Bah, Humbug

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner…that glorious holiday when we’re supposed to celebrate love…

It arrives exactly 52 days after Christmas (which means if you disappointed your partner with your Christmas gift, this is a great way to remind them of that disappointment, or to just disappoint them again!) It also arrives in the middle of frigid February…just weeks before the suicide rate starts to climb. We’re surrounded by cute matching couples with cute matching expressions, an Ikea-type of love. A heart-shaped minefield.

There have just been too many bad Valentine’s Days. For example:

February 14, 1980-something. My “best” friend, handed me a paper valentine and told me that she was only giving me one because her mother was making her.

February 14, 1980-something. S. asked me to be his girlfriend, and when I told my friends, they didn’t believe me. And then he denied he had asked me and said I made it all up.

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Photo courtesy of

February 14, 1990  Friends brought me chocolate cake to help me get over a break up. Big Guy was 19 days old.

February 14, 1991 – my guy friend offered to call me on Valentine’s Day to cheer me up (and I had a huge crush on him), but I knew he was hanging out with his girlfriend that night, and while I appreciated his offer, I didn’t want to come between them. So I told him not to call. They are married now with 3 teenagers!

February  14, 1992 – my mother bribed me with a new red dress so I wouldn’t wear black…plus I had a date. And I was actually excited…until he cancelled because his parents had just moved and he had to drive to his hometown to find them.

February 14, 1994 – I called my new boyfriend after 11 p.m., cheap time, to wish him a Happy Valentine’s Day, and found out he had no intention of calling me or sending a card, because I would “expect that”. Huh?

February 1997 – I was fixing a special dinner to celebrate with new husband when I received a phone call that my best friend had died in a car accident. Ironically, she was on her way to a Bereavement Group meeting.

February 14, 2000 – Big Guy and I had the flu and Hubby was recovering from having his wisdom teeth removed.

If only I could have feasted “upon the unicorn enchilada” to “gain its enchilada power”. I could have saved myself so much grief…

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Photo Courtesy of

I try not to let the hype get to me, nor do I let the pendulum swing so far that I’m completely cynical about love about romance. Afterall, it’s my favourite holiday – right between Christmas chocolate and Easter chocolate. It’s a holiday when I wear black and blast the song “Love Stinks” in my car. It’s that time of year when I roll my eyes at all sappy the diamond commercials and sweet “nothings” whispered publicly on  Facebook.  And I eat pizza…with extra cheese.


Celebrate your way…and I’ll celebrate mine! Happy Weekend!

Passport, Please

I’m just wondering if government employees, when they sign their employment contracts, are required to give up their sense of humour in exchange for their retirement benefits? Because I have yet to meet one who can do so much as break into a smirk, let alone smile, chuckle or laugh out loud.

I met another one yesterday morning…make that two.

I made the dreaded trip to the passport office to renew my passport and Little Guy’s passport. I spent all day Saturday collecting the forms, making phonecalls, getting our photos done, and studiously filling out the tiny boxes on the application forms. I read and re-read them several times to make sure I had dotted all my “i”s and crossed all my “t”s before I tucked each one into an envelope with the required supporting documentation.

I had a bad experience once.

That time, after sitting in an overheated and overcrowded waiting room for over 2 hours, in the middle of a work morning, I had a short, scrawny, snivelling clerk with thinning hair and thick glasses inform me that my government-issued birth certificate for my son was not the right “kind” of government-issued birth certificate and was therefore an unacceptable form of identification for passport purposes.

I clearly remember standing there trying to comprehend how my government-issued birth certificate was unacceptable to the government. I must have stood there too long and asked too many questions, because “Snot-man’s” face grew very red and his voice very shrill while he “ma’am”ed me and told me I’d have to come back another day. By then, my face was also turning red and the tears were starting to well. As I left that office, now owing my employer at least 2 hours of overtime to make up for absence and having accomplished nothing, I imagined how sweet it would have been to reach into his cubicle kingdom, grab him by his scrawny chicken neck, and unleash the months of frustration and anguish I had been experiencing in the other areas of my life, which lead up to my eventual breakdown, complete with ugly cry, at my desk later that morning. I’m talking full-fledged heaving sobs and snot running down my face kind of ugly cry, while my bewildered co-workers stood helplessly by, wondering just when my head was going to start spinning around.

But I digress.

This time I was in and out in less than 10 minutes…that is to say, with one passport application processed. Hubby missed signing one box on page 1. Don’t worry – there was no breakdown this time, just a 70 minute car ride into the city so I could “drive-by”… and get his signature. Fortunately, I only had to wait 25 minutes in an overheated, overcrowded waiting room full of bodies hacking and wiping their noses, to get Little Guy’s application processed too. I chatted with the 2 clerks I met today, but neither one paid any attention to me. I guess I prefer that to getting too much attention!

This time I took both “types” of government-issued birth certificates, just in case. Now they have them…and should they lose them, I’m afraid there might just be another breakdown, complete with ugly cry.

And there’s no humour in that…

Stupid People

Some days I love my job… while other days I feel like I’m in the “cubicle of purgatory”. As mentioned countless times before, I am a church lady office administrator so I am often at the epicenter of a circus. I wrote about the “family business” once before.

