Virtual Reality

(Before we begin this week’s trip into lunacy, I was thrilled when I found out yesterday that one of my pieces of short fiction would be appearing today in The Ekphrastic Review. Click here to read it!)

So this week, I’ve been busy researching other jurisdictions as part of my job, and I have to tell you, there is a HUGE uptick in sites devoted to armadillos. I was on one website that had an environmental slant, and it was literally cartoon armadillos everywhere and all I could think was “Who in their f*cking mind is going ALL IN on the armadillos? Are they like the next (and at this point, I asked Ken for something that was really popular and isn’t anymore so that I could include a clever analogy, and he said, “Pet rocks” and I said, “Something more recent—duh” and he said, “The bucket challenge?” and I was just about to ask for a divorce when he said…) “The woman yelling at the cat meme?” so I guess I don’t have to look for another husband yet. At any rate, I learned more about armadillos than I ever thought I would need to know and apparently they’re very cool, eat a lot of larvae and are also a good indicator of how well the environment is doing. But then I was like, “What do armadillos really look like?” so I googled some images of them while I was about to start a virtual Zoom meeting. Did you know that they’re actually very cute in a weird and sassy way? And at the same time, I was desperate to do what everyone else I know has been doing, and that’s to have a virtual background on my Zoom screen, and I finally figured out how to do it, but as the meeting started, I didn’t have anything except the picture of the armadillo that I’d just googled, so I USED THAT.

Me: Good morning everyone!
Team: Good morn–
Me: I finally figured out how to use the virtual background!
Colleague 1: Very nice. C’est un peu distracting.
Me: Look! If I reach around like this, I can pet it!
Colleague 2: It kind of looks like it’s sitting on your shoulder…
Me: I KNOW, RIGHT?!

But later, I had to have a meeting with our Chief Operating Officer, and as much as I love armadillos, I realized that I should probably have a virtual background that was more normal like everyone else who had tropical beaches or snowy forests. Unfortunately, my default was a gallery of Baby Yoda cookies from when I was doing a Zoom with my family. While it looked quite adorable and yummy, that was no good either. So I quickly found a picture of the garden house that Ken built for us, and then everyone was like “Wow—it looks so cute!” so I guess I don’t have to look for another job yet.

On Wednesday, Ken and I decided that it was important for us to get some fresh air at the end of every day, and because we live in a small town, we don’t have our own mail box—we have to go uptown to a bank of community mailboxes. It was a lovely day, and as Ken opened our mailbox, I looked up at the sky, smiled and said, “I feel like things are going to be OK” and then Ken pulled out the only piece of mail that we had, and it was a letter from the Purple Shield insurance company offering us a FREE WILL-PLANNING KIT and I was like “Sigh. Never mind.” And I don’t know if I’m more concerned about a company taking advantage of a pretty dire situation or the fact that now I have to think about things like “How To Ensure Your Wishes Are Honoured” because the other day, Ken and I went for a drive and we went past a cemetery with a mausoleum and I said, “Ooh, that’s what I want!” and Ken laughed and said, “I’m cremating you, sucker.” OK, Ken didn’t actually say it like that, but every time I say I want my casket to be interred in a mausoleum, he snickers derisively and I JUST KNOW that my last wishes will NOT be honoured. But I warned him that no matter what, I would haunt him and his new, younger wife by dipping their toothbrushes in the toilet and not telling them.

On Wednesday, Ken said to me, “Hey, where’s that wig you have?” I found it for him and he put it on for his team meeting. I was a little perturbed because the first time I wore that wig, he said, “I don’t like you with bangs” as if it was my permanent hair and I had just given myself an ill-advised trim. But I could hear his team laughing hysterically at the sight of him in my wig, and now I’m determined to wear it next week, and also buy a bunch of even nicer wigs, because if we have to work from home forever, who’s going to know whether or not my hair grew, or changed colour or whatnot? And then I don’t have to wash and style my hair every morning for the camera—I can just throw on a wig. This is the one I really want:

But I’m also willing to settle for something less glamorous if Prime can deliver it in 24 hours.

 Lastly, I went back through my notes and pictures to see what I had considered writing about this week and I found this:

Why do I have a picture of this?! I don’t remember taking a picture of this and I have no idea what it means. I am NOT from Chicago and I don’t know anyone who is. I have NEVER called anyone except Ken “Bitch” and only in that fun, drag queen-ish kind of way. Are there armadillos in Chicago? Because it seems like something an armadillo would say. 

