Thursday, December 14, 2017

When A Father Steps Up To The Plate

Growing up my mom prepared warm, home cooked meals for us every night. She was a stay-at-home-mom until the three of us were old enough to babysit ourselves and then she worked part time, but even then, she was always home before we got home from school, to cook for us, mind us, and make sure we didn't watch TV past six pm. My mom's existence was dedicated to raising us.

But that's not all she did, after all, she was a 90's mom, she wore many hats. My mom tended to all of the household business, the finances, banking and bills. She went to all of the student teacher meetings. Social outings or birthday parties were her jurisdiction. A Catholic farm girl, she made us go to church every weekend, and not every night, but often enough, she made all five us crouch around the couch and say our prayers. She cleaned the house, did the laundry and the dishes and kissed us goodnight. Looking back on it, and this is just my flawed memory, the only time that was ever truly her own was when she'd disappear into the bathroom and steam floated out from under the crack of the door as she took a bath. I remember she always took really long baths. 

My dad was and is a truly delightful person. Growing up, he was my soccer coach, the fun parent, the one who let us watch R rated movies. I watched Pulp Fiction with my dad when I was 10. He's cool as shit. Dad let me get away with saying shit as longs as it was said in the moment or for a laugh and always encouraged me to do accents and try out for school plays. My dad was extremely present in mine and my brothers lives, not as a supervisor, but as a participant and a friend. He played with us, joked with us and often times, got in trouble with us. My dad was a big kid, which is why, through no fault of his own, when my Mom died he was just as stunted by her death as we all were.

She died in a car accident. My mom and my brother, forty two and thirteen respectively, were gone just like that. After the funeral, we were tasked with laughably impossible idea of moving on with out them.  In those early days, my dad went back to work, and my older brother and I went back to high school, but every thing was bleak and disturbed and life felt generally maligned. The thing I remember the most was the quiet that fell over the house.

On top of the shock, pain and grief, we had to go on living but it wasn't easy for obvious reasons and for less obvious ones too. When my mom died all her responsibilities suddenly fell on my dad and he had no idea how to do what she did because he never had to know. My mom's daily errands, from the mundane to the complicated, were foreign to my dad but now suddenly were delegated to him. Because dad never had to learn the things my mom did, because they did not share duties but rather compartmentalized their roles as parents, when this tragedy struck, my dad didn't know what to do. None of us did. 

We went from home cooked meals around the table to Subway dinners in front of the TV. From church every weekend to maybe God exists but if he does he is no friend of ours. I went from not being allowed to have a boyfriend to dating whom ever I wanted. My mom was gone, and so were the rules, order and any semblance of routine. Mom held the family together. She wasn't just the fabric of the family, she was the needle, the thread and the seamstress. We needed her. Sometimes, in my guilty moments, I wonder if all we asked of her was too much, that maybe we pushed her to exhaustion, caused her to slip, to over correct, to literally and figuratively crash. But that's going to far. That's dark as fuck. Can I really blame traditional gender roles for the death of my mother and brother? 

I'm going to try.

When my mom died suddenly my dad was unequipped to do the myriad of things she did and was seemingly unable to manage the new shape of our family.
 In those early days after the accident, dad made gross, raw uncooked beans or damp, tasteless salmon. But after years of trial and error he finally learned how to cook. He improved. He worked a full time job and also committed himself to all the domestic duties of the house. He learned how to do the bills, the taxes, cleaning, laundry and eventually, he even learned how to say I love you to me without me saying it to him first, (although it took him a bit longer to learn that one, but that's ok, there are cook books to help people cook but no manuals to teach one how open your heart after it's been decimated. I would write that book, but I'm still learning myself)

Now, 17 years later, my dad is fun, sweet and gregarious- just like he was when I was growing up. But he is also pragmatic, organized, adapt in the kitchen and a more calm and understanding person.  Some men never have their entire identities challenged, imploded in one moment, in one night, where everything you are is flipped on it's head; when God doesn't just suggest you change, but gives you no choice. But this is what was asked of my dad and he rose to the challenge. He didn't remarry and find a woman to do these things for him. He didn't find a replacement mom for us. I am forever grateful that he did not turn his back away from us when we needed him. He stepped up. He changed.

