Yesterday at work, I had to phone Air Canada for my boss.
They have this dumb rule where if you cancel a flight, you can only use your credit if you book over the phone. What? Yeah. It’s one of a number of bizarre rules and exceptions they place on this particular situation.
Phoning an airline. Great.
I was on hold for approximately 20 minutes. I stopped counting because I was on hold so long that I passed through the “Oh, I’ll just wait and listen carefully for when somebody picks up” phase and well into the “Fuck it, I’m working, I’m talking to other people, I’m busy, and when they pick up, they’d better say ‘HELLO’ very clearly because ain’t nobody got time for this shit” phase.
Also, I stopped counting because the phone was hurting my ear. Like, within minutes. And because of the position of the phone on my desk, I couldn’t really switch ears. So I tried to keep myself distracted.
So I finally got through, and of course the conversation wasn’t a quick one. I’m not going to bore you to death with all of the details. What you need to know is that all in, I was on the phone for about 45 minutes yesterday.
Let me tell you about today.
Today, it feels like I got punched in the ear. Yes, that’s right, my left ear is so sore from the stupid phone that it kind of hurts when I adjust my hair.
And when I woke up this morning, I noticed that my neck and shoulder felt really weird. It only occurred to me much, much later that that’s the result of my craned-neck multitasking – holding the phone onto my shoulder with my chin while I continued to work.
WHAT THE HELL?
When I was in my pre-teens and teens, I used to talk on the phone for hours at a time.
Is this evolution?
Guys, this is it.
It’s the future.
Talking on the phone isn’t glamorous like this anymore:
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend the day with my head tilted the other way to try to even this shit out.
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.
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.
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.
But I still ate a lot of them. I remember it being very…greasy and tomato-y and overwhelming.
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?
“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.
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.
– 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?
(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.
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.
When I was growing up, our family outings were modest. We weren’t going off to Disneyland or anything, but we had fun times. (Remember when I barked at those dogs? Good stuff.)
This particular trip was to a place called Half Moon Lake. I was probably seven or eight years old, maybe younger.
Here’s a photo I found of Half Moon Lake via Google image search (as usual…)
Not breathtaking, but nice enough.
I have to admit, I’m biased. I mean, our whole day at Half Moon Lake was a bit…doomed. First of all, we got ice cream from this cute little ice cream stand/cabin thing, which was super exciting, but then my brother Bryan dropped his strawberry cone into the sand and the day was effectively ruined. Like, he was so upset that not even a new ice cream cone could soften the blow.
Then it got worse.
We – that is, my mom, dad, brother, and I – were all playing in the sand. I think I was working on the tower to a sand castle, which just means I was packing somewhat wet sand into a small plastic bucket. It was warm and sunny. I’m pretty sure I was even wearing a bathing suit. (Probably one of the last times I ever wore one.) It was almost like being on what my mom would call “a real beach.”*
Then it happened.
A little girl screaming.
I looked up, scanning the sandy area around me, trying to place where the desperate screams were coming from.
Then I realized that the little girl screaming was standing about waist deep in the water.
Look, at this point, I was already not a fan of water. And now I was watching in horror as a girl who was basically my age was SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER while standing in the water.
I was certain it was a shark and we were all going to die. Yes, even those of us who were not actually in the water.
Sharks have their ways.
The girl’s dad or mom or whoever ran to her rescue. As it turned out, it was not a shark
It was a leech.
Now, at the time, I had no idea what leeches were. I just saw a black thing on her leg and as far as I was concerned, it was some sort of tiny sea monster that was somehow killing her slowly.
As an adult, I say LOOK AT IT. THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT IT IS.
So, we didn’t go into the water at Half Moon Lake that day. And now that I think of it, we never went back to Half Moon Lake, either.
Lesson learned: Sharks aren’t the only reason to be scared of the water. Leeches are also a valid concern.
*What qualifies as a “real beach,” you say? I don’t know. You have to ask my mom. She’s from Mozambique. She knows her shit.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Speaking of all of the super cool crafts I made when I was a kid, here’s a good story we can all learn from…
I wish I could remember just what it was that I was attempting to create, but I can assure you it was awesome. I was always up to something as a kid, whether it was running a private library or ringing doorbells.
I think it was some sort of hanging ornament, because the task that really tripped me up was punching a hole into the bottom dish from a box of chocolates. You know the ones – they have a number of small cups in them, one for each Pot of Gold chocolate or whatever. Yeah, that. I was trying to make a hole in the bottom of one of the small cups to that I could put a string through it. The plastic was really thick, though, so using a pen wasn’t working. I decided that scissors were the way to go.
But I wasn’t using Crayola scissors, folks. I had the real deal.
So, um, not only did the scissors go through the chocolate dish like a hot knife slicing through butter…they also went into my finger – well into my finger – which was holding the plastic tight and got in the way.
I could see the sharp metal threatening to come through the other side of my finger. So I did what any kid (or just me) would do: ripped the scissors out of my finger and started screaming.
My memory after that is a little sketchy, but when I think of this instance in my life, I always flash back to the white dish towel my mom held to my hand, which was completely soaked in blood.
I probably should have gotten stitches, but I didn’t. (In fact, I wouldn’t get stitches for the first time until like, 20 years later…) My mom managed to stop the bleeding, bandaged me up really well, and eventually it healed. I had the scar for a really long time, but now it’s mostly faded, so maybe I actually just made that whole story up. (I didn’t.)
Lesson learned: They make those shitty plastic scissors for kids for a reason. Don’t put scissors through your finger. It fucking sucks.
P.S. What was your biggest childhood crafting disaster? (Preferably a disaster in the sense that you injured yourself. I could talk messy disasters for years without running out of stories!)
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
Plus, I mean, I wasn’t joking about him being cool. Just look at him.
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.
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:
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?
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:
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.
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?