Sarcasm

Photo by Nancy Wong, 1977

Let’s Talk About Cults

Or more, let me introduce you to my new favorite obsession. Three years ago it was biker gangs, last year it was viruses. This year is the year of cults, and I am so giddy that my astral cocoon is fit to burst!

I’ve been busy working on Book 3 (reminder, you can buy books 1 and 2 on Amazon), but as always I’ve also been working through replotting book 4 (because writing a series, let alone one nine novels long requires a bit of foresight on my part.) And as with all the previous books, something about the plot of #4 just wasn’t sitting right.

And then I listened to Cults, a comedic investigative podcast that looks into various cults throughout history, their activities, recruitment methods, all that fun sort of jazz. As hosts Paige Wesley and Marie Bello explain on their inaugural podcast, they’re interested in cults because they live in California and cults are literally everywhere. Oddly enough, that was the same thing Gregg Hurwitz said in an interview about his second Tim Rackley book.

I love comedy. I love cults. If there were a cult based around the Marx Brothers, I would probably join. (The password is always Swordfish). As it is, I live in Canada and the only Cult I have access to has a history of cutting off people’s arms and I need mine for writing purposes (Hello, Ant Hill Kids.) Therefore, I live vicariously through the work of people like Paige and Marie who are deeply ensconced in the cult-scene and, on at least one occasion relayed to listeners about a weekend visit to a farmer’s market for a massage (which might just be the most hipster thing I’ve written in the last few months) about how they were nearly swindled by a cult.

The point is, knowledge is power. I have a notebook chalked full of notes thanks to these two lovely ladies about the cult that will be dominating book 4, and I am excited to see where it takes me.

However, as with all things in life, they couldn’t have expected to poke the hornets nest for so long before something came out to sting them. A couple days back a message was posted on the Cults Facebook page regarding the removal of Part 1 of a particular episode. It doesn’t take a backrub peddling pontificator to know that someone got a little uptight about being called a ‘cult’ and didn’t appreciate having their presumably very white, identical pants and shirts all laid out to bare for the public to see. It looks like they have avoided litigation, at least for now. But that sort of subtle threat against your creative work can be a serious downer, and word can spread and sometimes impact that potential audience you are trying to reach. That’s why I’m encouraging all of you to go to your favorite podcast provider and give Cults a listen.

Okay. Maybe not the first few episodes. Pre-Armando episodes, or Pre-Mando episodes as I will now call them. Armando, their hilarious sound guy, was sorely needed in those early days. But don’t bring it up to Paige or Marie. They know their sound was crap. If you can deal with ratcheting your sound up to eleven, they’re still worth checking out. I promise, there are no audible jump-scares to ruin your hearing.

Cults are fascinating. They’re all around us (some more than others, I guess. Stupid, lame Canada with its lack of interesting cults.) They prey on the weak and most vulnerable in society and manipulate them into acting outside of the social norm. They are awful, but sort of cool, but really actually awful, but also, like, sort of really cool in a sick sort of way.  I have a lot of different feelings, but given my history of writing explosive, violent scenes, I suppose an interest in cults isn’t that unusual.

The point is, go listen to it. The crimes of these cults and leaders aren’t exactly friendly jaunts through fields of daisies. Paige and Marie are dealing with dark, uncomfortable topics on a weekly basis, and interjecting an overtop level of humor that a person could argue reflects the overall nature and response of general society when we hear about people getting caught up in cult activities. Ha ha, look at those chumps! This could never happen to me! That’s about as academic as I’m willing to get on the topic at the moment given the high levels of morphine currently in my system.

Anyways, give it a listen. It’s well worth it. Also buy my books. Those are also well worth it.

Or don’t. See if I care.

(I do.)

Header Photo by Nancy Wong, 1977

An Open Letter to Andrew, Who Wants Me to Sign a Petition

Andrew sent me this forward. I don’t think I know Andrew. I know some Andrews but I don’t think I know this one.

Hi,

Today—just one week before the Electoral College meets to formally elect our next president—a bipartisan group of electors sent a letter to the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper demanding an intelligence briefing related to Russia’s impact on our elections in advance of their vote.

CIA analysts have apparently concluded that Russia sought to influence the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, and that Russia got the result it wanted. But the level of that involvement and what it means for our democracy is unclear because the CIA has not made the evidence public, briefed key members of Congress, nor fully updated members of the Electoral College who are being asked to determine the next president this coming Monday.

