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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.

Image7_2

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

photo(1)

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 Fifty Eight.

So, not sure if you guys have noticed this yet, but I’m a bit of a socially awkward nerd.

You’d think that I’d get it together for my Zumba classes, since I have to stand up in front of classes of 10-40 people oh…eight times a week now, but I don’t.

Screen shot 2013-10-09 at 10.24.16

I giggle and make awkward conversation. Then my warm-up starts and it inevitably has some super nerdly (see: AMAZING) song in the mix, like Beastie Boys or Run DMC (see; THE BEST). And maybe when I teach I’m like, a super nerdly dancer. I actually have no idea, because I’ve never seen myself teach. I know how I feel when I teach, and that is super into it. Like, having the best time ever.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that maybe I come across as really “white,” whatever the fuck that means.

DISCLAIMER: This post is in no way a slight at the girl involved. I just found the whole experience to be so fascinating and it made me think about how we see people. I’ve been wanting to write about this for ages, but I never wanted her to feel offended. I know she used to read my blog at one point. Just in case she still does, I want to be clear. No offense intended and no offense felt on my part. (Well, okay, a little at first, for a couple days. But that’s long gone.)

Screen shot 2013-10-09 at 10.20.16

SIDENOTE: See? Super nerdly.

SIDENOTE TO THE SIDENOTE: That’s my phrase of the day and I love it.

ANOTHER SIDENOTE: That photo is an outtake from my photo shoot with the amazing Christina Louise. Check her out and hire her.

Let’s get back on track.

I was teaching a class. I was still pretty new to teaching – within my first six months or so. I was already starting to become Facebook friends with some of my regular students, which is cool. I had been befriended by a girl from Brazil. I guess I had never mentioned that my background is 100% Portuguese.

One of my favourite songs from my playlist at the time is called “Aqui para Voçes” (which translates directly into “Here for You”) by a Portuguese/Angolan group called Buraka Som Sistema. It’s a crazy techno/rap/dance something or other, with lyrics performed by a Brazilian carioca musician named Deize Tigrona.

So. The lyrics are Portuguese. So I know what they mean. I sing along to them because I have them memorized. That’s what I did during my class, but I guess this girl didn’t notice that. I guess some of the lyrics of the song may also take on a different meaning depending what region you’re from/what type of Portuguese you speak. After consulting a number of Portuguese-speaking peeps, no one heard anything dirty in the song, but maybe if I asked another 10 people, someone would hear it that way.

Later on, I got onto Facebook and saw a status from this girl, written in Portuguese, that was expressing shock over the song. I’m totally paraphrasing here, but it said something along the lines of You guys wouldn’t believe what I heard in my Zumba class today…blah blah song…it’s hilarious when people dance to music they don’t understand the context of…where do people come up with these shitty lyrics?

SIDENOTE: This is a total digression, but I have to say, even interpreting the lyrics the dirty way, I’ve heard MUCH WORSE in English songs. Like, any song on the radio. Never mind all the diiiiiiirty naughty dirty Spanish stuff Zumba uses!

The thing that really struck me about the whole situation was the assumption that I had no idea what was going on. I mean, in all fairness, yeah, maybe lots of instructors have no idea what the lyrics of the Latin songs they use mean. I use a lot of Bollywood and Bhangra songs and I don’t know all of the lyrics (for the record, I typically Google it so that I at least know they’re not filthy). I don’t think you HAVE to know what the lyrics mean if you’re feeling the music. It’s not a job requirement.

But why the assumption?

I’m not gonna lie, for a while, I was sort of offended. I’m proud of my Portuguese background. I treasure the connections I have to Africa, Brazil, and Portugal. Teaching Zumba has actually strengthened that connection, too. Dancing and singing along to Portuguese music I love is a way for me to embrace who I am. So I was hurt that someone might look at me and not see that.

