The Five-Pound Chocolate Bar, or, Why I Can’t Save Chocolate

Is it just me or are they stuffing fewer and fewer chocolate-covered almonds into those door-to-door peddled boxes these days? Perhaps I am just siphoning nostalgia back from the days when we sold actual chocolate bars.

I was at my parents’ house the other day when I heard a rapping, rapping at the chamber door. It was an eight-year-old boy who reminded me of Gil, the hopeless salesman from The Simpsons.

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This Week in Triage


Triage [tree-ahzh] the principle or practice of sorting emergency patients and/or casualties in battle or disaster into categories of priority for treatment*

I drive (or perhaps… drove) a 2002 Cavalier. I say he is lovingly monikered Ernie because of my desire not to ascribe to gendered naming conventions, but really it’s because his first license plate was ERN.

On Monday, I was on my way home from work, driving down the highway, bopping my head along to “White Riot,” when all the lights came on and the engine died.

On the highway.

It’s almost as if Ernie said “F**k The Clash!” and rebelled by promptly shutting off.

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The Traumatizing Reason Why I Hate Playing Monopoly

To quote my mother: “Monopoly tears families apart.”

This is fact.

Yet still, Sunday night witnessed a rebirth of the Rajala Family Game Night. We used to do this often as kids, perch ourselves around the kitchen table and play a good old family game. The fun was renowned, the fights… more so.

What could possibly have made Mum think that this time would be any different? The idea that now we were all reasonable, (apparently) emotionally stable adults?

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Rediscovering the Boss

My first crush was on Bruce Springsteen.

I was young. Very young.

These were the days when all I wore all day, every day, was my one-size-fits-all Batman t-shirt.

My dad had Born in the U.S.A. on cassette tape and used to play it repeatedly in the car whenever we drove anywhere. Mostly because he loved it. But also because this was the eighties and everyone used to play that album repeatedly. Except for the Prince fans.

I loved Bruce Springsteen before I even understood music.

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Why I own a pair of High School Musical socks

Because occasionally something seems like a good idea at the time…

In 2008, my sister, Bri, and I were backpacking around Europe. We were in the town of Maastricht when, like most stinky travellers, we found that our backpacks were nothing more than cesspools of filthy clothing desperately in need of a good detergent-ridden throw-down.

We decided that since we were  heading onto Paris Disneyland next, for our three day vacation-from-a-vacation, this would be the perfect place to do laundry. I mean, Disneyland is Disneyland. Everything there is sparkling and pristine, so clean and perfect it’s almost a vision of a dystopian future. Surely, they should have laundry services, right?

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The Lost Pom-Pom

a depressing Christmas yarn (pun intended)

I thought I’d share a story of my tortured childhood. I have no idea how this is relevant, but while I spent an hour of the taxpayers dime decorating a Christmas tree, a memory rose to the surface of my bubbling, festering stew of a mind.

In grade five we got to do what most elementary school kids do around the holiday season: waste the better part of our young days making crappy Christmas decorations out of things like popsicle sticks and macaroni. For some reason, this year, we were charged with making pom-poms… presumably to function as tree ornaments.

We were politely ordered to bring in different colours of yarn to make a festive addition to each of our snot-nosed holiday households. Red and green were the colours of choice, perhaps white or even gold were acceptable.

However, for me, a festive pom-pom was not to be.

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The Effing Trifle

My family is English. Mostly. I was reading an article on the Guardian on the loveliest of English desserts (subjective description, I know), The Trifle. There was even a poll: Is trifle supposed to have jelly? Yes or No? This made me think of the torturous experience that the trifle is every year with my family.

We have no such thing as trifle in my family, but we do have “The F***ing Trifle” – the Christmas tradition that causes more fights and familial conflicts than religion and politics combined. Whether it’s fights over someone scraping out all the custard, or someone else picking the crumbled Flake bar off the whipped cream, or whatever the feud… there’s always bloodshed.

In an attempt to bring peace on earth at Christmas, I suggested that I can make individual trifles, suited to everyone’s personal tastes – or that I can alter the ingredients to be generally more edible, or that we should even scrap the trifle altogether, as no one really eats it, they just fight over it, but I was nearly dragged out and shot.

There’s no accounting for taste, or tradition.

PS – I’ve just realized that all my posts I have written somehow related to Christmas have (censored) expletives in the titles. *Sigh*

Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny – effing – Kaye

So tomorrow, I’m taking the day off work. Huzzah. It was originally intended to be a day to get through all those pesky starting-at-a-new-school things out of the way, like getting a student card, and all that, but once that was taken care of, it’s degenerated into a shopping trip downtown with my sister.

I’m looking forward to it. This December has thus far been an exercise in stress management – but not the working-under-a-deadline kind of stress, but the more vague, less tolerable kind. Christmas Eve is my last day at the City, and it marks a stressful day in and of itself. At least I’ll get a good week an a half off from then until January 4. That day is standing out like a sore thumb waiting to happen. It’s going to be exciting, exhilarating, but terrifying (like bungee jumping) starting back at school. Unlike bungee jumping, which is simply closing your eyes and leaping, I have to keep at this. It’s not just one day, it’s eight frakking months.

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Uber-epic-osity: John Hughes-style plans for a comedy-rich hypothetical wedding

This month has been quite the maelstrom of epicness. Well, not in regards to my life, but in regards to those around me. Of the people I know, more have come out of this month married than divorced, so that’s always nice. In addition to the newly crowned Darcie Adkins, nee Vaillant, Caitlyn LePard, one of my dearest friends for these last twenty-odd years, is now Caitlyn Atkinson. Frankly, I’m a little annoyed that there’s been all this alphabetical order queue jumping. Don’t we have to wait behind enough ‘A’ names as it is? I’m extremely happy for Caitlyn and Jim – in fact so happy that a hyperbolic statement is virtually impossible in attempting to describe my elation – and it was honestly the first wedding I ever cried at.

 I had the honour/stress of driving up to Manning Park, the lovely wedding venue, with Caitlyn a few days before the wedding to meet up with Steve, the groomsman/wedding planner, to start setting everything up. Despite the stress and workload, everything went swimmingly. Which was fantastic for Caitlyn and Jim, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t secretly hoping for it to play out like a late-eighties comedy; something to fill the void John Hughes left. There was the usual cavalcade of mishaps and stock characters continually teetering on the edge of emotional breakdown, but everything ended well and happy, with only minor injuries. Personally, my funny bone could have used a few more footballs to the groin, but at the least the bride and groom were happy. I’m sure they didn’t think slapstick would have suited their wedding anyway.

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So we visited my grandma yesterday, as I said we would. It was not as bad as I thought. From our last visit (my first since she was in the new place), I was worried she wouldn’t remember moving in there and that this explaining things to her would be a permanent loop; Groundhog Day as a Greek tragedy. Yet, she remembered. She recognized Bri and I, and she knows us as her grandchildren, even if not by name. She seemed a bit more contented. Less confused. She laughed a little, too. My previous worries still stand, but perhaps now, rather than sit anxiety-ridden and fretting for her well-being, I can enjoy her company again – at least for a little while.