I was thrilled to find out a little while ago that one of my pieces of Flash Fiction was accepted by Elephants Never Magazine. It’s a short little piece about keeping promises and it’s called “‘Til Death Do Us Part”. I hope you get a chance to read it. You can find it here.
Me: Where’s the ice cube tray?
Ken: The what?
Me: The ice cube tray! Where is it?
Ken: In the freezer?
Me: No, it’s not. What did you do with it?
Ken: Why would I have done anything with it?
Me: Well, it’s not in here. Where did you put it?!
Ken: I sold it on EBay.
Me: Did you at least get a good price for it, KEN?!
Ken: Unfortunately, no.
Me DAMN YOUR EYES!!
5 minutes later…
Ken: I see you found the ice cube tray. Where was it?
Me (sheepishly): Behind a bag of frozen French fries.
Now, you may be wondering what on earth prompted such an overreaction to the missing (temporarily) ice cube tray, but the fact of the matter was that my orchid was starting to look a little wilty and I realized to my horror that I had failed to provide it with its requisite 2 ice cubes a week since the previous Friday. And under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have been quite so panicky except that I had recently returned to work after the holidays and discovered that the incredibly lush orchid given to me by my team for my birthday had succumbed to my neglect and all the flowers had fallen off. Here’s what it looked like when I initially received it—it was glorious, more’s the pity:
Yes, once again, I was now left with three leaves and a stick. When they gave it to me, I was overcome with gratitude, but at the same time, I felt sad because I knew it wouldn’t be long before I committed yet another planticide. Completely unintentional of course, what we would call ‘involuntary plantslaughter’, but with the same dire results. Because the fact is, I’m just not good with houseplants.
Don’t get me wrong—I love my garden, and I love plants. As long as they’re outside. I have a rule in my garden—I will plant you and occasionally water you, and the rest is your deal. Most garden plants are just fine with this and manage to thrive without much help from me, aside from me making sure that weeds don’t choke them out. House plants are a whole other matter, though. I seem to have absolutely no knack with houseplants whatsoever. Unfortunately, for both me and them, I really want plants in the house. I haven’t had any for a while, aside from the straggly hibiscus that Ken’s mom gave me years ago, which spends all summer outside looking gorgeous then comes in for the winter and pretty much withers away under my care until the weather gets warm again, and a stupid fern that Ken won’t let me throw away. I got the fern as far as the front porch at the beginning of January, and while I was vacuuming up all the dead leaves, Ken snuck it back in the house, because I’m “only allowed to have one fern and if I can’t keep it alive all winter I can’t get a new one”. It’s like a test of character, or a Nietzschean struggle of the wills. Nietzsche once said “that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”, so I like to think that if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse, I’ve done my part to ensure that the fern will survive. Last spring, Ken bought me a pot of daffodils as a gift and it sat proudly on the kitchen island until the lack of consistent watering did it in. Well, how am I supposed to know that it needed to be watered EVERY DAY? What am I, its mother? So the next time we went to the grocery store, I decided I wanted a replacement plant, and Ken was no help at all.
Me: Oh look! They have orchids—I’ve always wanted an orchid!
Ken: They’re $24.99. Are you really going to pay that much money for something you’re just going to kill?
Me: I won’t kill it!
Ken: Yeah, you will.
Me: What about this campanula? Wait, they look pretty fragile…
Ken: You’ll kill it.
Me: I don’t kill everything, you know.
Ken: (snickers) They have nice cut flowers. Get a bouquet—they’re supposed to die eventually anyway.
Me: Wait, there are orchids here for $14.99!…no, you’re right. It’ll die. What about these African violets? I had one once and it lived for a long time.
Ken: I remember that. It’s a good choice—it might survive.
Me: You’re so mean!
Ken: I have to be—I’m a member of the Vegetation Protection League.
So I got the African violet instead of the orchid. It was dead within the month. But in November, I received the wilting orchid in question from a friend who couldn’t be at my book launch, so she gave it to me as a congratulatory gift, and I was determined that it would live to see February. It will not. Despite my ice-cubing and sweet talking, it’s looking worse by the day.
But I don’t think it’s just me—I honestly believe that orchids are all destined at some point to become three leaves and a stick. In fact, I was in the kitchen at work on Friday, getting ice cubes for my orchid AS ONE DOES, and a new colleague was making toast:
Me: Oh hey, how’s it going? I just need to get some ice cubes for my orchid.
New Colleague: Oh, I have one of those. The flowers fell off, and it’s only a few leaves and a stick right now, but I hope it’ll bloom again.
Me: It won’t. They never do.
New Colleague: Sigh. I know.
But I will persevere, even if my orchid IS just three leaves and a stick, for the sentimental value. As for Ken, it’s a shame that he didn’t really sell my ice cube tray on EBay, because we’ve had it almost since we got married, and when I went to the EBay website, I discovered that he could have gotten fifty bucks for a “vintage plastic ice cube tray”. That’s enough for at least FIVE leaves and a stick.
