27 January, 2011

return of the black death

if you are sitting there all snug and warm, thinking quietly to yourself how glad you are that my tales of health woes are over, i shall have to smack that cup of bourbon tea right out of your hand and tell you you are wrong. yes, wrong! after all that, there was more! and yea, verily i say unto you, it was entertaining!

over christmas i received not one, not two, but three phone calls from my doctor's receptionist, the last of which was a polite request for one more blood test. ok. no problem. what's one more blood test to me? nothing! HAH! i scoff at blood tests! i do blood tests for fun! why, some mornings i drain as much as 0.73 deciliters of blood before breakfast! just for the sheer joy of it!

as the nice lab tech started to tourniquet my arm, i thought, hey! let's ask what this one is about. boy, do i wish i hadn't.

lab tech (looking sheepish? nervous? suspicious? disgusted? underneath her professional veneer): um... it's for syphilis.

moi: ...

lab tech (awkwardly avoiding my eyes while trying to look both non-judgmental and supportive while syphoning blood from my diseased arm, which can't have been easy): ...

moi: WHY?!

lab tech (clearly grasping at straws): we... sometimes see dr. cheung order these... because... for different reasons (implied: you skanky whore*)

i left the lab and tried very hard not to panic, knowing i'd see my doctor in the next couple of days. what i did do, because i am a rational, calm human being, is give mr. monkey shit, just in case it was his little gift to me. being a loving, analytical, rational (i know, i know, i keep saying it) person, i lovingly told him that if i did indeed have syphilis, i would make sure he would pay for the rest of his natural life, which would not be long, if i had anything to say about it. he took it well (he actually is rational).

several days later, my doctor explained that it was one of the standard tests required by the infectious diseases specialist, but he'd forgotten to put it on the lab requisition. this was the guy who told me i was 100% ok, tb free,** officially off the medically most wanted lists, free to go forth and breathe on the world at large.

i haven't heard back from them, but it's been weeks, so i assume that not only am i tuberculosis free, i am also syphilis free, which, admit it, would look GREAT on a t-shirt! i think congratulations are in order.

i do not, nor have i ever had either tuberculosis or syphilis. that's the funny bit. i am not "better" because i was never ill; the whole adventure was ridiculous in the extreme for that very reason. 

*i never once got that from her, honest. she was perfectly nice about it which is pretty impressive, because, come ON! syphilis? does it get skankier than that? i think not.

** kinda ironic, no? here's a clean bill of health, you do not have tuberculosis, oh, but let's get you tested for syphilis, just for the pure unadulterated fun of it, ok?

irony is not on the periodic table of elements, but it should be

here's an email i have just received:


I just came across your entertaining blog. I'm interested in advertising on the following page by having the words "Fort McMurray Jobs" added to the bottom of the post as a link leading to a page on my clients site (a provider of internet recruiting and career support services). This link could have the text "This post is supported by..." to show that my client supports your blog.


If you can help us out we would be happy to compensate you. Please email me back and let me know how we can make this work.


here is my response:


i think that given my general attitude towards fort mcmurray (that it is the worst place on earth), i hardly think this would make sense. but thank you for the offer.


do you think they even read the damn post? followed the links? no, i didn't think so either.

oh well, here go the big bucks. let it be known: i am not* for sale!

*well, i could be, but we are talking more money than the average person could rustle up. in fact we're talking vast wads of cash, the kind of money, in fact, available to the oil industry...oh. shit.

llamas? they went that-a-way!

gah! this is the third week in a row that i've forgotten to put out the recycling/garbage + compost* and i hope this isn't evidence of some kind of mental break-down, because you know that i am naturally anal-retentive, super-organized (i was going to write über-organized but didn't feel like hunting around for ümlauts, and yet, look, i've done it twice now!) and i hate it when i act like a forgetful early onset alzheimers type. and i have been, i really have.

you don't know this, because all you get is the finished product (riddled with asides and asterisks though it might be), but i spend countless hours looking up words that i sort of remember the sound or shape of but cannot place exactly. words like "the" or "and" and "pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism." it's pretty scary, actually, how badly i feel i've deteriorated. and having 2.5 languages in my head ain't helping either, 'cause what you get is this polinglish fusion floating through my brainwaves and then nikt nic nie rozumie, no nie? that's what i thought, too.

oh well, here i am, fighting the good fight with my fall-aparty brain (i'm fairly certain there's a better word than "fall-aparty" but damned if i can remember it, and i'm getting pretty sick of googling things like "a word that means fall-aparty but more technical sounding") and you're forced to lap up the results, poor, poor poultries. hey, i won't be mad if you go read something brilliant or funny. really, i won't!

