Monday, December 11, 2017

BrandStand

A good friend of mine was telling me about her (and by association, her family's) personal brand recently. I paid close attention because personal branding is apparently a Thing these days, and I guess in this brave new world of personalizing your professional life (and/or vice versa?) I should as a businessperson at least consider what kind of brand I am presenting.

Hers an appealing brand that I fully admire, yet am unable to subscribe to personally as it seems to involve more photographs than I am comfortable with taking/sharing. I accidentally signed up for Instagram a little while ago and developed an immediate, visceral hatred of it. I also despise Facebook and LinkedIn, but it took me slightly longer to cultivate my hatred of them so I'm guessing that photos are just really not my thing. For the record, I also hate Pinterest (on principle: it pisses me off to no end that you have to sign up to even peek at a recipe that's posted on their site) and Reddit (HOW does it eat up so much of my life... oooh, r/teefies!), and I have abstained from all other social media sites because my track record suggests that I would probably both hate them and waste my life on them if I did sign up.

So, aside from hating social media, what is my "brand"? Setting aside the question of whether a non-photogenic person can even have a brand - and if so, if anyone would be interested in it - I have developed a few ideas about what my brand might entail:

First of all, my brand is obviously word-based and not photo-based, because here we are on my blog and emphatically not on my ill-fated Instagram account. It's also very family-oriented (although not necessarily family-friendly, due largely to certain frequently occurring words), and although it loves its line of work, it works to live rather than living to work - my out-of-office reply will be happy to take your inquiry while I'm away on Christmas vacation.

My brand is organized A.F. and enjoys cooking. It used to also enjoy baking until its significant other stopped eating gluten, The Magic Ingredient (turns out it wasn't love that made everything good after all). My brand likes taking frequent, measured risks to keep life interesting, such as "I don't need directions"; "I'm just gonna wing this"; "Welp, let's see what my hair gets up to today"; and "People are coming over for dinner, I think I'll try a bunch of new recipes!"

My brand has its own laugh track, which is just me laughing at things all the time, so don't worry about whether you like my brand or not because it is having enough fun without you.

My brand will not be doing any public speaking, ever, so don't even ask.       

Finally, my brand has a small oversharing problem. However, this might be a positive thing if I understand this personal branding thing correctly - one might even call me a pioneer in the field of personal-professional partitional porosity. I'm so putting that on my resume...

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Checkered Past

Me: What r u wearing tonight?

Friend: Jeans and a top. Maybe underwear.

Me: Cool, yeah, def me too. 

*puts two dozen dresses I had been trying on back in closet*

Why so many dresses? Well, first of all, I don't get out much. Maybe I got a little excited, alright? Second, I really like dresses. Like, really like them. Dresses are to me like plaid, button-down shirts are to DH: shortly after he first discovered L.L.Bean, a shipping carton the size of a small refrigerator showed up at our house. He had ordered shirts in every kind of plaid they had, which is, apparently, an apartment-sized refrigerator amount of plaid. Which he then modeled for me, one by nearly indistinguishable one.

"Isn't this the same as the last one?"

"No, this is the chestnut tattersall," he said, "feel the weight of the fabric!"

Now, years later, when L.L.Bean boxes arrive at our house DH sortof squirrels them away without modeling anything. I assume this is because he has legitimately become a Hoarder of plaid, button-down shirts and is afraid that I - a genetically-predispositioned Purger of things - may one day realize that he has approximately seven dozen plaid shirts crammed into our shared closet. Plus a few striped ones; mix things up a little, y'know?

Guess what? It looks like a fricking old man fabric store in there; I already noticed. If he died I could make like ten memorial quilts and start an L.L.Bean-themed B&B. But it allows me to justify buying a lot of dresses, so whatever. (To be fair to DH, my dress closet also looks like a fabric store - just a way more interesting one. He can start a Super Awesome-themed B&B when I die.)

