About The Great Unwashed

I enjoy nonsense. I have a large family. I do bathe, just not often.

Are You Stranger Than An Unwashed Hippie? It’s like the game “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader” but for the internet.

I’m approaching my fifth blogiversary. With that milestone has come the realization that, I don’t really need the stats. That is not to say I don’t need readers- I do! I really do! And I thank you all for being here. But I’m not really attached to numbers or your origins although it is cool when people from Uruguay read my work because I don’t know anything about Uruguay.

Same thing goes for the search terms becausse for the most part, I notice that people end up reading “My 60,000 Dollar Cat Scratch” because they were searching “60,000 dollar kitchen”. I’m not entirely sure how the Google machine works, but to all of you who were mistakenly led here under the guise of discussions of jewel encrusted countertops- my apologies, you’ve come to the wrong place.

However, this past week a somewhat surprising search term caught my eye.

“unwashed pussy”

Now I’m not 100% certain on this one but I’m fairly sure that whoever this is wasn’t looking for dirty cats. Sir, you’re barking up the wrong internet tree. Not only is this not that kind of site- I actually once spent hours washing a dream cat in the post entitled “I Really Need A New Hobby Aside From Cleaning Dead Animals For Hours On A Saturday Night“. I suggest you try again with the Google machine.

With that somewhat alarming and unusual intro, I thought we’d look at some of the terms people have searched to find their way here. It will be a reflection of what this blog is and isn’t about. I’m not sure whether it will make me question myself or the random bottom dwellers of the internet. Kind of like when my travel blogger friend wrote about avoiding prostitution in Thailand and her blog saw a huge spike in visits because of all the people using her post to try and find a prostitute in Thailand.

“being an extra in a porno”

This person got exactly what they were searching for. I totally had an unplanned cameo in an impromptu porno in the woods three years ago. I’d say this particular batch of weirdness is my fault but for serious, it was an evening hike. Ok, not really, I was drinking in the woods but the part where I was reading comic books was totally innocent.

In case you’d like to read more about my brush with greatness? Awkwardness? The wilderness? The link is here.

 

“buttbabies.com”

Once again, this weird search term – totally on me. I’ve written about buttbabies. The .com part is a bit off putting though. Was this reader looking for pictures of butt babies? Or information about butt babies?

You can read about my take on butt babies here.

 

The search term “baby cage” gets my site a surprising amount of traffic. This makes me question whether there other other former baby cage residents like myself who are feeling nostalgic about their caged days are searching this or whether it’s people who genuinely want to cage babies like some sort of chicken farm kind of deal.

If you would like to read about my fabulous baby cage memories click here.

“big cotton granny panties”

At one point in time, about 30% of my blogs content was vaguely underpants related. I’m not sure how this happened, it certainly wasn’t intentional. It’s been a couple of years since that point so I’d estimate only about 10% of my blog’s content is about underwear. So again- this weird search term landing people at my blog is my fault. There search term “grandma bought me underoos” would also fall under this category.

“Charlize Theron feet”

Again a bizarre search term, but once again, also my fault that the Google machine led said person here. I frequently ask my cousin to Photoshop my feet so they look more like Charlize Theron’s.

 

Readers, I’m going to level with you here; I started this post with the hopes of showing how strange and perverted some people who use the Google are and instead am realizing that I’m actually the weirdo/posssible pervert who writes about underpants and unintentionally walks into live action adult films while wishing that my tootsies looked more like Charlize Theron’s.

 

We’re going to keep going with this experiment because I’m hoping that it will prove that the internet is full of people stranger than myself. I think at this point everyone needs to cross their fingers for me.

“chubby milfs bruised”

Ok, let’s all breathe a collective sigh of relief. I’m definitely not the strangest person in the internet house.

“jenny grumbles”

Haven’t written about that one. Best of luck on your search though. It would seem things are looking up for me on this experiment.

“ever wanted to freeze to death? come to our table”

Jackpot! Now that is an odd search term

“naked men being vaccinated”

And we’re back to square one. I totally witnessed something exactly like this and wrote about it in “Taking Shots With Half Naked Men In Public”– this guy just started stripping in the middle of a flu vaccine clinic. Which is why we should all ignore Jenny McCarthy and vaccinate our children, because where else are you going to get a free show? But back to the whole search term business- this weirdness once again is on me.

Ok, I think we can accept that the Google machine works and that this experiement has failed horribly, it would seem that I am the strangest person on the interweb. The search terms “awkward beard”, “power ranger valentine heart” and “vintage granny panties” all rightfully led readers here. It would seem that I am more random and in general underpants obsessed than the internet.

So dear readers, I apologize, the internet is 40% smut. Initially when I began this search term experiment, I thought it would show that my blog was a part of the classier 60% but it would seem it is not.

If you would like proof that 10% of my website is devoted to writing about underpants here  are a selection of posts to prove it.

