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How Doing a Photo-365 Changed Me.

I’d ask the question, “Who else is bidding ‘Good Riddance!’ to 2015?” but I know the general answer. It was a very difficult year for almost everyone I know, with a few exceptions (thankfully, or maybe we’d all have given up).

2015 was one of the most difficult years of my life. It was a year full of intense stress, sadness, pain, illness, loss, and a lot of me allowing other to treat me very poorly. (It also had some amazing and wonderful moments, don’t get me wrong, but I’m a writer building some context for my readers, here.) At more than one point in the year, my closest friends were like, “Good God, woman – what else could happen right now?” Definitely had that lovely snowball effect. You know the one.

The beautiful thing about terrible years, of course, is that they make you grow beyond your wildest imagined capabilities. I feel like I’ve shed my skin three of four times in the last twelve months. Like I’ve come out of it not new, but newly armoured. Not with walls around my heart or body, but with great understanding, self-love, and strength I didn’t know I had.

2015 was the kind of year that left me saying, “Wow, I didn’t know I could go through so much and feel so down, but still love myself and be happy on the inside, with who I am and what I’m doing.”

So I guess in the end, I’m eternally grateful for 2015.

Funny how that works. (I see what you’re doing, Universe. I see it. I get it. And I commend you for it. You tough motherfucker.)

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I can honestly say that I’ve never been one to struggle with gratitude. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve gone through a lot in my life. Maybe it was the constant bullying I went through starting when I was around five. Maybe it was the chronic pain I faced from the time I was 10 until I was in my early 20s. Maybe it was the depression and suicidal thoughts I had as a teen. Maybe it was all of that. (Spoiler alert: it was definitely all of that.) I’ve always been able to see the good in the bad, and I’ve always been able to appreciate it, wholeheartedly. Does that mean I’m never sad or angry or depressed? Heck no. It just means I can always find a smile in the saddest day, and that I can usually keep my sights set on the light at the end of the tunnel.

I bet at this point, you’re wondering what the hell I’m going on about because I told you on social media (and through the title of this post) that this was about a Photo-365 and for some reason I’m talking about being bullied and calling the Universe a “motherfucker.”

Right. Okay.

In 2015, I successfully completed a Photo-365. I’ve wanted to do one for years. I’ve watched friends and ex-boyfriends start (and sometimes finish) them. I’ve always found them to be such an interesting way of telling your story for a year. So when 2015 kicked off, I decided to go for it.

(We all know how much I love year-long projects. You are, after all, reading this on the blog I’ve used for both a 365-day blogging project and a 52-week ukulele project. Hmm, maybe I should talk to my therapist about this weird obsession…nah, I think I’m fine.)

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I thought it would be fun. I thought it might stress me out having to take and post a photo each day, but I thought it would be fun nonetheless. (For the record, it actually didn’t stress me out a single time.) I knew it would get my creative juices flowing, and that it would force me to look at each day a little differently than someone normally would. What I didn’t realize was just how much it would change my outlook, and just how much it would change my life for a year.

Here’s what happened when I did a Photo-365:

I got creative.

Not every single day can be an exciting adventure of a day. We’re not all Alice in Wonderland. (Which is sad because I’d love to be Alice in Wonderland.) Some days, you’re stuck going from your day job to a meeting or a class and then home to frantically find something to eat and get some quality time with your dogs or some freelance work done before you pass the fuck out in bed.

I had a lot of days like this. But the task of posting a photo a day got me looking at the details of my life a lot more closely than I typically would. The perfect lip print left by my lip gloss on a drinking glass at work. The artwork that hung in my office’s halls. The beautiful, only-makes-sense-to-me mess that is my Zumba choreography notes. All of it is interesting. Capturing these minute details in photos made me appreciate them even more.

I got inspired.

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Just like the saying, “If you want to be a writer, write every day,” I found my photography eye getting more and more inspired as the year went on. There were lots of days that I ended up taking photos of five or six things that could have been my photo of the day, and had to choose which would best represent the day itself. (And then I’d just post the rest on Instagram anyway. You’re welcome, world!)

I also took a lot more photos of a lot more things than I typically would have. I stopped and smelled the metaphorical (and sometimes literal) roses, if you will. Maybe it means a lot more of my iPhone storage vanished in 2015. At least I have a lot more cool options for my background and lock screen now.

