fail

#slay

Remember Brad? Of course you don’t. Let me refresh your memory.

Back when I was online dating in 2012-2014, I went on a stranger-than-fiction date with Brad, putting myself in a situation where I could easily have been raped, but luckily that wasn’t Brad’s particular fetish (for the entire saga, click this link). I’ve wisened up a lot since then.

Brad, however, is a persistent dude. Every 9-12 months he resurfaces, sending me an email asking how I am doing. Most recently, today.

Where are you???

Happy New Year!

Y’all. Our date was in May 2013. Almost 5 years ago. Why? Why is he still trying, albeit not very hard? He takes the whole “Minimum Possible Investment” notion to a whole new level!

No, I’ve never emailed him back since our date. And no, this is definitely not how I anticipated my first blog post of 2018 to be.

#thisiswhyimsingle

#whytho

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My Russian genetics are MIA

My father and I celebrated Christmas Eve by eating an excessive share of 2 large pizzas (All Dressed and Hawaiian, pineapple totally belongs on a pizzathankyouverymuch) and drinking an entire bottle of port, while watching It’s A Wonderful Life (I bawled my eyes out) and White Christmas, which I maintain is the greatest movie ever made. Growing up, I thought Danny Kaye was my father. My mother always felt Bing Cosby looked like her father. So really, this movie is autobiographical. I mean, just look at this:

#lyricsonpoint The best things do happen when you dance:“Kizomba Will Change Your Life”. Now that I have 15 months of social dancing experience, I watch the above clip and realize just how masterful Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen’s dancing of that choreography is. I mean, I always knew, but now I understand.

Anyhow. 1st important takeaway: not a single drop of vodka was drunk. #failedrussian

I woke up on Christmas to many texts of good wishes from friends and family. #warmfuzzyfeelings As I lay in bed, reconciling myself to the notion that I’d eventually have to get up, my phone pinged. Froman, sending me pics of his most recent trip to Morocco: he is organizing a new festival in Marrakesh and takes an absurd pleasure in triggering my wanderlust #whatarefriendsfor.  So there I was, trying to ignore the mild headache that had nothing to do with the absurd quantities of alcohol consumed the night before, looking at pictures of beautiful mosaics, sunshine, pools and beaches. Up I got, opened the blinds, and sent him the view from my room. Snow. So much of it. To which Froman responds, “oh how pretty!! All that snow!” Really?! Boy, bye.

2nd important takeaway: snow does not fill my heart with happiness. White Christmases are overrated. #failedrussian

Off to Quebec city to spend time with my fam, my darlings. Upon arrival, Quebec Cousin #2 enthusiastically announces, “Vanilla!!! I have this GREAT idea. We are gonna build a fire in a snow pit, and drink mulled wine outdoors! It’s gonna be SO MUCH FUN!”

Fun fact #1: my entire Quebec family own snow-pants. I wouldn’t even know where to purchase snow-pants.

Fun fact #2: There was 3 feet of snow. We shoveled for an hour to make the snow pit. Much discussion was had as to how to build a sturdy snow fort, so that our seats would be solid, with appropriate walls to lean our backs into, and protect us from the wind.

Fun fact #3: IT WAS MINUS 25CELSIUS. MINUS. NEGATIVE. VERY NEGATIVE. AKA COLD. VERY VERY VERY VERY COLD.

Behold the results of all our efforts.

We so cute.

Cozy. Body heat is a very important concept in the outdoors!

3rd important takeaway: mulled wine. Again, no vodka #failedrussian

(Full disclosure: shhhh, don’t tell anyone: I really enjoyed myself. BUT, I’m NEVER voluntarily exposing myself to that kinda of cold ever again. MY ovaries are still thawing.)

