Originize! and a Poem About Clocks

Earlier this week, I was nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award by my friend Tom from Tom Being Tom, who is an amazing blogger and human being, and I love all of his dogs almost as much as I love him. He nominated people based on the names of Santa’s reindeer and I got Dancer, which was OK, but if I’m being honest, I wish he would have invented a new reindeer named Player One, who would have supplanted Rudolph at the head of the sleigh team due to her speed, and also it would have made up for my sadness over the fact that my fantasy hockey team, which is also called Player One, is currently at the bottom of the league. I think. Because the hockey app on my phone stopped working and I can’t access the standings anymore, but no one at work is approaching me ominously and saying oddly sexual things like, “Don’t get too comfortable being on top”, so I assume I’m no longer a threat to JEFFREY.

Anyway, as part of the award, I have to provide my origin story and offer two pieces of advice to new bloggers. First my origin story, which is nowhere near as cool as like, The Avengers or whatnot:

About 5 and a half years ago, I was going through a hard time at work because of a group of extremely nasty people, so to save myself and my sanity, I started focusing on the funny things that were happening each week, and started writing them down. I already had a WordPress site that I’d been using professionally, but I completely revamped and reinvented it so that I could share my humour with the world, which also explains why the blog is mydangblog but the domain is educationalmentorship.com–I can’t for the life of me figure out how to change it and I quite often forget that Educationalmentorship is actually me because it sounds way too professional and fancy. But being able to do that, to shove aside the negativity and revel in life’s absurdities, is what drives me to write. Even though I’ve changed jobs and now I work with some truly awesome people, I still write the blog because humour is important to me.

Two Pieces of Advice:

1) Whenever you are full of self-doubt, picture yourself as a supermodel on a catwalk. Play the song “Cover Girl (Put The Bass In Your Walk) by RuPaul in your head. Then walk down the street, or down the aisle in your office like the fierce f*cking queen or king you are. I do this regularly and it’s amazing how effective it is.

2) If your dog tells you that he hasn’t been fed yet, don’t believe him—he’s a notorious liar and just stole half a chocolate log cake off the kitchen island when you were out buying an antique stained glass window, then claimed it was “fairies” when you accused him of eating it. Ignore the specificity of this piece of advice—I’m sure it’s true of all dogs.

(Nobody said the advice had to be about blogging. Here’s an actual piece of blogging advice: Write because you love doing it, not for any other reason.) And now I’m supposed to nominate other people, but some of you don’t like awards (weirdos, but I love you anyway) and some of you have a bunch already, and there are so many of you who are wonderful, so here’s my challenge: Post your own origin story and two pieces of random advice, and say that I made you do it.

On Friday, I was getting ready for the day, and I looked up at the clocks in my bathroom. They both said 11:34, and it completely freaked me out. Why? I hear you asking. Shouldn’t the clocks both be telling the same time? And the answer would normally be yes, but in this case, one clock works and the other DOES NOT. And isn’t it an amazingly strange coincidence, or a harbinger of doom perhaps, that I happened to look at both of them when they were showing the same time? Or maybe it was a good omen, I don’t know. At any rate, nothing particularly good or bad happened the rest of the day, and also don’t judge me for not getting ready for the day until almost noon, because I’m ON MY HOLIDAYS.

But then I started looking around the house at all the clocks. It’s a very large old Victorian house, built in 1906, complete with a front staircase AND a back staircase, which is apparently fascinating to young children who will spend hours doing a circuit involving going up the front stairs, running through the upstairs of the house, going down the back stairs, and running through the main floor of the house. Then repeat. I know this because over the last few days, we’ve hosted several children who all took tremendous delight in this activity which, I have to admit, is pretty fun and I do it myself on occasion. In fact, I did it on Saturday as I was clock counting. You may be surprised, and somewhat alarmed (best pun ever) to learn that I have 43 clocks in random places around my house (and I’m not even counting phone, computer, microwave or TV clocks). 16 of them work, and 27 do not. 1 of them was actually just in a drawer. And out of the 27 that don’t work, I found two more that had stopped around 11:34-ish, and another two that had stopped at 6:57, which looks frighteningly like 11:34-ish from a distance. I should probably mention at this point that I collect vintage alarm clocks and most of them are wind-up, and do I have time to wind up 27 clocks? No, I don’t. Plus all that ticking would drive me crazy. But why are some of my clocks fixated around the 11:34-ish mark? Is that when the ghost in my house died? I may never know, but anytime something either wonderful or terrible happens, I’ll be sure to look at one of the working clocks to see what time it is.

