Big spiders


I don’t remember what the impetus was, but I found myself today doing a Google search for “Big Spiders in the Bay Area.” The first result is this website from Berkeley which informs us of spiders most frequently encountered  in the Bay Area.  Looking at these photos makes me feel a fear that I can’t fully describe in words. It is a fear that I feel deep inside me, at the core of my being. The kind of fear that makes me physically react with nausea.

My spider research today was prompted by a memory from when I was a nanny living in Menlo Park.  I was in the sitting room hanging out with the little girl I took care of when I saw a creature hanging out in one of her Lego structures.  It was a creature that I couldn’t pinpoint because I’d never seen anything like it. I guess it was a giant spider – that is the only way to describe it. It wasn’t a tarantula though because it wasn’t fuzzy. It had a shiny surface. It was horrific and large and it scared the shit out of both of us. I decided that I didn’t know what to do with it so the best course of action would be to ignore it and hope that it would go away. We left the room and played somewhere else and it, in fact, went away and I never saw it again. But in the back of my mind I wondered where it went and if I would encounter it again. I also wondered if I imagined the whole thing because I have never seen anything like it again.

I had a conversation with the parents of the little girl about it and they encountered one of these “things” as well – in the same room. The mom said that the thing tried to run away from her and she had to stab it several times with a pen to kill it (!!!) but it didn’t die, it ran away. The father encountered it later and killed it by putting it in the garbage disposal. Hearing about the demise of this creature kind of horrified me, as scary as it was to encounter it myself. It’s presence scared me, yes. But did it deserve to die such a terrible death? I’m sure it didn’t!

I have never seen one of these things again, and when I asked around about it I never got any answers either. Nobody I knew in the Bay Area had ever seen anything like the thing I described.

Something (I can’t remember what) prompted me to remember this and search Google to see if I could figure out what this thing was. And I did. I’m pretty sure it was a Calisoga longitarsus, otherwise known as a False Tarantula. I know it by looking at the picture. I will never forget what it looked like.


The “I hate Carol” club.


I wrote this post on November 19th, 2009. Today I was reminded of this childhood experience and thought I’d repost.  

When I was in 3rd grade, one afternoon on the playground, the girls in my class formed the, “I hate Carol club.” I’m not sure why. Carol was a friend of ours. We all hung out with her regularly. I think there might have been a fight between Carol and another girl and the other girl decided to form this club behind Carol’s back. Somehow, like sheep, we were convinced that we needed to form this group because Carol was a horrible person and needed to be shunned.

Or maybe we were afaid of being shunned ourselves and went along with it.

Regardless, I remember thinking the whole thing was dumb. I knew that Carol felt bad, playing on the playground by herself. I was sure that she could see the sneers of her female classmates and I’m sure it made her sad.

I had an idea. I told the other girls that I would be a spy for them. This way I could still be friends with Carol and also be friends with the “I hate Carol club” girls.

I thought this was such a great idea at the time. But in retrospect I wish I would have had the guts to tell these girls how mean they were being.

It’s crazy, the things kids will do to fit in.

In the end, Carol and this other girl made up and all was right with our group again. And if I recall correctly, this all took place during the after-lunch recess one day.

This memory popped into my head today after reading about some online drama. Yeah. This shit still happens, even when we are adults.

Timex Glasses


I was an awkward child. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was in second grade which was well past the ages of my friends. When It finally clicked for me on that fateful fall day I was hooked. I rode my bike everywhere. I was always awkward on it though. Always a bit unsure of myself.

One day I was at a track meet at the local high school with my family. I rode my bike there and was tooling around the premises when I encountered some kids who were older than me and who I felt intimidated by. I was nervous as I was riding past them and because of my nervousness I forgot how to steer my bike. I found myself pointed toward a steep, rocky hill leading down to the track. Before I could remember how to use the pedals to brake I was flying down the hill. I vaguely remember trying to dodge rocks as I careened faster and faster to the bottom. When I reached it I crash-landed and flew off my bike.

The track meet stopped and every adult in the vicinity surrounded me to see if I was ok. I was ok. I was scraped up and bruised but nothing was broken. I was more embarrassed than anything else. My glassed flew off my face during all of this and I couldn’t see without them. I mentioned this and they were found by an adult, completely intact. I remember one of them joking, “She must have Timex glasses,” referring to their popular slogan “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”
Much like that awkward little girl on the bike.

