Why you need to start your own detective agency, STAT

Melissa Chaib 1

The house on Dever Drive was green stucco. One of those early 80’s shoeboxes that we tried to make feel like home, but that always ended up smelling like something we never cooked. We had lived there for four years by the time the yard sale rolled around.

My brother Colin and I took on the responsibility of the extra float. We also manned the lemonade stand. You don’t know this when you’re a little kid, but lemonade stands are pointless. Nobody ever wants lemonade, they just buy it because you’re a cute 8 year old.

It was July, and it was hot. Desert hot. Dry heat that refuses to let you sweat but makes you feel constantly thirsty. Colin and I propped our little table up in between the two crab apple trees in our front yard, taking extra care to avoid getting tangled in hanging caterpillars.

We sat there for two hours while my Dad heckled with neighbors over the price of his ham radio gear. Our youngest brother, Stephen, lay napping on the grass beside us in his diaper while our last brother, Ben, was busy trying to re-claim all the toys he had previously decided to put up for sale. No one wanted lemonade. The yard sale was full of too many other goods.

“I have an idea” I said to Colin. “Let’s become detectives.”

Colin, 6 at the time, was thrilled to participate. I got smelly markers – orange and cherry scented – and wrote the words out on a piece of cardboard.


As I propped the sign up in front of the lemonade, Mr. and Mrs. Wallace from across the street came over.

“Whatchoo got there?” Mr. Wallace boomed.

Oh, we’re detectives now!” I called out.

“No, no” he said “behind the sign?”

I turned, deflated, to get him a cup.  “It’s our Mom’s lemonade” I said “fifty cents.”

He drank it fast and asked for another before leaning in to whisper something to us.

“I’ve got this problem, you see” he began “…it’s my apple trees…”

Colin climbed up onto the table excitedly, prepared for whatever was to come.

“The apples just keep going missing. Do you think you could sort this out for me?”

We took his ten dollars, with a promise of ten more to come when we gave him the answer. He took another glass of lemonade.

Mrs. Wallace looked at him with sparkling eyes and as the two of them walked away — Mr. Wallace to the ham radio and Mrs. Wallace to the Tupperware — Colin and I made the decision.

“Racoons!” we yelled after them. “It’s got to be raccoons.”

Colin held out his hand for the other ten dollars.

And we both knew at that moment our detective careers were over.


When did we start to feel self-conscious about reaching for the stars and falling short? When did we start worrying about the logistics of our big dreams and stop doing it because it might be nothing except for kind-of fun? What is it about the dread pirate responsibility that stops us in our tracks? Why, as we grow into the ages where the possibility of success is two-fold, do we pop the top back onto the Pringle container? We don’t need to fear rejection letters and bad Trip Advisor reviews — the only thing we have to fear is not putting the sign up.

This week, go forth and start your own detective agency. Who knows, you might even make a quick 20 bucks.


image credit: Melissa Chaib


What you miss out on if you wear sweatpants


When my brother called me at 11PM to come and pick him up from an hour away, I was lying in bed with a glass of wine in the dark, scrolling through Pinterest, trying desperately to put myself to sleep.

It was Friday.

I mention that only because it’s adorable to picture me, at 11PM on a Friday, trying to lullaby myself to sleep in a pair of sweatpants over pictures of small apartment spaces decorated flawlessly.

“Yes,” I said, “I’ll come.”

Hair a mess, flannel shirt buttoned unevenly, fluffy socks, the whole nine yards. No one would see me. I would go as is.

But something stopped me just as I was about to walk out the door. It was a primal instinct that said Andria, put on real pants, k?

I know, right? How dare my instincts be so judgmental. I can wear sweats out to White Rock in the middle of the night if I want to. But I changed my pants, because everyone knows you have to listen to your gut. I put on black skinny jeans and motorcycle boots. Because that was the most comfortable option I had other than my 10 year old high school sweatpants.

I drove an hour with a wedgie. I had changed my pants but I hadn’t changed my sweatpant-worthy underwear.

