Driving By The Numbers

I’ve picked up several new followers lately, many of whom are NOT vitamin bloggers (but if you are, I take a LOT of vitamins so welcome!), and I thought it might be time to let you all know what to expect when you follow this blog. Today’s entry is short and sweet because I’m one chapter away from finishing my new book—it’s the denouement so it needs careful thought and a few solid hours of writing time, which I’ll be doing the second I wrap this post up.

So this is me.

In 2015, I bought a cute little car. It was a 2013 model but it had only been used for car shows and demos, so it had very low mileage; in fact, I think when I got it, the odometer (I just googled “thing on car that tells you mileage” in case you were thinking I was super-knowledgeable about cars) was below 2 000 kilometres, which is like 10 000 US miles or something, and I thought that was really cool. As I was driving it places, I would look at the ODOMETER every once in a while to see if I’d hit a mileage milestone and if I did, I would pull over and take a picture. Here’s the first one I took at 11 111:

Here’s 12 345 from a few months later:

There was a lull in my odometer fascination for a while, but then I reached this milestone:

All those 4s look really cool, I think. Although the number 4 is apparently unlucky to some cultures, it isn’t to mine—I’m half English and half Scottish, so 4 is simply the time we have more tea and haggis.

Then I reached a more scary number—notice that I didn’t drive the extra 5 kilometres to round out the shot, on the off-chance that it might stir up some kind of negative universal energy (as an aside, I participate in a Zoom group occasionally and the password for the room is 666, and whenever I see that number, my first instinct is to yell, “Ah! The number of the beast!” But I don’t do it out loud, just in my head and usually to an Iron Maiden song. The first time I entered the password, I was worried that I would be transported into one of the 9 circles of hell, but no, it was just a group of friendly Asian people, so Dante was way off there).

Anyway, last week I was driving and I realized that my odometer read 79, 972. “That’s so close to 80,000,” I said to myself. “Only a little more than a thousand kilometres to go and I can get another cool picture.” And if right now, you’re saying to YOURSELF, “I think the math is really, really wrong here,” you would be absolutely correct.

So I got to my destination, glanced at the odometer and gasped in dismay to see that it read 80, 007 and my first instinct was to yell “What the f*ck!” And I did that out loud, not in my head. I was well and truly furious with myself for once again being completely stymied by mathematical calculations, and I drove home in a snit. At least for the first 5 minutes, because my odometer, as you can see, is digital. The 8 looks like a capital B, and the zeros look like capital Os, and the 5 looks like a big-ass S and I realized, with a sudden thrill, that if I waited another seventy-some-odd kilometres, I could spell out the word BOOBS and that made me smile all the way home.

So, to sum:

I’m terrible at math.
There will sometimes be swearing.
I’m a 54 year-old woman with an adolescent sense of humour.

Welcome to my world.

(Update: I finished my new novel, The Seventh Devil, yesterday. 177 pages and 51, 370 words. Now those are some numbers!)

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 233: All The Weird Things

It’s been a strange time lately, a time when all the weird things are happening. If you read The Mystery of the Tip Sheet on the Table, I should tell you that was only the “Tip” of the iceberg, haha, and I apologize for the terrible pun, but I’ve certainly had some experiences in the last three weeks that have been completely outside my wheelhouse, and most of them have to do with the magical world of math. I call it “magical” because there are formulas, and also whenever I see someone solve an equation, I squeal excitedly and exclaim breathlessly with child-like wonder, “How did you do that?!” Here are the 5 strange things that have beset my life recently:

1) I applied for a job closer to home. I love my current job, but I have to live in the city during the week, and it’s getting pretty sketchy downtown. The job was kind of the same as what I do now, I thought, and to be honest, I didn’t really want to change jobs immediately, but at the bottom of the job posting it said that eligible candidates would be put in a pool for future positions, and that seemed like a great opportunity. So I applied, and lo and behold, I got an email about an interview. And at the bottom of the email was a description of the interview telling me that I would have to prepare a presentation for the interview panel. On MATH. My first reaction was, “Did they even LOOK at my resume?” Because I have a lot of qualifications and experience, none of which have anything at ALL to do with the numbers or adding or dividing or whatnot. The closest I’ve ever come to doing math professionally was teaching Life of Pi. And then it said at the bottom of the description that there would be a TEST at the end of the interview, and I was like, “What? A MATH TEST?!” because nowhere in the job description had it even mentioned math at all, and it seemed pretty obvious by then that they probably already had someone for the job, someone who was, perhaps, good at math. So when the place called me to confirm that I got the invite, I actually had to ask the woman, “So is the test at the end a math test?” because if it was, there was no point in going, but she said she didn’t think so, that it was probably a “scenario”. Which it was. And ironically, I totally ROCKED the math presentation, but I blew the “scenario” which was writing a letter in response to someone who was very angry. I responded the way I normally would—no, not by saying “Take a f*cking step back”—but in a professional way which is “Please provide more information to help me understand your anger.” It turns out though, that apparently I was supposed to direct them to a variety of different websites where they could explore their feelings themselves. Ultimately, it was not fun, but I DID get put into the pool for future positions, mostly on the merit of my math presentation, which is another one of life’s great mysteries.

