Wednesday, 3 September 2014

I Got Stoned and I Missed It

Three weeks ago, my g.p. wrote me a prescription for medical cannabis. I had great hopes for this medication, because it is the last option on the list of suggestions my rheumatologist has made in order to combat my fibromyalgia. Believe me, I have tried everything: Elavil, Lyrica (which made my eyeballs vibrate from side to side like some kind of fucking cartoon character), Cymbalta, Prozac--most of them seratonin-uptake inhibitors designed to convince my brain that THERE'S NOTHING WRONG, STOP HURTING ALREADY. Medical cannabis--called Nabilon--was my last option, if I hoped to get off the 800+ mgs of naproxen and the 1000+ mgs of codeine I was taking every day. The pain of my stupid fibromyalgia has meant that I am not able to draw a bow or fence or even use the stairs (comfortably) for the better part of a year. This makes it hard to lose weight, yo.

A part of me was also fairly trepidatious, however. There aren't a lot of studies on the effects of marijuana (and no, I don't buy it as a "cure" for cancer), especially as it interacts with other medications. As it turns out, I was right to be wary. Maybe the dose was too high (*snigger*), but man, I was wasted for two entire weeks. In the first week alone, I was sent home from work twice because I simply could not function. I was dizzy and faint and mostly just sat around gazing at my navel. I was too impaired to drive or cook or clean, and often lost my train of thought in the middle of a sentence. 

I was also prone to odd outbursts, such as the time I randomly yelled out, "Pork loin! Pork loin!" during a staff meeting.

I will confess that it had an interesting effect on my thought processes. My brain on pot had a specific idea of what was significant--sometimes imperative--to share with the world. Yet, somewhere between my brain and my mouth, the translation was most often lost. For example, the Fragrant Missus is a cautious and competent (if slow) motorist. She very likely did not need to know, as I looked in the side view mirror, that "That car--is closer than it appears." What seemed to be perfectly reasonable, even important, one moment, ended up sounding completely stunned when it emerged from my piehole.

Possibly, the significance of my remark got swallowed in my all-consuming hunger. I was strving all the time. If it wasn't nailed down, if it needed no preparation, it was going in my face. All of it. I was like a fucking Hoover. No wonder when I get on the scale, I look down and see my phone number.

And when I wasn't stuffing my face or making pithy observations about the world around me, I was just kind of sitting around. My brain was like a big, fat bumblebee, buzzing lazily from thought to thought, getting a little insight here, some wisdom there, some humour over here.

And oh, God, the humour. Everything was so fucking funny. Especially the Fragrant Missus. Specifically, I remember going to a yarn shop with her to pick up needle felting supplies. One of the staff members had knit a baby sweater to hang in the shop door to indicate whether the store was open or closed. As we pulled up, the Fragrant Missus said, "The little sweater says open."

Well, I lost my shit. Apparently, this was the funniest goddamned thing that had ever been uttered in the history of humankind, because I laughed so long and so hard, I was physically incapacitated. We had to wait for the hysterics to end before I could get myself out of the car. And this was just one example. I'm sure it got old for her pretty quick, because it wasn't funny just the once. I laughed about that comment for DAYS.

Yet, despite the occasional hilarity, it didn't feel nice. I mostly felt numb and dislocated, detached. And it did absolutely nothing for my pain levels. So I discontinued use. 

Luckily, at the same time, my rheumatologist put me on injections of methotrexate. These injections are self-administered, which is fucked up. I understand that Type I diabetics do this all the time, but I'm having a little trouble adjusting. It is, after all, highly counter-intuitive to stick oneself with a sharp object, especially when the sharp object involves chemotherapy medication that inhibits cell division, which often results in GI upset, hair loss and/or seizures. 

However, since starting the injections (taken with Plaquin, an antimalarial that could result in plaque building up on my corneas, resulting in blindness), there has been a marked decrease in my physical pain. For the past week, I take my pain medication once in the morning, typically do not have to take it again all day and, especially later in the morning when I've limbered up, no longer walk with a limp. Oh, there's still some stiffness in my right knee (due to sero-negative rheumatoid arthritis) and my stride is slightly abbreviated, but I'm starting to think that we've turned the corner. So far, my only side effects include grogginess and some po'po' (short for "poor, poor bum", how my brother-in-law describes diarrhea), so I haven't yet had to ask myself if being spastic is worth being pain free.

Of course, the question must also be asked if anyone would notice.

But for those of you who were curious about the pot--it might work for some, but it certainly didn't work for me. Mostly, I felt that I got stoned and missed out on two weeks of my own life.

So there you go. Drugs, drugs, drugs--some are good, some are bad.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

An Open Letter To the HillbillyTwo Doors Down

Dear Asshole Raisin,

Why aren't you in some kind of assisted living, eating Kraft Dinner and sitting in a pool of your own urine? You used to have a wife, who nagged and yelled at you with a voice like the maddening whine of a dental drill; what happened to her? I haven't seen in her in over a year. Did you finally snap and smash her in the head with a shovel, which you then used to bury her late one night under the porch? Maybe she died of bitchiness. Or maybe she left your wrinkled old ass, which wouldn't be surprising, since all you ever do is sit outside in your lawnchair, listening to country music and horking up great glistening gobs of lung butter which you spit onto the ground. Yessir, there's nothing more relaxing and/or appealing for my wife and me during our time in the garden than having to listen to you choke up a football of pulmonary mucus in between Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney. Yum yum.

I'm sure that having to endure the agonizing decay of your own body while you're still in it makes you a touch cranky. I am not completely devoid of compassion and might be moved to sympathy for you, if you weren't such a miserable antedeluvian cunt. Maybe things were different in your cross-eyed corner of the world, Jethro, but around these parts, we're pretty good neighbours. We keep the lawn cut in the summer, we shovel the walks in winter, we park in our own garage, we keep our socializing tame and move the outdoor parties indoors past 11:00 p.m. Our car is not a massive throbbing penile substitute that can be heard three blocks over and our dogs are kept indoors. They do not bark, and when they do, they are promptly brought into the house.

