I, Inventress

I’m not being lazy by not posting much lately, I promise!  (*that comes later, when the beach weather begins*)  I’m actually working on a bunch of stuff right now, including some new paintings.  But the headliner?  A studio reno!  I’m crazy-excited, because my crafty dad has offered to build a storage wall for my work space, along with some other nifty solutions for all my junk.  So, I’ve also been shopping for decor and cute little storage boxes, and I loathe shopping, so on top of it all, I also have mall-brain, which doesn’t lend itself well to productivity.  (Seriously, shopping just sucks my soul.)  And something else that doesn’t lend itself to productivity is the current state of my studio, which is a cross between “Hoarders” and Hurricane Drea.

So, while I don’t have any new work worthy of sharing at the moment, in my quest for chic minimalism, I’ve been sorting old files and came across this little gem.

I was six.  I was kind of obsessed with being bionic.  (This hasn’t really changed.)  I liked to invent stuff, although I was too lazy to actually try to build any of it.  (Yep, still doing it.)  I also thought I was very witty and clever.  (Also not really much improved.)  And I liked to draw.  (Omg, I’m still six…)

*If you’re too young to get the references, Google “Six Million Dollar Man”.  (They should really be bringing that show back, that and The Bionic Woman.  Why haven’t they done that?)

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Drea M.’s Tips for Successful Future US Elections

So, I hear you guys down in the States are having some troubles.  It seems there’s a couple of people who think maybe there was something sketchy about the recent election.  Well, I don’t claim to be an expert on politics or anything, but being Canadian and having a front-row seat to all the nonsense going on, I’ve had a few thoughts on the matter.

I don’t know what rules you Americans have for things, but here in Canada, if you want to do something that could potentially put your life or the lives of others in jeopardy,  like, say, drive heavy machinery, sit on a jury, or ride an amusement park ride, there are certain tests that you need to pass – like proving your ability to read street signs, that you’re not prejudiced against any particular group of people, or that you exceed a certain height.  This makes a lot of sense to me.

However, in order to vote in an election, it seems all you have to do is survive, nay, subsist to the ripe old age of 18 years.  This does not seem like enough criteria to meet in order to contribute to life-altering decisions that affect an entire nation.  So, here is what I propose.

*Please note that in order to make the voting process seem even more American, and also to capitalize on potential profits raised through advertising, I suggest the proceedings be televised, in a “Survivor” sort of manner, with the actual vote being kept secret until the end, of course, but with highlights being edited in, a blooper reel, etc.  The profits could be used to provide universal health care or maybe to open more strip malls.

THE AMERICAN VOTING GAUNTLET

In order to vote, a person would have to pass a series of tests, increasing in difficulty until they are finally deemed worthy of casting a ballot.

These tests would include:

IQ test (just the short form – I’m not a monster).  In order to be eligible to vote, a citizen would have to prove that their IQ was sufficiently high enough to allow them to know the difference between Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act.  (HAH!  Trick question!  I know, right?  But seriously.)

Sobriety test.  Yes, I know the drinking age in the US is 21 and the voting age is 18 (and we Canadians have been laughing over this for years).  But in the first place, everyone knows no one pays attention to the legal drinking age, and in the second, even if you’re of legal drinking age, you should not be allowed to vote drunk.  I mean, if I voted drunk, I’d be writing in my dog on the ballot.  Which wouldn’t exactly be the worst president you guys have ever had, but it might get noisy at dinnertime.  ANYWAY… If you manage to touch your nose and whatnot, you move on to the next test.

Voir Dire.  Potential voters will be questioned by lawyers representing the parties running for office, testing for bias and mental fitness.   Each side will have a set number of peremptory challenges to dismiss without cause (for example, a Republican legal team could choose to strike someone for no other reason than having non-white ethnicity, but only a certain number of times, because they would want to save some of those strikes for, say, women who are educated or those damn atheists).  However, a deciding party (a judge) will be able to dismiss a citizen with cause, the causes being things like obvious racism or batshit-craziness.

In the final phase, citizens will be approached by an undercover agent posing as a Russian diplomat who will offer financial compensation of an undisclosed amount in exchange for voting for a particular party.  Those who accept the bribe will immediately be deemed unworthy of the vote, regardless of any previous successful test results, and will be sent home without a cookie.

And key to this is that, if the presidential hopefuls don’t also pass these tests, they should no longer be permitted to be on the ballot.

