Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Me vs An Expanded Discourse on Working With People

Some time ago I posted about the joys of working with people, however I left out one particular adventure (nightmare), as it was just a bit too difficult to share at the time. But here we are. Maybe it's cathartic to write it down. Maybe enough time has passed that I feel like I finally can.

I should post a bit of a disclaimer before I start. I have worked with many good people (and still do), in good offices, and these stories make up only a small, albeit memorable, portion of my career. None of the people involved are people I still have contact with, and any names and places have been changed to protect the idiots. They don't deserve it, but there you are: guilt-free schadenfreude for all.

I share these experiences mainly because we all have them. We've all worked in a soul-sucking office, staring out the window and fantasizing about developing Carrie-like super powers. We've all had a red stapler that we've prized more than we should because of what it quietly represented to us alone. We've all imagined a catastrophic power outage or water main breaking, closing the building for the day just so we didn't have to go in. We've all worked with that one person who took a special joy in making the hours you spent with them as interminably miserable as possible, just because they could. And we've all wondered how realistic selling everything and living in a van would be. (pro tip: it's not realistic)

I mean, we all have...right?

It's happened to all (or at least most) of us, and we have had to put on our grownup pants and deal with it. However these experiences do make you appreciate the good places, and so I guess the shit jobs perversely serve a purpose as a reminder that we have to rise above and deal with it sometimes. It's not a nice purpose, but it's a purpose none-the-less. 

Now, travel back with me to a time when I was young and idealistic, and thought that my university degree meant something besides unending debt. I'd graduated 6 months prior, and had only the faintest glow of my education-based entitlement left, as it had taken me what felt like an eternity to find a job in the crumbling economy of the mid-to-late 2000's (...the bank holding my loan also felt like this was an eternity). I certainly wasn't enough of a special snowflake to expect to land a 6 figure salary right out of the box, but I had done my time in the soul crushing customer service industry, and I was going to move up in the world, so help me God.

By some miracle, or at least I thought so at the time, I landed with a group of lawyers as an administrative assistant,  which translated roughly to "office slave". That said, the phone almost never rang, and we didn't interact much with the general public, so primarily I sat at my desk and tried to look busy.  This is harder than you'd think.

The two legal assistants, or as I prefer "desk harpies", took an instant dislike to me. They were the keepers of my job, and derived great joy in handing me only the smallest scraps of work. I choose to believe that they didn't like me because I represented a threat to them, but it could also have been that I didn't like reality tv as much as they did. I guess we'll never know.

I spent an inordinate amount of time photocopying, and they always made sure to put a sticky note on the piles reminding me to remove the staples before copying.  Because without that note I most certainly would have shoved 30 sheets of stapled material through the photocopier at once. Thank the Lord they reminded me! At one point, I was actually made to unstaple 200 document packages because I had not stapled them horizontally along the top of the page, but instead diagonally across the top corner like a normal fucking person. She smiled as she ripped the pages apart, yelling at me for my terrible stapling oversight (which to this point had NOT been an issue).  From that point on I referred to her in my mind only as Staples.

The other assistant, however, was more of a mine field. She got irrationally angry about bizarre things, like how the delivery guy wore shorts in the winter (weird, but not generally seen as a character flaw...), or like how I had to walk by her desk to get to the printer. At one point she told me that I could only go to the copier 4 times a day to pick up documents because it was bothering her, so I had better make my trips count. And she was constantly taking to Staples about being single. Let's all take a moment to be surprised by that revelation. Her name became Tantrum. A good, strong, super villain name. 

It was during this time that I developed a close relationship with the movie Office Space, and convinced the desk harpies that I needed a new stapler for the droves of documents I now stapled ONLY horizontally across the top. Specifically, I needed a red Swingline stapler, and to my surprise they actually included one for me in the quarterly stationary order.  I don't think they ever figured out why it brought me so much joy. But it really, really did. 

Over time, and in an effort to avoid going postal, I learned to manage these people.  I gave up trying to look busy, because in any given day, they would give me at most 2 hours of actual work to keep me occupied. Each nightmarish day would begin with a soft approach to ask them what they needed done today, as God knows I wasn't responsible enough to manage my own work load or have my own list of daily tasks.  By 10 am I would have completed whatever crumb of a task that was given, ask if there was anything else I could do, which there rarely was, and then I would read a book. At my desk. And no one cared in the slightest. Most of them never even realized I was there.

