Category Archives: Humour

Launching The Swamp Shuttle

We finally got our new home – hooray!

The new homestead – still some work to be done, but it’s getting there!

The movers come tomorrow so we’re “camping” with our bed, a couple of folding chairs, and minimal cooking gear until then; but at last we’re IN!

We’re already discovering some of our new home’s quirks.  Such as:

Our water filter’s controller periodically takes the system offline and forces water back through the filter to clear it.  When it’s backflushing, we’re not supposed to run water or flush toilets because that would allow untreated water into our system.  So the cycle is programmed to run at 3 AM when everybody’s asleep and unlikely to be using water; and it’s supposed to run for about 15 minutes.

Right.

It’s directly underneath our bedroom.  And the backflush sounds like the space shuttle launching out of a particularly viscous swamp:  A cacophony of high-decibel roaring, sucking, and gurgling.

And it’s “about 15 minutes”.  Which equals roughly an hour and a quarter.

When the first eruption rocketed me out of bed at 3:08 AM, I clung to the ceiling hyperventilating for a few seconds, then slowly lowered myself back to the mattress after I realized what was creating the godawful racket.

“Fine,” I thought.  “It’ll only run for 15 minutes, and then I’ll go back to sleep.”

But after my violent awakening and subsequent adrenaline surge, I needed to pee.  But I couldn’t because if I flushed, it would suck untreated water into our system.

I realize now that I could have peed without flushing, but in my sleep-deprived state I somehow confused the knowledge that if the water level drops in the toilet bowl (as with a flush) it will draw more water in; while if the water level rises in the toilet bowl the excess will just dribble harmlessly down the plumbing stack.  So I was afraid to pee in case it somehow sucked untreated water into our system.  No, I’m not at my best at 3 AM.

So I lay there thinking, “I can wait.  Fifteen minutes is no big deal.”

Except it wasn’t fifteen minutes.

I dozed fitfully.  Every ten minutes or so I’d wake to another barrage of borborygmi from the nether regions (the house’s; not mine, fortunately).

Check the clock.

Think, “Gawd, I’ve gotta pee.  Isn’t that thing done yet?”

Repeat in 10 minutes.

And repeat.

After an hour I was cranky and exhausted, and my back teeth were floating.  And still the infernal rumblings continued.

Finally around 4:15 AM I couldn’t take it any longer.  I got up, scurried outside into a spectacularly starry (and damn chilly) night in the silent peace of the country, and marked my territory with intense relief.

Just as I crept back into bed at 4:23, the goddamn backflush stopped.

Clearly its programming is more sophisticated than I realized:  It must have a sensor under the bed to make sure the occupants are fully awake by the time the cycle ends, and it may even have some advanced technology to determine exactly when a human bladder reaches maximum capacity… after which it runs for another 10 minutes.

Needless to say, we’ll reprogram the system.  One nocturnal shuttle launch was enough for me.

So does my swamp-shuttle experience make me an ass-tro-not?

Or only a space cadet?

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Jusht An Ash Hole

I was on the phone with my step-mom the other day when the conversation turned to my messy painting habits, and I confessed that by now I have paint on my jacket, shoes, jeans, and even my socks.

My step-mom expressed concern about my jacket, but I assured her, “Oh, no, it’s only my old camping jacket.  It’s ancient and full of ash holes from sitting around the campfire.”

I should have known she wouldn’t let me get away with that.  She hesitated, then let me have it:  “Are you saying there’s an ash hole in your jacket?  So who’s the ash hole?”

Needless to say, I laughed my ash off.

And I was ready for a good laugh, because my patience with the construction process is wearing thin.

But… *drumroll please* …we might get the all-important Occupancy Permit in a few days!

These days Hubby and I utter the words “Occupancy Permit” in the same way one might say “Holy Grail”: with capital letters and in a hushed tone of awe.  The other day our neighbour’s truck went by towing a flatbed trailer with an oak dining room suite on it, and Hubby said, “Mike got his Occupancy Permit last week.”

I sighed with the same hopeless desire as if I’d just found out Mike had won $50 million in the lottery.

