Thursday, January 30, 2014

Prove To Me You're Not A Robot

"Prove to me you are not a robot" she said to as I was sitting at the table eating breakfast. Her statement startled me as of the hundred or so things I would have predicted she could have said to start our Sunday morning this was not even on the list - and I'm pretty creative. It was also odd because I had spent the past few days trying to convince her otherwise - that I was a robot - on advice from my podiatrist. It was just another example of one of my hair-brained ideas having a diametrically opposite result to what I had planned. Now I had to spend the day proving my humanity to her - which is not nearly as fun as it sounds. Being a scientist would mean that she would run me through a battery of experiments including (but not limited to) a liquid chromotography test of my blood, some electroshock therapy, DNA sampling and a spinal tap (incidentally these are all usually part of our Sundays anyways- I've gotten used to it and put up with it because my girlfriend has a wicked sense of humour, loves watching birds of prey and has a never-give-up, can-do spirit especially when she is reading poetry). She also listed me as a assistant to the author of her as-yet-to-be published article: "Experiments With/To My Boyfriend/Test Patient #1".

"Someone let the gorilla out of his cage!"she screamed as she raced into the kitchen first thing Monday morning nearly making me spill my milk. I'm usually in a state of confusion for the first few hours on Monday mornings only returning to normal functioning after a scalding hot coffee and a slightly burnt bran muffin. This statement made me more confused than usual and also threw me into a panic as I wondered "did I let the gorilla out of his cage?" quickly followed by "I don't remember purchasing any cages recently" and then "did she say gorilla and if so she is probably either referring to my paper mâché project that I hung in the dark whose shadow is purposely gorilla-like or my aunt, whose resemblance to a gorilla is definitely a big pink elephant in whatever room she is in". And it was also abundantly clear who "someone" was referring to. She has started calling me "someone" last summer as a pet name. I would say "sweetie" and she would say "someone" which she told me was Tswana for "sweetie" and it was a real term of endearment among the people of Botswana. 

"The pie crust was not flaky enough!" she exclaimed Tuesday as we were getting ready for work. I was attempting to tie my necktie which is already challenging enough on most days and the shriek did not effect my ability to focus. She works as a sports psychologist and had me undergo regular household and personal tasks while she shrieked and called me names so I could practice performing under pressure. I thought back to the pumpkin pie we ate the previous evening while watching the dog show on TV. We both felt that the pie crust, while reasonably flaky, was nowhere near as flaky as the head judge nor as tasty - she resembled a large piece of glazed ham (the contrast on our TV is shot and everything looks fairly glazed) which explains why the TV looked like it had been licked afterwards. And yet, I was worried that my interpretation of her statement was far too literal - probably a result of the course I was taking at the local community college that was teaching me to be as literal as possible all of the time. I wanted to ask her "flaky enough for what?" but I knew in this heightened state that she would throw something at me- butter, flour, ice water, salt - in fact, if I had a bowl and a rolling pin handy in our bedroom I could possibly make a flaky crust that might soothe her, as flaky crust usually did.

"What is wrong with my pig?" were the first words I awoke to early on Wednesday morning. I blinked a few times as my eyes became used to the extreme brightness I was surprised to find in our room. She was situated on the floor of our room and had plugged in every light source in the house so she could really see what she was working on. To call the room "bright" would be understated and misleading as "incandescent" or "painful" were more accurate. How she was able to see without hurting her eyes became clear when I noticed that on her pillow was a walkie-talkie and she had spent the evening downstairs on the couch watching a marathon of coverage of rare Swedish musicals. This made the collection of lamps even more confusing until I remembered that she had won our game of Scrabble last night and we had agreed beforehand that the winner got to choose their prize. I was more than slightly unsettled when she laughed really really slowly and loudly after she had won. And the pig? How did that factor in? Was it a euphemism for me (she had called me animal names in the past, but almost always ones that were already extinct) or the name she had given her right shoulder which had been tight recently or perhaps she had bought an actual pig (I had learned not to put anything beyond her or to underestimate her in any way for fear of reprisals and sanctions).   

"You are a product of the universe" she said lovingly while hugging me goodbye on Thursday as I left for work. Over the past month I had been called many things - "a product of the East Borneo jungle", "a sacrificial lamb of the universe", "a product of a Venn diagram" and "a topographical map of the universe" being a small sampling. Today's comment was strikingly normal and easier to comprehend and analyze compared to the others. I greatly enjoyed my moment of happiness brought on by this before being cast like a pair of dice on a high-stakes craps table (I compared an overwhelmingly large amount of my adult life to games of chance - possibly as a result of all of the slideshows I watched in the evenings strapped to a chair while water was dripped on my forehead and loud, ear-splitting head-banging metal was played). Very soon after I thought that she was passing me a message through some sort of code probably due to her somewhat rational fear of eavesdropping postal workers (my beautiful and caring mom delivered the mail-  not even to us- and had once called my wife "cute" which sent her over the edge as she had been aiming for "gorgeous" and ever since she had a mistrust of all things mail-related). I had a full day at work, and much of it now would be dedicated to cracking the code and enacting the first steps of the plan or else she would probably re-key the house, again, only permitting me access after performing Evita on the front steps (easily her favourite musical though she thought some of Tim Rice's lyrics were patronizing.)

