My Week 122: Racists Are Stupid, Spoiler Alerts

Friday: Racists are stupid.

So I’m probably not telling you something you don’t already know about racists with THAT title. I just wanted to reaffirm it for all of us. Oh, I’m sure there are some of them who claim to have high IQs, but still, they’re stupid in the ways that matter. On Friday night, Ken and I were watching TV and a show called “Marketplace” came on. It’s kind of an investigative news show, and it’s on CBC not Fox “News”, so you know it’s totally legit, because the CBC never lies. I think that’s actually their motto or something. Anyway, the show hired actors to portray white supremacist/neo-nazi types (by the way, spellcheck just told me to capitalize the “n” on nazi but I’m not going to, because nazis don’t deserve capitals. Then spellcheck tried to autocorrect the “n”, and now I’m worried about you, spellcheck.) They had fake T-shirts printed which said things like “White Power”, “White Pride World Wide”, and “Make Canada Great Again”, then they went to three places to see how many Canadians would buy them. First, they went to Alliston, Ontario, the home riding of current Progressive Conservative Leadership candidate and alt-right queen, Kellie Leitch. She’s the one who wants to screen immigrants, refugees, and visitors to Canada to make sure they have “Canadian Values”, values which, as evidenced by Marketplace, many Canadians don’t have themselves. Several people in Alliston bought the shirts, and Marketplace tried to interview them afterwards, without much success, except for one woman who said, “If you want to come here to support Canada, then support Canada—live our way. You know, if you’re not happy with it, keep it to yourself, celebrate your own way but don’t change who we are or what we stand for.” And Ken and I were like “Huh? Who is she talking about?” And this is why racists are stupid. The first thing I did when she said that was look up “Are immigrants to Canada happy?” According to a recent study by Statistics Canada, of the 43 immigrant groups who’ve come here, only 3 said they weren’t as happy as they were back home. One, Columbia was discounted, because they weren’t really happy in Columbia either. The other two were New Zealand and The Netherlands. So, is this who she’s referring to? Does she think wind turbines are the insidious Dutch way of trying to convert us to their crazy windmill religion? Or does she believe that New Zealanders want us to start speaking their own weird language (which is English, but maybe she thinks it SOUNDS foreign)? I jest, of course—you and I both know that, although she didn’t say it, she meant non-white people.

Another intellectual giant explained his purchase in this way: “Different races are trying to change our way of life that’s been going on for hundreds of years”. HUNDREDS. Canada has only been around since 1867, so is he talking about the Neanderthal way of life? I could understand this logic if he was a member of the First Nations, but no, he was just a stupid person. This whole idea of “Our way of life/don’t change who we are” is, again, alt-right propaganda. It usually rears its ugly head around Christmas, where social media is full of memes like, “If I say Merry Christmas, how many people aren’t afraid to say it back?” The answer is NO ONE. It’s CANADA. The Southeast Asian guy who owns the gas station on the corner of my small town had free coffee for all his customers on Christmas Day. The Muslims in the International Language School I used to run gave us Christmas cards before the holidays. No one is trying to change your way of life, scared white lady. Except maybe the atheists. After Christianity, which makes up 67% of Canadian religious affiliation, the next largest, and growing affiliation, is non-belief at almost 25%. All those other religions you’re so worried about make up 7.2 % of Canada’s population.

The second woman who bought a shirt said this gem: I am anti-immigration. I believe that we have to worry more about ourselves. Close the border completely. Don’t let anyone in. It’s MY opinion.

When the reporter questioned her further, she said she had nothing against non-white people; in fact, she “has a lot of coloured friends”. Somehow, I doubt that, just like I doubt her ability to get herself dressed in the morning without a little help. As I always say, her level of stupidity is so deep that I would get the bends trying to come up from it. I don’t know how long she’s been in Canada, but she should be happy that people didn’t have that attitude when HER ancestors came here. Could you imagine what Canada would look like today if the founding fathers had said, “OK, we’re good. No one else gets to come in”? We’d be a nation of 30 blind guys with no hands and tiny penises. Also, there would be no Tim Horton’s. Again, do your research, silly girl. Canada has a declining birth rate. Without immigrants, we will have no skilled workforce within 25 years. If you really want to close the border, you better start having lots of babies. But this is the thing that Kellie Leitch won’t tell you: Canada already has a very stringent screening process for immigrants, starting with “Find out if you’re eligible to immigrate to Canada”, which I just tried to fill in and pretty much failed because it kept telling me to fill in a particular field, which I did, but it kept saying to do it again and again until I gave up. So guess what, Canada? This 37-year-old single dude from Azerbaijan will NOT be immigrating any time soon. (I’m not sure where Azerbaijan is—it was just the last country that started with A and it sounded cool).

I was watching SNL last night, and the host, Aziz Ansari, referred to the new phenomenon, the “kkk lite”, people who don’t dress in creepy costumes but who hold the same kind of attitudes. Except until now, they just pretended NOT to be racist. Now, they feel empowered to buy racist T-shirts in public, and say “It’s MY opinion,” like they have the right to be morons. I was on Twitter yesterday, and I saw Richard Spencer, a self-proclaimed “white nationalist” or “kkk lite” guy, get punched in the face while he was being interviewed by reporters. First, why the hell is ANYONE interviewing this douche-canoe? Why does anyone care what the little weasel thinks? Second, he looked really hurt, not physically but like EMOTIONALLY, after he got cold-cocked, like he wanted to cry because he couldn’t believe it had happened. Personally, I can’t believe it doesn’t happen more OFTEN. And the fact that he didn’t believe he deserved to be punched in the face for being a racist twat tells you how stupid he is.

Imaginary conversation with the kkk lite.

Me: Why are you dressed like a cheap-ass ghost? You know Hallowe’en isn’t until October, right?
kkk guy: I’m not a ghost. I’m a wizard. A grand wizard.
Me: Whoa there, Hogwarts. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. You haven’t done any magic yet. Can you turn lead into gold? Where’s your wand? Is it hiding under your Ikea bed sheet?
kkk guy: Ergh. Immigrants are taking all the good jobs.
Me: What? You can’t even do a card trick. You’re a sh*tty wizard–an immigrant could do YOUR job better.
kkk guy: Please don’t punch me.

But it’s not all bad. For every racist who bought a T-shirt, whether it was in Alliston, downtown Toronto, or Barrie, Ontario, there were plenty of other people who confronted the actors to tell them they were offensive, called the police, or yelled at them to f*ck off with their racism because “This is Canada.” Let’s hope so. But what I really want to know is this: if Kelly Leitch, through some bizarre set of Trumpian circumstances, does become the Prime Minister of Canada, will she also deport people who don’t adhere to the values of tolerance, freedom of religion, and equality like the idiots on Marketplace? Now, THAT would be smart.

