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December 2012

Seventy Six.

My family’s never been one for traditions.

My parents were both raised Roman Catholic, and as a result of the lovely time they had, they decided to raise their own children without any religion. Also, they got married in street clothes. Those two things aren’t necessarily related, but they’re a part of my history, and your history rubs off on you, so they’re what I associate with the following:

Don't they look thrilled?
Don’t they look thrilled?

The fact that I never participated in Girl Guides, Brownies, or any other “team-building-RAH-RAH” groups as a child. To this day, they kind of weird me out. I’m not much of a team participant/joiner. I’m not saying these groups are bad, but I am saying you’re probably more inclined to join a cult if you’ve ever been part of one.

Dances, ugh.
Dances, ugh.

The fact that I never really went to school dances. I went to one in junior high, and since I was a metal head, I was dissatisfied with the playlist.* So I pouted. And felt like a huge outcast. And then I never went to another school dance again.

That quintessential moment...
That quintessential moment…

The fact that I skipped my university convocation to work instead. I had no desire to wear a robe that would make me look 50 pounds heavier and a hat that would wreck my hair, only to sit and wait for my name to be called along with hundreds of other numbers students.

‘Cos that would be boring, right?

I’ve also never been to church, I’ve never been camping, and my family never does anything major on holidays like Easter and Thanksgiving.** We celebrate Christmas, but we’re pretty low key about it.

Over the years, I’ve also become pretty anti-New Year’s.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the whole fresh start thing that comes with the New Year. I even set resolutions sometimes (I achieved all of my 2012 resolutions, NBD). But when it comes to celebrating, I’m just not that into it.*** It’s always hyped up to be the biggest night of the year, and in my experience, everything always goes wrong. Things get too expensive, or friends flake out, or parties just turn out to be lame and disappointing.

The last super awesome New Year’s I had was when my mom came to visit me in the UK and we travelled to Belgium to ring in 2010. We saw fireworks from less than a block away in the middle of Brussels with thousands of other people. It was brilliant. (Except for this one annoying woman in front of us who kept backing up and hitting EVERYONE with her backpack. Maybe it was a man? I can’t remember. All I remember is wanting to grab them by the backpack and throw them away somewhere.)

Wait…that was my only awesome New Year’s.

I suppose I could try again, but I’m actually happy to stay in, curl up in a blanket, and watch movies with my dogs. Plus, if I went out and left them at home, I’d have no one to kiss at midnight, so…

I’ve embraced being unconventional.

2012 has been a HUGE roller coaster, but overall, it’s been incredible. Here’s to a great 2013, y’all.

xA

P.S. I’m going to be single for the rest of time.

*Also, no one wanted to dance with me. Pity party for one, right here.

**Except maybe – maybe – eat something special, and since we’re vegetarians, you know it isn’t anything good.

***Same with Valentine’s Day. Wait, maybe I’m just a bitter singleton.****

****I’m being sarcastic, guys. (Mostly.) (Sort of.) (A bit.) (Not at all…) (What were we talking about?)

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Seventy Five.

The first thing you need to know is that when I travelled to the UK and Ireland in 2006, I had a travel blog. I don’t remember the URL, and I’m kind of okay with that*, but I had more readers than I thought. After I got home – and while I was still away – I had lots of random people and family friends sending me emails and messages about my blog. It was kind of exciting to know that people were finding it interesting and funny. So there’s that.

The second thing you need to know is that I like to make fish faces. You know the ones.

Fish.
Fish.

I decided to browse through some of my Facebook photos in order to find a few examples of my fish face, and in searching, I realized I should probably stop doing the face, because…

Fishy.
Fishy.
Fish.
Fish.
Fishy.
Fishy.
MUTANT FISH.
MUTANT FISH.

I do it a lot.

Due to my penchant for fish faces, I took to calling myself a Kissing Gourami. Do you know those fish? They look like this:

Kissy Fishy.
Kissy Fishy.

So there’s that.

Okay, so I have this blog – meaning my 2006 travel blog – and I must have made a comment about being a Kissing Gourami or something (can’t remember the exact details), because one day, I get a new comment on my blog. It says something like, “Hey, we are huge fans of your blog and your poetic words. We’re writing a song about you.”**

I thought it was my friend Meredith playing a prank on me. So I giggled and then I ignored it and went back to my life as an English student at university and a box office manager at a local theatre.