*we have compost pick-up every week, with alternating garbage and recycling. i rarely have any garbage, what with the compost and recycling, but i have A LOT of recycling and having missed it yet again, i am forced to drive to the recycling depot and hand sort all the tiny pieces of paper and yogurt tubs** and plastic tomato containers*** while knee deep in mud surrounded by (nice recycling) idiots who can't decide whether it's angle parking or parallel parking and hey, let's do a little bit of each, thus effectively rendering the parking lot useless to anything more than 3 vehicles, oh yes.

**i eat a lot of yogurt. no, i mean, A LOT. i eat so much yogurt that i think it's a little odd and i am almost embarrassed but i really, really love yogurt. a lot.

***is it my bloody fault that the only tomatoes that taste like anything even vaguely tomato-like come in overpackaged dolphin-murdering oil-slick-perpetrating abominations? is it? yes, yes, i realise it's not tomato season and i could wait until june but i need my fucking lycopene, people, OK?!?!?!? (it calms me down.)

26 January, 2011

attack of the giant corporate lizards

i'm gonna go out on a limb here and tell you about something that i've been doing. anyone who's been reading this here thing for any length of time knows that my attitude towards the dental hygiene... ahem, profession* of which i am a part, is, shall we say a little negative? you might be moved to ask, hey, polish chick! what's not to like about your profession? and if that's the question you're formulating right now, let me just respond with the degree of professionalism that is expected from me: are you shitting me? really? sure, the money's not bad, but what i do, day in and day out (well, more day in once a month the way it's been going lately) is scrape. calcified. shit. off. people's. teeth. are you with me? there's blood. there are rogue tongues. there are infected suppurating tissues. sometimes there's expired broccoli. or chicken even. there's cigarette breath. there's coffee breath. there's i-brush-whenever-i-get-around-to-it breath. there's... wait, did i mention the blood? yeah. like i said.

so, i have spent the better part of the past five years wasting time and brain cells. this was called "soul-searching" and involved boring my friends to tears with "what should i do with my life" stuck on endless repeat (many thanks, g and t). i kept expecting a monty pythonesque hand to come from the heavens and tell me "THIS SHALT BE THY LOT IN LIFE HENCEFORTH" but no such luck. and so, feeling sick to death of myself and my constant whining and starting to pick up signs of frustration from the ever-patient mr. monkey, i decided to just eeny-miney-moe it, just like i did 17 years ago, minus the possibility of blood.

so, what i'm getting to, in an uncharacteristically typically long-winded way is that, darling poultries, i have decided to requalify and, to that end, have enrolled in an online course called... (wait, i have to look it up; it's that exciting)... Project Management Fundamentals. i know! i know! and believe me, the course is every bit as exciting as its name would suggest. maybe more! i force myself to stay awake through each and every class, quiz and assignment, and the only thing keeping me going is the knowledge that when i entered the dental hygiene... ahem... profession... i was just as bored. plus there was blood. so there. it's a win-win!

*am i the only one who throws up a little in her mouth when she has to utter that word and its revolting corollaries "professional" and "professionalism" and... "professionisticism"**

** i may or may not have made that last one up. i'm not telling. it wouldn't be professional.

shake that thang, shake it, shake it, shake it!

well, another day and nothing to see here. i am getting a little pissed, people! can't someone break in here, "hack-in" in the parlance of our times, and write something? jesus! do i have to do everything myself? what?! whaddya mean this is my blog? who asked you anyway?

so, what's been new with you? moi? i've started taking the zumba class at curves. it's a hoot. it is taught by a rather rotund latina who can do things with her hips that, i swear, ought not be legal. imagine, if you will, a class filled to the brim with proper elderly white ladies all staring lasciviously at the hypnotic ass shaking it up in our midst. it's a bit odd.

what's odder still is how absolutely terrible all these proper elderly white ladies are at shaking their thing. it's all i can do to keep a straight face when i see the random arm wavings and leg steppings that have little, if anything, to do with either the steps being taught or, more importantly, the music. now i know i have issues with the whole right-left differentiation, but i just let the music do its thing, and i move. i figure it's more important to move (and the music demands that i move) than to get the right leg-arm combination.

i love zumba. love it. love it for the sweat-inducing fun that doesn't feel like exercise, love it for the fast pace, and love it for the sheer entertainment value it provides for my desiccated grey soul. i suspect a class taught in an immigrant-rich neighbourhood would not provide me so much comedic fodder. i suspect that there is no social group quite as uncoordinated and out of touch with their bodies as the be-permed women of the 50's generation. which begs the question - weren't these the girls who shrieked over the beatles? what deep seated sexual anxieties removed their ability to wiggle their rumps?

in other news, day three of fog begins. i think i shall miss its velvety enfolding when i go.

