Heavy Metal

You may remember a few weeks ago, I wrote about needing an MRI and the surgeon asking me if I had any metal in my body. I ran through a mental catalogue, at which point, after having made a detour into a delightful reverie about becoming a human forklift, I determined that I was metal-free. I had carefully considered the surgeries I’d had over the years, and I assumed if a surgeon had left any metal in me, I would know it by now and therefore could enter the MRI tunnel without any worries.


And how did I arrive at this horrifying conclusion? Well, I recently had an abdominal X-ray for another, completely unrelated matter, and on Thursday, I was able to access the report through the radiology clinic dashboard. It was pretty humdrum, and I was getting more than a little miffed once again at the liberal use of the term “unremarkable” (although I was pleased to note that my lungs are apparently “well-aerated”) when it said this: Cholecystectomy clips noted. I was like “What the f*ck is a chole-thingy?” so I googled it, and it’s when you have your gall bladder removed, and I did that about 15 years ago. I realize I’ve just made it sound like I reached into my own abdominal cavity and pulled it out myself, and if that did indeed happen, you will note that I would have accompanied the pulling out of my gall bladder with a flourish and the words Abracadabra, but a surgeon did it, and he was a terrible magician. And I KNOW this because in the same way that a terrible magician would accidentally sit on the top hat and kill his rabbit, this person left METAL CLIPS inside my body. I’ve been setting off the airport security alarms for years and telling them it was MY BELT when, in fact, I am a human IED.

These are my insides

According to my research, there are different kinds of clips for this—some dissolve and some are permanent, but the issue is that no one even asked me if I wanted to become a cyborg, and normally I would have said YES, but in this case, there’s no upside—I mean, it’s nothing AT ALL like having forklift arms, and I was initially very upset (not to mention worried that the MRI maybe dislodged them, and now I was being slowly stabbed to death from the inside), but then we went to see the new Suicide Squad movie. There was a variety of new characters, including a guy called Polka Dot Man, who could shoot polka dots out of his body and eviscerate people with them. Polka dots are a stupid weapon, but you know what’s not? METAL CLIPS. So now I’m going to write to James Gunn and suggest that, for the Suicide Squad sequel, there should be a new character introduced. Her name is Heavy Metal and her superpower is shooting sharp pieces of steel out of her body:

Criminal: Who the hell are you?!
Heavy Metal: My name is Heavy Metal, loser.
Criminal: You look rather unremarkable to me.
Heavy Metal: Prepare to die.

My Week 90: On Being Lucky, Summer School Stories Part Two

This is a commentary on being lucky. You might wonder why I feel that way, since I’m currently recovering from a major surgery that came upon me rather unexpectedly, and has pretty much ruined June. But I AM lucky. First, because the surgery went well, and I’ve had no complications. I came home right on schedule, and I’ve been able to recuperate in my own bed, surrounded by family and friends. However, because I can’t do much of anything, I’ve been watching a lot of TV and I’ve had a front row seat to all the horrible things that have happened in the last couple of weeks. The Orlando massacre, the shooting of a young singer, the assassination of a British MP, alligator and dog attacks, children being used as payment for debts—the list just keeps going. So I lie here and realize that, despite how lousy I feel, I have it pretty good.

First, in honour of Father’s Day, I’m married to a man who is not only a great dad but a wonderful husband. This last couple of weeks has been hard on him because he’s had to do EVERYTHING. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, gardening, waiting on me hand and foot, and a ton of other stuff, and he’s never once complained. I’ll admit I’ve been a baffling patient—I’ve had a couple of weird mood swings, most likely a combination of stress, hormones, and pain meds:

Me: When you come home from university on the weekends, I’ll make you lots of food to take back, Okay K?
K (rolls eyes): Sure, Mom.
Me: See, Ken? She’ll never come home. I’ll never see her again.
Ken: Don’t worry—you’ll still have me.
Me: SHUT UP, KEN!! (buries head in hands and sobs uncontrollably)
Ken: I was only joking…

And then on Friday:

Ken (on phone): What’s wrong? Why are you crying?!
Me: I asked my aunts to take me to the store so I could get you a Father’s Day present and there wasn’t ANYTHING! (Sobs) I have nothing to give y-y-you. I started crying in the store and had to leave.
Ken: God, don’t worry about it, honey. I didn’t expect you to go shopping for me.
Me: But you always get me such nice presents and I have nothing for YOU!! (Sobs uncontrollably)
Ken: Just tell me what you wanted to get me and I’ll buy it myself.
Me (wailing) Sandals!!
Ken: Um…okay.

But then later that day, K went shopping for Father’s Day and she offered to get me something for Ken. After a lot texting back and forth, and sending pictures of things Ken might like, she bought Ken pants for me, even though I had specified shorts. I said to K, “It says ‘32 inch inseam’. How long did you think these shorts WERE?” and she responded in usual teen fashion with “How the hell do I know how long 32 inches is? They were on the shorts table.” But it’s all good, because Ken liked them anyway. And he’s still going to buy himself sandals. Why does he need sandals, you might ask? Because in the spring, I may or may not have thrown his old sandals away during a particularly enthusiastic closet-cleaning session. I admit to nothing but the possibility.