But a few days or a week later, I got another new comment on my blog, this one directing me to a website to listen to the song that had been written about me.

…Huh?!

And sure enough, there it was. (You’ve gotta click on the song name and then click on it again to hear it…sorry it’s confusing.)

Band

“Kissing Gourami”

(That’s the song link, right under the band photo…)

As it turns out, it wasn’t my friend Meredith playing a prank on me, but a band from Belgium called Kissing Gourami who had actually written a song about my life (also called “Kissing Gourami”), inspired by my blog posts.

I was totally floored.

And confused.

And kind of spooked.

And very flattered.

(And a little bit on cloud nine, if I’m honest…)

And HUGELY EXCITED.

And then I made everyone I know listen to the song, including everyone at work, my friends who are referenced in the lyrics, etc., etc.

It’s a good song! I love it!

I still forget this happened sometimes. And then I go, “Oh yeah! A band I’ve never met wrote a song about me that time!” and I smile and feel cool.

Lesson learned: Crazy cool shit happens sometimes. It’s crazy and cool.

xA

P.S. Through comments that led to conversations, Kissing Gourami later wrote songs about a couple of my other friends, too.

*But if you happen to come across it, don’t just sit there and make fun of me, post a flipping comment and let me know.

**Wish I still had the original comment.

Seventy Four.

“What the heck do you eat, then?”

Guys, it's a struggle, but I've lived off grass for 23 years now.
Guys, it’s a struggle, but I’ve lived off grass for 23 years now.

When I was three, my family and I were out to dinner at one of the restaurants we frequented. I’m told that I liked to eat the chicken nuggets (I was three – I don’t remember much of this), but on this particular day, my older brother, who had already chosen to become vegetarian, was laying down the facts of life for me.

“Chicken nuggets are made of chicken. The animals.”

Oh shit, thought three-year-old me, that’s not good. Chickens are way cute.

“Mom, I don’t want to eat animals anymore.”

And that’s when I became vegetarian. I haven’t eaten an animal since.

One of my first vegetarian memories is of going to my school friend Alex’s birthday. It was a hotdog party, so naturally, if I wanted to participate and not be force fed meat (you’d be surprised what other kids’ parents would try to tell me to get me to eat meat when my mom wasn’t around, to which I always said no), I had to bring my own hotdogs.

So there I was, sitting in the back of our van with a small Tupperware container holding two veggie dogs for the party. I remember walking up the front sidewalk and feeling anxious about what all the other kids would say.

“What is that?”

“What are you eating?

“That looks weird.”

“You don’t eat meat? What the heck DO you eat?”

These are all questions I’ve gotten used to and then sick of, but even now, they never end. When I became a vegetarian in 1989, there was one brand of veggie burger, one brand of veggie dog, and soy milk was only available in powdered form a lot of the time. Now there are tons of options, but somehow it’s still pretty weird to be vegetarian or vegan.

If people are genuinely curious, I totally don’t mind the questions. When I first got to know one of my BFFs, Louise, for example, she wasn’t very familiar with vegan foods, so she would randomly list off foods in my presence to see if I could eat them. Occasionally, I’d get a phone call that would go something like this:

“Hello?”

“Hey!”

“Hey! How’s it going?”

“…Pasta? Can you eat pasta?”

“Yup, totally. Except not like, super traditional fresh pasta. That’s made with eggs.”

“Okay, cool.”

Those conversations made me love Louise a little more. Okay, a lot more. (Hi, Louise!)

On the flip side, when people are confrontational and rude about my being a vegan, I get super frustrated. For some reason, the same way people feel like they need to touch my tattoos, some people feel instantly compelled to tell me about everything that’s wrong with me because I don’t eat meat.

“Oh, you’re gonna be sick from low iron.”

“Your body must be lacking so much protein. That’s unhealthy.”

“When you get older, you’re going to get osteoporosis.”

Thanks, people! It’s been 23 years since I went vegetarian and nearly 10 since I went vegan, and I haven’t starved to death yet (except for when I almost did in Ireland that one time), so I think I’m okay! My iron levels are actually great, and I’m never lacking protein, but it never hurts to be told I’m an idiot, so cheers!