I got adventurous.

It might seem a bit odd, but doing a Photo-365 got me trying a lot of new things. I mean, I’ve always been an adventure-lover, but I found myself at a lot more events and on a lot more adventures than ever before. “That would make for a great photo” would sometimes be my only impetus for wanting to go to something, but it would never, ever be all I left with.

In 2015, I got into a canoe twice – oh, and performed a water rescue in a canoe one of those times (crazy, I know) – I learned how to shoot a gun (adding that to my resume, thankyouverymuch), I took my personal training certification, and I started learning to skate. That’s just a few off the top of my head.

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Would I have done all of those things anyway? Absolutely.

Would I have done all of them in a year? I don’t know. Maybe I was extra eager to experience the moment and add it to the story of my  year. There’s no way to be sure.

I got (even more) grateful.

“Was 2015 really one of *the* worst years for you?” my best friend Carson asked me the other day.

“Yeah. Definitely. Why?”

“I’m forming a baseline. That’s good to know.”

“A baseline for what?”

“I thought you were positive and delightful all year, so it’s a good sign of the years to come.”

This was good affirmation of my gratitude and positivity in life. And like I said, I’ve never really questioned or struggled with being grateful for what I have, but I have to say, my Photo-365 brought my gratitude to a new level.

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In 2015, I went through a breakup, got ghosted by one of my (now former) best friends and then by a guy I was falling hard for (he was so wrong for me, you guys – obviously), I had a brutal viral infection for five weeks, I worked 80-100 hours a week for about six months, one of my dogs almost died in my arms after going into anaphylactic shock after her annual vaccines, and my other dog was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That’s just a best-of list, folks. That’s not even half of it.

I started to recognize and find appreciation – huge, heart-exploding, OH THANK GOD appreciation – for the little things. A long, hot bath at the end of a brutal day. Being able to take 15 minutes out of an insane day to snuggle the shit out of my dogs. Taking a 10-minute meditation break when the stress got to be too much. Hell, even just learning to meditate, period. Bad movies with good friends. Sitting with one of my best friends in total silence, just knowing they’ve got my back, on a devastatingly sad day. A random sign or image or coffee mug that made me laugh out loud. I recognized it. I captured it. I appreciated it. I soaked it up into my heart.

I got present.

I could probably go on and on (I’m a writer, I love words), but WordPress is telling me this post is already well over 1,000 words long, so I should probably wrap this up, but I’ll just say one more thing.

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Doing a Photo-365 made me aware of every day of my life. You could have asked me on any day what my day was like, or what I did, and I would have never said, “Nothing,” or, “Same old.” This project almost forced me to be present – something I can struggle with, especially when I am, as my loved ones put it, impossibly busy and not sleeping. Basically, a crazy person.

I feel like I really enjoyed each and every day of 2015. And it was one of the most difficult I’ve ever had.

 

How weird and wonderful is that?

xA

P.S. Oh, and if you’re curious, yes, I started another Photo-365 for 2016. You can follow along on my Instagram. And you could join me. I guess technically, you’d start a day late, but 2016’s also a leap year, so you could post 365 photos all the same. What’s stopping you?

P.P.S. Don’t say time is stopping you. It takes approximately five seconds to snap a photo, and approximately one minute to post it to like, all of your social media platforms. If you don’t have two minutes a day, you’re lying. You’re so lying.

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Three Hundred Sixty Six.

I know what you’re thinking.

Nope. I still don’t have any answers. And I still don’t feel like a grown up. Maybe slightly closer, but I still don’t even want to have to take care of a houseplant.

SIDENOTE: Somehow I manage to keep my dogs alive and happy. I don’t know how that works. Life Math is weird.

…Maybe I’m just not a green thumb.

Anyway.

My BFF Jo texted me yesterday and said, “It’s your last day as a 26 year old.”

At first I kind of panicked. Holy shitballs. 26. It’s over. I feel like it just started. I know it sounds like a super cliche, but in some ways, it really was like the blink of an eye.