I’m totally over it now, of course. But it got me thinking. We make a lot of assumptions. I’m guilty of it, too. giselebundchen300

Would you assume she speaks Portuguese? Maybe not.

Screen shot 2013-10-09 at 10.21.35

But in the same vein, why assume I don’t? (According to what people think of my face, I could speak a million languages.)

Lesson learned: When you “assume,” you really do make “an ass out of ‘u’ and ‘me.'” It’s 2013. Gay white couples adopt Asian babies and teach them how to speak German. Or something. You know what I mean.

xA

P.S. Besides, knowing how to speak Portuguese gives me super powers. Just check out this hilarious article by Kayla.

P.P.S. See also:

…and so on.

Three Hundred Thirty One.

Let me tell you about a family outing I went on when I was 6-7 years old.

I can place my age fairly well because my paternal grandparents were with my brother, my parents, and I, and I only spent time with them once as a child because they lived far away in Portugal.

We were all out at a park, taking a lovely stroll on a warm day, when I saw them:

cattails-in-lake-murray-iris-greenwell

Cattails. Whoa.

Now, I can’t say that I remember the first time I ever saw cattails, but I guess I always liked them, because I distinctly remember that my first feeling upon seeing them during this particular family outing was, “I WANT THEM BECAUSE I LOVE THEM.”

So I asked my brother, Bryan, to pick me a cattail.

I don’t know why I asked my brother to get me one, because I was a pretty bold, self-sufficient kid. Typically, it was my brother asking me to do things he was afraid to do, like climb the kitchen counters to reach cookies or ask my mom for candy when he worried she would say no.

SIDENOTE: We Beça kids loved the snacks. We Beça kids still love the snacks.

Anyway. Maybe I thought the cattails looked too big for me to pick, so I needed my super cool older brother to use his mature kid-muscles to pick one for me. He was, after all, as spry and skilled in my eyes as The Karate Kid, and he did a killer impression of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Plus he knew all sorts of stuff about superheros. All I knew at that point was that I liked Storm’s outfit.

But I digress. Bottom line is I asked Bryan to get me a cattail, and Bryan complied.

What Bryan didn’t realize, though, is that while the cattails looked like they were rooted in mossy earth, they were actually rooted (can you call it that?) in a green swamp.

He took one step forward to grab hold of a cattail and he sank right into said swamp.

Oh shit.

My grandpa grabbed a quick hold of his arm and dragged him out of the mud, which had suctioned itself all around his leg. In my memory, you could hear the “SLUUUURP” as he was freed from a fate so terrifying it might as well have been the quick sand from Indiana Jones.

SIDENOTE:

And then he was immediately rushed to the park’s public bathroom to wash off his leg and sneaker (which I’m sure was never the same again).

Poor kid. He was not impressed.

And neither was I, because I never got my damn cattail.

So that was the day my brother learned to maybe toss a stone or something to test the depths before trying to pick anything out of a marshy-looking area.

Oh wait, this blog is about my life lessons.

That was the day I learned I have the best brother in the world.

He’s always got my back. Even when I’m being a little shit.

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Plus, I mean, I wasn’t joking about him being cool. Just look at him.

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SIDENOTE: I have clearly lost my touch for the sassy over-the-shoulder pose, because I can’t pull it off today to save my life.

xA

P.S. Genuine LOL.

One Hundred Ninety Seven.

To say that I was nervous to meet my maternal great aunt would be a bit of an understatement.

One of the greatest downsides of being a first generation Canadian is that none of my extended family lives here. Everyone is either in Portugal, or in Africa, or in Brazil, or in other parts of Europe. It sucks that I haven’t even met a lot of my family, and that I rarely get to see the family I do know and love dearly.

So when I was living in Scotland, and planned a trip to Portugal, I was hit with the sudden realization that I would get to meet some of my family, and it was, well, overwhelming.

