Friday, November 28, 2014

Her Dimples, So Merry!

After Novemberance Day, people really seem to get in the holiday mood. They start shopping, decorating, sending out greeting cards over a month early (hi, April!), and generally sortof freaking out. Small talk invariably turns to "preparedness" - "What are your holiday plans?" "Are you ready for Christmas?" "How is your planning coming along?" Like there's a war or a zombie apocalypse brewing rather than a mid-winter calorie-and-booze fest.

I'm generally pretty organized, so most years when people start asking those kinds of things I first carefully gauge their level of panic to decide whether or not I should tell them I finished prepping back in October. By the end of November, I'm typically left with the tasks of walking my long-completed stack of holiday cards to the mailbox and setting up a tree. (Then writing about the tree.) Easy!

This year, those folks can go ahead and hate me for a different reason entirely: this year, I'm not planning anything at all. Sure, I'll take my stack of cards to the mailbox this weekend (yup, they're already done), but other than that, nada. Instead, I'm taking the family on a tropical beach vacation.

Because I paid for the trip back in February, this has lifted the holiday planning burden from my shoulders for the entire year - there has been no stocking up on stocking stuffers, no buying an extra of anything "just in case", no warehousing of baking supplies. Why bother? We're not going to be here! This is shaping up to be the single most stress-free holiday season I have ever experienced. 

And speaking of shaping up, I know lots of folks (okay, women) who count down the weeks to their tropical beach vacations with a punishing schedule of salads and gym visits so they can lose "those last five pounds" or "look hot in a bikini". Ironically, witnessing this phenomenon has also lifted a holiday planning burden from my shoulders, one that I didn't even know I had - I am so far, so light-years away from a bikini body that there is no point in even bothering with the pretense of the gym in the coming weeks. Sure, pass the cookie tin, 'cause why the hell not? And what is this "base tan" you speak of, anyway? Turns out, I don't have to do anything to prepare for this vacation. I worked hard, I earned it, I'm going to darn well enjoy it, and no "last eighty pounds" are going to stand in my way!

Sure, I'll be hitting the gym and the salad bar again come January. But for now, it's Mele Kalikimaka to all and to all a good night.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

LoBotany? BoNotomy?

Hey, whaddya get when you put twelve botanists in a room and make them decide how to group line items in a budget?

You think I'm going to give a punchline now but I'm not, 'cause it's not funny. It's an actual thing that actually happened. To me. And what you get is the very definition of hell, plus the slow and creeping fear that you must not be a very good botanist because you don't really give a shit about whether the phone bill gets slotted under Administration or Communication, yet all these other botanists seem to care. A lot.

Deep breaths. You're a good botanist. You're a good botanist. You're just a shitty accountant is all. Yeah, that's what. Just go home and read about sedges and you'll be totally legit again.

So I read about some sedges for a while, then got bored and decided to do some baking (still good! sedges are just boring to read!) and realized in looking at my recipe collection that I actually taxonomize the bejeebus out of everything in life so I must be okay after all. I have rigorous and complex systems for recipe organization, Halloween candy sorting, sock drawer arrangement - you name it, I identify it, label it, and stuff it in a category. I just *occasionally* see the need to back on up a level and call a few relatively similar things all "cookies" in effort to stem the madness.  

I even taxonomize my relationships. I have, for instance, Close Friends, Old Friends, Neighbour Friends, Work Friends, Facebook Friends, LinkedIn Friends, Other Classroom Parent Friends, Frenemies, People I Don't Actually Know But I See Often Enough To Awkwardly Acknowledge and Talk To Friends, Favourite Relatives, Less Favourite Relatives, Plain Weird Relatives, Relatives I Don't Actually Know At All But You Somehow Do So I Will Awkwardly Explain How I Don't Know Them, Work Nemeses, Work Sisters, a Work Dad (a new one, since my old one retired), and even a Work Husband or three. Occasionally, I see perfectly good reason to back on up a level and not let people know precisely which branch of the "Relatives" tree they're on. (Suddenly starts to sound like wise management instead of poor accounting, doesn't it?)

I've asked a few of my Work Husbands whether they categorize people in similar ways (e.g., Work Wives) and the answer is, invariably, no. This could be a personality thing, a botany thing, a gender thing - I don't know for sure, but it does suggest the individual inhabiting the monotypic genus "DH" is likely to take issue with my Work Husband category. Don't worry, dear - the Work Husband category is a benign one, characterized by an abundance of bickering and a lack of sex. Just like being married! It's those darn work boyfriends you have to worry about.

Of course, I don't have any of those...

Handy Dandy

I always admire the skill and creativity that go into set design, especially in smaller venues where talented folks do so much with the limited space available. Really, it's one of my favourite things about live theatre. I was admiring aloud the set of a play DH and I were attending this past weekend when he turned to me and said, "You know, I always thought set design was something I would like to get into one day."


DH and I have known each other for over thirteen years, and while I accepted a lot of false advertising and bravado from him in the early days of our relationship - yeah, yeah, I'm sure he did likewise - I feel this kind of posturing is frankly silly around someone who has known you for so long. Maybe it was the low-grade headache I'd had all day, maybe it was his treading on my status in the relationship as 'the creative one', or maybe it was the threat to my financial stability that would be posed by such a suicidal career change on DH's part - whatever the reason, I couldn't let this one slide:

"But dear, you're neither handy nor artistic. That doesn't seem like a very good fit."

"Yeah, I'm handy."

* * *
You've heard that old adage about work, the sortof Venn diagram cum Catch-22 between cost, speed and quality, where you can pick only two of the three qualities? Years of household chores and minor home renovations have highlighted what amounts to nothing less than a fundamental difference of opinion between us on what constitutes "good enough". I am the sort of person who will happily shell out for quality and timeliness, while DH and his old buddies, Fast and Cheap, have preemptively smothered Quality in its sleep and ridden off into the sunset on Half-Assed Trail. Usually drunk.

Being a naturally skeptical person, I'm constantly reserving judgement for the peer-reviewed evidence of a given claim. So maybe DH is handy, it's just that, in thirteen-plus years, the evidence I have seen suggests that "set design" is pretty much to DH as "swimsuit model" is to me.

* * *
We stared awhile at one another across the Gulf of Mutual Incomprehension. (You what? You think what? Who are you?)

"Oh," I finally said. "Right." And texted myself a great idea for a blog post. Because creative one.