Monday, October 12, 2020

A joyous Thanksgiving to all, except for those who are celebrating Columbus Day, or to those who think Columbus was a massive dickbag and prefer to celebrate the Indigenous folks he helped to slaughter instead. No matter what fuels your party-motor today, I hope you eat lots, drink as much as is responsible (and maybe more if you can), and have a magnificent time not hanging out in a sizeable family gathering that could spread this stupid virus and keep us semi-locked down for a few more months. Be smart. Be sensible. Learn how to enjoy your own company. And if you’re looking for something to make it all more fun, here’s what we got up to yesterday:

National Sausage Pizza Day / International Pizza & Beer Day / National Pizza Month

Pizza is, without question, the greatest food ever devised by humans. You’ve got all your food groups – and I mean the actual food groups, not the “chocolate is a food group” pretend ones. You’ve got bread in the crust, dairy in the cheese, veggies in the sauce and/or toppings, and meat. In this case, that glorious enigma of sausage meat.

I’ve seen sausages get made. I know the gruesome backstory. I worked a single shift at Queen City Meats back when I was figuring out what jobs I want to never again do, and I watched them cram that grotesque pink slurry of animal parts into an intestine casing, then hang those stuffed intestines in a smoker for a few hours. They gave me some to take home at the end of the day, no doubt bemused by the look of ghastly disgust on my face as I cleaned up the animal-gut-strewn floor at the end of my shift. I didn’t go back. But I did eat those sausages, because once you block out the process of making them, they are good eatin’.

That day doesn’t always pop into my head when I’m eating sausage on a pizza (or in any other context), but sometimes it does. Yesterday it did, though that may be because I was brainstorming how to fill this little section of this article, having already written about the history of pizza earlier in the year. Anyhow, mission accomplished. It was a terrific pizza. And it was accompanied by a terrific IPA, because pizza and beer are truly the ultimate combination.

National Kimberly Day

I have no source for this day. I have no context for this day. All I can find online is that we’re supposed to celebrate the Kimberly people in our lives today, and no one seems to know why. I happen to know a couple of Kims, though none particularly well. But I did as I was supposed to, and wished them a happy day. I can only imagine how much this brightened their Sunday.

I scrolled through a list of Kimberlies online, and found there were some I despised, but most have contributed quite amply to our collective culture. On the crap side you’ve got Kim Kardashian, who starred in a sex tape and somehow turned that into a billion-dollar empire. Kim may be the garbage-person our society deserves, but she holds no sway over my daily life. Same with Kim John-un, who is probably not technically a Kimberly, but for the sake of this day let’s say he is.

The great Kims? Kim Cattrall comes to mind. She was the embodiment of voyeurism in the early 80s, and a consistent source of hilarity on Sex & The City. You’ve got Kim Fields, who sparkled 80s television as Tootie. Kim Basinger, who at 66 is still drop-dead gorgeous enough to probably stop Batman in his tracks, is another top-tier Kimberly. Kim Novak was one of Hitchcock’s blondes, and her performance in Vertigo is tremendous.

That’s it for famous Kimberlies. I hope you sent some love toward your own Kimberlies yesterday.

Computer Learning Month

Ever since 1987, October has designated as Computer Learning Month by the Computer Learning Foundation. Does this mean we should be taking time every October to learn more about computers? Does it mean we should be learning about anything else by using a computer to assist us? Does it mean we should sit down with our computers and try to get them to learn from us, possibly by filling their hard drives with stories about how sausages are made or how great Kim Cattrall was in Porky’s?

I think it’s the second one. I mean, it might not have been in 1987 when this celebration was created, back when most computers had monochrome screens and distance learning was done by mail with paper, not over the internet. But this is 2020 (as we all know), and things are different. More and more kids are switching to online learning to escape the threat of disease. Jodie has been signed up for online learning for her Masters degree since long before the virus hit – it was the only thing that made sense, given her always-frantic schedule.

She is doing her part for Computer Learning Month, specifically over-burdening herself with work to make sure her down-time is rare (and, as such, very appreciated). She even signed up for that Indigenous online course through the University of Alberta, the one Dan Levy was promoting. And it’s all keeping her astoundingly busy. Did she do it for the education? Or did she do it because she knew we’d be able to cross another celebration off our list in October? I’m going to guess it’s the latter.

Talk About Your Medicines Month

Like I said before, October is deeply full of month-long celebrations like this one. And this is one that’s relatively easy to tackle, since I’m not yet on a complex roster of competing medications. I say ‘yet’ because I’m sure it’s inevitable. I’ve been feeling the creeping tendrils of old age scratching at my perimeter lately, possibly because I somehow found a way for gravity to induce a pointless injury that is taking way too long to heal. Maybe it’s because of the birthday I just celebrated. I’m 46 now; the next time my age will match a record speed, I’ll be 78.