The electors and the American public deserve to hear the facts. We cannot presume to know what impact Russia had, whether this should negate the election night results, or what it might mean for future elections until we review the evidence. And while it is unlikely to change the election outcome, Americans deserve the confidence in our electoral system that comes with clearly knowing the threats we faced and whether they had impact.

The president has a responsibility, among his final duties in office, to give Americans the truth, and help us establish confidence in our democracy again. He can and must order the CIA to brief the electors and members of Congress in full before December 19, and declassify and disseminate the evidence for the public to consider as quickly as possible.

That’s why I signed a petition to President Barack Obama, which says:

” The Electoral College has the right and the duty to see the evidence that the CIA has related to Russia’s impact on our elections. Declassify the evidence and brief the electors before they vote on December 19.”

Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name:

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/direct-the-cia-to-declassify?source=s.fwd&r_by=15375497

Thanks!

I replied to Andrew as such:

Dear Andrew,

Thank you for your forward. I regret to inform you, however, that I am in fact a Russian spy and have been for several years. My actions up to this point include cleverly inputting small quantities of nuclear material into every day objects (I would recommend you get rid of that favorite mug of yours), hacking Trump’s personal email (and let me tell you, his tanning technique is far more invasive than anyone could have expected given the end result), and being Putin’s personal chest oiler.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Kathleen, how does one get the position of Chest Oiler Supreme?” or, as we call it back in mother Russia, “Cold Hands, Warm Heart, French-Fried Nipples” (Loosely translated, you must understand). My story begins long ago to when I was a youth who travelled the Trans Siberian railway with my father, who was conductor of the orchestra (you might have hear of them) for a short period of time in the early 90’s. His career wasn’t to last after he lost the use of both his elbows in a freak snow shoeing accident. After that we ended up in Moscow and I kept us alive by stealing rubles from the fur lined pockets of wealthy stereotypes until one day, after marking a certain local official, I was caught with my hand in the figurative cookie jar by none other than Putin himself.
My father, having only a slim understanding of Disney films and parental duty, readily sold me for a ticket to Fiji and some matching luggage which, in hindsight, was probably the best deal he could have gotten given how malnourished I was. I know it seems like this story is going to a weird place but just hold on, okay? So after thirteen years in the Russian Ballet (All young Russian girls are required to join the ballet. It doesn’t matter if you have two left feet or prefer video games. Historically, every woman of Russian origin has been a Ballerina for at least 30% of her life) I was spotted once again by Putin during my solo exhibition performance of Annie. The part of Daddy Warbucks was played by a cardboard standee as my partner had only recently defected and was, I presume, currently being interrogated by Chinese Nationals somewhere outside of Putin’s reach.
So you’d think being a Russian ballerina I would have lovely feet, but in reality it was my hands that Putin was interested in. I have always had lovely hands. My father used to say I had the hands of a youthful Baba Yaga. I never knew what he meant but the man was usually three sheets to the wind on potato vodka so I am left assuming it was a compliment. During the pinnacle moment of the performance where Annie stabs Miss Hannigan in the throat with a knife and proclaims herself to be a daughter of Mother Russia, Putin stood on his chair and forced the performance to stop, declaring me to be the new Chest Oiler. Now, Kim Jun Un, who was visiting at the time, looked a little shocked, so you can imagine how those of us who were not completely psychotic thought of it. It made no difference. After I finished awashing myself in the blood of Miss Hannigan the performance ended and as I was leaving the theatre I was thrown unceremoniously into the trunk of a passing black car. I had, of course, expected this, making the tumble rather gracefully. You can take a ballerina off the stage, but can’t tag the stage from the ballerina.
Some time later after the customary sixty-three days of interrogation, wherein I was challenged to admit my complacency in American Communism (I never did break, praise be to Putin) I was taken to the Kremlin, given a new set of clothes and a tub of car wax and presented with Putin’s fresh shaven chest. This became my life for the next six years until, after having buffed and spit polished Putin’s chest, I was taken by a handler I had come to know as Madame Perdet. Putin had new orders for me. I was to travel to the United States, infiltrate their electoral process and, ultimately, ensure the election of Donald Trump in 2016. This was particularly interesting to me given we had only just begun to see reruns of The Apprentice in Russia and I was interested in the physics of his hairs as well as how he managed to appease his many wives (sexually) with such tiny Vienna sausage fingers. Putin told me I was his oily star, and when the President comes a’callin’ you must answer or else you disappear and everyone you love is told of your treachery.
Fast-forward some years later and I had yet to be activated. While finished my Undergrad in Visual Arts I joined local political protests, and while I am unsure of what I was protesting, I was told it was very important and it involved throwing many buckets of paint. In Russia this is just an average birthday party so it was like being back home. I met a lovely boy named Bobby who decided he wished to couple with me, but my handler in America, Mr. Turd Ferguson (I believe this is an alias, however he demands I call him by his full name) quickly put an end to that, and to Bobby’s promising football career, by breaking both his knees in a bar brawl outside of a Hooters.
After that Bobby succumbed to the drink, as weak willed men are want to do, and I was told by Mr. Turd Ferguson that the time had come to point the ranks of the Republican Party. I was confused, as the values praised by this party seemed very reminiscent of those at home and not at all the sort of values that I had learned during my education in the Liberal Arts. I was assured that this was wholly American, and that I was about to see some, and I quote, real interesting shit go down.
I must admit I was so pleased to see Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Nominee. Back home is a woman ever tried anything like this she would… well, nothing bad would happen to her. It would really depend entirely on her ballet background first and foremost. Ultimately she would probably be passed over for a man, whether or not he was more competent than her. In fact, our general election back home involves six weeks of drinking until the population is in a blackout haze and incapable of even the most basic commands beyond ‘sign here’. On more than one occasion a hungover family man has come from his stupor to discover he has sentenced his entire family to the gulag. Putin finds the whole thing very hilarious.
Where was I? Oh yes. Ultimately I was activated by Turd Ferguson and sent in to corrupt the vote. Over the last two years I have thrown many chairs and hacked many emails, but none ever brought me pleasure. I was frightened, realizing that this country that had adopted me was more home than Russia ever could be, and I was actively contributing to its downfall. I did what I could; I hacked Mr. Trump’s emails, his taxes, all of it, but every time I went to meet with a contact in the news to release the information I would find that individual mysteriously strung up by their own entrails. Quite peculiar.
As I write this to you, Andrew, I am at a loss. Trump is now the President-Elect. Hillary Clinton has not been seen for weeks, and I have been summoned back to Moscow by Madame Perdet. Turd Ferguson would not meet with me prior to my boat leaving New York. I am frightened at what awaits me back home. My hands are not dry and paper cut from weeks of writing letters and stuffy envelopes. What Putin expects to find when I arrive back in Moscow is a young, vivacious young woman with the glistening hands of a Russian child. What he will find is a cynical American woman who has seen the true underbelly of the world and been helpless to stop the impending doom. I pray for you Andrew, as I have prayed for my homeland so many times before.
Yours Sincerely,
Katarina Savatzki