When I was a kid, it was awful getting told this stuff constantly. Now I don’t really care. I’m not a crazy vegan who lives life trying to convert the masses. I’m not trying to convert anyone, for that matter. You do what you do, I do what I do. I don’t judge. Just don’t tell me I’m an idiot or I’ll rip you a new one.

What I’ve learned from this: When you’re weird for long enough, weird becomes normal and good, so stick to your guns.

xA

P.S. In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t eat a lot of nuts. I don’t really like nuts very much. I also don’t eat very much spinach. But thank you for your concern.

P.P.S. If you ever really want to blow someone’s mind, tell them you’re a gluten-free vegan.

Seventy Three.

I’ve never been one for water.

First of all, I’m always convinced that either this:

EXHIBIT A.
EXHIBIT A.

or this:

EXHIBIT B.
EXHIBIT B.

is going on underneath me, no matter what depth or type of water I’m in.

Second of all, because I’ve never been one for water, I’ve never learned how to swim.

And also, these stories, which are both the reason I’ve never learned to swim and the reason I’m not one for water:

STORY THE FIRST

I am a very young child – I think around grade one, so six or seven years old – and I am on a play date with my friend Amy. Her mom has brought us to a local swimming pool. I’m leery of the water, but I don’t mind the shallow end, so I stand around, which is how I “swim.” Then my friend Amy decides that we should go down the water slide into the shallow end. I am hesitant. I say I don’t want to, but Amy is insistent. Her mother encourages us, promising me that if I go down the slide, she’ll catch me at the bottom and I won’t go into the water.

She promises.

So I climb the two or three steps up the tiny slide. And then the rest happens in slow motion. I start my descent – there is no turning back, because momentum’s got the best of me – and I simultaneously see Amy’s mom turn her head (and her attention) away from me. Before I understand what is happening, I am under the water. All I can see is legs. Women’s legs standing in the pool and I am in a sort of all-fours position, ready to brace myself as I sink to the bottom of the pool. I remember the feeling of my knees hitting the floor, but I couldn’t get myself back up. All I could do was stare at the legs.

I don’t remember anything after that. I don’t know if I blacked out or just blocked it out. All I know is that that broken promise was traumatizing.

STORY THE SECOND

So I didn’t go into a swimming pool for a long time. Until grade four, when we had a school trip to a different pool, this one outdoors. Once again, I refused to do anything but stand in the shallow end, but my friends kept egging me on. Come on, Andrea, we’ll teach you how to swim – it’s easy! Come on. Come on, come on, come on! We’ll hold onto you!

They promised that they would hold onto me for the entire time we were in the deep end.

I should have known better because we were all like, 10, but I trusted my stupid friends.

As soon as we got into the deep end, they let go, and I went under.

Again, I don’t remember the entire moment. I remember panicking, waving my arms underwater, inhaling a TON of water and feeling the chlorine burn and choke me. I remember the water went dark. Eventually somebody must have helped me up, because then I remember holding onto the concrete edge of the pool so hard that my fingertips went white and my arms were scraped. I was coughing and choking, and I could feel a lot of heavy water in my lungs. My teacher was crouched on the pool edge in front of me, asking if I wanted her to call my mom. I was coughing and crying and nodding, and I told her my phone number and begged her to call my mom. She returned a few moments later…

SIDENOTE: She didn’t get me out of the water(!!!)

…and said that I must have told her my phone number incorrectly because the call couldn’t be connected. I told her again and again. It was like one of those nightmares where one crucial detail keeps being misunderstood and you’re trapped in a vicious, inescapable cycle and you feel like you’re losing your mind. I kept repeating the number, and three or four times my teacher returned saying the call couldn’t be connected. I cried and repeated the number, gripping onto the edge of the pool and coughing and wishing I were home already and just WANTING MY FUCKING MOM.

Ever since then, the thought of even being in the shallow end of a pool makes my heart rate skyrocket. Sometimes I can barely even stand to have water on my face. I panic in the shower  when I’m washing my face if I feel like I’m not getting enough air. Hell, I even had to stop playing any levels of Tomb Raider for Playstation that had swimming sections when I was a pre-teen because I would freak out and feel like I was drowning.