My maternal grandma lived with my family from the time I was five years old until just last year, when she and my grandpa had to move into a seniors’ home due to mobility issues. I knew that it would make her entire life for me to meet and spend time with her sister, A.K.A. her BFF. They were so close in age, and were notorious for looking alike and sounding almost identical. When my mom and her cousins were kids, they often couldn’t tell who was calling them in for dinner. (When I spoke to my great aunt on the phone for the first time, I got what they were talking about – it was uncanny!)

So anyway, I was nervous.

I mean first of all, my Portuguese sometimes falters, especially when I’m stressed or nervous, and it would be just she and I, so I worried that we may have a miscommunication, or that I may not be able to explain myself, or answer all of her questions eloquently every single time.

Secondly, I’m gonna come clean with you all: older people tend to make me nervous. Throw me in a room with like, 10 kids and I know I’ll be fine. I’m weird. I’m loud. I’m naturally (well, at this point, it’s natural) colourful. Kids love me! Throw me in a room with 10 seniors, though, and I will stare at them like a deer in the headlights. I think this is mostly due to the fact that older people tend to be the ones who judge me the harshest, think I’m a hoodlum, hate my tattoos, etc., and they aren’t usually afraid to voice it. So I always get stuck in a “what are they thinking?” panic.

The beginning of my day with Tia Milu (Auntie Milu) got me off to a panicky start.

The night before, we made our plans to meet up over the phone.

“Okay, what you’re going to do is take the train to the _____ stop, and then just get off and wait for me.”

“Okay, Tia Milu.”

“When you get off the train, DO NOT go through the pedway and cross to the other side, okay? I’ll do that. I’ll come find you.”

“Okay. I’ll just sit and wait.”

“Yes. If you cross through the pedway, you won’t find me. DO NOT cross through the pedway, okay? Just don’t. It’s too complicated. You don’t know the way. Just get off the train and WAIT.”

“Okay, I will.”

“Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“So you’ll get off the train – ”

“I’ll get off the train – ”

“And then?”

“And then I’ll just WAIT.”

“Right. NO CROSSING OVER.”

“Okay.”

“Good. See you tomorrow.”

SIDENOTE: I wish you could hear her harsh, no-nonsense, Portuguese way of speaking. Tia Milu was not a lady to mess with.

So the next morning, I took the train to our designated meeting stop, I got off, and I waited. I did NOT cross through the pedway – heaven forbid – and “get lost.” I sat down on a bench and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

After about half an hour, I noticed there was a little old lady who had been sitting almost directly opposite to myself on the other side of the tracks for almost as long as I had. The distance was great, but she looked somewhat like my grandma. I started to wonder.

Had I misunderstood?

No. It was literally impossible to misunderstand the conversation we had had the night before. Tia Milu was so adamant. DO NOT CROSS THE TRACKS. I waited a bit longer.

And waited.

And waited.

The little old lady was still sitting there. I pulled out my mobile phone and dialed Tia Milu’s number. The little old lady across the tracks reached into her purse, pulled out her phone, and answered.

Oh shit.

“Hello?”

“Tia Milu? This is Andrea.”

“Where are you?”

“I’m on the other side of the tracks.”

“What are you doing over there?!”

“It’s okay, I can see you – I’ll cross right over and come find you.”

“I told you to come find me on the other side of the tracks!”

“I’m coming – just a minute!”

I jogged down the stairs, through the underground pedway, and back up the stairs on the other side of the tracks. Tia Milu was still yelling at me into the phone, but I had zoned her out to focus on speed. I ran across the platform to where she was sitting.

“Hi, Tia!”

Tia Milu turned to me with a very serious look on her face and said, “Just a minute! I’m trying to find my neice!”

I froze.

“Tia Milu, it’s me. I’m here. I’m on the phone? This is me. I’m Andrea!”

“Oh! I found you!” she yelled into the phone, “I’m going to hang up now! Goodbye!”

And then she turned to me like I was a new person – not the person on the phone – and we started our day together.