I also made the delightful discovery that Tantrum was only capable of being maliciously angry at one person at a time. This was both useful, and a revealing insight into her overall capacities. In an effort to make sure the target of her rage wasn't me, I would throw someone else under the bus. I'm not proud of this system, but it was the only coping mechanism I had at the time.  As such, the delivery driver took a lot of heat he never knew about, as did the shipping/receiving guy, other law firms, and any number of baristas that were never required to have actual contact with this woman. Their failings were the focus of her wrath, and I told her I would deal with them on her behalf. This was a win win situation for all involved. They were truly the unsung heroes of my time in that office, blithely absorbing Tantrums wrath without even knowing it. 

I mentioned earlier that this was a small law firm, and the lawyers were by no means freed from the shackles of being ass hats to me. They made less than no effort to be kind, or to make my time with them any more tolerable than a root canal.

Every morning when the lawyers walked by my desk, I would say good morning, and every morning they would walk past as though I wasn't even there. No normal human social interactions at all.  So I decided to play. I became obnoxiously cheerful. My standard "good morning" became pointedly enthusiastic and was followed immediately with questions about their weekends that they couldn't pretend not to hear. It visibly irritated them to talk to me, and it brought me great joy. Not red swingline level joy, but still joy.

My favourite of these co-workers was The Law-fish (please note that I use this term ironically, as she was neither my favorite, nor did she consider me anything other than an irritation in her day, let alone a co-anything). This lawyer was about my age, freakishly tall, grumpy AF, and took substantial time out of her day to show me how much better she was than me. I guess this meant at least she talked to me???

She would give me tasks that were impossible to complete, as she would usually leave out a document or two that were critical to the job at hand. The first time I thought it was accidental, but after this happened repeatedly, I overheard her laughing with another lawyer about how she had asked me to do this job and left out one of the files needed to do it. GO TEAM! In light of this I did actually try going to the manager, however was politely told that I was probably reading the situation wrong. In hindsight, I still don't think that I was reading it wrong,  but I digress. In case you were ever wondering, workplace bullying is a very real thing.

The Law-fish's name was derived from her shitty, shitty office. It was by far the worst in the building, and I feel like she knew that. I hope she knew that. It was a tiny cell whose only window was a giant glass opening directly behind my desk, making her office view the back of my head. Basically, she worked in a fishbowl, and I could feel her judgemental gaze drilling into my back every single day.  It was just lovely. 

And then I discovered her achilles heel. 

The Law-fish hated eating. I never saw her put food into her mouth.  She hated people eating around her. And most importantly, she hated when I ate. It didn't matter if I was munching crackers, eating an orange, or having a granola bar, she would get up from her desk and shut her door. Every. Single. Time. (And for all the people who will inevitably ask the question, this is not a statement on my eating habits....she would shut her door regardless of the food type or sound level)  She obviously ate food at some point, but she must have held the opinion that eating should strictly be done in private?

Because she was such a right bitch to me, I decided to subtly use this to my advantage. I would eat a single cracker. She would get up, close the door, go back to work for 15 minutes or so, then get up and open the door again. Then I would eat another cracker.  She could just never reconcile her desire to have the door open (despite the enormous window, she wasn't hiding) and her conflicting want/need to never experience any part of someone else consuming valuable calories.

I could do this all fucking day. And I did. Every day. Every single fucking day for the rest of my time in that nightmarish office.
And it was glorious.

So, to summarize this rather lengthy post about malicious coworkers and toxic work environments: You are not alone. Office bullying is a real thing, with real consequences for those subjected to it. Even though you may feel stuck and helpless to resist, know that there are other offices filled with reasonable human beings, and you don't deserve to be treated like an 18th century servant. 

I've moved on to an office that I enjoy going to, and don't dread having to interact with the people around me because they treat me with kindness and respect. Looking back, those years had me in a bad place, and getting out and moving on has been one of the best decisions I have ever made to improve my mental health.

