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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.

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 Forty Eight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(B) Passion is both inspiring and infectious.

(C) I HEART NERDS AND BEING A NERD.

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

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

Uhhhhh…woo!

xA

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

Three Hundred Forty Two.

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

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

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

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CONNECT THAT TO:

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

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

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

No? Okay. Just checking.

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

BUT:

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

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

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

WHAT THE FUCK, ANDREA?!

Shameful. I know.

cat-hiding-face

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

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

xA

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

Three Hundred Thirty.

Blah blah blah, I had a shitty time in junior high blah.

Yes, it was serious. It was more than just getting picked on a couple times.

Here’s what you need to know: I had a BFF – let’s call her Shari – who one day decided to hate me and systematically destroy my life.

Sounds like some serious Mean Girls shit, hey?

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It was.

It literally happened halfway through a regular school day. One moment we were sitting in eighth grade science class having a perfectly normal BFF day, and then the next, I said her name to ask her something and it went a little something exactly like this:

“Shari?”

“FUCK YOU. I HATE YOU. DON’T EVER SPEAK TO ME AGAIN.”

I thought she was kidding at first, but she totally wasn’t.

I had always gotten picked on in school – from my first day of school ever onward – but from that point on, it got really bad. I went from having a small group of friends to having no one because Shari spread vicious rumours about me. Suddenly my friends were prank calling me and saying awful things to me 10-15 times a night. She told every guy in the junior high that I had a crush on them and who knows what else. So every guy in the whole school pointed at me in disgust and laughed at me as I walked down the halls. I got spat on, pushed around, and threatened. I got scream-taunted by the minute. It sucked.

I won’t delve into it any further because this story isn’t actually supposed to be sad.

In the height of sadness, Teenage Andrea sat in her room, trying to think of (non-confrontational, poetic) ways to get back at Shari.

Then she came across a school photo of Shari.

SIDENOTE: Back in the day, kids, we exchanged school photos – yeah, physical photos, like printed on photo paper – with our BFFs and boyfriends (not that I ever had a boyfriend – just a fake one) to show one another how much we cared. We’d even hand write little notes on the back. So retro, right?

Teenage Andrea knew what had to be done.

So Teenage Andrea found a lighter – used to light candles and incense to set the mood while she Goth-ed out to Marilyn Manson’s latest CD – and Teenage Andrea SET FIRE TO THE PHOTO.

Take that, Shari! I hate you, too! You’re mean and awful!

………..

And then the fire got a little out of control, burning Teenage Andrea’s hand, causing her to drop the photo onto her carpet OH SHIT.

I stomped out the (relatively small) flames as fast as I could, and then tried to mask the burnt fabric smell with perfume or something. What I could not mask was the dark brown/black patch in the middle of my blue carpet.

Oops.

I told my mom it was maybe some spilled candle wax. She might have said, “It looks like a burn” and I might have just shrugged and said I had no idea where it came from.

Lesson I learned at the time: DON’T PLAY WITH FIRE. (Duh!)

Lesson I learned now, looking back: Oh my god, I was a sweet kid. That was my “revenge”? Poor Teenage Andrea.

xA

Three Hundred Twenty Eight.

Remember my post about Life Math and punctuality?

Let’s keep going with that for a second…

OTHER TYPES OF LIFE MATH I DON’T GET

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

1. Toothpaste vs. Foam

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

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It just doesn’t add up!

2. Dogs vs. Bed

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

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

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

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

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AHHHHHHH! Heart exploded.

3. Tears vs. Water

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

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

No, seriously.

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

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

What are your biggest Life Math struggles/puzzles?

xA

Three Hundred Twenty Seven.

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

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

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

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(GAH! So good.)

So that happened.

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

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

Then I made dinner and ate lots of that.

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

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

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

“Sure, I’m up for anything.”

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

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

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

So then I ate all the French fries.

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

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

Blerg.

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

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

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Photo by http://www.christinalouise.ca

Guys. GUYS.

Today didn’t feel like that.

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

Suddenly moving felt very difficult and very wrong.

My skin started to feel clammy and cold.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oog.

xA

Three Hundred Twenty Three.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then my fear came very true.

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

The entire cast fell silent.

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

And then we all looked up.

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

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

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

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

I shook my head and said:

“Let’s go home.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Yup. For sure.”

“How?”

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

“But you could before?”

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

“Like, quickly. Without obstruction.”

“For sure. Why do you ask?”

Eeek

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

xA

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

Three Hundred Twenty One.

I’m reading a book called The Demonologist, which is about the career of Ed and Lorraine Warren. They’re the couple who inspired the film The Conjuring, and they’re also the couple who were called in to help the family who inspired The Amityville Horror.