Wait, no.  If he’d won $50 million I’d be pleased as punch for him.  But an Occupancy Permit?  I admit it:  I’m rabidly envious.  Imagine, an actual dining table and chairs.  And a kitchen to cook real food instead of microwaving plastic prepared stuff.

And maybe… dare I even think it?  *whispers* A dresser and a closet.  We’ve been living out of suitcases for so long I can’t even remember if I have other clothes besides the same fourteen T-shirts I’ve been wearing over and over for the past five months.

But despite my limited sartorial options, I’ve discovered that no matter how few clothes you have in your suitcase, the item you want will always be at the bottom.  And when you have multiple T-shirts of approximately the same colour, you will have to unfold each and every one of them before you finally find the one you want.

And socks?  I’ve previously speculated that socks are the work of evil; and their behaviour in my suitcase confirms it.  No matter how carefully I pair and arrange them so the best ones are on top, the sock imps rampage through my suitcase at night, pulling pairs apart and hiding the best socks in odd corners while moving the second-string ones to the top.

Here’s proof:  My painting shoes have holes in them.  Ergo, I have a pair of socks with blue paint on the toes.  How many times do you think I’ve pulled that pair out of my suitcase thinking they were good socks?

Yep, you guessed it.  Every… single… time!  This despite the fact that each time I find them, I push them back to the bottom of the suitcase.

So, between the malevolent sock imps and the irritation of STILL not having a finished house, I’m a woman on the edge.  If we don’t get our Occupancy Permit by next week, I’m gonna put on my ash hole jacket and start kickin’ ash!

Am I the only one with sock imps in my suitcase?

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It’s Just ‘Pain’ With A ‘T’

I’ve been doing quite a bit of painting on our new house, and I’m here to tell you that the root word of ‘paint’ is ‘pain’.

But I’m practically a painting guru now, so as a public service I’m sharing my very best answers to common DIY painting questions:

*

Q:  When using a roller, how much paint should I put in my tray?

A:  How much do you want to mop up?

*

Q:  What is ‘cutting in’?

A:  ‘Cutting in’ means using a paintbrush to create a sharp accurate edge, which you can then completely wreck with the paint roller.

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Q:  What is the best technique for cutting in?

A:  Inhale, then touch down the brush and slowly exhale while you stroke smoothly down the edge. This steadies your hand, and conveniently conserves your breath for swearing after you get paint all over everything.

*

Q:  Should I apply masking tape before cutting in to keep my edges sharp and clean?

A:  Absolutely!  There’s nothing more fulfilling than spending hours painstakingly applying masking tape, only to remove it and discover that the paint has seeped under it and dried, and/or the tape has peeled the original paint off the wall.

*

Q:  What is the best way to clean up a small paint spill?

A:  There are no small paint spills.  Even though it takes a gallon of paint to do a tiny room, a single drop of spilled paint is capable of spreading over a thousand square feet.

*

Q:  So many types of paint!  What kind should I buy?

A:  Just pick one at random.  Whichever you choose, it’s guaranteed to be the wrong type for your project; even if you’ve described your project in detail to a professional paint seller and bought exactly what they recommended.

*

Q:  What is the best cloth for wiping up drips?

A:  Whatever you’re wearing at the time.  You can try a special clean-up cloth if you want, but your clothes are still going to look like paint rags by the time you’re done.

*

Q:  How can I choose a colour I’ll like from those little paint chips?

A:  You can’t.  You need to paint three-foot swatches of the colours you’re considering.  Then, after agonizing for days over the subtle differences between ten shades of the same colour, you’ll feel confident when you finally choose the perfect one… which will last until you paint the room and discover that it looks entirely different than the chip or the swatch.

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Q:  How much paint do I need?

A:  Half a cup more than you bought.

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Q:  Design magazines recommend choosing colours from a colour group so they’ll look nice together.  What are the colour groups?

