This week’s InfoNews column is up and it’s about my experience quitting social media for a week. It was horrible, FYI (the week, not the article I hope.) You can read it HERE.
I’ve always considered myself to be a bit of an exhibitionist.
I mean, I would never go into the adult entertainment industry or join a colony, but if I was a celebrity I would be all over the Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball stuff. Nakedness has just never been a thing for me.
Now, don’t start with the whole “well I don’t like how I look” garbage. Ceasing to care about being naked has nothing to do with what you look like without Spanx on — it has to do with freedom, which is what we’re all about over here if you hadn’t noticed.
The necessary step is not pulling a Rumor Willis and exercising your right to bare tits all over Manhattan, the ingredient I’m looking for is the ability to stand in front of a mirror and say “I feel good” (not “I look good”) and continue on with your dish washing. Which is exactly what I was doing when I remembered that my curtains were open, it was 10PM and my apartment was bow-shaped.
“I told you to wear pants!” Steve messaged me, “We’re not the only creeps in the building!”
It’s become a favorite pastime of ours to shut off the lights and spy on the neighbors. Seriously — if you’re one of them, I’m sorry, but you provide way better entertainment than Kourtney & Khloe take the Hamptons. Sometimes we’ll make up conversations you’re having. Sometimes we’ll create entire life stories — which you honestly make it really easy to do when at 9pm every evening you turn on Pink Floyd laser-show lights in your 200 square foot living room and leave them on for the entire evening with the shades up.
My sole intent is to catch people doing it a la that Sex and the City episode where Samantha invites the girls over for popcorn and wine to spy on her neighbors who just can’t get enough of each other.
Yes, I’m weird. Maybe even illegal — I’m not sure of the repercussions of telling you all this — but what I am sure of is that Steve was right. We are not the only creeps in the building.
There I was, minding my own business, in the process of some seriously delicious and empowering naked me-time when out of the corner of my eye, I saw him.
Just standing there, glass in hand, looking at me.
I immediately followed the proper protocol for encountering a bear (as opposed to a peeping Tom) — I yelled for Steve, who wasn’t there. I then said “Oh, shoot,” — in other, more explicit words. I told myself he could smell fear, so I had to continue to be confident, & then I slowly and [hopefully] inconspicuously started to back away from the window.
I made the one fatal mistake of looking directly at him, which he responded to by jumping and turning off his light.
I finally made the call to just fake a fainting spell an slither to the floor, where I crawled into the bedroom (where the curtains were shut, because #privacymatters) and remained for the rest of the night.
At least I got to bed early.
I remember reading a book called “The Bad Girl’s Guide to Getting What You Want” a million years ago. One of the things it stated as being a “seriously bad girl move” was to dance around wearing nothing with the curtains up. At the time, I didn’t have my own apartment so dancing around naked made for quite a few awkward family moments, but when I did finally move out I was way more concerned about landing an episode of Criminal Minds written about my untimely and nude murder than I was about being a bad girl.
Over time, however, after one becomes experienced in the ways of both apartment living and living alone, you kind of forget that your windows are two-way.
Which is actually why I was doing the dishes that way in the first place. Who likes pants?
When I woke up this morning, I had forgotten all about the late-night rendevouz I had just hours before with corner unit, floor 12 guy. I walked to the washroom (in clothes). I showered. I got out of the shower . . . only to realize that my towel was back in the bedroom. I booked it — a total of 20 feet if I’m being generous towards the size of my place — straight into my towel.
As I plodded my way back to the washroom I couldn’t help but look out my windows into the units across from me. Some of them had curtains drawn, but most of them were wide open. I saw a girl eating breakfast (I almost typed Cheerios but realized that was taking my creative liberty too far), I saw a man looking out over the ocean, and as I finally let my eyes drift towards corner unit, floor 12 guy I prepared myself to come face-to-face with him.
Instead, I saw him where I’ve seen him every moment I’ve peered over there since I moved in (often, obviously). Seated in front of his television, playing Call of Duty (not artistic liberty. I can see the little people on the screen).
He wasn’t sitting there staring across at me, waiting for my next blunder. He wasn’t searching the skies for the next naked person. He had just gone right on living.
Which is exactly what I should have done when I noticed him in the first place.
Living in close quarters with strangers does incredible things for your psyche. It shows you you’re normal. It shows you you’re not normal. It exercises this little muscle inside called trust that is defined as “that thing you do in silence that assures people in the elevator you aren’t going to bring up what you saw them doing last night.” It makes you feel excruciatingly alone — but also really on public display. It reminds you — often — that you are not special, and that this is a good thing.
Because you’re never going to be the first naked person in the window.
You aren’t going to be the last.
