Dear Toronto

And New York, and Los Angeles and every other enormous metropolis in the world,

We hate you. I know you don’t care because you’re too busy loving yourself and proclaiming how important you are but I just wanted to give you a heads up that the rest of the world totally and completely DESPISES you.

For the record Toronto, before you get all high and mighty about how you invented the cronut or whatever, I should remind you that it costs an eighth of the price of one of your teeny weeny condos to buy a house here. Paying more doesn’t make you better, it just makes the banks your BFF.

Also, while we’re on the topic of cronuts, no, Toronto, before you ask, that delectable snack is not available out here. Hold off on getting up on your high city horse about the varieties of food and drink available in your perfect city; I need to state that lining up for forty minutes for what is essentially a donut doesn’t make you “hip” it merely confirms my conclusion that you, Toronto, are in fact a crazy pants.

Speaking of crazy, let’s talk about your “reasonable” forty minute commute to work. It takes forty minutes to drive around my town. Twice. By contrast my “commute” is a 15 minute walk down a quiet, treed street. I’ll let you chew on that, along with your cronut while you sit in traffic yet again, cursing the other people around you for existing.

And about that whole “cursing other people” thing. We don’t do that here either. Not because other people aren’t annoying sometimes, but because you will see them Every. Single. Day. Forever. So you show everyone kindness and respect, and open the door for them and offer them the last cookie in the break room because you bowl with their Aunt Mabel on Tuesdays.

Stop your sniggering Toronto, yes, we bowl. The alley is celebrating it’s fortieth year in business as a matter of fact. Out here, we don’t feel the need to follow the latest trend or seek out the newest hotspot, instead we bowl, we garden, we hike and we laugh at your ridiculous urban habit of inventing new activities to distract yourself from the misery of living in your overcrowded, loud, obnoxious city.

Were you able to hear that comment Toronto? I wouldn’t blame you if you couldn’t. Do you realize your subways, which along with being totally filthy by the way, are actually loud enough to damage your hearing? As if you weren’t grouchy enough already with your giant mortgage and your endless commute, now you’ll be deaf to boot.

I won’t pretend that you listened to any of that Toronto, in fact you probably left halfway through to go throw axes or paint cans or whatever the beardy, plaid youth are doing nowadays. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go help fix my neighbour’s tractor.

Never, ever yours,

Unwashed

 

Tradesperson Wanted Regarding Cement Boot Removal

Wait until the guy responds to my Kijiji ad and realizes the boots are attached to my psyche. Now that’s going to be a bewildered look.

I’m stuck. Stuck like a frat boy after an unfortunate super glue prank. Stuck like a Smart car in an eight foot snow drift. Stuck like my twelve year old self in the maroon swimming level.

Much like my twelve year old self, clinging to the pool wall, refusing to do a front roll into the water, I don’t foresee this situation changing anytime soon. Only unlike my twelve year old self, who was scared to death of hitting her head on the way in and dying, (Two group lessons, three private instructors and no maroon badge later, Mom, are you regretting not asking me why I wouldn’t forward roll into water?) I’m worried about not being funny.

I’d love to melodramatically claim that it’s “Writer’s Block” but someone on WordPress debunked that last week saying that writer’s block is merely a writer’s will. So apparently I’m willing myself not to write. Likely due to the aforementioned fact that I’m not funny anymore. For starters, I no longer do weird and bloggable acts like kicking banks, partially because there are no banks here there’s only THE bank and Fred would get offended if I started wailing on his establishment and would consequently pull my husband aside in the grocery store “Hey Tex, like your choice in onions by the way- Spanish, always a winner. While I’ve got you here, is your wife all right?” but also because I’m a Mom and am therefore not out and about hoofing any businesses let alone Fred’s bank. Instead I spend a lot of my time convincing Mini-Tex that apples taste as good as breastmilk and singing “Down by the bay”. While wombats in top hats are amusing, the story of my days pretty much ends there.

