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Last Night of Wisdom (Includes Funeral Instructions)

September 18, 2014

In an ideal world, the human mouth wouldn’t even exist, but here we are, friends and lovers, on the eve of Zahnarztpraxisfest 2014. “Hey,” said the oral surgeon, “how about I hook you up to an IV and drug you unconscious and rip out all four of your extremely well-rooted wisdom teeth and then you pay me $2000 and stagger home and eat nothing but soup for several days?” It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Actual True Story: I’ve set my alarm for 2:30 (“tooth hurty”) a.m. so I can get up and chug a litre of coffee before 3:30, when the six-hour food and drink cutoff period begins. Because goddamn it, if I wake up with a caffeine deprivation migraine on top of all the other shit I will finally have no choice but to explode with rage at the bullshit of embodiment. Literal guts and brains splattered across the walls of the recovery room. Six flavours of soup in my fridge and pantry cupboard–carrot ginger, cup of noodles, chicken noodle, bean and bacon, Thai coconut, southwestern spicy chipotle cowboy corn chowder–never to be painfully consumed. To say nothing of the miles upon miles of pudding cups, and the econo-sized bottle of pulpy green soylent liquid that I don’t even know what the fuck it is. (“Healthy,” says the label. Ugh.)

Dental surgery might be my #1 nightmare. Definitely right up there. I do thank Zeus every day that I was born in the time period that I was born in and not at any time in the past, and the invention of anesthesia is near the top of my list of reasons (big ups, Crawford W. Long), yet this experience is pretty much guaranteed to blow an Aeschylean chorus of goats irregardless.

Oh hey, this isn’t related to the topic, so feel free to deduct points, but one of the CBC Canada Writes poems is being read on the radio. Note to self: don’t enter that contest again. You writes, but you isn’t Canada, and that’s okay, little friend. Just be yourself and keep up the whatever you’re doing, because your work is going to be soooo well received some day. (It’ll be sometime after you die, most likely an ironically short time after. Like possibly just days or weeks after. The kind of timing that would have made you kick yourself if you were alive. But still, right?)

Now back to the oral surgery post. If I survive I’m going to make a necklace from the teeth. That’s the main thing in my life that I’m looking forward to right now, walking back into my classroom with that necklace on. At the same time I know it’s not really possible because as if the dude is going to get the teeth out in one piece, what with the (I’m told) impressive length of the roots and the hardness of the bone (heh, I would say, if I had a sense of humour right now) and the perilous proximity of certain roots to certain nerves. They’ll have to be chipped and chopped into submission. Fragments of wisdom. I’ll sprinkle them under my pillow tomorrow night in the hope of finding a $2000 cheque from the Tooth Fairy the following morning.

If I don’t survive, please avenge my death. Also, I want all of the following at my funeral:

  • no church music
  • a hand-painted sarcophagus depicting the major events of my life
  • a hilarious eulogy (roast style)
  • an open bar (all drinks are free except wine, which costs $8)
  • everyone line dancing to the best of their ability to “Cadillac Ranch”
  • a bouncy castle
  • nobody wearing uncomfortable shoes–it’s not a fucking job interview for crying out loud
  • a group photo with everyone pretending something is their cock
  • kittens
  • southwestern spicy chipotle cowboy corn chowder (“She *sniff* loved that soup so much”)

The rest is up to the party planning committee. Whoever ends up being elected to it, I trust they’ll do a great job. Oh, and just F their I, I don’t want to be mummified, despite the sarcophagus; I want to be cremated and then have my ashes shot into space.

Five hours until coffee time. Cinnamon cocks.

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11 years, 10 months, and 2 days: a mewlogy

August 10, 2014

Back before I became Vancouver’s least smilingest ESL teacher and most unpublished writer, I spent a bunch of time studying super useful things in Calgary, or as it is known to most Calgarians, “C-Town.” Having spent four years living in university residence and one living with a friend who became rather unbalanced and finally moved out of our place after four crazy and tense months during which I basically never left my tiny bedroom lest I accidentally run into her and, e.g., be accused of attempted murder or incur bizarre retribution for sitting on her couch, I found a nice one-bedroom apartment ten minutes from campus and moved in at the start of the school year in 2002. I recall that the rent was $699, which holy shit, because out of curiosity I have just now gone to the property management company’s website and found that apartments in that complex now rent for $1260. Good flaming gravy Christmas.

Anyway, more or less the first thing I did after moving in was go to the information commons at the library and start creeping the profiles of available cats on the MEOW Foundation website. Cat ownership had been a lifelong dream of mine in much the same way as home ownership is for some people.

The standout was Midnight, a black cat with wonderful feet (five extra toes! five!!) and a sad history of abuse. I will stop here and ask one of the Great Questions of My Life: What the fuck is wrong with people? Because who goes out and gets a cat just to treat it like shit? If you don’t like cats, how about you just don’t get one? That was three questions, but anyway. Midnight’s profile said that she disliked other cats, was skittish around humans and jumpy in general. Challenge accepted, I said to her telepathically as I filled out the adoption application.

