Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Bachelorette Party: A Night of Elegant Debauchery

Welcome to the Ottawa Marriott Hotel's 20th floor suite, room 2031... the starting point of a fun and amazing journey known as "The Bachelorette Party".  Awe... Look at me all cute on the bed with my champagne bottles, tiara, my maid of honor's 'first communion' veil, and a "Bride to Be" Sash! Who wouldn't want to marry me!!???  Well, probably my ex-husband for starters... but I digress.

The evening starts off with my maid of honor showing up at the wrong "Marriott" hotel. Who would have know that there are five of them in the Ottawa area? That's OK though... I chillax in the Hotel lobby and touch up my lip gloss. Shortly thereafter she arrives with our other co-pilot for this magic carpet ride, who's carrying a big, Rubbermaid, storage container! I'm thinking, "This is going to be a good night".

We get to our suite on the 20th floor and move on to the most important part of the night... Drankin! Champagne bottles be poppin, the cheese is being cut (literally), mandatory hummus and asiago dips are being opened, and my laptop is blasting a well crafted, personally tailored 'Bachelorette Party' song list that includes: 'Ladies Night' by Kool and the Gang, 'Buttons' by the Pussycat Dolls and an obligatory New Kids on the Block song, 'Step by Step'.

Party Mode has just been cranked up to 11!

 *notice the cheese is called "Tipsy Wine Cheese"... how fitting :D

*only a partial view of The Parliament building but, Ahh, who are we kidding? We didn't come her for Politics... unless you're referring to the Politics of Boozing!

After two bottles of bubbly, getting our make up on and figuring out what we're going to wear for the evening we head down to the lobby where a dashing hotel attendant hails us a taxi... how very debonair!

We head to a great restaurant called SideDoor and take part in trying out their "renowned" tacos. After placing our order I make a joke about their 'famous' nine dollar tacos probably being the smallest tacos in the world... lol... and of course, they are. But Hey! We're at a fancy Ottawa Restaurant! Of course the food is going to be small and over priced... I'm not paying... it's all good! ;)

From there we head to Yuk Yuk's Comedy Club and are totally impressed with a triple, female comedian line up. These ladies were so funny! The headliner had opened for Jim Carey and Jerry Seinfeld! We had drinks, laughed and even mingled with the comedians after the show (I even became Facebook friends with one of them... I know right? Pretty intense). One of the male audience members was having his Bachelor Party that night as well... which probably explains why he was dressed in drag??? Is this a thing???  Anyway, he told me I was apparently on his "To Do" list for the night. Come on people.. I don't mean it like that...  I guess he was supposed to find and dance with a girl who's having her Bachelorette Party that same night. Bonjour! Let's Boogie!

*Did I mention he was very French?

This was a night of 'firsts' for me! I had never been to a comedy club before and I had also never been to a Gay bar before... So off to The Lookout we went! I really loved this place. It was so friendly and fun! We caught the tail end of a drag show which was amazing, had more drinks and danced. This place also marked my personal 'pony tail time' for the night. This is when, as a lady, you try to wear your hair down for as long as possible during a night out because you apparently "look better" with your hair down. At some point, you feel so hot and sweaty that you just can't stand your hair touching your face and neck anymore... and this is when 'pony tail time' happens!

So because we are young and inquisitive women we keep the party train rolling and head to a posh club called the Moscow Tea Room. Immediately I think... "Oh God... with all of the rising tensions in Russia and Ukraine how is this going to pan out??"  But, once we get there it seems pretty chill. The bar is filled with older, chivalrous Persian and European men. My maid of honor is in Heaven. She says to me, "Can we stay here forever?". The walls are filled with expensive bottles of vodka, large gold framed artwork and from the ceilings hang elaborate crystal chandeliers. This place is gorgeous! And so are the female bar tenders... holy crap! Apparently to work here you must be a 19 year old anorexic.That's cool though... my jealousy scale only hits a 6/10 when I think of how hungry they must be.

Obviously after a night of drinking and super, heavy "Bachelorette" Partying... one must consume greasy, unhealthy food. So we head to the worst place imaginable.... McDonald's!!! What better place to commit a violent slew of deadly 'Diet Sins' than Rotten Ronnie's on Rideau St?

We get our food and sit near the front window which was our first mistake. Of course... a fight breaks out. It's pretty hard to chew food and swallow when there's an imminent threat of danger.  We first see a small male employee escorting a large, angry male out of the restaurant followed shortly by another large, angry male and a group of people. The fight continues right outside our window where we're eating. This is obviously going to be a pleasant dining experience. On the side walk, just outside the window, the same two large men are now on the ground, and one of them is in a head lock. The guy 'giving the head lock' is making direct eye contact with me... through the window... while I'm eating my cheeseburger. This is so odd. I'm immediately at a loss for 'rules of etiquette' for this situation. Should I look away? Should I 'out stare' him? Should I express disapproval? Should I go 'Gladiator Style' and give the thumbs down to say 'Finish Him!'? I'm a nurse... should I try to break it up and provide medical assistance? So... Ultimately, I go with option F and say, "Let's get the Hell out of here!".