A:  There are two basic colour groups:  “Muted” and “Clear”.  Muted colours fade into dismal anonymity and look as though they’ve all been mixed with mud; and clear colours leap off the wall with super-saturated brilliance that hurts your eyes and causes psychotic episodes if you stay in the room too long.  All paint colours belong to one group or the other; and you won’t know which you’ve got until it’s too late.

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Q:  What’s the best way to use a dropcloth?

A:  Spread it out in a nice grassy area and anchor it with a cooler full of alcoholic beverages.  Recline and enjoy a cold one… or several.  Trust me, it’s far better than trying to use the dropcloth to keep paint off your floors and furniture.

*

What are your best painting tips?

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Too Many Balls

It’s been one of those weeks – our house still isn’t done, and I’ve had to do the exterior trim painting because we can’t find a painter to do it (the market is booming and all the trades are insanely busy).  Between doing part-time construction work while living out of a suitcase and (still) trying to finish Book 12, I have far too many balls in the air.

That causes quite a bit of stress for me, but it also creates ample opportunities for my mouth to run amok while my brain is momentarily occupied with juggling the aforementioned balls.  (And just never mind what my hands are juggling… but at least Hubby’s smiling.)

Moving right along…

A few days ago I discovered that one of the deck railing systems we’re considering has the option to install an ornamental ball as a post cap.

And yes, you know I’m snickering at using “post” and “ball” in the same sentence.  After all, I’ve written a post about balls and a post about posts, so it was practically foreordained that I’d end up putting a post and balls in the same, um… post.

Anyway, the conversation went something like this:

Me:  “We’re going to have to spend an extra $27 on the deck.  I just found some ornamental post caps I like.”

Hubby:  “Oh?  What do they look like?”

Me: “They’re balls.”

*silence*

Me:  “You know, an ornamental ball that sits on top of the post.”

Hubby:  “Okay… How many for the deck?  One on each post?”

Me: “Oh, no, only three; one on each outside corner.  There’s such a thing as too many balls, you know.”

Hubby:  “Yeah, I’d say three might be one too many…”

So there you have it:  Too many balls in the air, and too many balls on our deck.

And I’m nobly restraining myself from making any more deck jokes, but I’ve just gotta say that I think we’re going to like it here.  Hubby’s deck is bigger than it’s ever been!  And with three brand-new balls; well, what’s not to like?

What’s bouncing in your world this week?

 

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Marvin Goes To The Library

Remember Marvin, the desperately depressed robot from Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy?

Well, I just witnessed an interaction with a real life “Marvin” (or perhaps “Mavis”, since she was female).

I was in the library avoiding the chaos of the house construction to work on Book 12, when an elderly lady came in accompanied by a younger woman.  It was unclear whether the younger woman was her daughter or merely a hapless stand-in, but in any case their mission was to get some audiobooks for “Mavis” (the older woman).

Mavis was blessed with one of those voices that is perfectly pitched to carry with maximum efficiency – quite an attractive voice, but very… audible.  And she had one of those dry British accents:  the kind where you suspect the speaker is making fun of you but you can’t respond in kind because you’re not certain.

So I couldn’t help overhearing.

It started as soon as Mavis came in the door:  “My daughter got me a bunch of books but they’re all science fiction and I hate science fiction.”

I missed the first bit of the exchange because I didn’t immediately recognize the comedic value, but here’s a transcript of the conversation after I started paying attention:

Daughter:  “…How about Robert Ludlum?”

Mavis:  “I don’t like Robert Ludlum – I never understood the Bourne thing.”

Daughter:  “How about Danielle Steele or Debbie Macomber?”

Mavis:  “I don’t like girly books.”

Daughter: *Reads off a title, something about joy*

Mavis:  “I don’t fancy that; I don’t have any of my own.”

Daughter:  *reads off another title:  Ten Steps To (something)*

Mavis:  “Well, I don’t believe in that.”

Daughter:  *reads off *A doctor’s guide to (something)*

Mavis:  “Pooh.  It’s too late for me.”

Daughter:  “This one’s about Zimbabwe…”

Mavis:  “Oh, no, I don’t want to read that.”

Daughter:  “Well, do you have any authors that you’re interested in?”

