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April 2013

One Hundred Ninety Six.

After grade eight, I left school.

I didn’t drop out of school; I switched to homeschooling, and I stayed there until university.

I’ve sort of touched on this already, I know. At some point in this 365-day blogging project, maybe I’ll find a way to explain junior high and why I left with some sort of eloquence. For now, I’ll say this: I was tortured, tormented, and taunted on a daily basis until I was scared to go to school. I became sick. With fear? Depression? Both? Probably. I ended up skipping the last 2-3 months of grade eight and being escorted by both my mom and a teacher to and from each of my final exams to ensure that I’d be safe.

In a nutshell, junior high was awesome.

But that’s not the point. The point is I home-schooled. I spent grades 9-12 either in front of my computer doing online courses or hunched over books doing distance learning style courses. It took a lot of self-initiative, because I would only meet with a teacher at my school’s main office if I needed serious help. Aside that that, I was on my own.

So I was on my own a lot.

I spent a lot of time on the internet, which was basically the only place I made friends. Some of those friendships were brief, and some of them were lasting. Okay, one of them was lasting. Here’s a shot of my girl Meredith and I when she came to visit me back in the day. I was 16, and she was 17:

THE COOLEST.
THE COOLEST.

Hi, Mere! I’m happy we’re still in friend-love!

Here’s what I realized, though: while I geeked out on the internet, other people went to high school. They had all those quintessential high school moments, like dances, and boyfriends and girlfriends, and track meets or whatever, and I was at home, on message boards for bands I liked. Oh, and grad! Epic, epic grad!

But wait a second – did they?

Guys, in my mind, high school is just like in the movies/TV. It’s just like Freaks and Geeks, Heathers, Clueless, Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, and Grease. 

And I’ve learned over the last little while that no matter what you tell me about how high school really was, I will never believe you. It’s engrained.

Movies and TV took over a part of my memory.

The Breakfast Club

Please tell me I’m not alone. I feel really weird about it.

xA

One Hundred Ninety Five.

You know, when I think back to the Nightmare Flat, I really think it was doomed from the start.

I mean, right when I moved in, I thought there was a murderer in the neighbourhood, and then just a few weeks later, mould would take over my entire life, but there was also the time I thought I was going to die alone in a place I had just moved to…

All because of a kiwi.

Not this kind:

Kiwi Bird

(I wish! It would kill me with cuteness! Little fuzzy chubby look at those feet I CAN’T EVEN.)

This kind:

Kiwi Fruit

Looks delicious, right?

I’m not like, obsessed with kiwis or anything. They’re a fruit I would eat occasionally in the past. I think they’re tasty. When I moved to Glasgow, one of the things I realized is that a lot of our (that is, North America’s) “exotic” fruits are a lot cheaper over there. I assume this is because, although imported, the produce is imported from places that are much closer. (Like, getting fruit from Europe or Mexico to Canada is a big journey, whereas getting fruit from say, Spain to Scotland is not as big a deal.) But that’s just a guess. I’ve never looked into it.

Anyway, I was very excited to see things like mangoes and kiwis available for cheap. So I took advantage of it and I bought lots of amazing produce, including a 4-pack of kiwis from Tesco, which I happily brought home just a few days after moving into my new flat.

I was home from classes late one afternoon and enjoying some British gameshows on TV and I decided to have a snack. I cut up a couple kiwis and brought them to the couch with me. I ate approximately half a kiwi. Then I started to feel weird.

The feeling was similar to what happens when I eat too much (“too much” being key, because a small amount has no effect on me) sesame: my mouth started to itch and swell. Only instead of reaching a happy swelling point and just being annoying for a few minutes, it felt like it was continuing to swell.

I panicked.

I called my mom.

“Mom, I ate a kiwi and I feel like my throat is closing up.”

“Okay, stay calm.”

“I know, I know, but my mouth is all weird and it’s getting hard to swallow. What do I do?”

“Just breathe. Give yourself a minute. If it gets worse, you need to call 911.”

“It’s 999.”

“Okay, whatever. Just give yourself some time.”

“Okay.”

“Are you okay?”

“It’s been like, 30 seconds. I feel exactly the same. I should go. This is scary.”

“Okay, text me if something happens. STAY CALM.”

“Okay.”

