Sunday, July 27, 2014

Things that make a fear of bugs even worse: A List

No clever blog title for this post.

I want to take a minute to discuss bugs. I know you are all shocked.

I'm terrified of bugs. I always have been. This fear interferes with most aspects of my daily life and I might go so far as to I have a bonafide phobia. I'm sure my contemporaries would agree.

Because of this, I have conducted anecdotal, observational, and other research on all types of insects (and arachnids). Know your enemy, right?

You know those BuzzFeed lists we're all pretty annoyed of at this point that start with something like, "13 things all ___________ think of....", or "7 things to stop doing in your _____________" ?

I decided to make one of those annoying lists. My list is called:

"4 Things a Certain 27-year-old Who is Entomophobic is Tired of Hearing"

1. "Palmetto Bugs"

Ah, the term "palmetto bug." If I could send this euphemism back to the fiery pits of arthropod hell where it belongs, I would. A palmetto bug IS NOT A THING. It doesn't exist. The term "palmetto bug" is a frilly, inappropriate, completely made-up nickname for cockroaches.

It's pretty obvious where the term derives. It's no secret that these little hellbeasts are rampant in the state of South Carolina, and they mostly live in trees if not in a super-urban setting. In my opinion, this is the worst euphemism in existence. I detest it, and an English teacher detesting any type of figurative language is a pretty hard thing to do.

The pests to which most people are referring when they use this term are either: A) American cockroaches, or B) Smokybrown cockroaches.

Exhibit A:

This is the American cockroach. Mahogany in color. Winged. Deplorable.

NOT a "Palmetto Bug"

Exhibit B:

This little monster is the Smokybrown cockroach. Slightly darker. Slightly bigger. Abhorrent.

Still NOT a "Palmetto Bug"

Exhibit C:

Just for good measure, this is a Water Bug. Not a cockroach at all, but sometimes also lumped in to the Palmetto Bug category.


I'm especially talking to you, girl-at-the-same-outdoor-bar-as-me-last-week, who tried to calm me down when an American cockroach came walking near my table by telling me, "Oh it's okay, it's just a Palmetto Bug!"

Because Palmetto Bugs do not exist.

2. "You can't kill a ladybug; they're good luck!"

On the contrary, my friend.

I can and I will. But I will do it with Raid, as ladybugs are simply BEETLES that emit a foul smell if smashed. And also because I don't like the feeling of the bug crunch under my shoe or other smashing vehicle.

"But they eat insects that harm crops!"

"But they don't damage anything in your home!"

"But they're cute and lucky!"

I don't care.

I'll add "I killed ladybugs" to the very long list of things for which I am probably already going to Hell.

3. "It's more afraid of you than you are of it."

Has this sentence ever assuaged ANY bugphobe's fears, ever?

Has saying this EVER caused someone who is mid-hyperventilation to magically cease and desist and decide that they're perfectly comfortable being around whatever bug-demon happens to be around them?

Has this ever prevented a 13-year-old from jumping, fully clothed, off the end of a moving speedboat in Lake Keowee to avoid a bumblebee?

Has this ever prevented a 23-year-old graduate student from calling her mom when she got home from the library late at night so she would have someone to verbally calm her down as she checked every corner of her apartment for roaches?

(Those last two might have been me).

And the answer is: No, obviously it hasn't

A phobia, by definition, involves a "persistent, irrational fear" that compels the afflicted party to avoid whatever causes it.

Trust me.

Someone who is terrified of bugs KNOWS they look utterly ridiculous when flailing about in the produce section of the Piggly Wiggly because a fruit fly flew out of the onions.

Someone who is terrified of bugs KNOWS that stopping class and offering extra credit to students for killing roaches or spiders that wander into your classroom is absurd.

Someone who is terrified of bugs KNOWS they are being ludicrous by circumnavigating their entire apartment complex to go in the door on the other side of the building because a spider was near the closer door.

Saying this to them accomplishes nothing.

And -- for the record, I don't agree with the statement that all bugs are more afraid of us than we are them. Here is just a sampling of bugs I'm convinced are NOT scared of us:

A. Wasps

 Is further explanation needed? Wasps will fuck you up. 

B. Silverfish

Granted, silverfish might be too stupid to get to the point where they are scared. Last week, a silverfish crawled directly into my toilet bowl and died because -- despite their suggestive names -- silverfish can't swim. It literally drowned itself.

Still, a silverfish will crawl right up into your business and muck up an otherwise perfectly bug-free evening. They love chilling in your bathroom sink, lurking in anything you may have stored in a low cabinet, or just popping up to say hey as you wash your hair in the shower.

Not scared of me.

C. Roaches 

Please don't tell me roaches are scared of me. They are not.

Anyone who has ever had a 2-inch roach erratically fly directly at your face on a summer's night knows this.

Roaches don't give a shit about your can of Raid, your rolled up magazine, or the bottom of your shoe. They will crawl wherever they damn well please.

Oh, you thought you killed that roach by spraying it with a little bug killer?

NOPE. Five minutes later, guess who's back and a little high off Raid fumes?

Oh, you thought stepping on and decapitating a roach would slow him down?

NAH. Just give him a couple minutes and he's crawling right back up your patio chair, sans head and curious as to what you've got on your plate there.

Last, but not least on this list is:

4. "Bugs just seem to flock to you!"

