WordPress Won’t Return My Calls

On Saturday I published my hundredth blog post. It would seem that WordPress no longer loves me. Or maybe somewhere along the way I disappointed the website and WordPress doesn’t feel like cheering me on anymore. Once upon a time though, from January to March of this past year, WordPress and I were besties.

Every time I published a post on WordPress, it would send me emails “You’ve got two more followers! Hurray!” or “Can you even believe ten people looked at your work today? That’s terrific, we’re super proud of you” and I was all “Thanks WordPress, I really need the encouragement and you make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.”

But like all relationships, at some point WordPress’ interest in me started to wane. It didn’t feel like lighting up anymore when one hundred and fifty people looked at my post “Lighting Fires in Public Places”. However like many people in unrequited love I held on to hope.

Sometime in October I realized that my hundredth post would fall in this month. For awhile I debated throwing a party to celebrate my achievement. However that would involve people. And as a self confessed hermit this would not do. Instead I figured that my old friend WordPress would come through and do something special to mark the occasion for me.

While composing the hundredth post I thought of all the things WordPress might do. Maybe it would jump out from behind my computer with a cake. Perhaps it might make balloons fall from the screen. Or even best of all, put up a quote saying how proud of me the site was and that I was no longer bad at grammar.

On Saturday night, with a heart full of anticipation, I clicked the “Publish” button. Holding my breath I waited for surprises and joy to fill the screen celebrating my commitment to writing and the WordPress community. Instead my post appeared as usual on the right hand side of the screen ready for me to edit next to a perfectly ordinary message on the left saying that I had published one hundred posts.

English: Toy balloons Русский: Воздушные шарики

WordPress didn’t bother with balloons.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No parade. No band. No balloons. If I hadn’t been so shocked, I might have shed a tear. Sure I had seen that WordPress was increasingly disinterested in what I was doing and yes it had been awhile since it brought me emails of congratulations but I hadn’t realized our relationship was that bad.

Hence I’m writing to tell you, my Unwashed public, that in a little over a month my blog turns a year old. Everyone is invited to come celebrate with me as I push the “Publish” button. Except for you WordPress, you can stay on the internet all by your lonesome while all of my true friends ring in a new year of The Great Unwashed with me.

English: A bouquet of flowers.

WordPress didn’t bring me flowers either. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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What Writing One Thousand Six Hundred and Sixty Seven Words a Day Is Like

At first it’s awful. Because you think you aren’t funny at all.

And then you accept not being funny. Which makes everything ok and somehow you manage to be funny again.

And then you skip a day. Which is fine, these things happen.

But then you skip another day. And you pretend that’s fine too. You can make it up on the weekend- in the words of the youth “Whatevs”.

And then the weekend arrives and you realize you have to write eight thousand words and you’re all

“This is the end of my life!”

And then you get bedsores from sitting in your kitchen chair, not moving and staring at a computer screen. So you vow never ever, ever to get behind again.

For a little while you don’t. And you even get used to writing THAT MUCH every single day, day in day out.

It becomes a thing that you do. Other people have fun lives in the evenings and you write.

But then something happens again and you miss a day. Which is ok, these things happen, it’s just sixteen hundred words, why you banged that out in under two hours last night, no biggie, break it up over a couple of days.

True to your word, you do makeup a little bit writing twenty one hundred words the next day. But then, oh that nasty life, it happens again. And suddenly you find yourself staring down the barrel of five thousand words for one weekend.

So like any good person you put it off. Until seven pm when Canada has become a cold, dark, horrible foreboding place that’s going to sit on your chest and feed you the monthly writing challenge until you cry and churn out the necessary words.

For such a polite country Canada can be a dick sometimes.

So you write words. And you don’t like them. So you write more words. And you like some of them. Then you email your friend who tells you to keep going. So you write about cupcakes because who doesn’t love cupcakes then you look at the screen and think “My God why am I writing about cupcakes?”

That’s what National Novel Writing Month is like. If you’ll excuse me, I have to get up and stretch because my butt is numb.