Titus the Therapy Dog
At the beginning of last week, someone in the office posted on our Staff site that the St. John’s Ambulance Society would be bringing therapy dogs into our building on Friday, and if anyone wanted to come and see them, they would be in the lobby from 11 am to 2 pm. You can only imagine how excited I was—I love dogs, and I only get to see Titus on weekends, thanks to living in a large city so I can be close to work. In the spring, we were doing an event off-site, and there was supposed to be someone coming with a miniature Chihuahua service dog, and it was all we could talk about for weeks. Of course, we were told that we weren’t allowed to PET the dog, since it was a working animal, and I was like, “What kind of service is THAT?” and I was secretly betting that the woman would let us pet it. I mean, what’s the point of having a tiny ball of adorable dogginess if you can’t share it with anyone, am I right? But if not, we would understand, and just stare at it lovingly. Then the day finally came, and we all, seemingly nonchalantly but inwardly super-pumped, strolled down to the room where the woman would be, only to discover that she hadn’t shown up for the event. It was such a letdown, and worse was when we went back to the office, and people kept asking, “Did you see the Chihuahua?” and it just kept bringing all those feelings of disappointment back again.
Also, I regularly annoy people in my condo building when they bring their dogs onto the elevator, and I only speak to the dog, as in “So what’s your name? Are you a good girl? Are you going for a walk?” and the owners feel obliged to answer, but in my head, it’s actually the dog and me having a conversation. I also do that to small children, but THEIR parents don’t seem to mind, perhaps recognizing that their babies can’t talk. Unlike dogs, some of whom secretly can. Quite often when we’re out with Titus, people try to engage him in conversation, which he steadfastly ignores:
Random Stranger: Ooh, who’s a big boy? Who’s got a lovely coat? Does he like the vet?
Me: The man was asking you questions. Why didn’t you answer?
Titus: I assumed he was being rhetorical. You know, if you leave people alone long enough, they eventually answer their own questions all by themselves.
Random Stranger: Ooh, YOU’RE the big boy! Yes, he’s so shiny. I’ll bet he LOVES the vet.
Titus: I rest my case.
So Friday came, but I got sidetracked by a PowerPoint I was working on, until suddenly it was around 1 pm, and somebody said, “Hey, did you see the dogs?” And I was like, “The dogs?! Are they still here?! Please tell me they’re still here!” And then I tried to coerce the very nice gentleman I work with to come downstairs with me:
Me: There are dogs in the lobby! Come and pet them with me!
Very Nice Gentleman: Um, no, that’s OK.
Me: But you’re ALLOWED to pet them!
VNG: I’m good, thanks. REALLY.
Then I remembered that I’d tried to get the same man to look at naked ladies last week, so he was probably suspicious that the dogs were a euphemism or something. Everybody else had already gone down to see the dogs (I know because I asked), but then one of my French colleagues came strolling by. I work with a lot of very cheery and easy-going Francophones, so I called out, “Hey! Il y a des chiens ici! Viens avec moi!” My French is not fantastic, but she said, “Ooh, oui, d’accord!” which of course sounded like “Ooh way dakkar,” because of the Quebecois’ broader accent, but she was nodding, so I guessed she was coming with me. Of course, I hadn’t been specific, and she didn’t know whether or not they were wild dogs and I was trying to help her escape, but again, the French are pretty laidback, so down we went.
There was a crowd of people surrounding three dogs and their handlers, but I kind of slid my way up to the front so I could pet them, on the grounds that I’d had an awkward morning (Slight tangent: I don’t think it’s fair that some people in our office don’t have nameplates on their cubicles. Two days prior, I was visited by two different women from the finance department. Then one of them called me and asked me to sign a document and bring it down to her on the floor below. I opened the door and I saw one of the women, but her cubicle didn’t have a name plate on it. She looked at me, and I looked at her. I didn’t know how to get out of it gracefully, so I held up the document game-show style, smiled cheekily, and said, “This is for Desiree!” in a kind of sing-songy way. So if SHE was Desiree, she would be like, “Oh thanks!” in the same sing-songy voice, and if she WASN’T, she could say, “I’ll bet she’ll be happy to get it!” and then I would know. As it turned out, she wasn’t Desiree, and her response was, “Desiree’s cubicle is right down there”, so I feel simultaneously clever, and awkward as f*ck. Tangent over.) Anyway, I NEEDED to pet a dog. I’ll bet people would have forgiven Donald Trump for pushing aside the Prime Minister of Montenegro if he’d been trying to get to a puppy.
The dogs were beautiful, and totally calm as people petted them and scratched them behind their ears, but I noticed something weird—none of their tails were wagging, and none of them would make eye contact. Even if you tried to look at them, they would turn their heads away. In short, these dogs all seemed like they needed their OWN dogs to pet, because they all seemed depressed. I’ve never yet seen a dog that didn’t wag its tail when people were talking to it and petting it, unless it was scared. I mean, I don’t know a lot about therapy dogs, but the best thing about ANY dog is how happy they are to see YOU. That’s why dogs are so great. No matter how sh*tty you feel, the dog is always like, “Oh my god! You’re home! This is the best day ever!” So I got to pet the dogs, but the stress of worrying about how sad they looked cancelled out the therapy part of the experience. How do you even train a dog to NOT wag its tail? I kind of don’t want to think about it. One of the dogs, Tucker, was a Golden Retriever who even had his own business card, and on the business card, he had a huge smile on his face. In person though, it was like the time when K was around 7 years old and we took her to see Brent Butt, the comedian. We’d watched Brent on “Corner Gas” for years, and K loved him. His stand-up show was hilarious, and afterwards, he was signing autographs, so we lined up. When we got there, we told him how much K liked him and K told him how funny she thought the show was. Brent Butt just flatly said, “Thanks,” and turned away to the next person in line, like he was really bored. So maybe that was the problem—these dogs were temperamental celebrities. Anyway, I arrived home on Friday night:
Titus: You’re here!! This is the best day ever! Pop the cork on the champagne!
