Thursday, December 1, 2016

No Atheists Between Fencelines

Welcome to my first ever multi-media blog post. Please take a moment to prepare yourself for a full sensory experience.

First, imagine a beautiful summer day on the prairies. No one is around. You - one slightly largish biologist - are hiking along. Never mind why; just be one with the slightly largish biologist here for a moment. You come to a fence. You carefully cross the fence. You carefully stand up.

Cue music: Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime". Start the song right at...

"My god, what have I done?!"

A second fence presents itself, precisely the width of one largish biologist apart from the first and stretching for approximately all eternity in both directions.

The second fence is tight AF. Like, so tight that there is no way it was not done maliciously. You find yourself firmly pinned by barbed wire on all sides and unable to move. You wish David Byrne would just shut up for a minute so you could think. You pray - really, fervently pray - that no one can see you.

It takes a full twenty minutes to get yourself face down on the ground, and another five to worm slowly sideways under the 100% not pronghorn-legal second fence. The rose bush caressing your face distracts you from thinking about how many ticks are crawling on you.

Finally, you emerge. One day, you think, once the ol' wounded pride has healed up a bit and assuming this doesn't go viral on YouTube in the interim - you check again to make sure no one is around - this will make an excellent blog post. Good thing you got a picture.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Massage Montage

Little known fact about massage therapy school: it's 2,000 hours of hands-on treatment time PLUS 2,000 hours of internet conspiracy indoctrination. ("Ahhh," I hear you saying. "It all makes perfect sense now!")

Even the most normal-seeming massage therapist I ever had once growled at me, "Corn. Is. NOT. Food."

I could sortof let this slide because she did really good shoulder work, but seriously - what the hell you got against corn, lady? Did it, like, run off with some other gal and never pay child support? Because I typically reserve that kind of venom for my ex-husband, not important staple crops.

Normal-Seeming Therapist quit years ago and I've been searching for a replacement Tolerably Normal Therapist ever since. Which is to say, I've been conducting monthly interviews with an endless string of certifiable nut jobs, while nude.

I had one who used to massage horses (let's just say that again: Massage. Horses. What?), which leads me to this unlikely life pro tip: the instant someone says "massage horses" to you, you get up off the table and nope the fuck outta there, because if someone opens with that the interaction is not going anywhere even remotely sane. Anyway, Horse Masseuse somehow got displaced from an organic off-grid grow op in remote rural BC to downtown Calgary and couldn't find her way home or something, and would spend entire sessions muttering about how the medical establishment was out to stop her, just look what they did to chiropractors, frequently pausing the actual massage that I was actually paying actual money for to lean in beside my ear and hiss, "BIG PHARMA!" or "THE MAN!" or "THEY CONTROL ALL THE SEEDS!"

Mostly, however, they seem to cluster somewhere a little less extreme on the spectrum of interweb credulousness. Tonight's therapist seemed so promising - brisk manner, firm pressure, silent for the first three full minutes! Then he started talking and alas, it was all over for me. It was a 90-minute (okay, 87-minute, I'll give him credit for those first three quiet ones) rambling tirade that ran the quackery gamut from lymphatic congestion, the indigestibility of dairy, "acidity", "energy", and, perhaps least scientifically of all, "You can't get hydrated from drinking fluids because the water is in solution!"

I thought we were heading down what I've come to view as a pretty standard pseudo-scientific path for massage therapists but that water in solution bit was totally uncharted territory for me. Wait - the water is what, exactly? Wet?

There are many reasons why I go for massages regularly, and none of them are because I want to keep up on the latest in fruitloopery. And yet, here we are. I long ago started to kick off each session by announcing that I am a biologist, in hopes that they might catch the chill of skepticism wafting off of me but it hasn't helped. For folks who think they can sense the energies or whatever the fuck, they sure are poor at reading their audience.

Really, here's the heart of my complaint: I am paying them. A lot. By the rules of bartenders and therapists, that means I get a platform for airing my craziness, yet even if I want to chat I usually can't get a word in edgewise with RMTs for all their soapboxing. And by the rules of being naked and prone while a stranger beats on my muscles - well, I don't know what the rules are for that, exactly, but frankly I feel taken advantage of. I shouldn't have to listen to their nonsense, whatever the content, because I am paying them to shut up and tenderize my glutes already. How is a scientifically literate and conflict-averse person supposed to relax under such conditions?

Here are the new rules, which I will now be announcing before I ever put my face in one of those damn lobotomy donut pillows ever again:

1. No talking.
2. If talking required, then [citation needed] for any health, scientific, or other claims made during session.

