A Collection of Oddities

If I didn’t have a tendency and honest love of living in itty bitty spaces requiring hyper-organization and detachment from cluttering trinkets, I’d probably hang onto a lot more of the oddities I’ve stumbled upon in my days.

A couple of years ago I worked in a bubblegum factory. That isn’t relevant to anything, but people often find it amusing. Anyways, I was leaving the factory early one morning, a bit dreary after my twelve-hour shift under fluorescent lighting, weaving down the sidewalk towards the bus stop. I cursed this bus stop as I went. My downtown address had acclimatized me to instant transportation, and I was not at all thrilled to have to schlep my way out to bus-only land to work a night job. By the time I reached my stop though, I was glad to have been working overnight and not amongst the car pieces still scattered all over the road. The accident must have been early in the night because there was no sign of anyone, or even the car itself. No crime tape, no cruisers, no investigation, no nothing.

So I picked up a few of the remnants; a bolt here, a bulb there, a piece of taillight and scraps of acrylic whatnot. I cleaned them and kept them in a jar, thinking they might be good for an art project. A year later while in school for professional makeup, I glued them to a girls face for an edgy applique look – and promptly forgot to take pictures. It turned out pretty good, even though my instructor didn’t always approve of my tastes (he preferred ‘pretty’ looks) and assumed the weight of the objects would peel them right off her face before I could finish. Good thing for that surgical adhesive is all I can say.

Then there was that deformed single-serve creamer that fell out of the box as I refilled the tray in the kitchen a few months ago. It’s intact foil-sealed lid covered not a hollow pocket for liquid, but rather gave way to an odd corkscrew of plastic. Clearly churned out of the machine on the quality inspectors day off, this thing looked vaguely inappropriate in about six different inexplicable ways. Talea and I studied it, flipping it over on the desk and poking at the foil, not speaking our individual hypothesis as to its potential uses for fear that each of us had a far dirtier mind than the other suspected. Instead we settled for a rounding fifteen minutes of Beavis-and-Butthead style snickering.

It might still be at the bottom of one of her desk drawers somewhere, but if I had a trinket box it would definitely go in.

weird plastic deformed possible sex toy thing?

Uhh...wait, what?

Since work is where I spend most of my time these days, it would follow that most of the oddities I’ve discovered recently have been happened upon at the office. None have been so exciting as car pieces or possibly-sexy dairy products, but there’s been a few head-scratchers.

There was that blue sucker I found stuck to one of the picture frames, back when we had a rowdy group of hoodlums calling themselves clients wandering around and making a shit hole out of my kitchen. (It may be the corporation’s office, but I’m the one fist deep in their ungrateful dishes, that is MY goddamned kitchen.) I peeled it off, wiped the goo, and marveled at it for a bit before chucking it in the trash. Fascinating in its irreverence for common decency, and historical in that it’s probably the grossest and saliva-iest thing I’ve ever had to peel off anything (keep in mind I used to work in a daycare, and even those tots had more sense of where to keep body fluids), I still wouldn’t want to keep it in a trinket box.

Mmm...sticky.

(Couldn’t find a pic of blue lollipops, but found this from bakerella.com. I’m sure they’re delicious and not at all saliva-ey.)

Today’s discovery was surprisingly less gross despite it’s vast, VAST amounts of thankfully untapped gross potential. The only reason it remains lower than the lollipop on the yuck-scale is because it was found still in its original packaging. A relieving fact at first, but later leading me to hope that its intended wearer also remained in his original packaging, as well as untapped, at least while on the premises.

Yep, just casually wandered into the kitchen this morning, chatting it up with clients and coworkers, none of whom seemed to acknowledge the strangely commonplace yet clearly out of place object nonchalantly placed on the table. I likewise ignored it, and then quickly snatched it up as soon as the room was empty, lest other innocent passerby stumble upon it and be forced to play the same game of ‘I don’t see that, do you?’

So far nobody has brought it up or asked about it, and I’m pretty glad. Because I, like them, haven’t a clue as to where it came from. And really wouldn’t want to know.

Definitely not one for the trinket box.

Nuit Blanche in Toronto! Yeah, yeah, plenty late, whatever.

In case you haven’t noticed, I LOVE my city. While I am looking forward to moving for a little bit – I hate winter, and I think a slower pace in a small southern suburb could do my hectic brain some good – I must say that Toronto is one of the best damn cities in the world. Josh isn’t too sure if he’s going to like the hustle and bustle when we eventually move back, but I think he’ll find his own favourite places and spaces and come to love it in his own way.

One of the best things around here is the culture and access to all sorts of global ideas. Our film festival is well known, as well as our film industry (May once got startled by a zombie walking around downtown – “Sure, there were movie trailors around, but it’s not like that means anything in Toronto in the summer.”) In fact, they’re filming on my block this weekend. We’ve got a fantastic theatre culture – Chicago was actually filmed here in favour of our strong local theatery goodness. And of course some fantastic museums, widely discussed architecture, and arts galore. Our culture is so important to us that a proposed end to tax benefits for the arts was met with enough public outcry to have the whole idea removed from Stephen Harper’s election campaign (America…we have elections too.)

