Sunday, November 4, 2018

Breaking up

They say a lot of things when your heart breaks. It's better to have loved and lost, you only know what you had when it's gone, it takes time, you have to move on, you don't have to move on, it was for the best, you'll learn from it.

My heart broke unbeknownst to me, one fraction of an hour at a time, for years, until I found myself refreshing my email inbox, waiting for something new to appear from him, and slowly realizing that it won't. They say a lot of things when you are mourning the loss of a person you loved, but when you find yourself standing outside the building where you used to work, half hiding, half hoping for a familiar face, where are the words to move on from the people that had become your second family?

I worked in the same place for eight years.  There, we laughed over Star Trek, and cried over boys, and in December, our boss would put on a Santa hat and sing Christmas carols in the lobby even though he was the word's busiest man. There, a donut, from him, sat on my chair if I had a bad day, and a poppyseed bagel with cheddar and tomato was the start to a Monday. There, Eric ran a half-marathon by my side when I was dehydrated. There, Sam and I drank the world's largest peppermint mochas and discussed why Mark's Work Warehouse is actually a respectable store to shop in. There, I fell on the ground in the haunted house we made with Amy, because the garbage bag I wore got in the way. There, we saved a baby bat, and a barbershop trio came in to serenade me, and Shawn took apart a drain pipe because I dropped my ring in the sink, and Scott brought me three hundred empty cardboard boxes when I asked for five, and Julie called me, though she had moved to the south end of the city, to say good-bye. There, love was, in little rays of seven and half hour stretches a day. I never expected this life to mean so much to me still.

With each interview, there is no one like my boss. With each job offer, I find myself succumbing to the brokenness of a five year old with a lost doll. They say you need to put yourself out there, to give other people a chance, but nothing feels like family anymore, even three years later. I think this is where they would say I'm not yet ready to move on, the way they would had I begun to date again after a heartbreak. I never thought losing a work family could mean as much as it has here, but I am nobody to them now, and I am nobody to the face interviewing me this week. This too, shall pass - they say that, and they are right. One day the memory of everyone will be farther away, I will stop walking by my building, I will not look up at my window, I will not hope to hear from them, I will not wonder if they think of me. Though, as it is when someone breaks your heart, the question never leaving my heart is: when?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Mistress Alisa

A few weeks ago, while looking through photographs of fried chicken, I came across an article about how easy it is to make money on Twitter just by being a Financial Dominatrix.  Determined to get back to looking at photographs of fried chicken, I didn't give the article much thought, instead skimming through it only to focus on the parts about how you basically just start a Twitter account and apparently some people genuinely just love sending you money. I decided to give it a try because I would be an idiot not to.

real housewives GIF by Slice

The first step was to open a new Twitter account, but the Twitter account would have to be linked to a new email account, and that's when I first considered giving up entirely, because there is nothing more boring than trying to come up with a catchy email address. However, I persevered, and came up with a Twitter handle and email address that was a combination of a name I always considered slutty, and, because I'm a sixteen year old boy, the number 69. My profile picture was a stock image of a mannequin with a wig on, which in retrospect would be a bit alarming even to the average sexual deviant.

hair do spinning GIF by Martin Onassis

I linked my Paypal details to my bio description and perused the profiles of other Financial Dominatrices to figure out the kind of Tweets I would need to put out. I noticed that the trend was to continuously Tweet things like "Pay me, f*ck face" and "Shut up and let me drain your wallet, you pathetic loser", both of which seemed very aggressive, and yet, seemingly worked, as these dominatrices frequently posted screenshots of money appearing in their Paypal accounts.  I wrote and rewrote several Tweets, but nothing seemed mean enough, and I finally settled on "Who wants to give me money?" focusing instead on promoting free-will. I got a couple of likes but my Paypal balance remained nil.

just for laughs oops GIF

In a bid to not look like a spambot or complete psychopath, I followed a few of the more seasoned dominatrices, and throughout the day, it became clear to me that the money wasn't earned entirely without effort. It appears one must tease one's 'paypigs' (the men who pay) with pics of one's genitals, and that material was widely available for all public viewing. I wasn't expecting to see quite so much of it, but I stayed strong, despite clearly being buried in a sea of women who were willing to do a million percent more than I was. Another thing that should've been more obvious to me but wasn't, was the actual 'dominating' aspect of the whole thing. As it turns out, the men waiting to pay you are also expecting to be humiliated in various..let's call it ...vivid...ways. Some were even asking, in their Twitter profiles, to be blackmailed. 

mcdonalds GIF

Then, I received a message. Someone was asking me if I would do a Skype session where, in exchange for €400 I would be watching them touch their own feet. Well, no harm in that, I thought. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Life is a highway. Grab the bull by the horns. Other things I'm sure Wayne Gretzky said. Was it Wayne Gretzky or Bryan Adams? They do look alike, in fairness. 

