Monday, December 31, 2007

diy art galleries

I'm procrastinating on a few things I need to do for New Year's Eve. Clock is ticking. Argh.

So here's what I've been whining about today: yesterday I went to an art gallery in a city closeby. The building was big and beautiful, and it had all the trappings of a regular gallery, including a website, a flyer on the exhibits, and gallery staff. And yet...

First, my friend and I went to the bottom floor. We looked past all the framed pieces on the walls, searching for the art this gallery was supposed to contain. There was nothing else. We started to giggle in disbelief. The framed pieces looked like a bad version of the drawings and paintings I've been given by my friends' kids over the years. There were lots of portraits with disturbingly disproportionate figures, several questionable multi-media concoctions, and some other things I couldn't even identify. Wow.

We held out hope for the upstairs portion.

There were three rooms upstairs, each supposedly with its own distinct exhibit. Each room and each piece had a curator's explanation written on an 81/2 x 11 inch piece of paper, attached to the wall with that blue sticky stuff that everyone uses to hang posters when they're 19 and in a crappy rented place. Oh so professional looking (but they were typed - small mercies, I guess).

The descriptions of each exhibit talked in circles about nothing. Walking through each room, we tried desperately to understand why those pieces were chosen to hang together. The tenuous linkages became our new game show (since, strangely, we found ourselves all alone), which my friend won hands down. One room had two pieces with the same spelling error. Another had several pieces with mostly white space. The pieces in the third room seemed to have only oddity in common.

So, hey, if this place can call itself an art gallery and get listed in all kinds of tourism guides, we figure pretty much anything can. My friend and I have decided that in our next period of boredom, we should just redecorate her house, buy some flea market art, cobble together some multi-media installations using a few bottles of glue and some garbage, and write our own descriptions. Presto! We'll see if we can pull off our own art gallery.

I bet it'll rock compared to the one we just experienced. Really, shouldn't there be some kind of guidelines for this kind of thing?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

stupid hardwiring

Last night my cousin from out-of-town was DJing, so I packed up my best gay male friend and made a night of it. I forgot how fun it is to go out at 11pm and dance until your face hits the pillow at 4am.

I also forgot how decidedly not fun it is when (like me) you must have been that person in prehistoric times who held the responsibility of stoking the fire first thing in the morning. I'm hardwired to wake up like clockwork every morning at 6am--and I never learned how to fall back asleep. It doesn't matter what time I've gone to bed, it doesn't matter if I'm sick, and it certainly doesn't matter what I've had to drink. Now, I'm not much of a sleeper, but I do like to get my five or six hours a night. I can manage on four. I learned what it was like to live on less when I dated a 10-years-younger-rock-climber-who-loved-to-party a couple of years back. Fun, but miserable, all at once.

When my body bounded out of bed this morning after two oh-so-restful hours of sleep, my brain cursed it in every language it's ever heard. Because my body's conditioned to run most mornings, especially weekend mornings, by 6:30 I was all suited up and on the road, brain still cursing.

Post-run, I remembered that I had agreed to go out snowshoeing and snowmobiling with friends north of the city. Brain stopped cursing body and began to curse brain for making said plans.

I quickly ingested anything I could with caffeine, sugar and potassium. Gatorade. Candy. Coffee (ick, I never drink it). Bananas. Then I was kind of awake but I just wanted to hurl.

I had visions of being a mafia hit, as my feet in snowshoes felt as heavy as concrete blocks. And I think I actually fell asleep on the back of a snowmobile for more than a few minutes, which was probably pretty unsafe. No enjoyment was to be had, but I did manage to function on a minimal level. I think I even pretended to have some sort of fun, although I may be a teensy bit optimistic in writing that.

I just got home. 6am is already looming. Dread.

Friday, December 28, 2007

more hot yoga madness

I've been going to the crazy people hot yoga. I can't help it; I'm strangely attracted to freakishness.

There is so much amusement at the crazy people yoga. I could write pages about the outfits (or lack thereof) alone. But the best stories about the last class I attended relate to the ongoing scent-free debacle.

Since my first visit, I've managed to escape the superhuman sniffing of the crazy instructor. But in the class I just attended, she ordered two new students to shower with the unscented products beforehand. Like me, they complied.

About 10 minutes into the class, she told them rather bluntly that neither of them met the scent-free standards, and that they would need to leave the studio immediately. One of them was next to me and I didn't smell a thing, and it's not like my nose is freakishly useless. They looked around in a certain wtf way (familiar, since it was the same way I looked around when I was ordered to shower) and then left.

The instructor then ranted to us about the importance of no scents. "Remember that even your deodorant is bad," she said, "and that you can't put it on in the changeroom. You'll have to wait until you completely leave the studio to apply it." Visions of a group of yoga students applying deodorant while waiting for the elevator danced in my head.

Just when I was done giggling to myself about that incident, I caused another myself. You see, I get heartburn every time I do one particular pose, and it's brutal heartburn, the kind that burns continuously. I was determined this week to put an end to it. Without fully thinking through the implications, I stashed a Rolaids in my shorts and decided I would pop it before hitting that sequence of poses.

