All The Bits And Pieces

Well, it’s that time of year again, the time of year where we’re barely into November but the Christmas decorations are already up in the stores, carols are playing on the radio, the fireplace is merrily and virtually burning on the flatscreen, and the Bits and Pieces gift catalogue has arrived. And nothing says the holiday season quite like a cheap plastic puzzle box or a pantless garden gnome.

But just like every year, tucked in among the pornographic elves, the interminable pages of jigsaw puzzles and the novelty socks, there are always a few treasures. So without further ado, here are my favourite top 5:

1) Night Vision Binoculars:

For 39.99, you can “see a little bit more in darkness” with these night vision goggles that allow you to “hone in on any desired object”. Exactly WHO are we marketing to here? Someone sitting in their room at night, honing in on desired objects like, perhaps, the young pretty neighbour next door? The description also says these binoculars are “perfect for spying or just keeping track of what goes on in the night”:

Wife: Honey, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning. What are you doing?
Husband: Nothing.
Wife: But you’re sitting here in the dark with a pair of binocul—hey, are you spying?
Husband (affronted): No! I’m just keeping track of what goes on in the night, thank you very much!
Wife: Oh, well that’s normal.

Apparently, they come with a Velcro headband that “fits most”. It doesn’t specify most WHAT, but I think we can all guess.

2) Screaming Flying Monkey:

This is the official mascot of 2020. 

3) Personalized “Hide Your Stash” Cylinder:

This ingenious invention is a small metal cylinder made out of “waterproof aluminum” (as opposed to the kind that gets really soggy when wet) and can be used to hide your “treasured possessions or emergency medicine”. The best thing about the cylinder is that you can personalize it with your own name. The stupidest thing about the cylinder is that it comes with the word STASH already engraved on it:

Robber: Stick ‘em up. Give me your stash.
Victim: But I don’t have a stash!
Robber: Nice try. It says Michael’s Stash right there on that cylinder you have attached to your belt. Hand it over.
Victim (despondent): Oh, my treasures!
Robber: Ooh, is this weed? Nice stash, man! Thanks!
Victim: How did it all go so wrong?

4) Beard Baubles:

As if things aren’t bad enough, now men can decorate their beards with tiny Christmas tree ornaments, thanks to Bits and Pieces. If the Screaming Flying Monkey is the official mascot of 2020, then Beard Baubles is the Seventh Sign of the Apocalypse, right after the release of the Four Horsemen. According to Saint John, “I saw the beast with 7 heads, 10 horns, and 12 beard baubles coming out of the sea.” It was prophetic. Of course, Saint John also said, “If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed”, so some of his prophecies were a tad self-evident.

5) Weener Kleener Soap:

This is on the same page in the catalogue as the fibre optic Christmas tree and kitty cat slippers, and it really blows the whole family-friendly vibe out of the water. This soap is shaped like a donut and is designed to have a manpart inserted through it for the purpose of personal hygiene which, according to the package, has “never been so stimulating”. It also boasts that one size fits MOST men.

Husband: Hey, this dang Weener Kleener doesn’t fit my weener! It’s all loosey-goosey and whatnot!
Wife: As I’ve long suspected, you’re just not like most men. Sigh.

All of the information on the package is also extremely sexual and doesn’t bear repeating here, but I’m sure you can imagine. My favourite part is the warning at the bottom that if the Weener Kleener becomes stuck, “soak the area with cold water”, I assume to provide the necessary shrinkage. To quote George Costanza, “I was in the pool!”  

I perused the entire catalogue and the only thing I’d even consider is the tin of “bacon bandages”, mainly because it says there’s a prize inside the container. But if the prize isn’t ACTUAL bacon, I want my damn money back.

 

 

My Week 222: And so this is Christmas…

Things are pretty crazy busy at mydangblog’s place right now, so here’s a little something from 2015 that you might enjoy (the original, My Week 59, also has a bit about my possessed vacuum cleaner):

Real Life Versus Magazine Christmas

I love decorating magazines. I have subscriptions to at least three different ones, and every month, I pour through the pages for ideas. I’m a visual learner at heart—I can read text very quickly and easily, but I LOVE anything with pictures. Anyway, Christmas is coming up, so all the current editions are focused on Christmas decorating and festive parties. As I was gleefully devouring up the images, it suddenly occurred to me how absolutely unrealistic it all was. Sure, I know that everything’s staged, but this year it seems that magazine editors have become so intensely out of touch with how REAL people live that I started to view everything with an extremely critical eye. Here are some of the more bizarre statements and ideas that I came across:

1) A designer on his Christmas room design challenge: “I arrived upon this magical masculine scene by mixing patterns and textures with eclectic objects. While the palette and the furnishings are traditional, the vignette feels fresh, thanks to whimsical organic touches like the felt bird ornaments and the pompom tree skirt.” Let me translate: “Nothing matches”. Also, “men like magicky things, and pompoms”. Someone should clue in this designer that real birds are organic; felt birds are NOT whimsical–they are things that kindergarten children make. Prize for runner-up goes to this designer’s statement: “I like to mix traditional with modern, and pair maximalist notions with more restrained sculptural items.” Again, nothing matches, but this time it’s JUST F*CKING INSANITY OVER HERE!