But, as mentioned yesterday (or, in the ‘yesterday’ article I published right before this one), I am on happy pills. Sertraline, to be specific, which is a generic form of Zoloft. It’s a small daily dose, but it has kept me floating upright for the last few months. Every so often I feel cocky enough to drop off the meds, believing that since I went a good 5-6 years without any medications and any problems, I can just ease back into that. Nope. I’m sticking with my happy pills until they prove to not be enough.

I also pop a candesteran every day, which is for blood pressure. How’s that for a middle-age confession? Yes, my blood pressure is slightly high, and now I have lost the ability to check it regularly at the drug store because I don’t want to touch communal medical equipment until this virus goes away. In fact, I’ll probably avoid it after that. I guess I should pick one of those machines up for home.

The only other medication that tickles my innards is cannabis, which was prescribed to me several years ago for pain management. It still works for that, and also for managing my anxiety in a way that sertraline can’t hope to achieve. I saved that one for last, as it’s my favourite medicine in the bunch. This should surprise no one.

Today we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving in the most Canadian way, by saying thanks. To stuff. To people. To dogs. We’ll also have all this to choose from:

  • Thanksgiving. I just said that.
  • National Kick Butt Day. Nice. I’ll go get into some random fights with people today.
  • National Online Bank Day. Well this will be a riotous affair, I’m sure.
  • National Vermont Day. You know what they love in Vermont? Maple syrup. You know what I love? Yep.
  • National Freethought Day. Time to let our thoughts go and live an unshackled life. I think.
  • National Gumbo Day. And sadly our favourite gumbo spot is closed today.
  • National Pulled Pork Day. Our favourite pulled pork place is the same as our favourite gumbo place. Dammit.
  • International Moment of Frustration Scream Day. Hooray! A day to scream in frustration!
  • English Language Day. I know, the UN wants us to celebrate the language, but we might just speak it and call it a day.
  • International Plain Language Day. Well that’s a big nope from me. I like my language to stay fancy.
  • International Day for Failure. Sounds about right.
  • International Face Your Fears Day. I fear an afternoon nap. Anyone believe that?
  • National M&M Day. Now we’re talking.
  • National No Bra Day. No bras for either of us. This is the second such day of the year, and the first in which Jodie doesn’t have to go out in public.
  • Silly Sayings Day. You know what they say…
  • National Train Your Brain Day. So this would be another celebration in which I can play some word puzzles and logic puzzles and call it a win, right?
  • National Yorkshire Pudding Day. It’s either this or M&Ms for dinner tonight. I still haven’t decided.
  • Treat Yo’Self Day. I’ll be out shopping with Tom Haverford and Donna for this one.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Saturday, actually. Yesterday was so chill and blissful (downright chissful) that I didn’t even turn on my computer once. So this is the first of two tales.

Madness lies within these words. A fiendish madness that propels me to focus on minutia as though it held salvation, a myth long disproven before the virus knobbled this project to force it to rely on indoor games. A day without tangible, visceral celebrating is daunting in its blandness. On Saturday I did literally nothing to celebrate, apart from observe, research and fill in gaps. Oh, and I drank a beverage. That was special. This seems like an apt transition into our first topic:

World Mental Health Day / Mental Illness Awareness Week

The World Health Organization, a medical body that has been mercilessly mocked and chided this year for trying to protect us from the virus, launched this day several years ago to remind us that mental health is just as important to pay attention to as physical health. And it’s easy to forget that – we’ve spent much of the last seven months focussing on a physical health situation around the world, all while potentially forgetting that our mental health is taking a massive beating, virus or no.

For those of us who have been swimming in the waters of mental illness – a crowded, nauseating wavepool – for years, adjusting to the unknown is a familiar exercise. This year, however, has tossed us more curveballs than a truck-load of mangled scrota. Depression, anxiety, outright terror or hopelessness at the state of the world – these are all ingredients to that frothy stew that requires us to pay a little love to our mental well-being.

I’ve been dealing with depression since I was a kid. I didn’t know what it was back then. I couldn’t understand why everyone else seemed so damn happy. It all culminated in a very dark summer of 1992, which eventually gave way to a sliver of light. I tried coping by pouring drugs and alcohol into my insides, and while that gave me plenty of hilarious stories for later in life, it did nothing to alleviate my burden. Much later in life I found some happy-pills that helped to right the ship. I have also figured out how to regularly tend to my mental well-being, even if it has made me somewhat of an anti-social recluse.

But in 2020, that’s what happened to everyone. I was well-equipped for this isolation, including spending it with my best friend and three loyal hounds. I have slithered back toward the depths a few times, but I’m holding it together, and I feel strong enough to support those around me who might need some help. Pills are great if you need ‘em. Therapy is great too – I have yet to ever find a therapist with whom I click, and that’s probably the missing piece to my mental health. It’s good to have goals.

Stay healthy, everyone. And reach out if you need it. Good health isn’t just about tending to your wounds when you fall down the stairs like a schmuck – sometimes it’s just about getting through life.

