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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.

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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 Thirty Nine.

Ah, family outings.

When I was growing up, our family outings were modest. We weren’t going off to Disneyland or anything, but we had fun times. (Remember when I barked at those dogs? Good stuff.)

This particular trip was to a place called Half Moon Lake. I was probably seven or eight years old, maybe younger.

Here’s a photo I found of Half Moon Lake via Google image search (as usual…)

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Not breathtaking, but nice enough.

I have to admit, I’m biased. I mean, our whole day at Half Moon Lake was a bit…doomed. First of all, we got ice cream from this cute little ice cream stand/cabin thing, which was super exciting, but then my brother Bryan dropped his strawberry cone into the sand and the day was effectively ruined. Like, he was so upset that not even a new ice cream cone could soften the blow.

Then it got worse.

We – that is, my mom, dad, brother, and I – were all playing in the sand. I think I was working on the tower to a sand castle, which just means I was packing somewhat wet sand into a small plastic bucket. It was warm and sunny. I’m pretty sure I was even wearing a bathing suit. (Probably one of the last times I ever wore one.) It was almost like being on what my mom would call “a real beach.”*

Then it happened.

A little girl screaming.

I looked up, scanning the sandy area around me, trying to place where the desperate screams were coming from.

Then I realized that the little girl screaming was standing about waist deep in the water.

Oh, shit.

Look, at this point, I was already not a fan of water. And now I was watching in horror as a girl who was basically my age was SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER while standing in the water.

I was certain it was a shark and we were all going to die. Yes, even those of us who were not actually in the water.

Sharks have their ways.

The girl’s dad or mom or whoever ran to her rescue. As it turned out, it was not a shark

It was a leech.

Sucking_leechNow, at the time, I had no idea what leeches were. I just saw a black thing on her leg and as far as I was concerned, it was some sort of tiny sea monster that was somehow killing her slowly.

As an adult, I say LOOK AT IT. THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT IT IS.

So, we didn’t go into the water at Half Moon Lake that day. And now that I think of it, we never went back to Half Moon Lake, either.

Lesson learned: Sharks aren’t the only reason to be scared of the water. Leeches are also a valid concern.

xA

*What qualifies as a “real beach,” you say? I don’t know. You have to ask my mom. She’s from Mozambique. She knows her shit.

Three Hundred Twenty Five.

When I was in Dublin in 2006, I would say I went on what was a bit of a book shopping binge. You see, a lot of my favourite writers are from Ireland and Scotland, and their books aren’t readily available in Canada, so when I started wandering the streets of Dublin and finding all sorts of amazing books at cute little used bookstores for WAY cheap, I nergasmed. And bought many.

On one particular day, I had just found a very cool first edition of Trainspotting, as well as a copy of an Enda Walsh play I hadn’t read before. I was stoked. So excited. I decided the obvious best thing to do would be start reading Trainspotting immediately. While I was walking back toward my guesthouse.

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Now, it was a summer afternoon in Dublin, and I was staying pretty close to O’Connell Street just north of the Liffey (A.K.A. right in the thick of things), so the side street I was walking down was FULL OF PEOPLE. And it was daylight. Sunny. Beautiful. Not the time you’d expect anything weird and/or scary to just happen.

But shit happens when you least expect it, I suppose.

I was weaving my way in and out of people when all of a sudden, I saw a man getting pushed to the ground just across the street from where I was. In fact, being that it was a pedestrian-only street, I think it’s impossible that anyone didn’t see him getting pushed to the ground. But nobody stopped walking.

I froze where I was, trying to figure out what was going on. The man on the ground, whose hands were both bandaged up as if he had been tossed a hot iron as a cruel prank (so let’s called him Bandages), started screaming and holding onto his head, sheltering himself from the man who had pushed him down, who was now kicking the shit out of him with giant combat boots (so let’s call him The Kicker).

“Hey!” I yelled – or “yelled” (because I was terrified).

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I had no idea what to do. No one around me seemed to care about what was going on. Tourists took note and sped up their pace, turning a blind eye. I was flabbergasted.

When The Kicker started stomping his boot down on Bandages’ face, I pulled out my cell phone and started trying to figure out if I had to dial a country code in order to dial 999 for the police.

STOMP.

“Arrrgh!” Bandages screamed.

STOMP.

I panicked.

Just as my concern shifted from “this guy’s getting hurt” to “this guy might get his skull smashed open on the pavement,” I heard it.

“Hey! Hey! Hey! Knock if off, you fuck!”

Two young women had inserted themselves smack dab into the middle of the confrontation.

Not only were they young women – maybe 25 or so – but they were each pushing a baby in a pram, and the one doing the yelling – a super cute, tiny blonde – was also holding hands with a tiny (maybe four-year-old) boy.

“Stop it! What’s wrong with you?! Get out of here, you!”

And The Kicker listened! He spat on Bandages and then ran away, quickly disappearing into the crowds of people.

The women let go of their prams and helped Bandages into a sitting position on the curb he had just been getting stomped against.

“You all right? Up you come.”