My dad today is a more remarkable, powerful, sensitive, and capable man then he was before the accident. He is equipped now. He is not defined by any role, he is not playing a part, because he is not just one thing, but many. Now dad always says I love you to me, with out hesitation or awkwardness, in fact, he usually says it first. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tortured Actresses Are The Elixir Of My Soul

It's three in the morning and I'm watching Lindsay Lohan on YouTube again. I will regret this tomorrow when my eyes feel like they've been dropped kicked from starring at my iPhone for too long, but right now, watching Lindsay rattle on about her refugee work while simultaneously looking like a puffy-faced crack whore, satiates my soul. This is the third night in a row I've binge watched clips of troubled actresses and I've never felt more connected to the universe. In the way that people watch Oprah for inspiration, I rely on interviews of crazy actresses for a better understanding of myself.

Lindsay is an awful role model and that's why I love her so much. She is the perfect antidote to a world that tries to force feed me yoga retreats and ah ha moments. I'm sick of shiny botoxed actresses selling me their daily skin care routines and inspirational journeys. Show me a liar, an addict, an entitled child star who blew all her money on coke and designer clothes and I'll show you someone who's Ted Talk I would listen to. In a culture that champions personal growth and teaching moments, Lindsay Lohan dares to be an abject, perpetual fuck up. She's not an empowered, strong woman and that's why I like her.

In my life, I've indulged in several self pity and booze fueled benders but I've never had enough courage to really fall apart. It takes a lot of guts to be an addict and I am too much of a control freak to have that much fun. I wish I could let go, abandon my ambition, and for once in my life be brave enough to ruin my life. But I won't do that, I like staying hydrated. I am a coward and it takes a bold woman to be a mess.

Judy Garland is perhaps my favorite horrifying example of the perils of being a child star. Like beauty, addiction is in the eye of the beholder and in every interview I've ever watched of her, Judy denies being an addict. She always insisted that if she was as messed as everyone claimed she was, she never would have been able to sing at all. Indeed, until her dying day her voice never showed any signs of corruption, but her frail face and emaciated body screamed a different, more twisted story. Her incredible talent never fell victim to her substance abuse- she could always wow an audience- but after only forty seven years, her body expired, exhausted from a life time of pain and the medication that failed to quell it.

If I was a genius I'd totally be an addict, but I can't party all the time and still be productive so unfortunately, I am doomed to a life of inner peace. Although I'm bummed that I can't rage and be successful, I am glad that I understand my talent has limits. I am only as good as the amount of sleep I get and this is a point where Lindsay Lohan and I connect.

Lindsay pranced around Hollywood thinking her talent was immune to life in the fast lane but she miscalculated and her career paid the price for it. Unlike Judy, Lindsay's gifts were not indestructible and as Lindsay's substance abuse continued, her once bright eyed, compelling screen presence morphed into one-dimensional, unremarkable performances. Lindsay Lohan was not talented enough to be an addict and not lucky enough to realize that her that gifts were finite. Lindsay should be an example of why not to romanticize drug addled famous people, but her stubborn pursuit of bliss in the face of her tanking career is the antithesis to self awareness, and so I relish her all the more, for her ignorance, her naivety, and most of all, her arrogance.

Pondering Judy and Lindsay's unfortunate lives is a respite for me; a happy place where I protect myself from positive vibes and strong woman. Judy and Lindsay are examples of weakness, people who were and are incapable of over coming their flaws. There's are not motivational stories, but real stories, human stories that remind me that sometimes whatever doesn't kill you, still kills you. I turn to these woman because they crumbled under pressure, and for that reason, they give me strength.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Pitch Of Love: A story about family, betrayal, and indoor soccer

The TV was so loud that I could only see, not hear, the phone call that changed my family forever. My dad stood still in the middle of the kitchen, clasping the phone between his chin and shoulder, but as the news sank in, his head began to move back and forth, twisting in such an over-the-top, directionless chaos, that I didn't even notice the phone drop; I blinked, and the chord was just swinging beside him, like deranged pendulum. My dad collapsed to the ground and I ran into the room, meeting him on the cold, hardwood floor. He broke the news to me fast: Hannah, I'm so sorry. You didn't make the soccer team.

My life would never be the same.

I actually did make the soccer team, just not the starting line up, but to my dad, being benched was an even greater sin than being cut. That a Hogan, a family respected for generations as supreme baseball, hockey and rugby players, would be condemned to the bench, was not only an embarrassment, but an egregious insult; an attack on our entire family too terrifying for my dad to accept. So he didn't, and, instead, declined the offer and immediately began plotting his revenge.