Rough patch

I was supposed to spend the day working, but instead I had a full-blown meltdown. I have a dehydration headache: I’m on hour 5 of crying. I hope I’m wrong, but I think I might have just crossed the line from funk into a real depressive episode. It feels mighty similar to the last episode in summer of 2014: over a period of 3-4 weeks, a sharp increase in frequency of rage blow ups, tears, hearing a few too many phrases that hit close to home (Robin Williams’ death), and then on the drive home from a vacation weekend in Qc city, I started crying, and cried non stop the whole way home. My poor father. 3 hours of driving next to a silent watering pot. Not fun.

What set me off this time? An innocent remark from a friend who witnessed my interaction with an Apple store salesperson. “Vanilla, you are so intense. You talk too much, often about shit that you don’t even know much about. You set up people’s backs, because you give the impression of talking just to hear yourself talk, you think you are so smart. And when you DO know what you’re talking about? You make suggestions that sound like orders. You might mean well, but you are too aggressive. Chill out, girl. You don’t need to have the answer, always. Especially if people didn’t ask you the question.”

Sometimes, the truth fucking hurts.

I do set up people’s backs. Often, especially at work. I’ve a long history of it, and no matter how hard I try, I haven’t demonstrated any noticeable improvement over the years. I don’t know how to avoid it. I listen to people based on their demonstrated intelligence (which I feel I am smart enough to evaluate for myself) and their capacity for problem solving. I mean, that is what we are all paid to do. Deliver. So if I feel I have relevant comments about delivery, yes, I will say them. I AM BEING PAID TO DO SO. Yes, my comments cover a broad range of topics, beyond accounting. Yes, I am fucking smart. No, I don’t start every sentence that way. Yes, I ruffle feathers. That is my job. I come across as some sort of machine, stripping people of their humanity, judging them for not being able to keep up with my brain.

But here is the thing. Fundamentally, I don’t believe in my own humanity. I am nothing more than an excellent accountant. I have nothing else. Literally.

  • I am 34, I have a roommate, I live in an un-decorated apartment, my fridge broke down 7 days ago, and I haven’t even started to look into buying a new one, because I have no time, and I never cook for myself. Hate cooking, in general, cooking for 1 is the most depressing thing ever, and I am never home, either working, working out or dancing.
  • Almost 8 years single. I’ve totally given up on dating, especially online. The guys that I have met in the past 3 years have been rather adept of stripping me of any self-respect, using me for my pussy, my brain, my useful problem-solving skills, my low-key easy company, never expressing any desire for any commitment whatsoever. If I did meet a guy who wanted commitment, I’d assume he was a liar. I wouldn’t know what to do with him, bc I’ve stopped believing anyone would find me worth investing in. My track record proves it.
  • I have no savings, because – and this is not an exaggeration – I spend thousands of dollars a year on Ubers, because that is the only way I can get my ass to work before 10am, because I am so exhausted by work and from keeping up the appearance of being normal. No, I don’t want a car, I don’t want another thing that I won’t have the time or energy to take care of, or the stress of rushhour. Yes, I might have to get one, just from an economics perspective.
  • I spend my free time working out. 5-15 hours a week. Kickboxing, boxing, dancing… the specific activity might change, but the habit is the same, the talent rather unexistent. As my cousin once wondered, someone who avoids being home that much is probably running away from their life. It’s not quite that. It is that I need the endorphins to keep my poisonous shadow at bay. And also, what else can I do with my time? Work more, sure, but even I get fed up of being a work horse. All my friends, my real friends, are busy with their lives, married with babies. I see them 3-6 times a year.

That’s it. That is all. I have nothing else, other than this tiny blog, which reminds me that I have a voice. The only thing I have going for me is my brain. So yes, I make suggestions, good ones, pertinent and on point. I speak up. I hold on tightly to the belief that in some capacity, I must be of use or valuable to somebody, be it only the corporation paying my salary. #howsthatforhumanity

But here is the even bigger paralyzing fear, the same one as in 2014. Every time work hits a certain level of pressure (60 hours, week after week), I can’t sustain it for very long. My brain short-fuses, and I spiral down a road of complete misery. The shadow takes over, the meltdowns increase, the number of bust-ups with people multiply. I slide into depression, a miserable existence that robs months and years of life from me.

