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. 

Monday, 12 June 2017

Me vs An Unconventional Hair Treatment

Here's a bit of advice I feel like I should pass on; consider it a PSA of sorts:

No matter how much you don't feel washing your hair tonight, do not substitute a real shampooing with dry shampoo. It's not the same.

More importantly, if you ignore this warning, leaving apathy and human inertia to dictate your level of personal hygiene, please at least use a quality dry shampoo. Do not, for example, substitute with a dry shampoo designed for dogs because that is all you currently have on hand.

While dry shampoo for dogs does a passable job of making sure my wet dog smells a little less like a vile combination of damp moss and old deer carcass, it made my hair smell like a wet dog. And to add insult to injury, it had the audacity to do nothing to improve the overall look of my hair or act as a stop-gap between actual washings.

This was not the easy fix that hair commercials everywhere promised me (slow-mo hair flick)....that said, maybe I'd have done better watching dog groomers commercials instead?

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Me vs The Guy Who Didn't Like My Hair

Today I had one of the strangest client encounters I've ever had while at work. It went like this....

A man walked in to the office. Let's call him Dick. It's appropriate.

Me: Hi, can I help you?
Dick: Yes, you can comb your hair.

What I should have said: Why don't you go comb your face?

What I actually said after recovering from my wide eyed, quizzical-dog head tilt:  *extremely awkward laugh* But can I help you with anything? *stumbles blindly through rest of encounter, but otherwise survives until he finally fucking leaves*

I'm absolute shit at confrontation, and I just didn't see that one coming. He was completely deadpan and I still have literally no idea if he was trying to be clever (I really don't have a good example of how this could be construed as clever...) or if he was just a complete waste of breathable air.

It's important to note here that my hair was in a bun, and that he had the follicular equivalent of a dead cat on his head.  I get that not everyone loves the wild colours I've grown so fond of, but seriously, I do try to maintain a pretty high level of overall hair maintenance. And in any case, he didn't seem concerned with the colour....but instead with how much I brushed it? Which he could tell from the tidy professional bun I was sporting?  I'm still so confused.

You sir, are an asshole.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Me vs The Gnomian Wars

Who rides a frog? Santa. 
Santa rides a frog now.
Because I love my mom, and because I know she hates garden gnomes immensely, back in January I decided that the perfect birthday gift for her would be a tacky, beady eyed, garden nightmare. With a few clicks and some savvy internet-ing, I had a lovely, portly little gnome sent to her doorstep, along with a book entitled something along the lines of When Gnomes Attack. Literally the perfect gift.

Unfortunately, the hateful little gnome was only about 3 inches tall, and not nearly as offensive as I had originally hoped, but she was deeply unimpressed, so I feel like I achieved my goal.

Like any good daughter, on my next visit I made sure my thoughtful gift was prominently displayed. When it mysteriously vanished I even took the time to find it and carefully replace it in the centre of the living room.  I took great joy in the fact that she had to keep it, as it was a gift from her loving daughter. Perfection.

Until I got home.

Don't be fooled, these guys 
hear, see, and speak evil

I opened my suitcase and there packed with our belongings was the shitty little gnome. My despicable mother had snuck it into my daughter's suitcase before we left, and I'm pretty sure my 3 year old helped. He thinks it's a sculpture of Santa riding a frog. This was a declaration of war.

On my return trip, the gnome was replaced in it's rightful spot, but again it found it's way back to me with terrifying speed. The little frog riding shit became a fixture on my nightstand, mocking me, daring me to make the next move. And so I did.

It was time for an infestation.

This guy has a light!
So leading up to our next visit, I spent an inordinate amount of time amassing an army of garden ready killers. The gnomian arms race was on. No gnome was too ugly, no pose too unflattering, and the bigger the better. The pi├Ęce de resistance: a trifecta of bobble headed gnomes acting out the hear no evil/see no evil/speak no evil scenario; my mother wouldn't know what hit her.

And she didn't. We have now made it all the way home, and she's only just realizing the plague that has taken her household. She hasn't yet discovered the depths to which she's caused me to sink. 

Best of luck finding this guy...

Mom, as you're reading this, know that while the kids have had their Easter egg hunt, your very own hunt is just beginning. These little guys have taken up residence throughout your house; may the odds be ever in your favour.

And by that I mean there are a ludicrous number of gnomes in your house. Let the games begin!