An Open Letter to Whirlpool CEO, Jeff Fettig

To the Whirlpool CEO, Jeff Fettig,

Dear Sir,

My recent experience with your Whirlpool W10219708A Compact Front Loading Automatic Washer has been, how to put it delicately, something of a bit of a joke. Were I a calm and reasonable person, I might describe it as mildly frustrating, perhaps even undesirable. Instead, I find that the simplest and most effective way to describe said experience is to equate it to that of a Shakespearean tragedy, with more irony than even the Bard himself could possibly muster in this day and age. I am, therefore, obligated to write to you now and express my dissatisfaction with as much vim and vigor as I can muster. Vim, because that is one of the cleaning products I utilized after the A10 error supplied by your clownish machine caused my laundry room to flood, and vigor, because that was the rate I wished to strangle myself after I was able to finally run a successful load of laundry without calling in a local priest to exorcize what I can only assume is the restless spirit of some North American Buffalo God whose golden idol was bulldozed to make way for our condo.

Spoiler alert: The priest was useless and the rabbi has since stopped returning my calls.

But I am getting ahead of myself, as I am want to do when I find I have wasted the majority of my day scooping water out of the bottom of a washing machine with a ladle.

My husband and I purchased our condo just over two years ago, and were most thrilled to learn that appliances such as a washer, dryer, stove, and fridge would all be provided by Whirlpool. There is nothing quite like pulling the plastic off a shiny new brushed steel appliance. I suppose I might equate it to the sensation of peeling the top off a yogurt cup or, to give an example you are more familiar with, unzipping a dufflebag filled with grand wads of cash that you can roll around in naked.