(My mom likes to tell me to stay calm because I’m prone to worrying and anxiety. I get these two traits from her.)

I put the bowl of kiwi down on the side table and sat cross-legged on my couch, staring at the TV but not seeing any of it, focusing on breathing.

I stayed that way for 45 minutes or so.

Eventually the feeling started to fade.

I decided I could be normal again.

I started by getting rid of the kiwis, and I haven’t eaten one since.

So that was the day I learned that I have apparently developed an allergy to kiwis. Or maybe whatever specific chemicals were used on the skins of that 4-pack? Or maybe it was just a coincidence?

Okay, so I learned nothing certain, but I got scared into never eating kiwis again.

xA

One Hundred Ninety Four.

Halfway through grade four, I switched elementary schools.

My first elementary school was shit. I had a couple great teachers, but the terrible teachers outweighed the good ones, along with a lot of other drama I’m not going to get into today.

So there I was, the new kid in a blended grade three/four classroom. Everyone had already had five months to get to know one another and then I showed up. It was pretty intimidating, but I had a really great teacher and I quickly met a small group of nice girls to be friends with.

SIDENOTE: This was before they decided to create an “I Hate Andrea” club.

Shortly after I arrived, though, another new kid came to our class. His name was Scott. He was really quiet, but nice enough, and he had nice green eyes and olive skin, so a couple of my friends were like, “Omg, Scott’s sooooo cute!”

He was placed on the Cute/Cool List.

And I was no longer The New Girl! Yay!

Then one day, we were in class – I can’t remember which subject – and Scott started to act out. He was sitting in front of me, so I couldn’t really tell what was going on, but the teacher was getting irritated. I want to say he was making faces or something. Basically, he was being a little shit, which, when I think back to grade four, seems pretty normal. Except that Scott wouldn’t stop. The teacher got firmer and firmer with her warnings, but he wouldn’t cut his shit out.

Finally, my teacher threatened Scott with a visit to the principal’s office, like any normal human being would do in that situation.

But instead of shutting the hell up, Scott did this:

TF1

TF2

TF3

That’s right. Scott picked up his desk and threw it at our teacher. She jumped out of the way just in time, and we all sat there going

Dizzy

as the desk smashed into the chalkboard and then down onto the ground. The legs broke right off it. Scott stormed out of the room, his face bright red, a growl coming from deep inside him. It turned into a full-on rage scream as he made his way down the hallway to who knows where.

Yeah, so after that, not many people talked to Scott. He went from Cute/Cool to Weird/Scary. His quietness went from charming to suspicious. He kept to himself.

So that was the day I learned/confirmed:

(A) First impressions are not everything,

(B) You never know what the last straw may be,

(C) There are some things you just can’t come back from, and

(D) I could never be a teacher.

xA

One Hundred Ninety Three.

Speaking of foxes and my shitty violin playing, let me tell you about how I learned that foxes make horrendous noise.

When I moved to Glasgow, I gave myself three full days to find a flat, thinking I could spend the first searching through listings and setting appointments, and the second going to viewings and choosing a place.

I was so wrong.

I’m sure I could have found a flat in three days during the off season, but in the heart of September, when all the students were moving in for the year? Forget it.

4PztUfj

I spent my days at the beautiful Mitchell Library (free WiFi!) sifting through flats online, compiling giant lists of places to call, and then calling them, only to find that every flat I was interested in was taken already. I tried my best not to panic, but let’s face it: I panicked. I had to extend my stay at the guesthouse by another few days. I kept searching. And panicking.

So when I found my first flat, I snapped it up at the viewing. It was the first place I actually even got a viewing for, and it was beautiful. Cozy, homey, and it had really large rooms, despite its small size overall. (Little did I know at the time that my “Cozy Flat” would quickly become my “Nightmare Flat.”)

SIDENOTE: I just Googled my old address and managed to find a teeny photo of my first flat. Well, the building, anyway.

Kelvindale Road

There weren’t many things about this flat that I’d call “good” things, but there were a couple. The first was that it had been lived in before, which meant it had lots of nice furniture and it felt really homey. (My second flat – which was a dream, don’t get me wrong – was very bare because it had just been gutted and rebuilt, and of course, I didn’t buy furniture…) The second bonus of this flat was that it was in an area that still had lots of greenery. Just behind my building was a nice space with loads of natural trees and shrubbery.