Mavis:  “No, not really.”

Daughter:  “Do you like Shakespeare?”

Mavis:  “No.”

Daughter:  “This one’s about the Persian war…”

Mavis:  “I don’t like old stuff like that.”

Daughter:  “How about…”

Mavis:  “Are those scary? I don’t like scary stuff.”

Daughter:  You said you like biographies; here’s one about Oprah…”

Mavis:  “I don’t like Oprah.”

Daughter:  “Here’s Marley and Me; it’s about a dog…”

Mavis:  “I’m not into dogs.”

Daughter:  “Would you like this one?”

Mavis:  “No, probably not.  Well, I’ll take it anyway.  I’m getting tired.”

Daughter:  “Here’s a book on end of life…”

Mavis:  “Oh, good, maybe it’ll tell me how to end it.”

*

I fully expected her to moan, “Oh, what’s the use?” in Marvin’s gloomy tones.

And then…

Super-Librarian to the rescue!  In only a few short minutes, the brilliant middle-aged librarian determined Mavis’s interests and loaded her up with biographies of Katharine Hepburn and Steve Martin, and an account of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.  Mavis brightened visibly.

As they moved toward the checkout counter, Mavis’s voice receded:  “You know, I enjoy biographies.  I liked the Schwarzenegger one.”

Librarian:  “You like Schwarzenegger?”

Mavis:  “Oh, yes!”

So, just in case there was any doubt… librarians rock.  But Mavis’s over-the-top gloom and doom gave me my chuckle for the day!

P.S. If I ever get that negative, please remind me of Mavis – it’s sure to make me laugh.

 

 

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Don’t Blame Mercury

Last week I postulated that Mercury was causing my recent communication failures, but I’m reconsidering.  I think there’s a more pervasive issue here – maybe it’s something in the air.  (Hmmm, wacky tobacky?  I’ve seen a few Skidmark lookalikes out here…)

Anyhow, here are some captions that made me think, “Wait, what?” this week:

An inexplicable popup ad (I think it was on Facebook):

Is there an Anti-Makeup League?

“Stop makeup?” As in “Eradicate cosmetics from the planet”?  Which twice-daily activities of 50+ ladies could singlehandedly stop makeup in its tracks?  And what does Dragon’s Den have to do with either of those captions?

But regardless of Facebook’s supposedly accurate demographic targeting, the ad clearly wasn’t aimed at me – it’s common knowledge that I ain’t no lady.

And then there was this:

If there are children ON the highway, shouldn’t I stop?

The big yellow sign makes perfect sense without any further explanation:  Be watchful and reduce your speed because there may be schoolkids in the area.  Duh.

But no; apparently somebody thought the pictogram needed clarification.  They should have considered their wording a little more carefully, ‘cause now it looks as though there’s an optimum speed for running over children; like the signs they post at speed bumps where anything over 20 km/hr will rip out your car’s undercarriage.  I guess children are softer, so you can hit them at a higher speed.

Another thing that always gives me a giggle is the Accuweather forecast:

Now we know who hires the English majors.

In Calgary, any forecast that includes water falling from the sky uses one of two words:  “Rain”, or “Showers”.  Here, the forecast is quite creative:  “a touch of rain”, “spotty showers”, “a little rain”, “drizzle”, “downpours”, “periods of rain”, “patchy clouds”, etc.

Only a few weeks after we’d arrived, one forecast really made me laugh.  Accuweather had predicted “Downpours amounting to 2 inches over the next 24 hours”.

I thought, “Oooh, downpours!” and waited for the sky to open in a deluge.

But nope; nada.  Just the usual soft gentle rain.

By the end of the day I was snickering.  On the prairies where I grew up, it ain’t a downpour until you get 2 inches of rain in half an hour.  Now that’s a frog-strangler.  (But Accuweather hasn’t discovered that particular description yet – shhh, don’t tell them.)

From the above forecasts, you may be getting the impression that we’ve had a wee bit of precipitation this winter.

Um, yeah.  It’s a record year.  Even the locals are whining and bitching about it.