That's it. You want to talk at me during a massage session? It had better be sensible. Otherwise you just chant "I want a tip today, I want a tip today" over and over to yourself in your head to help motivate you to stay quiet. 

Oh, yes, and one final thing I almost forgot:

3. More glutes and feet, please.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Le Phone App, C'est Crap

DH is a person who studies for vacation. I mean, everybody plans for vacation to a greater or lesser degree, but DH full on studies. I would say that he is not super "into" doing any particular things really hard, but lemme tell you - this guy is going to fricking ace our Christmas vacation this year.

I admire his dedication; it means I don't have to do anything to prepare.

He has been sleuthing online, reading a big stack of travel guides, surveying his friends and colleagues - all the typical stuff. Most impressively, he has been studying the language every day, using a phone app. Currently, the app is telling DH he is 39% fluent in French, and an app would never, like, grossly misrepresent its efficacy or anything, right?

Okay, I am trying really hard not to rain on my own upcoming relaxation-thanks-to-someone-else's-hard-work parade, but I have to say I do sortof question the phone app's methods sometimes. Not that my own non-app experiences in learning French were necessarily any better - I took French classes for twelve years in school and I couldn't hold a conversation with a Kindergartner. (Though to be fair, school was a pretty long time ago, and no one ever promised me I was 39% fluent.)

Back around 18% fluency, I felt the app had leaned heavily on some pretty bullshit phrases. I can hear DH practicing every night, and it is across the board stuff like, "I eat tomatoes." "The woman wears a hat." "The cat is brown."

(Actually, DH is a bit of a yeller as a general rule, and when he's talking to his phone app or any relatives on his mother's side he's even louder. So if you're imagining this scene, make sure your imaginary DH is shouting non sequiturs en Francais for 20 minutes every night. "I ENJOY SALAD!" "HE READS A BOOK!") (Imaginary DH should also be wearing plaid, for historical accuracy.)

Around 31%, things started getting downright absurd: I kid you not, one night I heard DH exclaim, "THE SHARK IS FOUR!" ... Huh?

And now, nearing 40% fluency, the app has moved right along to completely inappropriate statements that you would not just never use as a regular non-lobotomized adult human, but could never use because one cannot simply go around shouting, "HE IS FAT BECAUSE HE EATS FRENCH FRIES!" no matter how true it might be.

To give the app credit, all of this is a far cry from DH's previous level of French-speaking ability. When we had a French exchange student stay with us, he greeted her the first day by yelling, "LE BAGUETTE! HAR HAR HAR!" Like, full Awkward Movie Dad mode. It was mortifying, and I had a distinct lingering fear that I was going to have to gag DH and lock him in a cupboard for the duration of our vacation for precisely this reason. So while shouting "I EAT TOMATOES!" all over France would probably make him look like a bit of a moron, at least he would seem like a health-conscious, inoffensive sort of moron. However, making judgmental proclamations about people's dietary choices has brought us right back to those cringe-worthy "baguette" days of yore. What the hell is this app thinking?

We're only at 39% so I'm willing to hold out a bit longer for the big reveal, where the pieces all fall into place for Awkward Movie Dad and he is transformed into a normal human who can successfully make polite, sensible statements in the context of realistic life situations. But let it be known, phone app, that if you have not seriously started to turn things around by 65% fluency or mid-November, whichever comes first, I am going to Uninstall your ass and we're gonna do this the old-fashioned way instead: rely on our bilingual eldest child as an interpreter.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Thoughts Within His Head

'Hey, Small Fry, I'm going to the drugstore - wanna come with me?'


* * *

'So what're we buying?'

'Well, Dad needs some medicine, and your sister needs dividers for her school binders, and I need some of that toothpaste I like.'

'And what do I need?' *waggles eyebrows at me*

'Um... nothing that I know of.'

'How about some ice cream?' *more waggling*

'Ha - naw, I don't think so buddy. You didn't bring your -'


*starts singing 'Iron Man' riff while unbuttoning pants in the middle of Shopper's Drug Mart*

*rummages around in front of pants*

*pulls wallet out of pants with dramatic flourish - Iron Man supplanted by triumphant laughter*

'Ta-daaa! Now can I get some ice cream?'

*solid three-second response delay; blinks a few times* '... How long has that been in there?'

*tsks* 'Don't worry, Mom - I'm wearing underwear. I'm gettin' a Magnum Gold bar.' *marches off*

* * *

We were going to go home and make supper right away but I was sortof - I don't know - stunned into letting him get an ice cream. Like, exactly how long has he been stuffing his wallet in his pants every day, waiting on the perfect moment to whip it out and prove his parents wrong? How has he imagined this scene playing out in his mind? Had he really already considered my potential objections to this particular storage location? How does he know Black Sabbath?

