27 November, 2015

bring on the plague of locusts!

i may (or may not) have mentioned that for the past innumerable months mr. monkey's been hanging out at the junk yard, taking apart broken volvobeastes, taking out their useful bits, and putting these volvobeaste bits into our own forever-ailing volvobeaste. my own wee toyota is the overachieving child in this family - so routinely coming home with gold stars and straight A's that we pay only enough attention to it to make sure it's fed (gas), watered (oil change) and shod in seasonally appropriate attire (winter tires). the volvobeaste, on the other hand, despite our high expectations due to its impressive swedish pedigree is so far knocking up girls, doing drugs, beating up kids, bullying little old ladies, and talking back. of course, that is the car that gets all of mr. monkey's love and attention. after many many weekends spent under the hood, he finally fixed the thingamajiggledy whatsitator that caused the car to not run since the summer. he was so proud. i was so proud of him! not everybody can singlehandedly fix a thingamajiggledy whatsitator! it takes both skill and patience, both of which mr. monkey has in spades. so that was good! i got my wee car back, and mr. monkey got to drive his beloved volvobeaste again.

monday morning the car stalled somewhere en route to work and he had it towed to my cousin's place where he left it until he could figure shit out. he was cranky but thought he could, once again, fix this latest volvobeaste mess. he bought a gallon of doomaflickey anti-enbubblification fluid, poured it into the appropriate doomaflickey anti-enbubblification fluid orifice, and lo and behold! the volvobeaste roared to life again. i walked over to my cousin's today to pick it up. it started, it drove, then it got a little wobbly though i blamed my own lack of experience driving it, and then, pretty much in the middle of a busy intersection, it gave up the ghost. again.

between this, mr. monkey's reluctance to pay a mechanic to fix it in a nice tight amount of time*, the fact that the crown came off my implant last night and i needed to get to the dentist ASAP, the upcoming trip to poland, and the logistics of the move to the US, i think i'm going to make myself a cup of hot cocoa, wrap myself in a blanket, and watch a show. i officially give up.

*more of a point of pride and ambition than finances, i'm sure.

25 November, 2015

rocking it like zaphod beeblebrox

since we received our shipping out date (11 january! that's in, like, 5 minutes, y'all!), i've been vociferously vacillating between a sense of excitement and a sense of dread. the end result is a sort of floaty numbness that's making it possible for me to get (some) shit done, i suppose.

the fact that my fabulous roommate and his wife will be our neighbours is wonderful. the many places we can see and do in the area is fantastic. the barbecued animal bits that make up a large part of local cuisine, along with real mexican food, cajun, crawfish, and nearby seafood is the bomb. as is the warmth. and the greenery.

but then there's the other side. when i think that d and crusty juggler are moving back to edmonton this summer, that sanity salad is even now looking for work here, that all my people are here, nearby, walking distance mostly! well, then the sadness hits. or not sadness. i don't even know what to call it because i think it's an emotion currently mediated by medication and shock, so it's more of a wide-eyed bewilderment.

and then i think: life! it's an adventure! let's be adventurous! and see new things! and i'm fine.

and then i think: life! it's all about your friends and family! and you're leaving them behind! and i'm not fine.

i suppose given my commitment to trying to work with rather than against reality, the fact that mr. monkey has to move there means that if anything, it's the positive side that i tend to focus on. why dwell on the sadness of something i cannot change? after all, they will visit, those lovelies; i know they will. many have visited us before as we made our nomadic way around north america, and they will do it again. but every once in a while, it just hits me and i sit there for a bit, feeling slightly shellshocked and confused.

at this point, i just want it to move forward. get this highly inconvenient poland trip out of the way, enjoy my days in amsterdam, come home, visit with d and crusty over the holidays, and relax into the sweetness of my life here, and then move and try to create a sweetness over there. it will be a different flavour, but i know that it can be done. and it will be an adventure!

24 November, 2015

leftie loosie, rightie tightie

our financial advisor (and yes, i do throw up a little in my mouth when i write that, thanks for asking!) doesn't get it. he talks to us as though we are firmly on his side politically, which couldn't be farther from the truth. he's a young guy, but he actually ran for the provincial wildrose party in the last election, a party that is the albertan version of the american tea party, and just as willing to stick its racist, homophobic, uber-conservative foot in its mouth. i had to put on my best polite laura bush smile when he proudly informed us of this:

thing is, he must assume that because of our financial situation we're as right-wing as he is, and because both alberta and canada recently voted overwhelmingly* in favour of returning to our traditional leftist tendencies, he insists on making idiotic negative comments about the new government, thus forcing me to continue to:

i have made subtle comments. i have made less subtle comments. today, when i left his office, i went so far as to mention the high quality of alberta's solar power that has been sadly underutilised but that offers a viable alternative to the oil sands. if that doesn't convince him of my leftie pinko hippie commie tendencies, then nothing will. if, however, that doesn't work, i'm not worried. by now, i'm really, really good at this:

and let's be honest: it's likely to do me good when politics comes up in texas!