Me: What time was it when you ate all the cake? I know it was you, so stop trying to blame “the fairies”.
Titus: Fine, fine. You left at 11:30. It was a few minutes after that.
Me: Are you feeling sick yet?
Titus: A little. I’ll probably throw up tomorrow morning, say around 11:34.
Me (whispers): Harbinger of doom…

Here’s a poem I wrote about clocks:

Unwound

Clocks that don’t work
Have a certain charm.
They remind us
That time is a construct,
An imposition on our freedom.
When clocks are silent,
They can’t tick down our days.

My Week 249: Who Is The Elusive Shane? Titus Gets Punchy

Who is Shane?

This question continues to plague me. A little over two years ago, I received a company cell phone, one of the perks of being a permanent employee at the secret agency. It’s just a simple iPhone–it doesn’t have a built-in Geiger counter or tear gas cartridges, nor does it change my voice to sound like Batman or provide me the gift of super-hearing. It DOES have Google Maps and a calculator, so that’s almost as good as an Industrial Satellite Laser, and you might have guessed that I watched a lot of James Bond movies as a kid. At any rate, I got this phone, and I also immediately started getting random text messages (these are actual screen shots from my phone so if you’re having trouble reading them, click on them to enlarge). The first was an invitation for a boat ride of some kind.

 I didn’t know what “SocaSweetness” might be, but the liberal use of numerals for letters, abbreviations, and the overenthusiastic exclamation marks were a surefire indication that it was going to be a very loud event, and most likely NOT for me. The next message was the first indication that someone named “Shane” was somehow connected to me, and that his friends were a jolly, if perhaps prone to “blazing”, group of people.

LMFAO

And for those of you who don’t know, “blaze”, according to Urbandictionary.com, means “smoke weed”. Shane henceforth was known as “Blazefordayz Shane”. I’ve written about Shane before—his girlfriend who excoriated me for not answering her numerous Facetime calls, his mother who scolded me for never texting her back (TEXT ME BACK SHANE!), and his many friends towards whom I’ve become quite motherly:

Don’t text and drive!

Shane has nice friends.

Of course, my favourite was the Warehouse Job episode, which I wrote about previously in My Week 226: All About The Bordens.

But the other day, I was at People’s Jewellers, a well-known jewellery store chain, and the store clerk asked for my phone number to check the status of my protection plan. I gave it to her and she looked perplexed. “Shane Brien?” she said. “From Brampton?” And I gasped audibly and replied, “BlazeforDayz Shane is REAL?!” She looked at me confused and I said, “Oh sorry—that must be the person who had the phone before me.” See, in my mind, Shane had become a mythical figure, a sort of pot-smoking, Soca dancing Bigfoot—it never occurred to me that he was an actual human person. And then I had an epiphany. I could use my keen skills of detection, and the wonderful world of social media, to finally identify Shane once and for all. So I engaged my “little grey cells” as Hercule Poirot would say, and headed straight to Facebook.

Do you know how many people on Facebook are named Shane Brien? Or Shane Brian? Or Shane Bryan? Or Shayne…you get the picture. There are a LOT of them. But I could easily narrow it down by excluding any of them who lived outside of Ontario (which was a shame, because there’s a lovely Shane Brian in New Brunswick and I wish him and his adorable girlfriend all the best in life). Anyway, I tried to narrow it down a little further by a process of elimination based on their profile pictures:

1) Shane Brien, standing in the middle of an icy highway in Northern Ontario. I don’t think MY Shane likes the cold. It would be too hard to Soca dance when your extremities are frozen.

2) Shane Brien, tiger-striped kitty cat. Does having a profile picture of a sweet floof detract from your semi-gangster image or is the cat just a decoy?

3) Shane Brien, no profile pic, but underneath it just says ‘Prison’. Now, MY Shane may flirt with the law, but marijuana is legal in Canada; besides, Shane’s mother would kill him if he did anything criminal. And so would I.

4) Shane O’Brien. That sounds Irish. I don’t think Shane is Irish. Also there’s an NHL player named Shane O’Brien and he is now officially my top pick for next year’s hockey pool. He will be my secret weapon, allowing me to defeat the even more mysterious and even more elusive Jeffrey, who won this year’s hockey pool while I came in a shameful 12th.

5) Shane Brien, Contractor, Advanced Warehouse Structures. Shane…warehouse job…I’d say it looks like the pieces are falling into place, except this Shane has 3 kids and I don’t remember his girlfriend saying anything about children. In fact, I believe her exact words were, and I quote, “You better not be with that Angela.”

And because the store clerk at People’s insisted on changing the name on the phone number to mine, I can never go back to the store and try to find out more information. Maybe I should have accepted the invite to Vegas. Shane and I would have had a blast.

Vegas Baby!

Titus Gets Punchy

Alarm goes off.

