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Capertillars

Before Adam Sandler sold out and made Jack & Jill, he made some better movies like 50 First Dates, The Wedding Singer, and Big Daddy.  And for whatever reason, the way the little boy in Big Daddy cutely mispronounces “caterpillar” has stayed with me, hence the title of tonight’s post.

So why did I name this Capertillars?  Because I saw a caterpillar today and I was instantly upset.

Despite the fact that probably my all-time favorite children’s book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I despise the way caterpillars’ bodies slink.  Nevermind that they usually turn into delicate butterflies, which I love.  I mean, nevermind that they’re the same darn creature in either form.  It doesn’t matter.  With their many pairs of legs fanning their long bodies out like a wave as they clamber across the sidewalk and up the trees, I can’t help but get the willies.

I think this all stems from a bizarre incident that happened when I was about 9 or 10 years old.  Each year for a few weeks, my neighborhood would get completely inundated by these small black caterpillars.  They’d be all over the sidewalk and I’d become weirdly OCD about not stepping on them or having them touch me.  Some of the kids from school would pick them up and let them crawl across their palms, but not me.  No way, Jose.  I was a bonafide chicken when it came to insects, even back then.

Feeling safe that the most recent influx of creepy crawlies had started waning, I returned home from school one day to find both my parents outside.  Dad was swearing and stomping.  Mom was waving from the front porch.  And covering the exterior of my house from sidewalk to doorframe were the thickest, flowiest, most terrifying caterpillars I’d ever seen.  About the size of my thumb, each giant black caterpillar had a flourescent yellow stripe down its back.

Dad was screaming disgustedly about goop coming out of them as he stomped on them and Mom was gesturing for me to come inside.  I couldn’t move.  I was frozen in my tracks.  I couldn’t take one step forward, lest the goop “get” me or a caterpillar fell on my head.  I literally think it took the better side of an hour to get me in the house.  I nearly had a tantrum out of intense fear.  I just knew that the one giant caterpillar over the door was going to flop off and touch me.

It did not.

Maybe it would have been better if it had because to this day, I still jump and shiver when I see a caterpillar.  And I get how the whole caterpillar to butterfly life cycle thing works.  It’s the same insect.  Yet I still hold out my hand to each beautiful butterfly I see.  Go figure.

Yesterday while avoiding my home office and slowly plodding through some freelance work on the living room couch, I noticed there was a bee buzzing around on the balcony.  I shivered, but felt secure, protected by both a thick layer of screen and heavy glass sliding doors.  It flew away and I thought that was that.

Half an hour later, I noticed the bee had long bendy legs and wings, the tell-tale signs of a wasp.  It was actually investigating our porch, zooming around our sun screen from side to side, landing on our haphazardly hung twinkle lights, crawling around on the balcony ceiling and even disappearing into an old curtain runner with hooks.

On my husband’s suggestion, I searched our cabinet for Wasp & Yellow Jacket spray foam, and this morning after noticing the wasp hanging out again, Greg rolled up the sun screen and sprayed where we’d seen the evil-looking insect loitering.  We basically wiped our hands of the problem.  But an hour later, the bee was back.

And even now as I sit here “keeping an eye on it,” the leggy wasp seems to have grown in size — unless they’ve decided to send in the “big guns” to intimidate us.  Honestly, that’s what it looks like he’s doing (in this scenario, I’ve decided the wasp is male, just roll with it).  He keeps buzzing up near our screen and hitting it like he’s pissed off we foiled his nest-building plans.  Honestly, I think he’s trying to get in to give me a piece of his mind…or stinger.  And he’s buzzing around closer to the sliding door, which is bad news for us.  If he starts building a nest there, we won’t be able to get at it with the spray and will have to call in some big guns of our own — a bee removal service.

I am terrified.  Greg went out there in shorts and a t-shirt this morning to spray.  If I was going to go out there, I’d have long pants, long sleeves, a hood, gloves and a face mask to protect me from the poison.  I feel like I should spray more but I’m scared I’ll either inadvertently let the wasp inside to attack me and Brody or he’ll “get me” while I’m out there, or I’ll accidentally spray the foam inside or in my eye or something klutzy, as I’m prone to do.