Me: I’m happy to see you too, buddy. C’mere and let me rub that tummy.
Titus: With pleasure! Wait—have you been around any other dogs today? Don’t lie. You know how good my sense of smell is. For example, I detect that you had white wine on the train—a Riesling, 2016, I believe.
Me: I ALWAYS have wine on the train, Sherlock. But yeah, they had therapy dogs at work.
Titus: Therapy dogs? Those guys have no sense of humour.
Me: I know, right? I guess I’m too used to you, you big goof.
Titus: That’s right, baby. I’m the only therapy you need.
Saturday: Lines of communication
On Friday, I went out for lunch with a couple of people from work to a local restaurant which serves ethnic cuisine. I don’t want to mention what kind, because I’ve had it before from different places without consequence. The meal I ordered didn’t look remotely like what it normally does, but I thought, Hey—maybe they are regional variations. It tasted OK, although it was a lot spicier than normal. Then for dinner that night, I had Cajun chicken wings and nachos with hot peppers. It’s no surprise then that I woke up about three o’clock in the morning feeling pretty sh*tty. I tossed and turned and finally went back to sleep around 6. When I woke up at 8, Ken had already gotten out of bed. I lay there for a while, all miserable and still feeling lousy, so I did what any normal person would do: I called Ken.
Phone rings and rings…
Ken (groggy): Uh…hello?
Me: It’s me.
Ken: Why are you calling me?
Me: I don’t feel well. What are you doing right now?
Ken: Well, I WAS having a nap on the couch. But then the phone rang and I had to get up to answer it, so thanks.
Me: Well, I tried your cell phone, but you didn’t pick up.
Ken: Why didn’t you just come downstairs?
Me: Because I’m all cozy.
Ken: Yeah, so was I, until I had to ANSWER THE PHONE.
Me: Can you bring up some batteries? I can’t turn the TV on because the remote is dead.
Ken: You could always get up and turn it on—Sigh. Never mind. I’ll be right up.
Me: Bring Titus with you. I need a hug.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Jeopardy!. We used to watch it together as a family when I was younger, and like all the other games we played together, there were some pretty specific rules. In Trivial Pursuit, my dad had to answer every single question in all the categories for the win, instead of us just picking one, because he’s like the master of trivia AND strategy, and got all the pie slices before most of us even had ONE. In Monopoly, Dad wasn’t allowed to own either Boardwalk or Park Place, because as soon as he got it, he would immediately spend all his money on building hotels, and bankrupting the rest of us. For cruise ship trivia, we always have to wait for my mom’s final approval, because she does a ton of crossword puzzles, and she’s pretty clever with the cryptic clues. Jeopardy! was no different, except we were all bound by the same simple rule–your answer only counted if you phrased it in the form of a question. This was hard and fast—even if you were right, you got “No. You didn’t say ‘Who is…’ so your brother gets the $200.” Of course, this was engrained in my mind, and even today, when someone asks “Who’s responsible for changing the toner in the printer?”, I have to stop myself from saying, “Who is Robert?”
Ken and I always try to watch Jeopardy! together when I’m home for the weekend, but even when I’m in Toronto, we sometimes both watch it, then madly text each other the answer to Final Jeopardy before the Jeopardy! theme song is over and time is up. Last week, I texted him “Godspeed! Godspeed!”, which freaked him out until we were talking later and I clarified that I wasn’t sending him into either the next life or space (This 8 letter word is what NASA said to John Glenn the first time he departed from earth and the last time, when he died. I’m paraphrasing—Alex always says it in a much more elegant way). Of course, I lost all my money because I didn’t phrase it in the form of a question…
I usually manage to do pretty well though, having a semi-eidetic memory, and I sit in my condo, shouting out answers to the different categories whether I’m watching it with my roommate S, or whether I’m all by myself (I had to explain to her that I always yell the answers out so if she heard me doing that, I wasn’t technically ‘talking to myself’ like a crazy person would. I just think that Alex Trebek will hear me better if I say it out loud).
Anyway, I’m pretty solid on any categories involving literature, history (unless it’s US history), popular culture, science, and general knowledge, but I’m pretty weak on geography (except for Canadian geography). I keep meaning to look at a world map, but then I always get sidetracked by more important things, like laundry, or opening another bottle of wine. The other day, the category was “Poison”. This was the resulting text conversation between Ken and me:
About 6 months ago, I saw an audition notice for Jeopardy!, and I immediately signed up. The audition was online, and you had to answer 30 questions with 15 seconds for each one. I did pretty well, and ended up with a score of 24. But I can’t brag too much because I was pretty lucky with the categories. I took a break from writing just now and went to the Jeopardy! website and tried their online practice test, but this time, there were a lot of questions about US sh*t, country names, and mountain ranges, so I got a much lower score, but then to make myself feel better, I took the College Jeopardy! version and scored almost perfect. So yay me—I’m smarter than a teenager. I was actually on a REAL game show once, a Canadian show called “Definition” which was kind of like Wheel of Fortune but without the wheel OR Vanna White. You played in teams, and you were given clues and then had to solve a fill-in-the-blank puzzle to win. I went on with my brother, who has a PhD., and we actually solved several puzzles and got some amazing prizes, like a rocking chair, two Royal Doulton figurines, and 300 bucks. It was a Canadian game show, remember? Second prize was maple syrup so I think we did pretty well.
