The Tale of the Couple That Damn Near Broke Me

Financial panic. I had a few weeks here with almost no hours before they started slowly increasing. Now I’m obsessively doing things to try and better myself. I’m making my game plan to scrub this house down completely, now that my knees will bend properly after my fall. I’m writing more, and going through the giant stacks of research I have piled around the bedroom. I’m going through all my usual job search sites, looking for something to help me afford to pay my bills and pay off my debt. I cut back on my drinking quite a bit too. I’d usually have 2 or 3 glasses of wine a night to help me relax. With the exception of a glass of wine Thursday night after my fall, and a bit of sparkling wine in my juice last night with dinner, I didn’t drink since last weekend. I switched over to fruit juices mixed with club soda. It’s helped me get up early each day feeling awake and refreshed, instead of going back to sleep for another 2 hours.

I’m trying to put myself out there in a bunch of different ways. Usually, this makes me feel really great like a giant weight is being slowly lifted from my shoulders. But my anxiety is getting in the way of that feeling this time. It seems like the smallest thing can make that feeling go away. I’m trying my best to push through it, but working in customer service makes it pretty damn hard. The nasty customers are starting to get to me.  I had a couple of Saturday night that just made me slam my head into the counter. Seriously, I dropped my head onto the counter when they left, and the customer in line behind them just said, “Take your time. That was rough.” And they had only seen my interactions with them during the sale, not the part that happened before that!

So, here is the story of a couple who damn near broke me. As usual, in order to comply with my company’s social media policy, certain details have been changed to protect the identities of those involved, and so that you can’t figure out exactly where I work. I guess they think the 7 of you out there reading this are going to incite a riot in my store to try and protect me from nasty customers or something. So anyway….

The Tale of the Couple That Damn Near Broke Me

Saturday night started out like a regular night. I was working my favourite register by the door, chatting away with customers and checking ID’s. I had the usual mix of pleasant people, happy to be getting supplies for their weekend of relaxing, and moody young folk upset that I need to see their ID before letting them buy certain things. I’m a very bubbly but strict cashier, so I’m used to people trying to give me a hard time. I can brush it off a good 99% of the time.

Then that 1% walked up to my counter. They had a cooler bag with them, and inside was two very large bottle of pre-mixed drinks that we sell. Both bottles were a little more than half-way full, so neither of them was sealed. Store policy is that no one can return an opened product unless there is something wrong with it, and they’re willing to make a product complaint. We take down all of their information and send the product off to be tested to see if there was something seriously wrong with it. Usually, if we get something back for a complaint, then other stores in our chain are getting the same thing returned to them. We get a notice from HQ telling us to pull the product while they investigate.

So Mr. and Mrs. Wankerpants come up to my counter, put their cooler bag down, and ‘Karen’ launches into her story.

“We were away on vacation a while back and bought this bottle here. We put it in the fridge when we got home, and then we saw the same product in a different location. So we bought it there, too. They don’t look the same, so we opened them and each had a glass of each one. It didn’t make us sick or anything, and it tasted fine. But we want out money back for these. There’s obviously something wrong with one of them.”

Now I’m not allowed to just give people back their money. There’s a certain process to everything. So I offered to run to the office, just a few feet away, and grab my manager so they could talk to him. No returns at all can get processed without a manager or shift leader’s say-so.

Well, Karen wasn’t having any of that!

“Well, wait! Look, you can see right here that the bottles are totally the same. The labels are identical even! These are supposed to be the same drink! But this one (holds up the first one they bought) is almost white, it’s so damn light! Look how blue this other one is! This looks like all the others on the shelves! There has to be something wrong here. Just give me our money back and we’ll forget the whole thing.”

Every time I tried to leave my till to go get my manager, Karen would start yammering on again about the colour difference, and how they bought it in a different town. It took at least three more tries before I was able to convince her that I was just grabbing the manager so he could enter a ‘return code’ into the register so I could return their things.

My manager isn’t an idiot. He and I both know that if you think there’s something wrong with the ginormous bottle of blue freeze you just bought, you don’t drink a good liter of it before returning it. He tried to explain to the couple that we couldn’t take the bottle unless they did a product complaint, which means we would have to enter all of their contact info into our computer. It’s a safety thing, in case your food or drink somehow really was poison, so we can contact you and let you know. But the Wankerpants couple was having none of that.  Karen kept trying to shut us down every time we opened our mouths.

“We don’t want to cause a huge fuss here. We’ll just take our money back. No need to send this away or anything, we don’t want to cause you all that trouble.”

We tried to tell her, yet again, that in order to return the bottle we needed to send it away for testing. If there’s a serious problem with one bottle, then there could be a problem with a whole batch of this stuff. We needed to make sure that there’s nothing in that bottle that can seriously harm your health.

“Well, there’s just no need for that! I mean, we each had a little glass and we’re both fine! This can’t be poison or dangerous, it’s just a little off. We’ll just take our money back and leave.”

We tried a different approach. There was a scandal a few years back where someone out there somehow was getting into juice bottles without breaking the seal on them. They could extract all the juice, and then refill the bottle with water. Then they would return them to the store, where they would be put back on the shelf. Eventually, someone would buy the bottle, open it up, and find water where there should be OJ. With people out there capable of that, we can’t just take back a bottle without sending it off to be tested. Then we’d be able to find the tiny traces of tampering that method leaves behind to prove what happened.

“Oh, I’m sure no one did that to our bottle! I mean, it didn’t look tampered with when we bought it! Just give us our money and we’ll leave.”

Ok, one last try. At this point, the boss flat out tells Karen and her hubby that he’s not returning her items because they are open. That means that anyone, at any time, could’ve put anything in that bottle and then brought it in to return it. He used our version of the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech: “We’ve been burned enough times by people trying to scam us that it ruins things for good honest people like yourself”.

What he didn’t tell them was that there is no way in hell that only one bottle of this stuff could be tainted like that without someone tampering with it. The colour difference was ridiculously obvious, and this is a very popular product for some reason. Even in our little store, we have a few dozen bottles of this in stock at all times, even more in the summer when people freeze it into slushies to drink on their patios. Someone (a stock person, the cashier who served them, someone unloading the truck) would’ve noticed this one bottle that looked nothing like any of the others. It would’ve been pulled from the stock and sent away for testing. And then we would’ve gotten the recall notices to pull all stock until testing was done, just to be safe.

And how do we know that there weren’t more bottles like this? Because if an entire batch of this stuff went out like this, we would’ve heard from HQ immediately after it had been unloaded at the first store. There would’ve been a mass recall, which would’ve made the news. We all would’ve heard about it. That means that this one individual bottle is the only one of its kind. And since it was bought from a store while they were on vacation in a town that is home to our flagship store (ie., the very last store that would ever let something like this out of their store because they’re just that strict about everything), then it must have been altered after it left the store.

In short, Mr. and Mrs. Wankerpants were trying to pull a fast one on us and didn’t expect anyone with a brain to be working retail.  Mr. Wankerpants caught on that they weren’t getting any money out of us, and finally opened his mouth.

“Come on hun, let’s just get our shopping done. This isn’t Costco, where they actually care about their customers.”

They wandered off into the store, little cooler bag all sealed up in their shopping cart. Security had to watch them to make sure they didn’t try to slip anything else into that stupid bag. Every now and then they’d wander past my till and Karen would practically yell out, “You’re right dear. At [K-Mart/Freshco/Target/WalMart/some other big store] they know how to treat their customers, not like here!”. Seriously, she must have said it like 7 times. They wandered around the store for what felt like forever, only to come back up to my register with Perrier and hotdogs. $43 worth of Perrier and hotdogs, to be exact.