Furthermore, on top of not being funny anymore, I’m seriously bummed. Everyone, we have got to stop egging Stephen Hawking’s house. For starters, computer voices are not nearly as entertaining as irate voices of neighbour’s while they shake their fists at teens while the vandals speed away from the scene- pick a different home. Secondly because giving this scientific legend’s home an omelet shower is clearly pissing Stephen Hawking off. In case you missed it, this renowned physicist and researcher damned the whole world. According to Dr. Hawking, humans have about 100 years until we face extinction.

Mind you, if the CBC is to be believed, people may have damned themselves first. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that young people now prefer to talk to twenty people at once on Facebook and Instagram in lieu of telephone calls with a lone person. If that isn’t a recipe for slow, isolating extinction, I don’t know what is. So I’m bummed, because whether by Stephen Hawking, or our own ridiculous love of handheld technology, we as a species are done for.

Now everyone start a slow clap for me, because I’ve just written something that is almost as depressing since the news that the villain from the last bachelor show has a girlfriend. If society had been paying attention, the concept that such a man could be in a position to approach procreation is terrifying and obviously foreshadows more horrible news. This has been Debbie “Unwashed” Downer in your weekly “Reasons to Read a Book Rather Than Use Your Device” list.

For the record, I’m still searching for foot and psyche friendly jack hammer wielding tradespeople.

Deadbeat Manatee Parent

A consequence of meeting someone and then marrying them while being five months pregnant with their child, all in under a year, is that for a long while after all that excitement, you’re still getting to know your life partner. There are times when I’ll say “My friend Algernon* got married” and Tex will say “Algernon? You’ve never mentioned an Algernon” even though Algernon was my best friend in fifth through eighth grade. Then, I’ll tell him all about who I was when the world wore necklaces made of Bonnebelland braces.

So when a dresser full of papers from my childhood bedroom arrived, Tex stopped me before I could recycle the lot. “Wait” he said “we need to go through this together. This is a gold mine.” Waving a page around gleefully he said “Look there’s even your school project on manatees!”

I did do a project on manatees, but the paper he was waving around wasn’t it. I’m a heartless purger of memorabilia of any kind so that particular project had hit the blue bin two decades ago. In fact before Tex declared an amnesty for my childhood papers, I had already peeled the photographs from the pages because I know the city doesn’t take them with newspapers.

Fast forward to Tex and I sitting together, going through all of my junk. Once again, Tex grabbed for the papers about the manatees. “Who is Deep Dent?” Tex asked as he read over the paper congratulating me on my contribution to a manatee sanctuary. “He’s my manatee.” I answered, “For my birthdays I would ask for people to adopt manatees for me because I’ve always been an environment loving, dirty hippie”.

“Cool” Tex responded with his signature buoyant enthusiasm. “What do you know about these manatees?”

“I don’t know,” I replied offhandedly, “Here are their biographies, I didn’t read them.”

Tex reached for the pages of information about Deep Dent and the two other manatees I had adopted. “Neat. Are there pictures?”

“I took them out already, I was going to put them in the trash.”

Tex stopped rifling through the pages to look at me. “Do you mean to say that you don’t know anything about these manatees that you’ve adopted and you don’t have pictures of them? You’re a deadbeat manatee parent.” He glanced down at Amanda the manatee’s biography. “Did you at least visit them?”

“No, but my grandparents did” I said sheepishly.

“Your grandparents?!” Tex exploded at me “You really are a deadbeat manatee parent.”

So there you have it world. My mother is an excellent grandmother and a good step-parent even if she doesn’t want to be acknowledged in either of those roles, whereas I mindlessly adopt manatees and forget about them. Give me forty lashes or chain me to the stocks, or whatever it is that’s done to deadbeats.

 

 

*I didn’t actually have a friend named Algernon. Mostly because when I was younger I didn’t have friends. Not because I was unpopular, I was just unpleasant. But these types of omissions of information happen with Tex and I all the time. Probably because during the first year we were together, a little under half of it was consumed with prenatal activities and discussions. And by prenatal activities I mean vomiting. And by discussions I mean this conversation:

“Are you going to puke?”