"I was riding on the train at night" she said in her best story-telling voice. This is how my Friday began. She had been sitting, cross-legged on the end of the bed watching me sleep all night (I had wondered why I thought I kept hearing train whistle noises while I slept). You think you know all about someone and then they unearth this nugget. It probably shouldn't seem like such a big deal, I mean she only rode on a train once and this doesn't sound like it should knock me for a loop. However, I spent the first five years of our relationship believing she was scared of trains. In fact she had me dismantle my train set that was given to me by my grandfather on his death bed (actually he used that bed for regular sleep as well as the occasional wrestling match) and I had to sell my conductor's hat. What made it extra odd is that she had me go to her "people who are afraid of trains" support group which involved hours of spousal sensitivity training and a week in a light deprivation chamber where all we could hear was horrible train accidents. Her morning confession threw me into aspiralling  depression for much of Friday - had she recovered from her fear which would be cause for much rejoice or had she been lying to me the whole time when she knew that I loved and adored all things train? What could her motivation be? As I sat there in bed unable to shake some horrible thoughts about our relationship, she sat there, watching me, eating toast. This moment became her inspiration for a series of expressionist paintings that, while very good, could have depicted me either fully dressed or with a few actual muscles and no covered with bread crumbs and smears of jam.

"When you put it that way, I am definitely not interested" she proclaimed as she stormed into the kitchen and then immediately turned around and stormed out after quickly grabbing the last orange. The first question that popped into my head was "does that mean our regular Saturday cribbage game with my cousin who smells odd is cancelled?" and my second thought is "should I know what she is referring to?" and my third thought was "do I smell something burning?" The answer to all three questions was "yes" but only the burning dish rag needed my immediate attention. As I doused the fire I wondered what she could be talking about. What did I put what way and what was wrong with that? I had learned through trial-and-error that semantics were extremely important to her (which was hard for me to get used to as my previous girlfriend spoke in a series of grunts and growls). One incorrect word, even when both of us knew exactly what I meant, resulted in hours and hours of Twister even when I begged to stop. Just like everything else, she is hyper-competitive when she plays Twister and it is not uncommon for me to need multiple ice-packs and Tensor bandages post-game. I tried to anticipate what she wanted to hear (and often what she wanted to see and taste as well, while I was at it) which led me to buying many sound effect recordings and having them on cue at all times in case she desired to hear a specific sound like a cheep, or a roar, a roll of thunder or the cry of a newborn. The police were once summoned by a concerned neighbour after a full evening of gunshots and explosions - they did say it was their first sound-effect disturbance they had ever fielded - so there is that. I was also very interested in making her interested in things I had to say, as that was infinitely more fun then when she was not interested as that usually led to me having to make large, aesthetically-pleasing flower arrangements in order to share a couch with her again in the evening. When I wasn't able to share the couch, I had to lie on the throw rug like our cats (like all cats, they are quite territorial, and I always got the worst spot - the urine spot).

"Pawn to king 4, checkmate" she stated confidently as we sat in the car as it was warning up early Sunday morning. We were on our way to her mother's house for brunch, an experience I jokingly referred to as "The Bludgeoning" or "The Wafflehouse" depending on the weather. Her chess reference caught me off-guard, though you'd think I'd be used to this by now. As we sat there shivering in the cold morning air, I decided that she was either finally making her move in our correspondence chess game we never finished years ago or possibly she had come up with a good ending to her book she had been writing. So much of her time the last few years was spent researching and writing a book that was intended as a how-to book about tapestries, but ended up being a best-selling cookbook. I also wondered if she was making fun of my new haircut which made me look strikingly like a pawn. The haircut had gone horribly wrong because my hairdresser decided to continue tickling me while cutting my hair and accidentally took off much more hair then originally planned, resulting in an oddly conical shape that worked perfectly for my Papal-inspired Halloween costume, only many months too early. When I had returned home yesterday to show off my new 'do, I incidentally opened a can of worms both literally and figuratively, which resulted in literal and figurative worms everywhere. Surprisingly, she just sat there at the kitchen table, drawing pictures of Ganhdi and Mother Teresa as Manga characters. Seeing her at the table reminded me of our blissful early days before the roast beef incident and the gravy dilemma. As I sat beside her in the car I wondered if next week could be any more or less normal then the one that was coming to a close.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Am I a Bunny?

I eat carrots, bunnies eat carrots, am I a bunny? Most evidence would seem to indicate no, but I've learned the hard way not to argue with logic.

My daughters swim all day. Fish swim all day. Though not fish, if I drip the liquid from sardine, salmon and tuna cans on them while they sleep they smell the part.

Socrates was wise, wore a toga and wrote some of the world's most famous philosophical ideas, my brother is wise and yet his most proud achievement is learning to break dance. My brother could be more like Socrates if only I bought and convinced him to wear a toga.

I love running in the wind, cheetahs run in the wind (though it has yet to be proven if they love it) and we are both covered with spots. I'll allow you to draw your own conclusions.

Moles dig holes in my backyard, a gardener also digs holes in my backyard. Is my gardener a mole - and by that I am utilizing all definitions of the word mole- I am open to his possibly being a government informant and also a mole-man who incessantly digs holes and tunnels- in fact he is probably both plus he either has a massive growth on his face or else he has a rare disorder that results in two noses.

My wife yodels, Swiss people yodel, my wife must be Swiss. She vehemently claims that she isn't (neutrality really annoys her) all the while arranging Toblerone and Emmental dessert trays.

Cool people surf on massive waves. Cool people also read Vogue. Try doing both at the same time and the world is your oyster.

My cat cleans herself with her paw and her own saliva, I also clean myself that way. Explain to me why one is cute and adorable and the other is cause for concern.

I love bouncing up and down. My big purple ball bounces up and down. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I am worried, but as a precaution I throw away all of my daughter's purple crayons and markers.

My big puffy coat is padded, my new room at the institute is also padded. The main difference between the two is that one makes me comfy and warm and the other protects the world from my irrational thoughts and God complex.

The next door neighbour often moos like a cow. Cows, I am told, also moo like cows. My neighbour is not a cow I tell everyone who asks, though I do appreciate the free milk.

My hair is bushy, bushes are also bushy. People are often envious of my curly hair, and while I am appreciative of these complements, I'm always hoping the next time a squirrel or bird tries to live in my hair will be the last.