2) A page devoted to “choosing the perfect tree”. I don’t need a page of tips. This is how we pick a tree at my house:

Ken: That one over there looks nice.
Me: It’s too cold to walk that far. This one’s fine.
Ken: But it’s missing half its branches.
Me: That side can go against the wall. Hurry up, I’m freezing.

3) A decorating article on “Wrapping Pillows like a Present” to create a holiday feel. Screw that—I can’t even wrap a PRESENT like a present, let alone stupid accent pillows. If you’ve ever gotten a present from me, you might have thought at first that a toddler wrapped it. But the torn paper and scotch tape all over the place just reinforce how much I love you, NOT that I’m super-uncoordinated and have unwieldy manhands.

4) “Fun Things To Do With Your Elf On A Shelf”. Here’s the most fun thing I can imagine—put it in the toilet and watch it grin maniacally as it tries not to drown. Keep swimming, Bjorn! For a full treatise on the elvish devilspawn, please see My Week 61.

So many questions…

5) “Decorative pieces should change with the season”. Seriously? Who the hell has time to redecorate their entire house “with the season”? If you’ve got the kind of time to put everything in storage to make way for your holiday sh*t, then put all that away in January and completely redecorate AGAIN, you’re most likely neglecting other areas of your life, like your children or your personal hygiene.

6) A designer on a recent dinner party disaster: “Go with the flow. My copper garland broke, so I placed the beads across the dining table, and they looked pretty. ..it was a happy accident.” Absolutely. The next time I break a Christmas ornament, I will definitely strew the dining table with the shards.

7) Party tip a): “Always have a signature drink ready for your guests and hand it to them as they arrive.” We have a signature drink in my house—it’s called “wine”. When you arrive, you can have some of this tasty signature drink, or I can pour you a shot of the cooking brandy that’s been sitting in the back of the kitchen cupboard for the last ten years (I don’t cook with brandy that often).

8) Party tip b): “The Fabulous Four-Step Appetizer”. I can do you one better—the Tasty TWO-Step Appetizer. Step one, take a piece of cheese. Step two, put it on a cracker. For the adventurous, I also have the Throroughly Three-mendous Appetizer, where you can add a piece of kielbasa from the plate on the counter before the dog sneaks in and eats it all.

9) Party tip c): “Consider your guests’ dietary restrictions.” I am the f*cking master of this. I can create a veritable feast for people who are gluten-free, vegetarian, piscaterian, lactose intolerant, who only eat chicken, who can’t eat spicy food, and who refuse to eat normal human food like rice, pasta, or most green vegetables because they (Dad) are just plain picky. I do this because I love them all so much. Which brings me to my last point:

10) Magazine cover: “128 Ideas for an amazing Christmas”. Here’s the deal—you don’t need 128 ideas. You don’t even need ONE idea. All you need is the people you love the most—weird-ass food preferences, magic-y pompons, and all. Christmas isn’t about how beautiful and pristine your house is—it’s about the people (and animals) in it.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

My Week 118: Any Way The Wind Blows, Christmas Fun

Thursday: Who Has Seen the Wind?

Sorry this post is a bit later than usual—with Christmas falling on the weekend, I was too busy unwrapping presents to do any real writing. Yes, yes I know that the point of Christmas is something other than material possessions, but still, Jesus got stuff so why shouldn’t I? And if you remember correctly, my love of pretty things in tiny (or large) boxes is the main reason the Jehovahs will never have my soul, so I think of it more as an act of self-defence. Also, I like GIVING people things as much as I like getting them, so I’m levelling out the karma in a very satisfying way. As usual, I’ve made my share of holiday gaffes, and here are the top three:

1) I kept forgetting what day it was last week, and on Thursday, my two work partners showed up with gifts because one of them wasn’t going to be at work on Friday. Me? I was empty-handed, having planned to do some shopping that night, so I offered to buy them lunch. Because, you know, nothing says “I bring you the joy of the Christmas season” like a burrito. Well, maybe it does if you’re in Mexico…

2) We had a lovely dinner with Ken’s family on Christmas day. Our sister-in-law AND her daughter are both in nursing school at the same time, and they were telling us about their practical exam, where actors are hired to be emergency room patients and they have to assess them under a time limit. We were like, “They pay someone to act like a patient? That would be an awesome job!”

Ken’s Mom: Ken could do that. You’d be good at that, Ken.
Me: Yes! And he could give them hints if they weren’t sure, like “Psst! Don’t forget to check my prostate.”

Silence.

Sister-in-law: Yeah, that’s not really part of it…
Niece: Um, NO.
Ken: Absolutely not.

Of course, everyone laughed hysterically after a minute, but I had definitely demonstrated a complete lack of understanding about what kind of medicine either of them did.