I agreed, and then immediately remembered that my Skype was out of date, and that I shouldn't be using my own account for that either. HOW MANY ACCOUNTS AM I GONNA NEED TO CREATE HERE?? Fine. I did it. A new whorish Skype account too.  As it started loading, "Would you like to download the new version of Skype?" popped up. Well, yes. I suppose, I thought, Dad's face has been a bit choppy in our last few calls and I've barely made out the details on mom's spring geraniums. I allowed the program to make changes to my computer, and waited as, miles away, a man was smothering his feet in olive oil. 

tom hanks computer GIF 

As the update finished, so did my streak of confidence and the belief that I may have an alter ego capable of seeing what I was about to be seeing. I wasn't a Twitter Dominatrix. I was Alisa, and I wasn't okay with watching someone wedge carrots between their toes. Honestly, that's all I hoped it would be, but who knows. (Conversely, maybe it would've never been that at all, and I truly am a sexual deviant and just don't know it.) Anyway, the point is I panicked, blocked him, and logged into my own 'genuine' Twitter account. Oh look, Dave Lackie is doing another Guerlain giveaway and my friend is still working on her PhD. There I am. That's my life. No feet here! 

black denzel washington GIF

I then decided I was a wuss, and thought of all the things I had started and never finished. Endless to-do lists, goals, sewing projects, photo albums...Just once in your life, would you carry something through to the end?  I took out a note pad and attacked this from an anthropological perspective, researching websites, chat rooms, Tumblr accounts, fetish newsgroups, and by asking dominatrices on Twitter how they began their work. I received a total of zero replies. I briefly considered becoming a submissive and paying them for their time, but snapped out of it soon enough.  I found a few Youtube instructionals, including one with a middle-aged woman, a cigarette, and a diaper. "The more I dominated, the more I began hating men," another woman confessed. Well, damn. I had a moment's out of body experience where I realized I was alone on a Friday night watching this. Still, I persisted. 

gabrielle giffords strong women get things done GIF by Election 2016

I fluffed up my Tweets with more engaging statements the likes of "Give me money or you will be sorry" which admittedly had much more of a Guy in a Hockey Mask with Chainsaw vibe than Sexy Kitten In Charge, but even those Tweets received more likes than the ones I felt were kind and respectful.  I also posted more photos, all of which were dominatrix supplies readily available on AliExpress. Did I remove the AliExpress logo? No. Did they receive tons of likes? Sure did and, consequently, I began receiving more messages.  Some were requests for things like having milk poured on them, making them wearing their wives' bras (!!!) and "would you give me the finger while I finish?" (personal fav - would actually love to try sometime), all of which I blocked, realizing that the task of a dominatrix was far greater than what I was prepared to do.  Others were conversations that would turn into truly lovely, inspirational experiences (If you're reading this, Big_Gusher_Papi, don't let your Aunt Teresita discourage you from joining the Navy!). One man asked me to only answer "Yes" or "No", as he wanted to reverse our roles. He then said he would take control of my phone and asked me to give him my personal number. I answered "No" (EXCUSE ME FOR FOLLOWING ORDERS SMDH) and was consequently called a horrible (bad word) which, frankly, was unfair. 

confused britney spears GIF

Right around that time, on the bus home from work, wearing one of my favourite power suits, I  accidentally opened my 'alternate' Twitter account, immediately projecting someone's spread ass out and into the world of my fellow commuters. Throwing my phone into my purse, I had decided that I had had enough. The real question behind my exploratory journey was: how do you become a dominant woman? By the time I could answer it, I didn't want to be one - not in this sense, anyway. No matter how hard I try to overcome my own nature for the sake of what I consider being brave, I just don't have the stomach to degrade another person, regardless of how much they might love it. Since then, I've closed down all of my accounts, and folded away the distant hope and dream of getting money for nothing.  Can't say I didn't get anything out of this though - mom's geraniums have truly come in nicely, after all.  

