December 2012

Sixty Seven.

I’ve always had an affinity for Scotland and Ireland. I think it’s a past life thing or something. So three years before I moved to Glasgow to get my master’s, I went to the UK and Ireland on a month-long adventure. I was 19 and I was by myself, which in hindsight seems TOTALLY CRAZY, but at the time was like, totally NBD.

Now, obviously I learned many, many things while I was on this trip,* but for today, I just want to talk about one:

Never travel to small cities on a long weekend.**

Limerick City, Ireland
Limerick City, Ireland

I took Bus Éireann (the Irish version of the Greyhound) into Limerick on a Friday, not realizing it was a long weekend.

Now, the other thing you need to know about me is that I’m vegan. I’m also gluten-free now (not by choice – fucking gluten…), but at the time, I was just vegan. (Easy peasy.)

You need to know I’m vegan because I had a hell of a time trying to eat while I was on my trip. Especially in Ireland. THEY LOVE DAIRY. While I was in Ireland, I subsisted on Subway sandwiches (yeah, I was also surprised they had Subway), bananas, and cashews.

But I couldn’t find a Subway in Limerick, and being that it was a long weekend (thanks, bank holidays!), all of the natural food stores*** were closed. So I didn’t eat on Friday…and I didn’t eat on Saturday…

By Sunday, I was starving. Like, literally, my blood sugar was so low that I was an emotional mess, as I am about to illustrate. I wandered the deserted streets of Limerick, looking for food and something to do (that wasn’t closed) that wasn’t the castle, as beautiful as it was.

Like a fairytale castle!
Like a fairytale castle!

I was starting to feel really, really sick when I turned a corner and saw it:


OMG. Burger King! I knew immediately that my day – nay, my weekend – was saved. The veggie burgers at Burger King are vegan.^ I was about to have the greatest veggie burger of my LIFE.

I staggered toward the cashier and placed my order. One veggie burger, one order of fries. I handed over the last €5 I had in my possession and waited for my order to be ready, pacing and salivating impatiently. After what seemed like an eternity, they called me up. I snatched my tray away from them like shark attacking its prey and found a table all to myself. I unwrapped my veggie burger and took a huge bite.

Then promptly spat it out.

What the fuck?

Not only was there cheese melted onto the veggie patty, but there were chunks of cheese mixed into the patty itself. The whole thing was also slathered in mayo.

Oh shit.

If you’re wondering, yes, yes I did consider just eating the burger anyway, but just a few days earlier, in Cork, I had accidentally eaten some digestive biscuits with skim milk powder in them and I was sick for about three days. I just couldn’t risk it again.

So I did what I think anyone would do, given the situation.


Yup. Totally burst into tears in the middle Burger King in Limerick. Yup. People were staring. I didn’t care; I kept crying. Then I tried to knock some sense into myself by just eating the fries, crying as I pushed each one into my mouth and choking as I tried to chew and swallow through the sobs.

Once I had finished the fries (which took me all of three minutes because they only gave me like, eight fries in total), I left the Burger King and made my way to an ATM to get some cash to buy more food.


The ATM wouldn’t process my request. I tried again. The ATM wouldn’t protest my request. I tried again. The ATM wouldn’t process my request.


I cried and I couldn’t stop crying, and without looking at my watch, I found a payphone and dialed my mom. It didn’t even occur to me that it would be somewhere between three and five in the morning back home, and that when my mom heard me sobbing on the other end of the phone, she would worry.

“What’s wrong?” She asked before anything else.

And then I’m pretty sure I crumbled (see: cried and mumbled) something along the lines of:






She gave me advice. I don’t remember it, but it was good.

Eventually I ate. Then I left Limerick for another city and re-started my frantic search for food.

Lesson learned: Sometimes you just need your mommy. (And the whole bank holiday thing.)


*Like the fact that I can only eat so many bananas and cashews before the thought of them makes me want to vomit, and that the term “en-suite bathroom” doesn’t necessarily mean a toilet.

**Related: almost every weekend is a long weekend in the UK.

***There was one.

^Correction: The veggie burgers at Burger King in Canada are vegan.

Sixty Six.

