The Sketchbook Project

I recently bought a cute little sketchbook.  Here it is:

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I got it home, put it on the top shelf of my desk and gazed at it moonily for several weeks.  Thinking, all the while, “Um…I don’t sketch.  Like, ever.”

It’s true.  Unless I’m being paid or otherwise coerced, I never draw or paint.  So lame, I know.  Which is ridiculous.

So I decided to make an effort.

I decided I am going to fill this little beauty with lovely little doodles (some of which may be destined to grow up to be real, live paintings!)

I have loads of pics to show you.  Stay tuned.

Happy V Day!

Okay, fine, I’m usually a big cynic about Hallmark holidays, but hey – who doesn’t love a day that is centered around socially-acceptable overindulgence of wine and chocolate?

I also wanted to tell you all to expect some changes in the blog in the coming days.  I’m going to be merging my art website with this one, plus a few little surprises along the way, so keep your eyes peeled.

In the meantime, a little preview – HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!  Set someone someone’s heart on fire today!

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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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Lessons Learned from 2015

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.

The New Winter Sport I Just Invented

 The SuperLuge

THE VENUE:  Take one private road with several feet of hard-packed plowed snow on both sides, preferably one with a series of curves; add several days of rain and freeze/thaw cycles.

THE EQUIPMENT:   One mid-sized sedan (summer tires work best, but as demonstrated in the beta run today, brand-new winter ones will work as well).

THE GOAL: make it to the driveway from the main road.

POINTS DEDUCTED FOR: 360-degree turns; having to circle a neighbour’s driveway to gain traction more than four times. Most points lost for mistakenly believing the goal to be accomplished, only to have the empty vehicle slide at a high rate of speed out of the parking space and back onto the track.

POINTS AWARDED FOR: alternately luge-ing off the snowbanks without capsizing; rocking the vehicle out of a stalemate without resorting to calling a man for help. Most points gained for successfully re-entering the moving empty vehicle without running over oneself.

THE PRIZE:  You get to do it all again the next time you want to leave the house.  Like next April.


P.S. We may need more salt.  Or a dog sled.

BLACK OUT SPEAK OUT

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Published in: on June 3, 2012 at 11:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Race for Space

The moment you’ve all been waiting for is here!

Well…almost here.  It’s in the vicinity.

That’s right.  I’M GONNA BE AN ASTRONAUT!!!

But first – I need your help.  ALL of you.  Go here and vote for me :

The Last Drop in the Bucket (List)

via Race for Space.

And tell your friends.  Tweet about it.  Share it on Facebook.  Get me in that spaceship!!!

A Message for My Secret Santa

Dearest Sneaky MacSneakerPants :

In all the years that I have known you and worked with you, you have always been the quintessential keeper of secrets – a master spy if ever there was one…a veritable vault.  And now it has been brought to my attention that you might  perhaps, maybe,  just possibly know the identity of my Secret Santa.  Though I know you will be a hard nut to crack, I feel ready for the challenge.

My  source (who is very sneaky indeed, but not quite sneaky enough) has also let slip several hints about the alleged Secret Santa’s purchasing history (I know that someone as super-sneaky as you would never be so reckless with such sensitive information!)  But the hints are as follows:

A)  the gift is wearable;

B) the gift is actually two of something;

C) the gift is neither gloves nor socks.

Although I am known to be a profoundly patient person *ahem*, I cannot help but ponder this great mystery.

I have a feeling that if I should guess correctly and my Secret Santa was made aware, however sneaky and secretive he (or SHE) may be,  he (or SHE) might crack under the pressure and come clean.

So, although I have NO IDEA who that Secret Santa is, you do work in the same office, so I was thinking you might have connections.  Therefore I am sending my list of guesses to you in the hopes that you can do me a solid and pass it on (secretly and sneakily, of course).  My guesses are as follows:

Drea M.’s Top Ten Potential Secret Santa Gifts

  1. False eyelashes [already own some, but can always use an extra pair]
  2. Breast implants [don’t need these, thanks – trust me]
  3. Moon boots [REALLY REALLY like these!]
  4. Knee pads [might need these while using the moon boots]
  5. Wrist casts [might need these after using the moon boots]
  6. Nipple rings [I enjoy a good exotic piercing, but might be kinda weird to show off at the office party]
  7. Shoulder pads [the 80s are coming back]
  8. Ear muffs [can never have too many]
  9. Dentures [….]
  10. Pasties [there is a surprising amount of wearable things that involve boobs – ever notice that?]

Please tell my Secret Santa that I shall have no problem at all in waiting until Christmas, but I would hate for him (or HER) to have to suffer beneath the burden of keeping such important information to him (or HER) self, so he (or SHE) should know that I would be willing to share the load.

I know I can trust you with this message.

Thank you, and Happy (Early) Holidays.

Your friend, co-worker, and confidante,

Drea M.