Those beats are funky, the smell from my shoes is also funky, put them together - can you dig the funk?

My lamp lights up the room. You also light up the room. And youuuuu light up my liiiifffffeeee! If you need me I'll be sitting in the corner punishing myself for being so corny.

Scissors cut things. Knives can also cut things. But remember scissors and knives shouldn't be used to cut people only things.

Giraffes have long necks. My ex-girlfriend has a long neck. She also eats mostly leaves and yearned to return to her long-necked, leaf-eating family in the Africa jungle.

I put some bread in the toaster and a minute later you have toast! When we play tennis, you are also toast. Day after day, I am slowly turning the world into toast one piece of bread or you at a time.

My wife has decided to replace all of the doors in our house with beads on strings. A hypnotist I read about on the internet also uses bead strings instead of doors. I've also noticed that I have this odd desire to wash the car and refinish the deck this week.

Leftover food in the fridge is wrapped in foil. As a prank some local hooligans wrap me in foil. Don't eat me, local hooligans, I'm not a burrito.

I can read you like a book! I also read books like books. You've been my best friend for years and somehow I've only just now noticed you are filled with pages.

My sister stretches all the time. Rubber bands also stretch all the time. If you are wondering, my sister is not just an elastic band, thank you very much! She is much more than only an elastic band. Boing.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

May I Introduce Myself?

Allow me to introduce myself. And by that, I mean here is an introduction to a piece of writing about me! Cute, loveable, furry ol' me. After so many blog entries about fictional characters, I have decided to write about myself (many of my closest friends often mistakenly believe I am fictional) as it is one small step towards non-fiction. It is my New Year's resolution this year to be as real as possible and yes, I understand, my outfits aren't helping. So what is this going to be about? Excited aren't we! It's going to be about me and my innerworkings (don't worry - not blood or guts). I pride myself upon being a complex person and am seen in a multitude of ways by those who know me - or at least I am led to believe that. For all I know people see me as a simpleton, a piece of Velveeta among gourmet cheeses, a pawn among kings, or a hat among other, taller more regal hats - I should probably have stopped one analogy ago- it's not like extra analogies are making a difference and they run the risk of insulting the intelligence of the reader or leading to mass confusion. Just so you know insulting you was not my intent (confusion often is). When/if I intend to insult you I will make it abundantly clear and biting. Probably won't come up - that's not how I roll, but you never know (I don't, and I'm writing this) - consider yourself warned. Oops! That sounds way too sinister and threatening - if you knew me and saw my physique, this would obviously be a joke. No one is intimidated by me, unless they just left someone else who was really intimidating and I am reaping those aftershocks or they are acting intimidated due to some misplaced, yet welcomed, pity they have for me. I have never said no to misplaced pity and I generally enjoy misplaced emotions and items, just not keys or wallets, unless done out of misplaced sympathy for me after I misplace mine. This piece of writing is an attempt to describe myself and all that I am, not necessarily to become easier to understand (because, honestly, when has that ever been one of my objectives) but mostly as an exercise for myself to get to the core of who I am and what makes me tick -as an aside I am also interested in what makes things tock, just not me! If I start tocking be very concerned! This shouldn't be confused with stocking (the auto-correct for tocking, by the way) of which I am a big fan or stalking, of which I am not. 

For purely meaningless and incomprehensible reasons I have decided to write using mainly metaphors to describe and explain my innerworkings. Could I have been more direct and obvious? - of course. Could I have not used an amateurish writing crutch? - I hope so. Could I have not used any expressions that didn't make my points directly clearer?- sure. Could I have written this without such a long, redundant opening that any editor would have axed? - surprisingly, yes. Could I continue to ask questions all night and get so distracted that both you, the reader, and I totally forget what the whole point was to start with? Has that already happened? For argument's sake, let's say "no" and forge ahead, because what is reading if not a constant battle to sift through all of the meaningless drivel and self-esteem reaffirmation from the writer and an attempt to either feel smarter or just less bored by the reader. I aim to satisfy all of those- I will try to balance my own desire to impress myself and make myself proud with an impulse to help you feel smarter and that your time spent reading this has been a good way to avoid boredom for a little while before it pokes it's ugly head up again. When/if too many ugly heads start poking up too often and unexpectedly, go see someone, just not me.

Writing is interesting (or at least I should say, it can be interesting or should be interesting) in that with a little creativity I can invent my own reality. It is my world and no one is really living in it. I can write about anything or anyone I want and it can be as ridiculous as I want it to be. The power of this is not lost on me- I am fully aware of where the power is at all times and how incredibly shiny it is. In my writing I can bare my soul or fry some sole, I can analyze  the many uses for bread or I can hypothetically have bred a bird-fish hybrid for purposes of becoming my new best friend or sale depending on how much I can get for it. I can decide to come across sweetly, bombastically, sarcastically, sardonically, as a character who only eats sardines or one who loves gymnastics (but not the whole competitive gymnastics culture) or one who stares misguidedly out windows and yet, I choose to write to you honestly, from my heart. Why would I do this? Is it an example of mistrust, do I fear reprisals, do I seek love and compliments, have I coated myself with such a thick layer of protective crust that I am impervious to your glaring and prying eyes and the rest of the features of the faces that inevitably come with those eyes- the answer is maybe. I'll put it this way- writing honestly about who I am and why I am this way is important, but not necessarily "funny" or "now" or "fresh". I so desire to be considered "now" as opposed to the usual "then" or "yesterday". For this reason and because I always wanted to try "selling out", I have aimed for somewhere between 35% and 65% of the truth. Can you handle that precise an array of the truth? Probably, or at least you will be exposed to it now and be that much better prepared if it ever comes up again. Let's call it pseudo-quasi-autobiographical-ish near-non-fiction - if somehow that catches on I want to use hindsight to trademark that genre. "Never try using hindsight instead of actual sight" someone somewhere told me. This is actually very good advice. But, since hindsight is so much fun, I have been applying "hind-ness" to my other senses. I tried to use hind-tasting to upgrade last night's tuna casserole from mediocre to average with uncertain results.

