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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.

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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!

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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 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 Eighteen.

Hey, did you guys know that exercising releases endorphins?

And adrenaline? And serotonin? And dopamine?

All of those things make you feel really good when you exercise.

Like this:

Eeeee Happy

Yesterday, I had a killer Zumba class. It was epic and I wasn’t even dressed as a superhero (that has happened and I have no doubts it will happen again). It was a huge class. There were tons of smiling faces. One of my BFFs was there. The energy was amazing. And I had a crazy ton of energy.

Add into the mix:

– It had been a ridiculously long and mind-numbing day at work. One of those days where everyone in the office feels it. At 2pm, my office mate turned to me and said, “Doesn’t it feel like it should be 5pm?” YES IT DID. So when you’re freed from that, you’re just like, WEEEEE!

– I made plans to visit my friend Annette in Calgary and I LOVE HER.

– I reconnected with someone I missed and it made me happy.

– I had been doing a LOT of texting with two of my BFFs. (A lot of texting gets my brain firing like crazy and sometimes makes me feel weird and hyper and overwhelmed. It’s why I try to take Internet breaks, but I haven’t done that lately.)

– I was feeling kind of frisky. (MOM DON’T READ THAT.)

So I taught this awesome Zumba class and I was on a fantastic natural high. Feeling peppy as fuck, really.

And then an hour later, I was still feeling peppy as fuck.

And then two hours later, I assessed the situation and realized I was vibrating. I felt like I could have gone for a 5K run and also like I should just keep CAPS LOCK permanently engaged for the rest of the night.

It’s at this point in my natural high that I should have stopped and thought, “NO INTERNET, ANDREA.”

But instead I WENT ON THE INTERNET.

Screen shot 2013-08-30 at 10.42.28Screen shot 2013-08-30 at 10.42.40

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TEXT I SENT MY BFF JOLENE: “I’m fucking high as a kite right now! On Adrenaline! That Zumba class was killer.

HER RESPONSE: “It was 3 hrs ago.”

TEXT I SENT MY BFF JOLENE: “JOLENE JOLENE JOLENE JOLENE.”

And then I ate a very sugary brownie…that was also very expired.

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TEXT I SENT MY BFF JOLENE: “WHY AM I A FUCKING WEIRDO?!

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Um….

TEXT I SENT MY BFF JOLENE: “AHHHHHHHHHH. AHHHHHHHH. Am I awful to be around?

HER RESPONSE: “Yes, terrible. That’s why everyone loves you so much.”

And also, it was like, torrential downpouring outside. And my brain is a very surreal place, so…

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Which was a total lie because I was up for like, another two hours being an adrenaline-crazed weirdo.

Lesson learned: I should maybe not be allowed to be around people. Just in general.

Also, I have really understanding friends.

Also, you can tag yourself in a Facebook status.

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But they won’t notify you that you did it.

Okay, everyone please continue to talk to me after this. Even if just out of pity.

xA

P.S. Maybe more yoga really is a good idea…

Two Hundred Twenty Eight.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with scary stories. I loved everything weird, dark, and spooky. (Not much has changed.) I remember this one book, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, that I would read over and over and over again. Do you remember that one? The illustrations were great!

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I couldn’t get enough. There was another book of stories as well. I can’t remember what the title was, but the cover was orange, and the final story in the book was about a woman with a ribbon around her neck. She never took the ribbon off, and her boyfriend always wanted to know why. Then, after being married for years and years, the woman was on her deathbed and told her husband he could untie the ribbon…AND HER HEAD FELL OFF.

DUN DUN DUNNNNN!

I loved that book. I borrowed it from the library over and over again. I’m pretty sure no other kid ever got to read that particular copy.

And then there was Goosebumps.

Goosebumps

Oh, R.L. Stine.

The Haunted Mask was one of my favourites, but I loved them all. Some of the covers were so creepy that I would have to flip them over at night or I would think they were looking at me. I grew into Fear Street as well, but Goosebumps always stayed close to my heart. In fact, just talking about the Goosebumps series makes me want to buy them and re-read them all just for nostalgia’s sake.