(Just for the record, I compiled all the information above by researching it on something called “the internet”. I wish people would use it more often, before they say stupid things like, “Immigrants are taking all the good jobs”, or Kevin O’Leary will Make Canada Great Again.” It’s already great, thanks.)

Saturday: Spoiler Alert

spoiler-alert

In more television news, Ken and I were watching a show last night, and a trailer came on for a new 6-episode mini-series about a female doctor who kills people with a hypodermic needle. The show is called “Mary Kills People”.

Me: Way to give away the ending.
Ken: Well, the whole commercial showed her killing people. It’s not like the title was the REAL spoiler here.
Me: Couldn’t they leave just a little bit to the imagination and call it “Mary May or May Not Have Killed People”?
Ken: At least we don’t have to watch it now.
Me: It’s such a dumb title. Can you imagine if the first Star Wars movie was called, “Luke Blows Up the Death Star”? What would be the point of seeing it? Why would anyone read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ if it was called Elizabeth Marries Darcy? I like the trailer for Cardinal better.

“Cardinal” is another new 6-part series, but I have no idea what it’s about , except that there are two detectives investigating a murder in a cold town somewhere. The trailer doesn’t show much, except the one detective says to the other, “I’m happy to be working this case with you,” and then a block of ice containing what looks like a body is pulled out of a frozen lake. See, THIS is how it’s done, because at the end, I was like “What?! I need to watch this show and find out what happens. And who the hell is Cardinal? Is it the guy? Is it a bird? I need to know.”

It’s a certain fact that people HATE spoilers. Have you ever just seen a fantastic movie and you want to share it with a friend, so you only tell them the beginning? And then they say, “So what happens at the end?” and you have to first confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will NEVER see it themselves, because you don’t want to be the one who spoils it for them? Have you ever accidentally given away the end of a book, and had people look at you like you just kicked a puppy? There are people who deliberately give away the endings of movies just to be a dick, and they’re hated more than racists. And probably get punched in the face more. In fact, I think the only way Donald Trump’s supporters would turn against him is if he finished every press conference with “And by the way, the head in the box was Brad Pitt’s wife. Such a great movie.” So the people who decided to call the series “Mary Kills People” are not very astute, in my books. Unless…maybe the series isn’t really about a female doctor who kills people. Maybe it’s just a ploy to get SOME people to watch because there’s nothing better on, and then those people will be all like, “OMG, it was SO good! I can’t tell you what happens, but it’s not what you expect…Oh god, I wish I could tell you! Are you sure you’re never going to watch it?!” And maybe the body in the lake in Cardinal was put there by a female doctor named Mary. Don’t tell me. Don’t spoil it.

My Week 118: Any Way The Wind Blows, Christmas Fun

Thursday: Who Has Seen the Wind?

Sorry this post is a bit later than usual—with Christmas falling on the weekend, I was too busy unwrapping presents to do any real writing. Yes, yes I know that the point of Christmas is something other than material possessions, but still, Jesus got stuff so why shouldn’t I? And if you remember correctly, my love of pretty things in tiny (or large) boxes is the main reason the Jehovahs will never have my soul, so I think of it more as an act of self-defence. Also, I like GIVING people things as much as I like getting them, so I’m levelling out the karma in a very satisfying way. As usual, I’ve made my share of holiday gaffes, and here are the top three:

1) I kept forgetting what day it was last week, and on Thursday, my two work partners showed up with gifts because one of them wasn’t going to be at work on Friday. Me? I was empty-handed, having planned to do some shopping that night, so I offered to buy them lunch. Because, you know, nothing says “I bring you the joy of the Christmas season” like a burrito. Well, maybe it does if you’re in Mexico…

2) We had a lovely dinner with Ken’s family on Christmas day. Our sister-in-law AND her daughter are both in nursing school at the same time, and they were telling us about their practical exam, where actors are hired to be emergency room patients and they have to assess them under a time limit. We were like, “They pay someone to act like a patient? That would be an awesome job!”

Ken’s Mom: Ken could do that. You’d be good at that, Ken.
Me: Yes! And he could give them hints if they weren’t sure, like “Psst! Don’t forget to check my prostate.”

Silence.

Sister-in-law: Yeah, that’s not really part of it…
Niece: Um, NO.
Ken: Absolutely not.

Of course, everyone laughed hysterically after a minute, but I had definitely demonstrated a complete lack of understanding about what kind of medicine either of them did.

3) On Boxing Day, everyone came to our house because my mom was sick (she’s better now, thanks). I was responsible for a variety of things, including making a cauliflower casserole, which I love, and to which I usually add bacon in a very heavy-handed way. But my aunt was coming and she doesn’t eat pork or beef, so I had to make it without the bacon, because I don’t think it’s nice to invite someone to your house for dinner and be like, “Of course, there’s nothing here for you to eat.” Unfortunately, the weather was a bit iffy, and she left before dinner because it was dark, foggy, and she was worried about the roads (if you’re Canadian, you will totally get that—we never go ANYWHERE without checking both the weather and road reports for the time we’re leaving AND the time we’re coming home). Anyway, that was all fine, until I took dinner out of the oven, and was like, “Dang! I could have put as much bacon in this as I wanted!” Then I was sad, you know, that kind of sadness you get when you’re in a buffet line and they run out of bacon RIGHT before you get there. The only thing that seemed to help was the thought of wearing a tiara to compensate for the lack of bacon. Luckily, like most people, I HAVE a tiara. So now, in all the pictures from last night, I’m wearing a cardigan, jeans, and a beautiful, glittery tiara. And drinking a glass of wine. Obviously.