And what of you the readers? What is your role in all of this? Are you meant to be solely passive participants? Does the reading just happen to you or can you be more influential? I would actively read more often but I'm just too exhausted. "Know your audience" writing teachers have been saying to their naive charges since ancient times when the expression was better known as "knowth thine audienth". In ancient times it was much easier to know your audience since there were far fewer people. I mean you could probably run into your audience on the way to the market to buy some figs and an olive leaf and if they didn't like your writing, you could run into them again on the way home, only this time you'd be riding in your chariot and then they would almost definitely like the next piece much more. I am interested in knowing you all as much as someone can know someone else. I mean there is "knowing" and there is "knowing" and we both know one is creepy and spine-tingling the other...let's just say it is grand! To say - without you, my audience, I am nothing - would be completely false. You are important, but I have a life outside of this and away from you too, you know. Anyways, thanks for reading, skimming or looking at briefly so you can tell me you read it. I do apologize for any eye-rolling, sighing, head shaking, or facepalming that occurs as a result of reading this or anything else I have or will write. Just so you know the random thoughts and odd ideas that flow from my brain are not a cause for concern- though I see why some may think that. I love my brain and look for ways to express that love without making other internal organs jealous (the spleen is really juvenile, let me tell you). Actually, I don't just love my brain, I love all brains - they are just so smart! Of all of the ways to demonstrate a love for one's brain, this is probably the most socially acceptable and least potentially embarrassing. When it comes to potentially embarrassing material, I could write a book, literally and I could also sing a song - which would only add to the embarrassment, which would beget another song about embarrassing moments which would invariably lead to another song and so on until I had enough material for an anthology. This piece has been of particular fun to write - I love metaphors and often wish I could live life more metaphorcally. I so wanted to go to symbolism camp as a kid, but I was too busy quilting. If I am to talk about myself, what is better than metaphorical language to help with the job? That question is meant to be rhetorical, but even if it wasn't - I can't hear you right now! I mean we are not even in the same building (I think). Okay- enough pre-ambling, let's get to it!

You know what, while I was busy writing, this sort of got away from me. Now this is too long so...stay tuned for part 2 (the actual piece I has set out to write- fair to say I got a little off-track. Thanks for your help!) This has become so long that readers are probably ready for a break, there is some pizza with my name on it (admit it! you are not quite sure if I am being literal or not), the "cows" "need" "milking", my writing is unnecessarily using up more than my share of atoms, I am beshirching something, and the owl just called my name. Actually, let's call the whole thing off- when the intro surpasses the length of the piece itself it becomes a piece and the intended piece is rendered meaningless (even more so then it would have been- hard to believe that is possible). Sorry to have wasted your time when you could have been eating brownies and watching the Price is Right, or eating brownies with the TV off, or watching the Price is Right and trying to figure out what that strange, craving you are feeling is actually for (hint - it's brownies). For those who love metaphors, and are now angry that I have not written what I promised I was going to, just use something I heard of called "Google" you may find some there. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I wish

I wish my knees easily bent both ways. I imagine this would significantly curtail the awkward moments of silence in my life or, conversely, yield a whole lot more.

I wish I could grow such a long beard that it would render my need for central heating moot.

I wish that I could bounce my friend like a ball and that my ball had curly hair like my friend.

I wish I "passed the eye test".

I wish that my wife could travel back in time to last Friday and make me laugh really hard. It was a pretty slow and boring Friday.

I wish that I could "take it to the house" and "drop the boom" more frequently.

I wish I could speak to my dog. Then I could call out "do you hear me dog?" and she'd say "yes! For the thousandth time, yes!"

I wish I could be magnanimous or sanctimonious, because after many attempts at each, I clearly have no clue what I'm doing. 

I wish I could fly and that I could provide people rides because maybe it would force airlines to offer better snacks.

I wish that impromptu pillow fights would break out during rush hour traffic. Sure we'd all get home late, but think of the feathery fun!

I wish I could read people's minds as I promised my teacher I'd read for 30 minutes a day. 

I wish that the woman at my door trying to sell me a subscription to a magazine I couldn't care less about would ask me out on a date, just so I could have an excuse to wash my hair as it is getting a bit greasy.

I wish I could receive a non-sarcastic Valentine's Day card.

I wish I could find a perfectly smooth little pebble that I could take home and put on top of my desk. I could spend some free, daydreaming moments gazing at my small pebble. Over time the pebble would gather dust and I would often feel like I was neglecting it. For fun, on the last Sunday of each month, I would put it on the lawn in the backyard and I would lay next to it feeling complete. If only I could find that perfectly smooth pebble.

I wish that both cute puppy dogs and ugly puppy dogs could go through life loved and cared for and also that the ugly ones could be cuter.

I wish I could snap, because silent, lame snaps as I toss my head back and say "whateva" before dramatically leaving the room are not having the full effect I'm looking for.

I wish that I could dunk a basketball and hang an extra second on the rim and view the world from that perspective for a while. I imagine that it is glorious.

I wish that the man at the grocery store would stop winking at me knowingly whenever I purchased kale.

I wish that an opportunity would arise where I could say "the chickens have come back to roost" and be have it be completely literal without having to live, work or visit an actual farm.

I wish I could teach the world to sing, albeit not in perfect harmony as that would only serve to remind me how bad I am at singing.

I wish I could meet a person who is actually black and someone else who is actually white. While I'm at it I'd also like some smoked salmon on pumpernickel bagel - that's some good eating!

