Things That Are Like Other Things

This Christmas, Ken put something amazing in my stocking. We’ve always given each other stockings full of socks, chocolate, wine, and other small cool stuff, and this year I was excited to receive a pen. That might sound less cool than I’ve made it out to be, but wait! It’s not just a pen—it’s also a screwdriver, a level, and a ruler. It is, in fact, a “4-In-1 Pen Tool”, and if that isn’t the best thing that is like another thing, I don’t know what is. Now, no matter where I go, I can measure something, check if it’s level, repair it, or write down an interesting fact about it. Because multi-tasking is an art, and things that are like other things are a multi-tasker’s best friend.

 

For example, if you’ve been here before, you know that I LOVE gummy vitamins. They’re multi-coloured, taste just like gummy bears, and are the best of both worlds. The first thing I get to do when I get up in the morning, even BEFORE I eat my yogurt, is have some candy. And it was recommended by my doctor! I NEVER used to take vitamins before, on the grounds that they tasted bad (except for Vitamin C tablets, which taste like oranges, or just like the baby aspirin they had when I was a kid. I used to sneak baby aspirin every so often because they were so delicious–I could fall off my bike and bleed half to death because my blood was so thin, but it didn’t hurt at all), and I didn’t really care about thiamine or niacin or dioxin or whatever. But now, I take vitamins every day because it’s fun AND healthy.

And that got me thinking about a) things that are like other things that make me happy, and b) things that SHOULD be like other things. So here is my list:

1) My newest favourite thing which is like another thing is ‘Pants That Are Pajamas’. Now that I’ve been working from home for almost a year, I have several pairs of these. Some people call them ‘Yoga Pants’ but I don’t do yoga, unless you count a vigorous stretch to grab a wine glass from the cupboard. ‘Pants That Are Pajamas’ allow me to easily transition from Business Casual to Nightwear with very little effort at all.

2) If you’ve ever flown, you know that your seat cushion turns into a flotation device. Which begs the question (which I think I heard first from Jerry Seinfeld) ‘why doesn’t the plane just turn into a cruise ship if it lands in the water?’ I know this is totally possible, because my next favourite thing which is like another thing is a bus that turns into a boat. We went on a bus tour in Ottawa a few years ago, and after we’d driven around for a while looking at the Parliament buildings and whatnot, the driver suddenly announced that we would also be cruising the harbour. Then we drove down a ramp, STRAIGHT INTO THE RIVER. I was totally freaking, but Ken was like, “Don’t worry–the wheels turn into propellers and there’s a ring underneath that inflates.” I responded very calmly with “Liar! We’re going to drown!” and Ken said, “They ADVERTISED this. Why are you acting all surprised? Don’t you remember?”, but I reminded HIM that first, I thought they meant we would get OFF the bus and get ON a boat, and second, I may or may not have been enjoying a very nice Sauvignon Blanc the previous evening when he pulled out the brochure and was waving it around, saying, “Ooh, this will be fun.” But you know what? Once I got used to the idea that my bus was now a boat, and the bus driver was now a sea captain and I could refer to him as ‘Skipper’, I really enjoyed the whole experience. Kate, of course, remained calm throughout the entire tour. Or maybe she was bored. Mainly because the tour consisted of just looking at buildings. But still, the Bus-Boat was very cool.

3) Canes that become swords. Okay, technically, they don’t BECOME swords, they just have swords in them. It would be awesome to be hobbling around, all decrepit-like, then suddenly whip out that sword like a superspy ninja when the need arose. I also love canes that double as flasks for alcohol, because who DOESN’T want to crack that bad boy open when no one’s looking? It would have made my Bus-Boat trip a hell of a lot more interesting once we were on the water, that’s for sure.

4) Sporks. This is two handy things in one–a spoon and a fork. Take it one step further by sharpening the plastic edge, and you have a sporfe: a spoon, fork, and knife all in one, which I just invented. Actually, this might have already been invented, most likely by a prisoner, who stole a spoon from the canteen and turned it into a weapon to shank his cellmate with first, then ate the guy’s pie and ice cream after. Wow, that got dark kind of quick for a fun plastic utensil.

