Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Trouble With Pests

Bugs and I have a love and hate relationship. They love me and I hate them. Just seeing some bugs or spiders will send me into a screaming frenzy. I've had terrible nightmares about bugs, spiders, and rodents. Remember those movies from the 70's with giant ants? Those are the kind of dreams I have. They have caused me to scream in my sleep. They have caused me to jump out of bed. As a kid, I even had screaming, sleep-running issues (as you can read from one of my earlier blog entries). I am not fascinated by bugs in any way, shape or form.

As a kid in the 70's, I spent a lot of time outdoors. Well, we all did. There wasn't much to do indoors. In Southern California, it was easy to be outside a lot, anyway. It was always sunny. We went to the beach, we played in our front yards, we ran down the street. I wasn't afraid of what was in the grass, it was just a place to lay down and roll around. Until I realized what was in there. WORMS!! Ewwwww! And sometimes, even a bee or wasp.

One day, I was playing around in the grass, probably near a planter somewhere. I stepped backward, right onto a wasp. While my dad went out to rid the world of a wasp nest, mom had me on the counter with my foot in the sink to take the sting out. Over the years, we dealt with more wasp nests than I could ever count. I avoided several areas of the outside of our house, including some of the backyard and in front of the garage, sometimes even the entry way of the house.

Dad, of course, did the yardwork. I remember him hosing down the wasps nests, and doing the cut backs on our bushes, and cutting the grass. At one point, he had to get up on a ladder to cut something back. Boy, did he piss off the bees. He was attacked by those big old black bees. Luckily, he was able to get down off the ladder safely. But he was stung about seven or eight times. This made me terrified to go in the front yard or near our plants for any reason.

But inside, that was a different story. Spiders, mosquitoes and ants, oh my! We even once had a mouse problem. We could hear them in the walls. It scared the crap out of me when I could hear them scratching their way through the walls. When I was young, like before the 80's, at the end of our street and behind our house were fields. We would take the dogs running there. But it also served as a lovely place for wildlife to live. When they started building houses behind us, the mice moved in. I saw one once. It ran across the hall and underneath our green wicker hamper. My mom was trying to chase it down with a broom. But that was the only time we SAW one. When we cleaned out my closets or drawers, we would often find mouse poop. Luckily, once the condos were built at the end of the street and there were no more fields the rodent issue seemed to disappear.

When it rains in California, it RAINS. It doesn't do this off and on drizzly crap that it does in the Pacific NW. When it rained, we would get ants. They would come in the power outlets and take over. Our house (other than my bedroom) was generally spotless. Dishes were done at the end of meals, there was no food stuffs (except my room) anywhere. The ants were never in my room, probably contrary to popular belief. There would be thousands of them in the kitchen. You could see the line of them from the power outlet to the butter dish and the sink. I think we threw away more butter because of that. But I would also find them in the bathroom for no apparent reason. They would be in the bathtub, they would be in the sink. There was no getting rid of them. Really.

Every year, you could always tell it was summer. You know how? My shoulders. They would be covered in bites. My mom used to say that I must have had sweet blood. I probably have some scarring on my shoulders from how much I scratched. The mosquitoes would eat me alive. I never saw them. I would just wake up one day, and start scratching. Maybe this was my alternative to never having the chicken pox. Instead of having those ten days of being covered in horrid itchy blobs, I got years and years of suffering through my shoulders.

Now we come to my two favorites: spiders and termites. Termites freak the crap out of me. Not that they did anything to me, but because they swarmed my room one day and sent me screaming from my room. I actually thought they were flying ants. As I ran screaming downstairs, my parents were understandably alarmed. They only laughed when they heard “flying ants” for about a second when they checked it out. My dad was pissed. Not at me, of course. But because we were getting infested by lovely house eating bugs. I ended up having to stay out of my room for several hours, while my dad sprayed. It was great going on vacation – every time, we had to set off those damn bug bombs. Ugh.

I have a very real aversion to spiders. I don't know where it came from. When I was really young, I went on a trip to the desert with some friends of my parents and their kids. Most of the trip was great. But they collected tarantulas and scorpions and put them into these plastic-y things. I swore that they were going to come alive, get out of that plastic stuff and get me while I slept. I still have nightmares about this sometimes. When I was an adult, I had to move home for a short period of time. I chose to sleep on the floor. Sleeping on the floor was not the best choice for one reason – I was eaten alive by baby spiders. I sure was pretty with all my spots!