Anyway, the celebrations were all lovely, and we got to spend some time with K’s girlfriend, the lovely V. But that’s not what I’m supposed to be writing about, according to the title of this post. What I’m really writing about is Wind Turbines. What the hell is wrong with people and their anger over wind turbines? So, here’s the context: On Thursday, someone posted a meme on Facebook of Santa and his reindeer all tangled up in a wind turbine. It was cute and kind of funny, so I posted this comment: “At least he didn’t get sucked into a coal-fired chimney.” Then I scrolled down and looked at some of the other comments and immediately deleted mine because this meme was originally posted by some fanatical anti-Wind group with sublinks like “Anguish” and “The Truth from Europe” and “How Can I Fight?” and I didn’t want to be attacked by them. (Ken just said, “You deleted your comment? You let the internet win!” No, Ken–I just wrote a whole blog about it, so WINNING.) Now, you might be thinking, what the hell does mydangblog know about wind turbines? Well, quite a bit, actually, because Ken and I had a cottage in the heart of Ontario turbine country. I never noticed them, even though apparently they make SO much noise that people have nervous breakdowns just by being a kilometre away from them. We were a lot closer but I guess we’re just deaf (plus, I have to sleep with a white noise machine anyway, so maybe I just found them soothing). The best comment though was “So many eagles and other birds have been innocent victims of these implements of destruction, it’s not surprising that Santa was killed too.” Implements of destruction? So windmills are like nuclear warheads? I didn’t realize that. But if your biggest argument against a wind turbine is that sometimes birds fly into them and are killed, then you better stop driving your f*cking car immediately, because in the world of land mammals, automobiles are the NUMBER ONE IMPLEMENT OF DESTRUCTION. Seriously, I would rather live in proximity to a wind turbine over a coal-fired factory or a nuclear plant any day of the week. People say windmills are noisy, and I realize that makes them so much worse than a nuclear explosion because when a nuclear bomb goes off, you’re dead too quickly to hear it. So let’s see—a renewable source of energy that has virtually no carbon footprint, but makes a little noise, versus black gooey sh*t that has managed to raise the temperature of the planet by several degrees, comes from dead prehistoric animals, and regularly pollutes our land and water with said same black gooey sh*t that has also managed to raise stock prices on Dawn dish detergent. But you know, the jury’s still out on the adverse health effects of being near a windmill, even though the Dutch did it for centuries and are world leaders in renewable energy production. Then again, they grow a lot of tulips, so… (Seriously, that’s the kind of argument I’m seeing on these webpages, like “The Dutch? What do they know? They’re stupid and they grow tulips.) OMFG, I can’t even.

I don’t know about where you live, but where I’m from, wind turbines and transformer substations are subject to some pretty strict guidelines, and in general, must be more than at least half a kilometre away from residential dwellings, and even further away in other jurisdictions. But people will always complain about something—if it’s not a pipeline breaking and leaching poisonous oil into our water table, destroying wildlife and polluting the environment, or radioactive waste from a nuclear power plant causing decades of genetic mutation, then it’s them damn humming windmills, throwing their terrifying shadows on the ground.

People need to grow up and stop being so entitled, ie: “Muh, I like my car! I deserve to use as much dinosaur blood as I want, until it all runs out, and then who gives a sh*t because I’ll be dead anyway. Probably from lung cancer thanks to all the smog. But at least smog is QUIET!!”

Sigh. Merry Christmas.

windmills

 

My Week 109: Hallowe’en Histrionics, Trump’s Alphabet, Plants to Kill

Thursday: Hallowe’en Histrionics

The things that people get all “up in arms” about these days is starting to astonish me. The most recent, down below our southern border (does that sound a little innuendo-y? Maybe it’s because so much of what is happening in the States has to do with sex and a lot of hot air) is about emails. People are all like “Oh My God. Emails. How dare anyone use their own private secure server to send emails?” Me, I worry, because I send work emails from home sometimes, and a lot of what I do is confidential, so if Wikileaks (which sounds like some kind of STD, honestly—like, “Have you been experiencing any Wikileakage from your private area?”) ever hacked my email, they might well expose the fact that I told someone they needed to add a semi-colon and maybe a “direct quotation to spice things up a little”. The same kind of astonishing stuff that’s in Hillary Clinton’s emails. Of course, “confidential” is not quite the same as “classified”, and as Donald Trump pointed out, “Hillary wasn’t smart enough to know that the C stood for classified”. Which tells us one more really important thing—that Donald Trump knows SOME of the letters of the alphabet. Not all of them, mind you, and of course in HIS alphabet book, the letter C stands for something quite different.

Reporter: Mr. Trump, can you recite the alphabet for us?
Trump: The alphabet is a great alphabet. I can recite the alphabet like you wouldn’t believe and it’s going to be great. “A” is for “A lot”, “B” is for “Bigly”, “C” is for—
Reporter: Wait! Is “C” almost the same as what “P” is for?
Trump: You know it! Grab them by the c—
Reporter: Back to you, Bob!

At any rate, the false equivalency of emails versus sexual assault is ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as the Facebook post that happened to appear on my newsfeed on Thursday, ONLY because my brother had commented on it. It came from a woman he knows who was railing on about how unfair it was that her kids weren’t allowed to wear Hallowe’en costumes to school. Seriously. With everything else that’s going on in the world, THIS is what you choose to complain about? How unfair it is that your kids can’t dress like robots or sexy nurses or whatnot and this is, like, depriving them somehow? Did the school say they also weren’t allowed to dress up at home and go get candy from their neighbours? Of course not. My brother, who has a PhD, made some sort of sensible comment about my nephew’s school, where they can wear orange T-shirts and have a parade or something. I don’t have a PhD, so I simply commented “Pubic School? HAHA!” because she’d spelled “public school” wrong, and it made me laugh more than the ludicrous nature of the post itself. But then I deleted my comment on the grounds that people HATE it when you point out their spelling mistakes even more than when you point out that their arguments are absurd. But here is why the WHOLE THING is absurd, for anyone who still thinks that schools suck for not letting kids dress up for Hallowe’en:

1) Hallowe’en was originally a festival celebrated by the pre-Christian Celts, so yes, a very small group of people in a very small area of the world. The Celts believed that November 1st was the beginning of the new year, and that on New Year’s Eve, October 31st, the veil between our world and the spirit world was at its most thin. The spirits of our loved ones could enter our plane, but so could demons. To ward them off, the Celts disguised themselves to avoid being harassed by evil spirits. Walmart was not involved back then, but mass marketing has turned this simple festival into a multi-million dollar extravaganza which apparently, some people, even if they aren’t of Celtic descent, feel entitled to.

2) Hallowe’en is one of many strange days that mass commerce has co-opted. Others include the feast day of St. Patrick, the feast day of St. Valentine, and the day designated as the birth of Jesus. Let’s start with St. Patrick’s Day. Would you want your children to go to school dressed as leprechauns and drink beer on March 17th? Why not? St. Patrick’s Day, or at least his feast day, has been around almost as long as All Hallows Eve—why not make schools responsible for THAT too? And what about Valentine’s Day? A lot of schools don’t allow Valentine ’s Day parties and such, and I agree because St. Valentine was BEHEADED for secretly performing marriages, something which Hallmark fails to mention. If you really want a traditional Valentine’s Day party, it wouldn’t involve cards with puppies who have hearts for eyes, or pink Jello shooters. It would be more about sadness and death. Just saying. And Christmas? Christmas is just great. Shut up about Christmas. There are presents and twinkly lights, which I think Jesus would approve of, although I also don’t think it should be celebrated in schools (See reasons 3 and 4). But it seems these days that stores move directly from Christmas to Valentine’s Day to St. Patrick’s Day to Canada Day (why not—it’s celebratable) to Hallowe’en, then we start the circle of life all over again. Next, they’ll be trying to figure out how to make money from Remembrance Day. Candy poppies, chocolate crosses, and decorating the lawn with tanks perhaps?

