My Week 240: Moving On

I’m exhausted. I just spent the last week packing up for my move back home. If you didn’t already know this, 4 years ago I was offered a temporary position with the secret agency, but it was a very long way from the small town where Ken and I have lived for over 15 years. They were willing to pay for a condo, so I moved to Toronto for what I thought would be a very short time, which turned into a permanent position (where they no longer paid for the condo and I had to pay for it myself–the monthly rent was twice the cost of my mortgage) and a very LONG time. Every Sunday night, I took the train into Toronto, and every Friday afternoon, I took the train home. It was yucky. Finally this Christmas, and after discovering a morning train that could get me to work in under an hour and a half, Ken and I decided I should commute every day instead of living in a neighbourhood that I like to call “the last place that God made”. I had to wait until the end of April though, because I’d committed to taking on a co-op student, a lovely girl who had already lived with me twice, and it didn’t seem fair to make her find some random weirdo to live with for her last work term (and yes, perhaps I am also a random weirdo, but I’m HER random weirdo).

*Side Note: Here are two reasons I’m sad about moving. First, not more than a week after I posted about that weird-ass ladder on the roof next door, I looked out the window and saw this:

Where’s the damn ladder?

And now I will never know what the ultimate plan is. Second, the two guys across the hall just got a Golden Retriever, and I will never get to babysit him.

But moving is bullsh*t. Everyone knows that. In fact, I can’t understand why people don’t just live in the same place until they die because moving is so horrible. Even though my condo was under 800 square feet, it was absolutely f*cking amazing to me the sheer quantity of stuff that I’d accumulated over 4 years. And I’d already had to move once already, after I was illegally evicted from my first condo because it was sold and the new owner was “anxious to move in”. So I had to find another place to live and MOVE TO IT. One week after I moved, I was on the local realtor site and I saw my old place for rent again for $250 more a month than I’d been paying. So I called the real estate agent who was leasing it:

Me: Hi there. I’m wondering about the condo you have advertised.
Agent: Oh so sorry—it just leased.
Me: That’s very interesting, because you just illegally evicted me from there last week.
Agent: Uh…I’m going to have to call you back (*click*).

Long story short, I filed a lawsuit, and they settled out of court. But I still had to move. And now, I was doing it by choice. I decided that it wouldn’t be fair to Ken to make him drive into the heart of downtown Toronto with U-Haul, so I hired movers. There are a lot of moving companies around, and some of them have pretty weird names as we all know. Here are ten:

1) The Burly Boyz
2) The Box Brothers
3) The Happy Haulers
4) My Ninja Movers
5) Rent-A-Son
6) The Rampaging Removers
7) The Shifty Shifters
8) Uncle Bob’s El Cheapo Movers
9) You Pack ‘Em, We Stack ‘Em
10) Your Friend With A Cube Van

Some of those names are actually made up—you have to guess which ones are real moving companies. I think my favourite was ‘In and Out Movers’ because it sounded just a little dirty. At any rate, after looking at review sites, I went with a company called “Two Men and a Truck”, which seemed a fairly self-explanatory and not very creative. But they had a five-star rating so I booked them. In the meantime, I had to start packing all my sh*t up, which sounds easy, except that almost every night last week, I was taken out for a farewell dinner by friends, which involved drinks, and which rendered me not particularly interested in packing. Finally, on Thursday night, I realized I needed to go hard at it because the movers were coming on Friday morning. But I had one problem—there was way too much stuff. Luckily, I had placed an ad on the electronic bulletin board in the elevator of the building. I hadn’t had any takers, when suddenly on Thursday at around 5 pm, I got a text from ‘Joseph’, who was interested in my couch, lamp, and coffee table. He lived two floors up and offered to come down right away. I was a little nervous—what if he was like The Serial Killer Upstairs (whom I had written about a couple of years ago) and instead of wanting my furniture, he wanted to make a lady-suit out of me? The only weapon that I hadn’t packed was a fork that didn’t go with any of my other cutlery (where the hell it came from is one of life’s mysteries, and we all know how we feel about THAT ONE FORK) so I put it in a convenient spot on the counter. I was worried for nothing though, because Joseph was more interested in my furniture than me. He was Swedish, or some kind of young Scandinavian country-type, and he took a few things, telling me that he “loved glassware and lighting”. He also had a roommate who would be home shortly and he would tell ‘Daveed’ about some of the other things I had, and let me know if they were interested. Sure enough, around 9:45, I got a second text telling me that he wanted some more items:

 