* * *

'That will be four twenty, young man.'

*counts up change and plops it on counter* 'Thanks.'

(to me) 'I think it's just so great when parents let them learn how to do some shopping by themselves. He is really learning a lot.'

'Lady - you have no idea the things this kid has learned.'

And come to think of it, apparently, neither do I.

Friday, August 26, 2016

From A to Denial

My very first post here as Frecklepelt, about 7 1/2 years ago, was about bra shopping. I had just discovered online bra shopping at that time and I've never looked back, on either the shopping thing or the blogging thing.

Before I learned about online bra shopping I would do the depressing store-based routine. Once when Medium Fry was just wee, maybe 4 years old, we were in the lingerie section together and she was thrilled with all the pretty "purses" they had on the racks. She had never seen adorable lacy normal-people bras before - only the enormous, pragmatic feats of structural engineering that inhabited our house - so she completely misinterpreted what all these delicate little padded, quarter-inch-strappy things were.

Eight or so years later, she needed some "purses" of her own and I must confess I was unreasonably excited at the prospect of finally, finally in my life being able to buy heaps of adorable lacy things in all the colours of the rainbow, even if they weren't for me. Sadly, my vicarious "lacy purse" dreams were shattered when I learned that her childhood tastes had evolved to more of a "sports purse" flavour over time. Alas.

But who knows, I thought, my day may yet come. Maybe Small Fry will take up cross-dressing in earnest one day, or I will be afflicted with a terrible wasting disease and wither away to a cup size serviced by the likes of La Senza et al. Anything is possible, right?

I have noticed a strange phenomenon among many parents of 20 and 30-somethings whereby they go to bed one evening fretting about their child getting knocked up/knocking someone up and wake the next morning demanding, "WHERE ARE MY GRANDBABIES?!" with no transition phase or sense of disconnect apparent. (I wisely preempted this phenomenon myself by having Medium Fry when I was 22.)

I found myself executing a similarly abrupt about-face on a recent shopping expedition with Medium Fry: one moment I was wistfully eyeing the rainbow lacies section while Medium Fry was getting measured for the correct purse size, and the next moment I was trying to mask the clear signs of the heart attack I was experiencing whilst choking out, "Are you certain she didn't say 'B' as in 'Bravo'? Or maybe 'C' as in 'Charlie'?"

... I was, very clearly, in D-nial.

On the bright side, once I got over this massive cognitive road block that I wasn't even aware I had, I got to mine one of my many esoteric fields of expertise and we spent a very informative afternoon learning about things like "uniboob" and "rocket tits" and how they are to be avoided. And we found a companiable middle ground where comfort, lift and separation all lived in harmony together in a muted yet fashionable colour palette.

My day had finally come.

Pressure is off, Small Fry. Wear whatever you like.

Friday, July 1, 2016


Paradoxically, there is something about a high-visibility vest that makes a person invisible. I think it lends an air of authority to whatever it is you're doing, so people's minds just slide off of you - I do not need any identification. I can go about my business. Works like a charm.

The only folks the visi-vest mind trick doesn't seem to work on are rural Saskatchewanites (Saskatchewaners? Saskatchewinigans?). Probably on account they don't see other humans all that often. And I can tell you they sure as hell don't see people out just walking around on the prairie. Like, with their feet. A person out walking around with their feet has an irresistible gravitational pull to Saskatchewanites - it's alarming to them, yet compelling. They don't know whether I've broke my quad or lost my horse. They want to help me. And then they want to have a nice long chat with me about what the heck I'm doing, plus the weather.

This urge to make contact with New Humans and learn all about Their Strange Ways is sometimes difficult for an introverted and socially awkward person like myself to deal with, but I do my best to be grateful. After all, this same friendly/curious/helpful disposition that magically magnets Saskatchewanites to someone just trying to have an honest pee in the grass also causes them to offer you a ride on their tractor or a tow out of a ditch without a moment's hesitation. Based on my experiences, I'm pretty sure there isn't a viable tow truck business in the province.

I'm actually not sure how there could be any viable businesses, period, because a by-product of the friendly/curious/helpful suite of traits seems to be a degree of trust in strangers that verges on the unhealthy. At gas stations, it means you will be laughed at if you try to "Pre-Pay ONLY" like the signage directs (one attendant was particularly delighted by the notion - "Hahaha, no one does that! How would that even work? No, you fill up first and then you pay. Hahaha!" She's probably still telling her friends about it.). In motel owners, this manifests as a general unwillingness to take my money - I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get people to let me pay for my rooms, and sometimes to even find someone to pay. I had the politest argument ever with an elderly motel owner just this week, trying to get him to let me pay for my room in advance of checking out. He was clearly offended: "That's not how we do things in the country, young lady." Like I'd asked him to tweak my nipples instead of swipe my Mastercard.

