Raise Your Hand if You Feel Awkward Right Now

They tell me that experience is the most brutal of teachers.

I agree, but I don’t want to talk about that today. Today I want to talk about experience being that teacher that is awkward and makes you slightly uncomfortable, but is also hilarious in an understated way. You know, like the male teacher who freezes and turns crimson whenever someone yells “tampon!” (Maybe this didn’t take place as often for most people as it did for me, but I digress…) Today I want to share some of the weirdest, most uncomfortable experiences that have turned out to serve as great pearls of wisdom in my life.

Why Confidence Wins Every Time: When the neighbouring community built an indoor leisure centre, friends and I would spend most of our free time hanging out there. “Romance” would bloom over greasy french fries and sweaty hand holding at local hockey games. The pool had a water slide, and if you put all of these components together, you have a twelve-year-old kid’s Shangri-la. I remember one particular afternoon after swimming, sitting in the change room waiting for my friends to finish stuffing their bras and applying the mascara I wasn’t allowed to wear yet. I was feeling ugly, jealous and petty. I heard a grunt and looked over to find a middle-aged woman completely nude on the bench next to me. I had no idea what to do or say, so I just did the awkward turtle and moved my shoulders around a lot. I kept thinking “Should I leave? Does she want privacy? Am I creepy for sitting here? I should leave. No, wait. That seems rude. That might make her think that she is making me uncomfortable.” I settled on staring at the ground, watching her out of my peripherals. She was a large woman, covered in stretch marks and sporting undergarments that would make a nun chuckle. She did not look up even one time; she didn’t seem to notice my presence at all. Out of nowhere, two tall, beautiful twenty-somethings in a bikinis floated (yes, floated, beautiful people seemed to defy gravity in my adolescent mind) past, one muttering “Take that shit somewhere else.” A wave of pity and embarrassment for the woman washed over me then, and I stared at the ground even harder. I couldn’t believe it when I heard her call “Do you have something you’d like to say to me?” Fuck looking down, this was an invitation to a party where shit was about to get real! The two women stopped and gave each other a shockingly ugly expression of what I can only assume was horror. The beautiful blonde replied “Um, no.” and they continued to float. Nude Lady wasn’t having it, though. She stormed up to the duo and said “Listen, perky tits, when you get to be my age and realize what’s truly important, you’ll be sad that you didn’t have it in you to let those perky tits of yours hang out while you still had ’em. Take your friend and your tramp stamp and get out of my face.” Perky Tits and her friend walked away defeated, and Nude Lady went back to putting on her bra. That’s the day I stopped seeing beautiful people floating above ground in my head. I left that change room hoping that I had the balls to be half the woman Nude Lady was.

Why Being Kind Matters: One day in what I believe was fourth grade, I was walking through the halls of my elementary school, about to go stand in the washroom and pretend that I was peeing to avoid math. I had learned that if I dragged my hand along the railing and pretended to walk like I was a piece of spaghetti there and back, I could shave a solid 15 minutes off of that horrendous class. So, there I was, walking like spaghetti and minding my own business when I was abruptly pulled into a hug by a crying woman who I did not know. In between sobs, she told me that she was so thankful for her daughter having a friend at this new school and that she’d heard all about me. When she pulled away and saw my confused expression, she asked if my name was Alyssa. I awkwardly informed her that it was not. She ruffled my hair and walked away looking horrified. Although I was shaken, I was sort of wishing that I was Alyssa, because I hadn’t ever been so warmly embraced for doing nothing before. I wanted adults to weep over my kind gestures, too. Later on I saw this in a less narcissistic light, of course, and I finally understood that small expressions of love may not feel like much effort in the making, but could be the band-aid on the wounded heart of somebody else. Important stuff. Kudos to you, Alyssa, whoever you are!