On October 1, she was dropped off at my place for a one-month no-obligation free trial. The adoption counselor advised me to keep her in one room rather than giving her the run of my apartment; she would hide otherwise. I pointed out that my place was “only 650 square feet” (at the time the number seemed small; I couldn’t know it would turn out to be the largest place I would ever be able to afford) and that I had no furniture other than a lamp, a TV stand, and needless to say, an IKEA Poang chair. Where could she hide?

The next morning I woke up and found that Sappho (rechristened as soon as the adoption counselor left) was hiding. I spent half an hour looking for her everydamnwhere, getting more and more freaked out as this was technically not my cat and I had somehow managed to lose her within 12 hours, and it wasn’t like she was a kitten or something, like, Jesus, she was a plus-sized adult cat. I really didn’t have any furniture, and I was confused as fuck as I checked every possible cat hiding spot in my apartment, including the cupboards, fridge, hallway, and balcony, 47 times. Finally I found her wedged under my TV stand, which from the front looked as though it extended right to the floor but at the back turned out to have just enough space for a big-boned cat to slip herself under.

The adoption was made official a month after she was first dropped off. She was slowly learning how to relax and beginning to show me affection in ways that suited her. She would step up onto my bed (I say “step up” because it was just a mattress on the floor—seriously, I had no furniture) and sleep beside me for exactly ten minutes every night before heading off to do her own thing. She would come say hello or at least meow something at me from the couch when I got home.

We lived in the decadent balconied 650 square-foot apartment for three years. Sappho’s anxiety level decreased to a point where most of the time she seemed like a pretty normal cat–until the phone rang or there was unexpected noise in the hallway or a person who wasn’t me had the audacity to enter the apartment. She spent hours flopped over the arm of the couch, one paw hanging off either side. She loved rolling around in the dust on the balcony, especially at night, and struck porn-star poses that she held for as long as it took for me to notice what she was doing and tell her how cute she was. Although she hated to be picked up and wasn’t a lap cat, she enjoyed wedging herself between my leg and the side of the couch when I was working or reading. She would sit near my feet and “pet” them with my tail as I worked on essays, marked exams, watched TV. She woke me up at sunrise most mornings with a polite but insistent request for breakfast.

In the fall of 2005, we moved to Seattle. The least said about the two years I spent there the better; I will say only that Sappho was there through every day I spent trying to negotiate the elementary school social hierarchy of my department, every 14-hour workday, every day lost to the fog of yet another different medication. After every pointless date, after every so-called platonic hangout that was later revealed to be actually a date, Sappho was there. The day I e-mailed, for the first time, the half-sister I hadn’t known existed, Sappho was four feet away, sprawled across the loveseat. She was there the day I decided to leave my PhD, leave the city, give back half of a four-year SSHRC fellowship, move back to Calgary, and restart my life, and despite the upheaval it created for her, this cat accepted the decision with less complaint or confusion than many of the humans in my life expressed at the time.

Sappho was my roommate and friend through seven moves to and from and within three cities, two degrees, two certificates, the lowest, saddest, most drunk, most fun, most stressful, most fucked-up, most important and most meaningful times of my life. Through ballsy decisions, unemployment, excessive employment, shitty employment, creepy landlords, lost friendships, and weird bullshit of all descriptions, there was Sappho. Whenever I was hung over and lying motionless on the couch, or passed out with a migraine, there was Sappho, who always knew when I was unwell and would abjure her 10-minute physical contact time limit in order to sleep beside me until I recovered.

I will, out of respect, not describe in detail the time I found her “hiding” under a plant, her entire gigantic butt end still totally hanging out onto the sidewalk, while a crow stood on the fence nearby and beaked her off. I will almost completely pass over the night I came into the kitchen for water and saw, upon turning on a light, my cat being chased around the living room by a spider. Let’s just say that while Sappho had many fine and noble qualities, she was not endowed with the usual feline feelings toward birds and insects.

This past March, during the week I was packing for our most recent move, Sappho got sick. At first I thought it was anxiety from the move, but her health got dramatically worse two weeks after we moved in and I took her to the vet. She was diagnosed with pancreatitis, which in hindsight she must have had off and on for many years. After a week of painkillers and anti-nausea medication and a switch to prescription food, she was much better: expressed in terms of “Shaft” lyrics, she was the cat who wouldn’t cop out when there was pancreatitis all about.

But she never went back to 100%; something was still a bit off. More and more often I’d come home to find her sleeping on the floor rather than on one of the armchairs that she normally parked herself on during the day. She no longer came to pester me for breakfast in the morning, and she stopped coming to sit on the bed with me when I was working or reading there—a part of my routine that she’d always looked forward to before. She never hung out on the perch at the top of her scratching post anymore, even though the new view was a million times better than the old one. I blamed all this on the toll taken by years of undiagnosed illness, on old age (she was around 70 in cat years), on our move and the resulting changes in routine. But in July she became less and less interested in food, and by the end of the month she was eating almost nothing and was losing weight quickly. She slept behind one of the chairs a lot and had little energy. Her meow was quieter and I’d catch her wheezing occasionally.

Last Saturday I took her back to the vet. He noticed that she was straining to breathe in an alarming way that I’d never seen before, and after a physical exam revealed no obvious problems he gave me the option of doing an x-ray, a blood test, or both. He recommended an x-ray over a blood test because we could get the results immediately, whereas with a blood test I’d have to wait over the long weekend. With the condition she was in, three days suddenly seemed like a long time.

