Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bedbug-a-geddon: Obligatory Post-Extermination Post

view of the upstairs landing, from the bathroom door.
Am I moving?  Is this an episode of Hoarders?  What the hell is going on here?  Remember when I talked about having bedbugs (and almost burning down a laundromat)?   Well, all of my laundry was finally cleaned properly over the course of a couple of weeks, but those little biting bastards hadn't exactly left my house yet.  Last Monday, the exterminator came in and sprayed, but all the time leading up to that had been nothing but stress, anxiety, and the occasional shouting argument with my husband.  

In case you don't know from personal experience, having bedbugs is hell.  You don't necessarily know where they are hiding.  You may not have a bunch obviously living on/around your mattress.  You may see only one or two.  You don't know if you have spread their eggs from one part of your house to another.  It may feel like you are totally losing your mind while you are doing it, but you end up having to treat most of your stuff as though they COULD be spreading anywhere in your house.  

Living room, from the kitchen doorway
I am not so great at that last part.  Matt and I have had more arguments in the past two months over bedbugs.  It's stressful.  It's difficult.  If you get bedbugs, you may find yourself standing in the middle of your living room and crying because you can't find any clothes for work.  

You may find yourself praying for Xanax--even if you've never taken it before--because you've been advised to take a plastic bag of laundry out to the porch to open, where you have a trash-bag encased dirty clothes hamper, and you spray the inside and the outside of it with isopropyl alcohol (because it kills bedbug eggs), you drop the clothes carefully into it, you dispose of the trashbag which was previously filled with laundry in the outside trashcan because you've been told to not bring it back into the house, you bring the hamper back into the laundry room, you carefully move the clothes into the washer, start the washer and then spray down the outside of the washer with alcohol.  Then you put stuff in the dryer on high heat.  Whew!

Then you wonder if you have gained weight and realize that some of your clothes have most likely shrunk from the high heat dryer all the time.  

All your clothes may be in a SpaceBag, which is nice because you can see them, or they may be in a white garbage bag, where you cannot see them nearly as well.

You check yourself each morning to see if there are new bites.   You may not see any.  You will feel an itch on the way to work and wonder.  You will question yourself, at least six times, if that ONE bite on your ankle is from a bedbug, or if it came from a mosquito while hanging out on your friend's patio the night before.  

Philly is the #1 city on the East Coast for bedbugs this year.  I was not at all surprised by this statistic, considering that we have them, and some friends of ours have dealt with them as well.  New York had a major crackdown on landlords a year or two ago, so I think that helped alleviate the bedbug problem some up there.    

If you get bedbugs, stay strong.  And call an exterminator.  Buy a LOT of SpaceBags because they are much more sturdy than the giant Ziploc brand bags.  

Remember to go out and have fun once in a while, but try to make sure your clothes just came out of a hot dryer first.  Deep breaths.  Cry if you have to, because you didn't invite those bastards in.  Realize there may be days where you think you are just staring into the mouth of madness.

Be prepared to spend some money, because you're probably going to want mattress encasements, pillow covers, spray bottles/isopropyl alcohol, plastic bags, new pillows, stuff to put on your itchy bug bites, dry cleaning for your Ikea furniture covers. 

You may want some dryer sheets...for example, um, if you happened to use a dryer that caught fire and engulfed an entire laundromat in smoke, some of your stuff is going to smell bad through a couple of washings. 

On the plus side, you will probably get rid of a lot of clutter from your home.  Our basement has never looked more organized.  We have an entire corner dedicated to yard sale stuff now!  We found things in our closets we hadn't seen in like 2 years.  (Oh come on, don't we always have those one or two boxes of odds and ends that don't see the light of day after you move from one place to another?)  Another advantage is that your bedroom will look pristine...mostly because it's entirely empty.  And remember to wash those sheets every other day, or at least toss 'em in a hot dryer.
If you've been wondering why I haven't been blogging as much over the past couple of months, why I don't have that usual spring in my step, why I'm so exhausted?  Well, that's pretty much your answer.  Bedbug treatment #2 happens on June 30th.  I will be ecstatic to have my house back to normal.  It can't come soon enough. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Happiness: deal with it, okay?

I realized that for being such a happy, optimistic, perky person, I am often my own worst critic.  I am a harsh judge of myself.  I am guilty of worrying about what others think of me, sometimes constantly.  Lately, it can be pretty easy to fall into a trap I've set for myself, ending up overly self-critical and generally down on myself.  I have a tendency to let comments and good things slip my mind if I'm having a bad week/month/year.

That is, um, if it's okay with you.
For example, I can't help but think that last year (2011) was a bunch of crap.  A lot of bad things happened.  There was a lot of stress.  Yet, through all that, I managed to have another awesome year of marriage.  I had a poetry feature in another state in which I also led workshops for school-age kids.  I had a poetry feature at my home venue in Philadelphia.  I did a lot of dancing.  I sang more karaoke than I have since my senior year of college.  I went to my first drag show.  I stepped in as secretary of the poetry slam.  I was published in two different literary magazines online.  I kept up this blog, despite feeling overwhelmed sometimes.  I stuck with my job, even through the frustrating days.  I bought a Dexcom.  I took a chance and dyed my hair red.  I went to a few really awesome events all by myself and had a great time.  I met some cool people and had some great experiences.

See?  I am a happy person from day to day, for the most part.  I sometimes feel like I don't show that to myself often enough, if that makes any sense.  I can say I'm fine, I will tell you everything is great, but on the inside it may be a different story sometimes.

It's so easy to get hung up on the negative, the disappointing, the discouraging, the bad news.  I am so guilty of it lately.  It's hard not to when bedbugs are causing stress at home, when my job is less-than-cool, or when diabetes is making me feel like garbage.  I have a friend who says when you are feeling down, you should write a list of 36 things you are grateful for, happy about, thankful for.  So here are some things that are happy in my life, just to remind me that in the grand scheme of things, I'm okay.

I have some truly incredible relationships in my life.  I have an amazing, supportive husband.  I have a supportive, loving family.  I have friends who treat me like I'm family.  Despite almost 22 years with diabetes, I have yet to experience anything more than the most minor of complications.   I can afford to work, eat and play.  I've held the same job for over four years now.  I am a blogger with over 60K page views and over 1000 followers on Twitter.  I know how to take a decent picture.  I have a pretty good eye for design.  I've got great love in my life.  I can make people laugh.  I was the only woman to compete in semi-finals this year for the Philly National Poetry Slam team. Even at 30, I have a pretty ridiculous imagination.  I've got great support out in the DOC.  I have people who believe in me and what I'm capable of.

So I just have to deal with it.  I've got plenty to be happy about, even when that little self-doubting voice in my head is trying to tell me otherwise.  Happiness is here, I just have to remember to look for it first, before I see the negative.  Just deal with it, Hannah.