So, in the end, if there is anyone left to vote for after these challenges are administered, you guys might end up okay after all.

Sounds like a lot of work, though, right?  (Are you sure you can’t just bring back Obama?)

Anyway, best of luck to ya.  Feel free to use this model in your next election (in, you know, three or four weeks or whatever).

Interview With My Cat

I didn’t sleep last night.  This was for a number of reasons, but it was mainly because my cat is an asshole.  (It was also because the motion-sensitive light below my window kept strobing on and off, but this was because of my neighbour’s cat, so…still…cat.)

So, since I’m having trouble with making the words today, I think I’ll make someone else the star of the show today, since she clearly wanted to be the centre of attention ALL NIGHT LONG.

Her name is Balloons.  (It was actually supposed to be “Petunia”, but it devolved into “Tuney”, then “Tuney-Balloony” and I think you see where I’m going with this.)

Balloons is 15 years old.  She has never been sick a day in her life and has the energy of a 6-month-old kitten.  I think I need to start feeding her crap food.

Let’s find out what makes her tick.

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This is where Her Highness receives admirers.

DREA:  So, Balloons, you had a lot of energy last night.  What was that about?

BALLOONS:  I don’t know what you’re talking about.

DREA:  Well, there was that time you headbutted my face 50 times in a row.  It kind of hurt.

BALLOONS:  You headbutted ME.

DREA:  I didn’t lick you on the nose.

BALLOONS:  I was tasting you so I can plan the condiments for when you die alone and I eat your face.

DREA:  How about at 3 am when I heard a weird noise and looked up to see you climbing the mirror over the dresser, where – to my knowledge – you’ve never been before?

BALLOONS:  Right.  I’ve never been up there before.

DREA:  No, really, what were you doing?

BALLOONS:  I do NOT have a secret compartment behind the mirror filled with state-of-the-art satellite communication equipment.  I just wanted to see if I’m still pretty.

DREA:  And you know, there’s a reason that toys that jingle are banned in the bedroom.  There is a toy basket filled with sleep-approved toys beside the chair.  Where did you even get that little ball with the bell inside?

BALLOONS:  Amazon.

DREA:  So that’s what those charges on my credit card were…

BALLOONS: Right.  Just innocent little cat toys.

DREA:  You know, the reason we can afford cat toys is because I work.  One thing you may not be aware of is that working is a lot easier if a person is well-rested.  And it’s not so easy to stay asleep with you hooking your paw around my wrist to lift my hand onto your head when you want pats.

BALLOONS:  I have no idea what you’re talking about.  Sometimes you pat me in your sleep.  I think you dream about me.  Besides, maybe I had a busy night and required therapeutic massage.

DREA:  I also noticed you vocalizing rather enthusiastically quite early this morning and thought maybe you were being like those cats we see on TV who wake their people when there’s a fire, but it turned out you were just excited about a poo.  I wonder if there’s a quieter way you could use the litter box at night?

BALLOONS:  YOU DO NOT STIFLE THE SINGING OF THE POO SONG!

DREA:   Okay, okay! Settle down!  Can you explain why you were also crying to your dish, which was still half-full?

BALLOONS: I MUST GO TO SLEEEEEEEP NOW – I WAS UP ALL NIGHT!

 

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Why I Went Missing

Some of you may have noticed that my posts sort of dried up for a while.  Well, here’s the thing ~

Many of you know that, for many years, I’ve been juggling many hats, career-wise.  In addition to being a charming and adorable blogger, a somewhat soft-core artist, and an immortal adrenaline junkie with a death wish, I also spent my nights working as an emergency dispatcher.  And as much as I liked the job itself, I was finding myself restless.

AND I also enjoy taking tests, which is how all this story really begins.  (BECAUSE I AM APPARENTLY JUST THAT BIG A NERD.)

This restlessness led to some random web surfing, which led to me sort of accidentally taking the RCMP entrance exam.  (That’s the Mounties, for those of you who don’t know.  And the Mounties are the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, for those of you who don’t know.  And the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are kind of like Canada’s FBI and state police combined, for those of you who don’t know.)

I think it may have been from a subconscious desire for a pony.  I’m not really sure.

But then I found out that I had passed.  Well, not really passed.  More like ACED IT – 98th percentile, baby!  *self-five*

Turned out they wanted me to come to Truro to work in the RCMP Operational Communications Centre, which led to a year-long recruitment process – that I had to keep secret from the boss who was still paying me, even while being good friends with her and being absolutely horrible at lying and becoming a nervous, yammering squirrel every time I had to be around her.  (It was horrible.)