Well, pop it I did and about three seconds later, the instructor piped up with, "Somebody in this room smells like bubblegum or fruit. Remember, this is a scent-free studio and that will not be tolerated." I was discovered.

DO NOT MOUTH BREATHE, I told myself. Normally this isn't hard, but it's the most difficult thing ever when you feel your life at yoga class depends on it.

Crazy instructor lady pretended not to be able to localize the smell. I know that was all a ruse. She's now got me blacklisted.

I stopped on the way home and picked up longer lasting, unflavoured antacids. Next time I'll take one hours before, something I should have thought of before contaminating the studio with a fruit flavoured tablet. Combine that with my new scent-free shampoo and scent-free detergent, and I'm starting to gather quite a new collection of crazy yoga paraphernalia.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

whew, christmas is over

Ah Christmas. In my family, it's always fraught with conflict. This year, my I-take-entertaining-very-seriously mother cleaned her house and cooked up a storm for a bunch of people my sister invited over at the last minute - all while she had food poisoning. Yes, you read that right, my mother hadn't been able to hold food down for almost three days when all of these guests arrived. She put on her usual happy face, as she always does.

My extremely-self-centred sister, on the other hand, didn't have the courtesy to arrive early to help, nor did she bring a dish for dinner.

How can I not be angry about this stuff, especially when my parents are getting older? Whenever I speak up and try to explain to the sister why it's not right, my parents shush me, saying that "it's just the way she is." I can't even blame my sister now, since my parents enable her behaviour.

So frustrating. I can't dwell on it because I just get angry.

In other, more exciting news, Sunny's far away, in the desert in a country where nobody would insure her for travel. Sketchy but fun.

Monday, December 24, 2007

safety and sanity

I "worked" today. I use the quotation marks deliberately, as working on Christmas Eve day in my office entails dragging your butt in at 10am and leaving at 12 noon for lunch, conveniently taking all of your stuff with you.

I got invited to join some colleagues for a dim sum lunch. Yum. Better yet, someone else offered to drive, which is always a bonus in our office of scarce parking. Normally, if you go out for lunch, when you return you'll wind up parking out where Jesus lost his sandals.

However, en route to lunch today I realized this colleague was a major offender of one of my pet peeves: refusal to wear a seatbelt. After minutes of listening to her car beep incessantly, reminding her to buckle up, I finally asked if she was ever going to do it. Without a word, she sighed, reached over, unbuckled my seatbelt, and jammed it into her buckle.


So let's recap. Before: annoying noise and a lack of safety for her. Now: no more annoying noise, but a clear lack of safety for me. Improvement? Perhaps not.

When I asked her why she wouldn't wear her seatbelt, she said it was because she didn't like the feel of it. (Oh yeah, well do you like the feeling of crashing through your windshield?) This was reminiscent of the other colleague who refused to use her turning signals, one of my other pet peeves. When I asked her about it, she said she just didn't like the sound of them. (Oh yeah, well do you like the sound of your car getting rammed by someone who has no idea which way you're turning?)

Please buckle up and use your turning signal wherever you head to this Christmas. Stay safe. And try not to push me over the edge. Just this once, please, 'cause it's Christmas and all.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


I love sampling snacks from other cultures. Not only is the yummy factor high, but snacks are usually indicative of their place of origin, which is attractive to a geek like me. For example, contrast British high tea with Chinese dim sum. So similar and yet just not.

Some of the oddest snacks I've ever had were in Mongolia. Fermented mare's milk and fermented bean curd snacks were everywhere. The fermented part comes from the lack of refrigeration in huge parts of the country, but when your snacks taste like rot I'm not sure that says good things about your nation.

Much as I try, I can't get everywhere, so I always beg friends to bring me back snacks from their travels. Despite the stairs incident, the man vomiting on the edge of death on the plane, and the earthquake, Sunny still managed to bring me back some good stuff from her disastrous trip to the Caribbean. Witness the two examples below.

guava cheeseSugar cakes and guava cheese. I admired them for well over a week, letting the excitement about tasting them build. As you can probably see for yourself, the sugar cake looked like a muffin, and the guava cheese was the farthest thing from cheese, looking and feeling more like a gargantuan gummy bear squashed flat by a steamroller.

Even more perplexing though was the taste. Sugar led the ingredient list on each one, so I had prepared myself for sweet, but dang! After eating half of the sugar cake, I was talking at ridiculous speeds, causing people at work to stare at me kinda funny.

So what's the deal with this emphasis on sugar anyway? Part of me thinks this is a technique for staying active in high temperatures. Perhaps I should test this theory by eating some of this stuff, then partaking in some more hot yoga. Do you think the sugar in my sweat would pass the crazy people's scent-free sniff test?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

more races i will not be running

Running outside in the cold and snow sucks, as does running in the gym on a treadmill. I'm still looking for a race to take on so that I'll maintain some level of motivation through the winter. Here are a few I will not be running in 2008:

The Bare Buns Fun Run
Just look at the photos from this year. I'm not sure I need to say more. I swear this is where I would end up if I were relegated to hell.