A few minutes later I was called in to see the x-ray. For context, the vet showed me the x-rays of several healthy cats. The shape of their lungs was clear and their hearts were easily visible. Sappho’s chest, in comparison to theirs, was a blizzard. The heart was nowhere to be found and her lungs were an almost complete white-out. While he didn’t want to make an official diagnosis, the vet told me that this was unlikely to be infection as her temperature was normal, and that it was therefore probably cancer. “How does a cat get lung cancer?” I asked, pointing out with my impeccable exactly-wrong joke timing that she was not a smoker. He said it probably wasn’t lung cancer but rather cancer of the thymus. I could take her to the emergency clinic and have a bunch of tests done to confirm what I could see clearly in the x-ray, and then maybe have some invasive procedure done that could maybe make her more comfortable for maybe a couple weeks or so–but ultimately this appeared to be a terminal situation. He apologized for the bad news, I told him it wasn’t his fault and thanked him for having had the idea to do an x-ray, and we scheduled euthanasia for the Tuesday after the long weekend. The emotional shape I was in as I left the office need not be described. I was grateful, if nothing else, that I was not in a position of having to make a choice. I had always worried that Sappho would develop an illness that could be treated, but at a cost that exceeded my resources. Thankfully, the x-ray made it clear that no amount of money could change the story’s ending.

I had hoped she could hold out over the long weekend, but the next day she grew worse and I could see that she was really struggling to breathe—wanting to sleep, but constantly having to shift her position or stand up to catch her breath. I couldn’t see any reason to let this continue for two more days, nor was I willing to leave her alone in that condition while I was at work on Tuesday. Very reluctantly and after crying four thousand (more) times, I called the emergency clinic to find out what the procedure and cost would be if I brought her in later that day.

We left for the clinic in a cab half an hour later (Sappho went willingly into her carrier—an unheard-of event), and half an hour after that I walked home without her. The whole thing took maybe five seconds. She was sweet and cooperative with the technician who inserted the catheter. Before and during the injections, she voluntarily sat on my lap for the first time ever.

For a week now I’ve been returning to a catless home every day after work. I come in, I don’t have to step around a trail of litter. I can sit in whichever chair I like without having to talk anyone into getting out of it. Nobody follows me into the bathroom, horks up hairballs, cleans her butt in front of me while I eat dinner, or wakes me up at 5:30 a.m. I haven’t had to vacuum all week. It’s total bullshit. I can’t believe people voluntarily live this way. I’ve submitted an application to an adoption agency and am hoping to put an end to this foolishness by the first week of September.

There’s no replacing Sappho. She was the cat love of my life. But I’m looking forward to meeting my next little friend, showing her around, and seeing where it goes.

Friends and lovers, if you have a pet, give him/her a hug. Or a treat. Or leave your bathroom door open a crack next time, if s/he’s into that sort of thing. If you don’t have a pet and are living somewhere where you could and have ever considered adopting one: do it. Even during the longest long weekend of your life, you won’t regret it.

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If We’re Being Honest, I Probably Wouldn’t Seriously Have Sex with Thomas Cromwell Right Now

May 10, 2014

No doubt we’re just one philosophy grad student away from definitively unraveling the mystery, but for now, nobody really comprehends what the fuck time is. It exists too silently and behindly to be confronted head-on. It’s always creeping through. We don’t really notice it, and then we really do.

More and more often lately I come across competitions and courses and prizes for “young writers,” opportunities I’m too old to even hypothetically consider submitting to or applying for. Rebeginning your life has certain numerical consequences; I didn’t start writing for realsies until I was 27. I’m less and less interested in editing, let alone publishing, the manuscript draft I finished at 28: at first I was eager to start shopping it around, I guess to “prove” that I was a “real” writer or some shit, but now I see it more as a test of my seriousness, emotionally necessary and professionally useful, a fruitful scrapyard for future projects—but not as my first book. I’m busy with my jobs, I’m hard on myself, my mental health is what it is. I’m psychologically allergic to self-promotion. I write in fragments, I think forever before I connect them, I connect them in strange ways, then I edit them for 200 years. These are not characteristics of a high-output, “top 40 under 40” kind of writer. Top 90 over 90 is a more realistic list for me to shoot for.

It’s not that I feel old, exactly. Of course every morning while getting ready for work I notice the assorted physical deteriorations and ominous foreshadowings that everyone my age notices, and of course in those creased grey subtly saggy moments I give a mental eff finger to the aging process that turns every body into gravity’s floppy playground. Anyone who says they don’t mind watching themselves (“themselves,” is that where we’re at in the gender-neutral reflexive pronoun debate these days?) age is a damn liar. But I know I’m nowhere close to old, objectively. I felt older when I was a kid than I do now.

If anything, I feel like I’ve spent my adulthood getting younger and younger. It’s as though I’m on the wrong side of a lengthening bridge and it’s too late for me to start trying to cross it. Since creating this blog I’ve made 453,000 jokes about being a spinster and hating dating and whatnot, but let’s see how it looks with the rhyme and implied cat humour removed: I’m 34 years old and I’ve never been in a relationship.

