Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Maggie is just as lovely as she seems.

Last Friday, I impressed myself very much by manning up and attending a meet and greet with two of my favourite writers, all by my little self. When I saw that Dooce and MightyGirl (aka Heather Armstrong and Maggie Mason) were coming to Vancouver, my first reaction was to be very excited that they were going to see this great city. When I saw that they would be holding a meet and greet at Granville Island, I thought "Huh. That's neat. Too bad I don't have anyone to go with, because it would have been super cool to meet them." Then I thought, "I am a Lame-o McWimperson, and this should not be so difficult." Some loving but harsh encouragement from Lucky may have also tipped the scales (him: "How lame and wimpy are you? You will regret not doing this." me: "Shut up. How come you're so right?")

Anyhow, I realized that I had no excuse. Granville Island is a half hour walk from my office, and the meet and greet was a half hour after my work day ends. I've been meaning to send each of them a copy of Lucky's latest game as a token of my appreciation for their writing, which I enjoy every week, and this was a great chance to deliver - not in concrete form, because that's impossible, you silly pants, but at least with a head's up to expect a url in an email. So, I bought pretty cards, scrupulously picked an outfit, and tried to find a copy of Heather's book, which was sadly sold out all over the city. As an alternative, Lucky told me to get her to sign my boobs, but darn it, I forgot. Next time!

The event was low-key and comfortable, just as you might expect. There was quite a line up of fans to meet Heather, so I chatted with her and Jon for just a few minutes, which was long enough to wish them happy times in our city, thank them for all their great writing, and see that they are even more striking in real life than you might imagine. That's pretty striking. I also got some pictures with the two of them.

In that first one with Heather, the reason it looks like I have lockjaw and she looks totally normal is because she backed out of the silly face at the last minute, I swear. In that second one with Jon, the reason it looks like he's sucking out my brain is because he's cool.

After meeting Heather and Jon, I spent the next hour or so chatting with Maggie and a few other girls, which was even more fun that you might guess. Maggie is a lovely host, even when it's not her restaurant, or even her city, and the conversation jumped from pedicures, to brains, to shoes, which was quite alright with me. She also graciously saved my pride when I told her about the lockjaw situation with Heather, and she felt compelled to rectify the situation by taking one for the team.

That would be why I'm smiling, and she's looking goofy, which proves that a person really can go from classy to crazy in the blink of an eye. Now, if only I could work that in the other direction. Maggie also prettied up for a few more shots, and showed off that wicked red dress.

As a final bit of goodness, she dragged me back to Heather for a sandwich shot with the two of them, which makes a Kat C feel quite special, and kind of short.

I should mention that Maggie's husband Bryan is also a neat fellow, and it makes me want to have multiple dinner parties/ double dates with the two of them. Hopefully, the fantastic weather over the weekend convinced them to pack up their baby and move on up here. I'm always ready to discuss brains over pedicures, then hit the streets for some hot shoe shopping.

Friday, May 23, 2008

An Unholy Trinity of Grossness (Potentially)

At this point, it's still just a duo, but I'm watching my back.

On Monday, Dad and I had our annual annual day (gardening joke! watch out!), and it was great. I look forward to it every year. We made our trip down to the garden store for all of our supplies, and I had the requisite visit with my old boss, jokes about me coming back, and inevitable questions from customers who either recognize me from years ago, or think that I look like I know what I'm doing. This year, it was exacerbated by the fact that I was wearing my garden store logo hoodie. I am pleased to say that I still knew where the clematis was, still recommended a hardy sun-loving perennial, and still knew that it was not too late to seed cilantro. Who's still got it? I've still got it.

