Where’s The Fire?

Last Saturday, I was doing a book signing at our local Chapters Indigo store. The weather was lousy, but at least it was just rain, not the freezing rain and snow that had been forecast. I was there for three hours, and I sold quite a few copies, but still three hours is a long time to just stand next to a giant sign featuring a post-apocalyptic Toronto skyline without any distractions. Then suddenly, a fire truck with its lights flashing pulled up outside the store. OOH! And I wasn’t the only person who raced to the window, and I’m also sure I wasn’t the only person who was more interested in seeing the firefighters than actually finding out why they were there. Ultimately, nothing happened—they didn’t even come into the store, much to the dismay of women, men, and small children alike. And it reminded me of the last fire drill we had at work:

I was in the elevator and two guys got on. “Don’t forget about the fire drill tomorrow,” one of them said to the other.

“Oh,” I said. “Is it in the morning or afternoon?”

“Afternoon,” he answered. “Stay close to your coat—it’s supposed to be chilly.”

So that was a great heads-up, except that I almost immediately forgot about it until the next afternoon, when suddenly, the fire alarm went off. Everyone looked around nonchalantly, but then an announcement came over the PA system: “A fire alarm has been activated on Parking Level 2. The fire department has been dispatched. Exit the building immediately.” Then people started to get a little panicky. “Don’t worry,” I said. “I heard two guys talking about a drill yesterday in the elevator. I’m sure the announcement is just a trick or something.” But that didn’t seem to make people feel better, and then everyone started walking quickly towards the exit. Notice that I said “exit” singular, and not “exits” plural. Because, even though my office is in an 18-story building, there’s only ONE way out. Down the stairs. Along with EVERYONE ELSE who works in the building. And after meandering slowly down numerous double flights of stairs in a huge crowd of people I didn’t know, I commented to my co-worker, “This is crazy. If there was a real fire, we’d all be in serious trouble.” She replied, “Why the hell didn’t I change out of these heels?” which was a completely legit question, since our secret agency meeting place was on a side street two city blocks away. I suppose that’s in an attempt to disguise our identities, you know, like we’re just a group of tourists who happened to stop for a chat behind the grocery store. Like, nothing to see here; just move along. Ignore the man carrying the encrypted laptop. But then things got a little worrisome. Not because of the fire—at this point it became very clear that it was, in fact, a drill—but because there was no sign of any firetrucks. A ripple of dissatisfaction ran through the crowd.

“Where are the firefighters? We were promised firefighters!”

“If I had to walk down 15 flights of stairs, there should at least be firefighters!”

“What’s going on? Does anyone hear sirens?”

“This is ridiculous! You can’t just lie about calling the fire department! It’s not fair!”

And this wasn’t just the women. Men like firetrucks too, you know. But after a little while, we were all distracted by a colleague in Human Resources, a very dapper guy who was now wearing not only his suit and tie, but a rather bold, red ballcap with the words, “Fire Marshall” on it. We flocked to him to have our names checked off (to ensure none of us had perished in the fake fire?) and also because he was the closest thing to a firefighter that we had, and then we sadly returned to our building. The elevators were back in service—4 elevators for an eighteen-story building. It took a little while, but we finally squeezed on at the ground floor, cheering and laughing. Then the elevator suddenly stopped at the sixth floor. We were all puzzled until the doors opened:

“Marcel!!” we cheered. There was Marcel, one of our French co-workers, with a huge grin on his face. “I t’ought ze best t’ing would be to go up ze stairs partway. And ‘ere you are!”  With that, we welcomed him aboard and went back to work.

This might seem inconsequential or anti-climactic, but I tell this story to illustrate a point. That, given the state of some parts of the world right now, I am always grateful when the worst DOESN’T happen, when it’s a drill and not a tragedy, when the door opens and it’s a friend on the other side, when I get to spend time with people who see the humour in things, and when “another day at the office” is a good day. Even if there weren’t any firefighters.