So, do your level best to get yourself to a healthier place, and if that isn't possible, at least try to find yourself an office spirit-animal to help you get through the hard days, be it a stapler, a "Hang In There" cat poster,  or otherwise. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Me vs The Darker Side of Garden Gnomes

My mother hates garden gnomes, and as such, I took it upon myself to decorate her house with them. The Gnomian Wars went on over a year ago, and I'm confident she still hasn't found them all. 

In a pathetic attempt at retaliation, my mother tried to hide gnomes in and around our house while we were away. This was a sad repeat of what I had already done, and the lack of creativity was disappointing. Mom, you can do better. (Love you)

Putting aside the lack of originality, my mother doesn’t seem to acknowledge that gnomes don't offend me nearly as much as they offend her, so for the most part, I just left them where they lay. Sadly, the winter was not kind to their cheap production value and in most cases I ended up with lumps of broken clay paste when the snow melted. 

All but one was destroyed, and the sole survivor, as I recently discovered, is also the most problematic.

At the bottom of our driveway is a large rock with our address on it. My mom hung a gnome from the sign so it could be seen by all who drove by, in what I can only assume was an effort to embarrass me? So of course I left it there in a show of defiance; an indication that her tactics were weak.

However I may have made a slight error in judgment.

I recently came across the New York Post’s article Secret Signs Your Neighbour Might Be A Swinger. Because I was bored, and have questionable taste in reading material, I clicked on it and was surprised when it claimed that garden gnomes are an indicator that swingers live there. I have a garden gnome at the front of my driveway. AND IT'S ON A FUCKING SWING!!!! 

On the subject of swinging: 
It’s not something that the husband and I have ever explored, but you know, you do you. I’m not saying never….if Chris Evans were to walk by dressed as Captain America and make me an offer, I would probably not say no, but overall that that seems unlikely. Primarily I think I would just be awful at the whole thing. I'm a chronic over-thinker and this would probably just kill the mood. My husband seems to have learned to tolerate me over the years, so I see no reason to trade off. But if Chris were in town...... 

I feel like I was justifiably concerned that my mother had singled our house out as a swinging destination in the neighbourhood. Were those really Jehovas Witnesses coming to our door, or were they couples who saw the gnome and wanted to check out the goods? Should I be relieved or insulted that no one has shown up on a Saturday night looking for a party? Would a gnome that wasn't on an actual swing be less "swingery" or do all gnomes just point the way to the nearest key party? Am I sexy enough to own a gnome? 

These are questions I never needed to ask before now. Thanks mom.

And so to bring this full circle, I'll admit that the gnome is still hanging on his provocative little swing, looking out into oncoming traffic with his come-hither stare. This is, however, more due to my stubborn refusal to take him down and let my mom win, than it is with my concern that people will show up an my door proposing a threesome. So there. 

But Captain America is still invited. He could even invite Thor if that would help....

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Me vs The Creeping Inevitability of Elves

For 7 peaceful Christmases, I've avoided Elf on the Shelf. For 7 wonderful Decembers I've managed to skip moving a little doll around in the hopes of scaring my kids into behavioural submission. For years now, I have not needed an omnipresent elf to report back to Santa in order to keep my kids in line. If they're being shitty, I just channel Alan Rickman and scream CANCEL CHRISTMAS and exit stage left. It's been very effective. 

And now, that is over. 

On December 6th I got a text from my kind neighbour, who drives my daughter to school on days I work. She felt I should probably be made aware that my daughter had written a letter to Santa and given it to her kid's Elf on a Shelf, so it could be delivered directly to him. She kindly offered to make up some excuse along the lines of "all the elves have already headed out for the season", but I declined. This was my life now.

I can only imagine that my 8 year old went this route to avoid past situations where I had made some excuse or another as to why we didn't have an elf and would not be getting one.  Skip the dissenting middleman and go right to Santa. Honestly, I have to applaud her tenacity and single minded determination; I can only hope that skill set can be applied to something besides forcing my hand in the future. 

