”.

Last Sunday:

Last week, I challenged a fantastic fellow blogger to write on a specific topic. He goes by ‘desertcurmudgeon’ and his blog is Two Voices in One Transmission. His posts are extremely articulate and always thought-provoking and entertaining, so be sure to check him out. When he challenged his readers to give him a topic, I gave him the following prompt: “A daughter’s a daughter all of her life; a son’s a son ‘til he takes a wife.” I’ve heard this saying many times, and while I don’t necessarily believe it’s true, I wanted to see what desertcurmudgeon could do with it. The result is the hilarious Todd.

As funny as it is, when you dig beneath the surface, “Todd” is a pointed example of being so fearful of your child leaving you that you coddle him until he has no coping skills and no independence. I think being a good mother is a very delicate balancing act between supporting your child, but also raising him or her to be good with the world. And while I sometimes struggle with feelings of loss now that my own daughter has become an adult and doesn’t really ‘need’ me much anymore, I’m still extremely proud of her independence and her resiliency. Also, she has a lovely girlfriend, and when I see how she treats her, I know I raised her well. So thank you, desertcurmudgeon, for “Todd” and for helping me realize that if I’d done what Todd’s mom had done, I’d have nobody to blame but myself when Todd was travelling and  pissed everyone else off on the plane because he hadn’t read the menu and treated the flight attendant like she was his mother.

My Week 106: What I Was Thinking, Sign of the Apocalypse

Saturday: I look at my notes

It’s been a pretty quiet week so far, and I wasn’t sure what to write about, mostly because I have a job interview on Wednesday for a permanent position within the secret agency (I’m currently seconded from another position), and as part of the pre-interview process, I had to write a 500-word essay addressing a specific topic. I spent a lot of the weekend working on it, and now my brain has gone a little numb. Normally, I can crank out 500 words in my sleep—right now some of you are probably saying to yourselves, “Sleep? Did she misspell ‘Drunk’?”—and you may or may not be correct. At any rate, these were 500 harder words, and the person who reads them might give me more money to do my job, unlike WordPress, which keeps telling me that I don’t have enough views to ever earn a living writing the fun kind of 500 words. I was in the throes of brain death, so I went back through my notes. I keep notes on my phone about things every week that might be worth writing about; usually by Saturday, I have a lot of ideas, and they don’t all make it into the weekly run-down. Sometimes they don’t make sense when I read them back later, or I’ve forgotten what I was thinking when I jotted it down. Anyhow, for your reading pleasure, here are a few of the weird notes that I found, and what I think they might mean:

1) Harassing wildlife

I think this one came after I heard a story about a co-worker who told everyone he quit smoking, then he snuck outside to have a cigarette. While he was puffing away, he looked up just as a Canada goose swooped down and attacked him, knocking him to the ground. He got up, dazed and confused, only to have the insane waterfowl take a second run at him, knocking him down again. I know this is all true, because it was captured by the security cameras, much to his dismay, more because of the cigarette than the goose from what I understand (we weren’t actually allowed to SEE the camera footage, but having it described to us was more than enough to send us into fits of hysterical laughter). Then, about two weeks later, I read in the paper about a guy who was charged with “wildlife harassment” because he was caught jumping out of a moving boat onto the back of a moose. And by caught, I mean he was stupid enough to post the video on Youtube (there’s a surprise—a guy trying to play rodeo with a full-sized moose being stupid?), and someone reported it. The moose looked genuinely terrified, not unlike my co-worker. But here’s the thing—a guy who scares a moose faces charges, but a goose who attacks a helpless man gets off scot-free? I’m seeing a bit of (just hit 500 words in less than half an hour for the record) a double standard here. The Canada goose is our national bird, and you can’t legally kill one, but still—it should have at least been fined. And the best part of this note on my phone is that it could apply to either story—a goose harassing a guy, or an idiot harassing a moose.


