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Denial

Three Hundred Forty Two.

As you may have gleaned by now, I worked at a live theatre for a number of years. I met lots of characters and ghosts while I was there.

The characters who always perplexed me the most were the people who would come to see live theatre and not seem to understand that they were watching live theatre. They would sit in the front row and talk during the performance. Or answer their phones. Or they would come out of the auditorium halfway through the play and say things to me like, “I don’t understand what’s going on in the movie!”

SIDENOTE: Yes. That happened. Like, a lot.

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CONNECT THAT TO:

Lately, I’ve been having some strange experiences in my Zumba classes. Like, okay, I totally understand that sometimes, people are tired and they don’t want to give 100% in class. That’s completely fine. If I’m honest, a lot of the time, I don’t want to give 100% either because I teach 6+ classes a week and I’m tired. I don’t have the option, but I understand.

But there’s a difference – a HUGE difference – between not giving 100% and literally STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CLASS STARING AT ME.

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If you didn’t come to move, why are you in my Zumba class? Why do you look angry? Do you realize that I’m a real person standing in front of you trying to do my job – which I love – to the best of my ability? Do you not understand how standing and staring at me when the rest of the room is dancing and smiling might make me feel weird or uncomfortable or self-conscious?

No? Okay. Just checking.

SIDENOTE: if Christina Hendricks came to my Zumba class, I would DIE. She could stare at me all she wants.

BUT:

This weekend I went to a play. It’s been a long time. Like, a long time. For me, anyway. I think the last play I saw was some time in the spring. Maybe March.

SIDENOTE: It was Midsummer by David Greig, playing at Theatre Network, and you should check it out.

The play was great, but here’s what happened. I found myself a little disconnected. Like, it was jarring to me that real people were on stage, performing in the moment. It took me a while to adjust to that, and at one point – and trust me, I am ASHAMED to admit this – I almost reached for my phone just because I was curious what time it was.

WHAT THE FUCK, ANDREA?!

Shameful. I know.

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But after the play, as my friend-date Caitlin and I walked back to my car and talked about it, I realized yeah, we don’t disconnect much anymore, do we? It’s almost like we’ve gotten so used to the digital being “real” that REAL-real doesn’t seem real anymore. Like, I talk to my friends on Facebook and that’s real, but what would be more real is talking to them in person.

I don’t have any big answers or anything. All I’m saying is on the weekend, I felt the disconnect and I wasn’t happy with it. So the lesson I’ve learned is it’s time to reconnect with the human experience a little more and just be aware of being present.

xA

P.S. At least my phone didn’t ring during the show or something. (I’m just trying to make myself feel better. Don’t mind me.)

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Three Hundred Thirty Eight.

In the sixth grade, we had a class pet.

He was the only class pet I’ve ever had. I guess class pets weren’t a very big thing at my school.

Our class pet was a small white snake named Elmo.

He looked sort of like this:

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Why he was named Elmo is beyond me. I don’t remember who named him, but I think whoever it was needed to be reminded that we were in the SIXTH GRADE and therefore all very big, mature kids who would definitely not watch Sesame Street.

SIDENOTE: Meanwhile, at almost 27, I was totally quoting Sesame Street at a friend yesterday. And the friend was not a toddler.

I love snakes and reptiles and amphibians. I think they’re beautiful and interesting. Growing up, I had pet newts (can’t believe I haven’t mentioned that until now!) and I adored them all. So I definitely wasn’t afraid of Elmo himself, but I definitely was afraid of feeding him.

Elmo ate pinkies.

AKA baby mice.

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Have I mentioned that I love mice, too? I think they’re the cutest. (Look at them! They’re like little adorable aliens! Then they get hair and they’re even CUTER.) Also, they’re living things, and I’m not big on eating those.

At first, Elmo ate frozen pinkies.

SIDENOTE: I feel queasy just writing about this.

They were like little mouse ice cubes. My sixth grade teacher – who was, by the way, a vegetarian (she loved chocolate cake) – was adamant that I take part in the feeding process, even though I didn’t want to watch Elmo eat.

