Thursday, October 29, 2009

Weird and a little Spooky

After my long absence on the blog I had planned to burst back onto the scene with a hilarious yet poignant piece on superpowers, but that will have to wait.

It will have to wait because today I had one of the most surprising, puzzling, and slightly creepy experiences I've had in a long time. I received a letter in the mail. It came from a couple who live across town. I do not know this couple. They do not know me. In fact they do not even know my first name.

The letter is written in beautiful penmanship in red felt ink on yellow lined paper. The message is minimalist. It reads as follows:

Hi, my name is [her name],
My husband [his name] and I would like to $buy$ your house at:
[my address]
Please call us at 555-555-5555

Do I want to sell my house? I don't know, I hadn't thought much about it. I like it just fine, but I have no special attachment to it. The thing is, I can't really understand why someone would want to buy it - I mean, want to buy it so much that they would contact me about selling it even though it's not currently for sale. There is nothing particularly special about my house. It's just a house. It is neither particularly stylish nor exceptionally well kept. The architecture could best be described as "generic 50's." It is not remarkable, really, in any way. Yet, here are two strangers who love it so much they looked me up in the reverse phone directory and wrote me a letter.

The whole thing is just weird, weird and a little spooky.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Why I Don't Have Time To Post Tonight

I'm too busy making chocolate bones for our upcoming Halloween party. Pretzel sticks capped with mini marshmallows and dipped in white chocolate, real white chocolate. Crispy, salty pretzel meets squishy sweet marshmallow under a cover of creamy white chocolate. Damn these are good.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Zombie Vampire from a Galaxy Far, Far Away

As I snack on the last remnants of my (Canadian) Thanksgiving turkey, my thoughts turn to Halloween. My boys long ago settled on being ninjas, thankfully. Their first choices were Zero my Hero, and G-Force. More creative, for sure, but also far more difficult for me, given the lack of availability of pre-made costumes and my utter lack of sewing skills.

The problem is deciding what I should be.

Normally I wouldn't dress up, but Halloween is a big deal in our house this year. It's my solution to not being able to host birthday parties at home anymore. I love children's parties. I love planning them. I love throwing them. And yes, I do know I'm crazy. With birthdays now out, due to custody arrangements, I decided to pick a different holiday to focus my party planning energy on.

To help me decide on my costume I turned to, what else, the Facebook quizzes. I found three. They told me, respectively, that I should be a Zombie, a Vampire, and Darth Vader. Hmmm. Zombies and Vampires are just a bit too mainstream for me. Darth Vader has a certain retro thing going for him, but I'm not sure, being 5'2" and a woman, that it really suits me. Sorry quizzes.

I did take another quiz today to find out what Alice in Wonderland character I am. As it turns out, I'm Alice. I could be Alice for Halloween. I've been her before, pretty much every year in University, when my hair was longer, I was 10 pounds thinner, and of course I was only 20. I'm not sure I could pull it off anymore.

I know what I'd like to be. None of the kids will get it. Some of the adults might. I'd dress all in black, for the coolness factor, and to better show off the key part of my costume: a single drinking straw hanging around my neck. What am I?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

In Which I Long for the Autumn of my Youth

Take a good look at this picture. Once you manage to tear your eyes off my shiny red Prius that I love almost as much as my children, you may notice that the sidewalk is competely covered in leaves. Those aren't the beautiful gold, red, and nut brown leaves of autumn as I grew up knowing it. Those leaves are green. Also, it's snowing.

It's at times like this that I lift my head to the blizzard-bestowing heavens, and wonder what I ever did to deserve life in a place where the leaves are frozen off the trees and immediately buried in a thick carpet of snow, which, by the way, is still around thank you very much. Two weeks before this picture was taken I was wearing shorts. I should have known something was coming, but really, +32 to -7 in 14 days (that's 90 to 19 for any Celsius impaired readers)? Really?