But the good times were not to last. Fairly soon we began to notice several things going awry, least of all the fact that our neighbour down the hall turned out to be absolutely insufferable and, quite frankly, a bit of a dick, as well as the presence of a mad pooper in our building. Those issues were negligible though, when compared to the vicious, insensitive flashing of the A10 error which began to appear on our washer’s display. I’m sure you aren’t aware of what A10 means, given that you probably do not furnish your house with the same appliances that you sell. That would be silly. Why use an itty-bitty stackable washer and dryer when you can pay orphans with baby smooth hands to wash your clothes for you in the local enchanted spring? I am, of course, only assuming your local spring is enchanted. Ours is filled with geese, and thanks to a series of unfortunate events involving the retrieval, and subsequent returning of their eggs, I can confirm they are not enchanted.

A10, sir, means there is a clog. A nasty old boogery clog that is preventing the washer from draining. There is only one solution when an A10 error happens, and it is quite possibly the most aggravating solution your company could have possibly come up with. A10 means taking a flat blade and prying off the bottom bit of the washer (in my case I opted for a butcher knife so I could feel marginally superior to the machine I was servicing) and then proceeding to open the small valve at the bottom to clear out the blockage.

Youtube ensured me that this was very simply, but could get messy as there might be a bit of water in there, so make sure you have a towel nearby to mop up any mess.

No man, woman, child, or god could have predicted the torrential flooding of water that gushed from my washing machine. Indeed, had I not been wearing arm floaties there was a very strong chance that I might have drowned at that moment. Frantically I shoved the plug back into place and raced for more towels as the now soapy, mildew-esque water began to seep into our baseboards, which are now permanently warped, thank you so much. I threw every towel I had at the floor, watching helplessly as they became instantaneously soaked by the deluge of dank washer water.

Now here I must offer kudos. It is very convenient that the means to dry said towels is so close by. Theoretically one might able to toss the ruined towels into the dryer with one hand while sopping up the mess with another. However, I must caution you that towels, when soaked absolutely through, are rather heavy and thus, when attempting to pile them into the dryer, you can expect them to drip to the point where you may slip and fall on the linoleum, only to find yourself being crushed beneath a mountain of towels, quietly whispering ‘why’ as your life flashes before your eyes and the room around you grows dark and cold.

If you manage to struggle free from the pile of death and you manage to get those towels into the dryer, you are still up shit creek, as I learned. Because much like the vagina of your mother, it is still absolutely soaking in there.

That was rude of me. I’m sorry. I’m just so upset that I wasted my own day off doing this whole process over and over again.

Oh, didn’t I mention that? This is not the first time we’ve received the A10 error. It has happened multiple times over the last two years and, fortunately, we have become masters in the art of hastily acquiring towels, bed sheets, and duvet covers to cover the flood in order to prevent even further damage to our walls and baseboards.

Where was I? Oh yes. So you’ve managed to survive the flooding, the crushing, and now the drying, and somewhere a long the way you’ve found a spare dry square of cloth that you can place under the Magical Faucet of Neverending Water. You’ve probably accepted at this point that no amount of specialty fans or emergency clean up will help with this issue, so you might as well let yourself be baptised in the abysmal flood of suds. Miraculously, there is an end to the water. Somewhere between the swearing, crying, and fighting with your spouse, the washing machine does appear to be fully drained and you are able to carefully pick out the microscopic piece of lint that managed to ruin your entire load of laundry, your baseboards, and, at this rate, your marriage. Now you put it all back together, press the cancel button, let the machine finish draining automatically, and do a test run on “Spin/Drain”. Yes, you’ll have clean underwear for work ye-

Are you serious? Are you fucking kidding me? There is another A10 error? There isn’t even anything in the machine! I just cleaned out the trap! There is literally no reason why this machine should not work unless for some reason it is cursed in which case Whirlpool better have a damn exorcist on retainer because apparently I need one!

I’m not going to mince words any more than I already have. I am frustrated. In a wild effort to do several loads of laundry today (because your machine is only slightly bigger than a bread maker and thusly I have to do my four bras in two separate loads) I have soaked, dried, and soaked again the following:

5 towels

2 Duvet Covers

1 King-Sized Fitted sheet

6 rolls of Off-Brand paper towel

7 paper napkins

1 Fuzzy blanket

Untold number of hand towels

 

These are the atrocities of war. The victims of untold flooding. The smell of mildew is now firmly embedded in the above textiles and as such they have been relinquished to a cupboard which we have deemed to be our “Emergency Stupid Washer Is Broken” cupboard where we can grab them, as well as a bottle of vodka, at a moments notice. The duvet covers were unsalvageable even after being washed in a real machine. The off-brand paper towels were as useless as one might expect them to be, however I believe given the amount of fluid ounces of water that was used that day, even Bounty, the Quicker Picker Upper would have had their work cut out for them.

