The Creatures Under My Bed (A Tragy-Comedy with hints of Horror)

AAAAaaahhhhh! Basement living.

Need I say more? Clearly yes.

A recently discovered, what appears to be, cemetary of bugs has stirred in me the very intense need to explain the joys and hardships of having roomates which walk on more than 4 feet. Insects. Bugs. Arachnids. And all other forms of creepers.

I almost feel bad for them… but let me start at the very beginning.

Last September, when I moved into my basement apartment, I was charmed by the brightness and the affordability of it! A newly renovated empty space with countless possibilities (including onsite laundry…!!! This all comes with living in your aunt’s basement. :D) Now there was the whole, no kitchen, thing. But arrangements were made, blah.

One of my first situations was: the humidity. Every night when I first moved in, I woke up with a sore throat and soon realized it was due to humidity (and season change, and stress of moving for the first time, and starting a new life in a new city and a new school and quite frankly a new career/life path altogether!)… but mostly it was the humidity.

So I got a dehumidifier.

But it’s noisy.

And a basement will be a basement so… then came the bugs.

Now I am lucky that it’s a newly renovated place so there’s not so much of the pre-established oldies (I picture an old farmer potato bug, with a shotgun yellin’ GERROF MAH DAMN PROPERTY! *chukchuk* (sound of shotgun being..prepped.)) So they were new bugs. Probably as nervous as me of being in a new place. I admit I killed the first spider I saw but after that I let them mostly be. Until they got too big and…

There were flies, that Autumn. And ants coming in from the cold. And sowbugs revelling in the humidity and struggling through life like the rest of them. And then there were… the CENTIPEDES!

Now. Let me also preface (too late for THAT, Nomes!) this by saying that I loved bugs as a child. I really did. Just wanted to have them all as pets. Caught them. Made them little houses in empty peanut butter jars with grass and twigs and… well they would die the next day but OH HOW I CARED FOR THEM. Until. UNTIL that fateful day I met my match. My unfeeling uncaring primal stupid match: an earwig. It was a beautiful (though cloudy, as I recall) afternoon at my grandfather’s country house. Dad was..digging a hole. I don’t know why. It was a big hole though. I went out to … *ahem* help him (I was 5, let’s me honest, how much could I really help). As I stood there, staring at the earth being turned over, I saw an earwig there, struggling through the dirt. Now I remember that even at that age, everyone HATED earwigs. (We had traps for them in our gardens.. which was the best chore/game to go empty and kill… ahhhh, childhood nurturing). So yeah, I knew they had a bad rep, but I wanted to prove that they could be gentle and caring and deserved to be SAVED FROM THE EVIL SHOVEL! So I took it in my hands. … AND THE BASTARD PINCHED MY THUMB!

Me: AAARGH! *shakes it off my thumb*.

Dad: What?!


Dad: *kills it*

So there you have it. Hate earwigs. And learned a valuable lesson about dumb bugs: they don’t care. Especially the ones that bite. OOOOOH they don’t want your compassion ONE BIT!

-End of Part I- End of update.. later.

Judgement from auto-flushing toilets

by PenRei

At all of my previous jobs, the women’s washroom was equipped with toilets that you had to flush manually. Honestly, for me, manually means using your foot to gently push down on the lever since a) you don’t know who touched what before that handle, and b) because other people use their feet and you don’t want to touch the germs from the outside dragged in by their shoes. It was simple enough as a task; I couldn’t complain.

At my new job, the washroom is lined up with automatic flushing toilets. I admit that there is a certain comforting sanitation aspect that comes with it, but I have one major beef with these pieces of technology: they flush when they want to. How many times has it happened that you’re comfortably seated, doing your business, and then all of a sudden it flushes without warning?! You’re not done, but the toilet is telling you you’re done and to step aside. JUDGEMENT! And if you’re me yesterday, the toilet will flush 6 times consecutively before you’re finally done (and I wasn’t even very long, sorry for the TMI). It felt like I was being harassed by that annoying kid in elementary school who became hall monitor and abused his/her power at the water fountain. You know the kid I’m talking about. He/she may not have been on water fountain duty, but there were other ways to abuse power.