***I think it's also important to note that none of the pictures shown here provide any clues as to the vastness of my army. Just know their numbers are significant, and you will never know if they've all been found.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Me vs The Lost Art of People Gathering

Until we moved 3 years ago, it had been approximately a thousand years since I'd had to actively make new friends. I'd lived in the same town my entire life, nobody ever moved away, and even after high school, I still saw the same people around town on a regular basis.  Many of the people I still consider close friends were those I'd known in high school, rock climbed with years ago, or met early in university during a criminal psychology course, when together we realized the majority of the people in our tutorial possessed very few critical thinking skills.

I even recently reconnected with an elementary school friend after years of lost contact. It was amazing to chat and reminisce about a part of my life when none of my current friends knew me.  She knew the younger me. She remembered making up dance routines to Meatloaf in the basement and that time I passed out when I got my ears pierced for the first time. I don't know of anyone else who can make that claim. This is probably not a bad thing. Also, thank fuck we didn't all have camera phones at the time.

The one really nice thing about having an existing batch of close friends, is that you don't need to go actively hunting for new ones. I use the term "hunting" on purpose, because that's what social media allows for now.  Following an initial meet and greet, let's be honest, we all mount some kind of getting-to-know-you expedition though the muddy pot holes and river bends of their Facebook pages, all while wearing our pith helmets and twirling over-long moustaches.....Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

It's like early dating, but without the should-we-kiss-at-the-end-of-the-night issue, but which still allows for the awkward social difficulties of trying to decide if they like you (please like me!), and wondering if it's too early to ask them to come over to your place to hang out? 

And so I became complacent about making new friends as an adult.  Dramatic, yet completely unsuprising foreshadowing: skills that go unused are not kept, and only re-learned with a shit ton of effort.

Unfortunately, moving hours away from your established support network of long-time friends does make the getting together a touch difficult. This is not to say that I have lost touch with them, but I realized that moving meant meeting new people.  This was something that I had essentially not done for 15+ years, and the idea of going out into the unknown and making new friends was about as appealing as a actually going on a malaria-infested expedition through the jungle with a cadre of Englishmen. I couldn't imagine getting to know anyone as well as those I had moved away from; it didn't even seem possible. My initial plan was simply to get a lot of cats.

When I realized that obtaining a sufficient number of cats was out of the question, I more or less threw myself at people and all but bluntly asked if they wanted to be my friend. It was awkward and I could frequently be seen muttering "I'm too fucking old for this" quietly to myself, but eventually I got the hang of it and I believe I found that fine line between being personable and an obnoxious stalker.

Adding to the overall difficulty of this task is my shitty, shitty memory. Generally, once someone tells me their name, I'll forget it by the time I've reciprocated the introduction. I don't mean to do this, but apparently I have the memory of a goldfish. Hi, my name is Sealice. Nice to meet you, I'm Jamie. And then it's gone (although to be fair, I'd probably remember Sealice, as I see it as either Sea-Lice, or hear it as Cialis, the erectile dysfunction drug.  For reals found this one on a baby naming forum years ago. It's my favourite horrible name).

Occasionally, carpet bombing the town's population with my friend requests led to participation in some extremely out of character activities. One invitation came in the form of a Spartan obstacle race. I agreed to do it before I really knew what it was, but I survived and gained some really close friends, and an ongoing and somewhat masochistic racing hobby.  This same tendency to go with the flow in the interest of getting to know people also found me at a country music concert for no reason other than I was invited by nice people. I don't like country music, but it was a good time with good friends in any case. I'll even admit to liking at least two songs. 

At the end of the day, I've come across some amazing people that I'm happy to add to my collection of friends. Because of our move and a necessity to put myself out there, I've had experiences that I never would have had otherwise, like a wine tasting party, where I quickly came to realize that wine and I will never, ever be friends. Because wine is an asshole.

If nothing else, I've come to view making new friends as an ongoing activity, and not something that happens without effort.  We all just need to suck it the fuck up and invite people to do things, even if it's hard and you'd rather just binge-watch netflix in pyjama pants. 

And to all those friends who have been won over by my particular brand of crazy, thanks for initally taking the chance on that strange person talking at you.  You're all amazing.  :-)

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Me vs The Heat Death of the Universe or "July"

Pretty, but in an evil, Mean Girls kind of way
As an adult, I've decided that I really don't like snow. It's cold, which I hate, it's slippery, which makes it shit to drive in, and shovelling it has caused me to severely injure my back.