But as much as I love Jeopardy!, I really don’t want to go on the actual show, mostly because after the first commercial break, Alex introduces the contestants by asking them questions and they have to answer using a super-cheesy anecdotes:
Alex: So, Marjorie, I understand that you have an interesting collection.
Marjorie: Yes. I collect tortilla shells with the faces of famous people cooked on them. You’d think Jesus would be the most common, but I have several featuring Johnny Depp. The Edward Scissorhands one is my favourite.
Alex: I see. How do you keep them from getting moldy?
Marjorie: Well, a lot of them are from Taco Bell, so they last a while, but I also shellac them.
Alex: So they’re “tortilla shell-ACS”. Very good. You have control of the board.
I keep trying to imagine how I WOULDN’T totally embarrass myself…
Alex: So, mydangblog, I hear that you had an exciting encounter with a shark.
Me: That’s right, Alex. I was in Turks and Caicos, canoodling with sting rays, when suddenly someone yelled, “Shark!” Sure enough, there it was. I was all like, “Oh, it’s so cute” but our snorkelling guide was screaming “Get back onto the beach!” And I was like, “Dude—I saw Sharkwater. Sharks are our friends.” I got a good picture of it with my underwater camera before it started coming for me.
Alex: Well, all right then. Sounds like you ‘jumped the shark’.
Me: I don’t know what that actually means, Alex, but OK.
See? I’d come off like a total idiot under the glare of the studio lights and the intense pressure of Alex’s silver-haired gaze. I’ll just keep playing at home, where I can bet $10 000 on Final Jeopardy whether I have that much money or not.
Thursday: Déjà vu
On Thursday after work, I went to look at a condo in my complex. The agent didn’t speak English very well, but told me, “Just go knock door”. Which I did, but it was opened by a half-naked girl. AGAIN. Not the same one who was in the condo I have now when I first went to look at it, but ANOTHER half-naked girl. Is this a Toronto thing, where you take off most of your clothes when you know people are coming over? Anyway, she seemed completely disinterested in me being there and went into the main bedroom, where she sat at a computer in her half-naked state, then began to wander around the apartment like a scantily clad ghost. So I have zero pictures of the place to show anyone, because I was NOT taking shots of the room with this girl in the background, like she came WITH the place or something. I’m still waiting to hear from the real estate agent, because I had to put in an offer (yes, to RENT) and he was having trouble with the paperwork (‘You initial arrow circle checkmark’), and kept sending me new papers to sign every time he forgot an arrow/circle/checkmark. But I’m holding out hope, because the only other unit available in my complex was an absolute dump. It had been empty for a while (I can see why), and the carpets were filthy, the walls were gouged, and the second bedroom had a curtain rather than a door. The best part was when I asked their real estate why the microwave was listed “as is” and she explained that the handle had broken off, but “it still works fine—you just have to pull the door open from the bottom”. My response was, “Well, I’m an adult, so I’m going to pass.” Seriously, for over 2 grand a month, they couldn’t replace the f*cking microwave? Not the landlord for me. The unit I’m waiting on is very nice though, so here’s hoping that girl puts on some clothes, and then I can show you.
Saturday: America visits a psychiatrist
Receptionist: The doctor will see you now.
America: Great, thanks. And it’s ABOUT TIME! I mean—oh Jeez…
Dr.: Good Morning, America. This is a surprise—I haven’t seen you since…hmm…your drug issues in the 60s?
America: No, we touched base in the early 2000s, but things have been pretty good otherwise, until now. Sigh.
Dr.: Then what brings you here? You seem really overwhelmed.
America: I am. I feel completely out of control, and I need help.
Dr.: Well, let’s start by reviewing your history. Ran away from home because of “irreconcilable differences”—are you still not talking to Mom?
America: We get together once in a while, mostly when the neighbours are rowdy and she needs some help, but I try to keep her at arms length. She can be very controlling.
Dr.: Well, I know how much you hate to be told what to do. Continuing on—a troubled youth with a lot of internal struggle, the “experimental years”, problems with money, an explosive temper—but I thought you’d matured in the last few years. Well, at least the last eight. You were finally starting to get the respect that you felt you’d always deserved. What’s happened to make you so full of angst?
America: Maybe it’s just stress from always being in the public eye, I don’t know, but over the last year, I’ve just been feeling torn apart inside, like I have two minds or something.
Dr.: Interesting. Let’s explore that. What are these minds like?
America: Well, one part of me is pretty reasonable. I feel kind of emotionally distant, but I still want good things for other people and when I’m in THAT frame of mind, I come across as competent and articulate. I DO have a terrible time keeping track of what computer I’m sending emails from…
Dr.: Emails? That should be the least of your worries right now. What else?