Me (*stretching*): ERGH. Time to get up.
Titus: NO.
Me: Oh my god, you just punched me in the eye!!
Titus: It was an accident–I was trying to high five you. Where are you going? Stay in bed.
Me: No! I have to see if my eye is OK!
Titus: You’re fine. Stop being a baby. Besides, eye patches are all the rage this season.
Me: I don’t want an eyepatch! OWW. If you scratched my cornea with your germy paw, I’ll be so mad.
Titus (whispers): I just wanted you to stay home with me. I’m sorry.
Me: Sigh. I love you, buddy.
Titus: You’ll look awesome with an eyepatch. Like an angry pirate.
Me: ARRRR.

My Week 240: Moving On

I’m exhausted. I just spent the last week packing up for my move back home. If you didn’t already know this, 4 years ago I was offered a temporary position with the secret agency, but it was a very long way from the small town where Ken and I have lived for over 15 years. They were willing to pay for a condo, so I moved to Toronto for what I thought would be a very short time, which turned into a permanent position (where they no longer paid for the condo and I had to pay for it myself–the monthly rent was twice the cost of my mortgage) and a very LONG time. Every Sunday night, I took the train into Toronto, and every Friday afternoon, I took the train home. It was yucky. Finally this Christmas, and after discovering a morning train that could get me to work in under an hour and a half, Ken and I decided I should commute every day instead of living in a neighbourhood that I like to call “the last place that God made”. I had to wait until the end of April though, because I’d committed to taking on a co-op student, a lovely girl who had already lived with me twice, and it didn’t seem fair to make her find some random weirdo to live with for her last work term (and yes, perhaps I am also a random weirdo, but I’m HER random weirdo).

*Side Note: Here are two reasons I’m sad about moving. First, not more than a week after I posted about that weird-ass ladder on the roof next door, I looked out the window and saw this:

Where’s the damn ladder?

And now I will never know what the ultimate plan is. Second, the two guys across the hall just got a Golden Retriever, and I will never get to babysit him.

But moving is bullsh*t. Everyone knows that. In fact, I can’t understand why people don’t just live in the same place until they die because moving is so horrible. Even though my condo was under 800 square feet, it was absolutely f*cking amazing to me the sheer quantity of stuff that I’d accumulated over 4 years. And I’d already had to move once already, after I was illegally evicted from my first condo because it was sold and the new owner was “anxious to move in”. So I had to find another place to live and MOVE TO IT. One week after I moved, I was on the local realtor site and I saw my old place for rent again for $250 more a month than I’d been paying. So I called the real estate agent who was leasing it:

Me: Hi there. I’m wondering about the condo you have advertised.
Agent: Oh so sorry—it just leased.
Me: That’s very interesting, because you just illegally evicted me from there last week.
Agent: Uh…I’m going to have to call you back (*click*).

Long story short, I filed a lawsuit, and they settled out of court. But I still had to move. And now, I was doing it by choice. I decided that it wouldn’t be fair to Ken to make him drive into the heart of downtown Toronto with U-Haul, so I hired movers. There are a lot of moving companies around, and some of them have pretty weird names as we all know. Here are ten:

1) The Burly Boyz
2) The Box Brothers
3) The Happy Haulers
4) My Ninja Movers
5) Rent-A-Son
6) The Rampaging Removers
7) The Shifty Shifters
8) Uncle Bob’s El Cheapo Movers
9) You Pack ‘Em, We Stack ‘Em
10) Your Friend With A Cube Van

Some of those names are actually made up—you have to guess which ones are real moving companies. I think my favourite was ‘In and Out Movers’ because it sounded just a little dirty. At any rate, after looking at review sites, I went with a company called “Two Men and a Truck”, which seemed a fairly self-explanatory and not very creative. But they had a five-star rating so I booked them. In the meantime, I had to start packing all my sh*t up, which sounds easy, except that almost every night last week, I was taken out for a farewell dinner by friends, which involved drinks, and which rendered me not particularly interested in packing. Finally, on Thursday night, I realized I needed to go hard at it because the movers were coming on Friday morning. But I had one problem—there was way too much stuff. Luckily, I had placed an ad on the electronic bulletin board in the elevator of the building. I hadn’t had any takers, when suddenly on Thursday at around 5 pm, I got a text from ‘Joseph’, who was interested in my couch, lamp, and coffee table. He lived two floors up and offered to come down right away. I was a little nervous—what if he was like The Serial Killer Upstairs (whom I had written about a couple of years ago) and instead of wanting my furniture, he wanted to make a lady-suit out of me? The only weapon that I hadn’t packed was a fork that didn’t go with any of my other cutlery (where the hell it came from is one of life’s mysteries, and we all know how we feel about THAT ONE FORK) so I put it in a convenient spot on the counter. I was worried for nothing though, because Joseph was more interested in my furniture than me. He was Swedish, or some kind of young Scandinavian country-type, and he took a few things, telling me that he “loved glassware and lighting”. He also had a roommate who would be home shortly and he would tell ‘Daveed’ about some of the other things I had, and let me know if they were interested. Sure enough, around 9:45, I got a second text telling me that he wanted some more items:

 

I was pretty exhausted, and also a little perplexed about having two strange young men in my condo at 10 o’clock at night, but that concern was outweighed by the feeling that I had badly underestimated the number of boxes I told the movers I would have (“Ten-ish,” I said. “You fool!” you say.), and I really wanted to get rid of some more stuff. Joseph introduced me to ‘Daveed’, who was also apparently Swedish-y. The two of them were setting up an “outdoor space” on their balcony and were delighted by everything they saw (imagine that they are speaking with charming Swedish accents, which I don’t know how to write—I can only do French and Russian):

Joseph: Daveed. Daveed! This will be perfect in the outdoor room!
Daveed: For plants, yes! And look at this wine rack—I can grow vines around it!
Joseph: Daveed! What do you think of this desk? Could you use it outside?
Daveed: Oh yes! It will be perfect for when I am at the computer!

After a few trips up and down the elevator, they had enough for a good start on the outdoor room, we bid each other goodnight, and I went to bed. Guess what time I woke up in a panic about all the things I still had left to do, and the fact that I was short at least two boxes? If you said 4 a.m., you would be absolutely f*cking correct. But then the movers called around 8:30 and asked, “Do you need any boxes?”
“Maybe a couple,” I answered casually. In the meantime, Ken messaged for me to call him so that we could discuss how I should tell the movers to pack everything:

Me: What are you talking about?
Ken: You need to tell them to put everything that goes upstairs in last so they can bring it out first.
Me: You seriously want me to mansplain moving to PROFESSIONAL MOVERS? Hard pass.
Ken: But there are some things that have to go in the front door and some things that have to—
Me: You know what? You can tell them yourself when they get there, but I’m gonna bet they know how to do this, and for the money I’m paying them, I’ll also bet they’ll do whatever you want.

The movers were right on time, and there were THREE of them in the truck. The driver explained that I got a bonus man because it was Friday, and if there was ever a more random reason than that, I can’t think of one. But they were super-efficient, wrapping everything in blankets and taping it all up. Then they were gone and I was left with an empty condo. The landlord was coming over at 11:30 to get the keys, so I cleaned up everything until the place was spic and span, and much cleaner than the previous tenants had left it. He arrived, and I proudly said, “I’ve left everything very clean!” at which point, he went over, opened the oven door and looked inside it, the one place I HADN’T CLEANED. Then he looked at me rather pointedly, and I said, “It was like that when I moved in.”

When I finally arrived home on Friday night, SOMEONE was very happy to see me:

Titus: You’re home! This is the best day ever!
Me: Guess what, buddy? I’m going to be home EVERY night from now on!
Titus: WHUUUT?! HOME COOKED MEALS EVERY NIGHT?! Ooh, I think I just peed a little!
Me: Ok, ewww. But what are you talking about? Ken knows how to cook.
Titus: Yeah, if you like ‘Wonder Weiner’ twice a week.
Ken (from the other room): Wonder Weiner is awesome!
Titus: Can you make that steak with the peppercorn cream sauce? I’ll just wait by the oven…

Ah, home sweet home. And now I have to unpack.

My Week 237: 3 AM Eternal Revisited

So I’m going through another bout of insomnia, a condition that I like to call “3 AM Eternal”, because I wake up around 3 o’clock in the morning and I think, “That’s OK—I still have a couple of hours until I have to get up”, and then I lie there for a f*cking ETERNITY before I fall back to sleep. And sometimes I DON’T fall back to sleep and then my mind just wanders down any number of bizarre paths. ‘Why don’t you get up and watch TV, or read a book or something?’ I hear you ask. The answer is simple: I love lying down. I mean, I am never so happy as when I am prone, snuggled under warm covers in a soft bed. Maybe it’s because so much of my day right now is spent standing and walking around a giant convention centre (which is also absolutely contributing to the insomnia), but the fact is that I am a horizontal person. And I’m sure that vertical people are very smug and proud of their defiance of gravity and whatnot, but they will never understand the pure and existential delight that I feel when I am flat on my back, glass of wine in hand. Yes, it IS difficult to drink wine while you’re lying down, but it’s a skill that many of us have carefully honed over the years. And if any of the wine happens to spill, Titus is always hovering nearby in the hope of lapping up a few precious drops (speaking of Titus, I’m alone in the house right now and he suddenly raced from the back family room to the front living room, where he leapt onto a chair and stared out the window. I said, “What’s wrong, buddy?” He didn’t answer. I looked out the window too, and saw nothing. A few seconds later, he muttered, “Never mind”, jumped down and ran to the back again. He’s a terrible guard dog.)