Aside from shopping for me, K has also been wonderful in her own teenaged way, watching TV with me and letting me make her afterschool snacks while she naps, just like old times. And sometimes she even answers my texts, which is really good of her.

I’m also lucky to have a really supportive family. Everyone has been checking in regularly, and my aunts have even been weeding my flower gardens. I never have to worry about discovering that my family members have been secretly plotting against ANYTHING, or are members of the Westboro Baptist Church (because then I would know they were truly stupid and evil and would definitely have to disown them). My parents are currently on a cruise they planned months ago, but they’ve been emailing whenever they have wifi access that doesn’t cost a fortune. And just to clarify, my dad is alive and well—I posted a Father’s Day message to Ken and Dad on Facebook in which I said my dad was a great father and that he was currently “wandering the fjords”. Then I got worried that people might think it was a euphemism for being dead, you know, like “Poor Dad—he’s finally able to wander the fjords in eternal peace.” But actually, he’s just in Norway, not beyond the veil eternal.

The next reason why I’m lucky is because I’m recuperating in my own town instead of the big city. I live in a great little place, population around 500 people, and it’s quiet and pretty. I have super neighbours who would help you out with anything; in fact, two of them messaged me to say that if I needed any help, to call them and they would come over. And they would bring wine, which officially makes them the best neighbours ever. My only concern right now is that the lady on the corner sold her house, and the new neighbours moved in. Only they moved in at night. And by morning, the moving truck was gone and we haven’t seen anyone there since. Now, it’s not like we ever saw the previous owner—she was elderly and ill, and the only reason we even knew the house was occupied was from the coming and going of home help nurses, and the occasional arrival of an ambulance. But still, it made me a little curious, and I made Ken watch from the window:

Me: Can you see anything?
Ken: A couch, I think.
Me: Do you see any hydroponic growing stations? Large quantities of antihistamines?
Ken: No, just regular furniture. I’m sure they’re normal people.
Me: I don’t think a grow-op or a meth lab would be good for property values. Keep watching.
Ken (rolls eyes): Right.

So, aside from a potential house of ill repute in my neighbourhood, and full-on sobby mood swings, I find myself in a small pocket of loveliness, protected from the horrors of the world around me by the amazing people in my life, decorated with flowers from my garden and flowers from my work colleagues. And that, my friends, makes me an extremely lucky woman.


And now, just to lighten the mood, I present Summer School Stories Round 2. If you’re not sure about the context, you can read the intro from last week. Hope you enjoy the shenanigans from 2013:


Summer School Day One: Let the Games Begin

After the 100s of kids who needed to register, the parents making demands, the buses that didn’t show up, and a grand mal seizure in the middle of the registration line, we made it through the day. Of all the reasons to switch classes (which we normally don’t allow), this was my favourite:

Student: I need to change my math class. I know you don’t usually allow it, but I really need to.
Me: Why?
Student: The teacher I have today is the same one who failed me last week.
Me: So you think you’ll have a better chance with someone new?
Student: Yeah, I hope so!

Fun at Summer School Day Two: There Are No Secrets Anymore

After 20 minutes of parents tearing a strip off their daughter for lying to them in order to get a letter of permission to change classes so she could be with her boyfriend, this is what the mother and father finally said (both with lovely East Indian accents):

Mother: All right, I’m sick of this bullsh*t. I’ve been keeping your secret from Daddy, and now I’m going to tell him what you did. (To father) She didn’t get any of her credits last semester. She failed everything!!!
Father: WHAT???!!!
Me: OK, so I think we have a couple of different issues here…..

Fun at Summer School Day 3: Who’s On First? I Don’t Know…

Me: So, Ms. Le, our student Trang says she has to switch classes to make your “counselling” appointments. Where exactly are you located?
Young Girl: 26 B_____ Crescent.
Me: And where is that?
Young Girl: My house.
Me: Yes, but where do you live?
Young Girl: Toronto.
Me: She has to go to Toronto 3 days a week to see you for counselling?
Young Girl: No, she comes to my house.
Me: But where are you located?
Young Girl: 26 Br______ Crescent.
Me: Yes, but where is that?! What city?
Young Girl: In Kitchener, but I live in Toronto.
Me: OK, I’m going to say No to the switch and suggest that maybe you make the “counselling” sessions for later in the day. You’re not a real counselor, are you?
Young Girl: Not really, no.

Fun at Summer School Day 4: The Name Game

Me: So the bus driver tells me that on Friday, you were refusing to sit down while the bus was moving, and when he asked your name, you told him it was “Mohammed Mohammed”. I’m going to guess that’s not your name.
Short White Boy: (mumbles) No.
Me: What IS your name?
Short White Boy: (sheepishly) Kevin.
Me: OK Kevin, from now on you do as the bus driver tells you, or you won’t be riding the bus anymore.
Short White Boy: (mumbles) OK.

