Monday Dare: the Tim Kermitathoponolisis story

Every Monday, I’m picking from the List of Things to Try, Places to Go, Possible Acts that Help and Possible Fun to Have. It’s a list I made before The Project started and I’m still adding to it. If you have suggestions, please, feel free to throw them my way. I’m calling the list my Monday Dares, as I get overwhelmed just looking at the words “challenge” or “goal.”

This Week: I have phobias. I will address one. Or five. Or… just one.

Several years ago, I made the mistake of watching a news clip about a local home infested with bird mites. Fascinated, I made another mistake by googling “bird mites.” I read the sad testimonial of a man who went to sleep one night with his bedroom window open and woke up the next morning with mites in his nose. In his nose!

Then, I went to bed one night with our window open and I woke up the next morning with an itchy nose. Turns out, I caught a cold, but you know how these things twist and turn in your mind until you end up with a phobia.

Bird mite angst. It’s real, people.

My friend, Kathy, has a fear of heights and hates flying. Every time she mentions it, someone standing in our vicinity will chime in and offer that they, too, suffer from the same phobia. Bird mites? Nothing. Just some empty stares.

Now, instead of explaining myself, I just feign disbelief. “You mean you haven’t heard the Tim Kermitathoponolisis story? Wow, where have you been?” I find it’s always helpful to include a long name; it just adds more credibility. I turn and walk away before they ask questions about poor Tim. It’s more effective that way.

Two Saturdays ago, Harv, Cal and I spent the day at the beach. Thirsty, we walked toward the pier to get a soda and saw a well-attended sidewalk show featuring a man and his two birds. Instinctually, I blurted, “Bird mites!” Loudly. I nudged Cal to start moving, but she turned and gave me a look I’ve never seen before.

You know what? Screw this, mommy. I’m standing here and watching the birds.

Disobedience. The teen years, they are a comin’.

I’m pretty cheap about therapy, so I’ll probably just send away for some free “Bird Mites and You” pamphlets. That should do the trick.

Any of your own phobias you’d like to share? Lookee what we got here- a phobia show-and-tell..

A big thanks to Gretchen Rubin, author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller, The Happiness Project. She gave Flourish in Progress a thumbs up on her blog. I think. “Fascinating” is code for thumbs up, no? (Don’t tell her that I’m clueless, y’all.) She’s smart, she’s happy and she rocks a pair of studs better than any classy bitch I know, yo.

photo via

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  • areyoukiddingme

    Fear not, there’s still time to instill that phobia in your child. My mom did it to me. I would never, ever touch a bird – even a tiny baby bird fallen out of its next. Because birds carry disease!

  • TheBabyMammaChronicles

    First, I hate birds! They are so dirty and nasty! Second, I tried to vote multiple times tonight but I was D-nied after my first try . . . damn the smart technology!

  • Staci

    You know I want to google this so bad but I’m askeered! There are some super aggressive birds in NY city. They even stand in the middle of the street giving you the stink eye, ready to throw down if they think you might hit one of them. I hate most birds.

  • Amy

    Birds kinda freak me out too. Especially ones I imagine as “dirty” like seagulls and pigeons.

    He got mites in his nose?? I can’t stop thinking about that! Could they, like, get to his BRAIN? This is probably not helping your phobia issue. Sorry!! ;)

    Voted for ya!

  • Jennifer Clark

    My mother instilled a fear of heights into me. I was 4 years old and she had a death-grip on my elbow while we visited the Grand Canyon. Like I was gonna jump in, or something.

    There are some excellent drugs for anxiety. Perhaps you should consult your doctor….?

  • ametrine

    I just found your blog last night through that very link Gretchen posted. I stayed and read back through all the archives! Thanks for chronicling your experience for us.

    I’m not in a situation where I have enough money to go shopping or even out for fancy coffee very often, but I still find that when I do those things, the excitement wanes pretty quickly afterward. It might have been on The Happiness Project that I read about a study that found later in life, people not only remember experiences more than things, but feel that the memories/experiences give them more happiness. So as much as it can really feel like that new dress/doorknob/apron at Anthropologie is the final key to my true happiness, I’m turning 30 in 3 days and one of my new goals is to focus on experiences rather than things. So I’m very happy to have found your blog. Okay, I’ll stop going on now!!

  • Elizabeth-Flourish in Progress

    areyoukiddingme- i’m pretty sure Cal is extremely sick of my bird mite phobia, but I hope she’s at least a little cautious about those creatures as she gets older

    khara- ha! damn straight! dirty and nasty.
    it will only let each device vote once, as far as i can tell…so a home computer and a cell phone would both work…if you catch my drift.=)

    staci- noooooooo. don’t do it. just trust me.

