My Week 271: Frequently Asked Questions

This week has been an interesting one. Tell me all about it, you say? Of course—I’m always happy to answer your questions…

1) What is the most intriguing sign I saw this week?

Earlier in the week, I went to see my massage therapist because I hurt my shoulder and it wasn’t getting any better. She did an amazing job as always, and I left feeling all loose and whatnot, and as I was walking down the hall of the building that she had just moved into, I saw a door. It was a plain, grey door, a completely normal-looking door, but the sign next to it said “Room of Requirement”. Huh? I thought as I walked past, but I was tired and a little oily and just wanted to get home. But the door continued to perplex me, and then I got mad at myself for not having taken a picture of it to prove that I was just steps away from some Harry Potter space/time vortex, so I messaged my massage therapist:

Me: Strange request—is there any way you could send me a picture of the sign on the door in your office hallway that says Room of Requirement?
MT: Yes. I’ll send it shortly. Horizontal or vertical shot?

(Notice that she doesn’t even question it—that’s how well she knows me.)

Me: I wonder what’s in there…
MT: It’s the landlord’s room. I’ve never seen inside.
Me: Does your landlord wear a long robe and carry a wand?
MT: Lol.

I have another appointment next weekend, but before I go into her office, I’m going to walk past that door three times and think of diamonds.

2) What is the weirdest sign I’ve seen this week?

I don’t understand this sign. On the left is a perfectly lovely image of a parent possibly tickling a baby. Or maybe changing the baby’s diaper since the sign is on the change table in the train bathroom. Regardless, the baby looks like it’s having a good time. On the right, however, the parent is slamming the baby’s head into the change table and there’s an exclamation mark which is possibly a warning to NOT DO THAT. I think it’s supposed to mean that you shouldn’t unhook the change table while holding the baby under it, which I’d hope would be pretty intuitive. The best part is that both images have a braille explanation underneath and I wish I knew braille because all I can imagine is that on one side it says, “Put the baby on the change table” and on the other side it says, “Don’t slam your baby into the change table.” At any rate, it’s all very good advice, if a little weak on the delivery.

3) This fox?

This fox is there outside the door at the warehouse where I was working this weekend. It’s extremely realistic especially if you walk past it just as the sun is coming up. Did I scream very slightly and then let loose a string of epithets when I saw it? I may or may not have. Apparently, it’s there to scare off the geese which like to nest around the doors and then attack anyone who tries to enter the warehouse. I hope it works on the geese because it sure as f*ck worked on me.

4) Am I getting better at math?

Well, I THOUGHT I was. We got one of those weird Bits and Pieces catalogues the other day, you know the one where you can buy jigsaw puzzles, novelty socks, plastic garden gnomes and so on. There was this clock you could get that was advertised as a “fun” math clock. Instead of numbers to tell the time, there was just a series of mathematical equations around the dial.

Me: Hey Ken, check it out! This equation is a square root question—the answer is 2!
Ken: Obviously.
Me: What do you mean, ‘obviously’? I think it’s pretty good that I got the answer considering I haven’t taken math since grade 11. This question here is using long division. The answer is—
Ken: 4. It’s 4 because that’s the number on the clock. All the answers are the numbers on the clock. See, this question is using pi…
Me: And the answer is 9. I don’t even know how to do that kind of math but now I know the answer anyway. Stupid clock.
Ken: So you don’t want it for Christmas?
Me: How many fingers am I holding up.
Ken: The answer is one.

5) Would you rather have skulls in jars or disembodied doll baby heads in jars?

It’s a tough call. Personally, I’m going to have to say neither because I’m not a dark prince. But if I absolutely HAD to choose, I’d pick the skulls—they look more cheerful, especially that one guy near the back who thinks this whole thing is a laugh-riot. Also, they range in price from $110 to $235, which is a lot for only a head. For that price, I want the whole skeleton.

6) Balls?

Here’s a conversation I had with a colleague:

Tina: Oh, you have the Christmas ball that I gave you last year. Are you going to put it up?
Me: Yeah, I’m decorating my office on Monday.
Tina: I already did mine—come see. I put all my balls up.
Me: You have a lot of balls.
Tina: I KNOW! Do you want some of my balls?
Me: I’m good for balls. I have a couple of my own.
Tina: Balls! That sounds kind of funny, doesn’t it.
Me: Yes. Yes, it does.