I started this blog a year ago as a challenge to myself as a writer. Early in 2012, I kind of lost faith in myself. I hit a major rough patch and thought wow, maybe I’m actually a terrible writer. Maybe I have no idea what I’m doing. Maybe I don’t want to ever write again. Of course, I eventually came around and realized that writing is the thing I love the most. And in the same vein, I knew that if I wanted to be a writer, I’d have to write.

But I was kind of scared.

So I promised myself I would write something every day.

I wasn’t really expecting that forcing myself to write a blog post every day – a story that somehow led to me learning a life lesson, no matter how small – would help me be happy. I saw it as much more of an exercise than anything else. And an opportunity to maybe be funny. But I have to say, writing this blog has given me a completely different outlook on my entire life. It’s helped me understand how my past has made me who I am. It’s helped me work through a lot of difficult times and put a positive spin on things I would have never otherwise laughed at. It’s helped me approach life in a much more open, accepting way.

Like, happen to me, life: I’m ready to learn from you.

That was a disaster. Oh well, next time will be better!

I can’t believe that just happened. I am mortified. Also, that was hilarious. I can’t wait to tell people.

I did it! Someone pat me on the fucking back!

I hate everything right now. Surely someone will understand.

I am hurting. I need to know it’s going to be okay.

This is weird. Does everyone feel this way?

Did that just happen? SRSLY?!

At the same time, I had come to a bit of a crossroads with myself. I had hit a self-love low. I was feeling depressed, defeated, discouraged, you name it. I decided enough was enough: it was time to make the active decision to be happy.

I also discovered that Jayne Mansfield had stretchmarks. And my world was turned upside down. In a good way.

To quote myself (is that totally pretentious? I’m trying to recap, shut up.):

Jayne Mansfield, the American actress, singer, Playboy playmate, and all around drop-dead gorgeous bombshell, was flawed in a way that has been the root of much of my self-consciousness for all of my teenage and adult life.

So…all of that got me here.

SIDENOTE: It’s really hard writing the last post of a 365-day blog.

It’s going to be difficult to let this blog go. I know I’m going to wake up tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that and my first thought is going to be, “What can I write about today?” or, “Oh shit! I still have to blog today!”

But I’m looking forward to channelling my creative energy into a number of other projects that I’ve already either started or am about to. So I guess what I’m saying is I’m not going anywhere. Maybe there will be another blog. Maybe not. But I promise there will be something.

I was trying to think of a fun way to commemorate the end of this blog.

Here’s what I came up with.

Jayne Mansfield had stretchmarks.

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And so do I.

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xA

P.S. It’s hilariously ironic that in the majority of the pin-up photos I took, my stretchmarks aren’t that visible. Because they’re everywhere.

But I guess there’s a life lesson in that, isn’t there?

I’m probably the only one who really notices them.

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P.P.S. Things I meant to write but forgot: Happy Birthday to me! Also, here’s to 27! I’m crazy excited for it!

Three Hundred Sixty Five.

I know this is a 365-day blog, but this is technically the penultimate post, because it’s a birthday to birthday thing. And tomorrow’s my birthday!

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SIDENOTE: Have you bought me a birthday present yet? We can’t be friends if you didn’t because all I care about is material possessions.

Anyway, I thought what better way to spend the second-last day of my crazy year-long blog than looking back on some of its best moments?

SIDENOTE: Maybe that should say best/”best”…

Think of this, if you will, as a flashback episode of your favourite TV sitcom. With the help of a couple friends, I’ve compiled some categories I think you’ll enjoy.

Without further ado…

Top 5 Stupid Kid Moments

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Oh boy. Where to even start with this one?! Well, okay…

1. Pressing buttons was (OKAY, STILL IS) a thing I loved doing. See examples A and B.

2. Of course, there was the time I electrocuted myself

3. The day I put scissors through my finger

4. Setting fire to things is never a good idea.

5. Neither is writing a hate letter to your childhood friend.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

I have to give honourable mention to the day I learned that “bastard” is a bad word. Oh, and also to the combination of shaving off my eyebrows and getting hair extensions.

And guess what?! It’s your lucky day. I found a photo of teenage Andrea with hair extensions and no eyebrows. And apparently I have no shame because I’m gonna post it on the Internet.

Extensions

Boy oh boy oh boy.