Mind you, it's been unseasonably warm. Shorts in September and green leaves in October are not the norm in Alberta. No, normally we've packed the summer clothes away by Labour day, and pulled out the jeans and sweaters in anticipation of the fall colour (yellow), which can be seen on the trees for approximately 11.3 hours before the wind blows it all away.

Please, somebody take me back home. This is not home. Home is where the cherry trees bloom in March, and autumn is vibrant and alive for weeks with golds, oranges, and reds. Home is where the summer days are sticky and muggy and every afternoon brings a thunderstorm to cool you off. Home is where the leaves never freeze off the trees.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What I've learned about being human from Facebook

There is an annual public lecture series at the local library. Each year they pick a different topic and invite a series of speakers to drop by and pontificate about it. This year they're asking presenters to complete the sentence "What I've learned about being human from..." The invitees have chosen to complete it with, variously, dogs, crickets, organizations, and native art. I, of course, would complete it with Facebook.

I've learned a lot about being human from Facebook, more than I can fit in a single blog post, so expect this topic to resurface a time or two. Really, the entire point of this blog can be summed up, more or less, as what I've learned about being human from Facebook.

For now let's start with the quizzes. A trained researcher like myself ought to scoff at their obvious lack of validity and reliability. Even I would expect myself to roll my eyes at the atrocious spelling and questionable content of these things, many clearly slapped together by bored teenagers sitting alone late at night with their computers. Yet I don't. Why not?

If you believe in astrology, skip to the next paragraph. For those who don't, raise your hand and keep reading. Raise your other hand if you still compulsively read your horoscope anyway. Stand up and do a little twirl in front of the computer for having just learned that you are not alone.

If you don't believe in astrology, why do you read your horoscope? For me, at least, it's a path to self reflection. I may not believe that the stars are warning me, and everyone else born between June 22nd and July 23rd, that we will be tempted to start telling those around us what to do today, and that this is a bad idea, but I do believe that it is useful to pause to think about ways in which I may be doing this and the implications for my social relationships if I keep it up. I could just as easily have reflected on the advice for Leos to quit rushing everywhere.

Horoscopes, and most Facebook quizzes fall under the influence of what psychologists call the Barnum effect. No matter what result you're given, you're pretty likely to see it as accurate, and applicable to your life. It's because they capitalize on the things that make us human, on things that pretty much everyone feels resonates with themselves.

So, which horoscope I read, or which quiz result I get doesn't really matter, because my result is really everyone's result. It's what I do with my result that counts. Reflecting on it will lead me to learn more about myself, which, in turn, helps me to also understand what it means to be human, even if it's the "Super happy fun awesome times quiz" and my result is "Raptor Jesus."

"Raptor Jesus saves! At least thats what your suppost to do. You didnt do a very good job of saving your fellow dinosaurs. So I'm not really sure what you can do for us. It's cool though you still kick ass!"


Friday, October 2, 2009

If it's Saturday I'm not Home

Mystic Meg says that I will soon find new love with a man I meet on a Saturday. She seems to think this is good news. Clearly, she has not used her powers of clairvoyance to get to know me very well. The last thing I need in my life right now is the added complication of a relationship.

Besides, it would be unfair to the man because I am evil. In fact, you might call me an evil genius, because if I'm your friend, it's a good bet you think of me as your smart friend. The quizzes told me. I may not be awesome or cool, but evil, smart and evil, I can get behind that.

And the reason I can get behind it, and admit to getting behind it, is because I am as easy to read as that giant E on the Snellen eye chart. I long ago learned not to even both trying to be coy or mysterious. There's no point, because the only person I can ever fool is me. That's why I was excited to take the "What is Your Dark Secret?" quiz. I thought I might learn something new and deep about myself. I also wasn't surprised when it told me that I don't have a secret, a little disappointed, but not surprised.

There is a good side to being so transparent, I must admit. People know that with me, what you see is mostly what you get, and what I say I mean. There is a bad side too, because sometimes what you mean is definitely not what you should say. Ask me how I know. Just don't ask me on a Saturday. Thanks to Meg I'll be locked in the house avoiding men, pretending not to be home.