Invigorated by spite, my dad did something that had never been done before in the history of Peterborough sports. He formed another all star soccer team; a second, alternative squad, that was in the same league as, and would compete against, the team who had just rejected us. Like Hitler, my dad attempted a coup on the Under 13 Girls Indoor Soccer League, declaring himself the new coach in town and his daughter its captain. His bold seizure of power was poorly received by the original all star team- they were furious-and what should have been a fun loving season of soccer, a way for kids and parents to get through the long winter months, turned into a hellish nightmare of divided loyalties and tween in-fighting. Parent turned against child, child turned against parent. Friendships burned under a fire of bruised egos and Seventeen Magazines.

My team, unaffectionately referred to as the B Team, was comprised of several out of shape, flat footed, and athletically challenged thirteen year old girls. My dad, however, ignored these glaring deficiencies and began every practise with a melodramatic filibuster about being underdogs. I didn't buy into his propaganda because I had a talent for seeing through hubris, since, as a pre-teen, most of the time, I was creating it. In the beginning, I oppressed my disdain for my dad and the spectacle he called coaching, but as the season progressed, we digressed, losing every game. The harder our team fell, the more determined to win my dad became, and his competitive focus was always directly proportional to my rising levels of irritation. We began to argue. The shame of failure weighed on me. The stigma of being related to the man who instigated this civil war taunted me. I sucked, my team sucked, my dad was delusional, and I was in love with Leonardo DiCaprio. There were too many things going.

The playoffs arrived and since the universe enjoyed tormenting me, we were up against the A Team. We came out hard, but at the end of the first half, our team was down by five. According to my dad, we still had a shot, but I disagreed. Just as I had predicted, we were losing, and I wanted the game, the season, and this humiliating chapter of my life to be over. The second half began, but I was going through the motions, so I asked my dad to take me off the field- to bench me- but he refused. Hustle up, Hogan! Push, it Hogan! I don't know what bothered me more, the fact that I wasn't allowed to rest, or that my dad called me by my last name like I was his slave, or worse, his bro.

Annoyed, I did what I always do when things aren't going my way, I played dirty. I tripped, shoved, pushed, and sadistically chopped at the A Teams legs like I was a sous chef on Adderall. I cut a girl off from behind, and was given a yellow card, but despite my reckless behavior, my dad still wouldn't take me out of the game. This enraged me, so I faked a heat stroke, and the game stopped for five minutes. I pretended I couldn't breath, but my dad called my bluff, and hollered at me to keep playing. I should have channeled my anger into the soccer game, but I didn't, and instead, I snapped. In the middle of a play, I stopped running, quit chasing the ball, quite literally, I just gave up. I completely disengaged from the game, ignoring and avoiding the action, and soon my teammates instructed each other to not pass me, their captain, the ball.

When clock ran out, and we officially lost the game, I was satisfied in the way that only an unruly pre-teen can be satisfied, with a mixture of glowing contempt and stubborn resolve. In the car ride home, my dad declared that he would never coach a girls team again, he said that was too hard, that you can't push girls the same way you can push boys. I took things a step further, and banned him from ever attending any of my future soccer games. I exiled him from my athletic life forever and he never participated in the Peterborough Girls Indoor Soccer League again. I'm not sure if it's connected to me being a female, but I agree with my dad, I don't like to be pushed. After all, I am a Hogan- even if I lose, I find a way to win.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

It's Not An Apology He Wants

My ex said our relationship was toxic.

He took me out for coffee, two years after we broke up, to tell me that. Well, I paid for my own coffee, but it's the thought that counts. I was surprised he reached out to me, because other than when I emailed him to tell him that he might have HPV, we hadn't spoken since we broke up.

We met up, and it was awkward, but I'm a good conversationalist, so it was fine. There was some small talk, but we mostly reminisced on our tumultuous relationship. Always an opportunist, I apologized to him to for being a difficult girlfriend. I was reading a lot of self help books, so I was confident I had the right vernacular to trick him into thinking I'd changed. He assured me not to worry about it, that it was all in the past. He was always a really nice guy, so, not my type.