2) GMO Scaremongering

This came after an article posted on Facebook by someone about salmon that have their DNA spliced with a different kind of fish so that they mature faster. Regular salmon stock is apparently dwindling due to overfishing, so these genetically modified salmon can be farmed (which is a nice way of saying ‘sold for food’) instead. All the regular salmon were happy, but the person who posted it was all like “It’s tampering with the natural world—it’s wrong and it will give us all cancer and kill us.” If tampering with the natural world will kill me, I should have died the last time I ate a Honeycrisp apple, because it’s a hybrid apple. And now, while researching “how are hybrid apples made”, I read an article that just told me I was dumb for thinking that the deliberate cross-pollination of other apples to make hybrids are the same as scientists manipulating genetic material to create things which would never happen in nature. What? Like a regular salmon COULDN’T have a one-night stand with a more mature fish? Wait, do salmons even have sex? This note is generating more questions than answers. Anyway, unless it’s a potato that produces its own pesticide, which was a real thing and got banned because it was a stupidly dangerous idea, given that potatoes have a nasty streak and already try to poison us with their green skins and sh*t, I have no problem eating mutant food. Maybe I should, I don’t know, but I’m sure not taking advice from anything I see on Facebook. And if the scientists are listening, then I would LOVE it if you could just invent a bacon I could have without having to ‘farm’ a pig. Now that would be something.

3) Don’t f*ck with the gluten-free

This came about not long ago when, for a family occasion, Ken insisted on making Nanaimo bars. If you don’t know what these are, they are delicious Canadian confections made with chocolate and a bunch of other stuff, and named after a place in British Columbia. I asked him if they had wheat flour in them, and he said, “Yes”, so I said, “Can you make them with gluten-free flour so I can have one?” and he said, “No. But you can just eat the part that doesn’t have gluten in it.” And I was like, “Oh really?” So the next time we had salad, I put the same salad dressing on his salad as mine, even though he prefers Raspberry Vinaigrette to Creamy Asian Sesame. When he complained, I told him to just eat the parts that didn’t have salad dressing on them. Mwah haha.

4) Lesbians kissing

Two weeks ago, I was walking down the street behind two women. I wasn’t really paying attention, but as I got closer, I realized they were holding hands. Then one looked at the other adoringly and gave her a big smoochy kiss, and I was like “Aw, that’s so sweet.” But two young guys passing the other way saw them too, and turned around giggling and pointing at them. I wanted to give them a smack and say, “It’s 2016—grow the f*ck up,” but the women didn’t seem to notice, maybe because they were minding their own damn business instead of other people’s. I didn’t write about this originally because it’s not a very long story, and not particularly funny. It WOULD have been funny if the two guys had then been attacked by a Canada goose, but that didn’t happen. Sorry.

5) Alltop

Last week, I applied to an online article site to host my blog. Just for fun. But it wasn’t, because the first thing I had to do was fill in an application that wanted to know what my RSS feed was. And I was like, “How the hell should I know?” So I asked a guy from work who has his own website, but he didn’t know either. So I googled it, and entered what I thought was the right thing. Then I submitted my application, and got a message back saying that the site would let me know within six weeks whether my blog was accepted or not, but if it wasn’t, they wouldn’t tell me why. What kind of douche-y attitude is THAT? They did give a list of potential reasons, like “This site is not in English”, “This site is promoting a business”, “This site does not have enough original content”, etc. I looked at the list and mentally checked off everything, but the very next morning, I got a rejection notice which said, “Although we can’t provide a specific reason why we could not include your site, here are the most common reasons.” And then at the bottom it said, “You might find it useful to test your Feed.” What is that? They can’t tell me why, but they can drop a f*cking hint? There was a link to a Feed Validator, and it said my feed was fine, whatever that means, but I wanted to write back and say, “Dammit Jim, I’m a blogger not a computer scientist.” So maybe my content just sucks. Or Alltop does. Or maybe it’s all the swearing. Who the f*ck knows?

Sunday: Sign of the apocalypse (No, this isn’t about Donald Trump. But it could be.)

On the way to my in-laws today for a Thanksgiving lunch, Ken and I passed a large sign outside a store. The sign read, “Dipped bacon caramel turkey.” The store was called “The Sweet Shoppe”—or at least that’s what it said in faded blue letters. I’ve been obsessing about this all day:

Me: What could it mean?
Ken: Maybe it’s some kind of Thanksgiving candy?
Me: With a randomly generated name that includes all the things people love but would be disgusting in that combination?
Ken: It doesn’t sound very good. Maybe that’s why the store is closed. They can’t make money on their weird candy.
Me: Do you think it could be like a turkey wrapped in bacon then dipped in caramel?
Ken: Maybe it’s four different things that they sell individually.
Me: A candy store that sells turkey? Or bacon?
Ken: Maybe the bacon is dipped in something. Like sea salt.
Me: Why would anyone do that? Bacon is already salty. God, I wish that store had been open.

