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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.

jayne

And so do I.

Image2

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!

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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.

Work selfie

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.

Photo 130

Good lord…

Top 5 Accomplishments

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

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

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

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

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

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

HONOURABLE MENTION:

I BLOGGED EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR 365 FUCKING DAYS.

A year, guys. A YEAR.

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

xA

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

Three Hundred Sixty Two.

Well, it took over a year as a fitness instructor, but it finally happened.

I had to throw away my shoes because they STANK.

SIDENOTE: They also exploded – like, almost ripped in half – but still, they stank.

It technically only took about six months, because prior to that, I wore all sorts of unsupportive shoes and switched them up every day. But then I crashed hard and was forced to cave and buy expensive – but oh so comfortable – real sneakers for real activity.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, because I wear my workout shoes at least seven times a week, if not more on days I have more than one workout.

But still, yuck.

I know that everyone probably has an aversion to stinky shoes, but I feel like my aversion is also a paranoia.

You see, when I was in junior high and my brother was in high school, he had a girlfriend and she had the smelliest feet ever.

You’re probably thinking, “They couldn’t have been that bad.” But you’re so wrong.

If you’re all sitting around in the living room and you can smell someone’s feet from across the room, that’s too much.

If you flop onto the couch hours later and bury your face into a pillow only to recoil instantly from the horrendous, lingering stench and you recoil with such ferocity that you fall off the couch, that’s way too much.

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If as soon as someone leaves your house, you need to Febreeze the shit out of everything including your face because you feel like all you can smell is feet, that’s ridiculously too much. It’s so too much that it becomes nothing at all again.

SIDENOTE: That doesn’t make sense. I’m okay with that.

I feel bad saying all of this, because it was probably this girl’s awkward teenage “thing,” and I certainly dealt with lots of things myself, but still, it was kind of the worst.

What have I learned?

When you’re teaching Zumba and you can smell your own shoes, it’s time for new shoes.

(Thank goodness it’s just a one-pair-of-shoes issue.)

xA

P.S. I’m sorry for sounding like a judgemental twat about my brother’s high school girlfriend’s feet. It’s actually pretty hilarious when you think about it. Plus I was a kid. Plus it’s gross. And funny. And gross.

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P.P.S. I love American Horror Story. And I LOVE JESSICA LANGE.

Three Hundred Fifty Nine.

If you read my blog often (bless your heart), you may remember me mentioning that I’ve had a really bad cold. Two weeks and one day after it hit me, I am finally starting to feel maybe partially normal again. Thank goodness.

As you know, colds come with lots of congestion, which is a huge drag. After about five days of not being able to breathe, I decided to try taking a bath with some eucalyptus oil infused in it, to clear up my sinuses.

Oh my god, you guys, it was amazing.

It was soothing and calming and yes, after I got out of the tub, I felt like I could take a deep breath. I mean sure, it only lasted about 15 minutes, but they were glorious minutes and that’s all that mattered.

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(Sigh while you can!)

Last week, when I realized the snot in my face was going nowhere (charming, I know), I decided it was time to relive the beauty of the eucalyptus bath. I ran the water, poured in some eucalyptus oil, and let the fragrant steam fill the room.

Deep breath in; deep breath out.

Wonderful.

I peeled off my clothes and sunk into the deliciously hot water.

Deep breath in; deep breath out.

Wonderful.

I lay back, closed my eyes, and soaked in the moment.

Deep breath in; deep breath out.

Wonderful.

Then I realized, hey, you know what? I should shave my legs.

Yeah, I’ll get all smooth and silky. That’ll make me feel better about the day and all the snot.

Perfect.

So I grabbed my and started doing my thing.

Deep breath in; deep breath out.

“OH MY FUCKING GOD.”

I guess shaving opened up all the pores in my legs. Because the eucalyptus oil started to fill them. And while the initial sensation was cool and refreshing, the 45-seconds-into-in sensation was FREEZER BURN.

“Ohmygodohmygodohmygodfuckshitohmygodfuckingcoldhell…

…fuckshitohmyfuckinggodgottagetoutfuckfuckohmygod…

…whatthefuckiswrongwithmeOFCOURSEANDREAwhatthefuckwereyouthinking…

…fuckingcoldohmygodwhatishappeningI’mdyingthisisthefucking…

…worstohmygodohmygodohmygod.”

So that was fun.

And then I shivered for the rest of the day.

Lesson learned: Don’t shave your legs in a bath with mint and/or eucalyptus oil.*

xA

*Good thing that’s all I decided to groom…

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P.S. Those of you asking, no, I didn’t forget about how I polled you on whether I should do something that will drive me crazy just to blog about it, and that blog post is coming soon (because you’re all jerks and you voted I should do it). Sometime in the next WEEK, since that’s all that’s left! WHAT!

 

 

Three Hundred Fifty Seven.

I realized yesterday that my most prominent scar has also been on my body the longest, and that’s kind of unusual.

Even the scar from the day I put scissors through my finger has faded, and I was around six or seven when that happened. And I’ve sustained many injuries I thought for sure would leave me with bad scars that never did.

One day, when I was just under two years old, I was chasing my brother around the house. This was not unusual, which you should know by now since my brother is the coolest and I like him a lot. Also, the apartment we lived in at the time was laid out in such a way that you could run a full loop between the living room and kitchen, so that was fun. Lots of opportunity to pick up speed with each lap.

SIDENOTE: Remember when you were a little kid and when you ran, you always felt like you were running THE FASTEST EVER? And it was amazing and magical? Almost like you were flying? I miss that feeling. I love that feeling.