This is the note:

Highlights include "Pleas (sic) don't be
scard (sic) of my family"
and "...if you have a girl elf can I have it"

I was now left with the Sophie's Choice of letting my daughter think that Santa doesn't care enough about her to let her have an elf so that she can experience the magic of Christmas like her neighbours do, or I become tethered to this Christmas themed Chuckie doll every year for the foreseeable future. 

I think it's fair at this point to ask that the makers of Elf on a Shelf kindly go eat a buffet of dicks for creating this nightmare. 

Sadistic elf creationists aside, I still had a deeply irritating problem. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't simply ignore her letter and I needed a response: either yes, a fucking elf was coming, or no, Christmas is ruined. 

I wanted something else, so I created option 3........ it wasn't a misery elf, but something was coming.

And so, Hickory Von Fluffenstein was born. More accurately, he was the cutest Christmas themed thing I could find at our dollar store, and he would do. Don't look too closely, as his antler is a bit loose.

Hickory does not feel bound by the same rules as your average elf. He moves every night but that is all, no reporting to Santa, no letters outlining behavioural improvements, and for the love of all things good, there will be no dressing up in stupid, tiny elf clothing, no fishing for sugar cubes in the toilet, and no whoring it up with Barbie. No. 

Hickory sits on things and watches you, peeking out over his off centre red nose. That's all. 

And so for the remainder of the Christmas season, Hickory's life became an alarm on my phone. He was a constant reminder that if I missed a move, my kids would know, which would in turn require urgent storytelling creativity as to why he had settled for a single spot for more than one day. He haunted me. 

But we survived, and so did he. The dog didn't eat him, the cats didn't knock him over mid-day, and the sugar gliders didn't pee on him the night he sat on their cage.  The kids on the other hand, lost their everloving minds when he showed up, which was adorable. Every morning it was a hunt to find the reindeer, and true astonishment that we had our very own Christmas creature.  Hickory was....tolerable. 

See you next year, old friend.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Me vs The Systematic Failure of My Appliances and the Subsequent Erosion of My Sanity

I've lived in my house for 3 years and 41 days at the writing of this post. It's a new house, so my appliances have been operational for approximately the same amount of time.  I feel like it is reasonable to expect that I wouldn't have run into any major home repair issues being only 3 years and 41 days in. 

It has however, become painfully apparent that in this assumption, I am prodigiously wrong about this. 

The space where my microwave
should go is empty, like my soul when
I think about how fucking much I've
spent on fixing stupid shit in my house.
In the 3 short (but feeling increasingly interminable) years we've been in this house, our original well has all but failed, our new well has given us the finger, and our appliances have more or less joined a cult that requires they sporadically drink the koolaid and give up the ghost.  To date, I've replaced the fridge, fried a fuse in the microwave, repaired the dishwasher because it couldn't seem to decided if there was water in it or not,  I need to fix the dishwasher again because it leaks (really, it's kind of a jerk), and then, last week, the microwave went. Again. Only this time, it's going to cost more to fix than it's worth. Because it's Christmas, and my whole house is basically an ass backwards Christmas miracle. 

I once had a hand-me-down Electrolux vacuum cleaner. It was odd looking, and definitely older than I was (I am not exaggerating this fact), but still kept my floors more or less clean. It ran for a few years after I got it, until one day I realized that if I touched any of the metal bits while it was on, it would electrocute me.  This was disturbing, BUT IT STILL SUCKED SHIT OFF MY FLOOR LIKE A VACUUM IS SUPPOSED TO! My bloody microwave can't make 6 months between critical repairs, and this Stepford Wife vacuum cleaner outlived my cat. 

So Samsung, because of how categorically bad you are at your one job, you and your shitty appliances can basically go eat a bowl of glass. Fuck you.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Me vs A Radical Alteration of Self Perception

I recently lost my all my bras, by which I mean all of my comfy ta-ta tamers basically called it quits at more or less the same time. (Although once I did actually "lose" a bra. It still confounds me, as I'm confident I never disrobed somewhere without meaning to and just forgot it.)

One hooter harness spontaneously lost a strap on the way home from a work event, leading to some awkward convos with my carpool buddy. Two of them decided at roughly the same time that having elasticity was for chumps, and three others just never fit but I've been holding onto them because they were pretty, although otherwise shitty at their one job.

I needed to go shopping.