Bart Simpson, Hall Monitor

Bart Simpson, Hall Monitor, s3 ep18

To this I say: “No! I will flush when I’m done. You don’t dictate when my nature is done calling.”

The Science of Stress

PenRei here, talking about something we all know about, stress. Never having lived through stress in life is impossible as a human being. If you don’t know what stress is or feels like, clearly you are a robot. Also, if you are a robot, that’s awesome!

So, stress, according to The Stress of Life by Hans Selye (apparently the first doctor to study stress) from 1956 is the consequence of the failure of an organism — human or other animal — to respond adequately to mental, emotional, or physical demands, whether actual or imagined. Sounds familiar? Of course it does! Moving on.

What has got me thinking about stress recently is how I’ve realized that since the end of university, I’ve learned to deal with it differently, and in very positive ways. There was a time in my life where almost anything could stress me out (lack of internet, a term paper due in 2 weeks, fear of being late for EVERYTHING), but yesterday, it dawned on me that I’m definitely not the same as I was before. Why is that? And why is it that some people have more stress than others? Why are some people able to deal with it easier than others? Is it just psychological or also physical? Of course, because this is me and science is just so wickedly awesome, let’s see if science has an answer.

According to our dear doctor Hans Seyle, at the basic animal core, the reason why we stress is a response to injury and illness. The quick adrenaline rush, the rapid heart rate, the blood flow concentrated to the brain all represent our bodies’ attempt to the cope with the process of being injured or sick. Chemically, most of the changes are associated with the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for localized adjustments), which prepares you for a fight or flight response by releasing cortisol (the stress hormoney). Depending on your own body chemistry (we’re clearly all different), everyone will feel the affects of stress differently. Some will actually secrete more of the chemicals and hormones than others, creating a much stronger response.

I’m sure many of us have noticed that during periods of prolonged stress, there are physical changes to our bodies. Over time, some people develop high bloog pressure and coronary heart disease. Yikes! I’m staying away from that business. The most common problem I’m sure most of us notice though is weight gain. Why? After a bit of research, the answer seems fairly simple and obvious once you know it (but I didn’t before, therefor, I learned).

  1. Cortisol automatically slows down your metabolism, which makes dieting of any kind completely ineffective.
  2. Your blood sugar levels will alter, potentialy causing the condition of hyperglycemia, which in severe cases could lead to diabetes.
  3. Stress can actually change where your body stores fat. In most cases, your body will be more likely to store fat in the stomach than anywhere else. CRAZY!

So, if stress is suppose to be related to bodily harm, and prolonged stress can CAUSE bodily harm, why are us humans screwed up enough to stress when we are not in bodily harm? Is this what we call an imagined circumstance? You know what I’m talking about! Let’s refer back to the stress of a term paper being due; you’re not going to die, get kicked in the stomach, or magically develop AIDS if you don’t hand in your essay in time. In the grand scheme of things, you’ll be okay and might have to suck up a 5% deduction if you hand it in a day late. That’s not so scary, isn’t it?! BUT IT IS! I remember being terrified of that. Why? Because I felt that if I didn’t do it in time, I wouldn’t get a good grade, and because of that, somewhere down the road, I would fail at life. Now that I look back on it, it seems pretty ridiculous.

In my personal experiences, I classify that there are two types of stress:

  1. Motivational stress: This one is the kind that gets things done. Ex: I’m the DOP on a film shoot and the AD is telling me we’re running late. Stress begins to set in because we’re shooting with daylight, the sun is constantly moving, and there’s not enough time. So, I take in a deep breath and let my stress hide the fact that I’m tired and hungry so that I can power through the day, knowing that I will crash in bed as soon as I get home.
  2. Just negative stress: I really hate this one! This one just doesn’t allow you to function. You feel like you’re life is going to fall apart and that nothing is in your control. Eventually, if I can’t solve the problem, there might be an occasion of going to a sound proof room to scream for 5 minutes, or a trip to the bathroom for some good old fashioned sobbing with toilet paper.

Two years ago, about 50% of my stress was motivational and 50% was negative. It is also important to note that about 70% of my time (including sleep time) involved me experiencing one of those two types of stress. Lately though, that has completely changed. I might now have a bout of negative stress once a year, and I find myself going full weeks without being stressed at all.