I was pretty exhausted, and also a little perplexed about having two strange young men in my condo at 10 o’clock at night, but that concern was outweighed by the feeling that I had badly underestimated the number of boxes I told the movers I would have (“Ten-ish,” I said. “You fool!” you say.), and I really wanted to get rid of some more stuff. Joseph introduced me to ‘Daveed’, who was also apparently Swedish-y. The two of them were setting up an “outdoor space” on their balcony and were delighted by everything they saw (imagine that they are speaking with charming Swedish accents, which I don’t know how to write—I can only do French and Russian):

Joseph: Daveed. Daveed! This will be perfect in the outdoor room!
Daveed: For plants, yes! And look at this wine rack—I can grow vines around it!
Joseph: Daveed! What do you think of this desk? Could you use it outside?
Daveed: Oh yes! It will be perfect for when I am at the computer!

After a few trips up and down the elevator, they had enough for a good start on the outdoor room, we bid each other goodnight, and I went to bed. Guess what time I woke up in a panic about all the things I still had left to do, and the fact that I was short at least two boxes? If you said 4 a.m., you would be absolutely f*cking correct. But then the movers called around 8:30 and asked, “Do you need any boxes?”
“Maybe a couple,” I answered casually. In the meantime, Ken messaged for me to call him so that we could discuss how I should tell the movers to pack everything:

Me: What are you talking about?
Ken: You need to tell them to put everything that goes upstairs in last so they can bring it out first.
Me: You seriously want me to mansplain moving to PROFESSIONAL MOVERS? Hard pass.
Ken: But there are some things that have to go in the front door and some things that have to—
Me: You know what? You can tell them yourself when they get there, but I’m gonna bet they know how to do this, and for the money I’m paying them, I’ll also bet they’ll do whatever you want.

The movers were right on time, and there were THREE of them in the truck. The driver explained that I got a bonus man because it was Friday, and if there was ever a more random reason than that, I can’t think of one. But they were super-efficient, wrapping everything in blankets and taping it all up. Then they were gone and I was left with an empty condo. The landlord was coming over at 11:30 to get the keys, so I cleaned up everything until the place was spic and span, and much cleaner than the previous tenants had left it. He arrived, and I proudly said, “I’ve left everything very clean!” at which point, he went over, opened the oven door and looked inside it, the one place I HADN’T CLEANED. Then he looked at me rather pointedly, and I said, “It was like that when I moved in.”

When I finally arrived home on Friday night, SOMEONE was very happy to see me:

Titus: You’re home! This is the best day ever!
Me: Guess what, buddy? I’m going to be home EVERY night from now on!
Titus: WHUUUT?! HOME COOKED MEALS EVERY NIGHT?! Ooh, I think I just peed a little!
Me: Ok, ewww. But what are you talking about? Ken knows how to cook.
Titus: Yeah, if you like ‘Wonder Weiner’ twice a week.
Ken (from the other room): Wonder Weiner is awesome!
Titus: Can you make that steak with the peppercorn cream sauce? I’ll just wait by the oven…

Ah, home sweet home. And now I have to unpack.

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My Week 239: Cracked Up, Animal Nicknames

On Wednesday, I was driving on the highway for the very last day of off-site work. I had just gotten off the dreaded 401, and was on the delightfully empty 407 toll highway. Finally able to turn off the damn traffic report on the radio, I had my iPod playing ‘Sugar, How You Get So Fly?’ (the Robin Schulz version) and I was cruising at a nice 120 kph, merrily bobbing my head when suddenly, “BANG!!!” I jumped in my seat and looked around wildly, then I realized that my windshield now had a huge, radiating crack on the passenger side. My first thought was, ‘What the absolute f*ck?! I didn’t even see anything coming!’ and my second thought was, ‘This isn’t fair—I’m wearing my favourite underwear and that means it’s supposed to be a good day!’ I’m not going to describe the underwear to you since it’s kind of personal and some things should be kept to oneself, but suffice it to say that whenever I see it, all freshly laundered and ready to go, I smile and quietly say “Yes!”. It’s like the Wordsworth poem, “My heart leaps up when I behold/A rainbow in the sky”, but instead, substitute ‘my favourite underwear’ for ‘rainbow’ and ‘drawer’ for sky’. There is nothing wrong with waxing poetic about your special lady garments by the way, and I’m sure that men feel the same about ties or fancy socks or that special jockstrap or whatnot. But enough about my underwear, because I’m trying to be more discreet about personal things, like on Thursday when I was helping Ken take some donations to a local auction. Someone had donated an antique baby carriage, and one of the old guys there pointed at it and said to me, “Maybe you’ll need one of those soon.” I shook my head and said, “I doubt it” and he replied, “Oh ho, you never know!” And I so BADLY wanted to say, “Well, I don’t have a f*cking uterus, so I think I kind of do,” but instead I winked at him and said, “I guess you need to talk to Ken about that.” Discreet, right?

