Five Things I Probably Forgot to Mention About Myself

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I was nominated by James Jordan to share ten things about myself and I just figured if I was going to do it — better make it interesting.

So rather than pick random quirky facts about myself, I dug deep and ended up with over 2,000 words — after revealing only five things about myself. Each one is essentially a short story in itself and out of necessity, I go pretty in depth on a few, as the subjects themselves called for it.

One or two things I picked to write about, completely drained me emotionally and creatively. The material was pretty heavy and I figured with my word count as high as it was combined with the fact I had nothing left to give after my first five, I’d just split the post into two parts of five things about me.

So here are five things you probably didn’t know about me. I apologize if it gets a little dark. I’m okay, I promise. Many of them are things that helped shape me actually. For the most part — they’ve made me better, stronger, more resilient and who I am today. With no further delay, here are five things you probably didn’t know about me, with five more to come at some point in the near future.

1.) I had a cyst right near my brain as a kid

I got headaches a lot as kid, bad ones. They caused me to miss school often and left me debilitated on the couch most of the day when I did. Full disclosure, sometimes I’d lie and say I had one on the days I didn’t — but didn’t want to go to school. Absences became such an issue, I was sent to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to see a neurologist, who specialized in migraines and their causes.

I was first asked to speak with a Psychologist, who essentially accused me of making the entire thing up, before asking if I was being abused at school. The whole thing shook me up because as I stated, though the headaches were very real, I occasionally used them for a day off and was terrified I was being called out for my transgressions.

However, this was not the case and I eventually had multiple MRI’s taken of my brain. It was then, a benign but fair sized cyst was discovered near my brain. Though thankfully, some of the best brain doctors in literally the entire world assured my family and I, it was nothing to worry about — headaches aside — and that it’d eventually shrink on it’s own, which would bring a stop to the migraines. From the ages of maybe 8 to 11, I went in for an MRI every three months. Luckily, I wasn’t really old enough to understand how serious of a thing it could’ve been and I handled it pretty well. It never really worried me.

In all honesty, it wasn’t a bad deal, the nurses always went out of their way to make me laugh and feel comfortable, they played my favorite radio station through the speaker while I was getting my MRI taken — plus I always got the day off from school and my Dad usually bought us McDonald’s after. I didn’t mind going and that’s mainly because how great of hospitals, both Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and St. Christopher’s (where I also went sometimes) are. The care I was provided with was tremendous and the work they do on a daily basis, truly is amazing. They literally specialize in saving kids lives, what cause could be better?

They were 100% right about my cyst also, it shrunk to the point they told me I didn’t have to come in for my quarterly MRI anymore, by the time I was 11 or so. The migraines eventually stopped and I was again allowed to have the caffeine and chocolate I was deprived of for years on end, on doctors orders.

2.) My Aunt and Uncle, on the same side of the family, both committed suicide

When I was seventeen, my Uncle took his own life while the rest of the family (including myself) was on our annual summer vacation trip up the Poconos. The mailman found him dead, shotgun next to him, on his steps. The steps of the house he shared with my Grandparents, who were also with us on vacation. I’ll never forget the look on My Dad’s face when he came up the steps that morning to tell me. Needless to say, mountain trips were never really the same after and we soon picked a different vacation spot.

My Uncle Tommy was the fun uncle growing up — but drugs and alcohol slowly but surely robbed him of who he really was and transformed him into something else. He became very combative and aggressive and was always visibly intoxicated. It’s not that we didn’t invite him on vacation that year, he chose not to come. Whether it was because of the many confrontations and disputes he had with different family members over the years, both on vacation and off, or just the dark place drugs and alcohol took him to, we’ll never know. All I know is I choose to remember him as the kind hearted and fun loving Uncle he was when I was a kid and the handful of stories I can look back on and laugh that took place even as I got older.

In November of 2014, 42 days after I put down drugs and alcohol myself (the first time) I got a text from an Aunt of mine who I was close with, who knew my situation and had 23 years sober herself — asking how many days I had. I told her, she told me she loved me and was proud of me. She was the family caretaker and fixer. When you were down, she pulled you up. When you were sick, she made sure you got the care you needed, even if it meant providing it herself. Two days after I got that text, my Dad would once again be put in the terrible position of having to tell his only child, another one of his siblings and my aunt had taken their own lives.