Moving on!

Top 5 Most Awkward Moments

If you haven’t deduced by now, I am the QUEEN OF AWKWARD. This is quite the random assortment, but I feel it encompasses who I am pretty well…

1. The day a goat ate my t-shirt. (Enough said.) (Stupid goats.) (Seriously, why would she do that to me?!) (Ugh.) (I fucking loved that t-shirt.) (SOB.)

2. The day I learned about orgasms in sex ed. (Is anyone else craving cake?!)

3. Barrel-chested. That is all.

4. The day the National Poet of Scotland called me stupid. Which I really should add to my resume.

5. My elementary school “boobies” moment.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

There are so, so many, but I feel like my Pilates FAIL and my Zumba BARF moments were pretty grand.

Top 5 “SRSLY?!” Moments

You know those moments. The ones that make you go, “what the fucking?!”

1. People and my tattoos. Why are people so weird about my tattoos?

2. That time a guy threw a book at my face. No big deal.

3. NO I DON’T WANT TO TAN.

4. Nothing says “what the fuck?” like getting pepper sprayed!

5. Also charming: when people tell you how to pronounce your own name

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

I have to give myself a shout out for fucking up my neck by making fun of someone on a Zumba DVD. Because who the fuck does that? This girl, right here.

But the greatest honourable mention in this category goes to Glasgow, Scotland, where I experienced so many WTF things, including…

Finding a tooth in an ATM.

Finding a used tampon on a bus.

And buses in general.

Among so many others. I fucking love you, Glasgow. I really do.

Top 5 Workplace Blunders

It’s a wonder I still have my job. It really is. It’s also a wonder I still have any self-confidence after all of the stupid humbling things that have happened to me at work…

1. My friends still bring up the day I parked on the sidewalk.

2. Also charming: locking yourself in a stairwell on your first day of work.

3. Or, you know, getting caught dancing in the bathroom.

4. Similarly, walking in on your coworkers in the bathroom.

5. Or traumatizing them with your hair colour.

BONUS PHOTO:

Getting caught taking a selfie at work.

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At least I know my office mate loves me and doesn’t judge me.

Top 5 Relationship/Sex Fails

Look. I’d prefer we don’t dwell on how much I suck at relationships, okay? OKAY?!

1. I have been known to throw myself at guys I like.

2. I’ve learned the hard way that spin the bottle will only break your heart.

3. So will going after guys who don’t care that you exist. (But you can keep trying to shout “LOVE ME! LOOOOOVE MEEEE!” at them. Trust me. Guys SUPER love that.)

4. I’m good at ending up in awkward sex situations.

5. And awkward kissing situations, sometimes.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS AND A BONUS PHOTO:

Okay, well, first of all, heartbreak, right?

I think I also screwed it up with this guy, because he was clearly paying me a compliment.

Let’s not forget all of my failed marriages. Sigh.

And the time a MONSTER RASH ruined my potential Scottish boyfriend.

And hey, since I’ve already shown you how great I looked with hair extensions as an eyebrowless wonder, here’s a photo of me in the midst of the MONSTER RASH attack. This was after I managed to get my eyes open, because they were swollen shut.

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Good lord…

Top 5 Accomplishments

I didn’t screw up everything, though. I’ve done some stuff. Yeah. I do things! I TCB every once in a while!

1. I’ve gotten over a lot of fear to become a Zumba instructor.

2. Then I stuck with it for a year and changed my life.

3. I grew back my eyebrows, guys. I fucking did it!

4. I got over some serious “I can’t!” bullshit and also tried wall climbing.

5. Oh, hey, I also learned how to embrace myself sometimes. I think that’s pretty huge.

HONOURABLE MENTION:

I BLOGGED EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR 365 FUCKING DAYS.

A year, guys. A YEAR.

I’m excited to celebrate my birthday with you all tomorrow.

xA

P.S. I know what you’re thinking. There totally should have been some sort of crazy travel category. But I just couldn’t narrow that shit down. So you’ll just have to re-read my entire blog to enjoy.

Three Hundred Sixty.

All right.

So about a week ago, I put a poll into my blog asking you guys if I should “do something that may drive me a little crazy just for the experience to blog about” and you jerks said yes.