 

 

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

So I’ve been working from home this past week and it looks like I’ll be there for a while longer. I don’t mind—I’ve worked from home before and I know how to pace myself and structure my day. I’m not going to lie and say that it’s been an easy transition—changes in routine have always posed a challenge to me. In fact, any kind of change can throw me into a tizzy—take, for example, Daylight Savings Time:

Ken: So I went around the house and changed all the clocks…
Me: What do you mean, ALL the clocks?!
Ken: I set all the clocks to the right time. It took me ages to fix the ones in the downstairs bathroom. There’s like fifteen of them.
Me: YOU CHANGED ALL THE TIMES ON MY VINTAGE CLOCK COLLECTION?
Ken: Hahaha. Just kidding.
Me: If only that was even remotely funny, KEN.

Because the whole point of the collection is that each clock presents the time when it finally stopped for good—it’s PERFORMANCE ART, KEN. And then the other day, Ken decided that he wanted to fix the ceiling in one of our guest bedrooms because there had been a leak a couple of years ago that caused a seam to bulge. I insisted that he cover everything with drop sheets because of the plaster and whatnot, assuming that he would leave everything just the way it was underneath. BUT NO. It turned out that he took everything off every surface and put things randomly in drawers, and when it came time to put it all back, I just about lost my mind until I remembered that I had photographs of the room and could recreate it exactly as it was.

As you may remember, I’ve written extensively, maybe even obsessively, about the bathroom stalls at work and which one is my current favourite at any given time. So, in honour of working from home, and being able to keep things as normal as possible, I present to you the bathrooms in my house in order of least to most favourite. (You’ll notice that they all have toilet paper. I was at the grocery store yesterday, and there was a skid of bulk TP that came 30 rolls to the pack. The limit per customer was 2, and there were actually people carrying 60 f*cking rolls of toilet paper home. How much do you sh*t, anyway? I stood there for a moment, contemplating the skid, but didn’t buy any because I currently have lots, and I really hope I’m not going to be pissed off at myself in a month. Anyway).

This bathroom is nice, but it’s narrow and far away from my current office space. Also, like Stall 1 at work, a ghost lives in it. This is the same ghost that opens the cupboard doors in the adjacent bedrooms. Also, you can see there’s a small sliding door in the wall—there was a vent pipe inside that led into the closet in the bedroom directly behind the bathroom. Last year, we were cleaning out the bedroom closet and realized the pipe just went directly from the bathroom into the closet floor and stopped there, so we pulled it out and discovered the most bizarre collection of things under the floor of the closet that someone in the past had thrown down the pipe in the bathroom, obviously not realizing that it wasn’t a MAGICAL pipe. There was a pair of boy’s underwear, a love letter written to the son of the previous occupant (“Hi Jordan, If you lik me, rite back” with a heart drawn in crayon. I guess he didn’t “lik” her since he threw the letter into the magic pipe) and a couple of condom wrappers, so maybe he changed his mind at some point? The weirdest thing was about 9 pairs of old panty hose, and I can’t even begin to explain THAT, having not owned a pair of panty hose for over twenty years, long before we bought this house.

This bathroom is very utilitarian, housing the laundry facilities as well. However, the knee-to cabinet ratio is a little tight for me. This is “Ken’s bathroom”. It has a nice shower, but I’m a bath girl. The last time I used the shower was the day I ran a gas-powered pressure sprayer over my foot. Ken carried me screaming into the shower to get the dirt out of my flayed toes because it was the closest bathroom to the incident. So it’s very handy in a medical emergency.

This is the bathroom where I keep the infamous vintage clock collection. I wrote a while ago about clocks, so you’ll remember that I have a lot of old clocks that don’t work scattered around the house, but this bathroom is where space and time converge. Also, I made that toilet paper holder out of an old piano stool base and a curtain rod, and at the time, people thought it was very ostentatious, but given the fact that toilet paper is currently as rare as rhodium, I think it’s a fitting tribute. I like this bathroom well enough, and it’s close to the back family room where we watch movies. You can dash to the toilet and still hear the dialogue if you keep the door slightly open. Much better acoustics than a movie theatre bathroom and much cleaner.