America: When I’m in the OTHER frame of mind, I get insanely angry about ridiculous things, I lie, I yell, I’m filled with hate for other people and I want to simultaneously burn things to the ground and build giant walls. I’m like your drunk uncle, only instead of sitting in a lawn chair and slurring, “I love you guys,” I want to just grab someone by the p—
Dr.: Take it easy there! You’re right; this IS a problem. You know, building walls around your feelings is NEVER a solution. You need to talk things out. Have you discussed this with any of your friends?
America: Not really—it’s too embarrassing, and frankly, a little terrifying. I know they’re all worried though. I hear them talking about me, and I try not to care, but it hurts. And then the other side of my mind takes over and all I can think is F*ck them! I’m better AND smarter than all of them put together, and one day I’ll nuke them all!
Dr.: You know your friends care about you. Wanting to nuke them is just a defense mechanism because you’re afraid of being abandoned. But the people who really love and admire you would never do that. You just have to pull yourself together.
America: I’m trying, but I have to be honest—I feel like I could really do some damage to myself. Like in a couple of days, if I don’t get restore a sense of balance and rationality, this internal conflict is going to result in very serious self-harm and I’m scared!!
Dr.: Ok, slow down and just breathe deeply. Deep, cleansing breaths. Think about all the wonderful things you’ve accomplished. Civil rights, great literature, music, space travel, the way you always help out your friends when they’re having problems, the Roomba—let’s focus on THAT, and try to rid your mind of those other, negative thoughts. Come on, America—you’re strong. You can do it! For the next 72 hours, every time you want to act like an a*hole, I want you to take a deep breath and say, “I’m better than this. I’m already great, and I have nothing to prove. People like me just the way I am. I don’t need to be a dick.” Stay OFF social media, drink some chamomile tea, and come back tomorrow for another session. We’ll get through this together.
America: Thanks, Dr. Lincoln. I’m feeling a little better. See you tomorrow.
Receptionist: I’ve scheduled America in for tomorrow as requested. Do you really think therapy will help bring those two minds together, Dr. Lincoln?
Dr.: Not sure. I’ve seen this kind of situation before. Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better–it might take 4 years and some heavy duty drugs to solve this one. Either that, or an international intervention. Get hold of Justin Trudeau and Angela Merkel for me—I want them on standby, just in case.
*Best of luck on Tuesday, America.
Ken and I have been married so long that sometimes we don’t have actual conversations. We just KNOW.
Me: I know, right?
Ken: Uh huh.
Last night, we were driving home, and we passed a sh*tload of pylons:
Ken: Couldn’t get a building permit.
Me: Parking lot then.
Me: That fire.
The one thing we DON’T have synergy with, though, is music. Especially when we’re driving, and Ken has control of the radio.
Me: What IS that? Is that a documentary? Like, on the radio? NO.
Ken: She’s an author. It’s interesting.
Me: She’s crying because she got divorced and her mom won’t forgive her. Her mom needs to be more supportive and you need to find something else to listen to…OK, I’m not 60—try again…this sounds like elevator music…Disco is DEAD, Ken…not COUNTRY!…put on Virgin Radio…you just switched the channel from one commercial to another…go back—that was Nirvana…yes, I know you hate that Calvin Harris song, but I like it—don’t be so judgemental.
We usually just end up compromising on the Comedy Channel:
Ken: Is that?
Me: Yeah. I love him.
Ken: That one joke.
Me: I know, right?
Saturday: I look at my notes
It’s been a pretty quiet week so far, and I wasn’t sure what to write about, mostly because I have a job interview on Wednesday for a permanent position within the secret agency (I’m currently seconded from another position), and as part of the pre-interview process, I had to write a 500-word essay addressing a specific topic. I spent a lot of the weekend working on it, and now my brain has gone a little numb. Normally, I can crank out 500 words in my sleep—right now some of you are probably saying to yourselves, “Sleep? Did she misspell ‘Drunk’?”—and you may or may not be correct. At any rate, these were 500 harder words, and the person who reads them might give me more money to do my job, unlike WordPress, which keeps telling me that I don’t have enough views to ever earn a living writing the fun kind of 500 words. I was in the throes of brain death, so I went back through my notes. I keep notes on my phone about things every week that might be worth writing about; usually by Saturday, I have a lot of ideas, and they don’t all make it into the weekly run-down. Sometimes they don’t make sense when I read them back later, or I’ve forgotten what I was thinking when I jotted it down. Anyhow, for your reading pleasure, here are a few of the weird notes that I found, and what I think they might mean:
1) Harassing wildlife
I think this one came after I heard a story about a co-worker who told everyone he quit smoking, then he snuck outside to have a cigarette. While he was puffing away, he looked up just as a Canada goose swooped down and attacked him, knocking him to the ground. He got up, dazed and confused, only to have the insane waterfowl take a second run at him, knocking him down again. I know this is all true, because it was captured by the security cameras, much to his dismay, more because of the cigarette than the goose from what I understand (we weren’t actually allowed to SEE the camera footage, but having it described to us was more than enough to send us into fits of hysterical laughter). Then, about two weeks later, I read in the paper about a guy who was charged with “wildlife harassment” because he was caught jumping out of a moving boat onto the back of a moose. And by caught, I mean he was stupid enough to post the video on Youtube (there’s a surprise—a guy trying to play rodeo with a full-sized moose being stupid?), and someone reported it. The moose looked genuinely terrified, not unlike my co-worker. But here’s the thing—a guy who scares a moose faces charges, but a goose who attacks a helpless man gets off scot-free? I’m seeing a bit of (just hit 500 words in less than half an hour for the record) a double standard here. The Canada goose is our national bird, and you can’t legally kill one, but still—it should have at least been fined. And the best part of this note on my phone is that it could apply to either story—a goose harassing a guy, or an idiot harassing a moose.