I don't hate shopping, per se, but I also don't love it. There are however, three things I despise shopping for....bathing suits, jeans, and bras. They never fit, they rarely look good, but they are wardrobe staples so every few months I have to brave the mall in order to replace some crucial thing or another.

In an effort to lessen the trauma, my husband suggested I actually try measuring the girls to make the process a little more streamlined. This was probably in part an attempt to reduce the overall time he needed to wait for me while wandered aimlessly around the stores hoping the right one would just fall off the wall and land perfectly on my chest. 

So I found a reputable website with instructions on proper techniques, and I went to work. I won't describe it in detail, but just know it wasn't graceful.  They had me measure in several positions; it was like yoga with a tape measure. The website warned me about "sticker shock" and claimed that most women are basically shit at finding the right bra fit, but I've been essentially the same size since puberty, so I wasn't expecting much. 

To be clear, I wouldn't consider myself well endowed. At all. To put it in perspective, in middle school a classmate looked at me and asked patronizingly if I slept on my stomach all the time. It took me a second to realize what she was implying and come to terms with what a spectacular bitch she was. Unfortunately given that I was only 13, I lacked the courage/mental agility to tell her to go fuck herself, however I now take solace in the fact that at least I CAN sleep on my stomach. 

So,  to summarize, I have generally headed towards the A aisle of the bra world. I expected the measurement calculator to spit out something roughly supporting that (<-- amazing boob pun).
But it didn't. It came back with a D.  My worldview was drastically altered. I would have been less shocked to discover my cat was actually a small racoon. You mean the world economy IS controlled by lizard people? That would be less shocking than going from an A to D. 

After I stopped laughing hysterically at the impossibility of this new size, I headed off to the mall to find a bra store. My plan was to avoid any and all sales people, and quietly try on a D or two. Just to see. I expected it to feel like a small child crawling into an adult sized sleeping bag. 

However, in a mind-blowing turn of events, the D fit like a damn glove. I spent a ludicrous amount of time in the change room trying to pick my jaw up off the floor. I'm sure that the sales woman was a bit concerned.  I ended up buying three pairs right there.

Still in a daze I went to the next store, where the sales woman came up and asked me if I needed help, I said yes. The exchange went more or less how I expected:

Her: Can I help you find a size?
Me: Yes, I'd like a 34D please
Her: Um, that seems a bit big sweetie. You're definitely not that big. No,  maybe a B at most. Definitley nothing bigger.
Me: I'll try both sizes.

After I got past her decided lack of tack, I tried them on and she came in to see how they fit. This woman could not contain her amazement. As someone who is paid to fit boobs into bras all day, she could not get over how the D fit and the B did not. I'm still not sure if I should be flattered or insulted. Mostly I'm still shocked. 

So, if you'd like to rock the very foundations of your self perception, I highly recommend measuring yourself especially if you've never really measured them or if it's been a long time.  If nothing else, the girls will thank you.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Me vs The Most NSFW Post I've Ever Written (Sorry Mom)(Upon Review, Not That Sorry)

I think it's time I changed professions. I'm going to become a driller. Specifically, a well driller. 

Why, you ask? Because it's been my recent experience that drilling wells for those people unfortunate enough to need water is lucrative as fuck.

Again, you ask why? Allow me explain. 

First you go to a property, wave your shitty magic sticks around and determine there's water underneath this wildly unremarkable spot, inconveniently located in the middle of their yard. 

How do you do that? Goddamn witchcraft? Coin flip? Charlatan's version of water divination gypsy voodoo?  Or maybe you just got lazy and needed a smoke, and this seemed like as good a spot as any to stop and take that one step closer to emphysema. Who fucking cares. No one can call your bluff. 

Fuck yeah, you're a driller now bitch!

But anyway, you tell these poor, waterless people that there's water here. Trust me, I'm a professional. No, you can't see the water, but it's there. Under the ground. My sticks said so and you can't prove otherwise until it's too late (Pro Tip: say that last part in your head).

Now, you show up with your drill rig and spend a day or two decimating the landscape (and no, don't clean up after yourself. By all means leave your lunch shit and weird hoodies laying around, it adds to the ambiance). 