So in the meantime, I’m trying to show the wasp who’s boss by banging on the sliding door and yelling at it to go the hell away.  I’m not so sure it’s working on the wasp, but it’s definitely working on my dog, who slinked away and is now laying near the door instead of his favorite place in the sun.

I’m headed off to yoga in a few and if I come back and find there’s more than one wasp hanging out on our balcony, we’re going to have a serious problem.  I’ll show them my Hulk impression from the other side of the glass and if they’re not scared by that, I’ll just have to introduce them to my little friend, the massive can of Enforcer Foam.

Perhaps a Little TMI

I’ve grown.  You only need to look at the events of the past week to see how.

First, let’s start with my mild emetophobia (fear of throwing up).  The last time I violently emptied the contents of my stomach was at 15 years old after getting food poisoning from a bad burger at my high school.  I was so viciously ill – not to mention seriously grossed out about the epically foul patty – that I didn’t touch ground beef at all until about 2005.  And for whatever reason, the powers that be smiled down on me and decided I’d had enough and I didn’t toss my cookies ever again…until Tuesday. 

Normally, Mr. Upchuck is preceded by minutes or even hours of nausea and sweating, and for me, thick swallowing, crying, digging toes into the carpet, whining, panicking, palpitations and praying that either it will happen RIGHT NOW or never.  Bless those powers that be though for making this unpleasant event occur without warning.  Granted, this created a much bigger mess that I was then forced to clean while my insides continued to clean out with the help of 4 liters of sodium bicarbonate prescribed so that I could endure what is known in the gastrointestinal world as a “double whammy” — an endoscopy and colonoscopy.  Fun stuff, let me tell ya.  But hey.  At least I wasn’t sitting in a puddle of fear waiting for the inevitable.

Anyways, sparing you all the gory details, is it pathetic that I’m actually proud of myself for making it through?  I threw up, so what?  It happened and now I don’t have to worry about it anymore.  I had a good streak going there for 16 years…maybe I can go another 16.

Secondly, I had to undergo the afore-mentioned invasive procedures as part of routine maintenance for a suspected mild case of Crohn’s Disease.  If you’re not really sure what it is, don’t worry.  I’m not 100% sure either, except that it involves swelling in the colon and can cause narrowing of the intestines and can be really painful, embarrassing and make you feel very abnormal in the abdominal region.  I’ve probably been living with this (or IBS or IBD or all three, or colitis or a number of other issues) for years but this time around we’re hoping for a definitive diagnosis. 

I’d previously had two colonoscopies and one endoscopy as well as an MRI, several blood tests, and even a test in which I had to drink something weird and blow into a machine every fifteen minutes.  So this wasn’t all that scary for me…except the part where I had to drink the massive jug of metallic salty-tasting solution designed to shrink your stomach to the size of a pea, give you a supreme case of the shivers and keep you on the toilet till midnight.  I was so dang nervous about drinking that stuff because it makes me gag and dry heave…but not at all concerned about getting knocked out or about what they might find.  I’m mostly okay with needles, so the IV was a cinch (except for the part where they couldn’t find a vein, but what else is new).  Nope, it was the drinking that I was afraid of…that and the fact that during my last colonoscopy 4 or so years ago, I just so happened to wake up during the procedure.  (shiver)  But I requested that my doctor give me extra anesthesia this time so I was out like a light, and even once I woke I continued to act so drugged that I asked Greg the same question no less than four times in the space of about ten minutes.  Hilarity! 

So, for drinking MOST of the 4-liter jug of sodium bicarbonate and living through the yucky gastrointestinal procedures, I must pat myself on the back again.  I faced these challenges with dignity, tissues jammed up my nostrils so I couldn’t taste the putrid liquid, and my favorite fuzzy bathrobe, and only whimpered and moaned a few hundred times.  I was a champ.

Now, while awaiting my -oscopies, the hospital was running seriously behind.  I was told to check in at 9:30 am, so we left the house at 8 (hey, rush hour traffic on LA’s infamous 405 South is nothing to scoff at), got to the hospital by 9 and proceeded to wait…and wait…and wait some more.  I was not called back till about noon, when my initial appointment was scheduled for 10:30 am.  I had hoped to be leaving the hospital for home by noon.  So besides proving that waiting is the worst part of any medical test, a new fear sprouted in my mind.  Our dog Brody was at home alone with full run of the living room, dining area and kitchen for the longest time since he’d eaten an eighth of his weight in dog food just two weeks after he was adopted.  Since the incident that dragged us to the animal emergency room on Valentine’s Day 2010, Brody had been crated.  And my four or five replacement pairs of shoes had been happy.