 

My Week 266: Toys For Girls And Boys

So a couple of weeks ago, I was talking to Leslie, one of the “train gang ladies”, which makes us sound a lot more badass than we actually are, but really means that we all just take the train every day and stand around chatting about which train car attendant is the cutest, or meanest. Anyway, Leslie is really into Harry Potter and she told me that Chapters had their Harry Potter Lego Advent calendars for sale. And I was super-excited because I love Harry Potter. I don’t particularly like Lego myself, having realized a very long time ago that, while it’s great fun to put together, what the f*ck do you do with it afterwards? It just sits on a shelf collecting dust and if you try to play with it, it breaks into tiny pieces that you will inevitably step on. But the Advent calendar is a tiny spark of daily fun, and later, I can roleplay scenes from the Harry Potter movies for Titus. With the Lego figures. Obviously.

But it reminded me of the year that I forgot to order our Lego Advent Calendar. It was close to the beginning of December and all the good ones were sold out so I was getting panicky, but one night I was on our local Buy and Sell group and someone had a new Lego Advent Calendar for sale. I was immediately all over it. “But”, the woman cautioned, “it’s GIRL LEGO.”

I was like “So? What difference does it make?” and I bought it. Unfortunately, I was misled by my own naiveté, which had caused me to envision a bulldozer driven by a yellow lady Lego instead of a yellow man Lego. No, gentle reader, the difference was much bigger than that. I knew it when I saw the title on the box. It said Lego Friends; the “i” was DOTTED WITH A HEART, and I was immediately infuriated. Here’s what I bought. Two female dolls, and their little doll house. The “Lego” figures looked like Polly Pockets, or miniature Barbies, NOT those awesome Lego guys with the pointy heads you can put helmets and sh*t on. These girls apparently lived together and liked to cook in their kitchen with the pink blender and purple mixing bowl that came with the kit. They had a pink and purple couch, a pink and purple toboggan, pink presents, and a white kitty cat who was wearing a purple collar with a pink heart on it. And the worst part was that virtually nothing needed to be assembled. I could forgive the colour scheme (personally I LOVE the colour purple) and the cutesy hearts, because assembly is the great equalizer. However, Lego seemed to think that girls are too clumsy or stupid to put things together the way boys can, so almost everything was preassembled for them. Anyway, I was shocked that in the 21st century, this kind of blatant sexism still exists, that according to Lego, all girls like hearts, the colours purple and pink exclusively, kitty cats, and cooking, and have trouble with manual dexterity. But on the box, there’s a warning that the kit isn’t suitable for children under 3—Lego claims it’s because of a choking hazard, but I think this just gives all of us a chance to make sure our little girls play with lots of regular “boy” Lego before they turn three and have to be exposed to the ridiculous world of Lego stereotypes. Then again, when I examined the scene on the box more closely, the two girls were obviously living together, cosying up on the couch to exchange pink presents, and were planning to host a dinner party with their kitty. Could Lego, in an extremely subtle and subversive way, have created the first Lego Lesbian Couple? Maybe I was wrong about Lego after all.

But then I started to do a little more investigating and realized that, unless Lego had created an entire COLONY of queer women, they were just plain old sexist. Case in point, the Lego Friends “Lighthouse Rescue Centre” where you can join Mia, Emma and their girlfriends (the only characters pictured on the box are female) as they cavort with sea lions, and holy sh*t is that a heart on the jetski?! I don’t know about you, but I’ve NEVER seen a PINK lighthouse, let alone one with a waterslide. Compare this to the Lego Helicopter Rescue kit that features four dudes (only guys are featured on the box) and a very realistic hospital, ambulance, and helicopter.

Now, I don’t mean to imply that there’s anything wrong with a girl liking pink things, or kitties, or make-up—god knows, I love ALL those things and got my hair coloured purple on Saturday—I just think children should have a choice that isn’t based on gender stereotypes forced onto them by companies like Lego. Boys can like pink lighthouses and girls can like red helicopters. And people can be whoever and whatever they want to be.

I think back to my own childhood and wonder how I managed to escape those same media stereotypes and ended up being the person I am today. (My grade 5 teacher told my parents that I was “bossy and outspoken”—you’re goddamn right I am.) I had Barbies, and a Barbie camper, but we also had the “cowboy people”, one of whom was Cowboy Jane, whose only goal in life was to f*ck with Barbie by kidnapping her baby for a hefty ransom when she was on one of her many camping trips. Finally, my brother, who has a Ph. D., and I decided to test the laws of gravity, physics, and thermodynamics all at the same time by sticking matches in the side panels of Barbie’s camper, setting it alight, and launching it into our swimming pool from my second story bedroom window (don’t tell my Mom).