National Hug A Drummer Day

Am I drummer? Technically, I’m not a drummer. And in another sense, technically I am a drummer. Once you’ve sat at a kit for a few hundred hours and learned how to master that intense beat-drop fill from “In The Air Tonight”, you’re a drummer for life. Right? Either way, my aunt actually does drum with some skill, and that’s her getting a hug for her efforts by a man I assume is my uncle, but who may be a look-alike she hired for this photo.

I don’t know how I talked my parents into letting me get a drum kit in high school. I guess the drugs they did back in the hippie days must have caused a fluctuation in their logic centres that happened to work to my advantage on that day. I demonstrated suitable desire first – I built my own kit out of cardboard boxes in my room, bought some sticks and jammed along with Ringo Starr – the perfect drummer to demonstrate the basics of rock drumming to an aspiring skinsmith.

So I got a set of Pearls that I played along with my stereo for hours on end. The only time I properly jammed was with my buddy Steve, and that was a 30-minute rendition of “Hey Joe”, with Steve strumming the necessary three chords while I tried not to fall too far off the beat. Eventually I let the drums go, something I have always regretted. I then owned a brilliant Roland electronic kit for a while as an adult, but the chronic pain in my arms would be fiery-mean after two songs, so those had to go too.

Now I’m just a drummer at heart. But a drummer whose dreams of drumming are vanquished is still a drummer. And that drummer may be in need of a hug more than most.

National Angel Food Cake Day

We have celebrated sponge cake and we have celebrated strawberry shortcake, all of which is intricately tied into this little celebration right here. Angel food cake achieves its monumental level of fluffiness thanks to whipped egg whites, and it contains no butter. You simply whip the egg whites until they’re stiff, add some cream of tartar to keep the mixture strong, then fold the other ingredients in. You just fold them in. Fold them.

Or, if you’re really thinking ahead, you simply go out and purchase an angel food cake from your local grocery store, bakery, or back-alley black-market cake connection (which is often less expensive, but at what cost?). There’s no need to make your kitchen all messy, especially when you need the space to bake some more magical THC gingersnaps (which we did). This was my suggestion to Jodie, but she insisted on making one at home instead. She remains truly devoted to this project, or at least to getting it the hell over with.

And strawberries are still our favourite go-to for a topping. Though we could be more creative, couldn’t we? If only there was something prompting us to try just a little bit harder to make this a special occasion…

National Cake Decorating Day

This may come as a shock both to people who know me, and to people who are simply admiring the above photograph: I have never taken a class on cake decorating in my life. I know, right? It’s like I have a natural affinity for dumping shit onto a cake to make it a much busier, possibly less-appetizing dessert. It’s a gift.

I have eaten cakes that have inspired guilt, due to their immaculate presentation. Some cakes look as though they were formed via some sort of otherworldly magic, and to the hungry diner we feel a sense of shame cutting into such a beautiful piece of hand-crafted art, only to eventually convert it into poop. But we do it, because that’s what cakes are for.

Jodie killed this one as well, first slicing the angel food cake in half, then cramming that space with whipped cream and strawberries, the same treatment she applied to the entire exterior. This was a test of my lactose-intolerance pills, but well worth it.

Bonza Bottler Day

Every month we have been toasting this one: an excuse to sample a bottle of something we don’t normally drink in order to add a little life to the month. A made-up celebration, as though we weren’t indulging in enough of them this year. Yesterday was 10/10, so we bonza bottled like champs. I enjoyed a Jones orange creamsicle soda, which was far too sweet for my tastes, while Jodie tried out a Stewart’s cherry cola.

What will we consume next month? Tune in on 11/11 (that’s Remembrance Day, so it will be something appropriately sombre) to find out!

National Porridge Day

Porridge! We didn’t expect to celebrate this day, but then Jodie went for coffee with a friend and had this delicious-looking bowl of immaculate porridge. She told me it tasted so good, I don’t have to write more than one tiny paragraph about it. She’s the boss. Porridge wins.

Today, which was yesterday, we hoped to spend the same was as we spend most of our Sundays: not doing much. But had we been feeling funky, we had all this to choose from:

  • National Sausage Pizza Day. A very specific one, and I believe our final pizza celebration of the year. Not our final pizza.
  • National Kimberly Day. A day literally for celebrating the Kimberlies we know. Is that right pluralization? Kimberlies?
  • World Obesity Day. There are a lot of days this month dealing with obesity. I guess come December no one will care anymore.
  • You Go, Girl Day. I won’t be saying that to anybody.
  • Kraken Day. A day to celebrate gigantic pretend cephalopods. Cool!
  • National It’s My Party Day. If it turns out Lesley Gore didn’t start this day to boost sales of her 1964 single, I’ll be very disappointed.
  • National Coming Out Day. This is the day to do it!
  • Southern Food Heritage Day. Boy, I hope sausage pizza is considered a ‘southern food’.