My identity, the only purpose I serve in this life, is to be an accountant: it is contingent on my brain. And my brain betrays me when it matters most. I had hoped, so much, that going on medication for my ADD would help. But it doesn’t. I can’t handle the pressure levels required of any top-level professional… even by giving all of myself. Literally. My place is a disaster, my finances are a disaster, I have no personal life, no kids, no husband, no friends. All I have is work, and I can’t keep up.

I quit my job in 2014 because of my depression. It broke my heart. I loved my job. But I couldn’t bear the misery of my life and hoped that by opting for something less stressful, I could still fulfill my need of being a valuable, smart accountant, without putting myself in an environment that would eventually push my shadow to kill me. I changed the entire course of my career to accommodate my sick brain.

Here I am 3 years later, and despite making lifestyle changes to keep my brain happy (regular exercise and medication), despite a job that I love so much… I can’t keep up.

So where does that leave me? By every humane metric, my life is a complete failure. My sick brain, yet again, seems keen on sabotaging my career.

Hour 6 of crying.

 

But… you’re so talented! Why blog?

Vanilla, I know this blog is important to you… but… but you’re SO smart, and talented. You’ve so much potential, both as an accountant and with your words. Why blog? You are aware, aren’t you that this could have an impact on your career, whether deserved or not?

There is a lot to unpack in those few statements.

I know this blog is important to you.

Major understatement. This blog is an essential part of my trusty toolbox that I use to fight my shadow every day. Therapy + exercise + blogging. My tripod. I can survive off of 2 out of 3. But less than 3 = misery.

You’ve so much potential, both as an accountant and with your words. Why blog? (Subtext: blogging is a waste of my talent. If I were writing poetry, novels, popular editorials or at a minimum free-lancing and earning some sort of revenue, that would make my writing an acceptable hobby for an accountant. Because credibility is apparently only dependent on the form (poetry/novels), the reach of the audience, or it’s income generating success.)

I blog because it proves I have a voice. My shadow seeks to convince me that I am nothing, that I am worse than nothing, I am a noisy distraction and annoyance. Every day, I fight that part of my brain that seeks to convince me that the world would be a better place if I were silent. I blog because it is an exercise in vulnerability, and without vulnerability I have no hope of ever vanquishing my shadow.

I blog because in this day and age of social media, with so many of my friends successfully adulting, I felt like a misfit. I share my story, so that others who feel isolated in their struggles to successfully adult may feel less alone. A virtual community is better than no community. I blog because of moments like this and this. For the dozens of times where an acquaintance or a stranger has written to me to say that reading my words made them feel less alone in their struggles, gave them insight, made them laugh on a day when the world was nothing but grey.

One day, maybe, I will write a novel, or I won’t. One day, maybe, I will be a wildly successful columnist for the Huffington Post. But that day will only happen if I continue to believe I have a voice. So I blog.

(Incidentally, I do freelance – I’ve drafted promotional material for three different international dance festivals. Does that make me more credible, somehow?)

You are aware, aren’t you that this could have an impact on your career, whether deserved or not?

Yes, I am aware. Obvi. People form judgements, their judgments inform their opinions, their opinions inform their decisions, and their decisions inform my life and my opportunities. I might be a fucking brilliant accountant, but knowing I suffer from depression, ADD and anxiety, and have piss-poor taste in men? Suddenly I am tarnished goods.

But here’s the thing. I don’t care.