The Big Man Run
OK, I'm really not clear on what exactly this one entails, but I'm getting the sense that this may not be for me. It seems that a bunch of large men run through city streets and stop a few times for beer and hotdogs enroute. I'm a lightweight vegetarian with a low tolerance for alcohol.

Olney Pancake Race
The pancake race dates back over 500 years and the description intrigues me: "Competitors must wear the traditional costume of a housewife, including a skirt, apron and head covering. They must of course carry a frying pan containing a pancake." Of course. According to the rules I'd have to move to Olney for three months before participating. Their town map is mysteriously "unavailable," which does not leave me with much hope that I would be able to amuse myself there.

Wife Carrying Championship Race
Wow. So in this one the male competitor carries the female competitor (who apparently does not have to be his legal wife) through a 278-yard course with obstacles to win the woman's weight in beer. Apparently, teams also have the option to have the male carried by the female if they so choose. Strangely, that's never happened before. I don't think the lightweight vegetarian should pave the route on this one.

Lots of freaky stuff and I didn't even look hard. There must be so much more out there.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

i want to pay as much as possible for a hotel room, please

Another travel photo.

I stayed at the Hotel Tibet Home, and I tried to explain to the owner why the phrase "rooms are available above 3 US dollar" isn't the best way to sell your hotel. There is only a very slim chance he understood. But perhaps that's for the best, since I think this sign should be enjoyed by as many people as possible.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

my city likes to help stupid tourists

Tonight, walking back from a massage (downtown) to my house (downtown), I was jolted out of my peaceful calm by a flag that said "downtown," and then, in big capitals, "HOTELS."

I immediately felt a complaint letter coming on. Here's how it's coming together. Inevitably, I'll rewrite it in my sleep and it'll look entirely different in the morning.

Dear City Councillor Friend,

I'm sad that my city is currently in a budget deficit situation. However, I completely understand that there are many important initiatives that scream for funding. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few examples, such as after school programs, public transit, and shelters for battered women and the homeless. After this evening, I have another program to add to the list. You see, tonight I discovered the delightful "HOTELS" flags downtown. In a word: wow.

So let's think about this for a second: most tourists coming into the city arrive by airplane or train. And the majority of the plane and train arrivals get into a taxi to get themselves to a hotel. The rest probably get picked up by friends, relatives or privately arranged transportation. I think we can safely conclude that plane and train arrivals don't need much help figuring out where to find a hotel.

However, as you seem to have most cleverly remembered, there are always those people who arrive by car or on foot or bicycle. Let's consider those people for a second: most of those driving in either have been here before or have a map and planned destination. Of course, there are probably some who have no knowledge or plan, but one has to presume that they would be able to recognize and read large signs that say such things as "Hilton," "Sheraton," and "Westin."

This still leave us with these people:
- complete morons in cars who cannot read signs. I have to ask why you as my city councillor would be encouraging those people to come here. Please stop.
- people who enter the city on foot or by bicycle. Now, I've never really met anyone who just upped and walked or biked in from far away, but I assume those people exist. However, if they do, I'm not sure they actually care which part of the city has the hotels. I'm thinking these people may eschew hotels for hostels, barracks for historical reenactments, or tents.

So, I'm sure those delightful flags are fulfilling an identified need. However, as you can see from this letter, I've thought long and hard and I'm a bit stumped as to what that need is. Perhaps someone from your office would like to put me out of my misery by dropping me a letter to enlighten me. I'd be most grateful.


Monday, December 17, 2007

on closed-mindedness

I spent a chunk of this evening in a heated discussion with a friend over the recent Bureau of Justice stats about incarceration in the U.S. Thankfully, drinks were involved.

It started when he proclaimed his belief that the U.S. was "far ahead" of other countries because it incarcerates more criminals than any other. This apparently proves the the efficacy of the American justice system. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I said he couldn't possibly believe the U.S. was superior to its northern neighbour because it incarcerates people at almost seven times Canada's rate. His response? Of course; Canada is soft on crime.

Then I tried the dictator comparison card. I said, but the U.S. is imprisoning people at a rate over six times that of countries that jail people for political reasons, countries whose prison system terrifies me, such as Iran and China. His answer? Well, they're just killing all the bad people over there so no wonder the rate is so much lower.

Good lord.

Since when is "highest incarceration rate in the world" a title to which a country should aspire? The U.S. numbers are shocking. One in every 31 adults in the U.S. was in one of the nation's prisons or jails or was on probation or parole at the end of 2006. How can anyone think this is OK? All right, I guess I figured that a lot of people think that's OK, but maybe not that those people were friends of mine.

Why aren't people asking why non-violent offenders, minor drug offenders and parole violators are stuck in the prison system? Most people agree that needless imprisonment not only costs big money, but also has serious societal impacts (e.g. inability to vote, get a driver's license, or find a job, not to mention the tearing apart of families and reduction in family income). Of course, my friend had an answer for all of this too: in his mind, "those people" wouldn't have been successful at any of those things anyway.