I rediscovered dresses in my early thirties. I don't recall why I was so opposed to them for so long - possibly something to do with my Grandma's desire to outfit me in overly froofy dresses when I was little - but me and dresses fell in love all over again at that point and never looked back. I mean, they're fun! They're only froofy if you want them to be! My ankles are one of my few truly good features anymore! What's not to love?

Finally, I love dresses because they are forgiving of one's teensy flaws, such as a natural tendency to - shall we say - "wax and wane" a bit. I had to try on two dozen of them in part to sort out which ones were most... wax-y. Which, judging by the way I was sweating like a hog when I finally thought to text my friend about what she was planning to wear for our dinner date, surely counts as (wane-inducing!) exercise, right? Dresses for the win yet again!


P.S. Your fitness app probably doesn't have anything for sweating through dress trying. I checked.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Look Right Here

Sometimes my scientific interest gets the best of me.

"Would you like to view the placenta?" Sure I would!

(Which, by the way, they displayed to me somewhat formally and sombrely, with a side of knotted umbilical cord - it gave the odd impression that I was supposed to sniff the cork or bless the chef or something.)

Nope, I actually did not want to view the placenta. Whatever made me think I did? And can you kindly direct me to your memory cleansing department so they can Men-in-Black me now please?

For the record, there is no memory cleansing department. Given the shit that goes on in hospitals, they should really work on that. Also given the shit that goes on in hospitals, I think they should offer mobile spa - and possibly tattoo - services, so you can at least wake up waxed. I always like there to be a bright side to traumatic events.

"We have a screen set up so you can watch the biopsy if you like?" Sure I would!

No. No I wouldn't. And despite this taking place over a decade after The Placenta Present-ah, still no memory cleansing or complimentary Brazilian for my troubles. (Seriously, guys - you really need to work on that.)

Most recently, I had dental surgery this week. A gum graft, to be specific. (Don't overbrush, kids! And definitely don't Google gum graft.) Approximately half the procedure - about an hour - was spent scraping my gums away from my teeth and bone, which was the single most disturbing thing I have ever witnessed in all my misguided scientific witnessing. Because, naturally, Sure I would! watch the whole thing in the tiny-yet-remarkably-clear reflection on my dentist's protective goggles.

I really need to change my scientific motto to 'Why would I!' - exclamation point rather than question mark so it's clear I don't want an answer. 

The hoped-for bright side to this particular traumatic event is that I will no longer have an area of severely receding gums to contend with. In the meantime, the less-bright sides include a mouthful of disgusting stitches, a mind-full of that disgusting surgery which I do not know why I watched, and a mandatory - disgusting - mush-based diet for the next two weeks. It's been less than 48 hours of mush and I've basically already lost my will to live.

Oh yeah - and still no waxing. Dang.

Free Range Good Eggs

We are fortunate to live in a neighbourhood where it seems unlikely anyone will phone Child Protective Services for allowing one's children to do a little healthy free-ranging. Actually, if you are thinking of having, or already have, children and are committed to some healthy free-range but fear your neighbourhood might not be well-suited to it, call me - real estate here is well priced and the free-ranging is fine. Plus I'm a good person to live near: I won't stop by unannounced; I will bring you food on occasion; and I basically always have the ingredient you're missing. Win-win!

But back to free-ranging. Small Fry is actually experiencing a version of the childhood everyone seems to look back on fondly, but no one seems to be able to re-create for their own kids. He gets to and from the local school by himself, with his own muscles, and he roams and plays freely after school and on weekends with an assortment of pals. What do they get up to for, like, thirty unsupervised hours a week? For the most part, I do not know because I am not there.

From the breathless snippets I do hear, it all seems very wholesome and distinctly boy-ish: there seems to be a lot of soccer, basketball, climbing, digging, and dumpster-diving for "supplies" (for fort construction and boxsledding, natch). Also, interestingly, the occasional cricket match. I hear most of this in passing, usually as an offhand comment Small Fry makes while telling a different and often less-interesting story:

'Wait wait wait - did you just say boxsledding?'

'... A garbage fort?'