3) On Boxing Day, everyone came to our house because my mom was sick (she’s better now, thanks). I was responsible for a variety of things, including making a cauliflower casserole, which I love, and to which I usually add bacon in a very heavy-handed way. But my aunt was coming and she doesn’t eat pork or beef, so I had to make it without the bacon, because I don’t think it’s nice to invite someone to your house for dinner and be like, “Of course, there’s nothing here for you to eat.” Unfortunately, the weather was a bit iffy, and she left before dinner because it was dark, foggy, and she was worried about the roads (if you’re Canadian, you will totally get that—we never go ANYWHERE without checking both the weather and road reports for the time we’re leaving AND the time we’re coming home). Anyway, that was all fine, until I took dinner out of the oven, and was like, “Dang! I could have put as much bacon in this as I wanted!” Then I was sad, you know, that kind of sadness you get when you’re in a buffet line and they run out of bacon RIGHT before you get there. The only thing that seemed to help was the thought of wearing a tiara to compensate for the lack of bacon. Luckily, like most people, I HAVE a tiara. So now, in all the pictures from last night, I’m wearing a cardigan, jeans, and a beautiful, glittery tiara. And drinking a glass of wine. Obviously.

Anyway, the celebrations were all lovely, and we got to spend some time with K’s girlfriend, the lovely V. But that’s not what I’m supposed to be writing about, according to the title of this post. What I’m really writing about is Wind Turbines. What the hell is wrong with people and their anger over wind turbines? So, here’s the context: On Thursday, someone posted a meme on Facebook of Santa and his reindeer all tangled up in a wind turbine. It was cute and kind of funny, so I posted this comment: “At least he didn’t get sucked into a coal-fired chimney.” Then I scrolled down and looked at some of the other comments and immediately deleted mine because this meme was originally posted by some fanatical anti-Wind group with sublinks like “Anguish” and “The Truth from Europe” and “How Can I Fight?” and I didn’t want to be attacked by them. (Ken just said, “You deleted your comment? You let the internet win!” No, Ken–I just wrote a whole blog about it, so WINNING.) Now, you might be thinking, what the hell does mydangblog know about wind turbines? Well, quite a bit, actually, because Ken and I had a cottage in the heart of Ontario turbine country. I never noticed them, even though apparently they make SO much noise that people have nervous breakdowns just by being a kilometre away from them. We were a lot closer but I guess we’re just deaf (plus, I have to sleep with a white noise machine anyway, so maybe I just found them soothing). The best comment though was “So many eagles and other birds have been innocent victims of these implements of destruction, it’s not surprising that Santa was killed too.” Implements of destruction? So windmills are like nuclear warheads? I didn’t realize that. But if your biggest argument against a wind turbine is that sometimes birds fly into them and are killed, then you better stop driving your f*cking car immediately, because in the world of land mammals, automobiles are the NUMBER ONE IMPLEMENT OF DESTRUCTION. Seriously, I would rather live in proximity to a wind turbine over a coal-fired factory or a nuclear plant any day of the week. People say windmills are noisy, and I realize that makes them so much worse than a nuclear explosion because when a nuclear bomb goes off, you’re dead too quickly to hear it. So let’s see—a renewable source of energy that has virtually no carbon footprint, but makes a little noise, versus black gooey sh*t that has managed to raise the temperature of the planet by several degrees, comes from dead prehistoric animals, and regularly pollutes our land and water with said same black gooey sh*t that has also managed to raise stock prices on Dawn dish detergent. But you know, the jury’s still out on the adverse health effects of being near a windmill, even though the Dutch did it for centuries and are world leaders in renewable energy production. Then again, they grow a lot of tulips, so… (Seriously, that’s the kind of argument I’m seeing on these webpages, like “The Dutch? What do they know? They’re stupid and they grow tulips.) OMFG, I can’t even.

I don’t know about where you live, but where I’m from, wind turbines and transformer substations are subject to some pretty strict guidelines, and in general, must be more than at least half a kilometre away from residential dwellings, and even further away in other jurisdictions. But people will always complain about something—if it’s not a pipeline breaking and leaching poisonous oil into our water table, destroying wildlife and polluting the environment, or radioactive waste from a nuclear power plant causing decades of genetic mutation, then it’s them damn humming windmills, throwing their terrifying shadows on the ground.

People need to grow up and stop being so entitled, ie: “Muh, I like my car! I deserve to use as much dinosaur blood as I want, until it all runs out, and then who gives a sh*t because I’ll be dead anyway. Probably from lung cancer thanks to all the smog. But at least smog is QUIET!!”