Sunday, January 7, 2018


Some kids are cool kids, and others are not. Some, through a combination of expensive Gap dresses and older siblings teaching them premature maturity, are popular. Other kids bring Russian sardines for lunch and write "I Love Mother" on Valentine's day cards, and those kids are called dorks. I belonged to the second category, and while it wasn't my fault that I only learned how to speak English at ten years old, I take full responsibility for wearing a homemade beret and men's sunglasses with my Barbie's bracelet as a nose ring to school. I was a naive dork who trusted wholeheartedly, believed in Santa far longer than most kids, thought she had super powers at fucking fourteen years old, and got beat up and bullied for it repeatedly. I practiced my jazz routine in the field at lunch to the laughter and pointing of other kids, played Lion King with the Nicaraguan kids while my classmates learned how to French Kiss, and spent most of my free time staring off in the distance, wondering why snow is so cold, and why I couldn't fly. I spent a long time blaming my freakish ways on  my immigrant status, but as the years wore on, I've slowly come to accept the fact that really, it was just me.

Now, as I find myself still acting like an alien in many situations, I am realizing I never quite shed who I am. Instead, an adult costume now covers that inner dork. Being an adult means getting better at concealing my nerdiness, loving with my guard up, trusting from a distance, with a few slip-ups along the way ("Sorry miss, I think you dropped some loser..").  I haven't changed. I've just become a better actor.

Last summer, we went to Barcelona for ten days. We stayed at a beautiful modern hotel close to the city centre, which had a state-of-the art gym that I visited strictly one time, and a rooftop pool, which was perfect because the heat in Barcelona makes your brain froth out of your ears. Enjoy that visual and happy new year. 

We did a lot of sight-seeing: the Gothic Quarter, some galleries, some markets, the beach, a labyrinth in a park (nerve-wracking if you can't find your way out) and some restaurants, including one so tiny that it only fit about fifteen people standing, and made tapas on demand, using really unique combinations like caviar, artichoke, chestnuts, and brie. The result looked like this:

Quimet & Quimet is definitely a must-try in Barcelona but be prepared to queue for a while to get in!
We also saw a Flamenco show which left me speechless and empowered, so if you happen to love loud abrasive sounds and the thought of revenge, I would highly recommend you go to one - yes, even in the tourist areas. We saw a few Gaudi-designed buildings, some surreal architecture, and The Sagrada Familia, proudly featured in a 3D virtual experience 'ride' we later 'experienced', which was actually a history lesson about Spain, which really pissed me off. 
Here it is, in real life:

Our hotel had a beautiful lobby with lots of books about murder and animals doing weird things.

On our last day, I found myself alone by the pool, tanning, when a family arrived and quietly unfolded their towels on loungers nearby. A boy of about eight years old sheepishly pulled off his t-shirt and immediately looked around at the empty loungers surrounding us. I was wearing my sunglasses and it seemed to reassure him that I wasn't there. He got up and looked around again, then put on his diving goggles and very delicately slipped into the water. He was little, but much bigger than most boys his age would be, and his frequent nervous glances around the pool, though it was empty, seemed to indicate that he was aware of this. 

"I may sit on the lounger for five minutes but I also want to keep swimming," he said to his parents with a Scottish accent. Neither of them looked up but his father grunted something with annoyance.
I watched the boy and wondered if his face, too, had once met a schoolyard fence. Had he, too, written valentine's day cards To Mother? He wore a mask to dive for treasure in an empty pool - had he, also, been happily trapped in a fantasy world dooming him to a childhood of freakishness but one ultimately so much more brilliant than the bleakness of public school pain?

He swam from one end to the other, then stood up and cupped his little boy breasts, ones most little boys his age wouldn't have. He swam again, then stood up, his belly bobbing with the water, and began singing to himself. It was a slow song, one most little boys his age wouldn't sing. He waddled over to the glass at the edge of the wall, softly patting and caressing the waves he left behind, and looked out at the sky. "I was wondering where the planes go," he said, turning to look at me through foggy rubber goggles, "But now I see them, lowering, by the horizon".  