Fun at Summer School Day 4: Shots For Breakfast

Female Student: Why are you kicking me out? I wasn’t doing anything. It’s not fair!
Me: Look, you have two absences and two lates for a 9 day Careers program. You were sleeping in class and then you swore at the teacher. You’re being demitted.
Female Student: Why are you being so mean this year? Everybody thinks so–it’s not just me. Other people think you’re being mean too, you know.
Me: (sigh) If you keep refusing to leave the building, I’ll have to get the police to issue you a trespass notice.
Female Student: Blah, blah, blah….

When I looked at her Twitter feed later, the most notable entry for that morning was “Shots for breakfast!” Explains a lot.

Not So Fun at Summer School Day 5:

One of our day school students went to buy a new baseball bat, then came to the office to get his report card. When he left, he was accosted at the bus stop by a thug who tried to steal the bat, threatened him and then chased him–he ran through the parking lot and into the refuge of our building. Here’s part of the conversation, which reminds me why I love kids:

Student: He chased me from the bus stop to the parking lot. Thank god I did track for 4 years. I didn’t think he’d be able to catch me.
Me: Plus you had the baseball bat in case he did.
Student: Are you kidding?! I could never hit someone with a baseball bat!

Kudos to all the kids out there who could never conceive of harming another human being over a baseball bat, or for any other reason.

Fun at Summer School Day 6: Shots for Breakfast, Shots for Lunch

Me: So if you hadn’t been drinking, then why were you throwing up in the bathroom?
Drunk Girl (slurring): I have a cold.
Me: Right. The bathroom smelled like a bar.
Drunk Girl (excitedly): Which bar?
Me: All of them!!

Fun at Summer School Day 8: Pikachu Rules

After an exhausting morning with a couple of 15 year-old drug dealers, and the police, and their parents, and mental health workers, I had to deal with another couple of kids who had been reported as doing something suspicious on the school bus, maybe involving drugs.

Me: So what exactly were you and your friend doing on the bus that might have worried the bus driver?
Student: Well, we were playing Pokémon on my friend’s Nintendo DS…
Me: Were you passing it back and forth?
Student: Yes.
Me: What were you talking about?
Student: Just Pokémon stuff. I was thinking up a name for my friend’s avatar. I said he should call it Loveknobs. That’s British for…well…Am I in trouble for that?
Me: (trying not to laugh) No, you’re good. Go on back to class.

Fun at Summer School Day 9: Are You F*ing Kidding Me?

Me: So if your son wasn’t doing anything, can you explain why he carries rolling papers and a grinder in his school backpack?
Father of 15 Year-Old: Well, the boy smokes a little pot. I let him smoke sometimes at home with his friends. Better to do it at home than run wild on the streets…
Me: (looks to heaven for divine assistance–cannot find anything polite to say in response).

Fun at Summer School Day 11: What Not To Wear

Me: So I just wanted to have a word with you about your daughter and some dress code issues. Did she tell you why she came home yesterday?
Mother: No…
Me: Well, she was wearing a tank top that said “Smoke Meth and Hail Satan. We asked her to cover up or turn it inside out, and she chose not to do that.
Mother: (exasperated) Oh my god! She’s going through a terrible phase right now. It’s been almost a year and we just keep praying it’ll be over soon.
Me: And today she’s wearing a bra. Just a bra. I’d appreciate it if you could talk to her about wardrobe choices. I know it’s hot outside, but our air conditioning works really well.
Mother: Yes, of course. Thanks for calling.

Fun at Summer School Day 12: Hindsight is 20/20

Me: So your daughter left her class, went out for a cigarette, and then was hostile and rude when we asked her where she’d been. I’m sending her home for the rest of the day.
Mother: If she apologizes, can she come back tomorrow? She’s actually passing and her attendance has been good. I know sometimes she needs to work on her attitude….
Me: I can accept that. Bring her in tomorrow. If she’s willing to apologize, she can continue in her course.

10 minutes later….

Teacher: That’s the girl who came into my class last week, and when I told her to go back to her own class, she called me a b*tch!!
Me: If I’d only known that 10 minutes ago. Sigh.

I guess this girl was going to be saying sorry to quite a few people tomorrow.

Fun at Summer School Day 13: Hindsight Might Be 20/20, But Payback Is Sweet

Our little charmer from yesterday returned this morning. After some sulky, half-hearted apologies, she went back to class on the understanding that she would be polite and punctual from now on. At the end of first break, she refused to go back to class when it was time, then launched a string of profanities at Donna, culminating in her exclaiming to me, “F*ck all this!” and storming out when I asked her to stay in the office. I called her mom and explained that I’d removed her permanently. 5 minutes later, the phone rang again:

Secretary: It’s that student you just demitted. She wants to know why she was kicked out.

I picked up the phone just in time to hear this:

Student: Answer the f*cking phone!!
Me: THAT’S why you were kicked out! Goodbye.