Before you ask: I’m pretty sure I’m just fine to look at. Strangers have bought me drinks. I’ve been asked out by friends, colleagues, and Skytrain passengers alike. Verily, academic and professional authority figures have been known to flirt unto me. Sometimes after doing a reading I’m taken aside and asked for my phone number and/or e-mail address. Yes. Yet: without involving my toes, I can count the number of dates I’ve been on. Some were platonic and pleasant, a couple were awkward, one was downright awful, and only one–my first date, in 1999–ended with a kiss (uncomfortable, unwanted, and unreturned). Long, long ago in the distant past (i.e., 2005) there was a short series of makeouts—all with the same person, none sober. In fact I was so drunk on all four of those occasions that I had no memory, the next morning, of how they started or what they felt like. And I had no desire, the next morning, to repeat them. I spent the night at that person’s house three platonic times and one comically unsuccessful semi-unplatonic one. And that’s it.

Over the years I’ve lost several very close friends who had told me they weren’t attracted to me but then at some point changed their minds, or who actually were platonic friends but then kicked me to the curb at the instigation of a new romantic partner, or who weren’t ready for a relationship and needed a sort of nonphysical but emotionally exclusive “rest area” to safely hang out in until they could move on (with someone else), and I experienced each of those losses as a breakup. I say “breakup” despite not knowing how a real breakup feels. I say “breakup” because it’s the closest word to the true word and the true word doesn’t exist. We name what we comprehend; we name what is. I’ve studied my language, among others, in depth, and can find no words for a great deal of what I am and what I experience. I feel less and less describable, and by extension less and less human.

For some reason I feel like I can’t, or shouldn’t, talk or write about this without padding it with humour and flippancy. Why? Because it hurts to think about it. Because I don’t want to admit the growing impact it has on my life. Because I don’t want to make my friends and family uncomfortable. Because it’s unpleasant to take on this much vulnerability, even in a blog post that twelve people will read. [Twelve AWESOME people. –Ed.]

Every day I feel more separate from my peers and even from my closest friends, all of whom are, probably needless to say, in relationships or looking for relationships or looking for different relationships or at the very least looking for sex. I constantly find myself in bizarro, unnavigable social situations that do no favours for my already high levels of introversion and anxiety. Mazillions of times I’ve found myself trying to explain to a married friend over coffee the grief of having just broken up with (or whateverthefuck) someone I never dated or even touched. Or trying to bitch in a witty and accessible way about how I felt the other night at a party to which every other guest had brought a partner. Or trying to describe without Clint Eastwood-like “get off my lawn” old person rancor how alienating and frankly exhausting it is to know that any time I attend a social event I’ll be the only one there who is not simply “not seeing anyone right now,” but who never hasn’t been single.

I like to tell myself this isn’t about whether there’s another person in my bed or not, but it is of course very much about that. I’ve known people who actually can’t imagine going a month without sex. A month! Actually! In her first book, my mentor from the writing program I took at SFU has a poem about a time when she had to be away from her partner for one night and how difficult it was. One night! I know that in a poem you can totally just write whatever, but I’m pretty sure that one was based on real events and feelings. Occasionally someone tells me I “just haven’t found the right person.” I also occasionally say that to myself or to someone else, usually when I feel like I need to shut down my inner monologue or an awkward conversation. But it’s ridiculous. With all due respect to me, my brain obviously isn’t functioning like other people’s intercourse-wise. Even if I went out tonight and found a/the “right person,” someone who wasn’t put off by the statistical anomalies, who didn’t perceive me as a project or a curiosity, and who I actually wanted to bring home (which is the biggest hindrance of them all), that still wouldn’t begin to solve the problem. It’s not because of cruel fate that I am where I am. There’s not some magical person out there who’s going to show up and put an end to all this. I’ve missed out on things, I’ve failed to accrue certain basic common human experiences, and if they were to happen to me at this stage of my life they would, necessarily, happen in atypical ways and would likely have atypical consequences for both parties. I worry that even if I were to somehow find myself in a relationship it would be short-lived because I’d be useless or exasperating, on a practical level, as a partner. There are many respects in which I’m not 34, and there’s nothing I or anyone else can do about that.

I have a vivid memory of my best friend telling me, shortly after we met, about being pursued by a guy who was interested in her but had never had a girlfriend. She found him frustrating and declined the offer. As she put it to me, putting it to him (I assume these weren’t the words she really used at the time but rather a condensed and de-euphemized explanation of why she rejected him): “ ‘I don’t want to have to teach you.’ ” She’d been 19 or 20 at the time. I don’t want to have to teach you. Quite a sentence. If that’s how one of the kindest and biggest-hearted people I know felt at 20, how does a more averagely kind and normal-size-hearted person feel at 30 to 40?

In a sense I become more mythical every day. Ladies like me hang out in classical literature, not at pubs in Vancouver. Female virginity has weight; it impresses, in both senses of the word. It works for Artemis because she’s nonhuman and forever 21. It works in some men’s (and women’s? but no, yeah, especially men’s) sexual fantasies, but as far as I can tell those storylines aren’t, let’s say, overly realistic, and they tend to end with the climax. The denouement is nothing but questions. Of what physical/emotional value is she to him one minute later? Are they still hanging out the next week? What does he say to his friends? (Do I want to know?)