When I arrived at the venue, my brother got into the vehicle high on life. He had just finished playing the (epic?) “Raise a Little Hell” with the (oldie but goodie) band Trooper. He was in no mood to go home.

Instead, we went to the casino. A place I was not dressed for, but would at least be permitted inside of.

We had a beer. We played (and lost) some penny slots. Then we put $10 on black and we won.


Granted, $20 wasn’t anything to write home about, but I’ll tell you what it was worth . . . it was worth getting out of sweatpants for.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we don’t want to put in our best effort. We want to slum around. We want to stay pimply and chubby. We want to keep picking our nose, even though there’s someone beside us at the red light. We want to go to sleep without brushing our teeth. We want to wear our bitch-face on the subway. Sometimes, no matter what our head wants us to do, we say no. And it’s in times like this we must remember Elizabeth Taylor’s famous words.

Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.

Hey, it might make you ten bucks.


How to flush a British toilet


Honestly, there are some moments during which you just need to stop and ask yourself … what am I doing wrong in this life?

There are some things you will never know until you learn them the hard way. Some things you will never want until it’s too late. Some things you will not wait for until the moment crashes into you disastrously. There are some things in this life you should Google before “winging it.”

I know this now.

Ask anyone what the difference is between a Canadian and a UK toilet and they’ll tell you the same thing.


“Just flush.”

That’s a lie if I ever heard one. Anyone has obviously not had the experience of turning around to find a dangling chain attached to their toilet.

“Pull,” one would think.

One is an idiot.

Thankfully, I learned long ago that it’s not a faux pax to bring your iPhone into the washroom. Goodness Gracious.

Hello from England — the land of tea & crumpets! I’ll be traipsing around this side of the pond for the next while, but I promise this is the last you’ll hear of their toilets.

Actually, I can’t make that promise. Looking back, I’ve written quite a bit about toilets. You could only be so lucky.

Let me know your favorite haunts & I’ll tell you what kind of trouble I get into with the Queen.

xo & yw


Hillbilly Blues: How Visiting The South Shattered My Favorite Stereotypes

Dripping Spanish Moss as the sun sets in Savannah....

I don’t know if I can consider 3 days in the states of South Carolina and Georgia a “true experience in the South” but I’m going to for a few hundred words, OK?

I originally started to write this blog post in the airport at JFK, all sassed up, because New York does that to me.  Even if I’m just there for the most pointless layover ever.  However, after wanting to charge me $17.95 for WiFi, I decided I would rather drink than write.  Forgive me, but Hemingway would have made the same call and we’re like… on par.

So instead, I’m now back on the West Coast sitting in my Mothers hydrangea garden, sipping stolen gin & tonic at 11am (bang on the nose, don’t worry) trying to recall how I felt about the whole thing.

I guess… it wasn’t what I expected?

One of my dearest high school friends was born and raised in Mississippi.  Everything from his thick accent to his camo baseball hat screamed southern pride.  When I met him, I was fresh off the farm and new to the city (we both were) and I was still chewing Copenhagen short cut even though girls don’t chew tobacco and listening to Skynyrd too loud when I pulled into the parking lot.  We were two peas in a little weird pod and he planted this seed in my head that went something like “you should have been from down south.”

Of course as I got older, I really wish that what he had meant was “you strike me as a Southern Belle!” but it’s not.  What he meant was “you are like Gretchen Wilson redneck.”

And god, was I ever.

A lot changes between the ages of 15 and 25 though, and while I still love my Skynyrd (ok, and occasionally my Copenhagen), I learned how to dress more Gone With The Wind than Deliverance (Most days.  Give me a break, you can take the girl out of the honky tonk but…)  Fashionable day or not, I have maintained however, that “the South” is a destination I was meant for.  Made for.  Born for.

So, when the opportunity presented itself at the end of my Florida adventure to meander my way through several of these states, I took it.