Why Patience is a Virtue: This is a two-in-one. I was in my doctor’s office recently, and I was not having a fantastic time. The waiting room was jam-packed, every seat filled by a rump. I think it’s a general rule that people feel more comfortable ripping a fart when there’s that many other people in the room that could be blamed for it, so there was a lot of that going on, as well as incessant chatter from the two women on either side of me. One was very upset, and the other was trying to comfort her. The only problem here is that they would put their arms around each other sort of over top of me. I asked numerous times if they’d like me to move so that they could sit side by side, they said no and looked annoyed that I would interrupt or eavesdrop on a conversation that I was literally in the middle of. Farts. Coffee breath. Crying. NO. I stood up and told them that I wanted one of their seats because they were driving me crazy. They looked hurt, and everyone in the room became quiet and looked at me like I was an asshole, which I did not understand. That same day I went into the grocery store, looking for something that I can’t recall now. Apparently I couldn’t recall then, either, because when I asked one of the young stock boys about it, I had totally forgotten what I was looking for. The voices got really, really loud and then I started crying. While I was crying, I picked up a  honeydew melon and shook it out of frustration. When it still wouldn’t come to me and the discomfort of the situation became too much, I left the store. Later on, I remembered the two women I had raised my voice to, and remembered that they, too, were struggling with something that I didn’t know anything about. I remembered the stock boy, and how even though I was crying and grunting and shaking that melon, he didn’t become edgy or irritated. He didn’t ask me if I was crazy, and didn’t interrupt me at all except to ask what I can only assume was “Are you alright?” I learned (and I’m still learning) that I don’t have to understand everything. What I must do is understand that if I want people to be patient on my way to figuring it out, I have to do the same for them, even if I DO find them insufferable.

So there it is: Experience, the most awkward of teachers.The most wise and weird and beautiful and awful of teachers. I suppose, if we must shake melons and walk like spaghetti and see other people naked, we must at least be able to tell a great tale as a result.

If This Post Were an Elton John Song, Which One Would it Be?

Hindsight is 20/20.

That is the most annoying and inconvenient concept ever. I know it’s important, but everything that’s important is annoying and inconvenient. In becoming who we are, we feel compelled to face and take responsibility for who we’ve been. Think about it like this: You’re sitting there in the morning, eating your bacon or your grapefruit or, if you’re like me, pizza from the evening before. You’re sitting there, you’re reading the paper. (More than likely you are reading your Facebook feed.) Your eyes scroll past a name, a face, and you stop. You recall that name, that face. You remember what you said that day in November during your tenth grade English class. You recall that is was a terrible thing to say. In retrospect, the entire conversation was unnecessary and cruel. BAM! You are faced with a jaded, ugly version of yourself. This is A Christmas Carol, and you are Ebenezer Scrooge.

Maybe you can’t recall a moment like this. Maybe it’s possible that you have not wounded another, at least not enough to feel gripping remorse. I wouldn’t believe you if you said it, but if it is true, hats off to you. I can recall many of these moments, and I’m sure that there are many more than I can ever begin to remember or keep track of. Though I know that I am not the person I was when the words were spoken, it doesn’t change the fact that they rolled off of my tongue.

Now, when you’re trying to get right with yourself, when you’re trying to accept the world and the people in it for what it is and who they are, it means that you have to get right with ALL of it. I know that I can’t undo what’s been done, just like the people who hurt me can’t give back what’s been taken. It’s not ctrl alt del up in here. I’m not saying that the people I hurt lay weeping at night over the things I did, but I feel a little pang when I imagine that possibility. I guess I don’t want to give the impression that I’ve always been a peaceful, forgiving person, because it’s not true.

I was a total dickfart in some instances. And I could pass the buck by saying “The past is the past,” or “People change.” But I don’t feel like doing that. It doesn’t feel sincere, and I will never reach any of my goals without sincerity. So when I’m eating last night’s pizza and cruising Facebook, and I see that name, that face, I will apologize, because that’s what is honest and that is what is right. How the message is received does not concern me. I mean, I hope they don’t say “Fuck off and slide ass first down dick mountain,” or “Yeah, you were a MASSIVE douchebag.” But if they do, well, that’s the way that they feel. And they should feel whatever way they feel.

Anyway, I’m forgiving and seeking forgiveness. I don’t want the only mark I leave on people to be a skidmark from shitting on them. That’s not gonna jive with the year of change. What are you attacking this year? Find me here, Facebook or on Twitter. Let’s wheeze on the buffest, buuuuuddy! I promise I won’t be an asshole.

P.S: Cyber Hi-5 to anybody that knows which Elton song it is.