As bullcrappy as the interpersonal stuff is, what bothers me more is that I feel unentitled and unqualified to write about the things that are—or so I keep hearing—most universal and most vital to human experience. The whole point of writing is communication, connection, coming together (figuratively!) at the middle of the bridge. If I can’t manage my half of the trip, I ask myself oftener and oftener these days, then what the fuck am I doing trying to be a writer at all?

(After the Banff Centre Week of Crying last April I told myself I wouldn’t spend any more money on writing courses until I got some therapy: a promise I’ve kept so far, in that I’ve done neither.)

I wonder, am I capable of creating a novel with psychologically credible and accessible characters? What business do I have attempting to write about love? Every time I try, I end up with a poem about language. And okay, fair enough, I do fucking love language; words are the business. But independently of emotions they don’t suffice, and nobody wants to read a poem about a 34-year-old woman making figurative love to a dictionary. I feel stalled, incomprehensible, messed up in a way I can’t quite articulate.

I’m not ending this with a proper ending because if it had reached one I wouldn’t be where I am. I don’t know what an end to this would look like. I can only hope I’ll have found out by the time the 2070 Top 90 over 90 list is posted on the Geist website.

I LIKE TO MOVE IT MOVE IT

March 29, 2014

Well then.

As two dryers churn their loads beneath me and the soapy air seeps through my heater and into my sinuses and the usual Saturday night nonsense gets underway in neighbouring suites and Dr. McThumperson upstairs celebrates the recent completion of his doctoral studies in the manner to which he is accustomed, I could not be more thrilled to report that this is my last night in this place and tomorrow morning some professional men are coming with a truck and will be loading all my emboxificated possessions into it and driving them to a different and much quieter and homier place with six times more windows, at which point they will take the things out of the truck in burly fashion and put them inside the place and as they drive away I will stand in one of the six streams of sunlight that are now mine and heave a relieved sigh that will echo across the land.

Q: Shouldn’t you be packing instead of writing a blog post?

A: You don’t have even the start of a clue how organized I am, and don’t interrupt me again.

Long long ago, someone whose purpose in my life apparently was to get the ball rolling on the complete annihilation of my identity that was about to go down tried to talk me out of my shameless fatalism using a combination of logical arguments and embarrassment attempts–like, “You have a Master’s in philosophy and yet you actually believe in fate?” kind of thing. “It’s just a literary device” and whatever. Yawn. I don’t even know what to say to someone who can’t easily see that fatalism is my destiny. I was a believer by the third week of my first undergraduate mythology course. I only did that damned philosophy degree because I was 23 and I didn’t want to commit to a PhD, plus I had friends for the first time since early childhood and I couldn’t leave them because there was so much more I wanted to learn about pleasant human social interactions, plus I’d spent the past six years wanting to work with the professor I wrote my thesis with. Other than cats, fatalism is the only thing in my life that has ever made any damn sense and please have that carved on my headstone when I die, including the cat part.

I spent January 10th through March 19th–minus the time I spent being in Mexico and then having the ear infection [eye roll] I brought home–trolling Craigslist like it was my third job. (If anyone has any questions about what’s currently available for rent in any area of Vancouver and how long it’s been on the market and what it costs and how that price compares to the price of every other rental suite in the city, by all means get in touch.) Along the way, I applied for two places, one of which I was promised and then lost in a dumbassed series of miscommunications, another of which I was rejected for and don’t know why but fortunately something even sadder happened that day so I didn’t have a lot of energy to invest in thinking about why that building manager picked someone else. It was much more expensive than my current place but I’d resigned myself to paying at least $100 more, and probably more, if I wanted something quiet and decent that would make the expense and stress of moving worthwhile.

So last Wednesday I saw a posting for an absolutely lovely, abnormally reasonably priced suite in a heritage house, and I told myself that if it was still posted when I got home from work the next day then fuck it, I was going to scrape together some hope and try for a viewing. Sure enough, there it still was, now with even more even lovelier photos added. I called the owner/landlord immediately and by coincidence he happened to be at the place and encouraged me to come down right away because a bunch of people had scheduled viewings for the evening and it would be snapped up by one of them for sure. Well I get there and it’s friggin’ fantastic and the landlord is so freakin’ kind and the current tenant is awesome and both of them love cats (can’t go wrong with cat people), and in response to my timid request for an application form (knowing how many people apply for places, in particular comparatively inexpensive and attractive ones, I was trying to keep from making it obvious to him or to myself how much I wanted this one) he said, “No no. You want it, it’s yours. I’ve been doing this a long time and I can tell you’re a good person.”

Thus and so. A new lease. (*cough*FATE*cough*)

My landlord then gave me a ride home (!) from the house since he had a meeting nearby, and we had a great conversation on the way, and I couldn’t help but compare him very favourably to certain douchebags I’ve rented from in the past, with their early morning “How did you sleep?” phone calls and willingness to take me out for lunch but not to fix drafty windows in the dead of winter or address major plumbing problems.