There is a big, huge difference between disgusting insects "flocking" toward me, and simply being hyperaware of and sensitive to their presence.

These are the types of people and things bugs "flock" to:

I am not a lantern, last time I checked.

I am not a pile of gross trash.

I bathe pretty regularly.

There are just as many bugs around you at any given time. I simply notice them way, way, way more than the average person.

Bugs will surely continue to impede on my life for any kind of foreseeable future. In the meantime, I suppose I will simply have to deal with the unpleasantries that accompany this phobia, aside from the bugs themselves.

Kudos to all the other entomophobes out there. Keep on keepin' on.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Balloon


hello there.

this is me, resuscitating this page from the blog graveyard, where it died roughly 11 months ago.

Why is this happening after all this time?

Enter Suz, my mother, to end almost a year of blog silence by introducing me to something known as "the balloon".

Let me paint you a little picture.

Once upon a time, my mother (henceforth referred to only as "Suz") bred poodles. Like, a lot of them. And not the cute kind.

Not this kind. The small, appropriate amount of poodle. 

No, my mom bred the redheaded step-children of the poodle world known as Standard Poodles. Standard Poodles are an embarrassing dog to have as a kid.  They are one of those dog breeds where you always find yourself justifying even owning one, much less 2-3 at a time like we did. You say things like, "Well, they're really smart dogs," or "They don't shed!", or "They have great dispositions." None of these things are false, but they don't negate the fact that you're walking a 60 pound Brillo pad down the sidewalk. 

Right now you are probably thinking, "THAT IS TOO MUCH POODLE," and you are right. HAVING Standard Poodles growing up was kind of embarrassing enough. It was kind of the same type of embarrassing as having your mom drive one of these around for most of your childhood....


That, my friends, is the Volkswagon Eurovan. I put up two pictures of Eurovans because we had not one, but two Eurovans growing up. The first was white and I assume Suz loved it because she was hauling around five gross kids at any given time. The second was green, and Suz must have just really loved Eurovans because at that point it was just us two youngest kids left. We really just had to accept Eurovans as our transportation reality at that point, so we affectionately referred to Eurovan #2 as the Green Bullet. Or at least I did.

So, Suz drove Eurovans and bred Poodles.

When the poodle-breeding was transpiring when I was younger, I was never present or cognizant of the "main event." I suppose I thought there was a poodle fairy who came around every couple of years and dropped 13 poodle babies at a time into a kiddie pool in our garage.

Apparently, kids, that's not how it goes down AT ALL.

A couple months ago, Suz decided it might be a fun adventure to try to breed her newest canine addition, Ruby. Ruby is a 15-pound goldendoodle-Cavalier King Charles spaniel hybrid known as a "Cavachon." Very cute dogs. Only slightly poodle-y.

Suz doesn't want to breed-for-profit, as she did in the past with the poodles. This endeavor was more in the category of Ruby-is-awesome-let's-maintain-that-gene-pool-for-a-while-by-way-of-making-puppies. If you're not trying to breed a dog for profit, you aren't necessarily going to advertise for the puppies. Thus, it's a good idea to have a list of people that have expressed interest in taking a puppy once the deed is done.

Given that I am #1 on that list for a Ruby-pup, I have developed a vested interest in this process.

This vested interest has caused me to do strange things.

Before today, I never thought I would be yelling "Are they doing it yet???" every five minutes from the kitchen table.

Before today, I never thought I would be hopping up from said kitchen table every 10 minutes to creepily stalk by the window in the hopes that I'd catch two dogs doing it in my mom's backyard.

Having developed this interest, and no longer being 12 years old like with the poodles of yore, Suz has obliged me with the ACTUAL process of making a dog baby.

I'm 27 years old. I know how babies are made. But y'all.


Apparently there is something called a "balloon"

And something called "flagging"

And something called "knotting"

This prompted an internet search on my part that led to some horrifying discoveries about dog coitus. (ps--a LOT of people have googled "actual steps of dog intercourse")


Things can get injured.


Things expand in places where it seems like they shouldn't and sound painful.


This whole "main event" show lasts for 25 MINUTES.

And other awkward, gross things about dogs that will now taint my opinion forever of precious little Ruby.


AS I was writing this, I got up from the computer to go and check on the status of the two dogs in Suz's backyard, because I got concerned after reading about all the juicy details of this biological event.........AND THEY WERE DOING IT.

I yelled for my mom, as I obviously could not handle this situation myself, she went flying into the backyard to help facilitate the process, and apparently it. is. happening. As we speak.

Suz called for me to bring her cell phone to the scene of the event just now, and apparently the stud-dog Luke was supposed to be brought back home from this little playdate at 3:45. It is currently 3:41, and trust me when I say that Luke is in no position to move from our back porch right now. He's a little "tied up."

I was tasked with the incredibly awkward job of calling Luke the Bichon's owner and explaining that we couldn't bring Luke back on time because his balloon was expanded.....

The call went something like this:

Luke's Owner: Oh hey Suzy!

Me: Hi, no, this is actually Shannon, Suzy's daughter. So, it turns out we can't really drop Luke off right now, because he is.....linked up.......locked together......attached.....ugh, I'm sorry, I really don't know the terminology but they are doing.....things.

Luke's Owner: Oh, okay! Well, do you know how long it will be?

Me: Umm.....They've been....doing it? for 10 minutes or so. I don't know. I don't know how long this process takes. My mom just said to tell you we can't move him. I'm ....I'm sorry.