Here’s To It

It’s New Years Eve.
I don’t usually buy into the hype that is December 31. I mean, yes, I put on a cocktail dress and proceed to get belligerently drunk, but that’s about as far as it goes. I’ve never been the type to make any solid resolutions, and if I have, they were usually carried off in a cloud of smoke before the ball dropped. However, I feel a bit of magic tonight, my friends.
I’m spending the evening bundled up in front of my screen, and I feel great about it. Tonight there won’t be any tights or heels or curls or company, and I think I need it to be this way. Something is tugging at me, calling to me to reflect. The more that I sit here reflecting, I feel the urgency behind my fingertips, so here I am. When I sit with the weight of 2013 in my lap, I recall just how heavy it was. I say heavy because it feels right, but a lot of the weight is made up of triumphant moments, the kind that never leave you. As I run my fingers along the months passed, I feel both fearful and delighted to leave it behind.
2012 was the year I refer to as “the Aftermath.” 2013 has been the year that I now call “Adaptation.” I feel as though I’ve grown into myself a little more as every day was taken down with the sun. I have been confronted with the truth, which has been bitter and hateful, and yet, full of clarity and immense beauty. I have come to understand that life can never be any one thing at a time, and in a way I feel grateful for its erratic patterns, I don’t know if I would find the world interesting enough to live in without the burden and blessing of feeling everything at once. I won’t let this year unfold. This year I want to unwrap it, finding whatever I find. And so it is that I will name 2014 “The Change.” I want to dive in headfirst, step off of the edge. I want to take accountability, make goals, and rise to meet them.
Like a great many portions of the posts that will be written tonight, I’m going to share with you my resolutions. There is a certain freedom (and fear) in putting them out for the world to observe. I don’t want to let life happen to me this year, I want to make life happen for me. So though they are few, here they are:
1- Expect nothing:
This sounds ridiculous when I see it on my screen. What I mean is that I do not want to walk through the door of the new year with expectations of what it may bring upon me. I think that these kind of expectations create limits, and limits are one of the things I’m saying “Auf Wiedersehen” to, for I no longer need them if I know the truth. The truth is that there are no guarantees for golden years, and I no longer wish for them, either. If I expect nothing, I am prepared for anything. Just because life paints guidelines doesn’t mean I can’t paint over and beyond them. I will move through the inevitable storms with desire for something more. Along with that hunger I will need to…
2-  Have Courage:
It makes me sad to think of the many opportunities that have slipped through my hands because I was too afraid to hold them. It’s kind of sick, isn’t it? The way some of us would rather fail by default than to fail as a result of trying; really, truly trying. I want to be brave. And if I can’t be brave, I want to take the leap anyway. I want to thrust myself into chaos, dance with chance, and, when I thrust myself into a number I can’t move through gracefully, I want to trust myself enough to follow the tune to the end. And with that being said, I’m going to need to learn to…
3- Accept Failure:
It’s just not feasible to imagine a future where failure doesn’t exist. It does. It licks bungholes, but it is a very real and necessary part of whatever this life is. I am going to try to imagine failure as less of a feeling of defeat and more like a minor hiccup. If I am failing, I am learning, growing. I want to be tall, like a sunflower under the sun of experience. I’ve been told that it’s okay to fail quietly, and while I’m sure that works for some, it won’t do for me. I will fail colorfully. I will fail with a face twisted into an “ugly cry” and a mouth full of foul words.
4- Embrace the Quirk:
I want it out in full force for everyone to see. I guess, mostly, this year (along with the help of the internet) taught me that my quirks aren’t all that quirky. They’re pretty normal, actually. I won’t hide beneath the blanket of normalcy. I don’t think it was concealing much, anyway.
5- Choose Life:
The final and most difficult resolution. While it’s fun to have grand, sweeping thoughts of finish lines and warm embraces, it’s quite another thing to apply this passion to everyday life. To wake with purpose, to choose to create these moments and these milestones under the weight of the pressure and the expectations of other people. To do the work that is required to feel a beating, grateful heart. This is what I desire and fear most of all. To choose life, to say yes, would be a feat to be celebrated.

Oh, yeah. I have to mention that I’m so glad to have you along for the ride. Thank you to everybody who clicked “follow.” Thank you to everybody who has had the great courage to share with me their wounds and given me perspective. Thank you to everybody who shown up to hear me speak when I was sure that I had nothing to say. I’ve always had the voice, but you gave me an audience. This blog has been the best journey I’ve ever started, and I can’t wait to share with you the trials and the triumph that awaits me in 2014. I can’t wait to see where 2014 leads you.

“Somehow, we’ll  find it. The balance between what we wish to be and what we need to be. But for now, we simply have to be satisfied with who we are.”