It's because of that back injury that I'm sitting here now in front of the computer, and not out doing something more fun. Movement is not a thing I'm currently doing a lot of, so in order to distract myself from both the pain, and the insipid snowy landscape out my window, I'm going to write about a heat wave. 

It was July of 2009 and I was 8 months pregnant. This, for those of you who haven't experienced the miracle, meant that I was fucking miserable.  I was massive, everything hurt, and I was lucky enough to experience raging morning sickness throughout the entire affair.  I had trouble sitting because the little parasite would jab me in the ribs causing eventual nerve damage, I couldn't stand because my back was being kind of a dick about that activity, and lying down made my calves irrationally fly into charlie horsed knots.  It was super fun. I'm astounded we ever had a second kid. 

Up until that point, I hadn't thought being pregnant couldn't get worse, and then it did, because as I mentioned, it was July. And it got punishingly hot. 

One of my rare not-actively-puking
When I wasn't sobbing hysterically at the Sarah McLachlan SPCA commercial, or a reveal on Extreme Home Makeover, I was floating in a cold bath contemplating the pros and cons of adding ice cubes. I was melting. Our little condo was an oven. It was 1000 square feet taken directly out of the burning fires of hell, and it was making me crazy. 

And then one afternoon, the heat broke me. Husband came home from work to this insane woman, mad with desire. I wanted an air conditioner. NOW!  

He tried to tell me that buying an air conditioner in a heat wave was going to be next to impossible. Our condo's strata rules didn't allow us to put window mounted units in, so we would have to get a stand alone version, and that wasn't going to be easy.  Challenge accepted. 

Our battle ground was Home Despot; the air conditioner section a post apocalyptic waste land of left over units too small to be useful to anyone. There was absolutely nothing left that would meet our needs. 

And then I spotted it. She was beautiful. Tall, sleek, black and silver, out of her box and set up like the sexy vixen she was. I wanted her.  I waddled my way over to the returns desk where her previous owner was returning her. I looked at him and point blank asked him why he was returning such a beautiful thing? Apparently she was a bit loud, and he didn't like her. I bluntly turned to the woman at the returns desk and said I wanted her (the air conditioner, not the returns lady...though she was fetching). She seemed a bit confused for a moment, and then said that was fine, but I'd have to take it down to the checkout counter at the other end of the store, as she could do returns but not sales.   

Onlookers would likely have described a pregnant Gollum-like figure waddling down the aisle screeching My Precious at anyone in her way, while hugging a ridiculously large air conditioning unit. It was the fastest I'd moved in months. If I could have, I would have skipped. 

One guy even had the audacity to ask if I was buying it....could he have it? He wanted My Precious! But she was mine. I wanted to run over his foot. 

To this day, I'm not really sure how much we paid for the air conditioner, and I don't care. She was the big and beautiful, and made my existence almost tolerable for the remaining weeks of pregnancy. To this day she cools down a room like a boss, and I don't regret bringing her home for a minute. 

So now this snow can go the fuck's time to bring My Precious
out for the summer!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Me vs The Vacuous Ineptitude of Major Companies Poorly Leveraging the Power of the Internet

My baby is growing up. He's quite happy, in fact, to inform you that he's now a grown up. At 3 years old, he feels it's time to get out there into the workforce and become a dump truck. Or a crane. Basically he would like to be a piece of construction equipment. And he also wants his big boy bed.

So, like any good shopper who lives on the fringes of civilization, the internet has become my ally. A plethora of deals at my fingertips, just waiting for me to click send. But this doesn't always work. Sometimes it crashes and burns with the incendiary power of a thousand suns.

After comparing prices, delivery options, and other reasonable shit you compare when looking for big ticket items, I landed on a mattress set sold by a company which we'll call "Sires" in order to protect the guilty.

After spending almost an hour on the phone with their customer service, I rage-cancelled my rather large order with them. Apparently, it's a totally legit Sears business practice to sell you something online, bill you for it, and then simply never send it to you. Ever.

After waiting the better part of a week past the selected delivery date, I finally got through to a real person and asked (very nicely at this point) where my mattress was, given that I had a confirmation email, a delivery date, and a charge on my credit card. Well, as "Edmond" so kindly informed me, it was out of stock, and not getting restocked. I was....unhappy.