Now let’s talk about the smell. Yes, the smell. I don’t know if you have any idea what it is like to live in a condo, and before you decide to call your pent-house suite a condo let me explain: a condo is a living space where you can stand on either end and long jump to the other side without much effort. Condos are tiny. They are tiny and cramped and they do not come with air conditioning unless you pay extra, which we would have done except that we had already used up our ‘extra’ budget on a washing machine that is probably imbued with the spirit of Mrs. Topechka, an angry Ukrainian Turn-of-the-Century Pioneering Woman who does not care for our new-fangled ways. So there was no room in the budget for an air conditioner, which, given that we live in Alberta, means we rely heavily on fans during the summer. But not all the fans in the world can stop heat and water from crushing together and creating the stench.

Let me tell you, when something stinks in a condo, it really stinks. My husband’s mildewy dress shirts, for one thing, which he put in to wash over night only to wake up and discover an A10 error the next morning. Our towels. The towels we used to clean our bodies with. All of these things, now forever drenched in the scent of mold, mildew, and probably my tears. And the stench in the condo is horrendous. The water sat in the washer for less than 12 hours and yet the smell that culminated in our condo is so ripe that it is literally transcending time. I can feel my eggs shriveling up in my ovaries. My children will be born with a perpetually puckered nose simply because the odor in the condo is clinging to everything. My cats curled up into the corner of the den and projectile vomited everywhere before dying abruptly. My dog has turned rabid and is now locked in the bathroom, which I imagine is making her even more upset given that the bathroom is right across from the laundry room and is probably the second most smelly place in the condo.  They say Vicks Vapor Rub under the nose is a good way to deal with the smell of decaying bodies, but what they don’t tell you is that smearing it all over your face will only serve to help the smell of mold and mildew permeated deeper into your pores. I am actually molding as I sit here and type this.

But yeah, sure, shit happens, right? Roll with the punches. I did try to make a game out of it for a while. I played “What will dry these towels faster: The Majesty of the Sun or This Perpetually Disappointing Whirlpool Appliance?” I am sorry to say by the end of the saga it was Majestic Sun: 4, Whirlpool Appliance: 2. Of course, those games only take you so far, especially as you spend more and more time steeping in the smell of mold, watching water trickle carefully out of a small valve that you have adjusted the perfect amount to avoid more flooding. It makes a person introspective, really gets you thinking about life, the universe, and how goddamned crappy an appliance has to be if the smallest item not classified as a textile in the washer somehow causes it to have a grand mal seizure. I mean, let’s be honest here, I know it’s a small appliance for a small space, but I should be able to leave a receipt for a box of tampons in my pocket without having to worry if the neighbours below us are going to have flooding in their kitchen.

And yeah, cleaning your pockets is always a good plan prior to doing a load of laundry, but give me a fucking break, I actually do have other things to do (aside from today which I dedicated entirely to watching water trickle from a valve, did I mention that yet?) I have a condo to clean, a rabid dog to walk and/or put down, food to make, actual work to do for my actual job which I am actually paid to do, and clothes to pu- Oh, well. I guess I don’t have clothes to put away at the moment, but we know whose fault that is, don’t we? The point is, people generally live very busy lives these days, and worrying about a scrap of lint in a pocket is not on the top of my priority list. If your product cannot sustain itself in those little moments, how can anyone ever expect it to clean the grass stains off of my metaphorical snub-nosed child’s soccer gear? Failure to do its most basic job in the face of slight interruption does not bode well for the longevity of your product.

And before you ask What about warranty? Yeah, that was a year long. And as is tradition with all things produced in the 21st century, it broke roughly 6 minutes after said warranty expired. Of sure, we called in the dealer a couple times, but that was about as useful as nailing a banana to a fruit bat. It was not useful at all, and was incredibly pointless and, in the long term, will probably result in the loss of life.

So what is the point of all this, you might ask, knowing full well that you are going to receive a snarky reply.