By the way, if you're ever visiting Ottawa, never offer a cab driver a credit card. They will become super irate and cranky and yell at you, "What!! No body has a ten dollar bill???!!! It's just Ten Dollars?? You don't have a ten dollar bill???!!!". This was the part of the night where I had my 'mega bachelorette bitch' moment and politely tore a strip out of the cabby. I let him have it and said, "It's 2014!!!! A credit card is a perfectly acceptable form of payment!" Let that be a lesson to him. Bachelorette-1, Cabby-0

All in all, it was good ole fashioned fun! Of course, I'm excluding various stories of excessively indulgent and debaucherous acts that totally took place during the night... but would be uncouth to blog about ;)

I'll end this with a new Pinterest trend of a Before and After shot of the Bachelorette Party...

Before:    Bride, 7:30pm

Morning After:       9:20am

Bootsy :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Rental Property: And Tales of Silly Tenants

For the past five years I've been renting out a one bedroom condo that I bought in 2008 (smart eh? recession.. lower housing prices... you get the idea).  I've rented out to students, working adults, working-students, males, people with dogs, people with cats, and so on and so forth. To say that it's been a learning experience is a staggering understatement. What I've come to realize (although I was pretty convinced of this beforehand) is that people are very Silly. And by Silly I mean Stupid.

I'll start off by saying that overall, renting out my condo has been a positive and financially beneficial experience. Having the rental unit located in Kingston is a plus as well. There are plenty of Colleges, the Queen's University, prisons, hospitals, and a Military base which provide lots of individuals (students, working professionals, Army Dinks) who require lodgings.

The key to being a good landlord is being able to read people and picking out the potential 'good ones' from the group. I've lived in a lot of places in my life and have met more people then I would care to, however, it's given me a pretty good 'people radar'. Sometimes I feel like Sherlock Holmes when interviewing for a tenant. I notice everything. When finding a tenant you can't be an eager beaver and desperate for that first and last month's rent cheque. You have to be calm, patient, and very suspicious! I come by that latter quite naturally.

Even with my excellent 'people radar', I've gone against my 'gut feeling' before, and given people the benefit of the doubt (I won't be doing that again).

For example, I once had this young female tenant aspiring to be a police officer. I should have said 'no' on the spot just based on that. But I thought to myself, well, if she's working with the Police Department and trying to become an officer she'll have to behave and be an 'upstanding citizen' (*I could barely write that last sentence with out coughing). My first assessment of her upon meeting was that she was very 'young minded' (aka: 'not the brightest bulb in the tanning bed', aka: 'dumb'), her over bearing mother was with her, and she had nervous, 'flighty' energy.... all the classic warning signs that I should have listened to. But I tried to think rationally, and think to myself 'Be Nice'.

Needless to say, things went bad quickly. The day she moved in to be precise. I was called at home by the property manager's minion and notified that the tenant had damaged the stairwell walls while moving in. Pictures were taken of the damage; scuff marks, scratched paint, and dents in the dry wall. At first I was skeptical, how do I know these marks weren't always there. I then talked to the tenant who admitted to doing 'some' of the damage, but not all of it. She then told me that she signed a piece of paper that the minion provided, claiming responsibility for the damages. OK.. so, she's accepting responsibility here, this is good. Well... it's good until the bill comes around. The condo corporation sent me the bill for damages (because I'm ultimately responsible for my tenant..and our lease agreement didn't specify damages incurred outside of the rental unit). The damages came to $620.00!!  I brought it up with the condo board that this amount seemed ridiculous but, they wouldn't drop it or even lower it. I offered my tenant a deal.. I would pay half of the damages. I felt bad for her at the time... and I knew that she probably didn't make very much money.

When I made the offer to her she was furious. She said, "I'm not paying them anything! That's stupid!". I was thinking a big, fat, "UH OH!". She eventually agreed to pay her half, and I offered her a payment plan... She could put $75/month towards the bill. She eventually agreed and paid $75 with one month's rent cheque. (*Not to mention she never once thanked me for offering to pay half of the damages).

Soon after that she emailed me saying she couldn't afford the condo anymore and was moving.
I said that once her half of the damages were paid, I would release her from our lease agreement. She refused and high tailed it out, filling out some 30 day notice form that she was leaving. Quite frankly I was very glad to get rid of her. She said to me, "I give you my word that I'll pay you the rest as soon as I get it."  Needless to say, I've never received another dime from her and that was over a year ago. The cost of taking her to small claims court over the issue would have cancelled out what she owed me anyway.

My most recent tenant texted me in the middle of the winter and said, "It's snowing in my bedroom... I think the window's broken!". I immediately thought to myself, the window's probably not shut properly. The tenant then assured me %100 that the window was in fact closed properly. When I went over the next evening (while she was at work) to look at the "broken window", I immediately deduced that the window was in fact Open! Not by very much, but it was definitely not 'Closed'. I could tell because the window frame wasn't lining up properly, it was probably about 0.5cm open.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "Bootsy... give the tenant a break, that's such a tiny opening... it's not like she's a scientist or anything." WRONG!!... she's in school to be a Laboratory Technologist!!! These people are supposed to be able to identify the smallest living microbes on EARTH!!  Give me a break lady!! Work with me here people. Sooooo... I had to Thaw the entire window with a hair blow dryer because ice had collected within the "OPEN' window frame making it impossible to close. After an hour of hair blow drying, wiping, wiggling, pushing and pulling... I finally got the window shut and locked.