I promise you, no matter how well you can relate to the words of “skoal ring” and how similar you think “Here For The Party” is to your life, nothing can prepare you for the system shock that is wearing $125 sandals and a silk blouse to buy a Styrofoam cup full of Cajun flavored boiled p-nuts (yes, p-nuts) from a woman straddling a road side table in a halter top bikini.  She was Gretchen Wilson.  I was Shania Twain.  The imposter.

She’s never had boiled peanuts before.

NEVER?” said the man behind the table “you must be from North of the Mason-Dixon!

Canada.  Is that what he’s referring to?  I don’t even know.  All I know is that if boiled peanuts (p-nuts?) are any indication as to what I’ve been missing this entire time, Chris from Mississippi was wrong.  I do not belong here.  No one belongs here.  Not even peanuts, because their fate is just straight fucky.

But after trying three (I’ll try anything three times.  Mostly.) I couldn’t do it anymore.  My facade dropped.  I spat them out and held them like a dirty diaper.  and made this face:

Boiled Peanuts

They were NOT my thing.

Luckily for me and my assaulted taste buds, this was the last experience I had in either of the Carolinas or Georgia that made me want to up and run.  Actually, apart from the one Unicorn I saw on someones front lawn, this was the only experience I had that made me remember I was in the South at all.

South Carolina was beautiful and adorable and quaint.  North Carolina was lush and mountainous.  Georgia was… well… an Interstate and a big city.  I was expecting Spanish Moss and bouffants and Lemon Breeland around every corner, but I didn’t get it.  Which is probably a good thing because my hair kept falling flat despite all the back-combing and my skirt kept wrinkling.

Sure, I ate my fair share of fried foods, but I pushed for that.  Turns out, you can order salad and veggie burgers in Atlanta if you want to (who knew.)

I’m not surprised by any of this, nor am I disappointed.  I know that stereotypes are all about the company you keep, and my company was not ZZ Top or George Tucker.  I know that if Chris from Mississippi was my company, I would have been sporting a camo hat myself by the end of the weekend and have probably shot something bigger and more alive than Smirnoff.  I know if a girlfriend had been my company we would have hairsprayed the shit out of our hair and ordered sweet tea everywhere we went.  As it stands, I got to experience exactly what I asked for: the South.

Not the South that exists in Garden & Gun or in television shows, but the South that exists where people have day jobs and real lives and enjoy the same things I do (except maybe with grits on the side.)  It was beautiful.  And it helped me remember that who you are and where you are are what you make of them.

I flew home thinking to myself I would still absolutely live down there and maybe Chris was still right, in a round-about-way.  I also remember thinking hmm, I don’t know why I expected to walk into Gone With the Wind.  It’s not like going back to Canada is like “Into the Wild” or anything.

I text my brother the moment I got home.  “Word.  I’m home.  Weeeeoooooo.”

Out of nowhere I get this series of messages from him:


Right.  So I maintain that stereotypes are all about the company that you keep and that basically, I’m going to have to return to “the South” to find this place that I am supposedly derived from.

Cheap flight to Macon, anyone?

xo & yw

Finding Neverland: A Farewell to Fantasyland

Cinderella Castle

Getting emotional about leaving places isn’t really something I do.  But this has probably made me the most nostalgic person, ever.  I seem to leave a pretty large chunk of myself wherever I go, and it stays there until I get a pressing urge to go back for it.

These urges, I have come to learn, are always for a reason.

This time?


People most often ask me about my experience working for Disney if it has “ruined the magic” at all.  I maintain, jokingly, that it did not ruin magic for me any more than working in a bar ruined drinking.

Oh, sure, I was miserable for all but two and a half hours of my two and a half months here. I was sweaty, and when I wasn’t sweaty I was still too hot.  I was hungry, and when I wasn’t hungry I was still too poor for Starbucks.  I was tired, and when I wasn’t tired I was still too sore from standing for 14 hours a day.  I was spit at, and when I wasn’t being spit at I was still too vulnerable from the yelling of people who were angry at the “system.”  I was overworked, and when I wasn’t overworked I was still too drained to rest.