So why all the hostility, Gramps? Why call the cops on us to complain about the noise when there were four of us sitting around the firepit, talking. No music, no yelling--it was a conversation, not a party. But you called the cops, who, when they arrived to investigate, weren't sure that they were at the right address because there was no disturbance.

And today, we came home from a hard day at work to discover that someone had complained to Animal Control about us having four dogs in the house, when the law only permits three. You want to bet that I called the bylaw officer to discuss the complaint, and yanno what she said? She said she visited the house today, saw three dogs, all of whom are licensed, and she was going to close the file. She also told me that the "complainant" was not willing to fill out a witness statement. So you know what that tells me, you fossilized fuck? It tells me that you feel entitled to bitch long and loud about things that don't fucking concern you, but you lack the balls to put your name on a complaint.

So here is how it's going to go from now on, Pa; the first thing I'm going to do is call the City and tell them about the handmade "No Parking" sign you have nailed to the tree (which is City property) in front of your house, despite the fact that you don't own a vehicle and you have three parking spaces in the back. The second thing I'm going to do is make my own goddamned call to Animal Control and have them seize that black, unlicensed cat of yours who comes into my yard and shits in my garden. And finally, you primodial prick, I'm going to report your backyard as a fucking biohazard. Don't worry, nothing will happen, except possibly a passing moment of embarrassment. That's assuming you have the wherewithal to be embarrassed when the Health Officers show up to find you sitting in a yard surrounded by discoloured clods of crud freshly disgorged from your bronchia.

It's on, Raisin!

Love and kisses,


Sunday, 27 July 2014

My Shitty Neighbours Part One: Mustang Sally

As a foreword to this post, I'm going to come right out and admit that I am not especially suited for urban living. I hate people and think most of them are douchebags of one variety or another. As far as I'm concerned, we are still primates barely out of the trees, distracted by fancy toys. 

I happen to live in a neighbourhood that is quiet (mostly), older (my house celebrates its centenary this year) and somewhat economically depressed (it's not surprising to find hookers on the corner three blocks south). As a result, several of the homes on our street are rental properties. I hate rental properties because, for the most part, the people who live in them are not invested in their environments and are generally gigantic asspains. I have, in the past, bitched long and loud about the dollar-store douchebags that specifically inhabit the basement directly across the street. First was Mohamed and his three cars and his propensity for throwing his garbage into the street. He was eventually replaced by Abdully, who was equally annoying (and, as it turns out, friends with Mohamed).

(And don't forget Moby Dick, who no longer lives across the street, but still comes by occasionally to visit the old lady and spit on the street.)

Currently residing in the basement of this joint is a fucking crevice tool who drives a massive, brand new Ford Mustang with an engine that can be heard all over the neighbourhood whenever he fires it up. It is clearly a violation of the noise bylaw passed a few years ago, largely to address the noise pollution issue of motorcycles on Whyte Avenue. I am tempted to report him, but the cops would have to be here when he starts it up, and the chances of that are pretty slim. You want to know what time this twunt-plunger goes to work in the morning? SIX THIRTY. You wanna know how I know that? Because I hear him fire that junk heap up every fuckin' morning at that time, and then I hear him pull away for at least two blocks.

I don't understand the need for a car this loud. A long-standing theory is that this vehicle is indicative of a certain insecurity regarding the size of his thrill drill. If the hyper-masculinity of the vehicle is in direct proportion to his inadequacy, then this ass cactus has a dick so inverted, it's gotta be a mangina.

Hence, I have dubbed him Mustang Sally.

I  have never seen this mouth-breather with a woman. That's hardly surprising. The car is obviously a substitute for a significant other. In fact, I don't think Mustang Sally has ever been laid outside of a family reunion. He's just too fucking pathetic. I mean, we are talking about the kind of cacpygean microphallus that, in true Fast and Furious style, pulls doughnuts in the middle of the street in order to park his douchemobile.

I hate this guy and I fantasize about a litre of Coke in his gas tank or a potato in the exhaust pipe. I would never do these things, though, and if there is a positive aspect to the old rental property quandary, it's that eventually, the fucktards move on to be replaced by other fucktards.

Next on Douchebaggery Abounds, another of my charming neighbours.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Fifty Shades of Shit

Today, when the Fragrant Missus and I came home from work, we discovered that two of the three didiots (that would be Nipper and Dieter specifically) had knocked over the garbage can. A week's worth of moldy food, used sanitary napkins, orange peels and egg shells littered the main floor from the kitchen to the front door. The smell was horrific. It was like Scooter had expressed his anal glands onto a bloated, week-old corpse covered in pig shit rotting under the relentless Saharan sun.

And it still smelled better than the trailer for Fifty Shades of Gray.

It's true that there are rare cases when a movie is made that surpasses the novel on which it is based. What Dreams May Come, for example. But, although I have never read the book (I refuse to dignify it with the appellation "novel"), I'm going to go out on a pretty sturdy limb here and say that this movie is going to be an excrescence.

How can it not? The material off of which it is working is pure, unadulterated shite. The writing is pedestrian, juvenile and completely predictable. In short, it is a literary Lincoln log. I am told that millions of women have read Fifty Shades of Grey and were titillated. Who are these millions of women? Who finds the story of an emotionally unavailable prick ("I control everything", "I don't do romance") performing BDSM on a na├»ve woman with obvious self-esteem issues exciting? Besides Laureen Harper, I mean.

