My name is ej and I have an Internet degree in Medical Self-Diagnosis. Yes, that's a thing. I may have made it up but that makes it a thing. And with this degree in Medical Self-Diagnosis, I feel comfortable letting you know I have diagnosed myself as Dyslexic, Massive Depressive, Claustrophobic and I am about one embarrassing incident away from being completely Agoraphobic.
I’m sure that this stems from my early upbringing in Kenya and several rather traumatic incidents that I’ve then built upon, plastering over the cracked foundation to form the mess of a person I am today. I call this blog Emotional Maintenance for a reason.
Example of a rather traumatic incident: I was at an outdoor party with the Aunts and Uncles. My father was one of 20 some children - there were a lot of Aunts and Uncles. My parents weren't at the party, I'm not sure why, but it was just me and his family of millions. I do remember I was small and quiet and everyone else was tall and loud and colorful – both in clothing and language. I was not the only child but I was the only .5er – in both color and citizenship. A .5er is someone who is half and half, in my case half white/half black, half American/half Kenyan. It was not generally seen as a good thing. In fact, growing up there was a little like being an animal in a zoo or circus. I was often poked and prodded and laughed at while folks called me names I couldn't repeat. As I said, not generally a good thing. As result of my .5er status at this party, I was shuttled from grown-up to grown-up for moments of passive supervision where they would talk about me or over me or just ignore me until I wandered away.
Somehow I ended up in a corner of the outdoor space next to an old dirty man, his clothes in tatters and, even though he had fewer teeth in his mouth than mine and none of them were clean, a warm and friendly face. Despite his generous toothless smile, not one grown person would shake his hand or talk with him. A large swath of space surrounded us but no one was actually watching us. I stood next to him, waiting for the pointing and laughing but he just smiled, his eyes happy and bright. I was unsure of my role. My mother had drilled into me the need to be polite to elders but when other elders were being rude, I was confused. So when he held out his hand, gummed his smile in my direction and spoke to me gently in Swahili, I took his hand and shook.
And instantly my world became a hurricane of noisy color and clucks of shame as the Aunts suddenly surrounded me, picked me up and hauled me off to the nearby faucet. What followed was painful – both emotionally and physically. My hands were scrubbed with boiling hot water as the Aunts screamed at me in a language I knew then but cannot speak now. My mother has said she was never told about the incident but when I shared it with her years later, she suspected that the happy toothless man likely had leprosy and the Aunts were trying to wash it off me.
I am a few decades removed from the Aunts and the hot water screaming but I’m still traumatized by the experience. And several others my dear relatives were kind enough to share with me. Years have passed but I still remember what they taught me that day. I remember that is where I learned that sometimes really bad things happen and then people point and stare and scald you with hot water and scream at you.
And yes that is a trite way to put things but I have a degree in Medical Self-Diagnosis. I'm able to put things in whatever way I'd like to in my little brain.
Let's look at what this incident has manifested into in my grown-up life, other than preferring to primarily work with knee biters or by myself. I’m pretty sure that - other than thinking I’m Robin Roberts - people are not looking at me but I ALWAYS feel like they are. ALWAYS. That I’m being judged, watched, scrutinized for error and that when I do screw up, the Aunts or the adult version of them, will descend on me, scrub me clean with boiling hot water while screaming my list of things done wrong.
If I stay inside, I’m sure to stay clean and dry. See, Agoraphobic.
I have issues going to the gas station because of the one video I saw where someone drove off with the hose in the tank and the station exploded. And that other video where the person drove into the tank and it exploded. Eating alone in restaurants traumatizes me. I’ve knocked over the sugar and spilled my coffee and accidentally hit the waitress and she almost dropped the tray. And people looked and pointed and laughed.
Crowds of people make me hyperventilate. Parking lots make me hyperventilate. Grocery stores make me hyperventilate. Leaving my house can make me hyperventilate and turn around and go back inside.
My name is ej and I am a mess. And while this may be an overdramatized reason for why I am the way I am, I am pretty confident in saying that it is my honest opinion I should stay off this list of phobias or I may never get out of bed.
Tuesday I posted a pic on Facebook and made fun of the poor young man with a wardrobe challenged outfit and a very exposed pair of butt cheeks.
Wednesday I spent the morning sanding the floor - a surprise assignment I was not pleased with. Around 1pm, I realized the time and quickly got dressed to rush out and bring back the borrowed carpet sample to the chichi furniture store in the shopping center frequented by celebrities and their ilk. Spotted; one TV star, one possible model and two possible music stars. Sample returned, I stopped in at clothing store and looked about at things I couldn’t be bothered to buy because they cost more than I think they are worth. I was followed about the store by a couple who ‘secretly’ took my picture. Another "Has anyone told you look like Robin Roberts?" spotting I think. And then I came around the corner and saw them pointing at the picture and laughing about the massively obvious dusting of sawdust in my grey hair and all over my face.
Karma served. Balance restored.
