Tuesday 15 December 2015

Me vs Big Snarly Cats

You may have noticed over the last year or so, that I take exception to a rather large number of the resident population of animals in the area where I live. I’ve touched upon my disdain for the local road lemmings (deer), the mice, the spiders, and the bear (although I can’t really hold it responsible for wanting my delicious food waste), and I just want to put it out there that I don’t hate animals.

If I lived by the ocean, nothing would give me more joy than to watch whales and dolphins jump in the waves. I could watch river otters play for hours. They make me think of little cats…..except they like the water, aren’t nearly as pretentious, and are generally bigger than cats, ….but that time my cat fell in the bathtub, he did roll around a lot, which was kind of otter-like.  

Not cougars, but they still have
sharp bits
I like house cats. I have two, and despite waking me up at all hours to receive love, walking over my pillow with their cat litter paws, and meowing in front of my kids doors in the morning because they’ve figured out that I will leap out of bed to feed them so the kids don’t wake up, they’re lovely. I even like the resident marmots, and their less portly relatives the ground squirrels, despite the ankle-breaking holes they dig all over the yard. Being a ground squirrel is what I imagine being on amphetamines must be like…hyper alert, running everywhere, and yelling (chirping, but I envision it as yelling) at anything that comes near you.  

But, and I’m sure many will agree with me here, I don’t like cougars. It’s not even actual cougars that I dislike, but more their desire to eat people (read: me) that they every so often display. I realize that this isn’t terribly common, and there are a lot of other nasty things out there that can end me, but I’ve had cats that bite me a lot and it hurts like fucking hell, so I don’t think getting eaten by a much larger cat would be any improvement.

Cougars eat meat, and I’m meat. This is pretty straightforward.

Bears, being the other large animal of concern out here, will eat meat as well, but I picture them as more open to food that doesn’t fight or run much, like berry bushes and logs filled with bugs. This being said, don’t go out of your way to piss them off by giving them a hug (it’s a bear-hug in name only), or try for a selfie with a grizzly (It happens. Morons.), but in general, I’m just not as worried about them. This is probably due to the fact that bears don’t really try to hide. They bumble along making an ungodly amount of noise and eat whatever is easiest to get. Mostly my garbage. Cougars, however, stalk you, because they are motherfucking lions.  

Mountain lions.

Basically it’s like we’re in Africa being stalked by regular lions, but these ones have an extra vector: they can hide in trees and jump down on your unsuspecting head. That’s freaky shit when you’re out in the woods trying to enjoy nature.

Not a guard dog, but at least he's pretty
In response to this threat (real or imagined) I got a dog. I thought that he would offer some protection, or at least warning when it comes to these apex predators in the area, however I am not convinced he actually does.  While he sticks to me like glue inside the house, the jackass takes off the moment the door is opened and returns hours later with a deer bone from a stash he found months ago. And the last time he encountered a bear on a walk, he completely failed to notice it, and he generally won’t go outside right now because it’s cold. Not a terribly useful protector.

This brings me to a hiking trip I was a part of on Vancouver Island a few years ago. A couple of hours into the hike our group came across a sign that warned hikers to stay in groups of 3 or more, as cougars were in the area and would stalk you if you were alone. Our group was had about 10 hikers, no problem. Unfortunately the 10 of us were split into three separate groups: The fast people, the slow people, and the middle person: me. I was my own group. Of one. Which, for those keeping score, is less than 3. This immediately made the cougar warning the scariest sign I’ve ever seen.

Happily I didn’t die, though I don’t know if it’s because there were no cougars around that day, or because I was talking in three different voices so any cougar in the area would think “Hey, there’s a group of 3 happening down there. Maybe next time”. Yeah, that’s right, I’m that awesome.

The strangest part of this paranoia I have about cougars is that unlike the deer whom I would happily see eradicated from the town limits (they can go live in the forest, not in the DQ parking lot), I don’t actually want cougars to be killed; I just don’t want them near me or my family. The sad part, and back to the idiotic deer again, is that the cougars come into the town because of the deer, and then have to be put down because they pose a threat. I really wish this didn’t happen, because despite the Jamie-eating capabilities of these animals, they are beautiful. In pictures. That were not taken by me.

So to summarize, deer suck, cougars are pretty, and I would like to avoid being eaten. 

Saturday 5 December 2015

Me vs The Wedding or The Reason I Got Stuck in The Shirt

A while ago now, I told the story of how I got stuck in a piece of traditional Indian clothing - The Churidar Kurta or How I Got Stuck in a Shirt.

This is part two.

