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. 

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 pièce 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 Sires 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.