"Please let me pay now. I leave for work early in the morning."
"Well, I get up early too."
"Really. I have insomnia. I usually leave before the sun comes up."

That finally worked, but if it hadn't been so near the summer solstice I still don't think I would have convinced him. I set my alarm for 3:30am and snuck out in the dark so he couldn't feel vindicated in the morning if I accidentally slept in to a reasonable payment hour.

Back to the visi-vest mind trick: if it somehow has a reverse-psychological effect on Saskatchewanites, how does someone who has to wear one to work ever get any work done? I've developed a few techniques:

- Army crawl from your vehicle until you are sufficient distance away so as not to be visible from the road (not always possible - there are some flat parts).
- Steal out of town under cover of night.
- Really load up your schedule on Sundays when no one else is working (just one of the many perks of atheism!).
- If you see a branding, wedding, funeral, auction or nut-cut happening know that you can safely survey all surrounding lands within a 20-mile radius without fear of encountering anyone.
- For the love of Pete, do NOT mention that you or anyone you know was born in Saskatchewan, or you will have to play The Saskatchewan Game until you have established a kinship bond and gotten yourself at least invited for supper, and possibly also invited to marry some chronically single relative.
- As a last resort, if you just can't shake someone, plant ramble. People will literally back. away. slowly. from me if I go Full Ramble. Don't know anything about plants? Just pick a topic, man - even rural Saskatchewanites can be out-crazied, and the revelation frightens them.

Once you cross that border back into Alberta, though, you can forget all my handy hints - your visi-vest will be enough to spare you any human interactions whatsoever. You can walk around with your feet with utter impunity, but you'd best pick up an AMA membership just in case something ever actually does happen to your truck - based on my experiences, I'm pretty sure there are plenty of viable tow truck businesses in Alberta.

When I cross that border it is with a small twinge of sadness for all the friendly/curious/helpful oddballs I'm leaving behind. So long, Saskatchewan, and thanks for all the tows.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Golden Age

I just learned that those really nice, warm, slanty-light sorts of times right when the sun is coming up or going down are called 'the golden hour'. Never mind the actual duration of those times or that there are more than one of them per day, it's just hour, singular, and we're all meant to understand this.

Also never mind that people seem to see this kind of light and think of photography of all silly things. Photography! What the heck? I'll give photographers the benefit of the doubt and assume they just don't have a lot of chin hairs, but I will have it known that when see that kind of light my thoughts immediately turn to tweezing. I think, That thar is some hella good tweezing light. I think I'll go sit by a window and spend some qualidee time with the zoom side of my hand mirror. A golden hour indeed.

Shortly after learning this bit of trivia, I saw a pair of lighted tweezers for sale in a drugstore. If you're wondering, But what kind of light? then we are on the same page, friend.

It seems to me that the ideal lighted tweezer would be capable of providing all the different sorts of light that are required to flush out all the different sorts of stray hairs, because logic. There would of course be a 'warm slanty-light' setting - it's really a good illuminator of otherwise tough to find strays. A 'romantic table for two overhead light' would help all your unwanted moustache hairs glow especially brightly, although 'elevator light' would be an acceptable substitute if the ambience of the former is too difficult to capture in a handheld device. A 'through the car window while driving light' is excellent for discerning overlong hairs of the jaw and neck, while a plain 'office fluorescent' setting could help tease out the occasional frisky Scottish brow. Finally, 'overcast day' would be a wonderful all-purpose setting for one's general tweezing needs. I suppose they could add in a 'home bathroom' setting if they wanted to, but if that worked then we wouldn't need all those other ones now would we?  

The rubbish drugstore tweezers I saw, however, were apparently made by photographers because they came equipped with only a single, sortof bluish LED light.

Until the technology is there, it seems we're stuck with eliminating our stray hairs the old fashioned way: with the turning of the earth, the changing of the weather, and the driving of the car down the highway and OH MY GAWD WHAT IS THAT SPROUTING OUT OF MY NECK?!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hell Pinata

Did you hear the one about the guy who accidentally infested his boss' office with zillions of mini spiders on his second day of work? Me neither, but that would be pretty funny if it ever DID happen (*cough, cough, Jeff*). And if such a thing ever happened, it might remind me of this one story I'm super proud of from my life and should probably just write down so I stop repeating it to people. Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess...