Sigh. Merry Christmas.

windmills

 

My Week 111: Another Magazine Christmas, The US Election True Colours

Monday: Another Magazine Christmas

Well, it’s that time of year again. No, not the time of year when stupid people vote for orange misogynists (see below), but the season when decorating magazines, with still over a month to go, start telling us how to organize our homes for Christmas. Last year, it was all about entertaining guests—this year it’s how to “Unwrap your signature holiday style”. I love it when anyone assumes that I actually HAVE a style to unwrap, like there’s a part of me just DYING to run into a forest and gather evergreen boughs and sh*t. The explanation under the headline was “If determining your home’s holiday look is your own personal nightmare before Christmas, fear not. We’re here to help.” Personal nightmare?! Aren’t we getting a little dramatic here? Because the nightmares I have focus on people dying, the house burning down, or nuclear war (let’s all pray that Trump knows the difference between “tweet” and “launch”), not so much whether people appreciate my decorating style. But the magazine thoughtfully provided a list of 10 questions to help me determine exactly how to discover my “festive style” by giving me four choices—A, B, C, or D, and then adding up the choices to correspond with a style. Here we go:

1) Which winter wreath would you hang?

I chose D, the “Feathery Evergreen”, except that I would forgo the peacock feathers and bow, and add twinkle lights. Now it looks just like the wreaths that Ken and I hang in our windows every year. We keep them in a closet under the stairs along with the twenty extension cords we need to make them light up.

2) Choose the prettiest gift wrap.

While “Snowflake Chic” and “Golden Glamour” were both very fetching, I myself am partial to “Last Year’s Leftovers” with a side of “”Scotch Tape and a Bit of Ribbon”.

3) What’s Your Must-Watch Christmas Movie?

I’d only seen one out of the 4 choices—“A Christmas Story”, which is so wonderfully random with the leg lamp and the pack of dogs that continually appear out of nowhere to wreak havoc. As for the other options, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is way too morbid, “A Muppet Christmas” is way too Muppet-y, and “Love Actually” doesn’t even have Christmas in the title, so who the f*ck cares? MY must-watch movie is “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. Not the live action film, which is ridiculously over the top, but the original animated classic, which I can recite almost verbatim, having watched it every year since I was old enough to remember. It’s tradition, and I don’t care if it messes up my style score.

4) Which candles will you set out this season?

While “a selection of unscented tea lights and votives in mercury glass containers” sounds quite glam, I’m gonna go with NONE, because as I previously mentioned, one of my personal nightmares is having the house burn down, and candles are tiny fires that aspire to be bigger ones, in my book. Don’t get me wrong—I HAVE candles. I never light them; I just dust them.

5) Which wallpaper would you use for an accent wall?

What? Now I’m putting up wallpaper?! Go to hell.

6) Select a pair of holiday pajamas

OK, this I can get behind. I’m going to pick…a “monogrammed crisp white button-down nightshirt and matching pants”? Nooo. “A long sleep tee featuring a flamingo donning a Santa hat”? Nooo. Ok, these choices are NOT appealing to me. I shall choose the reindeer patterned flannel pants I bought last summer on sale, accented with a Joe Fresh tank top in “used to be crisp white but then I washed it with a black hoodie and now it’s kind of grey and I wear it to bed”.

7) Your Christmas tree is…

Whichever one is closest to where we parked the car at the tree farm. Fortunately, the magazine’s option D is “An imperfect long-needled pine, chopped fresh from the forest”, so WINNING. Except for the long-needled part (we prefer blue spruce, even though trying to hang ornaments on it is like being tortured by having spikes driven under your nails). Also, by “chopped”, I’ll assume you mean “chain-sawed”. The best part of this question is the picture of a “life-like” tree that you can buy from Canadian Tire for $500. I can get a whole decade’s worth of real trees for that price, imperfect though they may be.

8) Pick an ornament.

One of the choices is a felt ketchup bottle. It’s thirteen dollars. I can’t even. Personally, I only use vintage glass ornaments from the early twentieth century, and none of them are shaped like fast food.

9) Choose a Christmas card to send out.

I would do that if I could ever remember to actually send out Christmas cards in time for them to get to people. So while I love the “Paisley Reindeer Card” ($7, Hallmark. Yes, for ONE card), I usually end up buying a box of whatever’s left at the local convenience store, and taking them with me when we visit family. Nothing says “love” like hand-delivery, am I right?

10) How do you usually spend Christmas Eve?

None of the options seemed quite right, so I made up my own. Being with my family, enjoying good food and drink, listening to beautiful music, laughing and hugging, and being grateful that the house isn’t on fire.

When I tallied up my score, I’d gone rogue too many times to establish a Christmas style. I wasn’t “Formal Elegant”, “Colourful Eclectic”, “Fresh Contemporary”, OR “Rustic Country”. And I’m good with that, because all of these trappings of consumerism are not what Christmas is about anyway. To quote the Grinch:

“It came without ribbons! It came without tags!”