“It’s the food chain, Andrea. It’s the cycle of life.”

So I would stand by and watch Elmo eat the micecubes.*

It wasn’t horrible. It was neat watching him unhinge his jaw. The mouse didn’t like, try to run away or anything. I could cope.

Fine.

I think my teacher felt like she had “gotten through to me” or whatever.

But one day, they were out of frozen pinkies.

CUT TO: Grown-up Andrea shouting, “Oh hell no!”

I sat at my desk during feeding time, but once again, my teacher insisted I get involved.

“It’s the food chain, Andrea. It’s the cycle of life.”

Despite my protesting, she shoved me to the front of the class to watch Elmo eat the live pinkie.

It couldn’t really run away from him. I mean, it hadn’t even opened its eyes yet. But that didn’t stop it from crying and squeaking and squirming all the way down. It was still moving around when it reached Elmo’s…abdomen? (I dunno, snakes are one long body, what do you want me to say?)

So that was basically one of the worst moments ever.

It was the day I learned:

(A) I will never have a pet snake.

(B) I will always be a vegetarian.

(C) My sixth grade teacher was kind of a jerk.

(D) I’m cool with not being exposed to the food chain.

(E) I love mice, even when they look like aliens.

Among many other things.

xA

P.S. Also the reason I never got a gecko. No live crickets for this girl.

P.P.S. Elmo eventually escaped his tank. He wasn’t found until like, a year later, when the janitor found him dead in the gymnasium’s storage room, wrapped up in the parachute. Yay.

*”Micecubes” TM Andrea Beça.

Three Hundred Thirty Five.

Every Sunday, I get a lovely little email in my inbox from the University of Alberta.

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“Late Fees Notification.”

You see. I owe the University of Alberta a whole $2 for overdue fees.

Oh, shit,” I say to myself every Sunday, “I need to just go and pay that.”

I have been saying that to myself every Sunday for THREE YEARS.

Speaking of which, did you know that my 365-day blog is almost over? I started it on my 26th birthday and now I’m sitting here wondering where the last year has gone.

Speaking of which, did you notice how September is already halfway gone? It was just summer and now it’s almost October.

Hell, I feel like I’m still wondering where February went, and here I am in September.

I can’t even wrap my head around it.

Lesson learned: Time flies.

xA

P.S. When I’m freaking out about time, I like to remind myself of this:

“Nobody has ever experienced anything that wasn’t part of a single moment unfolding. That means life’s only challenge is dealing with the single moment you are having right now. Before I recognized this, I was constantly trying to solve my entire life — battling problems that weren’t actually happening. Anyone can summon the resolve to deal with a single, present moment, as long as they are truly aware that it’s their only point of contact with life, and therefore there is nothing else one can do that can possibly be useful. Nobody can deal with the past or future, because, both only exist as thoughts, in the present. But we can kill ourselves trying.”

It’s from this article, which is an interesting read.

Three Hundred Thirty Three.

Let me tell you a little bit about iron…

Actually, let me tell you what the all-knowing WebMD has to say about iron:

Iron is an essential mineral. The major reason we need it is that it helps to transport oxygen throughout the body. Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to transport it throughout your body. Hemoglobin represents about two-thirds of the body’s iron. If you don’t have enough iron, your body can’t make enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells. A lack of red blood cells is called iron deficiency anemia.

Without healthy red blood cells, your body can’t get enough oxygen. If you’re not getting sufficient oxygen in the body, you’re going to become fatigued. That exhaustion can affect everything from your brain function to your immune system’s ability to fight off infections.

These are red blood cells. I think they look like some sort of delicious candy...
These are red blood cells. I think they look like some sort of delicious candy…

Low iron runs in my family. It’s something I struggled with a lot as a teenager. I basically spent a chunk of life rotating between being on and off iron supplements after a bunch of fainting and feeling terrible. But it hasn’t bothered me for years. Years.