With my Uncle, it made sense almost. We were partly relieved he was no longer suffering in his misery. With my Aunt though, nobody saw it coming. She took her own life with a handgun nobody even knew she owned, in her own house. She tried to make it look like an accident, for life insurance purposes I suppose — but basically did a bad job.

It was later revealed, she may have been diagnosed with lung cancer and just couldn’t stand the thought of having others, namely us, take care of her. It’s a nice sentiment and all but I’m not one who looks to reason or logic when someone takes their own life. The truth is, we never know what people are going through, the pain they’re hiding or the struggle they fight daily. All I know is, I forgive her and miss her. Unfortunately, she’s gone forever and the reasons don’t really matter. They don’t change anything, they can’t heal the pain, only time does. And thankfully, it slowly but surely has.

3.) I’m genuinely convinced Medium — as a staff — has a personal vendetta against me and doesn’t want to see me succeed.

Okay so maybe this one you did know about me, as I write about it somewhat frequently. Those first two were pretty heavy so I wanted to ease up a bit. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way but as of late, it feels like Medium is sticking the shaft to me and doesn’t want me around. As if they’re going purposely out of their way, to make sure my writing doesn’t see the light of day. I kid you not, it feels like there is a cap or ceiling on how many claps posts of mine will get. One I posted roughly a week ago, about Medium itself, was off to a superb start — as far as reads and claps went. Then it died on a vine, never to be clapped for again, at the 906 mark. This happens way too often.

I see through your bullshit Medium and I’m this close to saying fuck the partner program as well as my premium membership. Cut it out. I’m a valuable asset to this platform, whether you want to admit or not.

4.) I used to fly all over the country removing birds from the inside of a national chain of home improvement stores, for a living

At age 20, I was hired by a contracting company on a nationwide basis, to remove the birds infesting and nesting inside of 1,200 different Lowe’s locations. I could fill a book with the adventures and shenanigans that took place as a result. When you’re flying all over the country with a rag tag group of friends, removing birds (not always peacefully unfortunately) for a living — you’re bound to come out of it with a story or two to tell.

My girlfriend at the time and I had an apartment, despite the fact I was on the road 5 days a week, what seemed like every or every other week. Being away from home that often when you have a girlfriend who is as needy and insecure as she was and probably still is, takes it’s toll. It could be said that the relationship ruined the job — and the job ruined the relationship. Or maybe I just helped ruin both, as neither were any good for me towards the end. I have no regrets though, it was a hell of an experience. I got to see nearly two thirds of the country and traveled to states I probably never otherwise would have. I made a lot of memories, friends and money. At least I still have the memories.

5.) An on duty police officer once unknowingly handed me back a cigarette pack filled with bags of cocaine — after wrongly accusing me of robbing a bank — but before driving me to my orthodontist appointment

I saved the best for last, I assure you. This is one of those stories, if it didn’t happen to me, I might not believe. But I assure you, I’m not making this up.

One Friday afternoon, in what would’ve had to of been the winter of 2005, my girlfriend at the time and I left school early, to go hang out at her house. We got to her house around 1:00pm and I had an orthodontist appointment at 3:30pm, later that afternoon. I should make it clear, I’m not proud of any of the following and I’m certainly not endorsing living a life like the one I did at 18.

As I said, it was a Friday afternoon and my friends and I did what most 18 year old kids do on Friday nights — we partied. A little too hard perhaps, as you’ll come to learn. So one of us came up with the grand idea of scoring a bunch of coke, to kickoff our weekend. Of course, I ended up being the one stuck with the task of actually scoring it and keeping it safe until we all met up around 5. If I recall correctly, in total I bought six $20 bags of cocaine (at school) and carried them through school, then to my girlfriend’s house — while we were technically supposed to be in school. Ladies and gentleman, I cannot stress to you enough just how stupid and shitty of a kid I was. But when I look back, this is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done. Bad enough I volunteered to be the one to score for us but to then carry it through school and then on the streets, while I was supposed to be in school. Incredibly risky and stupid in itself — but it gets a lot better. Or worse, actually.

