Monday, October 13, 2008

Spin Cycle: Fears

This is my first time participating in the Spin Cycle.

It’s a weekly voluntary essay opportunity hosted by my blogging buddy Jen over at Sprite’s Keeper. That’s As usual, no pretty link, someday I’ll learn how to do that. I’ve done some false start posts on other topics that nobody will ever see, but I have plenty of material on the subject of fear. I originally tried to write this in a style that would make me sound more clever than I actually am, preferably in the style of the posts of some of the other participants. You know, really poignant with a deeper meaning, or hilariously funny or something. It didn’t work. So if this is your first visit to my blog courtesy of a Spin Cycle link, sorry about that. You’re not getting great literature. But if you’re a regular, you’re used to that! Brace yourself, this is a long one (For the TLDR skip to the end), I had PLENTY to say. So…

My Fears:

Spiders Especially, Most Insects in General: Yes, yes, this is common, but it doesn’t lessen it for me. Spiders turn me into a shrieking, gibbering mess. There was one in my car one time happily crawling back and forth over the windshield and for fun wandering across the ceiling over my head. And it was dark and since I was trying to drive without killing myself I periodically lost track of his whereabouts. Since I hate them and fear them but also can’t kill them I was pretty much a hysterical wreck by the time I got home and could get out of the car. My fear gives me power though. When I was a teenager up in Ohio I once woke up at 3 am and sat bolt upright, dead awake without knowing why, just that something was wrong. I turned on the light, and then of course the screaming began, because there on the wall, not 3 feet above my head, was a massive wolf spider, who was no doubt planning to touch me. I wouldn’t go back in my bedroom until he was dispatched. I’m sure that my parents also remember that incident with fondness.
It’s not that I think they’re going to bite me (although I’ve seen what the bite a Brown Recluse-and we have those here-can do, and its not pretty) or wrap me up in their tiny little webs, I just am deathly afraid that they are going to touch me. And not just spiders, any insect, with the odd exception of flies and mosquitoes, which I hate, but can kill, so it lessens the fear- they aren’t so invincible. In Florida we have hordes of what are frequently and kindly called “Palmetto Bugs”, but are really just large cockroaches with wings. And the depressing thing is that they are everywhere. If you exterminate regularly, you might have less, but all you really have to do is dig a hole in the ground and you’ll find them. So they are EVERYWHERE, and that includes your garage and house. At least up North you knew that if you kept your house clean there was a good chance that you would never see a cockroach. Not so in the South. I don’t see as many as some people might, since I have 3 cats and they think they are a tasty treat, so I more often find a stray wing in my sweeping then an entire and lively CR. Unfortunately that is not always the case and so I’ve developed a healthy fear of these guys too. And I’m still reeling from my last encounter so I don’t think it’s going away any time soon. Back story of the “incident”: We give the girls a bath in our tub since it’s bigger than ours. Usually we pick up all the toys so they can dry out before the next bath, but on this occasion we didn’t for some reason. So, CRs get thirsty like anyone else, and, unbeknownst to me when I stumbled groggily into the bathroom for my morning shower, one was lurking under a bath toy no doubt slaking his or her thirst in a puddle. Well, they may get thirsty, but they sure don’t like water, because I stepped in the shower, turned on the water and it RAN RIGHT UP MY LEG. Oh yes, there was early morning hysteria. I may never recover. So it’s the fear that they may touch me and also their tendency to pop out of nowhere that makes me hate them. I really hate it when things pop out at me. Which is why I also hate:

Scary Movies. If you want to see me achieve a record in the high jump, just walk up behind me when I’m distracted and say something or, heaven forbid, touch me. I startle easily. So I don’t like the kind of movie where Susie is wandering through a darkened basement looking for the serial killer and of course she went down there by herself, and you know that he’s down there too, only you don’t know where, and she’s walking and walking and breathing all loud because she’s freaked out, which just makes me more apprehensive and then WAM! HE JUMPS OUT OF THE SHADOWS AND CUTS HER HEAD OFF. And then I scream really loud and try not to have a heart attack. I hate that kind of movie. I was once forced (no, not at gunpoint, it was just a high peer pressure incident) to see the re-make of Dawn of the Dead in which the zombies are not your traditional shambling-oh-look-my-arm-fell-off kind of zombie, but are positively feral and constantly leap out and eat people with rapid speed and give the viewer (me at least) a stroke. I didn’t sleep well after that one. Of course some people like these sorts of movies while I had major issues with both Ghostbusters (in third grade) and Invasion of the Pod People (in 5th grade), so it may have more to do with the fact that my parents refused to get a TV until I was 10 so I’m not desensitized to trauma like the lucky rest of the population. Which is why I also fear:

Uncomfortable Moments in Sitcoms. Fortunately David fears this one too or he would be hard to live with. Something comes on the TV that we know is going to go badly or be embarrassing for someone and we both scream “CHANGE THE CHANNEL! CHANGE THE CHANNEL!” Except that we’ve both run out of the room so there’s nobody to change it for us. I don’t like these moments in real life either. Someone tells me a story and it’s just the same as the sitcoms, only without the remote. I do a lot of clutching my head in horror.

