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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.

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.

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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 Fifty Six.

Hey, guess what? I’m on a computer again!

SIDENOTE: I hope the Internet doesn’t crash before I can post this. It’s been a ridiculous two days of fighting with Shaw. (You’re ruining my life, Shaw!).

SIDENOTE TO THE SIDENOTE: It totally did, but I think (!?) it’s back again…

One of my friends approached me the other day about helping her out with a photo shoot for a model search contest. She wanted my help with makeup and styling, but in the end, the friend she had planned on taking the photos themselves fell through, so she asked if I’d be up for that as well.

I said, “of course!” and then I tried to remember the last time I pulled out my camera.

Being that this is the future, I could look on my camera and figure it out.

A YEAR.

More than a year.

How insane is that?

This from the girl who used to go out and take photos like, every day while she was living abroad.

What happened to me?

For like, three days leading up to the shoot, I also panicked that I’d do it wrong. What if I was a horrible photographer? What if she hated every shot I took? What if I couldn’t remember how to use my camera? Why did I agree to take photos when I’m not what I’d call a pro at it?

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Then I got behind the camera and forgot what I was worried about.

I really love taking photos. I find it calming. It makes you stop and think about what you’re looking at, how you’re seeing it, how you feel about it, and how you want the world to see it later. It makes you think about all the stories people will see and feel when they look at the photos after the fact. I don’t know. I just love it.

SIDENOTE: It helped that I had a gorgeous, talkative, hilarious model to work with for the afternoon, I guess. (Hi, Rachel. <3)

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Anyway, I decided enough is enough – I have to make a point of taking photos more often again.

So I guess the lesson I learned is that it’s really important to feed all your passions. They’re all connected, anyway. Getting the little (or big) flicker of inspiration in your soul from one just pushes you to move forward with all the others.

It’s really important – even when your life is a fucking gong show (not that mine is*) – to take moments, however small, to do the things you love.

Maybe that’s a better way of putting it.

Look at this sass:

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*IT IS.

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

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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 Forty Eight.

This weekend I did something I’ve been so curious and interested in doing for years. I went to a comic con!

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The biggest thing keeping me from ever going before is my social anxiety.

I know, it’s weird that I’m a fitness instructor and I have social anxiety, but I do. And it’s major. Like, if you invite me to an event and I say I’m going and then I bail last minute? That’s most likely because I had every intention of going and then while I was getting ready to go, I had an anxiety attack about all of the people who were going to be there (eek, crowds) or having to arrive by myself and find familiar faces (I have this weird thing about having to arrive at events by myself – I can rarely bring myself to do it).

This year I guess I just found the balls to finally go for it. Also, I invited my friend Caitlin to go with me and she’s one of the most extroverted, bubbly, outspoken people I know, so I knew she’d make a good partner to hold my hand and also just have fun with. Maybe even moreso because she’s not familiar with a lot of the nerdy stuff, so she was super open to going to see whatever I wanted. (Caitlin, you’re the best.)

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SIDENOTE: Ironically, when we took that photo, we were totally hiding out from the crowds. But here we are having an adventure!

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I have to say, it was a pretty crazy cool experience. I mean, I got to dress up a bit (I was too chicken to go all out – maybe next year):

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I got to people watch to my heart’s content (and then some). I got to see actors like Jon Heder and Ron Pearlman speak (among many others):

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I got to support friends who got their own panel on fan filmmaking (so cool):

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And I got to run into friends dressed up in adorable costumes!

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What it all boiled down to was a lot passion. People passionate about creating art, people passionate about acting, people passionate about their love for certain artists or comics or TV shows or movies or whatever it may be.

And also, like, no judgement. Everyone was really embracing the nerdiness. It didn’t matter whether you were wearing a Batman t-shirt or a full suit of armour, everyone was there for the same reasons.

Anyway, this may sound generalized and possibly scattered because I just got home from 48 hours of comic con and I’m completely exhausted and battling a horrendous cold, but the biggest lessons I learned this weekend were:

(A) I definitely need to find better coping mechanisms for social anxiety than hiding, holding hands with my friends, and hyperventilating.

(B) Passion is both inspiring and infectious.

(C) I HEART NERDS AND BEING A NERD.

(D) I need to push myself out of my comfort zones more often, because even when it’s stressful, I always take something away from it.

(E) I feel like I had an ‘E’ and then I forgot it because I’m flustered and also I feel really weird because my cold has left me with plugged ears and it’s distracting me to not be able to hear myself type or think.

Uhhhhh…woo!

xA

P.S. I remember one thing I was going to say and it was that after this weekend, I feel like I need to go to a deserted island for approximately one week to recover. Holy people overload, Batman!

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 Twenty Three.

I think this is like, my first blog by request.

Maybe not the first, but it’s been a little while.

You all loved hearing about The Roxy Theatre ghosts, huh? Well, I had many, many experiences while I was working there, yesterday’s story being one of the most striking ones. But in terms of full-on shivery fear, it’s got nothing on this story.