This is a poem to my Grandpa Ed (Wayback Wednesday)


Grandpa Ed FishingThis is a poem to my Grandpa Ed
Who smiles at me from these faded pictures.
Who holds my grandmother happily among the corns stalks.
Who stands, posing in front of his truck,
With his children, with his brothers and sisters.

This is a poem to my Grandpa Ed
Who tells the story of the day he met my grandmother.
Who tells the story about a dance. He saw her and loved her.
Who tells the story about how he fought for her.
Who tells the story about how he won her over.

This is a poem for my Grandpa Ed
Who was thin and dying, lying in a hospital bed.
Who was dying from a wasting disease.
Whose last words to me were,
“I like you hair short. It looks very pretty like that.”

Tell about a funny thing that happened in or around your car


I used to drive a Ford Pinto. In fact, it used to be Doug’s car. He actually gave me his old car when I learned how to drive. I think about that and it makes me cry. He taught me how to drive! He was the only person in the world who had the patience to teach a 15 year old girl how to drive. What a guy.

Anyway, my pinto. It was orange. Bright orange with racing stripes. Yellow racing stripes. I bought two funny bumper stickers for it. One of them said, “0 to 60 in 15 minutes.” The other one said, “Warning, this car explodes on impact.” Yes, even as a teen I had a sick sense of humor. But then again, someone actually made the bumper sticker so I guess I am not the only one. I loved it when people pulled up behind me. I would sneak a look in my rear-view mirror and smile at the reaction. They would usually be laughing.

I don’t have any photos scanned of my old car so, instead, here is a photo of me on my 7th or 8th birthday.


Tell me how you felt about math


I am the most right-brained person you will ever meet. I think in metaphors and pictures. I feel.  I perceive. I don’t think. This is how I navigate the world around me. This is how it has always been and how it will always be forevermore.

Imagine a person like me in math. It was a complete joke. I failed miserably in every math class I took in high-school. I didn’t get it and just gave up.

I went to college a few years later, after my years of being a nanny, and guess what? I had to go face to face with that old demon again. But this time around I was ready for the challenge. I worked very hard, spent all day sometimes on my homework, but I applied myself. It could be very frustrating at times but I kept at it until I got it right. I actually began to like algebra. It was refreshing, actually, to know that there was only one right answer to a problem. And if you followed the logical steps you would get the answer. What a concept! Miracle of miracles, I ended up with the highest grade in my algebra class! The same thing happened in my statistics class.

Please don’t ask me a math question though. All of that knowledge somehow found its way out of my brain cells. BUT it was good to learn that lesson: if you apply yourself you will learn it. You just will. It’s a law of the universe.

A couple of firsts.


Tell me how you first learned to read.

I am remembering the day I read a book the entire way through all by myself. It was the book, The Summerfolk by Doris Burn*. I was by myself and I seem to recall books on the floor all around me. The house was very quiet. Most of the family was out. I think it was after school in the afternoon. I remember being very engrossed in the story and the world around me seemed to disappear  At the end of the book I closed it and realized I read the words all by myself. I remember how elated I felt! It was such an amazing feeling. It was the beginning of a whole new part of my life.

As I write this I am amazed at the detail I can recall during this event. I mentioned earlier that I have a hard time remembering certain things but those things that I do remember are with such stark clarity. I can almost take myself back to that moment.

Riding a bike was the same way. I was a little bit older than my friends by the time I was able to ride a bike; it didn’t click for me until I was in 2nd grade.  It seems like my attempts at this ended in failure and I was more and more jealous of my friends when they gained this secret knowledge because it meant they were free to explore the farthest reaches of the neighboorhood. The day it clicked for me was a magic moment. Again, I was alone when this happened. It was in front of our house on our gravel street. It was a cloudy, chilly  fall afternoon. After trying a few times it finally clicked for me and It was the most amazing feeling! I was so happy! I rode the shit out of that bike, too. All over the neighborhood.

*Doris Burn was an AMAZING children’s book illustrator. He medium was pen and ink and she drew intricate scenes of children doing interesting things. When I was little  I would pore over the pages of her books for hours, looking at the illustrations.  If you can get your hands on the 1969 edition of, “We Were Tired Of Living In A House” do it. That book is a reason why I learned to read so easily (and Richard Scarry played a part in that too. I heart Richard Scarry).