But I don’t care.  Yesterday I went down to the ocean and stood in the morning silence, watching the mist shroud the mountaintops and the calm water ripple against the shore.  Everything was the colour of silver and pearls, and a loon’s haunting cry drifted across the water.

It was sublime – even a 180-degree panorama doesn’t do it justice. (And it’s not stinky anymore.)

And, on a more prosaic but just as important topic:   Even the pizza is a work of art here.

They named it “La Principessa”.

Truly we’ve found heaven. 😀

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Whacking Off In All Directions

You know how sometimes everything goes out of whack and somebody says, “Oh, it’s because Mercury is in retrograde”?

Well, it’s been one of those weeks. With metaphorical tongue in cheek I was thinking, “Mercury must be in retrograde”… but when I looked it up on the internet, Mercury actually is in retrograde right now, from April 9 to May 3. And apparently Mercury rules communication.

Well, that explains a lot.

A digression: Now I want to name a band “Mercury In Retrograde”. Maybe Tyler Brock’s band “The Ballistic Rutabagas” will dissolve and he’ll start “Mercury In Retrograde” instead. It seems like a suitable match for his musical style (or lack thereof).

Anyhow, back to my original point.

I blamed the following miscommunications on poor cell phone reception, but now I’m beginning to think it was actually Mercury doing its chaotic stuff:

A few days ago I was talking to our project manager about moisture in our crawl space and telling him we’d rented some fans. He couldn’t seem to understand what I was talking about. After I’d repeated “fans” about five times, he finally said in tones of enlightenment, “Oh, sand! Okay… so, um…” The enlightenment faded and a dubious note crept in. “What are you going to do? Soak up the moisture with the sand and then sweep it up…?”

I thought he was kidding. “Smartass,” I said.

Silence on the line. Then, “No, really; what are you going to do with the sand?”

“Fans!” I bellowed. “FANS! ‘F’ as in ‘Frank’!”

“OH! Fans! Yeah, that makes more sense.”

*facepalm*

Later in the day I was talking to my step-mom and mentioned I was planning to do my taxes.

Another uncomprehending silence on the line. “What…?”

“Taxes. I’m going to do my taxes!”

“OH! I thought you said cactus.”

Another facepalm. (Also… ‘do my cactus’?!? Owie.)

But Mercury still wasn’t done with me. Hubby and I had to hash out a bunch of small issues regarding the house, and you’d think we were speaking entirely different languages. It was frustrating as hell, but we did finally manage to communicate enough to figure everything out. Then we relaxed with a much-needed beverage and the conversation turned to golf.

Hubby said, “Man, if the long-ball champions could put together any kind of short game they’d be unstoppable. Those guys are easily hitting it over 400 yards.”

And I replied, “Yeah, but a long drive is no good if you’re three fairways over. Those long-ball guys are just whacking off in all directions…”

Much laughter ensued.

So, yeah. My communications are completely out of whack this week, and maybe it’s Mercury. Or maybe the gremlins that live in electronics are whacking off in all directions and that’s what’s causing the problem. After all, it’s spring; and a young man’s fancy turns to…

Eh, never mind. I think that topic was pretty much covered in last week’s post.

…And my cell phone just got into the act again. I had an incoming call; tried to answer; and despite all my poking, tapping, and sliding (on the screen icon – get your mind out of the gutter), it steadfastly refused to pick up the call.

Mercury or frisky gremlins; either way it’s gonna be a lo-o-o-ong retrograde.

Is Mercury messing with you, too?

P.S. Just to add to the chaos, we’re moving again today; for the third time in three weeks.  Fingers crossed that it will be the last time before our big move-in to the new house!

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Seagulls And Other S-Words

Alert the medical community:  Stress suppresses the juvenile-humour centres of the brain!

The proof:  Last week I completely missed the opportunity to make a dirty joke about herring spawning.  Millions of fish were coming their little brains out, and all I did was remark on the pretty jade-green water caused by all that fish-spunk.

Good Lord.  After 50-odd (okay, extremely odd) years of childishness, I’d hate to grow up at this late date.  But now that I’ve realized I’m on the slippery slope toward maturity, at least I can step off and reconnect with my inner adolescent.