Isn’t it magic-y?

2) I went to empty my blog spam folder, which usually contains about 30 comments about Nike shoes or Viagra, and there were 1, 167 spam comments in there. They were all for CBD oil (derived from marijuana). So I emptied the spam folder, and three days later, there were another 2, 000 messages, again for CBD oil, and all I could think was “Someone REALLY wants me to get high”. But then I did a little research and it turns out that CBD oil isn’t psychoactive, so I’m not sure what’s going on there, but the Viagra people need to step up their game.

3) I had to go by myself to do a presentation (this time on my actual work instead of magic-y math sh*t) to a group of around 60 people. I don’t enjoy standing up in front of people at any given moment—I don’t even say much in meetings when I’m sitting down—but someone had to do it, and I was that someone. I stayed in a hotel the night before because the weather was supposed to be lousy for travelling the next day. I decided to order some Swiss Chalet chicken, and then stay in for the night watching the Oscars. I called up Swiss Chalet and asked for delivery, but when the woman gave me the total, I realize I didn’t have any money so I said, “Oh, I don’t have any cash on me. Will the guy take Visa or is there something else I need to do?” and then I realized to my horror that it sounded like I was offering to instigate a porn scene where the lady doesn’t have money but offers to “take it out in trade” with the nubile young delivery man. Luckily, you can pay for Swiss Chalet over the phone,  and a very sturdy older lady came to my hotel room, so no worries there. But then, incredibly, the hotel TV had 54 channels and not one was showing the Oscars, so I ended up watching porn. No I didn’t. That was a joke. I ended up watching a Flip or Flop Nashville marathon.

The presentation the next day went OK, except for the snarky guy sitting right in front of the podium who kept muttering under his breath and rolling his eyes, which was very distracting. At one point, he raised his hand to angrily complain about how hard it was to use a particular report, and I felt like saying, “Well, toilet training is hard too, but I assume you’ve figured that one out.” Instead I just smiled and said, “Here are some websites you can use to explore your feelings about this issue.”

4) Then I got back to the office and was asked to start supervising, in addition to my own team, another team whose job revolves completely around MATH. My reaction again was “Have you even LOOKED at my resume?!” And now not only do I have to try and understand math in English, I also have to try and understand it in FRENCH, because we have two official languages, and math is hard in both of them. At least the people are nice and don’t roll their eyes at me.

5) On Tuesday, I raced to get dinner finished and get ready for bed so that I could be all cozy on the couch in my pajamas in time for my favourite new TV show The Launch (it’s Canadian). I made it with a minute to spare and yelled to my roommate, “Come on, it’s almost starting!” Then I went up and down the guide and couldn’t find it on anywhere. “I don’t understand” I said. “Are they on hiatus already” and my roommate said, “Isn’t The Launch on Wednesdays?” and I said “Yes,” and she said, “Today is Tuesday”, and this is what too much math does to you. So we resigned ourselves to watching The Voice and I was trying to figure out Instagram when I realized my young cousin was starting some ‘live’ video thing so I clicked on it. He and his friend were talking, then suddenly he said, “Hi Suzanne”, and I shrieked and threw the phone down and said to my roommate, “Oh my god, can he SEE me?!” She started laughing hysterically and explained how your name comes up at the bottom so that people know you’re watching, and it reminded me of the first time I tried to send a fax, and panicked when the paper went into the fax machine because there was a phone number on the back of the form that I needed. The secretary at the school also laughed hysterically just like my roommate and explained that the paper would come back out once it had been scanned. “Did you think the fax machine magically transported the actual paper to the person you’re sending it to?” she asked.  “Of course not—that would be ridiculous,” I said, but in my head I was like, “Yes. Yes, I totally f*cking did.” Because faxes are magical. Just like math.