 

Vintage Underpants the Great Untapped Resource

The Recipe For An Awesome Summer: Me and Grandpa’s Underpants

Ridiculous Debates and Secondhand Underpants

Atomic Wedgies and Packing Fails

Clothing Is Overrated Especially In Church

 

 

 

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Oprah Says- Bedtime Stories For Trendy Soccer Moms and Upper Middle Class Yuppies Seeking Enlightenment

Although my son’s favourite book is currently “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, occasionally he’ll pick up some of my or husband’s reading material. While bike repair manuals hold no interest for him, the latest Oprah magazine was a winner. I thought I’d share some of the story with you.

Oprah Says

Oprah says ride on a dog sled in ten thousand dollar ball gowns- they help you steer.

Oprah says listen to her podcast because she has a direct line to God. Or money.

Oprah says live in a Volkswagen van to be true to yourself.

Oprah says shoveling snow is good for you. Even though she’s never done it.

Oprah says to wear hats to the beach. But not sun protective ones, santa hats because they’re Pintrest worthy and make good “Look at how fabulous our family’s life is” Christmas cards.

Oprah says hugging dogs in two hundred dollar faux fur hats increases your life span.

Oprah says that coffee tastes best when it’s consumed from a cup that looks like it was purchased at a garage sale for 25 cents but actually costs 50 times that.

Oprah says to wear flannel, plaid pyjamas so you can look like a sleepy lumberjack.

Oprah says that scarves which resemble stuffed, coloured garbage bags are stylish. We have to believe her, she’s Oprah.

Oprah says that wearing pyjamas as clothes is acceptable now. We need to thank Oprah. Or college students, one of the two.

Oprah says to wash in goat cheese so you’ll look like Taylor Swift.

Oprah says to ignore all of her demands to buy gifts and instead make presents for loved ones. Out of thoughts. Oprah believes in you. You can do this.

Oprah says to eat strawberries. But only in cake form.

Oprah says to hug dogs again. We all should show dogs more love.

The End

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About Your Lover

If you’re North American, which the vast majority of my readers are, you know to whom I’m referring. Or rather, I should say to what. Let’s talk about your and all of North America’s torrid affair with the car.

Like many a star crossed lover, all of us are blind to our dear one’s faults. Specifically, your car’s habit of draining your bank account. Now before you go on about the amazing mileage your hybrid/Civic/motor home gets, let me be clear- fuel is just one piece to that expensive gold plated puzzle.

Jeff Yeager, a dyed in the wool cheapskate and an avid cyclist estimates that every kilometer driven costs a person between fifty cents to a dollar over the life of their car. The average person drives around 20,000 kilometers a year, which by Jeff’s calculations means that you are spending at least ten grand on your beloved every year. Makes your spouse’s request for that fancy pants new television seem reasonable doesn’t it?

Now before you throw up your arms and recommend Mr. Yeager move to the backwoods with all the other crazies, hear me out. While I’ve gone car free, ultimately I found the experience too limiting once my son came on the scene, so I purchased a van, so I’m just as curious if Jeff Yeager is correct as his calculation is based on the notion that people buy a new car every six years. Let’s walk through the math together shall we?

I purchased the van for $35, 880. My previous truck I drove into the ground. My GMC Jimmy was old enough to vote when I finally retired it at my mechanic’s behest. The odometer read over 400,000 kilometers. I had planned to take my truck out for its first legal drink at 19 years of age, it didn’t make it quite that long but it was close. For the purposes of this calculation, we’ll assume that most people aren’t aiming for their Ford to pony up to the barkeep for a state sanctioned brewski. According to the Fiscal Times, the average person keeps a car for 11.5 years. To me, this seems short so we’ll choose lucky number 13.

My driving record is the squeakiest of squeaky clean records, partially because I drive slowly but mostly because I don’t actually drive, making it difficult to get into accidents. Thus my insurance is relatively low, coming in at around $1,350 a year. Multiply that by 13 years (17,550) and already between the purchase price of the vehicle and insurance, we’re at a total of 53,430- I haven’t even driven the darn thing yet!

But before inserting the key in the ignition, don’t forget, the government needs in on some of that fiscal action so add in 50 each year for plate and or license renewal. Total 54,080.

Ok, time to drive this bad boy. Tragically cars don’t run on unicorn farts and cotton candy, so we’ll need to purchase gasoline. Let’s conservatively say you fill up twice a month. That mileage you mentioned before really adds up huh? With an extra fill up a couple times a year for those long holiday car trips. So fifty-five dollars twice a month, multiplied by twelve months with a couple fill ups throw in on top, multiplied by sixteen years that’s … that’s…. $21, 120. Sweet Jesus! And I thought the car was expensive! Clearly gasoline’s costs aren’t limited to the environment.

All of that is with my nice math and conservative estimates. Because if 20,000 kilometers a year is actually divided by your car’s mileage; let’s be generous and say that your vehicle gets 650 kilometers to the tank. (At the end of its life, my truck got a sad 300.) The average yearly mileage, divided by 650 then further divided by twelve, the tanks of gas per month actually equals 2.564, which doesn’t seem like that much more than twice a month but comes out to $27,076; a difference of $5,956! I could go on a cruise for that kind of money!

