Famine, Pestilence and Trump: The Plagues of the United States and Preparing for those Horsemen

Dear America,

Sorry you’re cursed. Incredibly sorry, because as Canadians we’re neighbours, so if the United States inundated with milkweed and other noxious weeds, in all likelihood so are we.

But getting back to the heart of the matter, America, you’re cursed. Or at least, I’d like to believe you are. Because it would be awful to imagine that you chose to put Trump into power. Not that we your countrymen of the North have any right to throw stones. After all, we are the masterminds behind the global joke that was Rob Ford. The difference was we put our buffoon in charge of a city, America, you put yours in charge of a country. For FOUR YEARS.

A mistake of that magnitude can be the result of one of two things, mass idiocy or a mass cursing. Again, we chose this guy.

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He’s a winner. (Photo Credit: theglobeandmail.com)

So we can’t judge, consequently, America, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and instead believing that you’ve angered the gods.

In light of this smiting, there are a couple of precautions Americans should take:

  1. Move all laundry indoors, I know you people are all excited about the green movement, but given the events of the past couple of days, the locusts are coming soon and you’re going to need your underpants for what comes next.
  2. Contact that uncle who’s a carpenter. Yes, your computing friend who does work for Google, can solve any technological problem, but he knows diddly squat about ark building.
  3. Avoid all aquariums and the seaside, also possibly nearby lakes. The gods are ticked, at this point any marine animal might gobble you up. Being swallowed by manatees or invasive carp is just not a good way to go.
  4. Be wary of colourful outerwear and siblings. That brother who stuffed a sock in your mouth when you were little? He’s high on the list for selling you into slavery. Shove that brilliant red Isaac Mirzahi coat to the back of your closet and chose more drab garb for the time being. Canceling family brunches is an idea too.
  5. Find Charleton Heston. Moses is dead, so the next most likely candidate to lead persecuted people out of a tight spot is this gun toting specimen of a man. Even if he can’t part large bodies of water, my guess is that his stock pile of firearms would scare the dickens out of any adversary.
  6. Scratch that last one, apparently Charleton Heston is dead too.

America, those are all my ideas to help you aside from the obvious options which are prayer and hugging a Muslim because they’re having a rough time of it right now.

Sincerely,

The Great Unwashed

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Awkward Almost Flashings And Other Worldly Monster Knockers

I’m a vampire. Not in the “kiss me Edward, you delicious sparkly creature” sense but in the my skin in sunlight feels like how bacon sounds when it’s cooking sense. The lore of vampires and werewolves was started by a blood condition called porphyria. The bad kinds of porphyria make people blister when they’re exposed to light. After the blisters heal, hair grows out of them. Delightful right?

I have the kind of porphyria that just causes pain upon exposure to light and any sunburns result in permanent scarring. Understandably people with porphyria avoid the sun and consequently tend to have fair complexions. Thus how the whole vampire phenomena was started.

A cotton t-shirt only has a sun protective factor of ten. This fact is irrelevant for non-vampires but the summer that I worked outside,  this meant that every morning I would have to cover my entire top half in 110 SPF sunscreen before getting dressed. This process meant that I was so greased up that the whole world became a slip and slide until I had my t-shirt on.

That same summer that I began working outside, my boobs grew, like really grew. Picture the moment when the Grinch decided to save Christmas and his heart busted out of the device that was measuring it. That’s totally what happened to me with bras that year. The combination of a big cup size and a tiny ribcage made it difficult to find a sports bra. Yet my mother had searched and searched and finally procured me a size 30D brassiere. It was exactly the right fit but it was super tight which made it tricky to get on.

On this morning my mother had left early for work so it was just my father and I in the house. I went through my morning routine of slathering my entire body in sunscreen then reached for my bra. That was when everything went terribly wrong. Somehow while pulling it over my head, the elastic bottom got coated in sun cream and so rather than sliding down over my head and arms,  the bra rolled up onto itself like one of those pull blinds, forming a ring around my arms,  pinning them to my head.  So there I was standing there with my hands straight up like I was caught in a nudist stick up without the gun.

The elastic was tight to begin with, but when it was rolled up on itself, it became like steel;  impossible to bend or move. “Help” I cried,  waving my arms above the elbow in an attempt to escape. My father hearing my cries dashed from the other room. Hearing his footsteps I added “I’m stuck in my bra” at those words,  the doorknob which had been about to open, reverted back to its closed position.