  • Elizabeth-Flourish in Progress

    amy- thanks for the vote.
    so, i never thought about this. nose to the brain. that’s an interesting thought. i’ll just think about that while i’m laying in my bed tonight. good times.=)

    jennifer- i just got that “elevator feeling” thinking about looking over the edge of that big hole. i’d grab Cal so hard.

    ametrine- happy early birthday! what you’re describing….i’m discovering exactly that. experiences over goods. thanks for stopping by the blog…and welcome!


    I swear, we’re related.

    After Googling “sand flies”, I can’t even go to the beach without spending the next three days scratching myself incessantly.


    I’m terrified–I repeat, terrified, of butterflies and moths. They’re sneaky little bastards, those butterflies.

    “Oh look, how pretty, a butterfly migration JESUS HANK THEY’RE ALL OVER ME! THEY’RE EATING MY FACE OH GOD WHYYYYYY.”

    And, props, for being totally fucking awesome.

  • Jen**SugaredSongbird**

    Oh, I’m laughing my backside off at your posts, I’ll be spending some time reading tonight.

    As for phobias, mostly spiders, especially large numbers of them. and I squirm at the sound they make when you squish them

  • Stefanie

    Okay, mine is worms. Just writing that word made me extremely uncomfortable. My husband enjoys doing weird worm mouth pantomimes to skeeve me out. I really hate him.

  • Elizabeth-Flourish in Progress

    justmakingconvo- Aha! I knew we were related the moment I saw your pictures in your About Me section…the blond hair, the agility….well, except that I have black hair, and I’m asian, and I’m not really flexible. Shit, Becky, my reasoning may be flawed.

    Noa- Jesus, Noa, you just brought to mind a very terrifying memory. A long time ago, I worked at a dry cleaners and a woman brought in a silk jumper that she forgot to clean from the summer before. Moths had EATEN through all the portions that got sweaty. She asked us to fix it. I was kinda like “what the fuck, bitch?” Yeah, thanks for making me remember that

  • Elizabeth-Flourish in Progress

    Jen- funny you should mention the spiders. when i got in the car today to pick up Cal, there were two spiders in the car. i didn’t get in an accident, but i’m sure some drivers thought i was drunk.

    Stef- god, i love it when you give me ammo. just wait till i see you tomorrow

  • Corrine

    Elizabeth – As always I can always count on you to make me laugh…thanks again for sharing what’s in your smart, witty brain. I have never heard of a bird mite phobia but feel that such an unusual phobia is just another sign of your genius! I have a regular normal phobia of spiders. Any kind…big, little, hairy, skinny,fat, blind (yes they exist)….I have no prejudice. The part that is not as normal is my absolute NEED to make sure that any spider that crosses my path dies a quick and painful death. I simply cannot function until I have irrefutable proof that its guts are splattered in some manner. It’s a very ugly side of me.

  • momma

    Mine was freckles. I am to embarrassed to explain but I will tell you it took therapy and wine to get over it.

  • Wendy

    anything with less than 2 legs or more than 4 is OUT and should just NEVER BE SEEN.

    on a bird related note, my mom instilled in me a long-living “birds are germ factories” phobia.

    One day I was sitting happily in my house enjoying being alive when this very loud chirping started coming from my front door. My cat was going apeshit insane. So I decided to see where this damn bird was and shoo it’s loud ass away.

    I opened the door, peered upward, because that is where birds ARE, and took a step outside the door to see if the bird was over the doorway.

    When my barefoot hit something soft.

    Something soft that squished, jerked, chirped a very sad painful last chirp, and then died.


    what kind of crazy effed up bird sits on the GROUND?! I seriously dunked my foot in pure bleach. and still didn’t feel clean.

  • Elizabeth-Flourish in Progress

    Corrine- i am alway thrilled when you stop by and leave me a little note. you make me feel like a genius (if i give you my husband’s number, could you convince him that i’m a genius?) so now that we’re talking about spiders…i am DEATHLY afraid of killing a spider and having it be some freaky mama spider with a whole bunch of baby spiders on its back that scatter when i smack it. i’ve never seen this happen, but i hear it CAN and the thought just makes me shiver. ughughughugh

    momma- nooooo. don’t leave me hanging. freckles? lady, my imagination is running wild!!

    Wendy- You’re a bird killer! Bad, Wendy, BAD! (psst, that was just for public consumption…what i really meant to say is…what a dumb bird and hope you don’t have bird mites, lady. oh, and you’re f’ing hilarious.)