(I just had a short story published in the inaugural issue of a terrific literary magazine called Slippage Lit. It’s called Perfect Food, and if you want to read it, click here: https://www.slippagelit.com/perfectfood)

 

My Week 212: Doing The Math

Math Story 1

The other day, Ken and I were having a discussion about the newest educational fad: Growth Mindset. This is fancy term, based on “brain research”, that people can learn to do things if they BELIEVE they can do them. So you can see why it’s so fancy and all—pretty complex stuff. And you can also see why Boards of Education are spending money like crazy to teach people how to implement it in the classroom. I’m sure there’s nothing more motivating to a struggling student than yelling at them “If you can see it, you can be it!” (Growth Mindset sounds suspiciously like the lyrics to an R. Kelly song. He believed he could fly, although I don’t think that worked out too well for him). I wish my high school math teacher had quoted Boyz to Men to me—for sure, I’d be a quantum physicist now, instead of a smartass who can’t figure out what half of ¾ of a cup of flour is (I just eyeball it). Anyway, I was like, “So after years of NOT being able to do complicated math, if I only BELIEVE hard enough that I can do it, I’ll be able to learn it?” Ken assured me that it was true. But that night I had a nightmare where I was trying to do math, and f*cking it up royally. Then suddenly, the numbers all turned into little roasting chickens in their own casserole dishes, and instead of doing math, I was basting them with a red wine sauce that I had made and worrying that they were going to dry out in the oven. Even my subconscious knows where my strengths are. But maybe that’s all changing, because on the weekend, Kate was doing her math homework:

K: Math, math, blah, blah, dividing by zero.
Me: Oh, that’s easy. Whenever you divide by zero, you end up with the same number you started with. Like 15 divided by zero is 15.
K: No, it’s not! You can’t divide by zero.
Me: Sure you can. I have 15 things. There’s zero things that go into it, so I still have 15 things.
K: That’s NOT how it works. It’s impossible. See, if I put 15 divided by zero into my calculator, it says “Error”.
Me: I paid good money for that calculator—what’s wrong with it?
K: Nothing! You just can’t divide by zero.
Me: But I just did.
K: But you’re wrong. Zero would go into 15 an infinite number of times, so it can’t be calculated.
Me: But I just calculated it.
K: NO, YOU DIDN’T.
Me: Look. If you have 15 slices of bacon, and you try to divide them by zero, how many slices of bacon do you have left? 15! Because you have eaten zero of them!
K: 15 is the REMAINDER. IS there bacon?
Me: Sure. Do you want 15 slices or zero?

Math Story 2

I have a Chuck Norris desk calendar that Ken gave me last Christmas. I love it. I don’t know what it is about Chuck Norris jokes that always make me laugh, but there are several people in the office who appreciate them too. If I have one that’s specific to a particular person, I give it to them at the end of the day just for fun. For example, in February there was a page that said, “Once Chuck Norris roundhouse kicked an exclamation point. That’s how question marks came into existence”, so I gave it to one of our editors. She thought it was really funny and pinned it up on her cubicle. Most people have embraced the Chuck Norris calendar, so when I got a page the other day that said, “Chuck Norris is the last digit of pi”, I knew exactly who it should go to—one of the new women in the office who specializes in math-type things. The problem was that in the picture, Chuck wasn’t wearing a shirt, and personally, I think that in a professional office, we probably shouldn’t be putting up pictures of half-naked men. Or women. (Funny story—I used to work with another math-type person who put up an 8 x 10 glossy picture of a very good-looking young man in her cubicle. He was naked from the waist up. I mentioned it to someone, as in “I don’t know if that’s very appropriate” and the person responded, “Oh, it’s OK—that’s her son.” I’ll leave it to you to consider whether that’s actually a funny story or just super-creepy.). So anyway, I very carefully took a sticky note, traced Chuck’s torso, coloured it in with black marker, and then cut it out and taped it on. It looked just like a very stylish T-shirt. I took it over to her, and said, “I thought you might appreciate this”, but she just looked at it with a weirdly dubious expression.

Me: It’s Chuck Norris.
Her: OK.
Me: It’s a joke about math.
Her: OK.
Me: I thought you might like it. I made him a shirt.
Her: Oh.