Me: Edmond, I'm not really happy about this. I feel like at the time of purchase, your website should have flagged that as an out of stock item so, you know, I didn't buy it.

Ed: Um, well that was the old system, we're on the new system now.

Me: That seems like something of a bug in your system that you all may want to address. When will it be in?

Ed: It looks like it's permanently out of stock.

***I actually put Ed on hold for a minute while I gathered myself so I didn't say something I would later regret***

Me: Ed, you mean to tell me your company charged me for a product you no longer even carry?

Ed: Well it's complicated

Me: No, it really isn't

Ed: Well, big items are held in the warehouse and then if a large order for them comes in, it's not updated on the system...*bla bla bla*

*** I put him on hold again so I could practice some calming breath techniques***

Me: So, by taking my money, you're telling me that it doesn't actually guarantee I'll ever see my item. That's perfect. Good job. Again, your business practices are looking just a hair shady from my perspective.

Basically, it appears that this stellar company took my money, never sent me the mattress, and then just fucking hoped I wouldn't notice?!?!?!? The only reason I had any idea that I was roughly never getting this product was because I called them and gave up an hour of my life to a call centre.

So then they offered me a $50 gift card for my troubles.

Me: Ok fine, send me a different mattress, preferably one that's in stock this time, and take the $50 off it.

Ed: We can't do that. But you can use it on your next purchase!

Me: God help me.

At about this point, I'd given up and with great restraint explained to Ed the finer points of why I would not be shopping with them again, and he could go ahead and refund me for the order I'd otherwise never get.

To his credit, Ed (which is probably not his name, but he felt like an Ed to me) did a formidable job trying to make things work, but unfortunately, it didn't really help. <<they just weren't going to be able to sell me a mattress>>

And so there I was, without a mattress again and surfing the internet for another mattress deal. And I found another store with a website, which for the sake of anonymity we'll call "The Block". They had a special on, they delivered, and they even appeared to have the set in stock.
Sign me up and take my money.

I picked a delivery date and waited.

Then this afternoon (six days later), the day before the mattress was supposed to arrive, I got a call.

Snarky Block Lady: Hi, this is The Block, we've noticed you bought a mattress, but we don't deliver to your area. Oops. You can come pick it up in store.

Me: Oh sweet mother of God, you have got to be kidding me....

SBL: Um, I've refunded you the delivery fee.

Me: Why, oh why, did your website not indicate that delivery to this address wasn't possible. And, for fun, why did it take you over a week to figure that shit out? It was supposed to come TOMORROW!

SBL: Um, I don't really know.

Me: Well, I'm out. Cancel it. I'm done. My kid is sleeping on the floor. Also, you should look into why your website sucks. Because it does.

SBL: Fine. It will take up to a month to refund your money.

Me: *strangled noises* Manager. Find me one.

SBL's Manager: Hi, can I help you. (<-- notice that's not phrased as a question)

Me: Yes. I want my money back, as mattresses are inherently unattainable, and I would like it to take less that a month for that to happen.

SBL's Manager: Oh, she didn't say 30 days, she said 3.

Me: Nope, she said a month.

SBL's Manager: Um, no she said 3 days, you probably misheard.

Me: Yes, I often mistake the words "up to a month" for the words "3 days". Very similar, I can see how that would happen. I remember playing the Telephone game in elementary school. History is replete with alternative facts. Just refund me my money and send me a confirmation email please, and we can all hurry up and never speak to each other again.

SBL's Manager: Sure. But it's a form we send to upper management to void the order, so I'm not sure if I can email it to you.

I took 2 minutes to explain the concept of a scanner and hung up. *Table flip*
So hours of my life and 2 purchases later, I was still mattress-less.

And then I got a hold of a local company called L&B Luxury Beds, recommended by my coworker. They are not a big box store, and yet they apparently have stock, people who answer the phones, and customer service standards. I called them shortly after my blood pressure settled, and within minutes had confirmed that the bed I wanted was in stock and ready for pick up this weekend, and for less than either other company. 

So here's a big plug for the little guys, and a serious shake-your-fucking-heads to the big stores who basically take your money and make you suffer for it. Maybe now my 3 year old will finally get his big boy bed!

While the train bed is cool, he tells me he's a
grown up now, so he needs a big bed...
Putting the old bed inside the new bed helps. 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Me vs Some Unsettling Shit

I am Canadian. I didn't vote for Trump, I couldn't vote against him, I don't live in his kingdom, and the internal workings of his country are his to shit on, not mine. 