Notice the lack of firefighters…

My Week 181: 50 Shades of Ewwwww

Have you ever had one of those weeks that seems to be theme-based? Apparently, my theme this week is “50 Shades of Grey”. Now before you all start thinking that I’m a very lucky, and also naughty, girl, let me assure you that it’s nothing quite so salacious. It’s just that the topic of either that particular novel/film or the subject of ‘adult’ fiction have both been coming up fairly regularly lately. It all started last week, when I was at the Page to Screen conference because I’d been invited to attend the cocktail reception by my publisher. He’s been my publisher for about 2 years now, but this was the first time I’d ever spoken to him, let alone met him—all our communication has been via email. Anyway, he invited me to go, because he was pitching my novel to producers in this kind of speed-dating style format, with the intention of getting someone interested in making it into a movie or whatnot. Over the last few weeks, Ken and I had engaged in some pretty thorough speculation about what he actually might look like. Ken was convinced that he was a tall, older, absent-minded professor type, and I thought he was probably middle-aged but distinguished. He has a VERY Anglo name, so imagine my surprise when I walked into the reception and was met by a rather diminutive man with a VERY strong Russian accent. Well, I don’t know if he’s actually Russian, but you know how the Russians get credit for almost everything these days, so whatevs. At any rate, I really enjoyed finally getting to talk to him, and he introduced me to a couple of the producers that he knew. We also had a conversation about my next novel:

Him: I read the synopsis. Is it science fiction?
Me: It’s more dystopian. You know, like post-apocalyptic Canada.
Him: Many people here are asking for science fiction. It’s popular.
Me: Yeah, it’s science fiction.

In my defence, there are definitely some science-y bits in it. But then he had to leave. I decided to stick around for a little while longer, because there was free wine, and that outweighed my discomfort with being in a crowd of people I don’t know. So I was standing there, minding my own business and drinking a nice Chardonnay, when I was approached by this trio of women. They wanted to know what I wrote, so I told them, “Young Adult fiction. My main character is 16.”

“Oh,” said one of them. “MY main character is 16 as well, but it’s not Young Adult. There’s LOTS of sex in it. I mean A LOT OF SEX. It’s very ADULT.” And it was kind of weird and creepy how she so cheerfully emphasized the amount of sex in her book, so I tossed back my Chard and excused myself. And now I’m worried about what kinds of films these producers are making.

Then earlier this week, we were out for a birthday lunch, and the topic of 50 Shades of Grey came up at the table. I’ve never read or seen any of it, but the consensus was that the books were poorly written and the movies weren’t much better. One of my colleagues said she had just seen it with a group of lady friends, and at that moment I looked down at my phone to read an email. When I looked back up, someone was saying, “And then they raised money and took all the kids at the school to see it.” And I was like “What?! That’s horrifying! What parent would allow their child to see THAT?!” Then everyone just stared at me because the conversation had moved on from 50 Shades of Grey to The Black Panther and I should probably pay attention to conversations if I want to contribute to them.

And yesterday, I was in the kitchen at work, and someone asked me what kind of novel I had written. When I told her, she said, “Do you ever write anything adult?” and I was like, “What, you mean, like porn? God, no.” She immediately clarified that she just meant books designed for an older audience, not “erotica”, but it occurred to me that there’s no real way to ask that question without sounding like you actually MEAN porn. IE: Do you write for a mature audience? Is your work meant for adults? Are your readers older? Because all I have to do in my head is put quotation marks around “adult”, “mature”, or “older” and it automatically sounds like it’s porn. But I could never write porn, not even that 50 Shades sh*t, because every single one of my female characters would giggle self-consciously and make jokes whenever anything remotely sexy happened. Face it—there are just some people who shouldn’t write porn. I’m going to now try writing something “adult”, just so you have proof:

Woman: I’m bored. Talk dirty to me.
Man: OK. Mrs. Smith, I’ve been looking at your lesson plans and you’ve been very naughty.
Woman: I have? Ooh. What have I done, Mr. Jones?
Man: Your rubrics don’t align with curriculum expectations. You will have to be punished. Please come to my office.
Woman: Your office? Tell me more.
Man (husky voice): I just had new carpeting installed. It’s builder’s grade, but it’s very nice all the same.
Woman: That’s definitely going to trigger my allergies.
Man (husky voice): Ohhh, your allergies eh? Maybe you need to have them spanked out of you.
Woman: *laughs hysterically*

