I Am So Old Right Now

Sorry for the two days of silence on here. I had one crazy busy past couple of days.

-Saturday, while I was writing to you all about my Bob Geldof/Santa Claus conspiracy, I had to get everything done. I had my regular Saturday chores to get done before work, plus I had to get done my Sunday chores. On top of that, I had to find something to wear to my Christmas Party, gather up all my stuff to bring to work, and make a list of what I still needed to pick up. Got to bed a little later than I had hoped after a crazy shift at work, but got almost everything done.

-Sunday I had to leave a list of things for the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend to get done while I was at work. We all got pulled for the 9-hour shift, with an hour-long lunch. Had to be at work early because I had the keys to the store, but another co-worker had the security code for the alarm, so we both had to be there together. Walked all the way to work before realizing I left my uniform shirt and apron at home, so I had to call AAB to run them out to me. Ran errands on my lunch break, so I barely got to sit down all day. Was on my feet running cash most of the day.  Actually got threatened by a customer who didn’t bring ID to the store so I couldn’t serve him. Buddy, if you’re stupid enough to stand at my register while holding a bottle, and then loudly call your friend to tell him you don’t have ID with you so he has to come in to buy the bottle, then hand over your money to him while standing right in front of me at my register, then you have no right to get mad and scream at me when I ask for your ID.  Skipped one of my breaks so I could cash out 15 minutes early to go wrestle with pantyhose and get my dress on for the Christmas party.  AAB met me at work, and the work BFF and her fiance picked us up there. Went right to the party and stayed until just after midnight. Drank ALL the red wine, danced in high heels to almost every song, and had my contacts in for 17 hours straight.

-Yesterday, I didn’t want to move. Had a bit of a hangover from all that red wine. The worst part, though, was the physical pain. I don’t go out dancing like I used to when I was in my early 20’s. And I have never made it the whole night without switching to my purse flats before, especially after I hit the dance floor. My legs and knees are just killing me! Had a headache from the combination of red wine and sitting at a table right next to the speakers, so the boss let me wear sunglasses while I worked last night. We all had a good laugh at the fact that I couldn’t crouch down.

All I’ve been saying the last two days is, “I am so old!”. I feel old, physically, right now. I’m really not used to this. I mean, I know that I’m not a kid anymore, despite my behaviour. But my sore knees and aching legs made me realize a lot of things.

I was up there dancing all night with my much younger co-worker. I paid for it dearly the next day. With my current lifestyle, I just can’t randomly jump out on the dancefloor in heels all night long and go crazy out there like I did when I was 23. I could sit around and mope about that, or I could find something good to take away from all this. I can tell now that walking everywhere just isn’t enough. I’m still crazy strong, especially for someone who doesn’t work out. But I’m not toned, I’m not flexible like I used to be, and my cardio just plain sucks. I keep telling myself that I’m going to start doing yoga, or I’m going to work out more. But this experience, feeling so old after just a night of drinking and dancing, shows me how important this really is. I’m not even middle-aged yet, but my knees felt 90 yesterday.

When I was in my early, and even my late, 20’s I could stay out late drinking and still get up for work or class in the morning. I had what now seems like super-human recovery time. These days, not so much. I am still feeling tired and worn out from Sunday night, and this is Tuesday! And you know what? This is a good thing. I don’t need to be going out at night, pounding back vino like grapes are going extinct. I went out and drank too much, and smoked too many cigarettes, and now I’m paying the price. I don’t need to be treating my body like that anymore.

The truth of the matter is that I need to take better care of myself. I feel so old right now because I don’t take the time to make myself feel young. I don’t do my stretches, or work out. I don’t eat all that well sometimes. I smoke, which I’ve been meaning to try quitting yet again. The reason I feel so old is that I’m making myself old. I may be young at heart, and act like an overgrown child at times, but I don’t treat myself this way.

I’m not about to quit smoking and drinking completely today, and go vegan and start meditating and running 5Ks a day. Hell, I haven’t even done anything real to better myself today while I’m realizing all this! I still feel like crap, and don’t want to move. But I know that I need to make some changes, and I need to make them soon.

I finally get two whole days off next week, after a 21-day stretch! I think I’m going to go to the awesome international market on one of those days and grab some mushroom meat. A week from tomorrow, I start my holiday 6am shift. This means packing food and drinks that will keep me going for the day. Like I’ve said before, shifts like this are my healthy shifts. I eat better, I move around more. I get home early enough in the afternoon that I’m going to put forth the effort to at least do some stretches when I get home from work. I’m planning out my to-do lists for the holidays, and I’m going to be keeping myself really super busy.

Hopefully having all this crazed holiday madness right after my post-Christmas-Party pains will be a real kick in the ass for me. I really need to make some changes to my life, and fast.


Santa’s a Little Early This Year, All Because of Bob Geldof

Little kids love talking to me. If I go out shopping, very small children in shopping carts will just stare at me when I walk by. When I’m at work, these same kids will stand there and ramble on about the stickers I give out, and about how their cat had poop stuck on their butt and daddy said really bad words when kitty sat on the white couch, and how grandma farts when you make her giggle. I have this weird childlike quality about me that just draws kids in.

Either that or they just love the hair. It’s a shade of red that’s natural enough to be work appropriate, but just unnatural enough to glow a little. It’s red enough to make me look like a cartoon character, but not the same red that would make you think I’m an undercover clown. Every child wants to be friends with a cartoon character and tell them everything. No one wants to be friends with a creepy ass undercover clown, hiding out in liquor stores though.

Anyway, two years ago I had this really sweet little guy come through my line all upset, with red crying eyes and the biggest tiny frown I have ever seen. No amount of stickers and candy canes could make him smile even a tiny bit. So of course, I asked him what was wrong.

“I tried to get Buster out of the closet and found Christmas!”

I know, that totally explains everything! The little guy’s poor mother had to explain that their dog Buster was hiding in her bedroom closet, and the little guy had gone in there to get him. Turns out the bedroom closet is also where she hid some wrapped Christmas presents.

“And some of the presents said ‘from Santa’ on them. Why would there be presents in there from Santa unless Santa doesn’t bring presents, and it’s just mom and dad buying me thing and putting his name on them?”

