Monday 30 June 2014

This is How I Text.

I got an email this weekend from a friend that just said, "Hi," and then proffered a hyperlink. So I texted him to let him know. He wrote me back, insisting I don't click on it. Okay, so I'm technologically challenged sometimes, but seriously, I know it's a bad idea to click on spam.

So anyway, stronger only than my sense of sarcastic humour is my willingness to take a joke ALL THE WAY. Observe.

For the record, his 'Okay, good' was sarcastic. He clearly thought it would end there.

The idea of pixelated carnage really tickled me, and I was prepared to describe an entire scene out of a monster movie in grave detail, but as you can see, my friend was apparently all busy with, you know, moving, and I assumed that didn't mean 'moving off the couch', so you know...I had to wrap it up.

I'll take a bow here, for being awesome. And taking sarcasm alllll the way.

Friday 20 June 2014

Flashback: The Thigh-High Pantyhose Adventure

Girl, Crafted is my third personal blog, and one of over a half-dozen I've contributed to. Sometimes, some of my favourite stories get lost in the history of the internet. This is one I remembered today when a friend told me she was going for a job interview. This is a true story from a couple years ago and really did happen to me. I share these things so you will all feel better about your own fallible humanity. Laugh with me.


So today, in the interest of pursuing my career goals and better providing for my mini-family, I had a job interview for another part-time job. The hope was that it would fit in nicely with my existing work schedule, allowing me to bring home a little more bacon while expanding my growing repertoire of experience in my field. It’s one of those little jobs that you find and think, “Man, that sounds like a fun job.” It’s one of those little jobs that you find yourself really wanting to get.

Blowfish boots...cozy but not quite interview-appropriate.
This morning I dressed as best I could, given that our house is half-packed into boxes and most of my wardrobe is geared towards my day job, where I counsel teenagers all day. I learned long ago, you can’t counsel youth while you’re wearing a suit; so without getting dressed like I was headed to a gala or headed to a grade 12 geography class, my best option today was a white button-down blouse with a grey corduroy skirt that ended just above the knee. I threw on a pair of opaque black tights, put on my Blowfish-style boots, and packed my heels for the afternoon, when the interview was scheduled. I felt pretty set for my big day. That is, until I got to work.

My beloved heels.

It was as I was making phone calls at my desk that I realized my tights were just too, well, tight. They were driving me crazy and actually seemed to be causing my stomach some distress. Gurgling sounds kept rumbling through me, and I found myself tugging at the waistband rather frantically. I realized that my nervous belly was kicking in as I got closer to the interview time, and I knew then that I was going to have to get myself out of these things. I debated for a while before finally leaving my office and heading upstairs to the bathroom and smiling at a client in the waiting room on my way. I got into the bathroom, shut the door, and pulled off my tights….ahhhhh. So much better. On the way back to my office I balled the things up in my fist and pretended to be fascinated with a painting as I passed the waiting client, but I still caught her look of mild surprise as I made my way by in my wooly boots and albino-white legs.

I knew I needed to find something else to wear on my bottom half, but the only thing in my whole crazy car was a pair of neon pink-and-blue striped knee socks. Not exactly interview material. I drove to my meeting thinking frantically about what I could do. When I arrived in the neighbourhood and parked, I saw that I had 25 minutes until the interview; perfect! I would simply walk down the main street until I found a drug store. Moments later I came to discover that the pharmacy I used to frequent here had been turned into an insurance office. Gahhh. I continued down the strip a while, now aware that this particular skirt was the kind that rides up, further showing off my lily-white gams and getting me lots of raised eyebrows, considering it’s November and I otherwise looked like a fairly classy professional woman.

I half-ran into a nearby consignment shop, hoping they’d have some tights or nylons. No such luck. They had several pairs of tall fashion boots, which would have been something at least, but of course they were all size 6’s, as all consignment footwear is. Because no normal-sized adult has size 6 feet, you see, so when they’re dropped off they sit there for all eternity, mocking those women with average sized feet. Anyway, I digress.