“That looks like your puke face.”

“I’m pulling over to the side of the road now.”

Kids, the lesson here is to bang hot cowboys and get to know them later. It’s a tried and true recipe for life success, as evidenced by me, the deadbeat manatee parent. Now if you’ll excuse me, I just realized I forgot about the possum that I brought home last week and put in the porch.

To My Former Lover

I saw you on the street the other day. You were with someone else. I crossed to the other side because I didn’t want my desperation and feelings of longing to show. I think about you a lot. It’s hard not to; those squinting, dark hours we used to spend together before the day began, the afternoons at cafes, the late, late nights in university. You were a part of my family, my sister used to joke that if my mother didn’t have you, then what would motherly acts would she cling to?

My son is a year and a half now. It’s been that long. I know you’re not keeping count, but I am. Especially in the mornings, seeing you with other people, laughing, having a ball. I remember those days, when you’d wake me up; colours were brighter, sounds were sharper, with you it was like the world was in high def. To an extent, I know that I will always miss you, that some days will be a fog. But that comes with the territory, to know you so well- there’s no going back.

Not to be awkward, but I miss your body. Of all of your incarnations, the full one was always my favourite, but you knew that. The taste of you borders on sensuous; empires have been built on that power of yours. To say nothing of your smell, which we both know is your most attractive quality. Memorable, enticing, yours is a scent that is unmistakable.

I miss you. I just thought you should know that. I know it doesn’t matter, that you have the rest of the world while I’m left with the empty moments you once occupied in my day. But I wanted to say it all the same. And to add that nothing else looks quite as good in my mugs. Somehow a steaming cup of Earl Grey doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Coffee, just like Adele, I’d like to send my love to your new lover. And I do hope you treat her better and don’t give her tachycardia, because that would and does suck.

Miss you always,

Unwashed

Five Things Friday: All I Have To Do Now Is Mug A Hooker

  1. I’ve taken to stealing cars

The whole “motherhood” bit was getting dull, especially since it has been ages since I broke into that nunnery, so I decided to play the videogame Grand Theft Auto, but in real life. Our van is an incredibly popular model, meaning that there are approximately six other cars that look like it at any one time in a parking lot. This means that I attempt to break into at least one car a week. I’m a godawful thief though- I make a huge scene, yanking on the door handle, swearing at the car, waving my keys at it before realizing that I don’t play lacrosse, so that definitely isn’t my sporting equipment in the front seat.

 

  1. FOMO is not a sushi dish

I stopped reading trashy magazines, partially because it was a New Year’s resolution, but mostly because I had no idea what the text meant. My weekly indulgence had started using terms like “IDK” and “ICYMI” which I found somewhat confusing, but the worst trendy acronym for me was “IRL”, which I had decided was the English version of “Beurk!” which is a French sound effect for when a person is disgusted. This made sentences like “Such and such extremely attractive actor started dating so and so, another excessively beautiful person, IRL!” confounding, because was the magazine trying not to toss its cookies because the two were so adorable? Or was the couple a bad match? Or was one of the attractive people cheating on a third attractive person?

In case you are also confused, IRL means “In Real Life”. I discovered that this week, meaning that I’m now 30% fluent in young personese. With this new status, I plan to hang out at skate parks to put my acquired language skills to good use. And in case you’re wondering, ICYMI is a Japanese word meaning “Look there’s an octopus!” I’m not sure why English speakers are using it, probably for the same reason that white people get Japanese characters indelibly inked onto their skin.

 

  1. Pants the universal sponge

To cement my status as “Dirtiest Hippie Ever”, prior to moving, I decided to hide all of the towels and placemats in the house. This should have made cleaning up spills a challenge given that we don’t have paper towels in the house ever, but ever the resourceful person that I am, I used my pants.