I kept my customer service face on, smiling while I rang everything through. I asked for their points card and gave them their total. So, Karen pulls out a roll of loonies and a bag full of change. I took her roll of loonies and opened the ends to make sure it really was full of loonies, just like we’re trained to do.

“Oh look, Gerald, now we’re counterfeiting money too! I guess we really branched out from being common bootleggers like these idiots think.”

Right then and there, I had enough. I knew I couldn’t snap back at her, so I just dumped out all the change onto my counter. Then I counted out her damn $43 in the slowest, longest way possible. Why take a quarter when I can take five nickles? Oops, I think I miscounted those loonies, I’d better start from the beginning. I just dragged it out as long as possible.

Finally, I was through with them. I packed up their things, told them to have a nice day, and turned to greet my next customer. That’s when Karen had to get in one last barb at me.

“You know dear, I really don’t think customer service is your thing. You don’t really care about the customers. Maybe you should try going back to school, getting an education. Do you think you could find a school that would take someone like you?” Then she smirked at me and walked out the door.

And that’s when my head hit the counter. Luckily the next customer in line was someone I know, who also works retail in our little plaza, and who is in the same boat as me.

Look here Karen, I have an education! I’ve got two university degrees (BA[H] Criminology, BA Psychology), a college certificate (Certificate of Office Administration), and computer training (Microsoft Level III equivalency in both Word and Excel, with Intermediate level training in PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, and OneNote). I’m drowning in student loan and credit card debt, all so I could find myself a job where the Karens of the world wouldn’t be able to talk down to me like that. As it turns out, everyone has their Karens and everyone had the same idea. There are so many grads out there, with not enough jobs that we trained for to go around, that a whole tonne of us wind up working the very jobs our Karens think are beneath her. After hearing for years and years that without an education I’d wind up working retail, the very same people are telling me to be grateful I work in retail, and maybe I just need more education.

This just set off all kinds of things in my head. I was doing so well all week, and this one bitch set it all back. I feel like I’m just wasting my life right now like I’ll never amount to anything. If I didn’t have all of this debt, I would love to just keep the job I have forever. I love my coworkers and my friends from work. They’re like a second family to me. But I spent so much time and money trying to achieve certain things, and I just never did. And now I just feel like nothing.

I know, I can’t let one customer get me down, especially someone like the Wankerpants couple. They just struck a nerve that’s been exposed for too long.


I’m Gonna Feel That For A While

Hey there Sunshine, I am hurting pretty bad today! This morning it took me almost 45 minutes of slowly bending and stretching my legs and knees just to be able to sit cross-legged on the bed with the very curious Bowser Kitten who couldn’t figure out why the hell I wasn’t jumping out of bed to pull out his box of toys first thing this morning.

As many of you know I am extremely accident prone, but only for small things. I am constantly knicking my fingers with blades at work, or tripping over the empty box I just put down next to me yet somehow didn’t see. The Work BFF and I are notorious for our slips and spills. Just this week we took turns watching the security video of her wiping out in front of the registers, jumping back up, and going about her day like nothing happened. Aside from the time I twisted my back trying to avoid taking a wine bottle to the face, we never get seriously hurt at work.

Outside of work, however, is a whole different story. The morning of New Year’s Eve, we both showed up early for our beloved 6am shift. I had been getting small bumps, bruises, and scrapes all season on this shift, and only managed to get one minor back injury, so I thought we were doing pretty. That is until I saw WBFF walk through the parking lot up to the store. In the glow of the morning street lights, I saw the bruises and swelling all over her face. Her lips were swollen and sticking out like little Cindy Lou Who down in Whoville. She had a black eye, a scabby chin, and a bandaged and swollen finger that she would find out weeks later was broken. Inside the safety of our store, surrounded by forklifts, sharp knives, heavy boxes of easily breakable glass liquor and wine bottles, and a constantly wet floor from the store, she was the epitome of poise and grace in avoiding injuries. On a toboggan hill, it was the exact opposite.

We’ve been teasing each other about our out-of-work slips and spills since then. Usually, all that’s injured is our pride, and maybe a fingernail or cup of tea. Yesterday was the exception to that.

I walk the same route to work every day. Sometimes I stop in the little variety store on the corner, sometimes I stop and talk to the Huskey puppies on the next corner, but it’s mostly just the exact same thing day after day. It’s a safe route, no major obstacles to get around, nothing dangerous to aware of.

Or so I thought.

I was minding my own business, just walking across the road towards the little convenience store. I wasn’t playing on my phone, or chewing gum and trying to walk. I was just walking along, checking the traffic stopped at the stop sign. Maybe it was the fact that everything seemed so normal that made me not notice the fresh, new pothole in the middle of my path. I may not have noticed it, but the toe of my boot sure did.

Do you have any idea the kind of force required to tear the leather on a pair of steel toe boots? I don’t mean to scuff them or to buff the shine off. I mean there is a chunk of the leather gouged out of the toe of my left boot, barely hanging on but a little leather thread, right where my toe made contact with the edge of the pothole. My foot went into the hole, my knee buckled a bit, and then my toe made contact with the edge. At the speed I walk, that was all it took to send my flying with my foot stuck in a hole. Now, you don’t fly very far when your foot it stuck like that, but you still move with the same force. If you can’t move forward anymore, then that force is going to be directed downward. As in, you’re falling a hell of a lot harder than planned.

I hit the ground knees first, miraculously not ripping my favourite work jeans. The force of the fall was enough to send my backpack flying up over my head, smacking me in the face before I hit the ground. This twisted me around, so after my knees absorbed the full force of my fall, I seemed to fall all over again onto my left side of my chest. Somehow, I didn’t hit my face or head at all in all of this, although I did manage to knock the wind out of myself.

So just picture this now. I’m laying in the middle of the street. I can’t get any air in my lungs. I can feel blood starting to flow and pool on my knees, one of which I can’t move at all. I am in the middle of the street, pretty much motionless after what probably looked like a seriously horrible fall. There were five cars lined up at the stop signs traveling in the same direction as me when I fell, with possibly more that I didn’t see. Now, guess how many people came over to see if I was ok.


Guess how many people came over to help me up, get me out of the road and out of the way of any possible traffic that may come.


Guess how many people took the few seconds out of their day to roll down their window and holler out to me to see if I was ok.


I laid there in the middle of the road for at least half a minute, trying to get up. I couldn’t bend my left leg at all and was still having trouble breathing, so I did a weird crawl on my hands and feet to the other side of the road, where I could crawl up the sidewalk to a mailbox and pull myself up using that. It was quite the scene I’m sure, which took a few minutes. In that time, I heard even more cars drive past me. Still, no one stopped to see what the hell was wrong with the crazy lady reverse crab-walking to the mailbox. Ok, when I word it that way, I can see why they wouldn’t stop.

After pulling myself up, I hobbled the rest of the way to work. My coworkers could tell just by watching me walk in that something was wrong. I put my bags down and went straight to the bathroom to check out the damage. Somehow I skinned both knees without ripping my pants. My right kneecap is already turning purple. The bruises on my left knee start midway up my calf and go up through the kneecap itself. Somehow, there are no other bruises forming on me so far. My coworker, the morning angel who brought us coffee every day at Christmas and gave me a knitting set to teach myself with, broke out the first aid kit I usually use at work (for all those tiny cuts I manage to get) and helped me bandage up my knees.