I got picked on and bullied a lot in school. As I’ve mentioned before, I was a fat goth kid who lusted after boys in makeup. It was a rough combination. But whatever. The point is that in grade eight, the bullying got so bad that I ended up leaving my junior high for home schooling.*

In some ways this was a rough transition for me. I obviously had no friends left at school, and I was home schooling on my own, so from grade nine to grade 12, I essentially had no real friends, and a lot of Internet friends (some of whom became real friends – what up, Meredith?)

So yeah, I spent a lot of time on the Internet. I was a huge, huge music fan at the time, and a huge fan girl, so I spent a lot of my Internet time on message boards for bands I liked.

And then one day, I made my message board habit work wonders for my grades.

I had to write a paper for my Language Arts course, and since I was a huge metal head who believed that metal was the only music I would ever love and I was so misunderstood and I was an individual, etc., etc., etc., I decided to write my paper about censorship in music. And I thought hey, how cool would it be if I could interview somebody really important for my paper?

So I turned to the one message board I was a member of where the band actually talked to their fans like normal people: Stone Sour.

SIDENOTE: I actually cannot remember right now if it was Stone Sour’s message board or Slipknot’s message board. What I do remember is this: Stone Sour had not yet released an album (well, they had previously, but not since Slipknot had become popular) so nobody knew who they were yet. I knew who they were because I was a Slipknot superfan.


Corey Taylor was always on the message board, chatting with fans and generally being cool and nice to people. So I thought what the hell? And I wrote him a private message, asking if he’d be up for an interview about censorship.

He responded quickly and kindly and told me to shoot him whatever questions I wanted answered.

Then I almost peed myself.

Corey Taylor was willing to talk to me!


So I thought up my best questions, and I sent them away. And you know what? Corey Taylor responded with long, carefully thought out and worded answers.**

All for little 16-year-old me to use in a paper that would never be seen by anyone but my Language Arts teacher, who probably had NO idea who Slipknot was/is.

Lesson learned: Ask and you shall receive. / You won’t know if you don’t try. / It never hurts to ask.



**I know I’m often very sarcastic on my blog, and that I like to make fun of my days as a goth teenager, but I have to say, I really do give mad props to Corey Taylor for being cool enough to answer my dumb kid questions with genuine regard for my assignment. I hope he’s still just as cool to his fans, especially the loser teen ones who need the reassurance.***

***Also, Corey Taylor, it seems, now looks like this:


So maybe I can find a way to use this story to get into his pants somehow. Just saying. (Sorry, Mom.)

Sixty Five.

When I was little, my brother and I called any sort of after dinner treat “something candy.” And being that I was the youngest – and the bold one of the two of us – my brother would always send me to ask my mom if we could have “something candy.”

SIDENOTE: He would also strategically position kitchen chairs and then prompt me to climb onto them, onto the kitchen counter, and into the cupboards to reach for sweets and other treats on the top shelves.

What I’m about to say may or may not be connected to that story (okay, it definitely is), and it may reveal something totally abnormal about me, but I think it’s funny and weird, so I totally don’t care.

I equate this:


with happiness.

But wait. Before you’re like, “Ooh, shocker – chubby girl loves candy,” let me explain.

It’s not even about eating it.

I mean sure, when I was a kid, I wanted to eat ALL THE CANDY ALL THE TIME, but even now, as an adult, I love candy. I just love it. Hell, I’m a gluten-free vegan, I don’t even eat 95% of the candy that exists in the world. I just like it.

Does that make any sense?

Since I can remember, I’ve had candy dreams.

SIDENOTE: Can’t believe I’m talking about this in a public forum. You’re welcome, Future Andrea!

In these candy dreams, I’m basically just surrounded by candy, or I’m at a candy store, and I’m usually selecting the candy I want. Filling a giant bag with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Everything is so bright and colourful and cheerful, and everything looks delicious. It’s rare that I ever even dream-eat it. It’s just there. It just is.

Like this.
Like this.

You know how in Amélie, she likes to sink her hands into bags of grain? That’s how I am with candy*.

SIDENOTE: And also…

Kindred spirits.
Kindred spirits.

I just like being around it. I love the colours. Bright colours make me happy. Put me in a boutique store of any kind that is filled with bright colours and my eyes glaze over with joy. It’s euphoric. (No, I am not high right now.)