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All of this reading and talking about the paranormal with friends has me remembering some of the crazy experiences I’ve had. I know I told you all about one of my weird moments down in the Edinburgh Vaults, but now I’m going to tell you about something that happened in Ireland.

When my mom came to visit me in Scotland, we took a trip together to Ireland. I know I’ve mentioned this before. When we were in Killarney, we went on a ghost tour that was probably one of the best I’ve ever been on. It was fun and campy, but it was also rooted in a lot of fact. Yes, we did horror movie trivia on the bus, but we also learned a lot about the city and its (sometimes very dark) history.

The last stop on our tour was Muckross Abbey. Here’s a short Wikipedia blurb:

Muckross Abbey is one of the major ecclesiastical sites found in the Killarney National Park, County Kerry, Ireland. It was founded in 1448 as a Franciscan friary for the Observantine Franciscans by Donal McCarthy Mor.

It has had a violent history and has been damaged and reconstructed many times. The friars were often subjected to raids by marauding groups and were persecuted by Cromwellian forces under Lord Ludlow.Today the abbey is largely roofless although, apart from this, is generally quite well preserved. Its most striking feature is a central courtyard, which contains a large yew tree and is surrounded by a vaulted cloister.

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In order to get to the abbey, we had to park on a street and walk through quite a bit of forest. As we made the trek over, the sun was starting to set. By the time we got into the abbey, it was pitch black – the only light we had was one flashlight, held by one of our guides.

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At first, I was a bit annoyed. The only other people on this tour with us were a group of teenage girls and their mom or aunt or whoever. So they were squealing at everything and being generally SUPER annoying. They were so loud and obnoxious that our guides had to ask them multiple times to calm down.

It was totally ruining the mood. While the building was really beautiful and certainly eerie in the darkness, we were mostly just trying to stay away from the teens to save our ear drums. I tried to focus on ignoring them and snapping photos – the flash from my camera was one of the only ways to see the actual building.

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And it was a super cool building.

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SIDENOTE: If you’re a believer in light orbs, my god, I caught so many on camera, it’s not even funny.

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So, while I was having a fascinating time in Muckross Abbey, I wouldn’t say I was having a creepy ghost tour time. Until we got into this one room.

“All right, everyone. This the the room in which we conduct an experiment.” our guide was getting down to business.

I assessed the surroundings. We were in a long, narrow room, somewhat like a hallway. One wall was solid stone, the other was an outside wall, with numerous slit-windows cut into the stone. It was so dark inside that the darkness of the yard outside seemed brighter, so the windows were very visible.

“In a moment, I’m going to turn off the torch [translation: flashlight]. I want you all to line up against that wall. Spread out so you can’t grab each other or scare each other, because this isn’t that kind of ghost tour. Once you’re ready, we’re going to turn out the lights and just take a moment to feel the room. All right?”

After much squealing from the teenagers, we got lined up. I looked at my mom and rolled my eyes. I wished they would just shut up.

And then our guide turned out the lights.

I stood there, staring out the slitted windows, wondering if this actually was one of those ghost tours and a guy in a gorilla mask was about to run in screaming at us (I went on a tour like that in Edinburgh – what a load of shit).

But then I saw something. And it wasn’t outside.

The light coming in from the slitted windows started to be blocked out, as if someone was walking by them. Then it happened again. And again. A row of shadows walked by me.

And then the row of shadows stopped.

Here’s the part where if you don’t already, you may think I’m totally nuts.

Although I didn’t see any faces turn and look at me – what I saw was shadows – I felt one of the men standing in front of me turn and look at me. And what I felt was a sense of judgement – a sort of shame on you – so strong that without even being to process it, I burst into tears. It was as though my heart was being squished by an iron weight. I couldn’t help myself. The sadness and shame and fear took over my entire body and my body panicked in response.

“Turn the lights on.” I started to say, “I need someone to turn the lights one. Turn the lights on!”

How did I get to be the one freaking out?

The guide complied and I promptly grabbed hold of my mom and told her what I saw and felt. She agreed about the shadows blocking out the windows. She had seen them, too.

After that, I couldn’t wait to get out of Muckross Abbey. It was unfortunate that we had to walk back through forest in total darkness (and in the rain) in order to get back to the bus with only one small flashlight for our whole group, because I spent that entire walk fearing that I was going to be attacked by whatever had been so angry at me in that room.

Oh, and if you were wondering, that room we were in was the room in which the Franciscan monks were imprisoned and led to their death. Often chained together.

Comforting.

That was one day (of a few I’ve had in my life) during which I learned that the history of a place is often 100% palpable, no matter how much time has passed.

It also solidified my belief in ghosts, or the paranormal, or whatever you want to call it.

xA

P.S. Tell me your ghost stories.

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