I tried to hobble around the store, do a bit of stock and face up during my shift. I even wobbled over to the dollar store on my break for soda and fruit juice. I had to grab a chair and sit for the last part of my shift, though, because I was in pain. Since my left knee wouldn’t bend, and my right knee hurt to move, I was leaning on the cart and holding myself up too much. Now today, my arms and upper back are sore from basically carrying my weight around the store for 3 1/2 hours. My left knee still won’t bend when I stand, although I can put a lot more weight on that leg today than I could last night. My poor Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend took the brunt of a painful outburst when he tried to help me take my boots off after work, I tried to put my weight on my left leg and then fell into the wall. The pain in my left leg goes from mid-calf to the upper thigh, a combination of muscle strain, bruises, and what AAB is positive is a broken kneecap.

My right leg has darker bruises so far but hurts far less. I can bend that knee pretty well, and put weight on it. It just gets really sore if I’m on my feet for too long. And once I do sit down, my ankle tingles for a while. Walking funny due to not being able to really use my knees is wreaking havoc on my back. My upper back and arms already hurt from holding myself up so much yesterday. Now my lower back is starting to ache from walking and sitting funny. I tried to sleep away the pain, but AAB kept waking me up when he tried to gently check on me, and the super cuddly Bowser Kitten loves to sleep on my knees, which was a huge problem last night. All in all, I’m a huge mess today.

I have no clue how I’m going to get through work today or the next few days. Sunday is our sale changeover, which myself and the WBFF are in charge of. That means a whole tonne of lift, putting away old stock, putting out new stock, and walking around the store. My only day off is Tuesday, which will be spent bus-hopping from appointment to appointment unless I can bribe my mother to come drive me to the doctors’ offices. Right now I am cold, sore, achey, and miserable. The possibly chilly Bowser Kitten is hiding under the big blanket on my bed, burrowed far enough in that only his little nose is poking out. I wish I could curl up in there and join him but I have to get ready for work, and any time I try to cuddle him while he’s hiding he just runs away anyway.

Self-Care Weekend, Embracing My Inner Sloth

Right now there is a little black fuzzy face staring up at me from under the desk with giant kitten eyes that just scream “cuddle me”, but tiny razor-sharp claws that scream “touch me and your PJ pants become booty shorts”. He’s upset that the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend had to get up early today and head into work, and I’m sitting here in my favourite blanket drinking coffee, which means I’ll be getting ready for work soon too.

I somehow managed to get this past Sunday off, and Monday was a holiday so we both had a day off. Yes, somehow we had a full, entire weekend to ourselves. That never happens to us! Sundays are the only day I am pretty much guaranteed a decent shift at work, so I very rarely get them off. And even though AAB takes the occasional Monday off, I’m usually closing up the store and doing what feels like 37 things at once at home before work. I honestly can’t remember the last time we just randomly had an actual full, unplanned weekend off where we had no responsibilities to attend to, no family events, no huge tasks to complete, and no feeling a panic setting in while we realize all the things that we didn’t do.

This weekend, our to-do list was minimal, at best:

  1. Clean out Bowser’s litter box real good, like AAB does every Sunday so that Bowser has a nice clean place to poop.
  2. Take out the garbage.
  3. Make sure we get anything we need from the grocery store and liquor store before they close.
  4. Hydrate at some point.
  5. Watch Olympics.

Seriously, that was all we had scheduled for the entire weekend!

Ok, so AAB’s mom and aunt announced they were coming over on Sunday, which threw a slight wrench in our “go to the really cute grocery store I love, eat fresh spring rolls in front of the tv, and read a bunch” plan we had somewhat worked out in our heads.  But they were coming over because AAB’s mom bought a small freezer for him for his birthday, which meant a brand new giant box for AAB to turn into a small castle for the regally fuzzy Bowser Kitten.

The rest of Sunday was pretty damn breezy. AAB didn’t go to university, and we live in a student neighbourhood near y old university, so he said he’s always felt a little out of place.  So, I gave him the full “random Sunday night in the middle of the semester” university experience. After setting up our freezer and making a quick trip to the Multifoods for my mushroom meat and random Japanese snack foods, we came home for a quick dinner. While I ate my tempura shrimp, spring rolls, and ramen, AAB made himself tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. After throwing his dishes in the sink, he promptly pulled a blanket up over his head and fell asleep on the couch next to me. It was not even 7pm yet on a Sunday night.

I let him nap for close to two hours while I moved over to the other couch to stretch out. I grabbed my books, the wireless mouse for the TV, and a giant glass of wine. I did a little research for the writing project I’m working on (which is what’s been keeping me from updating my blog the last week or so), curled up with the super cuddly Bowser Kitten under a pile of blankets, watched a little figure skating, and then threw on some old 90’s SNL episodes.

After he finally woke up and crawled off the couch, he grabbed himself a snack and his book and crawled right back onto it. We sprawled out on our respective couches, vowing we were going to get some actual read (and in my case, writing) done when we really just sat there watching the masterful Chris Farley crash through tables and choke on polish sausage. We distracted each other with YouTube videos ranging from pipe fitting tutorials to the 1998 Bourne and Kraatz Riverdance on-ice competition performance. We goofed off, munching on snack foods and watching whatever we could click on first on YouTube for hours. We jumped between random videos, Olympic highlights, and reading each other exerpts from the Bathroom Readers we had in our laps.

Suddenly, it was 4am. We were starting to crash a bit, drunk and full of popcorn. Instead of reaching for the energy drinks I had stashed in the fridge for the weekend, I suggested making a 7-11 run for provisions. So there we were at 4:30am, me with ripped up jeans over my baggy flannel PJ pants, him goofy from tiredness, stumbling around near campus in search of caffeine and snacks. Despite my lactose intolerance, I wound up getting an ice cream cone to go with my giant coffee and container of fried chicken. AAB got himself a much smaller coffee but still went for a bunch of fried chicken.

We chugged our coffees and curled up on our respective couches, snuggled deep in piles of blankets and throw pillows. I was the first to fall asleep a little before 7am, while AAB stayed up just long enough to watch the sun start to come up. We dozed on our couches for maybe 4 hours before waking up for much-needed water. And after that…… we really didn’t do all the much. AAB had gathered up the garbage and cleaned the litter box the night before, all we had left to clean was our dishes. I made a giant plate of Chinese dumplings and leftover tempura shrimp to snack on and moved my lazy butt over to AAB’s couch while he sat in the office for a change of scenery. Basically, I snacked and napped all day in front of the TV. I embraced my inner sloth, letting myself be all adorable and fuzzy with a stupid grin on my face. I napped, Bowser napped, AAB napped. We ate random junk, he baked chicken for his lunches, I made more noodles and dumplings, and we napped more. Then we stayed up extra late to watch the ice dancing final dances.

By the time we rolled into bed after 11pm on Monday night, we were both goofy from a weird form of exhaustion. We didn’t really do anything all day. At the most, AAB took a cab to the grocery store to buy himself some chicken, and I stood at the stove for an hour cooking and cleaning. We didn’t get done any of the things we had somewhat planned for the day, took multiple naps, lazed around all day, and still, we were exhausted. Maybe it was the fact that we both only got maybe 4 hours of drunken sleep the night before and were both hungover as hell. Regardless, somehow AAB forgot that Rod Stewart and Sting are not the same person, I forgot how to brush my teeth, and we both collapsed into bed for a few hours before he had to be up for work at 6am.