The point is I assumed Whirlpool was simply a brand name and not a description of what I could expect draining from my washing machine. The point is I would very much like to know why the Whirpool washer has the constitution of an anti-vaxxers child in a room full of whooping cranes with nasty coughs. The point is, I would very much like my washer to not break down the next time I forget to pick each stray thread off of my jeans with a pair of tweezers prior to washing them. The point is, I am horribly disappointed with your product, with its ability to do its most basic function, with my ruined towels and bed sheets and duvet covers, with my warped baseboards that will detract from the resale price of the condo and, perhaps finally, I am disappointed knowing that it will only be a matter of weeks before A10 comes back and we have to repeat the whole process all over again.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put my head in our Whirlpool oven. I’m not sure if I’m hoping it will work or not. One thing is certain, the outcome either way is sure to be exciting.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Sawisky

An Open Letter to Kevin O’Leary: You’re making us O’Weary

Dear Kevin O’Leary,

Listen, Kevin, we need to have a talk. No, I don’t have a million dollars to offer you, and no, dinosaur soul juice does not flow through my veins, but I am an Albertan, so listen up.

You need to stop. Stop. Stop, Kevin O’Leary. Stop talking. Go away. I will give you, what do I have here… $6.45 for you to go away right now. You are a money man, and if you stop talking right at this very moment, you will be six dollars richer. That is a total benefit to you. Invest it in ties or hair plugs or whatever it is you’re really into right now.

Kev, Kevin, Kevvy-baby, please. You’re embarassing yourself. You do see that, don’t you? A million dollars? One meelllllion dollars is your offer to ‘revitalize’ the Albertan economy? Have you been to Alberta lately? Do you know what houses are priced at? A million smackos will get you half a house out in Silverado Dressage, and not the nice half. A million dollars is a painfully arbitrary number. The sort of number a fanciful child pulls out of their underdeveloped brain when asked “How much money does Mommy and Daddy have?”

And you think you can somehow bribe our democratically elected representative to leave her position? Do you know who does that? The villain. The villain of the movie tries to bribe the leader of the free world, and when the leader laughs uproariously and flips the villain the bird, the villain proceeds to produce a giant galaxy destroying laser.

Because that is what they do in the films, O’Leary.

You can’t just bribe away democracy. That isn’t what democracy is. That isn’t how democracy works. You are bribing the wrong people. You need to be bribing me. Bribe me so the next time an election comes around I don’t vote for NDP. Bribe me. It’s easy. I am cheap. 

In fact, if you give me $1000 towards my editor fund, I will, hand to God, never mention you again. I will not pepper your Twitter news feed with aggravating comments that reveal my total incompetence and my lack of education in the area of whatever it is you are engaged in. Sharks? No. Dragons! That was it. Christ, how did you get put in charge of dragons? Dragons are fucking huge, man. Is that why you don’t have hair? Do you not want to talk about it?

And maybe you thought by offering the province ONE MEEEEELLION dollars you would somehow cause the overall population of Alberta to resort of a coup d’etat or, as I’ve heard it is called now, a kudatah. But you underestimated several things about us, O’Leary, and I feel as if it is my job to eduate you. Please take note of the following things:

  1. We like democracy. Democracy actually works for us. In fact, Alberta is an execllent example of why democracy works. We are generally very conservative and yet we voted in the NDP’s because the Conservatives were literally making us retch in the streets. Yes, First Past the Post is a flawed system, but we’ve made it work so far, and will continue to do so into the future.
  2. One MEEEEEELLION dollars is quite effectively nothing. It will not revitalize our province. It’s estimated that in November, Calgary lost over 35,000 jobs due to the collapse of oil. Your one mil. isn’t going to satisfying them, let alone revitalize our economy.
  3. Rachel Notley, despite your apparent belief, is not some sort of Oil Necromancer who has siphoned the wells dry and thereby created this current troubling scenario. She inherited these issues from the Conservative government. The oil industry does not collapse under the direction of a single individual. We are talking years of fiscal mismanagement and dependence on a single industry. That is the fault of many, not just one, and trying to place the blame on Notley and bribe her to leave office just makes you look like an uneducated blowhard.

You are a money man, and that is fine, Kevin, baby, but you are clearly lacking in several key components of ‘humanity’, namely the ability to critically and rationally examine a scenario and avoid political pandering. If you wanted to really help Alberta, you would invest in CalgaryNEXT KathleenNOW. 

Please, Kevin O’Leary. Stop making fun of our democratic practice, stop mocking it by suggesting our Premier ought to succumb to bribery. Please stop talking. Please go away. And to the media, stop talking to him. No one cares. If anything it makes us sad every time we have to acknowledge that Kevin O-Is-For-Opinionated-Leary has said something, be it intelligent or… whatever it is that keeps leaking from the corner of his mouth.