SIDENOTE: A couple of you said no, which I think is really sweet. Thanks for trying to protect me, you two people. Too bad everyone else I know is a horrible person.

SIDENOTE TO THE SIDENOTE: < / sarcasm >

ANOTHER SIDENOTE: Like I’m ever going to be done with sarcasm.

Anyway, so I did it.

I put on fake nails.

“Girl Nails,” I sometimes call them.

SIDENOTE: Yes, I’m aware that’s a gender stereotype, because look at me.

I’ve always kept my nails short. Like, super short. Sometimes my friends say their nails are short and I look at them and I see talons.

Maybe it’s because I played violin as a kid and guitar and bass as a teen, but longer nails have always driven me crazy. I hate how they feel. I get weird about them when they get dirty. (Okay, fine, I’m a straight up germophobe.) They’re just a nuisance. But I’ve always thought they look really nice.

I think I’ve had long nails twice in my life. Once I grew mine out naturally, and I think I kept them about a week before I lost my mind and chopped them down.

SIDENOTE: My “long” natural nails were equal to when the friends above tell me theirs are “short.”

Then there was a day maybe five years ago when I decided to put on fake nails for a New Year’s Eve event I was working at the theatre. I think I lasted about a day and a half before freaking out and taking them off.

So I thought it was about time to try again. After all, I’m older, I’m more mature, I’m much cooler and calmer about life now.

SIDENOTE: Genuine LOL.

Okay, so really, I assumed they would drive me batshit crazy. But I thought it might make a good story.

Funny how that worked out!

I applied the nails at approximately 10pm last night. It was a bit of a trying process. Here are the life lessons I learned just from the application process, which will make next time (ha! next time) easier:

(A) Start with the “trickier” hand.

(B) Start with the smaller nails.

(C) Super glue is VERY sticky.

I have to say, the end result was actually pretty nice.

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I was like, “Well, HEY. Maybe I can be a girl with pretty fake nails!”

photo1…For approximately five minutes.

Then I tried to get on with my life.

“HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS?!” I texted my BFF Jolene, who rocks gorgeous gel nails all the time.

Oh, and it took me about 10 minutes to even text her because NAILS ON MY HANDS.

I sort of got the hang of using my iPhone, so I managed to calm down for a little while. I watched some American Horror Story: Asylum (OH MY GOD YOU GUYS I LOVE THIS SHOW WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO WATCH IT!?) and chilled, stopping to look at my nails every 32 seconds because (A) I was freaked out by them and (B) they looked so pretty!

I never really stopped to consider my bedtime routine…

Not that bedtime routine, you pervs.*

I got to my room and looked in the mirror.

Oh, right, I thought to myself, I wear contacts.

Oh, shit.

It took me approx. 15 minutes to get my contacts out of my eyes, and I scratched the shit out of one of them. It’s still sore.

Then I went to get changed for bed and OH MY FUCKING GOD OUCH scratched a huge cut down my side/bum when I took my pants off.

I limped to my bed and got under the covers, feeling scared and defeated and losing a lot of blood.

SIDENOTE: Okay, fine. There was no blood.

Once I was asleep, I was safe.

I didn’t have any nightmares about the Talons of Death. Not that I remember, anyway. Maybe they’re surface 10 years down the line and I’ll be traumatized all over again.

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I woke up this morning feeling pretty well rested. It went a little something like this:

ANDREA opens her eyes slowly, soaking in the morning sunshine coming through her bedroom window. She takes a deep breath in, exhaling with a happy sigh. That was a good sleep.

Then the dreaded memory hits her. Her face drops.

OH RIGHT I’M WEARING FAKE NAILS. I HATE MY LIFE.

Guys, I couldn’t do it.

I sacrificed a morning of productivity to soak my hands in a bowl of acetone nail polish remover to get the nails the hell off my hands.

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IT TOOK FUCKING FOREVER.

But I honestly felt trapped. I had to teach a Zumba class this morning. How was I going to get dressed? How was I going to put my contacts back in? How would I brush my teeth? Later, how would I shower? HOW? HOW? HOW?