The major downside – I mean, not including the sickness-inducing mould – was that the flat was on the ground level. Yes, that does have its perks (no walking up a bajillion stairs with heavy groceries!), but it also has disadvantages (people walking by the bathroom while I’m showering, walking by the bedroom while I’m trying to sleep, etc.).

Trying to sleep.

I had a hard time sleeping for the first week or two at my new flat. I mean, I had just moved halfway across the world and was living by myself for the first time ever, so there was that, but it was also a little unnerving being so unaware of my surroundings. I hadn’t met any of my neighbours, I didn’t know anything about my neighbourhood, hell, I didn’t really know much about the city I was living in.

The first couple nights, I would be thisclose to sleep, only to be startled into consciousness by the sounds of a group of people having a conversation at the parking stalls just outside my bedroom window or something. I hated knowing that they were standing right there, and I hated that I could hear everything.

On my third or fourth night, it was finally quiet enough for me to fall into a deep, blissful sleep. Unfortunately, it was short-lived, because at around 2am, I was awoken by some of the scariest sounds I had ever heard.

The best way I can describe it is to say that it sounded like a newborn baby screaming in pain, as if it were being murdered or something.

It’s a totally gruesome thought, I know, but it was awful. My eyes shot open. I stared into the darkness of my bedroom, trying to place the noise. Was it coming from my upstairs neighbour? No, it sounded further away.

Oh shit, I thought to myself, it’s coming from the mini forest area…

My crazy imagination immediately started putting together a story of a woman who had been kidnapped, dragged out to the woods, and brutally murdered during my first week at my new flat. Then it went even further and started to create a murderer who was not just human, but a monster-man, like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. Then it went just a couple steps further and deduced that for some reason, the murderer would know where I was and make me his next target.

Within five minutes, I had decided that there was a murderer standing just outside my bedroom window. At ground level. Right there.

Way to go, Andrea. Way to go.

But the horrible screaming hadn’t stopped, so I couldn’t just pull the blankets over my head and ignore my fear. I was genuinely worried that something terrifying was going on just outside my flat. I knew that I would have to look. I had to, because if something terrifying was happening, I had to call the cops.

I stood up and approached my window, certain that when I peeled a couple slats of the blinds apart, I would be staring directly at this:

03-TOCL-JASON

I took a deep breath and went for it.

I saw nothing.

I heard the screams, but there was nobody there.

The fact that none of my neighbours were standing outside freaking out calmed my nerves a little. Also, I was definitely too afraid to investigate on my own. So I crawled back into bed, pulled the blankets over my head, and tried to shake the idea that the murderer had already somehow gotten into my flat and was hiding in my closet out of my mind.

Eventually I fell asleep.

I was scared of my flat for like, a week until one of my classmates casually mentioned how awful the foxes sound during a conversation over lunch one day.

“Does it sound like a baby being murdered?” I asked casually (see: hoping no one would notice that I was shaky from lack of sleep and an overactive imagination).

“Yes, actually – that’s a good way of putting it.”

Phew.

Fox 1

Not what you’d expect from these little guys.

I would have a week or so of peaceful sleep, until I started to get incredibly ill from mould exposure.

Fun.

xA

One Hundred Ninety Two.

I’m taking yesterday and running with it.

Something I was really good at when I was a kid? Violin.

Violin

I can’t remember when I started playing. I think I was eight or nine years old. I played for over four years, and by the end of those four-ish years, I was good. I still remember some of the songs I used to play. One of my favourites was from The Magic Flute. I could sing you the tune if you asked.

The other thing that happened at the end of those four-ish years is I started to hit my teenage rebellion and I decided it was not cool to play the violin, so I didn’t want to do it anymore.

My mom – bless her heart – didn’t force me to stick with it. And honestly, while I sometimes wish that she had, I don’t think that she would have been able to. I am a stubborn girl. So I put the violin in its case, tucked it away, and became a goth. I stopped humming The Magic Flute and traded it in for Marilyn Manson.

Stupid kid.

A number of years later – when I was probably 20 or 21, I was reorganizing my bedroom and I decided I would pull out my violin. No one was home, so I could play and not have to explain myself to anyone. I could just try it, without having to decide if I was going to really stick with it.