Usually, I feel super guilty for not doing anything for even a morning. We both needed this weekend though. I don’t remember having this much fun with AAB in a very long time. We were both just relaxed, my anxiety was almost non-existent, and he didn’t snap at me once the entire weekend.

In the end, this weekend just re-energized me. I was in quasi-sloth mode yesterday but was wide awake at 6am instead of going back to bed after AAB left for work. Even though I have today off, I’ve been up since 6:30am and have worked through a large chunk of my giant to-do list. The adorably sleepy Bowser Kitten is so confused, he had to take an extra nap today just to deal with me so far! I’ve cleaned, written, gathered my research, cooked, and it’s not even noon yet! After a quick shower, I’m off to go do my laundry, and then finish cleaning up the house yet again!

Sometimes we all need time to just embrace our inner sloth.

You Know I Hate a Pity Party, But……..

I’m feeling like such a fraud lately. I have all my little notebooks everywhere, jotting down beginnings and ideas when they come to me. I’ve got my OpenOffice files full of blog post ideas, story ideas, notes for a few projects, and a fresh section for a major research project I’ve been putting off for years. I even went out and got a Writers’ Market magazine to go through, hoping the ‘contests’ section would motivate me to do something, anything.

And I can’t fucking write anything lately.

I woke up early today and laid in bed for what seemed like forever, even though it was maybe just an hour. I had this bizarre dream last night that I got a job writing and editing scripts for David Lynch, and the currently-napping Bowser Kitten and I moved out to LA. I just laid there after I woke up, trying to remember a few parts of the dream that I could use in my writing……. and it all just went *poof*. Every original thought I had in my head just vanished all of a sudden, and I was left laying there staring at the wall yet again.

I pulled myself out of bed, made a pot of coffee, and sat down at the computer determined to get a bit of writing done. I had a bunch of kitten cuddles from the extremely sleepy Bowser Kitten, watched a few old Tom Harlock videos, checked all my social media, SnapChatted my sister at work, looked up Jenna and Julien’s soup recipe…… basically, I did anything but write. It’s been more than three hours, and I have next to nothing done.

The truth is that I am stuck in another one of those “this is totally not how I thought my life would be at this age” ruts that is wreaking havoc on my anxiety. Just as I was really starting to enjoy running most days at home, I had to stop middle of last week because of my anxiety. I would try to put food into my body, but it would just come right back out one way or another. I got so bad that I was throwing up at work (when being at work is usually my happy place when it comes to anxiety) and was forced to sit down during my shift because I was dizzy. My anxiety has only ever been that bad once, my last year of university right around Christmas.

I didn’t have a job over the Christmas break that year, and it was a few years before the ever-loving Bowser Kitten came into my life. Since my family is really big on celebrating the holidays, I was expected to stay with my parents for two whole weeks between my last exam and the beginning of the winter semester. I had been sick all semester after being quarantined at the end of the summer with a suspected case of West Nile, and the entire semester had just drained me both physically and mentally. I was struggling to keep up on my school work and had to make the toughest academic decision I ever considered: I dropped out of the Psychology Thesis track and focused solely on my Criminology degree just so I could graduate. I had no energy, no ability to focus, and had already dropped pretty much every single volunteer and extracurricular activity I was in at that point, and still couldn’t keep up with the thesis work on top of my other classes. Everything I had been working towards for years was coming crashing down around me, right as I was about to be forced into a “vacation” at my parents’ place.

Now, I love my folks, don’t get me wrong. But my whole world was falling apart right around then. I was trying to figure out where to go from there, what to do with my degree, what I would do for money in 6 months when I was done school. I didn’t know if I would apply for grad school, apply for a career outside of this city, apply for just about any job here in the city, or try to finish the Psychology portion of my degree. I had what felt like a billion options to carefully consider, and it was starting to get to be a bit too much to handle. What finally set me off, though, was that damn “vacation” and the weeks leading up to it.

Again, I love my folks, and they only wanted to look out for my best interest at that time. But they somehow figured that in order to do that, they had to bombard me with constant questions about my future, my goals, my past goals, and my then-boyfriend. I was alreaddy at a point where I wasn’t sleeping because there was just oo much to do, but I was too tired physically to get much done. I spent so much time reading, studying, writing, and researching in my room that I didn’t go out unless it was absolutely necessary. I was isolating myself from the world in my basement-bedroom-kingdom, slowly gaining weight and not coming any closer to figuring out my life. The absolute final straw came when my mother and grandma started bugging me about my weight, on top of everything else.

My already through-the-roof anxiety hit an all-time new high then. I stopped being able to eat pretty much anything a few days before I was supposed to go to my parents’ place. Even plain broth would upset my stomach enough that I’d throw up. Pretty much all I could have was pudding and jello. I warned my parents about this (telling them it was a combination of getting over a stomach bug and stress from school since at that time they didn’t believe in anxiety) and offered to bring my own pudding. I know that your body needs so many calories a day to function, so I was trying to eat as close to that as I could as not to mess up my system any more than it already was. My mother seemed understanding, offering to grab what little I could eat and a big box of saltines for when I wanted to get something solid in me. When I made the trek out to see them, I was greated at the door with sugar-free diet jello and pudding.

“This is the perfect way to jump-start your new diet”, my mother reasoned.

I royally fucked up the next few months of my life after that, unable to fully function, and it had some serious consequences on my life now. My then-boyfriend and I rushed our relationship way too fast, with me moving in with him. That directly led to the 94-days-of-hives incident. I let one asshole professor talk me out of applying for grad school, even though I had the backing of half a dozen others because he didn’t think I was smart enough. I let people talk me out of taking a job in another province, out of a job they saw as “below me” here in the city, and out of focusing on my writing while working part-time. I had no focus, no drive, and just didn’t feel strong enough to do anything.

And honestly, I can feel that all coming back to me once again.

Last week I couldn’t keep anything in me. I have that constant jittery feeling inside me like my heart is full of butterflies and I’m one more forkful away from hurling everywhere. My brain is all over the place, jumping from thought to thought before just dumping everything as soon as I want to focus on it and just going completely blank. I stay up too late and still wake up early in the morning, even though all I want to do all day is hide under a blanket and cry until the world just goes away. I don’t wish I were dead, but I wish I could just go *poof* and stop existing.

The truth is, things around here with the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend are far from amazingly awesome. He drinks, more than he should. That’s actually how we met since he was one of my regular customers at work. He’s toned it down quite a bit since back then, but he still lets himself go way too far too often. One minute he’s asking me to keep on him about moderating his drinking (full abstinence from drinking has never worked for him, so we focus on moderation and control). The next, he’s flipping out and yelling at me for being so “uppity” with him about his drinking. We have the same fights over and over about his drinking, his finances, how much money he’s wasting on stupid stuff like cabs and booze, and his constant lying and hiding things (like more drinking) from me. Then he’ll try to flip the tables on me, complain about my debt (which I’ve been working on paying off like crazy), how much he spends on groceries (which I rarely ask him to do, he just does it), and me applying for jobs around here that he sees as “beneath” me or that he thinks I’m too old to get.

