Roach milk latte, anyone?

A few weeks ago I was innocently scrolling through my Twitter feed when my eyes were assaulted by a news headline announcing that cockroach milk has superfood potential.

When I told Callaghan on the phone, he said, “You need to stop reading stuff.”

To which I replied: “I need to get off of Twitter.”

I rely on Twitter to bring me breaking news the minute it hits the ozone. I follow two local channels and one national channel and therefore I’m up to date on ALL of the news. But just because you CAN know all the news, doesn’t mean that you SHOULD.

You’ve probably already heard about this cockroach milk thing. I myself may (or may not) have jumped onto Facebook that same day to air my angst. I don’t really remember. I could feel the panic attack igniting in my chest cavity and burning away at my rib cage like fire licking at a paper scrap, blackening the edges and curling them inward before culminating in a flame of victory that extinguished itself to leave a trail of smoke and a sad smudge of ash where the paper used to be.

In other words, I felt like I was having a heart attack and I couldn’t breathe. I was practically hyperventilating on the phone with Callaghan.

It’s about time to do something about this ridiculous roach phobia. (“Katsaridaphobia,” apparently.)

Anyway. In case you haven’t heard, it’s been discovered that a certain roach produces milk that might be the elixir of life. And here I thought that would be grapefruit juice.

Let’s break down this article (from http://www.livestrong.com/article/1012179-roach-milk-next-superfood/) and my thoughts as I read it.

Got (roach) milk? A team of scientists do, and they’re developing it for possible human consumption.

WHY.

Researchers from the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in Bangalore, India, have been analyzing the “milk” produced by the Pacific beetle cockroach (Diploptera punctata).

Trying to make it sound less horrifying by calling the roach by its flowery Latin name. Diploptera punctata. The string of syllables might sound melodic when you say it out loud, but the second word seems kind of… suggestive, doesn’t it? They’re not fooling me. A roach is a roach is a roach.

Their goal: to create roach-milk-derived protein supplements that can feed the world’s exploding population.

Protein supplements.

Also, what was going on with the person who gazed upon an oily-looking, long-antennae’d, winged demon and mused, “What if I were to crack it open and lick up its roachy milk?”

And who do these lunatics think they are, anyway, thinking about feeding starving people in the world?

Grossed out? We are, too, but there’s a method to their madness.

I don’t care to know the method, thank you.

While researching for this masochistic blog post, I came across a few articles in which it was proposed that roach milk could be used in protein shakes. Never have I been so relieved to be vegan.

The researchers found that the milk protein crystals from Pacific beetle cockroaches contain four times the nutritional value of cow’s milk. These crystals slowly release proteins, fats, sugars and essential amino acids overtime, which can help maintain steady energy levels.

I know another thing that releases a badass energy source slowly over time. It’s called Superstarch; we often blend the chocolate one with peanut butter and half a banana. Voilà… slow-releasing energy with protein, healthy fat, and sugar from the banana. Roach milk unnecessary.

The scientists won’t be corralling cockroaches like farmers do cows, however.

Oh, right! They want the roach milk, but they don’t want to do the dirty work and corral the roaches.

They’ve envisioned a roach milking future that’s far more high-tech: using biotechnology to sequence the genes and reproduce the milk in a lab setting.

AH HA. Unlike cows, God didn’t bestow upon roaches a languid demeanor, adorable sound effects, trendy color patterns, and big, sweet, fluttery eyes. Roaches are therefore exempt from the horrors of factory farming. Only cute animals get to experience terror, pain, and suffering when being used for food! ROACHES ARE SPECIAL SO LET’S LET THEM LIVE PEACEFULLY. God forbid we use biotechnology to reproduce other animals’ milk in labs.

Their findings are found in the International Union of Crystallography Journal.

There’s a whole society of experts here throwing a roach party to celebrate the premiere of this nightmare.

Roach milk. If this milkshake brings boys to the yard, I’ll be like, WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE.

I couldn’t bring myself to search for roach pics to accompany this post, so here, have some baby bunnies. Baby bunnies are the opposite of roaches, as everyone knows.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Lapinou2

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Lapinou

 

[/rant]

 

Halloween Merriment (and the unexpected adventures of Callaghan’s butt)

Happy Halloween Eve!

Callaghan and I have been celebrating Halloween all week, wanting to make up for the fact that we’ll be apart on the actual holiday. He left yesterday for a 12-day business trip in France (Normandy)… so yes, the week-long celebration was necessary. Priorities.

Actually, we’ve been in Halloween celebration mode all month.

I have no Halloween plans for tomorrow. At first I wanted to go to SCARIZONA Scaregrounds with a friend, but then I chickened out re-thought that plan because they promise to prey on “every possible phobia,” and there’s no way I’m risking the possibility of roaches (real or not). I’m thinking roachaphobia is common enough that Scarizona masterminds would use it in the creation of their haunted house “experiences.” I’m a risk-taker in some ways, but not in the roach way. NOPE. Not going.