“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”

“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

grinch

Tuesday: The US Election Colours

On Tuesday, I watched the US election, as so many people did. I had already predicted that Trump would win about two weeks before the big night. How did I know, you ask? Well, I have a terrible habit of reading the comments section of articles, and the hatred and stupidity out there is palpable. You couldn’t even post a picture of a kitten riding on a baby giraffe without a Trump supporter yelling “That giraffe is taking away jobs from Americans”, or “That kitten is too cozy with big government and should be shot!” The blind refusal on the part of Trump supporters to accept the reality of his incompetence, their disdain of logic and truth, and their ability to excuse ANYTHING he did in their quest for change is what brought this about. The bread and circuses of Trump’s act was just the right blend of the exploitation of fear (I’m gonna build a wall to keep the rapists out) and abstract concepts that his followers parrot, but don’t understand (“She is a career politician and part of the political class, which means that she is likely to perpetuate the croniest, clientist, State-capitalist status quo.” That’s an actual quote from some guy on an article about Hillary Clinton. You can just hear all the Trumpers yelling “Yes!! Lock her up!!” even though I doubt that most of them know what it means or whether it’s relevant to her ability to govern).

Anyway, early in September, after my True Colours training, I actually analyzed both candidates based on what I perceived as their colours. I didn’t post it then, and It’s probably moot now, but here it is, just for fun. By the way, it was before all the p*ssy-grabbing::

“Friday: I use True Colours to analyze the US election

On Friday night, I was watching the news and the breaking story was that Hillary Clinton had said that half of Donald Trump’s supporters were a “basket full of deplorables” due to their violence, racism, homophobia, sexism, and xenophobia. She didn’t say ALL of them, just half. And Trump’s campaign organizers got up in arms and claimed that she had insulted millions of Americans whose ONLY fault was that they hated blacks, Muslims, gays, uppity women, and most people in general. But now that I’m an expert in True Colours, I did an extensive analysis of the situation, which is to say that I looked in my binder. Here’s what I see from up here in Canada:

Hillary Clinton is a Green. She’s not super-warm and fuzzy on the exterior, and she’s driven by logic, facts, and a disdain for irrational behaviour and incompetence. When she says “Half of Trump supporters”, she’s accurate. You can disagree all you want, but all you have to do is look at the comments section of ANY article about the election or anything else Trump-related for that matter, to realize that many of the millions of people who support Trump have a tenuous understanding of reality. Not ALL of them—just half. Maybe a little more than half. Or, to quote Trump, “a lot”. I think what she really wanted to say though was “a basket full of crazy”, but being a Green, she was conscious that “crazy” is insensitive. See, people think that Greens often appear unemotional, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care. Greens see the big picture, and they care about THAT as much as anything else. As a fellow Green, I can tell you that I hate racism in any form, not because I’m all sad about it and sh*t, but because it doesn’t make ANY logical sense to look down on an entire race of people because their skin has more melanin in it, or because they believe in one God or five gods or no god at all. If we all treated each other equally, the world would have more peace than war. That’s the big picture, and Greens can see it.

Donald Trump, as far as I can tell, is an Orange (in more ways than one), and apologies to all the great Oranges out there. But Trump is impulsive, dramatic, pays too much attention to performance versus product, hates structure and responsibility and is super-sensitive to criticism (little hands, anyone?). Unfortunately, he, and many of his followers, don’t possess any of the really positive Orange qualities, like courage, generosity, optimism, and good humour. When Clinton pointed out what we all already know about MANY of Trump’s supporters, their reaction was typical and predictable and simply proved her right: “What is that b*tch talking about?! How dare she criticize us? I’m going to post mean comments about her on the internet. And I’m going to call her Crooked Hillary because Trump told me to.” Trump’s supporters are just like him in the way they approach everything, including their general hatred of the world that is not theirs and the fear that giving to others will take something away from THEM. Actually, I think there has to be a new colour for people like them, people who mock others when they’re suffering, people who want to put up a wall instead of build a bridge. George Orwell, one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century, said this about a wall: “The first thing that we demand of a wall is that it shall stand up. If it stands up, it is a good wall, and the question of what purpose is serves is separable from that. And yet even the best wall in the world deserves to be pulled down if it surrounds a concentration camp.”

At any rate, whatever Clinton’s flaws are, and let’s dispense with the false equivalencies here, because nothing she’s done is ANYWHERE NEAR the crap Trump has pulled over the last 60 years (I’m giving him credit for the first ten), I’d much rather have a Green at the helm—they’re less likely to start wars or meantweet about overweight people—but I’m sure worried that people will buy into Trump and his bullshit. Maybe that should be the new colour for Trump and his ilk—Brown.”

There you have it. It’s over now, and if change was what people wanted, they certainly got it. But I doubt that it’s going to be in the way they thought. Only time will tell.

