When Did Everything Become an “Experience”?

Back in my school days, I was a huge fan of marketing classes and thought that one day I might want to work in advertising. Life took a different spin and I didn’t end up working in that field, but I still had the opportunity to put some marketing know-how to good use in the field that chose me.

Just the same, as much as I bow to the wisdom of the marketing masters, I really don’t understand when or why everything suddenly became an “experience”.

Picking up something at the store has become a retail experience. Getting a bite to eat has become a dining experience. Music is now a listening experience and movies are now a viewing experience.

Did everything have to become an experience?

I was amused when I recently visited an establishment and noticed a poster prompting readers to tell management about their experience. The odd thing is that it was posted in the men’s washroom.

What would I have written back? Do they really want a description of my bathroom experience? (Careful what you wish for! Creative types with a sneaky sense of humour might actually take you up on the offer.)

“My approach to the urinal was a pleasant one as the aroma of disinfectant pucks filled my sinuses with a gentle, welcoming blend of lavender and chlorine.

The automatic flushing mechanism was very effective in bathing the urinal in a fresh cascade of water, reminiscent of a serene waterfall, a perfectly choreographed three seconds after I stepped away. I couldn’t have cued it better if I had flushed it myself. Continue reading

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What Lurks Below the Shower Drain?

In the never ending saga of household mysteries like “What does that light switch control?”, “Why is there no outlet on that wall?” and “Why do I have better cell service in my closet?” I would like to add one more: “What lurks below the shower drain?”

There seems to be some cosmic inequity in my home.

How is it that the drain below my kitchen sink is the busiest in the house, yet it never blocks (though I bet I have just jinked it.)

True enough, I have been very conscientious about not pouring oils down the drain. I’ve strained out the solids from the stew-like remains of dishes that didn’t quite make the cut. And there is still the occasional leaf, bean, seed or gluten-free something or other that escapes on me, but yet that drain never clogs.

The shower drain doesn’t get nearly the same amount of activity. So then why do I find myself in almost-shin-deep water when I shower? My bathtub drain seems to be having issues.

The drain hasn’t really been able to keep up with the output of my low-flow shower head. After finishing a shower, I would have time to towel off, apply my moisturizer and anti-perspirant, get dressed, have a leisurely breakfast and say goodbye to the cat by the time the water had completely evacuated and begun its trajectory to the water purification plant.

When I put the question of possible causes to my panel of friends and family, one member of my inner circle was very quick to point out “It can’t be your hair!”… maybe too quick.

As the proud recipient of the male pattern baldness gene, that was indeed the first factor I eliminated from my detective’s assumption list. Continue reading

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When the Cat Has an Upset Stomach

From the time when Ivy the Wonder Cat joined me, I have to admit that my floors and I have been pretty lucky.

With only a few rare exceptions, it seems that she has a stomach made of steel, metaphorically speaking, of course.

And as much as friends and colleagues warned me about volcanic eruptions of hairballs and everything that comes with them, Ivy has been pretty good in that department as well.

Funny enough, it’s when she is nervous about something, whether it is change, disruption, car rides or temporary relocation that I can almost guarantee that she will need to barf… three days later.

Why three? I don’t know.

But it isn’t a problem, it’s not her fault. That’s her stress reliever.

If that’s her way of doing the Taylor Swift “Shake it off” to move on with her life, all I can do is to empathize and to clean it up. Having experienced anxiety issues leading to severe knots in the stomach and eventually throwing up, I completely understand. Like father, like daughter. Continue reading

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The Downside of Long Weekends

Don’t we all just love long weekends?

Long weekends are often synonymous with tying up loose ends at work, a sense of pride in a job well-done, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of levity, and the joy of being rewarded with an extra day off to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labour.

In my perfect Pollyanna-bubble world, on the last work day before a long weekend, people are sporting their best smiles, wishing each other a great long weekend, high-fiving each other as they pass each other in the lobby of the office tower. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and everyone is in the best mood eagerly anticipating the best long weekend ever!

That is… until they get outside. From about noon onward, the city is in complete gridlock.

Traffic is at a standstill, the electronic signs on mall parking lots are blinking “FULL”, the grocery stores are bursting with hangry people with towering shopping carts, and liquor store patrons are lined-up as far as the eye can see.