I wish I was a renegade master, but I just don't have the time or dedication to my craft.

I wish I "had hops", that I could "climb the ladder", that I "had big ups", that I "was a skyscraper".

I wish I had spray-on clothes.

I wish that I could wave my hand and a bowl of ice cream would be delivered to me and with a wave of my other hand I could have a clean shave. If I had a third hand it would be confusing how to clap.

I wish that all people around the world could be treated equally regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender and colour except for those people with double-jointed elbows - those people are freaks!

I wish no one would be "thrown under the bus" for the rest of the month.

I wish that actual bears were as cuddly and adorable as teddy bears and a whole lot less likely to maul.

I wish I had a huge bowl of water to dump on your head. Let's just say you had it coming.

I wish someone would call.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Beautiful Dance

I run into the room and you are writing romantic poetry. I punch you hard on the arm making you cry in pain, helping you forget all about your sore toe. And do I get a simple "thanks"? 

You are in crisis so I surprise you and fill your entire bathtub with jello. It helps you return to normalcy and then we eat like kings.

I am given a lot of power but worry about becoming corrupt. After spending the weekend worrying I decide to enjoy the ride. Wheeeee!

You have some wild and crazy hair! I really want some wild and crazy hair. Wanna trade?

I went to Italy to pick olives to make my own oil. Revenge at last!

You spend the afternoon peeling oranges and you leave me a big box of your peeled oranges daring me to juice them and re-evaluate my opinion of pulp.

I am out of work- they laid me off after all of these years. Instead of sulking as is my inclination, I decide to spend my afternoons "working it" resulting in much humour for all. 

I am brushing my teeth, missing you tremendously. I wish I could brush your teeth instead, only with your permission this time.

You sit inside by the window sill and watch the rain. Your eyes focus on a solitary drop of water and you stare, captivated as the drop zigs and zags, and meanders through the obstacle course of the window until it finally reaches the bottom. Suck on that Socrates!

I get dressed and leave the house on foot by moving each foot ahead an incremental amount. I like to call this "walking". After a few minutes I move my feet faster and engage in another of my unique pastimes I refer to as "jogging". When I tell you about my day and you are less than impressed, I tap your belly button twice and attempt to swipe you away like an app.

You decide to express yourself through song and create a semi-autobiographical three-act opera starring you as yourself in the lead. It is a rewarding experience and you receive an incredibly moving five minute standing ovation from your mom as she watches from the top of the stairs.

I make you a wool sweater and mail it to you as an early birthday present. I then decide to mail you a new sweater weekly. This would seem to be an act of immense generosity on my part except that you are highly allergic to wool, and I am your allergist who first diagnosed your allergy as well as the sheep farmer who first exposed you to sheep as a child and saw you break out into hives.

You have an exceedingly adorable cat who mews and purrs and is just so cute. After enduring the cuteness for an hour while watching tv, you storm out of the room and sit on your bed pouting, wishing you had a dog.

I snap my fingers and wait for the excitement to begin. A few hours and a couple of burgers later I wonder if I missed the memo.

You shave your head, buy a new suit and sport some new glasses and yet I still am not convinced.

I go to the paint store and buy all of the pink paint. Another slow Thursday. 

You have anger issues but that doesn't excuse or explain why you insist on deflating all of my basketballs.

I decide to finally go to Japan to see what all the fuss is about. They are just freakin' 
cherry blossoms! 

You arrange all of your dolls on the couch assigning them names and personalities and then conduct the elaborate and intricate tea party of your dreams, that is until they take a vote and ask you to leave.

I awake dazed in my backyard and spot a bird eyeing me from the fence. I fall back asleep and then awake again and this time there are five birds and they don't seem happy. Once again I fall asleep and when I wake my backyard is full of birds and I sense a large amount of unrest. Suffice it to say I am filled with more questions then answers.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

How Do You Know That You Love Her?

You know that you love her...

...because she has increased your reflexes by 200% due to you being a live target when she trains for her archery competitions

...when she hesitatingly allows you to hold her as you cry at the end of sad movies

...if you were pandas and you never questioned her having just one more piece of bamboo

...when you built an actual pedestal for her to stand on and she gave you one loud clap (you found out soon afterwards that the clap was actually to turn her spotlight on)

...because even though she often spends her weekend afternoons plotting to overthrow your empire by taking it down from the inside you still appreciate her organizational skills

...if she was a lioness, you would remove that thorn from her paw even if it led to your being gravely injured (she is a lion afterall)

...because even when she seems to go out of her way to annoy you, you still would never make fun of her near-ridiculous collection of miniature farm animal figurines

...when her mood swings liken your home life to "The Killing Fields" and you still take crochet lessons with her on Wednesdays

...if although she laughs at your "dreams" of having a real job that gives you satisfaction and a sense of worth, you can't help but laugh along - damn infectious laugh!

...because she helped you build a large train set in your rec room complete with people, trees, buildings and a toll booth that she insisted had to collect $100 from you every time the train passed despite your countless hours of volunteering with at-risk-youths she constantly makes fun of not only your nose, but also the nose of your father and looks stylish while doing it

...because when she beats you at Monopoly yet again she allows you to join her in the celebration

...if the quaint cabin in the woods that you spent the summer building looks amazing and she allows you to stay in the cabin for the grand opening and even though she immediately afterwards changes all of the locks, it receives only positive comments and complements from all of your friends including a begrudging one from her

...because she absolutely loves your extravagant 5-course birthday dinner you made for her even though she spends the entire dinner trying to send dishes back

...when the screenplay you wrote gets optioned for a pilot, she somehow takes all of the credit and receives all of the accolades and fame, but she does give you assistant to the associate producer credit

...if after you win a friendly tennis match with her she lets you enjoy it for a few minutes before she makes you apologize profusely