Yesterday two lovely gentlemen came to the house to clean and inspect our fireplaces. They were very nice and even laughed when I explained that they needed to keep the new floors spotless and that any dirt on them might result in Husband divorcing me. About half way thorough their process of shoving prickly things up the chimney and sucking out the dead animal bones and ash, Husband sent me a text asking if they were keeping the new floors clean. He likes to micro manage from afar and, regardless of what I say, he likes to see evidence so I took my handy iPhone in to the room in order to send photo proof that the floors were indeed clean and protected. The larger gentleman was holding the ShopVac while the bearded one shoved the pipe thingy up the chimney. Standing, as I was, in the doorway of the room, I could not help seeing the larger gentleman’s very generous um, - there is no better visual way to put this – butt crack. His pants had fallen to what had to be a very uncomfortable and dangerous low and his cheeks were almost fully exposed. I was in shock.
And yet, despite my distress, I managed to take a picture and send it to husband. And then post same picture on Facebook, cropped so the poor guy’s butt was prominently displayed. And I wrote in the caption: In my house right now. Jealous Husband? Anyone?
My friends were suitably impressed with the crack. They replied with witty comments. They posted similarly revealing pictures. Someone put a link to a guy who has no butt crack. It was funny.
Until it wasn’t.
Until I started thinking what I would feel like if someone took a picture of me with an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction - without me knowing. And posted it on social media - without me knowing. And people made witty comments - without me knowing. And what if I then I found out? I would not like it one bit. In fact, I’m pretty sure it would ruin my year, my life even. What if the lovely gentleman with waist challenged pants found out I’d put a picture of his butt crack up for all to see. And what if he saw my snarky comment asking if anyone was jealous that they weren’t there to witness it? With that post, with that picture, I was suddenly a Mean Girl in a way I’d never thought I would be. And I didn’t like the way it made me feel. I didn’t feel funny at all.
I deleted the picture and the post.
And then I wondered, why is it I’m able to tell someone they have pepper in their teeth or a bat in their cave and not tell the poor guy that his pants were so low I could safely park my bike in his rear end? Or any of the other very witty but wrong things my friends suggested I say. If he were a kid, I would have pulled his pants up. I would have made a joke out of it. I would have acknowledged it and moved on. But as a grown man, in my house on a job, at what point do I say to him, “Dude. I can see your all of butt cheeks and it’s not okay.” Before he lugged the heavy ShopVac down the stairs? Or after he was manhandling the ladder onto the roof of his truck? How wrong would it been of me to pull his pants up the way I might pull up a toddlers? And I say this knowing he pulled this pants up repeatedly. Just like the pants of a toddler, they just didn’t stay.
Yesterday was a moral fail for me. Today, I’ll try to do better.
Our neighbors to the right of us are awesome. We’ve hung out with them a few times. Had some odd random funny chats. He lent us his riding mower and took our holiday picture. They had us come over and take a picture of their family dressed up as pilgrims and Indians at Thanksgiving and we watched their fish during the holiday break. Friendly, neighborly neat people!
The Mayor of Our Street lives across the street from our awesome neighbors. The Mayor knows everything and everyone. And everyone knows her – including the utility workers who came by to take out a downed tree. They were very patient as she greeted them in her bathrobe and supervised their work. They are actually the ones that introduced us to the name The Mayor. It fits her perfectly. She’s the one who shamed Husband into getting our lawn cut by calling him up and asking a few questions about the health and well-being of everyone in the family and then suggesting “her man” to take care of the lawn. She’s scary - all southern sweetness and mafia like suggestions.
The neighbors across the road from us apparently own a furniture store. We know this because The Mayor told us so. I went into the store once before I knew they were the owners. They’re German or Swiss – I’m guessing this solely based on the European furniture sold and the accent of the guy I spent 20 min chatting with about the banquet seating that I was ‘contemplating’ for our kitchen. The one that cost Eight Thousand Dollars! Yeah, I was not really contemplating purchasing that. I also was not contemplating the desk that raised and lowered with the push of a button that also cost thousand of dollars more than I have to spend on a desk I'm going to get glue on. I’m not sure why our ‘relationship’ has not progressed past waiving at the mailboxes but I’m sure my lack of purchase didn’t help.
That brings us to our neighbors on the left. The ones who live in the house we call The Love Boat. We call it The Love Boat because their house is rimmed in rope lights and at night it looks like its floating in the deep darkness of the night like a massive cruise ship. We’ve never met the owners of The Love Boat. According to the Mayor of Our Street, Mr. Love Boat is a photographer or created photography equipment or something and they are Richie Rich rich. Since we’ve never met them, we have to take The Mayor’s word for it. We just have waved to the woman a few times as she drove past in her yellow FJ cruiser. But that was months ago. It’s been radio silence since. No waves, no sightings, no nothing.
Husband thinks they’re dead. He thinks the guy we've never seen but just hear come by daily in his loud diesel truck to get the mail and blow the leaves and whatever else he does has killed them and buried them in the back yard. Their backyard is very large and woody. It is very possible that the handyman has dug two graves and planted over with trees or flowers or he's just piled leaves on top and is letting nature do its biodegrading thing.