NOT my butt. credit:
My last option, with 12 minutes left to spare, was almost unthinkable…but I’m an improviser. So I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and ducked into the store next door: a sex shop. Since it was 2:18pm on a Wednesday, the store was deserted with the exception of two clerks. We all smiled at each other and said hello, and I began my frantic search for a pair of hose. The female clerk came over and asked me what I needed, and I just pointed to the most normal-looking pair on the wall—black thigh highs with a lacy bit at the top. She took them off the wall, charged me a startling thirty bucks for them, and sent me on my way. I stepped out of the store and ran back to my car. Only 8 minutes to go.

I yanked the thigh-highs out of their package as I pulled my skirt up over my waist and attempted to find a comfortable position in the passenger seat to pull these babies on. It was only then that I realized these hose came with a garter belt, and they were the kind that needed the garter to stay on. I began to laugh, a little hysterically, as I realized my mistake. I’d bought thigh-highs before, but they were the kind with the rubbery stuff at the top that kept them from slipping down. These had only a slight elastic band at the top, sewn into a garishly lacy cuff. I scrambled around with the included garter belt for a few moments until I realized it was way too big, way too complicated, and an old man was peering at me through the windshield. I decided I’d have to hope the nylons stayed put with just the little strip of elastic at the top. With shaking hands I pulled out my black velvet heels, threw them on, and managed a reasonable lipstick application. Then I was out the door and speed-walking up the long city block to the office.

There’s something about a pair of thigh-high stockings that makes a girl feel a little extra sexy. Yes, okay, when you actually get home and look in the mirror, there’s always a bit of thigh pudge that muffin-tops over the elastic at the top, but we don’t all have a Victoria’s Secret airbrush team. As I walked along, I felt cool, confident, and a little bit hot, and from the long looks I was getting from people, I was sure they noticed how sophisticated I felt…but it was as I arrived at the office building doors that I realized why people were staring: my stockings had let go of my thighs and had travelled down to my knees, where they were hanging, lacy and ridiculous, like weird flamboyant pirate boot-tops. My skirt had, of course, rode up again, leaving my thighs very exposed and fluorescent white. I stared at my reflection, mouth agape.

I did the only thing I could: I put my chin in the air, threw the big glass door wide open, and strode through the entire length of the giant, populated foyer with my head held high and my best catwalk stride. I arrived at the bathroom doors to find that the ladies’ room was out of service for painting; I hopped the cordon and ran inside, tore off the ludicrous nylons, and pulled my constrictive, horrible tights back on.

I hope the interviewers appreciated the brevity of my answers. I’m a wordy gal, if you haven’t noticed, and I’ve never had a job interview take less than the full hour; today, I kept the answers short and sweet, then ran home to strip off the terrible tights, the whole interview finished in under thirty minutes. I had to laugh for just a moment, though, when I sat down, took a deep breath, and the panel gave me my first question:

“What did you do to prepare for today’s interview?”

Oh, if you only knew.

Sunday 15 June 2014

A Realistic List of Ways to Be a Great Dad

I’ve noticed a lot of lists circulating this month about ‘how to be a great dad’. These lists are often absurdly idealistic. My parents both worked for a living, starting off dirt-poor and working crazy long days to get us comfortable. They are ‘salt of the earth’ people at their core, and they’re rough around the edges. I often describe myself as being raised by Klingons: a warrior race that prides itself on honor and a good fight. Maybe you’re the kind of dad that finds those endless lists of idealistic ‘dad rules’ to be helpful; but if you’re a normal human dad, maybe this list will better suit your needs.


1. Teach your kids to make their own fun. If you don’t have money for the newest automated kid gadget, give her a gas mask, a flashlight, and a little brother to terrorize. In fact, even if you do have the money for the newest gadget, stick with the flashlight and the gas mask.