Since then I’ve been communicating with the current tenant, who has done everything possible to help me out with things and happens to have moved out today, which means I can move in tomorrow and didn’t have to try to weasel out of work on Monday morning. I thought having to organize and pull off a move in a week and a half would launch my life into chaos, but no. Everything’s worked out perfectly and I’m ready to go and here I am writing a damn blog post 13 hours before the muscular gentlemen arrive. Painless. The only legitimately terrible part has been cleaning the stove, which was not dissimilar to that bathtub scene in Season 1 of Breaking Bad. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If  it says “CORROSIVE” on the bottle, it probably is corrosive.

I didn’t realize until I got home from that viewing last Thursday how fucking badly I needed to get out of here, how fucking much I needed something good to happen, and, overarching all that, how fucking necessary it was that I quit accepting whatever bullshit was being handed to me and instead go forth and harvest some well-earned respect from the universe.

It’s not just the sweet new suite; everything is going unusually well. A few weeks ago I was approved for some useful stuff at the bank and, with the help of an account manager who was patient enough to sit there and explain basic financial shit to me for an entire hour (Her, pointing at a not unsubstantial dollar amount on a computer screen: “Look how much you would have saved on your taxes if you’d done this before the end of last year.” Me: “CINNAMON COCKS!!”), have put my very small amount of money to work. Every day I look at my balance and it’s like Tiny Christmas. I ordered some personal finance books (Millionaire Teacher, eh? [tents fingers like Monty Burns]) and am looking forward (?!) to reading them and devising some schemes. I have a teaching practicum student for this month and she’s given me some kickass compliments that appear to be genuine. My students are totally picking up what I’m putting down lately, and the head teacher has informed me without provocation that I’m doing a quote unquote great job.

What’s behind all the reasonably priced sunshine and rainbow-cocked unicorns? The same thing that’s responsible for almost all the dramatic/life-changing/important stuff that happens to human beings: heartbreak. I don’t know you at all, probably, so here’s the short, impersonal version: I’m way-above-averagely prone to undefinable hybrid friendlationships that start off really soft and comforting, plus come with an undertow of secrecy and exclusivity that’s dangerously easy for a person with my temperament and history to choose to get sucked into. I tell myself that this time it’s going to be nothing like last time because I’m older and smarter and more self-aware than I was back then, and also this is a totally different person, blah blah blah, naive this and irrelevant that–but as quickly and inevitably as always, I end up right back in Shit Lake. Months (years, even) of treating each other unfairly while pretending everything is fine pass before I realize the full crappy extent of the situation and how badly it’s fucking with me, and by then it’s a sad ridiculous exhausting challenge to get out of it.

Until recently, that’s where I was, putting a crap ton of my energy into staying afloat, miserable yet either unable to figure out or unwilling to admit why life stunk. As if there could be any bigger effort-waste and energy-suck than trying not to lose someone you’ve already lost and/or never had. I guess finally I got to a point where I just had to let shit go. Add another platonic breakup to my resume, cry an undisclosed number of times, and, in between acute regret attacks and periods of sudden onset guiltitis, go find a better place to be.

So then. If you could grab a box as you leave, that would be great.

 

My Pipe (It’s Shriekin’ [for You, Girl])

February 9, 2014

Okay, so, friends and lovers, I think we can all agree that the most accurate description of me containing a hyphenated word, a split infinitive, and a portmanteau would be “good-natured optimist who never fails to immediately perceive the positive side of a shituation.” That’s why I’m so goddamned pleased to report that the pipes running along the ceiling of this building’s laundry room, which awesomely is located directly below my apartment, have been screaming–YES, I SAID SCREAMING!!!–for the past 24 hours. Screaming! Practically nonstop! Great!

Yeah girl.
Can you hear that?
Kinda like how it sounds when someone’s takin’ a shower in the apartment next door but more shrill and constant yo?
All up in your ears kinda like a mosquito but much much muthafuckin’ louder?
And you put in earplugs but it don’t change shit ’cause the sound just travels right on through?
Well baby,
you know me pretty good by now,
so I probably don’t have to tell you that that’s my pipe,
and it’s shriekin’.
Yeeeahhh, it’s shriekin’ for you girl,
Like
[falsetto begins] Eeeeeeeeeee,
I want you so bad baby
Come over to my place for dinner
I’ll prepare a well-balanced meal and we can talk about how our lives have been going since we last hung out,
then I’ma tap that,
eeeeeeeeeee!

Roll up to yo’ place and I’m ready for some lovin’
‘Cause I just graduated from Vancouver School of Plumbin’.
I done learned how to screw, drill, hammer and caulk.
I ain’t seen you in a while so I don’t really wanna talk.
Expensive dress? Three-course dinner? Girl, you better toss it.
We both know I ain’t no lady, but tonight I’m Farrah Faucet.
Lights are low, iPod dock be thumpin’ out some drum and bass,
Suddenly you’re hearin’ somethin’ screamin’ all around the place,
But don’t sweat it ’cause your after-hours plumber’s on the case.
Could it be a loose washer or a busted pressure hose?
A sticky valve or water pipe that cracked because it froze?
A rusty radiator with its on/off knob missin’?
Girl quit makin’ speculations and just take a closer listen:
EeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeEEeeEeeEeEEeEEEEeeeeeeeeeEEEeeeeEEEEEEE
eeeeeeEEEeeeeEEEEEEeeeeEEEeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEeeEEeeEEEeeEEEEEEeeeeEEEEEEEEEEE
eeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

