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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 Fifty One.

Guys, I’ve had a cold for a WEEK and it’s making me totally stupid.

You know when your head is all plugged and your ears get all plugged so you can’t hear and then you start coughing and every time you cough you let out a little whimper of self pity?

THAT.

You know what else it’s done? It’s made me so whiny. How irritating. I’m not usually like this. So it’s more like cough, whimper of self pity, grunt of, “Get it together, Beça.”

Um, anyway, I’ve decided to do a follow-up to this post, because I thought of more things.

MORE THINGS I SUCK AT by Andrea Beça

Making Minor Decisions

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When it comes to minor decisions, I could not be more of a Libra.

Hilariously, I’m pretty good at major decisions, because I’m good at sitting down, weighing out the options, and really considering what I want. I mean when you think about it, I’ve made some pretty major decisions in life, like moving to the other side of the world, say.

But ask me what I want for dinner or where I’d prefer to sit at an event and I could flounder for ages. In some cases, it’s just because I’m generally a chill person and I don’t mind either way. In other cases, it’s because I CAN’T DECIDE AND I DRIVE MYSELF CRAZY.

Folding Shirts

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One word: NOPE.

I used to try. Now I just do it my way, and you know what? That’s just fine!

Speaking of which…

Folding Clothes and/or Putting Clothes Away

UnpackingIf I don’t do it RIGHT AWAY, it will NEVER HAPPEN.

Like, when I moved in with my friend once, I packed, moved, and unpacked all in a single day. I was up until almost 4am because I needed to get it all done. ALL OF IT. Then I was able to sleep.

On the flip side, I’ve gotten back from trips and lived out of my suitcase for weeks just because I didn’t feel like unpacking. Oops.

Telling People Off

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I’m super nice. Way too nice sometimes. Sometimes (see: always) I do this thing where someone will say something really offensive or rude or just that I don’t agree with and instead of speaking up, I laugh. Kind of like when the dude at the casino implied that I was a purchase-able sex object.

It’s probably why I’ve had a stalker before. I suck at just saying, “FUCK OFF.”

SIDENOTE: Totally not going to blog about that.

Letting Things Be

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SIDENOTE: It’s a sleeping dog. Get it?

Like, say you crack a joke and someone sort of takes it the wrong way and then everyone sort of laughs it off. I can’t laugh it off. If I feel like I’ve offended you, I will not be able to not get in touch and say, “Hey, I’m sorry – that’s not what I meant.”

Or if I feel like I don’t fully understand what someone means or why they would say something they said, I always feel like I need to clarify. Especially when hurt feelings are involved.

Or like today, when I got a rejection email about a short story I submitted to something and the person said, “It’s beautiful, but it has no plot.” I just want to shout IT’S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT PLOT. SOMETIMES IT’S ABOUT PEOPLE.

Let it go, let it go, let it go.

I suck at that.

So I guess the lesson learned here is that SURPRISE! In the six months since writing version 1, I did not get perfect. Darn.

Good thing I have a prize-winning smile or no one would ever put up with me.

xA

P.S.

HEY YOU CHECK IT OUT.

Remember how I said I suck at technology? Yeah, that hasn’t changed. I just figured out I can make polls on my blog. So let’s have fun. Here’s a question. If you read my blog, vote! And do it soon, because there are only 15 more days of posts. (Holy shit!)

(Hint: it’s an aesthetic thing. I’m not going to need therapy or anything. I hope.)

Three Hundred Forty Seven.

A couple weeks ago, I went out to the movies with a friend of mine and then we grabbed a bite to eat.

Oh, actually, now that I think of it, it was this night, AKA the night I ATE ALL THE FOOD.

Anyway, when I got home at the end of the night, I went to wash my face and noticed I had a bunch of black pepper in my teeth. My first thought was, “Why the fuck didn’t he say something?!”

SIDENOTE: It’s possible he didn’t notice. I would have had to smile pretty darn big for it to be visible. But still.

You see, I’m a person who will ALWAYS tell you if you’ve got “something” going on – if you have food in your teeth, if you have a strand of hair sticking out the wrong way, if your hanger strap or clothing tag is hanging out. I’m your girl. It’s not because I’m critical or anything. I’m not. I’m like, the least judgemental person. It’s because I would want to know if any of that were going on with me.

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But as I was thinking about that, I was reminded of one of many hilarious moments I had as a teen.