I’ve chosen to cling to this explanation as opposed to the more obvious one which is that I am an idiot who used every single hand towel, placemat and cloth napkin as packing material, not realizing that we had ten more days in the house.

 

5. I am a toddler

Remember when you were small and painstakingly counted ooooooone, Two… three, FIVE! You don’t? Well aren’t you lucky, today you get to relive your childhood, because this five things Friday edition, goes just like that. You may all have a lollipop and hug your teddybear now too.

All Hail Cookie Owl

Appearances are very important to my mother. Whether it’s appearing to be a good hostess, mother or much younger than her years, my mother’s vanity has always been an entertaining part of my life. If only because in every instance, I often end up dashing these dreams of competency and youth upon the rocks.

Once upon a time, when I thought My Little Pony was the answer to all the world’s problems, I was in Brownies. It was a horrible, weekly event that I was forced into under the guise of “making friends”, “appearing normal” and “trying new things”. I resisted the group at every turn. In an effort to support my participation, my mother agreed to become one of the leaders. The first week that she joined, everyone sat in a circle and we were asked to give our new leader a name. All the leader’s names ended with “Owl”, there was probably justification for this but as I spent the majority of the meetings calculating how many seconds were left until my parents picked me up, I don’t remember it.

Anyway, so my mother sat there, next to Sleepy Owl, Happy Owl and Sneezy Owl. These weren’t actually the women’s “Brownie Names” but I don’t remember either the women or the names, so they very well could have been small bearded men for all I know.

Sneezy Owl asked the group whether anyone had any suggestions for the new Owl’s name. Ever the helpful child, I raised my hand. “You should call her Thunder Owl because she yells a lot” I suggested. My mother was mortified and gave me the kind of look that said that the car ride wasn’t going to be fun so perhaps I shouldn’t count the seconds this evening. She ended up being Cookie Owl, only the second most boring name after Happy Owl. Regardless, she could pretend to maintain the facade of being a perfect parent.

Although my mother denies that she yells, more often, she denies her age. The most recent example of this would be the name she demanded Mini-Tex call her. Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief, it’s not Cookie Owl. Even though her own mother became a grandma at fifty and willingly took on the moniker “Gran”, at fifty-eight, my mother decided she was to young to be a grandma and refused to be called any incarnation of the title, not granny, not buba, not grams. Instead she invented her own name – Gemma. She took the “g” and “m” from grandma and made a hip title so no one would dare offer her a discount on the early bird special.

One would think that denying the existence of a grandchild would be the pinnacle in narcissistic acts, but this week, my mother took it one step further. She chose to deny that she was a parent. No, she wasn’t parading around claiming that we were sisters, she chose to instead deny her role as a step parent.

Gary, a family friend and trusted contractor, made the jump last year to boyfriend status. My mother even upped the ante by having him move in with her. Since then, they have attended each other’s family functions, she routinely makes meals for his children and Gary’s sons often sleep over. Which led to the following conversation.

Unwashed – “So as their step parent”

Mom – “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on. No one is anyone’s step parent.”

Unwashed – “I’m sorry, do they regularly sleep at your house?”

Mom – “Yes”

Unwashed – “Do you often make them meals?”

Mom – “Yes, but”

Unwashed rudely cutting her mother off – “Do you worry about how they’re doing in school and whether they’re attending.”

Mom in an obvious state of discomfort – “Yes, it’s different”

Unwashed obnoxiously talking loudly over her mother – “STEP PARENT!”

I’m not actually sure why my mother is denying her step children’s existence, they’re even teenagers so it would totally feed into her love of being mistaken for being much younger than she is. I think it’s one of those times where I just have to shake my head and smirk inwardly as everyone calls my mother “Cookie Owl” to soothe her ego. For the record, “Thunder Owl” is much more bad ass. It’s what a Hell’s Angel’s member would demand to be called if they weren’t too busy dealing cocaine to attend their children’s extra-curricular activities.

Who Are You People?

