Dog under Desk

…This is what happens when I am in a terrible mood.

Ergo, Sprocket is under my desk. Entirely. Where he does not fit. Here is the proof.

This is also proof that I am in a terrible mood. I have never tried writing a post while I am in a terrible mood, so this will be AN EXPERIMENT.

I am going to tell you about my two phobias. Potentially I will address what to do about them, but because I am conducting this experiment as I type, I guarantee nothing. I should lead by saying that I don’t ordinarily fall into the category of a girl’s girl. Sure, I like to get dressed up, but I don’t mind getting dirty or sweaty. Most of my shoes are shoes you can hike in, if at a pinch. I buy clothing to get sweaty in. I paint my toenails before every race. That’s about it. And I’m not generally squeamish. I like bugs and beetles and almost every type of wildlife, yes, even snakes and spiders. I love the outdoors and wonderful temperate forests. So that makes this first phobia really awful.

1. Worms

I am terrified of worms. You’re thinking, “Oh, lots of girls say that. They’re not really.” The answer is, yes, yes I am terrified of them. Really. I am so terrified of them that when I went to do a search for illustrations for this post, I had to actually close one eye and then pick a picture of a cartoon worm. Here it is:

from how-to-draw-funny-cartoons.com

Seriously. When the search page came up with all sorts of pink and brown collared things with no legs, all of the hairs on the back of my neck went up and I almost couldn’t touch the keyboard.

I love rain, but spring is particularly awful because when I take Sprocket for a stroll there are worms all over the sidewalk, escaping the drowning fate by stretching themselves out on comparably more dry pavement. I spend a lot of time and energy and probably shorten my life shrieking and sidestepping, heart pounding a billion times a minute. Even if it’s just me and there’s not one to shriek TO. Pathetic.

It.

Is.

Ridiculous.

And you know what? It gets worse I’m also freaked out by these things:

from in-the-stream.blogspot.com

Yeah, millipedes. Those fat scurrying, undulating bodies, all uniform and segmented…it’s worse when they’re curled up.

I didn’t think I was one of those. And when I’m in the field, or moving with purpose, in general, I can set it out of my mind. But…well, take the time I was with our friend Peggy, watching Jim race in a 24-hour mountain bike race in a forest in New Jersey. I got up out of the camp chair, and there in the dying light of a humid summer day, I spotted a millipede. I froze. I couldn’t move, couldn’t go around it, couldn’t really function. I just stood there, panting, freaking out, and Peggy eventually had to get a stick and move it for me. Even so, every time I thought about it, my mouth would water in that horrible pre-vomiting feeling.

I can’t really pin down why this is. I know that when I was young and we had just moved to Pennsylvania, I used to let caterpillars run over my hands and arms, watching their cute little furry bodies wiggle. I can’t even do that anymore. The feeling of those tiny fleshy feet, hundreds of ’em, wandering over and around…urg.

I also know that, when I was twelve or so, a worm fell off the roof of our house (I don’t know what it was doing up there) and landed on my head. My friend Kate looked up and said to me, “Um, I don’t want to scare you, but…” and, props to her, picked it out. And broke it in half while she was trying to rescue me. So now there was a half a worm, leaking god-knows-what in my hair.

I don’t remember if we went on playing after she rescued me. That night I dreamed a horrible nightmare about being covered in earthworms. We had the segment on worms in science class shortly after that. We had to put a worm on a paper towel on our desks and PUT OUR HEADS DOWN CLOSE TO IT to listen to it moving around. I think I begged out of the dissection. It was awful.

I remember playing with snails and slugs, too–in Taiwan we had these huge slugs that would crawl around in the courtyard, and I’d go out there and poke them in the antennae and watch them shrink back. Yep, I don’t do that anymore either.

But worms. Worms are the worst. I don’t know what to do about this.

2. Sharks

from fcusd.edu

There’s not much to say about this. They are amazing creatures. The thing is, they are perfect killing machines. And honestly, I’m not all that freaked out by the concept of a quick death at the jaws of something this perfect, something that belongs in a native environment that I’m probably invading. But I do have a problem with a lot of pain.

Perhaps my problem is not so much with sharks themselves. My problem is likely more related to the ocean, that enormous expanse of unknown. The fact that, in a lot of saltwater bodies I’ve been in, the water is so clear that you can see whatever it is coming for you, with the sure fact that it’s a lot better at coming for you than you are at outrunning it–outswimming it–well, that’s not very palatable, either.

The ocean is an amazing thing. I’d like to feel comfortable in it, but part of me says that that’s a silly  aspiration. A little healthy fear is a good thing, particularly for something more powerful than you are.

But the other part of me says that you should always try something new, always try to push your limits a little.

I’ve tried surfing. I’ve swum in open water, a lot. Maybe this is just a matter of proficiency. Every once in awhile I get panicky, although I didn’t panic once during IM Switz. I dunno. Maybe this phobia is all visual. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I can clearly see the limits of a lake, or a freshwater body of water. I can’t do so with oceans.

So there you have it. My two biggest fears. One I can do something about. The other I’d like to go away, but I’m not sure how. I think the worm thing is all tactile: seeing them reminds me of how they feel. Bleck. Anyone get over such a thing, ever?

image: howstuffworks.com

Yes, yes, I’m still cranky!

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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

One Response to Dog under Desk
  1. Aileen says:

    The ocean has been ruined for me since “Jaws.”

    I feel the same way about spiders that you do about worms. Once stayed up all night with the light on because I saw a spider on the ceiling and didn’t want to let it out of my sight.

    Sprocket under desk: TOO FUNNY.

    Can’t wait to see you Saturday missy!

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