So I’ve started the morning with brain-eating amoeba and the pursuit of perfectionism, both of which are terrifying concepts. The brain-eating amoeba are things that can – in that there have now been two recorded cases of it it – result from using a neti-pot with tap water. I’ve kinda done this. Apparently so long as you’re using saline water you’re protected – or so the article implied. I’ve used hot shower water together with sea-salt. Anyway, It’s been literal years since I’ve netti’d and no brain-eating symptoms as yet. 

Still though.

Occasionally I read stories or come across images on the Internet (because I don’t read newspapers or magazines) that remind me of the risks I’m taking and the things I’m doing wrong. The stuff I’ve been getting away with. And I feel sick to my stomach. Nearly like the bad consequences actually are happening to me, like I’ve been playing a form of Russian Roulette with my health. 

Drinking to excess was one of these things. Other stuff I’ve done in my past that, honestly, I don’t really feel like sharing in public. Yup, you heard that right. I have a line. I mean, it’s pretty chalky and scuffed in places and get me drunk and I’ll step right over it … 

But anyway, yeah, the brain amoeba thing got me slightly in that sick-feeling place. I know that you’re supposed to boil and cool water before using a neti-pot, but who has time for that?! 

Me. From now on, me. That is if I make time for neti-ing whatsoever. 

Ironically I’ve been thinking this past week that my sinuses could do with a cleaning – they’re clogged up and causing pain and I can’t take any decongestants – but I was too lazy to clean the dust off my pot properly, and I suppose I’ve some standards – even I didn’t feel it was acceptable to merely rinse the vessel in shower water before using it. 

The perfectionism article also resonated with me. It was an experiment written by a woman in her twenties who trialled all these amazing “perfect” products and clothes for a week and a day. Her conclusion: Stuff doesn’t change the person you are underneath. If you’re a fuck-up with unresolved issues, you’ll just remain so, but maybe look less so on the outside. 

I don’t disagree with her conclusion, but I’d add one of my own. Reading the lines she wrote I felt a connection back to Japan-me. The me who dealt with feeling out of control in their life by being perfectly coiffed, with expensive clothes, jewelry and perfume. I looked the part of a rich professional and I exuded confidence. I couldn’t have been much further away from the person who sits here with a yoghurt stain on my tattered long-sleeve top that Japan-Me would have dumped many many moons ago. The pristine tatami floors that I used to use sticky rollers on in order to ensure not a single stray hair was missed, sit in stark contrast to the tumbleweed of dog hairs that blow across the mis-matched laminate of this house. 

But I’m happier now than I was then.

And yet, the act of living like that for a number of years, of experiencing that fake sense of control, it’s poisoned something in me for life, I think. It makes you more irritated with the small, and ultimately unimportant imperfections in life. As if somehow the perfect font choice on a letter is what will make the difference when I send a note home with students. How much does it matter that we live surrounded by constant clutter and dog-hair and that even the things that have a place are rarely in them.

Does it matter? If we’re happy and (for the most part) healthy?

It’s hard to stop noticing once you’ve started though. 

I guess it’s a bit of the instagram life, isn’t it? Long before instagram ever existed, I wanted to life with a perfect exterior. Like somehow I could get the outside just right and then it would magically bleed through to the inside of me and everything would harden into a rigid marble utopia. Without flaw, forever. 

Instead all it does is make me cranky and shouty when a child walks in and immediately drops his school bag on the ground. Now, of course, children need to learn to pick up after themselves and all of that, but they don’t need to be shouted into it. 

And worse, it makes me feel constantly as though my life is not good enough, with not enough done. Because those standards are impossible to maintain outside of a tiny display box. 

I’m no-one’s Barbie now though.