Anyway.

I bite my lip a lot. I don’t really have an explanation aside from the fact that it’s there so I bite it, but it’s just something I do. I bite it when I’m thinking. I bite it when I laugh. I bite it when I’m listening. I bite it when sexy times are approaching. (Sorry, Mom.) I bite it subconsciously. And apparently, it’s something I’ve always done.

SIDENOTE: If I lived in 50 Shades of Grey, I’d be in soooooo much trouble.

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SIDENOTE TO THE SIDENOTE: If you haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey and therefore do not get that reference, GOOD FOR YOU. You think you’re better than me? I rage read the entire fucking trilogy just so that I could make educated (maybe not the best word choice considering the subject matter) judgements of it and yes, they’re one of the worst things my brain has ever had to experience. So CONGRATS for not giving in, because they’re as bad as you think. And then some. JERK.

fifty-shades-of-grey-lip-bite

 

BARF.

ANOTHER SIDENOTE: How was that for dramatic, right? I’m here all week. (Actually, just barely over a week! Wah!)

ANYWAY.

So there I was, chasing my brother around the apartment and biting my lip, I imagine because I was laughing and smiling really hard.

And then I fell.

And then my teeth went through my bottom lip.

Whenever I tell that story, people go, “OMG OUCH!” and I nod and agree with them, but also, I have no recollection of this moment in my life because I wasn’t even two, so I guess it’s no big deal.

Almost 25 years later, though, I still have the scar to show for it:

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(Can you see it? It’s hard to photograph scars, which is maybe a good thing for people who have scars and are worried about them.)

Other things I still have scars from:

The day I got run over by a bike.

The day I removed my own stitches.

Scars. You might not like them (I don’t mind any of mine, but I get it if you have a scar you hate), but hey, at least you’ve got stories to tell, right?

Kind of like when you think about if you were in Back to the Future, what would you change? And then you decide maybe you wouldn’t change anything, because even though you’ve been through some shit – and maybe you’ve gone through A LOT of shit – it’s all just a part of what makes you who you are today?

SIDENOTE: ……do you not think about that?

……me neither!

xA

P.S. Total FALSE ALARM on thinking I had Internet at home yesterday. It’s still down! It’s like living in the past! And it BLOWS.

P.P.S. So I blogged from work today. Don’t tell my boss.

 

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

How-to-Fold-Clothes-That-Look-Crisp-and-Pressed

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 Thirty Seven.

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.

scissors

Uh oh.

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.

xA

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!)

Three Hundred Thirty Six.

Wow. Well, here it is. This is the official one-month countdown. Exactly one month until my 27th birthday (October 17th, y’all. Buy me something nice.)…and the end of this 365-day blog. I cannot believe how quickly it’s gone by, but also, holy shit, writing a blog post every day of your life for a year is a lot of work. I’m going to miss it, but I’m also a bit relieved the end of the project is nigh.

SIDENOTE: I’m not going to vanish, though. Trust.

My mom reminded me of a funny story from my childhood yesterday.

One day, when I was still pretty little – older than five because we had my childhood dog, Legacy (the one I barfed on once), but under 10, I think – my mom bought a new vacuum.

I didn’t care much about the vacuum itself, of course. I mean whatever, I didn’t know how to use one and I remember at that point they still kind of scared me. (They’re loud.)

What I cared about was the box.

I remember my mom brought the new vacuum down to our laundry room, unpacked it, and then took it upstairs to give it a test run on our carpets. In the meantime, I was left in the laundry room with a giant box.

What more could a kid want?

I found a pair of large scissors, some felt pens, and I got to work.

I’d say it only took me 10-15 minutes to chop the hell out of the box and draw all over it until it was the perfect doghouse for Legacy. Maybe a little feminine – I had decorated it with pink and purple flowers, which were more my style than his – but it was the perfect size, at the very least. I was elated. I couldn’t wait to show Legacy the masterpiece I had created for him.

It looked like this, except totally not because I still sucked at scissors and I didn’t stay in the lines when I drew or coloured.

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So…more like this, but still uglier.

Cardboard-Box-Barn-Step-3b

I found Legacy and brought him over to see his new doggie mansion, which of course he hated.

He was terrified of boxes.

He wouldn’t go near it, never mind into it.

I was crushed. For about 30 seconds. Then I moved on, looking for something else to play with. (I was sort of a busy child.)

Meanwhile, in the real world, my mom had tried out the vacuum and she hated it. She brought it back downstairs to carefully re-pack it into its box and take it back to the store.

Except…

“WHAT THE FUCK?!”

SIDENOTE: My mom never said that. I mean, maybe in her head. Probably in her head. But my mom like, never swore ever. Even now, I think it’s super funny when she swears. Especially when she swears wrong. Or when she says, “That just blows me!” instead of, “That just blows my mind!” Because it sounds so dirty. Tee hee.

I had destroyed the box.

We were stuck with the shitty vacuum. For years.

Sorry, mom.

Lesson learned: I’ve always been (A) a creative type, (B) a dog lover, and (C) the type of person to act from the heart.

xA

IMPORTANT P.S. I know I have some insanely loyal readers out there, so I want to give you a chance to chime in. Is there anything you really want me to write about? Maybe a life experience you’re curious about? Or something I said I was going to write about in an older post that I never actually wrote? (I forget stuff all the time. Plus 365 days seems like an eternity until you hit the one-month countdown and realize holy shit, it’s not at all.) I’m not making any promises, but I’ll do the best I can! Seriously, let me know.

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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