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

Tuesday: The ravings of a madwoman

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

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

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

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

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

1) “Charmin on the puppy pad”.

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

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

2) “German Pillage Festival”

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

3) “Prince of Whales”

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

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

Wednesday: The ravings of a madwoman Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Week 95: Weird Dreams, Raven the Pokemon

Saturday: I have weird dreams.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday: Raven the Pokémon

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

My Week 6 – Mennonites, Sweary-ness, and Normal Ken Dreams

Sunday: I ponder the wonderful world of Mexican Mennonites

I grew up with Old Order Mennonites. They were always around when I was a kid—at the market, driving along the side of the road, just a fixture on the landscape. I never really paid them much attention. As I got older, I wondered about them. For example, they like to go to auctions and buy pots and pans, and other household goods, I’m assuming to be part of a dowry or something, like “Here’s my daughter, a set of Lagostina cookware, two fuzzy blankets, and a goat”. Also, I often questioned their lifestyle—like why they couldn’t have electricity, but could use cell phones, or if you’re out on a Sunday in a buggy with a boy, does that mean you HAVE to marry him, or are you just trying each other out? But overall, I didn’t give them too much thought. That is, until we bought our cottage down by Lake Erie shore and were introduced to the “Mexican” Mennonites. OK, here’s the deal. They are not Mexican. They don’t speak Mexican. They certainly don’t look Mexican, They’re a splinter group of ‘regular’ Mennonites who went down to Mexico for some random reason, stayed there for a few generations, and now have returned to Ontario to share their glorious Mexican-ness with us. They are AWESOME. They should be the poster children for Mennonites, if the Mennonites were ever interested in recruiting. I spent some time gathering intel on this new brand of Mennonite—this is what I learned:

Appearance: They are all blonde and lithe. The men wear cool plaid shirts, ball caps, and jeans; women wear brightly coloured, floral dresses. Apparently they all have perfect eyesight. And teeth. They always look relatively happy, compared to their older order counterparts, who always look like they’re worried about getting the harvest in. I don’t think Mexican Mennonites worry about too much, especially the harvest, judging from their laid-back attitudes and lack of farm equipment.

Food: Mexican food! Very spicy, homemade Mexican-y goodness. Including gluten-free corn tortillas—these people are cutting edge. And they LOVE hot sauce. At the Aylmer Market, they make Hot Tamales, freshly wrapped in corn husks, and they have a food truck in PB called Dos Gringos, which may or may not be an insulting reference to white folk, but if it is, I admire their nerve. What do other Mennonites eat? German food? They make a LOT of maple syrup and sell it out of their buggies, that’s all I know.

Drink: I’m really hoping Tequila, but I don’t know—I’ve been told they don’t actually drink. If they did though, it would definitely be Tequila because Tequila is the FUN Mennonite drink (at least in my world).

Activities: These people are entrepreneurs. They have real estate companies, restaurants, grocery stores, and all kinds of businesses. They don’t have roadside stands. They DO have a lot of Chihuahuas. The teenagers rove around in gangs like Abercrombie and Fitch models waiting for a photographer. They lounge in their front yards, laughing, in co-ed groups. They always look extraordinarily happy. It could be the Tequila.

Small Children: Mexican Mennonites have large families. There was a group renting the house across the road from us in PB a couple of years ago, and they had a LOT of kids. I used to watch them play—they didn’t have any toys, but they made up the best games, like one day, they were all a bus, and they took turns driving it around the yard. The littlest one was a two year old girl, who was so adorable that it occurred to me that maybe a family with a lot of children wouldn’t miss one, and she could come home with me, but I never acted upon the impulse on the grounds that it would be highly illegal, obviously. The only thing I know about Old Order Mennonite children is that they seem to get lost in cornfields a lot, prompting OPP search parties.

I think I’ve made it very clear that to me, thinking about Old Order and Mexican Mennonites is like watching Lord of the Rings. You have the dwarves, who are short, stout, and dour, then you have the elves, who are exotic, athletic, and supremely confident. Neither group wants to interact with outsiders, but I’ll take the Mexican Mennonites hands down, if only for the awesome food. Because me, I’m all about the tacos.