Go down a few hundred feet then tell your unsuspecting and parched clients that it's not quite deep enough yet. Go another 200 feet. Spew tailings all the fuck over their driveway. Leave it there to harden and become akin to concrete because you can.

Finally, take their money and walk the fuck away. That's right! Your "well" doesn't need to actually produce usable water. NO! That's just silly. 

Water, just like the bullshit sticks said there
would be. Now give me some money.
Then to really shit on their day, have it pour out some mud just to allow them a moment to believe it's working before realizing how categorically fucked they are. Then make sure to tell them that you can't guarantee your work (this is key). But still make sure to take their money. A lot of their money. Like a university degree's worth of their money. Or roughly a year's salary (put in perspective, this means that the waterless individual could have not worked for an entire year, and spent their days carting water up to the house from a river instead, which would have led to no greater net loss, and actually having some water).  

Because, hey, it's not like you had ONE JOB or anything.  

So, to summarize, as far as my current experience goes, all you need to do to make a shit ton of money off of someone is to tell them you're a "driller" and you will drill them a "well" and then don't do that, but still take all of their money.


Friday, 22 September 2017

Me vs Voluntarily Living Without Amenitites

Every summer, for most of my childhood, our family would go camping for two weeks in the Okanagan. As an adult, taking my family camping, I've come to realize that these were some of the most spectacularly organized camps of my life; really, of anyone's life. My mother is the most tidy, coordinated, and organized camper of all time.

Now I can also run a camping trip; I've been doing it my whole life. I've slept on the ground under a shitty tarp at a Guiding camp while bugs crawled across my not-sleeping face (don't do this, it's terrible, and I got zero actual sleep), to tenting in thunderstorms with racoons running black ops missions to gain access to your sleeping quarters (also terrible, also no sleep).  I've been trailer camping (Please don't mistake this with a large modern trailer; mine is very tiny and old, and a lot of things in it don't work), and I've been camping in the rain more times than I care to count. 

The current tiny trailer
I've gone on school camping trips with my very own cast of mean girls, one of whom forgot her sleeping bag. She thought I should share mine. I did not. She also didn't think that eating ketchup chips in the tent in a known and very active bear area was a problem. It turned out not to have been a problem that one night, but the risk alone! I kind of wished one had eaten her. She would have been so much better for it.

But at no time in my life would anyone ever accuse me of being half as organized a camper as my mom. It causes me an absurd amount of stress getting packed up; it takes me days to do, and I never forget less than 4 items. Two of which are generally critical (see below). 

And I've certainly never pulled off a two week trip to anywhere. The most I've managed is 10 days, and by the end we had devolved into eating out at least one meal a day because I couldn't get it together for long enough to coherently plan 3 complete meals. It almost resulted in a reenactment of Lord of the Flies.

And if only food disorganization was my greatest fail....

Two years ago we went camping with some people from work.  I'm confident this trip led to some concerns about my mental faculties, which were already up for debate based on an earlier instance where we'd shown up to a campfire party without shoes for our toddler.  (and while this has led to ongoing hassling, it did serve to keep an otherwise busy toddler confined to a chair so I always knew where he was...maybe less of a problem than originally thought, hmmmm)

I also have mad skills when it
comes to adding thumbs to pictures  
We pulled up with our tent trailer and parked beside their Taj Mahal-ish trailers (some size envy on my part), and reached for the crank to creakily, shakily raise the beast. Guess what we didn't have. Yeah. That.  So with otherwise no way to raise the trailer, Husband unhooked it, turned around, and drove back home to get the missing link.  

A few hours, and some harassment about our pathetic camping skills later, the trailer went up. In an effort to redeem myself with a gourmet meal (see here as an indication of my cooking skillz), I went inside to fill up a pot of water to get dinner going. It was at roughly this point I discovered that the antifreeze we put in to discourage the pipes from bursting, was now discouraging us from using the water.  I swear we cleaned that tank out multiple times before heading out, and yet the water was completely unusable. 