No wonder the American educational and health care systems are so crummy. No wonder Americans think it's OK to live in fear rather than in hope. And don't even get me started on the ethnicity issues related to incarceration (and capital punishment too). Honestly, it's hard for me to be remotely optimistic about the U.S.'s future when I hear stuff like this.

As I said, thankfully, drinks were involved.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

very cold and very hot

Mighty snowstorm. All of my plans for today got cancelled, so I was all about the self-indulgence. I worked out at the gym, watched a couple of movies and read a chunk of a book, then decided to hit a yoga class. I'm bored with the style I've been practising for the last couple of years, so I decided to follow Sunny's advice and give hot yoga a shot. I went a number of years back and and walked out feeling violently ill. But that was a long time ago, and Sunny's been swearing by it, so I decided to check out the studio that's a 20-minute walk from my house.

So much snow and whipping wind. I actually wore boots, a rare event for me in the city. The 20-minute walk easily became 30 since most of the streets weren't all that clean. But there were so few cars on the streets that I was able to walk down fairly major streets in the middle of the road, a lovely rare occurrence.

Then I got out of the cold and into the heat. I got to yoga and was immediately accosted by the instructor. "You're new," she barked in an Eastern European accent. She leaned in and sniffed. "You smell like perfume or scented detergent. What do you use?" When I told her that I disliked strongly scented detergents and certainly didn't use perfume, she leaned into my hair. "OK, it's your shampoo," she barked. "This is a scent-free studio, so I need you to wash your hair with our unscented shampoo before the class. Come back to me so I can double-check your smell before you go in."

Wtf? I did what she said, she leaned in for another smell, and then I was allowed to pay for the class.

But that wasn't the end of the madness. Then she said, "I'm sick right now, so I'm not actually teaching. I've set up a tape of a really good teacher so you can follow along." I walked into the room and laughed out loud. A crappy cassette player in the corner was playing Phil Collins. Eventually the crooning turned into some guy with a Spanish accent talking a group of people through a class. We followed along. Since dude was teaching a regular class, he threw in comments to specific people, like "Denver, make sure you bend your elbows" and "Lisa, I know you're feeling light-headed, but you have to get up and try." Insert snicker here.

Craziness aside, the class was tough and I feel pretty good now, so I'm going back. I just have to remember to seek out the unscented shampoo first.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

suburban funnies

I had a Christmas brunch with some friends today. Since they're all suburban now, I had to drive a long way in Christmas traffic to get there, which sucked. But I did manage to see two funny things:

First, I saw a bumper sticker on a massive vehicle that read "My kid was student of the month at XY public school." Fantastic. You know that in our silly 'everyone's a winner' culture, every kid at the school who doesn't have a severe personality disorder has to win that thing at least once. Clearly this person's kid had only won it once, and he or she was so very proud. I couldn't help but snicker as I sped past the monstrous vehicle.

Second, I saw this sign:

danger due to
Now, I'm normally happy when someone's kind enough to warn me of upcoming danger. However, in this case, it's sort of a mystery what that danger is, since nobody filled in the white part. Doesn't it kind of defeat the purpose of the sign when you have to guess what's lurking ahead? I wondered if I should look for falling rocks, or rabid dogs, or maybe even UFOs. I actually stopped the car, planning to add something witty. Sadly, I was penless. It reminded me of the sign near the school by my house that says "wait for gap." At one point, some wry little student covered up the "ap" in "gap" and wrote over it to make "wait for godot." I think I laughed about that for months. And yes, I'm cringing as I admit that.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

yes, her again

Another convo with the colleague who sits next to me. This happened one day last week when someone had tickets to the game for her. The two of them were trying to figure out a way to get the tickets from one person to the other. Since my building's in a central location, the person with the tickets left them in my colleague's name at my front desk.

Well, my building's at a major intersection, and apparently the colleague can't figure out directions because she called me three times for advice on where to go next. That's a bit frightening, but, more importantly, here is the conversation the morning after the ticket pick-up:

Colleague: So your building's really nice, huh? I mean, I only saw the lobby, but it's great.

Me: Yeah, I guess so.

Colleague: And it's such an awesome location. You must love that. I'll bet you don't drive anywhere but work.

Me: Sure. It's just that I've just been there for a such a long time. I've been talking about moving for a while, but I can't find a place I like better to move to.

Colleague: Move?! But why would you? That doesn't make any sense.

Me: Well, I'm bored of the place and I think it's time to move on.

Colleague: I think you should stay there until you get married. Then you can move into a house somewhere.

Me [laughing]: Ummm... that won't be happening any time soon.

Colleague: But how do you know that? It might happen sooner than you think. [Pondering] You know, I could make some calls for you.

Me [heart beating in my head, sweat pouring out of all pores]: Make calls for me?! Oh no, that's OK. No, thanks. Really.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

thanks, i'll pass on the fetish party

Every girl needs to have at least one great gay male friend. I think that's a codified rule somewhere, although it may only be in some creepy yaya sisterhood. One of my faves is my hair stylist, who's been cutting my hair for about nine years. Said hair stylist and I usually spend all of my appointments laughing so hard we're crying, which means my hair has a tendency to turn out a wee bit lopsided. But it gives me character.