Let’s all pretend we’re going to take the bus to work once a week and make the kids walk to school so we can choose the first number for fuel. What’s our total now? $75,200? Geez Louise, that’s a sizeable down payment on a house.

Repairs. I’m assuming all of you don’t like to incur the wrath of your mechanic, so you probably change your oil a couple of times a year. Since we were chintzes with fueling up, I’ll have us change our oil 3.5 times a year (don’t tell my husband or my mechanic). So if we patronize one of those quickie oil places that brings us to $77,475. Phew, that wasn’t too bad. Bring on the broken alternators.

According to the Globe and Mail, after a car is seven years old, a person can bank on spending $1,100 on repairs annually. Before then, it’s lower, but not much. This leaves our final total at $ 84,400. Yeesh.

Taking that total and dividing it by 260,000 which is the projected distance after 13 years, each kilometer costs 32 cents per kilometer driven. So while not quite the fifty cents to a dollar per kilometer cost proposed by my favourite cheapskate, car ownership is by no means cheap, for you or the environment.

$84,000 over the course of your car’s life or 0.32 cents per kilometer and those are with conservative estimates. How are you feeling about your demanding and costly lover now? Imagine how your life would look if instead of working to pay for your car, you invested that time in your kids. How would you feel physically if you walked most places? What type of model would you be within your community if you biked everywhere?

A reality of living in a rural area is that car ownership isn’t optional. Car use however, is. The odometers on mine and my husband’s bikes read 1300 and 600 kilometers respectively. According to our calculations above that translates to just over $600 dollars in savings.  I didn’t even mention the effect on my husband’s pant size – it’s shrinking. Also that doesn’t account for the carbon emissions saved. This is what we’ve accomplished in six months; imagine the impact and the total after a couple of years. Just some food for thought.

Random Tiny Strangers’ Sharts And Other Revolting Revelations In My Life

Mini-Tex is approaching the two year mark. Which means potty training. Only not actually because we’re spending the next six months bouncing around the country and the one thing that’s crazier than trying to potty train a small person is trying to do it on the run. At some point, likely during a summer, ideally before he’s twelve, we will attempt to potty train Mini-Tex. At this juncture however, we are going to be content just having a potty.

Or at least we would have been if we had a potty. As it was, this morning we didn’t. This isn’t a problem for most people because they

A) Live in a place where they need more than just their fingers and toes to count their neighours.

B) Live in a place where the only store isn’t the “Super Val e Mart”

C) They’re not insistent on buying all children’s goods second hand.

As it is, I live in a place that makes Dog River from Corner Gas look big. We are F  A   R from everything. We are two hours away from a large pharmacy let alone a children’s store, and we are four hours away from a major centre where second hand children’s stores are found.

As luck would have it, Tex was traveling on an overnight jaunt to the big smoke for work. On his last trip, he secured not one, not two but, three pairs of dinosaur pyjamas. An article of clothing our son had been begging for for the past six months or so. Tragically, I forgot to ask my husband to pick up a potty.

Thus today, when Tex was all set to travel back home and just sent a cursory “So do we need anything from the city?” text to me, expecting to hear crickets in return, I jumped on my phone. “Yes” I hastily replied “A potty”.

Ironically, one of my favourite character traits in Tex is his desire for everything to be spotless. While I am perfectly happy to wallow in my own personal gime, I would prefer that my living quarters are relatively clean. Tex cleans items and places that it would never occur to me to clean- ever. For example, the cup holder in the car. To me, it’s a spot that just becomes progressively stickier over the course of your car’s life. My view of a microwave is that it’s something you use and slop stuff on, until you move houses at which point, you receive a shiny new microwave to splatter with spaghetti sauce. And as for under the couch? Well I’m small, so not only is there no need to move said heavy couch, but it’s also verging on impossible, so the dust bunnies can procreate, colonize and form their own society there as far as I’m concerned.

Tex, on the other hand is a completely different story. When we first met, he was horrified by the shortness of my showers. At one point, he asked whether he could wash me, and it wasn’t in a sexy way (for the record I said “No”- Tex scrubs his skin like he’s Cinderella and removing every iota of dirt is his only shot at attending the ball). My pans, which were thoroughly abused and not well scrubbed in their previous existence with just me, have a new lease on life. And our car receives a twice yearly detailing that would probably cost hundreds if done professionally.

This was the man I sent to choose a second hand potty.

Now I should state, as grimy as  I am, I have limits. And I also keep the well being and personal tastes of other’s in mind. Hence, when I donate an item to Goodwill or what not, I will wash it thoroughly first. And if I don’t feel I’m up to the task of washing it, I’ll kindly ask Tex. Meaning that, if I were to donate a potty, it would be clean. That said, upon buying a used children’s potty, I would immediately scrub it (or let’s be honest ask Tex to scrub it) regardless of the state it was in.

Anyways so away Tex goes to the second hand children’s store. “What kind of potty?” he asks me. “A boy potty” I type back, hoping for something with either cars, fire engines or dinosaurs on it, Mini-Tex’s three interests at the moment. Tex shoots me a photo back “It’s Elmo, all the other ones are for bigger kids to sit on the toilet.” “Awesome” I reply.