That may or may not have been based on a real conversation between 2 people who have been married almost 30 years. The closest I’ve come to actual porn lately though was the movie Red Sparrow, starring Jennifer Lawrence. She plays a Russian ballerina that trains to be a sex spy, which is to say, someone who uses sex to spy on people, NOT someone who spies on people having sex. Anyway, there was a LOT of graphic action in this movie, which we had gone to see with K and her girlfriend, the lovely V. When the movie was over, we were all just like, “Well, that was certainly a complicated plot….” and “Gosh, the Cold War was an interesting time in history….” So probably not the kind of movie you want to see WITH your teenager. And now, I just took a break and peeked at Facebook, where one of my friends has posted an article about a Canadian trapper who was attacked by a randy 200 pound beaver, so I’m just going to leave things there.

Hey there, baby.

My Week 179: Keynotes, Plants Vs. Babies, and Dog Olympics

This past week, I went to an educational conference. Overall, it was pretty good, but there were a couple of things that stood out. First, the opening keynote speaker was a Canadian actress who is fairly well-known here as a TV personality. But she’d just written a book, so the conference organizers must have thought that she would have the appropriate gravitas for such an occasion. Apparently, no one vetted her speech ahead of time, and frankly, it was bizarre. I’ve never actually been to a conference of any kind where the keynote said “F*ck”, “pussy”, or “blowjob”, let alone had to sit through a 5 minute rant about Donald Trump, the relevance of which, at a conference for Canadian professionals at 8:30 in the morning seemed a tad out of place. But she DID come up with some creative new nicknames for the American president, aside from the “Pussy Grabber in Chief”, including “Cheeto Benito” and “Orangini Mussolini”. Then things got REALLY uncomfortable when she started referencing the “goddamned patriarchy”, the #MeToo movement, and how badly men oppress women, like the younger man she was dating who broke up with her because she was losing her eyesight. It was pretty intense—half the audience was guys, and I’m sure most of them were looking around like “I didn’t sign up for this, but if I walk out now, someone might lob a stiletto at me”. It really was the strangest experience, and had virtually nothing to do with the topic of the conference. Luckily, the luncheon keynote on the last day was Indigenous activist/broadcaster/author, Candy Palmater, who was incredibly inspiring, and didn’t reference either Trump OR blowjobs.

Second, there were a LOT of people at the conference, and while that might seem self-evident, the trouble was that many of them had no idea of either personal space or how to navigate any space at all. People would stop suddenly in the middle of hallways, stand in huddled groups in the centre of doorways, and walk like snowplows on the highway. If you know me at all, you are aware that I am just a titch OCD. And when I say “just a titch”, I’m understating it just a titch. And while I’m not sure what a “titch” actually is, it must be a real word because Spellcheck is not underlining it in that passive/aggressive way that Spellcheck has. Anyway, I don’t like being touched by strangers in the same way that other people don’t like being punched in the face, so in the line-up for lunch, I thought I was going to lose my sh*t, thanks to the number of people who bumped into me because space was so tight.

Third, while waiting for a session to start, I was stuck behind a woman who was the most melodramatic person I’ve ever eavesdropped on. She was freaking out about several things, including her new house (“It’s SOOO unfair that we have to put all our money into the house when we could be spending it on other things”), her hair (“I just don’t know what to DOOO! Should I let it grow or cut it short?!”), and finally, this gem:

Dramatic Lady: Babies are TERRIFYING!!
Sympathetic Companion: *makes soothing noises*
Dramatic Lady: I mean, I’m TERRIFIED of having a baby! It’s not a plant or a dog—it’s a CHILD! You give birth to it, and then you’re expected to TAKE CARE of it!! And NOBODY tells you how to DO THAT!!