One aspect of my job that I truly dislike is fielding the cold calls and email requests for renting our building. I am “The Gatekeeper”. I have enough crazy to interact with inside the congregation, so I approach each interaction with the outside crazy, with fear and trembling. Requests have ranged from piano recitals, sports programs and children’s birthday parties, to funerals, concerts and weddings. While I have met some genuinely nice people, people willing to work with me, not drive me to an early grave, glowing brides with far-flung dreams of bridal grandeur are among the worst! They change their minds like a teenager changes her mood – frequently and irrationally. The list of demands requests pile up faster than ant bodies after a Raid©  raid. “No” isn’t usually part of their vocabulary. And they frequently ask the same stupid questions:

  1. Why do I have to pay for a hostess? Um…because no one lives at the church to let you in and our insurance company strongly discourages leaving the door unlocked and the alarm turned off. Can’t imagine why?
  2. Why do I have to pay for a custodian? We’re not dirty, can’t we just clean up ourselves? You might not be “dirty” (what you do at home is your own business), but your shoes might be…and I’ve seen what Great Aunt Bertha can do to a loo. I have yet to see a bride wear rubber gloves and getting down and dirty with a toilet brush. I admit, I haven’t seen everything yet, so feel free to snap those suckers on, hoist your expensive beaded gown and go for it!
  3. Does my rental agreement cover the 3 days my wedding planner needs to bejewel set up the sanctuary? Um…no! See answer to question 1.
  4. Can the grand piano be moved on to the platform? Let’s see…our baby grand piano is virtually built into the side of the platform and weighs somewhere between 500-900 lbs. Pianos don’t like to be moved and often need to be tuned after they are…so, No.
  5. Can our flower girl throw real rose petals down the aisle? Well, if you’re willing to pull on some rubber gloves and spend your honeymoon scrubbing the stains out, be my guest. Alternatively, you can pay to have the entire church re-carpeted. It might be cheaper than your wedding gown.

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Negotiations with one of these blushing brides is only just beginning, and I have never spoken to her…

I received a voicemail message one morning saying Someone had “booked her wedding” at our church. She gave me her email address to forward the Rental Agreement. I immediately had words with Someone! It turned out Bride & Groom stopped in during an evening rehearsal and decided they liked our building. Someone let them look around, checked to see that the date was still available, and told them to call me in the morning to go through the details.[ Mistake #1: Never say the date is free right away!]

I forgave Someone.

I emailed Bride outlining the approval process, attaching the requisite documents, and listing about 14 basic questions so we could get acquainted. The questions included silly things like name, time of wedding, needs (minister, organist, audio-visual technician). I didn’t get a reply and assumed the nightmare was over.

Someone received a phone call 2 days later from Groom, saying he was dropping the deposit and agreement this coming Sunday morning.

“One cries because one is sad. I cry because others are stupid and that makes me sad.” – Sheldon Cooper, Big Bang Theory

I nearly started crying. Instead, I forwarded my original email to Bride, politely asking again for some information. She quickly emailed back that she’d fax the agreement in the morning. It never arrived. But I’m guessing I’ll have the pleasure of meeting Groom some time Sunday morning. Can’t wait…

I’ll bring some tissue.

Wilderness Wednesday: Fields

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“Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. ~Hugh Macmillan, “Rejuvenescence,”The Ministry of Nature, 1871

Happy Wednesday!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Vibrant

This week, Jen Hooks challenged us to photography something vibrant “to wash the web with a rainbow of colors to keep the winter gloom at bay.”

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“Even in winter an isolated patch of snow has a special quality.” – Andy Goldsworthy

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“Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.” – Andy Goldsworthy

To see more Vibrant photos, click here.

Idiot Drivers

This is the city. I live here. I work here. A lot of people live here and a lot of people die here. One day, I will die here…most likely at the wheels of…an idiot driver.

They are everywhere.

And when it rains, when it snows, when visibility is at Absolute 0%, like worms to a puddle, they come crawling into my path. And I die a little inside.

I’ve written about them before. The Champagne Corolla. The perky Blonde. The daily Terror in the school parking lot.

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Frustrated (in the school parking lot)

I’m surprised my youngest son’s first words weren’t “you moron”! I try to exercise control when I’m behind the wheel, both of the vehicle and my mouth, but they make it.just. so. hard.

“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” – George Carlin

Oh, yes, I’ve written about them before, but not like this.

You see, yesterday was a typical gray winter’s day. It had snowed in the night so the roads were wet and slick. Soft, fluffy flakes were gently drifting down. And we were running late, as usual. The school parking lot was its usual death-defying experience (who needs extreme sports – I get my adrenaline rush every morning between cup of tea one and cup of tea two)! Then there was the Black BMW who objected to me only going 15 km/hr over the speed limit (we all know about black BMWs). And the white mercedes that decided to change lanes without signalling, despite the fact that my passenger door was nearly parallel to her driver door. You know…speed demons, lane-switchers, stop-sign rollers, and the ones who wave at you. Typical morning.

I stopped for a hot cup of tea and a bag of chips (don’t judge me!) at the gas station across the road from work. I was still griping and grimacing in my head the whole time. When I went to the leave, the station had suddenly become a major hub of activity, and I was late for work… I had had enough. I got in the car, drove the short distance to work (getting waved at by the person who though my left turn lane was a drive-thru, in the opposite direction). “What an idiot!”, I thought, as I pulled up to the mail box. “Moron”, I muttered, shaking my head as I pulled up to the front door of the building. I turned the car off and sighed loudly, reached for my cup of tea…which was strangely absent…

“A taste for irony has kept more hearts from breaking than a sense of humor, for it takes irony to appreciate the joke which is on oneself.” – Jessamyn West

I had driven off…with my cup of tea on the roof of my car. It was somewhere between here and the gas station I could easily see to my right.

“Hi. My name is Jenn, and I’m a Moron”!

Happy Weekend!