The worst has to be this constant fight we have about my savings. We keep completely separate finances. The only thing we share is rent, which comes out of my account. We each rent a room in this house, with his being a bit cheaper than mine. Every week he gives me $100, which is his portion of our rent. I take that money and put it away to save, and then pay his portion of the rent out my paycheques. No matter if I put his money in my account, pay the rent with it, and then transfer money to my savings, or if I do it this way, I’m going to be putting money away to save. Doing it this way is just a lot easier for me to handle most of the time, and has given me a bit of money saved up to afford a new place and some furnishings so that we won’t have to live in this house with random roommates forever.

For some reason, though, AAB seems to think that he is entitled to this money I have saved. He sees it as his savings too and keeps trying to make demands of me for it. Instead of getting out of this house, he wants to get a car. The issue I take with that is his aforementioned problems with sobriety. I have offered to split on a car with him, but he can’t manage to save money because of how much he spends on cabs and booze. Instead, he thinks that I should just give him money from my savings because I got it from him. Now, in my mind, once he gives me that money that is (and always has been) a rent payment, it’s mine. As long as the rent gets paid, it doesn’t matter if I physically hand his money to our landlord, pay the bills out of money in my account, or hide the money in a jar buried in the backyard. It’s my money. I save most of it, use some of it towards bills and groceries, and use it when it’s really needed to make ends meet (like when my hours get cut drastically for a few weeks). Saving that money, to me, means that I’m ensuring our bills are always getting paid and I don’t have to rely on him for additional money. But to him, me saving that money means that I’m stealing money from him. If I wasn’t going to pass that money directly to the landlord, then I shouldn’t be taking it from him at all. If I’m not passing that money right into our landlord’s hands, then I should just be paying his rent for him out of my account I guess and let him live here for free.

And he’s been bringing this up more and more lately. He picks fights over everything, doesn’t seem to want to leave this house no matter how many strange and creepy roommates we have, and just wants us to do things exactly how he wants them done right now (no matter what other plans we have made together for our future). Anything from a broken glass to me switching shifts at work can set him off. On top of this, my life is falling apart around me yet again. I love my job at the store, love my coworkers, and have been working on my certifications to become a shift leader. I’ve gotten my forklift certification and am getting my First Aid and CPR pretty soon. But if my hours don’t increase drastically very soon, then I can’t afford to keep this job. In fact, if I want to get ahead in life financially and want to keep this job, I’ll have to get a second job just to make enough money to save a tiny bit on my own. My job search is going nowhere, and the number of “Thanks for your application, but we’re experiencing unprecedented numbers of applicants, so no thanks” emails and phone calls I’ve gotten in the last few months is mindblowing. The roommate life if getting old fast, especially with the creepy roommate we have right now. I just want to be able to get our own place, get a fuzzy brother or sister (or both) for very-lonely Bowser Kitten, and live life like a real grown-up. But nothing I do is working.

Last week I made a few discoveries about AAB’s drinking and finances that he had been hiding from me. We fought a lot and spent the whole week sleeping in separate bedrooms. I realized that I have to plan for a future with him and one without him at the same time because I have no clue how long this will last with us. I couldn’t eat at all for most of last week unless I was at work, and this week is only a bit better. I was able to eat most of an omelet today, but have felt like throwing up for the last two hours since I ate it. It’s a struggle to keep the food down. My heart is fluttering like a hundred butterflies are trapped in my chest. I can’t focus on any one task at a time and am jumping between writing this, cleaning, reading, jumping around the room to try and distract myself from myself, and watching YouTube videos.  I am tired and wired and just trying not to burst out in tears every few minutes. The only thing keeping me going is the Bowser Kitten sitting in my lap right now.  He has no real cat instincts, so he needs me around to take care of him and point out bugs for him to chase. He’s the only reason I keep going every day right now. I feel like everything else is just falling down around me, waiting to crush me completely.

I need to get myself ready for work, calm myself down enough to make the walk out there in this snow storm. It’s time for more I’m Sorry Dad, fix my now-cried-off eyeliner, smother myself in moisturizer before I head out into the storm, and find my uniform. Work gets me away from everything here and gives me time to clear my head a little. Working surrounded by alcohol and alcoholics really does a number on my conscious lately (what, with AAB’s problems), but being with my work family centers me. And my shift tonight is partly with my WorkBFF, so I’ll have someone there in my corner.

So, welcome to my total and complete breakdown Sunshine! I’m going to lose it completely any day now!


You’re just so damn edgy, I could cry……

Somehow every year I wind up working Super Bowl Sunday at the store. Not surprisingly, people like to wait until the last minute to pick up their booze for their Super Bowl parties, so the place is bumpin’ most of the day. I absolutely love the store on days like that. When it’s busy, I can push all the madness and personal stuff out of my head and just not be a giant ball of anxiety for a few hours. All week, due to finances and some major issues between myself and the (Sometimes) Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend, my anxiety has been so bad that I couldn’t keep any food in me. It was a pretty rough week, and I was really looking forward to the madness of Super Bowl Sunday at the store and then eating nachos with AAB while we tried to stream part of the game (or I watched the drive chart on my NFL app since our USATV app crashed).

Now, I am not a huge sports fan. I have a favourite hockey team and a favourite football team. But because of work, I didn’t get to sit down and watch a certain team known to its fans as Da Bears play a single game this season. I follow my teams, but I can’t name all the players. I guess you’d say I’m a casual sports fan.

At work, I have a few coworkers who are hardcore into a few sports, mainly hockey and football. Two of my sweet little Kittens at work only watch championship games, like the Super Bowl, because there are big parties and food. A few others only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. And one or two don’t watch sports at all. We’re all cool with each other, and no one makes fun of anyone else for their love of sports, or for the total lack thereof. We all do that thing where we realize that each one of us is an individual person, with their own free thoughts and mind, and we are all not going to like the same things, so we respect each other’s likes and dislikes. You know, that whole “being a respectful adult” thing.

Now if only my other friends could manage that too.

Not Caring About Football

Every year, at least two weeks before the Super Bowl, my Facebook gets flooded with anti-football memes.  I don’t care about the memes themselves. If someone doesn’t want to watch football, they don’t have to. It’s this strange sense of intellectual entitlement that seems to come with these memes every year that really gets to me.

Now, to be clear, I love a good meme or pun. I absolutely adore every single post about the lack of bids at the Superb Owl this year. The “hey, why is there a concert during the Justin Timberlake concert” posts gave me a chuckle the first hundred times I saw them. And I have mad love for every single person who admitted through meme that the only reason they watch the Super Bowl is for the food and/or commercials. These are all done in good fun. The tone of these posts is more “look how fun I’m having, with this once a year event happening as the backdrop for the festivities”, focusing on the fact that they’re possibly watching the game, or the commercials, or just inhaling nachos at a rate previously unheard of in a human.

The posts that really sour my kraut are the ones that put everyone down.

I have close to a dozen friends who all seem to think that, because they don’t watch any sort of sporting events, they are somehow superior to the rest of us common folk who do. It’s not just a quick, “Well, I won’t be watching the Super Bowl today, does anyone else want to join me in doing [whatever the hell they have planned]” message on Facebook or an event invite to some alternative event during the big game. No, these friends of mine seem to have some sort of burning hatred for all organized sports and have this idea that they are somehow superior to anyone who is dumb enough to enjoy watching or playing anything. They seem to think that by not watching sports they are somehow smarter than the average person, and they love to make sure everyone knows that.

A person I once considered my best friend has this attitude. For the most part, we got along great. In fact, we were inseparable at times. We would get ready for parties together, have long movie and pizza nights, hang out between classes and all weekend, and even threw joint birthday parties together for years. We did pretty much everything together unless sports were involved.