2. If you are a young family trying to make ends meet, be creative. Buy one MacDonald’s hamburger (the little kind), then share it in alternating bites between yourself, your son, and your daughter. Whoever gets the pickle is considered the winner. Meanwhile everyone gets a little treat.

3. If your kid asks you why Rocky Balboa is drinking raw eggs, explain it to her. If she then says she wants a raw egg too, give it to her. When she realizes it’s disgusting, be kind enough to let her throw it out.

4. Teach your daughter how to defend herself. Teach her also how to change her own tire, shoot a weapon, patch a boat, clean a fish, and drive a standard. Because knowledge is power and there’s nothing you should only teach a son, and Daddy don’t raise no damsels in distress.

5. Sing in traffic: make up songs to express your frustration with the bad drivers around you. If you’re lucky, you’ll one day hear your own daughter singing, “Sucking my braiiiiins directly out of my asshooooole” just like you did.

6. Always answer the ‘why’ questions, even when your kid is a teenager. Even if it takes six hours and it’s a fight between the two of you.

7. Put aside the kid shows, kid music, and Disney movies, and watch real movies with your kids. Cover their eyes when necessary but watch them anyway. Play classic rock and classical music. They’ll grow up lightyears ahead of the other kids in terms of wit, intelligence, and emotional literacy.

8. Get festive. Dress up like the Grim Reaper on Hallowe'en and chase the neighbourhood kids. Make potato spiders and drop them from a pulley system onto the trick-or-treaters. Basically, be a kid but with all the resources of an adult.

9. At bedtime, read to your kid the novels you’re already reading, yourself. She won’t understand everything that Terry Brooks or Isaac Asimov is saying, but she’ll feel like you respect her intelligence and she’ll develop a hunger to understand all the words.

10. To make housecleaning more enjoyable, blast the “Les Poissons” song from The Little Mermaid on full volume and have everyone sing along. For the rest of your kid’s life, doing chores will be a happy thing.

My experience has been that it’s not about the quantity of time, but the quality of time that you spend with your kid. And it’s often the things you didn’t know were ‘lessons’ that will stick in your kid’s brain. You don’t have to be Superman to raise a good kid; just aim to be unique, true to your values, and creative. The rest will work itself out.

Monday 9 June 2014

How to Hold Onto Happiness: A Beginner's Guide


Here's a funny thing: sometimes excitement and distress can feel interchangeable. Picture the face of a clock; you know how one minute it's 11:59, and the next time you look, it's 12:01? Right in the middle is that elusive thing we call midnight. It is that one perfectly balanced minute between one day and the next. Tip the minute hand back a notch, and it's yesterday; tip it forward, and we're into tomorrow. Sometimes that's how excitement works too--except picture 'yesterday' as mounting joy, and 'tomorrow' as distress. When the adrenaline gets flowing and we're caught up in a moment, we can sometimes tip from joy right over to distress. Usually it manifests as worry, panic, fear, or pessimism. The thing is, the only difference between joy and anxiety is our state of mind; all the same chemicals are churning, so it's really just all about how your head is processing the moment.

I'm telling you all this because I want to give you an important piece of advice:

Do not fear happiness.

Your brain is full of all the shit times when happiness was inevitably followed by that turning over of the clock, down into disappointment or betrayal or loss, or something else uncomfortable. The more life kicks us in the groin, the easier it seems to become to just tip straight from 11:59 right on over to 12:01. You know the feeling: in one breath you're enjoying the moment, and in the next a dozen skeptical monkeys are chattering away in your head. Next thing you know, the tingly sunshiney feeling in your chest has been replaced with the itching, squeezy feeling of stress.

The trick is to suspend your doubts and demons. Even if it's just for that minute, that elusive 'midnight' moment.

