Fun fact... My sister has agreed to come to my graduation (a pleasant surprise) but can only afford to fly one way, so she has to drive down here with my parents and little brother. I believe that this is Karma finally getting her back for trying to kill me that one time when I was six. By the time she gets through the inevitable 18 hour drive (with the slow Dad-driving and constant stops to calm my mother) and arrives in Provo, with all the screaming and poking and complaining and bad driving, she'll be rocking back and forth in the fetal position and muttering nonsense words. She's going to crack. This should worry me but instead it brings a sick smile to my face and, occasionally, an evil laugh to escape. The world is a beautiful place.
My "guilt gift box" consisted of...
-VCR (which I got rid of right away)
-Peanuts (I have never liked peanuts)
-Sweater that I left there at Christmas
-Winnie the Pooh CD that came in a box of cereal
-The side of a box of cereal with a picture of Winnie the Pooh that I can color
-Valentine's day shirts
-Winnie the Pooh bobble head
The other night I got a phone call from a friend back home. As it usually does when I talk to someone from Seattle, it turns into an interview. Then this information (slightly exaggerated and skewed) is promptly posted in some way or another (word of mouth? news letter?) for general knowledge of my home ward. This is followed by added phone calls and emails asking for clarification or to express their sympathies at my failures. It went something like this...
Friend: How's your family? It's so sad that they hate you.
My Thought: Whatever. I've never told you anything about my family. You know nothing.
My Response: Fine. They don't hate me. I'm just not their favorite.
Friend: How's your mom?
My Thought: What do you know about my mom? Nothing. She's been unusually cruel lately, she's cranky, and she's been whining to me about anything and everything.
My Response: Fine.
Friend: Your brother?
My Thought: He's not eating because my mom and grandma call him fat. I'm worried about him and want him to move down here with me.
My Response: Fine.
Friend: Your dad?
My Thought: Going crazy living with my mom and grandma. He has no hobbies, no aspirations and is thoroughly depressed.
My Response: Fine.
Friend: So, how's school?
My Thought: School? How do you think? I graduate in two months in a degree I can't use, I can't afford to go to grad school or even pay for the GRE to apply to grad school, my parents are playing the "well maybe we just won't come to your graduation" game and my life has no direction.
My Response: Fine. I'm excited to graduate.
Friend: And you decided to stay down there? That's best for you, you know.
My Thought: Best for me? What do you know about what's best for me? Is what's best for me enough? What about my psycho family? Shouldn't I be worried about what's best for them?
My Response: Ya. I'm glad I'm staying.
Friend: You're happy down there.
My Thought: More than you know. I'm the happiest I've ever been which is why I feel so horrible. I'm down here having the time of my life while everything is falling apart at home. I'm a jerk.
My Response: Ya, I am.
Friend: Are you eating? Are you anorexic?
My Thought: What kind of question is this? For the HUNDRETH time, I am NOT anorexic! For the love!
My Response: I eat. I'm fine.
Friend: How's the boy situation? Dating anybody?
My Thought: What? Are you serious? Date? Why? Nobody could ever like me like that and even if they could, I'm a psycho... it could only end in tears.
My Response: I date. Nothing serious.
Friend: You sound bad. Are you sick again? You should see a doctor.
My Thought: YES! I'm sick AGAIN! A doctor? Are you crazy??? They're EVIL!!!!!!
My Response: Nope, I'm fine. My throat's just kinda scratchy.
Friend: So, no plan after graduation, no boys and your family hates you. I'll pass it along.
My Thought: Ya, I know. And within the week I'll have tons of phone calls or emails expressing their sympathies at my huge, embarassing failures.
My Response: I'm happy. No big deal. How about you not tell anybody? That'd be a fun game.
And so the conversation went... so the information was sent... But you heard it here first... maybe...
I'm feeling more than a little bit claustrophobic. But instead of being afraid and very much uneasy in small rooms... it's more like I feel that way in my small city. I must get out of Provo!! I'm going crazy! I need a big city... or just a different city... or anything! I know that I could always go to Rexburg... so many of my good friends are there. But somehow I believe that that would be like treating claustrophobia by putting the patient in a smaller room. No. Must not be done. But must (and I mean MUST!) get out of Provo!!!!!!!! Aaaggghhhh!!!!!!!!