3) Hallowe’en is f*cking expensive. This is the main reason that schools have stopped allowing Hallowe’en parties, among other things. And I say this directly to the moronic woman who also posted a comment on Facebook decrying the “immigrants who have ruined it for everyone.” I can’t even respond to that because it’s at a level so far below rational thought that you’d get the bends when you came up from it. Immigrants have NOT ruined Hallowe’en. What “ruined” Hallowe’en, and other festivals, was the expectation that people should spend extraordinary amounts of money on costumes and candy and decorations. A lot of people simply can’t afford those things when they’re trying to put food on the table and pay the rent. It’s really hard on kids to NOT be able to participate in things at school. This is the same rationale that rightly stopped many schools from having Valentine’s Day parties, because buying Valentine’s Day cards or bringing cupcakes for the whole class is also expensive and absolutely not necessary. Kids have it hard enough without having to feel sh*tty that they can’t afford a cool costume or treats for the class. I just saw an ad from IKEA that said “Make yourself a last minute Hallowe’en ghost costume with one of our sheet sets. Only $49.99!” Even I can’t afford to ruin a $50 sheet set by cutting eye holes in it. Enough said.

4) Newsflash: You can celebrate whatever the hell you want in the privacy of your own home but stop expecting schools to embrace your sh*t. When I was a kid, I don’t remember EVER wearing a costume to school, but it didn’t mean I couldn’t go out trick or treating that night. And my mom reminded me that the worst thing about Valentine’s Day, which WAS observed in schools for many years, was being the kid who DIDN’T get any Valentine cards. Not that SHE didn’t—she was so sweet that EVERYONE gave her cards, I’m sure. But if you’re the kind of person who says, “My child’s popular so I don’t have to care about all those other kids”, then maybe you’re the reason why schools had to start sending home lists of ALL the kids in the class so that no one would feel left out.

Now don’t get me wrong—I love Hallowe’en, and I usually dress up to greet the little trick or treaters that come to our door in the evening. And as I said, just because it doesn’t belong in schools doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate it if we want to. Worship bacon and eggs—I don’t care, so long as you’re not hurting anyone else or expecting the school to celebrate “All Day Breakfast Day!!”, although that WOULD be awesome. Hallowe’en is great because it allows people to break out of their shells and be the superhero or sexy firefighter they’ve always longed to be. Everybody’s getting in on the act now, even pets. I know a lot of people who are buying costumes for their cats or dogs, so I asked Titus how he felt about it:

Me: Do you want me to buy a Hallowe’en costume for you this year?
Titus: What the hell is Hallowe’en?
Me: You know—when kids come to the door and we give them candy.
Titus: Candy? You mean “sparkly kitty treats”?
Me: Disgusting. And for the last time, stay away from the litter box. No, I mean ACTUAL candy. The sugar kind.
Titus: Also acceptable. So what kind of costume were you thinking about?
Me: I could buy you a troll wig and you could be “Dog-ald Trump”.
Titus: The other dogs would think I was an idiot. Try again.
Me: I have a construction helmet and a reflective vest around here somewhere. You could be a construction worker.
Titus: You mean a SEXY construction worker.
Me: Maybe we should stick to something simple. How about just wearing a cape and a witch hat?
Titus: You mean a SEXY cape and a—
Me: Stop it! It’s not about being sexy.
Titus: I can’t help it. It’s in my nature. Check me out…
Me: Oh god—what IS that? Sexy ghost?.
Raven: Sweet Jesus, I’m living with a porn star.
Titus: You know it, baby.

titus-ghost

Friday: I get a new fern

If you’ve been following this site for a while, you’ll know I love plants, but I’m terrible at taking care of them. Still, my intentions are good, and it’s not my fault if they don’t ask for things like water or light. Communication is the key to a healthy existence after all, and plants can be strangely quiet and sulky. At any rate, my favourite plant is the fern, which for some reason, I always call a “willow” in my head. Last week, my aunt posted a picture of a willow, which is to say “fern”, on Facebook that she found in the brush yard of her town. A brush yard, for those of you who are wondering, is what we call the place where you can drop off your branches, leaves, and other garden trimmings to be mulched by the township. Anyway, she found this beautiful fern that someone had just thrown away and wondered if anyone wanted it. I immediately posted “Me!! Me!!” which caused Ken to post, “Don’t! You know she’ll just kill it!” And that’s nonsense, Ken, because I will love it and care for it. Then my aunt dropped it off at my house, and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s huge, like f*ckiing prehistoric, like it came straight outta Jurassic Park and a diplodocus should be nibbling on it. We all just stared at it for a while, trying to decide where to put it.

Me: It’s bigger than it looked in the picture…
Ken: If you kill this one, it would be like mass murder.
Me: I won’t kill it! I don’t think I CAN kill it. It’s bigger than the both of us. This fern would survive the zombie apocalypse.
Ken: Or a nuclear winter. I’m putting it in the dining room.
Me: OK, but you can’t forget to water it.
Ken: Me? You’re the one who wanted it. You take care of it.
Me: FINE, KEN. DON’T HELP.

But because everyone was riding me about how I “kill plants” and whatnot, I took a picture of my new fern and another fern I had that I was trying to bring back to life, and I posted them on Facebook with the caption “OMG! What happened? It was fine an hour ago!” My aunt replied, “That better be a joke unless Titus ate it, which is entirely possible.” And now I know what to do whenever I kill a plant. Just blame the dog. The sexy, ghostly dog.

big-fern

dead-fern

My Week 86: Participation Ribbons and Road Trip Conversations

Wednesday: I am up in arms. Or elbows.

I am currently what I like to call “up in arms”. This happens to me frequently, and can be triggered by small things, like the cat peeing on the rug, or larger things, like a politician trying to exploit an unfortunate situation. The former refers to Raven, who once again, in her diva-ish way, has decided that the Persian rug in my office “reminds her of the steppes of home”.