His eyes cut through my costume, until he was speaking to me. Not me, bleached hair, bronzed legs, but little me, the one I suffocate each day under the layers of my years.  He watched me, instead seeing his own reflection. I wondered what our eyes, fixed on each other, were to others: a boy standing alone in shallow water, an adult woman crying through sunglasses, under a Barcelona sun. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Today I am Thirty One

Preface: I am going to illustrate the ideas in this post with stills from my all-time favourite 90 Day Fiancé's Beth and Danielle, because I can.

Have you ever climbed on one of those foam mats at the pool, trying to stand on top of the water? If you're lucky, you'll balance for a few seconds, and in that moment, the rush of defying the seemingly impossible is unlike anything your seven-year-old self has ever experienced. MOM MOM MOM MOM ARE YOU WATCHING? MOM OH MY GOD MOM 

Today I'm 31, and I feel like I'm back on that foam mat, with my immediate life beneath me as I balance, balance, balance. I've spent this past year - the first of my thirties - solving a Rubik's Cube comprised of the challenges of living abroad and trying to understand oneself in the process. Funny how the effects of leaving a career, familiar environment, and even part of yourself behind can back you into a corner like high school bullies. Who are you now? What are you doing? What do you care about? Redefine, redevelop, and balance - there is no escape and there are no distractions.

My goals for this 31st year of my life (or I suppose 32nd year actually..yikes) are to create familiarity in the unfamiliar, comfort in the foreign, and positivity in the chaos. (side note: Blogger doesn't recognize the word positivity. Who invited Negative Nancy to the potluck?) More specifically, I'm gonna try not to burst into flames/tears every time I come home from yet another interview where they showed up twenty minutes late and rolled their eyes as I described my Canadian work experience and the bus driver drove past me laughing and my bank account is down to a two-digit number.....because there are things you don't have control over, and they are not worth sweating.

Every year on my birthday, I try to encapsulate my most prominent ideas for the off-chance that they may be important to remember down the line as the years flash by. Some years it's about cake and other years end up being a bit more reflective.  The past few months have been incredibly challenging but in the process, I had a thought that helped calm the death-metal festival into which my stress has manifested in my brain: Find something you love about today, then find something you love about tomorrow. Learn to be grateful for those things- I'm pretty sure that's all life is about.

Well, that and flying to Vegas in a private jet... ayyyyyyyy

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I Climbed a Fence, I Lost a Job

“The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.” -J.R.R. Tolkien

Rocky win boxing training victory GIF  

This is the story of how I went from being the Planters Peanut of the interview world (or whatever you might associate with success) to literally running away from an interviewer. Or rather, this is another instalment of how things are going at the moment. 

As most people my age, I've had about seven hundred interviews in my life, and I have nailed them every single time. From jobs I didn't feel like doing, to jobs I wasn't qualified for, to jobs where I was sure the interviewer could see a French baguette edging out of my Marc Jacobs 'briefcase', I've gotten the job in every single situation. Typically, what I lack in experience I make up for in very comfortable, sharp, and of course, absolutely hilarious banter.  "Microsoft Access? Never heard of it but I'll access it tonight, and be a pro on it by Monday, Linda. Ehhhh!") Plus, I always wear shoulder pads, so no one ever doubts me anyway.  Here's how I usually look, and how I looked on the day my interviewee life unravelled:

A few weeks ago (and yes, it has taken that long for me to recover long enough to talk about it), I was invited to an interview for a charitable organization which shall remain nameless. The interview happened to fall on the exact same day I was getting an ultrasound done to determine whether I have a raging stomach ulcer. I was really excited to find out, and totally bummed out that the interview was just an hour after my appointment, and could not be moved. Anyway, fine. I had my appointment, and as I was leaving for my interview, I realized it had gone on far longer than expected and my power walk would need to be a run for me to make it. Fine, again. I started running, coat in hand, stomach sweating awkwardly (OR WAS IT SWEAT?!?). I got to the location at the address mentioned to me, and here is what I saw:

Oh my God. I was going to work inside a dumpster. Or, I needed to keep running, which I did, and finally found the interview place, just a few minutes prior to my start time. Phew, I thought, dusting off my Peanut monocle and cane, It's showtime. 

I walked up to the front doors of the building and realized they were locked. The receptionist stared at me as if I were a flasher, then casually walked over, and pressed a code on the door to let me in. I smiled him an "I'll be your boss soon" smile and walked super fucking confidently towards the office. This is precisely when everything went downhill.

