Friday, March 16, 2018

A Glitch in the Matrix

It was July, and I was in the soap aisle at Superstore. A lady about my age came up to me.

"Excuse me," she said, "hi. I love your purse. Where did you get it?"

I smiled at her. "The Sears Outlet," I said. "Before it closed."

"Oh. Too bad," she said. "I'm looking for a purse, and I like that style." She looked disappointed. "I need something with straps like that that won't slip down my shoulder. It looks like it holds a lot too."

"It does," I said, still smiling, still glancing at the soap. I was trying to decide between mango-pomegranate and cocoa butter.

"Oh well!" she said. "Thanks anyway!"

"Have a good one," I said, and that was that.

Or so I thought.

She disappeared around a corner, and I took two soaps from the shelf and threw them into my basket. And when I turned to go, she was standing in front of me again, like a magical soap aisle fairy.

"I forgot to introduce myself," she said, and I thought that was weird, because I thought she didn't really need to introduce herself to ask where I bought my bag; she could just ask and go on her way and I wouldn't be bothered about it. "I'm Katy."

"Oh, hi," I said. "I'm Suzy." We had to shake hands, then, because what is an introduction if you don't grab each other's hands and move them up and down?

But then I could see that she had something else she wanted to say.

"Hey," she said, as though she'd just thought of something, even though you and I both know she hadn't just thought of something. "I was wondering, what do you do?"

"Stay at home mom," I said. "How about you?" Because I could tell she was going to tell me anyway.

"Actually!" she said, as though she weren't expecting the chance to tell me what she does, even though you and I both know she certainly was. "My husband and I have a business that we run out of our home. It's so great; we can both stay home and run our business. We met another couple who was doing it, and it was very successful for them, so we decided to give it a try and we're very happy. We're actually looking to expand, and you are so friendly and easy to talk to, I wondered if you might be interested in hearing more about it!"

I felt my face do that thing it does when people are trying to sell me something. I spend approximately 12 hours of my day being sold to, you know? I have real-life friends who love pyramid schemes. My smart phone literally listens to me speak so that it knows what to try and sell me. Plus, all of sudden every person I follow on Instagram is an influencer, trying to sell me a lifestyle or a product or a vacation. I don't need strangers coming up to me in grocery stores too.

I'm a smart woman, I know what I want to buy. I know where to buy it. I do research so I can buy the best It at the lowest price.

So anyway, long story shot (ha), I said I was super busy, and thanks no thanks, and have a really great day, and bye.

Fast forward to last Tuesday. I'm in Walmart. I'm buying jeans for Sully, whose legs grow five inches per second. A lady about my age comes up to me.

"Excuse me," she says, "hi. I love your purse. Where did you get it?"

I smile at her. I do get a lot of compliments on this purse, don't I? It was a good purchase. "The Sears Outlet," I say. "Before it closed."

"Oh. Too bad," she says. "I'm looking for a purse, and I like that style." She looks disappointed, and I experience a wave of deja vu. "I need something with straps like that that won't slip down my shoulder. It looks like it holds a lot too."

"It does," I say warily.

"Oh well!" she says. "Thanks anyway!"

"Have a good one," I say, and she walks away.

I turn back to the jeans, and wait.

She disappears around a rack of Batman t-shirts and emerges two minutes later from behind the jeans display, grinning.

"I forgot to introduce myself," she says, holding out her hand, "I'm Melissa."

"Oh, hi," I say. My mouth is still smiling, but my eyes are probably not. This isn't the same woman as the one from Superstore last summer, but I swear the interaction as a whole is identical. "I'm Suzy." We shake hands. Because we have to, because this is the Twilight Zone.

"Hey," she says, as though she's just thought of something, even though you and I both really, really know she hasn't just thought of something. "I was wondering, what do you do?"

"Stay at home mom," I say. And I don't ask her what she does, because darn it I already know.