Anyway, what has triggered my current exasperation with humanity this time, you might ask? Well, somehow I started following the “Intermediate Teachers of Ontario” Facebook page, and let me tell you, there are some super-hardcore people out there. A couple of weeks ago, someone posted that she was trying to mark a Grade 5 class math test, and that the students had misunderstood the question. What should she do? she wondered. The response was outrageous. “Give them zero!” suggested a colleague. “If they can’t read properly, they don’t deserve any marks!” “Would you want a doctor who had misunderstood a question on his doctor exam?!” exclaimed another. I was sorely tempted to point out that the “doctor exam” was actually called the MCAT, and that the teacher who had posted the query might instead examine the question itself, which seemed to me to be rather ambiguous and poorly worded in the first place, but I learned a long time ago not to get involved in internet battles, since most people will take advantage of their relative anonymity and just call you a nasty name.

But this week, I’m REALLY pissed off. Someone posted a video, with the tagline “I’m a teacher and a coach. What are your thoughts about this?”, about a two-bit football player who was pontificating about Participation Ribbons. In case you’re not sure, Participation Ribbons are what we give to children for PARTICIPATING in something, hence the name. And if you don’t think children deserve Participation Ribbons, you should probably stop reading right now. Or keep reading—maybe I’ll change your mind. Anyway, this guy was telling a story about how he HATES Participation Ribbons and illustrated it thusly: His five-year-old daughter was participating in her very first school track and field day, and she was in a footrace against other small children. He related that she was winning the race, but as the kids came close to the finish line, she began to lag and lose speed. She ended up in fifth place. Not first. Not second. Not EVEN third. So instead of a “legit” ribbon, she got a Participation Ribbon. He decided that she didn’t deserve the ribbon, since she hadn’t actually won anything, so he TOOK THE RIBBON AWAY FROM HIS FIVE-YEAR-OLD AND GAVE IT BACK TO THE ORGANIZERS. And while I really want to call him a tremendous douchebag, I won’t. What I WILL say is that this is the most heinous example of parenting that I’ve ever heard of. Publicly instilling a sense of shame in your child for not winning a footrace makes no logical sense. Like she’s EVER going to want to compete in anything ever again, knowing that if she doesn’t come in top 3, Daddy will make sure she’s humiliated. His argument of course, is that this generation of kids is incredibly self-entitled because they get medals for everything whether they win or not. Here, then, for your reading pleasure, are my counter-arguments.

1) There have ALWAYS been participation ribbons. I got them when I was a kid, and so did everyone else before me, and it didn’t do us any harm—in fact, it was the opposite. 44 years ago, I was in something called the “Skating Races”. This was an event where every child in the school system went to this big-ass arena, and we raced against each other wearing ice-skates in our different age categories (remember—this is Canada. Everyone knows how to skate. Actually, that’s a lie, but back then, no one asked you if you WANTED to participate—you were just expected to). I was absolutely terrified. I wasn’t a great skater, and the thought of having to compete in front of hundreds of spectators made me shake as we lined up, all of us 6 year-olds. The gun went off. I skated the fastest that I could, but I came in almost last. You know what I got? A Participation Ribbon. And I was PROUD. I kept that thing for years as a reminder that I had conquered my fear, made it to the end of the race, and hadn’t fallen down. It didn’t make me self-entitled and I didn’t feel the world owed me anything. What it DID do was give me the confidence to keep skating. The next year, I joined a Ringette team, and became a really good skater. So never assume that you know what goes through a 6 year-old’s head when they lose a race. I was lucky that my parents weren’t like that football player. Holy sh*t, can you imagine if my dad had made me give that ribbon back in front of everyone because I didn’t win?

As for my own daughter, she took martial arts for years. Her room is full of trophies, some first, second, or third place, some just for participation. It didn’t matter to us—the message we instilled in her over and over was that she was competing against herself, and if she beat her personal best, or put in her best performance, that was all that counted in the long run. I never wanted her to feel hard-done-by ie: “I can’t believe you didn’t get first! That’s so unfair!” I’ve heard that from other parents, and I get that they’re trying to soothe a sore ego, but all that does it create a victim mentality. It doesn’t build resilience in kids, and that’s what they need to survive in an increasingly complex world.

2) The backlash against Participation Ribbons is based on a competition-model, which is way more unhealthy. Expecting your child to win, and making them feel lousy when they don’t is damaging to both them and a democratic society. What ever happened to “focus on the journey, not the destination”?  You don’t want kids to feel self-entitled? Stop giving them the message that the endgame is all that matters.

3) Are kids today really more self-entitled than any other generation? I keep hearing this from adults and it concerns me. The other day, I heard someone famous say, “Children now love luxury. They have bad manners and contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” Actually, I didn’t HEAR him say that—I read it, because it was Socrates, and he’s been dead since like 399 BCE. Let me tell you, from my personal experience, that teenagers today are really no different than they’ve ever been. I was a high school teacher for almost 25 years and the kids I taught two years ago are essentially the same as the ones I taught in the early 90s. You know what changed? The technology. Instead of passing notes in class, they text. Instead of tying up the landline for hours like we did, they’re on Skype. Are kids today more uncaring than they used to be, more dangerous? According to Statistics Canada, youth crime has seen a continuing downward trend; in 2014, Youth Crime was down 40% compared to 1994. The fact is, there will always be troubled youth, and there will always be those teenagers who do mission work, who fundraise, who work towards making the world a better place. And there will always be self-entitled kids, but it’s not because of Participation Ribbons–it’s because of sh*tty parenting. Stop telling your kids that the world owes them something, and start telling them the opposite, that they owe the WORLD something. You’ll be amazed at how they respond.

4) There seems to be a lot more public “youth-shaming” than ever before. In response to the post on this Facebook page about Participation Ribbons, another so-called educator said the following: “Couldn’t agree more!! I just finished teaching an after school credit course to grade 8s and these kids think they can hand in crap work or not even study and pass the exam to get a credit! Errrr!” Crap work?  Maybe it wasn’t good work—in fact, it very well might not have been, because I know from personal experience that 13 year-olds are notoriously difficult to motivate for very complicated and varied reasons, and I’m glad. The last thing we need is another generation of people who sit and do whatever they’re told without challenging it. If we really want a world without constant war, then we need our children to be critical thinkers instead of just blindly following what our so-called leaders tell us (see Donald Trump for proof of this scary phenomenon). And calling their work “crap” in a public forum is completely inappropriate, and says more about the self-entitlement of adults to bash the younger generation than it does about kids and their attitudes. (It also says that if you don’t like 13 year-olds, maybe you should find another job.) But it’s become incredibly easy to teen-bash, just as it’s become easy to bash anyone on the internet. As adults, we need to role-model better behaviour. Just look at the comments section of any on-line article to see how “mature” adults are these days. All you need is an internet moniker and wi-fi, and you can say whatever the hell you want with impunity. We get upset when kids cyber-bully, but adults do it so much better.