*I didn’t actually get bedsores. It just felt like I did. I’m fairly certain my butt has retained the shape of my wooden chairs though.

Thanks for Joining Our Company, Here’s A Dead Baby

When I was ten years old my father quit his job at a chocolate company and started working as a marketing manager for a business which sold tea. This meant two things; our house would no longer be filled to the brim with delightful cocoa related goods- instead my father insisted on stocking our cupboards with old person drinks because what child guzzles Earl Grey? The second thing was that my tenuous grasp on any semblance of popularity from living in a house filled with candy bars was gone.

Life went on and before I knew it, Christmas was upon us. Previous years my sister and I had been packed in our snow suits and shuttled to the chocolate company’s Christmas party. The fete not only featured Santa Claus but the giant allergen that was the company’s mascot as well. Diana and I would take turns standing next to the costumed people for pictures. This would be followed by a draw in which every child was given a gift then we would leave with a loot bag as large as ourselves after being stuffed with candy, brownies and cake. In essence the chocolate company’s Christmas party was every child’s vision of heaven. I used to picture going there after I died.

This year of course there would be no company party, not for the children in my family at least. My mother and father dressed to the nines early in December and left my sister and me at home with a babysitter. The next night my mother presented Diana and I with a box. “It’s from the tea company’s Christmas party, your Dad said we should bring it home to open as a family.”

It wasn’t a garbage bag full of sugar but it was something. Furthermore after initially questioning the wisdom of his career move I had been buoyed up by a phone call my mother had made to me while on a business trip with my father two months previously.

“Guess where I am girls?” she cried ecstatically into the phone. Sitting at home with our grandparents Diana and I had a vague notion that our Mom and Dad were very far away but not exactly sure where.

“Scotland?” we said in unison.

“No! I’m in the bathroom!”

“Um” was our confused and faintly grossed out response.

“The bathroom in the hotel room is as large as our bedroom at home and there is a phone by the tub!” My mother’s excitement was contagious and I began to forgive my father for leaving his lucrative candy coated job.

As Diana and I unwrapped the small package I could tell we were both thinking of the enormous hotel bathroom with a telephone in it. If this new company had provided something as fabulous as that for the employee’s families on business what sort of wonders had they packed into this little box?

It was a dead baby. Or to be more specific; half a dead baby. The lower half of the infant was a ceramic bell while the upper half was dressed in what looked like a nubby, hooded ceramic jacket. Without a doubt the gift was the creepiest, most homely Christmas ornament I had ever seen. The entire tchotchke was beige coloured except for the eyes which were painted blue, giving it the appearance that someone had dressed the baby crossed bell in a coat then thrown it in a snowbank to freeze to death. “Well, that’s um, nice.” said my mother looking at the ornament skeptically. The baby’s eyes stared back, sinister and unblinking.

Without looking at my sister, I knew what she was thinking “I would have preferred a bag of chocolate.”

Illicit Sugar and Job Confusion

Once upon a time, when I thought glitter glue was a necessary addition to all objects, my father worked for a company that made chocolate bars. Technically he was a marketing manager, but at seven years of age his job title was irrelevant.

Black Chocolate in Japan

The cupboard contents of my childhood home. (Photo credit: gullevek)

The more important part to my young mind and mouth was that this job resulted in every cupboard in our house being stocked with some type of delicious treat. Everyday my father was sent home with an edible good to sample and create a detailed description about. A man can only consume so much sugar before he begins to stash it with the coffee mugs, next to canned corn and behind the stand up mixer. As far as I was concerned this was the next best thing to being fathered by Santa Claus himself.

Life was not all rainbows and unicorns in my childhood home. Although we were surrounded by chocolate, my sister and I could not technically eat all of the chocolate. We had to ask permission. Nearly always the answer was “No”. However we discovered a loophole in the parental framework; what my parents did not know about, we could secretly consume.