My father is helpful but above all he is conservative. That meant that although he would coach me from behind the door, entering to unpin my arms from my head was not an option. “Is Mom home?” I asked despite knowing the answer. “No, she left already” my father replied. “Are you still stuck?” he asked. Turning this way and that in my undergarment prison, I sighed “yes”.

After some Houdini like movements and an inordinated amount of grunting, I managed to extract one arm. My Dad was relieved when I finally escaped. Getting flashed by loved ones has never been high on his list of fun experiences. I was much more careful the rest of the summer, applying sunscreen to my arms only after I was wearing the necessary undergarments.

 

Speaking Farsi and Interpretive Dancing With Engineers

My husband Tex makes my life nice. He’s an engineer, meaning he loves science, understands math and his entire life is organized by a series of intricate but straight forward systems. I, on the other hand am a failed scientist turned artist whose life contains no obvious organizational systems, however I cook so this arrangement works for us. I joke that he lives to solve problems and I create them by virtue of existing.

For the most part, that last statement is true. Broken door? Tex is on it. Excessively complicated taxes? Put away the calculator, the engineer is here. Hosting family Christmas on the same day a drop shipment of furniture is set to arrive to fill three empty rooms of the house? Let the organizational pro through, he’ll schedule this day into submission.

Artistic problems are a horse of a different colour though. Having dabbled in the arts throughout my life, I’m experienced at collaborating with other like-minded artsy people. In those circumstances, I will explain my vision for a project, listen to my partner’s ideas and together we’ll come up with a product that is infinitely better had I just worked on my own.

For the No Excuses November post, I wanted to recreate the John Snow “Winter is coming” meme.

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Only with my name because I am equally powerful as a season of course. Modified from makeameme.org

It was going to look like the original but with curly hair.

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It’s like John Snow is wearing a wig. Modified from makeameme.org

And of course Mini Tex would be incorporated.

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Because who doesn’t love babies with preternaturally long fingers on their left hands? Modified from makeameme.org

In his ridiculous bird/dragon/fish costume, because there is no point in purchasing a costume for your child unless you force them to wear it in all manner of situations. Admittedly, bringing a fish/bird child to that funeral was not the most popular decision but I stand by it.

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You can properly appreciate the randomness of the fin/wing/foreshortened arms of the costume at this angle. Modified from makeameme.org

But no matter how many images Tex and I took, or alterations that I made to the poses or suggestions for framing, the photos all looked completely awkward and not even remotely like the meme. And it wasn’t even like I was unprepared! I had fur! I had a giant heavy dark coat! I even had a giant sword-like thing! All of the elements were there but the fairies of luck and creativity refused to smile on us that day.

I concluded it was a one-off, that there was all the possibility in the world that Tex would suddenly morph into a free love spouting, organic eating, Burning Man attending, artsy hippie. I mean, I’m becoming like him after having lived together- just last week I used the words “anaerobic reaction” in a sentence and it wasn’t just an example of my mommy brain substituting words while trying to describe a new fitness class.

Only time will tell though. In his words, I’ll continue asking him to “take weird pictures of me” and hope that in the future we’ll be able to artistically trouble shoot together. In the meantime, my readers can enjoy my Microsoft Paint photos.

Celebrity Encounters and Near Beat Downs

I didn’t think he would beat me to a pulp but I couldn’t be sure. I was on a flight from my new small town to a big city to meet Sula for a conference that she was attending. Sitting in between me and the bathroom was a man the size of a house.

As this was two years ago, I was neither pregnant nor traveling with a baby, thus, I was wearing my standard twelve year old girl disguise. My short stature and high voice confuse people. When combined with rainbow kneesocks and a penchant for ridiculous actions, I end up being mistaken for a grade schooler on occasion.

At that moment,  my thirty going on thirteen year old self was debating the pros and cons of climbing delicately over the arm rests and pretzeling myself into the small space between the giant man and the roof of the aircraft, in order to get to the washroom. On the one hand I had to pee BAD. Next to the other hand was one of the most muscly and enormous people I had ever clapped my eyes on outside of a circus act featuring strong men.