About two minutes after that call, my sister Stephanie came trudging back into the kitchen from the backyard, distress written all over her face, announcing that the deed was done.

It's done? Mike and I asked her at once.

"Ugh, yes, it's done. Trust me, unfortunately I saw the balloon."

I'm not going to explain to you exactly what the balloon is, but suffice it to say Stephanie is adequately traumatized by having seen it.

As of press time, Ruby is potentially impregnated, and all of the humans involved are potentially scarred for life.

I've decided that puppies have to be as cute as they are to make up for the horrifying process of how they are created.

Circle of life, my ass. Puppy-making is gross.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I Don't Know How to be an Adult

Today is Mother's Day.

In light of that and some other things that have recently happened in my life, I decided to write a blog. I haven't written one since December, partially because I've been a little busy, I guess. The other reason is that when I sit down to write a blog, I think to myself, "Do I actually have anything worthwhile or entertaining to write about? Will anyone actually want to waste their time reading this?" If I think the answer is no, I navigate back to or whatever other time-suck website I'm currently into and continue on with my "busy" life.

Maybe this will also prove to be one of those times I should have just navigated elsewhere on the Interwebs, but I've got time on my hands and it's Mother's Day and I had a personal epiphany.

I don't know how to be an adult.

I think I knew this before. But Mother's Day, with all of its nausea-inducing Facebook action about why all of our respective mothers are the best mothers in the world, forces you, at least on some level, to mull over just what it is that makes you think your Mom is the greatest.

My poor mother. She probably thought that when her children had reached their mid-20s, she would be sort of "done" with her job. She probably thought she wouldn't still be getting phone calls asking if coffee creamer is a suitable substitute in the absence of milk, or whether you can eat unwashed grocery store fruit, or what's the best way to scrape a bug body off your apartment wall with minimal residue/damage.

She thought wrong.

My mom is the best because she did TOO good of a job. She did such a bang-up job that I don't really feel like I can even function or make my own decisions without running things by Suz first. It's a very humbling thing to finally be able to admit that my mom is always right, but she is. She illustrated to us such prowess in decision making that, at least in my case, it has left a somewhat crippling residual effect on my adult life in that if my Mom doesn't agree or approve or advise on something, I feel like I can't even do that thing.

So, back to not knowing how to be a functional adult.

I think the Mom-thing has something to do with it, but there's another variable too. I am, from time to time, riddled with little bouts of anxiety and thus spend inordinate amounts of time worrying about the dumbest, most insignificant shit imaginable. Because my mind is so cluttered worrying about these batshit crazy things, actual important things and responsibilities occasionally fall by the wayside.

Two recent examples.....

Situation 1:
Last Saturday night, this happened to my car as it was parked on the street outside of my building in the middle of the night:


Naturally, I called my mom and she step-by-stepped me on what to do from there, beginning with calling the cops. When the cops rolled up, they immediately asked for my paperwork. 

After an accident, the cops ask you for three documents:
1. License 
2. Registration
3. Proof of Insurance 

Of those three documents, these are the ones on which I had up-to-date information and/or were not expired:
(this is an empty list)

My license has the wrong address, my license plate registration sticker for this year was still INSIDE the envelope the registration came in, and my proof of insurance card had expired in October. I wasn't really winning the game of life on any level that morning. 

Situation 2:
Last weekend, I attended the bridal shower of one of my best good friends, Amy. When normal adults attend bridal showers, I'm assuming they do things like buy their gifts in advance. What I did, however, was somehow not remember that bridal shower attendance requires you to bring a gift until the morning OF the bridal shower. 

Sort of panicky, I drove to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, only to find it closed. No shit Sherlock, it's 8 o clock in the morning. People don't generally have an urgent need for a Bed, Bath, and Beyond until at LEAST 9am on a Saturday. 

Knowing that I could not wait for B-cubed to open and still be ready in time for the party, I went next door to Target instead. I loaded Amy's information into the wedding registry kiosk, only to find there was a malfunction in the system and I would not be able to load her chosen gifts. At this point, I was running on Plan C, which was to pull her Bed, Bath, and Beyond registry up on the iPhone and troll the aisles of Target trying to find something from the list, even though it was not even the same store. 

What ended up happening was this: I wasn't able to find anything at Target that was listed on her Bed, Bath, and Beyond registry (shocker), bought her something that wasn't even remotely on any list anywhere, and called Amy prior to the party, telling her the actual wedding gift would be redemption and begging forgiveness for being such a shitty bridesmaid. 

So, I continue to be uber grateful for The Suz and wake up each morning attempting to be a better adult that day than I was the day before (not a very high bar to exceed each day). These things do always get me thinking, however, about just what I am worrying about on a daily basis, because it seemingly isn't any of the things that are actually important, like maintaining current driving documents and buying bridal gifts.

After much thought and brain-things inside my head (props if you catch the Madagascar reference), here are some of the things that are of regular concern to me that are clearly interfering with me becoming a successful adult:

1. Bugs
This one is a given. I recently had a conversation with someone at a bar about my incredulity that the makers of Raid have not yet created a travel-size Raid can to go in your purse. Seriously, why has that not happened yet? If I sit down to fill out some important paperwork or update my insurance and a spider crawls up the wall, it is absolutely game over on that paperwork. I'm gone. Fleeing into the hallway or out the door to my car and that paperwork is sure as hell not getting done. If I happened to have been holding a Diet Coke or glass of wine at the time, it's not only not getting done, but it is also probably destroyed. 