Diana and I later parlayed this rule into the consumption of my parent’s old alcohol. As a teenager my sister spent an inordinate amount of time searching for dusty bottles of booze in our basement to decant into inconspicuous containers. Our crime was discovered eight years later when the house was being renovated and my mother was puzzled by a box of twenty cobweb covered bottles of hootch, each with only a couple of milliliters left. God bless my near teetotaling parents’ drinking habits.

I digress. In Canada the legal age that one may stay at home alone is ten. This was an excellent year for me as I discovered a fifteen pound box of abandoned chocolate chips next to a stack of two year old flyers advertising a new candy bar. I ate nearly a third of my bootleg bounty before sharing the news with my sister.

When I was twelve, my father changed jobs and began working for a tea company. Supposedly it was a better position but from my preadolescent point of view it was a step down. In my mind our family was probably one job change away from the poor house.

In high school, my father changed careers again, no longer was he concerned with the colour of tea or chocolate packaging however I never quite figured out what he did. To this day if asked I will answer “Um…..? He’s a banker? He works for a bank? He talks to a lot of people. Stocks?”

My dad has repeatedly attempted to explain his role but he always includes unnecessary technical details which confuse the issue. Once, Phillip my sister’s giant boy friend explained what he did, and everything made sense. Unfortunately then my father tried to elaborate on the topic and my understanding was lost.

Here’s what I know

  1. My father goes to work everyday
  2. He wears a suit
  3. He talks to a lot of people.

Based on this I like to assume that what he does is very important but it’s entirely possible that he could be a well dressed ice cream man.

My father's office. (Photo Credit: www.dreammakericecreamcarts.com)

My father’s office. (Photo Credit: http://www.dreammakericecreamcarts.com)

Knock, Knock, Did Anyone Order a Sexy Politician?

John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Barrack Obama and in the right light even Calvin Coolidge; our Southern neighbours have had some sexy presidents. What does Canada have? William Lyon Mackenzie King, a man as blustery and bombastic as he was round. The height of our sexy leadership was of course Pierre Trudeau who was bald however he did have a certain appealing charisma about him.

It’s time for Canadians to bring the sexy back, in the form of Justin Trudeau. Much like his famous father Justin brings a certain charm as well as a heady mix of spontaneity combined with power. Terribly attractive and he has a full head of hair to boot.

My countrymen I implore you, it’s time we had a leader that we all want to bang. Although anything is better than Steven Harper who resembles an aged Ken doll. And even Barbie wouldn’t hit that.

Therefore I beg you, ignore this young buck’s absurd comments and policies. My fellow Canadians, I beseech you, turn a blind eye to the next ridiculous stunt he pulls, unless of course it’s taking off his shirt in which case please send me photos.

Justin Trudeau speaks at the University of Wat...

Ideally the photo should look like this. Only with less fabric. (Photo credit: batmoo)

The time has come. We need a sexy leader. For too long we have stood in the attractive shadow of the United States’ leadership. With a potential new good-looking Prime Minister at the helm there is no telling what Canada could do; perhaps we will start by overtaking the States in beauty pageants, then move onto making all National Hockey League teams Canadian. Having a visually appealing person to direct us, the sky becomes the limit.

Men, the next time you stand at the polls I want you to think long and hard while asking yourself the following question before checking the box on your ballot “If I was a girl would I kick him out of bed?”

If the answer is no, check away.

And ladies, remember; if he’s easy on the eyes, he’s good for everything else.

Giant Butt Bruises

As a fledgling writer it can be difficult to accurately capture the nuance and depth of relationships. My mother has complained bitterly for the past six months that I only write funny things about her whereas the stories I tell about my father are heartfelt tributes.

Thus I took the morning to sweat over a warm, loving post which accurately described the gratitude I felt for my mother. It was hard. That post took significantly longer than most of my other works but at the end I was proud; I had created something authentic and very personal. I was excited to not only share it with my Mom but with others in my writing community.

As with any post that contains someone aside from Roscoe and me, I always obtain permission before putting it up for the internet to read. Despite months of statements and whining to the contrary when my mother heard the post she said “It’s wonderful but you can’t put it on The Great Unwashed.”

