My Week 267: Testing Myself

A few months ago, you may remember, I was at my doctor’s. He has the worst bedside manner ever, but during this particular conversation, he got very animated; in fact, he got more excited than I’d ever seen him, because I had asked about a colon cancer screening kit:

Me: I’m really sorry but the requisition you gave me 3 years ago expired. I know I should have taken care of this sooner but–
Doctor: No! Don’t worry about it! Because there’s a new kit, and it’s EVEN BETTER than the old one!!
Me: So I can get one of the new ones?
Doctor: YES! Call the office on Monday!!

Well, Monday came and Monday went—in fact, many, many Mondays came and went—but I finally called the office last week and asked for one of the new kits. The receptionist said it would arrive in a couple of days, and when I came home on Thursday, there was an appropriately brown envelope waiting for me. I opened it up and Ken and I examined it:

Ken: There’s only one test tube! Aw, you’re so lucky!
Me: Um, why?
Ken: My kit had 3. I had to do it three days in a row.
Me: Ugh! As if one day isn’t bad enough.
Ken: You could do it tomorrow.
Me: No, I’ll wait until the weekend when I can be sure that I’ll be in my own bathroom, and not in the bathroom at the train station.

And on Friday morning, I WAS in the bathroom at the train station, and it seemed like a real missed opportunity. But then on Saturday morning, it was time. The brown envelope contained the following: a folded up piece of tissue paper, a little ziplock bag containing a vial that had a tiny spatula attached to the cap, an instruction sheet, and another pre-paid return envelope, this one yellow. Ken and I have been binge-watching Rupaul’s Drag Race, which is an AWESOME show, so when I said, “OK, it’s time”, Ken’s immediate response was, “Good luck. And DON’T f*ck it up.”

So I went upstairs and looked at the instructions very carefully. They were absolutely bizarre, and a little juvenile, but easy to understand, as you can see:

When I came downstairs later, Ken asked, “Well?”

Me: It was really stressful.
Ken: Why? Did you put the paper in the toilet first like it said?
Me: Yes. And then I went. It was a really good one. Almost too good.
Ken: Because?
Me: Because you have to swirl the spatula around in it, and then put the spatula back into the vial, and the opening is REALLY narrow, and there was a lot on it, so I had to keep trying to wipe off the excess so that it didn’t get on the outside of the container.
Ken: *laughs hysterically*
Me: I didn’t imagine I would be spending Saturday morning leaning over a toilet full of a steaming pile of poo, worrying about offending some unknown lab technician with my clumsy vial-handling skills. Also, the instructions were very unclear about where the wiping took place in this whole process, so I had to improv that part. I can’t believe you did this three days in a row.
Ken: No wonder your doctor was so excited.
Me: And now I’m worried that I did it wrong because my poo didn’t look like the one in the picture, and I just did kind of a whimsical swirl in it but this picture shows the person swiping from side to side, and maybe I really did f*ck it up.
Ken: Sashay away.

And quite possibly I AM overthinking it, but 23andMe sent me a SECOND DNA KIT because I hadn’t done the first one right, and all that involved was spitting into a test tube. I don’t know what it’s like where you all live, but I’m in Canada, so this is free, and there are some poor lab techs out there who must have to deal with hundreds of poo vials a week and I just want to make their lives a little easier. Maybe I’ll spray some perfume on the envelope as a goodwill gesture.

Last week, my niece was very proud that she was good in math, and this week I was also proud of my math skills (until I talked to Ken):

1) My director called me in to discuss my budget. “I know it’s right,” I said, ‘because I used a calculator”, and she said, “Good job.”

2) I was on the train, sitting with my friend Max, and he was mad because all the stores are now decorated for Christmas, and holidays are just an excuse to sell stuff. “Did you know,” he said, “that yesterday was National Sandwich Day?!”

Me: Did you have a sandwich in honour of this special day?
Max: No, I did not.
Me: Personally, I prefer Pi Day.
Max: What kind of pie?
Me: No, like 22 divided by seven. I think that’s on July 22nd.
Max: (*looks it up*) It says here it’s on March 14. That’s a Saturday.
Me: Ooh, then it could be a whole Pi weekend, because Pi is 3.1415. What’s Pi for anyway?
Max: I think it’s to calculate the area of a circle.
Me: Why would you ever need to do THAT? Just buy enough floor tile to make a square and trim stuff away. Is it some theoretical bullsh*t thing, like Schrödinger’s Cat?
Max: No. It’s probably for things in nature, like calculating area in the ocean.
Me: Like what, how big is the Bermuda Triangle? Oh wait, that’s a triangle. I think you use a different formula for that. It’s the Pythagorean theorem.
Max: Are you sure?
Me: Andre! Andre! How do you calculate the area of a triangle?
Andre, The New Train Car Attendant: You use the Pythagorean theorem.
Me: See? I told you I was good at math.
Max: Happy National Vinegar Day, by the way.