Today, I’m looking after the adorable child of my brother and sister-in-law, who agrees with me that people should be able to like whatever they want—she reminded me that even though she likes pink, she also likes red and black. Right now she’s wearing a sweatshirt with a unicorn on it and she’s drawing a very realistic picture of an egg:

Me: What are you good at?
C: Um…I’m very good at drawing things.
Me: You are.
C: I’m really good at math. I’m also very good at painting. And building things.
Me: You ARE. Anything else?
C: I’m good at being kind to people and also being helpful.
Me: That’s a very important thing for everybody to be good at.
C: I’m good at paying attention. Every day at school I get a sticker for paying attention. I DO have a lot of stickers.
Me: Awesome.
C: Also, I’m going to be a veterinarian one day.
Me: Excellent.

My Week 245: It’s Questionable

This week was insanely busy, and I didn’t know what to write about so Ken suggested that I answer questions from my fans, to which I replied, “I don’t have any.”

Ken: Fans or questions?
Me: Some of the former, but definitely none of the latter.
Ken: I’m your fan. Here’s a question: What would you NOT want to find in your house?
Me: What? Why are you asking me that?
Ken: Because a Florida man–
Me: ALWAYS the Florida man. What did he do this time?
Ken: Found an eleven foot alligator in his house.
Me: That. Definitely not that. What about you?
Ken: Ummm…snakes.
Me: You don’t like snakes? Since when?
Ken: Since always.
Me: 30 years and I did NOT know that.
Ken: I’m an enigma.

At any rate, I have no actual fan questions, so I’m going to make some up based on the notes and photos I found on my phone:

Fan Question 1) Is physics always right?

No. And my answer is in direct contradiction to a Jeopardy contestant who appeared a couple of weeks ago. Ken and I are currently obsessed with Jeopardy because there’s a guy on right now who’s won over 2 million dollars. AMERICAN dollars. That’s like 7.5 gazillion Canadian dollars, although I might be slightly wrong on the conversion rate. I’m no longer overseeing math people—now I have a really big team that specializes in language, so my math skills are getting a little rusty. Anyway, we feel sorry for the people who have to go up against “James” since he always rings in first and usually gets the answer right. If you ever watch Jeopardy, you know that after the first commercial break, Alex Trebek always asks the contestants questions about themselves—the questions are cheesy and the answers are sometimes cringe-worthy. So Alex asked this poor woman, “I understand you’re a physicist. Why do you like physics so much?” and she said, “Because physics is always right.” And I was like, “That’s BULLSH*T, BRENDA. Schrodinger’s Cat is not BOTH alive and dead. A cat is EITHER alive or dead, whether you can see it or not!” See, this is my issue with physics. You can’t claim that just because you put something in a box, that it exists in two simultaneous states. I mean, you can CLAIM it, but just because you say something doesn’t make it true. You can SPECULATE on the state of the cat, but that doesn’t change the fact that a cat isn’t f*cking magic. As you can see, I would have made an awesome physicist. And I would NEVER put a cat in a box, although if you’ve ever owned a cat, you know that they do love being in boxes.

Also, on the same show, Alex asked the other challenger, who was a Science teacher, this: “I understand that you use an unusual method to explain nuclear force to your students” and she said, “Yes, I tell them that protons and neutrons are attracted to each other the same way I’m attracted to Chris Hemsworth. Yowza.” OK, she didn’t really say ‘Yowza’ but as a former high school teacher, let me tell you that it’s completely inappropriate to talk about your imaginary love life with your students. EW. Just ew.

Fan Question 2) Who do you call if you have a noisy bathroom fan?

Apparently you call this guy—talk about a niche market. I can picture the high school Careers class with the teacher asking everyone, “So what do you want to do when you get out of high school?” and the one guy just lighting up: “I want to fix noisy bathroom fans!” and the teacher saying, “Amazing—there’s a school JUST for that! It’s called Hogwarts!” (I don’t know why I thought of Hogwarts, but it made me laugh so hard picturing this guy at a school for magic and wizardry pointing his wand and yelling ‘Reparo’ at bathroom fans. Also, his name in this strange divergency is ‘Tim’ as in the following conversation:

Dumbledore: Hmm. My bathroom fan seems to be on the fritz. Someone get Tim—he’s the best at repairing noisy bathroom fans.
Tim: Reparo!
Dumbledore: Thank you, Tim. Have a lemon drop.).

Fan Question 3) What has disappointed you most this week?