She skipped every Super Bowl party, every hockey night (which is big here in Canada), and would only watch something sports related if one of our friends was actually playing and she didn’t have to stay too long. It never bothered me that she wouldn’t come to these events since I had others friends who were more than willing to watch games with me. What got to me was the attitude she gave everyone if they ever dared to ask her to come.  It was one of those, “how dare you ask me, an Intellectual who can see through all this bullshit, to participate in your little game celebration” attitudes that just dripped with contempt for anyone who dared to enjoy themselves with such trivial things.

And you know what? Even this stupid attitude wouldn’t bother me much from her, or from others like her, if it wasn’t so in-your-face, I’m-right-you’re-wrong, look-how-much-better-than-you-I-am all the time.  I wind up with more than a dozen of these “I’m too smart to watch the Super Bowl” posts in a row on Facebook for days at a time leading up to the damn game! These friends comment on other people’s posts about Super Bowl parties, mocking them for caring about something so trivial. Last year I even had one friend flat out tell me that I cannot possibly care about anything even remotely social justice related because I was going to go watch the Super Bowl at my parents’ house in order to check in on my brother who had just broken his knee in a horrible car accident!

The absolute worst of these Intellectual utterances comes from that once-close friend of mine. She somehow wound up as a writer for our university’s newspaper. Not content with reporting actual news or reviewing local bands, she decided that the entire student body needed to know that they had all been brainwashed into a very evil pastime: watching sports.  She argued that anyone could be taught the skills needed to be a professional athlete, such as coordination and height. All sports leagues were inherently patriarchial in refusing women the chance to play, completely ignoring all of the female athletes who have either played in male-dominated leagues or have gone on to start their own female leagues. She even went so far as to say that sports are a lesser form of entertainment compared to music, art, and writing, because these grown adults “play” a game. If you can associate the word “play” with a form of entertainment, then it must be a lesser form than true entertainment such as the theatre.

Because we all know that playwrights who write plays, and the actors who play roles in such plays, would never dare have the word “play” associated with them.

Ok, so her stupid pointless opinion piece is a rather extreme example, but her and other friends have this exact same mindset when it comes to any sports event! I once posted on one of my social media accounts that I had two extra tickets to see my friend’s son play in a charity hockey match. Two separate people messaged me saying that they had better things to do than watch “idiots chase a puck”, and would be spending the night at home reading. It was a charity game full of 8-10-year-old kids!

I enjoy watching football. When I used to have to occasional Sunday off, I would throw on my Bears jersey, grab some beers, and head over to my parents’ place to watch Da Bears with mum while we ate polish sausage and kielbasa. I also read a lot, and have a massive pile of books to be read next to my desk (and another under the desk, and two more on the bookcase, and more books scattered throughout the house). I love older video games and could spend hours playing old-school Mario games on Nintendo emulators. I love documentaries, and action movies, and horror movies, and musicals. For the last few years, I’ve spent my birthday watching local musical theatre productions with the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend. We play Pokemon GO on campus, while we talk about serial killers and criminological theories on crime. And I constantly have a variety of music playing, even in the shower.  And you know what? None of these things makes me any better, any smarter, any dumber, or any worse off than anyone else.

The point is, liking or not liking something doesn’t necessarily make you a better person than someone else. Enjoying a sport doesn’t make you dumb, just like reading Jane Austen doesn’t make you smart. There are people out there who can do both! What really matters is what you do with your life, how you treat those around you, and what you can bring to the table when it comes to living your very best life. If all you have going for you is, “I don’t watch sports because an an Intellectual I would rather sit alone at home and read Jane Austen”, then maybe it’s time you took a good hard look at your life.

Took a Quick Staycation

I ran myself ragged over the holidays, and for quite a bit of the past 8 months to be perfectly honest. I put in my 21 and 30-day stretches, worked (and still work) mainly weekends and closing shifts, and managed to out-do myself in the Christmas department this year (“fresh baked goods and handmade treat bags for everyone” was apparently my motto). I announced at the beginning of this year that the days of just being scheduled 30 days straight are over: I need a day off each week to get things done, and will only work on that day if someone asks me to cover their shift and I don’t have other things planned. Still, with a day off each week, I haven’t been able to really relax yet. I finally went to see my new family doctor for a long-overdue check-up and first meeting to go over my medical records, and then spent my next day off getting bloodwork done and thrifting for new work pants.

Oh, and did I mention that I took up knitting, jogging (indoors, in my room), and learning French?

I love organized chaos. I’ve said before, my best year in school was the year I perfected my calendar system. I love having deadlines and something to motivate me. So this year, I decided to try and slowly start mimicking that organized chaos, but in a way that is a bit more relax and beneficial to me. I love to multitask, and a timer of sorts keeps me on task, so I’ve been jogging in my room while watching old episodes of a TVOntario educational French show we watched in grade school, Parlez Moi. The past week, I’ve been doing 40 minutes of jogging and French lessons, resulting in me accidentally jogging 5km back and forth in the bedroom more than once. A coworker gave me her old knitting needle set, and I’ve been working on basic stitches the last few weeks. My hope is to make a nice blanket for the ever-chilled Bowser Kitten before winter ends.

I also started my spring deep-clean a little early this year. I’m starting with the kitchen, reorganizing our pantry cupboard and scrubbing everything out. I’ve wiped out the oven with a cloth and soap when needed over the years, but I’ve never done a full deep clean of it before. Talking to an old roommate, it turns out no one has ever done a proper cleaning of that oven! The window in the door was covered in dirt and grime, to the point it took me more than an hour to get it 90% clean!

I keep meaning to take my days off as real days off and spend at least one day doing nothing, but I always feel so guilty. There is so much to get done around this house, and so much I want to get done for myself. But this weekend, all of that went out the window.

The past week was rough. Things with the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend weren’t so amazingly awesome. Just like any couple, we have our problems and our fights, and this week was a freakin doozy. We really had it out and slept in separate rooms for a few nights before we could really sit down and talk things through. I had bloodwork to get done, ovens to scrub, walls to wash, furniture to move, all while I had no clue what was going on between us. I drained myself physically and emotionally just trying to keep myself together. Add to that the stress of work, my oddly changing schedule, decreased hours paired with increasing bills, and I hit my limit. We both did, actually. Saturday after work, AAB came home and did nothing. He watched some YouTube videos, had a few drinks, and just relaxed. Sunday while I was at work, he did nothing again. It wasn’t until I was almost home that he started his weekly Sunday chores.

Usually, this would piss me off beyond belief. He has the entire day to get a few things done (cat litter, take out the garbage, and do some dishes), and he waits until I’m home to get them done? All I want to do when I get home is take out my contacts, curl up on the couch with him, have a glass of wine and relax. Instead, I have to wait for him to get everything done while I try to unwind from my day (and this Sunday was fecked!), find something to eat, help clean things up a bit, and then plop down on the couch exhausted from my day. AAB has to be up early Monday morning, so we have a few precious hours of weekend to spend together. But this week, we took a Monday Staycation together. I ignored calls from work, and he called in sick for the day.

And it was the most restful, beautiful day ever.