I actually snickered out loud, but she was so caught up in her own hysteria that she didn’t hear me. But I was like, Seriously? Thank GOD babies aren’t plants, because I’ve killed so many plants over the years it’s not even funny. I even killed a cactus once (I overwatered it). But I did pretty OK with the baby I had. And if you can take care of a dog, you can take care of a baby—it’s not much different. Well, the underlying philosophy of love, nutrition, and hygiene is comparable. Also, we teach dogs to do tricks, and we do the same thing with our kids. Like teaching your dog how to give a high five isn’t technically much different from saying, “Oh look, Grandma—we taught the baby how to clap!” But the icing on the self-absorption cake was really when she finished with, “I just THANK GOD that my husband was in foster care for so many years. He’s diapered so many babies that he’s not worried about it AT ALL!” And then she got up, and I realized that she was pregnant. I wish I’d gotten her name so that I could send her a plant to practice on.

Luckily, I’m better with babies.

The Olympics

Titus (leaping onto the bed): Watcha watching?
Me: The Olympics.
Titus: Oh yeah, we have those too.
Me: You mean, like agility trials or something?
Titus: Ha! No—agility trials are like the Commonwealth Games of the canine world. No, I mean Dog Olympics.
Me: What are some of the events?
Titus: Well, there’s the Barking—
Me: Dogs bark all the time. How is THAT an Olympic event?
Titus: People WALK all the time, but you still have medals for it. Besides, there’s a real technique to barking. You’re judged on volume, pitch, and sustained howling. There was a huge scandal last year when the Borzois were caught doping with Vick’s VapoDrops.
Me: Wow. OK, what are some other events?
Titus: Well, there’s Staying Upright on Ice, Find the Toy, The Butt-Sniffing Challenge, and my favourite, Moguls.
Me: Dogs can ski?!
Titus: Well, technically it’s just dogs falling down hills. But it’s fun to watch.
Me: Are there any team events?
Titus: There’s the Steeplechase. I wouldn’t want to be THAT cat. Oh, and there’s Curling, but the rocks are made out of Milkbones so the games don’t last long.
Me: That’s an improvement. High five! Ow—you hit me in the face.
Titus: Sorry. You should have taught me to clap.

Getting psyched for Barking.

 

My Week 157: Monkey Butlers; Rottweiners and Other Bad-Ass Animal Hybrids

Last week, I got a very cryptic email from my mother. The subject line was “VW”, and the text of the message said this:

“Hi Honey: Bought you a present today to do with the above (hint) his first name is Ralph.  See you soon.  Love, Mom xxx”

I pondered for quite a while, and came up empty. I asked a colleague, “What do you think this means?” and he replied, “Maybe some kind of animal?” And I was doubtful at first, but then I had an epiphany and I wrote back this:

“Is it a monkey butler?! I’ve always wanted one of those! Also, there was nothing above except the initials V. W. Is my monkey butler’s name Ralph Van Wooster? Can’t wait to find out! Love you:-)”

I was super-pumped, and waited for a while to get a confirmation. And waited. And waited. But my mother didn’t reply back, and I got worried. There were several possible reasons why I had yet to receive a loving message about how clever I was to have surmised that my present was a simian man-servant.

1) My mother was mad that I guessed her riddle and spoiled the surprise. I could see her reading the email, and then saying to my dad in a low whisper, “How does she always know? Well, let her stew, the smartass.”

2) My mother had actually bought me a Volkswagen, and didn’t know how to let me down gently. I have to say though, Mom, that a VW named Ralph would have been almost as cool as a monkey butler, but only if it was a Beetle.

3) Someone had hacked my mom’s email, and I would eventually learn that in “exchange” for the present, I would have to send $5 000 in iTune gift cards to a Nigerian prince named Ralph Varem Wabara who’s being held captive on the International Space Station by Chris Hadley (a Canadian criminal mastermind/astronaut).

4) My mother didn’t know what a monkey butler was, and my email befuddled her, so much so that she didn’t know what to say in return. I could see her reading the email and then saying to my dad in a low whisper, “What is she on about now? I can’t even dignify this with a reply. It’s your fault she’s so weird,” and then my dad would say, “Och! Yer aff yer heid, woman!”