There’s nothing there. He’s just being a jerk.

But as I said, whilst I’m enjoying the wide-awake comfort of my bed, my mind tends to stagger from one absurd topic to another:

1) Is one of my co-workers a spy?

The other day, I was talking about motion sensor lights with a colleague and he said, “Oh, I have those. I also have security cameras all around the outside of my house.” “Ooh,” I said, “are you a spy?” and he laughed and said no, but kind of like, “Ha ha ha. NO.” And now I’m not sure, because isn’t that exactly what a spy WOULD say? Then he showed me his phone with four different screens displaying the view from each of his exterior cameras, and all I could think was what I would see if I mounted cameras all around the outside of MY house and was able to watch remotely: several tree rats doing sexy squirrel stuff (because it’s spring and tree rats are super-slutty), Jehovah’s Witnesses ringing the bell and then looking sad as they stuff The WatchTower between my doors, the meter reader trampling through my privet hedge to get to the gas meter, that one possum…frankly, it wouldn’t make for very scintillating viewing. Also, I had to google whether or not possums are nocturnal—the jury is out on that, but apparently people are very interested in possum trivia.

Possums are fascinating, I guess.

2) How much German do I know?

I took German for three years in high school. It’s remarkable how much I can remember at 3:30 in the morning. Ich gehe—I go. Ich spreche —I speak. Ich liebe—I love. Ich sehe—I see. I could conjugate German verbs all night. Ironically, I can’t remember the German word for ‘sleep’. My favourite German saying is “Das Mädchen hat Toilettenpapier auf ihrem Arsch“. If you want to know why, go back to My Week 146. My second favourite German saying is “Fritz fing fünf frische Fische” which is a tongue-twister that my high school German teacher used to make us say. It means “Fritz caught five fresh fish”. When I was in high school, I was pretty snarky (‘Just in high school?!’ I hear you say), and I used to mutter under my breath “F*ck Fritz and his five fresh fish” but now I have a lot of sympathy for Fritz, having to spend all day fishing just to feed his family, and I’m grateful that the fish are fresh and not frozen, because that would be frustrating for Fritz.

3) How hard would it be to learn to drive a forklift?

I don’t think it would be very hard. It looks like a golf cart with arms, and I can totally drive a golf cart—in fact, being able to drive the golf cart is the ONLY reason I ever go golfing. How fast does a forklift go? Could I drive around town with it? If Ken got one too, could we have Transformer-style battles? So many questions. But you know what would be even better? Remember in Aliens how Sigourney Weaver wore that human forklift suit? That. That’s what I want. I haven’t gotten a Hamacher Schlepper catalogue for a while but maybe they’re selling them next to their insanely priced life-size fake robot. And now I know what I want to do when I retire—being a human forklift would be the best job ever and it wouldn’t affect my pension like working at a private school would. Also, not as dangerous as planning warehouse heists.

My retirement plan

4) Here’s a poem I wrote at around 4:30 am when sleep became a hopeless desire and I had a panic attack at the thought of being so tired that I might fall asleep driving:

Are you afraid
When you see the clock move
Forward
Marking out the remainder
Of your life
In incremental pieces?

5) It’s fifteen minutes before my alarm goes o….why are there dozens of Asian children doing some kind of line dance in this parking lot to a Gary Numan song?! Why is it my job to bring them individually wrapped chocolates every time the music stops?! Why are the children I don’t get to in time disappearing into oblivion?! Why can’t I just dream about puppies? Sigh.

By the way, if you’re reading my blog and you see an ad for the “Gut Doctor”, I can save you the 45 minutes it takes to find out what his three superfoods are. They are chicory root, probiotic TCPs, and Vitamin B Complex. He never actually tells you what vegetable to throw out, FYI. And I don’t make a single cent off any of his sh*t.

My Week 236: Highway to Hell, Dancing in the Closet

So starting this past Thursday, I am once again working off-site, which means that my morning commute has changed quite a bit. Instead of leaving my condo, going down in one elevator, crossing the street, and going up to my office in another elevator, I now have to drive on the world’s worst highway for an hour and a half. This is an estimate—the time can change depending on the stupidity of other drivers and something that traffic reporters insist on calling “volume”, which is just a nice way of saying there are way too many f*cking cars on the road. I won’t bore you with the details—I’ve written plenty about the Highway of Hell in the past. But Saturday morning’s commute was the worst thing I’ve ever had to do.