So… speaking of sea-sex:  I have suspicions about those frisky seals.  All that frolicking and barking seems a lot like the human equivalent of “Here, hold my beer and watch this!”  They’re definitely angling to impress the chicks.

The sea lions, on the other hand, are only thinking about stuffing themselves.  Sex, schmex.  Mating season isn’t until June or July for them, so this is all about the foodfest.  On calm mornings the ocean is crowded with clusters of twenty or thirty sea lions bobbing along, bulging bellies to the sky and languid flippers in the air.

Which leads me to my next suspicion…

Actually, never mind that.  It’s not a suspicion; it’s a certainty:  Those sea lions aren’t just pigging out.  After they’d been around for a few days, the water wasn’t jade-green anymore.  It was brownish.  And, um… pungent-ish.

With the sea lions polluting the water and the herring roe decomposing in malodorous drifts along the shore, I rerouted my daily walk a little farther inland and enjoyed the ocean view with the windows closed.  The route revision wasn’t much of a hardship, though, since I’d already altered my walking habits due to the millions of seagulls.  The beaches were white with them as far as the eye could see:

No, that’s not snow on the beach; it’s wall-to-wall gulls

It wasn’t so bad when they were on the ground, but if something startled them (say, some foolish human walking along the beach) they’d rise in a solid wall and shit-strafe the beach.

It’s like something out of Alfred Hitchcock.

According to folklore, it’s good luck if a bird scores a bullseye on you; but it’s unclear whether it’s good luck for the shittee or the shitter.  I’m inclined to think it’s the latter.  Especially if the shitter is a seagull.  All I’m gonna say is:  Seagulls are sick, sick birds.

Apparently eagles don’t like seagulls any better than I do.  It’s easy to tell when an eagle shows up:  The shit-hawks take flight en masse.

I’m pretty sure the eagles are just messing with the gulls – they’ll swoop in and land on the freshly vacated beach, and then just sit there.  They’re not hunting or fishing; they’re just hanging around like schoolyard bullies hogging the playground while the seagulls circle anxiously overhead. (No word on whether the eagles get shit-strafed, but they’re probably too cool to admit it if they do.)

So this weeks’s S-words are stress, spawn, shit-hawks, spunk, suspicions, slippery slopes, sexy seals, sleepy sea lions, sea-sex, sick seagulls, and shit-strafing.  And of course, a healthy dose of silliness.

‘Maturity’ just doesn’t suit the subject.

See…?

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Fail! Part Deux… Or Is That ‘Duh’?

Last week I began the sordid confession of my failure as an interior designer.  Here’s the rest of it:

The very first project we were assigned in university was ‘design cards’:  Once a week we were given a short paragraph describing a design concept.  We were to choose or create artwork that illustrated the concept, mount the artwork on the card, and copy the paragraph in our best drafting hand.  The only guidance we were given was, “It should look like a piece of jewellery”.

Uh-huh.

Apparently I’m not good at designing jewellery.  Most of mine looked more like “a piece of shit”.

The card that launched me to the front of the class for public ridicule was titled “Texture”.  I’d had a brilliant (or so I thought) idea:  ‘Way back in grade school we had rolled coloured tissue paper into small balls and glued the balls to a backing to create a textured design.

So that’s what I did, in a tasteful blue-green that was the current colour fad at the time.

The professor was Not Amused.  (In fact, I seem to recall him asking, “Is this a joke?”)

I still don’t understand.  I thought it illustrated texture perfectly.

My near-failures mounted, mercifully blurring together in my memory.  The only other one that stands out was a study of structure, in which I attempted to create an archway by gluing sugar cubes together.  ‘Nuff said about that.

It soon became obvious that I should be either ejected from the faculty or euthanized to prevent further suffering to both me and the interior design profession; but Fate (vindictive bitch that she is) had other ideas.