My mom called me today just to let me know that my package was on its way containing the most recent guilt gift... a VCR "along with a few 'surprises'". I said thank you in the most gracious way I could muster knowing full well that as soon as the package arrives I will take a few deep breathes (to prepare myself for the 'surprises' which will most likely be more 'backpack buddies' or toys from a McDonald's Happy Meal), then open the package and get rid of the VCR ASAP by handing it over to my downstair neighbors and then wonder why it was that I ever stood up to my parents to make them send me the package in the first place. What was the point really? I told them how I felt about the way they treat me which made them upset, made me break my "no tears over the parentals" rule and evoked guilt gifts which seem cool at the moment until I realize that everything I own over $20 that was given to me by my parents are all guilt gifts. Every time I look at my leather jacket, my laptop computer, the comforter on my bed, my car, my DVD player, or most of my CD's I can remember what happened to make them feel guilty enough to buy it for me. Maybe it would have been better to keep my mouth shut, spare them the guilt and spare me the haunting memories in things I could live without.
It reminds me of my E.T. days. You see, when I was small, I watched E.T., one of America's favorite movies. It terrified me! Nothing should have a neck that moves up and down like that, fingers shouldn't glow (or be that long for that matter), and stomachs shouldn't have the eery red/orange glow either. I don't care what people say, Elliot didn't know E.T. well enough to trust him with his glowing parts or in flying-the-bike-abilities. I'll bet E.T. comes back... with friends!!!! Anyway... I was ridiculously scared of E.T. and to this day I'm not sure if what came next was intentional or not. But my mom told all of my friends and family that I loved E.T. and that I would love nothing more than to get E.T. paraphenalia for my birthday and Christmas (both are within a week of eachother). And so they did! Almost everything I got had some sort of E.T. affiliation. E.T. t-shirts, posters, dolls, ceramic statues, sleeping bag and even, ironically enough, an E.T. night-light. My mom promptly put all of these things all over my room. It looked like the demonic E.T. himself puked all over my bedroom. Every night I would shake in my bed and cry as I looked around at the horror in my bedroom, wondering when the men in white would come and exactly how many there would be... and also where in my bedroom E.T. was hiding at that very moment and what he would do to me with that nasty glowing finger. I would cry and cry until I was too exhausted to cry any more and I'd fall asleep to dream about my fears. But could I tell my mom that I hated E.T. and wanted the demon freak out of my room because it gave me nightmares? No. I tried. I did. I hinted at it at first and my mom just laughed and said, "But, honey, you love E.T." Right... who couldn't love such a cute creature as the stupid alien that ate Reese's Pieces and drank beer? I tried again. "Mom, can I please take down the E.T. stuff. I don't like it anymore." Mom didn't laugh this time. "You mean to tell me that you're already sick of E.T.? Do you know how many people bought you E.T. things? And now you don't like him? Are you so ungrateful that you'd get rid of their gifts so soon?" And so E.T. stayed up... for over a year. I was traumatized by everything in my room for over a year because I couldn't stand up to my mother. And now, at 22, I'm traumatized by everything in my room because I can.
Being sick is one of the worst things in the world. It's true. You can't do the things you want to do or, worse, the things you need to do. It's true that you get a day or so to replace work or classes with reruns of Buffy or Mad About You, but it's hard to enjoy it when you can only eat bland food and you only have one position you can sit in semi-comfortably. Ya, being sick is the worst. Your head is stuffy yet you're lightheaded (explain that one!), you have an irritating cough/sneeze/constant blowing your nose thing that irritates you and all your friends, it's impossible to find that happy medium between ridiculously hot and ridiculously cold, and your eyes sting so much from lack of sleep that reading and Buffy viewing becomes too painful and you're forced to sit in silence like an overgrown glob-o-human doing absolutely nothing to distract you from the fact that you're miserable and stuck on the couch. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. Sleep... sleep...
Grocery stores... I have a serious dislike for grocery stores. It could be for one of these three reasons...
1- I really hate the thought of having to buy food which will either be quickly eaten or will be found on the bottom drawer of the fridge a month later in an indescribable brown glob. It's like eating money. However, I don't mind so much buying food at restaurants. Maybe I just hate buying food when I have to prepare it myself. Bitter...