It was pouring rain, and it was 6:00 am, so also pitch black out thanks to Daylight Savings Time. I had thought initially about taking the back way, but Ken was listening to the traffic report and there was an accident on one of those roads. It involved a cattle truck. There were cows on the road. Literal cows. Of the Holstein variety. So I had no choice but to take the highway. I knew I was going to have problems about ten minutes into the drive to GET to the highway when it was raining so hard that I couldn’t see the lines on the road, but I thought I would be OK. I was wrong. I pulled onto the on-ramp and was immediately hit by the spray of a truck barreling past. I don’t know how HE could see anything, but he was going like a bat out of hell—a blind bat to be exact. I started driving and thought, “I need to get off this highway now” but I couldn’t see well enough to even figure out where any exits were, and in a horrifying twist of fate, I had left my cell phone at home in the charger, so I couldn’t even do what any normal person would do, which would be to call Ken. So I carried on, hunched over the wheel, terrified that at any moment, I would either go off the road or be hit by a transport truck. I did this for over an hour. In the pouring rain. In the dark.

I can’t even describe how I felt—the closest feeling would be the time that my gas fireplace started making a loud grinding sound and black smoke started pouring out of it, and I thought the house was going to blow up. My knuckles were white, my shoulders were screaming with tension, and I couldn’t even cry because I knew if I did, the visibility would only get worse.

Finally, I got to the convention centre’s access road, and breathed a huge sigh of relief. I pulled into the parking lot, put the car into park, and then, just as I thought my ordeal was finally over, a GIANT F*CKING SPIDER chose that exact moment to swing down from my visor. My reaction was to scream, and then I became convinced that I actually HAD died on the road and I was now in hell. Let me clarify that I don’t normally have a fear of spiders but I was really stressed out and this one was black and hairy and the size of a quarter and I didn’t have any Kleenex to catch it with because at a stoplight 5 minutes prior, I had used the only tissue in my possession, then I rolled down the window and surreptitiously tossed it out onto the road on the grounds that paper is essentially wood fibre and natural and whatnot, and NOT litter, but now I was obviously being punished by the environmental gods. So I grabbed my wallet and tried to whack the giant spider out the window but I missed and it fell off its creepy webstring and seemed to disappear perhaps into my boot, which caused me to scream again and jump out of the car, stomping my feet vigorously because as you all know, if a spider is in your boot, the most appropriate thing to do is crush it into your sock, because why the f*ck wouldn’t I want a spider corpse in my boot all day? But when I took my boot off, there was no spider, which means it’s still hiding somewhere in my car.

So to make a long story short, I need to buy another car.

And now, to relieve the tension, here’s something a little more funny. As I was getting dressed this morning in the dark, I tried to turn on my closet light, but I was too tired to do the dance properly. I hit the closet light with a pair of underwear to activate the motion sensor, and remembered something I wrote a long time ago, which will explain what I mean by ‘dance’:

One Friday night, I came home from Toronto. I went into the walk-in closet to get changed, reached up to pull the chain on the light to turn it on, but couldn’t find it.

Ken: The chain broke this week.
Me: How do I get the light on then?
Ken: I installed a motion detector light bulb.
Me: But I’m IN the closet. Why hasn’t it come on?
Ken:  You have to come out of the closet. Now walk to the right, along the side of the bed. Now walk to the left and move towards the bathroom door. Take two steps forward, then hop one step back on kind of an angle.
Me: What?
Ken: You did it wrong that time. Try it again. This time, make it more of a 30 degree angle instead of a 45 degree angle.
Me: Can’t you just get another chain?
Ken: No, this is much better. Oh, by the way, when you’re finished, you have to shut the closet door. If Titus walks past, he triggers the light and it will wake you up.
Me: I didn’t realize Titus could do Country Line Dancing.
Titus: Pivot, Turn, and Quick-Ball Change! Yeehaw!
Ken: You’ll get used to it.

Ken was right. Now, if I want the closet light on, I just hum “Achy, Breaky Heart”, the magic takes over, and it’s all good.

My Week 235: Home Alone

For the past few days, Ken was at a conference in one of our western provinces, and I had to come home early to take care of Titus, which meant being in the house by myself, something I despise. Even in Toronto, I have a roommate because I hate being alone at night (also, the rent is outrageous and I couldn’t afford to live there without her). When I first moved to Toronto, my condo was paid for by my company because I was on temporary contract, so I didn’t have a roommate, and it was awful. I came home from work every night and literally searched the entire condo, which didn’t take long because it was only 600 square feet. Still, I would call Ken while I looked in the closets, under the bed, and behind the giant column in the corner where only a very thin robber could squeeze. I don’t know what I thought would happen if I actually DID find someone—put Ken on speakerphone and have him sternly order the intruder out? Say “You’ll be sorry when my husband gets here–in two hours”?