20 January, 2011

monkeys on the move

i'm browsing mls.ca, looking for a possible new monkey abode when i find this gem.

moi: hey! listen to this! 2 bedrooms and FIVE bathrooms! you think it's a typo?

mr. monkey: i don't know, that's pretty much standard these days, isn't it?

moi: we have to buy it! we have to! then we can invite a bunch of people over for dinner and give them food poisoning!

and there it was: xanadu!

it's 7:58 am, i'm watching what passes for a sunrise on a rainy day, that gradual, water-colour brightening of the sky, all tie-dyed and gloomy, and i am thinking that perhaps i ought to just open up this here old thing and type something, anything. perhaps it'll be worth the effort it takes you to read it, perhaps not. let's see...

so, we're leaving. true, we still don't know when, although the where has become more concrete. mr. monkey came home last week and, in the middle of dinner, asked me if i wanted to hear the good news or the bad news first. my stomach immediately plummeted to the general toe vicinity, and, without thinking too much about it, i asked to hear the bad news* first. he chuckled and said he was just kidding, there was no bad news. after i managed to suppress the urge to throttle the monster, and after my stomach slowly and painfully crawled its way back up to its rightful place, i found out that we were going back to alberta, but not back to fort mcmurray.

it's astonishing how much of a sweetener that last bit can be. i suspect it could be used to take the edge off any number of atrocious news:

"i've just killed your mother with an axe... but on the upside, we're not moving to fort mcmurray!"
"i've cheated on you with both your brother and your best friend, but hey! we're not going to fort mcmurray!"
"the meteor is going to crash in 24 hours and there's no hope of survival for humanity! thank god, we're not in fort mcmurray!"
"i'm sorry: it's incurable, terminal and exceedingly painful, but at least you're not going to die in fort mcmurray."

and so, there it is. not long after that, i had lunch with g who asked me how i was taking the news. i'm taking it well. perhaps it was the 3 weeks spent back home with family, or the 3 weeks spent being charmed by one of the world's greatest infants, or the fact that edmonton has my favourite ethiopian place AND an amazing pizza joint AND anthropologie AND no provincial sales tax... well, you might say i'm lying to myself or trying to talk myself into a good place. first of all, even if that were the case - what's wrong with that? and second of all, no, i'm good. i'm genuinely happy to be going back home.

does that mean that i won't be sad to leave vancouver island? not a chance. the fact that last weekend we planted seedlings in the sunshine, wearing nothing but long sleeve t-shirts; the fact that buds are starting to thicken on some trees already; the fact that tulips are poking their way out of the earth and it's january, cannot be discounted. in fact, aside from the breathtaking beauty of this place, its main attraction is its short, mild winter. and, as i always say about edmonton: i love the river valley, i love the city, i love the restaurant scene and the music scene, in fact, i love it all... except for the dreary grey 7 months of winter, and not much can be done to change that.

so, my little poultries, here am i. on the cusp of change yet again and finally learning to embrace it. maybe it's just stockholm syndrome, but i think i'm getting used to all this moving around... provided we're not moving to fort mcmurray.

*i always ask to hear the bad news first. you?

15 January, 2011

well, now that i'm on a roll...

let's talk about the weather, because there's nothing quite as exciting as talking about the weather, is there? why, i could go on about the weather for hours!

having just spent 3 weeks in alberta, i have winter on my mind. in alberta, winter is not in any way theoretical. it is not a concept; it is real. snow comes (and this year, keeps on coming) and stays way past its best by date. it is not uncommon to be wearing shorts in may, looking at piles of snow still slowly melting in shady areas. but the snow! oh how i love alberta snow (insomuch as i can even speak of loving snow) compared to the watery slush of british columbia or eastern canada. i love the fact that in alberta it is physically impossible to make a snow man (unless you bring out a hose and douse your creation liberally with water). forget having snowball fights. it simply does not stick. the snow there sparkles, crunches underfoot, whispers like sand and is generally gorgeous...except, you know, not for seven fucking months...

when i got off the plane on vancouver island and saw all the sad wet snow here, i was instantly depressed. overwhelmed by the dirty sadness of an ill-fitting precipitation. here, rain feels right. here, in this place, winter is a green, damp, pine-scented season, marked with the glistening red of arbutus bark, mists swirling, mosses doing their furry thing, things budding already in january. oh, i shall miss it when i go. funny, how we were warned about the grey and rain of coastal british columbia, and we have not minded it one bit. but the four days of snow? i could barely stand to look out the window. and do not get me started on what an atrocious job the local snow plow operators do around here. then again, one can easily blame their lack of practice...lucky bastards.

