My Week 237: 3 AM Eternal Revisited

So I’m going through another bout of insomnia, a condition that I like to call “3 AM Eternal”, because I wake up around 3 o’clock in the morning and I think, “That’s OK—I still have a couple of hours until I have to get up”, and then I lie there for a f*cking ETERNITY before I fall back to sleep. And sometimes I DON’T fall back to sleep and then my mind just wanders down any number of bizarre paths. ‘Why don’t you get up and watch TV, or read a book or something?’ I hear you ask. The answer is simple: I love lying down. I mean, I am never so happy as when I am prone, snuggled under warm covers in a soft bed. Maybe it’s because so much of my day right now is spent standing and walking around a giant convention centre (which is also absolutely contributing to the insomnia), but the fact is that I am a horizontal person. And I’m sure that vertical people are very smug and proud of their defiance of gravity and whatnot, but they will never understand the pure and existential delight that I feel when I am flat on my back, glass of wine in hand. Yes, it IS difficult to drink wine while you’re lying down, but it’s a skill that many of us have carefully honed over the years. And if any of the wine happens to spill, Titus is always hovering nearby in the hope of lapping up a few precious drops (speaking of Titus, I’m alone in the house right now and he suddenly raced from the back family room to the front living room, where he leapt onto a chair and stared out the window. I said, “What’s wrong, buddy?” He didn’t answer. I looked out the window too, and saw nothing. A few seconds later, he muttered, “Never mind”, jumped down and ran to the back again. He’s a terrible guard dog.)

There’s nothing there. He’s just being a jerk.

But as I said, whilst I’m enjoying the wide-awake comfort of my bed, my mind tends to stagger from one absurd topic to another:

1) Is one of my co-workers a spy?

The other day, I was talking about motion sensor lights with a colleague and he said, “Oh, I have those. I also have security cameras all around the outside of my house.” “Ooh,” I said, “are you a spy?” and he laughed and said no, but kind of like, “Ha ha ha. NO.” And now I’m not sure, because isn’t that exactly what a spy WOULD say? Then he showed me his phone with four different screens displaying the view from each of his exterior cameras, and all I could think was what I would see if I mounted cameras all around the outside of MY house and was able to watch remotely: several tree rats doing sexy squirrel stuff (because it’s spring and tree rats are super-slutty), Jehovah’s Witnesses ringing the bell and then looking sad as they stuff The WatchTower between my doors, the meter reader trampling through my privet hedge to get to the gas meter, that one possum…frankly, it wouldn’t make for very scintillating viewing. Also, I had to google whether or not possums are nocturnal—the jury is out on that, but apparently people are very interested in possum trivia.

Possums are fascinating, I guess.

2) How much German do I know?

I took German for three years in high school. It’s remarkable how much I can remember at 3:30 in the morning. Ich gehe—I go. Ich spreche —I speak. Ich liebe—I love. Ich sehe—I see. I could conjugate German verbs all night. Ironically, I can’t remember the German word for ‘sleep’. My favourite German saying is “Das Mädchen hat Toilettenpapier auf ihrem Arsch“. If you want to know why, go back to My Week 146. My second favourite German saying is “Fritz fing fünf frische Fische” which is a tongue-twister that my high school German teacher used to make us say. It means “Fritz caught five fresh fish”. When I was in high school, I was pretty snarky (‘Just in high school?!’ I hear you say), and I used to mutter under my breath “F*ck Fritz and his five fresh fish” but now I have a lot of sympathy for Fritz, having to spend all day fishing just to feed his family, and I’m grateful that the fish are fresh and not frozen, because that would be frustrating for Fritz.

3) How hard would it be to learn to drive a forklift?

I don’t think it would be very hard. It looks like a golf cart with arms, and I can totally drive a golf cart—in fact, being able to drive the golf cart is the ONLY reason I ever go golfing. How fast does a forklift go? Could I drive around town with it? If Ken got one too, could we have Transformer-style battles? So many questions. But you know what would be even better? Remember in Aliens how Sigourney Weaver wore that human forklift suit? That. That’s what I want. I haven’t gotten a Hamacher Schlepper catalogue for a while but maybe they’re selling them next to their insanely priced life-size fake robot. And now I know what I want to do when I retire—being a human forklift would be the best job ever and it wouldn’t affect my pension like working at a private school would. Also, not as dangerous as planning warehouse heists.