Anyhow, plants were procured, embarrassing jokes were made by Dad, and we headed back to the house to plant up flower pots and baskets. Three hours later, working away in the off and on rain but enjoying the day as I always do, I heard the thump of something falling out of the sky right beside me. "Hmmm," I thought. "That is odd." Come to think of it, that's pretty close to the reaction I upon finding the money in the bathroom a few months ago. I took a look around me, on the ground and under the table, and didn't see anything. Even though it didn't sound quite right, I decided that it must have been a plant falling over, and went back to my planting. A few minutes later, Dad came over to visit, and pretend to crack the whip, when he suddenly stopped and said "What the hell is this?" as he pulled a bone out of the pot right beside me. A bone about six inches long, from a pot about one foot away from me. It was picked completely clean, and was big enough that it had to come from a small animal which I would like to think was a rabbit, and not someone's cat. I guess a chihuahua would be ok as well, but most other small dogs do not bear thinking about, because I have a friend with a little moppet named Oreo who has thawed my heart with her endearing head tilt and delightfully entertaining stupidness. Anyhow, one foot to the left, and that fresh bone, likely from the beak of an eagle or other big bird would have hit my head. Ew. That is gross.

One day later, as I was getting ready for work in the morning, I noticed that there was some water on the bathroom counter that I ought to wipe up. Now, I do not pretend to be a stellar housekeeper, but I swear that I cleaned that bathroom just a week (or two?) before, and that I am not in the habit of cultivating mold, in any location, much less in such close proximity to things I regularly put in my mouth, on my hands, and on my face. But there it was, when I lifted my little wicker makeup basket to wipe up some of the brownish water (which was gross enough) in which it was sitting. I picked it up, took a peek at the bottom, and discovered some happy, fuzzy little mold bits grinning back at me, no doubt grateful for their cozy little home in such a prestigious place, millimeters away from things like my eyeshadow, make up brushes, and mascara. Things I regularly touch to my face. Obviously, I set about spraying everything down with a strong cleaner until I could get home at night to burn or boil the remaining bits.

As I ducked out of work that afternoon to buy new makeup, and a new makeup-holder in the form of a ceramic bowl which could be tossed in the damn dishwasher every few weeks, I contemplated this new grossness, so close to the bony ickyness of the day before. Too close for comfort, if you ask me. They say things come like this come in threes, so I'm wondering: what's next? A slug in my shoe? R. Kelly sitting next to me on the bus? Whatever it is, I'm on the look out. As for Lucky, wicker is on the list of things he really hates, for reasons about which he is passionate, that he will happily list to any of our friends who bring up the subjects, either unwittingly, or knowing full well that the next few minutes at a pub or party will be entertaining, as his voice rises and his blood pressure goes up, thinking about Salmon Arm, wicker, or synchronized swimming. I'm not kidding. So anyways, if you regularly stand or sit close to me, you might want to pack some disinfectant. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I donated it!

Last week, I finally wrote up the awesome story of our crazy money-finding, casino-winning, Japan-tripping February, and it was long overdue. I was denying you, poor little blog, of a pretty great story. I had been meaning to do it, I swear, but as with many things in my life, it just didn't happen until I had a deadline. "But what could be the deadline?" you ask. Well, it was for work. "Whaaaat?" I know. And I don't even work for a casino-advertising company.

I spent last Saturday at a workshop on storytelling with my coworkers and all of our Board. It turned out to be much more interesting than I had anticipated, but I have to say that I am still far happier today, holding up my end of the LuckyKat weekend bargain by plunking my unshowered, fleece-robed self on our couch, exploring the depths of my complex and rewarding relationship with the internets while Lucky does "market research" on games. I know it's sunny, I know I should be outside, don't judge me. It is glorious. Next, I will toast bagels .

Anyway. Workshop. Office. Follow along. So, I had to write up a story to share with all my fellow workshoppers, and I had the choice of relaying a tale of a season, a sport, or a holiday. I don't have anything too gripping to say about spring, and goodness knows I don't have a wealth of sports experiences to mine, so the holiday was the easy choice. I thought of all the fantastic stories I could share about our trip to the UK last year, foremost among them the time that BF's husband whacked me in the face with an oar while punting on the River Cam, and against all odds, and all swollen noses, it was super fun (only possible with BF), but those stories are all a little heavy on the debauch, so that choice was quickly discarded.

Instead, I settled on the story of Japan, and how we got there. Since that fantastical experience, despite the number of times I've talked about it, I hadn't really settled on a good way of telling the story that truly captured the timeline, and shock, and wonder of the whole experience. That's not to say that people weren't shocked, and they didn't wonder at the whole thing, it's just that it could have been better. It can always be better. So, I didn't really mind having the impetus to flesh it out, and lay it down, and I had a day or two to rehearse it and make sure I hadn't forgotten anything before I took advantage of some valuable Board impression-making time.