When I was a kid, my family and I would go to Pizza Hut and I would go to the little ice cream sundae buffet and take a bit of ice cream and A LOT OF SPRINKLES. This gained me the nickname Sprinkles and/or Spinkle as a teen**. Today my iPhone case is sprinkles.


My office mate at my new job revealed to me on my first day of work that as his new office buddy, I now have exclusive access to The Candy Drawer. Yes, you heard right. A full drawer of candy in his desk. Chocolate, Jolly Ranchers, ju jubes, you name it. I almost never touch it, but I love that it’s there. It’s amazing, like a tiny little piece of heaven just a few feet away from me at all times. I knew then we’d get along juuuuust fine.

Guys, I don’t even care what twisted thing is wrong with me, what psychological void I fill with my love of candy. I had a candy dream last week and I woke up smiling. They’re just so damn pretty.

Lesson learned: Everyone’s got a “thing.” In fact, most people have many. Candy’s my “thing.” Deal with it.***


P.S. If you’re out there reading this and you’re like, “OMG! ME TOO!” then I think we should talk, because I want to meet you and figure out what’s wrong with you because maybe it’s the same thing.

P.P.S. I am NOT a candy fetishist. This is not a sexual thing. So don’t even go there, and please don’t tell me if candy turns you on. Because I don’t wanna know. (No judgement.) (Perv.)

*In my dreams, because otherwise ew, unsanitary.

**What up, Meredith? x

***Since this is only post #65 of 365, you can expect I’ll reveal more of my “things” in the future.****

****Don’t giggle at “thing.” Perv.

Sixty Four.

Here’s a weird story.

(I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Andrea, you don’t need to warn us anymore. We get that you’re a magnet for crazies and weirdos.”)

Okay, so when I was in my first couple years at university, I took a combination of the bus and subway to get to school.

(There weren’t any straight forward routes from my house because transit in my hometown kind of sucks. After two years, I figured I’d get a used car and drive the seven minutes instead of wasting almost an HOUR each way. Whew. Hey, I guess I’m still kind of worked up about what a lame route I had to take to school! Settle down, Beça!)

SIDENOTE: Yes, I self-talk using my last name, like a football coach or something. Now you know one more thing about me.

Anyway, my transition point between bus and subway was the main street in city centre, so there were always, always tons of people around. On this particular day, I was waiting to catch the bus back home after school. It was late afternoon on a nice, sunny day, and I was standing at a bus stop in the middle of the city’s core with close to 20 other people. I had my headphones in and I was just enjoying the nice weather and the good music (it was probably Tom Waits*). Everything was normal.

I noticed a homeless man kind of wandering around in my peripheral vision. He seemed like he might be a little drunk. His steps were heavy and calculated. I was mostly astonished by his size; he must have been six and a half feet tall, and he was broad. In fact, I may have been quite taken by him because he reminded me so much of Will Sampson from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

I love Will Sampson.
I love Will Sampson.

Okay, when I describe what happened next, it’s going to sound like I’m a complete idiot for not reacting sooner, but guys, I swear, it was like I simultaneously saw it coming and was completely blind to what was going on!

When I remember it, it feels like it happened in slow motion, and in reality, he was a pretty slow mover, kind of staggering around, so maybe I just thought “who would DO that?” and that’s why I didn’t switch into self-defense Andrea sooner.

I know, I know, at this point you’re like, “What the hell happened?!”

You’re thinking it must be something CRAZY for me to build up all this anticipation.

It’s not that crazy.

But it is weird!

Will Sampson’s body double got a little closer to me. Fine. I still had a safe distance. Plus, with all these people around, what could he possibly get away with?

Then all of a sudden, he was right in front of me, staring down at me. I may have leaned back a bit, but I thought okay, he’s in a sort of stupor, he’ll move on.

Then his arms were around my waist, and he was picking me up.

Like, literally, picking me up off the ground.

To carry me away with him?

To test if he could throw me over his shoulder?

To pack me away in his pocket?


I panicked a little bit and jerked my body around until he let go and my feet were back on the ground. Then I yanked my ear buds out and shouted, “No!”