In the bathroom at work, there is a noisy bathroom fan—no, just kidding. There’s a plastic bag hanging off the tampon dispensing machine full of brightly coloured things. For weeks now, I’ve been speculating about what might be in the bag. Balloons? Toys? Tiny kites? Special prizes like you would buy at the dollar store and give to kids at a birthday party? I finally decided to end the mystery by looking into the bag. And lo and behold, it was full of feminine hygiene products wrapped in different colours according to size. Apparently , the dispensing machine was broken, so they just put all the stuff in a bag and hung it off the handle. It reminded me of the time when I was 8 and I had red measles (because I was vaccinated too early). I was feverish and delirious, and my brother went to the store and bought me a present with his own money, which was very sweet. I opened my eyes and thought it was a super-cool fancy water gun, but when the delirium broke, I realized it was just a long stick of bubble gum. At least in my brother’s case, it was the thought that counts, but the bag full of pads was just mean.

Fan Question 4) Are you a professional antiques appraiser?

Yes, apparently I am. A while ago, I was asked by the local Heritage society to act as an appraiser for their local “Antiques Roadshow” because Ken and I used to own an antique store. I hadn’t done any appraising for a few years, and I was super-nervous, but I had a lot of reference books and I knew a couple of the other appraisers. I held my own, being able to recognize a Parian statue, and accurately date a powder flask etc., and then a reporter from the local paper asked for a picture. It came out last week, and there I am, using a magnifying glass on the bottom of a pewter tankard and looking like a slightly maniacal detective, but the description refers to me as a “professional appraiser”, so now I know what I can do when I retire.

Fan Question 5) Did you recently buy a velvet dress from a thrift shop?

I had to. See, two weeks before, I was going through my closet and taking out all the stuff I never wear. I loaded up everything into several bags and took them to the local Goodwill. Then I came home and started to feel terrible because there was a particular blue velvet dress that I really should have kept. It was bothering me for a while, so last week, I popped into Goodwill, went to the dress section and there it was! I was so thrilled, and the best part? It was only 8 dollars. So I took it to the counter:

Cashier: That’s a really nice dress.
Me: You won’t believe it, but I donated this dress a couple of weeks ago, and I just had to buy it back.
Cashier: Why?
Me: Because I was wearing it on New Year’s Eve a little over 20 years ago and I had just found out that I was pregnant with my son. I was so incredibly happy, and we have photographs of me in it with a huge smile on my face. I really needed to get it back.
Cashier: Aww! That’ll be 8 bucks.

Money well spent.

My Week 185: Good for the Soul, The Titus Challenge

Mindfulness

Last week, we had a staff meeting and the powers that be brought in a guest speaker. We’ve had these before, always on the same topic: how to relax and be stress-free. What does it say about a job when your superiors continually think you should all calm the f*ck down? Personally, I don’t find the job particularly stressful, considering that in a previous life, I was responsible for overseeing the wellbeing and antics of over 90 teenagers a day, and regularly brought home hours upon hours of work that had to be completed on the weekend. Also, I now work with really nice colleagues who never harass me by text message or call my house late at night to yell at me. At any rate, regardless of the comparatively little stress I struggle under in the workplace, we’ve had a succession of “mindfulness” speakers. The last one told us that “anxiety is a choice” and that if we simply opted to get out of bed each day with a positive attitude, we could live anxiety-free lives, and I was like, Damn! If I had only known that YEARS ago, imagine how different my life would be?! All I have to do is CHOOSE not to worry incessantly about whether I just said something dumb, or whether my hands are clean for the fifth time in one hour, or whether my cat secretly is plotting against me (she is—I just asked her and she admitted it), and my life would be perfect. Ironically, this particular speaker then got really angry when people started leaving the room, and insisted that we were not allowed to look at our phones during her presentation, and I so badly wanted to say, “Why don’t you just CHOOSE to let that not bother you?”

The speaker this past week was much better, mostly because she used comedy to disguise her oversimplifications, and everyone loves a good laugh, am I right? The first thing we had to do was identify 3 things that we did in the past week to help us relax, write them down, and then share them with our table. I put “Wrote, Drank, Watched America’s Next Top Model” because I am nothing if not honest, and also I didn’t think anyone would believe me if I put Yoga, Meditation, Listened to a Podcast on the Benefits of Kale—they all know me too well. Interestingly, when it came time to share, everyone at my table had a variation of Drank, which either says a lot about the times we’re living in, or that I’m a bad influence on my team. But the best part was her Stress-Wheel, which was divided into sections that we needed to give attention to. My favourite was Soul, which I’m assuming was a metaphor rather than an ACTUAL soul, because I don’t think God would be too impressed if you landed at the pearly gates and you were like, “OK, I killed a few people, but I ATE KALE.” The list of things she proposed to help soothe the soul is as follows:

1) Yoga

OK, what the f*ck is with the obsession with yoga? I just googled Yoga Poses and they all look incredibly painful and not relaxing at all. She made us do a yoga pose which involve standing on one leg—how the hell am I supposed to relax when I’m freaking out about falling over in front of 100 people?