His mother looked at me with a strange sadness in her eyes. You could tell she was hoping for at least one more magical Christmas where her little boy believed in magic. Her little guy was heartbroken, and she had no clue what to do to make him understand that Christmas is still Christmas.  So I did what I do in times of crisis: I improvised.

“Oh sweetheart, it’s ok. Santa gets so busy this time of year that he has to deliver some of his presents early. It’s all because of Bob Geldof.”

The little guy’s ears perked a little bit, and he gave me a quizzical look.

“Bob Geldof? Who’s that? What did he do?”

And thus, the legend of Bob Geldof began to take shape.

“Bob Geldof was a very important music person way way back in the 80’s. He wrote a bunch of songs and sang about how stupid Mondays are. And then one day, he discovered Africa.

Africa had always been there, and it is huge! A lot of people forget that Africa is a whole bunch of countries all mashed together in one big continent. Every country has its own people, and it’s own culture, and even though a lot of it looks like a much warmer version of Canada it can be very different than things here in Canada. But Bob Geldof only noticed two things when he found Africa: there was no snow, and people didn’t all celebrate Christmas.

And that’s ok. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Even Jesus didn’t and it’s his holiday! He was Jewish so he would celebrate Haunnaka. And a lot of people in the world celebrate other things that aren’t Christmas. But Bob Geldof decided that Africa needs to celebrate Christmas, even though they have no snow. They could be like Florida or Mexico but on a different continent!

So instead of going to Africa and talking to people there about Christmas, he got a tonne of his famous musician friends to help him sing a song. He got people from a bunch of really famous bands, and Bono, to sing a song with him about how there’s no snow in Africa and we need to feed the world.  And they made a music video, and a lot of people watched it, and it raised a whole lot of money to feed hungry people in Africa. But it also meant that more and more people were supposed to celebrate Christmas because of Bob Geldof.

Well, when Bob Geldof wrote this song he didn’t clear it with Santa! Santa Claus has a very busy night on Christmas Eve and has to fly all over the world. If someone suddenly gets millions of more people to celebrate Christmas, then he doesn’t have time to bring all the presents in one night! So Santa had to go to the United Nations and ask them for help.

Some countries wanted to start a war and to claim Christmas for themselves. Others wanted to tax Christmas, and only let the very very rich countries afford to have it every year. One country even wanted to outsource Christmas, and have people from a bunch of different countries put together Christmas and do all the work since they decided Santa couldn’t handle it. That gave Canada an idea.

‘Santa, what if you delivered a whole bunch of presents early to some countries! We could contact all the parents through our Secret Parent Network so none of the good little girls and boys finds out. The parents can hide all the presents from you with the presents they bought, and they can put them all out on Christmas Eve. This would let you still do Christmas without having to get it all done in one night!’

Santa thought about this for a while. He talked to his elves and held meetings with the reindeer. He even went to the Supreme Snowman Council to see what they thought! Finally, Santa came back to the United Nations. Of course, being Santa, he brought presents for everyone there. And he brought all the presents for their kids.

‘From this Christmas forward, I will bring the good people working in the United Nations building all of the Christmas presents I have for their family that year! And we will put the names of all the countries here in a hat, and I’ll pull out 20 of them every year in July. And those 20 countries will be the countries I bring Christmas presents to early that year! We’ll let the the parents in those countries know, but not the kids. And then we’ll put all the countries names back in the hat, and every country will pick out the name of another country. And we won’t tell anyone what country you picked, and you have to give them a present on the day I come here with my presents in November! We will call this “Secret Santa” and do it every year!’

And all the countries have done this every single year since 1985. They found ways to make sure all the countries take their turns getting early presents to hide, and make sure no countries have to do it too often. And that’s how Bob Geldof caused Santa Claus a whole bunch of grief about delivering presents to everyone in the world, but also lead Santa to create the Secret Santa we use at work.

Does that make much sense to you hun?”

I don’t know if the poor little guy bought it, or if I confused him just enough to make him forget what he was upset about. Either way, he stopped crying sometimes during my story and started munching on one of the candy canes I had given him.

From that day forth, I have used Bob Geldof to explain to any children I meet who find early gifts from Santa why they are there. Most of the parents just laugh, some give me weird looks, and a few need to be told who Bob Geldof is. But in the end, I think it helps spread Christmas cheer just a little bit more each year.

Well, It’s December

So this is life after NaNoWriMo, eh?

I was going to take today off from writing, just gather up ideas and such. Started making a nice spreadsheet last night to track my word count each month, and I thought I could pretty that up a bit. Planned to go through the little pile of notes and scraps of paper on the desk under my computer monitor, and try to organize some sort of topic list for days when my brain just cannot brain.

Instead, I slept in.

It’s the start of December, which means my holiday and financial stress is about to go through the roof. I have a few gifts bought for the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend and have priced out some things for the ever-festive Bowser Kitten. My mother is expecting those damn letter I write her every year, and I haven’t even started them yet. My dad wanted something that I can’t get in stores around here, and that Amazon will not ship to my in Canada unless I pay an extra $47 in shipping….. for a $23 item.  So now I have to find something completely different to get him, but still something that he wants and needs for the kitchen, but not something he can use to make a huge mess in the kitchen and piss off my mother. My sister and my brother-in-law have given me absolutely zero indication of what they want, so I’ll probably wind up making them gift baskets again this year. And all my brother has told anyone is that he wants a nice glass food storage container to bring to work with him.

The only gifts I was totally sure on this year were for my Secret Santa at work (I had to trade someone to get her), and for all the cats in the family. The always giving Bowser Kitten always gets a little bag of treats or a dollar store stocking of toys for the other three cats in my family, and we write their little names on them “from Bowser”. Yes I know, my family is strange.