Apparently as much as my Mom wanted something heartfelt and lovely written about her she doesn’t want others to see it. So instead I’m going to tell a story about when she fell into bushes and bruised her backside.

Once upon a time when rollerblading was all the rage and frizzy hair was trendy; my family went to Disney World. Diana and I were very fortunate because we had both our maternal grandparents and our uncle with us. This meant that my mother and father had lots of time  to enjoy themselves while my Gran and Granddad took Diana and I on the magic teacups until my grandfather felt like he was going to puke. My father spent this extra time wandering around EPCOT like a normal person. By contrast, my mother chose instead to strap on her rollerblades which she had lugged all the way from Canada to go for a skate around our resort.

This was the early nineties so rollerblading was new and sexy. All the celebrities were doing it, in our home alone there were three “Rollerblade to the Oldies” VHS tapes. However it was still a new sport, especially to our family. Not surprisingly my mother had not yet mastered the finer points of the activity, like braking. Which was fine along most parts of the resort path where there were helpful ferns and innocent tourists to grab a hold of to slow oneself but then my mother got to a hill, specifically a downhill. Picking up speed as she raced along the incline, my young mother started to lose control of her rollerblades. This was how she fell butt first into the Disney landscaping.

Now this story is mortifying enough as is but it gets worse. My Mom spent the rest of the trip showing off the effects of her fall to anyone who would look at her purple and navy blue butt. The bruises were absolutely giant, covering most of her bum and upper thighs, they were the size of a two year old.

NOT my mother. Although she insisted on showing her bruises to anyone with a pair of eyes, my Mom refused to create photographic evidence thus I have no authentic depictions to share. (Photo Credit : slanchreport.com)

NOT my mother. Although she insisted on showing her bruises to anyone with a pair of eyes, my Mom refused to create photographic evidence thus I have no authentic depictions to share. (Photo Credit : slanchreport.com)

I hope everyone enjoyed that story, I had wanted to tell you about what a special person my mother is and the type of mother she is but my Mom didn’t want that. So instead you got giant butt bruises. I love you Mom, you’re welcome.

 

NaBloWriMo Is Making My Thighs Cramp Up

I’m not running but I’m in a marathon. I know this because once upon a time I actually ran those distances; Halfs, 30 kilometers, Fulls. I ran them all so I know how the experience feels.

The only thing one needs to know about running a full marathon is that it’s long. Picture the longest thing in the world. Marathons are longer than that. Conjure up your most unpleasant memory. Marathons are just like that, but longer.

There are a couple of reasons why people run 26.2 miles. One is to lose weight. This is not a good reason to run; I never lost an ounce from marathons. The other is more subtle but deeply satisfying, it’s the ability to walk in to work the Monday after, the race bling that a volunteer carefully placed around your neck at the end of 42.2 kilometers glinting proudly on your chest and casually say to a coworker “What did you get up to this weekend?”

And then the ability to reply when the same question is posed back to you, “Oh me? I just ran a marathon, your weekend sounded fun though, watching three seasons of Friends in one day, that sounds like something you’ll be proud of years from now.”

But that’s just me. And sometimes I’m a smug jerk. However that is the reason that propelled my butt across more than a dozen race courses. And through even more training runs.

The last reason is less self-righteous but equally subtle. As I mentioned before marathons are long. Endless. There are countless places where you want to give up and just walk. Or perhaps lie down and die. But somehow you keep going through the pain, through the endless kilometers, through the defeating headwind. Afterwards, when sitting alone with your banana, when everything, even your back hurts you can smile to yourself and quietly say “I did that”.

Yesterday I sat down and wrote 1,770 words as a part of NaNoWriMo. It was long. It was hard. I didn’t like a lot of what I wrote. But the important part was that I did it. Today I have to keep writing, even when I feel like I don’t have any more content. However after thirty days of this, I know one thing for certain; sitting alone with a banana and my computer on December 1st, reading over all that I produced is going to feel awesome. If only it came with a medal.