Actually, once upon a time there was just regular me. I moved in with this gal who had bought a house with her fiance (her parents gave them the down payment as an engagement gift, if that helps you not feel too sorry for her later on in the story) but then they broke up and he moved out but they still worked together (ugh) and she was still in love with him (double ugh). The latter presumably being why - unbeknownst to me when I moved in there - he still had a house key months after he had moved out and I had moved in. He let himself in the house one night when Roomie was at work. He was a big, imposing guy (he worked as a bouncer) and was high as hell on I don't know what, so he thought he would stop by unannounced to see what I was doing. Was my boyfriend leaving soon? Should he come by after? That sort of thing. You know. Not scary or rapey at all.

So I told Roomie. Gently, because I knew it was not going to be easy for her to hear it, but firmly, because I didn't think I could feel safe living there unless we changed the locks. Her super logical response to her drug addict creep of an ex-fiance trespassing in her home and trying to fuck her roommate... was to kick me out. Because, love?

She generously gave me a whole week to find a new place to live. I won't even bother getting into what a practical and financial hardship this represented for me at that point in my life. What I will tell you is that Roomie was arachnophobic, and I am an excellent multitasker when sufficiently motivated. I kept going to work and school, while packing and house-hunting (no small task in those pre-internet days), and still found time to round up dozens of spiders and store them lovingly in individual storage containers. The house was in a new development and backed on to a natural area so there was no shortage of arachnid diversity to choose from. I even caught one of those huge hairy bastards that drop down onto your head from overhead beams like a pinata from hell. I don't ever really love spiders, exactly, but that one was horrifying to even get near enough to catch in a jam jar. But it was the cherry on the top of my collection because it seemed so poetically analagous to the ex-fiance - big, hairy, predatory, scary - so catch it I did.

On moving day I released my collection into her bedroom. One or more into each drawer, shelf, storage container, etc. A few in the ensuite. Extra in her bed and underwear drawers. And Mr. Cherry on Top, he got the walk-in closet all to himself. The perfect venue to hell pinata someone.

In retrospect, if I would have thought of the hilarious idea of a mini spider infestation back then, I would have done that, too. It wasn't my idea but I'm sure you can go ahead and use it if you like - it's a nice touch for all those 'roommate revenge' or 'new job' scenarios where you might want to make a particularly lasting impression.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Canola Crush Challenge

It is right around this time every year that I realize that I am going to die. Like, I always know that I'm going to die eventually, but it's the first greens of spring that send me into the full-blown panic of 'it's almost field season and I haven't moved from my desk in eight months'. That kind of die. A 'my first 15 kilometre day in steel-toed rubber boots is going to kill me' kind of die.

Also, are my field pants going to button? Always a dicey proposition this time of year.

2016 will be my 14th field season. I am not proud to admit that I've gone through this exact same process, every year, for over a decade. But I am proud to say that this year, I actually learned my damn lesson and did things differently: I worked out like a maniac five days a week. I did really bad Zumba, and took plus-sized ladies' yoga classes, and attempted insane workout videos in my basement. I even ponied up for a personal trainer a couple times a week.

This is not an inspirational forum so don't go expecting miraculous "after" photos or egg white recipes or anything. I hate that shit. The fact is that I look 100% the damn same as I did last spring, 'cept I can do way more pushups. (And if you want to feel my butt I will let you because it's AH-mazingly firm these days.) (Seriously. Feel my butt.)

So for the first time in all these years I was feeling pretty hunky dory about my upcoming field season. Confident, even. Until I raked (de-thatched) the lawn. Raking the lawn reminded me that nothing can prepare you for raking the lawn - I hurt for days. Similarly, there is precious little about a leisurely 45 minutes of watching Netflix on an elliptical trainer that is remotely comparable to hoofing around all day in steel-toed rubber boots with 25 pounds of crap stuffed in my field vest. Nothing can prepare you for walking through a bog.

Actually, I don't even know if you can call it walking, and it's not just bogs that are tough. Whatever very particular form of habitat-specific locomotion one must employ while attempting to traverse various difficult types of terrain/vegetation: nothing can prepare you. And just when you think you're finally prepared, it's welp, end of season, back to your desk, see ya next year sucker. I'll bet all those kettlebell swings you're doing in the interim will *totally* make a difference next time - good luck with that.

I really wish I had raked the lawn in the fall so I would have thought of this sooner. Dang. At this point I only have 2 weeks left to prepare so I guess all there is for me to do is get out there and hope for at least some improvement over previous years. This season, however, I will definitely be compiling ideas for a hardcore winter training program for field biologists.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

All Your Towels Are Belong To Us

I frequently think what could only be characterized as UnMotherly Thoughts to myself. I then mentally half-retract them out of guilt; then rally against my self censorship; then ultimately end up justifying my thoughts with the half-arsed rationale, "Well, I'm surely not the only person who thinks that! Totally normal!" and carry on with my day until the next UnMotherly Thought arises. Whole process takes about half a second, and repeats approximately every 5-7 minutes.