On top of the whole “buying gifts for everyone that they’ll actually like” thing, I have to come up with some sort of budget for all of this that won’t screw me over in the new year. I’ve been saving up some money to use on Christmas shopping, and have a big pile of rolled coin I have to take to the bank this week to trade for cash to use for that. I can’t really dip into my regular paychecks or put much on the credit cards, though, because once January 1st comes I am once again officially screwed at work. My hours get cut in half as soon as the holiday season is over, meaning I have a few days off sometimes and have to start picking up every single available shift I can once again. Since the schedule changes so often, this is usually how I wind up working 30-day stretches. Some of the weeks in that stretch, I might not even get 30 hours even though I’m working 7 days a week.  So while I’m spending money this holiday season, I have to keep in mind that I’m going to be beyond broke in 6 weeks.

Of course, the lovely people who control the student loans in Ontario don’t seem to think that I’m broke. Because I’m so broke while I try to climb the pay scale at work, I can’t pay my full student loan bill every month. So every six months, I have to fill out paperwork telling them how much money I make, and they determine how much to charge me. My current repayment assistance is good until the end of December, which means I get to spend the next 6 weeks convincing these people that I am not, in fact, a millionaire.

Now, I have no problem paying back what I can on my student loans. They’re money that was loaned to me, and I know I have to pay it back. But they have this program because a lot of people can’t pay the full amount of their bill each month, and it’s supposed to help them still pay things down until they can find higher-paying jobs. For some reason, even though I haven’t changed jobs in years, every December these loan people seem to think that I must have somehow made an extra $50,000 this year and therefore should be paying something like $800 a month to them. After paying my bills for November, scrimping and saving from my paychecks, and buying groceries, I don’t even have $800 left in my account, and this is one of my better months as far as hours go! If I can’t manage that in November when I’m getting around 40 hours a week, how the hell could I manage that in January when I’m down to 20 hours a week?  I have to start scanning and copying pay stubs, writing letters indicating my monthly hours each year, send copies of the schedules up for the new year, and spend hours on the phone while seven different people give me seven different fax numbers to send all of this to, all the while getting mad at me for using a fax number other than the one they gave me even though that’s the fax number their website says to use.  Usually I wind up reduced to tears at least twice just from the stress of it all, have at least one tantrum while sitting alone in my bedroom, rant to somewhat listening Bowser Kitten for at least 5 hours throughout the month, and have 3 separate meltdowns with at least one of them being at work while I fax documents over for the 4th time.

Did I mention I have to bake? We have company potluck, and dessert trays to make at mum and dad’s, and tins to fill for AAB to bring to work, and a tin to make for a really sweet Scotch rep who teaches me all about scotch, and cookies to make for the neighbour who edges our lawn with his weed wacker since ours broke. I have special requests from co-workers, and completely different requests from family, and more requests from friends. I am going to be up to my elbows in molasses and pumpkin spice for at least a week, every day after work, trying to bake a little each day while trying to get everything else done.

Of course, this is on top of all the other stresses going on right now. We have one empty bedroom downstairs we need to rent out, and the other room will be free as of January 1st. So it’s back to showing rooms, waiting on people who either don’t show up or show up three hours early and dealing with the helicopter parents who want to know why we don’t have maid service here. Everything in this house seems to need to be scrubbed, mopped, vacuumed and sanitized right now, and no one else seems to notice. I got rid of the mildew in the bathroom ceiling, and am now working on the mildew growing in the tub lining and caulking. I haven’t even looked at the downstairs bathroom, and I’m afraid to. Somehow no matter who we rent those basement rooms out to, that bathroom winds up a filthy, grimy, mold-filled mess that hasn’t been cleaned in months. If I don’t want to go insane from being surrounded constantly by filth, then I have to keep up with ALL the cleaning around here by myself, yet again.

Add in to this work stress, family drama, getting ready for get-togethers, AAB’s family drama, sobriety issues, cold and flu season, and our upcoming fundraiser at work for Sick Kids Hospital (the angry responses we get from some customers should be a post in itself!), and this is probably the most stressful time of year. I haven’t started working on mum’s letters at all yet. I was also thinking of making the types of cards they make you make in kindergarten for her since somehow every card like that I made her got lost when their basement flooded (but the cards I made for dad all survived).

But for today, I want to do nothing. I don’t work until 4:15 tonight, and I get to work with all the new seasonal workers for the holiday season. This is my first time meeting most of them. It should be a pretty chill shift since we look like we’ll be overstaffed for the night and have four seasonals there as dedicated cashiers (until I need the tallest one to help me face-up the top shelves). Sunday I won’t get a chance to write at all since I work the 9-hour shift all day, and then leave right from work to head to the union Christmas Party. I still have no idea what I’m going to wear since the outfit I ordered on Black Friday didn’t even ship yet. Oh well, just one more thing to stress out about.

Things I Shouldn’t Have to Tell My Grown-Ass Roommates

As you all know, I live with roommates. Since I moved out to go to university, I’ve lived with more than 30 different roommates in a handful of places. With the exception of one girl who moved out of her mom’s house and then lived here for almost 3 whole months before moving back home, none of those roommates have been on their own for the first time when they lived with me. For the most part, these were grown-ass adults who had lived on their own for years before we crossed paths. The majority of my roommates were my age or slightly younger, but I’ve lived with a few older folk in my day. Hell, one roommate was the same age as my parents.

Now, in all of those years, I’ve had to say some pretty ridiculous things to these roommates. Now, keep in mind that these are grown-ass adults. I cannot stress enough that these are grown-ass adults I’m dealing with here. If these were young kids living away from home for the first time, and their parents did everything for them before they moved out, then I’d somewhat understand having to say some of these things. But these are grown-ass adults. These are people who have had careers and apartments, and through some strange quirk in the universe wound up at the university here and lived under the same roof as me after all that. These are people who should know better.