Anyways, we love our arts!

A recent installment cropped up three years ago from its origins in Paris, a fantastic repertoire of local, expressive, provocative, and often interactive artistic installments in the form of what is referred to as “a free, all-night contemporary art thing”: Nuit Blanche (noo-EE blawnsh = ‘White Night’ or ‘All Nighter’.) An all night event, the city is lit up with a sprawl of dozens of installations celebrating all forms of art and thought. It’s fun, it’s interactive, and if nothing else, a great way to see what other people do with their time, and an excuse to grab a friend, her kids, and a hell of a lot of coffee.

I’ll admit, I did not make it through the night. I actually crashed ridiculously early, but if I’m around for next years event, I’ll be pulling a well-planned all nighter. I missed the Horroridor this year, boo!

Here’s what I did see!

A stretch of Church street in The Village (aka The Gaybourhood and it’s fabulous!) was dotted with trees, lighting and fog machines to create an Ethereal Forest. A collection of bizarre medieval dancers pranced around the top end of the street, accompanied by a flutist. Yes, the Gaybourhood, but that probably has less to do with the prancey type theme than you probably think.

Anyway, I met up with May and her kids here, and we were quickly joined by the illustrious Lindsay. They are not as frequent characters as Talea, but Talea was not in an outside mood, especially in prime touristy-crowd territory.

May did the prep work and came prepared with a list of things to check out. Linds brought energy and a general goal to meet up with friends of hers later on at the art gallery. So off we went!

This piece was called Conversation #2. No, I don’t know what it means or why there are mushrooms, other than for what I believe was an ‘organic’ sort of feel. But it was neat! Also, I love books, hardcover books especially. I just love the feel of them. I covet them.

This display was called Time-Piece, and showed the rapidly shifting phases of the moon on a translucent screen. I’m not quite sure why, though.

Zombies! In Condoland! There is a particularly swanky area downtown known as College Park: a rather dashing collection of exclusive, costly, and all around desireable condominiums along a tree lined path through a lantern lit park on the edge of a neat little pond. Posh. We filled it with zombies, because Toronto is that awesome. May’s littlest one spent most of the night leading up to this display calling up from her stroller “Monshers? We go monshers?” Yes, yes, we’re going to the monshers. “Monshers!”

This display even had the option of getting dressed up and made up with a five-minute zombie makeover station. Alas, the lineup was far more frightening than the results. We did not partake.

Instead we wandered farther south towards Yonge Dundas Square.

Josh’s reaction to this photo: That’s a big ass city, yo. And it is, and I love it. It’s a pain in the ass that a big city comes with lots of people, with the crowding and the noise, and the shoving and the lack of hygiene, but it’s the price one pays. Unfortunately, the square itself didn’t have anything more intriguing than a wandering, blinding spotlight out to give random passerby their fifteen seconds of fame, as well as an OBNOXIOUS motherfucker who stopped his SUV right at the corner. Um, hi, the busiest intersection in the city and “Oh hey, don’t mind my gas guzzling suburban ass – I don’t feel like parking this monstrosity, so I’m just going to put my hazards on and sit here holding up about seven city blocks worth of traffic while my poorly highlighted wife comes waddling across the street trying not to touch anything.”

Dickwad.

Beyond that was Ryerson University with their “Sitting Ducks” display.

Yes, they’re fake, but we’ve all seen ducks swimming around a pond. Have we all seen an odd assortment of floating decoys placed around a man-made fountain by overzelous artsy folk, eerily night-lit with smoke and strobes? I have. It was pretty cool.

On the other side of Ryerson was the House of Leaves (not necessarily any relation to the very brilliant novel – if you can call it that – by Mark Z. Danielewski)

Just pages and pages stuck to the walls, crawling over window panes and rustling in the outdoor narrow pathway between two buildings, and for no real purpose other than it looks utterly fantastic and feels definitely surreal to walk through.

I don’t know who Pat is, but I thought this picture was cool enough for everyone to see.

At this point, both the kids and myself and probably everybody else were getting very tired, very quickly. We made it to the Art Gallery of Ontario, still under construction and with no obvious art installation in sight. Rather than searching, we headed back north instead, back towards College . Not up Yonge St. to Zombie filled Condoland, but up University Ave., through the hospitals, schools, institutes and research facilities that make up the Toronto Discovery District.

Along the way, we did manage to make one last stop at the Ontario Power Generation building, with their quite awesome waterfall display – made entirely of plastic bottles. Makes you think twice about where all the water comes from.

At this point, especially after fighting the crowd that you can only get a brief glimpse of here, we were pretty much done. A night well spent, and there is a subway entrance right at this intersection anyways. Linds and her friends bid us adieu and carried along on their merry way, while May and I took the kids down into the station for the short ride home. My transfer was before theirs, and I still nearly fell asleep – it’s amazing how a night of walking around the city will exhaust you, and I was asleep about five minutes after I got in the door.

Speaking of walking, this chick was doing it wrong. I leave you with one last photo, quite possibly the best of the night.

Haha, she’s been walking around so long on those ridiculous little shoes that her toes are on the pavement! Oh, such a blister she will have!

Noob.