So, let’s recap:

Time wearing nails: ~ 12 hours (6 of which I was asleep for)

Injuries sustained: a scratched eye, a scratched bum, and two bloody fingers/nails (from the removal process)

SEE ALSO: wounded pride

Sanity: wavering, but slowly returning since removal of nails

Lesson learned: I’m a short-short nails girl. I’m going to just have to admire my friends’ nails for the rest of my life.

xA

P.S. Next time I say I want to try fake nails again, SLAP ME. Or remind me that I wear contacts.

*Wouldn’t ever consider trying that on day 1 with fake nails. Ouch.

Three Hundred Fifty Two.

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You know what’s crazy when you think about it? (See: crazy when I think about it.)

I have never known a world without my brother.

I mean, he was already around when I was born.  So I have never existed without him.

Just in case you don’t have a big brother, let me tell you what they’re good for.

Toys

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SIDENOTE: Who remembers Bucky O’Hare?! Love.

Since they’ve been on earth for longer than you, big brothers have a larger stock of toys. Whether they tell you so or not, those toys are at your disposal. Just try not to break them.

CORRECTION: Try to figure out a really cute, cool way to tell your brother when you break them.

SIDENOTE: Or just don’t tell him, and then pretend you have no idea what he’s talking about when he finds out.

Candy

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Similarly, older kids are better at rationing things out – like, say, Halloween candy.

This is not at your disposal, but you can probably justify helping yourself anyway.

SIDENOTE: You will think you’re being stealthy about this, but you are not. Make sure whatever you eat is worth being yelled at later. Always leave the caramels.

Crushes

Your big brother’s friends will be your first crushes. He will not like this. But it’s good for you!

SIDENOTE: Until you make an ass out of yourself. Then it’s a valuable life learning experience!

Keeping You Humble

Fresh-Prince-of-Bel-Air

You may think you’re top notch in the cool department. Your big brother will always be there to knock you down a peg or two. He’s way better at the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air rap than you, for example. You can try to keep up, but he’s just so swag.

SIDENOTE: Did I use “swag” correctly?

Business Ventures

When you think of a creative endeavour that will potentially get you world famous, your big brother is like a built-in business partner. Also, he knows how to do more stuff than you because he’s older and wiser, so let him press the buttons.

SIDENOTE: Even though you REALLY WANT TO.

Being Your Hero

This story. That is all. (The poor thing.)

But Seriously…

A big brother is a support system. A partner in crime. Protection from bullies. Company when you need someone to play with. A shoulder to cry on when you’re upset. They can give you fairly unbiased boy advice, and when it comes to boys who aren’t right for you, they’ve always got your back. They have been around your whole life. They know where you’re coming from. And they want the best for where you’re going. Plus, they’re getting there before you. Your big brother is there to set the bar for life. To ask all the questions that plague you, like, “Do you feel like an adult yet? Do you have your shit together?” Sometimes they set the bar so high, you feel like you’ll never live up to it, but the beautiful thing about a high bar is it pushes you to be the best you can be, every day, all the time.

And if you’re ridiculously, stupidly, wonderfully lucky like me, your big brother is your best friend.

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Lesson learned: Big brothers are the best. Happy 30th Birthday to mine. I love you, Bryan!

xA

Three Hundred Fifty.

Speaking of crazy shit that happens while you’re in a vehicle and there’s someone crazy outside of it, let’s talk more about the buses in Glasgow.

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SIDENOTE: That’s the bus I used to take almost every day! The good ‘ol 62. Partick represent!

SIDENOTE TO THE SIDENOTE: God, I’m a nerd.

What, you don’t remember my Glasgow bus adventures?

Like, the day I walked across Glasgow?

Or the day a woman on the Glasgow bus followed me off  the Glasgow bus and then tried to kiss me?

Or maybe that day I found a – OMG WTF. Yeah, that.

So one day, I was on the bus in Glasgow heading back to the west end from city centre. It was the middle of the afternoon, when you don’t really expect weird things to happen. (Well, I guess I sort of do at this point. Especially after living in Glasgow. But also this.) The bus stopped at…well, at a stop, and no one got on. But a few seconds after it stopped, a guy ran up to the bus and took a jumping karate kick at it. He slammed into the side of  the bus, and despite the intense impact, he seemed unshaken.

The bus driver, on the other hand, was not impressed.