It’s even harder at home because we have a very large, late 1800s Victorian house with a full walk-up attic, and searching it would take a really long time. There are 6 doors leading to the outside on the main floor alone, and a balcony door upstairs, although I doubt a burglar would bother climbing up to the porch roof when there are SO MANY DAMNED ACCESS POINTS ALREADY. Before I go to bed, I make sure ALL of them are locked, and that all the outside lights are on. And then I’m locked IN the house, which creaks and makes weird sounds. Oh, it’s not haunted though—I used to live in a house that was haunted and this one definitely isn’t, which is one good thing at least, and if you’re interested in the haunted house, you can read all about it in My Week 69: Ghost Stories.

I was talking to one of my aunts last night, and she hates being alone in the house too.

Aunt: Is everything locked up?
Me: Yes. I double-checked. And I can lock myself in the bedroom now—there’s a hook on the inside of the door.
Aunt: What kind of weaponry are we talking about?
Me: A baseball bat in the bedroom, another one by the toilet in the ensuite, and a hammer on the window ledge.
Aunt:
Me: Too much? I know it sounds crazy.
Aunt: Oh no—I was just wondering why you didn’t mention the pepperspray.
Me: Damn! I left it in Toronto.
Aunt: I keep mine in my bedside table.
Me: Ooh, good thinking.

It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one in the family who is well-armed.

But wait, I hear you say—you’re not BY YOURSELF; you have Titus. Well, let me relieve you of any delusion you may have had that Titus can be counted on in a crisis. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that he has no problem with intruders in the house—our doorstep has been crossed by bats, birds, squirrels, raccoons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses and he has batted nary an eyelash. In fact, the last time a squirrel got in the house, I was convinced it was a burglar, and as I was creeping towards our family room with a giant knife in my hand, trembling with fear, he lay on the living room couch and barely lifted his head when I shrieked in horror at the sight of the tree rat climbing my wall. In fact, the only time he DOES lift his head is when we’re lying in bed all locked in and cozy, and suddenly he pretends to hear a noise and jumps off the bed:

Me: What?! Why are your ears up?
Titus: I thought I heard something.
Me: Like what?
Titus: Oh, uh, like a…hey, open the door and I’ll go see.
Me: Don’t lie. I’m not letting you out of here.
Titus: But I’m bored!
Me: It’s 3 o’clock in the morning!! How are you ‘BORED’?! Go the f*ck to sleep like a normal dog.
Titus: OK, ok, I’ll stay in here. Can you at least put Netflix on?
Me: Fine, but no cooking shows—I don’t want you drooling on the bed.
Titus: Is there any wine left?
Me: What do you think?
Titus: Lush.

Who’s the lush?

As you can see, he’s not much use in the watchdog department. For all his formidable size—100 pounds of extra-tall black Lab—and intimidating bark, he’s pretty much a big suck. But I’m sure if there WAS someone in the house, he’d be all over them. Especially if they had wine.

Here’s a quick, funny story for you:

Once, when I was teaching, my class was studying Lysistrata by Aristophanes. The students were seniors and it was an academic class, so the kids decided they wanted to act it out. Authentically. If you know anything about early Greek theatre, all the parts were played by men, and they differentiated between the sexes using masks, and because this was a comedy, the ‘men’ were also identified with exaggerated fake phalluses and the ‘women’ with exaggerated fake boobs. So on the day of the performance, the students all dressed up, with the girls taking the male roles and vice versa, just for fun. So there they were, all wearing togas made out of bedsheets, Hallowe’en masks on their faces, the girls swinging long balloons and pool noodles strapped around their waists and the boys strutting with balloons and basketballs tied to their chests. Just as the largest boy in the class said his line in excellent falsetto, “Indeed, I believe I could—I practice the kick-dancing!” and demonstrated thusly, the classroom door opened and my new principal walked in. She stopped and stared:

Principal:
Me: We’re doing a play.
Principal:
Me: It’s Greek…
Principal: I needed to talk to you about something but it can wait.

She left, and as soon as the door shut, the whole class erupted in laughter. I didn’t know what would happen next, but when I saw her again, her only comment was, “It looked like they were having a good time.” I mention all of this now, because I was reminded of it last week when I yelled the word “Herpes!!” across the aisle to a colleague just as one of the big bosses was walking by. She also stopped and stared, and I explained that it was something I was reading. I showed her and she laughed, kind of like “Ah. Ha ha ha” and walked away. Sigh. At least I didn’t say ‘penis’ again.