So, without further adieu, I give to you my first installment of Things I Shouldn’t Have to Tell My Grown-Ass Roommates

  1. Clean out the mesh hair trap in the shower. Otherwise, all the gunk that’s trapped in there just clogs it up and makes the water pool at your feet.
  2. Don’t blow your nose in the shower. Snot clogs the mesh hair trap
  3. Don’t jerk off in the shower. There is now jizz clogging the mesh hair trap, and I sure as hell am not cleaning that.
  4. Don’t turn on the AC if it’s not hot out, and then wear a sweater in the house.
  5. 65F is not hot.
  6. Seriously, buy a small fan. It’s not hot out.
  7. An industrial fan is NOT a small fan!
  8. Seriously, the cat is covered in fur. I’m not about to let him overheat. If he can stand the heat, we can too.
  9. Why the hell would you turn on the AC and a space heater?
  10. It’s a bedroom. Not even a huge bedroom. It’s just a small room full of your stuff. How many damn space heaters do you need?
  11. The house isn’t soundproof, and neither are the walls between our rooms.
  12. It’s like 69F in here. You don’t need three fans and the AC on!
  13. How do I know about the fans? Because the damn house isnèt soundproof and they are loud as hell!
  14. Also, I can hear you boning in there.
  15. Either that girl is delusional and really thinks your name is God, or she’s faking. Take your pick.
  16. It’s not my fault the garbage truck woke you up. It’s 3pm, and you stayed up all night smoking weed and watching movies. Deal with it.
  17. Pubes are hair! Clean them out of the damn mesh hair trap!
  18. That little knob you use to turn the oven on…. it works the other way too. Turn the oven off when you’re done.
  19. Same goes for the stove.
  20. And the lights.
  21. And the sink.
  22. Basically, anything you can turn on, you can turn off again when you’re done.
  23. If you drop food on the floor, pick it up.
  24. If you spill sauce on the floor, pick it up.
  25. Same goes for drinks.
  26. Seriously, this is some basic stuff here. Clean up your damn mess.
  27. Crumbs = bugs. Do you want to live with bugs? No? Then clean up your damn mess!
  28. I’m pretty sure when you thaw chicken breast, you don’t have to leave it out on the counter for 4 days.
  29. Ok, your cat has now pulled the chicken breast off the counter and is trying to pull it out of the plastic wrap on the kitchen floor. Pretty sure that chicken is done for.
  30. Are you seriously eating the 4-day old chicken breast the cat was licking an hour ago?
  31. If you’re going to use the oven or the stove, then freaking use it! Don’t put food in there and fo read a book, or take a shower, or go down for a nap. That’s how things burn and fires start!
  32. If your food is black, crispy, and sticking to the pan, you burned it.
  33. If the kitchen is filling with smoke, your food is burning.
  34. If the cat is sitting in front of the oven and yowling, you took your food out but left the oven on. Congratulations, my cat is now smarter than you.
  35. Bacon grease splatters. Clean it up when you’re done.
  36. Same goes for hot oil
  37. How about you just clean up any food you splatter on the stove?
  38. And since we mentioned bacon, you can’t just dump bacon grease down the drain. When it cools, it solidifies and will clog the drain. Then it attracts bugs, and it stinks.
  39. Do you have any idea how hard it is to scrape your solidified exploded chili and cheese out of the insides of the microwave? Just wipe it out after you use it.
  40. No, I don’t mean “remind me to scrub the microwave the next time you see me using it”. I mean wipe up your own damn mess when you make it!
  41. Why is my wet laundry sitting on the basement floor, covered in centipedes?
  42. What the hell made you think you could put double loads in both the apartment’s free washing machines, and then throw them together in the tiny dryer for 20 minutes, and expect them to be dry?
  43. Better yet, why the hell did you take the soaking wet clothes out of the dryer, bring them home, and leave in your hamper?
  44. That smell? It’s the mildew on your clothes. That’s what happens when you leave wet clothes in the hamper for 6 weeks.
  45. How long are you going to leave your wet clothes in the washer?
  46. Why the hell are you yelling at me for putting your wet clothes in the dryer? They’ve been sitting in the washer for eleven days!
  47. Again with the mesh hair trap! If it’s too big to fit through the tiny mesh there, then it’s going to clog it and you need to empty it. Your toenails are definitely too big to fit through there. Get rid of them.
  48. Ok, when the landlord says that I’m the only one allowed to touch the thermostat, that means that YOU don’t touch it! Period!
  49. Access to the internet is a privilege. It’s in my name, so I make the rules. Just because you pay a fee, which amounts to a very small portion of the total monthly bill, doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want, especially if it’s going to get me into trouble.
  50. Ok seriously, stop illegally downloading MMA fights and porn. I totally know it’s you doing it.
  51. Well, I’m not the one downloading this crap. That means it’s either you or the damn cat, and I’m pretty sure the cat isn’t into Big and Busty Housewives of Macomb County IIV.
  52. Why is your pee on the floor?
  53. Seriously, there’s pee on the floor. I sit down to pee, so we both know it’s not mine. Clean up your damn pee!
  54. While you’re at it, you could work on the skid marks you left in the toilet. I really don’t need to be looking at your poop remnants.
  55. I rent a room here, just like you. The landlord is the guy you pay rent to, who made you sign the lease. We are two different people.
  56. Stop trying to give me your rent. It says right in the lease how to pay the landlord, and it in no way involves giving me money.
  57. Ok if I don’t collect the rent from you, then I definitely can’t give you a rent receipt. Talk to the landlord about that.
  58. Yes, the landlord lives in a whole different province, and the internet is in my name. The landlord and I are still two separate people though,
  59. Ok, I don’t care how much you try to intimidate me. No matter how convinced you are that you can kick my ass, that still does not change the fact that I am NOT the landlord, and cannot write a rent receipt for you.
  60. Stop stealing my food from the fridge.
  61. That doesn’t mean “replace all of my food with your food”.
  62. Ok, you’ve now completely filled the fridge with meat. I guess that means you won’t be stealing my vegetarian protein meat substitutes.
  63. Why are you yelling at me because you don’t like the taste of “mushroom soy veggie meat”? That’s mine, so that shouldn’t bother you.
  64. Seriously, stop complaining because you don’t like my food. If you weren’t stealing my food, then you wouldn’t know you don’t like it.
  65. Ok, when you complain that my food tastes like crap, you’re basically screaming “Hey, I’m stealing your food and eating it when you’re not around!” Stop denying it.
  66. If you throw raw meat on the counter, you’ve got to scrub that counter down and sanitize it.
  67. “Sanitize it” doesn’t mean wipe it down with a rag or a damp sponge. Use some cleaner or bleach or something!
  68. No, you can’t sanitize the chicken after the cat licked it. Maybe you shouldn’t leave it out for 4 freaking days.
  69. No, even bleach won’t work on your chicken.
  70. So yeah, the kitchen isn’t the only common area. If you use a space, clean it up.
  71. Why are there take-out coffee cups all over the living room?
  72. Ok, there is mold in the freaking coffee cups! How did long did you leave them in there?
  73. Ok, I know we had a floor in here the other day. Now there’s just pizza boxes, McDonald’s bags, and empty beer cans. What the hell happened?
  74. Your room is too hot because you closed off all the vents in there, maybe?
  75. Vents aren’t closed? Well then maybe there’s something blocking them.
  76. Ok dude, seriously? I can’t see your damn floor. There are layers of clothes and garbage. Ever thank that might block your vent?
  77. That case of iced tea that’s been sitting on the vent for months is probably what’s blocking the damn vents.
  78. It’s winter now. Not only is that iced tea all going bad from sitting on a hot vent, it’s now officially a fire hazard!
  79. If you put a pan of bacon grease in the bottom of the sink and then fill the sink with water, the water is going to be full of bacon grease.
  80. Anything you try to wash in that water is just going to get coated in bacon grease.
  81. Why are my coffee mugs so slippery? You used the bacon grease water again, didn’t you?
  82. What do you mean “when is the landlord delivering more dish soap”? Cleaning supplies are not included in the rent. We buy our own stuff here.
  83. No, most landlords do not deliver dish soap. Or cleaning products. Or vacuum bags. Or ziplock bags. What the hell kind of landlords did you have before?
  84. The room comes furnished if you want it to. You knew that when you viewed the room, and it says so in the lease. So what do you mean “what’s all that furniture doing in my room”?
  85. It comes with the furniture in the room. Or we can move it out of the room for you. If we move the furniture out, then the room isn’t furnished anymore. It’s not a hard concept.
  86. Why the hell would the landlord let you pick out all new furniture, and then buy it for you? That’s not what “comes furnished” means!
  87. Sure, send the landlord a copy of the Ikea catalog. I’m sure that will totally change her mind and she’ll buy you all new furniture. And then, we’ll take all the old furniture and use it to build a rocketship to go colonize Mars.
  88. Why the hell would you think you could take the landlord’s furniture with you when you move out?
  89. No, the furniture isn’t yours now that you’ve used it. People used it before you too. They didn’t try to take it with them when they moved out!
  90. That beeping sound coming from your smoke detector? It’s the low battery warning. Same thing it was this morning when you asked me what that beeping sound coming from your smoke detector was.
  91. No, the house isn’t on fire. Usually, when the smoke detector beeps and then says “low battery”, that’s a sign that the battery is low.
  92. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that changing the battery might stop that “low battery” beep.
  93. Why is the laundry tub full of dishes?
  94. Ok, how long are those dishes going to sit in the laundry tub?
  95. Is that my favourite tea mug floating in the laundry tub? The one you swore you have never seen in your life and had no idea where it had gone to?
  96. No, I’m pretty sure I didn’t go downstairs and put my mug in the laundry tub. I use the kitchen sink for dishes, like everyone else in the damn house.
  97. No, you can’t use laundry detergent to wash your dishes, even if you wash them in the laundry tub.
  98. No, you can’t use Ivory soap and shampoo if you wash your dishes in the bathtub either.
  99. Seriously, dish soap really isn’t that hard a concept!
  100. Ok, why the hell is there 3 days worth of food clogging up the damn mesh trap in the bathtub drain?