I love the ocean, but I wouldn’t go in. I’ll get my feet wet. No further.

Lesson learned: Swimming’s not my thing. What’s not yours?

xA

P.S. Even though Jaws and Creature from the Black Lagoon totally freak me out, they’re two of my favourite films. But I’ve always dug scary movies, from the time I was like, five and I watched Harry and the Hendersons on a loop and then had nightmares about it. There’s still one scene that makes me feel weird: that one moment where we see a super close up of Harry’s face through the binoculars? Scares the shit out of me.*

*This may be why I’m totally scared of monkeys/apes/primates. Hmm. Future blog post? Maybe!

Seventy Two.

This is what some of my nightmares look like.
This is what some of my nightmares look like.

On working* at one of the world’s largest malls during the Christmas/Boxing Week season:

PARKING

You will NEVER find a parking spot, so be prepared for a daily anxiety attack. One day, I arrived at The Mall 25 minutes before my shift, and I was searching for a parking spot until I was 35 – that’s THIRTY FIVE – minutes late for work. That means I was looking for a parking spot for an hour, people. AN HOUR.** When I did find one, it was waaaay on the other side of The Mall, so I had to park, run through the parking lot to The Mall, and then run through The Mall to the shop I worked at. Oh, and did I mention we were having a theme party and that I was dressed up in a top hat (and other wonderful costume pieces) and that people kept yelling/pointing at me? Fan-fucking-tastic.

PEOPLE

On that note, PEOPLE. People are everywhere. And for some odd reason, the majority of them think it’s cool and acceptable to walk around in pyjamas. ‘Nuff said.

PEEING

The shop I worked at was a fishbowl – that is, it was a small shop in the middle of one of The Mall’s many wide hallways, and it had all glass walls. That means we had no break room, nowhere to sit down, and no bathroom. So any time any of us had to pee, we had to trek through The Mall to one of its many public washrooms. Which are disgusting when they are experiencing such high traffic. Oh, and don’t forget the line-ups! One day I went to pee and didn’t get back to work for over 20 minutes. I loved every second of the free break; my boss did not.

PEEPERS***

Speaking of glass walls, it’s really awesome (see: fucking annoying and kind of scary) how many dudes will attempt to either

(A) Flirt with you

(B) Creep on you

(C) Scare the shit out of you

through the walls. In less than a year working in the fishbowl, I experienced the following:

  • Guys trying to look down my shirt
  • Guys trying to make sexy eyes at me
  • Guys just staring at me, emotionless (which is almost worse than ogling, because it’s like, are you planning my murder or are you just stupid?)
  • Guys trying to see into the cash drawer
  • Guys banging on the glass right next to me to freak me out
  • And so much more…

PISS-OFFS

This one day, I was walking from my fishbowl to the food court for my lunch break, and these three late teens/20-something dudes who were walking in the opposite direction actually stopped next to me to yell “FAT!” and laugh.

And I was like, “Are you fucking kidding me?”

(In my head.)

PERPETUAL PANDEMONIUM

You don’t really notice when you’re in The Mall just how loud The Mall is. You don’t notice until you have a headache and you realize that the white noise never, ever stops. And you try to find a quiet place for a break, but with hundreds of people around you having normal conversations, it sounds like everyone’s screaming just to hurt you.

Then you leave The Mall and you realize you’re talking really loudly because you’re still partially deafened from your work day.

Lesson learned: NEVER AGAIN.

xA

P.S. HAPPY BOXING WEEK! I hope you’re having SO MUCH FUN shopping!****

P.P.S. I’m sure there were some positives to working at The Mall, but I sure can’t think of any right now.

P.P.P.S. I have agreed to join my brother and sister-in-law at The Mall this afternoon. If I don’t post by 1pm tomorrow, I’ve either gone AWOL or I’m curled up in a ball playing dead in some corner or alcove at The Mall.

P.P.P.P.S. Or I lost my shit at somebody at The Mall and I got arrested for disturbing the peace.*****

*Thank god this was a couple years ago, so I’m not currently living through this hell.