One time, when we were dating, I told him I was going home for the weekend, but I didn't go home, I locked myself in my apartment and smoked pot for three days. It was a self induced, really weird, super dark, weed coma- I do that sometimes- and since, like I said, it was weird, I didn't invite him. Instead, I lied to him. Thinking I was gone, and wanting to do something sweet for me, he showed up to my apartment. He was dropping off some candies for when I got back into the city, but smelling the weed through the door, he knew I was home and I was officially caught red-handed, or pipe-handed. I let him in, and even though I was high, he was the one who looked messed up. 

We continued to date.

Eventually, we did break up and he politely asked me to not do any stand up jokes about him. I did any way. He immediately deleted me from Facebook and we didn't talk for a long time. Then, one day, as exes tend to do, he suggested we catch up, and I obliged, because I needed some new stand up material.

I found out that he always suspected that I cheated on him, which is not true, I never cheated on him. I thought, wow, this guy thinks I'm a monster, so I put on my best, fake Hannah, and sincerely apologized to him. I'm so sorry. I was terrible to you. You didn't deserve it. Bla bla bla. After two hours, thank God, it was over. We parted ways and he added me back on Facebook. 

I thought it was over. Closure. I was wrong. Two weeks later, he asked me out for coffee again and we had the exact same conversation. Again. I thought we covered everything at the first reunion, but he wasn't done yet. I was running out of things to say to him, so I just kept apologizing. I didn't know what else he wanted from me.

The conversation started to lull, and then out of no where, he said, You were always mean to your dad. You should be nicer to your dad. This gave me pause. I definitely should be nicer to my dad, but I didn't know that he knew that. It hurt. I still think about it. I can't believe I dated someone so heartless.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Growing Pains: The Story of a Young Female Comedian

The comedy community means two things to me, comedy and boys. Over the years, I have entangled myself in both pursuits, with varying amounts of success on each account. I have suffered great pains and great joys as a comedian, or as the rest of the world calls me, a female comedian, but I am still alive tell the tale, and I regard my mistakes as battle scars and my victories as flukes.

A cool skater girl in college always told me how funny and talented I was, so, naturally, we became best friends. I liked hanging out with her because when we'd go out together she would pull me out of my shell, talk to anyone, and through proximity to her, people, or as I call them, idiots, thought I was fun too. I was interested in comedy, and she wanted to have a good time, so I asked her if she wanted to start a sketch troupe with me.  She said yes, and my first sketch comedy troupe was born; conceived in the womb of my insecurity and born into the world I was desperate to please.

I looked up sketch comedy troupes in the city and I stumbled upon a popular sketch comedy show that happened every weekend. I went by myself, watched their show, and it was packed and awesome and I was impressed. I sat quietly by myself in the corner, watching the show in awe and hoping the guy comedians would talk to me, but they didn't, and I didn't talk to them either. I don't think of myself this way anymore, but at the time, I was shy.

This is where my college best friend flirts her way into the story. Determined to befriend the guys in the sketch troupe, the next weekend, I took her to the sketch show with me, and my entire experience changed. She and I drank lots of beer, and after the show, without hesitation, she ran up to all the performers and introduced herself to them. She talked to all the cool people, like she was allowed to, and I followed her lead. We closed down the bar with the cool guy comedians, and it was the most exciting time I'd ever had in Toronto.

After that night, we were hooked. I dragged her to every show, and she enjoyed it, because it involved lots of beer, boys and often times, late night karaoke. We went to almost every show for 6 months, but slowly, our relationship with the guys in the sketch troupe began to change. At first, we were the cute, new girls, but soon, too soon, we became the drunk, annoying girls. Some of the guys, to be clear, were nice to us, but most of them were aloof and ignored us. I totally noticed the dynamic change, but we kept going to their shows, telling ourselves that, eventually, they will like us.

One night, or a couple, I slept with one of the guys in the sketch troupe. That marked the end of any hope I had of the guys in the sketch troupe respecting me as a person, let alone a comedian. It didn't matter that I was passionate about comedy, I slept with one of the guys, so I was a slut. I was officially, and this is hard for me to admit, a comedy groupie.

But we kept going to their shows even though I knew they didn't like us anymore, and I suspected that they made fun of us behind our backs. Who knows, maybe they never thought about us, but we thought about them, all the time. We wanted them to like us. I wanted them to think I was funny. But the harder I tried to win their friendship, the meaner they got.  Every week, they got a little crueler to us, but we kept going, kept getting wasted, kept trying and failing to impress them.