“IT WAS A COMPLIMENT! FUCK!” is what he yelled back at me.

And I stared back, speechless. Because what do you say to that? Thank you?

He grumbled and muttered some stuff about me under his breath and continued on his way. I noticed I was shaking a bit. I looked around.


Like, hello? People? What if he had thrown me over his shoulder and started to walk away? Would you have helped me then? Jesus.

That’s when I learned:

(A) To turn my music down, lest an attacker (abductor? suitor?) get a little too close ever again.

(B) To be prepared to defend myself (with ninja skills and loud screams**), because counting on other people is maybe not a great idea.


P.S. On the plus side, as a fat girl, I always feel a little weird about anyone trying to pick me up, so I was pretty impressed by Will Sampson’s body double’s strength. Gotta say.


**Which are the Canadian answer to guns. When we kick an attacker in the groin, we also apologize. Sincerely.

Sixty Three.

The other day*, I walked into one of the gym locations I frequent, and I noticed that the frosted glass wall from the second floor – which is visible from the main floor – was gone. In its place were rows of yellow ‘CAUTION’ tape. My heart started to pound.

“Where do you think it went?” I asked my friend.

She shrugged. “Maybe they’re expanding or something.”

“What if somebody got in a fight and they got thrown THROUGH THE WALL?!”

“Oh gosh, I don’t know about that.” Said my friend, being overly nice.

“Or maybe somebody threw a weight and SHATTERED THE WALL!”

“I don’t know…”

Turns out they just decided to replace the frosted glass with normal, clear glass.


CUT TO: I went to hang out with one of my friends at her place last night. She lives in what is called a crescent, but when I hear the word ‘crescent,’ I think of a street within a neighbourhood, and really, her crescent is her neighbourhood because it’s out in the country.

SIDENOTE: People who actually live in the country might think I’m an idiot for calling the area my friend lives in ‘the country.’ I’m really not sure. To me, it’s the country. There are no streetlights.

I got totally lost trying to get there. (Remember what I said about the suburbs?) It was snowing and it was pitch black (at 5:30pm) because I live in the prairies and it’s the wintertime and there were no streetlights and the roads were bumpy and slippery and I panicked a bit. I had to pull over twice to call and/or text my friend for directions/reassurance. The second time I pulled over, it was on a street that had a “NO EXIT” sign on it. I turned in and couldn’t see too far down the road because of the snow and the dark.

And that’s when it hit me.

My imagination.

All of a sudden, the situation seemed ominous. I imagined the low-lying tree branches shifting just a bit too much and something emerging from the woods, like a bear or a SASQUATCH.

My heart rate went up and I got the hell out of there.

After about a 30-minute delay, I got to my friend’s house. We had fun hanging out, she’s awesome, I love her, etc., etc. Then it was time to leave.

Even though it was already dark when I was driving over, it was even darker when I left. And again with the no streetlights! Guys, it’s eerie as hell! I scurried to my car and jumped in. My friend’s driveway is a driveway and then right next to that is basically forest. As I selected the music I would listen to on my drive home (Macklemore, because that’s all I’ve been listening to for the last two weeks straight), I instinctively slammed my hand down to lock the doors of my car. What if some crazed, chainsaw-wielding psycho just came running at my car from the woods? What if I didn’t even notice him coming at me until he slammed his body into the vehicle, or slapped his two, bloody hands down onto my windshield?!

I freaked out all the way home.

Also, I worried about hitting a deer or a rabbit or something.


(A) My imagination is sometimes too big for me to manage.**

(B) I think I’m definitely probably most likely a city girl. Visiting quiet, dark places is awesome, but my heart can’t handle it. Give me drunk people singing outside my building any night.***


P.S. A homeless man once attacked my vehicle while I was at a red light. He stood on the edge of the sidewalk and started slamming his hands down on the roof of my car. I screamed, drove away, and then worried for two days that I had somehow run the guy over and was now a murderer on the lam. So there’s that.

*I mean last week, not 17 years ago or something.

**And I think I mostly prefer it that way.

***Shout out to Glasgow! ❤

Sixty Two.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: I’ve always been super fair. My mom likes to call me a porcelain doll, which is one of those things moms say that you love, but are also kind of embarrassed to admit you love. One of the comments I tend to get when people find out I’m Portuguese is, “but you’re so white!”