I have gone out with hair stylist in the past. He is great fun and exposes me to situations I don't normally encounter in my relatively sedate straight world. However, there are always two drawbacks: first, he forces me to wear makeup (ick) and second, he'll always ditch me as soon as he spots a hottie. This second drawback is another one of those codified rules: when you go out with a (normal) woman and she meets a hot guy, she'll say, "Oh, my friend is here, I have to make sure she gets home OK." When you go out with a gay guy, the minute he locks eyes with the hottie across the room, he's already forgotten you exist.

Two weeks ago stylist buddy sent me an email that said merely, "Fetish party Saturday?" Sadly (?), I had family obligations. So when I got my hair cut this afternoon, I asked how the party went. "I lined up to get spanked," he said. "The party was life-changing." He queued for a spanking?! I pondered this for a moment, then decided answers to any of the obvious questions couldn't possibly be satisfying. Instead I asked why the party was life-changing.

Apparently he walked in, alone, and made pathetic conversation with the first hot guy he saw. Hottie was wearing a kilt, and--of course--the conversation went to what was under the kilt, which--also obvious--was nothing. "Nothing" was explored, apparently for several hours. After all of this nothing, hottie said to my gay man, "You have to meet my boyfriend. He's upstairs." So they went upstairs. And a threesome ensued. And it was life-changing. I will spare you the details.

Stylist friend ended this story with, "So you see? Next time you should come."

What, pray tell, do you think I would have been doing at this party? I have no words.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

more tales of the needles

The flare-up during the weekend at the house of hell drove me back into the arms of acupuncture.

The Chinese kind seemed to be working. There were even a couple of weeks where I didn't have to go in at all because I was feeling really good. But then I was all intrigued when a colleague told me about her Japanese acupuncturist, and I've now been there twice. It hasn't yet given me the immediate relief the Chinese one gave me, but I think it's pretty cool, so I'll keep going back. I'm not sure if that's the way one should be choosing an acupuncturist, but I never claimed to be rational. Here are three fun things about my new place:

1. I called to make an appointment, then told the colleague I booked with the man. "Oh," she said, "I forgot to tell you. There is no man. There are only two women. She just sounds and looks like a man, but she's really a woman." A Japanese version of Pat? Well, I spent every minute (two appointments of 1 1/2 hours) searching for evidence of his/her gender. Facial stubble? Yes. Breasts? Seemingly no. Adam's apple? Not readily apparent. After 3 hours, the jury was still out. Apparently my next career will not be as a circus carnie guessing age, weight, or even gender.

2. The colleague neglected to tell me how to find the place. I had an address, but when I got there, there was no sign outside, just a house with a strange little stained glass specimen outside. When I (rather bravely, if I may say so) went inside, the room to which I was taken upped the sketchiness factor significantly. Three walls were painted an angry red... hardly a soothing colour for a acupuncture clinic. But--get this--the other wall consisted of insulation stapled onto what appeared to be the original interior wall. Just the insulation. I'm going to go ahead and guess that no interior designer was engaged.

3. The colleague also neglected to tell me about what Japanese acupuncture actually entails. The Chinese kind was just 18 needles being placed in the same places, then me relaxing with them in. The Japanese kind immediately seemed more frantic and activity-filled. It began with a bunch of needles going into various places--different ones from the Chinese--but then took a turn when Japanese Pat started mixing herbs, rubbing them around the base of the needles, then burning them on my skin. Yes, burning. There was fire. If I wasn't already weirded out by that, then he/she started picking spots to press in my skin that really, really hurt, then pressing into a corresponding spot somewhere completely different on my body that brought the original pain to an end. A needle was then placed in the second spot. Apparently a lot of my pain-ending spots are in my scalp. I'm not sure whether that's normal or whether I just have a magical cranium. I suppose I could do some research on this but it's more fun to speculate.


RainyBow update [Wednesday]: Have a burn mark on my stomach today. It's big.

Monday, December 10, 2007

my weekend in the house of hell

So this weekend I decided to do a good deed. A close friend is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Just to give you an idea, here are a few of the stressors in his life:

- a wife who's got a "disease" (sorry, I can't help myself because it's one of those diseases only recognized by crazy people), is addicted to Demerol, and hasn't worked a day in seven years because she's too sick to get out of bed. She doesn't do anything. Really.
- a small child <1 year old which the aforementioned wife does little to help raise
- a brother who's addicted to various narcotic substances and is currently in jail for a litany of charges that are too disturbing to explain
- parents who've decided they want nothing to do with said brother, one of whom is an alcoholic and insists on driving drunk--while the other has decided it's not worth trying to stop her
- 2 large dogs (one 70 pounds and one 95 pounds) and 2 cats, one of whom is losing his fur from stress himself. Wife does little to take care of them either.
- a massive mortgage carried on one crappy salary
There's more but you get the picture.

