Julie Guyot Studio

This Is Not Us

Julie Guyot

My therapist likes to use T.V. shows and movies as therapeutic tools, using certain scenarios to compare them to what we’re talking about. They might include some family dynamic or friendship or social situation that can be used as a teaching tool. Since I was raised on television and movies, I totally love this about her. The only problem is that we do not have the same taste in movies or television shows. It usually goes something like this:

Her: Did you ever watch Star Trek?

Me: Nope. Did you ever watch Madmen?

Her: No.

Her: Did you watch Friends?

Me: I’ve seen it before but I’m certainly not a fan. Have you seen The Leftovers?

Her: No. Did you ever read or watch Harry Potter?

Me: Definitely not.

We finally found common ground with the only network show that I’ve watched in years when she asked me if I was watching “This Is Us.” Yes! As a therapist, she kind of geeks out over the complete therapeutic package that this show can provide for both a viewer and a therapist. One can choose from topics such as adoption, eating disorder, alcoholism, abusive father/husband, drug addiction, death, racial and cultural discussions and of course, lots of love. She’s in heaven. If you’re caught up on the show you know about the culmination of the entire show’s emotional roller coaster that was finally shown this season in the form of a crockpot shorting out and ruining everyone’s life thereafter.

So you can imagine my terror when in the middle of the night before my 47th birthday, I was awoken by a slightly digitized female voice calmly saying, “There is smoke in the hallway.” This wasn’t enough to fully bring me out of my slumber but the ear piercing beeping that followed and my husband shooting out of bed slowly brought me around. There she was again, “There is smoke in the hallway.” This time I got up and put my shoes on, thankful that I had left them near the bed the night before. As my husband was putting on his pants I thought to myself how my reoccurring irrational fear of ending up on my neighbors’ lawn completely naked, asking them to call the fire department (and also can I borrow some pants) was totally paying off as I was already wearing pajamas. I immediately thought of the crockpot but ours was safely unplugged and tucked away in a cabinet as it’s only used once a year to make hot cider at the holidays.

I imagined that I’d go out into the hallway and the entire house would be on fire, “This Is Us” style. My husband had already tested the doorknob for heat and opened the bedroom door by the time I was up so I went to let the dogs out of their room. I still wasn’t awake. By the time I got into the living room, my husband was already telling me there was no smoke. He went outside and walked around the house. No smoke. He went up in the attic. No smoke.

There is no smoke in the hallway.

I looked at the clock and it read 4:00 and I said, “I thought it was later, I never would’ve let the dogs out if I knew it was 4:00.” My husband said, “Are you still asleep because you’re not making any sense.” By the time he came back to bed I was fully awake, on my phone, googling “Nest smart smoke detector malfunction” because I knew I wouldn’t go back to sleep if there was a remote chance that there was real smoke in the hallway. It turns out that this is a thing that happens with the first-generation Nest “smart” smoke detector. One man wrote a whole blog post about it (go figure) and it happened to him at exactly 4:00 a.m. as well. Unfortunately for him it continued to happen randomly over the next few weeks. You have to contact the Nest company and ask them to replace it with a second-generation model. Needless to say, this did nothing for my sleep that night.

I recently had to switch my business bookkeeping system over from my Mac computer to a cheap little P.C. My bookkeeper is very happy about it. I am not. In the process, she gave me a flash drive to save my files onto and told me I must keep it in a location that was separate from my computer in case of a fire. I put it in my workbag thinking that if there were a fire at home I would obviously be grabbing my bag on the way out the door. I can tell you for a fact that the last thing on my mind the night of the false smoke alarm was that flash drive.

I’m not sure what it means to have such an abrupt and panicked beginning to my 47th year. I know that it means I still have my husband and my stuff and my dogs and my house and my second-generation Nest smoke detector. I know that it means that I’m still here and I’m alive enough to have panic attacks to warrant a therapist where we can sit and compare real life to television shows and if that’s what I have, it’s enough. But I'm telling you right now, if I have to completely re-build my business books from scratch on a P.C. with no receipts and no backup, I’m retiring.