It occurs to me, that I write about myself, my husband, son, mother and closest friend often. So I decided to give a bit of a backstory to them. Yes, this blog has existed just fine without such a page for four and a half years, but think of the “characters” page as being like streamers on a bicycle. Who doesn’t love streamers?

I just posed the streamer question to my husband Tex and he gave me a perplexed look and asked me whether I would paint dicks on a wall. It would seem that only five year old girls and me love bicycle streamers. Although now I’m somewhat relieved that Tex has never shown interest in decorating our home, I’m understandably concerned what his accents for a room would look like.

So with that profane tangent aside, I encourage you all to check out the new page on The Great Unwashed.

Proper Corpse Storage and Musty Bearhugs

Under no circumstances should one ever store dead bodies below the kitchen sink. Along with being unhygienic, it doesn’t matter how tightly sealed the container is, or the materials the bin is made from, eventually the smell will escape. I speak from experience here.

I began with good intentions, in the way that most stories do which end with someone gagging on the smell of their regret. Longing to be the dippiest of hippy-dippy hippies, I had expressed interest in vermiculture; so for my birthday, Tex purchased three pounds of worms for me. In preparation for their arrival, we started gathering compost in a medium size tub underneath our sink. Contrary to popular belief, worms don’t actually eat the compost, they eat the bacteria which break down the compost.

It takes time for enough bacteria colonies to form, so the recommendation is to leave the compost for a week or so prior to adding the worms. I may have left our bin a little longer. Ok maybe a lot longer. Allright, fine, I confess, I left the compost waaaaaay too long. In a sealed container.

That last sentence is the important one, because an important clarification is that worms prefer aerobic bacteria, meaning bacteria that thrive when exposed to air. The awful smell that’s emitted from decomposing carcasses? That’s the work of anaerobic bacteria, or the bacteria that work without exposure to oxygen.

So there those bacteria were, working away on our vegetable peels and coffee grounds and apple cores, having a no oxygen party in their sealed paradise. For weeks. Ok a month. Allright, it was a month and a half, and during those last two weeks, my kitchen smelled seriously funky. It might have even stank just before I decided to deal with the container.

It’s possible that it wasn’t even my decision to take action. There may have been prodding from my dear spouse who commented that our kitchen smelled like a decomposing elk that expired in the woods near the farm which Tex’s uncle once bet my husband five dollars to try and touch without vomiting. For the record, there is only one response to this- “You had weird games growing up; my family just played Monopoly”.

Because I make bad decisions, I decided to open the aforementioned stinky container while still in the house. My first mistake was opening the container at all- the stench was so bad that it singed the inside of my nose and throat making an indelible mark. The second mistake was carrying this out in the kitchen, where the smell promptly clung to every surface.

Tex while yelling at me to take the container to the porch, quickly scooped up Mini-Tex and ran, in an effort to protect our infant son from the stink. Before making one of the worst decisions of my life, and one that will likely lose us our damage deposit when we move, I had prepared a larger tub full of leaves to mix in with the compost. Worms need a two to one mixture of leaves to compost in order to thrive.

My throat burning from the smell, I poured the half liquid, half solid, one hundred percent disgusting mess into the container of leaves. Even after the tempering effect of the leaves, the mixture still smelled like a combination of dead bodies, garbage and the devil’s air freshener.

In the meantime, Tex had opened every window in our home and thrown open all the doors despite the freezing temperatures. He had set Mini-Tex down in front of a fan which was channeling fresh air from outside, concluding that our son was at greater risk of dying from the smell of decay than hypothermia.

Previously, I thought that the olfactory low point of my week was going to be bearhugging bedding from my grandmother’s house to transport it to Value Village. Instead of Old Spice, I ended up smelling like Old House, a scent that was surprisingly pervasive and clingy but completely paled in comparison to the monstrosity I had unleashed upon our family and home in opening the container of death.

Following my eau de corpse debacle, we moved the compost bin to the porch and removed the lid so aerobic bacteria could mix with the air and party, thus outcompeting their putrid, oxygen hating counterparts.