"Amazing!" she says sincerely, enthusiastically, too enthusiastically, as though I am the only woman in the whole world who stays home with my children. She pauses. She's waiting for me to reciprocate the question, but I'm just full-on staring at her. So she plunges ahead. "My husband and I have a business that we run out of our home. It's so great; we can both stay home and run our business together. We met another couple who was doing it, and it was very successful for them, so we decided to give it a try and we're very happy. We're actually looking to expand, and you are so friendly and easy to talk to, I wondered if you might be interested in hearing more about it!"

I did my whole-super-busy-thanks-no-thanks-have-a-good-one-bye thing, but I'm really wishing I'd asked what company this is that writes out the script for the entire conversation so precisely, so exactly, down to the staging. Like, was there tape on the floor where she was supposed to stand when she came back for round two?

Has anyone else met these Purse People? What is this business? Is it something to do with purses? Or did I actually just experience a glitch in the Matrix?

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

We're All Way Older Than We Thought, I Think

Hi, I've just been on an emotional roller coaster and I'd like to take you all with me as I ride it one more time.

Okay. So.

I'm sitting here in my living room, working—and by working I mean I have an empty screen in front of me, curser flashing, and I'm staring around the room admiring certain things about it and intermittently stalking strangers on Instagram. I don't know how I got to this one celebrity's page, but I'm there, and I don't know who the heck she is. Someone from Parks & Rec, a show that I've tried to love many times but cannot (I'm sorry about that).

She looks like she's a few years older than me—but also, she has probably had help in the fountain of youth department because Hollywood. So maybe she's older than she looks. I don't know.

(I'm thirty. I suppose that's relevant here.)

It's a picture of her and a guy, and the caption is like, 'Middle-aged people enjoying a night out,' or something.

So, of course, I scroll up and look at the picture again, trying to figure out how old the woman is, because she really doesn't look that old, and I've generally thought 'middle-age' is a million years away for me. But if she's already considered middle-aged then so am I and that is a terrifying thought.

It's a fan account, not the personal account of the star herself. I have nothing to Google. I try, 'Girl Parks & Rec brown hair.' I find her. I click on her Wikipedia page. She is thirty-three. She was probably being facetious, calling herself middle-aged. But what if she wasn't? What if I stumbled and fell into middle-age without knowing it?

I frown. Is thirty middle-aged? Am I middle-aged?

Barclay's sitting on the couch eating a piece of toast. I say, "Barclay, what would you consider to be middle-aged?"

He frowns too, but his frown is because he's never thought of this before and has no idea what he considers to be middle-aged and also he probably doesn't care and just wants to eat his toast. "I don't know. Forty?"

I frown more, because at first I'm like, Okay, so thirty isn't middle-aged, but then I'm like, Forty isn't very far away.

I go back to Google.

What is considered middle-aged?

Google gives me a Huffington Post article titled "40 Signs You Are Middle-Aged." The Huffington Post probably knows about this sort of thing, I think. I click on it.

The article starts out by assuring me that I am not, in fact, middle-aged or even close to it. 53, says the article, is when you start middle-age. I think that's a strange and arbitrary number, but suddenly I feel like a fresh baby child.

But then I'm like, if the answer is 53, why do they come out and say that in the very first paragraph and what's all this article underneath?

It's a list. Of course. Because of the title of the article. These are the 40 Signs You Are Middle-Aged.

Having been duly assured that I have a solid 23 years until I will be considered middle-aged, I allow myself a little skim.

The first on the list is about losing touch with technology. I smile. I'm fine. I'm a spring chicken.

Number two: Finding you have no idea what 'young people' are talking about. I think of my friend Kate, who is a high school teacher, and who regularly has to explain to me what young people are talking about. They have a whole new language! I don't know it! Where did it come from? They're saying words I recognize, but I can tell they have all new meanings now. I'm frowning again.

Number four: Needing an afternoon nap. Do they mean needing only an afternoon nap? Because I would nap morning, afternoon, and evening if certain tiny members of my family would allow it.

Number five: Groaning when you bend down. Dude, I groan when I think about bending down. I groan when I walk across the kitchen. I groan all day and in my sleep. I'm groaning right now because I've been sitting for too long. SITTING. Not even sitting on a horse; I'm sitting on a very cushy chair. I'm a Groany McGroanerson.