5) Closed Captioning. This allows you to watch TV and read at the same time, so all those people who think reading is a more intellectual pursuit than Netflix can get stuffed.

Okay, so I’ve listed some things that are already other things, so here are some ideas about things that I WISH were other things:

1) Protein shakes that taste like Bailey’s Irish Cream. Wait, does Bailey’s have any protein in it? If so, we could just cut out the middle man, drink the Bailey’s, and then go work out. Many years ago, I had a recumbent cycle, and I used to pour a big glass of wine, turn on the TV, and cycle for a few kilometres. It was hardly like exercising AT ALL, and I broke even on the calories.

2) A bookshelf that is a door. I’ve been bugging Ken about this for a while now, trying to get him to think of a place in our house where we could put a bookshelf that is, in reality, the door to a secret room. There are a couple of spots where we could do it, but Ken thinks it would be really complicated to build. What a baby. I mean, I’m no engineer, but I do have a 4-In-1 pen, and I think it’s definitely possible.

3) A pen with a Tide White Stick on the other end. This is great for people like me, who are fairly clumsy and wave pens around for emphasis, inevitably getting ink on their clothes. But see, with my invention, all you’d have to do is flip the thing around, erase that blob, and you’re good to go. Combine it with the 4-In-1 Pen and you wouldn’t be able to keep them on store shelves—they’d be snapped up faster than toilet paper in a pandemic.

Ultimately, I am the QUEEN of multi-tasking. Whether it’s eating, drinking, working out, or just relaxing, I’ve got a pen for that.

My Week 255: Exercising Restraint, Fun At Home

I know that a lot of workplaces have group obsessions: some are fixated on a certain TV show, like Game of Thrones or Survivor (mostly because a lot of offices FUNCTION like Game of Thrones or Survivor, where they’re constantly trying to either stab each other in the back for control over Westeros or vote each other off the island), some have football/basketball/bowling pools where they discuss results ad nauseum, and some are relentless in their discussions about certain kinds of special diets and recipe swapping. I was never very much interested in any of these types of group activities—I might be in the hockey pool but my only contribution to any discussion about hockey is “That guy has a cool name. Why didn’t I pick him?!”— and I find myself in the same boat yet again. My colleagues are lovely people, a highly professional and somewhat esoteric group, who don’t watch a lot of TV, don’t follow sports, and aren’t really the “recipe-swapping” type. But they DO have a group obsession, and unfortunately for me, it’s EXERCISE. These people exercise ALL THE TIME. They talk about exercise, they have fitness plans, they are the most physically fit people I have ever met. It puts me to shame. I have to tell you right up front that I don’t exercise. EVER. My idea of exercising is pausing Netflix, walking downstairs to the refrigerator, and pouring another glass of wine. The closest I ever came to having an actual fitness plan was once, a few years ago, I bought a recumbent cycle, which is a kind of exercise cycle where you can sit in a comfortable reclining position while your feet do all the work. So it’s like walking fast, but the rest of your body gets to take a break. Awesome. And the best part is that you can drink while you do it. It was the most relaxing fitness plan ever—I would pour a glass of wine, sit in my Lazyboy/exercise machine and peddle away until I had burned off enough calories to offset the wine. After a while, the machine broke (I may or may not have spilled some Chardonnay on the control panel), and I moved on to a more satisfactory level of exercise, which is to say, none at all.

10 reps each side and don’t spill any!