...because after a beautiful getaway weekend together she only implies that you should be questioning her motives once 

...if sales from her version of your autobiography (which was written entirely from her perspective and only makes occasional mention of you) donates a small amount of its proceeds to a charity in your name

...because her insisting that you taste all of her food to ensure no one has attempted to poison her results in you eating some really amazing food

...when your hair starts to grey at the temples, she demonstrates sympathy for you by getting a perm (it should be said that you misread most of her actions as sympathetic)

... because even after she put limits on your weekly conversation time, she did give you extended visitations with your beloved teddy bear that she confiscated

...if she decides to start playing more games with you to add more fun to the relationship - the main game being hide-n-seek where she hides really well for days at a time - (one time she came back looking like she had just been to Mardi Gras)

...when her friends "jokingly" refer to you as "the butler" or "the help" or "the pool boy" because it makes you blush

...if your horrible and insulting comedy duo performs at a local club and she allows you to take center stage at the end (coincidentally this always occurs when the audience starts pelting you with tomatoes)

...because she buys you increasingly beautiful and hairier cats for your birthday each year and you enjoy these amazingly cute animals all-the-while sneezing up a storm and buying yearly supplies of allergy medications

...when she hugs you so strongly each Monday morning leaving marks and bruises so that the hug will "last" for the whole week

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

When I Stop to Think Again: At the Park

It is a beautiful summer day. A light wind rustles through the trees in its futile attempt to try to convince me that it is still spring. I am strolling through the park of my youth. I spent so many hours here playing - so many memories of my childhood happened here and I am flooded with nostalgia. Today, the playground is teeming with small kids and the women who love them. Some would call the park tranquil - those people would be wrong as the screaming of the kids is pervasive (or maybe it is all relative and they lead ridiculously loud and hectic lives) . I sit down against a tree and lean back and try to get back in touch with what I have left behind. I scan my surroundings and a wry grin flashes across my face as I think.....

I think about the sand in the sandbox. Always being shaped into walls and crammed into buckets to make castles. So useful in the building of civic sand structures and all it wants to do is dance!

I think about the skinny trees with the drooping branches that kid after kid has hoisted themselves up on. The step-ladder of nature, a route to the top. The once-strong branches hang low to the ground, bent and almost broken. I know it has had a hard life, but it could have been turned into paper, so it should quit whining or I'll call my friend at the mill.

I think about the slide. So smooth, so shiny, so metallic. So unlike my aunt in at least two ways that come to mind.

I think about the monkey bars almost daring me to swing on them. I imagine them to be friends, or at least it makes me feel better if they are friends. Now I start to wonder if they are and it makes me sad.

I think about the bushes near the old clubhouse. A hideout for kids and an outhouse for dogs and often times vice versa. What has it done to deserve this?  When I walk past it, I swear I heard it whisper "please take me with you!"

I think about the old basketball hoop with the tattered net. This once proud statue has seen many a game, a contest, a battle. Tears of anguish were shed by the losers and cheers of rejoice by the winners. This majestic beacon has watched it all and is the sum of all of these grand experiences. How must it feel now as a dog urinates on it?

I think about the water fountain. I wonder if it misses the other, more elaborate ornate fountains it grew up with and hung out with at the fountain factory. While others were constructed with the finest of materials, I'm sure he endured much teasing and bullying over being so thick and concrete. And yet, he lives his life as the focal point of the park, the hub where all people gather. Whenever he remembers the name calling of his youth he just reminds himself that he is now the dispenser of the fluid of life. The years of therapy were worth it.

I think about the swing and I am sure that she is the envy of all the other equipment at the playground. Soaring into the sky, almost touching the branches of the tree, nearly flying away from it all. Everything else must see the swing as a footloose-and-fancy-free type character who is cutely oblivious to how inadequate it makes everyone else feel.

I sit on the grass on the hill. How tough it must be to band together as one! How does the greener grass on top convince the slightly shriveled and browner blades on the periphery to work together towards a common goal and become much more than the sum of its parts? Can one renegade group of grass take down the whole group? Do they all wish they led a more interesting existence like their cousins wheat and alfalfa?

I toss a shiny rock up in the air and clasp it in my hand. This is an oddly satisfying experience, except that I am fairly intimidated by its smoothness and how rubbing it and perversely enjoying the lack of imperfections reminds me of how much my back resembles the surface of the moon. 

I think about the small wading pool filled with laughing little kids and crying littler kids. I vividly remember the obscenely criminal coldness of the water. As a child I spent hours in that pool without a care in the world. I throw caution to the wind and jump in - I am recapturing my youth and I have never felt more alive nor more totally and completely numb. I can hear the pool saying "look at you with your walking and talking and ability to love, well I can make your lips turn blue and your teeth chatter - booyah!"

I think about the bench I am sitting on. All of these years together, me and the bench and I just feel so badly about how one-sided the relationship has become. I wish somehow, just once, that he could sit on me.

The rings call out to me. I look around just to make sure they are talking to me. "Come swing on us." It is a tempting proposition and I almost give in to their siren song, and then I remember what my grandfather cryptically said to me as he clipped his toenails on my 9th birthday  "never trust the rings - at first you'll just do one ring, then it will become two and the next thing you know it will be 'ring this' and 'ring that' and only a steady dose of a month of the seesaw will cure you."

I have a sneaking suspicion that I am being watched. I turn around quickly and there is no one there. No one, except for the soccer goal post. That annoying goal post acts like the judge, jury and executioner at the park. Seasons come, seasons go, and it just stands there, making me deal with my flaws one missed shot on goal at a time. I guarantee he has no real friends.

I think about the tire swing and all of the times I wish we could trade places. He'd have the nose bleeds, the rare Ancient Greek complexes, the imaginary girlfriends who always ran away to become international models and I'd be the round mound of swingtastic fun.

