july 2003

click here for permalink July 26, 2003

You know what else annoys me (ah, summer... it must bring out my "Type A" side)? Lately, I've seen these "lost parakeet" signs posted all over the West End... What are these people thinking? Have they lost their minds?

This week, the free newspapers even had a few classified ads from people pleading for the return of budgies and parakeets... do these people actually believe that a bird, having lived its entire, short existence in a one-foot diameter cage in their small, urban apartment is going to escape to the outside world, taste freedom and flight for the first time and then suddenly change its little mind, remembering the warden of its former jail cell and the pain of loneliness they must be feeling?

And, if so, do they believe it would then effortlessly succeed in finding the right apartment window in the sea of highrises? For any of you who might believe that a budgie is capable of such "Lassie Come Home" levels of loyalty and acuity, let's stick with the evidence... if that were often the case, we wouldn't be seeing "Lost" posters all over town, would we?

Admittedly, I'm not a fan of pet birds... hearing the one in the apartment on the second floor squawk and chatter mindlessly as I walk by on my way to the laundry room is more than enough for me. I find it almost unbearably annoying for the minute and a half it sometimes takes the elevator to arrive so I can't fathom what it must be like to live in the same apartment with it. And by choice, at that.

Be that as it may, I can intellectually wrap my brain around the concept that some people do choose to have birds as pets and become every bit as attached to them as a normal person to a normal pet... sorry, you know what I mean. My point is this; if your budgie takes its first opportunity to bolt out an open window and is carried away the very next gust of summer wind, I wouldn't bet a Canadian penny on the bird feeling at all conflicted over its emotional attachment to you.

But maybe bird owners are already (painfully) aware of this... maybe that's where the signs and the ads come in. Stricken with despair over the loss of an affectionate and devoted pet bird, but unconvinced that the little tweeter would willingly return to its life in a cage, they turn to their neighbors for help. These neighbors, the bereaved bird owner fondly imagines, will stop and read the description and take in the xeroxed photo of little "Casper" or "Twinkie" or "Tiny," and their eyes will brim momentarily with tears of compassion...

Furthermore, the owner imagines, determined to do their part to see bird and bird-bereft reunited, their neighbors will form a posse (or mill around on their own, but unified of purpose). Their senses keenly attuned, they will stalk from street to street, on the alert for the sudden twitch of a tree branch or the flutter of wings from above.

In time, one of these altruistic and infinitely patient souls will coax the homesick and agoraphobic fowl down from its perch in a neighborhood tree, where it will immediately be recognized from the detailed description and helpful photocopy, and where it will have been waiting for someone just like them to rescue it and return it to its loving and grateful owner... and to the tiny cage with the black pillowcase draped over it... Home.

I guess that's what they're thinking.

click here for permalink July 24, 2003

You know what drives me crazy? There are a lot of common, everyday things — which are completely benign in 99% of the situations you'll encounter — but in one percent they can, like, kill you. For example...

Bleach. No, not the stuff I douse my head with... common, everyday, household bleach. It costs about two bucks a gallon and can probably be found under the sink, or in the utility closet, of most average North American homes; it's great for getting your whites whiter and your brights brighter, cleaning and disinfecting kitchens and bathrooms and leaving your hands with a desiccated-yet-slimy texture that takes up to 48 hours to wear off.

Now, of all the under-sink dwellers, I'd put bleach somewhere between Windex and Oven Cleaner on the safe-to-sinister scale. But! There are a few small things we must never do with bleach, like combine it with dish soap, for example! Never, ever, ever! But why not? What would happen?

Do y'all remember learning about that in 11th grade Chemistry? Well, I don't... Chemistry class at my school was more like "Chemistry Theory" — and I had already gotten off on the wrong foot with our teacher, a Birkenstock-wearing Marxist, the previous year in Biology. He was a big fan of setting aside the books — and the... what do you call it... learning — and exhausting entire class periods in heated political debates only loosely based on Biology. Long story short, I made an enemy by arguing on the side of democracy and technological progress.