Unexpected Events: I stated a few posts back that I would someday like to visit the United Kingdom, but only in a tour group, perhaps on a cushy tour bus. I’ve always admired the people who can backpack across Europe and stay in hostels without a second thought, but that’s not my thing. I would be in a panic every second over where I was, where I was going, what I was going to eat and where I was going to sleep. I would be miserable. Give me a map and a planned itinerary, some local currency and a translator and I would live it up. But without? I see myself alone on a park bench at night in a rainstorm, desperately trying to keep dry with someone’s discarded newspaper. Maybe fighting the squirrels for peanuts. It doesn’t sound like fun to me. I also don’t really care for surprises much. A good surprise on a day I don’t have anything else planned is good, and you can feel free to hand me a check at any hour of the day or night. Just make it a large one. But if I have a to-do list 15 miles long on a Saturday and someone tries to rearrange the schedule? To put it mildly, I’d rather they didn’t. And I may express that by freaking out. And also I will never live in California if I have any choice. Because you have no warning with earthquakes, and you at least have some with the tornadoes and hurricanes we have in Florida. Although I would rather not have those either since I fear:

A Direct Hit by a Katrina-Strength Hurricane: On a momentary serious note, when Katrina hit New Orleans I was less than a month away from giving birth to Elizabeth. I was super pregnant and of course super hormonal and since we don’t have cable (a story for another day), I was glued to the Internet footage. There was too much to see for me to handle and the pictures and footage of the little kids and babies suffering just made me sob. So I fear that for my girls. Yes, it’s really unlikely. We are inland to a degree, we are a whole 20 some feet above sea level (maybe more now that I think about it), we could take the cats and evacuate, we have a hurricane plan, we’ve had enough years down here that we know what supplies we need and where to get them if we were here and something hit. I just can’t stand the thought of my babies crying for water and not having any to give them.

Fish/Aquariums/Lakes/the Ocean/Pools: So, something else I really don’t want to touch me are fish. I fear them. They are slimy and slippery and potentially nibbley and have big fishy eyes and they don’t blink, and I do not like them at all. And if they happened to be really big they could eat me. So I don’t want to be anywhere they are and that includes ponds, lakes, oceans and Aquariums (the big ones, not the little ones people have at their houses, I call those “tanks” and those are fine). Especially aquariums where the fish are right at eye level and the glass could easily crack and the water could burst out and some giant grouper could FALL ON ME. I have no problems with dolphins, manatees, killer whales or sea turtles either in the wild (although that will never happen because they live where fish live) or at a park or aquarium. But I fear fish. And I’m not ashamed. When I was younger I used to have to keep up a front and go swimming with people, but now that I’m old I can say NO to water. And nobody can make me go in it against my will. Muhahahahahaha! The only unfortunate thing is that my dislike of fish has become a dislike of water and that has carried over to swimming pools. But that is partially because they frequently have bugs swimming around (or worse, DEAD!). And you know how I feel about those guys.

Being UNDER Water/Tight Spaces: A secondary reason that I don’t like water is because I’m a wee bit claustrophobic. Sheesh. I’m hyperventilating a little just talking about it. When I was younger, and used to have to appear normal, when I went swimming, I never liked wearing a swim mask because it covers both your mouth and nose, and that fact, combined with being under the water was enough to make me feel like I was drowning. So I was a goggle-wearing child. Even if I liked water I would never scuba dive or snorkel because the thought of being dependent on something else for air gives me that panicky feeling. Which, I admit, doesn’t really take much for me to get. The first time I watched Titanic, and the water rushed into the ship and started covering people up, I almost passed out from holding my breath. And it’s the fear of no air that makes me not like tight spaces. At 6th grade camp I was quite happy to be one of the two chickens who didn’t crawl through Fat Man’s Squeeze. Even at that early age I knew I couldn’t handle it. I will never be a spelunker. Oh, and I may have been ridiculed (I can’t remember anyone saying anything, but I’m sure someone must have. It was middle school for heaven’s sake!), but at least I wasn’t covered in bat poo like everybody else. Hah!

Painful Death: Yeah. I don’t mind going someday (or tomorrow if that’s when The Plan has me scheduled, although I’m a little busy tomorrow…), I just don’t want it to hurt. So I would like it either to happen in my sleep or be so quick I don’t even know it. But (see the next fear), I don’t want it to happen at home either. And personally I think that suffocating (under the water or buried when the roof of a cave falls on me) or starving (such as would happen if I was crawling through a narrow passage and got stuck) or being eaten by a shark would be quite painful.