I thought that was the end of it. But oh no, Tex arrives home, and cleans the living daylights out of the Elmo potty with bleach until it sparkles even brighter than when it came off the factory conveyor belt. Then Tex, who loves putting batteries into items almost as much as he loves cleaning, demonstrates the piece de resistance. With the juice from two double As, the tiny potty makes flushing sounds.

“You did so great” I said, hugging my husband tight, “I’m sure this was the best one there.” “Well” confesses Tex “there were other boy ones but they had little kid sharts all down the sides.” He didn’t need to say anymore, I tried to suppress a grin picturing my husband eyeballing random tiny stranger sharts on Lightning McQueen potties.

I have a really nice husband. In the grand scheme of gross, awkward shopping trips, I think this one even tops the time that my Dad had to pick up a year’s supply of birth control for my sister. After calling all around the city, he found a store with a large enough supply. Upon entering, the cashier yelled out “Hey it’s the Yasmin guy!” Embarrassing, but not quite as bad as having to pick between plastic seats coated in the sharts of toddlers.

 

This post is dedicated to my mother, who told me not to put up something nice about her even though it’s her sixtieth birthday today. Mom likes to joke that my husband has OCD. Only she doesn’t think that it’s a joke, to which I respond “Our cereal isn’t alphabetized”. That’s totally a criterion from the DSM IV, I am totally up on all things psychology. Also I don’t think people with OCD marry dirt squirrels like me and certainly not dirt squirrels with sweaty runner moms. Happy Birthday Mom, your nice post is forth coming.

 

Tips on Surviving Existential Barfights

I’ve written through a lot. I’ve written while moving across the country. I’ve while caring for a newborn full time. Heck I’ve even written while going to school full time, working part time and traveling on the side. But this, this new full time working mom gig? It’s an ass kicker.

Every.

Single.

Day.

And I totally have endless respect for all the moms out there who do this day in day out. However three months in, I can tell you conclusively, without a doubt that this is not for me.

Even if I were to get past the whole “missing my baby like a phantom limb” syndrome aspect. I would still hate it. For one reason; I like being a bee.

That last sentence makes zero sense. Which is fine, because I personally make zero sense. To the point that it’s become a running joke among those who live with me. But also because I am actually too mentally exhausted to make sense. Which would also be fine, however I’m too mentally pooped to be funny as well.

That is not fine. Funny is a part of who I am. One of my favourite characters ever in literature is this lesbian, hermit poet who lives in a two room shack on an island without indoor heating or plumbing. If she was a real person, I’d want to be her friend. She wouldn’t want to be mine, but that’s fine, that’s just Kit. Anyways, in the book “Spiral Garden”, Kit says “A lot of writing poems is me sitting on my porch under a blanket drinking instant coffee and plotting how to steal [her next door neighbour] Gerald’s gnomes.”

That line captures my creative process perfectly. Most of my best work comes from me just sitting, thinking and enjoying my existence. Also stirring up trouble but not the gnome stealing kind- my neighbours only have ornamental owls. As a working mom, any extra time you have goes towards quality time with your child. It helps assuage both the phantom limb syndrome and the crippling guilt that you are in fact missing out on every important moment of their childhood.

So there goes my funny. But even worse, being a working mom means that the time that you aren’t spending at work being a responsible bill paying adult, you are at home, again being a responsible child care providing, dinner making adult. There is very little to no time left for; breaking and entering into nunneries, robbing drug dealers, or running into every social or organized engagement a hot, sweaty, baby wearing mess– essentially my bread and butter in terms of stories.

So I’ve decided to claw all of that back. Because this is a society that quite literally doesn’t respect or value bees, or their way of life. There’s an erronous perception that bees are perpetually busy, in motion, always foraging, building, breeding, and raising other bees. But in fact, bees spend a lot of their life quietly resting. And live longer, healthier lives because of it.

So in January, I’m leaving my job, and returning home to be my son’s mom again. It’s the first in my set of steps to regain a sense of balance in a world that so desires busyness. The second step, and this will undoubtedly generate hatemail and backlash from my family, is chucking my smartphone. I’ll still have a cell phone, but not one that can tell me the weather or the ingredients to butter chicken. I’m going to call the two years with my Samsung a failed experiment in a test of human will power. I’ve long felt that the internet robs us of our solitude. I’ve decided to take mine back forcefully.

So I guess the best way to avoid existential barfights where life beats you up badly and steals all your free time, is to avoid them. Sorry, I probably should have lead with that rather than forcing you to peruse 700 ish self indulgent words. The Great Unwashed and her funny shall return in 2018. Until then I invite you to enjoy such hits as “My bitter complaints against car makers” and “Thoughts About Instant Soup? Could They Actually Be As Boring As Imagined? SPOILER! They are!”

This post is dedicated to Tristina from CracTPot; your words “I’ve never regretted writing” both inspire and incite me to continue writing.

 

 

This Truly Isn’t Actually A Post. Please Stop Reading Here. It’s An Email. Who Puts Emails On Their Blog? The Same Jerks Whose Titles Are Five Sentences Long Probably. Also, Who Wants To Play “Stuffed Confetti Duck Hunt” With Me?

