Gold Star Moments

I have a very particular skill set.

Can I knit? Yes.

Can I crochet? No.

Can I cook? Yes.

Can I grill? Nope.

Can I walk, run, cycle, snowshoe, do aerobics, and fake karate chop an invisible enemy? Yes and yes!

Can I ski, skateboard, rollerblade, swim, play any team sport known to man, or real karate chop an actual enemy? God save me if I even have to try!

I can even make *homemade dog biscuits*. Don't think I can't see you quaking in your boots!

Re: cooking– I can even make *homemade dog biscuits*. Don’t think I can’t see you quaking in your boots! (Just don’t ask me to grill anything.)

The good news is that– while particular and totally random– my skill set isn’t static. Thank Baby Jesus. I haven’t always known how to knit, for example, and I’m sure one of these days I’ll finally become a Crochet Wizard… just like I’ve always dreamed! (I have taken three Learn to Crochet courses so far but have yet to carry my mad, granny square-making skillz outside of the watchful/patient eye of my instructors. Keyword: yet.)

Anyway. I was thinking about what I’m really good at today, and I guess you can say that all of my non-skills at the moment are really just a matter of choice. After all, technically, I can learn how to do just about anything. Not only that, but I freaking LOVE learning and will hunker down and absorb knowledge just for the sake of it. Hooray for learning! Huzzah to knowing things!

Do you want to be a kayaking pro like me? Let's make it happen!

Do you want to be a kayaking pro like me (or at least look like one in photos… like me)? Let’s make it happen!

Case in point: Back in my Office Job days, I was promoted to Accounting Associate without any working knowledge of spreadsheets, debits, credits, auditing, or essentially anything to do with numbers and finances besides counting. (Even crazier than the promotion itself was the fact that I took the job. I might as well have agreed to become the star ballerina in Swan Lake or a heart surgeon off the street. “Yeah, that sounds interesting. I’ll do it!”)

What's that? You want to promote me to orange toga-wearing Spartan? Sure, sounds interesting! I'll do it!

What’s that? You want to promote me to orange toga-wearing gladiator? Sure, sounds interesting! I’ll do it!

I had to be briefed before my “interview” so that I could answer questions about accrual accounting with something more convincing than giant question marks in my eyes. (And by “something more convincing”, you know I mean saying, “Wow, that’s a great question… [extended silence]… Yep. A really thought-provoking question!… [painful, awkward silence]… Accrual accounting, hey?” THE END.) I felt like I was in a bizarre dream for the interview itself– showing up for a big exam without having studied or remembering to wear clothes– and I’m sure the other person on the interview panel was thinking, “Nice try, Dana” the whole time. Anyway. My boss clearly saw something “accountant-y” in me that was all but invisible to my self-reflective eyes at the time. And suddenly, I was Accounting Associate and fielding phone calls about receivables, invoices, and– worst of all– quarterly payouts to charitable organizations. Eep!

Save for a traumatizing stint as a lingerie department cashier/clerk, I had nothing even tangentially related to accounting on my resumé, and boy, did I know it! So, to avoid outright humiliation and to at least minimize my frequent “deer in headlights” looks at staff meetings, I enrolled in a basic Excel class. This class covered the lowest common denominators of spreadsheet making– the auto sum formula, data sorting, cell formatting, etc.– but all of it was 100% new to me and I really, really needed wanted to impress my boss. (Call me crazy, but I didn’t want to give her any proof that she had made a GIGANTIC MISTAKE by promoting me.) Heh. Long story short: within 3 weeks, I went from having zero accounting skillz to making bar graphs, spreadsheets, and pie charts for fun. (Not joking.) And if I can go from “what means deductions?” to a Spreadsheet Ninja in less than a month, imagine what else I’m capable of! And just think of the skills we can all master, much to our own amazement and horror delight!

OK. I’ve shared my Gold Star Moment with MS Excel. Here’s what I wonder: what skills have you learned or picked up recently? How have you surprised and delighted yourself? I’m a sucker for stuff like this, so please don’t be shy. 🙂   

I made you a pie chart. Because I love you.

I made you a pie chart. Because I love you.