About a month ago, I thought I had the flu. I was getting bad headaches and feeling really tired and generally blah. I stayed in bed for a weekend and it kind of went away. I still had headaches and light-headedness, but I ignored them because I’m a busy (see: stupid and stubborn sometimes) lady.

In the back of my mind I thought, “Hmmm. I never get headaches. I wonder if my iron levels have dropped.

Then, a few weeks ago, I was scheduled to donate blood for the first time in my life. I was crazy excited to do so, because Canada is experiencing a severe shortage right now, and for the first time since I turned 18, I’ve had a long enough gap between getting tattoos to be eligible.

I got to the clinic and filled out the appropriate paperwork. My name got called and I sat down in front of a nurse.

“Okay,” she said, “We just need to do a quick finger prick test to make sure your iron levels are high enough to donate. You need to be at 125 or higher.”

Oh, shit,” I thought, mentally willing my blood to come out dark and juicy.

Finger prick.

Test.

“Hmm,” she wrinkled her nose, “You’re only at 120.”

“Oh, of course,” I rolled my eyes at myself, “Ugh, I have a tendency for low iron.”

“Well, sometimes the first test is low. Would you like to try again?”

“Sure, go for it.”

I upped my mental powers as much as I could.

Finger prick.

This time she squeezed a lot of blood out of my finger before testing. Getting deeper? I dunno.

“It’s better, but not good enough,” she sighed, “122. You’re going to have to up your iron before you can donate.”

I felt like such a failure.

I know it’s silly to feel like a failure about my own blood, but I totally did. I was so ready to help people who needed blood and my blood wasn’t…rich(?) enough!

So I immediately upped my intake of iron-rich foods, which isn’t difficult because I eat a lot of iron-rich foods anyway. Lentils and greens are staple foods in my world.

I was starting to feel a bit more normal until this week hit. This week that I started my six-days-a-week teaching schedule, with lots of practice and prep time necessary.

I guess I really depleted myself because yesterday, I had a full-on CRASH.

I woke up and could barely, barely drag my ass out of bed. I blamed not sleeping enough, and all the construction that is going on all around my house (living on a corner sucks when they’re re-paving sidewalks and streets…). My head felt like it was going to explode, but I had a ton on my agenda for the day, so I ignored it.

The fact that taking my dogs to the vet was first on my agenda didn’t help, because my dogs are so embarrassing at the vet. They bark and freak out. A lot. It takes them a long time to settle down and then if a new dog or person walks into the room, they start all over again. My patience was wearing thin and my headache was really starting to get to me.

I started to feel really sad.

I got my dogs home and got ready for the next thing on my agenda: lunch with a friend.

I had a spinach salad, which I guess was a good headstart on pumping some iron into my day, but of course it wasn’t enough. I started to notice that I was having a really hard time concentrating and forming sentences. My head was pounding even though I was drinking lots of water and had eaten plenty. I was starting to feel like I was spiraling down a sadness well.

Uh oh.

“I have to go buy iron supplements like, now.” I said to my friend as we parted ways.

And boy, was I right. By the time I got to the natural foods store, I was shaking. I felt like I could barely grip the steering wheel of my car. As I walked through the parking lot, I worried about collapsing or tripping over my own feet, which felt like they couldn’t move. I fought back the very intense desire to burst into tears. Everything seemed hopeless and slow-motion.

I knew that taking a single iron supplement was not going to make me feel any better, so I took one, and then also pumped my body full of sugar. I managed to get home without crying – though I did freak out via text with a couple friends – I laid down, had a 20-minute nap, and then I had to teach a Zumba class.

SIDENOTE: Oh boy. That was hard. And a little scary. But I survived!

So, here’s hoping that in a week or so, I’m back to normal Andrea. Because low-iron-Andrea is more than a bit of a weirdo. And not nearly as fun as usual.

Iron, man, it can really, really mess with you if you don’t have enough of it. I thought I was done learning that the hard way, but I guess I needed one more reminder. Never again!

xA

Three Hundred Thirty Two.

Remember how my boobs shrank?