Yesterday was a perfect example. The other production coordinnator had to step out of the office for a couple of hours to take care of some personal matters, so I had to take on the mantle of doing both of our jobs for the show we were broadcasting that night. Let’s add that I’ve also just started this new job, so I’m not fully trained on everything. And since that’s not enough, there were also many technical problems throughout the day. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to hand in my work for the required time dealines, but I knew it was going to be ready for the show. The old PenRei would have stressed all day, worried that she would get yelled at and wreck the show. The new PenRei, she knew that some things were just out of her control and there was no reason to stress about it. Why worry if it wasn’t my job to solve the problem? So, I spent some of that time doing other work that I would have to do eventually. When the other PC came back, he was just a ball of stress, worried that not everything was perfectly on time (nothing against me, just the weight of doing both jobs is a lot for anyone). Then, he saw me and wondered why I was so calm. I simply said “the work will get done in time and the show will go on. It’s also not my responsibility to solve everyone’s problem, so I’m just doing what I can.” He seemed pretty surprised by my zen-like state. That night, as predicted, the show happened and everything I was responsible for was tied up in a nice little knot. He commented that he would like to learn my lack of stress ways.

Since this post has now passed the 1 000 word mark, and despite the fact I haven’t answered all of the above mentioned questions, it’s time to click on publish soon. Good job if you managed to stick around for the whole thing! I will end by thanking my previous boss at the NFB, AMR, who I feel taught me through her work habits that there’s no point in stressing over things you can’t control. Some times you don’t have a choice and it’s just matter of recognizing that and doing what is within the realm of possibilities. Thank you for this most important lesson!

StruggleBot PenRei out!

PenRei’s Relationships with Tights

When I was just a little girl (Que sera sera), for about 8 years, I danced approximately 35 hours a week… until I discovered my knees sucked majorly and I could either have an incredibly short-lived career in dance (we’re talking weiner dog short), or stop dancing and be able to walk past the age of 30. Being of sound mind, walking for the rest of my life seemed like a big deal, so I opted to slowly stop dancing. Still, despite the fact that I’ve never really considered myself a girly girl (safe for that 5 year old Disney princess phase), tights were a regular part of my life. Anyway, I find myself to be stuck in a repetitive cycle when it comes to my relationship with tights.

PenRei shops in the tights section looking for some new colour to add to her many black and grey skirts. She picks up an awesome dark red pair to which she falls in love with at first sight.
Tights: Hey there baby! Those are some nice legs you got there.
PenRei: Uh, thanks! I’m a fan of your colour.
Tights: I could go really well with those three dresses you own in your closet. C’mon, buy me, you know we would have a good time.
PenRei: It’s just, the last pair of tights didn’t treat me so well. They tore after I wore them only three times and laughed in my face. It just broke my heart.
Tights: Aw, don’t worry. I’m not like those other tights. I’ll treat you right. Just feel that soft strong fabric of mine. I’ll keep those legs of yours safe from the cold and make you look good.
PenRei: I guess you’re right. Maybe you’re not like all the other tights. Maybe things could be different with you.

PenRei walks towards the cash register and buys the pair of tights.

PenRei slips on her black skirt and pulls out the red tights from her dresser. As she carefully rolls them up, out of nowhere, without a sound, appears a giant obvious rip.

PenRei: What? But I thought…
Tights: Relax girl. We had our time and it was fun while it lasted.
PenRei: I thought you were different.
Tights: Oh come on, you didn’t really buy into all of that did you.
PenRei: I can’t believe this is happening again.
Tights: What did you think was going to happen? That I would stick around forever?
PenRei takes off the tights.
Tights: You’ve been great beautiful, but I have to go now.
PenRei throws her tights into the garbage and opts to wear yet again a pair of skinny jeans to work with high boots to try and look like some kind of professional.

PenRei stands in the tights department at the Bay, about to repeat the neverending cycle of  this most destructive relationship.
Fall is here! And I love fall, but that also means that summer heat is gone and that buying tights might happen soon. Why can’t I ever learn?! And why do I love you tights?!