This photo makes me laugh. It’s my cousin and I in Cascais, Portugal:

Like Mocha and Straight-up Milk. <3
Like Mocha and Straight-up Milk. ❤

NOTE: At the time this photo was taken, my cousin wasn’t as tanned as she usually is, and I was already about as tanned as I get from the sunshine the day before.


SCENE: Andrea, about to embark on a move to Scotland, is at London Drugs getting passport photos taken, which her soon-to-be university has recommended she get for a variety of purposes upon her arrival in the country. She stands, poses for her photo, then waits for the early 20s photo counter girl to do her thing.

PG: (Looking at the computer screen) Oh god.

AB: Is something wrong?

PG: You look so pasty in these photos.

AB: Well, I’m pretty fair.

PG: You’re like, way too pale. You look sick. Just a second.

The girl walks away and returns with a series of passport photos in which Andrea looks like this:


AB: Oh my god.

PG: I gave you a tan. You look way better here.

AB: That doesn’t even look like me.

PG: No, I know – you look way better.

AB: I’m sorry*, I don’t agree. Can you please print the originals?

PG: Why?

AB: I’d like the original version. These look nothing like me. They’re freaking me out.

Photo Girl shoots Andrea a quintessential “Are you fucking kidding me?” look, followed by a pronounced eye roll.

PG: Okay.

She prints the original passport photos and cuts them into four pieces. Then she cuts the “tanned” photos as well.

PG: You should take these ones, too.

AB: Oh, no thanks. You can chuck ’em.

PG: You don’t want them?!

AB: Do I have to pay for them if I don’t like them?

PG: No.

AB: Great. I’ll take them ‘cos they’re funny. THANK YOU.

Andrea snatches her photo envelope and walks away in all her pale glory.

I wish I could say that my passport photo fiasco was the only time something like this happened. But I’ve lost count of the number of times some random girl at a clothing or makeup store has told me I “need a tan.”

Yeah. I need a tan like….like you need to be dumber!**

Even Facebook seems to want me to tan:

Who DOESN'T want to rock this look, right?
Who DOESN’T want to rock “thiz” look, right?

Look, there’s nothing wrong with tanning. (I mean, I’d rather you get a nice spray tan than damage your skin with way too much sun, but whatever, I’m not going to stop you from living your life.) Some people pull off a tan like nobody’s business.


But not me! Okay?!

Lesson: I should have stayed in the UK where pale = normal.


*Said the CANADIAN. God! Why did I apologize?


Sixty One.

One of the things I had to provide for my security clearance at my new job is a FULL employment history. Like, everything.

Okay, I thought to myself, that shouldn’t be too hard.

GUYS! I have had a lot more jobs than I thought. I started as a babysitter when I was 11 or 12, but basically, in the last 14 years, I’ve had 14 jobs. And my longest job lasted almost five of those 14. So there was some overlap. Sometimes a lot of overlap.

My employment history includes:

I could NEVER afford this arrangement.
I could NEVER afford this arrangement.

Working as a telephone operator for one of the world’s largest floral delivery companies. At  this job, I had the pleasure of trying to convince men that it was perfectly reasonable to pay $99 for a dozen red roses in a box (not a vase).

Some of them didn’t need any convincing. Some of them ordered two.

“For their moms.”

SIDENOTE: I also got to learn how to arrange flowers at this job, which was cool because the work itself had NOTHING to do with the actual process of arranging. So I have that skill now. Sort of.

If only I worked at one like THIS.
If only I worked at one like THIS.

Working as the box office manager of a local theatre. At this job, I did a lot of computer work, a lot of ticket selling, and a lot of crowd control. I also once had the pleasure of trying to calm a woman who was infuriated to learn (despite many well-placed signs) that she couldn’t re-enter a play after leaving to use the washroom. Then, like a perfectly timed sitcom, a mouse scurried through the lobby and under the doors into the auditorium. I gave her a glass of wine and had to explain to her that the mouse wasn’t re-entering because he wasn’t an audience member.

SIDENOTE: I also got to work to discover that the toilets in the ladies washroom had flooded, and spent over an hour mopping up toilet water with my coworker once. And I still totally loved the place.