Don't worry, it's not very much guilt - just the briefest, weakest of twinges, swiftly followed by a slightly stronger twinge of guilt-for-not-feeling-too-terribly-guilty. Then I talk myself out of it. Very healthy approach, overall. But it occurs to me that others (you know who you are!) have waaay more guilt problems than I do. Wherever you happen fall on the innate guilt spectrum, I figured that perhaps hearing that other apparently more-or-less totally normal people have UMTs** might help strengthen your own inner rationalizations.

** A small caution that my use of "totally normal" and "people" is pure inference: I haven't actually ever confirmed that any other humans have these kinds of thoughts. However, I have been telling myself about it for a really long time so there's a legit patina of truthiness to it if you'd like to latch onto that.

I've been posting blogs here since Small Fry was an infant so if you've been reading along you've probably seen plenty of my UMTs before. Something I didn't realize at first is that they would grow and change right along with my children. (If you're a new/er/ish parent, now you know that, too - it's not just a lack of sleep and you're not growing out of it. I recommend starting a blog.) I used to gripe about super standard stuff like leaky diapers, but now I have a whole suite of both generic and highly individualized complaints about my kids. Those little wonders just never cease to amaze!

Currently, my big thing is dry towels. How are ALL the towels ALWAYS wet? I have no fucking clue. But I sincerely want to experience a dry towel against my skin again before I die. Oh, and a dry bath mat under my feet, too. Plus a toilet paper dispenser with actual toilet paper already on it and not just an empty roll sitting there mocking me with its three wispy, glued-on remnants. And oh my gawd, a dish towel that does not have chocolate/ketchup/mystery grease hand prints on it like my kids are secretly employed as heavy-duty mechanics in their spare time; and windows without more choco-mystery-grease; and STOP TOUCHING THE WALLS WITH YOUR FILTHY HANDS ALREADY.

I could go on. (Like, really. I could really go on.) But I need to come back to my thesis: I'm not the only person who thinks UnMotherly Thoughts. Neither are you. That must mean we're okay.

And if anyone tells you that you will miss having disgusting little filth generators in your house when they grow up and move away one day, those people are liars and you have my express permission to throat-punch them and steal their dry towels.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Faked Potatoes

I'm just gonna say this one time, and I expect to never have to say it again, understand? I'm gonna say it in my sternest Mom Voice to really get the point across: I'm pissed, I mean business, don't fuck with me on this. Ready?

Cauliflower is not and never will be an acceptable substitute for actual delicious foods.

What is with this cauliflower "flatbread" and "pizza crust" b.s. I keep seeing everywhere? Cauliflower "mac and cheese"? Cauliflower "mashed potatoes"?! That's fricking sacrilege. And y'know what else, stop saying "Oh it's so good, it's just like the real thing, you just have to try it!" and other such nonsense. I have tried it, and it is clearly not mashed potatoes, it's cauliflower in drag. Mashed potatoes are like a warm, buttery hug for your feelings. Mashed cauliflower is like a grainy, watery kick in the ass when you're already down.

I don't care if it's low in carbohydrates. I'm eating mashed potatoes because I want carbohydrates. Fluffy carbohydrates. Lots of them. What the hell have you got against carbohydrates, anyway? You want less carbohydrates? Eat fewer mashed potatoes, fool, don't completely throw the spuds out with the cooking water and then aggressively Pinterest-shame the rest of the world into doing it too.

But never mind how I feel about this nonsense - how does cauliflower feel about it? Cauliflower will never be potatoes, and that's okay - cauliflower should just be itself. I mean, no one really likes cauliflower, but you know what they like even less? A phony. Quit trying to make cauliflower something it's not. It's not even coming close to passing the... whatever the potato equivalent of the Turing Test is. Tater Test? Tuber Test? Whatever. You're giving it a complex. Cut it out right now.

And while you're out messing around with cauliflower, you are neglecting your once-beautiful relationship with your old friends pizza, mac & cheese and mashed potatoes. How do you think they felt when you ditched them for the skinny, trendy bitch on the block? After all the times they helped you celebrate holidays, feed your movers, numb yourself after a shitty week at work? They were there for you all through your childhood, then they kept you alive on a budget through college, and then the relationship came full circle when they were there for your kids' formative years, too. How could you just ghost on them like that? That's cold, man. Cold.

Listen, I get it - you've been with them for, like, literally your entire life and maybe you wanted to try a little sumpin' new. But you didn't have to dump them like that. Surely there's room for another dish at the table, if you know what I mean.

