Against co-habiting six-legged beasties: a diatribe and manifesto

I interrupt what must be the lamest “marathon” of blogging to vent. I really truly DID mean to completely get caught up this one-day weekend (since last weekend was a 4-day affair thanks to mid-autumn festival, we had to work on Saturday). However, upon tiredly arriving home on Saturday night, I was greeted by two roaches merrily flitting in and out of my desk drawer and its contents. My desk is right next to my bed. Being a hardened sort thanks to life in New York City (where one summer I hopped into the tub, twitched the shower curtain closed as a huge brown water-bug bounced companionably right in with me as I gasped and hopped rapidly out, into a towel and scolded it for impropriety as I killed it), I didn’t screech or wail. I merely glared at them as they jeered and taunted me with their waving antennae. I vowed that I would clean out my room and so doing, cause them to meet an untimely death.

I had thought I’d cleaned out the threatening population of roaches as the summer began– scattering boric acid about here and there, cleaning all my clothes, drawers, etc. However, keeping in mind that I never ate that much in my room, since eating out is much more companionable (I’m friends with the local servers who know me as the charming hua-chao whose Chinese is clueless), I don’t understand why they insist on being my roommates. I’m hoping that I’m not a magnet for six-legged beasties the way I am for mosquitos (oh dear, they are six-legged beasties too), impetuous embraces by gravity, and red-faced drunk men on the subways of Seoul.

People tell me that roaches are especially an issue in Taiwan which is, after all, a tropical climate very conducive for them. (When I mentioned to my cousin I was battling them, he grinned and said, “Welcome to Taiwan!”)

The term for disgust here is: yeuuuuuuuuuuugggghhh.

I’m usually a live and let live sort of person. I used to climb the crabapple tree in our front yard and collect gypsy caterpillars (much to my mother’s dismay). I let daddy longlegs and spiders roam free.

However, co-habiting roaches and ants (the latter like to invade my laptop and proceed to crawl up my arms) are my limits.

Most of the ants seemed to have moved on after I found their path which goes from a hole in the ceiling right outside of my door and smeared boric acid all around, as well as some ant baits. I’d already cleaned out a few roach carcasses which resulted from my recent investment in combat baits (which my cousin’s entomologist girlfriend tells me proved to be the most effective in an experiment at her lab), and possibly boric acid. My roommate had kindly also given me these little cardboard houses with sticky stuff on the bottom where you place a pill of fish bonemeal as a lure (they’re all still empty).

However, upon seeing the roaches at my desk, I gritted my teeth and resolved to clean out everything. EVERYTHING.

So, yesterday, I solemnly donned my mountain bandanna (a gift from my principal in Seoul when we went on a faculty mountain-climbing trip to Mt. Kyerongsan– which I highly recommend), a hand-me-down tanktop (death-black), shorts, and pink rubber gloves. I went through my desk and dresser with lemon cleaner spray (emptied the can in one day), and baking soda, emptying every drawer, and cleaning drawers, their housings, under the desk, etc.

I still have stuff from drawers spread out over my desk and really wish I was Mary Poppins and could snap my fingers with a superior air… Well, I did try to snap my fingers but all my stuff sat and was just amused at me.

At one point, I found myself wearing a hand-me-down white helmet complete with sun goggles affixed to the top (my suitemate is moving and has generously passed on a collection of things I’ve never really worn including tank tops, and said helmet.) in addition to the aforementioned bandanna, because I had picked it up to clean underneath it and had nowhere else to put it. (I don’t even own or ride anything with wheels, but I like the idea of being able to… I’m a terrible hat collector. Don’t worry, Mom, I haven’t started trying to ride a scooter– I’ll work on the whole bicycle-thing first.) Made a rather odd impression on the new suitemate as I walked down the hall to do my laundry.

So, I cleaned from morning until night, most of my bookshelves, the dresser, the desk, and the tile floor. In the process I discovered a hole in the corner behind the dresser where the roaches must be coming from, some more carcasses, and a few icky brown casing thingies stuck to the under bits of furniture and inside drawer houses (I wonder if they were there lying in wait for warmer weather even before I moved in). I killed several more roaches, tossed out tons of paper, felt my eyes turn red and gucky from back-spray of furniture cleaner, and gave myself a goodly store of aches and exhaustion for today.

I forgot to eat until rather late, when I realized I hadn’t really drunk anything all day, and sweat-dripping, bare-armed and legged, still stuck in my cleaning clothes of death, sheepishly slinked into the 7-11 for something to drink. The poor cashier quickly averted his eyes from my ghastliness (after all, I was the deliverer of death to a few roaches and must have had a ghoulish grimness about me, as well as a fragrance of lemon cleaner and sweat), and didn’t raise his eyebrows at the armfuls of beverages I quickly collected from the shelves.

I must profer my apologies, this post is most likely fairly rambling and incoherent, and quite possibly too self-relevatory, since I’m exhausted. However, I’m tip-tapping away as I try to relax. You see, I am trying to recover from doing much gasping and screeching a few minutes ago.

This evening, I went to the porch to retrieve my hanging dry laundry from the bamboo poles. Blinking, achey, tired, albeit refreshed from a shower, I opened the creaky screen door and my eye was drawn to a fallen scarlet hand-me-down tank top on the green tile floor beneath the rest of the clothes. With a slight sigh, I bent to pick it up (it is rather irritating to find clean clothes on the floor, but sometimes straps slip off hangers in the same way they sometimes have a habit of doing off of shoulders). As the tank top floated up into the air, a strap dangling from my fingers, a LARGE, black cockroach streaked right towards me eliciting my shriek. I’m ashamed to confess to such girliness, but it was quite… disturbing and startling and fast. It jetted past me into the corner by the laundry machine, and I admit that I was still trying to catch my breath long after it probably reached its little hovel.

I’m still working on that even, relaxed, calm breathing-thing. The scarlet tank top is in the dirty laundry pile.

I am now armed with a syringe-shaped thingie given to me by a friend which supposedly squirts roach death in hard-to-reach places.

If there is such a thing as English-literate, internet-surfing, six-legged beasties who live in my vicinity— Beware!

I will show no mercy.

(which, I have to say, is rather out of character for me.)


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Free Rice

October 2007
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