A Serious Case of Serious-itis

I’ve always been a serious person. Even as a young girl, my default facial expression was “Furrowed Brows”, followed closely by “Deep in Thought”. When other kids my age were scampering on the playground and skinning their knees on the gravel, I was off to one side of the designated jungle gym space during recess, contemplating everything from how to pronounce “Chevrolet” properly to how best to display my growing collection of city bus passes on my bedroom wall. I often found myself thinking extensively about alarming topics– like why God would ever want to send anybody to hell FOREVER or what the real difference was between murder and suicide.* I was a pretty serious fourth grader.

This is me in sandstone form: stoic, unwavering, maybe even a bit intimidating to the uninitiated.

This was me in sandstone form: stoic, unwavering, and intimidating to the uninitiated. All that, and I was only nine years old.

*’Say what? Suicide? What sort of Grade 4 class did you attend?’, you might be wondering. It came up in class discussion once, when Billy asked the teacher if people who committed suicide went straight to hell. I had never even heard the word ‘suicide’ before and thought it must be a synonym for murder… which I instinctively knew made no sense… because how would somebody go straight to hell if they had just killed somebody else but were still alive themselves? Maybe God was just marking them down right away for hell in the future, via divine Note to Self? Smote that bastard, ASAP! I was too shy to ask for clarification on this and many of the other burning questions I had. Hell, if Billy knew what suicide was, and he was a terrible speller and couldn’t even finish the Mad Minute quizzes on time, then I should definitely know the answer already. I wouldn’t dare let on to anybody that I didn’t. Hence, I contemplated, ruminated, furrowed, and reasoned on my very own, off to one side while the other kids played. Serious vs. Silly. Story of my life.

I know this dog is probably trying to be serious... but doesn't he look silly?

I know this dog is probably trying to be serious… but doesn’t he look silly?

Even today, I tend to take the world seriously (and literally, all too often). I take other people seriously. Worst of all, I take myself way too seriously.

June ushered in the Summer of Serious for me. Yes, I had recently returned from a 3-month holiday in which fun and games had surprisingly (for me) prevailed over lofty topics and capital-B “Business Matters”. However, being back at home meant it was time to re-install my factory setting– seriousness– and I was taking this matter of seriousness very seriously. I contemplated everything from how to boost subscribers to Marty’s art newsletter to My Definitive Soul Purpose: No Revisions, Add-Ons, or Mind-Changing Allowed. Deep thoughts. All-consuming topics. I read marketing books like a demon. I checked our sales numbers obsessively. I watched in horror as my svelte frame started to pack on harbour weight, and then I feverishly started reading more books on diet & nutrition, all the while imagining myself (in slo-mo nightmare mode) as the only chubby person in the history of Holistic Nutrition School. After some serious and extensive soul-searching, I eventually changed my mind about going to Holistic Nutrition School altogether but then panicked when I didn’t have anything definitive or “serious enough” to slot into its space. How could I justify “chilling out” as a legitimate off-season pursuit? How could anyone take me seriously if I was waffling through life instead of taking the bull by the horns and mapping out every last detail of my planned existence between now and infinity?

Nothing is more serious than a profile shot. Profile shot + lighthouse in the background = boom!

Dear Future: I am mapping you. (Nothing is more serious than a profile shot, right? Except profile shot + lighthouse in the background = boom!)

So I developed a serious case of Serious-itis this summer. On one hand, I’d gently chide Marty for trying to control the weather patterns (because controlling weather = impossible), but on the other hand, I found myself unwilling or unable to do anything that wasn’t explicitly harbour-related myself. I stopped working out. I stopped writing. I stopped reading other people’s blogs. I didn’t even knit! Everything that had kept me somewhat sane in previous years was abandoned for the sake of “The Business”– not at all at Marty’s beckoning, to be clear– but based on my own, hyper-aggressive commitment to setting personal records and blowing our sales targets out of the water. My feminine/masculine energy meter was totally out of whack. Stuck in the “Danger, Will Robinson!” mode (also known as the “THIS. IS. SPARTAAAAA!!!”, brute force mode). I was exhausted, literally bawling some mornings as I rode my bike to work– ugly tears streaming down my face and blurring my vision– and yet I refused to rest or take a day off. I convinced myself that I was the sole reason why our business was booming. Forget Marty actually creating the artwork– it was my commitment to the business that was paying off in lucrative sales, and we would most certainly falter and suffer without me there all the time, overseeing every transaction and personally engaging every single customer and potential customer. Ack.