so: winter. here, you can smell its imminent end. in alberta, it'll be months yet. if we do go back there, i'll just have to get my warm boots out, together with my sense of moral superiority (i suspect all northern peoples have it: that ill-disguised scorn for all those softies, those warm-climate wusses who would not dance at an outdoors new year's celebration in -30°C like we did last year) and get ready to shovel. still, i'll miss the green.

a new year's resolution of sorts

i'm posting because i feel that i ought to say something, to fill this space, this void, both spatial and temporal. i still sometimes check my blog hoping against hope that someone has posted something. alas, it never happens, and so it is up to me to pick up my writing tools (fingers, that is. i pick them up with my toes. it is not easy, let me tell you), lube up the cortex and the cerebellum, gird my loins and face that void, while it crouches there grinning maniacally, as voids are wont to do.

i don't know when i became such a coward. i suppose i could say that time has whittled away whatever creative juicy bits that were once a part of moi, but i don't know if it's merely time, or a sustained diet of intellectual laziness. sigh...did you know that when i was younger (and not that much younger at that, this disease goes back no more than 15 years or thereabouts) i used to draw all the time? all the bloody time. if i didn't have a sketchbook around, i'd open up the paper envelope that tea bags come in and draw on that. really. i have material evidence.

as angry as this makes me, it is an anger steeped in lassitude and spiked regularly with cloves of regret, all pomander-like, and really, what else can i do? i've set up a table with paints and paper and canvases and still i'd rather while away the afternoon on this here contraption, to my everlasting shame, and gee, even so, you get an update only sporadically.

i'm not one for new year's resolutions, but i think it might be time to make some sort of proclamation in the town square, forcing my audience (hint: that's you) to become partner in the criminal negligence of any kind of talent that had once been granted to me by an alcoholic fairy godmother. (if the convolutions of the previous few sentences managed to leave you in the dark, worry not, i feel the same way, and am still feeling my way through a maze of ideas, verbs and, because i am who i am, far too many adjectives) i.e. you must hold me up to account. ok? so on occasion, ask me if i'm doing stuff, drawing things, if i've faced the fear and vanquished the blank page. please.

and thank you.

14 January, 2011

hey hey! una cerveza por favor!

having just spent large swathes of time at the airport, i have become reacquainted with that most idiotic of airport denizens: the sun seeker. no, gentle reader, there is nothing idiotic about seeking the sun, especially when one normally resides in the northern reaches of alberta, where winter enters stage left sometime in early october, and exits stage right in mid may.* what is idiotic is the silent call emitted by some sun seekers that goes something like this: "HEY! I'M GOING TO MEXICO, Y'ALL!!!" and its alternate version: "HEY! I'VE JUST BEEN TO MEXICO, Y'ALL!!!!"

how does this silent call manifest itself, gentle reader? well, while the temperature hovers around the -20°C mark and windchill takes it down a couple notches just for the fun of it, while snowdrifts reach up to 2m and navigating even major thoroughfares is treacherous, while normal folk reach for their sorrel boots and down filled parkas, the sun seeker of whom i speak leaves all intelligent forms of clothing in the car, at the parking lot and then proceeds to walk to (or, alternately, from) the airport clad only in flip-flops, shorts and a t-shirt that proclaims its cheap sweat-shop produced sun destination origins.** to them i invariably say (in my head, i'm not mean!), "honey, nobody cares you're going (alternately: coming from) the bahamas. you look like a frozen moron and those purple legs are not particularly attractive."

i understand that bringing a parka on a tropical trip is not really an option either, but there are sweaters and long pants and even shoes that might prevent hypothermia and still look appropriate in both the edmonton international airport in december and the streets of havana.

*those of you from the ontario region who think you know what i'm talking about: no, you absolutely don't. march means spring to you; to albertans, march means 1.5 - 2 more months of snow...or more, so please just shut it.

**please, someone, please explain to me why people insist on buying t-shirts that say things like "señor frog's, puerto vallarta" or "planet hollywood: CANCUN" ? and then...then they actually wear them! out in public, no less! these items are tacky, ridiculous and proclaim a complete and total lack of imagination on the part of the buyer/wearer. really? you feel the need to proclaim that you went to another country and then utterly and completely failed to immerse yourself in any semblance of the local culture, eating exclusively at north american chains and shopping for t-shirts? waaa!