Finally, I accepted that they didn't like us and I stopped going to their shows. I tried to comfort myself  with the notion that maybe the cool guy comedians hated all young, female comics- that they just didn't like woman in comedy, that sexism was the root of the problem, not me personally. But my theory was blown wide open when, just after I stopped hanging out with them, two new, young, female comedians stormed the Toronto comedy scene, and became beloved by them and everyone else in the city.

I licked my wounds and watched the new female comedians steal my thunder, the thunder that I never had which is what made it hurt even more. The girls were just like my friend and I, best friend, female comedians, only they were way more popular and funny.  It turns out the sketch guys didn't hate young, funny girls, they just hated us. I didn't understand why these girls were welcomed into the scene, and not me. Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that I was drunk for half a year, but in my defense, I was really good at Irish accents, so they were missing out.

I saw the new girls take everything I wanted, all the stage time and all the respect. They got on all the best shows, were considered professionals, meanwhile everyone just kept telling me that I had a lot of potential. I'd see pictures blow up on Facebook of the new girls at parties with the cool sketch guys, all of them getting along, seemingly patting each other on the back for how funny and cool they all were. I wasn't invited to the parties and no one was asking me to be on shows.

I smoked cigarettes on my back porch re-playing all the cold shoulders that had been thrown my way that year. I felt misunderstood and alone, but I wasn't. My best friend was there with me, going through the same rejection. We had no shows, no friends, but we had each other. It was the lowest point, socially, I've ever felt as a comedian, and eventually, I got over it, but I never forgot it. Since all this went down, ten years ago, whenever I've run into some of the sketch guys, they are still unfriendly. I guess they'll always see me as an annoying groupie, which is fine, because I'll always see them as assholes.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Whatever Happened To Hannah Hogan: The Dublin Years

I was sitting in a bar in Dublin with my best friend and my French boyfriend, the first man I ever loved, Joyce. We were drinking Guinness and had just stepped back in from having a cigarette. I smoked Marlboros back then, the European kind, not the America kind. Years later, when I moved to The US, I tried American Marlboros thinking that they would remind me of my Dublin years but they just tasted like regular, terrible cigarettes and didn't bring me back to that magical era, when I lived in Ireland, the time in my life before I started my life.

Joyce was older than me. I felt very sophisticated for snagging him since he spoke broken English but mostly because he was my first real boyfriend. He called me "little girl" and would really enunciate the Lit-TULLLE. At the time I thought it was sweet, because it was, but in retrospect-and probably only because I have a million feminist voices haunting my mind- it seems a little creepy that he called me a child. But Joyce wasn't creepy, he was handsome, he had blue eyes and even though we couldn't really have sex it didn't matter cause my heart was alive even if other things weren't.

This was 2003 when Ireland was deemed one of the best places in the world to live by travel guides and my dad. A handful of people were saying it was a hot spot, so when I decided after high school that I was burnt out and didn't want to go to university and pitched to my Pa that maybe I would go back-packing for a year,  my dear Da suggested Ireland, because we are Irish Canadian and it would be like a return to the motherland. And Ireland was great, I think. I didn't see much of it because I landed in Dublin and for a year and a half, never left the city.

I was 18 when I arrived and the only person I knew was a very contentious Quebec Separatist, let's call him, Le Asshole. We met on a traveling website called Swap, which was a program that helps travelers get hooked up with people and places in the country they are moving to. So I met up with Le Asshole and very quickly I realized he was not the person I wanted to hang out with. He was a French Separatist and I'm sure they are not all assholes, although I haven't met any before or since him, so he is my only gauge. Immediately Le Asshole started talking about politics, which I knew nothing about, especially not boring Canadian referendum politics. He seemed very angry, but I think he just didn't like me and I was probably really difficult to wander the streets with because I was 18 and useless.

He disappointed me the first night when we went to an Irish Pub and after one pint, he wanted to go back to the hostel. I was 18- have I mentioned that?- so I wasn't legal to drink in Canada yet, and since deciding to move to Ireland all I could think about was getting super wasted, like all the time, as much as I could. I literally wanted to drown myself in beer and leprechauns for the entire duration of my two year visa, but this weird frenchie of a separatist dude wanted to have a sensible beer and then go back to our hostel and listen to The Tea Party. YEAH.  Le Asshole's favorite band was the Tea Party and even though I grew up in Peterborough, ON, I knew that that wasn't cool. I have a vivid memory of being on the top bunk in our hostel room and hearing Le Asshole blast Heaven Only Knows so loud that I could hear the lyrics through his ear buds. My escape to Ireland was struggling because I was stuck with literally the worst Canad(ien) ever, so I said au revior to Le Asshole and moved out of that hostel in search of cooler people to be co-dependant on.