However, lately we’ve been leaving Brody for up to 3 or 4 hours uncrated as an experiment.  With nothing out of place, we figured leaving him for the morning would be fine.  What we didn’t expect was that we’d be getting home 6 hours later. 

All signs point to Brody having slept all day, so feeling oddly confident, I suggested leaving Brody uncrated for seven hours while we were both at work on Friday.  This was completely out of character.  For the past two years, I’ve been the worrywort.  I always knew that at some point I’d be ready to leave him out of his “house” (partially because he was destroying every last towel we put in there) but I didn’t know I’d be ready now. 

So that’s the third thing I’m proud of this week.  Plus, I’m very proud of Brody for being a good boy and not touching a thing!  My shoes and I profoundly thank him.

As a side note, I apologize for being a bit too busy these days to write or to accomplish any crazy fears, but as you can see, I’m still working on my anxieties…even the little ones.  So I hope you’ll continue to support me on my journey!

Can’t Make Up My Mind

I’ve been dragging my heels on making a decision.  I don’t usually hem and haw over things so much.  Just a few words into Greg’s original JDate profile, I was hooked.  Thirty seconds after meeting Brody, I knew I was taking him home.  Twenty minutes into reading about UCSD’s Copyediting Certificate Program, I resolved to sign up—though I put it off and ultimately got waitlisted for the winter session, leading me to believe I may have a slight fear of actually succeeding – but more on this in a future post.  I pick out my own clothes, decide on my own hairstyles, and write my Facebook status updates according to however I’m feeling at the moment.  All of these things are hilarious, too, because they make me seem spontaneous, when what I really am is a hardcore planner.

Here’s the background on my impossible, yet somewhat trivial, decision.  I’ve started doing a little more freelance work and thought it might be a good idea to have a business card.  I’ve only ever had one business card when I freelanced for a small non-for-profit, and I was very hesitant to hand it out.  It seemed like an odd thing to bring up in conversation – “oh, by the way, I write eco-friendly enewsletters and you should sign up.  Here!”  There was no motivation for me to network.  I was already getting paid generously per article and having more registrants wasn’t going to directly benefit me.  It also wasn’t my passion.  Sure, I like to recycle and conserve energy and resources as much as the next guy, but I wasn’t gung-ho about it.  It was just a freelance gig I’d somehow managed to nab by writing a silly little rhyme about water conservation.

This new business card would be for ME.  I’ve started helping people out with their resumes a little bit and I’d love to gain more (aka PAYING) clients.  I have a passion and a knack for this and really feel great about helping people find work, particularly when they’ve been unemployed for an extended time or are new to the city, or even new to the whole “earning their keep” thing.  I’d love to suavely hand over a business card after freshening up their resume so they’ll keep in touch or pass my name along to another potential client. 

In addition, I’m doing more freelance work in general.  And though it’s making me just a teensy bit insane, I like it.  I like to be busy, and being busier keeps me more focused so I’m less likely to procrastinate or melt into the couch to the tune of Teen Mom reruns and Kitchen Nightmares marathons.  Knowing that I’m contributing to our savings by putting in a little extra work and effort also makes me feel proud in a way that I just don’t feel working at my full-time job.  Odd, I know.  But who doesn’t like making money?  We start as little kids.  First it’s the Tooth Fairy.  Then the lemonade stand.  I also recall trying to sell greeting cards and friendship bracelets in my neighborhood.  Money used to be about Garbage Pail Kids cards and candy, but these days, money = medical and financial security, comfort, food, seeing my family, vacations, clothes, gifts for others and the occasional splurge.  So if I have to work a couple more hours a week to get all that, is that really such a struggle?

There’s also a small business in my neighborhood that had a totally useless website filled with lorem ipsum text (the Latin placeholder words people use to determine layout in documents, for the web, etc.) for half a year.  I continuously emailed them to offer my services (even for free) in creating engaging brand copy to help market their café.  But I never heard back.  Maybe if I’d walked in with a business card, that opportunity would have panned out.