This is MY bathroom, and it’s the best one in the house as far as I’m concerned. It’s like Stall 5 at work, if Stall 5 was never used by anyone but me. It’s technically an ensuite for the master bedroom but it belongs to ME. It also has a balcony that you can sit out on in the summer, which is random for a bathroom, but this whole house has been reconfigured several times over the last 114 years, and apparently the bathroom used to be a kitchen when the upstairs of the house was 2 apartments. Ken and I just renovated it a couple of months ago. Originally, the walls were covered with giant damask roses, which I loved but which Ken CONSTANTLY complained about, so I finally gave in when we found all those doors for free at the side of the road and he proposed that we create a wall of doors. My favourite thing is the stained glass window panel we just installed, and which I promised to take a picture of, because last week when I introduced you all to Captain John Crapper, my friend Bryntin from O4FS wondered why the toilet was in the corner, and a couple of people asked to see the whole room. So here you are. In my favourite bathroom. A constant in a sea of change.

Also, if you’re wondering why on earth we have FOUR bathrooms for two people, let me just say that our house is in a very small town far from the city, and when we bought it over 15 years ago (when Kate was still at home), the price was incredibly low compared to what we could have gotten for the same money in town. Once we both retire, we’re hoping to turn it into a bed and breakfast, or a writing/photography retreat. As long as nobody moves my stuff or changes my clocks, it’ll be great.

Signs of the Apocalypse

No, the title of this post does not refer to coronavirus, or Covid-19 as it’s now being call in order to spare Corona beer from further stock losses. Although, if you want an absolute sign that the end is nigh, take a look at this picture I took at the grocery store on Friday of the toilet paper aisle.

 The fact that people are fighting over TOILET PAPER in the face of a global pandemic is a very good indication that a great many human beings are simply too stupid to live—if hoarding bleached paper to clean your ass is what’s most important to you, then I weep for our civilization.

Anyway. Last week, Ken and I were driving north to see his parents, and to get there, we have to go through this cross-country corridor of weirdness where people with more money than brains spend their time erecting signs, some of which simply boggle the mind. Here’s the first:

1)

Just in case you can’t read it, this sign says, “Don’t B!tch About The Farmer With Your Mouth Full!” and underneath it asks “What’s Your Contribution?” Now, none of this makes any sense at all. First, you can’t b*tch about ANYTHING with your mouth full. If you try, no one can understand what you’re saying and then they get mad at you for spitting potato or chicken or whatnot at them. Swallow first; complain later. That should be the motto of all whiny people. Second, I’m 54 years old and I’ve LITERALLY NEVER heard anyone complain about ‘the farmer’. Like who’s going around saying, “Those goddamn farmers and their CROPS. They should be ashamed of the way they make sure we get calcium from their UNHOLY MILK”. Where did the animosity on this sign come from?! Is it, like, one disgruntled farmer fed up with being kept down by ‘the man’?

The Man: Hey Farmer Bob, your combine is blocking my driveway again. Would you mind moving it?
Farmer Bob: DON’T B!TCH ABOUT THE FARMER, DAN.
The Man: I wasn’t b*tching, I just—
Farmer Bob: IS YOUR MOUTH FULL, DAN?
The Man: What? No, I only—
Farmer Bob: I WILL MAKE A SIGN. WHAT’S YOUR CONTRIBUTION, DAN?
The Man: I’m not giving you any money for a sign; I need you to move your combine.
Farmer Bob: TYPICAL OF THE MAN.

The most ironic thing about this sign is that it’s not on a farmer’s field—it’s actually next to a railroad bridge in a swamp, so I guess Farmer Bob has bigger worries than Dan The Man. (For the record, Ken grew up on a dairy farm, and I love farmers, obviously, and if anyone ever b*tched about them in my presence, I would set them straight.)

2) And then there was the sign in a small town we went through that had two words on it: Landfill Cenotaph. There was a single arrow pointing down a side road. So the cenotaph is in a landfill? Or is it a memorial TO a landfill? Either way, that’s not very respectful to our veterans, and it makes Remembrance Day ceremonies awkward:

MC: Let’s have a moment of silence in remembrance of all of those who fought—hey! Can you turn off the bulldozers for one hot second?! Jeesh!

3) One of my favourites is this sign advertising a garden centre in Listowel:

Gardening with Attitude? Do drag queens work there? Surly teens, perhaps? All I could think of was this:

Customer: Hi, I’d like to buy a shrubbery. One that looks nice, and not too expensive.
Garden Centre Worker: F*ck off!
Customer: Wow, that’s some attitude you have there.