Cracking me up.

Anyway, maybe the whole windshield situation was my fault because not even 20 minutes prior, the sun had come up and was blazing into my eyes, causing me to curse the windshield which, despite a recent car detailing, was once again kind of cloudy. I believe my exact words were, “I hate this stupid windshield. Why is it always so dirty? Maybe I should get a new one.” And TA-DA. So I did what any normal person would do—I called Ken.

Ken: Hello?
Me: My windshield just broke!
Ken: What? Are you ok?
Me: Well, it’s just a crack. But it’s big.
Ken: Does it go all the way across?
Me: No. It’s just above the windshield wiper on the passenger side. It looks like half of a spider web. I’m afraid the windshield is going to implode while I’m driving!
Ken: I doubt it. You should be all right unless you go over a really deep pothole or something.
Me: This is Canada in the spring, Ken, so that’s not very comforting!

But I made it to work without any spontaneous shattering, and I called the car dealership. Luckily, I already had an appointment for Thursday to get an oil change and swap out my winter tires, and they said they could do the windshield too. So maybe it was good that I was wearing my favourite underwear after all.

Here’s a link to Sugar, How You Get So Fly. You’re welcome.

Last week, I was talking about tree rats and it occurred to me that I have a lot of strange nicknames for animals that you might see outside in your yard. Here are a few of the more notable:

Squirrel: Tree Rat
Raccoon: Trash Panda
Mouse: Dirt Gerbil
Rabbit: Hoppy F*cker
Canada Goose: Evil Lake Chicken

Evil Lake Chicken

Swan: Long-Necked Psycho
Pigeon: Hobo Bird
All Other Birds: The Dawn Chorus (except for that one weird bird that I call the ‘Cool Whip Bird’)
Groundhog: Roadkill Hamster
Bat: Flappy Bastard
Skunk: Pepe Le Pew
Dog: Pupperz/Goodboi
Monkey Butler: Ralph Van Wooster (you might see a monkey butler in your yard–you never know)
Rat: I don’t have a name for rats because I’ve never seen one in real life and I doubt their existence. If I ever DID see one, I’d probably just give it a name like Bob. Maybe you’ve actually seen one and have a cool nickname for it–let me know.

So now, if you ever see me outside early in the morning yelling, “Get off my lawn, ya hoppy f*ckers!” you’ll know I’m cursing at the rabbits, not the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who, by the way, literally just appeared while I was writing this as they’ve done the last twice I’ve mentioned them in a post. How do they know? It’s as if I’m conjuring them or something, like in a horror movie but instead of saying “Bloody Mary” three times, you have to say “Business Biblical” and then their well-dressed asses come to steal your immortal soul. Or your favourite underwear.

My Week 238: It’s A Miracle

As I told you last week, I’m working off-site with no days off except for yesterday. I’m really tired and it’s making me a little punchy. I know this, because on Wednesday morning, I turned on my laptop and actually yelled at my computer boyfriend Carlo because once again, he pronounced my last name wrong, and I was like, “SAY MY NAME RIGHT, B*TCH!”. Luckily no one was around to hear me because I arrive at the site incredibly early to avoid rush hour. I normally don’t mind that Carlo says the last part of my surname like ‘Why-Talk’ instead of ‘Whit-ick’, because who would even think that was correct in the first place, but in retrospect, I think he might just be passive-aggressive, because he has no trouble with the part that I own; it’s the part that Ken owns that seems to irk him, so maybe it’s subtle jealousy. Or maybe it’s just Ken’s name in general, because even my Car Phone Lady has a problem with it:

Car Phone Lady: Ready.
Me: Call.
Car Phone Lady: Please say the name or number to call.
Me: Ken.
Car Phone Lady: Did you say ‘Karen’?
Me: No.
Car Phone Lady: Did you say ‘Joe’?
Me: NO! Ken. Call Ken!
Car Phone Lady: OK. Calling ‘Maria’.

I call Ken at least twice a day from my car when I’m commuting, but she always, like literally EVERY TIME, makes me confirm that I do indeed want to call Ken despite the fact that I never have to confirm anyone else, including ‘Mom and Dad’ or ‘Jong Uk Park’.