 

My Week 63: I Have Holiday Inadequacy, A Stream of Consciousness Religious Moment

Thursday: This holiday season is making me feel incompetent

I’ve always considered myself a fairly creative person. My house is decorated nicely, I write middling well, I can paint a little, and make craft-y type things when the mood strikes. But lately, I’ve come to realize that there are people out there who are WAY more creative than me. Case in point—in the last couple of weeks, people at work have been decorating their cubicles for Christmas. It started off with just a few co-workers hanging snowflake ornaments and tinsel on their fabric walls. I was feeling pretty satisfied with my design—a miniature stocking that I grabbed out of the closet at home, and a paper snowflake that a colleague made for me one afternoon—he was practicing making them from instructions from the internet so he could impress his wife on the weekend. So I ended up with something like this:

Bare cubicle

Not bad right? Understated and elegant, with a homemade touch. Added bonus—I found a red pushpin on the floor, and I used it to secure the snowflake in keeping with my colour scheme. Brilliant planning, I’d have to say. Sure, I could have gone a little more crazy, but I didn’t want people to think I had too much time on my hands.

But then, I came in on Thursday morning to discover that the people in the department up the aisle from mine had decorated THEIR cubicles. Here are a few examples:

Cubicle 2

 

 

Cubicle 1

Cubicle 3 version 2

A Reindeer stable?! An entire Christmas house, held up with yardsticks?! An “homage” to the ugly Christmas sweater?! One woman had gone with the theme “Christmas in the Tropics”, having made palm trees out of construction paper and coconuts out of brown balloons. Suddenly, I was feeling angsty, but I comforted myself that at least my display was cost efficient. Then I happened to remark to one of the women, “Oh, you guys have really gone all out!” and she cheerfully replied, “Oh, this is all from the dollar store— it just took a few bucks and some imagination!” So while I have a ‘few bucks’, apparently I’m lacking in the imagination component of the holiday season.

And to make matters worse, there’s Secret Santa. You may remember that I’ve had issues in the past with this torturous aspect of the workplace, but this year it seems that I may be the ‘Bad Santa’. I’ve been doing all right myself, having received some decent little tokens from my ‘giver’, but I’m starting to feel that I’m not doing enough for my ‘receiver’. I organized several treats for my SS, based on her list of likes and dislikes, and thought that it would be enough to wait until she was away from her desk, then run by her cubicle and toss something on her keyboard without getting caught. Holy sh*t, was I wrong, based on the mayhem around me. One woman came back from lunch and discovered a half-dozen red roses carefully arranged in a vase on her desk. Another colleague was sent on a scavenger hunt (which started with a poem, 6 stanzas long, written in iambic pentameter and mounted on a piece of yellow shirtboard) and ended with her finding an assortment of clues and goodies scattered throughout the office and all tastefully wrapped in yellow tissue paper. The icing on the Christmas cake was the cubicle that was decorated some time in the night as a representation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The entire space was domed with red tinsel garlands hanging from the ceiling. There was a sign on the outside of the cubicle which read “1. Shelter  2. Fire  3. Food  4. Drink” and so on, with ‘Shelter’ crossed out. We were simultaneously amazed and jealous, and more than a little worried about how Fire would be represented the next day. But fear not—her Secret Santa created a campfire out of construction paper, and a bundle of handmade twig pencils, complete with a giant marshmallow on a stick. Seriously, WTF? I mean, how are the rest of us supposed to compete with THAT? The best I had done so far was scribble “I hope you like this chocolate” on a post-it note and stick it to a pack of Lindor. It’s not that I don’t WANT to be more clever—I have great ideas but I just don’t have the energy to put them into action. For example, I had this brainstorm that I would take the box of fruit-flavoured mini-candy canes I got her and strew all 60 of them around her cubicle, then put the empty box on her desk with an Elf on the Shelf in it, like HE’D done it. But I couldn’t find an Elf, and it was late, so I just tossed them around, stuck a couple in her shoes, and went home. I don’t think she was impressed because by the time I got to work the next morning, there wasn’t a single candy cane in sight. Then I worried that maybe she was a real neat-freak, and that instead of being charmed, she was pissed that she had to clean up the mess. Then she spent the rest of the day eating oranges and apples. I know this, because I kept sneaking by her desk to see if she was enjoying the candy canes, but I never saw them again. I know it’s all supposed to be in fun, and everyone keeps saying, “Oh, it’s the thought that counts,” but why can’t people just be as mediocre as ME? When the bar is set too high, we ALL suffer. Except the people who have time to write sonnets. My only hope is that when we have our big ‘reveal’ next week, she’s able to see that my intentions were good, and that if I’d had the time, energy, and wherewithal, it would have been…well, something amazing, I’m sure. Plus, there’s a bag of potato chips waiting for her on Monday morning—maybe I’ll get wild and put a bow on it.