4) Finally, there are always the ‘Come to Jesus’ billboards and my absolute favourite is the one that reads, “Jesus said, ‘The only way to my Father is through me’:

Me: Did you see that sign? I don’t believe Jesus said that.
Ken: What? Why not?
Me: Well, don’t you think it sounds a little violent? I never think of Jesus like that. You’ve read the Bible. Did Jesus really say that?
Ken: I don’t remember.
Me: No. From what I know about Jesus, he would have said something more like, “It would be really nice and super swell if you could let me help you find your way to my Dad”. Something non-aggressive, you know. That sign makes it seem like there’s going to be a bar fight, and Jesus is all like, “Hold my beer! You’ll have to get through ME to get to HIM!” like Liam Neeson or The Rock or something.
Ken: OK…
Me: Or John Wick—ooh! Like John Wick 4: The Resurrection!
Ken: You really don’t know much about the Bible, do you?
Me: I saw Jesus Christ: Superstar. I could totally picture John Wick Jesus kicking over those moneylending tables in the temple then pulling out a machine gun–
Ken: That’s not what happened.
Me: But in John Wick 4: The Resurrection, it would be a flea market where unscrupulous grifters were selling hoarded toilet paper and hand sanitizer for outrageous prices.
Ken: I’d watch that.

I was trying to think of what people could do with the hundreds of rolls of toilet paper they bought once the pandemic is over and I have a couple of ideas—instead of hunting for Easter candy, you can hide toilet paper around your house and watch the kids squeal with delight as they locate each one. Or you can do my favourite thing of all—make a Toilet Pirate. Meet Captain John Crapper:

Weather Or Not

I woke up on Thursday morning, looked out my window, and was immediately outraged. “Nobody said it was going to snow!” I yelled. “Where the hell did all the snow come from?!” And my overreaction reminded me, yet again, that weather is arbitrary and weird and, despite the best efforts of every weather person out there, you never know what’s going to happen. For example:

A few years ago, Kate and I were driving back from town and the sky was really dark. Sure enough, the heavens opened up, and the resulting downpour turned roads in rivers, and parking lots into lakes. Literally. People had their basements flooded, and cars were floating in the streets. It didn’t last long, and the flooding was mostly due to backed-up storm drains, but on the news that night, the weather reporters were thrilled, having earlier predicted that a very large storm system might wreak havoc in our part of Ontario. Why “thrilled”, you ask? Because the week before, tornadoes had touched down in cities south of here and there had been NO WARNING from the weather people (we call them “Environment Canada”). In fact, the outcry was ridiculous, with people calling for an investigation into the most “egregious failure” of the year.

The weather people defended themselves by claiming that 90% of our weather comes from over the border, and that Michigan hadn’t alerted us to any impending storm systems, that it had just “popped up out of nowhere”. Sure, blame the Americans. But frankly, the whole thing is silly, and is yet more proof that we’ve become irrationally obsessed with weather. The mere fact that there is an entire segment devoted to the weather on every single news show is evidence of that. And the first part of the segment is invariably reporting on what the weather was like THAT DAY. I don’t need to know what the weather was ALREADY like—I WAS THERE. Then we move to “the current forecast”, which I ALSO know, because I’m looking out MY WINDOW. Finally, we get to “tomorrow” and the long-range forecast. But for all the technology, the radar, the system trackers, the low and high front graphics on the weather screen, being a weather person in Canada is a relatively simple task and these people are way overpaid, because, let’s face it—there’s not a lot of variation in the weather here:

News Anchor: So Bob, what’s the situation with the weather?
Weather Guy: Well, today it was f*cking cold. Tomorrow, it will also be f*cking cold.
News Anchor: You’re sure right there! What about the long range forecast?
Weather Guy: In a couple of months, it will be f*cking hot, with an increased chance of it getting even more f*cking hot.
News Anchor: Do your magic-y weather skills predict anything else for the near future, Bob?
Weather Guy: The only other thing on the horizon is periods of “when the hell is it going to rain?” interspersed with “when is this goddamned rain going to stop?” That’s about it, Nancy.
News Anchor: Thanks for those insights, Bob. We’ll get back to you later for a recap.