Dear Sula,

Ugh, just when I think I understand how the internet works- it turns out that I know nothing. Technology is unfair. Thank you for the lesson on Blind Carbon Copy. I’m now questioning everything that I thought I knew about email. I should probably just throw in the towel and get myself a carrier pigeon.

So I was thinking about life, our friendship and Sly Nyguyen. Because as “I Heart Huckbees” taught us, everything is a blanket. And even big movie stars sometimes screw up and act in seriously bizarre movies with no plot.

Anyways, so life. I’m reading David Sedaris’ biography and I’ve come to a number of conclusions the most important.

  1. My life is boring; I have no drug addictions, dependences and am a part of no minority groups. My strife is not strife. In fact, my life is so easy that it doesn’t even fall under first world problems.

(Aside- there is a convention of RVs going on outside my window. I wasn’t invited. Probably because I’m dull and putting people to sleep at the wheel would result in lots of casualties when giant RVs are involved.)

The worst thing that happened to me this week was I couldn’t find a matching sock because it was still in the hamper- so not strife. No one wants to read the book “The Sock that Wasn’t Missing”.
(Another aside, there are men preparing for a football game outside my front window. Possibly this is why there are collection of RVs? They’ve been out there all day and will be out there all night it looks like, presumably watching said football game that they are preparing for.

I cannot even fathom a sport that I would love so much that I’d spend all day in the sun marching up and down a field for it. Let’s invent a sport that you and I both can love. The sport would have to be outdoorsy and a little dangerous to suit you but at the same time whimsical and ridiculous, so I’d like it too.

Oh I know! Stuffed confetti duck hunt! It will be like skeet shooting but instead of  ceramic plates, which can’t be reused and are therefore not environmentally friendly, we’ll use plush ducks (fake obviously so as not to attract the ire of the silly PETA people and made from secondhand dog toys so as to meet my hippie ideals) filled with colourful seeds. So a person throws the ducks in the air, and then they explode wildflower seeds everywhere so gardens bloom afterwards. We’ll call it Quack Boom Rainbow. Or Quack Quack Boom? Quack Quack Colour?

This is what my life has come to. No longer am I out stealing stolen goods from under privileged youth, instead, my life is so perfect and dull that I’m reduced to brainstorming names for imaginary games that I invented.

Ooooh. What if instead of ducks, we shot plush raccoons? Because some people like ducks whereas raccoons, well they’re just the jerks who tip over your garbage cans and randomly move into your garage like unwelcome anarchists staging a protest about string cheese. And then you can’t get rid of them ever. I would love to shoot a polyester, confetti-filled raccoon. )

I can’t even remember what my point was. Also I’m pretty sure that the above paragraphs are an abuse of parenthesis.

Wait, I remember now- my life is dull, and I don’t have goals. David Sedaris had goals. Important goals, like staying sober and entering pieces into art shows or writing plays.

I don’t really have anything like that. I mean a couple of years ago, when my life was in ruins, I was all “These are my goals- I am getting my act together!” And I did. But I have a house, and a husband, and a son, and a job now. If I was to make a life list it would read something like this.

  1. Lose five pounds.
  2. Spend time with people who are not my husband.

Actually scratch that second one, it would read “Hang out with people who don’t live with you.” Because our au pair meets the criteria of the second goal and I’ve become super lazy, to the point that I don’t hang out with people who aren’t in my kitchen and my first goal could be accomplished with ease if I stopped treating chocolate cake like a food group. Did I mention how lazy I’ve become?

So from this line of thinking came my realization that we’ve entered the tweaking part of our lives. Not the “I’m hopped up on meth and tweaking” part but more the fine tuning portion of our lives. Ideally, we’re not just jumping up and randomly moving across the country for any old reason. Instead, changes, important changes, like reducing one’s daily intake of Black Forest cake are now the goals we achieve over time.

That was a really roundabout way of saying I now recognize that I haven’t been putting enough effort into being a friend to people that aren’t sitting on the couch next to me.

I was recalling when I first moved across the country and we had our weekly  girl chats. We’d sit there for an hour or so and it was OUR TIME. And it was awesome. However we’re about two years, a baby and an international border away from that point. Hence, an hour may not be an option. But what about fifteen minutes? Like fifteen dedicated minutes where I don’t have a baby saying “nursing, nursing” over and over, and you don’t have a hunky boyfriend asking you where to put the werewolf spleen for canning (or whatever beast is in season that month).

Because I don’t want to be lumped in with your former best friend Sly Nyguyen and not only because I’m certain I can’t fit into her tiny, pole-dancing shorts as a result of my recent obsession with a chocolate pudding cake. But mostly because you’re my friend and I value your words and the time we spend together, in whatever form it takes; in person, on the phone,  over Skype etc.

That’s my idea.

Also this may become a post. Because I had two hours of writing time set aside today and I used it talking to Gordy, vacuuming the obscure parts of the house that are difficult to cover with a baby on my back and writing this email. Technically I could stay up late and pen a post but did I mention how lazy I’ve become?