“Car Blank”, Smuggler, and Brunch

PenRei here, sharing a few experiences during the TIFF season here in Toronto. I won’t go too far in depth as I do not yet feel comfortable using this blog as a personal movie review site.

Every year during TIFF, I make a solid effort to see a minimum of 4 movies: 1 kids’ film (always seen with bestie Douggy Fresh), 1 Midnight Madness, 1 Vanguard, and 1 French language. The list of films this year was a slightly different mix, but just as satisfying:
Carré blanc, Jean-Baptiste Léonetti (Vanguard and French)
Smuggler, Katsuhito Ishii (Midnight Madness, Japanese)
A Monster In Paris, Bibo Bergeron (TIFF Kids)
A Letter To Momo, Hiroyuko Okiura (TIFF Kids, Japanese)

This year, Nomes joined me for the deep, freaky and horrifying futuristic French film Carré Blanc, direct translation “White Square”. Unfortunately, nobody who actually worked at TIFF in the theatre even knew how to say the title. As a Frenchie, I found this to be deeply troubling. Sure, I understand that not everyone can say the title properly, but none of the volunteers or employees even made an effort to say the title correctly. They simply said “Car Blank”, which drove me crazy because anyone who knows anything about French knows that that isn’t even close. Nomes came a little late and was asking some people where the lineup was for the film Carré blanc, only to have the volunteers say that they weren’t screening that film. So not only can they not say the title of the film, they are also turning away viewers who can correctly say the title. I couldn’t help but wonder if some people missed out on the beginning of the film because of the ignorance of these workers and volunteers. (Please note that I appreciate the volunteers of TIFF, I just don’t appreciate awful customer service anywhere, and that clearly was).

After Carré blanc, Nomes and I had tickets for the Midnight Madness screening Smuggler. Since there was less than 45 minutes between the end of film 1 and the beginning of film 2, the lineup was absolutely ridiculous. We were also both exhausted from waking up at 6am to buy tickets for the day, and I couldn’t handle the thought of going to bed at 2am, simply to wake up at 6am, again, 4 hours later to get more TIFF tickets. We both decided that maybe the Midnight Madness wasn’t the best idea for us. After parting ways, it made me sad to know that the tickets would go to waste if I hung on to them, so I decided to pass by the Ryerson Theatre and give the 2 tickets to the first people in the rush line. Ironically, those 2 people happened to be 2 Japanese female tourists who had most likely been waiting in line for 2 hours with the hope of maybe getting in. There was a bit of a language barrier since they couldn’t entirely understand me, but once it was clear that I was giving them the two tickets for free, no strings attached, they got so excited. They did that adorable Japanese giggle and bounce as soon as I handed them the tickets. The volunteer at the front of the rush line then told them that they could now line up with the tickets holders, smiling at their luck. I don’t know if I would have fully enjoyed the dark comedy of Smuggler, but knowing that I just made 2 girls who were clearly dying to see the film incredibly happy made my night. I was happy to know that the tickets went to people who would enjoy the film more than me. That’s what TIFF is about: enjoying films!

Well, laundry calls, and later on, BRUNCH! Clearly the BEST MEAL EVER! Upon visiting some employees at my old job yesterday, there was a very clear discussion on how brunch works as the perfect excuse to get out of so many things.

Supervisor: So-and-so called and said he/she is sick and won’t be coming in tomorrow. Can you cover their shift?
You: Nope, I have brunch.

Parent: Can you drive your little sister to daycare? I have to pick up the cake for tonight’s party.
You: Sorry, I have brunch.

Friend: We should totally go out tonight, get wasted, and pick up some really hot guys. I could go for some meaningless boytoy time tonight.
You: You go ahead without me, I have brunch in the morning.

It just works every time!

Peace out!

A Birthday.

Birthday: a free form post by Nomes.

Or: How it ain’t ALWAYS a struggle.

Upon the day of my birthday, many beautiful and wonderful things have occured.

One of them involves my dream about learning how to surf… on a lake. With no waves. And free falling in a car that led me to that fateful lake beach.

Then there was the call that woke me, from my loveliest and most loving parents, wishing me happy birthday first thing!