So there are several things irritating me, and when I told Ken last night that I was feeling punchy, he looked at me questioningly and I said, “That means I might punch you”, which I did at about 2 am when he wouldn’t stop snoring. Finally, I said, “You know what?! I’m going into the other room and I’m taking Quackers and Brian with me!!” and he said, “GOOD! Then you can’t hit me with them anymore!” (Quackers is a duck and Brian is a shark, in case you’ve forgotten.)

But the one good thing about being away from the office is that I’m almost next to the airport, and watching an airplane take off is something that never gets old for me. The other day, I was walking to the plaza to get lunch. I looked up as a huge jet roared by, and I thought ‘People are so smart. Look at that airplane. A monkey couldn’t invent an airplane. They aren’t even particularly good butlers.’ And I know this because I have done quite a bit of research on the topic “How to Train Your Monkey Butler” and let me tell you, it doesn’t sound very promising. So I was on a huge ‘people are so smart’ high until yesterday morning when I heard some cars pull up and I looked out my bathroom window at the church across the street. We live kitty-corner to two churches—I call them the “Platform Diving Jesus Church” and “The Other Church”. As you may guess, I don’t attend either of them. I got their names from the fact that a couple of years ago, the doors of the church directly across from us were painted with an angel on one side, and Jesus on the cross on the other, both in gold paint. It looks very nice up close (well, the angel does, but I always feel sad for Jesus), but from far away, it looks like Jesus is about to dive off a cliff or whatnot.

Am I right?

Anyway, from my bathroom window, I could see five men standing around a piano which was sitting on a flat cart on the church walkway. It looked like they had just unloaded it from a rather small mini-van—a feat unto itself, I would imagine. I could hear yelling, so I opened my balcony door. The men had surrounded the piano and were having a very loud discussion in what sounded like German. Were they an angry yet musical Saxon mob intent on a good sacking? After a few minutes though, it seemed like their intention was to put the piano INSIDE the church. And I say ‘seemed’ because they kept just wandering around the piano, staring at it dubiously, and talking a lot. I had nothing better to do, and it was a beautiful sunny morning, so I went out onto the balcony to watch.

After a lot more Germanic discussion, the youngest-looking guy ran over to the mini-van and brought out a long strap, which he looped around the piano. ‘Here we go,’ I thought. Nope. They all just stood back and stared at it again. I wanted to yell, “Just push the damn thing, for Christ’s sake!” which seemed appropriately church-y, but then the guy ran back to the mini-van. He reappeared with what looked like a gas can and at first I thought maybe they were going to set the piano on fire and claim an angel spoke to them from within it, like a ‘burning bush-type scenario’, so that they could blame God for not getting it inside the church. However, it was only a toolkit. The young guy took out a hammer and started hammering at something while the rest just stood around. One of the other men put his hood up, like he didn’t want to be recognized, and frankly I don’t blame him because I was at the point where I just wanted to march over and push the piano through the doors myself. Then the one with the hammer ran back to the mini-van and grabbed what I thought was a blanket of some kind, but it was just his coat, which he randomly donned, then he looped some kind of harness around his shoulders and waist. ‘Aha!’ I thought. ‘He’s going to hook himself to the piano and pull it in like a team of oxen’ but again, I was disappointed. And then I was really confused because they started pushing the piano down the walkway and I had a moment where I thought they were going to take a run at the door with it, but again, NOPE. They wheeled it back towards the mini-van and I was like “What? Don’t give up Hans, Karl, Kristoff, Otto, and Gunther!” (which is what I had affectionately started to call them in my head), but then they wheeled it PAST the mini-van and kept going. Down the street. I watched until they were out of sight, then I quickly got dressed and hopped in the car to see where they went, but they, and the piano, had disappeared like some kind of vaudevillian miracle. But then I had a terrible thought–what if I had just witnessed a crack German heist squad, not unlike the villains in Die Hard, actually ROBBING the church?! So I tried dialing 9-1-1, and the Car Phone Lady said, “OK. Calling Ken.”

 