Miss you.

Love you,

Don’t lump me with those pole dancing ladies, it will be too awkward what with the fact that I stopped fitting into my sports bras over well two years ago.

Unwashed

This Troll Is My Grandfather

20171007_120126Because he’s crotchety and barks at people for no good reason. Not really, my grandfather isn’t like that at all, for starters, he only yells with good reason. The following is an abridged and incomplete list of reasons that my Grandfather has yelled being:

  1. Making noise in the backseat
  2. Not learning how to ride a two wheeler fast enough
  3. Pinching your sister
  4. Pulling your sister’s hair
  5. Calling your sister “weasel elbows”
  6. Doing anything besides sitting silently next to your sister without touching each other at all
  7. Trying to swim in a flooded basement
  8. Yapping at the neighbour’s car (that one was the dog)
  9. Not eating the fat on a piece of meat (that was me, the dog will ALWAYS eat the fat)
  10. Showing inadequate amounts of enthusiasm for Granddad’s current interest that he is explaining to you at length
  11. Being in the wrong gear while cycling uphill
  12. Speaking above a whisper volume when Granddad has a migraine

As you can see from the list, my grandfather is both an extremely reasonable and even tempered fellow, not at all troll-like.

But yet, I’ve kept this troll doll for ages. Clearly because of its wicked hairdo; I wake up every morning with my fingers crossed that my own tresses will have formed such an awesome “just rolled out of the cave and off to bludgeon a mammoth” style of their own volition.

All joking aside, I’m not a sentimental person. Tex actually stopped me from sending my framed degree from my Bachelor of Science to the second hand shop. Yet, I’ve carted this troll doll with me across the country and through multiple moves- why? Because I love my Granddad.

My love for my grandfather runs so deep that this tchotchke and I have been together for almost thirty years. At first I kept it because it was a fun toy, then I kept it because it was terrifying and I had grand plans of playing “hide the awful troll” in the same way that my sister played “hide the beady eyed ostrich”, scaring the bejesus out of me when the ostrich surprised me in unlikely places. But most recently I’ve kept it because it represents my relationship with my grandfather.

While unpacking after our recent move, I realized that I kept the troll out of the fear of not being reminded of the stories that accompany it. This is the point in life where being a writer is almost akin to being a super hero, as I realized that I could record the memories, and find a new home for the troll doll.

My grandparents took our family to Walt Disney World. It was supposed to be just me and Diana but then my mother threw a hissy fit, stating that my Gran and Granddad had never taken her to Disney World. This was how my father, mother and uncle went to Walt Disney World. I’d say “with us” but that isn’t true, looking back at the photo album my mother has and the notes she made about the trip, my sister and I spent about 95% of our time with our grandparents while my parents and uncle shucked their parental and uncle-y duties all devil-may-care, in favor of exploring the theme parks.

The first time I visited the Magic Kingdom was with my grandfather. My sister was ill and stayed back at the hotel with my Gran while my parents went on roller coasters and drank endless shots of tequila. (That last part may be a fabrication, but they did really and truly delight in not having a five and seven year old in tow.) The wonder and joy I felt at walking into the Magic Kingdom is tied with the sense of happiness and security I felt at having my grandfather all to myself in that wonderful place. My Granddad enjoys recounting the story of me running at a wandering character and hugging them with all of my might on that day.

That trip was the first time I realized that my grandfather was a flirt. Actually, flirt is the wrong word, my grandfather is charming, utterly charming and engaging with everyone. He just makes a point of being more so with the female persuasion. Disney Cast Members all wear badges with their names. Upon returning to the hotel, I remarked to my mother that Granddad knew all of the cashiers’ names.

As much as my parents delighted in their independence, my grandparents delighted in my and my sister’s joy. They rode the tea cups with us countless times. Diana’s and my explanation to my parents upon entering the ride with them (while they were sobering up before their next tequila binge) was “You spin the wheel whichever way Diana wants, as fast as you can, until Granddad yells “I’m gonna barf!””

My grandfather loves history, especially family history. Growing up, my sister and I donned crowns with electric candles on them and would wander around family parties at Christmas delivering hors d’oeuvres. Seeing us dressed as St. Lucia and honoring our Swedish and Scandinavian heritage made my grandfather so happy that we continued to dress up even as teens if asked.

Thus the Norwegian pavilion at EPCOT, which in the early 90’s still offered unique Scandinavian products rather than all things Frozen related, was a kind of heaven for my grandfather. For starters, it was staffed with gorgeous Norwegian women who were obligated to smile at my grandfather’s stories which he imparted in detail to his blonde, cheerful listeners. The variety of Viking related goods gave Granddad many talking points to remind Diana and me of our heritage. To this day my grandfather never misses an opportunity to share the tale of our brave ancestor Stoingvald who fought to defend his country even after his enemies cut off his legs at the knees. Our visit to the Norwegian pavilion of course prompted said story, so Granddad acted out the battle with Stoingvald on the roof of his home for all the tourists and smiley Swedes.