It was the summer of 2008. Since I worked at The Roxy and I’m generally awesome, my bosses let me rehearse my Fringe show at the theatre (clearly they are also generally awesome).

Fantastic, except for the fact that the auditorium and backstage are a little…eerie.

I don’t know about you guys (well, I know what a lot of people think), but every single time I’ve ever stood backstage in that theatre, I’ve felt that there was also a man back there, and he didn’t necessarily feel nice. Standing back there in the dark during a production waiting to go on stage always made me feel like I had to pee out of sheer anxiety. Going through the backstage area to turn out the lights at the end of the night was even worse.

“Watch me! Watch me, watch me, watch me!!!” I’d shout at my stage manager while I turned out the last light and ran down the side hallway back toward the auditorium to leave. I say “ran” because that’s exactly what I did. I booked it. Every. Single. Time.  It was as though if I couldn’t see him watching me, I’d never get out. It’s hard to explain unless you stand there. Everyone I’ve made stand there has said, “Yes. I feel exactly what you mean.”

Empty-theatre-007The thing I learned very quickly when I actually started rehearsing in the theatre is that The Man, as I’ll refer to him, is like, everywhere all the time. Sometimes I’d be sitting in the front row watching rehearsals and I’d feel like there was someone watching me watching rehearsals. I’d glance over my shoulder and see the shadow of a man, sitting way at the back of the auditorium in the last row. Sometimes I’d glance back and he’d be standing in the doorway, a distinct figure. Sometimes he’d be walking by one of the sets of doors, leading me to actually get up, go out into the lobby, and double check that the front doors were securely locked. Sometimes, when I’d get on stage to talk to my cast about blocking or whatever needed to be discussed, I’d glance out and see him standing up in the production booth.

Luckily, he was never sitting directly behind me when I glanced back.

There was one particular night, though, that he made his presence very obvious to all of us.

Like a perfect horror movie, while we were inside rehearsing on a late week night, it was pouring rain outside. I had been creeped out enough so far during our rehearsal process that my reaction to the storm was , “Oh, great. Now this.”

It was getting very late – around 10 or 11pm – and for whatever reason (well, just read the above for a plethora of reasons), I was feeling pretty done for the night. I kind of just wanted to go home.

SIDENOTE: This was also the summer of no sleep. So it had just been a long day, week, month, everything.

I thought that it was just me feeling a little nervous that night. I had done the shoulder glance a number of times and seen The Man at the back of the auditorium, and I was starting to fear that he would get closer.

And then my fear came very true.

The cast was smack dab in the middle of running a scene when it happened: loud, distinct footsteps, clomping all the way from the back of the house, through the auditorium, and all the way backstage. They were heavy and evenly timed, and they were full of purpose.

The entire cast fell silent.

“What the fuck was that?!” my lead actress shouted, her eyes widening.

And then we all looked up.

Because the footsteps weren’t in the auditorium with us; they were coming from above our heads.

“Is someone on the roof?” my stage manager asked.

“If they are, they climbed up from the outside of the building,” I replied, “The roof access is upstairs, inside.”

“That was in the ceiling.” one of the actors spat, “Like above us. Is someone in here?!”

I shook my head and said:

“Let’s go home.”

And we left the theatre as quickly as we possibly could.

“WATCH ME!” I yelled, practically crying as I turned out the lights.

We exited in a holding-hands cluster, ran to our respective vehicles, and didn’t sleep that night.

But I was curious. I didn’t understand how someone could even get from the production booth to the backstage above the auditorium. So the next day at work, I found the theatre’s technical director – who at the time was a total skeptic (he later changed his mind!) – and asked him about it.

“Hey, can you walk from the booth to the backstage, like, upstairs?”

“Yup. For sure.”

“How?”

“Well, I mean, you can crawl, sort of. There’s a attic sort of thing. It goes from the booth to the poop deck backstage. But the attic has a lot of beams in it now, so you can’t walk through.”

“But you could before?”

“Yeah, absolutely. Back when it was a movie theatre. You could walk the whole way.”

“Like, quickly. Without obstruction.”

“For sure. Why do you ask?”

Eeek

The Roxy Theatre in Edmonton, y’all. Totally haunted. (PART II!)

xA

P.S. Tomorrow I’ll write about something not ghostly.

Three Hundred Fourteen.

Guys, I promise I’ll stop being like, super emo after today. Or I’ll try my best, anyway.

But I have to say, after the last couple days, even though I haven’t elaborated on anything going on in my life, I have gotten so many sweet, caring messages, some from people I would never expect to even notice me. And that really means a lot to me.

What have I learned from that?

(A) I know some pretty darn good people.

(B) Maybe I am pretty rad and likeable after all. (Haha.)

Thanks, guys.

xA

P.S. If I were really cool, I’d wink and thank you with a winning smile, like this. But since I’m not, you can consider this a thank you anyway. And also, you’re welcome.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-3179-1368991739-1

P.P.S. Shit, if I were that good looking, my ego would be UNSTOPPABLE. I wouldn’t thank anyone for anything. They’d have to thank me for existing. (/sarcasm) (sort of.)

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