I Actually Hit My Goal!

So I did it: I hit my 50,000-word goal for the month. I’m actually a little shocked that I managed to do this. I’m not exactly known for following through on my plans in a timely manner. Hell, I’m not even big on following through on my plans! For reference, here is a short list of the things I said I was going to do in the last few years, and still have not finished:

  1. I was going to get a part-time job for a two or three years maybe and pay down a bunch of my debt. I was going to stop spending, and just work constantly to pay off my credit cards, and then look at graduate school. I’ve been at my job four years now, and am in slightly more debt than before (damn interest!). I am no closer to paying off my debt than I was four years ago.
  2. When I moved into this house, I had a three-year plan. I was going to save up for $3,000 to pay the first and last months rent on an apartment, and then buy some furniture. While I’m proud to say that I’ve saved up more than that amount of money, it’s been more than four years since I moved in here. And I’m no closer to moving out of here than I was back then.
  3. The whole “save for an apartment” idea started to turn to crap when one crappy management company started buying up as much property in this city as they could. So the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend and I started talking about buying a house. I decided to start saving up the downpayment, using what I had already saved for an apartment. More than 8 months later, and we’re no closer to buying a home in this area than we were back then. Yes, I saved up some of the money we need, but it just never seems like enough.
  4. I was going to wait a year or two after graduation to apply to grad school. I figured that would give me time to gather up some of the research I needed to give my application an edge over the others. More than four years later, still haven’t even started it.
  5. I have some milk crates I made into shelves in the corner of the bedroom, and they seem to collect junk. I’ve been putting “clean off crate shelves” on my to-do list for months. Think they’re clean yet?

I just seem to let things go for too long. When I do follow through with something, it’s usually in a last minute panic. I put things off and put things off, and wait until they snowball into this massive task that is so intimidating it’s scary to even think about starting it. I think that living such an unstructured life, with nothing but my job giving me any sort of schedule or deadlines to follow, just makes me lazy.

You see, in university, I thrived on the chaos. One year I had four classes a semester, was a researcher for a Criminology professor, and a teaching assistant for a Sociology professor. On top of that, I was on the Board of Directors for an organization on campus and was the chair of their Events Planning and Fundraising committee. I also volunteered in the Academic Advising office, work with the Welcome Week team to run events the start of each semester, gave tours to prospective students and their parents, worked in public speaking a recruitment for the club that ran Welcome Week and did my usual charity work with my friends through their fraternity. I had two dry erase calendars on my wall: a one month calendar and a four-month calendar. I colour co-ordinated my schedule, using different colours for charity work and class work and for each job. I could somehow manage to make it to class 7 times a week, write two 2,500 word research papers, gather 350 website links for a professor’s research, monitor 100+ threads in an online discussion board for the class I was assisting, and still manage to make it to a charity kegger on Friday night. I was on fire back then.