But I didn’t need the store to be open, as it turned out, because I have Google. I couldn’t believe it when I typed in “Dipped bacon caramel turkey” and discovered that bacon dipped in caramel and sea salt is actually a thing. I don’t know where the turkey comes in, but all the recipes I found called for turkey bacon. And while I don’t have turkey bacon currently in my refrigerator, I DO have left-over turkey, bacon, caramel sauce, and baker’s chocolate. I’ll let you know how it turns out. This could be the start of a new career if my job interview doesn’t go well…


My Week 84: Titus and the Magic Box, Oral Stories and The RARE Slit Barn

Sunday: Titus and the Magic Box

About 3 months ago, out of the blue, Titus got really sick. Mountains of sick, all over the house—he’s a giant dog, so you can only imagine the level of destruction AND the level of my anxiety over the situation, considering the hygiene issues I have. Plus, I was alone. Under normal circumstances, I would pretend to be superbusy making dinner until Ken cleaned up the mess, but he was still at work, so I had no choice—I threw the dirty rugs outside and started the process of restoring order, and cleanliness back to my house. As I was trying not to silently scream and curse Ken’s name for not taking the day off with me, I considered what might have been the cause of the monster dog’s intestinal disarray. The month before, he had eaten a pound of grapes out of a bowl on the counter. Grapes are, apparently, highly toxic to dogs, and by the time we realized what he’d done, it was too late to do anything about it but wait for the worst. I googled “signs of kidney failure in asshole dogs”; I got a lot of hits regarding “anal glands” and “rectum issues”, so no help there. Thanks for being so f*cking LITERAL Google. (I actually just googled “Why is my dog an asshole?” and got about 1000 hits—I guess it’s important to be really specific with your Google requests). Anyway, after three days, we realized he was going to survive the grape incident with absolutely no ill effects, just as he had survived eating copious amounts of chocolate which he had stolen from my suitcase, 23 bouillon cubes and their boxes, an entire box of K-cups including most of the tinfoil covers, a complete basil beef stirfry dinner right out of the frypan while we weren’t looking, several bags of garbage, and other miscellaneous things that would send most dogs to the vet for a stomach pumping.

So there I was, cleaning up dog puke and trying to figure out what the hell could have caused him to be this sick. Of course, HE was clueless as usual—when I asked him, he just shrugged and said, “How would I know? I eat so much crap behind your back, it could have been anything.” When Ken got home, we wracked our brains. Finally, Ken said, “Honestly, the only change in his diet is that I’ve been giving him these Milk Bone dog biscuit treats when we get back from a walk for the last week.”

“Interesting,” I replied, “because it actually looked like a week’s worth of Milk Bones. You know Milk Bones are full of filler, right? You remember he’s on a grain-free diet, right?” And why is our canine garbage disposal on a grain-free diet? Not because we’re new-agey, organic-loving weirdos. We’re not. It’s because he has allergies, and the people who gave him to us (FOR FREE—are you surprised?) thought that gluten might be triggering his allergies. And while maybe we’ll never know if that’s true or not, it’s certainly apparent that a lot of gluten makes him violently ill.

Mystery solved. But now, of course, I was worried about a repeat incident. He really likes getting treats, and despite his shortcomings, he actually deserves a cookie once in a while, like when strangers come to the door, and he plants himself at my feet, stares at them semi-menacingly and refuses to budge until they’re gone. So I decided to research “home-made dog treats”. I found a great recipe with a few simple ingredients, and set about making them. The recipe called for you to roll the dough out, then use cute cookie cutters to make fancy little shapes, but it’s a hell of a lot easier and faster to scoop out little balls, flatten them with your hands, then toss them onto a cookie sheet. Martha Stewart, I’m not. And of course Titus, being the clever and food-obsessed animal he is, very quickly learned which ingredients constituted cookie baking time. The second he sees the natural peanut butter jar come out of the refrigerator, he comes running and freaking out.