  • Mary Sue

    I am a little afraid of birds too. In high school, my boyfriend’s mom had parakeets. Sometimes she would let them fly around while I was over, watching tv on the couch or something. Every time I was on the phone, those birds LOVED to come over and peck at it – or at my neck. I can’t tell you the horror of having a tiny thing peck at your neck. And then I watched the movie, The Birds. It was all over. Thanks for giving me one more piece of information for my bird-hating arsenal. (Although, I do think they are pretty sometimes and I wish I could fly…)

  • Elizabeth-Flourish in Progress

    Mary Sue- Um, so because I’m not as nice as you, that would be grounds for relationship dissolution for me. I would break up with him so fast for having a weird bird lady mom. And, you’re welcome….I always like to share my bird mite information so that you too, may know the angst. Oh, and I want to fly too.

  • Mommy on the Spot

    Thanks for stoping by my blog! I love your project!!

    As for phobias, 2 words: raw chicken. It seriously triggers a major anxiety attack.

  • RollerScrapper

    I have a phobia about ET…the extraterrestrial. Yup…no phone home for me! In fact once as a kid I got an ET view master for my birthday and I STILL can’t look into a view master without flinching

  • Kristyn

    Ok Liz the momma spider with all the babies scattering when you kill it – happened to me in my house about a month ago!! I felt horrible. Totally guilty and sad for the poor spiders. :-(

    Ok phobia…the worm one makes me feel a little less weird. Mine is balloons!!!! Mylar are ok, but screw the latex ones! I can’t be near them, I will leave wherever they are as I get flushed and panicky. A few weeks ago I had to leave part of kats sons bday cause of the balloons. SO weird I know, and it sucks!!! I need a therapist…

  • Elizabeth-Flourish in Progress

    mommyonthespot- well now that you mention it….ewww

    roller- every time i look at someone with long, knobby fingers, i get chills…i guess i know why.

    kristyn- you are now officially the first person i know that has had this happen. and i now live in fear. damn spiders.
    holy smokes, i totally did not know this balloon thing about you. this is a cool phobia, you should try to capitalize on this in some way.

  • Camelia

    I have a phobia of swallowing pills. Part of my brain believes that the pill (even if it’s a small ass Claritin pill) will get stuck in my throat and I will die. The other part of my brain thinks/knows I’m being idiotic, but I still cannot WILL NOT swallow a pill. I’m 23 years old and I take liquid medication (i.e. children’s Benadryl).

  • Elizabeth-Flourish in Progress

    Camelia- omg! Totally! I swallowed an aspirin in high school without water and some chicks standing next to me were completely aghast. I think they were waiting for me to choke and croak. Also, next time, mix the liquid medication into your margarita. It’s just tastier that way.

  • jenfromboston

    Going to the top of the Effiel Tower in an elevator that is approximately 1,000 years old and encased in glass windows is pretty terrigfying when you’re afraid of heights. I kept mentioning/challenging “weight limits” capacity and gripping onto my husband while chanting into his chest, “I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful. I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful” until we made it to the top. (10 bonus points if you get the reference)

  • Elizabeth – Flourish in Progress

    jenfromboston- i totally don’t deserve the 10 points. I had to google it. =) This is some scary shit, the glass elevator. Good thing I spent all my time shopping in Paris instead of going to see the Eiffel Tower…probably one of the reasons I’m on this project.

  • RollerScrapper

    Lol omg every time my sister wanted to torture me she would point her “ET finger”, she would bend her finger at the first joint….shudder

  • sstreet43

    Spiders are my phobia. They creep me out with their dangling in mid-air waiting to attach to something or someone. I just creeped myself out writing this :)

  • Gina L

    Ok, I must say that I have never had a phobia of mites of any sort. Well, until maybe now. I keep imagining mites in his nose and I’ve got the heebie jeebies now! Before you made me more neurotic than I already am, my main phobia was heights. I have to qualify that, though. It’s only certain heights. I can do roller coasters. I am okay with being in a plane and a hot air balloon. I have even climbed the ladder at our firehouse, done the leg lock, and leaned all of the way back. Take me to Zugspitze, though, and I get queasy. I can’t look over the edge or go anywhere near it.

  • Gina L

    Oh, and it’s the kind of height phobia that Jen above has. Glass elevators are the devil.

  • Elizabeth – Flourish in Progress

    sstreet- ew. i hate spiders too. especially the ones with fatter legs.

    gina- you’re welcome for making you more neurotic. it’s the giver in my. even when i just THINK about looking over glass enclosed balconies, I get that “falling” sensation in the pit of my stomach.