I more shakily than she.

Algés, Portugal
Algés, Portugal

We took the train back to Algés, where she lived, and went for lunch at a really nice vegetarian restaurant. The entire time, she chided the waiter for not bringing her a steak, and questioned how anyone could eat vegetarian food.

I’m not gonna lie: at this point, I was pretty certain my great aunt hated me.

But then we both started to relax a bit. As we were talking through town, she started joking about how her poor balance and depth perception had paid off when she tripped and fell into the arms of a very handsome young man about a week prior.

“Oh yeah?” I teased her, “Way to go, Tia. You’ve gotta start scheduling those “falls”.”

I admired that Tia Milu walked around by herself as much as she obviously did – her eyesight was on a constant downslide, and at the time we hung out, she was very nearly blind. She was so old and so tiny, and yet she stomped across town with me like nobody’s business, and told me about the courses she had enrolled in at the local college, just for fun.

We walked all the way to the Vasco Da Gama aquarium – probably 20-30 minutes from where we started.

“Okay,” Tia Milu announced, “Let’s sit here. I love these fish.”

We found a bench right in front of one of the gorgeous Koi ponds that fill the front yard of the aquarium.

And then we sat.

The Koi fish at Vasco Da Gama.
The Koi fish at Vasco Da Gama. Photo Copyright Andrea Beça.

Occasionally, we would exchange words. Tia Milu would ask me small questions about myself, and I did the same. We took a short break from sitting to feed the fish from a 10 cent candy machine filled with Koi food.

“They’ve gotten so big!” she told me proudly, “Just look at them! And they know when you’re coming! I swear these fish see me and know – there’s the lady with the food! ”

I watched her coo at the fish, totally in her element. I wondered how well she could distinguish them, or if she just appreciated the colour more than anything.

And then we sat again. After a while, I realized that I was completely relaxed, and I felt like Tia Milu and I were old friends. The silence was warm and comfortable between us.

I feel like I could go on forever about that day and how much I learned in just a few hours with my Tia Milu. I learned a lot about her and her life, and I learned a lot about the town’s history, its aquarium, its college, etc. But I think the most important thing I learned from spending time with her – something that I am lucky to have learned more than once during the two trips I took to Portugal that year – is that there really is an invisible bond between family. It’s there before you know it.

Also, it’s often the simplest things – like watching Koi fish swim around a pond – that bring the greatest pleasure.

My Tia Milu and I at the Vasco Da Gama Aquarium in Algés.
My Tia Milu and I at the Vasco Da Gama Aquarium in Algés.

Okay, before I sign this one off, I have to tell you how Tia Milu said goodbye to me, because it’s too fucking hilarious to leave out of the story…

After a lovely afternoon together, Tia Milu walked me back to the train station in the centre of Algés and asked me if I knew where I was going.

“Yes, I know which train to take and how to get home, no problem.”

“Great. Well, it’s not coming for another 30-45 minutes, so we’re going to have to wait.”

“That’s okay, I don’t mind.” I promised her.

We stood in silence for a second. I thought that we were going to wait for at least a bit longer before saying goodbye, but after a very short moment – like, literally less than two minutes – Tia Milu turned to me and said, “Well, I need to buy bread, so I’m gonna go.”

She gave me a hug and a kiss and stomped away like a lady on a mission.

I waited by myself for the train before going home to my aunt’s place in Parede.

Blunt old people, man. So funny. (And a little scary.)

RIP, Tia Milu. I’m glad we got to meet!

xA

One Hundred Seventy Nine.

A random fact about me: I hate the phrase “Bucket List.”

lens1960483_1313388179bucket_list

I’ve never really thought about why it’s called a Bucket List, but now I’m assuming it’s because you’re supposed to complete everything on the list before you kick the bucket?

SIDENOTE: The only positive about “Bucket List” is that every time I hear it, I think of Stanley Tucci from Easy A, and Stanley Tucci is a dreamboat.