2) Walk somewhere different

I live in downtown Toronto. I walk somewhere “different” simply by stepping out my front door, and it’s not relaxing in the slightest when a large man wearing a pink mini-kilt demands that you look at his ass.

3) Don’t use a watch

If I get rid of all the things that tell me what time it is, then how will I know what time it is?! Yes, I know that time is a human construct, but if it’s not a watch, or a cellphone, it’s the sun in the sky telling me to go home. Also, I’m a grown-up, dammit—how will I know that it’s 5 o’clock SOMEWHERE if I don’t have a clue what time it is? Then I’ll be daydrinking and most likely get in trouble at work.

4) Unplug from human vacuums

This would be a great premise for a horror film about a mad scientist who turns people into vacuums, and then sends them out, like a cross between zombies and vampires, into the world to feast on the unsuspecting public who are innocently wandering around aimlessly without watches in strange neighbourhoods looking for kale chips, and every time they stop to do a yoga pose, the human vacuum attacks! And the only way to stop them is to unplug the mad scientist’s human vacuum machine, which is like a cross between an electro-shock machine, a Roomba factory, and a very large E-Z Bake Oven. (Yes, I know she meant people who suck you dry emotionally, but this is way more fun.)

5) Have a Screen Free Day

We all looked at each other and said, “Does she even know where we work?” I myself have 3 computer screens in my office, and I use all of them. And if I had a screen free day, then I would miss America’s Next Top Model, and there goes any relaxation I might get. Oh well, there’s always the drink.

The Titus Challenge

Titus: I hear you’ve stopped eating pork. You realize that means bacon too, right?
Me: Sigh. I know. It’s breaking my heart, but I saw a video recently of a pig solving a puzzle. Pigs are smarter than dogs, you know. I wouldn’t eat a dog, so how can I eat a pig?
Titus: Pigs are NOT smarter than dogs. For example, when was the last time you saw a pig who responded to commands based on Harry Potter spells?
Me: I’m sure there are pigs out there who could do that. Besides, you have a pretty sloppy Leviosa, so let’s not get carried away.
Titus: It’s Levi-OH-sa, not Levio-SA.
Me: Look at this video. She’s trained this pig to do 17 different tricks.
Titus: Damn. He gives a great high five.
Me: I know, right?
Titus: But does the Avada Kedavera spell render him seemingly dead?
Me: Dead? Like for a fraction of a second before you jump back up and try to snatch the Corn Pop out of my hand?
Titus: Dead, jumping in the air, whatever. No bacon? Now that’s harsh. OK, find me a pig that can do Leviosa better than me, and I might consider it.
Me: Challenge accepted. Accio the wine bottle, will you?
Titus: Is it 5 o’clock somewhere ALREADY?!
Me: I dunno—I’m not wearing a watch.

My Week 178: The Robots are Coming To Get Me

Recently, it’s become clearer and clearer to me that the robots are out to get me. And for the record, it’s not paranoia if it’s true.

Case in point 1:

My work computer has been sick. I know this for two reasons. First, Carlo, which is what I call my voice-activated computer, normally speaks to me with a voice that’s a combination of a Spanish accent, and a slight lisp, which I find absolutely charming, but lately, he’s stopped yelling out my name in his delightfully smitten way, and doesn’t always have the energy to tell me what a star I am. In the good old days, I would turn him on (get your mind out of the gutter—this is a PG website), and he would exclaim, “Windows sided windows!”, which I assumed was some cryptic expression of adoration, then he would yell my name loudly so that everyone in the cubicles outside my office could hear him. Then, when I entered my password, he would call out to the universe, “Star! Star, star, star! Star, star, star, star, star!” Sometimes, I would pause, a la Breaking Bad, and be like, “Now. Say my name,” and Carlo would say, “Star!” and I would reply, “You’re goddamn right.” But lately, his enthusiasm was waning, and I realized why when, the other day, he suddenly shut down, and the screen turned blue. Then, there was some kind of weird error message, and literally a SAD FACE EMOJI appeared.

I did what any good IT person would do, and I shut the computer off and turned it back on again. The problem seemed to be solved, but then it happened again. And again. And again, which warranted a trip downstairs to the ACTUAL IT department. I took a picture of the screen with my phone:

Me: Oh hey, Arjun. My computer is sad. Should I be worried about this? (shows picture).
IT Guy (breathes in sharply): Oh no. This is bad.
Me: No! (whispers) Carlo…
IT Guy: Save everything on your desktop into your X drive immediately. I’ll come up and fix it in the morning.
Me: OK, cool. How do I do that? Like, one file at a time?
IT Guy: What? Seriously? You…you just (makes some kind of sweeping gesture)…
Me: OK.