Stop, please, just stop.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Sawisky

Integrity Commissioner

Chronic Pain Diaries: The Longest Cycle

Sometimes I imagine that I am in a time loop. That my life is only capable of extending to a certain point before I reach a door that is meant to represent change. Instead, the door leads me directly back to the beginning of the cycle. I walk, and run, and prance my way through everyday events until I reach that damnedable door. The whole process begins again.

Today was a bad pain day, fitting given that I had my appointment with the Good Doctor. It was the sort of morning where it felt like the pain was leaking from my spine and staining my hips, my thighs, and even my ass. My ass, for god’s sake. This is mechanical pain, coming from the arthritis. I assumed it’s because the weather is properly cold now. This mechanical pain is the sort that claws into your body and doesn’t let go no matter how much morphine or baclofen or kittens you throw at it. It’s a vibrant, hot, red and black pain.

In the last two years my pain has gotten worse, and with it I assumed so did my curve. Perhaps the only highlight of the visit was learning that my lower curve has settled nicely at it’s 45-49 degree range. It hasn’t moved and likely won’t anymore. Hooray for me!

But at the same time it was some of the worst news I could have imagined. 50 degrees is the magic number. That is when the specialists go from shrugging their shoulders and saying “meh?” when you ask about surgery, to rushing you into the OR and rubbing iodine over your back themselves. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want more surgery. The concept of my spine being almost fully fused is troubling.

But I’ve learned to live with a fused spine. I’ve adjusted my life to it and I get by even without being able to bend over to tie my shoes. What I still find myself struggling with every day is the inconsistencies in pain. One day is good. One day is bad. One day is puppies and cotton candy and the next the puppies have rabies and the cotton candy is actually some sort of snake that is propelled by rockets made out of spiders. And while I can predict when snake-spider-rocket days might occur, it’s fairly hit and miss for the most part. And not knowing when I will be in that sort of pain is exhausting. You feel as if you can’t make plans, can’t make promises. You never know what sort of person you will be when you wake up in the morning.

Because the pain comes out of nowhere and it infects your life like those damned rabid puppies spreading through a daycare.

If the doctor has told me that the time had come to fuse my lower spine I would have been a-okay with that, because there is a slight possibility that fusing those two vertebrae would decrease some of my mechanical pain.

Maybe.

Then again, maybe not.

So I open the door and I walk through, back to the start of the cycle. I look back and see all my friends and family walking through the same door, yet somehow being able to reach another path that isn’t open to me. I have so many questions. When can I finally step onto that new path? What preparations do I have to make? Can I speed up this process? No. I am shunted back to the start of the cycle. Another year of waiting, of snakes and spiders nibbling on my nerves and burrowing into my body.

I’ll give myself one day to be sad, to feel a bit of self-pity that this will be another year when this cannot progress. I’ll put all my focus onto writing, of being a good partner to my husband and support him as he has supported me not only today, but every day rabid puppies and spider rockets strike me down. I’ll work and save, and in October I will go to Japan and see another culture with towering mountains and verdant plains. I’ll snuggle my cats when I feel sad and knit my blanket when I am lazily watching TV.

And I will have pain, every day, because the cycle is just starting again.

An Open Letter to Ken King and the People of Calgary: “Can I interest you in KathleenNOW?”

Dear Mr. King,

What joy! What glory! What a day! Your introduction of the CalgaryNEXT project, as well as the financial requirements from the people of Calgary in the form of taxation to fund your glorious megalith project slash homage to commercial greed is, without a shadow of a doubt, the single most HI-larious thing that could have been announced this week, followed very closely by the discovery of a colony of anthropomorphic dogs on Mars who exist for the full purpose of reciting Shakespeare.

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An Open Letter to my Hobgoblin Neighbor

It’s becoming quite clear that I have numerous interesting neighbors.

Dear Mr. and/or Mrs. Hobgoblin Neighbor,

Kudos, to you, o’ grotesque one. Your complete and utter disregard for the rest of us living in the condo is Bond Villain-esque! If Sean Bean had the cojones to act as you did, surely he would have survived being crushed by the Cradle at the end of GoldenEye. Except not. I mean, he is Sean Bean, after all.