AAB insisted that I stay in bed and just relax. Even on a day off with nothing to do, I’m up and out of bed by 10am at the latest. But I didn’t even wake up until almost 10am that day. Instead of getting up, making the bed, and then trying to relax by wasting time online and reading random sociological studies on mass violence incidents, I just stayed in bed. I downloaded a few new games to my phone, caught up on Instagram videos and Snapchat stories, and relaxed. When I was hungry, AAB made me eggs and toast and delivered them to me in bed. When I was thirsty, AAB grabbed my sugar-free Rockstar out of the fridge for me. I didn’t even get up to shower until after 2pm!

From then on, I did pretty much nothing all day. Instead of watching YouTube AND knitting AND reading AND working on my to-do lists, I just watched YouTube. I sat there and did nothing. I think at some point I grabbed a snack, and I know I grabbed the last of the Bambino from the night before. Other than that, I barely moved all day.

And while I was doing all that…… AAB thoroughly cleaned out the office. He said that I drive myself crazy cleaning while he relaxes on weekends, so that day I was going to relax while he cleaned.

I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it was the exact vacation I needed. I know that if we went away somewhere, I’d be so busy trying to see and do everything there is to do there, I wouldn’t have a minute to relax. Then I’d come back even more stressed than before. Ok, and I am way too damn broke to actually go anywhere. All I needed was a day away from responsibility.


This I wish I could tell…..

Grade School Me

  1. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. As a wise SNL character once said: you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggonnit, people like you.
  2. You don’t have to pick one genre of anything to solely like. Want to listen to Pantera, and Bjork, and New Kids on the Block, and Love Inc., all in the same evening? Go for it. Want to take out Stephen King, and Judy Blume, and William Gibson from the library in one go? Then just do it.
  3. When you audition for a school play, and the director/teacher says you can either stay and watch the other auditions or go back to class, stay. Sit around, watch the auditions, relax. It’ll pay off.
  4. When you feel the need to tell off your basketball coach, don’t. If there’s a serious issue, go tell mum and the principal. And if you do tell him off, and he says he’ll pretend he didn’t hear you, don’t take out the sheet of paper you’ve been rehearsing from and say “Well, you can’t pretend you didn’t read it!”.  This isn’t going to end well if you do.
  5. Write. It doesn’t matter if no one else reads it right now, or if someone else doesn’t like your writing. You’re not writing for them, you’re writing for you. Just keep at it.
  6. When you go to cross country practice, actually run.  Don’t walk the course. Trust me, actually running during practice makes a big difference when you get to the meets.
  7. You don’t need to follow every piece of advice you see in fashion magazines. You will have your own style if you just let yourself be you. You don’t need to try and become some sort of carbon copy of an ad in a magazine.
  8. Don’t wear second-hand makeup. Just because grandma liked that one concealer stick for a while before getting rid of it doesn’t mean it will look good on you. She tossed it because it looked orange. You’ll have orange dots on top of your zits. Just don’t.
  9. Don’t bother worrying about what the cool kids are doing, or trying to impress them. Just because they’re cool right now, this very moment, in your grade school, does NOT mean they’re going to be cool everywhere you go. And who knows, someday when you’re in your late 20’s you may just open up the paper to see surveillance video images of one of those cool kids, with an article saying they’re wanted in relation to a string of small robberies and dealing meth to high school kids.
  10. Don’t keep a diary. Your sister and cousin will find it and read it and mock you for months about it. Keep a journal of creative writing instead. At least if they try to mock you about that, they won’t have any personal information to try and use against you, like the name of your crush while he’s standing right there next to you.

Myself in High School

  1. You know that kid with the bleached yellow hair on your bus that creeps you out and makes fun of you as soon as you move to that school? He doesn’t matter. So what if he doesn’t like you. You don’t like him anyway, so why the hell should his opinion of you matter? You think his friends are pretty cool, so don’t let him push you to be an outcast. You’ll find out much later in life that a lot of the things he tells you, and a lot of the things he says other people think and say about you, are complete lies.
  2. When you meet that cute weird guy who randomly sings to himself in class and is a total goofball, the one you wind up with a crush on for four freaking years, just talk to him. Anything. Try “hi, I’m new here”, or “what are you singing” maybe. Just say anything.
  3. And when you that boy comes to talk to you after an embarrassing drama presentation, let the boy talk! It doesn’t matter if you’re upset and crying, find out what he has to say! Otherwise, you’re just going to hear more lies from that damn yellow-haired boy and you’ll just admire the adorable goofball from afar for the rest of high school.
  4. Just because a guy likes you, doesn’t mean you have to date him. And if you do choose to date someone, the second he tries to tell you what you’re “allowed” to do as his girlfriend and who you’re “allowed” to be friends with, suddenly remember that you’re not “allowed” to date a controlling, manipulative jerk and leave. You don’t need that in your life.
  5. Just because you get picked on doesn’t give you carte blanche to pick on others. You don’t get some special “get out of jail free” card that lets you make fun of other people and be a general asshole to them just because you get picked on too. You’re better than that.
  6. You want to play the guitar, then practice! It doesn’t matter if you’re family laughs at you, or your boyfriend says you suck. If you like it, do it.
  7. Keep writing. Every chance you get, write. Challenge yourself to become better.
  8. You’re really smart, and that’s a good thing. Don’t get pressured into dumbing yourself down. Don’t take lower level classes just because they seem easier, or you won’t have to study as much. Work your ass off, get good grades, join a club or a team. Don’t let others pressure you into being less than you really are.
  9. When adults give you advice based on where they see the world going because of the introduction of the internet, nod and smile politely and just keep doing what you’re doing. I’ll tell you right now, the entirety of world news is not being handled by a few dozen journalists for only three newspapers worldwide. People still buy books and magazines, and now there are blogs and social media you can look forward to. Throw yourself into your writing, throw yourself into all new social media as it emerges. The internet is going to open up opportunities for you, not destroy them like you’re being told. Just keep going with the flow, stay true to you, and keep doing what makes you happy.
  10. You have a lot of passions building inside you that you are completely allowed to immerse yourself in, even if your ideals and interests are nothing like those of the people around you. Learn about politics, even if yours are different than your parents. Dabble in vegetarianism on your own terms. Chop off your hair, dye it, pierce your nose and your ears and wear black eyeliner every day if that’s what makes you happy. Read and write as much as possible, even if it’s all nothing like what everyone thinks you should be reading and writing. You have a heart and a voice that need to develop, and they will be yours and yours alone. Don’t let the people around you tell you that your mind is wrong because it’s not like theirs. Variety is the spice of life, and you’re more “cayenne pepper and cilantro” than the “salt and pepper” you’re being fed. Stay true to you.
  11. When it comes to choosing what to do after high school, look at ALL of your options. You’re going to have some people with very strong opinions, people who think they know what’s best for you, and you will pressure you into doing what they think is right for you. You don’t have to listen to them. You will have the money to apply to school and programs you want when others refuse to pay your application fees unless you do what they think is best for you. You can look at other universities, other cities, other countries. Look at college, look at taking a year off if you’re unsure. Look at scholarships and bursaries so you have some degree of financial independence. Don’t just look at what you feel you’re supposed to look at because that’s what you’re told you’re supposed to do. There is a huge world out there, with endless opportunities at your age. No choice is completely right or wrong, as long as it’s your choice and you make it for yourself.