In discussing the (inexplicable) popularity of the book with a friend, I was told that Fifty Shades of Grey was responsible for getting women to read again. This was said in the same solemn tone used to explain that J.K. Rowling got kids reading with her Harry Potter series (another book/books I haven't read. Sue me). Seriously? Women reading junk about exploitive abuse by some controlling jerk-off and clinging to that dysfunctional relationship in the belief that their devotion to that dick will prevail and he will eventually love them as they deserve: this is something to celebrate?  


This review sums up beautifully why I think Fifty Shades of Grey is a dangerous and irresponsible book. And the fact that some money-grubbing douchebag has grasped the opportunity to wring still more cash out of this by making a film out of it simply fills me with despair. What the actual fuck, people? I understand that there is no accounting for taste--this is why Chevy Chase and Julia Roberts still have acting careers. (Christ on a cracker, don't get me started on Kevin Costner's Robin Hood or Love, Eat Pray. As far as I'm concerned, both of those productions can be classified as bona fide butt burritos.)

For the love of all that is holy, ladies, wake up and raise your standards! Do not waste your hard-earned (but not as high as a man's) wage on this rectal soup. And just as an aside here--is BDSM really that titillating anymore? Really? I mean, in an era of cakefarts,  pony play and bukaki, bondage and a riding crop seem just a little tame, dontcha think?

Next on Douchebaggery Abounds, my fucktard neighbours.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Meet the Dids

The Fragrant Missus and I don't have kids. Well, that's not true. The Fragrant Missus actually two children, a daughter who is hard-working, bright and funny. She also has a son who is...well, none of those things, but that's a tale for another day.

In the absence of children, the Fragrant Missus and I have three dogs. And since they are dogs and not kids, we refer to them as "the Dids". Or, most recently, "the Three Didiots". I despair of them, both as individuals and a group, but they are, for better or worse, a large part of our lives, so you might as well meet them. And what better place to exact my revenge vent my spleen introduce them than here on my blog! It is called Douchebaggery Abounds, after all, and they are capable of the highest levels of canine douchebaggery.

Did Number One: Scooter Pot Pie.
Meet Scooter. Scooter is a six-year-old wire-haired fox terrier cross. Like the other dids, he is a rescue from the Edmonton Humane Society, and came to us as a three-month-old puppy in September, 2008. He is about fourteen inches high at the shoulder, bow-legged, light-boned and scruffy. Physically, he's goofy looking. He is also very "sensitive". He is terrified of thunderstorms and the pressure cooker. He is also the pack's "hall monitor"--if one of the other dids are doing something he knows they shouldn't, he'll let us know. A good friend of ours once described Scooter with resounding accuracy as "that kid in class who would ask, 'Were we supposed to have a test today', just when it seemed the teacher had forgotten all about it."

I seriously think Scooter is gay. You only have to see him prancing through the tall grass (or the short grass or along the boulevard or anywhere he goes, really) to know that this dog is a little "light in the loafers". Also, watch him eat. One day, I'm going to videotape Scooter lingering over his kibble and post it on YouTube with an appropriate voice-over. The other two bolt their food down like they've never seen it and will never see it again. But Scooter is more refined; he takes a few kibbles and chews thoughtfully and deliberately, savoring the complexity. Then he pauses to survey his surroundings, because "Ze light; she changes every second, non? Eet ees tres magnifique!" Yes, if Scooter was a human, he would be some effeminate French asshole, critiquing international films and "high art". He'd wear a fucking beret or some shit.

As a dog, though, Scooter is the best. Despite his propensity for getting up on the dining room table and passive aggressively pissing on the bathroom floor when he is disgruntled ("I should not have to tell you what ees wrong, hein? Eet should be obvious to you, Two-Legger!"), Scooter is quite clever. I have taken him to three Agility courses and he does very well. He appreciates words, and when I talk to him, he cocks his pie-shaped little head to one side and listens intently for the one word that will indicate what the hell it is I want. He is sweet and gentle and just wants to be friends with everyone and everything, including cats, hamsters and the field mice that occasionally come into the kitchen. He is very compliant and, despite his overall timidity, lacks the behavioural issues that plague the other two Didiots. We know that when shit has gone wrong during the day, Scooter wasn't involved. But he would dime them out in a red-hot minute.

Did Number Two: Nipper T. Biscuit
Meet Nipper. If Nipper looks guilty in this photograph, she probably is. Nipper is a four-year-old corgi/Jack Russell Terrier cross. She is sturdy, short, curious, confident and fiercely intelligent. Whereas Scooter isn't particularly interested in exploring his environment, Nipper is an intrepid explorer and problem solver. We had to get a padlock for her crate, because she learned how to undo the latch. Sometimes, you can actually see the gears turning in her brain as she figures out how to get around an obstacle or get at that toy she wants. One day, I watched as Scooter circled the crate where a juicy bone waited inside. He pawed at the sides with no effect and went around the front to where the door was closed but not latched. He couldn't quite figure out how to get at the bone. Nipper was also watching from the couch. She got down, crossed the floor, opened the crate with her paw and then went back to the couch. It blew me away.

Unfortunately, the intelligence that makes Nipper such a joy to be with also gets her into plenty of trouble. If we fail to provide her with something to do, she creates her own fun. And fun, in Nipper's mind, involves getting into the garbage and/or recycling, and spreading it from one end of the house to the other. You can almost hear her saying, "I can't believe you guys were going to throw away all this cool stuff!" Items that Nipper has destroyed in the past few months include bellydance cds belonging to the Fragrant Missus, a box of Cards Against Humanity and my hearing aid. She also ran right throughthe nylon wall of the bughouse in the backyard. It had been up less than an hour, and Nipper wrecked it.This resulted in her being referred to as "that fucking burrito-shaped twutplunging shit-tube furbag." I actually called my dog a cunt. To her face.

She spends a certain amount of time in her crate, pondering why she's there. Nipper's YouTube video would consist of her in her crate with Eric Carmen's "All By Myself" as the soundtrack.

