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Observations from my Mixed Up World


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No Maya, the house is not haunted.

Lately our house seems haunted.  I don’t mean things mysteriously moving or seeing ghostly projections.  Our haunting is all about sounds.  Inhuman wailing sounds.  The kinds of sounds that tormented souls in Hell are expected to make.  The sounds that make all of the hair on your head stand up.  Yup, the kitten went in to heat.

As much as I’d like to blame nature or the increased amount of daylight we’re receiving, I can’t.  Not that I’d be allowed to blame anything or anyone else, since for 3 months my wife has been gently and not so gently reminding me to make an appointment for Ginger to get fixed.  Despite the eloquence and insight you’ve come to expect from me, and I shudder to shatter your image of me, I confess that I really need a deadline to get things done.  Since the cat didn’t have a label on her saying “Best spay this cat before May 2013”, I wasn’t driven to make the call.  There are 3 humans and 4 felines in the house that aren’t appreciating my lack of urgency.  Sigh.

I can live with disappointing people but karma really did reach out and kick me in the ass last night.  I have a ritual I need follow every night or I can’t sleep.  I go down stairs, ensure every cat is in the house and has food in their bowls.  Then I check each door and window to ensure they’re shut, locked and blinds down.  Then and only then can I retreat upstairs and set the house alarm.  I’ve been nervous of the dark since I was a kid and when I do my nightly checks, I’m pretty certain there’s an axe murderer around every corner.  Having kids that leave doors unlocked and not discovering them until 11 pm is cause for a house search, since the murderers have likely had time to find a good hiding spot.  Despite knowing how unlikely there is anyone in the garage, I always expect a wandering, hungry vampire to slam the door right into my face when I open it to check the big door is closed.  And I never, ever, ever leave a knife on the counter since that is a clear invitation for the universe to hire someone to plunge it into me in an ironic gesture.

With that insight into my nighttime paranoia, imagine I went into my darkened dining room to close the open window when unbeknownst to me, Ginger has crept up behind me with her kitty cat stealth.  Her unholy yowl definitely stopped my heart.  What horrible and tortured creature possessed my tiny orange and white ball of love, I cannot imagine.  The immediate flood of adrenaline gave me the superpower to leap backwards over the dining room table and kick started my heart like a million joule defibrillator.  Oh I was alive but for how long???  It was a split second later that rational clarity reminded me of Ginger’s affliction and I nearly collapsed in relief.  Of course, I couldn’t sleep for 2 more hours and a dram or two of whiskey.  At least my wife had the grace to drift off to sleep with a smug smile on her face and chose not to thank the universe for providing that pay back she was still planning.

Operation is on Tuesday.  Add Ginger to your prayers that day.  Thanks.

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Business Travel (also traveling alone)

I’m getting ready to head out of town for a couple of nights on business.  Under normal conditions getting ready to be away takes a certain amount of both mental and physical preparation.  With my current personal challenges preparing myself to be away is much harder than I’d like to admit.  I’ve been letting the nerves get the most of me too much lately and have canceled at least 3 overnights in the past few months.  I’d like to thank Marriott for having a cancellation policy that lets me cancel up to 6 pm the day of travel.  Then again, maybe some day, I’ll sue them for enabling me to avoid my problems.  That sounds better, doesn’t it?

Getting ready to travel means I need to anticipate everything  I might need to do while I’m gone and arrange for it in advance.  Things like getting garbage out to the curb or cleaning up the house can be easily done ahead of time.  There are other things more tedious however.  Since I make everyone’s lunches, it means I need to clear space in the fridge to lay out everything for each person in nice straight lines.  Not so hard for one day, but this time I’m away for two.  So sandwiches need to be pre-made, juice boxes staggered, spoons balanced a top yogurt cups and fresh fruit needs to find logical spaces to dwell.  Two nights away also means two dinners I won’t be home to make.  I try to encourage my wife to eat at her mother’s or to go out for dinner when I’m away.  It tends to reduce the number of phone calls around dinner time asking where the fuck do I hide the ketchup or letting me know what an asshole I am because I didn’t specify which of the 2 fridges something was in.  The worst phone call I ever got went something like this:

Wife:  I’m making macaroni and cheese for the kids tonight.

Me:  Why?

Wife:  They laughed at me when I said we were going to Tim Hortons.  They teased me and said I couldn’t cook.

Me:  Oh.  So what’s up?

Wife:  I can’t get the stove top to light. (Gas stove)  How do I do it?

Me:  Turn the knob to light and then  (BOOOOOOM!  Massive explosion echos through the phone.  Screams.  Shock wave creates a tsunami my beer glass 150 kilometers away)

Me:  (frantic)  What happened, what happened?

Wife:  I had it on high while I called you.  It’s ok now.  I was just scared.

Me:  (cancelling auto dial to my insurance agent my other phone)  Jesus Christ!!!  You were scared?  You’ve got to stop letting pride fuck with you that way.

So you can see why I need to be better prepared with meals.  I’ll make a big dinner tonight and leave left overs for tomorrow.  Microwaves are safe.  I may also take the knobs off the stove.  The next night I’ve already called my in-laws and launched a preemptive dinner.  As for me, I’ve got to get myself prepared too.

Generally, work travel also includes after-work social time.  Having established myself as not afraid to stay until the last drink has been drunk, it is going to stand out that I am not drinking (that much) and I’d prefer to avoid explanations.  Admittedly, there is a perverse imp that wants to shout “because drinking on my meds will leave me a gibbering idiot all day tomorrow, OK?”  But, it’s my problem not theirs.  So for now, I will attend socials and not host them.  It really breaks up a good party when you throw everyone out at 9:30 pm.

Those of you that do travel will also appreciate the importance of the check in phone call.  I’ve been traveling for about 9 years now and not once have I ever manage to schedule a call home, when the kids are still up and my wife can still speak civilly, that isn’t when I’m still out at dinner or at a social.  So, I generally end up standing outside a Toronto restaurant in the freezing cold trying to catch the gist of whatever the Hell Maya did at school that day.  Oh, how traffic noise, gusting winds and street people make it easier to listen to a 6 year old try to talk over the TV.  I can’t figure out why my colleagues need to have 3 hour dinners beginning at 7 pm.  I guess they’ve already paid a retainer to their divorce lawyers.

Anyways, wish me luck.  If anything interesting happens, I assure you, it will end up blogged here.