This, combined with a song and dance performance (“I’M TWERKING!!!!”) from the Double Threat who’s just moved into the apartment across from mine in the building next door, plus the usual collection of random bangs and thumps from the Captain of Industry upstairs who’s always working hard on his PhD thesis in physics (working title: A Thorough Investigation into the Quantity and Quality of Sounds Produced by Dropping Objects of Various Weights and Textures All Through the Day and Night), made for an unforgettable variety show that I had the great privilege of enjoying free of charge in my apartment yesterday evening. I would sell tickets to these sensational events, if only I knew when they were going to happen. Alas, the best I can do is to describe their magnificence in words after the fact. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, then by the Mathematical Principle of Reciprocalitousness a word is worth 1/1000 of a picture, which makes writing a pretty pointlessly inefficient activity! Wait…

This morning I finally left a note for the future Dr. Thumperson, politely asking him to conduct his academic investigations at more appropriate times, so we’ll see how that develops, but so far it’s exactly the same shit. I’d been putting off confronting him because he’s nothing like the genuinely insane physically abusive pimp/drug dealer/drug taker/drug dealer’s friend who periodically showed up to stay the night/loud girl/loud girl’s yappy chihuahua that I actually felt really sad for even as it barked for eight straight hours a day while locked in the bathroom combo that lived up there previously. He’s just a comparatively normal dude living a comparatively normal life that happens to disturb me at times because of the excellent acoustics in our building, and I don’t want to be all up in his business. But his business has woken me up at least once almost every night for the last six weeks, and this morning’s bowling-ball-like object crashing into the floor directly above my bed at 5:53 a.m. pretty much sealed the deal. I can only hope that he got some compelling measurements and auditory data from that event, because it would suck if its only effect was to wake his downstairs neighbour and send her into a teeth-grittingly-polite-note-writing rage state.

Egging the twerker’s window is next on my to-do list. Thanks to my screenless windows, conditions are perfect. Stay tuned.

Now let’s sing the chorus together! What does the pipe say?

EeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeEEeeEeeEeEEeEEEEeeeeeeeeeEEEeeeeEEEEEEE
eeeeeeEEEeeeeEEEEEEeeeeEEEeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEeeEEeeEEEeeEEEEEEeeeeEEEEEEEEEEE
eeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I Would Seriously Have Sex with Thomas Cromwell Right Now

February 1, 2014

Well it’s already Freburary and that means we’re just two weeks and change away from me turning 34. Gross! The only reason I’m acknowledging this birthday’s existence and permitting it to happen is that I’ll be spending it in Mexico, getting my smug wintertime tan on by the ocean, shaded by the extremely necessary hat I’m going to buy next week (it says COCK and there’s a picture of a rooster!!), reading a novel and drinking 34 margaritas. I had wanted to make them with a bottle of the tequila that Gus Fring uses to kill all those cartel guys, but Google insisted at every turn that it was a fictional brand, so I’ll have to go with my second choice: whatever the duty-free shop is selling.

Unfortunately, before the people of earth unite in joyful, crapulent celebration of my Mexican birthday (Spanish: ¡cumpleaños Mexicanos Meaghanos!), we all must endure the calendar’s most loathsome offering: the Valentimes.

Valentine’s Day is a mandatory opportunity for adult couples to exchange $7 cards, feed each other chocolate covered strawberries, and have romantic pre-ordained intercourse in a bepetaled hotel bed (or at home, whatever). Despite the adult nature of the occasion, there was, and I assume still is, an equally confusing and contrived version for kids as well. I don’t know how it’s done these days, but back in my day, the parents (=mother) of every child aged three to twelve for some reason had to acquire a book or box of valentines. These were assorted small cards each of which featured either an age-inappropriate, outdated-to-a-point-of-meaninglessness expression of affection (“You’re one hot tomato!”) or an age-inappropriate unforgivable pun related to the picture on the card (“You’re MEOWY special! Be mine!” [with a picture of a cat winking suggestively]; “You DRIVE me crazy, valentine!” [with a picture of a car running over a psychiatric patient]).

On the evening of February 13, you would choose one card for each person in your class, and then, using the class list that had been supplied by the teacher, you and/or your parents (=mother) would address each card, making sure not to forget anyone, and the next morning you would take them to school and hand them out. Naturally, that scene got incrementally awkwarder as you got older and by grade six it was an excruciating social nightmare with unspoken rules and hierarchies and secret hidden meanings and complex body language semiotics and exclusions and cliquery and attempted connections and crushed hopes etc.

To this day I don’t understand what the point was of any of that. And now, since I’m not part of an adult couple (despite being one hot tomato!), I am not invited to participate in the $7 chocolate-covered intercourse of my peers. Actually, just hours ago, I had my heart broken by news about the only man I’ve ever loved: Thomas Cromwell as depicted in the historical novels of Hilary Mantel.