Fun at Summer School Day 13: Sorry Is The Hardest Word To Say

Me: I have no interest in interrupting Ms. ___ during class, so you can write her a letter of apology.
Student: (rolling eyes) What am I supposed to say?
Me: What would you normally say in this kind of circumstance?
Student: Um…’I’m sorry that I called you a b*tch’?
Me: (sigh) Think of a way to say it a little more politely.

Fun at Summer School Day 14: XXXShakepeareXXX

The 4UI English students were asked to write an original scene for King Lear. One student strayed from the provided scenarios and handed in a script, properly formatted, lines numbered, with asides, stage directions, and lovely Shakespearean diction. Unfortunately it was also Shakespearean porn. Here’s a sample:

France: Enough of this talk. Unsheath thy sword. Let my hands wield it. Nothing will come between us.
Burgundy: Nothing!  [sex]…
[Enter servant]
France: Do you remember the beating we discussed?
Servant: I do, my Lord
France: Good, very good.
Cordelia: I knew it! How could anyone not see this? The rainbows, your low-calorie ale. It all points to this…

Seven pages of R-rated Shakespeare. Made my day.

Fun at Summer School Day 14: It’s Because He’s Invisible

Me: (to student) Your attendance is a bit of an issue. You have 3 absences now.
Secretary: I think Frank talked to her.
Me: (to student): Did you talk to the other supervisor about your attendance?
Student: Who?
Me: (pointing) The man who sits over there.
Student: (looking completely confused) But there’s no one sitting there…
Me: (trying not to laugh) No, the man who usually sits there. He’s not here right now.
Student: Oh. Yeah, I don’t know.

Fun at Summer School Day 15: Part I

Me: So your son didn’t go to class this morning–he was seen with a group of people going downtown. Do you have any way to contact him and tell him he needs to come back to school?
Father: You’re kidding! I dropped him off myself. No, we’ve already taken away his cell phone, his Ipod, and a lot of other things.
Me: So, not a lot left for leverage, huh?
Father: No, not much. I’ll go drive around and see if I can find him.

Fun at Summer School Day 15: Part II – It Must Have Been Telepathy

Me: So, you went downtown this morning. Your father was pretty upset.
Student: No, it’s ok. I talked to him and he said to tell you it was ok.
Me: How exactly did you speak to him?
Student: On my cell phone.
Me: That’s interesting because your father said he’d taken away your cell phone.
Student: Oh. (quietly) Sh*t.

Fun at Summer School Day 16: Awkward Family Moments

After lunch had started, one of our students came into the office, literally being half-carried/half-dragged by her mother on one side and her sister on the other. She could barely walk, and had the pallor of something out of The Exorcist.

Mother: We’re trying to figure out how to get her up to her classroom.
Me: Absolutely not. Take her home now.
Mother: (blank stare)
Me: Seriously, your daughter is much too sick to be in class. She needs to go home.
Mother: Oh…

At this point, they slowly turned around and left. One minute later the mother was back.

Mother: Is it OK if we use the elevator?
Me: Yes! Use the elevator! To take her down to the parking lot, right?! It’s fine!

Seriously, folks–it was the most bizarre thing I’d seen in ages.

Fun at Summer School Day 16: Baby? What Baby?

Me: So your son hasn’t been to school for the last two days…
Mother: I don’t understand–I gave him money to get there yesterday.
Me: I’m sorry but he hasn’t been here since Tuesday. He came in and said he had to go to the hospital right away because your other son’s girlfriend had gone into labour and was about to have a baby.
Mother: Pardon ME?! A baby?! Uh, no. I’ll make sure he’s there tomorrow to write his exam.

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when that kid got home, lol.



My Week 89: Summer School Stories 2014

So as you may or may not know, I’m currently recovering from a particularly nasty surgery. I haven’t been able to focus much on anything this week, thanks to the drugs, let alone anything remotely amusing, mostly because it REALLY hurts to laugh. But because I care about you, gentle Reader, I have prepared in advance for your viewing pleasure, a variety of incidents that I was involved in during my tenure as a Summer School Supervisor at a make-up credit site. No, that doesn’t mean the students were there to learn about make-up, which would be all kinds of awesome—it means that they all failed a course and were there to “make it up”. Which also means that I was in charge of a building full of almost 1000 VERY unhappy teenagers. Many of them just put their heads down and powered through, but there were inevitably the kids who had difficulty with sticking to the 3 week program. We had no choice except to remove students for infractions like poor attendance (the Ministry of Education required that they put in so many hours to “make up” the original credit), or for drug/alcohol use, or other inappropriate behaviours. It certainly kept me, my school supervision monitors Donna and Roy (not their real names), and other assorted staff on our toes. So here you go—memories from 2014.

summer school


Fun at Summer School Day 1: And We’re Off!

All things considered, a pretty quiet day by our usual standards.

Favourite conversation of the day:

Student: I have to go get my cast fixed. I broke my arm two days ago skateboarding, and now I’ve wrecked my cast.
Me: That must hurt.
Student: Well, the government’s to blame. They put fresh hot tar on the hill I went down, and my skateboard got stuck.

Damn the government and their hot tar.