2- You usually shop at the local grocery store and so you're bound to run into at least one, if not several, people you know. It always ends up being not so much your best friend but the guy or neighbor you've been working so hard to avoid. This turns a quick run for eggs into an hour and a half reevaluation of why you EVER leave your house.
3- When I was four... or five... I was walking next to my mother at the grocery store, jumping from tile to tile in an obnoxious four (or five) year old way. I looked up to see a lady staring at me. I smiled but she didn't smile back. She scared me so I looked to find my mother who had now moved a few yards ahead of me and began my tile hop game again in order to catch up with her. But did I catch up? Almost... but no. Right before I reached her I looked behind me just in time to see psycho-lady running with her shopping cart right for me. WHAM! She hit me with her cart, I fell to the ground crying and she ran off out of the store and into her car... apparently the stocker boy couldn't catch her. I was left with a broken leg and weeks of sitting in one place since my mother refused to carry me unless it was to the bathroom. (Although my best friend did come over on several occasions with crayons and coloring books. Cute Sarah!)
Take your pick for the reason behind it... but I hate grocery stores.
I'm not going to class today. My reasons are three fold...
1- I didn't skip a single class in the whole month of January... therefore I deserve a day off.
2- I have a sore throat and a bad headache.
3- I don't want to.
Who could argue with reasoning like that? I can't! Time for reruns of Mad About You and perhaps a few old Buffy episodes. Good times!
Mom: Remember that after school today we're going to the dentist.
Young Emily: Okay.
Later that day at the dentist's...
Dentist: Why hello there! How's my favorite patient?
Dentist: Alright, if you'll just put this mask on and breathe deep, we'll get started.
Em: We've never used this mask before. What's it for?
Dentist: (Pretends not to hear me)
Em: (Puts mask on and breathes deep... falls asleep)
A bit later...
Em: (wakes up with gauze in my mouth) What??
Dentist: Great! My favorite patient's awake! How are you feeling?
Dentist: Here, let me change that gauze for you...
Em: (sees bloody gauze and panics)
Dentist: You're okay. You did great!
Em: What happened?
Dentist: You just had some baby teeth that needed to be removed... let's take you out to the lobby to see your mom and get a surprise...
Mom: There you are! How do you feel?
Em: Like I'm missing four teeth!
Mom: Such a good patient!
Em: Why didn't you tell me that he was going to take out four of my teeth. I needed those teeth.
Mom: I did tell you.
Em: No you didn't.
Mom: Sure I did.
Em: I would have remembered something like that!
Mom: Well, I guess you didn't!
Em: Whatever. Let's go.
Mom: Emily? Time to get up. We have to go to the doctor today.
Em as a small child: Will there be a shot?
Mom: No. Not that one.
A bit later at the local hospital...
Em: Why are we here? Will there be a shot?
Mom: No shot. The doctors are just going to look at your ears.
Doctor: Okay little miss... if you'll just put these slippers on... and this hospital gown... and drink this tiny cup of yummy medicine... that would be great... and you're great, aren't you?
Mom: Sure she is...
Em: (Puts on gown and slippers and drinks down the nasty red liquid meant to taste like cherries)
Doctor: That's a good girl! Now, that's just going to make you a bit drowsy... and when you're feeling sleepy we're going to give you this shot to make you go to sleep... but don't worry... it's okay to fall asleep... we're not going to hurt you... we're just going to put these little tubes in your ears to stop those nasty ear infections...
Em: (Looks at mother with betrayed eyes then unwillingly falls asleep)
A few hours later in a white room... with an IV in my hand!!!
Em: (Tries to scream... no sound... just excruciating pain)
Nurse: Oh, doctor? She's awake. You're okay... don't try to talk... you have a tube in your throat... do you want your mom?
Em: (Tries to make a sarcastic remark but can only nod head)
Nurse: I'll go get her.
Mom: Hi honey. Ya, they took your tonsils out too. You're such a good little patient.
Doctor: (Removes tube in throat) Do you want some water? Apple sauce? Do you have a headache?
Em: What's a headache?
Nurse, Doctor and Mom: (laughter)
Em: I hate you. Why didn't you tell me they were taking out my tonsils?