Stanley-Tucci-The-Hunger-Games

Anyway, despite my dislike of the term, I do have lots of random goals in life. Here are a few of them:

Learn How to Box.

Yes. I would like to box. Not really against people. I mean, I think it would be fun to box against someone, but definitely not to get boxed back. This is a goal I’m getting close to. I think I’ll be starting lessons in the next couple weeks!

Visit Africa.

My family is from Mozambique. I would like to go see where my parents lived when they were kids! I think that sums it up pretty well. Also, despite the fact that I don’t swim, the beaches there look unreal.

mozambique-fishing

Like, how does that water exist?!

Become a Roller Derby Girl.

Yup. I’ve always wanted to be on a roller derby team. I feel like I could kick ass at it…if I could stay off my ass. On the ground. After falling.

Learn the Following Languages: French, Japanese, German, Italian, Swedish.

There are others, too. I’ve just always been obsessed with languages. I can speak Portuguese and Spanish, but I want to be fluent in like, a handful of languages. Or more.

Run a 5K.

I don’t actually like running, but I just want to do it to say I have. I know I have more than enough cardio capacity. My concern would be whether I have the attention span for it, because I personally find running to be extremely boring. (No offense to runners – to each their own!)

© Sam Saccone 2008

Attend a Hollywood Film Premiere…For My Own Film.

One of my ultimate writing goals. Get one of my screenplays produced by some Hollywood bigwig. How fucking crazy would that be? I’d probably cry the whole time. (Like, the whole time: when they’re casting it, while they’re filming it, looking at the posters, attending the premiere…)

See More Canada.

Canada is a big country. I am from here, but I’ve seen very little of it. Mostly because it costs more to fly to the Maritimes than it does to fly to say, London, or France. I want to see more. Especially the Maritimes.

Road-Trip Across North America.

Related to that, I have always wanted to drive across North America. I love to drive. I love to see things. Small towns freak me out. It’s a perfect combination! Plus, I read On The Road. And everything else from all those guys/gals. I would make one of my goals, “Be a Member of the Beat Generation,” but I’m trying to be somewhat realistic here. Also, I don’t do drugs.

kerouaccor460

Sing in a Band.

I love to sing. And I know I’m pretty good at it. I’ve played bass in a band (for like, two seconds), but I’ve never gotten to be the singer. Somebody recruit me!

I’m going to leave it there for now…

Lesson learned: Life is too short. But I’m going to try my best!

What are your random goals? (If you want to use the term Bucket List, I won’t hold it against you.)*

xA

*But I will cringe just a little.

One Hundred Sixty Nine.

Let me tell you a little story about where my last name came from.

If you’re already sitting there rolling your eyes going, “Oh, riveting,” in a sarcastic tone of voice, move right along. This is the sort of shit that excites me. Deal with it.

Bird Flip

Okay, so my last name, Beça, is Portuguese. The ‘ç’ is pronounced like an ‘s,’ so my last name sounds like, “beh-sah,” or, “bessa.” (That’s where ‘contessabessa’ comes from.)

But if you trace the history of my last name way, way back, it apparently doesn’t come from Portugal, but Spain. And Spanish doesn’t use the ‘ç’ like Portuguese does. So the Spanish version of my last name, from ages past, is “Baeza,” pronounced, “bai-eh-sah.”

So I can’t remember the exact circumstances, but this one day, a number of years ago – I’d guess 2005 or so – I learned that there was a Canadian tattoo artist named Andrea Baeza. “Whoa,” I thought to myself, “She’s like me, but not.”

I did what any creepy and/or overly curious person would do and I looked her up. We even had some similar features/body characteristics.

(“Whoa.”)

And then, a few years later – in 2009 – I met her.