He looked like he had no idea where he was (and I can’t blame him), but he was still alive and in one piece (an accomplishment, given what I had just seen).

And just as quickly as they had intervened in Bandages potentially being killed in the middle of a beautiful summer afternoon in Dublin, the two women gathered their children and went on with their day. I looked up and down the street for The Kicker, but he was nowhere to be seen, so I decided to move on with my day, too. But not before looking at Bandages one last time to make sure he was awake.

He was wavering a bit, sitting on the curb and adjusting the bandages on his hands, but he was alert. I hoped he was figuring out the next step he had to take to never see The Kicker again. In reality, he was probably trying to process what had just happened, and he probably couldn’t even hear never mind think after all of the impact his skull had just suffered.

After a silent well wish for Bandages, I kept walking.

That was the day I learned that Irish mothers are not to be messed with.

And also that the scariest things in life often happen in the blink of an eye.

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.

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.

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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 Ninety Eight.

Back to 2006 again, because I was out with some old friends last night and they reminded me of a hilarious story.

The first stop on my big UK and Ireland adventure in 2006 was London, where I stayed with my friends Cole and Kandice, who were living there at the time. It was a pretty quick visit – about four days or so – but it sure was eventful.

At the same time that I was visiting, so were Kandice’s parents, as well as two of her friends, let’s just call them Mandy and Shauna. Of all the coincidences in the world, I went to elementary school with Mandy, so on their first day in London, it seemed promising that we would maybe get along.

Did that sound ominous?

We took a day trip to Bath and Stonehenge, which went pretty well. The following day, I think Cole and Kandice both had to work or something, because I had the majority of the day on my own for sightseeing. Since I knew going in that my time in London was extremely tight, I figured I’d do a hop-on, hop-off bus tour to see as much of the city as possible.

“Oh, we’ll come with you!” Mandy and Shauna exclaimed.

Okay, fine.

To be honest, they had gotten on my nerves a bit the day before, but I was up for some company. I was 19 and travelling by myself for the first time ever, after all. I hadn’t found my groove yet.

So I got on the subway that morning and met them at their hotel, and we walked a few blocks to one of the hop-on, hop-off bus stops. We paid for our 48hr. ticket (which wasn’t brutally expensive, but I’d like to emphasize now that it was not cheap) and got onto the bus.

We had barely travelled at all when we came upon an area of London we wanted to explore a bit. I’m not going to pretend I know London well because I don’t. But we were right on the Thames near the London Eye and all that. There was a huge Dali exhibit at one of the galleries and we were all huge Dali fans – YAY! One thing we could agree on! – so we went in.

It was my one small chunk of fun time in that entire day.

After the museum, we wandered across one of London’s many cool bridges to a chunk of the city near St. Paul’s Cathedral because we knew there was another bus stop there. Sure enough, we found a small group of other tourists standing around, so we knew we had found it.

We waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I should mention now that London was having a heat wave. It was 35 degrees and SUNNY. (When does that ever happen in London?!) We were all dying a little bit. I put on sunscreen twice.

After waiting for more than half an hour, everyone at the bus stop was getting fussy. Where the hell was the bus that was supposed to come around every 10 minutes?

We waited some more.

And then some more.

And…then a little longer.

And then we started to hear noise.

Music?

Commotion?

What the heck?

It was coming from a couple blocks down. After a few moments, it became clear: a parade of some sort was going down the street. Suddenly, thousands of people came into view, all headed toward St. Paul’s Cathedral. Music was blaring. It was intense.

No wonder our bus was late. It was probably stuck in some insane London traffic behind this damn parade.

“I wonder what the parade is for…” I thought out loud.

“Yeah, who knows?” Shauna replied, “God, it’s hot. I hope the bus comes soon. I really want to see [fill in the blank with some London tourist attraction] today.”

And then our day went haywire.

About halfway through the parade, a giant puppet appeared.

Apparently it’s a famous giant puppet.

I had never heard of it, and to this day, I have no idea what it’s called or anything.

All I know is that Mandy saw it, screamed like a small child, and TOOK OFF RUNNING.

“Mandy! MANDY!” Shauna shouted after her.

But Mandy was gone. She sprinted all the way down the street, turned the corner, and disappeared into the parade.

Shauna turned and looked at me.

“What the hell was that?!”

“You’re asking me? You’re her friend! I have no idea!”

We stared at each other for a few seconds.

“What do we do?” I asked, “Do we wait for her?”

“I have no idea. I can’t believe she just did that.”

“Well…shit.”

“Yeah, shit.”

And of course – OF COURSE – there was the tour bus. Which we had to watch drive away because stupid Mandy was nowhere to be found.

“Maybe we should go look for her,” I offered, “Maybe she’s right around the corner.”

“Yeah, okay.”

Shauna and I made our way to the end of the street, completely unaware of what we were in for. As we turned the corner, I swear all the air left my body for a second.

It was a sea of people. Tens of thousands of people, filling the entire area in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

St-Pauls-CathedralThe giant puppet was nowhere to be seen, and neither was Mandy.

Shauna and I instinctively grabbed hold of one another and turned back onto our quiet street.