Granddad bought me this troll that night. I kept it because I wanted to hold onto the love that I hold for my Granddad and that my grandparents hold for me. I kept the doll because it recalled a time when vacations were as endless as the hugs and attention from my grandparents. I kept it to remind myself of my grandfather’s foibles and the way they make me smile. I kept it so I would remember all those stories each time my eyes lit on the troll while in the rec room.

But love, memories and stories aren’t housed in objects, they make their homes in our hearts. It’s through retelling that the memories live on. I don’t need the troll to remind myself to retell the stories of its youth, I can keep a picture of it and pen the words it holds for me instead.

 

This post is of course dedicated to my Granddad from whom all my stories originate because he is the original storyteller of our family.

The Bastard Offspring of a Threesome Between Glue, Sawdust and Your Previous Product: Consumer Advocacy At It’s Finest.

 

Dear the formerly good makers of Promax bars,

I’m writing to inform you that I noticed the changes you made to your packaging; sleek, stylish, a good way to celebrate the 21st century. I also noticed the changes made to the Promax bar recipe because to quote my husband “they taste like butt”.

My waistline must thank you, previously I consumed Promax bars in lieu of chocolate bars because your product was both filling and delicious. However, seeing as your product now tastes like the bastard offspring of a threesome between glue, sawdust and the old recipe of a Promax bar, I’m going to give up that habit, because if I’m going to eat paste mixed with wood, I’ll save myself the three dollars and just grab some supplies out of my husband’s workshop.

In all seriousness Promax, I loved your old product. It was excellent, delicious, and I would happily recommend it to anyone. This new formula? Not so much. Please bring back the old recipe.

 

Sincerely, a former fan,

 

Sarah

This was an actual letter that I wrote to Promax. But I was still mad, so i wrote another letter, this time from the point of view of my husband. It wasn’t a complete forgery though- I asked him to sign the page before popping it in the mail.

 

 

Dear Promax Bars,

Coke came out with a new coke. It sucked. Like Coca Cola, Promax bar should have realized when it had a winner and perhaps consulted an analyst before changing its formula. Preferably not an analyst which owned half of the stock in the Elmer Glue company.

Seriously Promax, you had a winner, it was called Cookies and Cream, the old Promax bar was so delicious that my wife once ate four bars in one day rather than meals. That was an addictive, delicious, filling product which I kept locked away from my sweets loving family. Now, I can store these new gluey, sawdust laden bars in full view, without fear of anything happening to them. All right, sometimes I do fear that I myself might consume them in a fit of masochistic rage.

Consider this my call to arms to bring back the previous recipe. It was great. This new one? Well I’m sure it makes excellent packing material.

 

Sincerely, a former supporter of your brand,

 

Tex

 

At that point, I was on a letter writing rampage, I just continued. So I sent another because there’s no use in being mad unless you express your sentiments to the fullest.

 

 

Dear Promax,

Congratulations! You’ve finally joined the ranks of every other protein bar out on the market. You held out a long time, but we knew eventually you’d join us, the organization of “Tasteless, Revolting Athletic Food”. Now that you’ve moved up the ranks of sports nutrition to compete with the other big, gluey, sawdust tasting bars we thought we should inform you of the rules:

  1. Your packaging should look both fast and sporty. It should also carry a delicious name like “Cookies and Cream” to deceive the customer into believing they’re going to eat something good.

 

A job well done on that front Promax – A+

 

  1. There should be no allusion to the change in recipe so that when the customer eats your new product they spit it out in a combination of disgust and surprise.

 

Good work on that front too Promax- you’re almost ready to play in the big leagues – A+

 

  1. Your product should only be consumed by muscle bound people whose biceps are larger than their heads.

 

This will come Promax, with your new recipe, only those with brains the size of peas would consume your product –  B–

To sum up, a good showing so far Promax, keep up the good work. For a while there, us heads of the “Tasteless, Revolting, Athletic Food” were concerned that you were going to go the way of those darn “Clif” bars- being delicious and enjoyed by everyone from children to yummy mummies, all the way to endurance runners. Way to man up and show us what you’re made of (which is of course according to our club rules, sawdust and adhesive)

Sincerely yours,

 

The Welcoming Committee of the Tasteless, Revolting, Athletic Food Club

Otherwise known as Sarah

 

P.S. Promax, you might not have figured it out from the other letter that I sent you but I previously enjoyed your product. In fact when I used to run marathons, I would consume a half a bar on average per day. Thankfully I don’t run anymore. I used to say this is because when push came to shove, I didn’t actually like running. Now I say that I’m grateful that I don’t run because I would have to eat Clif bars almost every day, which are not as yummy as your previous Cookies and Cream Promax bar recipe.

 

Then because I still had more juice in the writing tank I decided to create an actual forgery and write on behalf of my mother and sign her name. However, I’m 100% that if my mother lived in the same province, she would have happily signed off on the letter. As it was, for the first time since I skipped grade eleven gym, I signed her name.

 

 

Dear the Makers of the Cookies and Cream Promax Bar,

When I purchased a box of your product recently, I was surprised to see that changes had been made to the packaging. Upon opening up a bar, I was dismayed to discover that the recipe had been changed. An avid marathon runner and fitness loving athlete, boxes of your product are regularly consumed in my house for the simple reason – they taste good. Which is to say, not like the other protein bars on the market: gluey and sawdust-like.