If I happen to see a bug in my apartment at night before I'm going to bed, there's a good chance I won't sleep that night, hence making my next-day-productivity level slim to none. If I do sleep, it'll likely be induced by a melatonin cocktail, in which case the hazy melatonin-coma I emerge from the next morning will have the same effect on me getting adult-like things done that day. 

2. Dropping my iPhone down the Hermitage elevator shaft
You know that little tiny crack between the wall and the elevator itself that you can see when the elevator doors open? Right, that little, tiny, miniscule crack that's width is pretty much exactly iPhone-wide? The one where, in order for an iPhone to successfully drop down it, the phone would have to be dropped at precisely the right angle at precisely the right time, and probably isn't even a physical possibility? 

Right. I have an overwhelming paranoia when entering or exiting my building's elevators that my phone will DROP DOWN THAT CRACK. The one it's pretty much impossible for it to drop down. I've envisioned it happening so many times that I'm scared I'm mentally willing this near-impossible hypothetical situation into reality. 


Right. THIS crack. I kept my awful Hobbit feet in the picture for scale. 

3. Dropping my USC class ring down the Hermitage trash chute:

This is the Hermitage rubbish chute. I live on the 5th floor. I take trash to this chute probably at LEAST once a day. Who takes their trash out that often, you ask? Someone who has sworn a vendetta against fruit flies after the Hermitage fruit fly apocalypse of 2012, that's who. 

You can imagine, given the looks of this trash chute and the fact that the Hermitage was built in 1974, that this is a relatively grimy, odorous trash chute. When using it, you want to fling that rubbish door open and get it closed again as quickly as humanly possible. All of these factors combine to form my preoccupation that during my interaction with the trash chute, my USC ring (really the only piece of jewelry I wear daily) will somehow come flying off my hand and disappear forever down this chute. 

4. What I will look like in the future after being pregnant and having a baby:
A little while back, I joined Weight Watchers and have subsequently become a little bit crazy about how many calories things have, the fact that I crave pizza and cheeseburgers even though they take up my entire daily caloric allotment, and dealing with the guilt I develop over constantly lying to the computer about what I ate that day. I really suck at Weight Watchers. I've lost maybe-- MAYBE-- 5 pounds. 

That being said, becoming sort of obsessed with what I'm eating and trying to lose weight really makes my mind wander to the future---some distant future where I may eventually birth a child (ew). Y'all. The possibility of my future spawn is so far off on my horizon I can't even see it. Why am I thinking about this? Years before I even gain my hypothetical, imaginary baby weight, I have basically already accepted the fact that I'm going to be one of those people who never recovers from that. Kim Kardashian, I feel you girl.

5. Going to Dots:
M'kay. I don't know if you have ever been to a Dots store before, but you are missing out on a one-of-a-kind retail experience if you haven't. Dots is my number one go-to place for spending money I don't really have on clothes I most definitely don't really need. 


Two different times this past week---two different times---- I answered a phone call after work and had to respond to the question "What are you up to?" with "Oh.........I'm at Dots." Dots specializes in clothes that look like they were sewn together in five minutes by illegal 7-year-old sweatshop workers in Indonesia, because they probably were (I should probably look into that....).

My students have even picked up on my affinity for this place. Any time I look like I'm wearing something potentially new or different, I get a chorus of:

"Oh Ms. Townes you make yourself a Dots trip?"

I probably single-handedly keep the Columbia Dots in business by my own patronage coupled with my shameless promotion of their fine establishment. I don't think a single item in Dots costs more than about 12 dollars. Real adults don't shop at stores like Dots, I fear, and they certainly don't go there bi-weekly. 

So, as has been the case since I left my parents' house for the first time 8 years ago, I continue to try to get my shit together and be a real, functioning adult. As of this post, I think it's obvious I'm still unsuccessful in that endeavor. 

Happy Mother's Day, and can we just all agree to disagree about who the best mom in the world is? Because obviously it's mine. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The People You Meet in Your Mid-20s: Part One

Hey. Remember when I used to blog a lot? Yeah, I don't either. But I enjoy it, and it seems as if at least some of you do too, so I'm going to try to revamp here.

During my two years of graduate school (RIP to the little piece of my soul I lost during that time), my fellow grad student friends and I invented various ways of breaking up the monotony of our classes  so as to maintain some sanity. One such way I did this was to write super judgmental blogs about the people I hated going to class with, sharing the school library with, or really just sharing the planet with in any way. Thus, The People You Meet in Grad School was born.

I've been out of grad school almost two years now, so I suppose I can't really keep that string of posts going anymore. However, lucky me! I've discovered that it doesn't really matter what life-stage you're in, new factions of highly annoying types of people sprout up like weeds in the otherwise pleasant garden of your 20-something life.

From what I can gather so far, your 20s are a pretty transient time for most people.  Especially as you creep into your mid-to-later 20 years, a lot of shit starts happening. Even if you're not literally transient, moving around from place to place just because you can, many 20-somethings are life-stage transient. They are graduating from college and Master's and law programs, taking new jobs, getting engaged, having babies, and all sorts of other things we can classify under "major" in the milestone category.