You know when someone hates you the minute they see you? When the combination of every last detail of your being amounts to the word Idiot illuminating like a buzzing neon sign above your stupid head and no matter what comes out of your stupid mouth it just sounds, to them, like a fart sound? No? You don't know that? Then I invite you to read on, because that's what happened. My interviewer could not hold back from looking me up and down continuously with an expression of horrified judgment. She shook my hand while looking at the room we were going to walk into. We sat at a table so small that our knees were nearly rubbing, and the white sky coming through the window facing me was blinding. I went through my typical repertoire of light office humour a la "There I was, carrying six laptops while wearing six inch heels! What was I thinking? OFFICELOL" and she wouldn't flinch. My answers were met with nothingness. No feedback, no nodding, and no subsequent progression. And by that, I mean dead silence followed each of my replies as if it was never enough for her. Finally, I added "...and that's how I'd like to answer that!" At one point, I told her I don't like the sound of humans. At another point, I said we are all pieces of the puzzle of life. My spirit had floated out of my body and watched on in horror as I attempted to claw my way out of the pile of pure stupid I had melted into by the simple virtue of her assumptions about me. I was dying inside, and could feel what I now realized was ultrasound gel running down my shirt.

As the interview ended, she said, with great disappointment, "The bathrooms are down the hall" and I wasn't sure why she felt compelled to point that out, but I thanked her and walked off. I took my time in the stall, texting everyone I knew that my life was officially over and I would never live this embarrassment down. I spent about 12 minutes in the bathroom just trying to calm down. When I walked out, she happened to be standing by the door. She definitely saw me.  I walked into the elevator and mouthed the word fuck repeatedly at myself in the mirror all the way down to the ground floor. She saw me stay in the bathroom for 12 minutes. My face was a deep red and I was no longer human but a syrupy reduction of shame and the pieces of the puzzle of life. I pushed the front doors but they of course wouldn't budge until the receptionist came over and pressed more buttons and I walked out robotically and walked ahead to what I thought was a shortcut through the community garden proudly growing in front of the building. I thought it weird that I had to squeeze in between two metal bars to get into the garden, but my thoughts were clouded by the pounding in my face.

A few steps in, I looked around and realized there was no exit, and I was surrounded by a tall fence. The 'bars' I had squeezed between were actually some sort of evil one-way locking contraption. I had locked myself in. I looked around and looked up to see my interviewer looking down at me through her office window. The next few minutes were a blur, as I walked over to the fence, threw my purse over, and began hiking my leg over it in an attempt to climb it. Were my life normal, I would've climbed over it in one go, but my life is my life, and I didn't quite make it with the second leg, so I fell back. I looked up again, and a few more people had gathered to watch. I climbed again, this time falling over to the other side of the fence, and then, I started running. I ran until I was out of breath, trying very hard not to think of the impression I left - bombed the interview, sweat chunks of gel, took massive dump in toilet, locked herself in the garden, climbed a fence, and ran away.

The next day, my placement agent delicately told me that they went with "a stronger candidate" and while I was amazingly un-surprised, my mom made a really great point: how many other candidates would've gotten out of that garden on their own? Probably zero because nobody else would've walked into it to begin with. Regardless, despite my now tarnished interviewee record, I'm taking the most important stuff out of this one: when life hands you a fence, climb over. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dry January: A Dublin Update!

Here in Dublin, it's Dry January. That means people don't drink for an entire month, which I don't think actually happens because I don't think anyone here has a meal without a keg of Guinness to accompany it. Because I'm still unsure when I'll return to Canada, though it could be sooner than later, I thought I would give you a quick update with what's going on, and hopefully write enough of these updates to properly catalogue my memories for the future, when I'm back and missing the green isle.

A rose! In January!

I worked as an accounting assistant for six months, but quit about a month ago, accidentally leaving behind a legacy of an Excel document containing the word "fajitas" written 11 times and a .jpeg image of a flying cockroach. I now spend my days streaming  Lock-up: Women Behind Bars on Netflix, running, over-cooking rice, and basically occupying the title of Thirty Year Old Woman Trying Not To Freak Out Over Being Unemployed In A Foreign Country. Or, TYOWTNTFOOBUIAFC, for short.

Bettie gave her hubby some cornbread then she shot him with a shotgun!