I've chatted with them all and - lucky you - they're willing to forgive and forget, so I've got a plan for you to make it up to them: Friday night, you invite pizza over for supper - just like the old days, y'know? Saturday, catch up over brunch with mac & cheese. Sunday, toss a nice roast in the slow cooker and promise mashed potatoes extra butter, just like they like, if they'll come join you for dinner. It's tradition.

You can even have a little cauliflower on the side if you want. Florets; steamed; cheese sauce. Just like nature intended.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Holiday in the Holiday Inn

I'm attending a conference this week. I think conferences are like little holidays: I get to dress up, make dubious first impressions on lots of new people, eat plenty of mini desserts, marinate extensively in the hotel hot tub, and sleep sprawled out all by myself in a fluffy fresh king-sized bed each night. These are things parents don't often (EVER) get to do, and I find them immensely refreshing. Aaahhh.

In theory the conference-holiday is also educational in nature, but in practice ... well, in practice I'm actually a terrible student. It's not for lack of enthusiasm - I always get so pumped when I'm deciding which conferences to attend each year. I think, I'm going to learn so much! I'm going to think big, smart thoughts! This is going to be amazeballs! But then I have to sit still and listen to people yammer on all day and I am reminded anew that I have the attention span of an underachieving goldfish. At one conference I attended, I spent an entire day making words out of the letters in the periodic table. (To be fair, why would they leave something as distracting as a giant periodic table in the room?) At another I developed a decorative font for each member of my family. So far at this conference, the only notes I've written down are a list of awkward conference encounters and 65 different versions of my signature. Where have I been for the past 2 days?!

In an attempt to squeeze some good out of my inadequate attentional abilities, I humbly offer my dear readers the following thoughts - they're not big, they're not smart, but dammit they'll have to do:

First of all, it is a certifiable miracle that I made it through university. Shout out to my goldfishy-self for overcoming my own grievous limitations.

Secondly, since I went to the trouble of writing them down, I figure I might as well post my list of awkward conference encounters:

- People I'm stalking to secure consultation results, permits, and the like.
- People I'm stalking because they are biology rock stars and I secretly love them a little. (A lot.)
- People I'm stalking purely out of interest's sake, morbid fascination, or the like.
- People I've fired.
- People who were so offensive during their job interviews that I didn't hire them.
- People I've lost all respect for and will never work with again.
- People with oral hygiene issues.
- Work nemeses.
- Friends' creepy exes.
- Idiotic-question-askers.
- This one second cousin or something I have who I don't actually know at all but always run into at conferences.

And finally, my favourite word to spell with the periodic table: RhUBaRb.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Don't Try This at Home, Kids

I conducted an bit of an inadvertent social experiment before the holidays last year. I didn't specify the dress code for a party in the invitation, then when people followed up with me to be sure they were going to be dressed appropriately, I told them it was "casual-fancy." This seemed like a perfectly reasonable statement to me at the time: I knew what dress I was planning to wear, and IMHO it was straight up casual-fancy. Zero confusing. But apparently it was not quite so clear to others. Some folks latched on to the "fancy" part; some to the "casual" part; some - inexplicably - to leather pants; and some to the ambiguity itself - one fellow had debated wearing a tuxedo jacket with pyjama bottoms, figuring they would average each other out somewhere around casual-fancy. (Statistics!) Lesson learned. I now know better for next time.

Turns out I was also subjected to a bit of an inadvertent social experiment at the holidays last year. Before I get started, let me ask you: if you saw the rating "Ages 17+" on a board game, what would it mean to you?

I'll tell you what it meant to me. It meant something like, wellll, it's maybe going to be a little racy, or maybe have some of the more exciting 4-letter-words in it, but if it was really bad it would be rated R or 18+ or something, right? I mean, 17+ practically screams, "NOT-18+". Which in turn meant to me that any older children of mine had probably been exposed to dirtier jokes and rottener words just by virtue of having been around me for so long. (Law of averages and stuff.) Which in turn-in turn meant to me that 17+ would probably be okay for someone who is, say, 15+ and not too sheltered.

Consequently, it meant to Medium Fry that I bought her Cards Against Humanity for Christmas.

And then it meant that when the kids were gathering up games to take to my parents' house for Christmas that I said, "Sure you can bring that."

Finally, it meant that Medium Fry - poor, poor Medium Fry - played Cards Against Humanity with both her parents and her grandparents on Christmas Eve. She didn't even have the option of deploying a booze buffer against the horror of the situation, because alcohol is clearly labeled 18+ so naturally I didn't buy her any of that.