I found myself at the cheapest hostel in town where, word on the street, they did drugs! The Chelsea Hotel was just a block away but it was far enough away from Canadian hard rock central, so I was happy. If I could describe my mentality when I first arrived in Dublin it would be: WHO WANTS TO GET DRUNK? I was ready to party and my decision to move hostels was vindicated when I went to the reception desk and a Canadian greeted me. His name was Mike and he was from Toronto.  Mike and I hit it off and he reassured me that this was a "rock and roll" kind of hostel and that there were several long term residents. Later, I discovered Mike and his Polish girlfriend were swingers and that they once tried to hit on some long term residents during a late night stint on ecstasy. But at the time, I was relieved to have a Canadian welcome me to the hostel and excited that it was a bad ass, ready to party kinda place.

I stayed in a dorm room that always had fluctuating guests but there was a core group of us that remained the same. Oz, from Australia, Dave also from Australia, Gail from France, Duffy from England (he got kicked out pretty early on but was still always around because he sold hash). Almira was my best friend and she, like most backpackers one will ever meet, was Australian. I instantly bonded with Almira because we both knew that committing to live in a communal hostel, purely for kicks, drugs and fun was ignoring our better judgment, a decision that would hurt us in the long run, but none the less, we stayed on, deciding we would rectify ourselves from this terrible period in our lives at some later juncture, namely whenever we hit rock bottom or the hostel burned down.

The Chelsea hotel can be summed up in this way: everyone who stayed there said they would one day write a book about it. I don't think any one has, probably since most of us have either gone on drug addiction or parenthood. I have done neither but I am a stand up comedian so I'm too busy with social media to do something as pointless as write a novel.  Some of the more notable things about the Chelsea Hotel was that the showers were common and attached to the toilets, so that when I showered I would smell some European shitting a foot away from me. It was rare when the showers were not clogged with hair. I cleaned myself in two feet deep water and the shaved pubes of four floors of backpackers. It's not that there were not maids at the hostel, it's that the cleaning job was so disgusting, the maids just decided they would not clean the showers until a thorough, toxic clean was done first. So the showers were never cleaned and hundreds of people were showering in their own filth. I don't know why I was surprised when I got the flu five times while living there, at the time, I blamed it on cocaine.

After several months of partying and one New Years eve where I experienced my very first black out, I  decided to quit my coffee shop job and focus on writing poetry. Incredibly, my stay at the hostel was where I first started reading for enjoyment. This is before smart phones and there was no TV in the hostel so I needed something to do in between rolling tobacco and doing MDMA. Inspired by the books I was reading, namely "Woman who Run with Wolves" I started writing a lot, like the real coming of age, broken flower that I was.  I'd walk along the River Liffey, pretending I was Oscar Wilde or Bono, writing about everything and nothing, that is to say, I wrote about my feelings.

Money began to dwindle and I didn't feel like emailing my dad. Again, I was 18 and while I did have a phone it was expensive to call Canada so my communication with friends and family was relegated to email. Catch is, I didn't want to talk to family or friends, that was the whole reason I moved away, so I very rarely talked to anyone and I liked it like that. But because I was broke and needed a job, Mike offered me the day time receptionist position at the Chelsea. It was a 12 hour shift and I was responsible for booking guests and making sure other guests checked out on time. It was an easy job and I mostly spent it listening to Neil Young and smoking hash.

The most eventful thing that happened when I was the receptionist is that I discovered a dead body. It was my first, and so far, my last discovery of a dead human. It happened this way: a fellow who had checked in with the night receptionist had failed to check out during my shift. I knocked on his door, no one answered. I got the skeleton key, walked into the room and discovered a limp, very dead body on the bed. I don't really remember what happened next because I've told this story so many times I have definitely exaggerated the details, (I may even be making the entire thing up right now.) I can't say for sure, but from what I remember, the Garda told me that the man died of an over-dose. Needless to say, from that point on, I always had a great story to tell at the pub.