& you’re never going to be the only creep in your apartment building.
photo by Saga Sig
Do you ever tell yourself a story so many times that you start believing it’s true?
Well, that story is my life.
When I was younger, my parents called me a compulsive liar. I blame it on my creative imagination and also never quite having the guts to launch into a full blown rebellion. Instead, I would be bad (tell 7-11 that I had $1 worth of candy when really it was $1.50 and kiss boys in dingy basements blaring Black Sabbath) and then lie about not being bad.
For the most part, I’ve grown out of it. Publishing all my stories on the Internet has a lot to do with it, because my lies (or “stories” as I call them) could be so easily exposed if the right person decided to log on and read. Also, I’ve decided it is way more fun to actually live through stories worth telling as opposed to creating them in my head.
The thing is — I have rarely even made up stories worth lying about! I made up mundane stories that only slightly varied from the truth. I think it’s because I wanted to protect myself. But I could also just be really mentally unstable.
Anyway, like I said, I’ve knocked it off.
Until this week, when Steve and I booked a trip to Palm Springs and I somehow led him to believe I had been there before. Instead of being all “Oh, I haven’t been there, silly, I just read a lot of gypsy blogs so I feel like I have,” I just went along with it.
I created a convoluted story that both enticed and infuriated him. I had been with an ex-boyfriend he didn’t know I had. We stayed in a house. And we spent our days traipsing through the desert with no map and no water and a Nikon camera that was left on the airplane en route home.
OK, see, that last part I never told him. I just told that to myself because it completed the sentence better.
Anyway, eventually I was like “OMG, I’m the weirdest person ever, I have to tell him before this turns into something bigger and the government is willing to pay for my therapy.”
Do you know how awkward it is to tell your [completely sane] boyfriend that you made up a story about something super pointless?
Er, so, uh, I’ve never actually been to Palm Springs. I was . . . just . . . kidding?
It wasn’t awkward at all, because that’s not the type of person I am, but still. It was ridiculous.
The scary part was that he took it rather well. In fact, it seemed like he expects that sort of thing from me — probably because on our second date I told him point blank that I’m bat shit crazy. Because I know what the boys like to hear.
The saying goes something like it’s easier to tell the truth than to tell a lie and I think whoever first coined that was a big fat liar.
Yes, convoluted lies are hard to keep straight and easy to mess up, but there’s nothing more difficult than telling the whole truth and nothin’ but the truth. In the truth we are exposed. We are vulnerable. We are easily wounded.
The easy part comes later, when we realize we’ve been accepted just as we are — with no frills, no judgement, and no imaginary trips to Palm Springs.
The other day I got quite aggressive with my daily commute. It will fer sher be the death of me one day soon, so I was all “EFF IT” and I put ZZ Top on blast and just plowed through people left and right.
Whenever I walk around downtown blasting ZZ Top I always knock so many people over. — Andria Parker (@byAndriaParker) October 1, 2014
One guy yelled “woah, bitch, Imma get out the way,” which temporarily put me in a better mood — because Luda — but for the most part I was a tornado blowing through the streets of downtown Vancouver looking for any one to challenge me.
Why was I channeling my inner Twister? I don’t have any idea.
I could blame my adrenals, definitely. I’m sure what I need is more sleep and less coffee and a better commitment to warrior pose. But really, who wants practical advice when it comes to learning how to relax? It’s like everything else — give it to me fast and make it work faster.
OK, maybe not everything else.
When it comes to October I always find myself with mixed emotions. The world around us says slow down, but my immediate response is to go full-blown Martha Stewart and start collecting pine cones and leaves for random Pinterest projects. It’s a fragile season for me — one during which I always get sick and crabby — but it has such an exciting energy that I can’t help but want to do everything.
It doesn’t help that it’s my birthday month. (What, you thought I was going to keep turning 27 a secret? Puh-lease. Bring on the cake and flower crowns. Those are the new tiaras, right?) & the last thing I want to be doing during my entire month of birth is stressing out about the fact I have yet to go apple picking.
I always forget to go apple picking.
Sure, fall doesn’t feel like fall without its collection of scarves and playlists and pumpkin spice scented Bath & Body Works products, but that’s not what it needs to be about. The reason it’s a spectacular season is because this stuff happens whether you plan it or not. Your neighbor’s apples will fall off the tree and she’ll bring them over to you and you’ll attempt to make a pie. It will rain on top of dead leaves and you’ll smell something better than any B&BW lotion. Your boyfriend will drag you to tailgate at a football game. You’re going to turn the heat on and bundle up.