3) And then Ken read the above and said, “What are you talking about?

Me: It’s the Pythagorean theorem. A squared times B cubed or whatnot, and some other stuff gives you the area of a triangle.
Ken: No, it doesn’t! That’s what you use if you don’t know the length of the hypotenuse of a right angled triangle. And it’s A squared plus B squared equals C squared. Your whole train car sucks at math.
Me: Then how do you calculate the area of a triangle, if you’re so smart?!
Ken: Height times base divided by two.

Me: Shantay, you stay.

My Week 62: I Finally Meet The Serial Killer Upstairs, I Make Faux Pas

Tuesday: I meet the Serial Killer upstairs

If you read this blog with any kind of regularity (thanks!) you’ll know that I’ve been plagued by an upstairs neighbour who likes to hammer, saw, and generally make the kind of noises that I have associated with building a cage for his kidnapping victims. These noises regularly take place in the middle of the night, causing me to call the concierge in our building on more than one occasion.

On Tuesday, I invited a friend over for dinner and drinks, and since we both had errands, she agreed to come by around 5:30. I bought some groceries and arrived home around 4:30, excited to have someone to cook for—I love cooking, but sometimes I get carried away and end up eating fettucine al fredo or cauliflower casserole for the next four days. Within two minutes of putting away the groceries, though, the racket started. It sounded like the guy upstairs was either throwing furniture around his condo like he was Jason Statham in some kind of ninja battle (choose any Jason Stratham movie for this scenario because it happens in ALL of them), or his latest victim was trying to escape. It was crazy loud and very unnerving, so when my friend arrived, I went down to meet her in the lobby, and spoke to the concierge, another new young man whose English was equally as suspect as all the others.

Me: The tenant in the unit above me is making terrible noise. It sounds like he’s throwing furniture around.
Concierge: Today is not moving day.
Me: What? No, I know that. I’ve had trouble with this before. I’m just letting you know that if it hasn’t stopped making noise by 10 o’clock, I’ll be calling you to talk to him.
Concierge: OK.

So my friend and I went upstairs. At this point, the furniture-tossing had turned into the usual hammering. She was astounded at the noise, having heard me complain about it on several occasions, but maybe she thought I was exaggerating. We ate to the hammer’s rhythm, then tried to relax and have a couple of drinks, but we were both distracted, and the speculation re: the upstairs tenant’s activities got more and more silly as we had more and more drinks. I stuck to my “serial killer” premise, but she was convinced he was a vampire who was building his own coffin room where no sunlight could penetrate. She finally left around 8:45, and I went down with her. We both told the concierge how ridiculous the noise level was. “See,” I said. “Even my friend can tell you how annoying it is, and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to be done any time soon.” The concierge was very sympathetic, and assured me that he was prepared to deal with it. Little did I know that this concierge took his job very seriously, and was going to take matters into his own hands. But not in that good way, where he dangles the guy off the balcony and makes him swear to shut the f*ck up, like Jason Statham in pretty much every one of his films.

I’d just finished having a bath, and was standing there in my pajamas, taking out my contact lenses, when I thought I heard a knock at the door. Nobody EVER knocks on my door, but I thought I should take a look just to be sure. I have a peephole, which I hate using, because I read a horror novel once about a giant, possessed teddy bear, and when it knocked on the main character’s door and he looked through the peephole, IT WAS STARING INTO THE PEEPHOLE BACK AT HIM. So I approached the peephole with caution—it was kind of steamed up from my bath, but there was definitely someone standing there. I don`t have a chain, so I did the next best thing—I yelled through the door:

Me: Can I help you?
Guy: I’m your upstairs neighbour.

At this point, I just about fainted. What the f*ck was he doing at my door??!  I didn’t know what to say, so I yelled back, very innocently:

Me: Oh, hi. What’s up?
Guy: The concierge said I was making too much noise and it was bothering you. I’ve come to apologize.

And right away in my head I was like ‘Ha Ha—I was right! He’s definitely a serial killer. He doesn’t want trouble from ANYONE!’ Unlike a vampire, who would have snuck in through my balcony door in a cloud of mist, and turned me into a creature of the night for payback. But I was still really freaked out. At the same time, I’m also Canadian, and talking through the door just seemed rude. So I opened the door and we continued thusly:

Me: Yes, it’s been kind of noisy.
Guy: I’m putting in a new floor. The concierge suggested that I come and talk to you, so we could establish a schedule that would be acceptable to you.