My retirement plan

4) Here’s a poem I wrote at around 4:30 am when sleep became a hopeless desire and I had a panic attack at the thought of being so tired that I might fall asleep driving:

Are you afraid
When you see the clock move
Forward
Marking out the remainder
Of your life
In incremental pieces?

5) It’s fifteen minutes before my alarm goes o….why are there dozens of Asian children doing some kind of line dance in this parking lot to a Gary Numan song?! Why is it my job to bring them individually wrapped chocolates every time the music stops?! Why are the children I don’t get to in time disappearing into oblivion?! Why can’t I just dream about puppies? Sigh.

By the way, if you’re reading my blog and you see an ad for the “Gut Doctor”, I can save you the 45 minutes it takes to find out what his three superfoods are. They are chicory root, probiotic TCPs, and Vitamin B Complex. He never actually tells you what vegetable to throw out, FYI. And I don’t make a single cent off any of his sh*t.

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 146: I Need To Learn German, Happy Anniversary!

Well. It’s been a fairly hectic week, what with me having to drive on the highway to and from home. The upside is that I get to spend more time with Ken, Titus, and Raven. Notice that I didn’t mention K, because she’s working in an auto parts factory for the summer to make money for next year. We have her tuition covered etc., but I was like, “If you want to keep buying light sabres and land in Scotland, then get a job, kid.” I’ll explain the Scottish real estate thing later. The downside of all this driving is, of course, that I have to drive on the worst highway in the world. I’ve already said plenty about that in previous posts, so I won’t pursue it any further except to say that it gave me time to think of some pretty random things for this week’s foray into the world of the absurd.

1) Last week, I went back to Toronto on the train. During the trip, I had to use the nasty train bathroom. They always smell of pee, mostly because the train is very wobbly. It’s not a problem for me, since I SIT on the seat, but if you’re one of those people who likes to stand and try to aim at the opening (male OR female—I’m not judge-y), I can guarantee you’re going to miss at some point and get your urine all over the place. As a result, I line the seat with toilet paper just in case. After, I sat back down in my seat. Then I got off the train, and took the subway home. I must have looked pretty cute because I was getting a lot of looks, like “Hey girl,” and “Nice, old lady”. When I got to my stop, I walked to my condo, and it was all good. Then I got into the apartment and realized that I didn’t have any milk for the morning, so I decided to pop down to the Loblaw’s on the corner. I was standing at the light, waiting to cross, when a German couple approached me. I could tell they were German because they were saying things like, “Das Madchen hat Toilettenpapier auf ihrem Arsch”, which I didn’t understand, having a limited amount of high school German, but I assumed they needed directions. Then the woman said, “Excuse me,” and I was like “Sure”, thinking she needed to know where the CN Tower or the Eaton Centre was. But then she said, “You haf some papier on your back.” I tried to see where she was talking about, and the guy she was with was pointing and saying, “Das is right zere,” until finally, I got a glimpse of it, and was able to pull it off. It was a square of toilet paper. I had been walking around with a square of toilet paper hanging from my waistband for the last hour. Well, no worries—it was gone now, and I could buy milk without shame. I laughed and thanked the German couple and went merrily on my way. They seemed pleased, having helped me, and yelled out, “Es gibt noch mehr Toilettenpapier!” which I assumed meant, “We gave you help with the toilet paper!” so I waved and gave them a thumbs-up. Unfortunately, my German sucks. When I got back to my condo, finally, I started to change into my pajamas, and discovered to my horror that I had only pulled off the LAST SQUARE of toilet paper and that there were 6 additional squares that I had unwittingly tucked into my waistband in the train bathroom and which were hanging down like a paper tail the whole time I was in the grocery store. And now I need to learn more German.