During your 20s, most people are living on their own, working full time, and paying all of their bills for the first time. For a lot of 20-somethings, these things produced an "ohdeargod" sinking feeling in our guts, caused us to put our Moms back on speed-dial, and made us wonder whether we'd still be able to continue sending our best friends pointless Emoji texts on our uber-expensive iPhones.

For some 20-somethings, however, these life changes seem to have created and fostered a monster of sorts. This monster rears its ugly head in a special form of know-it-all jackassery, usually flaunted in the form of every-five-minute, often politically-charged Facebook status updates. This, my friends, brings me to the first installment of "The People You Meet in Your Mid-20s."

1. The Self-Righteous Preacher 

Did you know that a very select group of people has ALL of life's mysteries and quandaries figured out by the time they reach 25? It's true. This phenomenon is reserved for only the most deserving of individuals, and you're probably not one of them. Just ask one of them.

How do you spot one of these prodigies of the human race, you ask? Don't worry! These people do us all the favor of broadcasting every. single. one. of their life-changing epiphanies about how we all should live our lives right there on their Facebook page. Can you believe their generosity? We don't even have to look for them! 

I like to call these beacons of "wisdom" and "advice" the Self-Righteous Preachers. Facebook is their pulpit! The dictionary definition of "preach" is to "publicly proclaim or teach," and that is exactly what these people do. Chances are, if you have a Self-Righteous Preacher somewhere in your Newsfeed, you already "hid" them long ago, probably right after they attempted to point you in the right direction (read: their direction) religiously, politically, or socially.

Do you identify with a particular political affiliation? Have no fear. The Self-Righteous Preacher will pay a friendly visit to your page and "teach" you why you are the bane of the world's existence and also a total, brainless idiot because of it. 

Example status posted by you (a normal, sane person on your own Facebook page): 
"Voted Republican today. Looking forward to tracking election results on TV tonight."

Example response by the Self-Righteous Preacher:
"You DO realize that Republicans eat puppies and kittens for breakfast and worship the Devil and caused World War II and made the stock market crash and don't believe in Santa Clause and hate America and are in secret cahoots with the oil industries to eliminate apple pie from the world and also hate America, RIGHT? You should probably do a little more research before you post your views on Facebook. Or do you just hate America and apple pie? Apple pie is delicious. Just saying."  

And just like that, you have magically changed your fundamental beliefs and taken down your status altogether! Thank God you had the Self-Righteous Preacher come along and "teach" you all the reasons you were wrong in a super insulting way.

Do you have an affinity for a particular sports team/college, enjoy shopping at Wal-Mart, or occasionally eat red meat?

Don't fret, good sir! The Self-Righteous Preacher will be right there to let you know how badly you suck for all of those things.

That sports or college team you like? They lost a game once in 1958 to a team that was using their BACKUP quarterback. Didn't you know that? The Self-Righteous Preacher did, because these individuals apparently spend every free moment they have combing through Wikipedia for inane facts they can procure in order to thrust their superior intelligence upon you, lest you dare enjoy watching this miserable sports team that lost a game. Once. You moron.

That steak or hamburger you enjoy eating from time to time? Do you know how that animal died? The Self-Righteous Preacher does. One minute, you're busy picking a sweet Instagram filter for the savory meal you just ordered and posting it on your Facebook, like any cool person would. The next minute, you're pouring through a barrage of "meat is murder!" and  gory this-is-how-the-meat-industry-kills-shit comments under your picture until you literally feel like such a worthless sack of garbage that you *actually* second-guess taking another bite of your chicken nugget. Then, of course, you eat your chicken nugget because you are NOT a self-righteous asshat and everybody knows that chicken nuggets are delicious.

Sadly, if you are even semi-active on Facebook, there is no reprieve from the Self-Righteous Preacher. These 20-something geniuses are ever-present on all of our favorite social networking sites, evidently never have any obligations to be away from Facebook, such as....I don't know... a job? or school?, and they waste NO opportunity to tell people why they are wrong about ANY given topic.

I'm not sure what kind of Koolaid these people drank in order to have the world so damn "figured out" at such an early age, but I don't think I want to drink any of it. At 25 years old, I sure as hell don't have it all together, and I'm fine with that.

So, the next time you're itching for someone to categorically cut down something you believe in or support, you don't have to look far. Just log into Facebook, click on the first Self-Righteous Preacher you find (they'll be the ones who just posted a status about why your religion or career choice makes you stupid), and simply wait for the condescending, preachy comments to roll in.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fruit Flies are Really Disgusting.

I've spent the better part of the last 2 hours researching fruit flies on the internet. Why would a well-known insect phobe like myself do this?

There are two reasons.

Reason 1: For someone living in constant irrational fear of the insect world, bugs are the enemy. It's always wise to know as much as you can about your enemies.

Reason 2: I had no choice but to investigate the little beasts after the fruit fly Armageddon that erupted out of my trash can yesterday morning.

In case you're in the lucky (probably very small) faction of people who have never experienced them, I maintain that nothing makes you feel like a filthier, dirtier slob than having fruit flies in your house. Having fruit flies is different than having other bugs in your house.

Spiders? Crafty little jerks who can fit through very small crevices and generally do not indicate unsanitary conditions. Not really your fault.

Bees? You accidentally left a window or door open too long. Not really your fault.