Another involved looking in my fridge and seeing that the only POSSIBLE solution for breakfast (and lack of time) was to eat the leftover chocolate-beet cake. A perfectly scrumptious breakfast solution, and one that really starts your day with a : BAM! HAPPYBDAY!

Then came chorus (class) where everyone sang to me happy birthday in french. Both songs(for those of you who don’t know, there’s a song written by Gilles Vigneault called “Gens du Pays” which us French Canadians have adopted as a secondary birthday song, substituting the words Gens du Pays for Cher(ère) *insert name of birthday person*). The second song, only 1 person knew so I had to get up (upon the urging of my chorus conductor) and teach it. Bday gift number 4(the rest happened before today but were nonetheless aMAYzing) was thus: Teaching my class to sing me a french birthday song. Yes. Yes it happened.

Then came singing with our acapella group in delightful harmony.

Then came a beautifullllllly sung rendition of happy birthday (full with orchestral interludes done on voice) on my voicemail from my dearest Montreal sister from another mister. Win.

Then came 2 pictures of my friend’s newborn baby texted to me as gift number 7. Perfection.

Then came sushi lunch with friends!!!! Then came a super fun singing/audition class(with another full happy birthday, with piano accompaniment this time!!!!).

Then AMAZING dinner and drinks with my childhood best friend. ANNNNNND: THE MOST UNBELIEVABLE CAKE of. life. Banana. Chocolate. and Chocolate Chip. Cake. OOOOOOOH MAMAH! 7 West. You are a wonderful little discovery of a restaurant!

Then homeward bound with phone calls from my sister and PenRei on the way!

Then I’m home and I get a package in the mail from my friend (and brilliant new music provider 🙂 ) in Edmonton.

All of this interspersed with songs, laughter and soooo much love from soo many lovely people and finishing the day responding to as many facebook posts as possible. 🙂 Yes. Yes it has been a lovely day. Thank you all so much.

-Lovely Day by Bill Withers-

p.s. Cake should always bookend your birthday. Oh yes it should.


The Mystery of Sleep

PenRei here, sitting in her open cubicle wondering if anyone would notice if I decided to curl up under my desk for a 1 hour nap. The answer: most likely, which is why I choose not to… although the body wills it so!

As I rub my eyes wondering if I’m just dreaming I’m this tired, I can’t help but question sleep. We all know we need it, we all want it, but what makes a good night’s sleep? I decided to take my present lack of brain power (triple exhausted from coordinnating a shoot in a few hours) to walk the path of knowledge and find out.

Now, I don’t think I have to explain to any of you what sleep is. If you don’t know by now, you are either an infant who is completely unaware of things and shouldn’t be able to surf the internet, or you’re an alien. Babies, if you can read, congratulations, you’re geniuses! Aliens, feel free to learn more about our strange human ways. So jumping over the definition of sleep, let’s go to the basic reasons of why we sleep:

  • Restoration: If you’re like me, than one regular involuntary daily activity you participate in is accidently bashing your shoulders or arms against doorframes, because apparently you lack the depth perception required to just walk through. That bruised skin, muscle, or bone is going to need to heal, and sleep is the perfect time for that. Same goes for being sick and gross with snot.
  • Ontogenesis: This reason is a pretty trippy one. It happens during REM sleep and does the crazy task of activating all of these synapses in the brain. Apparently, consistent lack of REM can develop abnormalities in a person. Guh! I need more of that shit.
  • Memory filing: Ever had those dreams where random things happen that you remember from your day, but they make no cohesive sense. Well, that’s your brain taking the information and filing it away into its own giant cabinet, with a filing system that even you probably won’t be able to understand.
  • Preservation: Now, this one I don’t entirely understand since being asleep to me is the most vulnerable moment in your day to be attacked by… oh I don’t know… a panther, or a dinosaur, or Godzilla. So I will do a nice little copy/paste from a website I found: “A new theory holds that sleep is merely a good way to increase an animal’s efficiency, by hunting only when the hunting is good, for example, and minimize its risk: The risk of an accident goes down when you’re sleeping.” (

 This is all seems relatively simple, but it still doesn’t answer why there are days where I am just completely exhausted. The worst is when I’ve had a full 8 hours of sleep despite the fact I went to bed at 2-3 am. Why is that? Well, I found a nifty litle diagram to illustrate potentially why.