'Whoa, what candy stash?' 'Just... in the ground?'

This is all very fascinating to me but I don't want him to clam up so I don't pry, and I try really hard not to intervene. I did learn where I draw the line one day when he popped in 'just to borrow a lighter': I draw the line at accidentally burning anything down. So if this is all giving anyone anxieties (*cough* grandparents who literally never supervised us and we did have lighters, plus your secondhand smoke and no helmets or seatbelts, etc. *cough*), y'all can rest easy now.

Currently Small Fry and a couple of pals are digging a tunnel. I noticed he had been tracking in a lot of leaves and rocks the past few days and asked him to sweep up: 'Oh, sorry Mom, I was underground.'

Hm... it may be time for me to request a tour of this tunnel. All kids think they're digging tunnels, but  given Small Fry's admirable dedication to digging efforts in the past, I suspect I might have to shut down operations and - as I understand this possibly-actual-tunnel is located in a public park - perhaps provide an anonymous 3-1-1 tip.

Probably none of this seems terribly surprising - Small Fry is a nine-year-old boy, after all. So in closing, I offer up the free-range story that I think speaks best to the secret, rich emotional lives of kids, and one that couldn't have happened without his ranging free:

'How was your day?'

'Well, Dexter couldn't come outside 'cause he has an eye infection and so does his brother and David wasn't home and I couldn't find the twins that I can't tell which is which, so I went to the bus stop and got one of those free newspapers and climbed on top of the shed** and read it.'

Probably thinking of all the other times he's ever tried to read a Metro - which is to say, in the middle of the kitchen floor while I am trying to cook supper and he is supposed to be lining the compost bin with said publication - he paused thoughtfully for a moment, then said:

'It was relaxing. I think I'll do it again a different day.'

** We do not have a shed.
 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Shower Beer and Other Lies

I used to spend a lot of time and energy pretending to like things I didn't. For instance, beer and chicken wings. I don't really like either of those things (yeah yeah, I'm a monster, whatever), but damned if I didn't consume great quantities of them with my pals/coworkers/boyfriends back in the day. I occasionally enjoy a beer or ten these days, but once I discovered wine the gig was basically up.

I remember my classmates in college talking about drinking beer in the shower, and how it was so amazing. Hot shower + cold beer = apparently life-changing awesomeness. I pondered this arithmetic at home that night. Salt and nuts aren't all that amazing on their own, but when you put them together they're unstoppable - or maybe I'm unstoppable, in that I can't stop eating them - so maybe there was something to this beer-shower business? I looked in my fridge. No beer, but there was a butterscotch pudding cup. Maybe it's just something cold and enjoyable contrasted with the hot and enjoyable shower that made it so good? I decided to give it a shot.

Nope. It was either watery pudding in the shower, or regular pudding while getting cold outside the spray. Fair enough, rookie mistake: you clearly need something enjoyable that you don't have to eat with a spoon.

Yogurt tube? Carrot sticks? No and no. So it has to be something you drink, right?

After a couple more rookie mistakes (cup of coffee and glass of wine, respectively), it was clear that you need a beverage that water can't get into and wreck. Then after a couple more semi-pro** mistakes (**by this point I could no longer pretend at being a rookie) (tin of Coke Zero, bottle of Perrier), it became clear that I just don't like eating or drinking things in the shower.

And honestly, why would I? Showers are good enough on their own. Showers don't need butterscotch pudding or Perrier, or even beer - especially beer! - to be amazing. Why would showers add useless fluff, or pretend to be something they're not?

Allow me to clarify a point: I finished college in 2003. I was disappointed by a bottle of Perrier in the shower stall of a crappy motel room in Bow Island about six weeks ago. This has been a very protracted experimental process, to arrive at a conclusion that should have been immediately self-evident. Here is what I should have said to my college classmates all those years ago: Beer in the shower? Sounds pretty medium. I'm just gonna stick to my usual routine of conditioning masks and masturbating and never think about you guys and your beer-showers ever again.