Bottom line: a shiny piece of satin with the word “Participation” on it won’t make or break modern society. The way we treat our children will. So the next time little Jimmy or Susie comes running up waving a ribbon with a big smile on his or her face, just smile back and say, “Wow. I’m proud of how hard you tried.”

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Saturday: Conversations on the road with Ken

Ken (crushes waterbottle completely, making horrific sound): Ahhhh.
Me: You know when you do that, it makes it almost impossible for the recycling company to get the label off? Now that bottle can’t be recycled.
Ken: Oh, don’t worry—they burn the labels off. It can still be recycled.
Me: OK. You know when you do that, the noise makes me insane?
Ken: Oh. But I like doing it.
Me: If you crush another bottle in front of me, I’ll slap you with it.
Ken: Sigh.

Me: Hey, look—a garage sale! Pull over.
Ken: OK.
Me: Look at that antique settee. It’s only $25! Do you have any cash?
Ken: It’s falling apart! What are you going to do with it?
Me: It’s my new summer project. I can fix it.
Ken: Will it end up on the porch like all your other “summer projects”?
Me: No! I promise. Put it in the truck. It’s going to be awesome.
Ken: Sigh.

Ken: What kind of plants are in that field over there, do you think?
Me: Whenever we see plants like that, you tell me it’s mustard.
Ken: Oh right. It’s probably mustard.
Me: Then again, whenever I see an owl on a powerline, you tell me it’s a hawk. I don’t know if I can trust you on this mustard thing anymore.
Ken: It looks like mustard.
Me: Sure. Right. Whatever you say, Hawk-man.
Ken: Sigh.

 

 

My Week 77: Soap and Sexism, A Dead What?!

Sunday: Soapmaking and sexism

Last December, Ken and I went with some friends to a soap-making workshop. It was a lot of fun; we all experimented with different colours and scents, and ended up with about 36 bars, which in soap years will take us to retirement. But then, not long ago, the soap instructor messaged me to say that I’d won the draw for a free soap-making session. I wasn’t surprised because I hardly ever win anything, but when I do, it’s always soap-related. For example, a few months ago, my Lancôme lady Lisa called to say I won a gift basket in a draw, and I was super-excited until I got said gift basket, which was made up of dish soap and hand soap from Cuchina (an upscale kitchen store), and was NOT make-up, perfume, or fancy cream. Honestly, if Lotto Max prize was soap instead of millions of dollars, I’m pretty certain I would win the lottery every week. And instead of a giant cheque, I’d be presented with a humungous bar of soap to go with all the other soap I won. But making your own soap is actually fun, and I wanted to do it, but it was with other people I didn’t know. That was a problem because I’m really awful at making small talk with strangers. Actually, that’s not exactly true—I can MAKE the small talk, but I FEEL awful about it. Then Ken said he would go with me, or more accurately, I told him that WE had won a free-soapmaking session and that we just had to pay for him.

On Sunday, we discussed in the car what kind of soap we each wanted to make. I was going to make something with lavender flowers, and maybe something I could put away until Christmas, because everyone loves soap as a Christmas gift, am I right? Ken tossed around a few ideas, but wanted to wait until we got there to decide. Ken is very creative, and his previous batch of black and lime green “Peppermint Licorice Swirl” was a big hit with the family. We were the first to arrive, and were told we were waiting for three other women. Now before I start the rest of this story, let me say upfront that I’ve never give any real thought to “reverse sexism”. The whole notion of “what men should do/wear/like” versus what women should do/wear/like is pretty foreign to me. I grew up with a dad who was a toolmaker by trade, then a machine shop teacher, a pretty “manly”, Scotch-loving guy, but he also took me to my first symphony when I was six (I fell asleep–sorry about that, Dad, but Brahms?), and taught me the difference between Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo’s opera voices, and never once in my living memory told me that I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. My father-in-law was a dairy farmer his whole life, but he’s also an avid photographer, and spends his spare time experimenting with glass-fusing—he even has his own kiln. My brother, a lawyer with a PhD, can be pretty fierce in court, but he loves his garden, sings to his son, and came with me once for a pedicure. And Ken? Ken is the most creative person I’ve ever met. He has amazing spatial perception and can build me anything I asked him to, he writes poetry, and he’s been known to spend hours taking photographs of the way the light reflects off the Christmas tree ornaments. So, long story short, it would never even occur to me that a soapmaking class is somewhere a guy SHOULDN’T be. Then the other women came in, and the first thing one of them (I’m going to call her ‘Babs’) said was, “Oh my god! How did you get your husband to come with you? MY husband would never come to something like this!”

How do you even respond to that? Of course, I didn’t get it right away. My first thought was that maybe he was allergic to soap, or had some kind of physical disability which would prevent him from participating. I was about to ask, in all sincerity, “Is there something wrong with him?”, when I realized that she was actually implying that there was something wrong with MY husband for being there. She didn’t say it in a wistful kind of way, like “I wish MY husband enjoyed hanging out with me and liked doing fun stuff like this.” No, it was more like she was being very judge-y. It pissed me off, but I didn’t know her at all, so I just looked at Ken, who was happily choosing his colours and scents for “Lemon Poppyseed Loaf” (see photograph below, the yellow-y one), smiled tightly and said, “He’s very good at soap.” Yes, I know it was a sh*tty comeback, but what was I going to say? “Your husband sounds like a dick” would have been appropriate, but then again a) maybe Babs never even asked him to come and he might have said “Yes” if she had and b) I didn’t want to get kicked out of soap class for being a sweary trouble-maker.

Then we started doing the mixing, and everyone was having fun, so I let the whole thing go. Two of the great things about our instructor are that she always mixes up the lye for you so that you don’t accidentally scorch your lungs, and that she loves to experiment and has all kinds of weird stuff that you can put in or on your bars, like coffee grounds for exfoliating, or flower petals for texture, or sparkles just to make it look interesting. Which is where Bab’s reverse sexism reared its ugly head once again. She was making a blue and green conglomeration for her sons with a scent called “Monkey Farts” (I know right? But it smells like candy, and if that’s what monkey flatulence actually smells like, then I want a monkey even more than I did before). The instructor offered her some blue sparkles, and she responded,

“They would never use soap with GLITTER on it!”

One of the other women said, “But glitter is fun. It would look great with the blue and green.”

Babs was relentless. “You don’t understand,” she insisted. “They’re REAL boys. There’s no way they’d touch it if I put glitter on it.”