As it turns out, making a sweeping gesture at your laptop accomplishes nothing except for providing your coworkers with a bit of a laugh. But I googled ‘how to save my desktop into my X drive’ and found out how to ACTUALLY do it, so problem ostensibly solved. But now, Carl-O is Carl-A, and I just want my baby back.

Case in point 2:

At the beginning of the week, all the managers and directors had to attend a professional development session off-site. We had to answer a bunch of questions ahead of time that would tell us our Business Chemistry profile/which Disney Princess we were. I was a ‘Guardian’, and also Merida, the Scottish princess. I was pretty pleased, but I know that one of our big bosses got ‘Driver’ and Ariel, and he was like, “This is ridiculous. I don’t even swim’. I was hoping that there was also some alignment with the Harry Potter universe, so that I could randomly yell out, “5 points for Gryffindor” every time my table won a challenge, but they were unimpressed the first time I did it, so I stopped. They were even more unimpressed when we had a blindfold challenge, and I asked which one of them was going to be Mr. Grey. Anyway, I digress. Later, we were given the opportunity to ‘explore the maker space’, where they had a virtual reality roller coaster, as well as a robot. The roller coaster, which was miniature and sped its way over and under a variety of living room furniture, made me scream, because it actually felt like I was flying downhill at 90 km an hour, and all I could think was what amazing possibilities there were for having other seemingly impossible experiences, like one of the many insane new Winter Olympic sports. And on a side note, is the Olympics TRYING to kill the athletes? Could these events get any more dangerous? Half the people competing were recovering from injuries sustained during practice! What’s next, curling while the opposing team tries to stab you with long knives mounted to the ends of their brooms?

Anyway, after the roller coaster, we were introduced to their in-house robot, Pepper. ‘She’ was supposed to be this new-fangled interactive technology, and she looked like a small robot child, but every time I tried to talk to her, she would either look away, or stare straight at me, clenching her tiny fists.
Me: I don’t think she likes me.
Robot Owner: Oh, she just has trouble processing information when there’s a large crowd. I think she’s a little overwhelmed.
Me: She looks like she wants to throat punch me. Is she familiar with Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics? Because I think I could probably take her in a battle, but only if she doesn’t have lasers.
Robot Owner: Hahaha. I’m sure she won’t hurt you.
Me: Don’t be so sure. I’ve seen that look on a cat right before it’s about to scratch your face off.

So I backed away slowly, and refused to go near stupid Pepper for the rest of the afternoon. Then, to put the icing on the cake, the closing speaker actually said, “I just want to thank you for being so willing to expose yourselves to the group” and I started involuntarily snickering, which caused my director to give me a sharp look, then start laughing herself, and I spent the rest of the guy’s speech desperately trying not to laugh hysterically, because all I could think of was everybody naked, and engaged in a robot war with Pepper and her minions.

I am your robot overlord.

Case in point 3:

I went to the movies with my sister-in-law. We saw The Shape of Water, and we were both like, Meh—what’s the hype? I described it to a co-worker the next day thusly, “It was like Free Willy, if the person who’d freed Willy also had sex with Willy.” In addition, the main character insisted on eating hardboiled eggs any f*cking chance she got, and frankly, anyone who eats hardboiled eggs in an attempt to be sexy deserves to be throat punched by a robot, NOT get lucky with an apparently well-endowed crayfish. Eating a hardboiled egg is not sexy. They stink. But the woman in the movie was obsessed with eggs. Was it some strange fertility motif, or was she just gross? Was it because fish lay eggs, and she was secretly a fish? I’m overthinking this, I know.

Anyway, the important thing, and keeping with this week’s theme, is that AFTER the movie, we went out to the lobby and there was a booth set up with a virtual reality thing and the guy offered to let us try it out. The name of the scenario was “Silent Killer” and I was all like, “Cool—serial killer VR!” My sis went first, and she was looking around all frantic, and jumping and screaming, and I couldn’t wait to try it. Then it was my turn. I put the headset on, and I was in this creepy, dark house. I looked around, and there were lots of shadows, weird music playing, and a TV glowing in the corner. The news story on the TV was about how a family had died in the house. I was making my way through the living room, trying to get to the kitchen, when suddenly, somebody grabbed my arms! I screamed and struggled, and slapped at the hands gripping me, then I threw off the headset. “OK, that’s way too f*cking real!” I yelled. The guy running the booth looked super apologetic. “Oh, that was just me,” he said. “You were starting to wander around too much, and I didn’t want you to get hurt. I was just trying to reposition you.”