I didn’t even mean to meet her. I was at my tattoo shop getting a tattoo from my talented friend, Aza, when this girl walked by. She looked familiar, so I asked my friend who she was. “Oh, that’s Andrea. She’s in from Vancouver [?] for a few days and she’s tattooing here.”

(“Whoa.”)

“Is that Andrea Baeza?” I asked him.

“Yup.”

And then I explained to him that she and I had the same name, only history had separated it. She was like some sort of parallel universe me.

(Now that I’m writing it down, guys, I realize I may have gotten a little too excited about the whole thing. But it’s kind of cool, right? RIGHT?!)

“Weird. You should meet her.”

He called her over to say hello. I explained the name thing, trying not to sound like a total loser, but probably not breathing enough and definitely secretly hoping she’d find it as interesting and exciting as I did.

“Hmm. Cool.” She said. And then she went on with her day.

With totally good reason. I mean, what was I expecting? A giggly freakout?

Yeah, I think I sort of was. But I also get excited when people know how to use the subjunctive, so I’m well aware that I’m a special case.

That was when I learned:

(A) I need to get out more (still working on it), and

(B) I’m a nerd. A super-nerd.

xA

P.S. I’m well aware that Andrea Baeza is like, two degrees of separation from me on social media, so Andrea, if you ever read this, I’m sorry. And I think you’re cool and talented. And I just want you to LIKE ME.

One Hundred Four.

At some point in the midst of my serious talk with Mr. Jones in the third grade (about how I was acting out, how he thought I needed to ditch my friend Sara and start being true to myself, etc., etc.) he stopped, looked at me very seriously, and said, “Are you Norwegian?”

This is the story of my life.

On my first day in Edinburgh, I was eating breakfast at my B&B and an older couple at the next table struck up a conversation with me. This was pretty common, since I was travelling on my own and I was only 19. Everyone felt like I needed company, which was really sweet (most of the time). They asked me where I was from, where I was headed – all of the usual small talk questions you ask someone you’re meeting who is also travelling in a foreign country. Then they said, “You’re Black Irish, right?” Apparently, it was my very fair skin – but dark eyes and hair – that gave me away.

When I got to Ireland, I got asked if I was Scottish. No, let me rephrase that: people assumed I was Scottish.

(When I was living in Scotland, people knew, before I even spoke, that I was not Scottish…)

A great percentage of the people who see my last name – Beça – written down on paper immediately look up at me and say, “I thought you looked French!”*

Wait a second…

Throughout my life, I have been told I look like and/or asked if I am:

(Big breath in...)
(Big breath in…)
  • Norwegian
  • Italian
  • Scottish
  • Black Irish
  • Spanish
  • Egyptian
  • Swiss
  • South African
  • Persian
  • Swedish
  • French
  • English
  • And others I know I am forgetting…

(Big breath out…)

Ironically, the people who thought I was English were the Portuguese. I would walk into a store or restaurant and I would see the employees prepare to deal with a tourist. They would look at me expectantly, waiting for either very slow English or broken, butchered Portuguese, and when I would speak to them in their own language, they often took a moment to get over their shock. One woman actually froze in her tracks and stared at me for a good 30 seconds, like she was so surprised I spoke the language that she needed a minute to process what was actually happening. Her response came in confused, stuttered Portuguese. Then she asked me what part of Great Britain I was from.

“I’m Canadian-Portuguese,” I told her (in Portuguese, obviously).

She just stared again, then got me the food I ordered.

In 26 years, no one – and I really mean no one – has ever asked me if I’m Portuguese.

So apparently, I have a very international face, which I’ll take as a huge compliment.

xA

*So far, I’ve discovered that the cedilla is used in French, Portuguese, and Turkish, and that it does the same thing – makes the ‘c’ sound like an ‘s’ – in each of those languages. Know of any others? Let me know – I’m genuinely curious!

Eighty Six.

