From the Corner of Bad and Ass is a collection of Carrie Schiffler’s memories about growing up in welfare housing to absentee and alcoholic parents. Throughout these heart-wrenching and often-hilarious stories we cheer her on as she fights to survive domestic violence, sexual abuse, and cycles of poverty and addiction — all before her 18th birthday. Prepare to laugh at her attempts to earn the attention she craves and prepare to cry over the inappropriate attention she receives.
About the author
Carrie Schiffler is an actor who writes and a writer who acts. Sometimes the two talents merge resulting in a one woman show, most notably, Tabitha A Girl and Her Box, produced by Ground Zero Theatre in Calgary, Alberta. She also received an honourable mention for 'Lemon Opera' in Lorian Hemingway's short story contest 2016. Her first collection of poetry, Umbilicus is a meditation on the sensuous and includes images by her daughter, international artist Johanna Stickland.
Excerpt: From the Corner of Bad and Ass: True Stories (by (author) Carrie Schiffler)
TAKE IT TO THE BRIDGE
Ihad to wear my purple snowsuit. It was too small. Every time I lifted my arms it felt like I was going to split in half. I knew better than to complain. Mom had just yelled at the cats for staring at her. She was having wardrobe issues of her own. A button popped off of her long brown coat. She tore through the house, ripping open drawers and slamming them shut before returning with a safety pin.
ME: Can I do that, Mommy?
She hands me the pin and leaned over.
My hands aren’t shaky like hers. I get it on the first try.
Me: Now you’ll be snug as a bug.”
She grunts, opens the door and swears at the cold.
The cold didn’t bother me. I loved walking to Safeway. We got to cross a huge bridge that went over eight lanes of highway. I’d wave to all the trucks and do the yanking sign with my hand and they would honk so loud we could feel it in our boots. Sometimes Mom would do the yanking sign with her hand too. I swear they honked even louder for her. I could tell Mom was in no mood for honking today so I kept my hands to myself and thought of Cousin Tammy’s Barbie collection.
When we got to the electronic doors of Safeway, I skipped inside to grab a cart. Everything was warm and bright. Mom caught up, grabbed the cart and said, “Don’t touch anything.”
She steered us through the canned goods with one hand while the other reached up, across, down and back so fast I could barely see what she was grabbing. She didn’t slow down until we approached the fresh fruits and vegetables. It smelled like spring and everything was shiny with water drops. She stopped the cart in front of a mountain of the biggest reddest apples I’d ever seen. We stared and I wanted one so bad but I stayed quiet. Apples were not on the grocery list she had written on the back of her cigarette pack.
Mom didn’t say a word until we left the store and she swore at the cold again.
The walk home is never as fun as the walk somewhere else.
I didn’t look for big trucks.
We had our heads down, toques against the wind.
There was no way we could have missed them. In the middle of the bridge, right there on the sidewalk, at our feet, sat a red apple and a golden pear glowing in the slush!
We look at each other, look at the ground, and look at each other again. Mom picks up the fruits, turn them in her hands and says, “We’ll give them a good wash first,” before gently placing them in one of the grocery bags. The rest of the walk flies by. We grew Tigger feet and bounce all the way home.
To this day, we can only guess how the miracle fruit came to be.
Did someone see us in the produce aisle and take pity?
Or maybe someone’s bag broke and two perfectly delicious pieces of fruit rolled out and just happened to land in the middle of our path.
Were we being watched or watched over?
From The Corner of Bad and Ass is Carrie's chronicle of her early years, a tale of poverty, neglect, violence, abuse, exploitation and finally her quest for retribution. Lest all that sounds terribly grim, it is a remarkably uplifting book. Carrie's wry sense of humour and disciplined control of tone never allow her story to become maudlin. Rather, she narrates these difficult events in the hope of inspiring others to do the same as part of their own healing journey. For all these reasons and more, this is an important book that deserves a wide readership. — Eugene Stickland, Playwright