**I had to ask my mom what that math was.

***The Positive Peepers were the little kids, who liked to wave at us through the glass in hopes that we would wave back, which I always would, obviously.

****The scariest part of this statement is that some people would respond, “I SURE AM!” and they would be being earnest.

*****That’s a thing, right? I’m Canadian. We don’t get arrested.

Seventy One.

Yeah, I know, I keep talking about the UK and Ireland lately. Maybe it’s just the nostalgic time of year or something. But I promise this shit’s funny, so keep reading.

Let’s go back to my Ireland trip. We’ve already established it was quite an eventful journey, even before it started. But it was also a big learning experience for me in a lot of ways.

Take, for example, when I learned that bathrooms in Ireland are NEVER what they seem to be.

CORK

One of my favourite cities in the world.
One of my favourite cities in the world.

My B&B in Cork was lovely. It was run by a quiet, kind-to-the-bones lady called Mary* and I had a clean, spacious room with a big bed. The only catch? The bathroom was literally in a closet. And it was tucked in the corner of the room. And when I went in there to use it, I discovered that the light was burnt out.

Now, typically this wouldn’t be a problem; I’d just leave the door open. But because of the positioning of the bathroom, the open door did nothing for me, especially in the evening. So I unpacked my things, peed in the dark, and then on my way out to explore the city, I found Mary and told her about the light situation.

“Oh, goodness me,” Mary clasped her hands together politely, “I’ll have to get the handyman to have a look at it. And it’s Saturday tomorrow. I hope he’s able to come.”

At this point, I thought to myself:

(A) It’s 2006. The handyman doesn’t work on Saturdays?

(B) Give me a damn light bulb and I’ll figure it out!

But I said nothing, because I was 19 and shy.

That’s a lie. I said, “Okay!” and nodded enthusiastically because I’m a push over.

I didn’t shower for three days because the handyman “wasn’t available” (see: “was working on Irish time”) and apparently no one has candles anymore. I suppose I could have attempted to shower in pitch black, but it seemed scary and dangerous.

SIDENOTE: Looking back, it doesn’t really seem that scary or dangerous. I don’t know what my problem was, but it was obviously a serious one, because me not showering for three days is like some sort of warning sign of the apocalypse. I like showering. Daily. Sometimes more.

On the plus side, when I did finally shower, it was glorious.

DUBLIN

Another of my favourite cities.
Another of my favourite cities.

Everything about Dublin felt like home from the second I arrived. Except for my guesthouse. When I booked the room, I booked a single room with an en-suite bathroom. (Yeah, I’m a bit of a princess, but I totally don’t care. I don’t do hostels. Especially not alone.) When I checked in, the lady at the front desk told me I had a single room with an en-suite bathroom. But when I got to the room, my en-suite bathroom was missing something crucial.

A toilet.

Yeah, so my room was fairly spacious and had a nice bed and a TV, and in the corner, there was a shower and a sink…and that was it.

What the…?

So I went back down to the front desk and asked the lady where my toilet was. She very casually replied that my floor didn’t have a toilet, so I could either use the one that was one floor up from my room, or the one that was one floor down from my room. I asked her if this arrangement was considered “en-suite,” and she very promptly said “Yes.”

Fantastic.

All right, I thought, that’s weird, but it could be worse, so I’m not going to throw a fit. I decided to check out the bathroom upstairs.

It was essentially a utility closet with a toilet in one corner and a giant water heater (or something?) so close to the toilet that your knees were crunched into your body every time you sat down. Next to the toilet was a vanity with a sink, but no soap. The toilet paper roll wasn’t on the wall. It was tossed into the sink. So it was wet.

So THAT was interesting.

Also I am pretty sure there was a dead mouse right next to the water heater thing.

LIMERICK

Limerick and I have a strained relationship.
Limerick and I have a strained relationship.

Limerick totally fooled me.

The website for The Railway Hotel makes it look pretty cute and almost swanky. The truth is that it’s charming in a this-building-is-falling-apart-and-that-gives-it-character sort of way. And also that if the first place you land is The Railway Hotel, you think that Limerick is a total ghetto. Then you get into city centre and realize that’s just the sketch-o-matic part of town.**

But back to the bathroom.