Fun at Summer School Day 2: Who’s On First?

Me (to very small blond boy): So why are you outside my office?
Boy: Ask my teacher.
Me: Did she send you here?
Boy: No, I came myself.
Me: Why?
Boy: You’ll have to ask my teacher.
Me: But if you came up yourself, and she didn’t send you, YOU need to tell me why you’re here.
Boy: You should call her and ask her.
Me: OK, let’s just clarify. You came here, she didn’t send you, so I need YOU to tell me why you’re standing outside the office. Are we clear on this?
Boy (mutters sadly): Everything is so stupid.
Me (sigh): Let’s go back to the beginning.

Fun at Summer School Day 3: A Hooker Is A Person In Your Neighbourhood

 This morning, Donna, Roy and I decided to go around the back of the hill surrounding the school’s field to see if any students were lurking in the woods.

Donna (whispering): We’ve got movement–there’s a couple of people over there.
Me (whispering): Are they students? What are they…OH MY GOD!

…As the middle-aged man zipped up his pants, and his elderly female companion got to her feet. Icky icky.

Fun at Summer School Day 3 – Later The Same Day: A Dealer Is A Person In Your Neighbourhood

Little Grade Nine Girl: Um, I thought I should report this. Today, I was eating lunch on the hill and a man came up to me and said, ‘Hello. Would you like to buy some weed?’ It really freaked me out.
Us: What did you do?!
Girl: I screamed NO and ran away. A couple of other students came to help me and see if I was OK.
Me: You go back to class and I’ll call you if the police want to speak to you. If it’s any consolation, I doubt if he would have hurt you. He probably really only wanted to sell you the weed.
Girl: Yeah. I didn’t have any money anyway. It was really creepy. I live in a small neighbourhood.
Donna: Welcome to OUR neighbourhood.

Fun at Summer School Day 5: Horseheads and Mockingbirds

Things continued quietly. Big excitement of the day was confiscating a horsehead mask (which Roy kept unwittingly enunciating as a “whore’s head mask”, much to our enjoyment) from a student who was wandering around at lunch creeping people out. Favourite conversation was the following:

Student: I need to drop my English course.
Me: OK. Do you have any textbooks to return?
Student: No. (pause) I have a book though.
Me: Is it a textbook?
Student: No. It’s just a book. (gives me a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird)
Me: Did you like it?
Student: Meh.
Me: Great. Thanks for the ‘book’.

Fun at Summer School Day 7: The Spies Are Everywhere:

Me (to grade 10 student): So what were you doing out of class for almost half an hour?
Student: Well, I finished my quiz, so I went outside. I was going to have a cigarette, but I saw my mom’s boyfriend drive by. She doesn’t let me smoke.
Me: Yeah, well I don’t let you smoke either. You know how you’re not allowed to leave class to smoke during regular school?
Student looks puzzled.
Me: OK, well maybe you smoke during class at regular school but you know you’re not allowed to, right? It’s just like that here. Except that if I catch you smoking during class time, I’ll remove you from summer school. Got it?
Student (nods enthusiastically and goes to leave): Yep. Have a nice day!

Fun at Summer School Day 7: Best Conversation So Far:

Roy: (over walkie talkie): Hey Suzanne, are you available?”
Me: Yes?
Roy: Meet me out by the dumpster.

Fun at Summer School Day 8: Siegfried or Roy?

While standing on the top of the hill by the school while looking for one of our errant charges, Donna, Roy, and I spotted a figure lying on a blanket in the middle of the grass at the end of the football field where our Grade 8 students were playing games. The figure was mostly nude and glistening in the sunlight. As we approached, we realized it was an older man with a mane of long, golden hair, wearing nothing but a tiny Speedo and a lot of baby oil. Roy offered to make the initial approach.

Roy: Excuse me, sir, but you can’t lie there.
Man: I’m a security guard. I know what I can’t do. This is public property.
Donna: Actually, this is a schoolyard. It’s private property and you can’t be here.
Man (getting up): Well, you can have your opinion. I work in security, so I won’t cause any problems, even though I don’t see why I can’t be here.
Donna (gesturing): There are children playing right over there!
Man (indignantly, gathering up his things): Now you’re making me feel like some kind of pervert!

Then he stalked off, wearing only the speedo, and carrying only a pair of crocs, his blanket, and the baby oil. As we watched him slowly get smaller as he walked down the field towards the road, I said nothing, because I was trying so hard not to laugh.

Fun at Summer School Day 10: Perhaps A Little Claritin Would Help

The day started well, but after break, we were passed quickly on the stairs by a student wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt (go figure) who reeked of marijuana. He disappeared but we followed him to class based solely on the vapour trail he left behind. He took off and left the property, where he dumped his stash into a sewer. We were sad to inform him that we were going to have to part ways. Later, after catching two other students smoking up behind the church during class, we searched their backpacks. After pulling out of one student’s bag a pipe, grinder full of pot, cleaning tools, and so on, this conversation ensued:

Donna: Good Lord, you have TWO bottles of Visine?!
Student (sullenly): Maybe I have allergies.
Me: Or maybe you just smoke a LOT of pot.
Student (sighs, looks down): Yeah.