I honestly think we expect too much from weather reporters. Blaming them for sudden weather events is like blaming the sportscaster when your favourite team unexpectedly loses. You’d never do that—it would be irrational to call the Toronto Maple Leafs losing yet another Stanley Cup the most egregious failure of TSN Sportsdesk ever. Yet weather reporters get blamed for all kinds of things. For instance, you’re having an outdoor birthday party and it clouds over then starts raining. Suddenly it’s open season on the weather reporter, with people running around trying to get the cake inside before it gets ruined, and yelling, “Was this predicted?! I don’t remember Bob saying anything about rain! Now the f*cking piñata is all mushy! What the hell is this world coming to when you can’t even count on Bob for a good party?!!”

But you CAN’T count on the weather report. Weather reports are just filler in a broadcast, the same way that talking about the weather is just filler in a conversation. Consider how many times in your life you’ve had random and inconsequential conversations about the weather because you felt like you had to talk about SOMETHING or be seen as anti-social? This happens to me all the time in the elevator at work, when someone I barely know gets on. After “Hello”, what the hell else is there to say, except “Can you believe the weather?” And the other person will say, “Oh, I know. It’s just terrible/gorgeous out there.” The weather is safe and quick and makes us all feel that we’re capable of normal human interaction.

Again, though, I don’t think we need an entire network devoted to the continual reporting of the weather. An entire network, you say? Yes, because not only is every single news broadcast littered with weather clickbait (“Coming up next: Sharon will have some exciting information on the current state of the weather. Find out here first!”), we also have The Weather Network, where you can satisfy your need to know about the state of the environmental nation 24 hours a day. Local forecasts, regional forecasts, national forecasts—hell, you can even find out what it’s going to be like in Madrid tomorrow using an app on your phone (for the record—14 degrees and mostly sunny). My favourite, though, has got to be when, for want of anything else to talk about, there’s a “50 years ago today” segment, where the weather from the 70s is compared to the forecast today, and the reporter is like, “Can you believe it? The high on January 15, 1970 was 3 degrees lower than it is today. What a world we live in!”

A hundred years ago, there were no weather reporters. There was just your crazy old aunt, who claimed her gouty toe could predict when a storm was a-coming, or the one guy in every town who hung out at the General Store chewing on a hay stalk and muttering ominously, “Pine trees are puttin’ out cones early. Gonna be a hard winter.” And they were about as accurate as weather reporters today, who, despite all the bells and whistles, still can’t always predict when a tornado will develop. I like the guy they interviewed after that tornado who said that he hadn’t heard about it, but he looked out his window, saw it coming from across the field, and got his family into the basement. Then he went back upstairs and recorded the tornado with his cell phone. He predicted a tornado almost hitting his house better than Environment Canada did—The Weather Network should hire HIM.

Looking For A Jay-Oh-Bee

The other morning I was driving to the train station and listening to the radio for the road report because here in Canada, we’ve moved from last week’s warm weather, known fondly as “fool’s spring” to this week’s “second winter” which would account for all the snow we’ve gotten over the last few days.

Morning radio is a lot of boring talk, interspersed with a little music, and a LOT of commercials. And it’s a strange mix of ads for lawyers, bankruptcy trustees, tax accountants and something called ‘Sell-Off Vacations.com’ and I can’t help but wonder if the target audience is mobsters:

Big Jimmy: The fuzz are closing in. What are we gonna do?
Mack the Spatula: I’ve been listening to the radio and I have an idea…

Anyway, I was driving and switching back and forth between stations (I have a cool thingy on my steering wheel that lets me do that with my thumb) trying desperately to find some actual music, when I heard a commercial for a recruitment agency. They detailed the advantages of signing up with them, and then said, “Start a new career now at Zip Recruiter.com/Canada. That’s Zip Recruiter dot com slash See-Eh-En-Eh-Dee-Eh” and I was like WHAT?! Of all the things in that web address to be more specific about, you chose to spell out the name of the country we LIVE IN? So you assume that the person can spell ‘Recruiter’ but not the most phonetically obvious country in the world? I mean, it’s not like we live in Kyrgyzstan or Azerbaijan or even Britain (which sounds like it should be spelled ‘Brit-in’). In fact, I think the only country that would be even easier to spell than Canada would be Finland. And let’s not even get started on that slash, like WHICH SLASH? The forward slash or the backwards one, because personally, I would want more information on THAT and especially where to find it on my keyboard since one of them is under the question mark, and the other can be literally ANYWHERE. And frankly, if you can’t spell the name of the very country that you live in, I think you have bigger problems than not being able to find a new job.