I wanted to say, “They can’t be that real if they actually pay attention to the soap they’re using. If you can actually get them in the shower in the first place without a fight, who gives a sh*t about the soap?” (This might sound like a little reverse sexism of my own, but it’s based on my experiences with K when she was around the same age. And from what the mothers of other 13 year-olds have told me, apparently the girls can be just as willing as the boys to go three days without a shower, so it’s simply a phase which has nothing to do with gender. In fact, I still remember K telling me, “I don’t need a shower. My clothes are clean.”) But I was genuinely appalled by Babs’s attitude. Sure, women have had a lot to put up with through the ages, but I honestly believe that there will never be equality between the sexes until men stop being told that wearing pink makes them “girly” or that doing something creative is helping them get in touch with their “feminine side”. To me, this is just as bad as calling a girl a “tomboy” for NOT wanting to wear frilly dresses. Would you ever tell a woman that being a mechanic is helping her get in touch with her masculine side? And as for men, I mean, where would the world be today if David Bowie hadn’t liked glitter? My best advice is to let your kids wear what they want, play with whatever toys appeal to them, and give them all, boy or girl, the opportunity to get in touch with their creative side. And most of all, don’t judge them based on gender. In the end though, I kept my opinion to myself—it’s never a good idea to speak your mind when you’re working with caustic acids.

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Monday: This Broken Jaw of Our Lost Kingdoms. OR What the F*ck is That?!

On Monday, right before dinner, I was in the kitchen chopping mushrooms. Ken and I have a deal—I do all the cooking, and he does all the cleaning up. This works for us, because I love cooking and hate doing dishes, and he can’t cook. OK, he can cook certain things, but I don’t want tacos or pasta every night. And he’s currently going through a phase where he’s trying different brownie recipes to see which one is the best, but he refuses to use gluten-free flour, so he’s on his own with that experiment. Anyway, I was getting dinner ready, when Ken came into the kitchen holding something very gingerly between his index finger and thumb.

Ken: Look what I just took away from Titus. He was chewing it in the yard.
Me: WHAT THE F*CK IS THAT?!
Ken: I’m not sure.
Me: Is it human?! Oh my god, call the cops!
Ken: Don’t worry. I don’t think it’s human. It’s not quite big enough.
Me: If it’s not human, then what the hell kind of animal is it? How did it get in our yard? Did you say Titus was chewing on it?! That is SO gross!
Ken: I’m going back out to see if there are any more “parts” in the yard.
Me: Don’t put it on the counter! Or at least wrap it in paper towel or something! Titus, stop jumping! You’re not getting it back.
Titus: But it’s so yummy…
Me: Oh my god, I can’t even.

What Ken had brought in the house was part of a very large jawbone, complete with teeth. On second glance, the teeth didn’t look human so I stopped googling “Canadian CSI” and started a new search. Did you know that if you google “dead animal jaw”, there are literally thousands of images of dead animal jaws available for you to look at? Who exactly is posting this stuff? Anyway, I started narrowing it down until I decided it looked the most like a deer jaw. But then the mystery deepened. Namely, how the hell did a deer jaw get into our fenced yard? I’m pretty sure I would have noticed if a deer had died out back—the vultures would have been a good tip-off, for starters. And I’m pretty sure none of our neighbours are hunters, but even if they were, we get along pretty well with them, and I can’t see any of them lobbing a deer jaw onto our property just for fun. I mean, there was an incident a few years back when the people on the corner kept letting their dog take its daily dump on our front lawn. The final straw came when we saw the man taking it for a walk, and deliberately putting it onto our grass to do its business. So Ken scooped up all the poo in a shovel, rang their doorbell, and when the woman answered, he said, “I believe this belongs to you,” and he dropped it all onto their porch. Their dog never came near our yard again. But in terms of retaliation, it’s not like we were slaughtering deer on THEIR lawn and giving them a reason to fling the bits back. So I’m still at a loss as to how it ended up in Titus’s mouth. Ken and I speculated for a while:

Ken: Maybe another animal carried it into our yard.
Me: What? Like people carry around rabbits’ feet? “What’s that you’ve got there?” “Oh, it’s my lucky dead animal jaw.” Besides, any animal big enough to carry that thing around is TOO big to get through the fence.
Ken: A bird could have dropped it…
Me: How big a bird are we talking about? I don’t think most birds outweigh that thing. And why? It’s not like you could make a nest with it.
Ken: A squirrel?
Me: Squirrels ARE assholes. Wait–maybe one of neighbours is a Satanist, and it was part of some weird ritual. Keep an eye on them.

A week later, we still haven’t discovered the origin of “this broken jaw of our lost kingdoms”. That’s from T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men”, and every time I look at the gross thing, I think of that line, especially since now I’m afraid to go out into my “kingdom” in case there are more pieces of dead deer lying around. By the way, if you’re wondering why I said “every time” I look at it, it’s because we still have it. We figured we might need it as evidence for when the Satanic cult in our neighbourhood is exposed. Plus, it IS kind of cool in its own disgusting way. See what you think. The screwdriver is there for scale.

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My Week 5 – Lord of the Dance, Funerals, and Grocery Revenge

Sunday: I realize my disappointment with Celtic Spectacles

So Ken and I were hanging out at the cottage, after a dinner at the local pub (run by this awesome gay guy and his partner–I only mention this because it’s nice that our society has come so far that even in a place like PB, no one seems to care) and we had come back to the cottage and were watching not much on TV, just waiting for something interesting to come on, when Ken switched the channel to Celtic Thunder. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a group of 5 “boys to men” types who sing traditional Celtic music to a screaming crowd of women. I’ve never seen anything quite like it (yes, I have, but at the time I’d forgotten), and we had a really fun go at these guys. For one, they are super-choreographed. They step very deliberately to one side, then the other, and when it’s their turn to sing, each one descends a flight of stairs like he’s a robotic Miss America or something, then returns to the top when his “turn” is finished. Second, they are ranged in age, and oiled up appropriately to appeal to a mass market of women. There’s the teen-something one, who is meant to appeal to the 5 to 7 year-old range (as well as the Cougars), the early twenties hottie with superwhite teeth, then the 30-ish guy with his shirt open just enough to show off his gold chains, the 40 , and 50 year-olds (who look amazing for their age and would definitely be lusted after by the 70 and 80 year-olds in the audience). It was like watching a One Direction concert for the extremely young and the extremely geriatric—grandmas and granddaughters holding up signs with slogans on them (I love you Neil…I want to marry you, Emmet, and so on, ad nauseam.) I actually just googled their home page and realized to my horror that they have ‘Daniel’, a 7 year old member of the group—who the hell is lusting after him? and you should be ASHAMED.OF.YOURSELF. And I say this with all sincerity, since these ‘men’ are held up to the audience as symbols of manliness, even the seven-year-old, which is kind of creepy. Can you imagine being Daniel’s mom, and worrying about some 40 year-old woman carrying a sign that says “Daniel, I love you!! Marry me!! Kissy face smiley face”? But the best thing about the whole spectacle is the singing, by which I mean the lipsynching, because none of them actually sing. They pose. They move their lips and pre-recorded music comes out of their manly mouths, and it’s really obvious they’re doing it, shamelessly, like it’s the CELTIC WAY or something.