Number Seven: Talking a lot about your joints/ailments. Uh, check. See number five.

Number ten, thinking policemen/teachers/doctors look really young, thirteen, choosing clothes and shoes for comfort rather than style, seventeen, forgetting people's names, number nineteen, misplacing your glasses/bag/car keys, etc, twenty, complaining about rubbish on tv, twenty, enjoying getting socks for Christmas, twenty-four, complaining more, twenty-six, moving from radio one to radio two...!!!


I hit the back button. The article below the Huffington Post's "40 Signs You Are Middle-Aged" is another Huffington Post article titled "25 Surefire Signs You've Finally Hit Middle Age."

Do I click on it? Of course I do.

(But I'll spare you.)

I feel like I'll get a bunch of comments from people older than me being like, "You little tiny baby, shut up and enjoy your little tiny baby life," and a bunch of other comments from people my age being like, "Oh no I also love naps and CBC Radio Two!" and the teenagers will just be like, "You're really flonking your flizzit right now, flibberty-jibbit fleek Netflix, Hundo-P Squad goals bae."

When did this happen?

Friday, March 02, 2018

Playlist For an Aimless Night

There are so many tabs and windows currently open on my computer right now. Every time I click or type, there's a loud whirring sound, like my computer is whining or sighing at me. Like I'm asking too much of it. It reminds me of something...

Oh, right. My brain.

Barclay's at a friend's house this evening, watching some WWII movie, and I'm here. Clicking around all these windows and tabs. Working in one, shopping in another, listening to music in another, organizing the Photos app, messing around in Photoshop, Googling song lyrics, Googling other stuff, drafting an email...

It seems like a lot should be getting done, but nothing is, and that's a sign that I should probably shut it all down and turn on Netflix.

The soundtrack to my aimless night:

Monday, February 19, 2018

Found in the Drafts Folder (Part II)

In which I share some of the puzzling things I found in my drafts folder, blog posts I started to write and never finished, and which are now devoid of context or conclusion and, therefore, baffling to me:


There's a scientific law which states that if there's a piano sitting in a room full of people, and if it is not being used and if it is old and creaky and dissonant, it will attract the person in the room with the least musical ability. 

- May 2017 (I can't remember what piano in what room full of people inspired this.)


I don't usually run errands in the evening. 

- November 2017 (Must have run an errand in the evening that night.)


Overheard from the other room:

Barclay: Uh, maybe we shouldn't drum with knives.
Sullivan: Why?
Barclay: Because this is a home, not a circus.

- September 2016 (Typical.)


I'm at my parents' farm in the living room on a

- December 2012 (I know I'm me, but when I found this post I couldn't help but wonder if I died right in the middle of writing it.) (AND WHAT WAS I ON, I MUST KNOW!)


The month of December was like a dinosaur. It was like a T-Rex or a Pterodactyl that just came out of nowhere and bit my head off.

- January 2013 (I am ridiculous. I am sorry.)


I was wearing three sweaters and a parka {the one with fur around the hood} and my yellow toque and my thickest black scarf and my pink mittens {the ones with the bows} and my black boots {the ones with all the buckles} when I showed up at Brad and Theresa's house this morning.

- November 2012 (I actually totally remember this day. It was great. And cold.)


The car clock read 3:40, or something like that. Something early. Ante Meridiem. I was stopped at a red light, waiting for no one, and the streets were empty and the sky was very, very black.

I got to make the first tire tracks in the new snow. The best time of the day is actually the middle of the night.

This night was weird and different though. I was on my way to my friend's house to watch her kids so that she could go to the hospital to have her baby.

- November 2012 (I remember this night too. AND I remember what song was playing on the radio. Tegan and Sara's newest one, "Closer." I had never heard it before.)


i was sitting on the floor, legs folded up like an origami crane, pulling things out and sorting them into two piles: junk and good stuff.

one thing that i don't understand about myself, or anyone else, is why i ever put "junk" into the closet instead of into the garbage in the first place. why did i keep this paper with just stars doodled all over it? why this card from a friend i don't even remember being friends with that says, simply, "happy birthday, suzy"?

but soon i come to a big black book, and upon opening it, i know instantly why i kept it. and i know i can't ever throw it out.