So I left it on her table and walked away. Later, I went by, and it was still there, but the tiny T-shirt I’d made had been carefully peeled away.

Math Story 3

So this is technically not a math story, but it has numbers in it. If you remember, I joined a hockey pool a couple of weeks ago. I made my picks based on some pretty random factors—I now have a Mr. Smith and a Mr. Anderson in keeping with my Matrix theme, and I picked up a guy called Kailer Yamamoto, because I thought it was a cool name and someone had scooped up Yanni Gourde right before my turn. At any rate, I am currently in first place out of 16 teams with quite a healthy points lead, which led to some subtle accusations that I might be a ringer:

Co-Worker: So. You’re in first place. Guess you know a bit more about hockey than you let on.
Me: Uh, no—I mean, I understand hockey, but I don’t follow statistics or anything. I don’t even know who won the thingy last year.
Co-Worker: If you’re referring to the Stanley Cup, it was the Washington Capitals, as I’m sure you’re aware.
Me: No, I…I’m sure I’ll be in last place by the end of the season and you’ll win the $560 dollars.
Co-Worker: $320. There are 16 of us, remember?

Of course, he was only pretending to give me a hard time, because he’s a pretty decent guy, but that still hasn’t stopped me from calling out, “I’m number 1!” every time I go by his office. Because 1 is the best number.

 

My Week 202: I Excel at STEM, An Update

STEM, if you didn’t know this, stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. There’s a lot of concern about getting more girls into STEM fields and rightly so. But recently, I realized that I’ve become very STEM-y as I’ve aged:

Science:

Up until a little while ago, I really struggled with directions. Not directions like “Twist off cap and pour”, but the actual compass directions. If somebody told me to go North, I would just look at them blankly and be like, “Which way am I NOW? Is North left, right, up or down from here?” But then I realized that I shouldn’t take pride in being perpetually one step away from being lost in the woods, so I decided to become better at navigation. It’s easy in Toronto, where Yonge Street acts as a permanent point of reference: towards the lake is South and the other way is North. Then I can just mentally orient myself from there. I’ve been practicing in my head, and the other day, a tourist approached me when I was out at lunch for directions to Bay Street. I very confidently told him to go west one block. Then I went back to the office and looked it up just to make sure. Luckily, I was right or that poor guy would have ended up in a very sketchy neighbourhood. I’ve also been working on this at home based on which way our house faces. It’s West, by the way. We’ve lived here for thirteen years, and I just found that out yesterday. I’m a work in progress.

I’m also very good at telling the difference between real science and pseudo-science. Many years ago, Ken and I lived in a different house with a well that kept going dry. A neighbour suggested that we get a water witch to come out. Apparently, this witch—well, warlock really—had a great reputation at locating the ideal spot for a new well. So he came to the house with his dousing rods, wandered about for a bit waving them around, and then said, “There’s so much water on this land!” He said this while standing next to a 12 foot deep pond, and 100 yards away from the Otter Creek. Thanks, Merlin.

Technology:

The kitchen faucet in my condo in Toronto won’t work. I called a plumber who told me that a service call is $160 just to look at it, then $160 for every hour after that to fix it. I was appalled, and also a little disappointed that I hadn’t gone into the skilled trades. My roommate was like, “What are you going to do?” And I said, “Imma fix it my damned self.” That’s a direct quote. I don’t know why I phrased it like that, but in retrospect, it was a tad overconfident.

I watched a couple of Youtube videos, in which I learned that the first thing you have to do is turn off the water. So I got back from work, and pulled out the pot drawer (actual pots, not marijuana, just so we’re clear), and I looked for the shut-off. Then I did what any normal person would do. I called Ken.

Me: I just sent you a picture of the underneath of my sink. Which way do I turn the knob?
Ken: Are you sure that’s the right one? It looks like it goes to the dishwasher.
Me (crawling inside the cupboard): Oh yeah. The pipes come in from the bathroom. Hang on a minute.

5 minutes later…

Me: I took the drawer out of the vanity and I see the taps. I sent you a picture.
Ken: The valves are right there. Turn them to the right.
Me (crawling inside vanity): They won’t move. They’re stuck.
Ken: Do you have any WD-40?
Me (pleasantly surprised): Why yes. Yes I do.