Boy does this diagram seem pretty accurate towards my life. I won’t bore any of you with the details, so feel free to compare it to yourselves. You can already see that my bashing into doorframes doesn’t generally happen between 2-4pm. Apparently we really do have a biological clock that ticks, and it’s not just for the ladies.

Signing off,

TO sightings

So one thing I do love oh so much about Toronto: the people. Those you meet and those you don’t meet but see on the street and wonder: “Hmm. What is their story?”

For instance, on my walk home just now, two wonderful things happened to cross my path.

The first was a young man taking his very new-looking and fully inflated blow-up mattress for a stroll. And it wasn’t just a small mattress; it was definitely queen sized and he just had it under his arm like he was taking it to the laudromat for a good wash.

Or he was on the lam.Tell me, is it still couch surfing if you bring your own mattress? Hm. Probably more so because at least this blow-up matress can float and THUS do the aforementioned surfing!… *shrug* He was probably going to the beach. Nice day. Why not?

The second incident involved a mini school bus which was, what could only be considered as cruising, down Bathurst st. and blaring Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream.

Now… I’m all about the alternative modes of transportation (…but even biking is a doozey for me. Doozy? Doozie? Doozeful.) HOWEVER, I would really like to have been there when that conversation happened. Cause I don’t want to believe that it’s an actual bus driver going to pick some kids up after school and making the most of a great stereo on the way there. No way. The other option is far more entertaining. I mean, see below:)

Teenage Girl: MOM! Can I get the keys for the car? I need to pick up Kelly after school to go to *insert preferred after school activity*!

Mother: Sorry honey, I need it to go to book club/the grocery store/kickboxing.

Teenage Girl: But moooooom….

Mother: You can take the mini bus though! You’re father’s taking a sick day so he doesn’t need it.

Teenage Girl: …….. My life.

*end scene*

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be the daughter of a school bus driver. I also always wondered what the deal was as a bus driver. Do you get to bring the vehicle home? Drive it around wherever? Be the D.D. for an entire bachelor party? Or was the school bus I always saw, parked in one of my neighbour’s driveway, simply payback for being unfairly fired. Perhaps for popping wheelies whilst herding the little ones to school.

Who knows?

Also, having a party in a (parked) bus is definitely on my to-do list. Just take a few seats out. Get some lights going. Maybe a disco ball. Some boas (the fluffy kind, not the potentially man-eating kind). How fun? Very.

Strugglebot Nomes – Out.

Itching at work – PenRei

One thing that drives me crazy at the most random occasion is when I have this huge itch at work. You know the kind of I’m talking about. No, you sick fuck, not THAT kind! I mean the kind when your back or the top of your thigh just won’t let go. You try to scratch through your jeans, but it feels more like an awkward plastic claw hand coming to get you. You rub your back subtely against your chair, but it does nothing. You then come to the realisation that you can either:
a) run to the washroom and just do what has to be done to scratch that itch
b) pretend like it’s not there and just wait for it to pass
c) just go for the full scratch in front of your coworkers without shame
d) think of nothing else and start twitching in your chair until your coworkers are too scared to talk to you.
If you’re having a bad day, D might not seem like such a bad option. I personally find myself going for option B most of the time. Since the itch is at times just so intense, there are occasions where my brain will jump to D.

My leg just started twitching and I have to meet with my producer soon.

Why don’t these annoying itches ever happen when I’m at home? Why must they be at a point in my day for the highest possible humiliation?! Gr! Not the good kind.
This is the good kind of Gir!

Wait… What?… BLTS!

As we stood in PenRei’s kitchen, preparing for a wonderful brunch made of BLTs and strange teas, we realized the combined demands from our close friends that blogging should somehow be a part of our lives. Now, we denied this fact for so long, feeling that we are simply too ridiculous (sometimes unable to understand ourselves in the chaos), but the scent of bacon wafting to our noses made us cave.

So here we are, wondering if this is even going to last. Stay tuned… or don’t… I mean, it’s fine, you can resume your regular programming.

(Also, we are highly inappropriate).