I will admit, though, Nipper is my favourite. Despite her many and frequent transgressions, she is my constant pal. I miss the days when I could take her to work. I was going to say that if Nipper was a human being, she'd be a sensible-shoe-wearing, talkative intelligent lesbian. Then I realized I was describing me. Oops. But I do adore her and she seems bonded to me, too. When I fell on the stairs last August and couldn't move, Nipper came and sat by me and wouldn't leave my side until the Fragrant Missus arrived to take me to the emergency clinic. I just wish she'd stop eating my stuff.

Did Number Three: Dieter Schnitzel.
Also known as Dieter the Delayed, Dieter is the latest addition to the pack. He is a one-and-a-half year old schnauzer/terrier cross. He is, as you can see, very cute, which has saved his life on more than one occasion. He is blissfully free of the intelligence that is characteristic of the other two dids. When you look into Dieter's eyes, there's nothing there. I swear, if you listen closely enough, you can hear the white noise between his ears.

Fortunately, he's kind-hearted and sweet and craves affection. In the words of Harvey Fierstein, "(He) just wants to be loved, is that so wrong?" But somedays, loving Dieter the Daft takes some effort. He's a compulsive licker; he'll lick you, he'll lick me, he daily licks the perimeters of the kitchen and living room, sometimes more than once. Dieter's motto is, "When in doubt, lick it." 

Although he is better now, he used to be a door-dasher, and would take off up the street, always a few feet out of reach. He simply would not come when called, even when treats were offered. Dieter is the kind of dog who needs to be persuaded that obeying orders is in his best interest. His defiant phase seemed to last a Really Long Time. We still don't let him off-leash at the dog park--it's not that he isn't properly socialized or has ever in any circumstances exhibited aggression towards people or other dogs. He's just a bolter and he won't come back if he doesn't want to.

He has also picked up Nipper's bad habit of chewing shit that doesn't belong to him. And when you yell at him, he just looks at you, like, "What?" The Fragrant Missus wants to introduce him to Agility, but I dunno if he has the brains to get it right--I fear he'll be one of those dogs that stops to crap on the course halfway through and then wander off to sniff stuff. Seriously, we're talking about the dog who walked into the wall of the bughouse THREE TIMES.

I don't know what Dieter would be like as a human, but it probably involves medication and a hockey helmet.

So these are the Three Didiots. If you're in the area, come on by and meet them! Or take a moment to say hi to them in the comments! I promise to read the comments to them if you do. They love (eating) mail!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Damn Right I Got the Blues

"Hey, Anne R. Key," you might be saying, "how did you celebrate Pride 2014? Did you go to the parade, or attend one of the many social and educational functions available throughout the city?"

No, dear reader. I did not. I spent Pride getting hit on by men at the Commercial Hotel in the heart of Old Strathcona!

While the Fragrant Missus and several of our closest friends marched in the Gay Pride Parade, I elected to see Mr. Eddie Shaw and the Wolfgang at Blues On Whyte. The nice thing about the blues, compared to more popular or prevalent genres of music, is that it is still possible to get up close and personal with some of the legends responsible for some of the most gorgeous, emotive music ever created. Eddie Shaw is a tenor saxophonist who played with Howlin' Wolf away back in the 1970s, just before Howlin' Wolf died, and who has had a successful career with his own band since. Eddie is in his late eighties or early nineties now, so opportunities to see him are rapidly diminishing.

He was playing with his band, the Wolfgang, last night, but I usually elect to attend the afternoon jams. The Saturday afternoon jams place an emphasis on local musicians, so that one can see the feature performer with some local talent. We get the best of both worlds, so to speak. Also, because the performer is often playing tunes that are typically not a part of their regular set, one can see them do some phenomenal work. And, of course, since the afternoon jams are not recorded, they are ephemeral--they are purely "of the moment", brilliant and never to be repeated, and there's a certain magic in that.

And, it cannot be denied, a large part of the experience is the venue itself. The Commercial has been a fixture in this part of town for years and years. It is run down, dirty and dark. It is owned and operated by the Hell's Angels. It's denizens are older and rougher; man of them are bikers dressed in leathers, though not flying any particular colours--one never actually sees the Angels themselves at the Commercial, at least not during the afternoon jams.

One does, however, see plenty of other things one either shouldn't or wished one hadn't. For example, yesterday afternoon, I went in, chose a table next to the dancefloor, and put my stuff on two chairs to mark my territory. I then went over to the ATM to score a bit more cash in case Mr. Shaw was offering cds for sale after his set (he didn't, alas). These cd sales are strictly a cash proposition. En route to the machine, I happened to observe a couple of guys at the table next to me engaged in another cash proposition involving a marble-sized ball of hashish. When they noticed me noticing, there was a brief moment of all of us looking at each other like deer in the headlights. Then I casually looked at the television above and behind them and pretended to be checking the score of the hockey game while casually moving on.

My nonchalance must have impressed them, because no sooner was I settled in my chair back at the table when one of them approached and engaged me in conversation. Now, I have been to Blues On White several times before, and I know what kind of people hang out there. In lots of ways, I rather admire them; they're older, they have clearly been around the block a few times, and if some of them exhibit varying levels of mental illness or social inadequacy, at least they typically keep to themselves and don't pretend to be something they are not. They sit there in their grungy t-shirts and their leather vests with their bellies hanging down over the waistband of their jeans and drink their beer and appreciate the music. The women just want to dance. And I am acutely aware of being in their environment; it's like being in bear country, and there are certain precautions you have to take. Don't make eye contact, keep to your campsite (table), stay on the well-established trails (back and forth to the washroom) and always travel with a buddy. So far, this has worked admirably and, despite the place and clientele being a little rough-and-tumble, I've never needed to use bear spray.