- July 2012 (I have no idea what it was.)


Probably enough for tonight.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Found in the Drafts Folder (Part I)

I noticed tonight that my drafts folder is bursting with unfinished blog posts. I'm not overly surprised; I'm kind of an...aimless writer. My "writing process"—be it a blog post, an essay, an article, or even a book—is this:

I make coffee, I get chocolate.

I sit in a comfortable place. I adjust the lighting. I pick the music.

I position my hands on the home row.

I take a deep breath.

And then...who even knows? I wake up on the other side of the city, disoriented and dressed in different clothes. It's four weeks later. I've written five hundred thousand words, and I don't know where any of them came from or if I put them in order or where they ended up. I don't know what half of them mean; I just like how they sound. I have words in my hair and in my socks and twittering around my head like when a cartoon character gets hit in the head with an anvil or falling piano. I feel worried that other people have read the things I've written and are going to feel worried about me right back.

You think I'm exaggerating, but you should've seen how I went about writing my book. Probably every person who has ever written a book or read a book or seen a book in real life would cringe if they knew (should I be admitting this on the internet?).

The truth is: I didn't even know who or what the book was going to be about until after I'd already been writing it for a while.

Day one: I made coffee, I got chocolate. I sat on my bed, opened the blinds, put on Cloud Boat. Positioned my fingers on the keyboard, took a breath, and typed Chapter Three at the top of the blank document.

I didn't have a scene in my head or anything, I just knew I didn't have any good starts in me that day, nothing that would make a good Chapter One or Two. I didn't have any good endings either. Nothing climactic enough to be near the end, even. I didn't have any characters to introduce or any good initial incidents. It was just a rising action kind of day, and I wanted to write something set in a living room, and I don't even know how to explain why. It's like food cravings, you know, sometimes you want spaghetti and sometimes you want blueberries and sometimes you want anything so long as it has lots of cheese on it.

When it came time to write "[she] said", a name dropped onto the page (er, screen) and I pictured the person who could belong to that name. I liked her and I kept her. At some point, the whole thing developed into a story with a beginning and an end. I don't know how it happened though.

Where was I going with this? Surely I didn't set out to paint myself as a terrible, thoughtless writer who should not be entrusted with a laptop?

Oh right, the drafts folder. I was going to share some of the puzzling things I found there, blog posts I started to write and never finished, and which are now devoid of context or conclusion and, therefore, baffling to me.


This one is from an apparently very long week in November of 2015. I wonder why it was so long?

It has been a super long week. 

I mean, this week has lasted twenty years or so. 

This week was five thousand miles long.

This week was long enough to require some kind of special building permit from the city just to keep it in my yard. 

What a long week.

I guess I've been in kind of a bad mood for most of it. Sometimes people are in bad moods, though. That's fine. 


And I started this one the next day, a list with only two things on it. I wonder if I just couldn't think of other things. I can think of other things now.

Things People Do And Feel Embarrassed About But Shouldn't Because Everyone Does Them:

1. Wearing a toque instead of washing hair
2. Wandering the aisles of the grocery store an hour before suppertime with iPhone in hand listlessly googling "Easy Good Fast Supper Ideas".


One more, for now, because this post is getting stupid long. This one is from last year, when I was feeling pretty impressed with myself (and rightfully so, I think; I just wish I could remember which four events this was in reference to):

There's probably a GIF for what I'm about to say. I'm picturing a gymnast running full-speed towards a springboard, tripping at the last minute, falling forward, tumbling head-over-heels onto the springboard, catapulting into the air and somehow executing and landing some kind of fancy triple-front-flip thing.

That's exactly how I feel when I accidentally double-book myself and somehow am able to do both things. So imagine how I feel when I quadruple-book myself and make it to everything.


I wonder if I would be better or worse at writing if I were more methodical?