“What’s the worst that could happen? ” I asked myself, pulling up my knees into a crouching position,  preparing to move spider-like over the seats and the huge human obstacle next to me. I had decided that it was best to exit facing the man, that way if he woke up instead of staring at my large and speechless bum, he’d see my sheepish smiling face. At worst, he would stand up, unintentionally tossing me over his shoulder like a the year old in a tantrum. Luckily,. just as I was making my move, it was at that moment that Jon Mirasty woke up.

To be clear,  I didn’t know he was Jon Mirasty. If I had,  I never would have considered climbing over him. It wasn’t until after I politely asked him to move and returned from using the washroom that he introduced himself. Even then,  he only said his name was Jon and that he raised horses a ways outside the town I lived. Only when I asked him why he was traveling did he reveal his celebrity status. “I’m heading to see a surgeon. I messed up my shoulder playing hockey” he said. “Oh?” I said “Do you play hockey often? ” Simply, Jon Mirasty replied “Well I was in the NHL.”

I can talk about a lot of things; the importance of hiding candy so you discover it later like some sort of human Easter bunny, the proper way to shellac your own bum and of course the best strategy for accidentally flashing church elders. Tragically hockey isn’t one of those topics, so I brought out the only factoid relevant to the conversation that I knew, “Jordin Tootoo is also a hockey player.” Awkwardness for the win.

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Knowing one player’s name is equivalent to understanding the game right? (Photo Credit: sportsnet.ca)

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Luckily Jon Mirasty skated over my odd statement to continue the conversation. “Yeah, I know Jordin” he said. “I’m sorry” I confessed,  “that is the sum total of my hockey knowledge and I only know it because Jordin is First Nations and I work with some indigenous people.” Jon Mirasty quickly corrected me “Jordin’s Inuit.” “I’m Cree.” He added pointedly to differentiate.

We then went on to have a pleasant conversation for the rest of the flight. Always a writer and therefore curious about other people’s lives and experiences, I peppered Jon Mirasty with questions which he happily answered. When I asked Jon Mirasty whether he missed playing in the big leagues, the former NHL player surprised me by saying that he didn’t because it meant a lot of travel and being away from his family.

With that response rattling around in my head, I was stunned to discover after Googling Jon Mirasty, that like Jordin Tootoo, he was an enforcer. A position dedicated to beating up and laying hits on the other team’s players. In hockey circles Jon Mirasty was called “Nasty” because of his habit of laughing while beating his opponents senseless.

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My seat mate in action. (Photo Credit : Marchhockey.com)

Given this unique reputation, I was somewhat relieved that he woke up before I took the opportunity to climb over him. I’ll think twice before deciding to leap frog over men the size of Volkswagens the next time.

 

How To Differentiate Between Drunken University Students and Mothers

It’s been noted that new parents bare a startling resemblance to inebriated undergrads, the following is a handy guide which characterizes various behaviours to help tell if you are dealing with a tipsy twenty-something or a newly minted parent.

  1. Late nights

Drunken undergrads are known for staying up late, stumbling around and then passing out wherever looks softest. Mothers also are known to host all night parties. This behavior cannot be used to differentiate the two

 

  1. Little Sleep Followed By Excessive Napping

After these all night parties both new parents and fratboys have been known to take naps during the day. Once again, daytime siestas cannot be used as a way to tell between a new parent and a fratboy.

  1. An Excess Of Skin

If you find yourself surrounded by cleavage and boobs there are one of two places you might be; a sorority party or a breastfeeding moms group. Tread carefully, previously the presence of sequins ruled out the latter but since the emergence of stylish nursing tops, this is no longer a reliable way to distinguish between the two populations.

  1. Forgetting Items Everywhere

Misplacing one’s phone and identification is a time honored tradition of both intoxicated students and new moms. If the phone is lying next to a squeaky toy, it is most likely a new parent encounter but there is a trend of students owning dogs so this is not a definitive qualifier.

  1. Traveling In Groups While Engaging In The Same Activity

Undergrads are notorious for running wild in packs; jogging, playing sports or hollering in public places. Likewise, mothers are often found working out in parks as a group or practicing yoga, they have also been known to yell in commercial centers, in particular grocery stores. Thus unless one is standing next to the egg section, it’s questionable whether it is a parent or student meeting.

As evidenced by the lists of characteristics above, it’s almost impossible to tell a drunken undergrad from a new mother. The only truly reliable way to tell if the person sleeping at the park with their breasts showing with no identification or phone, surrounded by other similarly attired people, is whether or not they have a baby.