Unfortunately, I had broken the last rule, travelling with a friend. As previously mentioned, the Fragrant Missus was at Pride, my companion for this excursion was under the weather, and I had failed to connect with my sister-in-law, who had expressed an interest in coming. So there I was, a woman alone at the Commercial. I had, however, taken precautions. I was carrying my cane (due to a flare-up of my rheumatoid arthritis), I was reading a book and let's face it, people--I'm not exactly putting out the right vibe for a pick-up in that environment. I am stout and carry all my weight in front, like Winnie the Pooh. Or Poppin Fresh. I have short, no-fuss hair and sensible shoes. I am not, in any way, shape or form, physically alluring. And I was very obviously sending out "not-interested-in-social-contact" signals--the cane disqualified me from dancing, I was immersed in my book and I look like a lesbian. Because I am one. Go figure.

Evidently, however, these signals are lost on some people (i.e. men), because this guy walked up to me and started a conversation about how he must have been bitten by a bug last night in bed, because he had a vivid mark on his arm and there was blood on his sheets. I suggested, as politely as possible, that he change his sheets--having encountered a regular in his habitat, I was careful not to display any indication that I was interested. DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE.

Eventually, after determining that it was probably a spider bite rather than a mosquito (or a bedbug), he wandered back to his table to rejoin the herd.

I wish I could report that this was my last encounter, but the second one was even more bizarre than the first. As I sat there reading, I was approached by a drunk guy in a Hawaiian shirt. Now, to set the scene, he was on the dancefloor and I was at my table, which is elevated over the dancefloor by about a foot. It takes two steps to go from the seating area to the dancefloor. So when he approached the railing that separates the tables from the dancefloor, we were roughly at eye level. Hawaii-Five-Oh put his drink down on my table (thereby invading my space without permission) and looked at my cane. I looked at him and he wiggled his eyebrows at me suggestively. I was confused--was he seeking an explanation? Did he want me to hit him with it? Shove it up his ass? I wasn't sure. I remember thinking vaguely that I wanted him to fuck off and leave me his shirt.

He said something innocuous to me (I don't recall what it was, honestly). I responded politely but with detachment, and then Hawaii-Five-Oh grabbed the railing with both hands, relaxed his knees and let them fall off to each side of his body so that when I looked at him, I was forced, briefly, to look at his junk.

Now, I don't know what kind of reaction Hawaii-Five-Oh was looking to elicit from me, but I can pretty much guarantee that it wasn't the outburst of laughter and the covering of my eyes that resulted. I might also have said, "Jesus Christ!" in a tone heavily laden with derision. Thus rebuked, Hawaii-Five-Oh collected his drink and walked away.

Later on, during Eddie's set, Spiderman came by my table and hollered in my one good ear, "I'd ask you to dance, but I think I need some kind of shot!"

Charmer! Does that line work on all the girls?

Anyway, despite my interactions with the regulars, I'm happy to report that Mr. Shaw himself gave a terrific, if abbreviated, performance, and I enjoyed my afternoon. I distinctly remember noticing a dent in the bottom of his sax where it had been set down too hard on an unforgiving surface. Nevertheless, even at his advanced age, Mr. Shaw still told us the time of day and gave his all for the brief time he was on-stage. I was utterly delighted by his bass player, who was big fat black man just beyond middle age, who shuffled onto the stage and slouched against his stool with that big black axe against his chest. He played effortlessly, and did not appear to be even remotely interested in his surroundings. He just stared out at his audience through a veil of pot-scented smoke with sad and indifferent eyes, his mind perhaps on getting an oil change for the car, while his fingers, with the most beautiful coral-coloured fingernails, pulling those fat metal strings and softly gripping the frets.

Afterwards, I shook Mr. Shaw's hand and thanked him for coming to our city to perform. He's a tired old man, but he gave us what he had, and at least I can say I shook Eddie Shaw's hand.

And got hit on by two men on Pride Day.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Poked and Prodded

Things at work continue to be as satisfactory as possible. Whereas once my office was the place where files went to die, I am now moving things out and getting them back into the filing cabinets where they belong. In addition, filing for the individual lawyers is finally being addressed so that the files are up to date and properly maintained. I have actually had a couple of lawyers come to me specifically to audit and "fix" a file that had spiraled out of control. I've also been asked to proofread a legal brief, so it isn't all filing.

And I have lost at least six pounds since I started this job.

The only concern I have is the time I am taking off during my probation period for doctor's appointments. I am not a malingerer, but the timing is especially bad because we are changing up some of the medications I am on in order to address some issues around chronic pain. Apparently, I have fibromyalgia, which pisses me off. I mean, what the fuck is up with that? The medication I used to take for it no longer works, not since last September when I fell on the stairs and injured my right knee.

I saw the rheumatologist this morning, who examined the knee and then aspirated some fluid out of it before injecting me with a steroid. Oh, my gentle German Jesus, that was fucking uncomfortable, and now that the local anesthetic is wearing off, I'm even less impressed. He prescribed some naproxen, sent me for x-rays and blood tests and told me he thinks the knee might be mildly arthritic. The rest of my pain, though, that's fibromyalgia.

Piss me off. I haven't been able to fence since Quad War (SCA) last August, either because my knee has plagued me (despite weeks of physiotherapy), or because I can't lift the sword. And I miss fencing so much, I regularly dream about it. For awhile, I was doing archery, but my shoulders and arms couldn't take it. I know I could lose weight if I could only move, but it's all I can do to get through the day at work.

So now we tinker with drugs and other strategies, and I pray that my bosses see that I am invested in doing my job to the very best of my ability and that their faith in me so far has not been misplaced. My probation period ends in June, but it seems so far away.

Also of some interest is the fact that my former employer, a certain Princess Dumptruck, used to work in the same place I am now. I have even seen her name on some of the files. And she is remembered, though not fondly, by some of the staff. The stories they have shared with me about the Dumptruck's behaviour certainly confirm for me that this has been an issue for years, and that she has only gotten worse in private practice. Words used by these staff members to describe the Dumptruck ten or eleven years ago include "vulgar", "gross", "inappropriate" and "mentally ill".