David Dies in Our Bed and I Wake Up and Find Him/Corpses in General: In college, where I was a Social Work major, I took a lengthy series of classes on HIV counseling. We watched a documentary (of course I’m blanking on the name, it has “Silver” in the title) about a couple who both had full blown AIDS and were slowly dying. And they were documenting their decline on camera. So, the one gentleman was sicker than the other one and he was near death first. And on camera you see the second gentleman discover that his partner had died, albeit relatively peacefully in bed, and you see/hear his reaction, and you hear him call 911 and they come to take away the body….it horrified me. Partially because of the utterly traumatic sadness, and also because I have a fear of bodies. I have made David promise to not die in our bed, but all he can tell me is that he’ll try not to. I’m ok at funerals, although I get a little short of breath, and actually did really well at my Grandma’s viewing, but I don’t like bodies. They scare me, and that’s probably the only fear on this list that I’m ashamed of. When David and I had to put our first cat Tybalt (Tybbie, we still miss you) to sleep I couldn’t shake the awfulness of the fact that we had killed him (even though he had been suffering) and the worry that we might not have killed him all the way (mostly because we were taking his body to David’s parents' house to bury him and he was in a duffel bag in the trunk of our car). I guess I have a little PTSD from that. Regardless I just just don't like death and corpses, which is the reason I can’t kill bugs. I don't want them around but I can't snuff out their little lives either. And I really can't handle the carcasses.

It all comes back to crawly things with me I think.

So, now you know all the things I’m afraid of. But I’m not a complete scaredy cat:

Things I’m not afraid of:

Reptiles: You would think I would be, but nope, not at all. As long as I don’t see them eat. The death/corpse thing you know. I wouldn’t much care to hang out with the poisonous variety (fear of painful death), but an afternoon in a comfy chair with a book and a ball python would be quite lovely.

Rodents: I maintain that rats (domestic ones anyway, I wouldn’t go hunting in a sewer for one) are the sweetest, nicest, cleanest, small animal pet anyone can have. They don’t bite like hamsters and gerbils, they are quieter than guinea pigs, they smell way better than ferrets and they poop way less than rabbits. Get one and you won’t be sorry. I rescued Cocoa out of a cage of rats intended to be snake food and she is super healthy (even though she’s probably the product of inbreeding and by rights should have a respiratory disease at the very least) and has the shiniest brown/black fur you ever saw. She’s beautiful. And the girls think she’s pretty too. When Elizabeth was little she used to call her “Dodo”, but Lilli can say “Cocoa” perfectly clearly. Ahhhh.

Being Poor Forever: I’ve never known life any other way. How can I be afraid of the status quo?

Global Warming: I kind of figure that if its going to happen I’ll have time to get used to it.

A Meteor Hitting the Moon: I read the book “Life As We Knew It”, in which the doomsday version of this happens and I now feel quite prepared.

The results of the next presidential election: Personally, I think I’m not going to like it either way. So I’m not going to worry about it and I’ll just complain a lot when it happens.

The End!
The aforementioned TLDR (That, of course, stands for Too Long, Didn't Read, in case you didn't know): I fear insects, fish, most kinds of water, being startled, death, impending death, and dead things. Everything else I pretty much like just fine.

6 comments: said...

Hah! Your first Spin!!! Loved it, related, laughed, cried, cringed, feel good Spin! I am always that way with sitcoms and embarrassing moments. I hate when people change plans and I'm not prepared, I hate close spaces, fear of drowning, it's like you went right down my list! And loved the summary at the end. I'm proud to say, Rachel, You're linked!

Rachel said...

I just went and checked out your link post (it's always nice to see how this "linking" business looks when its done right), and then read down to where you suggested this week's topic, and by george, it seems I did go right down your list of fears. Although reading it did remind me that while I don't have a fear of heights, I do have a fear of hitting the ground and I neglected to include that. But since that can go under the "Painful Death" category I figure that I'm covered. :)

HeatherPride said...

I totally do the same thing when someone is about to embarrass themselves - even if it's on tv. It's so uncomfortable for me. I usually have to cover my eyes and watch through slits in my fingers.

Waking up next to a dead husband? It seems kind of a funny fear until you picture it happening in your head. Then it would be creepy as heck.

Casey said...

I get uncomfortable when there's an awkward sitcom moment too. Ever watch Curb Your Enthusiasm? I'm feeling terrible the entire time I watch but I can't look away.
We had a wolf spider in our house a few months back and my husband and I were both terrified. It hid behind our entertainment center (which covers an entire wall) so we couldn't get it. We saw it two days later in the dark hallway and a chase ensued (by me, my husband was too scared). After about five minutes and an entire can of spider spray, it finally died. Ack. I've lived in FL my whole life and wasn't terrified of hurricanes until I bought my first house. Now I'm so scared we're going to lose everything one day! Great first spin!

kirsty815 said...

We share a few fears, hurricanes, tight spaces, and definitely the spider thing (check out my spin). I become fetal with spiders.

Great spin.

dirigoxl said...

Changing the channel at the uncomfortable moments of sitcoms: I was mentally screaming ME TOOOOO!! I tried to watch Freaks and Geeks on DVD. It's a good show but I couldn't watch any of it, as it was as uncomfortable as high school was and perhaps more so.

a different C-from-Ohio