I opened the case. The familiar, comforting smell of resin filled my nose. I sighed a sigh of relief without even realizing it. It felt like home. I had missed this. I picked up the violin, which sat in my hands as if it were an extension of them, and placed it under my chin. I closed my eyes, remembering the finger positions for that one song from The Magic Flute. I placed the bow on the strings and started to play.

It sounded like a cat was dying. Or a fox. Have you ever heard foxes? Fuck.

I was so certain that it would sound beautiful. I felt in my bones that I would be able to pick up and start where I had left off.

I tried another few notes. The violin was still in tune, but I made it sound like…well, like shit.

I placed the violin back in the case very calmly, making sure everything was in the right spot, protected, covered, and then slid it back under my bed. When it was out of sight, I cried.

I cried a lot.

That was the day I learned that just because you used to be able to do something doesn’t mean you’ll always be able to do it. Not without practice.

One day I’ll pick that violin back up and start practicing. I’m honestly still reeling from how horrendous it sounded five years ago.

xA

NOTE TO SELF: Add “practice violin” and “practice spinning” to The List.

…Also add “making out.” It’s been a while. Shit.

One Hundred Ninety One.

When I was really little – somewhere between four and six years old, I would guess – I found my uncle’s old roller skates in our garage. My dad had held onto them from when he and my uncle were kids. They were legit old school roller skates. They looked like this:

Roller+Skates

The only difference being I don’t think they had leather straps. I think they had weird buckles on them.

Anyway, I saw them, and I got this feeling in my stomach. Like, YES, I will put those on, and I will be a roller skating genius. (I meant it when I said being a skating superstar has always been on my life’s to-do list…) It was as though I could just feel it in my bones. It’s hard to describe, but I think everyone has felt that way about something in life, if not many things.

It just felt right, you know?

So I put on the roller skates.

And I couldn’t even fucking stand up in them.

Within a few minutes, I had completely surrendered. I was on my back in the grass of our backyard, wishing for someone to just come and take the stupid skates off my feet. I felt so defeated, I couldn’t even sit up.

And I thought to myself, “What the fuck, brain? Heart? Guts? Who/whatever told me – made me feel certain – that I could roller skate? Why did you do that to me?”

And approximately 10 years later, I would do the exact same thing with rollerblades.

That time, I got about two houses down the street on the sidewalk before falling into the grass.

On the plus side, some random dudes who were at a party at said house told me I should come and have a beer with them.

I think I was 14.

And I was no badass. So I just went home. (Which probably took me 20 minutes, given my skating talent.)

After that second instance – and having flashbacks to childhood – I learned that just because it feels like you should be able to do something, that doesn’t mean you can just do it.

Which sucks.

xA

P.S. For the record, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop thinking I can roller skate. Because I’m gonna fucking do it one day. Plus, look how cute these are:

rio-roller-disco-roller-skates.1597.full

I am in love.

One Hundred Ninety.

A couple days ago, I made the mistake of calling one of my credit card companies.

It’s a mistake because you always think you can just ask a quick question, but no matter why you’re calling, they always find a way to turn it into a 25-minute phone call about something else.

So I started with my question and ended up on hold for like, seven minutes while I was transferred to some other department to talk to someone else who could “totally help [me] with that.”

(Someone else who, by the way, did not solve my problem AT ALL. Thanks for nothing. CIBC!)

But that is beside the point.

So I get transferred to this other person. It’s a lady and she starts asking me all of the standard questions the credit card companies have to ask you to make sure that you are, in fact, you.

(Even though I had already answered all of the questions while I was chatting with the first person.)

BESIDE THE POINT.

“Are you still at BLAH BLAH BLAH, BLAH BLAH Street?”

“Yes.”

“Is your phone number still BLAH BLAH?”

“Yes.”

“Great. And is your martial status married, divorced, single, widower, or other?”

“I’m single.”

SIDENOTE: I was tempted to say “widower,” just for the hell of it. I refrained.

“Okay, and do you have any children under the age of 18 who are currently living with you?”

DLP3

“My dogs are about to turn two! Ha ha ha!”

PERFECT FACE

“Unfortunately that doesn’t count.”

She was not impressed.

Wait a second.

Did I just say that?