Ants? Yes, ants are attracted to trash, food, and sugar, but they are not actually SPAWNING in it. You've seduced them, but you did not create them.

Cockroaches? Even the cockroach, the bane and constant nuisance of everyone residing in a humid climate, does not really WANT to be inside your house. They live outside in the trees and inevitably end up in our homes from time to time because there are SO FREAKING MANY of them. When one of these gets inside your house, people take pity on you and offer suggestions for eradication, but don't generally blame anything except the part of the country in which you live. 

And then you have fruit flies.

Fruit flies are a direct result of your own filth and neglect. If you have fruit flies, it's totally your fault. In my case, it was some unknown refuse left in the bottom of a trash can for too many days. One of the perils of living by yourself, I suppose, is that it takes a while to fill up a trash can when it's just you making the trash.

When I went to throw away a mostly-empty bag of stale Baked Lay's yesterday morning, I did that thing where you push down the other garbage in the can with the thing you're throwing away so you can make more room. As a result of that, coupled with whatever rotting mess had become a fruit fly breeding ground over the last few days, my usually tranquil kitchen erupted into fruit fly MAYHEM.

As I was telling someone this story, they asked me, "Well didn't you get rid of most of them just by tying the bag shut and throwing it out?"

Well, yes, a normal person probably would've gotten rid of a bunch of the flies in that way. Not me though. No, instead of shutting the bag as quickly as possible and fleeing to the trash chute, I dropped the entire bag of festering trash on the kitchen floor and ran screaming into the hallway.

By the time I calmed myself down and walked back in my apartment, fruit flies had escaped everywhere. I finally got the nerve to go back to the trash bag. Flailing my arms wildly in front of me to combat the cloud of fruit flies hovering ambiguously in the kitchen air, I managed to get the trash bag shut and sprinted. Holding the bag as far away from my person as possible, I SPRINTED down my building's hallway to the trash chute and hurled the bag into it.

Now, it's been 24 hours of full-on fruit fly war up in the 503. Just as I've sat writing this post, I've had 3 (I counted) different flailing episodes due to fruit flies having absolutely ZERO regard for personal boundaries. Fruit flies are the worst invaders of your personal space. Jerks. They have red eyes and they fly slowly and hover and they literally incubate their young in rotting garbage. I know that cockroaches will always hold the #1 spot on my list of hated insects, but fruit flies are now running them a close second.

There's also no easy way to rid your home of fruit flies once you've created them with your own mire. I had a different fruit fly encounter last year due to a filthy roommate situation, and tried a whole host of different remedies. I picked the best remedy from that experience and plan on putting it to use getting rid of the rest of the little red-eyed scamps this time around.

Here it is, in case you ever need to try it yourself.

Easy and relatively inexpensive! All you do is pour a small amount of wine in the wine glass, set it in a high traffic fly zone for the fruit flies, and walk away for a couple hours. When you come back, the glass should be teeming with the disgusting winged beasts. Then, you simply take the Raid can, super stealthily creep up on the glass with your hand on the trigger, and go APE SHIT with the Raid can all up on that wine glass. The flies that haven't already drowned in the pool of wine will be taken out in one fell swoop (or spray).

And so my ongoing battle with the insect world rages on.

In other, less disgusting news: the cat statues have moved. It took me a few days to notice, and I have no earthly idea when Anna sneaked into my apartment and made it happen, but all of a sudden I went to open my pantry this morning and...........

 BAM! Cat statue in the pantry!

Then, I went to use a paper towel and.......
 BAM! Cat statue on the paper towel holder!

I went to shut my closet door, and....
 BAM! This one literally fell off the door onto me and had to be placed back in position for the photographic evidence.

Finally, the last thing you want to see when you are half-asleep, fumbling for your Neutrogena during your 6 am shower, is THIS.

Thank you Anna, for continuing to make Hermitage life entertaining! The bad news? I only re-discovered 4 cat statues, meaning there are two more hidden away waiting to be found. You'd be surprised how much anxiety two missing cat figurines can cause in a girl. Well, that....and fruit flies.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

That Awkward Moment When...

Recently, I've run into several awkward situations.

I think I'm a pretty awkward human being. Maybe not awkward looking or awkward in the way I carry myself, but certainly in my interactions with other people.

I know, I know. Everyone describes his or herself as being "so awkward" and it's tired and cliche and overused at this point. I'd argue that everybody is right, though. We're all really freaking awkward. I think human beings are inherently awkward and we've all gotten a whole hell of a lot worse at being socially acceptable people, what with our debilitating iPhone addictions and all. MTV created an entire television program devoted to the condition and Zooey Deschanel and her bangs are riding that awkward train all the way to her multimillion dollar bank account.

Recently, however, I ran into some doozies, and this is coming from someone who very regularly feels uncomfortable in social settings and makes Star Wars or Lord of the Rings references to assuage a prolonged silence in conversation.

Here we go.

Awkward Scenario 1:
The University of South Carolina Gamecocks played, and dominated, the University of Georgia Bulldogs 35-7 this Saturday.

Oh wait. This isn't awkward. This is just really freaking awesome and I had to figure out a way to incorporate the fantastic revelry that occurred into this post. People went completely nuts down at the stadium yesterday, and the camaraderie that's created in a city like Columbia when your football team wins at home is an unparalleled one.

So, while the game itself wasn't awkward, tailgaters were subjected to signs like these all day long:

And my personal favorite...........