Titus: Oh my God! You’re making cookies, aren’t you?!
Me: Sigh. Yes. Like I do EVERY Sunday.
Titus: This is the best day ever! I’m just going to lie here, OK?
Me: So long as you don’t drool on my feet like last time.
Titus: I’m not promising anything.

Half an hour later:

Me: What are you doing?
Titus: Waiting for the cookies to come out of the magic box.
Me: You mean the oven?
Titus: Call it what you want. Technically, it’s the “medium-sized” magic box. The “large magic box” is where you keep all the delicious luncheon meats and cheeses.
Me: None of this is actually magic. It’s all based on science.
Titus: Well, how does “the oven” work then?
Me: Well…you push this button, and it gets hot. Then you put uncooked food in it, and it cooks the food for you…
Titus (whispers): Magic.
Raven (walking by): It’s a chemical reaction, you idiots. Try Googling it.
Titus: Cat, you will pay for your heresy—hey, the timer just went off! Get the cookies out before the fairies eat them!!

titus waiting for cookies

(Just for the record, in case anyone is interest, here’s the recipe for the magical cookies: 1 mashed banana, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons of natural peanut butter, and around 1 and a half cups of either coconut flour or chickpea flour—or more, depending on how sticky it still is. Mix it all up, roll into little balls, flatten them on a cookie sheet sprayed with that aerosol oil, and cook for 30 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. He hasn’t puked since. Thank you, magic box.)

Wednesday: I am sh*tty at telling stories. And listening to them.

On Wednesday, I was invited to a party with people I didn’t know. Well, I knew the hostess, which is how I got the invite, but no one else. I’m not really comfortable in social situations, so I was a little apprehensive. But they were very nice people, very friendly and all, and as the party, and the drinking, progressed, someone suggested that we should all tell a story about our most embarrassing moment in the classroom. I’m not currently a classroom teacher, but I WAS for over 20 years, and in all that time, I had very few embarrassing moments that I can recall. And I was UNDER PRESSURE to produce. People were telling these hilarious anecdotes about wardrobe malfunctions, accidently telling off-colour jokes, and incidents with parents. Me, I was scrambling, and the only thing I could think of was the story that I told in my very first blog (My Week 1: Marijuana and Febreeze) about the time I insinuated to my students that they might have more fun if they smoked pot like Justin Trudeau instead of being so uptight like Stephen Harper. So with all eyes on me, I launched into my tale. It took me 15 seconds, I left out most of the backstory, and there was no punchline. I think I ended with, “So marijuana. It was pretty embarrassing,” and everyone smiled politely. But the problem is, I can’t tell a story orally to save my life–I lose the thread and I get distracted when all eyes are on me. In fact, not too long ago, a relative said to me, “You know, we all just love your blog—it’s so hilarious and well-written. But we all agreed that it’s weird, because in person, you’re just not that funny.”

And it’s true. I’m also really sh*tty at listening to stories sometimes, because I have random thoughts that get in the way. I have family members who get really frustrated when people (ie: me) interrupt them to ask questions, or clarify a point, and they will sometimes just give up (ie: scream “Oh for God’s sake, never mind!). Luckily, Ken is used to this, and has no storytelling ego. He will just patiently address my thoughts and questions, then get back to his story. For example, on the way home last night:

Ken: …and then we all went to the RARE Slit Barn—
Me: Is that a STRIP CLUB?!
Ken: No, it’s a nature preserve funded by a charity called RARE. A slit barn has vertical slits in it for ventilation—
Me: Ha! It SOUNDS like an exclusive strip club, like “Then we all went to the Rare Slit Barn, had a drink and a lap dance…
Ken: So anyway, they had students there who were training as interpreters—
Me: What, like for sign language? Was everyone hearing impaired? I’d love to learn sign language…
Ken: No, NATURE interpreters. To teach other people about the nature preserve—
Me: That would ALSO be a great name for a strip club: The Nature Preserve…
Ken: It was incredible how professional the students were. Everyone learned a lot.
Me: Slit Barn. That’s awesome.
Ken: Sigh.


My Week 1 – Marijuana and Febreze

So I’ve decided to change things up a little bit because I’m not currently a mentor and don’t have a particular protegee, so I’m turning this blog into also a reflection up* the things that happen to me either in real-life or sometimes in my head, which are often even weirder. I can’t rename this blog because a) I am not that technologically proficient and I just spent 15 minutes trying to reset my email for this stupid site and I still don’t think it worked and b) it’s kind of an ironic title in a lot of ways.