“My dogs are about to turn two! Ha ha ha!”

Guys. It’s official.

DLP1

I’m one of those people.

HAPPY 2nd BIRTHDAY TO MY TWO FAVOURITE PEEPS,

OSCAR WILDE AND LUCILLE BALL BEÇA!

xA

P.S. Just in case (A) you don’t think my dogs are the cutest ever (btw if you don’t, what’s wrong with you?!) or (B) you need an extra smile to get you through the rest of this week, I give you…SOME DOG GIFS! Happy Wednesday.

DOG GIF 1

DOG GIF 2

DOG GIF 3

DOG GIF 4

DOG GIF 5

YOU’RE WELCOME.

One Hundred Eighty Nine.

Grade six.

Sex Ed.

The question box.

ballot_box-1

You know the one. Where you can write down anything you want because it’s anonymous and only the teacher is gonna see it?

I have no memory whatsoever of my question, if I even asked one. I’m more the type to sit back and hope that someone else will ask the question I’m too chicken shit to ask in situations like that. Although now that I think about it, I don’t remember any of the questions, except for one.

“What does having an orgasm feel like?”

My teacher, Ms. Olesen, read it aloud, and then thought about it a moment, her glance moving up toward the ceiling.

“Well,” she began, “having an orgasm feels like…well, imagine a giant piece of your favourite chocolate cake…”

CAKE1

(Mmmm, chocolate cake.)

“Having an orgasm is a lot like eating a piece of delicious chocolate cake.”

It was difficult to tell where Ms. Olesen was going with this.

“It feels really good, and it’s like – mmm – like the feeling of the yummy-ness of eating chocolate cake, because it tastes so good it almost feels good…”

She started to writhe a little, trying to communicate something that seemed really confusing and borderline scary.

CAKE2

(Mmmm, chocolate cake.)

“And it’s sort of like an all-over feeling of…deliciousness.”

The class stared blankly. You could practically hear the blinking. There were a few hushed giggles somewhere in the back corner of the classroom.

“Just imagine really enjoying something you really like to eat. Having an orgasm feels a lot like that.”

The lesson I learned back then: Why even bother having sex when you could just eat cake?

Cake, people. CAKE.

The lesson I learned at 26, looking back at that moment: I could NEVER teach Sex Ed. Teachers who do deserve mad respect.

Also, there’s no need to separate sex and cake.

CAKE3

xA

One Hundred Eighty Eight.

Who remembers Chip and Dale, the chipmunks?

a8650i2_chip--185--OPT

Not to be confused with these guys:

410530ChippendalesCuffCollarSet

Although…*

ANYWAY.

When I was little, my family and I lived in an apartment. In fact, we lived in the apartment I was born in, but that’s a different story. Just outside of our apartment building, there was a bus stop, complete with a small, somewhat ghetto bus shelter. Basically, a glass box the size of maybe two phone booths put next to each other. Inside the glass box, there was a small bench and a metal garbage can attached to one of the walls.

So here’s what would go down.

My dad would take my brother and I to the bus shelter. He would put an imaginary coin into the metal garbage can (or maybe he would use a real coin, like a penny, but if so, boy, what a waste of money) as payment, and then my brother and I would reenact all of the Chip and Dale songs we knew from watching the cartoons.

We had a go-to song that I still remember the tune for, but the words escape me and I couldn’t find it on YouTube. All I remember is it started with, “I’m Chip! I’m Dale!” and a little tip of the top hat. Which of course we mimed.

This would go on for what felt like hours.

I feel like my brother and I were pretty fucking adorable putting on this little act, but if I saw some kids doing the same thing now, I’d probably be super annoyed by them.

What does that say about me?

I have no idea.

Did we ever actually catch the bus?

I have no idea.

What I learned from that, however, is that I was basically born an independent producer/performer. I’d like to throw ‘writer’ in there, too, but I was clearly adapting material I had seen elsewhere. I wouldn’t start my writing career until a couple years later, in kindergarten.

So there you have it.

xA

*Watching that cartoon now, at 26, I’m uncomfortably aware of how inappropriate and creepy it is. Let’s face it: those chipmunks might as well have been strippers. Clarice is like, halfway there.**

**Bonus lesson learned: Don’t look back on childhood cartoons. No good can come of it.

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