I am that girl, the fucking brilliant accountant with mental health issues, and crazy baggage. That is who my company hired. I will NEVER bring up either the mental health issues or my baggage in a work context, because I firmly believe that to be irrelevant: everyone is dealing with shit of their own. I was hired to deliver, and I am evaluated on my capacity to deliver, baggage notwithstanding. I expect that of myself and of every other employee in the organization. That I chose to share some of my struggles on this blog is irrelevant. If any coworker choses to read my blog, and as such learns of my struggles – that’s on them. They chose to seek out additional information about me, and I cannot be burdened by their difficulty in assimilating it. I am too busy delivering the value added to the organization that I was hired to deliver. I’ve written this before: I carefully consider every single post, before publishing it. I consider the whether the impacts on myself, or those featured in the stories, are fair. Any post that is published, I am willing to defend and 100% own up to. I anticipate that anyone could read it, from the CEO of my company to the Arch-Bishop of Canada (who does, incidentally, occasionally read my blog), to influential promoters in the dance community, to politicians (true story, one of my followers is a former member of our House of Commons).

Traditionally, in the workforce, people limit what they show their coworkers and employers. They play the game of presenting their best selves, carefully packaging their image and brand. The fact that I do not play that game ruffles feathers and is sometimes perceived as vulgarity or an indication that I am too stupid to play the game. Wrong. I worked 5 years for a Big 4 accounting firm. I can play that game as well as anybody. I just hate it. By playing it, I’m tacitly implying that part of myself should remain hidden – feeding perfectly into my shadow’s game plan to convince me that who I am is not worthy of being. So I chose not to play that game. I chose authenticity and to believe that I will professionally get my just desserts based on my performance and my unquestionable intelligence. Besides, the people that do play that perceptions game? They inevitably end up revealing their true selves eventually, despite their best efforts not to.

Recently a dude in my professional network tried to cause shit with my blog, by sending a careful selection of posts to some individuals that would react unfavorably to them. He did so behind the scenes, thinking I wouldn’t find out. So. What does this tell me? It tells me that this guy, who knows I have a doozy of a story about him, is terrified that I will one day blog about it. And rather than chose to trust in my good judgment – writing about it would violate my principle that my right to self expression must not come at the price someone’s right to privacy – he attempted to force my hand, and create enough headache for me that I would reconsider blogging at all. How cute. He played the game, and he lost, since he revealed all of himself to me through his actions, whereas I have revealed nothing that wasn’t already public information.

You are aware, aren’t you that this could have an impact on your career?

Absolutely. A positive one. Just watch me.

The D has arrived

Update on my funk/shadow situation: I’m ok-ish. Not getting worse or better, just meh. Treading water. I appear functional to the outsider: I make it to work every day, I am mostly delivering on my projects, I smile, laugh and occasionally have a sense of humor. But there is a huge cost to appearing so normal: I am permanently exhausted, my concentration is nowhere where it should be, I’m apathetic about my career, friends, blogging and dancing. I require a lot of naps and time-outs. But I know that as long as I am patient and persistent, eventually this cloud of grey through which I see the world will fade, and bit by bit the colors of the world will reappear. In the past, I used to feel shame of how I was wasting my life, drifting aimlessly. Now, I understand that this is the cost of depression: delayed career goals due to unrealized potential, strained friendships, and loneliness because I am in no state to meet anyone, practice vulnerability, and take risks. It is too bad, it is slightly unfair, but the Universe loves to dish out shit to everyone, and this is my particular cross to bear. There is no point feeling shame, or beating myself up. I am trying my best, I refuse to give up on the dream of one day achieving happiness, and that tenacity is something I should be proud of.

Part of taking care of myself has involves training at my boxing gym with Coach aka Dr. Booté. The vibe and the friendships run deep. One of these friendships is with TooWhite, a mini-me: with skin that is blinding in its whiteness, she is a 25 yr old kickass smart accountant that struggles with similar insecurities to mine. I feel very protective towards her, like a mentor professionally and personally. Yet she can squat 250lbs, has the best taste in trap music ever and is infinitely cooler than I will ever be. My little gym-bae. Soon after resuming regular training at the gym in August, I texted TooWhite admitting how much I’d missed the gym & Coach.