I have been given to understand that when I submitted my resume for this job, my former employer's name caused a stir, as the memory of her presence there (and her subsequent dismissal) lingers like a persistent fart. There was some concern that I, as her assistant, might be equally as damaged, and there was apparently some hesitation about whether or not an interview would be granted to me. Luckily, one of the lawyers (the one who knows Dumptruck) ascertained that I was in need of rescuing, and thank the nine-pound baby Krishna that she did, because I was!

But now you see why I am so anxious that my health issues not get in the way of my fabulous new position, because it was almost a job I didn't get! I know what it's like to work for someone who is an unequivocal train wreck, and am daily mindful of my good fortune to be where I am.

And while this blog hasn't fulminated against anything recently, be patient. It's coming.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Government Hooker!

I started my new job with the City last Monday, so I am officially a government hooker. Many of you who live closer to me know that this has been an unbelievably positive experience, but for those of you who are a little further afield, here's how it has worked out so far.

Let's leave aside the generous wage and benefits package, as well as the fact that I get a 50% discount for all the Parks and Recreation facilities and cheap passes for public transit.

Let's start with the fact that when I walked into the office last Monday morning, there was a sign up saying, "The City of Deadmonton Law Department welcomes (my name)". And then I was given a tour and a thorough orientation by one of the lawyers who hired me. I was given an office (with a door, no cubicle!) and invited to make myself at home. I was introduced to everyone, and welcomed quite warmly.

And then, last Friday, I received in the mail a postcard, welcoming me to the team, signed by the two lawyers who interviewed me for the position! Is this how things are normally done in the corporate world?!

(I am, by the way, working in a support position to eight different lawyers in the Expropriation segment of the City's Law Department. Essentially, if the City wants to do something, and your land is there, I help the lawyers get your property. A couple of the senior lawyers actually have to appear at Counsel meetings, and one of the perks of the job is that we're encouraged to watch over our computers. And, yes, I'm nerdy enough that I consider that a perk.)

I have been struggling a lot with my fibromyalgia lately, and last Thursday, I found that I simply could not move without grinding, terrible pain. I tried to complete my tasks, but all I could think about was lying down. This was noticed by the young woman training me, and she suggested I go home. I protested; after all, this was my first week on the job! She insisted, however, as did the office manager, who told me, "Go home and feel better. That's what's important. We'll see you tomorrow."

And when I went back the next day, refreshed and energized, everyone wanted to know if I felt better. I was rather touched, actually. It seems that I have found myself in an office full of intelligent, compassionate, professional people.

And here's the kicker: at no point in the last week and a half has anyone showed me their belly or bra, announced a bodily function, performed said bodily function in a noticeable way, or talked about their genitals.  Nor has anyone discussed my sexuality or called me "File Monkey".

The difference between this position and my last is like night and day. I have always enjoyed legal work, but now that I am working with people who are professional and respectful adults, I rather look forward to going into work and facing a day of new challenges. A small part of me thinks that I've died and gone to heaven.

And I do enjoy the work. Right now, because my position has, in the past, been staffed by temps and those who were indifferent to the job, I am doing a lot of cleaning up; auditing and correcting files, filing, diarizing, etc. But I don't mind at all, because it gives me an opportunity to learn the filing system and the various matters we're dealing with. And it certainly goes a long way to satisfying my mild OCD tendencies, to have things put away in their places in proper chronological order.

Further, it's really kind of neat to drive around the city and see the various projects that we're working on in progress. "Oh," I thought to myself on Saturday as we descended the hill into the river valley, "I was filing on the Walterdale Bridge just this week!"

It's like playing SimCity, but with an actual city!

So I'm happy, and I kind of get the feeling that I'll stay happy. At least at work. God knows, there are plenty of douchebags shitting in the global punchbowl to inspire my ire, and therefore, more blog posts.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Just Checking In

It has been a crazy week: I've started my new job and it's wonderful. I have lots to report, and will do so when I get a few moments to properly compose my thoughts.

Talk to you all soon!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Home Show

Tomorrow, being Sunday, we are scheduled to attend the annual Home and Garden Show.

I seriously don't know why we go. The fees for parking and admittance are egregious, and paying them inspires sensations not unlike being anally raped with a pineapple. 

Without the benefit of lube.

And if we forego the expense of parking, we are required to take public transit (better known as the Loser Cruiser), where I invariably end up separated from the Fragrant Missus, and  seated next to someone inflicted with mental illness/homelessness who has recently shat their pants. And most of my brief, but terrifying , trip is spent avoiding the gaze of the Aboriginal/adolescent/douchebag (pick one, or all three), who wants me to pay his/her fare. Or else.

I hate to sound like an elitist, but there are some very compelling reasons why people resist the allure of public transit. Especially in this neighbourhood, it is far outdistanced by the allure of staying alive.

Once inside the Home and Garden Show, however, all we do is walk around a crowded trade hall for hours, suppressing the urge to cock punch the yuppies who insist on taking their crotch fruit and blocking the aisles with strollers that rival Hummers in size, while watching a demonstration of the latest rubber broom. We shuffle through the halls, smelling popcorn and mini doughnuts, and collecting a small library of pamphlets that we are going to recycle the moment we get home, even if we climbed over nineteen yuppie bitches with expensive haircuts and torn designer jeans tucked into knee-high suede boots to get them.

Ultimately, we sigh about how we can't afford a hot tub while simultaneously thanking the gods that we don't have one to share with people who would pee in it, or, just as bad, expect to share it naked.