Be yourself, friends. You're good enough just the way you are.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Farmer Pinterest

I've driven all over rural western Canada, and I would sincerely like to know how it is so many far-flung folks all got together and decided to put up No Hunting tires. Also boot (or sometimes hat) fences, and motor vehicles on sticks. Seriously, is there some sort of Farmer Pinterest out there I'm not aware of? I checked regular Pinterest (gag) but was unable to find the No Hunting tires section, so I'm thinking it's probably on the dark web instead - where all the most insane things in the world are. Or so I've heard.

I've come to think the vehicles on sticks may serve as a warning to other vehicles, much like a head on a spike: don't mess with *this* farmer, or else! Sure enough, there's always a car graveyard of varying size out back somewhere, so you KNOW they're serious. Heck, maybe that's what the hat/boot fences are, too. Dude had one too many treasonous rubber boots for his liking and he is letting the rest of his footwear know the consequences, lest they try any funny business.

Cool thing about the Farmer Pinterest is how accessible the crafts are, compared to regular Pinterest. Guess that explains why you never see Farmer Pinterest Fails, 'cause how could you fail at nailing weird crap to a fence? I have definitely had footwear let me down at inopportune times in the past - I, too, could have a boot fence! Actually I'd probably do more of a mixed-footwear fence; what's Pinterest if not a jumping off point for your own creative take, right? I would hammer up the flip-flop that broke on me while I was touring a lava field in Hawaii - bastard hurt my foot, nicked my pedicure AND the spare shoes I had in the car didn't go well with my outfit. Your sole on a spike! Let this be a warning to your rubba slippah brethren!

Hiking boots that leaked water too early in the field day for my liking? On the fence! Those cute little Sketchers slip-ons that get so unbearably stinky that you can't even wear them? Fence! Every pair of painful heels ever?** Fence! I hate running; why do I even have these? Fence!

Wow, now I can see how that caught on - the power is intoxicating! Surely no shoe will ever dare betray me again. Thanks for the great craft ideas, Farmer Pinterest! I think next I'm gonna make a No Pooping tire to warn off the neighbourhood cats, and although I'm not really feeling the vehicle on stick thing, if the food processor ever craps out I'll definitely keep it in mind.


**(Dear shoe collection: you know I'm only teasing, my beauties. Mommy loves you.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Zucchini Week

Well, it's that 'OMG what am I going to do with all this zucchini?' time of year again. As well as 'Why didn't I write down what I did with it all last year?' time. So this year, guess what? I am writing (typing) it down: here is our menu for this week, with links to some yummy recipes as a starting point if you need the inspiration.

By my calculations, a family of four can burn through 5-6, toddler-sized zucchini in a week following the below plan. If you happen to need some help scaling your own personal Mount Zucchini, then you're welcome. If you do not currently need such assistance, you may want to check your doorstep on Saturday...

Sunday: chocolate-zucchini loaf (you probably already have a good recipe kicking around - use that) (make extra)

Monday: roasted corn and basil soup with zucchini-corn fritters and chipotle aioli

Tuesday: Thai coconut chicken with peanut dipping sauce, green papaya salad (made with shredded fresh zucchini instead of green papaya - trust me), and coconut rice

Wednesday: German potato salad (oh yeah, we also have a ton of taters in the garden this year, and they are ah-mazing!), sauteed zucchini and grilled sausages

Thursday: Italian meatball soup (drop smallish, fresh meatballs into boiling chicken or veggie broth and simmer 'til cooked, then add flavoury stuff and whatever zucchini, tomatoes, basil, beans, etc. that are overflowing your garden and cook until tender) with crusty bread

Friday: stuffed zucchini (cut one large zucchini or several small ones in half lengthwise; stuff with whatever sounds delicious; bake, or roast on low heat in the BBQ, 'til zucchini boats are fork-tender)

Saturday: wrap large zucchini in a swaddling blanket and drop on neighbour's doorstep, then order pizza. You deserve a break.

Sunday: commence Tomato Month!

Keep fighting the good fight, my gardening friends!