2) Last week, a colleague of mine and I were having a conversation about why he was bailing on going out for a drink on his last night before leaving the secret agency for good because he and his wife just had a baby. “I have to pick up something that I found on Kijiji,” he said.

“What could possibly be so important that you’re not coming for a drink? I’m buying, for God’s sake!”

“Exactly,” he said. “It IS for God’s sake. This couple is advertising all of their daughter’s baptism and communion stuff, on sale for super-cheap. I know it sounds weird, but it was only used once and it’s generic, with the dove on it and all, so I might as well get it now rather than pay twice as much later.”

Me: Why do Catholics have pigeons all over everything?
Colleague: Not pigeons. Doves. There’s a slight difference.
Me: I’m not seeing it, but OK—why doves?
Colleague: The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes fire shoots out of its head. If you ever see a dove breathing fire, you know you’re in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Me: Either that, or in the latest Harry Potter movie, like “Harry Potter and the Fire-breathing Pigeon”.
Colleague: Dove. It’s a dove.
Me: OK.

The next morning, I went into my office, and there on my desk, was a little dove planter, with a fern in it. My colleague popped his head in:

Colleague: I got you this as a going-away present.
Me: Cool! Does it breathe fire?!
Colleague: No, it’s only ceramic. But the plant is fake, so you can’t kill it.
Me: You know me so well. I’m going to miss you more than you know.

And I will.

3) Yesterday, I was at the mall, and I decided to buy some Cinnabons for a treat. K loves them, and I could take some to my parents for dessert that night. So I went up to the counter:

Me: I would like some of those little Cinnabons please.
Woman: THEY ONLY COME IN BOXES OF 9 AND 12.
Me: Oh. How many of the big ones can I get?
Woman (sighs): THEY ONLY COME IN BOXES OF 4 AND 6.
Me: Um, okay. Can I get a box of 4?
Woman (rolls eyes): THEY’RE RIGHT DOWN THERE. YOU GET THEM YOURSELF.

So I grabbed a box from below the counter. I’m not an expert in buying ‘bons’, so I thought she was pretty mean, and very yell-y. But I got her back because just as she was packing up the box of 4, I said, “You know what? I changed my mind. I’ll take the box of 9 little ones.” And then she rolled her eyes really hard again, and gave me back the box, which I switched out. Then I paid and told her to “have a good day” but I might have said it slightly sarcastically, so I totally SHOWED HER. When I got home, I told K and Ken that the woman at the Cinnabons counter was very rude to me, and K said, “Was it the old lady with the short white hair?” and I was like, “YES!!”, and she said, “She’s always really rude to us too, when we go there.” So at least I know it’s not just me, and now I REALLY wish I knew German because I could have just smiled at her and said, “Du hast Toilettenpapier auf deinen Arsch”.

4) On Friday, it was our 27th Anniversary. Ken said “Happy anniversary” first, but I was the first one to post it on Facebook, so I thought I won. Then he posted a picture of two puzzle pieces which said “You” and “Me”, and I was like, “Aww—that’s sweet!” But then I realized it was a gif, and when I watched it, the two little puzzle pieces moved towards each other and fit together. Which sounds really cute, but the one puzzle piece had a part like a very large phallus, and the other one had an opening, so when they fit together, it looked super-dirty. And then I also realized that the puzzle piece with the phallic bit said “You”, as in me, and the apparently-lady piece said “Me”, as in Ken, and that was even more disturbing in terms of what Ken intended:

Me: I think you got the genders on those puzzle pieces wrong. At least I’m hoping. I think we’re both too old to be trying stuff like that.
Ken: What are you talking about?!
Me: That gif was a little dirty.
Ken: It was two puzzle pieces. What’s dirty about THAT?
Me: Did you watch the animation? Very pornographic.
Ken: They fit together! It’s cute, like “we’re a perfect fit”! Get your mind out of the gutter.
Me: Super-dirty. What WILL our friends think?
Ken: Happy Anniversary, weirdo.
Me: Yeah. Ich liebe dich. That means “I love your–”
Ken: No, it doesn’t.