Monday, May 16, 2011

The Annual Tradition Continues

Last summer, I came home from work one warm Friday evening. The apartment was really warm and Byron had the windows closed. He had a good reason. A really good reason.

Rat Tail was holding his annual yard sale.

The front yard was filled with old furniture, tacky paintings, and gaudy knick-knacks. Rat Tail presided over the yard of crap, and in the midst of it was Mange Personified. The two of them spent the whole weekend talking to passers-by, each other, yelling at the child, and just being general know-it-all-assholes. Even though it was sweltering out, the windows were shut in the vain attempt to keep their shitty noise out.

Rat Tail is one of those douches who has been everywhere and done everything. When we applied for this apartment, we said Byron was in school for computers. Rat Tail started an internet company. When we painted our place, Rat Tail told us he owned a painting company. When we moved in, Rat Tail told us he owned a moving company. He's one of those guys. His place is filled with crap. Literally. The hallways are littered with dull baubles, musty rugs, and dusty paintings. He told us he owned a trading company and has been all over the world. That tattered paper lantern? Straight from the streets of Beijing. Those swords? From Indonesia. Those masks? From Africa. Oh Rat Tail has seen it all and done it all.

At these annual yard sales, Rat Tail hauls out his old furniture, lays them on the grass and apparently makes a small fortune off them. He bragged last year that he made over $2000 one year. As if.

Last year, there was a very worn burgundy chaise on the lawn. Mange, in her splendour, sat spread eagle all weekend on the chaise, hollering such gems as "when she acts up, I just swat her ass," speaking, naturally of her five year-old daughter. In her jammie pants, camisole sans bra, greasy hair and bare feet, she spent three days sharing her world view.

We ran into Rat Tail this evening. He told us that the great annual yard sale is on this weekend. If we have anything we're getting rid of in the move, we're free to bring it down for the sale. As if.

How fitting. On our final weekend in this hell hole, we get to spend three days listening to Mensa sell their crap. I will try my best to take photos.

***UPDATE - The yard sale was cancelled for some unknown reason. We are deeply saddened by this, and disappointed that the chance to snap a pic of Mange is lost. She's like the Yeti.***

Swattingly Yours,

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mamma's Little Baby

It's a very sad day in the Thomas home today. This morning, Blanche, our little dog, passed away. She was getting sicker all week, and last night she couldn't breathe. Blanchie had congestive heart failure, so in the ultimate display of love, my parents let her go. She was surrounded by my brother and my parents and was cradled as she left us. Blanche's loss is leaving a big hole in our lives already.

She was a spunky little dog with a boat-load of attitude. I know when I go home, we will all sit around telling Boo Boo stories for hours. Like when she used to sleep on my bed. Her tiny chin would be on my ankle while I read. If I moved an inch, she would lift her head, narrow her big brown eyes and give an exasperated sigh, as if to say "must we?" If I moved too much, she would jump off the bed, run to the door and glare expectantly at me to get out of my room. I miss her attitude already.

Blanchie was a well-loved dog. From the moment we brought her home, she was the apple of our eyes. Especially my father's. They would go for walks and drives together. When my dad was quitting smoking, he ate jellybeans. So did Blanche. He would bite half a jellybean and give the other half to her. They were buddies. They cuddled in his chair, they napped together, they ate chips together, they were friends. I wish I was home to give my father a hug. He was the brave one who brought her to the vet this morning, and he was the one who showed his love the most by letting her go.

Blanchie was a gift and she brought a gift to our family. She came into our lives at a time when we were all getting older and starting to drift apart. Blanchie brought us together. Blanchie gave us joy and laughter and gave us all a new appreciation for other living beings. The hours of mirth she gave to us will never be forgotten and our hearts will always have her... with her fuzzy neck that smelled like honey, her little paws the size of quarters, the cowlicks on her head and neck, the stripe of reddish fur down her back that stood up when she saw other dogs (how dare they?), that stripe that went white in recent years, those rheumy eyes, and her little dog smile.

Thank you, Blanche, for twelve incredible years. Thank you for the cuddles and companionship, the licks, the stories and the walks. When I walk around the neighbourhood, sadly without your leash, I will always remember how you would stop, put your little paws on my leg and yip, as if thanking me for taking you out for a walk-walk.

Broken-Heartedly Yours,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tales from Melrose Place

By now, you know that I live in a shit heap. It’s cheap, it’s close to my work and Byron’s school and it’s in a hip part of town. Unfortunately, the building is 56 years old and still has most of the original fixtures...such as electrical. I am sincerely shocked that we haven’t burned to the ground yet.

The tenants in this building are, for the most part, equally shit-heapy. You know Mange, Rat Tail and The Slave. You know that Mange and Rat Tail bump uglies. Well, it turns out that The Slave has found companionship in the shit heap, too. A single mother who lives next door to me.