I decided to be a good friend and tell him and his wife to get out of the house and away for the weekend. Yes, the wife is one of the biggest stressors, but I couldn't really get her out of the equation without being an ass, so this would just have to do. Here's how the weekend went for me:

Sat, 4pm: arrival. Cats and one dog are restless. Second dog (my little buddy) is so thrilled to see me he will not remove head from my knee. Child is amusing self with paper envelope.

4:30pm: Doing once-around of house. Terrified. The place reeks, the kitchen table has disappeared under mound of random junk, the kitchen counter is completely covered with dirty dishes (while the dishwasher sits empty), the sink is full of brown, standing water, and the fridge contains things that move. There is dinner for me in the stove and I am terrified of heating it up within that den of grime. The bathroom makes me gag. Wondering how human life can be sustained here. Briefly consider hiring cleaning person to come in for day as Christmas present, but realize that he or she would need to come for a week or two to even put a dent in this. Insanity.

5:00pm: Child and I are playing mind-numbing game. I make shapes pop out of game, she pushes them back in. I make more shapes pop out, she pushes them back in. She does not tire of this. May lose my mind.

5:30pm: To distract child from I.Q. sucking game, have now retrieved toilet paper roll from garbage and am balancing it on nose. Child appears to believe this is funniest thing ever. Belly laughter. Note to self that must come over and do this whenever self esteem is low.

6:00pm: Pack up child in Baby Bjorn. Child appears to be teething and unhappy. Am now covered in drool. Leave house to take dogs on walk. 95 pound-dog tries several times to tear my arm off. 70 pound-dog takes pity on me and gives her crap. Passersby find scene highly amusing.

6:30pm: Exhausted from 1/2 hour walk. Feed dogs and cats. Dogs gorge themselves and one cat munches disdainfully. Other cat refuses to eat. I take pity and huge chunks of fur come off in my hand. Cat is clearly very ill. Feed child. Thankfully, child appears to love food. No games are necessary, nor is much wiping. Joyous moments.

7:00pm: Place child in play area. Smaller dog approaches and pukes next to leg. Briefly consider not cleaning up puke since with house in this state, friends may never notice. Then dog begins to eat own puke so I retrieve cleaning implements. Strangely, they are not hard to find.

7:30pm: Back to playing mind-numbing shapes pop-out game. Contemplate whether my repetitive role in said game may cause carpal tunnel syndrome. This could lead to "disease" where could lie in bed doing nothing for years. Interesting option.

8:00pm: Child poops, changing child. Child apparently prefers to be naked. Changing proves to be more difficult than 108 piece swirls puzzle I tackled the night before. Stressed-out cat hisses at dogs. Dogs are frightened by apparition of furless, crazed cat and start barking. So much barking. Kill me.

8:30pm: Give child bottle, put child in bed. Much fussing.

9:00pm: Dinner, movie, snacks. Cat on lap, dog's head on knee. Send text messages to ensure sanity is intact.

11pm: Dogs restless. Strap on baby monitor and take dogs out to pitch black, creepy backyard. Neighbour decides to open back door while am outside and I practically crap my pants. Find amusement in fact that I am supposed responsible adult in this situation.

11:30pm: Alcohol. Needed some.

12:00am: Read some of book, drink tea. Cat back on lap, dog's head back on knee.

1:00am: Hit the sack. Concerned about level of cleanliness of sheets, so am wearing lots of clothes. Ick.

2:00am: Wake up. Eyes on fire. Run to bathroom and see in mirror that eyes are blood red and bags under eyes have swelled to give appearance of ogre. Eager to scratch eyeballs out. Would scream but am afraid to wake child. Dirtiest house in the world has caused massive allergic reaction (I know it is not animals as I have been tested and came up negative). Rummaging through bathroom drawers, looking for allergy meds. Panicking as it is late and cannot pack up child to drive to 24 hour pharmacy.

2:15am: Text any friend who may be awake at this time of night, hoping one will be bored, sober and take pity. One calls immediately and offers to deliver Benadryl. Fantastic, life-saving friend who I will cherish until the day I die.

2:30am: Thank friend profusely, tell several stories about evening, go back to bed.

3:00am-6:00am: Restless night. Little sleep. Bitterness level very high.

6:00am: Child screaming. Eyes have improved but still want to die. Need to get out of house of hell. Pack up child and dogs and head out for long walk.

6:30am: @^%$ cold. Cannot feel butt. Must go back to house and find warmer clothing. Am afraid to wear clothing as it too cannot be clean, but must preserve warmth to remain alive.

Wow, huh?

When my friends returned in the afternoon, I pretended all was well, as any good friend would do. They had a nice little weekend while I struggled to stay alive in their house of hell. Good deeds truly don't pay.


important information

Tonight, I got an email from my gas company that says the following:

Dear Customer

Inadvertently your recent November bill did not include some important information from Sears. This information has been attached for your reference.

Please accept our apology for this oversight.

Now, I'm not sure why Sears would be sending me some important information through my gas company or what this important information could possibly be, but I find it very curious. Perhaps there is some obscure insurance I don't yet have. The possibilities are endless. Needless to say, the information is not attached.