Why, neighbor? Why did you let your dog poop in the elevator and then not clean it up? Why, previous to yesterday’s poop offense, did you let your dog pee in the elevator and then, once again, not clean it up? What is it about feces and urine that you find so troubling that you are unable to deal with it, despite the fact that you relieve yourself of both on a daily basis. But wait, that is unfair of me. You might very well have been previously involved in some sort of Human Caterpillar situation, which has left you with severe PTSD and a fear of human waste.

Or, and this is just a guess, you’re just an unfathomably ignorant and discourteous hobgoblin.

Yes, let’s go with hobgoblin this time around.

Despite how disgusting the piss was when we came across it in our mercifully tiled elevator a month ago, we, and by we I mean my husband, cleaned it up, informed the management company, and left a polite letter in the mail room informing you of your error. After all, maybe you just didn’t notice that your dog took a little wee. I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt once, and only once, before I bring out the goblin whacking stick. Unfortunately for you, the poop left in the elevator yesterday evening means that I am no longer feeling charitable and/or understanding. Quite the opposite in fact.

In discussing this with the folks over on reddit, someone suggested that perhaps they planned on returning to clean it up. That could have very well been true, but alas, 40 minutes later and that pile of shit was still there, much like you are still living in this condo despite the fact that every single person here now despises you and wants you to become locked in your bathroom with your tiny dog where you will inevitably be eaten by it as the animalistic nature of your tiny, yappy canine comes through in full force. Sure, we don’t know who you are, but there are only so many dogs in this condo, so it shouldn’t be too tough to figure out.

For instance, using the elevator suggests that you live on the second or third floor. You own a small dog, probably to go with your tiny penis/or vagina. That’s already eliminated 1/3rd of those living here! Next comes the door-to-door canvassing, followed by the interrogation which may or may not involve a car battery attached to your nipples. If you weren’t pooping in inappropriate places with your dog before, you sure will be after I’m done with you.

Admittedly, I didn’t expect the first note to be met with great success. In fact, I half expected it to enrage the residents of our condo to the point where they started collecting pitchforks and torches. I do tend to have that sort of impact on people. One lovely Redditor came across it somehow and took a picture of it, which I have included below. Perhaps I was a little harsh in it, suggesting you pee in your sink if you really need to. Or maybe you were just so put off that someone would call you on your bullshit that you decided to up the ante by letting your dog poop in our common space and not clean it up. If that is the case I must tell you, I will be forced to call the police if next week we find a rotting corpse slouched over in the corner of the elevator.

I may have been a... little... passive-aggressive

I may have been a… little… passive-aggressive

You know the worst part about you letter your dog relieve itself in the elevator and then not cleaning up after it? It brings into question the health, safety, and care of your pet. I am deeply concerned that your entire condo is composed of dried out dog shit that has been cunningly sculpted into chairs, tables, couches, and even appliances.

Do you let your dog crap wherever and just leave it, hoping that some magical crap fairy will appear in the night and whisk the defecation away into Poopland, where the entire economy is based around the cultivating of bowel movements? Does that make you the King or Queen of Fecal Matter? Furthermore, would you like me to make you a crown? I can definitely put together some sort of poop-related crown if that’s the sort of thing that’ll get you cleaning up after your dog.

For the sake of clarity, let me emphasize that I am not upset at your dog. Sure, I know some dogs can be egged on to pee on command. That always strikes me as quite brilliant. After all, I can’t magically shit every time someone commands me to. I can, however, clean up after my pets as a good owner ought to do.

Amazing that you, a grown man or woman, lacks the basic training afforded to most of the First World. I have drafted a proposal to our condo board that we purchase you a shock collar in an effort to remove you of these neglectful habits. Of course, we’re still going to have to register you with the city. There will be a hefty fee, and you’re going to need to wear a collar. Don’t worry, the collar is only if you can’t find your way home, and the fee will go towards cleaning up after you and/or your dog. And just in case you were wondering, yes, I know human vaccinations are not currently mandatory, but I think for the sake of everyone living in the building it would be best if we made sure you were up-to-date on all of that.

Now, I suppose you think I’m being passive-aggressive by suggesting that you are on equal terms as a trained animal (possibly untrained. It is difficult to tell at this point.) My answer to that is: absolutely. 100% passive-aggressive. I would be in-your-face aggressive, but have no idea who you are, which is why I am forced to address this letter as I have. If you’d like to come forward to discuss this face to face, I live in Unit 3314. Anytime, buddy, anyplace. Just give me a heads up so I can lay down some newspaper for you before you arrive.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Sawisky, Esq.

Integrity commissioner