So here’s some of my week.

Wednesday, also known as the day I realize I really can’t tell stories orally that well. So I was sitting around with a couple of colleagues and we were talking about how people use the comment tool on almost anything now to slag people for very minimal reasons and say some pretty nasty things because they think the internet makes them anonymous even when their names and pictures are RIGHT NEXT TO THE COMMENT. I launched into what I thought was a very clever tale about how I’m a member of a buy and sell group on Facebook, and how recently a local candidate for town council was totally taken to task when someone posted a warning about break-ins in the area, and he commented that part of his election platform was to help prevent crime. (On a side note, he was very vague and I don’t know how he’s going to prevent crime unless he means he’s going to prowl the streets of our town at night like some badass ninja vigilante). Anyway, I described the nasty backlash he got “for trying to exploit the situation to win the election” and I ended with something like “it was too bad, really.” Then I realized that my colleagues are looking at me a little blankly, almost expectantly, liked there should be more to the story, and then I also realized that my story had no real thesis, which everyone knows a good story should have, and that I’d missed the most important element to the story, the plot twist, which was that the poor guy is only 19 years old and it’s his first foray in the political arena and he probably didn’t realize that people on buy and sell sites can be very fickle. I should just give up on trying to contribute to conversations altogether, and just focus on writing things down, which is of course, my thesis, and the conclusion to this story. Tada.

Thursday. Did I really just encourage my students to smoke pot?? No. I. Did. Not. It was a total accident that can be explained in this very convoluted way. I was talking to my grade 12s about Titus Andronicus, Act 1, and two characters, brothers, who are trying to become emperor. In what I thought was an attempt to make things relevant, I said that Rome deserved a strong leader, and that just like Rome, so did Canada. I pointed out that the one brother was a lot like Justin Trudeau in that he was relying on the goodwill of the people to get elected, just like Bassianus in the play, and that Stephen Harper was very much a Saturninus figure because he was relying on the fact that he was the “elder statesman”. Then one of the kids commented, “Justin Trudeau’s only platform is to legalize marijuana”, and I said, “See what I mean? He’s like the fun candidate, and Stephen Harper is the guy who won’t even admit to smoking marijuana and he’s a pretty grim guy in his sweater vests and all. He should really live a little.” And suddenly everyone was laughing, kind of hysterically, and I had this horrible epiphany that I might have just implied that marijuana and “living a little” should go hand in hand, which is totally not what I meant to do. So I tried to clarify that I didn’t mean to say it like that, but the kids just kept laughing, and I kept digging myself into a deeper hole, until finally I just said, “Don’t do drugs. I don’t recommend them”, which sounded in retrospect not a great thing to say either. But it seemed to calm them down, and we moved on with the lesson, but I WILL spend the next few days worrying about whether I get a call from an irate parent who is either upset about the marijuana thing or doesn’t like that I called Stephen Harper “grim”.

Saturday. This morning I was in the staff bathroom at the school where we have International Languages on Saturday mornings drying my hands with the hand dryer (because a) I had just washed them and b) I was freezing and the heat was awesome) when I noticed a can of Febreze air freshener on top of the paper towel dispenser labelled “Alaskan Spring”. So I sprayed it because I’ve always wondered what spring in Alaska smelled like (does it really smell kind of like stale Old Spice cologne? Has anyone been to Alaska? If so, can you clarify this?) when it occurred to me that maybe other people had used it BEFORE they washed THEIR hands, and then I got all germaphobic-y and had to rewash my hands all over again. Yep. The thesis of this story is that you should always spray room freshener in a public bathroom BEFORE you’ve washed your hands, then you’re good to go. Or that Alaska smells like someone’s grandfather.

*Yes, I know that there’s a typo in the introduction. It’s there for a reason. Or maybe two reasons that are inextricably linked. While I was typing this blog, Ken came in and wanted to talk to me about something, I don’t know what (because I was typing, you see?) Ken is always going on about how people can’t really multi-task and then he was like, “Can’t you listen to me and type at the same time?” And then I made the typo, which just proves that a) no, I can’t multi-task and b) it’s ironic that he’s always telling me that I can’t multi-task, then he insists that I do it.