If only I had done more of this...
If only I had done more of this…

Working as a “writer” (see: as a personal assistant to a writer) at a communications company. At this job, I began with some small copywriting jobs, then moved into house-sitting, chauffeuring, and then gardening (yeah.) I once had the pleasure of putting the hours I spent cleaning a flooded basement on my timesheet.

SIDENOTE: Don’t get me started.

I’ve also: worked at a scrapbooking supply company with a lot of nice paper at it; worked as a special needs aide at a preschool with a lot of three and four year olds; worked as a freelancer at an online magazine that will never pay off; worked at LUSH Cosmetics and always smelled AMAZING; and many, many others.

But you know, I have to say, I’ve learned at least one (if not a million) useful things from every job I’ve ever had, and in looking at my job history as a whole, I have learned the following:

First, that I still need to work as a server at least once before I die, because I hear that’s a life experience everyone should have.

And also that I am either:

(A) A job whore.

(B) An overachiever.

(C) A broke-ass post-student.

(D) All of the above.

And you?



Nothing makes me feel old like hanging out with anyone who still has the suffix “-teen” in their life. One of the guys at my new job is 19 and when he said it and I realized that was nearly a decade away for me, a little piece of me died inside.

But that is beside the point.

What I was going to say is that while it also makes me feel old to say this, the times have changed. And being a kid nowadays is so different from being a kid when I was a kid, just like it was so different being a kid when my mom was a kid, etc., etc.

For example…

My main worries as a child/teen, by Andrea Beça:

  • Will my brother want to hang out with me today?
  • Is Mom going to let us have candy after dinner?
  • Will today be the day that I get my Barbie’s haircut just right?
  • I hope we don’t have to run in gym class.
  • God, I wish my parents would just let me have my own phone line.
  • Does Michael like me back?*
  • What if the Spice Girls break up?
  • I wonder if school’s gonna make us learn to use the Internet.**
  • Do I look fat in this?
  • OMG, is that a zit?
  • I wonder if Marilyn Manson would think I’m hot…

The main worries of a child/teen in 2012:

  • Ugh, I hope my brother doesn’t post that video of me lip-synching to PSY on YouTube.
  • What if my mom finds out about this C- and takes away my iPhone? (Whatever, I still have Internet on my iPod Touch.)
  • I hope we don’t have to run in gym class.****
  • Who is this creep-o writing to me every day on Facebook? Does he know where I go to school?
  • God, I wish my parents would just let me get implants.
  • What if Katie tells everyone on Twitter that I got my period in math class? Everyone’s gonna hate me!
  • Do I look fat in this?****
  • I wonder if Justin Bieber will tweet me back about coming to prom!
  • OMG, is that a zit? I should get a facial. Maybe Botox would help.
  • I wonder if that guy has a gun.+

Lesson learned: Being a kid has always been hard, but it seems to be getting harder, when it should be getting easier as we learn more, advance more, etc.. Also, I don’t understand the world, and I obviously never will.


*Do you, Michael? I’m still wondering! You and your damn Irish good looks!

**YEAH THAT’S RIGHT. The Internet wasn’t always a thing, kids. It became a thing!***

***Cue Andrea feeling EVEN older as she explains this to teens at her retail job.

****Because some things never change.

+I don’t put this in here as a joke. It’s something I take very seriously. What happened yesterday in Connecticut (and has happened many times before) hit me hard. I wish in my heart of hearts that this – and many other things – never had to cross the mind of any child. It breaks my heart that it’s probably going to become an increasing concern. So on that note, I also have this to say, which I posted on Facebook yesterday:

“One of my freelance jobs right now is transcribing interviews with high-risk youth. Then something like [the shooting in Connecticut] happens and it hits me HARD. I don’t understand why we’re still shrugging off mental health issues and not taking them seriously. I can’t even find all of the words I am trying to find to articulate what I’m feeling, but I’ll say this: I’m really sad and it’s going to be hard to go on with my work day, and I wish that kids didn’t have to ever worry about getting hurt anywhere, but especially not at a “safe place” like school. TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN. And don’t marginalize the ones who act out just because they annoy or frustrate you. They’re probably the ones who need you most, even if it’s just a kind word and a smile. You may have NO idea what it means to them, but I’ve got months of proof that it can literally change lives.”