Halfway through second year my mother died of cancer, and the professors were far too sympathetic.  They cut me some slack and didn’t fail my crap projects outright; and in the ultimate irony, my stellar marks in all the non-design courses dragged my grade-point average high enough to land me on the Dean’s Honour Roll.

Then came fourth year.  By that time I knew I sucked, but I didn’t know what to do about it and I didn’t realize quitting was an option.  I struggled with my thesis all year and finally handed in a steaming heap that reeked so badly even the most merciful professor couldn’t find enough redeeming qualities to pass it.

I failed.  I’d never failed anything academic in my life.

With characteristic bullheadedness, I slogged away at it until they finally granted my degree; probably because the professors were sick of the sight of me.  It certainly wasn’t for the merit of my work.

And so I was unleashed on the unsuspecting design community.

I won’t go into all the humiliating details.  Let’s just say that by the time one of my employers announced in a staff meeting that “Diane can’t design her way out of a paper bag” (her words verbatim), it was almost a relief to have it confirmed aloud.

I switched to drafting and project management, which I enjoyed and was good at; and from there I transitioned into an IT career I loved.

The funny (or sad) thing about all this is that I could probably have done all right in almost any other career.  I’m actually good at quite a few things, but design is just not one of them.

And after that convoluted career path, I’ve ended up writing novels for a living, which is the best career yet.

I love happy endings!

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Fail!

Well, it’s taken nearly 35 years; but I think I’m finally ready to laugh about my interior design days.

The handwriting was on the wall right from the start: I wanted to take engineering, but my mom suggested interior design instead, “So that when you get married you can make a nice home for your husband and family”.

So this country-bumpkin kid moved to the Big City (Winnipeg, Manitoba – a veritable mecca of highbrow sophistication) and attempted to obtain a degree in interior design.

It didn’t go well.

Let’s just say I was at a bit of a disadvantage, since I’d never even heard of Architectural Digest (or any design magazine) and I’d never been inside any professionally designed home or office.  Far from it:

Our house on the farm started out as a 16’ x 20’ shed that my dad bought for $450 in 1957.  He and Mom gradually enlarged it into a comfortable and modern home, but they didn’t have a lot of budget for extras (like indoor plumbing, which we got around 1970).  The “interior design features” consisted of sparkles in the sprayed-on ceiling texture and a long strip of finished plywood that concealed the fluorescent lighting tubes in the living room.  (That lighting valance was the pinnacle of discerning taste.  We always referred to it in capital letters:  “The Valance”.)

So.

Imagine, if you will, our first interior design assignment at the University of Manitoba:  “Design your dream bathroom”.

For me, a “dream bathroom” was any bathroom with a flush toilet.  A “fantasy bathroom” would be one in which the shower pressure stayed constant instead of diminishing to a trickle before blasting out with enough force to peel the skin off your body when the pressure pump kicked in.

So I picked out some nice brown tile that looked as though it wouldn’t cost too much, and drew up a bathroom with… *gasp*  an infrared heat lamp in the ceiling!  It was the most decadent thing I could imagine.  And my bathroom had a separate shower stall in addition to a standard 30” x 60” bathtub.  What luxury!  The brown tile seemed like a practical choice, so I used it on the floor, ceiling, and all the walls.  My coloured drawing elevations looked like giant chocolate bars (or some other brown substance).

The interior design department had a sadistic tradition of displaying all the finished projects on the studio walls so we could learn from each other’s work.  In addition, particularly good and/or bad projects were held up by the professor for discussion at the front of the class.

My bathroom didn’t make the ‘particularly bad’ list (though I did make the shit list on a couple of other occasions, to be confessed in future posts).

But the ‘particularly good’ bathroom that was held up as an example?  Mind = blown!

It had acres of creamy tile accented with green and purple, and a giant sunken tub surrounded by pillars.  There was probably a toilet in there, too, but I don’t remember it.  I was too stunned by the grandeur of the tub.  I couldn’t conceive of such an extravagance of money and space.

I think I got a ‘C’ on that project, which I’m pretty sure was given out of pity.  But there was much worse to come…

…Stay tuned for Fail! Part Deux (or is that ‘Duh’?)

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