*well, as overwhelmingly as our stupid political system allows where 33% translates to a majority, but i shan't bore you.

21 November, 2015


mr. monkey and i were working on a piece of translation for someone (long story, makes me stabby, let's not get into it) and when we finished he asked me to check the email he was sending to this person. when i sat down at his computer (gmail), i had to teach him about the hangouts  chat box on the sidebar, and it was then i noticed he has 655 unread emails.

moi: how can you do that? how can you have so many unread emails?!!

mr. m: (defensively) i don't spend every waking hour on social media!

moi: but it's disgusting!

mr. m: not really.

moi: yes! it's a matter of hygiene!

mr. m: well then, i guess i'm filthy!

moi: yes! you have a filthy inbox!

I AM NOT A ROBOT....or am i?

in the last few months, the usual captcha images that allow you to comment on blogs have changed from the irritatingly illegible wavy writing that one had to decipher, through fuzzy photos of numbers and letters, to a glorious return to the games of our youth, namely "one of these things is not like the others."  the new captcha  shows a series of images and asks you to pick all the things that match the top image, say a cat, or a stack of pancakes, and such is my paranoia, based on my previous inability to decipher the writing, that i second guess myself about whether or not i know WHAT A TURKEY IS and how it differs from a giraffe or something. i narrow my eyes suspiciously and look for a trick. perhaps it's not really a turkey; perhaps it's all animals that start with the letter T in a germanic language. or maybe what i think is pancakes is actually an interesting rock in a national park and instead of breakfast foods i ought to be looking for geological formations. or what if...well, you get the idea.

part of the problem is that i am also asked on a daily basis by a computer to state unequivocally that i am not a robot, which is all kinds of judgy (what if i AM a robot! can't a robot comment on a blog?!) and is not something that i know how to deal with. it's messing with my sense of identity and shaking my faith in a common reality.

now i know what you're all going to tell me. you're going to tell me to dip into the cistern of calm and stop overthinking things because sometimes a pancake is just a fucking pancake, innit?

20 November, 2015

self improvement classes for billy goats and meerkats

it’s worrying how much i had on my to do list following quitting my job and how little i actually accomplished. yoga? nope.  exercise in general? nope. printmaking classes? nope. art in general? nope. finishing my weaving? nope. i suppose i should focus on what i did accomplish: meditation, a whopping 10 days’ worth!  and it seems that i've finally been able to curtail my panic at the passage of time. after all, other than attempting to be mindful of life’s small steps, it makes little sense to wail at its speed (à la my mother in law). wailing at anything, at this point, seems stupid, wasteful. i like the woman, but hate her attitude of “oyoyoy! that's how people are - awful!” or “time is passing by so fast! oh my!” none of which is even remotely useful, other than encouraging a sense of panic and malaise, and hells, my hormones do that just fine on their own and hardly need any help from me. 

in my experience, while there are awful people, people as a rule aren’t awful. time passes how it passes. shit happens but good happens too. if anything, i am noticing a more balanced attitude in myself. oh hell, not always and not fully, not to sound smug and superior, but i think i’m getting better at it. i see the passage of time in my weekly pillbox, and when i have to refill it, seemingly mere minutes after i’ve just filled it last, that's when i sense the surge of panic at the gates, but i’ve been managing to keep it at bay, and fairly fully, too. once again, pounding your fists on the stone wall of reality is idiotic - might as well be angry that the sky is blue. what i'm finding the most surprising in this whole journey is that much of how we react to life's slings and arrows is actually within our control. what a strange and ultimately freeing revelation, though once easily lost amidst the turmoil of, say, the rush hour drive. 

so what am i getting at? just this and that. thinking about the good i've learned of late. thinking about the gratitude i feel that the daily meditation seems to have punctured the out-of-control anger i'd been feeling earlier. i suppose i'm surprised at the sense of pride i feel for all that i've accomplished, even though none of it is materially significant or possibly even noticeable. who knows, my friends and family might look at me and think, man, she's still the same spastic, overly emotional person she's always been and not see that buddha-like inner me smiling at life's vicissitudes. i never said the change was big (or even noticeable) but it's meaningful to me, and i suppose that's what matters in the end. 

over and out, dear poultries. thank you for your patience. 