But now I feel the peer pressure of working with people who LOVE to exercise. They all have these electronic wristband things that tell them how many steps they’ve taken in one day. How many f*cking STEPS, you heard me. Last month, after walking the perimeter of the conference centre where we were working in order to discuss plans for the day, one of my colleagues cheerfully announced that we had just put in 3, 000 steps. I was like, whuh? And she explained that her goal was to reach 10,000 steps each day so now she only had 7,000 to go. I wanted to ask if there was like a medal or some chocolate as a prize, because I would be all over that, but from what I gathered, it’s simply an intrinsically motivated goal, which is to say, THERE IS NO PRIZE AT ALL.

Then the other day we were sitting at lunch, and everyone was sharing their plans for later. One person was going to Zumba class (I thought Zumba was the name of the elephant in A Jungle Book, but apparently it’s some kind of weird Latin fusion/cardio/dance thing). Another person was going to Aquafit, which is exercise that takes place in the water. I call this “having a vigorous bath”, but apparently Aquafit is also a cardio thing for people who need low impact exercise, having blown out their knee last year doing extreme yoga. EXTREME YOGA? WTF? I can’t even sit cross-legged anymore, never mind “extreme” cross-legged sitting. Someone else was taking tennis lessons and was gearing up for a sweaty evening on the court. The last person was “going for a run” because she needed to get back into shape for a marathon next month. (Who in their right mind “goes for a run”? The only time I run is if something is chasing me). Then they all started reminiscing about other types of classes they had taken in the past, sharing war stories about step class, and crazy instructors who went too fast or were too demanding, and so on. Then there was a lull in the conversation, and they all looked at me expectantly. What was I going to say—“I tried kickboxing once but the gloves were too heavy”? So I smiled nervously, stopped eating my cheesecake and said, “Does anyone have a good recipe for quinoa?”

Fun At Home 1

Me: (*goes into Ken’s bathroom): Ergh! Why are all the toilet paper rolls white?! How am I supposed to make my toilet look like it’s smoking a cigar?
Ken: What?!
Me: Nothing. (*leaves bathroom)

10 minutes later

Me: Come and look at my toilet. I saw how to do this on Facebook.
Ken: Haha! Hey, the paper towel rolls are brown. We could use one of those and it would look like the toilet was smoking a cigarillo.
Me: See, this is why I married you.

Anybody got a light?

Fun At Home 2

Ken: Aw, the screen on this door is ripping.
Me: Good job I bought some spline the other day.
Ken: Yes, I used that spline on the kitchen door.
Me: It’s good spline.
Ken: Very good spline.
Me: Do you think we just like saying ‘spline’ A LOT?
Ken: Yep.
Both: Spline, spline, spline, spline, spline!!!
Me: What a great word. Do you think it’s out of our system now?
Ken: I should spline so.

 

My Week 185: Good for the Soul, The Titus Challenge

Mindfulness

Last week, we had a staff meeting and the powers that be brought in a guest speaker. We’ve had these before, always on the same topic: how to relax and be stress-free. What does it say about a job when your superiors continually think you should all calm the f*ck down? Personally, I don’t find the job particularly stressful, considering that in a previous life, I was responsible for overseeing the wellbeing and antics of over 90 teenagers a day, and regularly brought home hours upon hours of work that had to be completed on the weekend. Also, I now work with really nice colleagues who never harass me by text message or call my house late at night to yell at me. At any rate, regardless of the comparatively little stress I struggle under in the workplace, we’ve had a succession of “mindfulness” speakers. The last one told us that “anxiety is a choice” and that if we simply opted to get out of bed each day with a positive attitude, we could live anxiety-free lives, and I was like, Damn! If I had only known that YEARS ago, imagine how different my life would be?! All I have to do is CHOOSE not to worry incessantly about whether I just said something dumb, or whether my hands are clean for the fifth time in one hour, or whether my cat secretly is plotting against me (she is—I just asked her and she admitted it), and my life would be perfect. Ironically, this particular speaker then got really angry when people started leaving the room, and insisted that we were not allowed to look at our phones during her presentation, and I so badly wanted to say, “Why don’t you just CHOOSE to let that not bother you?”