I’m not allowed to talk much about it, but this recruitment process involved panel interviews, simulations, emptying pockets for armed escorts into the RCMP Headquarters (where there was a very disturbing mounted bison head that still gives me nightmares – and hopefully I haven’t broken any confidentiality covenants by telling you that, but seriously, those things are HUGE), being fingerprinted, being poked, prodded and tested for vision, hearing, medical, and psych (and let me just stop you right there, because OBVIOUSLY if they wanted to confirm my sound state of mind, all they had to really do was read my blog, amirite?).  All of these things  happened in other cities, and due to my having to sneak around, it generally involved me having to work graveyard shifts and then drive the 3-6 hours there and back during the day, plus the time for the testing.    (But they were promising me almost triple my current salary, so….  It’s true.  I’m a capitalist whore.)

Then it was on to the final step.  And here’s where it reeeeally got intense.  The final phase was the security clearance.  And the position I was being considered for required TOP SECRET security clearance.  (It’s true – it’s actually called that.  “Top Secret”.  I would have expected something more cryptic, like, “Level Alpha-1” or “Platinum Tier”, but we’re simple people, we Canadians. )

This top level security clearance meant members of the federal government’s investigative bureau combing through all of my emails and all of my texts from the past decade, interviewing friends, family, and neighbours (because, of course, grannies are the first to know when you are plotting to overtake the government and whatnot).  I was informed it would be a good idea to warn anyone that would be expected to be interrogated interviewed, because some people get a little freaked out when the men in black (men in maroon?) show up at the door.  So I did this – I called up people I hadn’t spoken to in years.  I warned my friends, family, and neighbours that someone might be asking about me and told them no, I was not in trouble with the law (which I’m sure would have been the default expectation).   Along with a few warnings about sexting, obviously.  (Overall, the entire process felt a little like I imagine it must feel for people who have to notify their previous partners about an STD.  A little cooler than that, obviously, but still awkward.)

So, shit was getting real.  I had started looking at apartments in Truro.  And  I quit my job, the dispatch one.  Yeah, that’s right – I did it!

THEN my dad went in hospital for what was supposed to be a routine day surgery, which turned into a week full of medical complications, and I went, “What the fuck am I thinking?  I can’t move away right now!”  (My mom passed away a couple of years ago and Dad has no other family nearby.)   And my side gigs were becoming more lucrative, making the decision easier.

So, I took a deep breath and told the RCMP I was withdrawing my application.  I bought a domain name (www.andreamacmillan.com) and decided to start working for myself, painting for a living and subsidizing naps.  (I am an excellent boss.)

Either that, or I’m now a secret agent under cover as a charming and adorable blogger.  You’ll never know.

P.S.  As it turns out, they don’t actually give you a pony when you join the Mounted Police, anyway.  Pfft.

The Search for the Perfect Chair

A lot has changed since I last posted on any sort of a regular basis.  Like I’ve decided to completely (as I do every now and then, just to keep you all on your toes) redesign my life.

I’ve always juggled about 8,962 different jobs, hobbies, whimsies.  For the past decade or so, those have included working as an emergency dispatcher, a court reporter, an artist, and a layabout.  Well, lately, I’ve been tired.  Really, really, really tired.  Something had to go.  Obviously, ceasing to be a layabout is not an option, so I’ve decided to give up emergency dispatching.  There’s something about always having to pack a lunch that makes my soul die a little every day.  Plus, I’ve been getting really into sculpting lately and being a basically selfish person, I just really want to do what I want.

But working from home, while being totalllly awesome (I subsidize naps), requires a comfortable work space.  This is my current setup:

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Pretty, right?  (Before you get too excited – it doesn’t usually look like this.  There’s usually jars full of swampy paint water and lumps of dried clay all over the place.)

But see that chair?  That cute flowery little chair?  The one that used to be an ugly old wooden schoolmarm chair, that I painted and upholstered [badly] all by my little self?

IT IS THE DEVIL.

Do not be fooled by its adorableness.  It will leave you twisted like a pretzel, bum-bruised and broken, your arms painful limp noodles from the complete lack of support.  It has to go.

AND SO THE SEARCH WAS ON.

I needed to invest in myself.  My future.  My aging ass.