18 November, 2015

cognition? what cognition?!

today, over breakfast with a new acquaintance, i forgot how old i am. not the forgivable lapse that usually takes place a month or two after one's birthday but a serious confusion that had me adding and subtracting* my birth year (thank god i still remember that) and the current year (that bastard keeps changing, but so far i'm keeping up). i blame the fact that last year i was 42, a number deeply imbued with meaning. 43, on the other hand, well, that's just the number that comes after 42. 43 isn't bad as far as my synesthesia goes but it comes across as a bit anticlimactic. still, i ought to know my own age, non?

* god knows, nothing good has ever come of that.

spray paint visions

because i'm unemployed and miss feeling useful i volunteered to refinish the furniture in our building's common room. the furniture is ancient and as solid as it is ugly, and because we're trying to be economical in our actions, it was decided* that repainting was preferable to either large expenditures or continued ugliness.

now lest you get inaccurate (though highly complimentary) visions of me meticulously stripping the varnish, painstakingly sanding the nooks and crannies, and then lovingly applying a homemade mixture of beeswax and lemon juice to allow the beauty of the wood to shine through, stop right there - one word: spray paint. ok, that's two words, but having huffed roughly 37.2% of four cans of metallic spray paint in a work room with less than existing stellar ventilation, i'm just glad i still know how to type. or blink. or breathe. for a while there it was touch and go but i rallied.

spray-painting furniture is quite fun, especially since the wonders of modern chemistry allow you to dispense with the dull bits like thorough washing or sanding and go straight to the meat of the matter: watching an ugly behemoth of a side table get magically transformed into an almost handsome piece of furniture is a great pleasure. granted, getting high on all the lovely VOCs might have increased the perception of delight  but who am i to argue with nature science fate?

*i love the impersonal feel of this sentence, as though stone tablets proclaiming this decision appeared suddenly in the common room or the lobby couch spake with the voice of angels. alas, it was merely the condo board of directors, which, come to think of it, also sounds far more ominous than it actually is. after all, mr. monkey's on the board, and his ominousity quotient is nothing to brag about.

17 November, 2015

that brain thing

i've been meditating for 9 days now. i don't know if it's helping (helping what, exactly?) but maybe? i seem to have discovered an access, a shortcut if you will, to a cistern of calm. i sometimes forget to actually dip into it, but there've been times when i have and it seems that with meditation it gets closer, easier to access. apparently science is all on board, and if science is on board then who am i to argue?

baby steps towards enlightenment sadly count for little plot-wise, but there you have it: a short update about my adventures in getting my brain into a better place (metaphorically speaking - literally speaking, all other things being equal, i'd sort of prefer that it stick around in its current location).

05 November, 2015

wrong word

there are words out there that have clearly missed the mark:

"crampon" for instance, is immediately recognizable as the linguistic offspring of cramps and tampon and, rather than helping you climb mountains, looks like something that would much prefer you to lie  quietly on the couch with a hot water bottle and a nice cup of tea instead.

"mentor" is sneaky - it hides one of its unpleasant prefixes ("de-" or "tor-") and stands casually in front of a nondescript white van, offering to help. all i'm gonna say is, DON'T DO IT! DON'T GET IN! it'll end very very badly.

"gastrique," seen recently in food blogs and finer restaurants, is meant to tempt your taste buds. unfortunately, instead of caramelised-sugar-based sweet and sour sauce, it clearly evokes the stuff you bring up once you've emptied your stomach contents but the heaves won't stop.

01 November, 2015

like, whatever, man

i've been having a hell of a time lately being kind to people close to me. oh, i think i manage for the most part (though my track record with mr. monkey's been pretty shitty of late, and my mother's two week visit pushed me to the limit) but it's hard work. i feel like my default setting in recent weeks is to snap, to growl, to roll my eyes, and to get immediately annoyed at bloody everything. that seething anger one gets behind the wheel of a car in rush hour traffic is the feeling i've been experiencing a lot. i'm mad about so many things, some of which are tiny and some of which are large, but my anger seems fairly democratic in its approach. so, without further ado, here is a list of things i am currently angry about (varying levels of rationality, randomly laid out for your reading pleasure):

1. plastic storage containers - when you bring me food in a plastic container i will eat the food, wash the container, and then RETURN IT TO YOU BECAUSE IT IS YOURS. apparently this is a little too complicated a concept for some people, as a result of which, i am constantly buying new ones. or asking for them back. because it's HARD to return someone else's shit. this makes me stabby. very, very, VERY stabby. i am also aware of how petty this is, which doesn't help at all.