When I was a teen, sure, I had a good personality, but let’s face it, other teens aren’t looking to grasp onto your good personality, they’re looking to grasp onto coolness. And I had no coolness. I was overweight, I didn’t follow trends, and I hated pop music. Oh, and I wanted to get good grades, so I had no interest in drinking, drugs, or sex. What a loser.

SIDENOTE: I love losers.

In a way, makeup sort of formed my teenage identity. I couldn’t really be cool in many other ways, so I started to experiment with makeup. I quickly became obsessed with MAC Cosmetics eyeshadow, eyeliner, the whole bit. I read books, watched videos, and really just paid attention to how people I loved wore their makeup, and in the process, I learned a lot about how to apply it.

And it turned into my thing, so I wore a lot of it. All the time.

SIDENOTE: Then I shaved my eyebrows off because I wanted to draw on my own, thereby making makeup a daily necessity (unless I wanted to look like an ALIEN).*

I’d say from the ages of about 13-20, makeup was my safety blanket. And I was TERRIFIED of the thought of anyone seeing me without it. Like many women, I thought I looked ugly without it. I thought that if I left the house without makeup on, everyone would be staring in horror at the monster walking down the street. I was even afraid of letting close friends and family see me without makeup. I remember when I was 16 and my aunt, uncle, and cousin visited us from Portugal, I was livid that they would see me without makeup on in the morning. I almost cried just from worrying about it on their first morning in Canada.

It makes me sad to think back on that, but I had so little self-confidence, even with makeup on, that it was kind of all I had to hold on to. It makes me even sadder that a lot of women – hell, even a lot of my friends – still feel this way about themselves.

I honestly don’t know exactly what changed, but it certainly wasn’t an overnight thing. I guess I grew up a bit, but I also just became more self-confident. By the time I hit 20-21, I was slightly willing to be seen with a clean face, but only in the last year or so have I become totally comfortable with it. Part of this self-acceptance was forced, since I started going to the gym early in the morning and then teaching Zumba, etc., etc. (which I realize some women will still primp for, but whatever, there’s a line for me somewhere between self-consciouness and laziness), but a huge part of it was me realizing hey, I like who I am and I don’t give a shit what you think of me. That part of me realized that I’m smart, talented, funny, and yes, dare I say it, beautiful, and that all of those things come from my insides, not my outsides. I don’t care how stereotypical of a statement that is; it’s a stereotype because it’s true. There are a lot of perfectly manicured, “beautiful” bitches out there. I think we can all agree on that.

And I love when I see famous ladies I admire going around with clean faces:

Like Lena Dunham.
Like Lena Dunham.
Or Mindy Kaling.
Or Mindy Kaling.

Because it’s like, (A) it’s your face, so just be cool with it, (B) you still look gorgeous without makeup on, and (C) who has the time/care some days?

And also, I don’t know about you, but it’s how I look the majority of the time, so if you’re gonna know me/like me/love me/live with me/etc., you’d better get used to it.

Hello, world.
Hello, world.

Lesson learned: Makeup is fun, but not necessary.**

xA

*NEVER SHAVE YOUR EYEBROWS OFF, PEOPLE. It has taken me over a DECADE to grow them back, and they still aren’t the same/as full as they used to be, plus they grew back in a different, ashy colour. Just don’t. You want to experiment with drawing on your own? Cover the ones you have. I can teach you how.

**Look, I get that even I wear makeup a lot more than some women. I know a lot of women who never wear makeup, and that’s totally fine with me. Now that I’m a part-time fitness instructor and a frequent fitness participant, I get excited at the idea of wearing clothes that aren’t spandex and getting to put on eyeshadow, so I wear makeup when I can. I didn’t write this post to point out any right or wrong or solve any huge world issues, so let’s not argue. Unless you want to argue about women who think they’re ugly without makeup and should wear it all the time, because I’ll definitely stand up and say that’s wrong. This blog, though, is about me, so this post is just a little tidbit of my life. Okay? Okay, cool.

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