RainyBow note: I'll bet some poor sucker lost his or her job because said important information wasn't attached. Thank goodness for that.

vanity plates might as well say NOTKUL

I am on my way home and dude in front of me has license plate NKDBRNCH. Eeeeew.

I may cause an accident or two trying to get a look at him. 20 bucks says he's got a rug.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

scale hell

Well, I've had a long weekend babysitting. (Brace yourself for that complaint later, once I've had a chance to process.) I was really looking forward to a rare evening at home tonight, alone. After the last few disappointing books, I had a more promising one and some yummy snacks in hand.

I had just settled into my chaise longue (by the window, under a blankie) when the madness began. Piano scales. Now, I probably enjoy the piano more than the average human being. I played for over an hour virtually every day of my life from the age of around 5 until around 18. I studied piano theory, I passed the teaching exam, yadda yadda. So at the beginning the scales were somewhat enjoyable, as they brought back some fond memories. They also proved to be a bit of a quiz; for a while it was fun to name the key of each scale.

Well, now it's been a few hours and I'm ready to lose my mind. Who brings a piano into a condo building? And who practises scales for hours? Do these people not understand that they share every wall with someone else? There are plenty of keyboards you can get with headphones for these types of living arrangements... or you could buy a house.

I'm going to admit that I'm a bit of a crazy person. I've already complained to the concierge downstairs, left a voicemail for building management, spoken to one of my neighbours, and re-read the condo regulations to determine if this is indeed a recognized noise violation.

I'm giving up now and going out for a drink before I hurt someone.


Friday, December 7, 2007

i'm not sure my dorsal would enjoy "stamping"

I was thinking on my walk home tonight that I could really use a massage, when I stumbled on this sign.

You can tell me all you want that it will relieve fatigue, but I'm not sure I'd want someone to "push the oil" or "stamp on the dorsal." Just sayin.'


Thursday, December 6, 2007

now we're dropping full syllables?

In a meeting today, a colleague said, "Given that this is a top priority, I'll prolly be able to push it through."

Prolly?! Of course, I've heard "probly" spoken in the past, but never "prolly."

This is either due to laziness or a lack of pride in the language. Or maybe both. It's definitely not a case of the language evolving to meet modern realities, like the recent reigning in of hyphenation.

Whenever I rant about misuses such as this, someone inevitably comments that more people speak English as a second/ third/ fourth language than any other language in the world, which is supposed to explain some of the bastardization. But in my experience, those who learn later, who learn the language not just because it's there but because they've chosen to, are the ones who actually take pride in it and speak more correctly.

I vote we get ourselves some language police. Did you know the French refer to the members of their Académie française as "the immortals?" Yup, that more than a bit weird, but at least it's a sign of how much they value their language... prolly.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

a sure sign your day's gonna suck

I (stupidly) decided to turn up the hot water in the shower this morning. With shampoo on my head and running down my face, I couldn't really see, but I reached down and turned the faucet.

The hot water thingamajiggie came off in my hand.

Water everywhere. Hot water. It took much time and cunning to get it off, or at least sort of off. (Yes, I tried the main water switch but I couldn't budge the thing. Brute force is not exactly one of my attributes.) I'm glad nobody--especially small children--was here to see and hear me as it wasn't my finest moment.

I love home ownership. Now I'm waiting for the plumber...


RainyBow update (mid afternoon): I live next to a major hotel that's always teeming with activity. Today, staring out of my window in a moment of work boredom, I saw a procession of limos (20+) parking outside. Curious, I popped down to see what was going on. On my way back up (sadly, without even a tidbit of exciting information), a guy in the elevator with me hit the button for his floor, then spilled coffee all the way down the elevator buttons. This seemed to shortcircuit something and the elevator stopped. Not one of the buttons worked. Thankfully, we were able to get the concierge to restart the elevator manually.

Ridiculous day. Seriously. I'm afraid to go to my planned dinner out tonight.

Monday, December 3, 2007

facebook foolishness

My cousin got a puppy recently. Let me explain about my cousin first before I get into this post. She is quite possibly the vainest, most selfish person alive. She is also one of those people who is constantly complaining that she has no money and can't afford anything. You might be feeling sorry for her about now, except that she makes about $1oo/hr, has no kids, and her car is fully paid for. She lives in a apartment that is super cheap while she is waiting for her condo to be built. She's a label whore. A pauper she ain't.

All I have been hearing from her is how expensive dog food is, how she doesn't want to pay for a dog walker, how expensive it was to leave the dog for a week while we were away and on and on.

Anyhoo....Her sister was telling me that she got a 'poke' on Facebook from the dog. errkkkk. Rewind. I must have had a 'what you talking bout willis' look on my face cause she repeated herself. Turns out that the vain cousin has put up a Facebook profile for her dog. The dog sends email, updates his page, and has 29 friends. I am not making this up.

In case you need a refresher, I detest Facebook
. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why a dog needs a facebook profile; I have enough trouble figuring out why a human does. What is this world coming to.

For the record, my dogs do not have web profiles or email addresses.