To make a long story short, after about half an hour and half a can of WD-40, the shut off valves moved and I turned off the water. I used an Allen key to remove the faucet handle, and I could see the set screw. I was almost at the cartridge thing-y that the guy on Youtube said was the problem. But then, the stupid set screw stripped as I was trying to take it out with my rather suspect “universal screwdriver”. I ended up having to put the whole thing back together, all angry and sweaty from being inside very small cabinets; otherwise we would have had no water in the condo at all. So I called my landlord and he said to call a plumber, but if the plumber says, “Huh—the set screw is stripped—this is going to cost a LOT more money”, my response will be “Do I look like the kind of lady who could take apart a tap?!” But at least I tried.

Engineering:

No one knows what Engineers do. I probably do a lot of Engineering type things without even realizing it, and I’m most likely VERY good at them.

Math:

Right now, Ken is building a new porch for the front of our house. It’s an exciting project, and every day he gets a little bit more accomplished. I’ve been helping out where I can, passing screws, holding a piece of wood straight or whatnot, but it’s getting harder because now he’s asking me math questions.

Ken: I need to build three more steps. They’re five feet wide with a run of 17 inches between them. How many linear feet do you think I need?
Me: How fast are the trains going and what time did they leave the station…?
Ken: I need to buy wood for the steps. I’m thinking of 2x8s.
Me: But if the steps are 17 inches deep, then that’s only 16. Don’t you want them to hang over a little? What about getting 2x6s and using three per step?
Ken: Ooh, you’re doing grown-up math!
Me: F*ck off.

People tease me about not being proficient with math, and I make fun of myself all the time too, but the fact is that I’m actually very mathematical when I put my mind to it. For example, I know based on scientific calculations that my favourite wine glass will hold five ounces of wine if I fill it to a certain level and thanks to careful research (Google) with white wine at 120 calories per five-ounce serving size, I know exactly how much I can drink every day. I hope you’re impressed because I’m just f*cking dazzling myself with my math/wine prowess. Also, earlier, I had to write my mom a cheque for the deposit on a cruise I’m taking with her and my dad this fall, as well as the money for my brother’s birthday present. And as a math prodigy, I used the tools at hand to make the calculations. And I mean LITERALLY at hand, because I wrote the numbers ON MY HAND and added them up.

Palm Pilot

 

See how I even carried the one? I write things on my hand all the time, and I used to tell people that it was my “palm pilot”, which I thought was quite witty and clever, but no one ever laughs at that anymore.

But I MUST be getting better at math, because on the way to the lumber store, Ken handed me a piece of paper and asked me to “check his calculations”. I said that it was very nice how much confidence he had in my math skills. Then I added everything up on my hand and said, “Looks right to me.”

A Quick Update

So I still haven’t gotten up the nerve to ask my colleague “Jim” how exactly I’m like Jeffrey, but I’ve been doing a little ‘detective slash stalker’ work. I sent a LinkedIn invite to Jim and when he accepted it, I looked up all his other contacts until I found the one guy named Jeffrey, who also has a ton of mutual contacts with me and Jim, so it must be him. His profile said that he was “creative and agile”. I agree with ‘agile’ considering how much time I spent crawling in and out of cupboards this week. ‘Creative’ on some days, OK. I am, however, not bald in the slightest. The quest for truth continues.

Black and White Challenge Week Five

 

My Week 177: My Favourite Bathroom Stall and Other Questions I’ve Asked Myself

Questions That I’ve Asked Myself

A while ago, I was nominated for a Unique Blogger Award by my good blogger pal Cecilia, from Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks who writes wonderful posts about family, life, and cool DIY stuff. The post which, to me, best captures her writing and her warm personality is High School Planet Dance Notes: Tips for Survival, which made me laugh and get a little teary all at the same time.  Then last week, I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by another blogger pal, Brooke Breazeale of Summoning Magic: A Gypsy’s Tale, world traveller, humanitarian, and all around super writer. One of my favourite Gypsy posts is this one—it’s both eloquent and brutally honest: The Girl Who Bullied Me Gave Me My Greatest Gift. But this is not about these awards, which are great and made me feel truly blessed, but more about how I’m not good at follow-through. I have pretty strict rules about this blog—I only post once a week on Sunday, and I only ever post humorous stuff or political satire, because humour is what helps me get through life’s sh*t. So herein lies the dilemma—how do I honour these amazing women while at the same time doing my thing? But I’ve come up with a solution. You see, normally you respond to these nominations by answering questions that are posed to you or whatnot, and today I will be answering questions that I have posed to myself, based on the notes on my phone that I was going to write about this week anyway. I don’t know if these are the kind of questions that demonstrate the appropriate gravitas for this type of accolade, but it’s what you get when you nominate mydangblog.