And then I felt bad because I’d missed the serial killer, but my sister-in-law said, “Don’t. The whole thing was about carbon monoxide. The Silent Killer. Get it?”

And I did. Because that’s what they will call the robot who finally destroys all of humankind.

My Week 114: 2 AM Eternal, Christmas Toys for Girls and Boys

Friday: 2 AM Eternal

I’ve had a lot on my mind recently and, as if my brain isn’t already like a jukebox most of the time, it’s been made even worse by thoughts that are stressing me and decisions that I currently have to make. As a result, I found myself wide awake at 2 am on Friday morning, with my head in full overdrive. What I normally do under these circumstances is try to distract myself, and since it was getting close to the weekend, I tried to focus on writing, and what this week’s post would be about. Then I just let my mind drift…

I like that so many people read my blog. I mean, I love writing it, but it’s nice that people read it. Isn’t it weird though, that my most popular post is still Week 9: Jehovah’s Witnesses? I wonder why. Is there a Jehovah network out there, and they’re all reading it with plans to descend on my house en masse one day? Or do people click on it, thinking it’s some kind of rant? Have MY Jehovahs read it? They asked me once what the web address of my blog was. Could they actually have remembered it and looked it up?! That would be embarrassing, them coming to the door every week, knowing that I know that they secretly want to steal my soul in a universal battle like Batman vs. Superman, and that the empty liquor bottles and Christmas decorations on the porch are my version of Kryptonite because apparently in this scenario, I’m Batman. Not sure why. But there may be an upside—if they ARE reading my blog, this would be a great time to tell them not to come before noon. I feel really self-conscious and weird when they come at 10 and I’m still in my pajamas. Last week, I saw them coming up the walk, and I screamed down to Ken, “The Jehovahs are coming! Hide!” Eventually, they left, and then I felt guilty, so if they are reading this, you need to come later in the day, kind of in between the time when I’m not wearing clothes and haven’t started drinking yet. So let’s say, 1:30 to 2:00 pm. It’s a small window, but I DO like your weird magazines…

Why is Harry Potter Puppet Pals in my head right now? Snape, Snape, Severus Snape (Dumbledore!)

Imaginary Me: I really like your weird magazines, except for all the Bible stuff.
Imaginary JW: The Bible stuff is kind of the point, soon-to-be-convert.
Imaginary Me: You’ll never own my soul! Anyway, here’s a question. Why was the Bible written by a bunch of white guys when everything took place in the Middle East?
Imaginary JW: Why do you think they’re all white guys?
Imaginary Me: Well, they all have white guy names, except for the main character. Mark, John, Peter…I’ve never met a Middle Eastern guy called Luke.
Imaginary JW: The Bible was translated from Hebrew to English. Their names were originally less white.
Imaginary Me: You just googled that, didn’t you?
Imaginary JW: No, it’s something you remembered—this is YOUR imaginary conversation. Plus Google was invented by the devil. We only use Bing. It’s Jehovah’s True Search Engine.
Imaginary Me: OK, now you’ve gone too far. BING—I could NEVER get behind that.

Snape, Snape, Severus Snape (Dumbledore!) Ron, Ron, Ron Weasley…

…If what Google says is true (well, at least the imaginary Google in my head), then isn’t it the biggest irony of all that David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan, has a Jewish first name? All those crazy anti-Semites out there, and most of them are named after Hebrew people. I wonder if they realize that. Although from the idiocy I’ve seen and read coming from the so-called “alt-right”, I highly doubt it…

Imaginary KKK rally

David Duke: All right, white guys—time to put on your silly hoods. Aaron, Adam, Ben—you guys are in charge of leading the chanting. Dan, Ethan, and Gabe—you can set the cross on fire.
All: Yeehaw! That’ll show those foreigners with their weird-ass names and strange, cultish behaviour.
David Duke: Look at me! Whee! I’m a wizard!

…the KKK confuses me. Are they supposed to be Christian? Cuz their leader is a male witch, and that sounds really magic-y to me. Plus, why do they burn crosses? These guys are just FULL of irony. Or stupidity. It’s hard to differentiate with the KKK…

Alt-right, Alt-right, Severus Snape (Harry Potter, Harry Potter, Harry Harry Potter)…

…I wonder if Kellie Leitch is a secret member of a white power group, or is she just trying to ride the Trump train? What exactly ARE Canadian values, anyway? And who gets to define them? I could do it. I’m great at running stuff…

Imaginary citizenship hearing

Judge: Do you promise not to EVER write stupid comments online? And to NEVER re-post articles without checking them out on Snopes.com first?
Immigrant: You betcha.
Judge: Will you line up in an orderly fashion, even on Black Friday, or when waiting to use the washroom at the Air Canada Centre?
Immigrant: Do I HAVE to go shopping on Black Friday?
Judge: Heck no. This is Canada.
Immigrant: Then, you betcha.
Judge: Will you be respectful and accepting of other people’s viewpoints, religions, and gender identities?
Immigrant: Obviously. That’s why I came here. Oh, do I have to care about other people’s marital relationships?
Judge: Absolutely not.
Immigrant: What a relief. Being all up in other people’s business is so tiring. And time-consuming. So, yes, I agree.
Judge: Cool. You’re in. Now go apologize to someone for something and pet a beaver.