Needless to say, neither of them would be getting their credits this summer.

Fun at Summer School Day 11: Bank Those Sick Days!

Student: I’m not feeling well. Can I sign out?
Me: Sure. How many absences do you have?”
Student: Only one so far.
Me: No problem–you’re allowed up to two.
Student: Oh…in that case, I’ll stay. I’ll save the other one for a time when I really need it.

Fun at Summer School Day 11: Society’s To Blame

Father of student demitted yesterday for marijuana use: I think you should be more lenient. You’re responsible for his education and now he’s lost his chance to graduate at the end of next year…
Me: I’m sorry but he will NOT be allowed back into summer school.
Father (rants): Too many foreigners at the universities…all white students smoke drugs….recession…John Howard Society will corrupt him by exposing him to more druggies…he’ll be bored at home and get into more trouble…he was fine until he went to high school…there should be more police at the schools because he’s not used to them and he was nervous….
Me: These are bigger issues than I’m prepared to deal with. At any rate, the outcome’s the same.

He eventually left. Wow.

Fun at Summer School Day 12: There Are Those Who Call Me Tim…

Towards the end of the day, there was a commotion in the foyer. Donna and Roy investigated and brought back a very sullen young man.

Me: What class are you supposed to be in right now?
Student: I don’t know…
Donna: This isn’t a trick question. Where should you be right now?
Student (gestures vaguely): Up there.
Me: What’s your name?
Student: Elton.
Me: What’s your last name?
Student: Quan.

Donna took him upstairs while I checked attendance. His actual name was nothing remotely like “Elton Quan”. I went upstairs.

Me: Your name isn’t Elton Quan, it’s –blank–.
Student: I have 5 different names that I go by. (Etc. etc., more annoying responses, foul language.)

The upshot was that Elton and all his other names were removed from Summer School. The teacher told us later that he was asked to leave class for continually pulling the hair of the girl in front of him.

Fun at Summer School Day 13: Oh, And One Last Thing…

Student: Can I sign out?
Me: Hey, you’re the guy who was late from lunch the other day because you were outside dancing.
Student: What? I wasn’t dancing–I was flexing my muscles in the window reflection!
Me (laughing): Well, call your mom and get permission to leave.
Student (on phone with mother): Well, I’m done all my work, I wrote my quiz and got perfect, and (whispering) I thought if I came home early it would be OK cuz you said we could do that thing….remember–the headphones? You said we could go get the headphones if my marks were good?…(to me) Um, I vomited, so I’m sick.

Student passes me the phone so I can talk to mom.

Mom (laughing affectionately): Ok, I told him just this once. But he has to stay all next week and no fooling around.

Fun at Summer School Day 14: Power Napping

Me (to student): You can finish writing your test in this classroom here. Let me know when you’re done.
Student: OK, thanks.

An hour later, after break, I went by the room and the lights were out. I walked in, they turned on automatically, and the same student just about jumped out of his desk.

Me: Why are you sitting in the dark?!
Student: Uh…I think someone came in and turned the lights off.
Me: No, they turn off automatically…wait a minute…were you asleep?!
Student (sheepishly): Um….

 Fun at Summer School Day 15: My Mad Math Skills

Example One:

Father: My son is in Civics. It’s only a 9 day course so he’s done today, right?
Me (mentally confused): No, he still has class tomorrow.
Me, later to secretary: Civics started on the 15th, right? So tomorrow makes it 9 days?
Secretary: Yes.
Me (relieved): Oh good.

Example Two:

Student Writing Exam Early: This question says to calculate the answer based on 6.3 hours. Is that like 6 and a half hours?
Me (mentally confused): That sounds like it might be right, but I’ll ask and find out. Roy, is 6.3 hours the same as 6 and a half?
Roy: No, it’s….(some gobbledy-gook math response).
Me: Yeah, that makes sense. So can you explain it to the student please?

Example Three:

Awesome Math Teacher Guy: So then I ask them to calculate the line…space time continuum…infinity…Einstein (maybe..?) and then the thing…
Me: I love the way you tell a story.

My Week 87: Preparing for Surgery, Weird Wednesday

Saturday: I prepare for surgery

Don’t worry—this is going to be funny, not serious like last week. I got a lot of excellent feedback on my take on Participation Ribbons, but mostly it was like, “Great post, but it didn’t make me laugh.” Thanks, Mom, lol. She also suggested last week after a particularly funny conversation about a “lady-hair ripping party” that I write about my upcoming surgery, and initially I was like, “No way—it’s too personal!” But then I thought, if I was getting my appendix out, I’d definitely write about it, and God knows I’ve already shared some pretty personal stuff on this site, so here it goes.