I don't understand the appeal of the Home and Garden Show, to be honest. It is expensive, stuffy, crowded, always a potential scene for a richly deserved homicide, and a constant reminder that, compared to a lot of others there, we're poor. We never end up being able to afford doing anything to the house that was even remotely inspired by something we saw at the Home and Garden Show. We are generally confined to sewing new curtains and throwing paint at the walls. Once a year, the Fragrant Missus rearranges the living room furniture. Hardly revolutionary stuff requiring the expert opinions of vendors at the Home and Garden Show. 

Yet, every time it rolls into town, we get as excited as a couple of teenaged girls with backstage passes to a Justin Bieber show. I don't know why this is. Is it the potential ("Oooh! This time, were gonna get that skylight in!")? Is it the fantasy ("Man, if I had the money, I'd totally install that rainfall shower with the colour therapy lights--IN MY BACK YARD!!!")? Is it the new and innovative technology ("PLASTIC LAWN?! Where do I fuckin' sign?")?

I dunno. I think it's the doughnuts.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Ongoing Saga of Professor Scruffy

Clearly, this guy just isn't on the ball. When you write to someone twice and they do not respond, it is clear that they are not going to. So maybe you should stop trying to contact them.

But Professor Scruffy is not acquainted (or is ignoring) these subtle social nuances. I had, early in the day, offered him to give him an old, cheap set of gouges that I no longer use. Last night, he sent me a private Facebook message saying, "did you find those gouges".

I went to the Fragrant Missus with my dilemma, explaining that I really want him to fuck off, but he has thus far failed to detect my blatant "Fuck Off" message. She suggested that I write to Scruffy, telling him that if he wants the gouges, he will have to take the bus all the way over here and retrieve them from my mailbox. This, she explained, will be inconvenient for him, and will ensure that I do not have to interact with him. And might, in its own way, be yet another "Fuck Off" message.

So I wrote to him this morning, explaining that I have started a new job, am busy in the evenings, and that if he wants the gouges, these are the hoops he has to jump through some day next week. Further, I'll sharpen his other gouges THIS ONCE, but he has to leave them in the mailbox and I don't know when I'll get to them.

His response?


And this just made me crazy, because last Friday, we couldn't get him to shut the fuck up, especially about his "greatcoat" and his OCD bacon issue and his mother's irascible bowels. But now all he wants to do is badger me. So I wrote, "Also, I am accustomed to people saying please and thank you when I offer to do something for them. Just sayin'."

Kids these days. Honestly. Was this little goof raised by wolves, or is it because technology has made people lazy/impolite? There's no excuse, of course, technology or not. It would make me nuts, but he could say "plz" and "ty" without fear of his thumbs snapping off from fatigue while texting.

I know I probably sound like an old, old fart, but goddamn it, I have standards, standards that Professor Scruffy is not even close to meeting.

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Impenetrable Depths of Professor Scruffy

I declined to answer Professor Scruffy's inquiry regarding a suitable time to give me his gouges for sharpening. The next day, he sent me another private Facebook message that said simply "THEE."

I was confounded. What did this mean? Was it some obscure code, standing perhaps for "To Hell, Effete Elitist"? Somehow, I doubt that he has ever heard the word "effete", so that's probably not it. Yet how was I to reply? With an equally emphatic "THOU"?

Suddenly, I realized I had already wasted too much time and energy on the subject, and deleted his second message, too.

I am currently reading We Need To Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver. This is the novel that inspired the film starring the ephemeral Tilda Swinton, about a boy with mental health issues who kills some of his classmates. I have not seen the film, and I'm still not sure how I feel about the novel, being only nine pages in. The cover tells me that We Need To Talk About Kevin is the winner of the Orange Prize (?) and promises me further delights such as Insights and Interviews. This makes me vaguely worried, as if this novel has been poisoned by the touch of Oprah and her Jodi Piccoult-loving legions.

Anyway, I just finished Guy Vanderhaeghe's The Last Crossing, which was spectacular, and therefore has set a pretty high standard for Mr. Shriver to meet. And so far, not so much. I'll give it until the end of the first chapter before I make up my mind, but the jury is still out.

Life is too short to waste on crappy writing (or television or film or music or anything else, for that matter).

Saturday, 15 March 2014

The Bitch Is Back

I am not a nice person.

Oh, don't get me wrong; I recognize that I have a few redeeming qualities. I'm intelligent, enthusiastic, humourous, loyal, and I try, most of the time, to be pleasant.

But it would be an error to mistake my superficial pleasantness for anything that approaches compassion or kindness. Because the other side of the coin is that I am judgemental, dismissive, and impatient with the stupid, rude or self-indulgent. Possibly because I have been exposed to vast quantities of insanity, especially (but not limited to) my working life, I simply do not have the time, energy or willingness to entertain the company of those who cannot (or will not) conduct themselves in a socially acceptable manner.

Society, as far as I am concerned, is entirely too cooperative.

Occasionally, I struggle against my true nature, and think I should be more charitable towards those less fortunate than myself, that I should cultivate patience and compassion for my fellow human. That I should cease to struggle against my true nature is proven over and over again by the asspain disasters that occur when I try to put aside my misanthropic ways in favour of a kinder me.

For example, the last time I decided to be nice to someone, it was an old creep in a medical scooter who asked me for a hug. Typically, such a request  would be met with flaring eyes and nostrils and an involuntary step in the opposite direction. And to be sure, each of my interactions with this guy in the past had been characterized by inexplicable feelings of disdain and "eww". It had nothing to do with the unknown medical condition that confined him to the scooter (athough I confess, amputees make me queasy); I had scarcely exchanged more than a dozen words with "Chester" in my whole life, but each time I saw him, I had fantasies of that scooter bursting into flames and careening up our street in a fiery inferno of Chester destruction.

But I couldn't tell you why. There was just something inexplicable and visceral about Chester that I didn't like. And because I couldn't put my finger on any reasonable excuse for wanting Chester to burst into flames, I decided I needed to work harder at being nice to him. You know, for my own development as a person.