Isn’t she the cutest? She’s the cutest. #squad

The past 2 weeks have been very hectic, causing me to miss 2 workouts because of Canadian Thanksgiving and because I had another show on Thursday night. I missed my dose of TooWhite. When I showed up to the gym on Saturday, at the front desk was one of TooWhite’s close friends, J-dawg (he’s badass by association). Even though I’d had two coffees at that point, my brain clearly was not awake:

Hey! Long time no see! Is TooWhite already here? Yeah? She is! Sweet. Imma go get changed, but meanwhile can you tell her her D has arrived?

J-dawg blinked. I realized what I had just said. I stammered an explanation, “I’m her D, as in the letter, not as in the male genital, because you know, I’m a woman and all, and even if I wasn’t I would be broadcasting the intimate nature of our relationship, if any. D as in #squad, oh god, I’m not making this better, am I?” TooWhite’s friend solemnly promised me he’d pass along the message. When I strolled into the weight-lifting room 3 minutes later, I found him & TooWhite uncontrollably giggling. I’m a walking eggplant emoji, apparently.

#squaD

Recap of various vanilla Vanilla highlights at the gym:

Depression and exit strategies …….. the holy grail of depression sufferers

I went for drinks with some friends and friends of friends last night. One dude, who I’ll call OG, recounted a story of how he broke up with his ex after her 2nd suicide attempt. How he’d felt trapped and tricked. She’d looked so normal for the first 2 years, emotionally volatile, sure, but normal. After the first suicide attempt he learned she’d tried other times, before him. This was a recurring mental issue, one that might kill her and would inevitably derail his own life. He felt he had no choice but to make the best decision for his own life and future, and leave her. Leaving her freed him up to focus on building up his own life, success and well-being. However, almost a decade on, she still refuses to talk to him. One of his friends hypothesized that his ex felt shame, “Sometimes, when you’ve acted in a way that was just too awful and unacceptable, you can’t face any reminders of that, the shame is too painful.”

I stayed quiet throughout that conversation, which I regret.

I didn’t say that I suffer from depression.

I didn’t say that OG’s comments confirms one of my deepest insecurities: anyone who gets to know the real me, and meets my shadow, will run, will deem me unworthy the effort of loving, I come with too much baggage.

I didn’t say that this is why I’ve chosen to remain single for 7 years now. I don’t think I can survive another instance of giving all of myself, working through the terror of vulnerability, attempting to build a life with someone, only for it to fall apart because the burden of my shadow is too heavy to bear. I chose a life of loneliness, limiting how much I inflict my depression on friends and family, rather than face the unbearable pain of being rejected. I also chose loneliness because I don’t ever want to be the reason someone holds back on living their life, choosing to stick with me & my sickness out of loyalty. My shadow stifles my dreams and happiness. I don’t think I could accept if it stifled anyone else’s too. I completely understand and respect OG’s decision to leave the girl.

I didn’t say that they’d gotten it all wrong. The shame is not derived from the “unacceptable” act of trying to take one’s life – only someone who has never suffered from depression would think that suicide is unacceptable or selfish. Without ever having met the girl, or been present in that decade-old saga, I would argue that the girl deems OG’s actions as concrete proof that she is unlovable, something to be abandoned once her true self is revealed. A depressive spends all day every day trying to survive, look normal, hide the mess from the world. On the rare occasions that a depressive reveals their true self to anyone – something incredibly traumatic and shameful – being rejected gives their sick brain all the ammunition necessary to convince them they are worthless. Having to face a reminder of that? Unbearably painful. I too would be incapable of facing such a reminder.

I didn’t say that I admired the girl – 10 years is a lot of years to put up with a sick brain, good for her for still being alive.