I think about the small, baby pine cones on the pine tree. Though now they are small, one day they may grow to become large pine cones. It's all a big scam and we all know it. They think they will be pine trees some day, but it's all a lie and we are all complicit. They are on a one way trip to nowheres-ville. Just like my aunt Frenchie.

What would my life be like if I became a fence? I could no longer play the "race" card as it would make absolutely no sense at all. Come to think of it, all card playing would most likely have to cease as would using scrapbooking techniques to make amazing invitations - mostly due to the lack of hands, but also because can you imagine a boring old fence being creative enough to design a card?1?!? Fences seem so conservative and a bit annoyed at being climbed on all the time. At best, they are like large arms hugging the park and keeping everything safe and warm and at worse, they are instruments of "the man" trying to oppress us all. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

I think about the abandoned young toddler's shoe. How it must feel? Does it miss it's twin? Did the foot complete it? Will it still be here in a few thousand years as sole proof that humanity once trod here? Will the aliens think we were one-legged beings with a sole tiny foot? Or possibly they will think that we were a race of gigantic shoe-like creatures with this being a fossilized baby?

I think about the dandelions. Not too sure what to think about them except how beautiful they are and how we should all pray before them and repeat after them "all hail our new leaders, our saviours, our  Gods in flowery weed form". What was I saying? I sort of dazed off for a second...oh yeah, dandelions... I think I read somewhere that dandelions may look innocent but there is a myth that they are exceptionally good at hypnosis and mind control and selling insurance.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

It's Complicated

You suck because you do (I'd say I'm sorry, but it's not my fault).

You don't suck because you are so kind. Just last week you showed up out of the blue and clipped the librarians in-grown toenail.

You suck because you insist on being the funniest person at your Friday night poker games. When others are funnier (you usually take informal polls) you ask them politely to leave or start insulting their grandmothers. This got really awkward when George coincidentally brought along his grandmother one night and she took offense and berated you until you gave in and made nachos.

You don't suck because you recycle. This is mostly a good thing, except when you recycle with too much attitude. That ruffles the feathers of your neighbours - especially the one who collects rare bird feathers from around the world and specifically when you tried to recycle those feathers.

You suck because when you volunteered to teach under-privileged youths basketball you took it way too seriously and conducted practices more like a drill sergeant. Yes, the kids learned a lot of basketball and life skills, but were all of the 5am practices in the pouring rain and meetings with Freudian-trained sports psychologists who tried to analyze their dreams in order to help them sink more free throws while undergoing extreme heckling really necessary for these 6 and 7 year old kids especially considering there were no games against other opponents and most would rather have been playing hopscotch.

You don't suck because you often stand on the street corner and give random hugs to passersby who seem down in the dumps. True most people are scared of you and there have been a number of taser-incidents and multiple restraining orders, but once one of your hugs saved a life - yours.

You suck because you borrowed a cup of sugar from your next door neighbour every Saturday for a year under the guise of making sugar cookies for your nieces only as part of a sugar-focused pyramid scheme that was used as a front to make yourself rich and keep others like your gullible and too-loose-with-sugar neighbour down.

You don't suck because you "rescued" a monkey from the zoo (some less enlightened people want to call it stealing) by dressing up as a bunch of bananas. You repainted and redecorated your entire house to look like a jungle so the monkey would feel at home. There was an adjustment period - feces were hurled, lamps were broken, but in time the monkey fit in so well, too well, that when your landlord had to take sides in a tenant disagreement, he sided with the monkey and gave you one month's notice. 

You suck because when you wanted to break up with your hyper-controlling girlfriend (when you agreed to her exact plans for the long weekend, she still got angry because she wanted to agree for you) you were slightly too elaborate. In the winter you got rid of your hot tub and your backyard vegetable patch. In the spring you wanted to plant tree saplings in your backyard to spell the words "I'm sorry, I don't love you anymore. Now, before you get angry - you are still amazing - don't hurt me, I just need to move on. I hope you understand." but the store ran out of saplings, so you just said "No mas!". The next few months were a blur - you took helicopter lessons, helped her overcome vertigo, and surprised her for her birthday with a personal helicopter ride that included a romantic picnic lunch in a vineyard overlooking the lake and finally circled over your property and lent her your binoculars so she could see that it was over.

You don't suck because you made an incredible meal for a best friend's birthday party entirely from scratch. You started by growing the tomatoes, onions, garlic and basil for the sauce. You went out to buy some actual durum wheat and spent time milling it into semolina to make the pasta. This also involved buying a hen and caring for it like your own child, until it produced some eggs (a few broke because you decided to juggle them). You cold-pressed your own olive oil and bought a goat, that you learned to milk and made your own feta cheese. The salad was easy, except the process of making your own vinegar (thankfully, you had coincidentally started this a few years ago on a dare from your father, who had a very negative view of your vinegar-making abilities). The meal was incredible and was a true example of your love for your friend, but it was served 6 months late and only sort of made up for the frustration and boredom due to the wait. All were glad they didn't decide to draw straws and start eating each other.

You suck because you are always flaunting your intelligence. You always know all the answers, the right place to go, the correct thing to do - you never make mistakes and you let everyone know this all the time. These traits, annoying as they may be, could be overlooked if you didn't also have impeccably straight and white teeth.

You don't suck because you took the lead in rebuilding your uncle's house after the big storm. The only problem being that you decided not to use any doors in the new design. This interesting avant-garde choice was made worse when we all decided to follow your decision to build the house from the inside. After the final nail was hammered, we all looked around and noticed there were no doors. The house was beautiful and it was so amazing of you to help your uncle, but we stayed trapped inside that house for 3 weeks forced to live off crackers and dried cherries.