I’m having a hysterectomy. Yep, I said it. I’m not the first woman to ever have one, and I certainly won’t be the last. But it’s me, and it came as a shock. If you read “Christmas at the Emergency Room”, I dropped some pretty heavy hints about what was going on, but honestly, I was more worried about the promise I’d made to Russia about donating my uterus to their scientists in an earlier post about head transplants, because I had intimated—well, stated very emphatically—that my womb was in excellent working condition, or at least it had been the last time it had been used for anything. I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of implied warranty there, and I didn’t want to get sued by the Russian government for false advertising, especially since I’d criticized their war efforts. Then they’d be like, “Vat?! You think ve suck at var? Vell, your uterus is piece of shit—vorse than LADA. Ve vant our rubles back.” (I don’t know what kind of accent that’s going to play out like, so just pretend it’s Russian.)

So after my emergency room incident, I waited to see a surgeon, and in a bizarre twist of fate, he’s RUSSIAN. Or Czech, or some kind of Slavic, but I’m counting it anyway. As of next week, I will have officially fulfilled my debt and diverted an international incident. But aside from that, I discovered I was living in a dream world (which is not unusual for me, but still…). I’d had my gall bladder out in my early 30s, and I figured it would be as simple as that—the surgeon, dressed in a tuxedo, would reach into my lady tunnel, and pull out my uterus like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a top hat. “Abracadabra!” he would say in his Russian accent, holding it up triumphantly for the audience of nurses and interns, and waving a magic wand. There was also glitter, and a scantily dressed assistant who smiled in a sexy way while the surgeon bowed.  And that would have been totally awesome, but unfortunately, that’s not how it’s actually going to happen, according to my surgeon, who explained all about “reconstruction” and “mesh slings” and other rather nasty procedures, according to the Youtube videos I’ve watched. Note to self: NEVER watch a video about the surgery you’re going to have. I was 30 seconds in, when I screamed, “OH HELL NO!” and desperately searched for videos about kittens.

Yet, while I’m filled with trepidation about the surgery, I’m also relieved. I have something called “uterine prolapse”, which you can look up if you REALLY need to know. And it’s gotten worse in the last couple of weeks to the point where I really don’t enjoy the force of gravity and would prefer to do everything from a horizontal position. Let me just say, there’s a real sense of betrayal you get when one of your body parts wants to abandon you and go on a road trip. Also, as a professional, it’s really difficult to have a conversation with your director when all you can think is “God, I need to readjust my internal organs.” Of course, as with most things related to female anatomy, the medical profession is remarkably blasé. When I asked what I should do if it actually fell out completely, the emergency room doctor told me to “just shove it back in”. It took several months for me to even see a specialist, since this is not considered an “emergency”. Seriously? Do you really think that if a guy went to his doctor and said, “My prostate gland is coming out of my ass!” that the doctor would say, “No worries—just shove it back in.” No—that guy would be on full bedrest, with a private nurse holding his hand and feeding him ice cream. In fact, I’ve often said that if men had to have their testicles checked in the same way that women have to have their breasts examined, the mammogram would never exist. Instead, it would be soothing music, incense, and some kind of weird-ass robot reiki. Ken says that I’m being reverse-sexist when I say things like that, but I honestly can’t see a doctor saying to a guy, “It happens to men all the time. You’ll just have to deal with it.”

The most interesting part of this whole experience was realizing that I would have to be “shorn” for the procedure, which really freaked me out. I’ve never in my life “mowed the lawn”; the most I’ve ever done is trim the hedges. But frankly, the thought of an untrained nurse attacking my lady parts with a dull Bic was more than I could take. So I called up a local spa, explained the situation, and made an appointment for the FULL BRAZILIAN. “No problem,” said the reception. “I’ll set you up with Brittany. I’ve never had it done myself, but she has a good reputation for being very quick. She doesn’t linger.” LINGER?! Why the f*ck WOULD anyone linger?! I would think we’d BOTH want it over as soon as humanly possible. I’d be like, “Please tell me you’re done!” and she’d say, “Oh my god, yes!” And then we’d give a long distance high five and never see each other again.

I got to the spa, and Brittany came out to take me upstairs. She was young, and solid-looking, which I think would be important for the expedient and determined removal of lady hair—any hesitation might result in the client simply running out the door. “Have you had this done before?” she asked.

“Nope, first time,” I answered.

“Well, I’ll be honest up front,” she said. “This is really going to hurt.”

“I have four tattoos and I’ve given birth…”

“Yeah. This is a totally different kind of hurt. But it’s over really quick.”

Did it hurt? You bet your ass it did. At one point, I gasped and started laughing hysterically. “I don’t know why I’m laughing,” I said.

“Oh,” she answered breezily. “Some people laugh, some people cry, some people refuse to open their legs.”

“Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?”

“It sure does,” she laughed. “There, you’re just about done. You’re doing great!”

She was right—it was quick. When I paid the bill, the receptionist asked how it went. “It was fast, thank God,” I said.

“Yes, Brittany’s good like that,” she smiled.

I left a tip, which, when you think about it, was totally appropriate, if tipping is for good service.