My Week 237: 3 AM Eternal Revisited

So I’m going through another bout of insomnia, a condition that I like to call “3 AM Eternal”, because I wake up around 3 o’clock in the morning and I think, “That’s OK—I still have a couple of hours until I have to get up”, and then I lie there for a f*cking ETERNITY before I fall back to sleep. And sometimes I DON’T fall back to sleep and then my mind just wanders down any number of bizarre paths. ‘Why don’t you get up and watch TV, or read a book or something?’ I hear you ask. The answer is simple: I love lying down. I mean, I am never so happy as when I am prone, snuggled under warm covers in a soft bed. Maybe it’s because so much of my day right now is spent standing and walking around a giant convention centre (which is also absolutely contributing to the insomnia), but the fact is that I am a horizontal person. And I’m sure that vertical people are very smug and proud of their defiance of gravity and whatnot, but they will never understand the pure and existential delight that I feel when I am flat on my back, glass of wine in hand. Yes, it IS difficult to drink wine while you’re lying down, but it’s a skill that many of us have carefully honed over the years. And if any of the wine happens to spill, Titus is always hovering nearby in the hope of lapping up a few precious drops (speaking of Titus, I’m alone in the house right now and he suddenly raced from the back family room to the front living room, where he leapt onto a chair and stared out the window. I said, “What’s wrong, buddy?” He didn’t answer. I looked out the window too, and saw nothing. A few seconds later, he muttered, “Never mind”, jumped down and ran to the back again. He’s a terrible guard dog.)

There’s nothing there. He’s just being a jerk.

But as I said, whilst I’m enjoying the wide-awake comfort of my bed, my mind tends to stagger from one absurd topic to another:

1) Is one of my co-workers a spy?

The other day, I was talking about motion sensor lights with a colleague and he said, “Oh, I have those. I also have security cameras all around the outside of my house.” “Ooh,” I said, “are you a spy?” and he laughed and said no, but kind of like, “Ha ha ha. NO.” And now I’m not sure, because isn’t that exactly what a spy WOULD say? Then he showed me his phone with four different screens displaying the view from each of his exterior cameras, and all I could think was what I would see if I mounted cameras all around the outside of MY house and was able to watch remotely: several tree rats doing sexy squirrel stuff (because it’s spring and tree rats are super-slutty), Jehovah’s Witnesses ringing the bell and then looking sad as they stuff The WatchTower between my doors, the meter reader trampling through my privet hedge to get to the gas meter, that one possum…frankly, it wouldn’t make for very scintillating viewing. Also, I had to google whether or not possums are nocturnal—the jury is out on that, but apparently people are very interested in possum trivia.

Possums are fascinating, I guess.

2) How much German do I know?

I took German for three years in high school. It’s remarkable how much I can remember at 3:30 in the morning. Ich gehe—I go. Ich spreche —I speak. Ich liebe—I love. Ich sehe—I see. I could conjugate German verbs all night. Ironically, I can’t remember the German word for ‘sleep’. My favourite German saying is “Das Mädchen hat Toilettenpapier auf ihrem Arsch“. If you want to know why, go back to My Week 146. My second favourite German saying is “Fritz fing fünf frische Fische” which is a tongue-twister that my high school German teacher used to make us say. It means “Fritz caught five fresh fish”. When I was in high school, I was pretty snarky (‘Just in high school?!’ I hear you say), and I used to mutter under my breath “F*ck Fritz and his five fresh fish” but now I have a lot of sympathy for Fritz, having to spend all day fishing just to feed his family, and I’m grateful that the fish are fresh and not frozen, because that would be frustrating for Fritz.

3) How hard would it be to learn to drive a forklift?

I don’t think it would be very hard. It looks like a golf cart with arms, and I can totally drive a golf cart—in fact, being able to drive the golf cart is the ONLY reason I ever go golfing. How fast does a forklift go? Could I drive around town with it? If Ken got one too, could we have Transformer-style battles? So many questions. But you know what would be even better? Remember in Aliens how Sigourney Weaver wore that human forklift suit? That. That’s what I want. I haven’t gotten a Hamacher Schlepper catalogue for a while but maybe they’re selling them next to their insanely priced life-size fake robot. And now I know what I want to do when I retire—being a human forklift would be the best job ever and it wouldn’t affect my pension like working at a private school would. Also, not as dangerous as planning warehouse heists.

My retirement plan

4) Here’s a poem I wrote at around 4:30 am when sleep became a hopeless desire and I had a panic attack at the thought of being so tired that I might fall asleep driving:

Are you afraid
When you see the clock move
Forward
Marking out the remainder
Of your life
In incremental pieces?

5) It’s fifteen minutes before my alarm goes o….why are there dozens of Asian children doing some kind of line dance in this parking lot to a Gary Numan song?! Why is it my job to bring them individually wrapped chocolates every time the music stops?! Why are the children I don’t get to in time disappearing into oblivion?! Why can’t I just dream about puppies? Sigh.

By the way, if you’re reading my blog and you see an ad for the “Gut Doctor”, I can save you the 45 minutes it takes to find out what his three superfoods are. They are chicory root, probiotic TCPs, and Vitamin B Complex. He never actually tells you what vegetable to throw out, FYI. And I don’t make a single cent off any of his sh*t.