I first met the T-Dog in Wolf Hall, where, after a few tense pages of getting his ass kicked, he began his career as a professional outsmarter-of-douchebags, cool-thing-sayer, and wealth-amasser. The word “awesome” gets thrown around a lot these days and can be used to describe anything from a photo of fast food to a successful debit transaction, but Thomas Cromwell is fucking awesome, in the original full-strength sense of the term. Dude walks casually into every situation and knows exactly what to say and do to get the outcome he requires and/or desires. He’s a true captain of industry. He does, gives, and is the business. It tends to take me a while to build a relationship with someone, but I hit it off with Tom right away. By the end of the novel, I’d started planning our wedding (simple Anglican ceremony, big reception with open bar, summer 2015). Bring Up the Bodies just sealed the deal on my love. In my mind I was all like, I would totally date this person. If he bought me a drink I would actually hang out with him past the moment of finishing the drink. By George, I would seriously have sex with Thomas Cromwell right now–provided it was Mantel’s Cromwell character and the relations were conducted in the present day, not back in the 16th century where everyone was crawling with lice and syphilis. This was by far the most romantic thought I’d ever had about anyone.

I was pso psuper psyched all through December and January because I’d read that the final novel of the trilogy was coming out this March. I had a little reminder on my whiteboard to pre-order it, lest a single unnecessary Cromwellless day befall me. Although I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to hang out with him on Valentine’s Day, I looked forward to our spring reunion. What’s a few weeks, right? But then, earlier today, while attempting to find out the exact publication date of the book, I discovered that it has been pushed back into 20fucking15. Cinnamon cocks, that’s like next year or something!

I humbly beg the people of England, in particularly the interviewers and reporters and other types of literary harassers, to please leave Hilary Mantel alone so she can finish writing this book and send it to me. Thomas Cromwell is my soul mate and I’m not getting any younger.

The 6 Biggest Mistakes You Make While Cooking a Turkey

December 9, 2013

It’s that time of year again! The fruitcakes are ringing, the reindeer are singing, and tinsel is glistening on the snowman. Pour yourself a mug of hot buttered cranberry sauce and start feeling self-conscious about being single, because Christmas is coming!

It’s necessary for you to make December 25 perfect for all your family and friends, and cooking a perfect turkey (plus all the trimmings!) is one significant aspect of creating a holiday experience that meets your loved ones’ complex emotional and nutritional expectations. Unfortunately, too many would-be master chefs ruin the occasion for everyone by committing one or more of these “Noel no-no’s”!

1. Forgetting to remove the innards of the turkey. Most turkeys come with a “stocking” full of extras: the liver, gizzard, neck, and other parts that previously belonged to the fully constituted living bird. You may choose to cook up these items separately for the more adventurous guests, or you may opt simply to chop them into pieces and give them to the cat. Either way, be sure to take them out of the bird before stuffing it! Nothing ruins your mother-in-law’s appetite like an unsolicited gizzard on her plate. Nobody at the table will be able to hear your  carefully chosen ambient medley of instrumental Christmas songs over the sound of your embarrassed apologies!

2. Stuffing the turkey with chocolate chunks and marshmallow sauce. We get it–Christmas is a busy time of year, and sometimes you’re “not all there”! But remember: you’re cooking a turkey, not making s’mores! Always take the time to ensure that you are filling the dead bird’s chest cavity only with savoury items: for example, seasoned bread crumbs, onions, and perhaps pine nuts for that extra hint of west-coast pretension.

3. Basting the bird with sulfuric acid (or any corrosive substance). This mistake is similar to #2, but more lethal. Butter is considered an ideal basting agent for many meats, including turkey. You can earn extra “Christmas cred” by adding a blend of tasty spices, or perhaps sea salt, to the melted butter. Trust us: acid basting–sulfuric or otherwise–is taking creativity to a level that your guests will not survive long enough to appreciate.

4. Investing all of your savings into a pyramid scheme or e-mail scam while the bird bakes. Everybody wants to strike it rich without really doing anything, and a little extra money sure would come in handy come January. Still, do your utmost to avoid spending the 20-minute stretches between basting sessions (psst–don’t forget rule #3!) transferring huge amounts of your money to a company or individual with a suspicious back story and/or lengthy history of legal entanglements. That time would be much better spent interacting with your loved ones, perhaps while tossing back a tall glass of your favourite hard liquor.

5. Hardcore making out with a family member as the gravy simmers. We’ve all been there: stressed out, piss drunk, and surrounded by relatives. Christmas is a time to show love to the people who matter most, but no matter how fond you are of that special cousin or sibling, it should never cross the line into erotic territory. Concentrate your attention on transforming the buttery bird juices and scrapings into a gravy that the turkey itself, while still alive, would have been honoured to wear as perfume. If you’re on the receiving end of a family member’s amorous advances, distract him or her with a heartfelt recitation of your favourite poem. Nothing kills the mood like poetry!

6. Carving your guests instead of the bird. You’ve done it: the butter-basted, bread-stuffed, juicy-breasted pièce de resistance is out of the oven and looking perfect, crackly skin and all! Don’t “kill” the moment by turning the knife on your human dinner guests. Keep the Christmas cheer rolling by carving only the turkey, not the people at the table waiting to enjoy it.

It’s that simple! Keep these six easy tips in mind and we guarantee a holiday that will be delicious and memorable in all the right ways! Do YOU have a favourite bird-baking suggestion? We’d love to hear it!

512px-Cooked_Heritage_Turkey

A laid-back turkey relaxes on a plate after a hard day in the oven while Aunt Gertrude’s elbow looks on.

 

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