When the majority of available jobs involve sandwich artistry, it can be hard to keep your chin up over 'real' job prospects, and on top of that, yesterday I had a placement agent call me simply to rip me a new one over the fact that my CV was organised by relevance and not by date. I never expected something as external to my sense of self as  'Current Job Situation' bleed into the way I feel in terms of my self-worth, and while the feeling hurts like hell, I have to say I am grateful for this experience. Not gonna lie, I ugly-sobbed after that call (Jeff wasn't home luckily), because in addition to yelling at me the agent also made sure to accentuate how unqualified I was for anything in Ireland, but then I got up, washed my face, walked to a coffee shop, and the barista gave me EIGHT coffee stamps "to get you started off" on my loyalty card. And guess what..I teared up, again, because in those moments, even the smallest act feels like a mountain of love. I'm grateful because this experience has led me to feel defeat (rather than the complacency I've been feeling in the comfort of my past jobs) and an unbelievable amount of thankfulness to that barista and also to the butcher who said I could just pay him some other day for my eggs because he didn't want me to worry about using a debit card. Yeah, that happened too. And then an old man smiled at me, and then I felt like I could survive another day, anyway.

happy excited yes win star trek

So, I apply for jobs, I run, I overcook rice, and then I do everything I can to take my mind off what I cannot control, and in the days when I want to run back to Ottawa to financial stability, I think of everything I couldn't have learned without these little experiences.

I've also been trying to get Jeff to eat less meat, so I've been spending a lot of time trying to make beans tasty. Pictured below are some of the things I've subjected the World's Biggest Carnivore to, and I won't pretend he doesn't still eat meat between meals, but what can ya do..

This is a black bean burger with sharp cheddar and Kozlik's mustard from Canada, topped with avo, lettuce and tomato, and a bit of mayo! It was ridiculously tall and impossible to eat without making a disastrous mess.

I have to say one of my top 3 favourite things about Dublin is how cheap food is. These things cost me a total of 8.50 Euro!

A salad made up of leafy greens (spinach, arugula, lettuce), cucumber, tomato, red onion, organic falafel, hummus, and Greek yogurt. I do not enjoy salad but this was good as salads get. 

A Mexican salsa bowl over basmati and long-grain rice, topped with cilantro dressing, cilantro, and you guessed it, Greek yogurt

Veggie sausages and the rest is pretty identifiable, I think! One of my favourite post-run brunches..

Kale chips, because these never, ever go out of style. I sprinkled them with nutritional yeast and a bit of salt and olive oil. They turned out lovely, as always..

Aside from this stuff, I've been on the hunt for a really good, sturdy umbrella, a drop-in ceramics workshop, and an all-natural deodorant that doesn't leave you looking like the perpetrator in the last scene of a Catfish episode. A girl can dream, and in the meantime, have a great January!

Sunset over Dublin, a view from my old office

Saturday, December 24, 2016

If Christmas Sucks

It's Christmas Eve! And instead of writing about the amount of Christmas puddings I plan on binge-eating tonight in my sleep, I'd like to talk about something a little more important, and actually, less funny.

The other day, having finished watching every Hallmark Christmas film known to man (if you haven't discovered these already, they're an absolute gem - terrifically horrible acting, a plot line as flat as something flat that I can't think of at the moment, and if you're lucky enough, Candace Cameron Bure, attempting to convince us that she "just loves Christmas" unlike anyone else on the planet. More on this later.) anyway, the other day, having finished watching it, I started looking through the Christmas stuff on Netflix, and when I came across Christmas with the Kranks, I felt a really bizarre feeling, sort of like frustration and exasperation. It didn't take me long to realize why, and that was when I decided this was something I needed to tell you.