I had mostly put it out of my mind, except to randomly shake my head every once in a while, until yesterday, when it occurred to me that I might indeed need their services. I was working from home, and I got up early to start working on a report for a 10 o’clock phone meeting, and let me just emphasize PHONE here, as in, the people you are meeting with can only hear your voice. I called in at the appropriate time and told my director that I’d been working on a doc that I could email for her to look at. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “I just figured out how we could all look at it together in Teams—let me send you the link. When you get it, just click on it” and when I clicked on the link the screen opened and there I was, ON CAMERA, in my housecoat, not wearing any makeup, my hair standing up all over the place, because I WAS WORKING FROM HOME so why the hell would I be all fancy?!! So I kind of screeched and ducked and said, “I didn’t know this was a video link” and I heard laughing and someone gasp, “Oh my god” and then my director said, “Click on the video camera icon and it will turn the camera off” but I couldn’t find the icon at first so I had my thumb over the camera lens on my laptop until I was able to locate it, which I finally did while everyone else waited in silence, and now I think I need a new job.

And because I DO know how to spell Canada, I figured I had a leg up on all the other applicants so I headed over to Zip Recruiter to see what they had for me. The first thing that caught my eye was Private Investigator. I think I’d be great at that because I read a lot of Nancy Drew as a young girl and my shoes always match my handbag. Also, I’m really good at solving mysteries and I have the reflexes of a middle-aged ninja.

Me (leaping out awkwardly from behind a door): Aha!! It was YOU who ate the cake that was on the counter!!
Titus (nervously licking icing off his whiskers): You’ll never be able to prove it!
Me: Prove it? Ha! I saw you do it with my own eyes!
Titus (confused): Then why didn’t you stop me?
Me: (whispers): Because you looked so cute and happy…plus I filmed the whole thing with my phone so I could post it on Facebook.

Is there cake?

OK, maybe I wouldn’t make the best detective, which was a shame because it came with full benefits. Another job that piqued my interest was Video Game Developer. I don’t know what kind of technical skills you need for that, but I have lots of ideas that I could give to someone to make a game with. My current favourite is The Commuter. In this game, you have to get from the train station to the subway in under five minutes, while avoiding the following obstacles:

  • The university student who stops at the bottom of the escalator to post a selfie on Instagram.
  • The two elderly woman who are drifting back and forth erratically while discussing their cats.
  • The line-up at Pastry Hut that stretches across the concourse.
  • The group of teens playing hacky sack right in front of the doors.
  • The man who can’t find his subway pass and is blocking the turnstile.
  • The people who apparently don’t work and who can see the subway coming but are in NO HURRY TO GET DOWN THE GODDAMNED STAIRS.

It’s a very stressful game actually, and I don’t know how much fun playing it would really be. I do it every day and I don’t enjoy it at all if I’m being honest. So maybe my video game ideas aren’t the best. I was getting a little discouraged in my job hunt so instead I just put the word “Fun” in the Zip Recruiter search bar and waited excitedly to see what came up. The first job on the list was “On-line Math Coach”. And now all I can think is that a) Zip Recruiter is the most f*cked up job agency on the Pee-El-Eh-En-Ee-Tee and b) from now on, I will get completely gussied up when I’m working from home, just in case.

Ever The Optimist

Every so often I buy a lottery ticket. There are several different lotteries here, and the prizes are starting to get really big, so I figure, Why not? I mean SOMEONE has to win, and what are the odds that one day I might? Pretty astronomical actually, but still, a girl can dream. And the best part is that you don’t even have to wait to find out if you won because there’s an app you can download onto your phone that lets you scan the barcode on the ticket and find out almost right away, which completely satisfies my need for instant gratification. Like, you know those obnoxious scratch tickets with 3 separate play areas that advertise themselves as “hours of fun”? All you have to do is scratch the barcode, scan it, and you’ve saved yourself a hell of a lot of time, which is a win all on its own. Also, because Canada is a bilingual country, if you DO win, you’re told by a very excited woman’s voice in both official languages, and I think it’s some kind of Pavlovian thing that if an Ontarian ever hears someone say “Winner!”, their immediate and automatic response is “Gagnon!” If you don’t, you’re a spy or an alien or an alien spy or whatnot.

But as I was scanning my ticket last weekend, I discovered something interesting. As I was waiting for the results, I realized that I was pretty sure I was going to win, and when I didn’t, I was genuinely disappointed, like What? Really?, and that I feel that way EVERY SINGLE TIME. What does this mean? Is this the true irony of my life that I, the Queen of Worst Case Scenarios is, at heart, an eternal optimist? That the woman who has mentally laid out, in painstaking detail, plans to survive bear attacks, bouncy castle misadventures, high speed train derailments, cars plunging off bridges into icy water, and thousands of other potential disasters, is secretly convinced that there is a BEST CASE SCENARIO?