Because happiness is brilliant, I'm telling you. It's like sunlight and warm ocean and birthday cake and puppies, but all in your chest and head. It comes to you, no strings attached, and invites you to feel again, the way you did before the world showed you the other, darker side.

I'm discovering that, if you really work at it--if you silence your mind and hug yourself to the moment--it may be possible not only to appreciate that 'midnight' moment, but maybe it's even possible to stop the clock. Maybe just for a day, or an hour; I don't know. But you'll never stop the clock if you're afraid.

Do not fear happiness. Stay with it. Don't look for the fire exit, don't scramble for a Plan B. Just...soak it in.

You deserve it. This minute, balanced between yesterday and tomorrow, is yours.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

My Garden Is Trying to Kill Me



This past weekend, I was having one of those nights where someone says something stupid to you right before bed and it keeps you up. Eventually I fell into a light, restless sleep until I was wakened around 3am by the very annoying sound of someone eating a carrot. I opened one groggy eye, looked around, and realized it was coming from outside. It must be that damned porcupine from last year, I thought—we’d had a porcupine last year who had eaten all of my zucchini, so I figured he was back. Bleary and half-asleep, I stumbled downstairs, grabbed a can of tomato soup from the cupboard, and headed to the back yard to vanquish my foe. When I got there, however, I discovered it was not the porcupine, but a skunk and it was greedily eating my garbage.

In my ornery and sleepy state, the dangers of throwing things at a skunk did not occur to me until the can bounced off the garbage beside him, and he turned with a raised tail towards the back door. I slammed it shut then proceeded to curse at him through the glass. Unrepentant, he continued to eat, so I headed into the kitchen for another can, but when I returned, he’d wandered off.


The next day the garden tried to get me again. I had borrowed a sprinkler from a neighbour; it’s one of those yellow jobs that has a lot of holes and waves left and right. Tired of dragging a pail of water out to the yard to water my veggie seedlings, I eagerly set the sprinkler up in the middle of the garden, which happens to be about the middle of my yard. Chatting idly on the phone with MJ while I did this, I turned on the water and watched as this thing sprung to life. The water arced upwards initially, shooting well above my fence and over into my neighbour’s yard. I laughed and said to MJ that I hoped the neighbours didn’t mind getting a little wet…and that was about when the wave of water started to head back towards the house. Before I knew it, the sprinkler was soaking me as I pressed myself up against the wall with nowhere to run. I shrieked and when MJ asked what was happening, all I could do was shriek again. Corben started leaping up on me, thinking I was in real distress, leaving muddy paw prints all over my front.

When the water finally moved away again, I realized I could have just reached down and turned off the tap, which made me start laughing so hard, I couldn’t talk. MJ continued to ask me what was happening, but I couldn’t form words. It was then that I looked up and saw my roommate Bruce standing in the door, staring at me with with a bemused look, while I was bent over in shock and laughter on the patio stones. Once he was certain I was laughing and not crying, he sighed and went back into the house without a word, which just made me laugh harder.


But my garden’s best attempt to take me out was a few days earlier, when MJ and I were planting the seedlings. I had headed out to garden in a foul mood, frustrated to a furious place by something completely unrelated to vegetation, and I was rabidly attacking the soil with some sort of mini-spade. Just as MJ suggested I may want to slow down, I brought this tool down, hard, onto my thumb. The metal cut through my knuckle like hot butter, and as I pulled it out, rivers of blood started rolling down my hand. I sat there in shock while MJ ran into the house to find a first aid kit. When she came out, she cursed and asked me what the hell was I doing now? Was I taking a picture? I said of course I was. I’m a blogger, dammit. These are the moments we wait for.

Nothing about my gardening experience has yet resembled the carefree and picturesque tableaus shown on Jamie Oliver’s show or in a Better Homes & Gardens magazine. But if all goes well we’ll have vegetables soon, and I’m slowly regaining full movement in my thumb, so all is well that ends well.

That is, assuming the garden has given up trying to kill me.
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