These things are all just going to happen. The last thing we need to do is ruin a magnificent naturally occurring season (as they all are) with another one of our to-do lists. So, while I’m not about to stop pinning recipes of gluten-free pumpkin bread and Hunter rain boots, I’m going to stop pressuring myself to go full tilt.
I’m spending this weekend in the mountains with no cell reception, and while I really want to roast marshmallows on an open fire, I’m not going to feel defeated if it rains and I can’t cross it off my to-do list. Instead, I’ll go back to reading my trashy young adult novel under the blankets.
The moment I saw my iPhone hit the layer of Hello Kitty bubble gum scented bubbles on top of the 98 degree water, I saw my life flash before my eyes.
First of all, yeah, I did just happen to pick 98 degrees out of a hat because of the Nick Lachey band. So what?
Second of all, I know the super hot ER doctor told me that for the sake of my vagina I shouldn’t use cheap bubble bath, but seriously? Bubble gum? I’ll take that risk.
Anyway, there I was, dancing around in the bathroom to new Kenny Chesney, plugged into my ear buds when — whoops — my pop and lock got out of control and busted the jack right from the hole. (Technical terms, people).
There went my phone, sailing through the air, and — bloop — right into the bubbling Hubba Bubba scented bliss-pot.
For a moment I stood there — naked and stunned — staring at the dangling white cord still swaying from the dance party, before reaching around and yelling a slow motion “NOOOOOO,” as I plunged into the tub after Siri.
I grabbed it and immediately bundled it in a hand-towel like a little baby Jesus. I didn’t grab rice, because in moments of panic the last thing you do is think about starches. I just sat there, cradling it against my chest like it was a frightened half-drowned daddy long legs.
And then . . . I put it down. I thought to myself meh, whatever.
It wasn’t even out of sheer exasperation — I was like meh over my apple product. Meh, I can get another one. Meh, they don’t charge me until next month’s bill. Meh, it’s just more money I don’t have. Meh, I can Facebook important people. Meh, Meh, Meh.
I was literally more Meh than miffed.
I read a “dating” article recently that explained then importance of the “fuck yes” law, basically stating that if you or another person aren’t all “fuck yes, I’m totally in,” that you’re wasting your time. Honestly, at the time I read it I was in total puppy love so I didn’t really realize it was actually talking more about life than dating.
But standing there — naked and stunned — in my bathroom, Kenny Chesney crooning country ballads into the riptide of my bathtub I realized that was it. If I was more Meh than miffed, what the heck was I needing the device for anyway?
I had a moment of fleeting freedom. I saw myself in Orlando, Florida with my $15 flip phone that I left on a toilet top in House of Blues one Sunday night. I saw myself laughing over pizza the next morning with people who I didn’t ever need a phone to get hold of. I saw myself dancing the night away under Tropical Storm Andrea (it was a thing that summer, Google it), and I saw myself not thinking for one brief moment that I would need to spend FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS on a new one.
Because I didn’t. Because I don’t.
I talked myself — in a span of 45 seconds — into thinking I was never going to use another iPhone again.
And when I uncradled my weeping daddy long legs from his baby Jesus swaddling . . . he worked.
So, clearly, I learned nothing.
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.
I HAVE NEVER WON ON BLACK BEFORE.
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.
“So,” she asked me over the clanking of ice in the shaker, “what do you do in real life?”
I breathe a sigh of relief. Not that there’s anything wrong with being identified as a waitress, but I’m a shitty waitress on a good day and my maroon lipstick tells my patrons everything they need to know about how seriously I take my job. Oh, I like the small talk alright, but my ability to mix an old fashioned the same, twice in a row, is non-existent.
“I’m a writer,” I said.
Here in the dimly lit brick-enclosed space that smells of muddled oranges and spilled bourbon, I can be whatever I want. “Real life” is out there. In here is a three month overdue Telus bill and a used car with $11,000 of insurance on it’s back. In here is the blood in the veins of the hustle, and everyone knows there’s more to the story.
No one wakes up one morning and says “I’m going to be a waitress!”
Unless you’re me on Monday — I said those words because I needed some fast cash.
In here are ten fanny packs, six pouches of change and forty notepads from the dollar store, all waiting to have “medium rare, seat 1” written on them. There’s nothing glamorous about wiping tables and spilling mayonnaise on your Chuck Taylors — but at midnight on a Thursday, The Black Keys playing through speakers above your head, shoes sticking to the splattered patterns of Jim Beam on the laminate, $120 dollars in your pocket and $70 in the bank, you feel slightly superior.
Not because $190 is enough money to pay half of your overdue Telus bill, but because this is the one job you can have that people won’t use to define you.
“How about you?” I asked her as I handed her the whiskey sour to take to a table in the back.
“I’m in my last year of neuroscience,” she said.
We all have to start somewhere.