(Side note: Speaking of Worst Case Scenarios, the other day some of us met with a group of people who came to the secret agency to do some research. They started by going around the table and telling us who they were and what their backgrounds were. It went like this for the first 5 people: Accountant, IT Support, Accountant, Business Analyst, Programmer. Then the last person, a man who looked about 25, said, very casually, “Before I came to Canada, I was a Colonel in the army, responsible for training other military units in confirmation and identification of biological warfare agents as well as combatting potential nuclear strikes.” There was a pause, then I said, “OK, this guy wins.” Everybody laughed except me, because I was IN AWE, and also if I was single and about 25 years younger, I would have dropped to one knee and proposed right then and there.)

But back to my point—if anyone remembers what it was. Oh right—I’m always certain in my heart of hearts that I’ve won the jackpot, and when I haven’t, I console myself by saying, “Next time” and “What would you do with 50 million dollars anyway? It’s just too much for one person.” But that is, of course, bullsh*t. I could very easily enjoy that much money, and could find numerous things to spend it on. Once, Ken and I were talking about winning the lottery:

Me: If I win the jackpot, I’m buying a helicopter to take me to work. F*ck the train. I could get there in like 15 minutes by helicopter. The only problem would be where to land.
Ken: If you won the jackpot, why the hell would you keep working?!
Me: Ooh. Good point. Can I still buy a helicopter?

One of my friends at work has an article pinned up in her cubicle about a woman who won millions of dollars and the headline is the winner saying, “I’ll Keep Flying Economy”. And my friend was like, “See? People like that don’t deserve to win the lottery. If you’re not going to change your life AT ALL, you shouldn’t be allowed to keep the money. There should be a quiz, only instead of a skill-testing math question, you should have to describe the things you’re going to do to make life better” and I was like, “There’s a F*CKING MATH QUESTION??!!”

Still, I agree with my friend. If you’re not going to at least fly first-class and sleep in one of those cool pods, you don’t deserve the money. Stop being all humble and sh*t and just go around screaming “I’m rich!!” I’ll be checking my lottery ticket from last night very soon, and I’m pretty sure that’s what I’m going to be writing about next.

Update: I just checked my ticket and you won’t believe this!……

……I just found out that the word “acai” is actually pronounce “ass-eye-ee” and if that isn’t something to giggle about every time I see a bottle of Blueberry Acai Vitamin Water, I don’t know what is. Also, I didn’t win the lottery and I’m really shocked. But there’s always next time.

Oh, by the way, I found out a couple of days ago that a site called Feedspot has my blog listed in their Top 100 Humour Blogs, so thanks Feedspot! I’m currently number 93 but that’s better than not winning the lottery.

Cursed By Santa

I’m currently in quite the state, due to the fact that I just got a new laptop after 9 years. This one is fast and shiny, but there is no discernible way to remove the password requirement from MY OWN DAMN COMPUTER. I’ve literally spent an hour this morning watching tutorials and carefully following instructions and all I’ve managed to do is create ANOTHER f*cking account under MY OWN NAME that has become the default account and now, when I restart my computer, not only do I have to put in a password, I have to switch accounts. And then suddenly, all my apostrophes turned into accented ‘e’s and I finally figured how to stop that, but whatever I did now makes it impossible to create an ‘e’ with an accent so apparently I’ve lost my alt keyboard and can no longer speak French.

Anyway, this is NOT about how much I hate my computer; this is about how I finally figured out why my life is so weird, which is to say that I think I was cursed as a very small child by Santa Claus. And what led to this bizarre, albeit obvious, conclusion? Last week, my parents came over for my mother’s early birthday dinner. At the end of the evening, right before they left, my mother pulled a card out of her purse and said, “Ooh, I found this the other day, and I thought you might want it!” On the front of the card, it said, “Christmas Fairyland” and on the inside was a picture of me at the age of 2, sitting on the lap of a Santa Claus. “Oh, that’s cute,” I said. “Thanks,” and I put it aside.