Now, I will see something shadowy in a corner, I jump, thinking it's a bug. I see something move out of the corner of my eye, I think it's a bug. I even freak out if I see a beetle on the wall at work, or a spider in the light fixture. I'm a mess. I hope I get over it one day... But probably not. Uck, even thinking about it right now, is giving me the twitchies....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My First Trauma - AKA Lady Adventure Time

Males may want to stay away from this post. It's about girly stuff. Sorry. I was inspired by Hyperbole and a Half. My story isn't half as funny as hers (although possibly just as traumatic). Remember, this also may be exaggerated. This is MY memory, although my mother disagrees with part of the story.

In fifth grade we had “the video” and the lecture when they sent all the boys out of the room. And in sixth grade, it was discussed a bit as part of health class that was taught by the lady that was also our P.E. teacher, Mrs. McGregor. Going through these classes, well I don't know about anyone else, but I always thought – that's not gonna happen to me! So, being immature, and of course young, I didn't pay much attention. The fact that I did this in all my classes makes no difference here.

I was barely a month into my eleventh year of life when I started my period. I found out in my second class of the day, P.E. I was horrified. I had been wearing a white mini-skirt with white shorts underneath. I had given an oral report to my first class of the day. I was changing for P.E. class and happened to look down while taking off my shorts. O. M. G! What the Hell is THAT? Aw, HELL NO. I may be a girl, but this is NOT happening to me. My mind moved further... how many people saw this in science, and how many people didn't say anything? How many people laughed at me? How many people made fun of me? I started crying. Uncontrollably.

One of the girls who was near me in the locker room – quite possibly a famous person, as her last name started with an E and mine an F – asked me if I was ok. I whispered, quite shakily, or at least tried to whisper (it may have come out as a shriek at this point, as my voice often does when I'm crying), “I think I started my period, can you get Mrs. McGregor?” That got some sudden attention of what seemed like everyone in the locker room – the sixth, seventh and eighth graders. Again, I was horrified. Mrs. McGregor came running over, crying. Not because she was horrified, quite the contrary, she was EXCITED. If no one else in the locker room knew.... they did now. She fucking announced it. I don't think I have ever been more embarrassed at that point, or even possibly ever again as I was that second. She didn't seem to notice. She immediately sent me to the bathroom with the old fashioned pads. The kind with the belt that you have to safety pin into your underwear. How in the hell did these things work? I am pretty sure I made a huge mess of myself.

I finally made her understand that this “womanhood” was all over my WHITE clothes that I had to wear the rest of the day. My mom was luckily home that day with... you guessed it – cramps! I felt safe in calling her for help. The women of the P.E. Department led me into their office to use their phone. I picked it up and dialed home. I heard the phone pick up on the other end. NO. This can not be happening. Here is what I remember the conversation going:


(still sobbing) “Dad, please let me talk to mom.”

“Jenny, what's wrong?”

“Please, just let me talk to mom.”

“Not until you tell me what's wrong.” (he wasn't being mean, he was just worried)

“I stttttttarteddddd my perioooooooooooood!”

“Oh, honey, let me get your mom.”

I was hoping that I would never have to tell my father that I was, in fact, a girl. Well, too late, apparently. Mom took over the call and told me she would bring clothes for me to change into. My teacher called the school nurse, who walked me to the office. My mom came to bring me clothes. When she did, I think she understood how traumatized I was. Somehow she convinced the school (“we usually don't let girls go home for this”) nurse to let me go home.

My class was running the “Cross Country” that day, and I could picture them all seeing me while I was climbing into the car, seeing my stained shorts and laughing at me. I could not stop thinking about that once I got home and put on my pajamas.

Once school got out, my best friend's mom called because she found out. She apologized to me. That made me feel better. Not really. I also found out that one of the reasons that my teacher was so excited was because I was the first girl in my class to get my period. Lucky ME! I also became the center of all period related jokes. I seemed to be the only one that ended up getting the dreaded “pants spots.” Sometimes to the point of having to call my mom often to bring me fresh clothes, or bringing a jacket or sweatshirt to tie around my waist. Oh girls, don't tell me YOU never did that!!

My best friend started hers less than a month later. She didn’t tell me for a while, but at least she was lucky. She started hers at home and it was much less traumatic for her. One day, she just told me all matter of factly. Having gotten my period so early gave me so many more traumatic experiences for me to live through.

Oh, the event of “Becoming a woman.” What fun.