…I could totally run this country.

Finally, I started to get sleepy. It was 4:10 in the morning, but I got a lot accomplished. And here for your viewing pleasure is a link to Harry Potter Puppet Pals, so it can be the soundtrack to YOUR insomnia too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx1XIm6q4r4

Saturday: Toy Sexism

Yesterday, I was out shopping at a local store that has a huge Christmas display of toys. As I wandered around, looking for something for my niece, I was really disturbed. I’ve written before about toys and sexism, but I’ve never seen anything quite as blatant as the stuff from a company called Play Go. These people are seriously trying to inculcate little girls into the worst kind of stereotyped gender roles. First, I saw “My Cleaning Set”. This is a kit with a broom, dustpan, mop and bucket. On the box is a little girl in a pink t-shirt happily holding the broom, because cleaning the house is the career goal of most women. But for the really ambitious gal, they also sell “My Cleaning Trolley”, which has a vacuum as well, and is portable enough to take your skills on the road. Everything on it is pink and light purple, which are obviously the colours of success. Next was “Let’s Cook—the Complete Kitchen Set”—38 pieces of pink kitchenware, featuring a little girl in a pink t-shirt and apron, wearing a chef’s hat. What’s wrong with this picture? Obviously the chef’s hat, cuz aren’t all chefs guys? This company should be ashamed to imply that girls can grow up to be chefs just like men. But the really interesting thing is that all of the little girls on the boxes seem to be members of different ethnic groups. So is Play Go trying to be diverse, or are they secretly being racist as well as sexist? But I’m not just targeting Play Go, because what really stood out for me was the Construction Set right next to the “girl toys”. It was made by Little Tikes, another well-known company, and it featured two little boys in green and navy t-shirts, happily building things. So now I get it—girls stay home and clean and cook, and boys build sh*t. I wish I’d known that BEFORE I went to all the trouble of going to university and having a professional career. Hell, I could have just stayed home and cleaned my house. Now, this is not to say that I don’t respect women who DO choose to stay at home, raise their children, and take care of their families, because I absolutely do, if that’s their choice. Ultimately, the goal of feminism wasn’t and shouldn’t be to force all women into the workforce—it was to give them the right to CHOOSE what they wanted to do with their lives without being attacked for it either way. But toy companies shouldn’t be influencing two-year-olds to make that choice based on pretty colours and “realistic vacuum sounds”. As I was looking in dismay at the toys, a woman with a little girl around the age of 3 came over. “Look!” said the little girl pointing at the cooking set. “I can make all the food for everyone!” I was really hoping the mom would say, “Or you can build a railroad like the kids on THIS box” but she just said, “You could!” Then the grandma came over, put a Santa hat on the little girl’s head and said, “Look at you! You’re SO pretty!” Sigh.

toys1

toys2

toys3

Then later, in a strange twist of fate, Ken was reading Awake!, the magazine that the friendly local Jehovah’s Witnesses had dropped off while I was shopping (Sorry, JWs–maybe next time). One of the articles was about “respect in marriages”. It featured an imaginary conversation between a husband and wife where the husband was expressing that he didn’t feel like his wife treated him with respect because she was always talking loudly, using exaggerated facial expressions, waving her hands around, and interrupting him.

Ken: Don’t you think this is really sexist? The wife is getting all the blame. There’s nothing here about what the husband does to make the wife feel disrespected. Then there’s a bit from the Bible about how women should treat their husbands with respect.
Me: Or MAYBE it’s reverse sexism. Maybe the Jehovahs are secretly sexist against men for being such big, f*cking babies. Like “Oh, poor me, my wife is mean to me.” Maybe the hidden message is “Grow the f*ck up, imaginary lame-ass guy”. You never know with the Jehovahs.
Ken: Well, all right then…
Me: Sorry, was I disrespecting you? Get over it. I love you.
Ken: Sigh. I love you too.

Poor Ken. I’m going to cook him a really awesome dinner tonight. Because THAT’S my choice.