On a sidenote, Steve Spurrier is one of my top "old man" crushes. I have many old man crushes ranging from George Strait to Tommy Lee Jones to Mitt Romney, but the ol' ball coach is up there. Yum.

Awkward Scenario 2:
I discovered another cat statue.

In case you're keeping count, that would bring the number of cat statues strategically placed/hidden around my apartment to 6 cat statues.

Anna and I were posting back and forth to each other on Facebook circa about 7:45 A.M yesterday,  so naturally she was at my apartment door a couple minutes later. She made the odd request that we go stand on my balcony because it was "pretty out" or something.

Standing on my Herm balcony at 8 am on a Saturday morning, both of us clad in nothing but mismatched pajamas, I found the 6th statue. Perched ominously on the edge of the air conditioner unit was the sixth, and arguably the creepiest, cat.

Yeah. Awkward.

Awkward Scenario 3:
Your students call you out on your apparently very poor taste in music selection for figurative language review activities and writing prompts in class.

 "This was a weird subject that I haven't thought about much."     God forbid I ask you to think outside the box, kid.

 Deep thoughts on Ke$ha and Coolio: 

"Kesha's songs are like Lady GaGa's clothes. WEIRD"
 "I don't like this song very much, but Coolio can practically sweat waterfalls. Also, I like Weird Al's version better."

Well alright then.

 This child apparently thinks Lupe Fiasco is overplayed, and that "Katy Perry's songs aren't as numerous and similar as Tyler Perry's movies."

I'm honestly still trying to interpret what that even means. 

 You've got to love a kid with a sense of humor on an assignment. "Love is not a drug.....or maybe it is, who knows what they're doing these days...."

Remember that song "Wavin' Flag" from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa? Yeah, none of my kids did either. Instead of eliciting emotions of pride for his favorite soccer team, this student simply mulled over the fact that this "felt like the start of The Lion King.

As for the Jay Sean comparison to "Obama's little brother, if he had one?" I don't know, you tell me.

He may actually have a point.

Excuse the hell out of me for not picking songs with better guitar riffs, as Lean On Me is "probably the easiest song riff to play since 'Smoke on the Water.' Good song, though." 

 The Chris Brown song was Forever, and evidently "the instruments sound like if someone started playing DJ Hero on the SNES. I like those old video game 'bloop' sounds."

I think that's the best analogy/analysis of a Chris Brown song I've ever seen. And what 14-year-old these days knows about the Super Nintendo? A thousand gold coins for this kid.

It's probably safe to wager that this student does not much care for Taylor Swift, and especially not T-Swift's "Love Story." At least he got the "ill-fated love" part right.

And then I guess he ran out of jokes.


Awkward Scenario 4:


Living about 2 minutes down the street from the high school where you work has its pros and cons.

Pros include: a short commute, less frequent gas tank fill-ups, ability to run home on a break for something you forgot, knowing the community your kids are living in.

One of the biggest cons, however, is the potential to see kids outside of school every single time you leave your house. This means having to do annoying things like put a bra and/or pants on, not wear inappropriate clothes, be prepared to have uncomfortable small-talk convos with both the kid and their parents in your yoga pants, etc.

Usually, I don't mind this at all. It's why I purposely choose to live in the same neighborhood in which I work.


As with most things in life, there are exceptions to my enjoying this. I discovered one such exception on Saturday when I went to my neighborhood CVS.

I needed two things at CVS on Saturday. Just two things.

I was planning on being in and out as quick as a minute, but as we all know well, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. (shameless literary reference from the English teacher)

I parked my truck and hopped over to the automatic door. I walked in and did a quick scan of the part of the store in my view from the door. No students in sight. Whew.

I zoomed over to my first aisle of necessity and grabbed the product from the shelf. I still hadn't seen anyone I knew. Happy fun times in the CVS so far. I kept moving, and trucked it over to the refrigerated section to scoop up item #2. Still hadn't seen anyone I knew, much less a student.

Sweet! I had one more stop on my trajectory and I was outta there. I just had to make it from the refrigerators to the registers.

I turned around, 1 of each of my 2 objects tucked under each arm. As soon as I turned around to head to the registers, I all but collided guessed of my 9th graders.

Oh, and the two objects nestled securely under each of my arms?

Beer and tampons.

That's it. Just beer and tampons. Beer, tampons, and me. I was just a vessel for my beer and tampons and shame and embarrassment. Naturally, it had to be a male student.

Picture this. You're standing face to face with a 14-year-old male in a CVS in literally the most awkward, uncomfortable silence you've ever had the misfortune of being a part of. You look at your student. They look back at you. They look down at your beer. They look down at your tampons. They look back up at you. You look at the ceiling or off into space and would prefer the option of a slow, painful death when faced with the choice of standing in that spot even 20 seconds longer or dying that slow death.

Things I would prefer doing over standing in a CVS with one of my students where the only things between us are tension and a box of Tampax Pearls:

-Watch a sex scene in a movie with my parents
-Trip on the bricks in the middle of a jam-packed college campus
-Accidentally mistake a fat woman for being pregnant
-Accidentally mistake a woman for being a man
- Fart in front a significant other
-Jump off a cliff
-Be in the vicinity of a cockroach

I can only thank the Teacher Gods above that the one thing that could have occurred to make the situation worse---did not occur. The kid was not with his parents.