And now I get to the thing I’d forgotten, which was one of the greatest disappointments of my life. Lord of the Dance. Yes, Lord of the Dance, the incredible Celtic stepdancing/musical phenomenon of the 90s which had my heart on fire. I loved Lord of the Dance, the music, the spectacle, that Michael Flately guy who was so tiny and arrogant but tapped his little heart out. When they came to town, I begged Ken for tickets. Being the wonderful husband he is (or just to stop me whining), he agreed, and there we were in the first row of the balcony. The lights dimmed—the music began—dancers came on stage—it became PATENTLY OBVIOUS that every sound was pre-recorded. OMFG Lord of the Dance—even the tapping sounds were pre-recorded and were played over top of the actual tapping on stage!! The violins, the singing, the dancing, were all fake. I just paid $75 to listen to the CD I had at home. And that’s why I’ll never pay to see Celtic Thunder. So there.

Saturday: Ken and I get a little irreverent about death.

Ken and I went to a funeral recently. On the drive there, we had a chance to discuss some of the things that we wanted the other to know about our “arrangements”. I, of course, am insistent that I be kept in an above-ground mausoleum, which Ken will build, due to my fear of being buried alive. Ken, on the other hand, is quite content to be cremated, and told me that if he had some “lead time”, he would even build his own casket, a la Oscar, a character from our favourite show Corner Gas, so that I could save some money. That’s what I love about Ken—he’s always thinking about me. Anyway, we got to the funeral and it was appropriately solemn and sad, but then we went through the receiving line (which is REALLLY different from the ones they have at weddings) and we were left to pay our respects at the coffin. While we were standing there in contemplation, Ken turned to me, pointed at the casket and whispered, “Remember Oscar? Beautiful woodgrain here.” I was taken aback and kind of guffawed/choked/snorted, and I think a giggle escaped from me, to my horror. Ken and I spent the next 60 seconds staring violently at the floral arrangements and trying not to look at each other. I think it’s true that old saying about laughing in the face of death, although it should be more of a defiant laugh, and not something out of a sit-com. On the way home, we passed a graveyard, and some workers had a bonfire going (let’s assume they were burning leaves), and Ken, in that wonderfully naïve way he has, asked me, “Are they cremating someone?” to which I replied, “WTF, Ken! They don’t do that in the actual graveyard!”

A little while later, Ken said to me, “If you don’t want to talk about this, it’s OK, but I was thinking about the kind of things we’d want the other person to read at our funerals.” I immediately said poetry, and he immediately said that if he had enough “lead time” (he seems pretty positive that his impending doom will be pre-ordained), that he would video his own eulogy. I reminded him that no one would want to listen to him pontificate about critical thinking skills and the education of our young, let alone want to fill in a “descriptive feedback card” at the end of the funeral, but he’s determined. At this point, I told him MY plan, which is to write a eulogy FOR him, full of swearing and the liberal use of the F word, and then I’d tell people that I’d begged him to be more polite, but he was like “F*ck that! It’s my f*cking funeral, and I can say whatever the f*ck I want.” Of course, Ken rarely swears in real life (unless he hits his thumb with a hammer—you wouldn’t believe how often THAT happens), and people would be shocked by his foul language, but at the same time admire me for following through with his last wishes. This would be my revenge for his refusal to pay my kidnap ransom.

Tuesday, when I mess with people in the grocery store.

Have you ever been in a grocery store, trying to shop, and someone keeps parking their cart in the middle of the aisle so you can’t get by? Have you ever wondered how to get your revenge on that person? Does it seem a little weird to take revenge on strangers in grocery stores? No it’s not—it’s necessary to keep a sense of balance in the universe. Like how in Thor, which I just watched with my grade nine class as a way to wrap up our mythology unit, Thor battles the evil elves to save Earth. (By the way, there is nothing more difficult than doing a mythology unit with grade nine students, because there is no easy way to introduce them to Uranus. Say it to yourself one more time if you don’t get it. Also, it can be very difficult to talk about flying buttresses as part of a unit on Gothic literature to a group of grade 12s with a juvenile sense of humour. Did I laugh in both cases? Maybe.)

So on Tuesday, K and I were grocery shopping. (This is always a challenge because I like to go to the store where I get points, and K spends the whole time criticizing me for buying things we don’t need “just for the points”. I’m sorry, but you can always use another head of cauliflower or a family pack of Axe body spray.) Anyway, we were in the Gluten-Free/Organic Aisle (because I stopped eating gluten last year, thinking it would help my joints. It didn’t, but now it’s a habit, and I feel guilty if I break it, like when a smoker sneaks a cigarette, except instead of getting pleasantly dizzy, your stomach gets angry at you. Enough said.) Ahead of us was a middle-aged woman, (MORE middle-aged than me, anyway) who seemed completely oblivious that she was in a grocery store with many other people, and hadn’t just won a private shopping spree on The Price Is Right, because as she was lingering at the gluten-free freezer, her cart was in the middle of the aisle ON AN ANGLE. T and I were on our way to buy some special crackers, but we couldn’t get near them, thanks to Frumpy McDuh. We waited patiently for her to realize we were there, but she seemed to be deliberately ignoring us as she perused the shelves. A young guy came down the other way, and we both stood there helplessly, looking at each other for support. He seemed content to wait, so K and I turned around and went back the other way, thinking we could go down the next aisle and go round the corner back up to the crackers that way. A clever plan, but wait—as we came around the top of the next aisle, this woman, like a polyester-pantsuited NINJA, was already there, with her cart again parked in the middle of the aisle! We quickly devised a second, even better plan, and we hightailed it around to the next aisle, where we waited patiently, steadfastly. Sure enough, here she came, strolling down the aisle quite leisurely. But what’s this? There’s a cart in her way? Whose cart? Yes, you know it. And it was on an angle that was quite impossible to navigate around. K and I pretended to be VERY interested in organic quinoa, discussing the merits of each brand, while she stood and waited. But she wasn’t patient, or polite either. She started to push her cart towards me, and nearly grazed my ankle, but I stood my ground, daring her to come any closer. She finally gave up, and as she rolled her evil elf eyes and moved off, K and I felt like we had achieved some kind of universal victory, like in Thor, plus, we finally got our crackers. And the 2000 points that came with them.