(Pro tip: even if you don't use the hot water in the trailer, the son of a bitch hot water tank will still fuck with your water supply and contaminate your regular tank. The more you know 🌠 )

In normal circumstances, no water would be fine. I've only had a trailer for a few years, and part of camping for me has always been lugging water jugs down to the faucet to fill up.  This, along with washing dishes, is why parents bring kids camping, right?  It's just part of their job description. Well, because we were in a forestry camp, there was no running water. We had to rely on the kindness of those around us for our water needs for the rest of the trip. I felt like Oliver Twist: Please sir, may I have some more?

This did very little to improve my standing as a competent camper.  Although at least this time I remembered shoes. 

So, before I ramble into the realm of TL;DR, I'll wrap this up saying that while I've done a lot of camping, my technique leaves a bit to be desired. I can promise that I will be sticking to the shorter camping trips until I've developed the necessary skill level required to attempt anything longer.  And so help me, I'll make sure to pack some
damn shoes. 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Me vs The Dark Rabbit Hole of YouTube

For years I avoided letting my kids watch traditional tv commercials for toys. It was wonderful, and significantly cut down on the levels of "IwantitIwantitIwantit" ringing out through my house every time a commercial break occurred. Praise Netflix.

But then, one day, my oldest discovered toy demonstration videos on YouTube.

If you haven't experienced these (and it is an experience), please allow me a moment to explain the joy. The whole show is basically a diabetes inducing, off camera voice of an adult who is all too excited to open and play with shitty kid toys on camera.



So basically, some genius asshole has figured out that by opening toys and playing with them on camera, complete with irritating high pitched voices, you can get MILLIONS OF HITS on YouTube. There are entire channels devoted to this perfect example of humanity failing. It boggles the mind, and yet on some level, I wish I'd figured it out first and capitalized the shit out of that.

And so both my children will watch these visual atrocities for as long as you let them. My mornings are filled with shrill idiots extolling the virtues of the latest plastic toy that will eventually jam my vacuum cleaner, which is broken only by my children plaintively asking to go to Toys R Us while the next video loads.


Help me.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Me vs Culinary Excellence

I've never been an amazing cook. I'm not the worst, but I'm also not likely to be offered a spot on Hell's Kitchen. Generally speaking though, I don't like being yelled at, so I don't feel any particular sting of rejection on this point.  

My food is basically fine.  It's consistently edible, and I don't believe I've caused any cases of food poisoning, but it's not gourmet by anyone's standards. That said, if it was gourmet, my kids would have starved by now, as they subsist entirely on a diet of peanut butter, ketchup, kraft dinner, and soy sauce (or as they call it: soil sauce).

And it's not that I'm completely incapable of food preparation; I just don't enjoy doing it.  When my husband used to live overseas, he and his family had a full time cook. This sounds magical to me. Rainbows and unicorns dancing on my dinner plate. It also makes the fact that he occasionally also had cobras in the kitchen almost reasonable, because fuck it, I'd never be in there. I suppose I'd need a cook that moonlighted as a snake charmer. 

What bothers me most about cooking is that you can't just make one amazing meal, drop the mike, and exit stage left to thunderous applause. You have to cook every. single. day, and there are very few things in this world that I want to do that frequently. Cooking is certainly not one of them. 

My current distaste (<-- good pun) for cooking began at a young age.  I was in home ec in grade 7 with a close friend. We made some great food. Muffins, apple sauce, and specifically pizza dough from scratch. It was amazing. I was so thrilled with how good it was that I though I would make this shit at home, because I was the best pizza dough maker ever!

As you can imagine, when I tried to recreate this masterpiece at home for my hungry family that had no alternative food source prepared, it turned out to be the culinary equivalent of a dumpster fire.  It was so inedible, that the best we could do was make some half hearted attempt to rescue what few toppings hadn't been enveloped into the doughy slime. There wasn't much to salvage. I knew hunger and shame that night. 

This properly explains my relationship
with both noodles and snakes
It was at roughly this point that I made the uncomfortable realization that I was not the reason I was passing home economics. Had I been left to my own devices, I would probably have failed. My friend was a good cook. I was not. 

And to drive the point home just a little harder, I also lit a bowl of Mr. Noodles on fire in the microwave that year. In the home ec classroom. In front of my teacher. Like a boss.
That day I also knew shame. And hunger.