For some reason, there isn’t a drop of patience to be found as drivers are almost mowing down pedestrians, everyone is blowing yield signs and stop signs, and the world is seemingly possessed by road rage punctuated by a stronger than usual sense of self-entitlement.

It was incredibly validating to hear that it wasn’t just my own borderline introvert lens that saw things this way when I was told that law enforcement officers are posted in the parking lot of the “warehouse-style” store to keep the peace and to direct the crawling traffic. Continue reading

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Why I Envy Hat People

Do you remember the opening credits for the 1970’s TV show “Charlie’s Angels” where Jaclyn Smith takes off her motorcycle helmet, shakes her head and every strand of hair falls perfectly in place?

I realize that Jaclyn’s impeccable hair in that scene was probably a confection of Hollywood magic, but sadly, hats have been a challenge for me to navigate over the years.

When I was younger, I had fine hair. I had lots of it, but they weren’t the majestic oaks of hair that could bounce back from the slightest bit of wind, humidity, sweat, rain or pressure.

I remember times when I was very young when my mom or my grandmother would say “Come here”, lick their fingers and try to tame one of my many cowlicks. How they could choose just one remains a mystery to me, as I remember my hair was sometimes all cowlicks to the point of looking like a young, male version of Medusa.

But as an adult, the maternal spit was replaced by varying combinations of hair gel, mousse and spray, not to mention engineering skills, to build a hairstyle and to lock it in place. But one minute with a hat on my head was like a pin to a balloon, completely deflating my structure, at a time when flat hair was not en vogue.

Looking back, this most unfortunate genetic deficiency brought out a streak of stubbornness I never knew existed within me. It could have been -40 degrees outside (frankly, a normal winter’s day here in Ottawa), and I refused to wear a tuque of any kind. That was when I started buying ear muffs by the case (for some reason, I kept misplacing them) which kept my ears warm for many blustery winters. Continue reading

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Mother Nature’s Follicle Relocation Project

If there is any doubt about whether Mother Nature has a sense of humour or not, I offer you the following into evidence: hair.

Hair is the epitome of irony, isn’t it? People with curly hair want straight hair. People with straight hair want wavy hair. I’ve known people who have changed hair colours and/or hair styles with every passing season (with great envy).

We try turning our hairstyles into gravity-defying structures, or we flatten it out to look sleek and chic. Sometimes we make it do things it just wasn’t meant to do.

And as we get older, Mother Nature is not through with us yet. Oh no. The fun is just beginning.

In my case, in my 40s, she took it away a few strands at a time. She might have thought she was sneaky, but I fought back by getting a clipper cut. Problem solved, or so I thought.

Who could guess that her punchline would be the random places where she is putting it back in my 50s?

I fully expected that after age 50, trimming nose hairs would become a necessity to avoid looking like a catfish. I also expected that I might need to keep my eyebrows in check so that they didn’t look like wings and suddenly take flight in the middle of a serious boardroom meeting.

I am very lucky that I am fair haired (or at least, I was) so new stray sprouts haven’t been too noticeable. But those new “platinum” ones (btw, I love saying “platinum” as I think it oozes coolness) do catch one’s eye faster. Thankfully, there is no shortage of grooming tools to keep new growth under control. Continue reading

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Reprogramming the Cat

At Ivy-the-Wonder-Cat’s last vet appointment, I was told the news that I suspected was coming: It was time to start watching her weight.

I always thought that when it came to her diet, she was pretty much self-guiding. I was reading product labels for calorie counts and I kept an eye on the amount of wet and dry food she ate. Between the days she ate more and the days she ate less, it seemed to average out to the target calorie range… or so I thought.

But it also averaged out to one extra pound every year that she had been with me. If I wanted Ivy to have a healthy, long life, we needed to curb that increase.

After going over our daily routine, the vet and I came up with some solutions. I was apprehensive that Ivy would put up a fuss, but the vet reassured me that cats like structure, and these measures were just going to reinforce what they crave anyway.

When I think about it, there have been times that I could set a clock to Ivy’s behaviour, like when she is heading upstairs between 9:58 p.m. and 10:02 p.m. because to her, it’s bedtime. I don’t even have to suggest it.

Even as I wrote the first draft of this blog at 9:00 am on a Saturday morning, she walked by, yawned and crawled into her cat bed. She’s pretty punctual. Maybe these changes will work.

The first step was to have just one feeding station. Continue reading

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