But this isn't that simple, and I can't leave this one alone.

The day the news broke that this demagoguing cheeto had won the election, I broke down and cried. I ugly cried. This terrified my husband, as I'm not a crier, and he could not for the life of him figure out what was wrong. And for a while, neither could I.

I didn't care about the fucking politics. I mean, I'd like him not to shit on foreign policies and health care for the sake of humanity as a whole, but that wasn't it. 

It was people. It was the utter lack of compassion he showed for others that was so unsettling. I couldn't (and still can't) wrap my head around how anyone could listen to his hate filled rhetoric and be ok with it. How could anyone choose to be ok with a leader who lies and hates so much? Who encourages his followers (sheep) to hate, and express their hate publicly and violently? Who considers women to be there for his enjoyment so sexually assaulting them is ok? Who finds LGBT people abhorrent? And who takes joy in telling women what parts of their bodies are no longer under their control? The people who voted for  and otherwise supported him basically said "Yeah, I'm good with all that. He has the best words!" I just couldn't. It was too much. 

And it still is. 

But then today happened, and I cried again (this is becoming a deeply disturbing pattern). My computer was flooded by images of the Women's March all around the world. People, millions of people, coming together to say this shit isn't ok. The signs people held up were simple and strong, and said everything I'd been trying to. It was amazing. 

So, well done humans.  I think there's some hope for us after all. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Me vs The Accidental Date

I've been with Husband for a long time now. It follows then, that I've also been out of the dating scene for an equally long time. I don't consider this a bad thing, because as far as I can tell the actual act of dating is equivalent to wilfully pulling out your own hair while sitting on a bed of hot coals. Sure, there is the honeymoon period when everything is unicorns shitting rainbows made especially for you, but getting to those unicorns seems like boundless drudgery and torture. 

Me and Husband 13-ish years ago.   
Occasionally I see people in sparkly new relationships and reminisce about earlier times, feeling a pang of jealousy for the newness that has long since passed. But then I remember the drunk idiots out there trying to pick up girls at the bar by drugging them into submission, and it reinforces my relief that I'm done trying to secure a mate. No more chest-thumping primates arguing over who's got the bigger....banana. I don't have to consider them as possible long-term companions. 

So imagine my surprise when I ended up on a disturbingly date-like encounter, compliments of my 7 year old. 

My daughter and I had planned to go out for dinner at a local restaurant together (she's 7, so think inedible fast food). We went in and she was instantly hug-tackled by another girl, who she knew from school.  This greeting was then inevitably followed by the realization that they could now eat together. Goody!

I tried to explain to my daughter that her friend and her friend's dad probably wanted to eat together, and that we should do the same. Alone. Without them. I was categorically ignored. I'm not sure why I even bothered using words.  Finally agreeing, or more accurately, acknowledging defeat, I made incredibly awkward eye contact with her father, and we did the parental "we won't win, so just let it happen" head nod. The girls ran off to find a table, and we got our food.

In a passable reprisal of a scene from Dead Man Walking, I went hunting for the table the girls had chosen. They had picked a booth. Of course they had.  And they were sitting on one side together leaving the opposite side for the two adults to wedge into. Yup, of course they were.

So the dad and I snuggled into our side of the (surprisingly small) booth, because really, what options were left at that point, and my date and I had a lovely dinner filled with floundering small talk and peppered with shrieking laughter from the girls who were all but ignoring us; one big happy blended family out for a night on the town. We were just darling.
A much more recent (and awesome!) picture. 

To this day, what surprises me most is that no one saw us out on our date, as this is a small town, and the percentage chance of seeing someone you know is surprisingly high. And while I went home and laughed about it with my husband (because I'm nothing if not good at the retelling of awkward situations), I fully expected that at some point down the road he would come home with a report about how I was treacherously sneaking around with another man, albeit poorly, as who takes their kids with them on a clandestine date?

And so, however accidentally, I got to briefly revisit the dating world, and forever cement in my mind why I never want to reenter it. The joys of new relationships are exciting and fun, but the awkward conversations, bizarre dating rituals, and the "Does he tend towards psychopathy?" guessing games don't seem worth it to me anymore. Instead I'll take my husband, who maybe isn't as new and shiny, but who helps make kids lunches, lets me sleep in on the weekends, and probably does more laundry than I do. He is still my unicorn.