So, we got to Saturday, and after a day of good stories and good bonding, it got to be my turn to share a story. I got up there, and I got it all out. I allowed myself a happy sigh as I sat down, my job fulfilled. Then, I remembered that I had forgotten to share a key bit of information: information that grounds the story, bringing an aspect of social responsibility and karmic balance to what could otherwise be seen as somewhat wild spontaneity and frivolity. The thing is, I donated that first $100.00 to an addictions charity that I care about. While it wasn't quite rolled into a little tube, I felt that it was somewhat suspect to find a 100 dollar bill on the floor of a restaurant bathroom, and I wanted to give it back to a group that would use it well. It was hardly a breakthrough of philanthropic generosity, but being that I was sharing the story with our Board, all of whom are hardworking volunteers, and ultimately, my 7 bosses, and being that I work for a non-profit that depends on public donations to survive, it might have been a nice touch.

As the next participant got up to tell their story, and I mulled over my unfortunate omission, I bit back the urge to blurt "I donated it! I donated the money! I'm not completely self-centered!" but a more reasonable part of me was resigned to the fact that that would go against my aim at character improvement. I'll just have to work it into my next Board Report, somewhere between website updates, and community networking. That's totally doable.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Domo Arigoto, Mr. Boston Pizza.

In February, Lucky and I spent a week in Tokyo. It was our overdue honeymoon, and it was perfect, from start to finish. Actually, it was perfect from before it even started.

When Lucky and I went to the UK in 2007, we planned that trip for 6 months. We're not big on setting itineraries, but if we had wanted to, we could have, and as it was, we had more than enough time work up manic levels of excitement about seeing my best buddy and her lovely man in England. Ok, so I had the lion's share of the mania, but Lucky might have had some mini-mania. Minia?

Anyhow, what I'm saying is that even if we're not big planners, Lucky and I tend to schedule a vacation to the other side of the world with more than two weeks notice. Not so, this time! The crazy chain of events that led up to our taxi and takeoff from YVR, and our landing in Narita Airport didn't even start until January 15th. That was a Wednesday, and Lucky and I were celebrating a win with the rest of his hockey team at a Boston Pizza in Richmond. As the night wound down, and we started to head for home, I made my requisite dash to the washroom that has to happen before I get into a car for anything more than a 5 minute drive. In the washroom, I found a one hundred dollar bill on the floor of my stall. I remember thinking "Huh." It seems that I am not particularly eloquent when I am shocked by lucky finds in restaurant washrooms. I brought my fresh new wealth back to show my friends, and they were appropriately tickled. Lucky, being an action-oriented kind of guy, was more than tickled. He was inspired. In three days, on Saturday night, we were headed out for a once-in-a-blue-moon casino night with our buddies, for his birthday. To him it was obvious: I had to put the whole hundred dollars down on one number on roulette, for his birthday. Specifically, I had to put it on 16, for January 16th, which is, of course, his real birthday. I scoffed at his plan. "There are many things we could do with one hundred dollars." I reminded him, emphasizing just the syllables necessary to illustrate that I, Kat, was the mature one, despite his greater years, focused on practical things and savings and such, and blah blah blah boringness.

Nevertheless, he won. Three days later, we were at the casino, at the end of a great birthday party, and I found myself surrounded by our friends, all supporting Lucky in his pressure campaign to get that hundred dollars down on red 16. I finally relented, and suggested that we watch a few spins before we put it down. It was his turn to scoff, and the money went down right away, which is fortuitous, because I would have had to throw myself off the fake grape trellis on the balcony overlooking the casino floor, had we been standing there to see red 16 hit, with the money still in my bra. Instead, we stood in shock, staring at each other, while our friends started the celebration, and Lucky pointed out that the chips being pushed towards me didn't look like much, but were worth $3500.

Our friends immediately started to ask us what we would do with the money, and the first thing that came to my mind was that we would use it for a trip to Tokyo, which was our planned honeymoon destination (I say 'planned' in the loosest sense of the word, as in, we had talked about how cool it would be to go). Lucky picked that up immediately (remember the action-orientation), and asked "Why not?" He told me that his work schedule was fairly clear in the next few weeks, and that the $3500 would likely cover hotel and flight.