My Week 222: And so this is Christmas…

Things are pretty crazy busy at mydangblog’s place right now, so here’s a little something from 2015 that you might enjoy (the original, My Week 59, also has a bit about my possessed vacuum cleaner):

Real Life Versus Magazine Christmas

I love decorating magazines. I have subscriptions to at least three different ones, and every month, I pour through the pages for ideas. I’m a visual learner at heart—I can read text very quickly and easily, but I LOVE anything with pictures. Anyway, Christmas is coming up, so all the current editions are focused on Christmas decorating and festive parties. As I was gleefully devouring up the images, it suddenly occurred to me how absolutely unrealistic it all was. Sure, I know that everything’s staged, but this year it seems that magazine editors have become so intensely out of touch with how REAL people live that I started to view everything with an extremely critical eye. Here are some of the more bizarre statements and ideas that I came across:

1) A designer on his Christmas room design challenge: “I arrived upon this magical masculine scene by mixing patterns and textures with eclectic objects. While the palette and the furnishings are traditional, the vignette feels fresh, thanks to whimsical organic touches like the felt bird ornaments and the pompom tree skirt.” Let me translate: “Nothing matches”. Also, “men like magicky things, and pompoms”. Someone should clue in this designer that real birds are organic; felt birds are NOT whimsical–they are things that kindergarten children make. Prize for runner-up goes to this designer’s statement: “I like to mix traditional with modern, and pair maximalist notions with more restrained sculptural items.” Again, nothing matches, but this time it’s JUST F*CKING INSANITY OVER HERE!

2) A page devoted to “choosing the perfect tree”. I don’t need a page of tips. This is how we pick a tree at my house:

Ken: That one over there looks nice.
Me: It’s too cold to walk that far. This one’s fine.
Ken: But it’s missing half its branches.
Me: That side can go against the wall. Hurry up, I’m freezing.

3) A decorating article on “Wrapping Pillows like a Present” to create a holiday feel. Screw that—I can’t even wrap a PRESENT like a present, let alone stupid accent pillows. If you’ve ever gotten a present from me, you might have thought at first that a toddler wrapped it. But the torn paper and scotch tape all over the place just reinforce how much I love you, NOT that I’m super-uncoordinated and have unwieldy manhands.

4) “Fun Things To Do With Your Elf On A Shelf”. Here’s the most fun thing I can imagine—put it in the toilet and watch it grin maniacally as it tries not to drown. Keep swimming, Bjorn! For a full treatise on the elvish devilspawn, please see My Week 61.

So many questions…

5) “Decorative pieces should change with the season”. Seriously? Who the hell has time to redecorate their entire house “with the season”? If you’ve got the kind of time to put everything in storage to make way for your holiday sh*t, then put all that away in January and completely redecorate AGAIN, you’re most likely neglecting other areas of your life, like your children or your personal hygiene.

6) A designer on a recent dinner party disaster: “Go with the flow. My copper garland broke, so I placed the beads across the dining table, and they looked pretty. ..it was a happy accident.” Absolutely. The next time I break a Christmas ornament, I will definitely strew the dining table with the shards.

7) Party tip a): “Always have a signature drink ready for your guests and hand it to them as they arrive.” We have a signature drink in my house—it’s called “wine”. When you arrive, you can have some of this tasty signature drink, or I can pour you a shot of the cooking brandy that’s been sitting in the back of the kitchen cupboard for the last ten years (I don’t cook with brandy that often).

8) Party tip b): “The Fabulous Four-Step Appetizer”. I can do you one better—the Tasty TWO-Step Appetizer. Step one, take a piece of cheese. Step two, put it on a cracker. For the adventurous, I also have the Throroughly Three-mendous Appetizer, where you can add a piece of kielbasa from the plate on the counter before the dog sneaks in and eats it all.

9) Party tip c): “Consider your guests’ dietary restrictions.” I am the f*cking master of this. I can create a veritable feast for people who are gluten-free, vegetarian, piscaterian, lactose intolerant, who only eat chicken, who can’t eat spicy food, and who refuse to eat normal human food like rice, pasta, or most green vegetables because they (Dad) are just plain picky. I do this because I love them all so much. Which brings me to my last point:

10) Magazine cover: “128 Ideas for an amazing Christmas”. Here’s the deal—you don’t need 128 ideas. You don’t even need ONE idea. All you need is the people you love the most—weird-ass food preferences, magic-y pompons, and all. Christmas isn’t about how beautiful and pristine your house is—it’s about the people (and animals) in it.

Merry Christmas everyone!