Friday: I have a stream of consciousness religious moment

On Friday, we were talking at work, and someone mentioned that Kanye West and one of the Kardashians (I can never remember which one is which—they all look alike thanks to the wonders of cosmetic surgery, and they all seem to be pregnant all the f*cking time) had another baby. You might remember how I ripped Kanye West for naming his first baby “North”—that’s right, North West. North West of where I am is Manitoba, which seems to me to be a much better name for a baby than a compass direction, but if you think I have no imagination, I’m feeling pretty good next to old Kanye. Especially right now. Because my first reaction was, “Did he name this baby ‘South’? It’s a great theme—two more kids and he could easily find his way to his own ass.” But alas, no. This baby, he named “Saint”. Yes, Saint West, the patron saint of stupid parents everywhere. And then I was confused, because it seemed a little sacreligious, but a friend pointed out that ‘Santo’ was a very popular boy’s name in Italian, and it means ‘Saint’. Which got me to thinking about how other cultures have no trouble naming their children after religious figures. For example, there are a LOT of Hispanic men named Jesus, which I believe is pronounced ‘Hey Zeus’, and which I also think is an awesome name—it kind of channels ‘Son of God’ and ‘Lightning Bolt Guy’ all at the same time. And this seems to work for them, but how weird would it be if I had named my son ‘Jesus’, like the actual ‘Gee Zus’ pronunciation? I come from a Scottish/English background, and I know people would have thought I was being a little presumptuous, like I thought my kid was the next Messiah or something. Which got me to thinking about Jesus, and the fact that the church across the road recently had their doors redesigned. On one door is an angel, painted in gold, hovering in mid-air. The other door is where things get weird. It’s supposed to be Jesus on the cross, but whoever painted it did Jesus in REALLY dark gold paint, and the cross in light gold, so from across the street, it looks like Jesus is standing on the edge of a diving platform, getting ready to do a double pike, three and a half turn twist. It’s very disconcerting. In fact, I can see him right now, and all I can think about is Jesus getting the gold medal at the Olympics, which would have been a much nicer thing to happen to him. And then churches would be full of swimming pools instead of pews and ALL the water would be holy. Oh yeah. See, maybe I am more creative than I thought.

My Week 59: Real Christmas vs, Magazine Christmas, My Demon Spawn Vaccuum

Real Life Christmas versus Magazine Christmas

I love decorating magazines. I have subscriptions to at least three different ones, and every month, I pour through the pages for ideas. I’m a visual learner at heart—I can read text very quickly and easily. Currently, I’m making my way through David Mitchell’s new novel The Bone Clocks, which is approximately 500 pages, but about 200 pages too long. It was an interesting read until the second last chapter, when the rather regular narrative suddenly turned into Harry Potter, with characters having some kind of poorly explained magical battle, thusly:

“I aimed my psychosoteric mind laser beam at Lord Pfenninger’s subterranean psychic temple. He responded with a sonic blast from his hypcampus, while his minions snickered and began laying down suppressing mind bullets. I waved my magic wand and disapparated…”

Ok, I’m paraphrasing, but it got pretty ridiculous, and frankly J.K. Rowling does it much better. Anyway, back to decorating magazines. Christmas is coming up, so all the current editions are focused on Christmas decorating and festive parties. As I was gleefully devouring up the images, it suddenly occurred to me how absolutely unrealistic it all was. Sure, I know that everything’s staged, but this year it seems that every single house is owned by people who have no children, pets, food, and who apparently never sit down, judging from the fact that everything is WHITE. White walls, white furniture, white carpets, white Christmas trees, white deer heads hung above white fireplace mantles. What the hell is going on here? Magazine editors have become so intensely out of touch with how REAL people live that I started to view everything with an extremely critical eye. Here are some of the more bizarre statements and ideas that I came across:

  • A designer on his Christmas room design challenge: “I arrived upon this magical masculine scene by mixing patterns and textures with eclectic objects. While the palette and the furnishings are traditional, the vignette feels fresh, thanks to whimsical organic touches like the felt bird ornaments…and the pompom tree skirt.” Let me translate: “Nothing matches”. Also, “men like magicky things, and pompoms”. Someone should clue in this designer that real birds are organic; felt birds are things that kindergarten children make. Runner-up to this designer’s statement: “I like to mix traditional with modern, and pair maximalist notions with more restrained sculptural items.” Again, nothing matches, but this time it’s JUSSSST CRAZZZZY!
  • A page devoted to “choosing the perfect tree”. I don’t need a page of tips. This is how we pick a tree at my house:
    Ken: That one over there looks nice.
    Me: It’s too cold to walk that far. This one’s fine.
    Ken: But it’s missing half its branches.
    Me: That side can go against the wall. Hurry up, I’m freezing.
  • A decorating article on “Wrapping Pillows like a Present” to create a holiday feel. Screw that—I can’t even wrap PRESENTS like presents, let alone stupid accent pillows. If you’ve ever gotten a present from me, you might have thought at first that a toddler wrapped it. But the torn paper and scotch tape all over the place just reinforce how much I LOVE you. NOT that I’m super-uncoordinated and have unwieldy manhands.
  • “Fun Things To Do With Your Elf On A Shelf”. Here’s the most fun thing I can imagine—put it in the toilet and watch it grin maniacally as it tries not to drown. Keep swimming, Bjorn!
  • “Decorative pieces should change with the season”. Seriously? Who the hell has time to redecorate their entire house “with the season”? I think if you’ve got the kind of time to put everything in storage to make way for your holiday sh*t, then put all that away in January and completely redecorate AGAIN, you’re most likely neglecting other areas of your life. Like your children. Or personal hygiene.
  • A designer on a recent dinner party disaster: “Go with the flow. My copper garland broke, so I placed the beads across the dining table, and they looked pretty. ..it was a happy accident.” Absolutely. The next time I break a Christmas ornament, I will definitely strewn the dining table with the shards. Yes, my guests love to eat dinner amidst broken glass. Happy, happy.
  • Party tip a): “Always have a signature drink ready for your guests and hand it to them as they arrive.” We have a signature drink in my house—it’s called “alcohol”. When you arrive, you can have some of this tasty signature drink, or I can try to hunt you down a can of tonic water from the back of the bathroom closet. Party tip b): “The Fabulous 4-step appetizer”. I can do you one better—the Tasty 2-step appetizer. Step one, take a piece of cheese. Step two, put it on a cracker. For the adventurous, I also have the Throroughly 3-mendous Appetizer, where you can add a piece of kielbasa from the plate on the counter before the dog sneaks in and eats it all. Party tip c): “Consider your guests dietary restrictions.” I am the f*cking master at this. I can create a veritable feast for people who are gluten-free, vegetarian, piscaterian, lactose intolerant, who only eat chicken, who can’t eat spicy food, and who refuse to eat human food like rice, pasta, or most green vegetables because they (Dad) are just plain picky. I do this because I love them all so much. Which brings me to my last point:
  • Magazine cover: “128 Ideas for an amazing Christmas”. Here’s the deal—you don’t need 128 ideas. You don’t even need 1 idea. All you need is the people you love the most—dietary restrictions and all. Christmas isn’t about how beautiful and pristine your house is—it’s about the people in it.