Also, I like free lunch.  And many restaurants offer free lunch and other items through monthly drawings – if you drop your business card into the fish bowl.  It just doesn’t seem fair that because I don’t happen to have a business card, I can’t get free food.

So, for all of these reasons and more, I’d love to legitimize and validate myself as a writer, and maybe even get a little better at that whole networking thing by ordering business cards. 

Last weekend I designed an inexpensive card online and showed it to Greg, who, just before I was about to click “order,” suggested that I grab a website domain.  BWAH???  Put my work out there?  Actually show my writing?  Gain clients and exposure?  Hold on, buddy.  I just wanted a free lunch. 

I mean, not that I’m not excited about the prospect.  Last year I began this blog and I’ve enjoyed the limited exposure and sharing my writing with friends, family, and quite a few strangers from across the globe that seem to have an obsession with desert blond tarantulas and spiny stick insects.   (My WordPress Site Stats don’t lie, you bug fanatics!)

But I can’t decide on the website name.  I’ve narrowed it down to my top two candidates, and though some of you have already voted, I really need your help.  This website would appear on my business card, and possibly even be added to job inquiries, future cover letters, and more to link to my resume and examples of my writing, including short stories, this blog, reviews and other articles I’ve penned.

I’ve already posted the vote on Facebook, but people are divided…and so am I!  Is it better to keep it professional and simple and have my first name in the URL, or do I want to be quirky so people will remember me?  What do you think?

Please vote by commenting on this post.  The top two contenders are:

  1. Wordsbyjenny.com
  2. Nerdforwords.com

Help me decide and get over my weird little fears of making a decision and putting myself out there—give me solid reasons as to why I should use one over the other for a professional site.  I promise I’ll make a decision soon, because if I wait too long, these names might get snatched up by someone else!

Thanks in advance!

Cold Feet

Three years ago today, I was having my hair done before walking down the aisle.  While my feet are always like icicles under the covers when I go to bed, I was sure that I wanted to marry my husband.  Always.  I even remember telling my mom after just a few weeks that if ever there was a man I wanted to marry, it was Greg.

I’m not really sure what gives people so-called “cold feet” when it comes to marrying the person they love.  Although the stress factor shot up exponentially when we were in that dreaded wedding planning phase, I don’t believe either of us changed.  We already lived together, so the blame game on whose shoes were left out to trip over (mine) or whose pants were always in a pile on the floor (his) was already down pat.  We knew who vacuumed (him) and who dusted (me).  He knew that every so often I just needed to cry, and he brought me ice cream to cheer me up.  I knew that every so often he just needed to be alone and tried to give him his space, hard as that sometimes was.  We both knew we wanted a dog as soon as we could get one.  For so very many reasons, I just didn’t have any doubts, and I was never worried that Greg would “leave me at the altar.”

I knew that my life was only beginning and that although my days as a single girl were going to be over, I didn’t care – in fact, I was eager to see them go!  Greg has seen me eat like a pig (reasons why no one is invited over for tacos #47), has heard me snort from laughing too hard (maybe the reason I don’t eat pork is because I’m part pig), and has seen my alien hair (the best way to enhance my natural waves).  He’s watched me stub my toes – daily – and fall to the floor, not knowing whether I’m laughing or crying and he knows I almost always burn myself at the kitchen sink.  He knows if I call him a name out of spite I don’t really mean it and that I have a hard time not taking care of him when he’s too sick to want company. 

If either one of us had gotten cold feet at that wedding, I don’t know where I’d be today.  I married my best friend.  He’s seen me at my best and my worst and still loves me whether my face is covered in chocolate, I’ve just burped like a truck driver or didn’t realize I put my underwear on backwards. 

Three years ago my feet were light, comfortable, certain and confident.  It may have been raining, but my feet were warm because they were walking towards their future to join a bigger pair of feet that were about to crush a glass to signify the end of walking through life alone. 

Happy Anniversary to my incredibly patient, supportive, romantic, witty and wonderful husband.  When I’m in your arms, it’s pretty hard to be afraid of anything.