After eight months sharing a dorm with people having sex in the bed below me, showering in filth and finding a dead body, I determined it was time to leave The Chelsea Hotel. Almira and I collectively got our shit together and moved into a flat on the other side of town and that marked the end of my rock roll hostel life and the beginning of my more peaceful time in Dublin.

I got a job at Haagen Dazs. My boss was a sexy French man named Joyce and right away I was totally, madly, stupidly into him. I was very excited to be falling for him because before our lives collided, I had come to the sad conclusion that I was never going to fall in love. I'd had boyfriends, but I didn't really like them or at least I didn't like having sex with them and at the time that was what I thought love was (and still do, I guess). I was sure there was something wrong with me genetically, that that was why being in love was never going to happen for me. I tried dating a girl in Ireland, her name was Moira, and given her name and her sex, I just could get into it. I was so upset about not being able to fall in love.  I thought I was some kind of asexual failure, a pretty girl sure, but heartless and empty.  I could have been a character in the Wizard of Oz, The Scare Crow, The Lion, The Tin Man and the Canadian; just looking for their lost pieces to be whole again. So yeah, that's where I was at, and drying out from partying, when I met Joyce.

Joyce told me later that he didn't think I was very pretty until I started wearing make up (a calculated move on my part and one that taught me a valuable lesson: always wear make up when trying to trick a man into loving you). I had an enormous crush on him for a few weeks, he asked me out and when we kissed at the end of the night it was the only time in my life that a single kiss swept me away in such a stupidly cliche manner I shan't ever forget it! I was in love! It felt so amazing! To want this person so much, but more than anything, I was just thrilled to discover I could love. Just weeks before I thought I was either dead inside or a lesbian. Things can change so fast!

Mine and Almira's lease came up and in retrospect, this was totally a shitty move but I moved in with Joyce and for some reason didn't think that I needed to pay rent. He lived with six other people and I just stayed in his room, rent free, eating scones. I quit my Haagen Dazs job to focus on my true vocation: poetry. After all, I was in love and now I had a muse and it was imperative that I explore the various ways love was now fundamentally inspiring and changing me.  I wasn't doing drugs any more- I never would do hard drugs again- and I was only drinking occasionally and of course still smoking lots of cigarettes because my boyfriend was French so duh.

Everything was wonderful. Almira and I had escaped the dark hole of the Chelsea Hostel, I was in love and my little soul felt alive which was nice cause I hadn't felt good for a long time. I even started emailing my dad and friends again, mostly to brag about my cool, new French boyfriend and the European trip we were planning.

So there we were, Me, Almira and Joyce, sitting in a Dublin bar, enjoying life and a pint when it suddenly hit me: holy shit, I am in Ireland. WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING IN IRLEAND?! I looked at Joyce and I felt so happy to be in love with this guy, but at the same time, inspired by him to begin my own life. He was living in Ireland to improve his English so he could go on to be a business man (it was more complex than that but his English wasn't great so that's what I took from his blathering).  I felt for the first time this need to do something with my life. Joyce made me want to be a better woman, it sounds corny, but that's why love is love, it's tres corny.

I quietly decided, sitting in the bar that day, that it was time for me to go home. I had another year on my visa but I didn't want to use it. I wanted to go home and start my life. I didn't know what that meant and I didn't even know what I wanted to do with my supposed life but I knew I wanted to go home, and begin my life, even if that meant I had to leave Joyce.

After I told Joyce what I wanted to do, he was very supportive- did I mention he was wonderful and  we were in love!? Before I went home, Joyce and I took a trip to Europe together and other than when I got mono in Austria, we had a blast. We went to Paris, Prague, Vienna and my favorite Budapest. We smoked cigarettes, drank wine, told each other we loved each other and I wrote a bunch of poems. It was perfect.

A week after we returned to Dublin, I got on a flight to meet my Dad in England and Joyce went back to France. We did see each other again, but it wasn't the same. I was back in Canada and I didn't love him any more. By that time I had a new love, acting. It turns out, I was fully capable of lusty, six month love affairs, but long term committed relationships were still a ways down the road for me. I probably broke his heart, but he was too annoyed to be working in Sears in the Eaton's Center in Toronto to think about what an asshole I was.  He ended up moving to Guatemala and got a girl pregnant, so in the end every thing worked out because I was living my dream as an actress and he learned to procreate. C'est La Vie!