You suck because you wrapped Jim's entire house with his stock of toilet paper everyday for a month only stopping when his gastroenterologist pleaded with you to put an end to the madness.

You don't suck because you saved an injured chicken who was laying by the side of the road. You spent months rehabilitating its broken wing, nursing it back to health, trying to give it flying lessons as you don't believe in giving in to disabilities. This only ended when he read your journal and surmised, correctly, that you were only in it for the eggs.

You suck because you drove around town and bought all of the spoons.

You don't suck because after watching a particularly moving documentary about a hill tribe in Cambodia you flew halfway across the world and helped them build a school and comprehensively taught the children English. You broke into tears when the thank you letter arrived in the mail a few weeks later. It was beautifully written and so rewarding an end to the whole experience. The tears were mostly due to the fact that they not only spelled 'paradoxical' incorrectly but also mixed up the present continuous and present perfect verb tenses throughout. You fought the urge to call the whole thing a waste of time.

You suck because the one time people wanted you to suck you didn't. Your mom got stung by a jellyfish while swimming off the coast of Thailand. All you had to do was suck out the poison or urinate on the sting. You were too busy doing your sudoku.

You don't suck because you bought a trampoline and allowed the kids of the neighbourhood to come over and use it no charge. After a full afternoon of bouncing and laughing, the kids would sit around the old oak tree while you amused them with stories from your youth. Day would turn to night and many a marshmallow was roasted and cup of lemonade was drank. These days were ones to be enjoyed and remembered. Until one kid forgot to say thanks a third time and you proceeded to break the trampoline in front of all of those crying kids. 

You suck because once you decided to climb a mountain and would only come down if your bagel was perfectly toasted.

You don't suck because you are a lover of fine wine, a cuddler of cute animals, a singer of superior arias and a wearer of fine silk. But, your refusal to raise your hand before speaking earned you garbage duty for a week.

You suck because you laugh when you should cry, yell when you should whisper, do the hustle when you should disco, run when you should walk and roll over when you should sit.

You don't suck because you are me, and I rock!

A World With No Belts

He loves both slow, romantic, moon-lit strolls on the beach and sprinting, wildly down the beach frothing at the mouth like a rabid dog.

She prefers folding and unfolding all of the linen in the house on a daily basis, though she is considering reducing this to a weekly activity so she can fit in more first-person shooter games.

He needs to drink five cups of tea every morning or else he is a monster to deal with at work; a big furry, cuddly monster who is one huge hairy ball of cuteness. 

She dreams of a world with no belts.

He washes his car every Sunday using long, rhythmic, powerful strokes. It is awe-inspiring and stunning to behold. He could have been an incredible tennis player or possibly a world famous artist, which explains why he weeps uncontrollably while he washes.

She fries egg after egg after egg often as many as 12 a day and then spends the time afterwards rating and comparing them using a complex 15-item, 10-point scale she developed in her search for perfection. Subconsciously she is just trying to please her father.

He sits in his chair, drumming his fingers, furling and unfurling his brow,  ritualistically breathing in and out, clearing his throat, suppressing the desire to scream and plotting his next move. No wonder he hasn't been able to either find a willing opponent nor finish a game of checkers in years.

She often goes for walks in the forest, trying to get away from the hustle and bustle of her life, imagining herself with comically large, bushy eye brows.

He can rattle off lyrics of rare country and western songs which bothers his group of heavy-metal loving classmates in his Friday afternoon pottery class.

She loves brushing and styling her hair. She will often allow her hair to become so tangled and stringy that she has to literally attack it with every brush, comb and conditioner that she owns. When she finally styles it perfectly, she rises slowly from her chair, brush held above her head triumphantly, sweat dripping from her face, her arch-enemy vanquished once again, she then falls to her knees and starts slowly allowing her hair to become knotted and tangled once again.

He sits alone in the dark waiting for the others to sit with him.

She once wrapped herself entirely in slices of cheese and ate herself out. This gave her a sense of accomplishment unlike any she had felt before (although similar to when she wrapped herself in cured meats) and also a really yucky tummy.

He rehearsed his routine for days, perfecting each step, reminding himself to smile with his eyes, carrying himself like a champion, waiting for the spotlight that never came. Then he remembered the community theatre never purchased a spotlight, opting for a new espresso machine instead which immediately broke. He stood backstage punching the wall, angry at his missed opportunity and the fact he would never have another incredible espresso from that machine again. 

She daydreams of fantastic backyard parties - everybody is invited - the ladies from the office, her dentist, the guy who delivers her newspaper, her sister. She is always on the other side of the gate, watching the fun, hoping to be let in, wondering why they needed to use four different locks to keep her out and bewildered by how they procured her yard without her permission.

He eats with his eyes and sees with his mouth. This makes even the most boring dinner REALLY exciting and socially awkward.

She only draws pictures of rainbows - she just loves them so much. Except for the red part, that just makes her so jealous.

He goes for long runs in the evenings - the rush of wind in his hair, the time to think, the sheer amount of goosebumps. To battle the boredom, he only listens to audiotapes of his German teacher from his youth loudly and abruptly clearing her throat.

She loves knitting. So much so that she has learned to make scarfs and legwarmers. Then she decided to knit a long poncho that she wore all the time. Due to the comfort and the aesthetics, she spent one crazy weekend drinking pot after pot of Earl Grey tea and knitting. The end result was a large quilt that covered everything in her apartment. It was so beautiful, but it was hard to tell where the poncho ended and the wall and floor coverings began.

He has decided to eat more things in sauce-form.

She called her favourite radio show in an attempt to win a contest. Unfortunately she was so nervous she could only let out a series of beeps and clicks. Later that evening she had a knock on her door and there was a large gathering of men with horn-rimmed glasses and pocket protectors trying to do her taxes.

He smiles.

She yawns.