Nurse, Doctor and Mom: (laughter)
Mom: Didn't I?
Childhood memories. Childhood trauma. All good things. My mom was crazy... well, she still is. Growing up with her ideas has left me afraid of (to name a few) blue jays, E.T., the dark, doctors, dentists, hospitals and most major household cleaning sprays. How might this be possible? Let me explain.
Blue Jay Story:
Young Emily: Mom?
Mom: (no response)
Em: I'm going to go outside and play, ok?
Mom: (no response)
Em: Okay... (goes to open the door)
Em: (jumps back) What??
Mom: Can't you see there's a blue jay on the fence???
Em: Oh... ya...
Mom: Blue jays are VICIOUS! They're the meanest of the birds!! They'll fly down and attack you for no reason!!!
Mom: YES!!! Mean birds, blue jays!!!!
Em: I'm going to go play in my room...
The rest of my irrational fears may be (or may not be) explained at a later date... baby steps...
I hate work... now I don't mean I hate the idea of work. I believe in working. The idea of working for what you need and want is a good concept. Productivity is good. I'm a pretty hard worker once I put my mind to it. Working for credit, working for a grade, working to help somebody else, working in order to gain knowledge... all good things that I love. Working for money... this is where I find my problem. Working for money is a necessary thing. I understand this. And the idea of a job that I love is appealing to me. It's not that I want to be a slacker. I just hate work. I've been thinking. Why is this? Where does this huge aversion to work come from? It goes back to my first jobs... or every job I've ever had! Let's start in high school. My dad thought it'd be a great idea if I started to work for a Temp Agency. He said I'd get office jobs where I'd gain "valuable experience". Dad was wrong. Instead I worked in warehouses with dirty men where I focused more on evading sexual harassment than sorting or building whatever it was that I was supposed to be doing. Here is where I learned the fine skills of climbing up on large boxes, building boxes, sorting boxes and hiding in boxes. I hate boxes. I also learned a bit of Spanish... words I never learned in high school Spanish class. Valuable experiences? Yes. But not the ones that Dad was thinking of.
Later, I worked at Costco. I was one of the sample ladies that everybody loves. Except they never let me sample food. Instead I was the irritating lady who tried to trick people into buying colored suntan lotion (in SEATTLE!) and the newest water purification devices. The only perk was that I worked with one of my best friends. He and I would abandon our stations and run around the large store with our walkie talkies and then hide from our supervisor under the table cloth of the booths that actually had food and ate our well-deserved snacks.
Finally, a friend of mine found me a great summer job in-between semesters. He worked for the police department and it wasn't long before I was employed with the Bellevue Police Department... as a decoy. I kid you not. They dressed me up like a cop, put me in a cop car with a cop radio and sent me out... UNARMED!!!!! Picture this... I'm 5'1... not big... our "fake" squad had ONE DAY of training and it went something like this:
Large "fake" officer who had no real training of his own: Now, while you're walking the parks at night alone, you will probably on several occasions be attacked. Now if a guy attacks you like this... then you do this... and if he comes at you like this... then you do this...
Cop-wannabe-boy: What if he's armed?
Large "fake" officer: Stay away from the pointy end.
Cop-wannabe-boy-2: What if it's a gun?
Large "fake" officer: Don't get shot and try to call for a real officer.
Large "fake" officer: Okay, and if he comes at you like this then you do this... got it?
Me: Wait. What was that last one?
Large "fake" officer: Oh! Not you, Emily! If anybody ever comes after you at all then you just run like %*$#
And so the job went. Night after night walking the parks of the gang-infested city wondering how they'd eventually kill me. And now, I work with a small autistic boy. Small meaning age-wise. He's seven. But if you'll remember, I'm only 5'1 and "small boy" has almost got me beat. Beat in height and beat literally. I go to work every day knowing that somewhere during the course of the day he will kick, hit, scratch or punch me and most likely will throw a desk or some other large object at my head. I just have to wonder in what order it will happen and at what point of the day. See? I hate work. Work equals fear. Is it possible to find a job where physical abuse and emotionally traumatising experiences are absent? Where the pay check is worth the risk? I've gone to college for four years and what do I have to show for it so far? Great reflexes and a few scars.