So while I may be scared sh*tless about the surgery, at least I have one less thing to worry about. (As a side note, I’m currently one of the few people I know who can actually say, “I’m literally beside myself right now.” Unlike other people who say that when they really mean “figuratively beside myself.”) Ultimately, my plan is to stay drugged up, watch a lot of Netflix, and drink a lot of wine. Best. Vacation. Ever.


Wednesday: All the weird things

Wednesday was one of those days. I’d made plans with my sister-in-law to meet at a spa because I really needed a massage, and she really needed to work out, which honestly, is a need I’ve never been able to relate to. But I got my own workout on the way there, because I decided to walk and I miscalculated how far away the spa actually was. Also, the weather was outrageously humid, and I was dying by the time I was halfway there. I had underestimated the distance so badly that, every time I saw stoplights up ahead and realized it STILL wasn’t my street, I swore copiously, as in “Shuter Street?! What the f*ck!” But on the way there, I saw a man coming towards me. His head was down, he was all sweaty, and he was breathing hard. As he got closer, I realized it was John, one of the homeless guys from my neighbourhood. He looked up and recognized me, and we smiled at each other. “Hey, John,” I said. “Oh hi! How are you?” he answered. “Can I get some money for a cold drink? I won’t use it for alcohol.” So I emptied all the change out of my wallet and put it in his hand, which was weird because I normally put it in his hat. But it was kind of cool, like we were friends and I was just loaning him some money like I would with a co-worker who needed change for the vending machine, except if my co-worker had qualified the request with “I won’t use it for alcohol”, I might have suggested counselling. He said, “Thanks! See you later!” and off he went.

Then I met my sister-in-law, and we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner. I was going to name it here, but the manager just sent me an apology. For what? you might ask. I’d ordered gluten-free pasta because I have a gluten allergy, and it was so undercooked that it was inedible, so I left at least ¾ on the plate. When the waitress asked if I had enjoyed it, I told her “No”, and her response was this: “Well, YOU ordered the gluten-free pasta.” Then she walked away. I was kind of shocked at being personally blamed because their chef couldn’t cook. A few weeks ago, I ordered gluten-free pizza at a different restaurant, and when it came, it was burned. Instead of blaming me and saying, “Well, you didn’t specify UNBURNED,” the waitress apologized profusely and got me another one. That was at Scaddabush, which I don’t mind naming because their food is awesome, and their staff is lovely. Go there if you’re ever in Toronto. Tell them I sent you.

Finally, I was back in my condo and settling in for the night when the building’s fire alarm went off. It’s hideously loud and comes in through a PA system in each unit. I started to panic a little, being on the 27th floor, and wished I had some rope AND training on how to a) tie knots and b) rappel down a set of balconies. Which would never happen in real life, because the only way I EVER go out on my balcony is by holding onto the patio door jamb, then stepping out with one foot and leaning towards the railing only as far as I can go without releasing the door jamb. As I always say, “I’m not afraid of heights; I’m just afraid of falling FROM them.” Which means that I can go on roller coasters, Ferris wheels, and airplanes, but I can’t parachute, ride in a hot air balloon, or stand on my balcony.  It’s all a matter of being strapped in. Anyway, 6 firetrucks showed up, and I was straining to see them without actually getting close to the railing, when it occurred to me that a better use of my time would be to make a pile of all the things I would want to take with me if I had to evacuate. First was the external hard drive with copies of all of Ken’s photographs of flowers, clouds, Christmas ornaments, and cows. Next came the small collection of jewelry that I keep in my condo. A piece of driftwood from the cottage beach, the wooden goblet that Ken had hand lathed for me for Christmas, and I was set, because I had doubles of everything else at home. There were several pieces of artwork, but I figured if the time came, I could throw them in my suitcase at the last minute, then run down all 27 flights of stairs like a mad tourist. Just as I was about to take the first painting off the wall, I heard someone clear his throat. It was the Obnoxious Chair.

OC: Aren’t you forgetting something?
Me: Like what? Oh right, I probably need shoes.
OC: Not shoes, you idiot. I’m thinking of a particular chair you know.
Faint voice from the bedroom: I am in here, cherie, patiently waiting.
OC: Not that French bastard! I’m talking about me!
Me: You’re kidding right? You really think I’m going to carry you down 27 flights of stairs after the way you constantly behave?
OC: Hey, the last time the men were here to service your fan coil, I was really good. I kept my distance, even though they were sketchy and were touching your underwear.
Me: What?!
OC: Underwear, fan coil, whatever.
Me: The most I’ll do is throw you off the balcony. You can take your chances with gravity.
OC: Hah! Like you’d ever go out there. Well, suit yourself. And by the way, a little fire would do wonders for the décor in here.
Me: You’re a jerk.
OC: Screw you.
French Chair: I’m waiting, ma petite chou. We shall escape together, as I’ve always dreamed. Perhaps to ze Casbah.

Just then, the concierge came over the PA to announce that the fire department had given the all-clear, and that we could “resume our normal activities.” I felt a little letdown after creating such an elaborate escape plan, but at least I knew who I’d take with me, and what would be left behind to burn.