2) GMO Scaremongering
This came after an article posted on Facebook by someone about salmon that have their DNA spliced with a different kind of fish so that they mature faster. Regular salmon stock is apparently dwindling due to overfishing, so these genetically modified salmon can be farmed (which is a nice way of saying ‘sold for food’) instead. All the regular salmon were happy, but the person who posted it was all like “It’s tampering with the natural world—it’s wrong and it will give us all cancer and kill us.” If tampering with the natural world will kill me, I should have died the last time I ate a Honeycrisp apple, because it’s a hybrid apple. And now, while researching “how are hybrid apples made”, I read an article that just told me I was dumb for thinking that the deliberate cross-pollination of other apples to make hybrids are the same as scientists manipulating genetic material to create things which would never happen in nature. What? Like a regular salmon COULDN’T have a one-night stand with a more mature fish? Wait, do salmons even have sex? This note is generating more questions than answers. Anyway, unless it’s a potato that produces its own pesticide, which was a real thing and got banned because it was a stupidly dangerous idea, given that potatoes have a nasty streak and already try to poison us with their green skins and sh*t, I have no problem eating mutant food. Maybe I should, I don’t know, but I’m sure not taking advice from anything I see on Facebook. And if the scientists are listening, then I would LOVE it if you could just invent a bacon I could have without having to ‘farm’ a pig. Now that would be something.
3) Don’t f*ck with the gluten-free
This came about not long ago when, for a family occasion, Ken insisted on making Nanaimo bars. If you don’t know what these are, they are delicious Canadian confections made with chocolate and a bunch of other stuff, and named after a place in British Columbia. I asked him if they had wheat flour in them, and he said, “Yes”, so I said, “Can you make them with gluten-free flour so I can have one?” and he said, “No. But you can just eat the part that doesn’t have gluten in it.” And I was like, “Oh really?” So the next time we had salad, I put the same salad dressing on his salad as mine, even though he prefers Raspberry Vinaigrette to Creamy Asian Sesame. When he complained, I told him to just eat the parts that didn’t have salad dressing on them. Mwah haha.
4) Lesbians kissing
Two weeks ago, I was walking down the street behind two women. I wasn’t really paying attention, but as I got closer, I realized they were holding hands. Then one looked at the other adoringly and gave her a big smoochy kiss, and I was like “Aw, that’s so sweet.” But two young guys passing the other way saw them too, and turned around giggling and pointing at them. I wanted to give them a smack and say, “It’s 2016—grow the f*ck up,” but the women didn’t seem to notice, maybe because they were minding their own damn business instead of other people’s. I didn’t write about this originally because it’s not a very long story, and not particularly funny. It WOULD have been funny if the two guys had then been attacked by a Canada goose, but that didn’t happen. Sorry.
Last week, I applied to an online article site to host my blog. Just for fun. But it wasn’t, because the first thing I had to do was fill in an application that wanted to know what my RSS feed was. And I was like, “How the hell should I know?” So I asked a guy from work who has his own website, but he didn’t know either. So I googled it, and entered what I thought was the right thing. Then I submitted my application, and got a message back saying that the site would let me know within six weeks whether my blog was accepted or not, but if it wasn’t, they wouldn’t tell me why. What kind of douche-y attitude is THAT? They did give a list of potential reasons, like “This site is not in English”, “This site is promoting a business”, “This site does not have enough original content”, etc. I looked at the list and mentally checked off everything, but the very next morning, I got a rejection notice which said, “Although we can’t provide a specific reason why we could not include your site, here are the most common reasons.” And then at the bottom it said, “You might find it useful to test your Feed.” What is that? They can’t tell me why, but they can drop a f*cking hint? There was a link to a Feed Validator, and it said my feed was fine, whatever that means, but I wanted to write back and say, “Dammit Jim, I’m a blogger not a computer scientist.” So maybe my content just sucks. Or Alltop does. Or maybe it’s all the swearing. Who the f*ck knows?
Sunday: Sign of the apocalypse (No, this isn’t about Donald Trump. But it could be.)
On the way to my in-laws today for a Thanksgiving lunch, Ken and I passed a large sign outside a store. The sign read, “Dipped bacon caramel turkey.” The store was called “The Sweet Shoppe”—or at least that’s what it said in faded blue letters. I’ve been obsessing about this all day:
Me: What could it mean?
Ken: Maybe it’s some kind of Thanksgiving candy?
Me: With a randomly generated name that includes all the things people love but would be disgusting in that combination?
Ken: It doesn’t sound very good. Maybe that’s why the store is closed. They can’t make money on their weird candy.