It Could Happen

Basically, this is my worst nightmare.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYadDH-7Wew

The House Centipede

No longer shall I rack my brain trying unsuccessfully to describe those speedy, antennaed little buggers that show up in my bathrooms and laundry area.  After a quick Google search (and a lot of images that may now haunt my nightmares), I’ve discovered the official name of my arthropod arch nemeses:  house centipedes.  (shiver)

Well dudes, it’s been nice knowing you, but I regret to inform you that our time together must be cut short.  Apparently, house centipedes make their way in through cracks – of which I’ve found a few surrounding the piping of my toilets, in my bathroom corners, and of course, in my laundry area, where a water pipe was capped but never properly sealed, leaving cracks in the wall for dozens of these disgusting little villains to zip through.

I’ll be sealing as many of these cracks as possible – and crossing my fingers that this will do the trick.  The only part of getting rid of the house centipedes that gives me pause is the knowledge that apparently they feed on other insects.  Which of course means that I may be dealing with another insect battle in the weeks to come.  (whimper)

Until then, I leave you with this haunting, spitting image of the speedy demons – two of which I have smashed with Kleenex boxes in as many days.  I don’t consider myself a prejudiced person but…house centipedes, you are not wanted here.

The Smell of Fear

It’s been said that out of all the senses, scent has the most powerful influence over your memories.  In fact, just the other day, I stepped into a parking garage elevator and got a whiff of some powder that immediately brought me back over 20 years to my days as a clumsy little ballerina/tap dancer.  Before recitals, some of the older girls backstage would always put make-up on us – blue eye shadow, red lipstick and rosy blush.  Honestly, I don’t remember powder being added to my face, but I remember that smell as I sat cross-legged in my tutu and tights, confined in a quiet narrow hallway, allowing a super-cool babysitter to make me look like a model. 

Literally, I closed my eyes and took several giant inhales as the elevator took me up to my car on the fourth floor and down memory lane.

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Okay.  I know, I know.  I’ve feared your wrath for several weeks now.  Dear Scared Witless readers, forgive me, for I have sinned.  It has been nearly two months since my last blog post.  But in my defense, online holiday shopping, travel, binge eating, One Tree Hill reruns and a mad rush of projects at work kept me from conquering my fears at the end of the year.  I apologize and pledge to write more frequently this year – even if it means giving up my addiction to the cheesy, melodramatic CW soap opera I love to hate.  (Don’t judge me!)

I do, however, have exciting news.  This past weekend my friends and I finally got around to having that 14-lap go-kart race I mentioned way back in October.  My trusty Living Social coupon clutched in my sweaty fist, I reluctantly trudged into the giant indoor facility.  The smell of fresh tires did nothing to assuage my fears.  In fact, it reminded me of the nearly $2,000 I had to drop to get the transmission fixed on my car last month.  I think it may have even induced a little financial distress heartburn.  View full article »

I just left it there

I’m not sure what came over me.  But ever since seeing a couple of earwiggy bugs near my laundry, I’ve kind of assumed there’s more hiding within my pile of dirty clothes.  But laundry must get done, so I’ve been trying to suck it up, “be a man,” and just “put the lotion in the basket.”  Er, I mean the clothes.

Last night, however, I moved aside the laundry basket to grab a stray grey sock and instantly noticed a black mark hanging out on an old mesh basket.  And that little black mark had teeny tiny hair-like antennae.  “You’ve GOT to be kidding me,” I said out loud.  Though it hung vertically unmoving, I was 100% it was alive. 

I immediately abandoned Mission:  Grey Sock, shoved my laundry basket up against the bug and left the room.

Which, for a woman who slams most every insect to bits and pieces upon first sight, begs the question, why?  Was this me being brave, allowing the thing to stay in my house alive, knowing full well it could either jump out at me at another inopportune time or procreate?  Or was this me in utter avoidance mode, clinging sheepishly to my tail like the cowardly lion?

I think it’s probably a combination of both things.  I was barefoot at the time and didn’t have any of my weapons of choice on hand.  Plus I was sort of in denial and wanted to just forget I’d seen the little stinker.  And of course, there was an itty bitty part of me that thought maybe I was just imagining the antennae…maybe it was just a sock fuzz.  But I’m pretty dang sure it wasn’t.

So now what?  Do I actively go looking for it?  Or do I just forget about it until next time? 

Feel free to post your votes re: 

1.  Am I brave or cowardly?

2.  Should I go searching for any and all bugs hiding behind my laundry immediately and report back?

and

3.  Should I add a bug zapper to my holiday wish list?