But then the other day, I opened it up and took a closer look. And that’s when I realized that it wasn’t really Santa. I mean, I KNOW it’s not the real Santa Claus, obviously—what I mean is that I think the lap I was precariously perched on belonged to some kind of demonic creature a la Stephen King. (Note that I couldn’t put the accent on the ‘a’ because my keyboard is no longer bilingual. Sorry). It’s like in It, when the kids realize that Pennywise is in all the historic pictures of Derry going back hundreds of years, except MY clown is dressed in a Santa suit. Don’t believe me? Take a good look at those dead eyes—they follow you wherever you go. They’re the eyes of a man who wants nothing more than to devour your soul. And look at ME—it’s like he just whispered, “You will be cursed with a mind that never shuts off” and I’m like “Get me off this guy’s lap and also, is Fred Flintstone based on a real caveman? Will people be able to live in space some day? Will I ever get a robot butler? Which bathroom stall is the best one? Wouldn’t Player One be a fantastic nickname? Oh my god, it’s already started!” So now you know.

In Other News…

Speaking of bathroom stalls, we’ve been having a problem at work with Stall Number 3. If you’ll recall from a couple of years ago, there are five bathroom stalls in the ladies’ bathroom. Stall 5 is my favourite, because it’s against the far wall with no other stall to the left, so if Stall 4 is empty, I ALWAYS use Stall 5. However, if Stall 4 is occupied, then I immediately go to Stall 2 if the ones on either side are both empty. I NEVER use Stall 1 because a ghost lives in it. Stall 4 always smells weird. Also, I heard that the number 4 is considered unlucky in some cultures, and no one wants to be unlucky in a public bathroom. I WILL use Stall 3 in an absolute emergency. But now, Stall 3 has supplanted Stall 4 as the worst non-haunted stall because twice in the last two weeks, it has been plugged up rather badly and won’t flush. And I don’t know what’s wrong with the person who’s been plugging it up (aside from the need to reduce the vast amount of fibre in their diet) because they’re not leaving a note saying Out Of Order or anything—all they’re leaving is A LARGE PILE OF POO LYING ON A GIANT BED OF TOILET PAPER. And this has forced me to go not once, but TWICE to the young woman who looks after facilities and have this conversation:

Incident 1

Me: Um, hi Deirdre. The third stall in the bathroom doesn’t seem to be working. It’s full and won’t flush.
Deirdre: OK, no problem. I’ll call the plumber.
Me: It wasn’t me. I swear.
Deirdre (laughs): OK.

Incident 2

Me: Um, hi Deirdre. The third stall in the bathroom doesn’t seem to be working again. It’s full and won’t flush.
Deirdre: OK, no problem. I’ll call the plumber again.
Me: It wasn’t me. I swear. Seriously, I know that it seems like it’s always me reporting it, but I didn’t do it. This is NOT a “Blame your fart on the dog” kind of situation.
Deirdre (laughs harder): OK. I believe you.

It really wasn’t me. I swear.

Let Me Be Frank

So on Thursday, we were trying to figure out how to get home because all the Via trains were cancelled (long story) and a bunch of us took a GO train halfway home then figured we would share a cab to Brantford from there. We were looking for one more person, and I saw someone I knew standing further up. “Frank!!” I called out, loudly enough that everyone else stopped talking. The man turned and started coming towards me. IT WASN’T FRANK. But he kept looking at me and getting closer, and my friend next to me whispered, “Why aren’t you saying anything?” But I didn’t know what was going on with Man-Who-Looked-Like-Frank-But-Wasn’t-Frank, so I kept very deliberately staring out the window until he was right in front of me.

Me: Um…hi?
Man: Do we know each other?
Me: No, I mistook you for someone else.
Man: But you called my name.
Me: You’re FRANK?
Man: Yes.
Me: Sorry—I meant a different Frank.

And I don’t even know how to end this story except to ask how many completely bald, short men wearing huge headphones and a trench coat named Frank are out there riding the trains every day? Are we in The Matrix and this is a Mr. Smith-type situation? Because if this is The Matrix, I want my damned robot butler.

All Hail The Rat Queen

This giant stuffed rat dressed in a pioneer costume sits atop a cardboard box in the middle of the warehouse used by the secret agency to house our secret stuff. It’s been there for years. No one knows why, and if you ask anyone why it’s there, they just shrug. And I’m not sure if it’s there to WARD OFF the rats like a bizarre eyeless scarecrow or if it’s there for the rats to worship. But SOMEONE OR SOMETHING has been leaving it offerings of paper flowers and I will think about this every day for the rest of my life, and that’s my curse.