Myself after high school (19 years old and my early 20s)

  1. “Ninja” is not an occupation. No one in this country gets paid to be a “ninja”. You really shouldn’t be impressed that a guy claims to be a “ninja”.
  2. No one owns you. No one has total and complete say over what you do except for you. Don’t let someone convince you that they know entirely what’s best for you. Yes, you can listen to opinions, but you have the final say.
  3. The second a man lifts his hand to you, leave. You’re not going to calm him down by staying with him. He’s not hitting you because he loves you and you screwed up somehow. He’s only going to get worse.
  4. Save some damn money! There’s no shame in working retail or food services. But don’t go blowing your measly paychecks eating out and hitting the bars. When your car breaks down, gas prices go up, you want a tattoo (which you never did get because you had no money, btw), and you walk through the soles of your favourite boots, you’ll be glad you had money saved in the bank.
  5. Go get your Smart Serve and apply for bartending jobs. If not, people will be telling you for years that with your personality, you would’ve made a great bartender. So just do it, find out if they’re right. Bartenders make great tips, and you don’t have to work in one of those sleazy clubs downtown either. There are great places and restaurants all over this town, despite what people will try to tell you.
  6. If your parents are offering to pay for schooling for you, take them up on it. You don’t have to commit yourself to full-time classes, and you don’t have to plan out your entire future this very second. Take the classes you want to take. Work part-time. Study hard. Learn more about yourself without the student loans you would otherwise have to take out. Even if you don’t wind up in a career in that field, or you change your major a few times, you’ll learn more about yourself and open your mind to new ideas and experiences.
  7. Keep writing. Find others who write. Learn from each other. Ask for help. Challenge yourself. Embrace your position at a local magazine, find a mentor there. Enter contests. Get rejected. Learn to deal with the rejection. And then write some more.
  8. Don’t settle. Doesn’t matter if it’s guys or jobs or school, don’t settle. Explore the world, go for the jobs you want, and never date any guy who isn’t worth your time.
  9. If you still haven’t decided on schooling yet, do some damn research. Don’t just pick a program because your parents want you to take it, or it’s only one year to get a certificate, or your friends are looking at it. Look at the schools, look at the programs. Figure out which ones interest you. And for the love of all things sacred, do some damn research into how the hell you’re going to pay for all this too! Don’t just rely on student loans.
  10. You parents aren’t going to like every guy you bring home. But if they really, truly seem to hate a guy, hear them out. There may be something about him that you can’t see at the time. As outsiders to the relationship you know you pretty well, they may pick up on certain behaviours from him early on that can turn into something major later. Basically, if your parents don’t like a guy because when he snaps you jump, they’re worried about what will happen that one time he snaps and you don’t jump. And that time does happen, it’s not pretty, and it’s damn painful.

Me in my late 20s.

  1. Seriously, I know you didn’t look into all your options when it comes to financial aid, and you’re going to finally go back to school. Before you apply for those loans, look at ALL your options. Yes, you can still get the loans, but you need more than that so that you don’t wind up $59,000 in debt by the time your degree is done.
  2. While you’re at it, look at scholarships and bursaries again. There’s always new stuff out there, and now that you’re a mature student you qualify for a bunch of new ones.
  3. You should still be writing. It doesn’t matter if other people think it’s a waste of time, or if you’ve never had anything published before. It’s what makes you happy. Start a blog, sign up to write reviews for websites, anything to keep you busy. Enter contests. You could make a bit of money off of it too, which could help pay for school.
  4. Keep up with new social media. Take classes in it, if you can. As much as people groan and complain about it, and think it’s just some silly fad, there are going to be people paid decent money to manage the social media for companies and corporations soon enough.
  5. If it saves you money, there’s no shame in living with your parents while you’re a student. This goes doubly true if you’re getting student loans, so that loan money doesn’t get eaten up by rent.
  6. While we’re talking about your loans (yeah, this is a huge thing for you later in life), don’t spend them all! Every time you get a loan, put some away in savings. If you’re working while you’re in school, put a little bit of each paycheck down on your loans. Start paying them back while you’re still in school.
  7. Make a damn plan. Then a backup plan. Then a backup plan for your backup plan.
  8. Build your resume. You don’t need 7 volunteer position in two years that you barely show up for. One or two that you’re really committed to, that shows you have the dedication and a good work ethic, and prove that you’re willing to go above and beyond (by volunteering outside of paid work, in this case) go a long way on a resume.
  9. You only need one credit card. And pay it off! Don’t carry a balance. Debt just builds and builds and builds until suddenly it feels like it’s smothering you. You don’t need that on top of your student loans. Use your credit card for emergencies and online shopping only.
  10. Ok, if you’re going to go back to school as a “mature student”, then take it seriously dammit! You’re not there to live that student life and blow off class to go to frat parties. Yes, you can have fun. But you’re paying a tonne of money to be there, and you need to do well. At some point, you’re going to have to think about graduation and grad school and your future. There’s so many more option open for you if you just do your damn job as a student and work your ass off. You’re good at it, so freakin do it.

Me in my 30’s (now)

  1. Save your money. Save up as much as you can. Just start stashing it away and don’t spend it. You’ll need it soon.
  2. Do whatever you can to pay off those credit cards. If it means moving back in with your parents for a while to save on rent, then just do it. Swallow your pride and do what you have to do.
  3. Retail is not a bad job. Stop thinking to apply for that job at the liquor store is beneath you. You wind up loving it and you’re damn good at it. Just because you have degrees doesn’t mean you’re going to find another job anytime soon.
  4. You’re going to get rejected for a lot of jobs. Like, a tonne. Some of them are going to damn near destroy you. Learn to handle the rejection and just keep applying.
  5. You still need to write. Even if everyone else thinks it’s a stupid waste of time, a hobby you should’ve grown out of years ago, keep at it. Find websites to write for. Write reviews. Write short stories. Blog. Whatever keeps you writing, do it.
  6. Spoiler alert: you hate living with roommates! Seriously, it drives you insane. All you want in life is to get a place where you can walk from the bathroom to the bedroom naked after your shower, and not have to talk to random people every time you want to use the microwave. All that money you should’ve been saving would make a great downpayment on a little house in the area right about now, wouldn’t it?
  7. You are going to fall madly, hopelessly, head-over-heels in love. He will be perfect for you in every single possible way. He knows when you’re sad and cuddles up to you to cheer you up. He loves to curl up on the couch to watch tv or while you read a good book. Yes, he will do things to piss you off sometimes. Yes, you two will fight. But there is literally nothing in the world you wouldn’t do for your one true love, your Bowser Kitten. From the moment you bring him home, he has your heart. You will spend the rest of his life trying to better yourself to provide a better life for him. And yes, he will eventually learn to love curling up in your lap while you’re on the computer. Just give him time.
  8. You’re going to lose grandma. You’ll almost lose mum. Your brother is going to move to another continent for a while. You’ll lose one fuzzy brother but gain two new fur siblings. You’re going to be faced with the people you love and the heart disease, and cancer, and depression, and addictions, and mood swings. A lot of shit is going to happen in a very short time, and it’s going to feel like you can’t handle it all. Hang in there, you’ll get through it.
  9. Speaking of all that heart disease and cancer: take care of yourself better! Once you quit smoking, don’t start again! Cut back on the drinking. Get up off your ass and exercise. Make smoothies and fresh muffins. Learn to eat better and move more. You’re already going to spend a lot of time sitting down while you write. Throwing in a bunch of soda, junk food, and red wine in the mix isn’t going to help much. In fact, it will only serve to exacerbate the genetic betrayal that is your legacy. So get up, right now, and take a walk. Do some yoga.
  10. Seriously, you and your Work BFF have a tonne of material in your heads. Be goofy. Make Vines. Make YouTube videos. Do stand-up.