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.
I came into work early today to do a library tour for a group of 60 children: a class of 4th graders and a class of 1st graders. I showed them around the library, read them a story, and then pitched the Summer Reading Program to them. They were great kids and I had a lot of fun with them. They were supposed to go on to the park for lunch but their plans were inexplicably changed suddenly while I was reading the story to them. I noticed the teachers whispering in the back of the room, looking at their phones and I could sense something was wrong. When I was finished the teacher leaned over me to whisper to another teacher: “there was a shooting at Reynold’s High School.” The class was going straight back to school, no playing at the park. Reynold’s High School is just down the highway from Sandy. Local enough to warrant the teachers taking some precaution with the students by getting them back to school right away.
An hour later the story hit national news. In the end one student (a high school student!) and the shooter are dead.
This is the second time a shooting has hit way too close to home. The Clackamas Town Center shooting happened a few days before the massacre at Sandy Hook a two years ago. I shop at the Clackamas Town Center mall every weekend. It is my local mall. And there was a mass shooting there.
This is scary shit. It is sad. And scary. And horrible. I am at a loss for any real thoughtful coherent words. I could get on my soapbox right now – if you know me you know that I am against guns. I believe we need to get rid of them completely. But what good is it for me to stand on my soapbox and scream these words at the top of my lungs? People are dead today. And nobody will listen. I don’t want to have a discussion about it. I want the guns to go away.
I am just very disheartened. That’s all. I want to be able to shop at my local shopping mall and not think about somebody shooting up the place. I want to be able to go to work everyday without the very slight fear in the back of my mind that someone could walk into the place with a gun and start randomly shooting. it would be nice to live life without those ever-present fears that are always there in one way or another. Most of the time it is dormant, but on days like today it makes it presence known.
Sometimes my iPad will play music at weird and inopportune times. It is a bug that has to do with the bluetooth keyboard. When it is connected and when I pick up the keyboard I must accidentally push buttons that cause it to play music. It can be embarrassing when I am in public.
At one point I deleted all of the music from my iPad but somehow music appears on it again. I don’t know how this happens and I am too lazy to explore why.
Last night I was kind of feeling down and depressed and started in on that road in my head where I start beating myself up. I’d been doing some writing on my iPad and got up to go do something else and there went my iPad with it’s music playing. Except this time it played a song I have never heard before. I don’t recall ever downloading it. But I listened to the lyrics and they were exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.
Facing my fears seems to be a theme that keeps coming up for me in various ways. I guess 2014 is the year I face my fears.
Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?
Sometimes fear grips me at the most inopportune time. In these moments I freeze, which is unfortunate. I had this reaction this past weekend when I was at a workshop and was suddenly face to face with my old friend, glossophobia (fear of public speaking). I was called upon to give an elevator speech. I waited to go and listened to others first. After hearing a few others I felt brave and stood up. I started speaking and started out well, but then I froze and I couldn’t finish. I sat down and felt completely deflated.
It reminded me of the time I was hiking with Rafael at Castle Rock in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We reached a point on the path where the trail on one side was a sheer drop down the side of the mountain. On the other side of the trail were cables one could hold on to to help them across the trail. I saw the cables and the cliff and said, “Fuck. No.” I sat there for a long time while Rafael talked me into crossing. He even demonstrated how safe it was by walking in the middle of the path and jumping up and down without the use of the cables. After several minutes of cheering me on, I finally gathered my courage and started across. Palms sweating profusely, I grabbed the cables and walked slowly. I got halfway across and the panic started. I froze. I couldn’t go any further. I cried because I just could not move and fear completely engulfed me. Rafael helped me across but, again, I was deflated. I felt bad for letting fear get the better of me.