Number 1, of course, was the most likely scenario, so I spent the next few days feeling a little guilty for being so clever. Then my parents came by the house to drop off my gift. I had read extensively on the topic of how to train a monkey butler, and I had the guest room prepared as per the instructions on http://www.angelfire.com/crazy3/learntofly/ which is exclusively devoted to the topic of “How to Train Your Monkey Butler”—it contains pearls of grammatically incorrect wisdom like “When you have your monkey butler serve a person let him take his time and serve one person at a time so he doesn’t get confused and start to get angry, a confused angry monkey is no fun for anyone.” I heartily agree and highly recommend this site to anyone who might find themselves in my position.

Then Mom and Dad arrived, and I was a little concerned when I saw them coming down the walk “sans simian”. What a letdown. But when they came in the house, my mother presented me with a CD of music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, who, aside from Trent Reznor and Dave Grohl, is one of my favourite composers, and that really softened the monkey butler blow because the other night, Ken had tried to lull me to sleep by playing “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” only he had to find it on Youtube then he put his iPad directly on my ear so that the music wouldn’t drown out The Weather Channel, which wasn’t very lulling and more just annoying, although he meant well. Now I could play that, and “Lark Ascending”, any time I wanted. But I was still curious:

Me: Why didn’t you answer my email? I thought you were mad.
Mom: Your email? You mean the one about the monkey butler? I would have, but I don’t know what a monkey butler is.
Me: It’s a monkey that’s a butler.
Mom: Would you really want one of those? Wouldn’t it be a lot of work to train it?
Me: Yeah. You’re probably right.

And then I realized that every time I had pictured Ralph Van Wooster in my head, he was actually wearing a bellhop uniform, and not a bespoke tuxedo, so it’s probably good that I wasn’t put in charge of training him, because then he would insist on carrying everyone’s bags instead of serving drinks.

Me: I don’t think a monkey would make a good butler.
Ken: Um, what?
Me: It would be hard to train him. I can’t even get Titus to play dead—he only plays “wounded”.
Ken: You have to make it submit. You know, like “Shock the Monkey”.
Me: If you think the best way to train a monkey is to shock him, then you don’t deserve a monkey butler. Besides, I thought that song was about a guy who pleasured himself in a sudden and rather violent way.
Ken: Um, what?
Me: Like Spank the Monkey, only–never mind. (whispers) You know I’ll have to make this whole conversation up when I blog about it. Forget about training a monkey butler—I need to train YOU to be a better “humorous foil”.

At the end of the day, I didn’t get a monkey butler. But I DID get an awesome CD, AND a blog topic, so thanks, Mom—you’re the bestest!

Sunday:

I’ve been doing a lot of writing this week. I’m on Chapter 12 of my new novel, and then on Friday, my publisher sent me the pdfs/galleys of my first novel, which is about to be published, and I had to review that and give them feedback. It’s funny how much more critical you get of your own writing when you realize that other people, like, people OUTSIDE your family who might not love you, will be reading it. And now, I want to go back and do a major rewrite, but I can’t because the publisher is ready to print. Ken says that it’s fine the way it is, but he also thinks that buttermilk is the same thing as whipping cream. At any rate, I’ve been sidetracked, so to stay consistent with today’s topic of monkey butlers, here’s a throwback post for those of you who missed some of Year One:

The Best Bad-Ass Animal Hybrids

So the other day, I was driving along and I saw a guy walking a dog. As I got closer, I realized that it was a dog with the body of a large Dachshund, and the face of a Rottweiler. It was a ROTTWEINER. And then I was really disappointed, because it did NOT look badass at all. You would think that a dog with the personality of a weiner dog, all scrappy and feisty, and the body of a Rottweiler, all muscular and mean, would be the height of badass-ery. Nuh. It was just a bigger than average weiner dog with a round Rottweiler head. And it looked very awkward and self-conscious, like one of those dog-slinkies whose back end has a mind of its own. Why is it that the permutations of nature are never as cool as you hope they would be? Then I got to thinking about other hybrid animals (because I was driving, so why not , right?) and it occurred to me that they all pretty much suck. For example, the mule. This is a cross between a horse and a donkey. Why would anyone WANT to do that? Especially the horse or the donkey? Who knows how it happens, except that apparently it’s always a union between a donkey girl and a horse boy. Which makes sense because how would a boy donkey reach up that high? Then I thought the same must be true of the Rottweiner—it had to be a boy Rottweiler and a girl dachshund, or else SOMEONE was using a step stool. Anyway, aside from the complicated logistics of these types of unions, the whole DNA component is also a puzzle. Why is it mules are sterile, but Rottweiners can go on to have little rotty-weiner babies, or even breed with another kind of dog, say, an Irish Wolfhound? Wouldn’t that be a bizarre looking beast? I actually did a little research for this (ie: I googled “Crazy Animal Hybrids”), and while there were some real disappointments, like the Sheep-Goat (it’s such a bad hybrid that it doesn’t even get a cool name like Shroat, or Greep) I discovered some pretty amazing creatures, so here are my top 3:

3) The Liger: This is a cross between a lion and a tiger. It’s the biggest cat known to humans and can be over 10 feet long and weigh 700 pounds. Also, its best friends are Heffalumps and Woozles.

2) The Grolar Bear: Created when a grizzly bear and a polar bear mate. While this seems unlikely, given that polar bears live NO WHERE NEAR grizzly bears, scientists speculate that it’s happening more and more in the wild due to global warming, and grizzly bears moving into formerly polar bear-only areas. See, global warming has its upside, which is awesome new animals. As the earth warms up and other ecosystems change, maybe we’ll also see the Pengotter (yes, this is an imaginary cross between a penguin and an otter, which I made up just now, and it would be the cutest thing to ever exist).

1) The number one best animal cross, in my humble opinion, is the Coydog. According to the article I read, the Coydog has the natural cunning of a coyote without its instinctive fear of humans, making it tremendously high on the badass scale. So it would pretend to be your best friend, and then when you were asleep, it would eat all your food and pee in your bed. Or kill you. And your Rottweiner.

Honourable Mention: Of course, the Honourable Mention has to go to my favourite mythological hybrid animal—the Zebrasus. This is a cross between a zebra and a Pegasus. I have a sculpture of a Zebrasus on the bookshelf in my office. I found it on a window ledge on the last day of school, many years ago, after all the students had gone home for the summer. I never found out who made it, but it was so awesome that I had to keep it for myself. The best thing about the Zebrasus, aside from the stripes and the wings, is that he’s smoking a cigar and wearing Mardi Gras beads. He is the Ultimate Badass.

 

My Week 85: Grinder Week, TMI at the Dentist

Thursday: I am at least two of the seven dwarves.

I think we were all really sleepy and grumpy this week for some reason. It seems like it’s been a long spring, without much hope of warm weather yet. In fact, the other day, my work partner and I were going down to Loblaws, and we were debating whether or not we needed our coats. I said, “When the hell is that question going to be moot? At what point will we just be like, “Let’s go” and our coats don’t even come into the equation?” And then we were happy we wore our coats because it was ridiculously cold, even for May, and I decided that no matter how much I love being Canadian, the weather here is beyond stupid and can very easily ruin any “I love Canada” moment you might be inclined to have. (Also, just for the record, when I say “work partner”, I don’t mean like “work wife” or “work husband”. I mean the person who is the other member of my work TEAM. If I HAD a work husband, I would want it to be someone like Patrick Stewart or John Cho, which would mean I’d have to change careers and somehow try to get into the acting profession—god, these work relationships can be so complicated….)

So I think the general trend towards sleepiness and grumpiness is natural, all things considered, and this is how I know that it’s been an unusually grinding week for everyone I know:

1) I got some really good news on Monday. I was over the moon, but Ken was at some “important” meeting, and my parents were away, so I did what any normal person would do—I called K.