I think I blacked out a little during the entire encounter, but after what seemed like eons of silence, the conversation went something like this:

Me:   Oh, Hi.
Kid:  Hi Ms. Townes.
Me:   Having a good weekend...? (poker face. do not glance down at your beer or tampons. do not glance down at your beer or tampons.
Kid: Yeah! We're going to the game today. (looks at beer again)  I'm guessing you are too?
Me: Yep. Well have fun. I'm gonna go die now.

It didn't end up being THAT big of a deal. I plowed past the kid as soon as I choked out my 3 lines of "conversation" and didn't look back.

Needless to say, I think I'll be buying my tampons and beer at a more distant CVS or in a grocery store where I can bottom-of-the-basket camouflage them with more socially acceptable grocery items like bread and Lunchables.

Here's hoping you had a slightly less awkward week than I did.

And Go Gamecocks.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cat Ladies of the Herm

I've become a cat lady before my time.

Do I own a cat? No, I don't.

Okay, so I live by myself, I'm single, and I go to the grocery store check out line with nothing but Lean Cuisines and Cabernet.

Still, do those things qualify you as a cat lady at the tender age of 25?

Maybe, if you buy into the super-Southern super-traditional mentality that females essentially only attend college for their M-R-S degrees and should be popping out Sperry-clad spawn by age 25. 

For the time being, I am choosing not to adopt that very dated mindset. Sure, I'm 25, but I have a Bachelor's and Master's degree under my belt, a job I like going to in a field I adore, and the ways and means to live by myself and pay my own way.

AND YET............last night I became a cat lady. 

I was in the Juniors section (what? 25 year olds still shop in Juniors...) at my local Dillard's when I started receiving texts from my fabulous freak of a best friend/neighbor, Anna.

Anna and I used to be roommates, and now we live across the hall from each other in a condo building very affectionately referred to as The Herm.

When Anna and I get bored and are too lazy to walk across the hall to see if the other is home, our text message conversations start looking something like this:

 We are lazy weirdos.

So I'm at Dillard's, impulse buying a pair of fantastic new cowboy boots, when I feel a series of 3 vibrations from the phone nestled in my pocket.

When I get done paying and pull out my phone, I find these text messages from Anna:

I understand that this is probably creepy to a normal person, but I found it endearing. Plus, Anna and I swapped apartment keys when I moved in back in June.

I told Anna it would probably be 30 minutes until I was home, as my "local" Dillard's is a little hike from downtown. I suppose it was during this time period that Anna concocted and carried out her plan...

Fast forwards 30 minutes:  I walked into my apartment, and there she was, taking a snooze on my couch. We exchanged salutations, and I bee-lined it to my closet, because obviously I can't stand to have on real clothes or a bra even 60 seconds after I walk in the door from work. 

As I was hastily shedding my constricting work clothes and changing into my go-to yoga pants and men's size happened.

I turned my back to my bedroom door, facing my 5th floor bedroom window, and went to glance out of said window. I noticed Anna had followed me into the room to continue a conversation when I'd gone in, but had mysteriously vanished into the common area of the apartment when I turned my back.

I looked out the window....

I then let out a scream usually only reserved for encounters with roaches or when I feel a hair or fuzz tickling the back of my neck and think it's a serial killer.

When I looked out the window, I saw this:

That's right. The creepiest face on the creepiest cat statue figurine I've ever seen. There's something oddly sinister about that cat figurine's face.

Where did it come from? How did it get there? Where do you go about purchasing something awful like this? My guess is the same place you buy decorative wall-plates and needlepoint kits and those dolls with the blinking eyes that make "crying" noises when you hold them upside down.

Anna was delighted that I had discovered one of the treasures she'd hidden during her alone-time in my apartment while she was still there to witness it. I think she was especially pleased that it scared me to the point of eliciting a full blown I-just-saw-a-roach scream.

It got better/worse from there though. One look at Anna's face and I could tell that that was not the only cat statue I'd find in my apartment that night.

 A few minutes later, when I had to go pee..........


Later still, when it got a little warm in the apartment, I went to adjust the thermostat.........

Cue the stabbing music from low-budget horror flicks, because around every turn was a new evil cat statue staring back at me.

 I started to get scared to open my pantry or fridge. I returned to the bathroom to inspect behind the shower curtain. I tentatively opened every closet door in my little Herm apartment.

There came a point where I could avoid the fridge no longer though, because I had to have my glass of Cab as I watched DVR-ed re-runs of Jeopardy.

 As I reached for the refrigerator door handle to open it.........

 There was THIS GUY. Sitting up there like he is BFFs with my ceramic ducks!!

At this point in the night, I had found 4 cat figurines and really didn't want to encounter any more, so I stopped looking. 

 Anna and I continued our night of DVR-ed episodes of Jeopardy and Criminal Minds, and eventually both went to bed.

I went to work today, corralled my 9th grade minions around all day, and came home from work soon after school got out to enjoy a relaxing afternoon.

After I came home, I needed to get an envelope out of the bookshelf where I store my envelopes.

Lurking among the smiling, happy faces of my framed friends and family was this ominous creature:

 There are a lot of questions still unanswered.

Where did Anna acquire SO MANY CAT STATUES?

Why did she decide to torment me with a cat statue easter egg hunt in my apartment?

How many more cat statues are lurking, undiscovered around the Herm 503?

I suppose I'll find out in due time....

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