When Husband first mentioned his theory, I burst out laughing. I mean really? It’s summer I thought, and Nashville is wicked hot and humid. They’ve probably gone off to their summer home on an island somewhere. This is Nashville and fancy people that live Nashville seem to have loads of other fancy houses in other glamorous places that they also live. It was possible.
But they didn’t come back.
Then I thought, it’s the fall, perhaps they are on a cruise somewhere and we’d see them in the winter. But it’s been months and here we are in the middle of winter and there’s been no sign of them I’m starting to think Husband might be right. There is not one sign that their yellow FJ cruiser or their red BMW have moved. (And yes, I did have to ask Husband what the make the of cars were so I didn’t just write ‘red and yellow.’)
So here’s my question to you all – at what point do we call the police and report them missing? Or dead? Or do we just go all Jessica Fletcher and Columbo and go hunting in the forest for body parts or bloody weapons ourselves? I do read A LOT of mysteries. And watch A LOT of mysteries. I'm pretty sure we'd find something if we went looking... Pause for a moment and picture me and Husband trying make our way in the dark over to the neighbors yard, avoiding the deer, the owls, the snakes and the ticks while digging about for body parts buried by the mysterious driver of the black diesel. Like that doesn't have TV movie of the week written all over it. Or we end up as a short blurb in the nightly news cast: 'Couple goes missing in woods searching for body. Handyman wanted for questions.'
Um... I think I'm just going to go back to driving by the house and listening to Husband say "Ah think they're deid. Ah think the handyman murrdad them." For now.
Last night was the Golden Globes and I watched, as I do each year, with fascination and total awe. It’s like having an inside seat at the popular table in High School, a place I never sat. It’s got the Pretty Blondes and the Pretty Brunettes in both sexes saying charming things to each other during the commercial breaks that we, the audience can’t hear, but make the other Pretty and Charming people laugh with their shiny white teeth and shake their luminous carefully colored manes.
I will never be one of those people – not that I’m not charming. I can be. And not that I’m not ‘pretty’ - I am after all Robin Roberts at least twice a week - but I don’t seem to have a few things figured out that they seem to have mastered. Like their smooth, hairless underarms. And their lack of sweat stains. Or fuzzy jiggly bits that seem to pop out of any type of Spanx I put them into.
After watching the Pretty Charming people wave at other Pretty Charming people in their very expensive dresses and nary a hair or shadow of a hair was spotted, I went online to look up laser under arm hair removal. Unquestionably THE WORST thing to do before you go to bed is to look up some type of surgery and then click on the things that could go wrong pictures. And let me tell you, there is A LOT that can go wrong. And I am one of those people that will keep looking - eyes squinting, nose crinkled in disgust but still looking. That was some nasty stuff that could go wrong - that HAS gone wrong for some people.
So, laser hair removal is out. Good-bye prepubescent underarms.
And, did you know that when you look at pictures of laser hair removal gone wrong, they could lead to looking at pictures of plastic surgery gone really wrong? Well, you do now.
Husband and I talk about plastic surgery a lot. A lot for two people who really put little effort into how they look. Or rather, put some effort into how they look but look like they put no effort into how they look. I can hear Husband saying I should speak for myself but I call his wearing a hoodie from Old Navy over a t-shirt from Target ‘little effort.’
Back to the plastic surgery, Husband likes to say he has no chin. Well, that he has a chin but it starts from his belly all the way up to his lips. If he could get plastic surgery, he’d get a chin tuck or, to quote him “the fat sucked out of his neck”. He also says he’d get liposuction from his belly. He likes to say that when we’re eating out and the waitress asks if she can get us anything else. Husband likes to say, “Yes, I’d like some liposuction please.” And she’ll laugh at his pretty charming accent and bring him another diet coke.
I, myself, have never really considered plastic surgery at all. The pain and suffering is enough to put me off but the not looking like your self after really skivvies me out. I will say I did ask, albeit jokingly, the doc to do a tummy tuck while she was removing my baby maker but the reality is it would have all come back since my eating habits are still the same. Bad. Like lately I've been pretending that this chocolate orange counts as my fruit intake. Bad.
Sorry. Squirrel. Last night, after watching the Pretty People with faces that looked a bit ‘off’, followed by pictures on the internet of horrible things that should only be seen in the bright light of day - if ever - no plastic surgery for me.
Although, as I attempted to get dressed this morning and found yet another hole in my sock where my stupid big toe that curls up towards the sky tried to make a break for it and made a hole instead, I will say I am reconsidering that decision. I bet the Pretty Charming people have Pretty Charming feet that aren’t in Clown Size Large because of their weird big toe. I bet they don’t have a drawer full of socks that have holes in the left corner of every sock. I bet that when they wear pretty sparkly sandals in summer, their brother doesn’t make comments about their hobbit feet. I bet…
Dare I Google toe removal?
My name is ej. I'm a girl. I say that because with the short hair and the short initials, folks aren't always sure. More brilliant insights to who I am in About me