Fifty Nine.

Everything you saw on Freaks and Geeks was true, guys.


Like you know how Sam looked like a baby compared to Daniel and his friends? Isn’t it so crazy how that can just happen in a span of a couple years?

Physically, I was a normal “bloomer,” I think. People always thought that I was a bit older than I actually was. But emotionally?

Oh boy.

I spent junior high just trying to make it through the day without embarrassing myself around the cool kids, and I was much more focused on having real snap pants and Spice Girl shoes and the latest photos of Marilyn Manson up in my locker than I was on walking around in stiletto boots and mini dresses.

There were a few girls in grade nine when I was in grade seven who were the Cool Girls. The leader of the group was named Shelley. Any time I saw her in the hallway, I’d freeze and stare. Shelly looked like a real grown up compared to the rest of us.* She was supermodel tall with an amazing hourglass figure and perfect large-but-perky tits. She dressed impeccably in all of the latest trends, wore full Pamela Anderson makeup, and her hair was always freshly bleached blonde and meticulously straightened. I didn’t want to be her, but I wanted to be her. (That’s a statement you’ll either totally get or skim over depending on who you were in junior high/high school.)

Cool Kids.
Cool Kids.

I don’t even know what I thought she did at school. When I was in the moment, I think that I thought she did school, but just did school as a perfect, popular girl. When I think back to the moments I saw her, I realize she was never actually in class, but wandering the halls with some random popular guy’s arm around her. I don’t think I ever saw her holding a book, or even a pencil, but she always looked perfect and coolly carefree.

SIDENOTE: One thing I just need to put out there is that Shelley was never mean to me. In fact, she kind of broke the Cool Girl stereotype by either being nice to me or just not noticing me at all, which was crazy refreshing in comparison to the daily torture, bullying, spitting, etc. that I got from the rest of the kids at my junior high. So I want to take a moment to give a shout out to Shelley for being the nice one of the Cool Girls. I genuinely hope she’s living the good life now.

Before I had finished grade seven, Shelley had started to disappear. She showed up sporadically, walking the halls with Camille, the bitchy Cool Girl, and their other friend, whose name I forget, but who was the kind of boring and plain Cool Girl, like a Cool Girl by proxy. They all seemed to be involved with the two drugs busts that happened while I was at that junior high,** and then Shelley vanished for good.

The next time I saw Shelley, she was visiting the Cool Girls at school and she was pushing a baby in a stroller. She still looked impeccable and gorgeous, but her sexy-and-I-know-it spark was gone. She was quiet, subdued. I passed her in the hallway on my way to a class, and as I neared her, she smiled and said “hey,” and then looked at the ground like she was shy or embarrassed. I just thought she looked beautiful, and couldn’t believe she was talking to me, so I squeaked back a “hey” and kept going to class so that I wouldn’t have to think of something cool to say.

I don’t think I could even process Shelley’s life while I was actually in junior high. I mean, I was well aware how babies were made, and every day I’d hear the popular girls bragging about some sort of sexy fun, like how they let so-an-so feel them up, or how this one girl got fingered at the school dance, but it would have never even crossed my mind to do any of those things.

Like, ew, right?

I was 13!

Lesson learned with over a decade of hindsight: bloom when you’re ready to bloom.****


*She was probably too old to be in grade nine IRL. That’s a harsh reality, not a judgement.

**I went to a rough school. I was only there for two years before the bullying got so bad that I dropped out for homeschooling because I thought if I stayed I might kill myself,*** but in the two years I was there, there was a big drug bust for weed, another for cocaine, a stabbing, and my science teacher got arrested for being drunk at school, which he was every single day.

***I say that casually because it’s the only way I can cope with how depressed I was, not because it’s something I take lightly. Just FYI.

****If I ever have kids/nieces and nephews/etc. who ask me about sex, you can be damn sure I’ll remind them over and over and over again that I was a virgin until 21. Not because I think it’s right, but because I know I wasn’t ready before then.*****

*****Was that a totally uncool thing to say? OH WELL.

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