“What the – get tae fuck!” he started yelling out his open window.

But the guy outside of the bus – just a regular looking 20-something – did it again. He jump-kicked the bus.

What followed was a yelling conversation that had a lot of “FUCK” in it, and then the bus started to drive away.

And then the 20-something proceeded to chase after the bus, all the while running, jumping, and slamming into it.

Eventually the bus picked up enough speed that he gave up.

So that was interesting.

On another night, I was actually on the same bus – well, the same bus route – but this time, it was late at night because I was leaving a play I had just been to see. Once again, the bus stopped.

Wait a second.

It was actually at the same stop.

Maybe there’s something wrong with that stop in particular…

Anyway, we were at the stop, and there was also a red light, so we had nowhere to go. And then a guy walked up to the side of the bus, and he started making out with it.

“He whaaaaaaaat!?”

YES THAT’S RIGHT.

He smushed his face into one of the bus’ windows, and he started straight up French kissing it.

I feel like maybe he had just said goodbye to his girlfriend, who had gotten onto the bus, and so he was actually kissing “her” goodbye through the window? But also, I may have made that up to explain the sheer fucked up-ed-ness of the situation.

I think my BFF Mags was with me. Perhaps she can confirm or deny the above statement. But I promise you the makeout happened and I promise you it was as slimy, disturbing, and gruesome and it sounds.

For the rest of the ride home, I couldn’t stop staring at the wet patch left behind.

Of course, there were numerous times that I was on the bus and people would spit on it, but I don’t have any good enough specific stories about that.

Then there was the day I was on the bus in Glasgow going through city centre and we drove past Robert Carlyle standing on a street corner waiting to cross the street.

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ROBERT CARLYLE!

That was crazy in a good way.

No, I didn’t wave. But I really wanted to.

Lesson learned: There are a lot of crazy people out there. Specifically riding and/or waiting for the Glasgow transit system.

And also, never lick the side of a bus. You have no idea where it’s been.

xA

 

Three Hundred Forty.

Since my birthday is coming up really soon, I started thinking back to birthday memories and remembered this little gem.

The Big 2-1.

I don’t know why it was “The Big 2-1,” because it’s not like 21 signifies anything in Canada. The drinking age is 18. But I don’t know, it still felt like a big deal.

Anyway, the plan was food, bowling (I love bowling – there’s a chance I may make anyone celebrating The Big 2-7 with me go bowling again), and then a party at my BFF Mandelle’s apartment.

That wasn’t really relevant. Either way, now you know a little bit about my 21st birthday. You’re welcome.

The thing you need to know is that when I walked into Mandelle’s apartment on my 21st birthday, I saw this:

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Yes. It’s a Birthday Tree.

Let me just zoom in on the angel for a second…

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Yes. That’s me. Dressed in a sailor hat.

Just days before my birthday party was my actual birthday, during which I hung out with Mandelle and her roommate and tried on a variety of costume pieces and took a variety of photos while we drank a lot of vodka.

And then she made me into a birthday angel.

I would go on to become the Halloween angel, and then the Christmas angel, for a few years in a row.

Lesson learned: I am an angel.

I mean…I have the greatest friends.

Yeah, that.

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xA

Three Hundred Thirty One.

Let me tell you about a family outing I went on when I was 6-7 years old.

I can place my age fairly well because my paternal grandparents were with my brother, my parents, and I, and I only spent time with them once as a child because they lived far away in Portugal.

We were all out at a park, taking a lovely stroll on a warm day, when I saw them:

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Cattails. Whoa.

Now, I can’t say that I remember the first time I ever saw cattails, but I guess I always liked them, because I distinctly remember that my first feeling upon seeing them during this particular family outing was, “I WANT THEM BECAUSE I LOVE THEM.”

So I asked my brother, Bryan, to pick me a cattail.

I don’t know why I asked my brother to get me one, because I was a pretty bold, self-sufficient kid. Typically, it was my brother asking me to do things he was afraid to do, like climb the kitchen counters to reach cookies or ask my mom for candy when he worried she would say no.

SIDENOTE: We Beça kids loved the snacks. We Beça kids still love the snacks.