Me: Guess What?! I just heard from the publisher. They’re publishing my novel!!
K: Oh, sweet! That’s so cool!

We chatted for a little while longer, then I told her I’d call her later, after her exam. So at 4 pm, this was the conversation.

Me: How was your exam?
K: Pretty good.
Me: I’m still really excited!
K: About what?
Me: About what I told you this morning!
K: Did we talk this morning?
Me: For like over 5 minutes. I told you my novel was getting published.
K: It is?! That’s awesome!
Me: Were you in bed when I called you?
K: Um, maybe. Sorry, I honestly don’t remember talking to you. I HAD just written my 9th exam in 8 days. Yay for you though…

But I forgive her, because I got to experience her happiness for me twice in one day, and when you have a teenager, that doesn’t happen very often.

2) Later in the week, I found myself being so tired that I was having trouble processing simple conversations. People would try to explain things to me, and I would just nod and pretend I was totally on board with everything. The final straw came on Thursday, when I found something online that I really wanted to keep.

Me: God, this is a perfect example. Remind me later that I want to use this.
L: Write it on a sticky note in case I forget.
Me: Um, how is THAT going to work?
L: What?
Me: Well, the sample is on the computer. If I put a sticky note on it, the second I navigate away from it, the sticky note is useless.
L: Did you seriously think I was suggesting that you put a sticky note on your computer screen?
Me: No…?
L (slowly): Write all the details about the sample on a sticky note. Then stick it somewhere you will see it later. Not on your computer screen. Somewhere ELSE.
Me: Oh right. That makes sense.
L: Sigh.

sticky note

But I know I’m not the only one because on Friday, I took the train home. First, a work colleague and I were taking the same subway to the train station, and he wanted to leave earlier than I normally do, which was OK because it’s nice to have company on the subway. So I waited for him to pack up. It was an arduous process, as he looked for his glasses case, tucked away miscellaneous work items, cleaned his desk, checked his wallet for his driver’s licence and made sure his cell phone was charged. We finally got down to the subway platform and he suddenly exclaimed, “Oh no!! I forgot my train ticket!” I was like “Where?” because I was pretty sure he’d gone through every drawer in his desk already. But he had to go back to the office, leaving me to ride the subway alone in rush hour, and having to wait in line for the train longer than usual. And then I got super grumpy, not at him, because he’s a really great guy and my track record for remembering things last week wasn’t stellar either. So in a continuation of the things that grind my gears:

3) Why the hell am I waiting in line at the train station? The train I take has assigned seats and you can’t get on without a previously purchased ticket. Yet, without fail, everyone hurries to line up for half an hour, and because I always worry that they know something I don’t, I end up in the stupid line. Then I get mad at myself for being a lemming. And there’s always that ONE person who tries to cut into the line, even though we all have seats. A woman did that to me on Friday—she was sitting in the waiting room, then just casually got up and slid into line in front of me. LIKE THE LINE DIDN’T EVEN F*CKING MATTER. I was simultaneously outraged AND jealous of her refusal to acknowledge the bizarre line-up protocol that the rest of us have established for absolutely no good reason. And of course, there are always the people from the “business class lounge” who get “priority boarding” and just stroll right past all of us, which makes me want to yell, “Hey—it’s a Via Rail train, not the f*cking Orient Express. Take your smugness down a notch.”

4) I finally got on the train and it was the ride from hell. Normally, my fellow passengers are a normal bunch, who respect the rules and keep the ride pleasant, but it was Friday the 13th unfortunately. I was thinking it would be a great ride initially, because the bar cart came around right away, which doesn’t always happen. But then everything became a surreal nightmare. The guy across the aisle from me started peeling and eating hardboiled eggs and drinking what looked like a smoothie made from compost. And to make matters worse, he was flicking bits of shell onto the floor. Then I caught a whiff of something nastier than “demon egg” (because of the sulphur, right?), and I looked to the other side of me—the nice-looking elderly lady who was my seat companion had decided to TAKE OFF HER SHOES and was sitting barefoot. The smell was a cross between talcum powder and death. I took off my headphones to read, because I can’t concentrate on a book and music lyrics at the same time, only to discover that the woman behind me was carrying on a very loud running commentary of inanity to the child sitting beside her:

Woman: You’re a really good artist.
Child: Thanks.
Woman: You know who else is a good artist? Your dad.
Child: Is he?
Woman: And so is your aunt. She’s a really good artist.
Child: Really?
Woman: And so is your other aunt.
Child: Uh huh.
Woman: And so is your uncle. He’s a really good artist too.
Child: Oh.
Woman: Your grandmother was a really good artist.
Child: *silently drawing*
Woman: Oh—you know what?!
Child: What?
Woman: Your cousin Frank is a really good artist.

And so it went on in the same vein. When I finally got to my station, I collapsed into Ken’s arms. “I’m so tired”, I said. “I was on the verge of losing it on the train—“YOU, stop eating your damn baby chickens and pick up their skins, YOU, put your damn shoes back on, and YOU, shut the hell up—there’s a collective noun for that sh*t—‘Everyone in OUR FAMILY is a good artist’, and be done with it!!!” Ken just looked at me in wonderment, and perhaps a little fear.

“I ordered pizza and wings,” he said.

“Can we eat them in bed?” I asked.

“Um, ok,” he answered.

Best. Husband. Ever.

Saturday: Too much information

On Saturday morning, I went to the dentist. I’ve been going to the same dentist for years, but I didn’t realize that they have a completely different staff on Saturdays. The receptionist WASN’T Nina, for starters, although the Saturday receptionist seemed quite nice. But when the hygienist came out, I became more suspicious. “Where’s Harmony?” I asked. Let me just tell you that Harmony has been my hygienist for many years. She’s a lovely woman, and completely suits her name. We like all the same TV shows, and she has a wonderful knack of carrying on a two-sided conversation about Breaking Bad or Suits with me, even with her hands in my mouth, kind of like this:

“Did you see the latest episode of _____?”

“Eh—i wa o ood”

“I know, right? Could you believe it when____?”

“I ow. I uz azy.”

The new, unfamiliar hygienist said, in a very bubbly voice, “Oh, she’s on her honeymoon. But she doesn’t work Saturdays anyway.”

Well, all right. “Cindy” seemed very professional and competent, so I decided to give it a go. I got comfortably seated, and then the deluge began. By the time we were done, I literally knew EVERYTHING about Cindy’s life: where she went to high school, how she met her husband, his career ups and downs, their respective families and where they all lived…she was very entertaining, and the appointment just flew by. I don’t think she actually took a breath for 25 minutes. But the best part was this:

“So my husband lost over 80 pounds in the last year. I’d known him for so long that it just crept up on us, then one day, he was really fat. So he decided to lose 30 pounds, but I think he got addicted to weight loss because now he’s really thin and worries about his skin flaps but I just keep telling him to tone up and not worry about the weight. He ran his first marathon last year. The only thing is that I really like to snack and I never gain weight, but if there’s snack food in the house, he’ll like binge-eat it all so I have to hide it. I had this really great hiding place in the baking cupboard, but somehow he found it and ate everything and I know he MUST have been looking for it because why would he be in the baking cupboard since he never bakes, right? So then I was hiding all my snack food in the car, but now it’s getting too warm and I’m worried things will melt or go bad. So the other day, I found the perfect spot, and if he finds it, I’ll KNOW he’s been deliberately looking, because I put everything in a TAMPAX BOX IN THE GUESTROOM BATHROOM. If those chocolate bars disappear, I’ll know he was searching the house for food, because why would he want a tampon, right? My only worry is that I might have a girlfriend staying over and she might need a tampon, and then she’d be like, “Is this what you’ve been using? How does THAT work?”

I didn’t know who to feel more sorry for—her, her poor snackless husband, or the unsuspecting house guest. At any rate, I was laughing so hard that I barely felt my gums being ripped open by the assortment of picks in her arsenal. And I had no cavities. Yay me.