The concierge told him to come and talk to me?! Even if he wasn’t a serial killer, what if he’d been really pissed off that I’d complained about him, and instead of apologizing, he’d come to yell at me? Now I was scared AND angry. But that’s a good combination if I’m about to battle a man who wants to put me in a box for his own sick amusement. Except for the fact that I could only see out of one eye, having been in the PROCESS of removing my contact lenses when he knocked. Well, if it came down to a fight, I could squint.

Me: Oh…well, I guess any time before 10 pm is fine, now that I know what you’re doing. Just as long as it’s not the middle of the night, it’s fine.
Guy: I don’t know what you mean. I never work in the middle of the night.

I wanted to snicker at the sheer audacity of THAT lie. But I didn’t want to tempt fate, so I just quickly muttered, “Ok then, I guess we’ll just agree to disagree”, then carried on:

Me: All right then. Let’s just say anytime during the day, and all weekend if you like, since I’m not here on the weekends, and not after 10 pm.
Guy: Sure, that sounds fine. Thanks. The new floor is really well insulated, so once it’s in, you should never hear anything from my unit. Goodnight then.

I shut the door, and did what any sensible person would do—I called Ken. But he wasn’t home, so I talked to K:

Me: The serial killer from upstairs just came to my door!
K: What serial killer?
Me: Oh my god, don’t you EVER read my blog?!
K: Not usually, no.
Me: Never mind. Tell your dad to call me when he gets in. If I’m still alive….

But sure enough, the serial killer upstairs has kept to his word. He might only be replacing 3 square feet a day, judging by how long it’s taking him, but he stopped every night this week by 9. He doesn’t want ANY trouble.

Friday: I make a series of faux pas

On Friday, I was talking to a colleague and eating popcorn at the same time. I’m not very coordinated, and every time I tried to put a handful in my mouth, I would drop a few pieces on the floor. And then we would both have to chase after them and pick them up, since our agency has this crazy policy that you can’t just leave food on the floor because it attracts rodents. After a few forays under desks to find the popcorn, laughing hysterically at my lack of coordination while we did it, I finally gave up and put the bag away. A little while later, I was standing in a group of people discussing serious type issues. I looked down and realized that there was popcorn in the pashmina/scarf I had around my neck. Without thinking, I picked it out of my scarf and ate it. Then I looked up and realized that everyone was staring at me. Because I just ATE FOOD OUT OF MY CLOTHING. And to make matters worse, another piece had fallen out of my scarf and was lying on the floor in the middle of our group. I could have (and was) totally embarrassed, but luckily, I work with really nice people, and when I started to laugh at the absurdity of what I’d just done, so did they, and we all ended up with tears rolling down our faces at the sight of me using my scarf as a place to “save food for later”. But over the next 24 hours, I made several missteps that remind me how difficult I find having conversations.

1) At the doctor’s office. I had a check-up with my doctor who, when he discovered that I had just turned 50, got very excited. Not because he was happy for me, but because there are several new ‘protocols’ that have to be followed when you become a certain age.

Doctor: So here’s a requisition for a mammogram—
Me: Yuck.
Doctor: Ha ha, I know. So you just call and make an appointment—you can do this yourself and then you’ll be in their system. Also, here’s a home test for colon cancer screening–
Me: A home test? What?
Doctor: Oh yes, the instructions are inside this envelope. You just send it in—the postage is pre-paid, and once you’re in their system, they’ll send you yearly reminders. Also, the Pap test–
Me: I have to do THAT at home?! How do I do THAT??!!
Doctor: Um, no, I just meant that you’ll receive automatic reminders about when you’re due for one. There’s no home test for that. Obviously.

2) At the variety store where K works. I went to give him his lunch and she was really excited about a magnet she’d found. It was one of those magnets that will pick up anything and then not let it go without tremendous effort. But then I got worried:

Me: Take it easy with that thing. Don’t put it near your…you know.
K: What? Mom, I don’t think you understand how magnets work. My ‘you know’ is not made of metal.
Me: Well, it’s a really strong magnet. It could rip the iron out of your blood. I hear an MRI can do that, and it’s a giant magnet.
K: This magnet is used to open the locks on that cabinet. Do you really think it could do that AND rip the iron out of your blood?
Me: Well, just be careful.

3) While building a hall tree. I convinced Ken to build me a hall tree out of a couple of old doors, a table, and some cool hardware. He was installing the hooks and my dad was helping:

Dad: That wood is pretty thick. Should you drill a pilot hole first?
Ken: No, I think I can do this by hand.
Me: Yeah, Dad, Ken is a pretty forceful screwer. Wait—I…sigh.