Which I sort of already did over the last week.

I randomly discovered that R.L. Stine wrote an adult horror novel, Red Rain.

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Naturally, I had to read it. I downloaded it onto my Kobo and got going. I had high hopes.

Okay, just in case you decide that you want to read Red Rain, I will warn you that there might be some spoilers in the next couple paragraphs…but trust me, you could probably guess them without even knowing the basic premise of the book.

The story is centred on Lea and Mark Sutter. He’s a psychologist who has written a very controversial book about raising children, and she’s a travel blogger.

Yeah, she just travels and writes about it. Which would be believable if Stine made any hint that she’s successful at it, but the way he writes it, it’s just a hobby, and that left me wondering how the hell this couple can afford their lifestyle. Also, based on the two or three “blog chapters” (cue my giant groan and an eye roll), Lea Sutter is a terrible writer.  But I digress.

Anyway, Lea travels to an island called Le Chat Noir (OMG! The Black Cat! Black cats are totally bad luck!), gets stuck in a crazy ass hurricane, and discovers two pristine, Children of the Corn style twins in the ruins of the storm.

Naturally, she brings them home.

Oh, and also, there’s some weird shit going on on the island. Like, bringing the dead back to life, etc., etc.

With the exception of the terrible “blog” chapters, the beginning of the novel is fun. It’s super campy, old-school horror. Like the whole name of the island. It wasn’t scary. It made me laugh and go, “Aha, I get it.”

I’m picking up what you’re throwing down, R.L. Stine. I got you.

But then he lost me.

It’s just way too predictable. Reading Red Rain is like watching a terrible, overly stereotypical horror movie. I mean, of course something’s wrong with the kids. It’s so obvious off the top that it seems impossible the entire book will be about that. But it is. And Stine makes the twist at the ending so easy to guess that you spend the whole second half of the book just waiting for your suspicions to be confirmed.

(Also, the twins have a ridiculous “dialect” that made me want to set the book on fire. Except that wouldn’t work, because I was reading on my Kobo…)

That being said, it was fun (and funny) enough (though maybe for the wrong reasons) that it kept me reading until the end. It was a campy, brainless read after the more serious, heartbreaking book I finished the week before. Even if, as I read the last sentence, I literally said, “ARRGHUGGGGHHH NO!”

Lesson learned: R.L. Stine isn’t scary anymore. (But he’s still fun.)

xA

P.S. I realized in writing this post that I haven’t read anything as an adult that has scared me. Not in terms of a horror novel, that is. I’ve been scared by violence and hatred and ignorance, but I’m talking about setting out to be creeped out by a book. I don’t think it’s ever happened. Now, I’m a bad example, because horror movies don’t scare me either, but if you have any horror novel suggestions, I totally want to hear them, because I’m always up for it. (Please note that I am pretty much entirely DONE with vampires. No more vampires.)

One Hundred Fifty Four.

We’ve gotten a ton of snow here in the last few days. Good old Canada: tricking us into believing spring is just around the corner and then BAM – never mind!

I have a confession to make: I used to be one of those Canadians who was all, “Boo hoo! Try living here!” every time anyone complained about getting a lot of snow. I mean, I wouldn’t go out of my way to say it, but whenever it came up. (I’m not a total jerk.)

But then I was in the Chicago Blizzaster (yes, you read that correctly) of 2011.

The amount of snow that fell in a 24 hour period was…well, unreal.

Here are some photos to make up for my lack of words:

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During the storm, I went with my BFF Margaret’s boyfriend, Tim, to pick her up from work. We were on Lakeshore Drive. To my right, all I could see was white. I knew that the massive, lit-up Chicago skyline was somewhere behind the blizzard, but it was completely gone. To my left, it looked like some sort of apocalypse had taken place. Rows and rows of cars, all buried in snow. Even police cars, taxis, and buses. And people, getting out and walking down the freeway like lost souls. Just walking away from their cars and trying to find a way home.