In Limerick, I thought that all of my previous bathroom experiences were going to be redeemed. Not only was my bathroom totally spacious, but it had EVERYTHING in it AND it had an extra sink just outside the bathroom, too! Guys, it was like too much bathroom! I went into an I-can-pee-and-wash-my-hands-in-the-same-room happy place!

Then I used the bathroom and everything changed.

Well, first I went out to explore the city, check out its amazing castle, etc., etc., so by the time I got back to the hotel, it was night time. I went to the bathroom, did my thing, and as I was washing my hands, I noticed something strange. It was like the bathroom was foggy….

Now, what I haven’t mentioned is that The Railway Hotel has a pub on its ground floor (OBVS.), and that my room was on the second floor. So not only was my room INSANELY LOUD, but the entire hotel had a smoky smell.

But why was my bathroom foggy? And why was it smelling especially smoky?

Wait a second, I thought to myself, is this smoke?

Yes. My bathroom was filling with cigarette smoke. But how? I scanned the room: there was a bathroom fan, but there didn’t seem to be any logical reason it could be coming from there. I continued to scan: nothing. Okay, follow the noise…follow the noise…

I got a little closer to the ground and things seemed louder. I moved aside the bathroom mat.

BINGO.

There was a hole in my bathroom floor that led down to the bar.

WAIT. Settle down. It didn’t go all the way through. Like, I wasn’t waving at some random Irishman upon making this discovery.*** All I could see was a pipe, a lot of electrical wiring, and what must have been the inside of a false ceiling.

I never moved that bathroom mat again.

Surely this is enough proof that bathrooms in Ireland are a special breed. (Though I have some pretty special stories about Portuguese bathrooms, too. SHUDDER.)

xA

P.S. I LOVE IRELAND.

*I suspect 92.3% of women in Ireland are called Mary.

**I know I’m making it sound DREADFUL. I’d actually stay there again. It wasn’t that bad.

***I wish!

Seventy.

It was a big deal when I went on my UK/Ireland adventure in 2006. I was 19, had never really travelled anywhere before, and I was going by myself.

To be completely honest, I don’t really remember how I decided I was going to take the trip. I mean, I remember that I pretty much always wanted to go to that part of the world, but I guess a switch must have just flipped for me that made me go, “it’s going to happen now.” I don’t even know if I would go on a trip like that by myself anymore,* so it’s really fascinating to me how eager and willing I was to go.

I planned it all out like a pro, booking B&Bs and guest houses along the way, scheduling bus trips between cities and so on. I had pages of printed itineraries and plans. It was actually pretty damn impressive.

I would go places like this and it would be GLORIOUS.
I would go places like this and it would be GLORIOUS.

Of course my parents were worried. Why wouldn’t they be? Their teenage daughter was about to leave home and explore a few countries halfway around the world by herself for six weeks. I would be terrified if I had a kid and they decided they were doing something similar.

But while there was definitely no stopping me, there was ample time to give me advice before my departure. Things like don’t hang your purse on the back of your chair to keep it from being stolen, and you can use storefront windows to check if someone may be walking too closely behind you. My dad left me with some words of wisdom about how I should try not to get kidnapped by a taxi driver. That was useful (see: horrifying).

Anyway, the time eventually came, and after saying goodbye to my mom approximately 47 times, I made my way to the security lineup at the airport. I had only been through security a couple of times before, and I have a bad habit of always feeling SUPER SUSPICIOUS when I go through any sort of security anything, so I was a bit nervous.

The airport security guy waved me through the metal detector. I stepped through cautiously. It beeped.

“Come on over here,” he said, motioning me toward him. He was in his early-mid 30s with curly shoulder length brown hair and glasses.

I complied, standing in front of him.

Security Guy started waving his metal detection wand around my body. He looked me up and down a few times. I smiled nervously.

“You have beautiful eyes.”

“Sorry?”

“You have beautiful eyes. Gorgeous. They’re captivating.”

“Oh, thank you.”

And I must have smiled (nervously), because then he said:

“And a beautiful smile. Damn, girl, where are you off to?”

“London.”

“Can I come with you?”

“Haha.” (That’s me, laughing nervously.)

“Will you marry me?”

“I’m sorry?”

“You’re beautiful. Let’s elope somewhere. It can be London. It can be anywhere. What do you say?”