Cashing out and heading home were a bit of a blur, but I do remember our friends giggling, as they surrounded us like body guards as we waited for our cab. When we got home, we couldn't sleep, and I was grateful for the monster time change to England, since it meant that I could call aforementioned best friend over there, and tell this story for the first of many, many times. Somehow, I'm still not sick of it.

Two days later, we made our reservations. I had just enough time to tie a few things up at work, download a few Japanese podcasts from iTunes, and think to myself "I'm going to Japan. I'm going to Japan. I'm going to Japan." while I rode the bus, brushed my teeth, tried to sleep, and generally operated at a constant level of "squeeee!"

The actual trip? It was awesome. We spent a week in Tokyo, loving the food, bowing back at the people, and wandering the alleys that are busier than our busiest streets. We found a whole neighbourhood, the size of some northern towns, full of artists who render the silicon models of food for every restaurant window. We made friends with two business men at a yakitori bar in our hotel, one of whom serenaded Lucky with some heartfelt, Japanese music-love. I found kitchen goodies to satisfy my lunch-making obsessions, and Lucky reveled in the culture of robots, video games, and robot video games. The people were all so lovely that they were thrilled to help get by the whole week with nothing but the two phrases I had gleaned from the podcasts: Oeeshee (delicious!) and Sumi Masan (excuse me!). Of course, we also had Domo Arigoto, but that credit is due to Styx.

All in all, it was the honeymoon we would have wished for, had we taken the time to wish. Even thought we're young, and our marriage is still new, I have a hard time believing that we'll ever top it. The thing that made it that much more wonderful, that just tipped it over the point of unrealness what the way we kept stopping, a few times a day, to remind each other that we were there due to a stroke of pure luck. Well, multiple strokes, really. You could also credit Lucky's action-orientation, but if you go there, you also have to thank my puny little bladder. The trip is over, but that glow of 'omg, how did that happen to us' lives on. That must be why it feels like we're still on our honeymoon.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Baby, don't be like that.

Before you say anything, look: I brought you these flowers. They are a sign of my love for you. Shhhh..... don't say that. How could you think that I would have another blog on the side? You are the only one for me. It's just, I've been busy. No! No! I'm not saying that you aren't a priority! You are the only priority! I'm just out there working, riding the bus, bringing back stories to share with you. What's that? Where are the stories? They're coming, I swear! It's not you, it's me. Really. I am so ashamed of myself. You are too good for me. That's right... come here, baby. Is that a little smile? You're so beautiful when you smile. I swear, I will never hurt you again. Let me hold you. That's right... I'll just slip in this K-Ci and JoJo, and we'll feel that groove. Sway with me. Awwwwww yeah.

So, since we're good, I've got news. Really, it's what we need to mend our love. See, Lucky's got a new game out! Isn't that great? Wait, what? How could you suggest that? Of course I'm not coming back just to use you to spread the word! How could you think that of me? I would never be like that! You are my everything! Listen to K-Ci lay it down: "I will never find another lover, more sweeter than you (sweeter than you). And I will never find another lover, more precious than you (more precious than you)." Baby, I mean it. Ok, so you're mad. I get that. I feel you. But maybe you should stop saying all those things you don't mean. Shhhhh... I forgive you. No, no, I know that's not what you're asking for right now, but I know you better than you know yourself, and you will get there. I know this. Listen: "close to me, you're like my mother, close to me, you're like my father, close to me, you're like my sister, close to me, you're like my brother." I mean that. Wait, what? Incestuous? How can you say that about JoJo?! Now thats.. ok, now I'm feeling angry, but I will not go there. I love you too much. I know you are only lashing out because your feelings for me are that strong.

I know you will want to know this later, so I will tell you, because that's the way I love you. Check out the latest adventures of Professor Fizzwizzle as he boards his Amazing Brain Train! Try an hour long demo for free, then buy the game, no risk, with a 60 day money-back guarantee. You'll be glad you did! Not only will it build your brain, but it will calm hot tempers, and I will be here for you, waiting, because my love is that strong. In the meantime, "I promise to not fall in love with a stranger."