Me: Do you think it could be like a turkey wrapped in bacon then dipped in caramel?
Ken: Maybe it’s four different things that they sell individually.
Me: A candy store that sells turkey? Or bacon?
Ken: Maybe the bacon is dipped in something. Like sea salt.
Me: Why would anyone do that? Bacon is already salty. God, I wish that store had been open.
But I didn’t need the store to be open, as it turned out, because I have Google. I couldn’t believe it when I typed in “Dipped bacon caramel turkey” and discovered that bacon dipped in caramel and sea salt is actually a thing. I don’t know where the turkey comes in, but all the recipes I found called for turkey bacon. And while I don’t have turkey bacon currently in my refrigerator, I DO have left-over turkey, bacon, caramel sauce, and baker’s chocolate. I’ll let you know how it turns out. This could be the start of a new career if my job interview doesn’t go well…
Friday: I make an unwitting confession
I love fish. Not so much to eat—if given a choice, I’d much rather have steak—but as far as living organisms go, I’ve got a tremendous fondness for the wee, finned ones. We have 2 ponds on our property, both stocked with goldfish, and until recently, we had a pond at our cottage, also inhabited by over a dozen swimmers of all colour variations. And then, of course, there’s Mishima, who lives in a tank on the kitchen island. He’s a narcissistic diva, but over the last 4 years, we’ve come to an understanding. He doesn’t trash me on his Twitter feed (@tweetsoffish), and I feed him. It’s a deal that benefits him more than me, to be honest, because while he can be rather cutting, he is still just a fish, and his opinion of me is just about as compelling as Donald Trump congratulating Scotland on Brexit. Scotland responded exactly the way I do with Mishima, which is to roll my eyes and call him a “mangled apricot hellbeast” But Mishima doesn’t realize just how lucky he is, considering my actual track record of keeping fish alive. Over the years, Ken and I (although it was almost always Ken’s fault except for my last example) have had several unfortunate “incidents” with our fish.
5 years ago, we had 6 beautiful goldfish in the pond nearest our house. We’d had them for over three years, and they were all healthy and about 4 good inches long. In order to help them survive the winter, we always put a trough heater in the water to keep it above freezing—none of our ponds have EVER (do you hear that, Ken), EVER been deep enough for the fish to actually dig in and hibernate, or whatever it is that fish do. So that October, in went the trough heater. Unfortunately, we had both forgotten that earlier in the year, one of our spruce trees had been struck by lightning. The charge had traveled through the ground, into the house, and out the other side, wreaking electrical havoc to a lot of our wiring. Ken had repaired it all—EXCEPT for the outside outlet that the trough heater was plugged into. Bear in mind that the subsequent events were NOT his fault. This time. Two day later, he looked out an upstairs window, and then ran downstairs in a panic. Apparently, the trough heater had shorted out, overheated, and evaporated ALL the water in the pond. There was nothing left. Just some sludge, and 6 tiny carcasses. I actually cried at the thought of their suffering, even though they would have forgotten about it at 3 second intervals. We had a solemn memorial for Goldie 1, Goldie 2, Spot, Blackie, Whitey, and Goldie 3 (yes, I know those are pathetically unoriginal names, but they were f*cking ACCURATE).
The next year, I drained and scrubbed the ponds out until they sparkled. Then we got new fish, and divided them between the back pond and the smaller one in front of it. Things were going well, the little fellas swimming around merrily, until I bought a pond plant for the front pond. Ken took it upon himself to “plant” it by plunging it into the water. The soil dispersed and the water became super-murky and dirty. 4 days later, when the sediment finally settled, the fish had all suffocated. It was too sad—I hadn’t even had time to name them yet, and one of them had stripes so I was looking forward to adding “Stripey” to my repertoire. The same thing happened the next year, when we put a new pond in the back by Ken’s workshop. Some people just never learn, I guess, and this time 2 out of the 6 fish we had just bought perished in the dirt storm. We ultimately ended up with only three fish in that pond, the circumstances of which you can read about in My Week 34: Ken is Sometimes Right, in which he was not.
As for the cottage, we went through 2 rounds of fish. The first year we put in a pond, Ken was convinced that it was deep enough that they would all survive the winter. They did not. The next year we bought new fish, over a dozen, and they did really well until this past winter. It was supermild for the first couple of months, and Ken was convinced that the fish would be fine. Finally, in November, he deemed it cold enough to put the heater in. This spring, we went up and took out the heater. There were no fish. At which point, Ken suddenly remembered that while he had put the heater in the pond, he had forgotten to actually plug it in.
Now before you think that this post is simply a vehicle to bash Ken and his fish-hating ways, or subtly imply that he is a fish murderer, the truth is that his actions were all unpremeditated and without malice. When it comes to aquacide, unfortunately, it’s me who should be vilified. I did what I did with the best of intentions, but no secret can stay hidden forever. Especially when you can’t remember who knows about it. On Friday, K and I were out together; she’d offered to take me out to buy her some clothes. It was a short-lived trip, since I’m still having post-surgery issues with standing and walking, but on the way back, we had this conversation:
Me: I like this song, but I don’t get the lyrics. Why does he say, “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you”? That’s not very romantic. Like “You make me numb to sensation.” Weird.