I’m going to try to make this story entertaining. At the time it was anything but, however I feel like I need to tell it anyway. Some kind of catharsis maybe, or at the very least a cautionary tale for the rest of you.

After outfitting myself in Indian clothing, I felt ready, and even excited to experience the larger than life wedding that my coworker had been planning and talking about for months. She had something insane like 1000 guests attending, and how could that not be amazing to see? The scale sounded impressive.

And it was impressive, just not in the ways I had imagined.

When Husband and I got there, the first bombshell was that in the temple men and women could not sit together. There was a men’s side and a women’s side. This was uncomfortable…..but at least I eventually had my other coworkers to sit with. My poor, extremely tolerant husband would have to sit by himself on the other side of the room with 500 men he had never met before, to share a cultural experience that was surprisingly confusing.

As we stood around waiting to go in, my coworkers arrived. I was a bit taken aback by their outfits. They had all spent a lot of time talking about the fancy saris they had purchased for the event, yet no one was wearing them.
So, stupid me, I asked why not? Most fell silent, but the oblivious one piped up that the saris were for the reception the next day. Duh. Why wouldn’t you know that?….oh wait, you didn’t know about the reception?

Well, shit.

We all stood silently for a moment, letting this information sink in. Ever so carefully, I asked What reception? Isn’t that part of this event?  The question was answered by the sound of crickets and darting, terrified eye contact between the rest of the group. It wasn’t hard to deduce the answer on my own.

But seriously, why would I have known that?!? It had not occurred to me that these two events were on two different days, and the invitation hadn’t indicated anything. I thought we went from wedding to reception like every other wedding I had been to, not: oh sorry you’re only invited to the (painfully long) ceremony but you can’t come to the (much more enjoyable) dinner/dance part. Thanks asshole.

Trying hard to hide that I was dying inside as I’d realized, very publically, that I had been excluded from the main event, I grabbed Husband and staggered off into the parking lot to regain some composure.

I take some solace in the fact that as I left, they were all at a loss for words, and looked like a collection of flaccid, useless dicks waiting in the parking lot for something to come along and save them from what had just happened.
It was very awkward.

No, it was more awkward than that.

These proceedings may have coloured my opinion of the bride and her event, but I returned to the group, hiked up my big girl panties, and carried on into the venue to tolerate the rest of the day.

The ceremony itself was strange but interesting, and I lost myself for a while in the colours and singing going on around me. There were no chairs and everyone sat on the floor, and as far as I could tell, there was no definite start point to the ceremony. The singing/chanting was going on when we walked in and then suddenly the wedding party was walking down the aisle.

I use the term “suddenly” only to convey that there was no notification to the gathering hoard that she was coming. We turned around and there was the bride. No preamble, no notice, just bam! There she is! But don’t interpret that to mean that she came in with any great speed. I think we sat on the floor for at least an hour listening to the chanting (which, to be fair, was beautiful) before she made her way in.

I tried very hard not to be mad and hurt during this time, but the obvious exclusion from the event everyone else was attending made it hard to really enjoy myself. And then my ass got sore, and I was pretty much done with the whole sitting-on-the-floor shit. Plus, we had been there for well over two hours at this point, and it really didn’t look like it was slowing down.  I also had to pee, and there wasn’t a snowballs chance in hell that I was walking down that aisle in front of the incredibly large group of people, while the bride and groom were still up there, possibly committing some irreversible cultural faux pas.

Lucky for us, our group of wedding goers included another woman who attended the temple. She looked around at our panicked, confused, white-girl faces, and matter-of-factly got up and said we could go now.

Wait, what? The bride and groom were still up there…should we really just up and leave? Apparently yes, you do, that’s normal. According to her, the ceremony would go on for hours, and we could go now.  My ass was happy.  I waved desperately at Husband who was sitting on the boy’s side, and pictionaried to him that we could escape.

Husband and I made it through the lunch that was offered…he likes Indian food, I do not, and eventually hit the magic point in time where you can leave without appearing to run screaming from the building. Basically, it was half a day of time and babysitting costs that I can never get back.

Overall, the cultural part of the experience was interesting, albeit long. (So. Fucking. Long.) I don’t think I’d be overly inclined to repeat it, however I think it’s important to try new things - even if those things turn out to be less like the experience you had anticipated, and more like an unending hell in which you are painfully aware of your social exclusion.

In the end the part that really irked me was that I had given the bride money as a wedding gift, which apparently wasn’t required, given that I hadn’t been invited to the part of the wedding that socially required a gift. Figures. At least I got a thank you card. Not sure it was worth it.