In case you’ve forgotten, I was a goth when I was a teenager. A Marilyn Manson-obsessed, eyeliner-loving, eyebrow-shaving goth. So I wore a lot of makeup. I didn’t do anything too crazy – I didn’t like, wear black eyeliner tears dripping down my face or anything (no offense or judgement to anyone who did/does – you do your thing). But I was…creative?

There was one day that I was going out to run some errands with my mom and I was sporting some particularly interesting mascara and eyeliner. I had applied both as usual, but then I decided that I wanted like, eyeliner dots coming out from the corner of my eye toward the side of my face.

I really wish I had a photo to illustrate this. But I don’t. But imagine some cat eye eyeliner:

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Only imagine it much messier and comprised of dots.

SIDENOTE: I don’t know what I was thinking. I was 13. Who cares? I was “finding myself.”*

So anyway, I was out with my mom and I remember specifically that we were at Future Shop and we couldn’t find what we were looking for, so we found a sales associate to ask for help.

We had been chatting with him about our needs for a few minutes when a natural silence fell upon the conversation. It was at that point that the sales associate turned to me, and very quietly said, “Uh…I think you have a little something…” and pointed to his eye/eyebrow region.

Being the super self-conscious, nerdy kid that I was, I tried to laugh it off.

“Ha ha!” I giggled nervously, “No, it’s supposed to be there.”

“Oh, okay.” The sales guy cleared his throat anxiously.

And then we all felt awkward.

People wear a lot of crazy shit these days. Like, how many times a day are you walking behind a girl in leggings or yoga pants when you realize you can clearly see her bum/underwear/thong?

SIDENOTE: I work both on campus and as a fitness instructor, so maybe my percentages are higher. Okay, they definitely are. But like, a MILLION TIMES A DAY it happens.

Hell, just last night I was out and saw a dude wearing gold spandex pants and it was like, junk-central. He might as well have been pantsless. It was all out there.

SIDNEOTE: Pretty sure it’s the look he was going for, because shortly after I spotted him, he started doing lunges, so good on him.

Um. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I understand why some people would hesitate to point out if “something” is going on, but:

(A) If the person is your friend, POINT IT OUT ANYWAY. Be tactful. But just in case. Do it.

(B) If it’s something in someone’s teeth, no exceptions. TELL THEM.**

xA

*I’m nearly 27 and I feel like only NOW am I actually finding myself.

**Unless you hate the person. Then I guess do whatever.

Three Hundred Forty Four.

I don’t know, this is just random thought I had this morning, but when I was a kid, I ate some weird shit.

Here are three things I distinctly remember. I’m sure my mom could chime in with like, 87 more.

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French Fries and Ice Cream

Any time we went to McDonald’s as kids, my brother and I (maybe he didn’t participate in this, but I could swear he did) would get an ice cream cone and an order of fries and we would dip our fries into the ice cream and eat them. It was the whole salty sweet thing. But of course, I would rotate between dipping my fries in ice cream and dipping them in ketchup. Ugh.

Ketchup Chips

Speaking of ketchup, one day, I was so desperate for ketchup chips that I decided that dipping regular old potato chips into actual ketchup would be just as delicious.

It wasn’t.

But I still ate a lot of them. I remember it being very…greasy and tomato-y and overwhelming.

Dill Dip

When I was in grade five, one of my friends was like, “Oh, I know the best homemade dip!” All it consisted of was a TON of mayonnaise (which I was never a fan of to begin with) with a TON of dried dill mixed into it. So when she came over, we made this dip and ate probably half a cup of it each. With carrots. And chips, I think. And then my stomach hurt for like a week.

Despite the pain, I would go on to make that dip a few more times before it made me feel barfy enough that I stopped. Just thinking about it now makes my stomach twitch.

Lesson learned: I swear kids are born with iron stomachs. Some people keep those iron stomachs until they die. Good for them, I say.

I mixed a lot of crazy foods in my belly when I was little that would make me barf as an adult. How about you?

xA

Three Hundred Forty One.

“But is it going to be like, OVER over? Like, completely over?!”

The number of times I have heard this in the last week has been both shocking and overwhelming (in a good way).

People read my blog.

I mean, I knew that people were reading my blog, because I’ve even blogged about it (whoa meta!), but the fact that people are reading my blog on a regular basis kind of blows me away.