If you weren't already familiar with the obscure 17+ board game age rating, it apparently stands for "do NOT play this with or buy this for any members of your family, ever". 

And in one final, bitter social experiment this recent holiday season: Cards Against Humanity is an excellent gauge for discerning who is the most horrible person in the room (apparently by more than one measure). I'm not sure whether I am relieved or saddened to report that that person is me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fakers Never Prosper

In my never-ending quest for sleep, I recently went to see an "alternative health practitioner". I won't even bother telling you what kind because it's all equally ridiculous horseshit, but at this point - that is, approaching the eight-year anniversary of the start of my torrid affair with insomnia - I decided I'm willing to accept a placebo effect.

Actually, I can sortof see why people go to quacks. Sortof. You get your placebo effects. You get the feeling that you're doing something about your problems (real or imagined). And what I think is probably the biggest draw, you get a fresh new audience to listen to your (real or imagined) problems - a sympathetic audience. A caring audience (never mind that they're robbing you blind while "caring"). This is in direct contrast to your actual medical doctor, who you might (rightly) suspect has long since decided you are a fruitloop, and to your friends and family, who are probably** sick to death of hearing you yammer on about your endless health-related "issues" and associated internet "research".


While I was speaking with my quack about my insomnia, I did notice how over-the-top supportive and understanding she was but I was so focused on getting my placebo effects and getting out that I almost didn't think to soak up this important potential contributor to my effects - whoops! Once she felt I had been thoroughly validated as a human with insomnia, we moved on to "treatment". (I'm sorry - I actually can't stop with the quotation marks. Be grateful I'm not telling you this story in person; it's probably even more annoying with air quotes.)

And the treatment - oh, the treatment. It was like a solid hour of bad sex, with an excessively earnest partner. (I know you know what I'm talking about.) Oddly, given that I was paying for the experience, I just felt bad for the gal and thus deferred to that old bad sex standby: I faked it.

(What is it you think you're doing, exactly?)
*noncommittal sounds*

(Aw, did you just SAY that?)
I'm doing just great, thanks.

(What is going ON here?)
... Oh, yep, I'm definitely feeling it now.

(Is this over yet?)
*slightly more enthusiastic noncommittal sounds*

(Oh thank gawd this is over.)
Hey, that was great! Welp, gotta run!

(Nope, not a chance in hell.)
Sure thing, anytime! Call me!

Hm, I wonder if I can get some placebo action for my conflict avoidance problem, too?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Resolutions Schmesolutions

It's Resolution Season at my house! I just love New Year's Resolutions. They feel so fresh and exciting and possible at this time of year. A whole new calendar full of days unsullied by your failings just stretching out in front of you like an open highway! But, like, a nice smooth Alberta highway, not a lousy Saskatchewan highway - that's a few weeks away still. There are no potholes in your Resolution highway at the beginning of the New Year. You can still refuel your Resolution easily and frequently. The lackluster scenery of Lean Cuisines and 1% cottage cheese day in, day out hasn't ground down your will to live willpower...

... yet.

Oh, sorry. Where was I? Right - I love Resolutions! I make zillions of them all year long. I make them at the New Years, of course. And I didn't misplace that apostrophe, I literally mean ALL the New Years. You got a culture or a calendar with a different year in there somewhere? I am gonna find it and make some Resolutions on it. I even make Resolutions on the school calendar - every semester! Each Sunday night I make my Resolutions for the Monday ahead. Sometimes I even make them on Saturday night, just in case that works out better than when I make them on Sundays.

It's January 9th today. I've had some successes so far, namely working out lots and trying new recipes and implementing Tofu Tuesdays despite the strongly reluctant Tuesday night dinner crowd at my house. I had a massive caffeine withdrawal headache on January 1 and the sugar shakes up until about January 7, but that's no big deal - I Resolve that stuff about six times a (Gregorian calendar) year. I'm tough.

What IS slowly killing me, and getting harder rather than easier with each passing day, is not-Facebooking. Do you have any idea how many quotable quotes my kids have said in the past 9 days? How adorably selfie-genic I've been this week? How many humblebrags and witty comments and hilarious marital woes I've been forced to withhold?! How am I supposed to carefully curate others' perception of my life?? No one has Liked me all week! 

I tried scrolling through LinkedIn a bit to take the edge off but it's just not the same.

I washed the floors today and forced the whole family to openly admire my efforts. Still no good.

Finally, friends, it has come to this. I mean, how else is anyone going to know I wrote a new blog unless I post in on my Facebook feed? Right? RIGHT?!

You may have won this battle but you haven't won the war, Resolution - I will see you on the Lunar New Year my old foe. Or maybe next Saturday night! You just never know when I will strike...