Anyway. Maybe I thought the cattails looked too big for me to pick, so I needed my super cool older brother to use his mature kid-muscles to pick one for me. He was, after all, as spry and skilled in my eyes as The Karate Kid, and he did a killer impression of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Plus he knew all sorts of stuff about superheros. All I knew at that point was that I liked Storm’s outfit.

But I digress. Bottom line is I asked Bryan to get me a cattail, and Bryan complied.

What Bryan didn’t realize, though, is that while the cattails looked like they were rooted in mossy earth, they were actually rooted (can you call it that?) in a green swamp.

He took one step forward to grab hold of a cattail and he sank right into said swamp.

Oh shit.

My grandpa grabbed a quick hold of his arm and dragged him out of the mud, which had suctioned itself all around his leg. In my memory, you could hear the “SLUUUURP” as he was freed from a fate so terrifying it might as well have been the quick sand from Indiana Jones.

SIDENOTE:

And then he was immediately rushed to the park’s public bathroom to wash off his leg and sneaker (which I’m sure was never the same again).

Poor kid. He was not impressed.

And neither was I, because I never got my damn cattail.

So that was the day my brother learned to maybe toss a stone or something to test the depths before trying to pick anything out of a marshy-looking area.

Oh wait, this blog is about my life lessons.

That was the day I learned I have the best brother in the world.

He’s always got my back. Even when I’m being a little shit.

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Plus, I mean, I wasn’t joking about him being cool. Just look at him.

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SIDENOTE: I have clearly lost my touch for the sassy over-the-shoulder pose, because I can’t pull it off today to save my life.

xA

P.S. Genuine LOL.

Three Hundred Thirty.

Blah blah blah, I had a shitty time in junior high blah.

Yes, it was serious. It was more than just getting picked on a couple times.

Here’s what you need to know: I had a BFF – let’s call her Shari – who one day decided to hate me and systematically destroy my life.

Sounds like some serious Mean Girls shit, hey?

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It was.

It literally happened halfway through a regular school day. One moment we were sitting in eighth grade science class having a perfectly normal BFF day, and then the next, I said her name to ask her something and it went a little something exactly like this:

“Shari?”

“FUCK YOU. I HATE YOU. DON’T EVER SPEAK TO ME AGAIN.”

I thought she was kidding at first, but she totally wasn’t.

I had always gotten picked on in school – from my first day of school ever onward – but from that point on, it got really bad. I went from having a small group of friends to having no one because Shari spread vicious rumours about me. Suddenly my friends were prank calling me and saying awful things to me 10-15 times a night. She told every guy in the junior high that I had a crush on them and who knows what else. So every guy in the whole school pointed at me in disgust and laughed at me as I walked down the halls. I got spat on, pushed around, and threatened. I got scream-taunted by the minute. It sucked.

I won’t delve into it any further because this story isn’t actually supposed to be sad.

In the height of sadness, Teenage Andrea sat in her room, trying to think of (non-confrontational, poetic) ways to get back at Shari.

Then she came across a school photo of Shari.

SIDENOTE: Back in the day, kids, we exchanged school photos – yeah, physical photos, like printed on photo paper – with our BFFs and boyfriends (not that I ever had a boyfriend – just a fake one) to show one another how much we cared. We’d even hand write little notes on the back. So retro, right?

Teenage Andrea knew what had to be done.

So Teenage Andrea found a lighter – used to light candles and incense to set the mood while she Goth-ed out to Marilyn Manson’s latest CD – and Teenage Andrea SET FIRE TO THE PHOTO.

Take that, Shari! I hate you, too! You’re mean and awful!

………..

And then the fire got a little out of control, burning Teenage Andrea’s hand, causing her to drop the photo onto her carpet OH SHIT.

I stomped out the (relatively small) flames as fast as I could, and then tried to mask the burnt fabric smell with perfume or something. What I could not mask was the dark brown/black patch in the middle of my blue carpet.

Oops.

I told my mom it was maybe some spilled candle wax. She might have said, “It looks like a burn” and I might have just shrugged and said I had no idea where it came from.

Lesson I learned at the time: DON’T PLAY WITH FIRE. (Duh!)

Lesson I learned now, looking back: Oh my god, I was a sweet kid. That was my “revenge”? Poor Teenage Andrea.

xA

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