Last Christmas was the worst Christmas of my life. About a week before the big day, I came down with the flu, and a few days later, so did my sister. It was the kind of flu where you hallucinate and can't move your head an inch without the entire universe spinning so fast you can literally see the future. The pain in my body would get so intense at night that I would just sit and cry, and I remember at one point asking my mom with complete honesty, if I was going to die. I had a fever, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep - come to think of it, I probably should've gone to the hospital - and it lasted days, and days, and days. Because my sister got it as well, we couldn't be around each other for fear of re-contaminating each other. Then, a short while later, my mom got it too. So, Christmas Eve rolled around and we were in separate bedrooms, just dying. We couldn't see or speak to each other, getting up in our own beds just enough to take a sip of water before collapsing again. I could see out the window from where I lay, and I watched guests park their cars in the snowy driveways of our neighbourhood. I watched Chrismas gifts being brought into houses, and people cheerfully greeting each other. I felt so unbelievably sad and alone.  Christmas day was no better. I spent the day watching more Netflix movies, and that's when I came across Christmas with the Kranks, which is a story about how a family almost goes through with a plan to skip Christmas. I didn't realize it then, but at the time, I was so excited at the thought that the story might be about what we're going through, and so, so frustrated and exasperated when in the end, Christmas prevailed and the family gathered round and a turkey was cooked and a Christmas tree, alight. It's funny how these feelings only became evident to me a year later, remembering that there was me, watching the movie alone, hoping Tim Allen skips Christmas too, waiting for my next door neighbours to finish Christmas dinner and get over the day already.

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A little something to break the tension. 

Never before did I realize how much pressure the Christmas season puts on us. It seems almost like an order: to be happy, be in love, be surrounded by friends and family, have beautiful presents under a beautiful tree, not have your cat pass away the next day when you're too sick to even walk downstairs and watch her die (just me?), everything must fall into place otherwise you're not part of the Christmas phenomenon, you're not like absolutely everyone else (for the sake of this thought, I'm not counting other religions, because even they have secular belonging.) We've had our share of ghetto-ass Christmasses, so it's not even about having a big lush tree or a seventeen pound turkey, but the feeling that if everything hasn't fallen into place in your life and if you're not bursting with happiness, then you are not doing it right. In tangent with the joy we feel when we ace Christmas (got the best gifts for the family! Got the best cranberry sauce! Got so much time off work! It snowed just in time! Best Christmas ever!) there is the under-side, the darkest, most painful feeling of loneliness that exists when things don't work out in line with Christmas expectations.  It made me think of how difficult it must be to get through the holidays when any number of the millions of other terrible things could be happening around this time of year. Last year, I felt just a glimpse of it, but I hope to keep the lesson I learned from it forever.

Image may contain: plant, christmas tree and indoor
This year's tree in Dublin. 
If anyone out there is reading this over the holidays, and if things aren't going well, I would like to give you a really big e-hug, to tell you that it will be okay again, to send you a list of movies to distract you from it all (seriously, comment here if you need it, or I'm about to tell you more about Candace Cameron Burre) and to let you know that this is not the most important time of the year, so screw it if it's not working out. You're not alone, and you are loved. Even by me, in a non creepy way!

This year, things are definitely better on the flu front (so far so good!), but my dad broke his hip, and everyone is generally stressed out. It certainly isn't ideal, but to be honest, after last year, I feel a lot of pressure has been taken off of expecting it to be perfect. So, hope for the best, and if it doesn't work out, here are some amazing films to watch and yell at the tv about, as we did. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, good luck on boxing day!

A Christmas Detour Poster
By far the best. Candace is an absolute sweetheart who is on her way to see her fiance who is rich and has asshole parents as all rich people are (?) when she meets a loveable smart-ass and I can't

Just the Way You Are Poster
Not a Christmas movie but equally gag-worthy. Probably the most gag-worthy of all. A dating coach tries to fix her own marriage and fails a lot before things randomly take a turn for the better

Christmas Under Wraps Poster
Candace is perfect again and this time, she's a doctor sent to a town of yokels. She hates it there cause she's all big city fab, and they're all like "decaf latte? round here we drink our coffee with glue guhaw guhaw" but, having applied four bandaids, she realizes her doctor skills are absolutely essential to this town and...does...romance blossom? gag-meter: 100 OH MY GOD I just remembered how it ends which is so ridiculous you have you watch this

Let It Snow Poster
Candace is a sweetheart again. And this time, she visits a stupid ol' rikkedy town for the sole purpose of tearing it down so her dad can build a strip club or something. This one is fucked up because of all the traditions the town celebrates. This might help you feel better if you think Christmas in general is stupid.

Journey Back to Christmas Poster
This one takes the shit cake. Candace Cameron Bure is a woman from the 50s who climbs into a cabin and, due to a comet or something, is transported into the future. Instead of panicking, shaving her head bald and eating her own boogers, she spends her time perfecting that shit-eating grin (see all photos above) and sighing. Then, women are put down for their irrelevance in the police force, huge age gaps are ignored, and miracles happen. A+, must watch.