The closer I got to graduation, the harder it got to keep on top of things. It was like I knew that this chaos was going to end soon and that there was nothing to replace it. Without the pressure, and the deadlines, and other people depending on me to get things done on time, there just seemed like nothing could motivate me. Then, just days after writing my very last exam for my first degree, I had the allergic reaction that resulted in 94 days of hives. I seriously couldn’t do anything when that happened. It was the middle of summer, and sweating made the hives worse. Moving made the hives worse. Basically, I sat on the couch and ate fast food, because being around the hot stove made the hives worse. I packed on 60lbs that summer and did absolutely nothing.

Ever since then, I haven’t been able to get back into the swing of things. The odd time I do have some sort of deadline to get things done, I rock that out like nothing else. But for the most part, I don’t do much these days. The pile of books I’ve been meaning to read is growing, and I just never take the time to read them. I haven’t done a massive clean-out of the bedroom in almost three years now, even though I mean to every spring and fall. I’ve started writing projects and just tossed them aside after a few weeks if they even last that long. I even went out and bought yarn and knitting needles, and can’t seem to find the motivation to sit around and attempt to knit. My usual schedule has become: wake up, make coffee, read random shit online. Shower, put on make-up, watch reruns of something I’ve seen 97 times already. Read random shit online, text AAB, get ready for work. Walk to work, work my usual closing shift, catch a ride home with a co-worker. Come home, pour a glass or two of wine, eat dinner, read Buzzfeed, go to bed. I don’t do anything!

This month kind of changed things. I was pushed to write every day. The NaNoWriMo website has a word count tracker on your stats page. Every single day I would write on here, and then go log how many words I wrote. I caught myself making lists of topics to work on later. I put reminders in my phone, shoved bits of paper with ideas scribbled on them in my phone case, and started carrying a very small notebook in my sweater pocket at work. I even started working on the piece I have decided will close out the month, which I started jotting down in a notebook almost 8 months ago! I’ve made notes, and research, and looked into more things to help with my writing. I was actually driven this month to accomplish something.

And you know what? I feel good. I’ve been happier this month. AAB has seen a change in me too I think. When I don’t work a closing shift, as soon as I get home we catch up with each other and then he tells me to go relax and work on my writing while he cooks. Doing NaNoWriMo not only let me get back into writing for myself, but it gave AAB the chance to discover that he is a fantastic cook.

So what’s next? It’s only November for a few more days, and then NaNoWriMo is over. A big part of me is worried that I’ll become lost again. Another part of me has a plan though. I’m trying to make a little word tracker of my own to use until next year. I mean, I love making spreadsheets. I’m sure I can work on up for each month to track myself. I still have a bunch of topics leftover that I didn’t use this month. And my big piece-du-resistance for the end of the month is the sort of thing I can continue, maybe make it a seasonal piece.

I don’t think I’ll be as motivated as I was this month, writing every single day almost. But I’m going to push myself to hit a goal every month again. I’m going to give myself something to work towards, keep jotting down those topics and planning posts out in my head. And you know what? This seems like something I just may be able to stick with for once.

And So It Begins……

Just got home from work, poured myself a glass of wine, checked my Snaps from my sister, and am settling in to try and order some new pants for work. I would seriously like to know who the hell is in charge of setting pants styles and deciding that stores will carry only those styles each year. We have to wear plain black pants at work. Any plain black pants or jeans will do as long as they’re presentable and have no visible rips or tears. No yoga pants, or leggings, or ripped up jeans, or pants with embroidery or patterns. Just plain black pants. Think I can find some? Nope!

I have looked at every store I usually shop at. Everything they have is either tights or full of holes. The only blank jeans I found all day that aren’t full of holes had giant embroidered flowers all over the thighs and butt.  Unless I’m willing to shell out $60 for a pair of pants that will be worn out in the inner thigh in a matter of months anyway, I’m not getting any pants today. The closest I’ve found so far are ankle length linen pants with flowers on the back pockets.

Of course, I’m doing this online. Today is Black Friday, so there is no way I’m am stepping foot within 100 yards of the mall today. I know that Black Friday is a huge deal in America, but it hasn’t been that big of a deal here in Canada until recently. I live in a border town, so the last few years we’ve started having Black Friday deals popping up here and there. We even have a little display at work with a handful of Black Friday deals that last the weekend. This year is taking it too far though, in my opinion.

Usually, American Thanksgiving signals the start of the Christmas season around here. The mall stays open later, people rush out to go Christmas shopping, there’s decorations and Christmas music everywhere. This year, instead of just keeping the mall open later than normal, stores in our mall were given the option to open at 6am in order to attract the cross-border shoppers who were coming home from a long night of deals at that time. People lined up at stores at 7am, and it wasn’t even the day after Christmas!

I admit I have done the 7am lineup once with my siblings. We made a day of shopping on Boxing Day, getting those post-Christmas clearance deals. I did it once, and once only. I’ve been offered a few times to go again and turned them down every time. There’s just something that bothers me about adding to the madness that causes people to have to get out of bed on a nice, relaxing day to head into work hours early to serve anxious shoppers who come through their store like a tornado.

Black Friday isn’t the only sign the Christmas season is starting, though. Today we had our first seasonal worker in training on cash! He seems like a really sweet guy, and he caught on really quickly. We’ll hopefully have the other four workers in very soon to get their training in because this is our busy season. For some reason, people go nuts this time of year even just shopping at my store.

I get it, this is a busy time of year for people. I mean, just for me this time of year means more hours, a tonne of baking, more shopping in a matter of days than I usually do the rest of the year, wrapping gifts, chasing the ever playful Bowser Kitten after he gingerly plucks another ornament down off the tree and runs off with it in his mouth to nap with, and the mounting stress that comes with dealing with everyone else who is doing much of the same thing. Add to this the constant barrage of sweets, invitations to dinner parties, yet another Secret Santa, Christmas Parties, dealing with relatives who insist there is a War On Christmas, knowing that you’re going to have to spend at least one Christmas dinner stuck between your very liberal uncle and your ‘”Make America Great Again” aunt, and it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. The thing is, we’re all going through this stuff right now.