As the company has put work into this, I feel it’s unlikely that the recipe will change back, so consider this my official complaint and notice that I will no longer be supporting your brand. Clif bars, however inferior will now have to be my bar of choice, as they are the only brand on the market currently which tastes good.

 

Sunny

 

Just incase any of my readers are wondering, none of my letter received a reply.

Red Foreman and Whatever the Opposite of Unicorn Farts Are

Most of the time I’m Pollyanna; my life is sunshine and rainbows and I love it and I have endless patience for most things and to quote the Lego movie “everything is awesome”.

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A picture of my life 99.9% of the time. (Photo Credit Amazon UK)

But then, some terrible bureaucracy will poke its paperwork filled head out of a whole and suddenly I’m a werewolf on an unpredictable, couch-eating rampage. This also goes for telemarketers.

Tex is the second nicest person in the whole entire world. The title of nicest person in the world goes to Tex’s mother Zoey. I once watched her cut her finger- she bled rainbows, butterflies and a song with lots of trills. After applying a Band-Aid, she apologized to the potatoes for quartering them.

Being married to the second nicest person in the world is a burden at times. Because some of the time, for example when someone calls to inform me I’ve won a “free” vacation, well I don’t always feel like being nice.

The summer before Tex and I got married, UHaul made a staggering error while billing my move across country. After listening to me deal with the moving company on the phone, my mother congratulated me for not losing my cool, while Tex cowered in the corner, apparently terrified of his future vengeful bride. “You eviscerated them with your words” he exclaimed, shocked that his chosen life partner could use such a nasty tone.

We’re three years in to knowing each other and the harshest word Tex has ever used was “dinkus”. Since my talk with UHaul, I’ve modified my approach to people and callers I find unpleasant, so as to protect my husband’s delicate sensibilities. Thus when the bank called this evening to offer me “an excellent service for a nominal fee”, I stopped them dead in their tracks then firmly and assertively stated that I was not interested and to please refrain from calling me about such practices.

I was quite proud of my restraint until I turned to my husband who translated the entire conversation for our au pair. “Janie, she told the bank to shut the hell up about their useless product and never call her again”.

Apparently no matter what I sound like this man.

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“How about we discuss my attractive offer of my foot up your ass?” (Photo Credit : Youtube.com)

 

C’est la vie. My husband bleeds rainbows as opposed to me; I’m composed of slugs, thorns and scotch bonnets.

Reasons Why I Am A Bad Person and Other Excuses For Not Calling You

The woman whose maternity leave I am covering approached me and said “Here’s my phone number. I know it can be hard to make friends in small towns and I want to hang out with you. Text me when you are free.” That was three months ago, I still haven’t texted her. It’s getting a little awkward. Because I told her I would text her after I returned from vacation. The following are a series of messages I debated sending to explain my long silence.

“Hey Annie,

Thanks so much for reaching out to me, sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner; I was recovering from PTSD acquired from visiting the throbbing metropolis that is Toronto for two weeks. I kept having nightmares about tiny dogs in strollers and forty dollar appetizers. I’m good to hang out now- how’s Tuesday?”

 

But then I thought better of it. After all, you never know when someone is a closeted Chihuahua owner and will slip their beloved “Poochie” into the big wheeled Thule to ride next to their daughter. So I wrote this.

 

“Annie,

It was so kind of you to offer to befriend me. Sorry I haven’t texted you sooner, it’s just my husband and I are talking about having another child so I’ve been day drinking to prepare for a nine month abstinence from tequila and I felt like other moms might judge my ten am margarita.”

 

But that text might have resulted in the aforementioned judgment I was attempting to avoid and the only thing I need with my morning pina colada is more Patrón. So I thought of another excuse.

 

“Hi Annie,

Sorry I didn’t text you sooner. I was contemplating starting a life of crime and therefore felt it best not to begin new friendships that would inevitably be cut off when I started to rob banks. But after accidentally stealing my great aunt’s new bed sheets and the extreme guilt that followed, I’ve decided the criminal underworld isn’t for me. Shall we be friends? You needn’t worry about wearing your heirloom jewelry around me now.”

 

But what I actually should have sent but didn’t, is a text with the truth.

 

Dear Annie,

Thank you so much for extending an offer of friendship. That simple act buoyed me up so much and I thought of it for the weeks afterward while I was out of the province. I even thought of you during the weeks following my return home when life consisted of missed naps and laundry.

As a Mom, I’m desperately exhausted and although I’d like company more than anything in the world, that involves moving from the couch which seems like an insurmountable challenge. Consequently, I’ve resigned myself to just having my husband as my primary source of social interaction because he’s often on the couch next to me.

Getting together is obviously out of the question but I’m totally up for a texting relationship. Shall we message potential plans to one another and then invariably cancel when one of our babies is either ill, napping or excessively cranky?

Thanks again for your kind gesture. I’m sure you’d make an awesome friend.

Sarah