RainyBow note: Ah, delightful facebook. Last week I was poked by someone I apparently went to school with when I was seven. I say 'apparently' because I recall neither his name nor the name of the person he says was our teacher, most probably because I was seven. At any rate, I clicked through to his profile out of sheer curiosity. Although I have no idea who this person is, it's great that he's gay, out and proud of it. His page is littered with photos of and references to his many conquests. This is lots of information, given that I really have no clue who he is.

(And I'm not gonna lie; I shuddered a bit, thinking of what a similar page would look like for me, should I ever succumb to facebook tmi syndrome. Ugh.)

another office convo: kissing gay strangers

OK, I know I goad her, but your-boyfriend-might-turn-gay colleague amuses me so. Here is today's conversation.

Colleague: You know, I had the strangest dream last night.

Me: Oh yeah, what happened?

Colleague: Well, I was in this Japanese restaurant sitting on the floor with no shoes on, you know, in one of those private rooms, and I was with these two gay guys and they kept trying to kiss me.

Me: Gay guys you know, or gay guys you don't know?

Colleague: Complete strangers.

Me: So was it a peck on the cheek or a stick-their-tongue-down-your-throat experience?

Colleague: The tongue thing. And I kept trying to fight them off but they kept trying to kiss me. [giggling] I wonder if that makes me gay.

Me: Well, I'm not sure it makes you gay, since you're a woman and you were kissing men. But it might make you transsexual.

Colleague [giggling]: Oooh, that's a good explanation.

Me: ...except that you've had biological children, which means it's impossible for you to be a transsexual.

Colleague [sadly]: Oh, really? That's too bad.


Sunday, December 2, 2007

ultramarathoning or candy?

Rash update: left arm all better, right arm improved but not quite there yet. I've eaten a lot of candy this weekend.

To get myself pumped up about (eventually) getting back on the road, I've been thinking about training for a new race next year. I did some research and found some pretty weird stuff. Did you know there are a handful of people who run a 3,100 mile race around one city block in Queens, New York, every summer? Yes, 3,100 miles, otherwise known as almost 5,000 km. They do this over 51 days, logging over 60 miles (yes, that's roughly 100 km) a day.

I'm breaking out into a bit of a sweat, btw, because this post is getting kinda math-test-stressful.

Every day, the crazy people start running at 6am and they stop at around midnight. And they keep circling the same block continuously, for the full 51 days. For added fun, this is in the summer, and NYC can get pretty darn hot.

Who the hell are these people? Seriously. I feel they should all come to my house, lie on one of my couches, and eat some candy with me. As I've learned over the past few days, candy is delicious. Running over 60 miles a day for 51 days is not.

It's called the Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race, which imho is a pretty crappy-sounding name when compared to Sour Patch Kids or Swedish Fish. The race is the brainchild of this guy, Sri Chinmoy,

sri chinmoywho was (he died recently) a meditation centre owner of Bangladeshi origin. The first fact you need to know is that he claimed he could live on 90 minutes of sleep every day and lift more than 7,000 pounds with each arm. The second fact you need to know is that he didn't seem to actually do the runs himself.

Candy, people. Delicious. And my couches are pretty darn comfy too.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

world AIDS day

I was lucky enough to be in South Africa earlier this year. I loved what I saw of the country, but also found it hard to visit a country so ravaged by HIV/AIDS. Experts estimate that somewhere from one in four to one in five people in the country are infected. Shocking.

There are so many frightening stats, too many to list. In a snapshot... About half of all deaths in the country, and 71% of deaths among those between 15 and 49, are caused by AIDS. Two years ago, there were an estimated 1.2 million children orphaned by AIDS, and over half of the country's 15 year olds are not expected to reach the age of 60. South Africans spend more time at funerals than they do having their hair cut, shopping or having braai (and they love their braai!).

These are shocking numbers for a country with the infrastructure and wealth of South Africa. I can only start to guess at some of the many contributing factors:
- social instability in a country that's been distracted by major political changes
- poverty amongst the large rural population who have little to no access to medical care
- something like 14% illiteracy
- a high incidence of rape, leaving women frequently in unprotected situations. Not that long ago, one in three women in the country reported being raped in the previous year
- the fact that the virus hasn't affected those in power, both politically and in business, as much as it has the rest of the population. Estimates indicate infection among whites is as low as 0.6%

Perhaps more fundamental is government inaction, compounded by ignorance among those in power. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence, President Mbeki may still not be convinced that HIV causes AIDS. His former health minister promoted a beetroot, garlic and lemon diet as a means of treating HIV. And his one-time deputy President publically stated that he showered after sexual relations with an HIV-positive woman, believing that this would reduce his chances of contracting the virus.

The tide may be turning; Mandela is now more of an advocate since his son died of AIDS in 2005. South Africa is also investing in a national advertising campaign, some of which I saw when I was there.

don't want HIV generation
But it's too little, too late, for so many people in South Africa. How sad, for a country that could have and should have done better for its people.

In unrelated medical news, I keep reading about this poor guy with his botched colostomy reversal. How much would it suck to have your surgeon mix up which which stuff comes out of which end? Did buddy miss that class at med school?