Things are Batty. Literally.

So I decided that since I’ve never participated in any social media “throw back Thursday” that I would here on the blog.  At least until I run out of old columns to publish.  Which should be about 30 weeks from now or so if I do this consistently….but I warn you, I’m not exactly the most consistent person in the universe.

So the lead….I hate bats.  A friend of mine tagged me in a video the other day of a bunch of baby bats being swaddled and fed, and yes.  I admit it.  They’re adorable.  In that video.  They are NOT cute when they’re swooping around your house.  And so, I give you this:

(Wait.  Before I post this, I would like to explain to all the animal advocates and ga-ga bat lovers out there that I do not go around killing bats for pleasure.  Yes, I know they eat mosquitos.  Yes, I’ve heard they’re endangered or something……but it was in my house. Okay? And it wasn’t happy about it.  And I wasn’t happy about it.  And I sure wasn’t going to pick it up like I do birds and blithley carry it outside and give it the chance to bite me. A phobia is a phobia, people.)

So now.  Here it is:  “Bat-minton, Anyone?” August  2008

I have an irrational fear of bats.  I know it’s an irrational fear because I’ve never actually been attacked by a live bat.  (Dead ones are another story thanks to my mom’s less-than-spectacular aim with a tennis racket)  Even the sight of one outside makes me duck and run for cover.

I grew up with bats, and I don’t say that lightly.  It was an old house, and old houses and bats go hand-in-hand.  I could actually hear them crawling around in the walls at night.  (As a kid I always said they were chewing on the walls, but as an adult I realize bats probably don’t regularly snack on wood and plaster for sustenance and it was probably squirrels.  Or Beavers.  Or something.)  Once in awhile, one or two of these flying, screeching creatures would emerge from their attic residence and zoom around the house, swooping and squealing, and mom or dad would saunter to the basement landing to fetch one of the tennis rackets we had on hand for just these occasions.  (We called them “bat-minton rackets.”  We were hilarious in our distress.)  In my mind’s eye, the strings of these rackets were stained, bloody and brown, from the many bats that came before them, but in reality they were probably just old and discolored.  It’s not like we had a bat blood-bath going on.  For my parents, the bats were no big deal–a minor blip of a nuisance in a regular day.  For me, they induced abject terror and cause to hide under the ping-pong table.  I have no idea what I would have done if the bat would have decided it would be fun to fly under there as well. Most likely I’d have passed out.

Eventually we moved and I didn’t have to deal with bats for many years, even in the old row houses I called home in Baltimore.  I shared bat stories with people, and mom gave (and still gives) me some sort of bat-themed gift every fall as a joke, but I never confronted one face-to-face.  Then I moved back to Marengo and into a 106 year-old building.

In reality, I went a good five years in bat-free bliss before having any incidents—then one near-dusk night two years ago I entered my back door and nonchalantly wandered through the utility room to the kitchen and “pfffbblllttttt” a bat blundered across my kitchen about four feet off the ground toward the kitchen window.  There was something seriously wrong with this bat.  It could barely fly and had a trajectory more akin to a butterfly than the stealthy streamlined swoop I was used to.  I screamed like a five-year-old and ran back out to my deck and sat there, rocking back and forth in a semi-comatose state, wondering what I was going to do.

After I had calmed down a bit (just a bit) I glanced over to my neighbor’s building to see if his truck was there.  No such luck.  I’d have to call my parents.  Then I came to the realization I’d left my keys and phone inside on the counter.  Now I was seriously unhappy.  I couldn’t drive anywhere and I couldn’t call anyone, so I had to brave the kitchen again.  I ran in, the bat blundered back across the kitchen, I screamed and ran out—this time with phone in hand.  Tom (my step-dad) picked up when I called.  I said “I have a bat.”  Tom said “So?”  I said “Well, it’s in the house.”  He answered “Kill it.”  I said “With what?” and he said with a sigh “I’ll bring you a tennis racket.”  Thankfully once he got here he took care of it for me and I didn’t have to worry about bats again for another two years.

This year has been particularly batty around our buildings.  They swoop, they taunt, I duck and hide, and yes, they invade.  I had another one in my kitchen a few months ago.  I was outside talking to a friend, and I could hear my oldest dog frantically barking inside.  I told him that I should go see what she was so worked up about and thankfully invited him in.  We walked up the front steps, me in the lead, and when I got to the kitchen the bat swooped, I screamed and tried to get behind him in the narrow hallway.  (He will tell you I tried throwing him down the stairs, but why would I want to do that?  Someone had to kill the thing, and it wasn’t going to be me.)