I met the mother a couple of months ago when there was a huge bang on the roof that shook our apartment. All the tenants on the top floor scampered out to the hall to find out what it was. The Slave was there, too, complaining that he might have to go on the roof to find out what it was. You know – his job. A woman was in the hall, holding a gurgling baby. I asked her if she was new here and she said she just moved in. She apologized for the baby and thought the bang was a neighbour banging on the wall to tell her to be quiet. I told her I didn’t know we had a new neighbour, let alone one with a baby. The child was cute enough, with this humongous shock of blonde hair in the front that sort of swooped up like a pompadour. I asked what the baby’s name was.

“Jesse James,” said the mother. But she said it like Jesse James was one name. My sister, for example, does not introduce her son as “George David”. It’s George. I imagined the child’s name to be something dumb like JesseJames Dillinger.

After all the other neighbours and The Slave left, JesseJames’ mom and I were left awkwardly in the hall. She took the opportunity to ramble to me about how JesseJames is 7 months old, and she went to the Salvation Army that day and got 25 diapers and she’s trying to stockpile diapers and diapers are expensive. I nervously agreed and tried to untangle myself from that conversation. I felt bad for her. Until the afternoon I went to get a friend at the front door. We also have no front buzzer so visitors have to call us on their cells. We’ve saved a bundle on delivery food.

I ran downstairs, only to find JesseJames and his mother on the stairwell. She held him on her hip and let out this massive sigh. I said hello and she said “laundry” and sighed again. JesseJames and his pompadour drooled. She stood in the way, so I said I have a friend waiting at the door. She sighed again, not moving. It was like she wanted sympathy from me for having to do laundry while carrying around her child. It took all my strength not to tell her it’s her own damn fault for taking a place on the top floor of a three-story walk-up with a baby and the laundry in the basement. So I just sternly told her to excuse me while I went to get my company and I snaked past her and JesseJames.

Byron was the one who found this gem out. JesseJames’ mom and The Slave are companions. He saw The Slave going into her place one afternoon, but Byron said it was obviously a social call. Blech. We hear The Slave next door in the hallway a lot. And we also hear JesseJames’ mom carousing downstairs in the hallway. JesseJames’ mom and Mange are buddies. Byron has heard JesseJames’ mom coo to the child “say hi to Auntie Tina.” It’s like Melrose Place, with neighbours sleeping with neighbours. Except without the beauty. And way more insane.

44 days. The Slave has started to show our place to potential tenants. A young girl came by on Saturday. The Slave was “upselling” the place by telling her that our place has a custom paint job (that Byron did!), original fixtures and tenants can put anything they want on the walls. Are you sold yet? The Slave also told her that management keeps up on maintenance around here and things. It took all my strength not to laugh. The unshovelled driveway and walkways? The filthy hallways? The ancient electrical? Rat Tail’s “buddies” who happen to know how to plumb? She asked me if it was warm in the winter. I said the windows will have about an inch of frost and you can’t see out them, but we had our snuggies. Byron told me to reign it in. I wanted to pull the child aside and tell her to run. Maybe she has a blog, too, and she can continue the Tales from the Tina File, or tell more stories of JesseJames’ mom. Before we leave, though, I have a few more tales of my own to tell.

Amanda Woodwardingly Yours,

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tales from the Tina Files Part 3

It was a momentous afternoon just now. Byron and I went down to the landlord, Rat Tail, to deliver our notice that we are leaving this godforsaken shitheap. His door was wide open, so I sent Byron to venture in the doorway to deliver the letter. I stayed behind and held my tongue, in case Rat Tail or the Slave tried to say something smart. Which they did.

I looked across the hall and saw that Mange had her door wide open, too. I heard yelling and hollering and "stir the pot". I looked behind me and saw inside Mange's place. The front entrance was packed with coats and shit on the floor. Not real shit, but unidentifiable crap. The bathroom was dark and filthy. And all the blinds were drawn, giving her place the cavernous look. Mange was making dinner with the door wide open. Like you would. She was hollering, the poor child was screeching and running. Who makes dinner with the door wide open? Mange Personified.

As we handed our notice, the Slave made some stupid comment to Byron about being clean-shaven. Then he was making some more stupid comments about spit-shining his head. Rat Tail came out from whatever dark corner of his place and ran his hands through his yellowing gray hair. He tried to be funny, saying he wishes he could do something with his hair. Blech.

Toodle-oo Mange and Rat Tail and the Slave. 50 more days until we can squeal out of here, never to look back. Unless we want to shock and appall people with our stories.

Suck it-ingly Yours,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gangsta's Paradise