Sadly, when I acquiesced to his request for a hug, he groped my breasts. I called him on it, and he responded with, "What? It's just my hands!"

I briefly considered punching him in the throat, but if he called the police, it was his word against mine vis-a-vis the groping, and I would look like an even bigger twat for punching the cripple.

I share this anecdote as an illustration as to why I--from this day forward--will resist my nobler inclinations to be "nice" or "helpful" to others who have not been admitted into my sanctum sanctorum.

I learned that lesson for the last time yesterday.

The Fragrant Missus is, on the surface, a much nicer and charitable person than I am. Although she is occasionally taken advantage of by douchebags, she is much more forthcoming with acts of kindness. Thus, when one of her young companions expressed a desire to go to Lee Valley to look at tools, she offered to take him there. As a carver of soapstone, I am a big fan of Lee Valley and chose to go along for the ride, thinking I could score some tagua nuts in order to try my hand at carving netsuke.

I knew in advance that this fellow was young, between 19 and 21 years of age, and some level of social ineptitude was a given, since she knows him from the steampunk community. I have met several members of this group, and am left with an impression of dysfunctional and eccentric individuals who, if they devoted as much energy, time and money into getting and keeping jobs as they do to their hobby, would be successful adults indeed. 

But Professor Scruffy exceeded all of my expectations.From the moment he walked into my house with his straggly black hair, a patchy adolescent beard and a trenchcoat too big and long for him, he exhibited a flair for social awkwardness that bordered on the pathological.  

As he waited for us to get ready to go, he asked us pointblank, "What is your relationship?"

The Fragrant Missus told him we are married. He wanted to know for how long (as if it is any of his business). I told him we married in 2006. He counted on his fingers to determine that was eight years ago. Then he mused aloud--because none of Professor Scruffy's dialogue is internal--on the "dynamic" of our relationship.

I could tell this was going to be a long day.

Once in the car, he asked us if we self-identify as pagans, a question I found both personal and impertinent. 

Of course, Professor Scruffy doesn't work, but he does occupy his time by carving magical wands out of various wooden doweling for the pagan community. He hopes to sell these at an upcoming "Witch's Fair". He doesn't have any tools, per se, he's been using an exacto blade and files on bloodwood. He told me he has a set of gouges given to him by another steampunker, but they are too dull to make an impression in the wood.

And I felt a little sorry for him (the contempt hadn't set it just yet), so I offered to sharpen his gouges. Remember this for later.

We stopped at A&W for breakfast, at which point, Professor Scruffy proceeded to inform the Fragrant Missus and me that, when he eats bacon, he always takes a small piece of it and sets it aside to eat later. It's only with bacon. He doesn't do it with any other meat or food, not pork chops or ham or chicken or anything else. It's only bacon and he's been trying to think of the last time he did this with any other food and he can't remember it, so it has to be bacon only.

At this point, I looked at the Fragrant Missus and said, "You owe me big time."

During our time in the car, Professor Scruffy wanted to talk about his wands (insert eye-rolling here), and how he should market them. I told him he has a wealth of material to work with, since he is selling to the pagan market. Without coming right out and telling him that they are highly susceptible to specific kinds of manipulation, I told him to advertise that he first cleansed the wood with smudges and clear quartz under a full moon, and that he carves exclusively in a circle of power while burning dragon's blood incense. I told him further to tell his clients that the images for his wands come to him in meditative dreams, and...well, you get the idea. He took it all in, but I don't know how much of it will stick, since I get the impression that his brain is coated in teflon.

I got rid of him as soon as I could, dropping him off at one of the train stations downtown, but by then we had heard all about his mother's irritable bowel syndrome and his grandmother's Alzheimer's and how many times he steps on the hem of his "greatcoat" (it's not a greatcoat, it's a trenchcoat), or gets it caught in doors, etc, and then he wanted to thank us for taking him to Lee Valley, but he couldn't remember my name.

Yet when we got home, there was a private message for me on Facebook from Professor Scruffy, asking when would be a good time to have the gouges sharpened. There was no preamble, no "It was nice meeting you" , or "Thank you for your thoughts on marketing", or "I appreciate the guidance you gave me regarding how to use my tools." No. Just, "when would be a good day to bring the tools to be sharpened." Just like that--no capital letters, no punctuation, no thank you. Just that.

And of course, now I'm sorry that I gave in to my impulse to be nice to this socially crippled pre-adult who characterized the Fragrant Missus as "the nice one," and me as "the opposite", despite only having known me for four or five hours. And it's not that I disagree with his assessment--I spent the preface of this blog entry emphasizing that I perceive myself to be something of a selfish cunt. I just think that Professor Scruffy needs to keep his mouth shut, or, alternatively, realize that when he tells people to their face that they are "not nice", those not-nice people will reinforce his belief by refusing to sharpen his fucking tools for him. 

So it is entirely possible that with this new resolve to be less kind to those I deem unworthy or too bothersome, I have joined the ranks of douchebags, which abound. But I'm afraid that I have neither the motivation or desire to spend any more time in Professor Scruffy's company. In fact, I will go out of my way to avoid having to do so. I recognize that he has some mental health/social issues, and that possibly what he needs is guidance and education, rather than to be shunned. 

But I've decided also that it's not my job to teach people how to behave. If I wanted children, I'd have had 'em. I don't believe in taking on people as "projects"; I find that attitude to be arrogant and patronizing. When confronted by bad behaviour or douchebaggery, I may, given the right set of circumstances, offer feedback. But I will not seek out these opportunities or waste my time and energy on People Like That. We all walk different paths, and too often my path has intersected with those who have crumbled under the burden of too many challenges, or who have not the wherewithal to reflect or make changes. Their path is their path and my path is my path, and I will not--cannot--walk alongside Them. That is someone else's job.

And if that makes me a douchebag, so be it.