I know that you’re stressed, and you’re tired of dealing with people. You just want to walk into a store, grab everything you need in one fell swoop, cash out, and never set foot in a mall again. You don’t want to deal with all the other shoppers who are ready to pull out the pepper spray and fight to the death over the very last whatever the hell the popular toy is this year. Walking through the mall, you keep replaying old video clips of the 1983 Cabbage Patch Kids riots that happened in stores, waiting for someone to run up behind you and wack you with a metal folding chair so they can take the last cheese log at the Hickory Farms kiosk. You’re on your toes, ready just in case some random dude tries to piledrive you into the shiny tiled mall floor over a novelty Santa apron. The last thing you want to deal with is an over-attentive store clerk asking you what you need.

The thing is, that clerk is dealing with this crap too. Go check out YouTube, look for Black Friday shopping videos. Watch the 1983 Cabbage Patch Kids clips. I saw clerks in those videos carrying baseball bats for their own safety. These employees get trampled, get grabbed at, get screamed at, get threatened, all over a few dollars worth of merchandise. And this is on top of the normal dumbassery they deal with! They still have the secret shoppers to worry about, the stacks of clothes that are laying in a heap on the floor minutes after being carefully folded. They have to deal with poop in the change rooms, and parents letting their kids run rampant in the stores while they shop. When you have some free time while in front of your computer and aren’t obsessively reading through my old posts (or listening to the I’m Sorry Dad podcast, which I highly recommend), go check out Not Always Right. People post stories all year about the crap they have to deal with working in retail. Now imagine dealing with the things you read on there, plus all the crap that comes with the holiday season.

And to deal with the increase in shoppers over the holidays, a whole lot of stores hire seasonal workers. We have a new batch being trained right now, and a few stores in my plaza started training their last week. I know a few places in the mall here were starting their workers next week. That means that these people will have maybe six whole weeks of experience by the time they’re done. They may be really slow on cash. They probably don’t know where things are in the store. They don’t know how to look things up, or where the next closest store is, or when the next sales start. They’re basically hired to run cash so the full-year employees can get everything else done.

I know at my store, there’s a 6am shift just for the holidays. The work BFF and I will get in at 6am to wash the floors, pull the warehouse, stock the front end, and start putting stock away. Then we’re unloading the delivery, scanning the warehouse, and doing more stock once the store is open. There is a tonne of freaking stock to put out, and we have everyone possible in to help out. We pull every available body to keep stock on the shelves and need those extra people on the cash registers. For the most part, they can handle themselves. But they’re temporary workers who have no clue what goes on the there the rest of the year. They can’t tell you where a specific wine is, or what pairs best with veal, or whether we’re getting any Beaujolais Nouveau in before the holidays. They are just there to run cash.

So while you’re out shopping this holiday season, have a little patience. Chances are, the person at the cash is new at this. Yes, you’re tired and sore and hungry and frustrated with having to deal with 3/4 of the city being crammed into the mall all at once. But they’ve had to deal with all of the same things, with the added stress of being yelled at and given attitude by shoppers who can’t believe they have to wait an extra 90 seconds to be rung through because their cashier is slow. These poor workers are getting the mental shit kicked out of them, and then having to go out into that same madness to do their own shopping.

So be kind this holiday season. Remember that the people serving you in the stores are just that: people. They deserve the same kindness and respect that you would expect from them.

Day Off, Christmas Homes Tour, and Being the Family Outcast

Today was my first of two days off from my retail job, peddling the devil’s brew. Instead of staying in bed as long as possible, having all the kitten cuddles the always sleepy Bowser Kitten had to offer and then making a big pot of Christmas Coffee, I got up at 7am to shower and get ready for my ride. It was the annual Christmas Homes Tour out in the county today and every year we hit that tour for mum’s birthday. So myself, mum, my sister, and my cousin piled into my sister’s car and went out in the pouring rain to walk through strangers’ homes, gawk at their decorations, and then buy a bunch of wine.

Every year it’s the same thing: we see a bunch of different random people’s homes; stop into the same church to see the dozens of nativity scenes on display and buy a bunch of baked goods; hit the winery for a free sample and to shop; then to the garden store and novelty shop for a little Christmas shopping. We sit around together, catching up and munching on fresh baked goods made by little old church ladies and drinking fruit punch made from bulk store crystals, and then sip free wine and nibble on tiny cucumber slices and date squares and talk some more. For the most part, it’s quite an enjoyable day.

This year, this day fell right as I came off a 30-day stretch, as I mentioned yesterday. I was exhausted this morning and didn’t want to get out of bed. To top it off, the super cuddly Bowser Kitten mad made a beautifully soft next in the blankets around my knees. I had to squirm and slide out of bed in order to not disturb his nest. Hell, it’s 12 hours later and the bed still hasn’t been fully made!  I smoothed out the blankets around the nest but left it perfectly intact. Bowser Kitten is curled up in it at this very moment, in fact!

After literally dragging myself out of bed as to not disturb an already pissed off Bowser Kitten, I shower, poured some coffee down my throat, slapped on some eyebrows, and got my slip on boots ready to go. By the time our festive team assembled at my parents’ place (to cuddle their cats before we left), the skies had opened up and unleashed a torrent of rain that made it almost impossible to drive through at times. We had to make an emergency stop at a dollar store near our starting point of the tour to get umbrellas (and a few snacks for the car).

Riding around the county, dipping into our little snack bags of cookies, laughing about stupid things we’ve done lately, it was a really enjoyable day. I was really having fun, catching up with everyone, hearing all the gossip from that cousin’s side of the family that I’ve missed out on. We all bonded over our love of Christmas decorating, and the fact that I am the only one in the car who only puts up one Christmas tree every year (but I technically own two, thanks to a former roommate who left one behind).

Maybe it was the lack of sleep lately. Maybe it was the fact that I had to wake up pretty early on my first day off in 30 days. Maybe it was the fact that I had to piss of barely cheerful Bowser Kitten by leaving him home alone on my day off. Whatever it was, that creeping feeling that I don’t belong came faster this year.

