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Monday, August 17, 2009

They forgot to mention...

So when I was shopping around for the right school and city for the next three years of my life, Portland seemed like about as perfect a place as you could get. And I still think it is really, really close to perfect.

But...

Someone forgot to tell me about all the spiders. I mean, there are spiders EVERYWHERE. I know Utah has a lot of spiders too, but they are the kind that generally stay out of sight, and when you do see them, you scream, and then go find someone braver than you to kill it for you. Or, if they're feeling particularly Buddhist, maybe they'll just put it outside for you. I don't really care either way, as long as I don't have to see it, and it doesn't live in my house.

But Portland spiders are very visible; they are known as orb spiders, because the build those creepy circular webs and then sit in them, waiting for bugs to fly right into them. And of course, in order for those webs to work best, they build them across wide expanses of space between trees and bushes, and sometimes, like today, right in front of your front door.

Today after going to school to have the nerdy IT crew setup my computer for the network (these guys were seriously more socially deficient than even I), Ian and I decided to take a stroll through the Tryon Creek State Park. Not far down the path, I glanced into the bushes only to see the most heinously creepy orb spider I have yet seen. It was a bit larger than a quarter, white in color, and had very pointy angles. Basically it was a member of my worst nightmare incarnate (the entirety of my worst nightmare would be several such spiders crawling all over the place).

I shrieked upon seeing the spider, jumped about 50 feet, and then ran down the path a ways. Ian happened to be taking some video at the time, so he got my little freak out recorded for posterity, and then he took some shots of the spider itself, even when I begged him not to do it. He wants to show his mum, he says. Well, I'm sure she'll just treasure that, really.

So, I would upload the video for you all to see, but I am scared even of images of spiders, and so I just can't do it. Sorry. Just know that it was heinous.

After walking for 10 or so minutes, I started to get an ill feeling in my stomach from being surrounded by all the orb spiders everywhere. I know being here will test my arachnophobia, but I need small steps toward overcoming everything, and I was starting to feel like I could throw up for anxiety. So we went back, and Ian let me know when we had safely passed the heinous spider, while I looked to the other side of the path. As long as I don't see it, it can't hurt me. That's my irrational reasoning.

So, if someone had told me about all these spiders -- and I'm sure they are pretty seasonal, but still -- I might have given more pause to deciding on this place. Everyplace has to have its downsides, but spiders? Really? Why, universe? Why?

But really, this place is great. We made the right choice. When I see a spider the size of my fist, though, we're oughta here!


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10 comments:

Dena said...

Spiders the size of your fist? Welcome to Florida!!!!

sov said...

You need to go to the pet store ASAP and get a spider for a pet. Keep him in a little tank with a light and some branches and stuff and throw flies in there occasionally. Then you will get over your fear.

In Texas, they have these spiders that live in the trees around your house. They build their webs between the branches and occasionally drop down on you whilst walking underneath. These are BIG spiders too, like maybe as long as your finger. I think they are kinda cool, but I don't like them falling on me in the dark outside.

I would love to see your video. Perhaps posting it online will put some points toward getting over your fear.

PS I coulda told you about the spiders. I just never thought about it. Better you found out on your own anyway. :)

Sra said...

Not that I was ever tempted, but now I'm certainly never going to Florida or Texas.

I could never have a pet spider. Even if I wasn't afraid of them, I still wouldn't LIKE them. But at my level of phobia, that would be too broad of a step. I can't even touch a picture of a spider. I might cry in a corner if I had one in a cage in my house.

B.R. said...

There's nothing trivial about phobias. I had no idea spiders were ubiquitous in Oregon but then again I don't tend to register things I tend to ignore. I hope you never share the same space and time with them so that you can continue to feel comfortable in your new setting. I'm positive it will all get sorted, as you note, a small step at a time.

Claire said...

Spiders are to Sra as slugs are to Claire.

I can't imagine keeping one as a pet, and if I see one I flee the area at top speed, shrieking like a tea kettle.

There's a theory that our phobias are manifestations of our racial memories, from the bad old days when everything was giant and vicious and we were but small hairy beasties they found delicious.

I applaud your efforts to get over your phobia, but at the same time, I think a little fear can be a good thing (ever see a Fiddleblack? A Black Widow? The Deadly Spider GOAT?).

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/canada/1381960/Spider-goats-start-work-on-wonder-web.html

Embrace the fear!

sov said...

I don't care for earwigs or silverfish, but I'm not afraid of them. I simply scoop them up and throw them outside. I don't know that I have any phobias. Critters don't bother me. Although there are some I tend to find unacceptable within my living space, they don't really pose any threat to me. There's certainly no reason to fear them.

I do have a slight telephoneaphobia, but my job solved that pretty quickly.

What if you learned all about spiders? Got some books, watched some video, etc? Once you learn how spiders are helpful to your environment, and that 99% of them are perfectly harmless, maybe you'll start to like them?

Sra said...

See, Sov, you are mistaking phobias as something rational. I know that spiders are helpful and probably won't hurt me. But fears are irrational and can't really be reasoned away. The only thing to do is gradual exposure therapy. But also, I just heard about these spiders whose bite causes your flesh to die. A woman in Oregon had ten pounds of flesh removed from her abdomen due to a bite. I'm sure those bites are rare, but it's a terrible thought.

Claire, when I first brought Ian to Lewis & Clark, we went into the forest, and laughed at a slug crossing sign, but then a few feet down the path we saw the most enormous spotted slug I have ever seen! Luckily, I'm not afraid of them. It would be a bit gross to accidentally step on one though.

Sra said...

See, Sov, you are mistaking phobias as something rational. I know that spiders are helpful and probably won't hurt me. But fears are irrational and can't really be reasoned away. The only thing to do is gradual exposure therapy. But also, I just heard about these spiders whose bite causes your flesh to die. A woman in Oregon had ten pounds of flesh removed from her abdomen due to a bite. I'm sure those bites are rare, but it's a terrible thought.

Claire, when I first brought Ian to Lewis & Clark, we went into the forest, and laughed at a slug crossing sign, but then a few feet down the path we saw the most enormous spotted slug I have ever seen! Luckily, I'm not afraid of them. It would be a bit gross to accidentally step on one though.

Claire said...

Spiders are to Sra as slugs are to Claire.

I can't imagine keeping one as a pet, and if I see one I flee the area at top speed, shrieking like a tea kettle.

There's a theory that our phobias are manifestations of our racial memories, from the bad old days when everything was giant and vicious and we were but small hairy beasties they found delicious.

I applaud your efforts to get over your phobia, but at the same time, I think a little fear can be a good thing (ever see a Fiddleblack? A Black Widow? The Deadly Spider GOAT?).

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/canada/1381960/Spider-goats-start-work-on-wonder-web.html

Embrace the fear!

Sra said...

Not that I was ever tempted, but now I'm certainly never going to Florida or Texas.

I could never have a pet spider. Even if I wasn't afraid of them, I still wouldn't LIKE them. But at my level of phobia, that would be too broad of a step. I can't even touch a picture of a spider. I might cry in a corner if I had one in a cage in my house.

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