SIDENOTE: I found the C cup and I fucking love it. Sometimes I’m still a D cup. Regardless. Smaller boobs FOR THE WIN.*

I guess it’s to be expected when you lose 100+ pounds.

You know what I didn’t expect?

My face to change.

I mean, of course I expected my face to get like, thinner or whatever. But two very distinct things happened. One I love. The other I really don’t.

LOVE: Dimples.

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I got dimples. I don’t have any fantastic photos of them, but they’re pretty visible here.

Too cool. Never had those before. Always wanted something like dimples or freckles because I love both. Welcome into my world, dimples – I think you’re cute as hell.

Win!

HATE: Party on my Forehead.

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HOLD UP.

What the fuck is this shit?

Hey, forehead wrinkles – who invited you?

I used to be able to raise my eyebrows and still have a nice, smooth forehead. I’m not too thrilled that now when I raise my eyebrows, this happens. I guess because the skin on my face is a little less filled out now? Blerg.

SIDENOTE: Also officially have my first real wrinkle – you guessed it – on my forehead. It’s not the end of the world, but I’m irked, let’s just leave it at that.

I suppose this is why they use so many injectables in Hollywood. When you have a little extra fat in your face, you do look younger.

Stupid forehead.

Cute cheeks!

(I’m such a Libra.)

xA

P.S. Happy Friday the 13th!

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I’m gonna celebrate with a horror movie date – Insidious 2! – with my new friend Rachel. She has a blog, too. We met on a blind friend date. I should blog about that…

*All the guys reading my blog right now are either like, “Oooh, boobs…” or “…What the fuck is she on about today?”

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 Twenty Nine.

Last night I started a new session of private Zumba classes, which also included teaching my first Zumba Toning class ever.

SIDENOTE: Holy shit, was I scared. But it went so, so well. Thank goodness!

I had a lot of prep to do leading up to it. Sometimes I’m not sure that anyone except other instructors understands how many hours of practice and prep go into one 60-minute class.

So today (well, between Sunday and today) I learned that nine hours of Zumba in a three-day span is A LOT.

Excuse me, I just have to…

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kthxbai.

xA

Three Hundred Twenty Eight.

Remember my post about Life Math and punctuality?

Let’s keep going with that for a second…

OTHER TYPES OF LIFE MATH I DON’T GET

SIDENOTE: Am still struggling with punctuality a lot of days, but have realized it’s mostly my dogs’ fault. (I know, what an excuse, but seriously.)

1. Toothpaste vs. Foam

Look, I know that some people are able to like, brush their teeth while they walk around the house and get ready for the day. (My BFF Mags does it and it totally confounds me.) But I am not one of those people. I don’t understand how my pea-sized dab of toothpaste always becomes FOAM EVERYWHERE. All over. Everywhere. Like this, which I’m sure you’ve all seen, but I love it anyway:

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It just doesn’t add up!

2. Dogs vs. Bed

My dogs are small dogs. They’re not teacup dogs, but they’re small. And while I may not have a giant, hotel-style king-sized bed (I FUCKING WISH), I do have a nice, normal queen-sized bed. So how, how, HOW is it that when my two small dogs get into bed with me, I have NO ROOM?

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Even that guy looks like he has more sleeping space than I get when Oscar and Lucy are in bed with me.

Maybe it’s because they sleep horizontally or wherever the fuck they please, while I’m left trying to push them out of the way for a tiny sliver of mattress space…

SIDENOTE: As I was writing this blog post, I looked up and caught my dogs hanging out like this:

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AHHHHHHH! Heart exploded.

3. Tears vs. Water

This is sort of like the feeding a baby vs. the amount they vomit question. As I’m sure you may have gathered from some of my posts a few weeks ago, I’ve been doing a bit of crying. Specifically, I’d say I cried a LOT over the course of say, two to three days.

And then I was dehydrated for like, a week and a half.

No, seriously.