#weallhaveexitstrategies

black dog

I was speaking to another “depressive”(someone who suffers from depression – usually with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and possibly Stress thrown in for shits and giggles — I might have just made that word up, but it seems to work, so I am going to leave it there) a week or two ago and we were chatting about shit and things and really playing catch up.

We had not seen each other in quite some time, so it was a very nice catch up and we did spend a lot of the time laughing, and snorting.

The conversation took a turn and we started speaking about the fact that we both suffer from Depression — not the “here take one pill and call me in the morning kind” but the sort that takes you 13 years of therapy to really understand what it is you are working with.

Years of enduring…

View original post 1,128 more words

Play to your strengths 

Remember Ferrari boy? He whose smooth talk convinced me to eat too much pizza at work? When I told the Ferrari story to my #dreamteam, they scoffed at me – Charmer was over 30, for sure. I scoffed at them: I’ve developed a 6th sense at identifying all guys under 26 years old. The gym and the dance world is crammed with good looking almost-children charmers. I ain’t into the whole cradle-robbing thing. Auntie Vanilla, that’s me. Not Cougar Vanilla. Charmer was under 25, I could tell. I bet a week’s supply of chocolate on it.

He is 30. My team was thorough in their interrogation, even sharing with him the reason for their cross-examination – they don’t mess around when there is chocolate on the line.

I skipped the caf for almost 2 weeks. Auntie Vanilla was embarrassed. My team was delighted. They finished the chocolate in 2 days.


When I was 25, after 6 years with my ex, Dynamo and Brown Socks organized a road trip to TO. We were all single, why not behave irresponsibly in a city where nobody knew us? Our first night out, Brown Socks told me not to worry, he’s an excellent wingman, he’d help me find myself a dude. Bruh. Puh-lease. Watch me. Off I went to the best looking group of dudes at the bar, chatting them up, flirting up a storm with the best looking one of them, blond, built like a football linebacker – oh no way, you are a football player? Where? at UofT! Neat, wait how are old are you? 20?! Haha, noooooooooooo way, nice try, look at your muscle tone. You must be 23-24 at least. Footballer chose not to argue with me about his own age, #goodmanners. A few shots later, we were swapping saliva. In the bar, bc #classy. Footballer knew what he was doing (see?! proof he couldn’t actually be 20 years old!). Kissy kiss kiss, I was really enjoying myself when my brain interrupted: Yes, but are you sure he isn’t 20? The half-your-age+7 rule almost applies, you know. He has to be over 19.5 for you not to be crossing the line. Why would he lie about his age? And that is how I found myself putting the torrid make-out session on pause, and asking Footballer for a piece of ID. Bemused, he handed me his driver’s license. Born in 1990. 20 years old.

My legs gave way. I sat down, gave him back his driver’s license and apologized. No more kissy kiss kiss. Yes, I know we were having fun, but that was before I understood he was actually 20 and BORN THE DECADE AFTER ME. 1990 is a HARD LIMIT. Poor Footballer tried SO hard to convince me to resume our spit-tastic interactions. I waved him away.

Dynamo and Brown Socks almost fell off the balcony, laughing so hard. They giggled the entire drive home the next day, too.

Click on the gif to go to the YouTube video of that interview. It is soooooo funny.


7 years on, and my capacity to assess people’s age has clearly not improved. 

Friday, I went down to the caf for lunch. Charmer almost dropped a bowl of soup on his coworker as I walked up to the counter. He was so generous in his preparation of my order that he ran out of space in the normal sized takeout container, and gave me a 2nd container for my salad. As he handed me my food, very seriously, he told me, Vanilla you look good. Really good.

Look at all that food! The size of my head!


Lesson learned: Charmer responds rather well to mini-skirts. That was one of the most cost effective lunches ever. The fact that it was also an ego boost? Priceless.

Also? I’ve no idea how I ever thought he was 19-23 years old. #fail #atleastIdidntaskhimforID #agoodbossalwaysdelegatesthattoherteam