“Shit!” she yelled, “I can’t believe this! What the fuck was she thinking?! Now what?!”

“I have no idea. I think we’re just going to have to wait.”

Isn’t it weird how 2006 seems like it just happened, only things were already so different back then?

We all had shitty little Motorola cell phones or whatever. And of course none of us had roaming. I don’t even know if our phones even worked in London.

That was the past, guys. The past.

So we had no choice but to sit back at our stupid hop-on, hop-off tour bus stop in the 35 degree weather and wait.

And boy, did we wait.

We wondered if we would ever see Mandy again. We wondered if she was lost, or kidnapped, or dead. We wondered if she would just go back to the hotel and not tell us.

We wondered a lot of things.

It must have been almost two hours later that Mandy finally showed up. We stared at her in sheer horror while she excitedly told us about how amazing the last two hours of her life had been. Not a drop of shame or apology. Nothing.

“We thought you were gone forever!” Shauna screamed at her.

“Oh, sorry! I just really love that puppet!” Mandy shrugged.

I had nothing to say.

By the time we got onto the hop-on, hop-off tour bus, it was the last one of the evening. We took it to a part of town with lots of restaurants. Thank god, because we were all starving. Then Mandy made us walk around in circles for 45-minutes while she shot down all of our restaurant suggestions until finally we found a place she was happy with. Being vegan, I think all I could eat was lettuce. So I remained starving.

Then Mandy and Shauna insisted that of all of places to go in LONDON ENGLAND, we go to some stupid fucking Canadian-themed bar called THE MOOSE or some shit.

That was the worst.

Also, it was full of Australians.

SIDENOTE: I don’t have anything against Australians. That’s just a funny random fact.

Then Mandy and Shauna basically just abandoned me on the tube to find my way home by myself.

I got lost.

About three times.

When I finally stumbled into Cole and Kandice’s flat at like, 1am, they were both sitting on the couch in their living room like concerned parents waiting for a tardy teenager. They jumped up when I arrived, arms outstretched, worry clouding their expressions.

“My god!” Cole said, “Are you okay? Where have you been?”

I told them about my day.

“I am so sorry those girls hijacked your one day in London.”

Yes. Exactly!

Lesson learned: Travelling is an art, and when you do it with someone, you need to have good travelling chemistry. Don’t travel with strangers. Because you may want to murder them by the end of the day.

GROAN.

xA

P.S. I never got to use the second day of my hop-on, hop-off bus ticket.

Two Hundred Ninety Two.

2010, Ireland.

My mom had come to visit me while I was living in Glasgow and we took a nice long trip to Ireland with lots of time for tours and exploring. I had been to Ireland before – as you may remember from the day I cried at Burger King or my recap of bathrooms in the country – but I was happy to be back, because Ireland is one of my favourite places on earth and we were going to visit a couple of towns I hadn’t gotten a chance to go to.

One of those towns was Dingle.

Funny name, adorable town.

Dingle

It was pouring rain while we were there (RAIN?! IN IRELAND?!) so we ran around trying to find something fun to do indoors.

That’s when we found this guy.

Pirate

“Arrrr,” he said to us (in my mind), “Welcome to Ocean World!”

For a girl who is terrified of the water, I love me a good aquarium. I think part of it is the anticipation of sheer terror. Kind of like when I was five and I was TERRIFIED of Harry and the Hendersons, but I watched it on a loop. I’ve seen that movie so many times, I could reenact it for you right now if you asked.

Okay, not right now, I’m busy blogging.

SIDENOTE: But that one scene where you see an extreme close-up of Harry through the viewfinder thing on the gun? GET OUT OF HERE. Scariest scene. I used to have to watch it through my hands. Scratch that – I probably still would.

The aquarium was awesome. Not huge, but it had a large variety of species. They even had sharks, which was cool.

Sharks

I could be scared and marvel at them from behind glass. Great.

But then we got to the end of the exhibit and we hit a huge road block.

A shark tunnel.

You know what I’m talking about, right? When aquariums have huge tanks with tunnels built into them that you have to walk through?

They’re one of my biggest fears. Because I’m terrified of the water AND sharks (and fish, really) and standing under glass makes me panic because I feel like (A) I’m in the water, and/or (B) the glass is going to break and we’re all going to die.

“Where’s the exit?” I asked nervously.

“Through there,” my mom replied, “Let’s go.”

“Are you kidding me?! I can’t!”

I scanned my surroundings. There was no other way to get out of the aquarium, save going all the way back to the entrance, which felt like it was miles away at that point.

“Shit!”

“Just walk through. It’s no big deal.”

(THANKS, MOM.)

I took one look at my mom, took a deep breath, and I ran.

Shark Tunnel

My mom thought it was super funny that I was running, so she walked behind me and took a photo.

I honestly didn’t breathe until I got to the other side. Then I waited for like, 10 minutes while my mom casually perused EVERY FISH IN THE TUNNEL.

Lesson learned: I have my brave moments.

OR

Maybe our fears only exist until we have to face them.

JUST KIDDING. Still 100% scared shitless of sharks and water.

xA

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