Question Number 1: Which bathroom at work is your favourite?

Ah, now THAT is an excellent question. At work, 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. 

Bathroom Stall Overall Ranking:

5: 1
2: 2
4: 3
3: 4
1: Boo.

Question Number 2: Do you have any other bathroom stories you’d like to share?

Why yes, I actually do. A couple of weeks ago, I was on the train, and I had to use the facilities. I try to avoid this like the plague for three reasons. First, you could actually GET the plague from a train bathroom. Second, the bathrooms on the train always smell like urine, and third, if the train derails, I would have no advance warning to brace myself against the toilet and the far wall, as one does. But I’d had a little wine, and decided that I couldn’t wait until I got back to my condo. I went in, shut the door, and slid the bolt across to lock it. I was just finished, and was standing in front of the mirror, not because I wanted to look at myself but because if you stand in front of the toilet and the train shakes, you might end up IN the toilet, instead of bouncing off the door. My legs were apart for stability, and my pants were pulled up at the back, but they were open in the front because I hadn’t started zipping yet. Suddenly the bathroom door flew open. A man was standing there, staring at me in shock. I pulled my top down over the front of my pants and gave a small shriek, but not before I looked in the mirror and caught the eye of a guy sitting across from the bathroom. He looked away, smiling to himself, and in that fraction of a second, I was pleased to note that I was wearing the nice underwear. Then the man who opened the door slammed it back shut, leaving me there mortified. So now what? I couldn’t stay in the bathroom forever; aside from the fact that the smell of pee was getting very heady, my wine was back at my seat. So I straightened myself up, opened the door, apologized to the man who’d opened the door for not locking it properly (because that’s what Canadians do), marched to my seat and tossed back my wine. Like a boss.

Question Number 3: Have you been in any car accidents lately?

Funny you should ask. Right after Christmas, I went to the mall to spend my gift money. On the way back, I stopped at a Yield sign because a car was coming the other way. Suddenly, my car jerked forward, because the person behind me was unaware that sometimes people have to actually stop at Yield signs in order to actually Yield, and he ran into me. It was about -30 degrees, but I put the car in ‘Park’ and got out. He was sitting there in his mini-van, looking annoyed. I gave him a “WTF?” kind of arm raise and went to his window, which he reluctantly rolled down. He was a tiny elderly man. He was wearing a fedora and an alpaca overcoat, which made him look like a cartoon character.

Me: You hit my car.
Him: I thought you’d started moving.
Me: Well, you’d better get out and look at the damage with me.
Him: But I’m on my way to work.
Me: Buddy, you just hit my car. You’re not going anywhere for a little while.
Him: But I’m going to be late.
Me: Dude. Come on.

So we pulled into a parking lot around the corner. At this point, I think he realized that things were getting serious, and he started apologizing profusely. As it was, he’d just taken a bit of paint off my trim kit, and honestly, it was so f*cking cold that it wasn’t worth the bother of making him feel any worse than he seemed to. “Well,” I said finally. “I can get some touch-up paint. Now, skedaddle.” OK, I didn’t actually say “skedaddle”, but that would have been funny, and totally in keeping with the way he jumped back into his mini-van and took off. Just like a cartoon character would.

Question Number 4: Have you had any weird dreams lately?

I had a really weird dream last night, but it involved my dad saying a naughty word in reference to a man’s special parts, a word he would NEVER say in real life because he is dignified and mature, and also if he did say it in real life, it would be in a very broad Scottish accent and no one would understand him, unlike in my dream, where he kept saying it and everyone, including my mother who was also in the dream, just nodded sagely in agreement. But the other night, I DID have a dream I can tell you about. It was nighttime and Titus was running around the house, so I let him out into the backyard. Suddenly, he transformed into a small, female Asian child who was tending a fire in a firepit. I told her it was too close to the fence next door and might set it on fire, so she started piling rocks onto the firepit, but that wasn’t helping. I got a hose and started to spray the fire to put it out, then suddenly Gene Wilder’s head appeared in the firepit, and I sprayed him in the face. He started screaming and I woke up. Ta dah. Go interpret THAT sh*t.

Question Number 5: Are you good at math?