The art business depends on me like this ratty dog depends on the dude who is holding him on the tractor wheel. Seriously.

Our art business depends on me like this ratty dog depends on the dude who is holding him on the tractor wheel. Seriously.

Needless to say, I engineered quite the punishing experience for myself this summer with the skill and cunning of a military strategist. Despite posting some impressive numbers, sales-wise, I emerged defeated after Labour Day like a crisp of my former self– albeit a puffy crisp, 25 pounds heavier in body and approximately 18 million pounds heavier in spirit. (I was like a human version of those puffed pork rinds, as revolting as that sounds. Crispy and greasy on the outside, hollow and cavernous on the inside. Not that I eat puffed pork rinds, mind you. Thank goodness I didn’t have to start school the very next day on top of everything!)

And thank goodness I discovered a top knot bun right after Labour Day, too. I feel like I'm downloading poise and positivity from the heavens itself whenever I style my hair this way now. I can't believe it took me so long to figure out that Big Hair = Big Fun!

And thank goodness I discovered the top knot bun right after Labour Day, too. I feel like I’m downloading poise and positivity from Heaven itself whenever I style my hair this way now. I can’t believe it took me so long to figure out that Big Hair = Big Fun!

As crazy as this sounds… I have to become serious about having fun now. (Doesn’t it even SOUND fun to become serious about playing? Ha. I’m a natural at this! Right?) Self-care, relaxation, and even a little bit of pampering are of the highest importance to me this off-season, and I’m starting off my recalibration movement with this very blog post. Writing again? Check!

Operation: Dress-Wearing, Phoenix-Exploring, Depeche Mode Concert-Attending FUN. (Notice top knot again. I have a sneaking suspicion that wearing my hair this way will become like wearing overalls was to me in junior high, i.e. all day, every day, much to the chagrin of my non-1990s self.

Operation: Dress-Wearing, Phoenix-Exploring, Depeche Mode Concert-Attending FUN. (Notice top knot again. I have a sneaking suspicion that wearing my hair this way will become like wearing overalls was to me in junior high, i.e. all day, every day, much to the chagrin of my no-longer-1990s self.

Welcome back, dear readers. Your off-kilter hostess with the mostest is back, albeit a little worn for wear.

What do you do for fun?

How do you stave off those serious cases of serious-itis?   

Sunday Signage: Public Library FAIL

(Warning: This post contains a bad word! Do not read ahead without your mommy or daddy’s permission.)

Seen on the Public Library website:

Excuse the 1990s pixel-effects of this photo.

Oh boy. The actual book cover cleverly covers up the discriminating letters with a picture of a full moon. I believe the official title of the book is even “Go the F**k to Sleep”. Alas, the Public Library had to go and spell it out for all of us who couldn’t see past those asterisks. Way to be literal, public library– We probably couldn’t have figured it out without you. 😉

I’ve been totally swamped by work lately, so apologies for being MIA from your comments section. I’ll be back to regular reading, posting, and commenting by mid-September! (Hopefully!) In the meantime, I hope your summer months are going swimmingly.

Sunday Signage: Pretty Please Stop Creeping Me Out

I’ve posted this sign before, when Marty and I had the terrible misfortune of taking an overnight bus from Victoria to Calgary in the days of yore (aka in March 2011). I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it begs an encore appearance, though, especially for my new(er) readers. Truly: You haven’t really lived until your retinas have been permanently burned with the image of the creepiest DIY sign ever. You can thank me later!

Spotted at the Greyhound Bus Depot in Chilliwack, BC:

What. The. HELL? This was one of about 20 handmade signs on the fence at the depot, all with the same general “Keep Out!” message. Dear Chilliwack Greyhound Workers: We get it. I’d never want to be on the creepy side of that fence, anyway.