Like, to everyone who reads my blog daily? I am in awe of you. I don’t know that I would read my blog every day if not for the fact that I have to write it every day. I am humbled and honoured to be included in your day. Even if you’re not reading every single day, I sincerely thank you for taking the time.

…But please don’t take me so seriously.

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It’s fascinating how once you put something down into words, some people will take it as the be all, end all, the absolute truth about you. It’s been pretty interesting to be able to actually see and hear people’s reactions to my blog, and how they vary depending on how well they know me. My friends who read my blog laugh off a lot of my dryness and sarcasm (and craziness), while others take it a little more to heart, I think.

Let’s just say that none of my closest friends have called me to say, “Don’t worry about your forehead wrinkles! They’re barely even there!” They’ve either been like, “Yeah, that’s shitty, hey? I have them, too.” or they’ve read the post, laughed at me, and moved on.

A lot happens in a year. A LOT. A lot happens in a week. Your feelings toward something may change daily. I love bananas, but that doesn’t mean I want to eat them all day every day. I had to do that while I was starving in Ireland and then I hated bananas and thought I didn’t want to eat them ever again. If I had been writing this blog at the time, there would be a post about how I hate bananas and never want to eat them again.

SIDENOTE: I wrote that very thing in my travel blog at the time, I am certain. Cashews, too. And just look at me now. I had a banana with my breakfast about 15 minutes ago.

ANOTHER SIDENOTE: Right now, I’m on a break from beets. Because….well…that was just too much for me.

Just a small selection of other “things”:

– I actually don’t have a mega-crush on Adam Levine. Like, sure, he’s attractive, of course, but if you asked me to name five celebrity crushes (I don’t know why you would do that, since you’re not the latest issue of Tiger Beat, but you never know), he would not come up.

– I don’t actually hate cats. I love cats. I needed something to write about that day, and I was shocked by a cat bite story. I have bonded with many a cat, despite my allergies. (Shout outs to Nala, Fred, and Flora (RIP), just to name a few of my fave felines.) Sometimes you just think of a joke/story and run with it.

– I’m not panicking about my breasts. I was perplexed by them shrinking for about a week. Then I got used to it. Then I realized I love it. So to everyone who has been either making fun of me for it (yes, that happened), or trying to reassure me that it’s gonna be okay, my boobs and I are doing just fine.

– I would get into the ocean or a swimming pool. In fact, I’m trying to find a day to go try out Aqua Zumba. Yes, I’m terrified of the water. But what would life be if you never challenged yourself? Also, while I don’t swim, I LOVE being near the ocean. It’s peaceful and beautiful and wonderful.

– I don’t ALWAYS sing in my car. It’s a mood thing. So I apologize if you drove by me and I wasn’t wailing at the top of my lungs. I know I’m a huge disappointment. I apologize.

SIDENOTE: There’s some typical Andrea sarcasm.

Now, all of that being said, if you’ve ever read my blog and expressed concern for me, I think you are wonderful. (If you’ve made fun of me, you are less wonderful.) And I mean that genuinely and seriously. I so appreciate your concern. It feels really warm and fuzzy to know that you’ve read something here and it’s moved you – no matter in what direction – to want to say something. I think that’s super cool. In fact, sometimes your concern makes me feel like an asshole because I think, “Over exaggerated again, Beça.” But also, a lot of what I write is serious and it feels pretty incredible to know that other people feel the same way, share the same fears, love the same things, etc. I have lost count of the number of relationships that have either started or grown closer because of this blog. And that is pretty fucking cool.

Here’s another thing about me: sometimes I think I know where a blog post is going, and then I start to write it and it grows and grows until I feel like I am completely unable to properly encapsulate how I feel about something.

This is one of those moments.

What have I learned from this particular thing?

Um…

(A) I am humbled by everyone who reads this blog.

(B) Being a writer is a hilarious thing because everything you write is a little piece of you, but when you write that crazy-ass twisted disturbing horror story or a play about siblings who are in love, it’s awkward because everyone thinks you need therapy.

(C) I thought I had a “C,” but I got distracted and forgot it.

xA

P.S. Yes, this 365-day blog will be over on October 17. But I’ve got other projects in the works. You won’t get rid of me that easily.

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:

00096bb163c3096ee5bc05

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.

10340baby_mice

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 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

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