Another St Paddy’s Day with the Birthday Princess

Some birthdays are more memorable than others. Sweet sixteen on the beaches of Florida, I can finally use valid identification to go to the bar with my wrestling team 19th (if you are in Ontario), the 25th “break your nose on the side of a van” pirate themed party, and the 30th in Boston on St Paddy’s Day with my favourite people (need I say more). I can confidently add the 32nd to the list.

50's themed Brithday princess (self made, Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's custom)

50’s themed Brithday princess (self made, Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s custom)

Some of my fam in Boston at the parade in Southy for my 30th

Some of my fam in Boston at the parade in Southy for my 30th

First off, I think I need to talk about my dark side. My fatal flaw. I suffer from a self-imposed “condition” or what is self-diagnosed as birthday princess-itis. Loosely described as the neurotic implementation of high expectations on your social circle (and any other passers by who are game to participate) to stop and celebrate your day of birth.   It is the annual opportunity to justify my desire to be the centre of attention and hold the stage for 24 straight hours. And in exchange for your undivided attention I continue to promise and deliver 24 straight hours of entertainment at my expense. Gifts are not required but definitely enjoyed as all I want is your time and sense of humour / adventure. And, on top of all of that, if things end up getting out of hand, you have apologetic coffees, chocolate and repaired / dry-cleaned clothing to look forward to the following day. So in my mind, it is an equitable arrangement.

I can honestly say that I was not expecting anything this year. New to Vancouver, having left all my friends and loved ones who understand just how neurotic I am about my birthday, I had done a pretty good job of lowering expectations as low as a birthday princess could. I kept plans low key and flexible. Wowza, was my mind blown with how awesome my day went!

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I awoke to the long distances birthday wishes of my family and best friends in Ontario (who were 3 hours ahead and patiently waiting to be the first to call) and Calgary. I chatted up a storm all morning as I made my way to the top of Grouse mountain where, donning my green tiara, I spiked my coffee with Jameson’s and took in the breathtaking views of the city below and the ships cruising into the harbour.

I made it down into the city feeling extremely zen. I received my first birthday present from my friend and talented hairdresser at BangTown who couldn’t join the festivities that night so he, with his magic wand (aka. curling iron and 5 pounds of hair product), ensured I looked fabulous from the scalp up. I felt like a true diva. Then, with my fabulous new hair style, I was given one of the coolest birthday presents yet. I was invited to experience the process of choreographing a bad-ass fight scene for a film. Yes folks, for my birthday, I got to be a stand-in villain who gets killed by the anti-hero. The real present came when I was able to contribute one of my former wrestling moves to the fight which led to a “good job Andrea” pat on the back from the stunt choreographer. A moment which gave me a non-caffinated high for the rest of the day (and much into the following week).

Designated Birthday Buddy

Designated Birthday Buddy

Finally it was show time. Exposing my new friends to the gong-show, alter-ego that is the birthday princess. I was decked out in my birthday dress, tiara, green helium balloon attached to my wrist and carried a green purse stalked with green beads, leprechaun tattoos and a deck of cards (because a birthday princess is always prepared). My designated birthday buddy kicked off the event with TMNT (teenage mutant ninja turtles for those of you not raised by late 80’s cartoons) shots and escorted me down to Olympic Village where a group of new parkour and circus friends ate, drank and laughed at a pub. I even got the thrill of watching some of the reactions of those who were quite shocked and taken back by this loud, sailor-mouthed, enjoyer of awkward moments with the helium balloon reattached to her green tiara. My circus training buddy made me a beautiful necklace, others generously shared a variety of shots / beers and another friend managed to make an appearance after flying all day from Europe. How lucky am I!

Parkour friends represent

Parkour friends represent

Circus friends represent

Circus friends represent

I woke up the next morning with aching cheeks from smiling and a deep appreciation for the awesome friends I have made in Vancouver. They’re freaking keepers! Another incredible birthday for the books and further justification to leave the birthday princess-itis uncured.

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Becoming a British Columbian

So I have finally come around to the idea of relinquishing whatever ties I have left of being an Albertan  and begun the slow, painful and costly process of becoming a Vancouverite. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Not just for the fact that change is hard but also because any beaurocratic system is far from being efficient and quick.

I managed to shell out way too much money to get my car provincially inspected and got my drivers’ licence switched over. I felt a little naked without my ID for the 2 weeks that I only had a paper permit. lt was the first time since I was 18 that I desperately hoped I wouldn’t get ID’d at the liquor store because I did not have photo ID with me. When my new identitification came in the mail it felt like I was getting a brand new identity along with it. I was now Andrea Ross from Vancouver, whatever that meant in relation to ANdrea Ross from Calgary, formerly Andrea ROss of London. 

The most exciting part of getting my new drivers licence was being able to get my library card. Having access to millions of books, audio books, free internet, and the occasional outdated film is so exillerating to me. I am currently listening to “A Week with Marilyn” as I drive from coaching to training to auditions and back to coaching. The downside of getting my BC drivers licence is saying goodbye to free Alberta healthcare and hello to $70 a month so I can still pay full price for my massage, chiro and accupuncture. The tradeoffs we make.

The other major undertaking I’ve had these past few weeks has been my living situation. I can write about this now becasue it has all seemed to have worked out. Last week I wasn’t feelign so great about the whole subject. You go from owning your own condo to bribing and begging landlords and property managers to accept you as a tenant. For two weeks, I stalked craigslist, made dozens and dozens of phone calls which led to daily apartment viewings. When I finally visited a place that was within my budget, that didn’t reek of mould and that had a fridge and a stove that where not built before I was born, I would get to the application portion of the process. 

Anyone who has tried to rent in Vancouver will know that it is extremely competitive. By the time I finished filling out one application, the apartment would have already been leased out. Apartment buildings became odd tourist attractions where one group would be ushered out while a whole new tour group were ushered in. Everyone josteling to get in the door first and then passive aggressively trying to gain favour with the landlord. The other thing I had going against me was trying to explain to property managers how my 5 various jobs made me enough money to consistently pay rent. It didn’t matter how much I stretched the truth and overstated my monthly income, the apartment would still go to the boring person with the steady 9-5 job. 

After almost giving up and drafting floorplans for my cardboard box house in East Hastings I got a little drunk, went for a walk along the beach and dictated a letter to potential property managers with the top 5 reasons why, even with my alternative lifestyle,  I  would make an excellent tenant. Well wouldn’t you know, the second landlord I handed that letter to called me the next day and asked when I wanted to sign a lease. I felt so victorious! I may be trading in brand new, 650 square feet with underground parking, dishwasher and ensuite laundry for super old, 400 something square feet with shady street parking, no dishwasher, and shared laundry for almost the same amount of money. But I have a home now and with a little assistance from my fabulous interior designing aunt from TOronto, I will make it great!

AthleteInspired