K: It’s not actually about a girl. It’s about taking drugs. It’s metaphorical.
Me: Really? That’s even weirder.
K: You can take it either way, I guess. It could be about a woman, it could be about drugs.
Me: Oh, like that 9 Inch Nails song “The Perfect Drug”. It sounds like it’s about a woman but Trent Reznor said it’s about drinking a lot of absinthe.
K: What’s absinthe?
Me: It’s a really potent alcohol with wormwood in it. Wormwood is a kind of drug, so if you drink a lot of absinthe, you have crazy hallucinations. It’s what I killed your fish with.
K: I—Whuh?! YOU KILLED MY FISH???!!!!
Apparently, I had forgotten that I’d never told K that I killed her beta fish when she was 5 years old. But before you think I’m a heartless killer, let me explain. “Jarry” (K named him that because he came in a jar. You can tell she’s inherited my ability to choose imaginative names for things) was a red beta that had lived in K’s room for 2 years. Then he suddenly developed something called “Beta Bloat Disease” which is really gross. The fish gets all bloated and it can’t swim—it just bobs on the surface of the water gasping for air. So one day, when K was out with Ken, I researched the best way to euthanize a fish. Turns out that pouring really strong alcohol into the tank is the quickest and most painless, so that’s what I did. With absinthe. And why did I have absinthe? No, I’m not some kind of Victorian deviant; my brother brought it back from Hungary just so we could see what it was like. I don’t recommend it, because there’s hardly any wormwood in most brands anymore and while it made us a little tipsy, it also tasted pretty yucky, so it wasn’t worth it. Anyway, K was pretty appalled by my unwitting admission:
K: I can’t believe you killed my fish! Why didn’t you discuss it with me first?!
Me: You were five. What was I supposed to say? “Hey, your fish is dying so I’m just going to help him on his way by poisoning him with this blue sh*t”?
K: You could have said it in a way that a child could understand, like “Your fish is sick, so I’m going to give him medicine to make him go to sleep”.
Me: I didn’t want to upset you.
K: And then Dad killed my Sea Monkeys by not feeding them when I was away. You’re quite the pair.
Me: You know they weren’t actually monkeys, right? They were worms or larvae or something.
She eventually forgave me for my aquacide, which I swear I did with the best of intentions. But somehow, Mishima must have gotten wind of the entire thing, because last night when I opened a bottle of wine, he started screaming, “Put the bottle down and back away from the tank! BACK AWAY FROM THE TANK!!” And I’m pretty sure I just guaranteed that he will never subtweet me again.
Saturday: Ken needs my help
Ken is a pretty self-sufficient guy. He’s really good at taking care of me, but he hardly ever needs my help. I can only remember two actual times before yesterday that he asked me to help him, aside from steadying things he’s trying to cut or hammer, holding one end of a measuring tape, or proofreading something for him. I mean the serious kind of help, like emergency help. Once, he was really sick, and asked me to make him pudding. The other time he set himself on fire and needed my help to put him out. I knew he was really in trouble because he started screaming “Help me!” and rolling around on the floor. Turns out that he was leaning against the stove while he was boiling potatoes, his shirt touched the element, and up he went. Thank god he has this weird habit of always wearing two shirts—it was the only thing that saved him from being badly burned. When I got him put out, he just lay there panting, then said, “Thanks.” When he got up, I saw the scorch marks on the wooden floor where he was rolling and realized that it could have been so much worse.
Then on Saturday, I thought we had another emergency situation. He decided to finally trim the door of the shed by the driveway. For years, I’d been asking him to do it, because the door would only open partway then get stuck. He kept saying , “Yeah, yeah” until yesterday when he wanted to put our lifejackets away.
Me: What are you going to do now?
Ken: I need to put the lifejackets away, which means I have to open the shed door, which means I have to take the door off the shed and trim it so it will open.
Me: Great thought process. I’ll watch from the balcony.
So I watched him do it, since I’m still post-surgery and couldn’t actually help him. I was sitting on the balcony half-watching and drinking a glass of wine, when suddenly I heard a slam, and Ken yelling, “Help!! I’m locked in the shed!!” Apparently, the shed was on a bit of a lean, and now that the door wasn’t stuck on the decking anymore, the weight of it caused it to swing shut. On Ken. I yelled back, “Don’t worry! I’m coming!” but the problem was, he couldn’t hear me, being locked in the shed and all, and I was upstairs on the balcony, probably the furthest point in the house from the shed. I started to slowly make my way down—I couldn’t go any faster thanks to my “hundreds of internal sutures”, and the whole way, I could hear him pounding on the walls. I started getting all panicky and teary at the thought of my beloved husband there in the dark, not knowing if he was going to be rescued any time soon, possibly starting to suffocate. I kept yelling, “I’m coming!!” but the hammering continued. When I finally got to the shed and opened the door, there he was. He turned and smiled at me.
“I was so worried,” I said. “I could hear you pounding the walls—I’m sorry I couldn’t get here faster.”
“Pounding the walls?” he said. “No, I figured you’d come eventually. I was just putting up some hooks for the lifejackets. That’s why I was hammering. I’m just about finished—just prop open the door for me for a second so I don’t get locked in again.”
It’s nice to be needed.