How Many “F”s in Giraffe? Either a Bad Joke or an Act That’s Illegal in Most States

I’m fluent in French. This is a topic that doesn’t come up often here. Probably because this isn’t French blog. But my second language is something which affects my writing. When I’m studying French intensely, occasionally I’ll start writing a story only to realize it’s in the wrong language, for my audience at least. Other times, I’ll be penning a post, trying to think of a word, and only the French one will come to mind, which is a bit maddening. But most perplexing of all has been the loss of my once near perfect ability to spell.

My family has a language learning disability. A trait that I used to haughtily proclaim I was unaffected by, based on my love of writing and my superior memory for orthography, that is, until I tried to pick up another language. In learning French as an adult, my brain somehow got jumbled, so now I can’t recall whether broccoli has one c or two or if it’s girafe or giraffe.

This rearrangment and omission of letters and words has been further compounded by sleep deprivation that comes with caring for a small person. Tonight it lead to the following series of non-words. Or perhaps I’m merely following in The Bloggess’s shoes and making up my own words to accurately express myself. At any rate, this was my thought process this evening as I tried to make a grocery list

“Zuchini”

That looks wrong, I think it needs another “n”

“Zuchinni”

There are way too many eenies in that word, it looks seedy and not at all tasty. Better try another combination.

“Zucchini”

That cannot possibly be right. It must be another letter that needs doubling, at least I’m 100% certain it isn’t the “u”.

“Zuchhini”

Definitely wrong. But maybe if I balance out the eenies with the hhhhs it’ll work.

“Zuchhinni”

Right before I was going to try spelling a vegetable with four “i”s, I caved and asked my husband.

For anyone whose brain isn’t sleep deprived and fluctuating between two languages, it’s zucchini and it doesn’t look right because it’s an italian word.

 

 

Under The Threat of Being Grounded From 3,000 Kilometers Away

Dear the Bank and Mikey oops I mean Mike,

I’m very sorry about my earlier email. My Dad read it because I always CC my family when I think an email is funny and my father said, and I quote, “Unwashed, you are to email that man, then email the bank and beg them for forgiveness.” Actually that isn’t a quote, there may have been a speech about being grown up and writing for your audience.

It was a long soliquay, and my Dad sounded almost as disappointed in me as the time I wrote a post about sending my mother pictures of animal genetalia as a Valentine. That it was really bad, Mike, if I had still been living at home when the penis post came out, I get the feeling that I would have been sitting in my room sans computer, pen, paper, papyrus, stone tablet and rocks, all forms of writing tools hidden with me in the corner reflecting on “What I had done”. So like I said, my Dad’s reaction to the email was close to that, so allow me to take this moment to apologize and retract my words.

I am absolutely a responsible adult, who doesn’t drink at all. I am a pillar of society; I would never get my grandmother arrested or chase after a neighbour’s dog while barking. Also I come from responsible stock- my mother carefully drives around shopping carts instead of ramming them to make her own parking space. Also, I have a squeaky clean background, I sit at home weaving sleeping mats for children in third world countries; I have no time for those who commit break and enters.

If that doesn’t convince you, of what an upstanding, responsible, financially sound citizen I am, then you should come to my house to see my filing system. Admittedly I’ve been told that filing “G for swim goggles” is a bit confusing but once you get the hang of it it’s quite easy and the possum only bites when there’s the chance of kiwi.

Anyway, please give me my mortgage and disregard my earlier email. I promise to be grown up and very very serious from here on out. I’ll even wear a girdle if that’s what it take. Just as soon as I figure out what piece of clothing a girdle is.

Sincerely and most adultedly yours,

The Great Unwashed

UPDATE- Mike, I’m really sorry, I know I said I’d wear one, but I just discovered what a girdle is. It seems way too uncomfortable. Would you settle for a bonnet? Then I wouldn’t have to worry about bad hair days.