The sun was out at lunch, it was seven degrees warm and I took a walk to my bank on my lunch hour. I strolled the streets of downtown Edmonton, taking in the sights. Hoo boy, there were sights. I saw a douche in a suit with those pointy dressy elf shoes who was smoking a flavoured cigarillo. It smelled like cherries. Douche. I saw a lot of sleeveless shirts. I saw some sandals. I saw a lot of goose bumps. I also saw a girl who was wearing a skirt that barely covered her ass, bare legs and platform flip flops. The skirt was so short if she took a big stride I am pretty sure I would see her hoo-haw. Silly child, I thought to myself as I passed her and this guy she was with. He was pure, mother-f*cking gangsta. How do I know he was gangsta? The guy bobbed back and forth while talking, gesticulated a lot, and grabbed his crotch more than once. Oh. And he yelled at her: “Yo, shut the f*ck up, ho.” Very gangsta, indeed. Except this gangsta was very small. He might have been about 5'6 and maybe a buck twenty if he was naked. To me, if you’re going to be a gangsta, you need to be big and formidable. I want to look up at you in fear, not down at you as if you were a mosquito with cornrows. I want a big-ass thug – think the big black guy from Green Mile – and not some dwarf with a dirty mouth. After La Thug barked his orders to his ladyfriend, my mouth gaped open. Then I closed it quick and walked faster, sort of afraid what the wee gangsta might do if he saw my horror. Then I realized that he is so frigging puny, I could probably toss him into traffic with a toss of my hip. If a 35 year old government worker who writes speeches all day, loves her crock pot, her husband and a Wallander mystery book has a good chance at whooping your ass, then you, L'il Wayne, are no gangsta. S'up Ho-ingly Yours, xoxoSallyS

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Walk Fit

I came to work yesterday morning and on my desk was a CD entitled "Walk to Fit." Someone had (kindly?) left me a fitness CD. Anonymously. There was no note on it, although that might not have made it any better. It was a busy morning, so I didn't have much time to think of it. But when lunch came, and I stared at the CD over my dish of strawberries, I became irritated. I asked a colleague if she knew anything about this, and she was shocked someone would do that. My perplextion grew to anger.

A fitness CD... You see, I am big. Giving a big girl a fitness CD is the equivalent of giving a middle aged man brochures on erectile dysfunction, 'cause, you know, he's of that age and probably needs it.

I called my sister, my wise and fearless sister. Jane was furious. Jane hops when she's really mad, and I could tell she was hopping on the other end of the phone. She's also a teacher who is working on her Master's, so she has very strong feelings about discrimination and harassment and can articluate herself very well. She encouraged me to take this to HR, to complain, and to stand up for myself.

So I did.

I called HR, I told my managers, and I emailed my colleagues saying someone left me the CD and I would like to return it to its proper owners. No word yet on who left it. I was sad last night, and Byron hugged me and told me he loves me just as I am. And you know what? So do I.

I'm not sad anymore. Some fool might think he or she was helping me by giving me this lame CD, but they know nothing about me. My weight has no bearing on what I do at work or how I do my job. My weight is my business and my concern. Anyone who thinks they can anonymously (!) give me advice can drop dead.

I've always been large. I've been teased growing up, but I've never had the feeling that being this size has completely limited my life in what I can do. And I have always felt that if there were things in life that I could not have done because of my weight (be a waitress in college, for example), then those things weren't really that worth it.

Before all you fat-haters out there get on me, know this. Bugger off. My overall health is fine. I go to the gym and walk to and from work. I am done making excuses to the likes of you for what I am. Digusted? Look away.

I am not embarassed by this, nor am I that angry anymore. Their advice is unwarranted and will remain unheeded. I know who I am and what I am and I have enough people in my life who love me for that. To the anonymous donor, here's some advice: Get a life and mind your own frigging business.

Beautifully Yours,

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tales from the Tina File... Chapter Two

As the snow falls here in Edmonton, I think back on the summer. And with those thoughts come one of my earliest encounters with Mange Personified. Her fight with a crackwhore.

Shortly after we moved in, we realized that our new apartment had some faults. Such as Mange. And, after a few weeks, our neighbour across the hall. By and I left our house one morning, and the neighbour's door was open. In the hallway sat a scrawny girl putting on her boots, looking very strung out. We left and thought no more of it. We came back to get something, so I ran back to the building. The scrawny crackwhore was storming out of the building as I unlocked the door, and I could hear screeching from inside. It was Mange, screaming at the crackwhore.

Life is not worth living until Mange comes running down the stairs towards you in jammie pants (natch), a camisole with no bra. My life is now richer for this experience. Jealous? You should be.

Mange was screaming "f*ck you" to the crackwhore, who was screaming "no, f*ck YOU!" and that exchange of brilliance went on as the crackwhore ran down the alley. Rat Tail the Landlord and his roommate stood in the hall and they seemed proud of Mange.

We call the roommate "The Slave", since Rat Tail does nothing around here. The Slave shovels, mops the halls, handles all complaints and even walks Rat Tail's asthmatic chihuahua Arnie.

I went into our place to get something and The Slave showed up at the door. He said that Mange won't let anyone bad in this building (ha!) and will stand up to anyone doing anything illegal in this place (ha! ha!). The Slave said the crackwhore was a "friend" of the new neighbour, and was strung out on drugs. Did he not know that he was strung out most of the time, too? The smell of weed is pungent from their apartment. Now the new neighbour was being kicked out because he works in the oil patch, would not have been here a lot, and when he is here he brings crackwhores home.

Mange was just coming back to the building from chasing the crackwhore down the alley as I left. She was still raving and cursing as the door closed. Mange was Rat Tail and The Slave's hero. I, on the other hand, just witnessed a crackwhore fight.

Would anyone like to help us move?

Normally Yours,