And then Security Guy stared at me expectantly.

“Haha.” (Now laughing NERVOUSLY.)

“Let’s run away together.”

“HAHAHA!” (VERY NERVOUS LAUGHTER.) “Okay, well I’ve gotta go, so bye!”

“The offer’s open!”

And then he watched every step of me walking away. Very carefully.

Guys, there was something in his eye.

The remainder of my trip was uneventful when it came to creepy guys and scary incidents. I had the time of my life in the UK and Ireland. So good that I would decide to move to Glasgow a few years later and forever change my life.

Lesson learned: creeps are everywhere.

xA

P.S. Happy Christmas/Holidays! I hope you don’t encounter any creep-o security guards if you’re travelling to see loved ones this week (or ever)!

*Yeah, I totally would.

Sixty Nine.

You know you're a writer when you've got lists upon lists of this stuff on your phone.
You know you’re a writer when you’ve got lists upon lists of this stuff on your phone.

Coyotes are following me everywhere lately.

The other night, during a 67-hour work week, I was attempting to sleep and I kept having these bizarre almost-asleep nightmares. At one point they were bothering me so much that I had to get up, and that’s when I made this list.

SIDENOTE: I know that none of these things sound particularly scary, but dreams are weird, so just trust me, they were.*

In my nightmare, I was driving down a neighbourhood street, or maybe I was on a bike, and as I turned a corner, I saw a yard full of coyotes. But they weren’t just chilling out, they were feeding on something. Their teeth were all bared and bloody, as was their fur, and they were ripping chunks of meat off something on the ground. And the yard wasn’t normal, either. It was like a mountain range of trash with deep, muddy valleys.

And then somehow I crashed into the yard and I was surrounded by four or five of these coyotes, and all I remember is this feeling of panic, like I was about to have to defend myself against these hungry, terrifying creatures.

And then I woke up.

But that wasn’t the first of my coyote incidents.

The day before my nightmare, I was driving to work when I saw something along the side of the road. At first I thought it was a fox, but as I got closer, I realized it was larger. Much larger. I’ve never actually seen a coyote in person, so it took me a minute to realize that’s what it was, but sure enough, there it was: scraggly, dirty hair, pointy ribs, a longish coat of mangy fur around its neck, wandering around looking somewhat crazed and scary. As I drove past it, I thanked my lucky stars that I don’t have dogs who stay outside in the yard on their own, because it looked hungry.

It looked like this, but dirtier.
It looked like this, but dirtier.

I couldn’t stop thinking about that coyote all day.

Maybe because the day before, I was listening to Macklemore in my car, and all of a sudden, the lyrics of “Castle” became clear. You know how you can listen to a song a few times and the lyrics don’t even sound like English, and then all of a sudden they’re crystal clear and you can understand exactly what they’re saying? That happened. And I heard this:

Have you ever killed a coyote in the middle of a party
In the night, in the middle of a party
Have you ever killed a coyote in the middle of the night
In the middle of a party
Brought it home and threw it on the carpet
Sit and kill a coyote, I’m starving
Who wants to eat a coyote?
Who wants to eat a coyote?
Who wants to eat a coyote?

And I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “I wonder why he chose a coyote.”

I think that’s where it all began.

Lesson learned: life is full of strange patterns and coincidences. It’s about figuring them out.

So I’m off to Google coyotes…

xA

P.S. Uh oh…

“To see a coyote in your dream denotes deception and weakness.

To dream that you are attacked by coyotes indicated that you are struggling with your own selfish needs.”

And uh oh again…

“Coyote is usually seen as a trickster and delights in all sorts of pranks, mischief and jokes. James Lewis, in his book The Dream Encyclopaedia, says that Trickster/Coyote is not by nature evil, even though the results of his activities are often unpleasant. These activities centre around bringing attention to our own often hidden stupidity or shams or lies. He is also the unexpected spontaneous ‘idiot’ aspect of life which for no reason at all emerges into our carefully arranged life to upset it. Trickster is a shape shifter and so has the possibility of transformation. The undeveloped, idiot, side of this symbol may have a type of clear-sightedness due to lacking the complications and contradictions of thinking and values. It also may be creative in a serendipitous sort of way. Because it doesn’t seriously hold onto a purpose or idea, this side of our nature may lead us to something new, a change of direction. In some dreams the fool is a figure who is sacrificed.