2. RSVP - when i send out an invitation (and crusty juggler will attest to the fact that i put a lot of time and effort into my invitations), i expect people to RSVP.  they don't. because they're busy. they're apparently too busy to press a button attached to an email, choosing one of 3 options (yes, no, maybe), which takes a whole 5 seconds to do. let's be generous and round it waaaaay the hell up to a minute to allow for checking one's calendar. perhaps it's because people don't know what the letters mean. FYI (though, as far as i'm aware, none of my readers have ever done this to me) it means: répondez s'il vous plaît, which, in the language of our lord jesus, means respond to this invitation, for the love of god, so the hostess can ensure an adequate amount of snacks, drinks, and seating. with a hearty emphasis on respond.

4. my "career" - so i changed careers, went off to school, blah blah, yadda yadda, y'all've been around for that particular ride. then i got my dream job. then i quit my dream job because it turned out i was working with a bully. fine. shit happens. that should have turned me off that particular job. and it did. but there was an underlying disenchantment with my profession as a whole. an unhappiness that was reiterated each time i went to yet another inspirational talk/conference/symposium/lecture about things that were exciting, good, evidence-based, clearly superior, that WE WERE NOT IMPLEMENTING BECAUSE. because the transportation department. because the engineers. because the developers. because the public. because the businesses. because bureaucracy. because FUCK YOU.

so here's my response - screw you, north america, if you want to continue building strip malls, overpasses, multi-lane highways, cul-de-sacs, big box stores, and profoundly uninspired beige subdivisions that are responsible for mental illness, loneliness, obesity, and death: fuck. you. i'm done. i was told once that my kind of passion was needed to make a change, but ha ha, turns out that my kind of passion is no match for the institutionalised inertia, short-sightedness, greed, and conservatism that characterises this business. screw evidence-based decision-making. screw building a great public realm. why do all that (and hell, it's not even news! most european cities have that shit covered!) when you can breed a populace that thinks it's ok to drive 45 minutes to a poorly-lit mammoth grocery complex to buy flavourless vegetables from china and a 6lb bag of cheezie-whatsits, along with a gallon of antibiotic-infused milk that tastes like nothing that ever came anywhere near a cow (because ewww!); a populace that lives in their navigators and escalades and other obscene gas guzzling monstrosities because it's their fucking human right to have the biggest car on the road; a populace that sees taxes as evil as opposed to membership dues for society; a populace that is fat and sullen and angry and lost but fears any kind of change.

if my last 3 weeks have taught me anything, it's that if someone offered me a job putting together ikea cabinets at a decent wage, i'd take it. and flip a bird to "urban planning." which, of course, makes me angry, considering how this was supposed to be my thing. my path. my fucking shiny unicorn farm.

5. basic grammar - i listen to public radio (big surprise there) and am appalled all too often of late. if i wanted to hear someone pepper their speech with "like" and "sorta" i'd go hang out at the local high school or listen to a commercial radio station. hearing public radio reporters or even the allegedly intelligent researchers being interviewed sound like pimply 14 year olds makes me despair for humanity. i realise that intellectual snobbism isn't really fashionable, but why in hell can't public radio be a bastion of sense? thank god the bbc still retains its standards...for now - i have yet to hear vocal fry, "like sorta," or that recently fashionable little girl voice on that network, but that day is coming, i'm sure. because elitism...

6. my body - each morning the joints in my fingers are stiff and painful. the arthritic big right toe hurts pretty much all the time. the place where i squashed the top of my hand with my bed 3 months ago is getting worse not better. my back is sore. my head hurts. i feel like an 80 year old. the doctor tells me i'm fine. i beg to differ, and want something to be done. but what can be done when blood work, bone scans, x-rays and other such methodologies yield no useful results? i've got a way to go to 80 yet, and i'd prefer it if it didn't feel like this.

7. my ideals - i'm pretty much ready to toss those useless things aside, as evidenced by my enthusiastic embrace of our plan to move to texas, where i will live in a large suburban home, with a front-facing garage, likely on a cul-de-sac, too far to reasonably walk to anything useful, and as far from the "densely populated urban centre" of which i'm such a fan, as possible. hell, maybe i'll even buy an escalade, and shop at costco for 20 gallon jars of mayonnaise.

8. my anger - it's exhausting. it's exhausting fighting it; it's just as exhausting feeding it. i'm tired of this and am considering doubling up my horse tranquilizers or giving myself a lovely artisanal DIY lobotomy - after all, if you've got nothing nice to say then perhaps sitting in a corner drooling quietly to myself isn't really a bad option.