Last week, I went to visit my best friend from high school, who lives in the next province over.  What better way to Prince Charming my way around the land in search of the perfect chair to fit my glass butt than a road trip?

I sat in every single chair in Moncton.  I had already had the chair in mind that I wanted.  Something like these:

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Gorgeous, yes?  And certainly better than the lump of Nazi torture device I was currently using.

Well.  I found them.  I sat in them.

Let’s just say it’s a good thing they’re pretty.

Then, just for the hell of it, I decided to check out a big brand-name office supply store – even though I knew there would be nothing in their selection that I would be caught dead displaying in my home.

I sat in every single one – just to prove to myself that the ugly chairs would be no more comfortable than the stylish ones.  And you know what?  They weren’t!

EXCEPT FOR ONE.

I knew it was different the moment my ass hit that bonded leather seat (I don’t actually know what bonded leather is, but it clearly has magical properties.)

It was like sitting in a cloud.  It was like my mother’s womb, my down duvet, and the arms of John Stamos all rolled into one.  It had layered body pillows, a contoured lumbar zone, and ergonomic finger controls.  It was designed by people who specialize in mattresses.  This was the chair.

But then I stood up and took a look at it.

IT WAS THE UGLIEST GODDAMN CHAIR IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THIS UNIVERSE AND ANY UNIVERSES AS YET UNDISCOVERED.

So….ugly.

My friend and I spent 20 minutes laughing at it and chipping away at its self-esteem – and making the pubescent sales boy fidget self-consciously.  (He knew he was in trouble when he asked if he could help me and I blurted out, “Don’t you have any pretty ones?”)

I decided it was worth continuing the search.  Surely there would be ONE chair somewhere that combined form with function.

So, I drove all the way back home, stopping at every store I could find.  I had developed an incredible sense of efficiency by this time – stride into the store with purpose, make a beeline for the office furniture department, spend 0.4 seconds in each and every chair, make a face, stomp out of store under the stinkeye of the clerks.  I did not have time for niceties.  I WAS ON A MISSION.

About 3,492,248 chairs later – and several days spent in the clutches of what I had now come to think of as my ball and chain – I couldn’t stop fantasizing about that chair.  That freaking hideous chair.  That chair that resembles nothing quite so much as the seat of a circa-1970 Buick.

It arrives tomorrow.  *sigh*

(I know you’re dying to see it.  But don’t laugh at it – it’s pretty on the inside.)

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On the Importance of Always Remaining Just a Bit Out of Touch With Reality (Part VII)

The Girl had perhaps spent too many long, late-night commutes on the dark, empty highway.

On this night, the only light on the black road was that of the moon, the stars, and the blinking red light at the top of the cellular phone tower that she passed every night on her way to the office for her back shift.

On this night, as the Girl looked up to watch the crimson tower light recede in her rear-view mirror, she saw the Eye of Sauron winking back at her.  She felt the Ring grow heavy on the chain around her neck.  She suddenly felt weary, and wished the lembas bread contained more caffeine.

Why did she have to take the Ring to Mordor?  It was so cursedly hot there (air conditioning was expensive in these dark days of rising oil costs)…dark…so much death and calamity….  Perhaps she didn’t have to go to Mordor after all, the Ring whispered to her (my precioussss….)  Why not, say, Bermuda instead?  A little sun, sand, surf.  All-inclusive bar and buffet.  That might be nice.

Or she could always just return to the Shire.  Open up that stained glass studio she’d been dreaming about.  Sell some nice crafts to tourists.

But it was too late.  She was in too deep.  Mount Doom loomed ahead.  She had no choice but to forge on.

She was nearly there.  In one final burst of will, she heaved her (laptop) bag onto her shoulder, tightened her belt, and began the final climb (up the stairs).

A sudden scuffling sound above told her she was not alone.  Sméagol!  Had he somehow followed her?  The pull of the Ring was strong.  Perhaps it was not too late to slip on the Ring, become invisible, and sneak away…

“Oh, hey.”  The Girl’s co-worker appeared around the corner, brandishing a sheaf of unsent emergency reports.  “Your shift is gonna suck – the fax machine is still broken.”*

Just another dark, lonely night in Middle Earth Bridgewater.

[Click for Part I, Part II, Part III , Part IV , Part V, Part VI]

*Some artistic license has been taken in the paraphrasing of this dialogue.  Only this part, though.