So I decide to leave my girlfriend’s house at a time to where I’d make it to my orthodontist appointment a few minutes early, said bye to her and left. I had the baggies stashed in an empty cigarette pack — and had another pack of actual cigarettes with me also.

I shit you not when I say, the moment I crossed the street after I left her house, two cop cars FLEW the wrong way, down the one way street I was on. I knew something had gone terribly wrong, or was at least about to. I prayed to God they’d fly by me and just keep going — but of course — they didn’t.

Their doors slammed and both a male and female officer got out of the car and aggressively and demanded I got on the ground. I complied — but was obviously terrified. They made their way over to me, slammed me against their car and emptied everything in my pockets onto the hood the male officer just needlessly bounced me off of, both packs of cigarettes included. I immediately assumed, any moment now they’d open the wrong one up and when they did, I’d be going directly to prison.

Then, they stated the reason they stopped me was because the bank down the street just got robbed — and I fit the description of the guy who robbed it. I told them it wasn’t me and pointed out the fact I had no more than $12 on me, nor a weapon, with my eyes glued to the Newport boxes on their hood. They stated a witness was on their way and would ultimately be the one deciding my fate, as far as the bank robbery I didn’t do went anyway. Mind you, this is all basically going on right out front of my girlfriend’s house. A girlfriend who had no idea what was in one of those cigarette boxes.

I will say, I don’t know if it was the old good cop/bad cop routine but the female officer was extremely nice to me while the male was just the opposite. She correctly assumed I didn’t rob the bank and he wrongly assumed I did. He spent the twenty or so minutes we waited for the witness, literally just talking shit to me about how much I was going to hate jail. Every time he walked away, the female officer would tell me not to listen to him or worry about him.

So the witness ends up coming, gets out of the car and from about thirty yards away, immediately yells out “That’s not him. Not even close.” The look on the male officer’s face was priceless. He makes a bee line for me, in a rage of disbelief — and aggressively drags me closer to the witness. At this point, I’m almost laughing at the officer’s indignation. He begins spinning me, as if a twirling motion will somehow transform me into the guy who robbed the bank, as the witness continues to tell him it wasn’t me. The female officer, essentially calls him off and tells him to give it up. Then, it happened.

In a moment I still can’t believe, the female officer hands me back all my belongings off the hood of their squad car, both boxes of cigarettes included. As I quickly put them away and out of sight, the male officer made a comment how I shouldn’t be smoking. Boy, if he only knew. The female officer looks at me and tells me I’m free to go. I can’t believe what has just happened, adrenaline is rushing through me rapidly. I am beyond ecstatic to not be going to jail. In a moment of pure ego and as a way of getting back at the male officer for the way he treated me, I tell the female officer I know they were just doing their job — but I’m now late for my orthodontist appointment and ask them for a ride there. The look on the male cops face, as those words left my mouth, made it all worth it. He looked like he wanted to tackle me and immediately refused. However, the female officer said it was the least they could so and moments later, I became the first patient to ever show up at an orthodontists office with a police escort. They dropped me and my bags of cocaine off out front, I thanked the female officer, slyly smirked at the other cop, moral victory in tow and walked off into the sunset. Or really, just my orthodontist’s office for my adjustment but you know, either way.

So there’s five things you probably didn’t know about me. As I said, I’ll be putting together another five and publishing them sometime soon, so keep an eye out for that as well. The last part of the ten things about you challenge was to nominate ten people to partake in it, which is how I ended up writing this to begin with. I’ll tag five now and five in part two, no hard feelings if you don’t want to be involved — just figured I’d play along. Thanks for reading.

Erika Sauter, Jessica Wildfire, Jeff Barton, Deborah Kristina, Kris Gage

Writing About the Human Condition, via My Thoughts, Observations, Experiences, and Opinions — Founder of Journal of Journeys and BRB INC ©

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