It was terrifying.

“Do you know where we are?” I asked Tim, trying not to sound as nervous as I was.

“Sort of. But which exit we need to take is going to be a bit of a guessing game.” He replied.

It took us somewhere between 3-4 hours to get there and back, and I don’t think I breathed the entire time.

And speaking of not breathing, on the night of the blizzard, Tim dropped us off and then went to park his truck elsewhere to avoid being ticketed during the seasonal parking ban. (Little did we know that all cars would soon be buried, so it didn’t really matter.) While he was gone, Margaret and I heard a car stuck in the back alley. For some reason (see: we’re both way too nice), we decided we would go out and try to help.

We definitely didn't have a shovel, because those were completely sold out days before the storm hit.
We definitely didn’t have a shovel, because those were completely sold out days before the storm hit.

I have never felt like I was drowning in snow before, but that’s exactly how it felt in Chicago. The snow was falling so hard, and the wind was blowing so strongly, and the snow was so wet and humid that it literally felt like I was underwater. The wind would gust and we would choke and cough and try to catch our breath. I think we all know by now how I feel about water and being under it, so this probably goes without saying, but that was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced. I actually questioned a few times whether I would stay conscious during that whole (failed, FYI) fiasco, and whether or not it was possible to drown in blowing snow.

This photo cannot capture how drenched I was. I was DRENCHED.
This photo cannot capture how drenched I was. I was DRENCHED.

Some of my own shots:

The morning after.
The morning after.
The entrance to Margaret and Tim's building...
The entrance to Margaret and Tim’s building…
Just a car in a parking spot, NBD.
Just a car in a parking spot, NBD.

Anyway, so that was the time I learned that I wasn’t really aware of what “A LOT OF SNOW” was until January-February 2011.

Respect, Chicago. Respect.

xA

P.S. Best part of Blizzaster 2011? Hands down, being stranded in Chicago with my friends for three extra days and watching all of the Planet of the Apes movies.

I think the third one is my very fave, but I LOVE them all.
I think the third one is my very fave, but I LOVE them all.

Eighteen.

I’m kind of weird about taking risks.

Some risks I’m happy to take with wild abandon, like moving to a country halfway around the world where I know ONE WHOLE PERSON, and travelling around Europe by myself. Or deciding to be a one-woman production company at the age of 19 and writing, directing, and producing my first play without having any previous experience (and it went well!). In hindsight, those things both seem pretty major, but at the time, I was so ready to take that leap of faith.

But then there’s little things I find myself too scared to do, like join a roller derby team, because what if I fall and break my already delicate tailbone/spine (or rather, what if I break my already delicate tailbone/spine WHEN I fall)? Or skydiving? Hell-to-the-NO. Or going into one of those tents at the fair where the butterflies are all loose and they fly around you and land on you? I feel like I’m hyperventilating just thinking about it!

Natural disasters are another risk I find myself constantly thinking about. I’d love to live in California, but then I think about the earthquakes and I panic a little bit.* And when I watch the news and see storms like Katrina and Sandy, I just can’t wrap my head around it. How can you be brave enough to live in a place where something like that is even a risk? (I know it’s not like it happens every day, but you know what I mean.) And how are people so incredible that they stay put, weather the storm, and rebuild afterward? I’m a total prairie girl in that respect – I have mad admiration for people who go through this stuff semi-frequently and don’t have a nervous breakdown.

Awesome.

In short, over the last week I’ve learned that people really are quite exceptional, and I’m keeping the East Coast and Caribbean in my thoughts as they recover and rebuild from Sandy. And you should, too. Throw a few bucks at them here or here, would you?

xA

*I plan to live in California one day anyway, but you’ll find me under the kitchen table (is that what you do?) crying like a small child at the first tiny tremor I feel, just FYI.

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