The point is, if it's so dangerous to mix bleach and god damn dish soap, why are they sold and stored side by side — and why is the warning relegated to the back of the bottle in teeny, tiny non-logo font? Honestly — aside from myself — who reads the bleach bottle?

An even more dramatic example (no, really!) of this is the whole dogs and chocolate thing. Chocolate — for anyone who's never heard this oddly obscure fact and has so far miraculously avoided killing a beloved pet — is completely and totally poisonous to dogs. Want to know why?

What I want to know is why don't we ALL know that? Like, the same way we know not to throw the dog into a tank full of piranhas! Dogs need to come with disclaimers, like those things in "Gremlins." (See, I know that many of you who can still recite the "Gremlins" rules are the same ones who didn't know that feeding your dog an Oreo is basically the same as feeding him Raid. Grr!)

Moving on, we all know not to swallow toothpaste, right? Do you know WHY?

Finally, I could have sworn there was one about not re-freezing ice cream after it's melted down to room temperature but I can neither remember nor find it... which makes me suspect I imagined that one. Also, I'm starting to think that maybe I don't pay attention to directions very well, in general... hmmm, something to work on.

You all know not to stare directly at the sun for too long, right? Cool. That's all for now...

click here for permalink July 9, 2003

I became more than a little obsessed with sewing last year... at first, I was content to ransack my own closets, frankensteining outfits of out previously unwearable items that I could never part with while they were intact...

Now, after almost a year of seam-ripping, parts-swapping and pattern-altering, I have more than doubled my collection of clothes that I will never wear and it takes me twice as long to decide what to wear, even if I'm not leaving the house. There are no "default" outfits or "perfect" pieces to fall back on anymore... there's just all this maddening potential... all these variables just waiting to be combined or reinvented — or mangled, as is sometimes the case.

And so, I figure it might be healthier to look for ways to profit from my new obsession, rather than turning it in on myself and letting it wreck havoc on my sanity as well as my wardrobe (I've seen what that can do to hairstylists who are just starting out; it's not pretty). And that's the story behind the reinvention of "Dressup."

I really owe it to the drugstore girls for getting me started on other people's clothes. They kept complimenting my outfits and asking me about things I had, coincidentally, made "from scratch." You can't exactly go, "This? Oh, thanks! I made it," and then walk away. It's rather embarrassing, actually, like you're forced into kind of fishing for a compliment and then launching into a monologue on how very special and talented you are. [shudder]

Lucky for me, my friend Sherri is one drugstore girl who knows when to take charge (most of my friends take years to realize that, when they're with me, it's always that time!). She came up and accosted me and said, "I want a jacket just like that one. Here's my number and my measurements — call me with a price." Only she was, like, nicer... and so it began.

After that, I put some ads up here and there and started telling my friends to bring all their "mom" stuff to me. The first stranger to answer my ad was, like, the textbook Perfect Customer. She called three times to reschedule, but that just put me at ease right off the bat and gave us some friendly "I'm so sorry-Don't even worry about it" interactions to break the ice before she actually arrived at my door with clothes in hand.

Five minutes after arriving, she started to ask me if it was okay to change right there in the hall — and by "hall," I mean the small, unfurnishable rectangle that unites the living room, bedroom, kitchen and front door — to which I replied, "of course - go ahead - it's totally fine!" but I was sort of babbling at that point and scurrying into the living room to avert my eyes because she'd dropped most of her clothing before I had a chance to say a word.

She was great — knew exactly what she wanted, how to explain it and how to stand very straight and very still to avoid being used as a pin cushion while carrying on a civilized conversation. After I had pinned everything, she asked if I was sure about the price I had quoted her on the phone. Pointing at me sternly as she disappeared into the bathroom, she said, "I want you to think about it and charge me what your time is worth — and not a penny less!"

The funniest thing about it was that, just the night before, I had gotten the very same Jewish Mother treatment from a friend of mine. All of a sudden everyone's taking charge. In light of that, I felt compelled to (finally) take the advice of about ten of my friends (thank you all — you know who you are) and start publishing the fruits of my little obsession.

So, I'm adding more, practically as we speak — and, heh, I'm taking orders.