Everyone else in the family seems to get along, and like a lot of the same things. They all follow the “there is a timeline your life is supposed to follow so you have things done at a certain point in your life” mentality. That was the first thing that opened the floodgates for the awkwardness today. My cousin was talking about her and her boyfriend, who have been dating almost 3 years now. She was saying that once you hit 30, dating is completely different and should move a lot faster because you have your life totally together. In her words, you have your life together once you’re in your 30s. You own a home or have a really nice apartment, don’t have any student loans left to pay off, are established in your career, and have time for hobbies and “grown-up things”. She’s in a book club, where they read Oprah-approved books and then sit around talking about how much they loved them. She gets up early on Saturday mornings to go to brunch with the girls. She counts calories, and every time she eats something “bad” she has to talk about how her diet is ruined for the day. And everyone over the age of 30 is supposed to do these things.

Now, everyone in that car today knows what my life is like. I’m 35 years old. I’m drowning in credit card and student loan debt I’m slowly chipping away at. I work retail, on my feet in steel-toe shoes all day, and rent a room in a house with a bunch of strangers. I am the exact opposite of everything she just said I’m supposed to be. But she still kept talking to me like my life is exactly like hers. Not just that, but everyone seemed to go along with it like I was supposed to fake another lifestyle for a day just to fit in.

I’m almost used to this by now. I always seem to get this weird combination of “good for you, not letting your age stop you” and “you still have to live up to our expectations of a person your age” from people when I make decisions in my life. And everyone has different expectations for me, but I’m supposed to live up to all of them. I am somehow supposed to live at home until I’m married, plus get a kick-ass apartment full of cool stuff from catalogues, plus cultivate my own style, plus date around and sow my wild oats while also being in a steady and monogamous relationship long enough to lead to an engagement and marriage so I can start having kids by my late-20s or early-30s. I am somehow expected to do all of this at once, in order to live up to a dream that various family members have for themselves, which then gets passed on to me.

This random “failing everyone’s expectations entirely, all at the same time” phenomenon is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to interactions with my family. In almost every way, I am very much different from my family. I know, I sound like some angsty teen who wears too much black eyeliner and ironically listens to Marilyn Manson because he’s “hardcore” and “speaks to me”. This is something that I’ve come to embrace over the years, and most of the time it’s something I really enjoy. I’ve always been a little off compared to my cousins, and a little backwards at times. I’m a writer, a confused little lost girl who bounced from job to education to job, with ever-changing goals. I’m financially insecure, in a precarious place in my professional career, and just rediscovering my passion for writing and reading at the age of 35. Usually, I am perfectly fine with the fact that my choices in life have lead me to where I am, and I know that my current and future choices will lead me other places. But being in that car, listening to everyone talk, it just gets to me.

You see, there are a lot of fundamental things about me that are very different from the rest of my family. I come from a big group of Trump-loving folk, who don’t want refugees around stealing their jobs and spreading Sharia law with their ISIS influence. They think that anyone who gets welfare is just cheating the system to get free money for expensive food and trips (except for me, the time I was on it right out of school; I was the exception), and firmly believe that all refugees are being paid thousands of dollars a month by the government while pensioners are being given cheese vouchers and a swift kick in the ass. They want more gun, less diversity, more religion (as long as it’s their religion), and fewer immigrant workers. They believe that trickle-down economics will save the world, and that border walls can’t be built fast enough to save North America from the dreaded Mexicans.

Basically, they believe in the opposite of everything I do. There are tules at family dinners stating that no political conversations are supposed to take place. This basically means that everyone else is allowed to talk politics, except for me. The second I speak up, the conversation is labelled a “fight” and mum gets upset. I’m used to it. I just shut my mouth, keep my head down, and try to tune everything out most of the time. But when you’re stuck in a car with people talking politics, and you know you can’t join in because it will upset people is the weirdest feeling in the world. No matter how nice and polite I am, just the very act of saying something that isn’t in total agreement with them is enough to piss everyone off.

Ok, remember when you were a teen, and you thought the whole world was against you? You would lock yourself in your room, blasting your angsty-driven music of choice (mine was German industrial music and heavy metal; my sister was more of a Hanson-rebel), thinking that there was no one in the world who would understand you. You would slam doors, punch your pillow, scream at family members that they just didn’t understand you and they never would. Do you remember that feeling of being so totally different, so totally alone, that if felt like it would crush you?

Now imagine being 35. You know that you’re not alone in the world because you have people around you that you can relate you. You know that you’re not the bizarre, weird freak you thought you were when you were 15 when some overly-bleach blond douchebag would throw orange slices at your head on the bus after school. You’re a grown-ass adult who has a life and a mind of their own and is able to converse with people of differing views in a civilized manner. But being with your family is suddenly being that 15-year-old again. You’re a freak, a weirdo, a disappointment who has all these weird and strange ideas that they’ll surely grow out of once they finally grow up.

I don’t even know where I’m going with this post today. Sorry folk, my brain has closed down for the day. All I know is I just spent my first day off in a month being questioned about when the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend and I are going to get engaged and married (that’s not something we’re really looking into right now), why am I not pressuring AAB into proposing as my Christmas present, why would I even think about applying to jobs a few hours away (when there’s nothing outside of my own company that I’m both qualified for and interested in), why would I be looking at little 2 bedroom wartime houses in my area (when that’s all AAB and I want at the moment), and when am I going to “grow up and vote Republican” (because apparently other people’s Christmas decorations are entirely a Republican issue that I couldn’t possibly handle). It’s been a mentally draining day, I’m pouring my second glass of wine right now while I blast my “Angry Tunes” playlist on Spotify, and AAB is playing in the kitchen with some fish and asparagus at 8:43pm when I haven’t eaten a real meal all day. I am just done with everything for today. Being grilled like a 15-year old who came home 4 hours after curfew about the tiniest little thing today by a few family members just gets to me.

Tomorrow is my Christmas decorating day. Hopefully, I’ll be able to lay out the extra stress that comes with the Christmas season for me (since we all go through extra stress this time of year, no matter our beliefs, with holiday festiveness being shoved down our throats) and how I’m planning on cutting a few corners and doing more for me thing year.