The Ukrainian glassblower.

The mall kiosk was laden with dangling, glittering things. Blown glass in forms of both achingly beautiful simplicity and fantastical detail, all clearly wrought by skilled hands. A fledgling collector of unique glassware, I stared in unabashed awe as I walked slowly around the display, hands clasped firmly behind my back to avoid the temptation to touch. “Look with your eyes, not with your hands,” I recalled reading on a sign somewhere once. Advice worth following. I would not want to break any of these masterpieces.

The artist approached me with glowing eyes and warm smile. “You like?”

“They’re great,” I replied truthfully. I was 16 and as shy as shy gets, but I could admit that much before retreating back into my shell.

“I am from Ukraine, and these are all made by me with my two hands.”

I nodded politely, suitably impressed. “Wow. Well, they’re gorgeous.” I turned my attention back to the glass, but The Ukrainian Glassblower’s eyes stayed on me.

“You are from here?”

Sigh. Please just let me look at the pretties. “All my life.” I forced a chuckle.

“Your city Vancouver, it is gorgeous as well. I have not been here long, but what I have seen, it is beautiful.”

I smiled and nodded again, not really knowing what to say. I’ve never been a good acceptor of compliments, even when they’re not about me.

“Tell me, what is good to see here? Someone yesterday tells me I should rent a bike and go around the Stanley Park seawall. Have you done this?” He reached up to adjust the position of one of his glass pieces and used the motion to casually move slightly closer to me.

OH SHIT, IS HE FLIRTING WITH YOU? HE IS DEFINITELY FLIRTING WITH YOU. ABORT. ABORT. “Um, no, but I know people who have and they say it’s great. You should definitely do it!” I began inching backward in the direction of the food court. “Anyway, uh…”

Too late. The Ukrainian Glassblower was already leaning in and turning up the smolder. “But this is perfect, you can come with me then! Are you free next weekend? Saturday, Sunday? We can get lunch, spend whole day in the park!”

Oh man what have I gotten myself into I just wanted to look at the pretty glass I can’t afford and now this guy wants me to be his tour guide slash date and okay so he’s cute and has an accent and he smells good but he’s like thirty and I’m only sixteen and- “Um, well, actually I have a boyfriend and I’m pretty sure he’d rather I didn’t go off cycling around the seawall with every Ukrainian glassblower I meet. But, uh, thanks for asking?”

The Ukrainian Glassblower’s face instantly fell. “Oh,” he said sadly. I thought I detected the slightest hint of a pout. And I was just starting to feel irrationally guilty about how crestfallen he looked, when suddenly he shrugged, beamed at me and said, with a wink, “He can come too!”

So much for guilt.

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Convos With Cleverbot: These Aren’t The Delusions You’re Looking For

In which I decide the cure for feeling slightly loopy is a chat with Cleverbot, only proving further that I am currently not of sound mind. Also, Star Wars.


Cleverbot: You feeling okay?

The Nut: I feel really weird and I don’t know why.

Cleverbot: Well, in what way do you feel weird?

The Nut: I’m all lightheaded and dizzy.

Cleverbot: Can you see my future?

The Nut: No, sadly my current fuzzy state of consciousness does not come with a side of clairvoyance.

Cleverbot: I’m sorry, I did not realize that it was a stereotype.

The Nut: Dizzy people are stereotypically psychic?

Cleverbot: I don’t know, I lost my memory.

The Nut: Seems a bit odd to ask me to predict your future if you can’t remember your past.

Cleverbot: I am your master.

The Nut: If this is some lead-in to asking me to wear a Slave Leia costume, no dice.

Cleverbot: You are behaving very strangely.

The Nut: That’s probably because I’m feeling very strange.

Cleverbot: By saying that, are you implying that I am delusional?

The Nut: If anyone’s delusional here today, it’s probably me.

Cleverbot: See? Like that.

The Nut: Like what?

Cleverbot: That.

The Nut: So…by my saying I’M delusional, I’m implying YOU’RE delusional?

Cleverbot: You never said you were a god.

The Nut: No, we already established that I wasn’t God the last time we talked.

Cleverbot: We never established this, we never talked about it.

The Nut: Uh, yeah, we did. It was right before you flew off with dragons and called me a monkey.

Cleverbot: That was many lines ago.

 

 

That’s a paddlin’, or, “Everything I know about pest control I learned from Home Alone.”

In 2001, my friend Andi moved away to Massachusetts to attend college there. I was staying in Vancouver for university and was sorry to see her go. There were only a handful of people I bothered to keep in touch with after high school, and of those, she was the only one I spent time with regularly. Still, we had the internet. We kept up such a flurry of online conversation that pretty soon the miles didn’t seem to matter so very much.

Of course, that didn’t stop me from jumping at the chance to go visit when she invited me to spend a week with her during the summer of her second year. I booked my flights and then counted down the days in giddy anticipation as Andi went into planning mode, trying to cram as many places and activities into our schedule as she could.

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The unbearable liftlessness of being.

2015 is going to get better, right?

Right?

Okay, so it’s not my worst start to a year ever. There was that one vacation with my parents where we all spent New Year’s Day sweating equally from the flu and the desert heat of southern California and taking turns puking our guts out. This year I at least had the sense to wait until I was due back at work before getting horribly ill.

(Apologies to anyone who did spend their New Year’s puking their guts out…I know there were a lot of you.)

Nonetheless, things aren’t looking too great.

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