But misery loves company, and we were by far the happiest people around.

Where as the rest of the world seemed to be spending their money at the happiest place in the world to only become more miserable by the moment, we came for free and left grinning.

We could choreograph the fireworks, ride it’s a small world alone, skip the lines without Fast Passes, walk through Neverland and high five Captain Hook.  We could lick our fingers clean of melted dole whip and pretend it was our birthday every day.  We could commiserate with Tinkerbell and watch Ariel eat a cheeseburger.  We could jet off to France for a champagne toast when we missed home, and when we needed to wind down we could skip to Mexico and drink them out of Margaritas.  We took the bus to Walmart and only bought the cheap cheese.  We could dance, every Sunday night, until our feet bled and our ears were muffled.  We walked barefoot in rain so hard it soaked us through to the bone.  We laughed like children on Splash Mountain and sang along to every song in the Lion King musical – loudly.  We could stand in awe at the foot of Cinderella Castle every night, and watch as the lights on its walls changed among a deserted Main Street.

No, working for Disney did not ‘ruin the magic’.  It ruined a lot of things (my bank account, my hair, my pores, my sympathy), but Magic is what it showed me. Because under the stars, every night, the sky exploded around us and made us believe that our wishes, no matter when or how we make them, can come true.

When you literally work in Neverland, it’s hard to consider the consequences.  It’s hard to think about things like “tomorrow” and “maturity”.  It’s hard to be a grown up.  But we knew the story.

“All children, except one, grow up.”

And so we fly home, to wherever home may be, with pixie dust in our hair and the happiest things in our heads.  Remembering that no matter how much reality gets and how hard times seem, we will always have Fantasyland.

Off we go!

xo & yw

The Adventures of Baby Tabasco

Sometimes life is boring.

I know, I know.  It’s the opposite of everything Anchors & Freedom is about, but it’s true.  Sometimes you wake up, you do laundry, you go to the grocery store, you get drunk by yourself and you realize holy hell, my life is mundane as balls today. (No offense guys, that’s not what I was getting at.)  I realize that these ‘making the bed’ activities are crucial to our survival.  Believe me, if I had to go one more day without clean underwear and Amy’s gluten free pizza, I would have been a goner.  But I was still likeshitThis day sucks.

Oh sure, the mundane has it’s brilliant & life-worthy moments. Like when I went to Publix and could not for the life of me find Cheese Whiz.  I asked FOUR store employees and none of them could find it for me, and because I was really jonesing for my top-secret nachos* I asked for the store manager who proceeded to spend twenty minutes searching for it, and FINALLY found it.  I bought it for full price even though he found me “original” and not “low fat”.  YOLO.

But how depressing is it that that was the highlight of my day off?

So I decided to do something about it.  I took my lucky bottle of Baby Tabasco (I call him Baby T for short) on an adventure.

You see, Baby T lives in my Marc Jacobs purse.  He is the only thing that never gets lost when I drink too much tequila and he loves it in there.  I don’t like spicy food, but I love him.  Plus I figure he could double as a defense mechanism if I ever needed it.  BAM. TABASCO IN YOUR EYEBecause he doesn’t get out much, I decided we could spend the day all Freaky-Friday and switch places.  I do nothing exciting, he paints the town red.   So that’s exactly what we did, and here’s the proof:


Breakfast with his buddy Ketchup.  Ketchup had to work, unfortunately, but Baby T was all “no worries, bro.  I’ll just rub this enjoyable hash brown in your face!”


Alligator watching, up close & personal!


Baby Tabasco in the deep blue seeeaaaaa, swim so wild and ya swim so freeeee!


Baby T decided that enough was enough of this small town living, and called his driver (me!) to come pick him up and take him to see the world.


Baby T always wanted to see the world.


So I took Baby T to France.


He met a lovely lady that really enjoyed how “down to earth” he was.


& then he Skyped his bro, Texas Pete, and was all “I’m running away to Paris, man.  Never coming back.”