The speaker this past week was much better, mostly because she used comedy to disguise her oversimplifications, and everyone loves a good laugh, am I right? The first thing we had to do was identify 3 things that we did in the past week to help us relax, write them down, and then share them with our table. I put “Wrote, Drank, Watched America’s Next Top Model” because I am nothing if not honest, and also I didn’t think anyone would believe me if I put Yoga, Meditation, Listened to a Podcast on the Benefits of Kale—they all know me too well. Interestingly, when it came time to share, everyone at my table had a variation of Drank, which either says a lot about the times we’re living in, or that I’m a bad influence on my team. But the best part was her Stress-Wheel, which was divided into sections that we needed to give attention to. My favourite was Soul, which I’m assuming was a metaphor rather than an ACTUAL soul, because I don’t think God would be too impressed if you landed at the pearly gates and you were like, “OK, I killed a few people, but I ATE KALE.” The list of things she proposed to help soothe the soul is as follows:

1) Yoga

OK, what the f*ck is with the obsession with yoga? I just googled Yoga Poses and they all look incredibly painful and not relaxing at all. She made us do a yoga pose which involve standing on one leg—how the hell am I supposed to relax when I’m freaking out about falling over in front of 100 people?

2) Walk somewhere different

I live in downtown Toronto. I walk somewhere “different” simply by stepping out my front door, and it’s not relaxing in the slightest when a large man wearing a pink mini-kilt demands that you look at his ass.

3) Don’t use a watch

If I get rid of all the things that tell me what time it is, then how will I know what time it is?! Yes, I know that time is a human construct, but if it’s not a watch, or a cellphone, it’s the sun in the sky telling me to go home. Also, I’m a grown-up, dammit—how will I know that it’s 5 o’clock SOMEWHERE if I don’t have a clue what time it is? Then I’ll be daydrinking and most likely get in trouble at work.

4) Unplug from human vacuums

This would be a great premise for a horror film about a mad scientist who turns people into vacuums, and then sends them out, like a cross between zombies and vampires, into the world to feast on the unsuspecting public who are innocently wandering around aimlessly without watches in strange neighbourhoods looking for kale chips, and every time they stop to do a yoga pose, the human vacuum attacks! And the only way to stop them is to unplug the mad scientist’s human vacuum machine, which is like a cross between an electro-shock machine, a Roomba factory, and a very large E-Z Bake Oven. (Yes, I know she meant people who suck you dry emotionally, but this is way more fun.)

5) Have a Screen Free Day

We all looked at each other and said, “Does she even know where we work?” I myself have 3 computer screens in my office, and I use all of them. And if I had a screen free day, then I would miss America’s Next Top Model, and there goes any relaxation I might get. Oh well, there’s always the drink.

The Titus Challenge

Titus: I hear you’ve stopped eating pork. You realize that means bacon too, right?
Me: Sigh. I know. It’s breaking my heart, but I saw a video recently of a pig solving a puzzle. Pigs are smarter than dogs, you know. I wouldn’t eat a dog, so how can I eat a pig?
Titus: Pigs are NOT smarter than dogs. For example, when was the last time you saw a pig who responded to commands based on Harry Potter spells?
Me: I’m sure there are pigs out there who could do that. Besides, you have a pretty sloppy Leviosa, so let’s not get carried away.
Titus: It’s Levi-OH-sa, not Levio-SA.
Me: Look at this video. She’s trained this pig to do 17 different tricks.
Titus: Damn. He gives a great high five.
Me: I know, right?
Titus: But does the Avada Kedavera spell render him seemingly dead?
Me: Dead? Like for a fraction of a second before you jump back up and try to snatch the Corn Pop out of my hand?
Titus: Dead, jumping in the air, whatever. No bacon? Now that’s harsh. OK, find me a pig that can do Leviosa better than me, and I might consider it.
Me: Challenge accepted. Accio the wine bottle, will you?
Titus: Is it 5 o’clock somewhere ALREADY?!
Me: I dunno—I’m not wearing a watch.