No. The other day, I was trying to do 2017 minus 24, and kept coming up with 1983. Then I would add 1983 and 24, and come up with 2007. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong, so I asked someone I work with, who said, “It’s OK. You take 4 away from 7, which gives you 3. Then you borrow 10 from a friend so that you can take 2 away from 11.” And even now, I only THINK that’s what he said, because it still doesn’t make sense, even though I know it’s right, and maybe the problem was that my stupid friend wouldn’t loan me 10 because he’s a dick. Or maybe I just suck at math.

There you have it. I hope that I’ve fulfilled my obligation. The other thing I’m supposed to do is nominate other bloggers, which I’m happy to do, because I love all your writing. However, a lot of my blogger colleagues have received these awards already, and I don’t want to overtax anyone by making them answer my questions. So if you have never been nominated for an award, and you’d like to be, just message me and next week, I’ll nominate you, because you all deserve it anyway. Don’t be shy. The only rule is that you have to answer the 5 questions above. But if you don’t have a second bathroom story, you can substitute a question of your own. And this better not be like the time when I was a radio DJ with a classical music show, and I ran a contest, and the only person who called in was my mom.

My Week 83: Back to Routine, A Present for Not Dying

Monday: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

After three weeks of working off site, I finally returned to the office on Monday. My secret agency is located right in the heart of downtown, and wow, it was sure good to be back. I hadn’t had anyone ask me for money, scream uncontrollably, or yell at me about Jesus for a while. Wait—before you get the wrong idea, I’m NOT talking about work (well, at least not my current job) because no one at work EVER yells. It’s literally the most civilized place of employment on the planet, and it’s great to walk in and have people so pleased to see you. It’s just that I live in a very “unstable” neighbourhood. But still, it’s MY neighbourhood, and you get used to all the zany things that happen on a daily basis. And by “zany” , I mean weird, frightening, and often disgusting. But not always—there ARE some nice things that I actually like about the area. So here are some of the crazy things that happened this week:

Monday: I had to get groceries. I have two choices—a Metro or Loblaws. They are equidistant from my condo, and the decision regarding which one to go to usually rests on the number and type of homeless people on the way there, and how much money I have in my purse. On Monday, there was a scary guy on the Metro corner who was yelling and pulling down his jeans, and I had no intention of being there when he decided that his boxer shorts were equally uncomfortable. So I headed the other way, towards panhandlers I knew were harmless. I always ask them if they want something from the grocery store, and it’s usually a cup of coffee or lasagna from the hot lunch counter, but I think they’ve all figured out that I’m an easy mark, because John wanted a loaf of bread and a tub of margarine, and Mike wanted a jar of Nescafe Expresso, which he assured me was “on sale for half-price”. Apparently, the coffee at the Food Bank is crappy, and he was craving something a little better to go with the Rice Krispie square that someone had given him. But hey—who am I to begrudge them life’s little pleasures? At least they keep their pants on.

Tuesday: My work partner L and I decided to go to Tim Horton’s to scout out some lunch. We are both a little obsessive about Tim’s Cream of Potato and Bacon soup, which is hardly ever on the menu, but it’s quite possibly the BEST F*CKING SOUP EVER INVENTED, so we live in hope. We hit the doorway, and scared the bejeezus out of some poor lady as we both yelled in unison, “The soup!! YES!!!!” and started fistpumping and highfiving each other maniacally. That’s right. Two grown women high fiving over soup. And then we had to say to the poor lady, who was looking around like a terrorist attack was impending, “Oh no—it’s OK—it’s just the soup.” But universal karma got me on the way out. I went to hold open the door for an elderly woman, who had simultaneously hit the Handicapped button with her cane. Instead of thanking me, she looked at me and snarled, “IT’S OPEN!” Crazy old bat—no soup for you!

tims soup

Wednesday: On my street, there are a couple of empty storefronts, which is weird because it’s such a busy neighbourhood that you’d think people would be dying to open businesses there. At any rate, the doorways of said storefronts are the nocturnal havens of numerous street people, who have no apparent problem sleeping in them and using them as bathrooms. I’m relatively used to the urine and occasional vomit, but on Wednesday morning, I passed the doorway of a former Sushi Express, and right in the middle of it was the biggest poop I’d ever seen. Obviously not a dog poop. Unless the dog was that three-headed thing from Harry Potter. But instead of being grossed out, I was intrigued. Like, how big was the guy who put it there, and how long had he been holding it in? I kept thinking about it all morning, and at lunch, my work partner and I walked down to Loblaw’s.