I couldn’t stop drinking water. My mouth was dry, my throat was sticking. It was like being stuck in a weird stereotypical movie about someone stranded in the desert. I felt like I was full of sand and I couldn’t get enough hydration. Surely I didn’t cry that much. So what the fuck, body?

Lesson learned: I’ll never get an ‘A’ in Life Math. (Or any math after like, grade six math, based on past experience…)

What are your biggest Life Math struggles/puzzles?

xA

Three Hundred Twenty Seven.

Andrea: learning things the hard way so that you don’t have to.

I’m usually a super clean eater. I mean, I’m vegan and gluten-free, so that helps, but just in general, I eat well.

Yesterday, though, I went on a bit of a snack heyday. It started in the afternoon when I met up with my friend Caitlin for frozen yogurt. See, my new weakness is soy frozen yogurt from this place called Tutti Frutti. It’s ridiculously delicious and you can cover it in all sorts of toppings, which is basically my idea of heaven.

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(GAH! So good.)

So that happened.

I should mention that before my frozen yogurt date, I went grocery shopping on an empty stomach to stock up on snacks for the next month, because my schedule’s about to get INSANE and I know I’ll need to be constantly re-fueling.

So I went home after frozen yogurt and naturally, I sampled many of the snacks I bought while I put them away.

Then I made dinner and ate lots of that.

Then I went on a movie date with a friend, so naturally, I ate all the movie theatre popcorn (popcorn in general is one of my all-time favourite foods). Because DELICIOUS.

SIDENOTE: We’re The Millers is pretty funny. Not stellar, but funny enough.

After the movie, it was 12:15am and my friend turned to me and said, “So now what? Should we hang out?”

“Sure, I’m up for anything.”

…Which landed us at Boston Pizza, one of the only places that was still open.

“Even though I just ate popcorn, I really want some pizza.” he said as we sat down, “Can you eat anything here?”

“I can eat FRENCH FRIES!” I said, because YUM.

So then I ate all the French fries.

I got home at 2:30am, rolled my ass into bed, and finally fell asleep around 3:30am after some tossing and turning due to ALL THE FOOD IN MY STOMACH.

When my alarm went off this morning, I wasn’t ready for it. I had set it for basically the last possible minute I could get up, get dressed, and run to teach my Zumba class.

Blerg.

I figured I should put some sort of nutrient rich something into my body, despite still feeling pretty full. So I had a protein shake and went to the gym.

Look how happy I look when I’m being a Zumba instructor!

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Photo by http://www.christinalouise.ca

Guys. GUYS.

Today didn’t feel like that.

It did at first. I welcomed my class – which was big and energetic and awesome, as usual – and I started my warm-up and I thought everything was fine until about eight minutes into class when my stomach was like “NU UH!” and started rebelling against me.

Suddenly moving felt very difficult and very wrong.

My skin started to feel clammy and cold.

Oh God,” I thought, “This is it. This is going to be my horrific, embarrassing teaching moment.

SIDENOTE: Even more embarrassing than this day, which in hindsight wasn’t too awful.

I am proud to say that I hate vomiting enough that I was able to fight it off. I feel like it was some seriously impressive mind over matter shit. In my head, it went a little like this:

You’re NOT going to vomit. You’re NOT going to vomit. Slow down. Move less. Keep smiling. OHMYGOD I’M GOING TO VOMIT. NO. NO. YOU ARE NOT. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO VOMIT. You can do this. It’s an hour. It’ll go by fast. Breathe. OH VOMIT! Nope. No vomit. Do NOT vomit. Okay, what happens if I need to vomit? No, you know what? Don’t entertain the possibility. it’s not going to happen. NO VOMIT. It’s not going to happen. WHY FRENCH FRIES WHY?! FUCK.

And then eventually it faded. I survived. I didn’t even vomit after!

But let me tell you something, I’ve super learned my lesson. And that is that if you’re going to have a little HEY LET’S EAT ALL THE FOOD day, you should definitely not do it the day before you’re teaching a morning fitness class. Do it the day before a day where you can just like, sit, digest, and let life happen at you.

Oog.

xA

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