My Dirt Devil is Demon Spawn

This week, I decided it was time I got a small vacuum cleaner. I’m a pretty good housekeeper, sweeping the floors and using a Swiffer wet mop when necessary, but face it—I like to do things the easy way. For example, I use Windex to clean just about every surface in my unit, but it’s a little too labour-intensive to spray window cleaner onto paper towels, so I buy the pre-soaked wipes. I’m putting crap into the landfill either way—why not give myself a break? So it occurred to me that if I could get a little vacuum, I could clean the floors AND the carpets all in one easy shot. Most of my condo is hardwood, but I have a couple of throw rugs, and both bedrooms have broadloom that, sad to say, have not been cleaned since the previous tenants moved out, and are looking rather lint-y. Canadian Tire was having a sale (because when is Canadian Tire NOT having a sale, which begs the question: How much do Lagostina pots ACTUALLY cost to make, if the regular price is $400, but they’re on special for $49.99?), so on Wednesday, I headed into Canada’s favourite department store. Or, the store named after Canada—and tires. I was planning on getting something very small, but the sale was so good that I convinced myself that a larger upright on sale for 50% off was the best choice. It was a Dust Devil. The very name should have sent up red flags that there might be issues. A series of problems ensued, the first of which was that the vacuum cleaner box was very large and heavy. I had to walk several blocks back to my condo, and I’ll be damned if I was going to pay $12 for a taxi to take me less than a kilometer. The cashier waved me over though, and said she could make me a handle out of plastic bags and duct tape. Red Green would have been proud (for my international readers, he was a character on Canadian television who, in keeping with proud Canadian ingenuity, could fix anything with duct tape). Handle created, I carried the box out of the store. 20 feet later, I realized that I had made a serious miscalculation in the box weight/arm strength ratio. But, by changing arms frequently, stopping to rest every 100 feet or so, and occasionally dragging the box along the sidewalk, I got back to my condo.

When I regained feeling in my arms, I opened the box and discovered that the vacuum needed several stages of assembly. I got out my magnifying glass to read the instructions, and after trying to follow the obscure illustrations for about 10 minutes, I just went with my gut instinct and slammed it all together with intuition and a Philips screwdriver. Finally, I was ready to clean. Little did I know that the Dirt Devil was indeed possessed by demon spawn.  I turned it on and it took off—after a few seconds of maneuvering it around, I realized that there were dents in the floor that hadn’t been there a couple of minutes prior. I got really nervous that the beater bar was trying to eat the floor, so I steered towards the Persian rug under my coffee table. Immediately, the fringe of the rug got sucked in and when I finally got the carpet extricated from the jaws of Satan, the binding and fringe were shredded. I was pissed off, but the thought of having to disassemble and return it was too daunting. I decided that if it could at least clean the broadloom in the bedrooms, I could justify keeping it. It took off on the bedroom rug like there were souls under the bed, sucking in the bedskirt at the same time. Then, when I swooshed it into the walk-in closet, it somehow managed to suck up the bootlace on one of my Doc Martens, and almost chewed the entire boot up in its devil jaws. I’d had enough. I turned it off, rescued my boot, and cast the damnable thing into the dark pit of my hall closet. My head was spinning (in that mentally exhausted way, not in that crazy Linda Blair/Exorcist way) from my demon battle. Maybe I should call a priest, just in case.