Me: Do you see that doorway over there?
L: Yes…
Me: There’s the largest bowel movement I’ve ever seen in my life in that doorway.
L: Why are you telling me this? Stop.
Me: No really—it’s gigantic. You wouldn’t believe it.
L: Eww. Really, you need to stop.
Me: Sigh. OK. (whispering) But it was soooo big.
L: STOP!

I’m lucky I work with such tolerant people. But it would have been really nice if she’d actually wanted to see it, just to confirm that it was indeed the largest poop in the world.

Thursday: There’s always a LOT of construction downtown, and right across the street from the office, they’ve been excavating a hole for a new condo building for the last year. Towards the end of the day, I wandered down the aisle, and happened to notice that the excavating seemed to be finished, and that suddenly, a big-ass crane was in the hole. I happened to remark on the presence of the crane, and my life suddenly turned into a Monty Python sketch (please imagine that the rest of the people in the following conversation are extremely excited and have thick French accents. Because they are and they do.)

Me: Wow that is one huge crane!
Male Colleague 1 (rushing to the window): I know! It was not there last week, and suddenly now it is ‘ere!
Male Colleague 2: ‘Ow do they get it to the place? They must travel in the night!
Female Colleague: My brother, ‘e drives the crane truck. They bring the pieces in lying flat so they don’t ‘it the ‘ydro wires. Then they put it up, one piece at a time!
Everyone: Wow!
Male Colleague 3: My cousin, ‘e was killed by a crane. It was missing a safety pin, and it fell onto ‘im. ‘E was crushed.
Everyone (suddenly deflated): Oh…

There’s nothing like a sad crane story to ruin the party, folks.

Friday: If you send an email to the people on your team, make sure that you proofread it first so that it says “Sick Day” and not “Dick Day”. Because if it says “Dick Day”, the entire office will know, and be in good-natured hysterics most of the morning. No, surprisingly, it wasn’t me.

Saturday: Why I deserve a present for “not dying”.

In a little over a month, I will be having a fairly major surgery. It’s not elective, and I can’t back out of it. I am absolutely terrified, mostly because of the general anesthetic. I love how the doctor will say, “Count down from 100, and by the time you reach 95, you’ll be asleep”, because it’s not SLEEPING at all. Sleeping is where you have awesome dreams. Anesthetic is where you have no idea if you died or not. Just ask Michael Jackson. The only reason I know that I’m not dead every night is because I have very vivid weird dreams. The other night, for example, I had this bizarre dream where I was teaching math to a group of kids:

Me: And that’s how you figure out “less than” versus “greater than”.
Student: Why is that important?
Me: Because it’s the foundation for all other mathematics. Like algebra.
Student: What’s algebra?
Me: Algebra is when you have to find a solution to an equation that has a missing variable.
Student: What does THAT mean?
Me: Algebra is like being a detective, but instead of solving crimes, you’re solving for “x”.

Then I woke up in a cold sweat and yelled, “Is that right? How the F*CK do I even know that? What the hell is a missing variable?!” Because if you know me at all, you know that I know virtually nothing about math, having failed miserably at it in high school. But apparently, my subconscious remembers something about it, while I was passing notes and rolling my eyes. So anyway, anesthetic. I told Ken that I was scared of dying, and he told me I was being stupid, that I wasn’t going to die, and I was like “HOW DO YOU KNOW, KEN?! I MIGHT!”

Ken: You’re not going to die. I’ll tell you what—we’ll make a bet. If you don’t die, you owe me $50.
Me: I have a better idea. If I don’t die, you buy me a really nice present.
Ken: Seriously? You think you deserve a present for “not dying”?

Fuck yes, I do. And here’s my argument. There are women out there who get presents for having a baby. It’s called a “push present”. If a woman can get a gift for squeezing out a kid, why can’t I have one for not letting the Grim Reaper take me to the promised land? I’ve HAD a baby—it’s not that hard. Unlike NOT DYING. Ok, I admit that I’ve been able to “not die” for the last 18, 413 days, which honestly, is a feat unto itself when you think about it, but I’ve come close a few times and got fuck-all for it. So I think I’m owed at this point. And I have to tell you, there’s no better motivator for NOT going towards the light than a different, glittery, diamond-y kind of light. Or Cream of Potato and Bacon soup. It’s the gesture that counts.