This bat seemed perfectly healthy if an ability to fly is a factor.  My friend braved the kitchen to get to the racket from the utility room and then started swinging.  This wasn’t easy because the ceiling fan was on, and once it was shut off, the bat decided it would rather rest on top of my cabinets, occasionally creeping over the edge, looking extremely horror movie-ish as it crawled with its little, winged, craggy feet and its mouth open in some sort of bat-like scream.  (In my mind it had fangs, but I could be confusing it with the opossum that was on my deck a few months before.)  He eventually smacked it while I huddled in the door frame moaning, and carried it outside as it clung to the racket.  It stayed on the sidewalk until the next morning when I had my mom brush it into the gutter with a stick.  It stretched its wings.  I ran.

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This Is Me

You can find this is under the About page too, but I can’t figure out how to get that to show up at the top and no one will see it way down at the bottom, so here it is again.

“I’ve seen a look in dogs’ eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.” – John Steinbeck

This quote from Steinbeck pretty much sums up my blog.  “Travels with Charlie” was one of my favorite books so that’s where the title comes to play.  Yes, dogs have been a major part of my life, and in the past years, I’ve had nothing but border collies.  They are hard work, but this blog isn’t just about them…because every day human life is nuts….and if you can’t make light of it, basically you will be miserable. Humor is a human’s best friend.

I’m an adult female of an age I’m no longer comfortable talking about.  I can only assume that in a few more years I’ll get over that and be proud, but when you’re on the back side of a decade and your chin is getting wrinkly, it’s painful.

I have a degree in psychology with a minor in art.  The psych degree is useless to get a good paying job, but plenty useful in real life.  Essentially I am an artist.  I spent many years trying to deny this and fit in to a “normal” way of existence, but with half my head shaved and a penchant for wearing long underwear under skirts, it was kind of difficult to trick people into thinking I was just another everyday human.  I dabble in a bit of everything.  Fiber (which sounds way better than saying I crochet since everyone associates that with grandmas), clay (I make animal objects with a slightly twisted sense of humor), and photography.  You can check those out at Red Dog – Black Dog on Facebook.  I paint and draw with charcoal as well, but they’re not really my favorites.

I am currently a reporter/photographer for a small town local newspaper.  It’s a love/hate relationship.  Low, essentially non-existent pay and the same thing over and over and over again.  I love to talk to people though and find out their stories.  I did write a column for a year in a different local paper.  You used to be able to find all those online, but I was always sincerely surprised about that.  The newspaper ended in 2008.  The domain just expired.  Anyway, I have copies and I will post some of them here, because I loved doing them and it was some of my favorite work.

I have a condition called Meniere’s Disease.  It’s an inner ear, vestibular disorder that in five short years stole my hearing from my right ear and had me sleeping off vertigo attacks on the side of the road.  Some people keep a normal existence for decades.  I had surgery this year that removed my inner ear and it’s left me walking like a drunkard (and probably unable to pass a field sobriety test even when sober).  It’s been a journey.  I’ll share it.

I’m also extremely unlucky in love, and that can be pretty comical at times too.  I seem to like slightly broken men (maybe that’s an understatement).  Yes.  Everyone has baggage, but I lean toward guys who don’t know how to deal with it.  My therapist said I’d be bored with a normal guy, and I know he’s right.  Seriously.  What artist with a degree in psychology likes normal?  I’ve learned recently it’s because I can relate to them. I’ve been single for the majority of my life, but did spend 8 1/2 years of my life with a man who basically wasn’t very nice to me.  He apologized later in life when we were split up but still friends.  I like to stay friends with my exes, which may be considered weird.  The latest man loved and lost doesn’t seem to get it.  If someone is that big of a part of my life, I want to stay in touch.  Even then, I’ve learned since the first boyfriend to look at every man I meet and lose as a learning experience.  The latest one is wounding me deeply.  But surely there’s some humor there somewhere.   I’ll share those tribulations as well (Not about him so much.  That would horrify him and I still love him too much for that).

I’m also in therapy.  Surprise, surprise.  But at this point in my life, my counselor is more just someone I can go to and dump all my week’s travails on and who understands psychology like I do.  He’s completely awesome.  Everyone should have one.  🙂

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