I texted the tenant that night and told her what had happened and how I fixed it, and that it took an hour of 'defrosting'. She answered me back immediately with, "Did you put the plastic insulation back up around the window when you were done?"
Oh Sweet Lord Baby Jesus give me the strength. So, I mustered up a polite response and said, "No.. but the window is shut now so you won't need the plastic anymore." (the plastic was collecting snow inside it... not to mention moisture and potential water damage). She answered back with, "Oh that's OK.. I'll put it back up just in case it's not fixed."

No, "Thank You".  No, "Wow, I feel like such a huge idiot! I'm so sorry". No, "Oh my God I should not become a Laboratory Technologist!!"... Nothing.  But, that's what you get when you have to deal with "Silly" tenants. Is the rental money worth it? Is it worth the stress and ridiculousness?  The jury's still out on that one.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Weddings: And Tales of the Evil "Wedding Industry Monster"

Sometimes weddings make me angry.

I don't say this because I'm currently stressing out planning my own wedding (well, maybe a little). I blame it on this whole "Wedding Industry Monster" created by society that keeps getting over fed by little girls who grew up with a deluded dream of a 'Cinderella Wedding'. It also seems that family and friends also feed into this 'wedding monster' with their own expectations and ideas about what you "really should have" for your big day. There are countless shows on T.V. that sensationalize and promote these grand, expensive wedding themes and create this sort of expectation of what you need to do - And it's all so very frustrating.

When I hear women talk about their wedding day, they speak of it as if it's the only day in their life where they get to be a princess. These women make it sound as if this is their ONE day  to be truly special. You hear them loudly proclaiming, "This is MY day!".  This is just really sad. If your wedding day is your only chance to feel truly important and special then you are living a very pathetic existence. And to all the Bridezilla's out there- stop saying it's "MY day".  There's also a Groom who's getting married... so it's "YOUR day"... together.. two people.. marriage.

Another point that I find really upsetting about Weddings these days is that it seems like people have forgotten the true meaning of why they're getting married. It's about celebrating your new union together with family and friends. That's the beginning and the end of it. Of course it's very deep seeded and traditional to celebrate with specific things such as food, music, dancing, and so on. But the 'Wedding Industry' has turned it all into a big fat, hungry 'Wedding Monster'. Now getting married has become an endless list of things you have to do for your special day. You need the best: Venue, Church, 2 or 3 photographers, video-grapher, appetizers, linens, crystal, party favors, 'save the date' invitations, formal invitations, midnight buffets, open bar, wine on every table, limousines for the wedding party (to the church- to the reception), flowers everywhere, bouquets, boutonnieres, elaborate lighting, smoke machines, a rehearsal-followed by a rehearsal dinner, a party bus for guests, dessert buffets, a fancy wedding cake, entertainment, pre-wedding mani's/pedi's/hair/make-up/spray tan/waxing, special wedding night lingerie, Thank You cards, photo booths for guests, a Grand Exit Celebration, and a Honey Moon!

*Not to mention prior to the wedding: An engagement party, Engagement photo shoot, Stag & Doe, Bachelorette Party, Bachelor Party, Bridal Shower.... Good Sweet Moses... I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Another point of contention I have with Weddings is that it's generally viewed as 'unacceptable' and 'tacky' to ask for 'cash only/monetary' gifts. These are usually the same people who have no problem sticking out their grubby paws and asking for money by creating their own "Stag & Doe" party, where they ask friends and families to buy tickets to celebrate their upcoming nuptials. I'm sorry...maybe I'm slow. But that seems completely hippo-critical.

Back to the Wedding Monster- do you know what the Wedding Monster's favorite food is???  MONEY! And it will eat all of your money... including all the money you can BORROW from the bank!  I seriously think that people who work in the Wedding Industry think we all have "SUCKER" written on our foreheads. I recently read someone's wedding blog where they tried to justify and rationalize all the money they spent for their wedding. The author said it was all worth it because with it she created a "singular emotional experience". *Cough*... I call 'Bull-S*#T"!  That's one bloody expensive emotional experience. Guess what lady? You can get those for free. And don't even get me started on people who go into debt for a big wedding.. that literally makes ZERO sense... much like those people in general.

Your wedding is a special day where you and your partner celebrate your new union together with your loved ones. Above and beyond that, it's whatever you TWO want it to be. There's absolutely NO reason that justifies going into debt for this occasion and buying into the Wedding Industry's deluded vision of what you NEED for your wedding- the same goes for your friends and families expectations. I realize it's hard not to fall victim to other people's demands.. let alone your own unrealistic, delusional, expensive demands. Try to remember what's most important on your wedding day and say to yourself, "As long as I'm with the person I Love, and getting married to them... that's all that really matters" :D

Bootsy :D