In general similar to dog or fox. It is sometimes used to represent the ‘trickster’ or tricky and unexpected unplanned for element of life, as is the fox.”

*And also, the dancing kid with their “butt out” doesn’t mean they were naked. The kid was doing a funny little dance and shaking her butt. So stop judging me like five minutes ago, all right?

Sixty Eight.

It was summertime in Glasgow. One of the only times of the year when the sun actually shines brightly. Flowers bloom, the temperature rises, and it’s just that perfect amount of warm to be out at the park with a good book and some good company.

Or you can be stuck inside for days on end working on your master’s thesis. Either way.

So there I was, writing my thesis. My flat probably looked something like this:

Essay writing necessities: books, chocolate, crackers, and tea.
Essay writing necessities: books, chocolate, crackers, and tea.

And I was super, super into it. Remember, my thesis often had me on the floor, talking to the ceiling, ripping my hair out, so being into it was great. I was on a writing roll, feeling like a total genius. Maybe I would actually make my word count goal for the day, I thought to myself.

I heard an annoying beep coming from somewhere, but I ignored it. Nothing would break this incredible moment of inspiration. So I kept typing. I heard it again. Ignored it. Then again. Ignored it. The way I’m writing this story, it seems like it was a steady, well-timed beeping, but it wasn’t. It was happening sporadically every few minutes.

SIDENOTE: I was so used to noise coming from my street that I had become desensitized. It wasn’t unusual for people to double park in the few spots available on my block, so there was a lot of honking, screaming, swearing, and there was at least one car alarm going off a day. And if the person whose car alarm was going off didn’t stop it, at least four people would open their windows and start shouting about it. So who the hell cared about a random beeping, right?

After about half an hour of beeping, I had had it. I was irritated. My inspiration had been replaced by rage. I was blaming my inability to continue writing my thesis on that GODFORSAKEN BEEPING! I put my laptop on the coffee table, stood up in a huff, and went to the front window.

But instead of a quiet street, like this:

A normal day on Fordyce Street...
A normal day on Fordyce Street…

I saw two firetrucks, three police cars, and a HUGE CROWD of people, police, and firemen. Oh, and there was yellow CAUTION tape BLOCKING OFF MY FLAT.

WHA?!

They all seemed to be looking up to somewhere around my floor, so I followed their glances and

OH MY GOD THE FLAT RIGHT NEXT TO MINE WAS ON FIRE!

I’m sorry, quick question, no big deal or anything, but how was I not notified of this?!

Now, because I lived in a tenement block, the flat right next to mine was actually in the next building over, so I couldn’t access their hallway, see if they had evacuated, etc., and I couldn’t tell if I should panic or not, but since I saw flames, I’m not gonna lie, I panicked. I pulled on a sweater and some slippers, grabbed my keys, and got the hell out of my flat. I ran down the four flights of stairs and walked out the front door.

A few firemen glanced at me, then got on with their work day. No one seemed to care that I had still been in the building. No attractive policemen ran up to me saying, “Ach, are ye awright, wee lassie? Why hud ye not been evacuated? Let me take ye in ma airms an hawd ye tight.”

(I wish.)

But it was like I didn’t exist. So I walked up to a fireman and said, “Uhh, is everything okay? I live in 20 and–”

“Aye, it’s awright, nae need ta panic, love.”

And then he continued ignoring me.

I stood around for a few minutes. The wind had picked up and I was feeling cold. I stood around for a few more minutes. Then I reached my “fuck it” threshold and went back into my building and back up the stairs to my flat. One of my downstairs neighbours, a lovely older lady named Margaret, was in the stairwell.

“Fire next door, is it?”

“Yeah, it looks like it.”

“Shame, that.”

“Yeah, but it looks like they’ve got it under control.”

“Aye, good, good. Huv a great day, Andrea.”

“You too.”

And then I refreshed my tea and got back to my thesis.

But I never stopped wondering, if it had been dangerous, would anyone have said anything?

Ah well, whatever. But lesson learned: never ignore a persistent beep.

xA

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