And that’s when I put him back in my purse and was like “HOLD ON.  YOU ARE NOT. Adventure OVER.”  And now we continue to live happily ever after in the happiest place on earth.


xo & yw

* Top Secret Nachos: take equal parts CW & Salsa.  Microwave 
until hot and gooey and dip-like.  Pour on chips.  Turn on
the ball game.  So gross, but so delicious.

How Sweaty is Too Sweaty? ( & other Florida problems)

On Monday, I moved to Florida.

Something like that, anyway. I put my shoes in the closet of a glorified dorm room and threw a duvet on the bed. And, you know, I’d like to say something really sentimental about the entire experience up until this point, but to be completely honest, I haven’t really given it much thought. I haven’t had time to give it much thought. I’ll tell you what I have had time for though. Sweating.

When I took this job I remember questioning if I would be able to handle the heat. I told myself that of course I could handle the heat. I spent an entire spring break weekend down here once. I would be fine. Well, here’s something I didn’t seem to remember about spring break: I spent the entire thing drunk with no clothes on in March.

And now that I’m here, in head to toe business-appropriate attire and sober in May (going on June, July, August) I’m beginging to think that four days in Daytona doesn’t really count as a good judging point for the state’s weather.

I sat on a crowded bus yesterday and when I stood up I had to warn someone not to sit there. Because I was literally sweating my ass off. I’m not exagerating. She sat down anyways because she was already soaked, but I felt like I had to say something. There is nothing worse than sitting down on a wet public transit seat.

All day, every day, all I think about it sweating. I can’t even eat it’s so humid out. I brought strawberries home from the store the other day and they created their own condensation in the plastic carton.

Not to mention hurricane season. Which apparently hasn’t started yet, but you could have fooled me. The rain I’ve experienced here is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life… and I’m from Vancouver. It’s like movie rain. Thirty seconds and it’s a white T-shirt contest on the corner of International Drive and Vineland. Not to mention Florida is a swamp so within those thirty seconds, 6 inches of water has accumulated on the ground and baby geckos have decided to take cover in your shoes.

Needless to say, I’ve been battling the elements. As I start work next week, my main concern is nothing besides how I’m going to survive 8-13 hour shifts in the great Florida outdoors. Reflection hasn’t been in the cards yet. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned some valuable lessons. In fact, I’ve learned one very important thing.

You don’t have to worry about ever looking good in Florida.

Why? Because there’s two kinds of people that live in this state; those who look sexy, damp, and sultry when they’re sweaty and those who look sweaty when they’re sweaty. I happen to look sweaty when I’m sweaty. And despite my $35 clinical strength degree deodorant, I am going to always look sweaty when I’m sweaty, because I’m from Canada where it’s more often cold than it is hot.

You’re from Canada?” asked my roommate from North Carolina. “My parents went to Canada for their honeymoon. I don’t know WHY.

I know why.

Let me break it down for you.

I was walking towards this hot guy on the street the other day and normally I would have done something classic like drop my ID card and do the bend and snap, but instead I dropped my ID card and proceeded to squat down awkwardly and faux-fumble around with it for 45 seconds until he passed so that I didn’t have to insult his good genes by actually existing in his presence. For the first time in my life I was embarrassed to be looked at.

If I ever got married down here, I’d have to go back to Canada just so my husband would want to consecrate the marriage.

Am I really that sweaty?

Let me continue:

That hot guy I was telling you about? He got on the bus with me. The crowded bus. The bus where the only available room to sit was not sitting, but standing. And where that standing entailed that you have to hang on to those stupid bars on the ceiling so you won’t fall over. He got on. I got on. He stopped. I stopped. He put his arm up to hold on the bar. I put my arm up to hold on to the bar. We looked at each other.

“I’m sorry my armpit is in your face” I said. Because that’s what you say to a hot guy when he gets on the bus with you and there’s no choice but to put your armpit in his face.

“Don’t worry about it” he laughed, “Your deodorant smells nice.”

And then we rode 30 minutes home in silence, because where can you go from there?