Wednesday: I contemplate my sweary-ness.

I swear a LOT. I’ll admit it—I have a potty mouth and I always have had. One of my earliest memories is being told off by my dad for exclaiming “Holy Sh*t” at the number of cars in the K-Mart parking lot one day. (Which was kind of hypocritical, because where did I learn that expression anyway, Dad?) At any rate, I swear all the time, with one major exception—I rarely swear at work. I was just talking to a friend of mine from work, and I said, “Do you think I swear a lot?” and she said, “Not really.” Then I asked Ken the same question and he looked at me like the answer was obvious and said, “Uh, yeah.” But this is WHY I swear a lot—because I spend all day NOT swearing. In fact, I spend a lot of the day saying to students (hypocritically), “Watch the language!” I have to keep it all bottled inside so that when I get home, the real me comes flying out. I knew it was a problem when K was about 4 years old, we were with some friends who also had a 4 year old. We were trying to get a picture of the two of them, and Ken was taking so long that K finally blurted out, “Just take the frigging picture, dad!” (I was so proud. Also, it was good that it wasn’t me who had to point out that Ken takes way too long to focus). The other day I asked K if she thought I swore a lot, and she raised one eyebrow at me. I said, “Not AT you, just in general. I try not to swear AT you.” She agreed then that I don’t swear too much AT her, but I do swear a lot. I also reminded her that we’re mostly together when I’m driving, which might account for the extra-sweary-ness.

The problem is that I’m with teenagers all day and I have to be a good role model. It would hardly be professional if I peppered my teaching with the F bomb. (“So why isn’t your f*cking homework finished, Timmy?” “That answer was total bullsh*t, Sally.”) The only time I’ve actually sworn in class was a couple of years ago. I was in the middle of a lesson, and it was going really well, when all of a sudden, the overhead screen behind me scrolled up and almost snapped itself off its hanger. I was so freaked out that my immediate response was to exclaim “Holy Sh*t!!!” Then I turned and looked at the class, and they started laughing hysterically. One girl even said, “This is the best class ever!” Which proves that I DON’T swear in class, because it wouldn’t have been such a novelty when I did. It also proves that my first instinct is ALWAYS to use an inappropriate epithet, but that also I’m really good at suppressing my instincts. So Ken and K, and the rest of my family, have the joy of experiencing the F-bomb factory that is ME. Thank god they f*cking love me.

Saturday Morning: I realize that Ken is completely normal, even in my dreams.

I’m a very vivid dreamer. I have crazy movie length dreams that are like watching crime dramas, and sometime horror movies. Last month, I was watching a dream unfold where a patient in a hospital was extremely ill, and detectives discovered that she had been given an injection of “lupus alcoholis” by a guy who was stalking her, and this had caused her to become deformed and almost die. The doctor at the hospital formulated an antidote, and the detectives arrested the stalker. It was awesome, and cheaper than actually going to the movies. This happens to me all the time, and it’s wonderful and sometimes scary too, especially when the dreams involve K getting kidnapped or my mom driving a car into a river and me trying to rescue her (don’t worry, Mom, I saved you)—stuff like that. But for some reason, whenever I dream about Ken, it’s always the most perfectly normal dream you could have. In fact, they’re about as close to real life as you can get. Last night, I dreamed that Ken was driving me to work, but I forgot my cell phone so we were going back to get it, when he spotted a garage sale and pulled over. The only thing they were selling was these really expensive clock faces and Ken got super-excited, because he keeps talking about making his own clock (in real life, not in the dream). So I said to him (in the dream, not in real life), “Spending that kind of money on a clock face defeats the purpose of making your own clock.” He looked disappointed, but he agreed with me, and we carried on back home to get my phone. WTF kind of dream is that?! The only way it differed from real life is that Ken NEVER pulls over for garage sales unless I make him. In the future, I’m going to try a little “lucid” dreaming and introduce some zombies onto the field of play, just to see what he does. A minute ago, I asked him what he was doing, and he said “resting” (even though we just got up an hour ago), and in my head I was like, “Just see how tired you’re going to be after a night of The Walking Dead. Ha ha, Ken!!”