Instead, kitties and I will enjoy a quiet, spooky Halloween together.

 

Bunny-butt Nenette and butterscotch Nounours checking out a jack-o'-lantern pumpkin.

Bunny-butt Nenette and butterscotch Nounours checking out a jack-o’-lantern pumpkin.

 

I’m looking at 12 days of quality bonding time with Nounours and Nenette. But fear not – I am planning on some crazy shenanigans for the duration. As they say, the cat will play while the Callaghan’s away.

Here’s some of what’s about to go down:

  • Reading (All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr)
  • Writing (I round-filed both of my neglected big projects, but this new one is actually a starting-over of one of the discarded ones.)
  • Watching Netflix (Yes, I’ve returned to Netflix. What can I say.)
  • Playing with furbabies (Nenette will learn that I can be just as fun as Daddy when it comes to playing.)
  • Taking the bus (to work – this is new) and walking (home from work). I still refuse to pay for parking at work when we live so close.
  • Eating simply. (For the next 12 days, I’m basically going to live on salad, baked sweet potatoes, broccoli, brown rice, quinoa, hummus, peanut butter, bread, and fruit. Because these are foods I love, I’m lazy about cooking, and I don’t want to spend time thinking about it.)
  • Getting my hair cut. (YAY new hair, plus I get to see my girl Melanie!)

And, so as to not make too much of a ruckus up in here:

  • Updating/cleaning up some of this blog’s details, i.e. the About page, stuff in the sidebar, some of the links and tags and categories, etc., etc. Long overdue.

It’s not an exhaustive list, but it captures the main agenda. You get the idea. It doesn’t take much to amuse me.

Case in point: I was too easily amused by this exchange with Callaghan yesterday morning when he was at the airport, texting to tell me about his pre-boarding adventures.

You know how a text conversation can get off-sync when you receive a message while you’re texting, so after you send the one you were writing, you immediately answer the new one that came in, and the messages accumulate out of order because the timing got messed up, plus you were talking about two different things at once, so now your phone displays a merging of replies on different subjects, and it either doesn’t make sense at all, or it just looks wrong?

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Callaghan-AirportScreenShot

 

This is what happens when you’re texting about airport security procedures and breakfast at the same time. It’s all fun and games until someone gets a scone up his butt. Of course, it had to be Callaghan.

Death by Palm Tree?? (And good riddance, lawn.)

At the beginning of August, we’d occupied our house for almost a year, and we’d never seen a roach on our property, inside or out. Not a single one. Then the Great Roachapocalypse went down on our front lawn. As of that moment, the lawn’s days were numbered.

It’s hard for me to admit this, because roaches, but the event was your proverbial blessing in disguise. We never liked the lawn. It was Bermuda grass, and it irked me to think we were wasting water in the desert to keep it green. Mowing it took time we didn’t have, and even when freshly-mowed, the grass looked ragged. Getting rid of the lawn sat high on our list of things to do when we felt we could afford it. The roaches simply expedited the undertaking. Let me tell you, it’s amazing what you can suddenly “afford” when a thousand sewer roaches start swarming in a cloud above your lawn.

We were instructed to have our palm tree trimmed first. Not only was it badly in need of it, but it was suspected that the droves of sewer roaches had been lurking beneath the palm tree’s fronds. That’s probably exactly what they were doing… keeping to themselves under the palm fronds, waiting for our sprinklers to come on so they could skitter down and frolic in the glorious, cool oasis that was the sprinkler water puddled where the lawn dipped toward the metal plate covering the water main.

So we had the palm tree trimmed and we were progressing toward the goal of a grass-free front yard when we were unnerved anew. Because astonishingly, the horror story that began with the Great Roachapocalypse continued during the front yard conversion process, when we learned things from our landscaper. Specifically, we learned about a manner of death that I’d never heard of before, an unfathomable manner of death that I wouldn’t wish on anyone: Death by palm tree.

Did you know that the most common way to die while trimming a palm tree is to get murdered by the tree, itself? Neither did we. I listened, aghast, as our landscaper described the phenomenon, an instance of which she’d actually witnessed.

“The dead fronds on the underside fell on him and pinned him to the tree trunk. That’s what happens. You get suffocated.” She made a motion with her hands to demonstrate a palm tree’s fronds slapping downward, like when you collapse an umbrella.

That’s what happens. The fronds clap down, and the tree-trimmer is swallowed up. By the palm tree. My mind veered to the image of a palm tree as a monstrous, upside-down Venus Fly Trap, which, in that case, would be a Venus Human Trap.

Of course, I had to research this atrocity. I was half-hoping to find it debunked on Snopes, even though our landscaper had seen it for herself, but I found news articles reporting such palm tree deaths in three different states, including Arizona (Arizona and California have the highest palm tree death rates). I also found an informative article penned by an experienced palm tree-trimmer by the name of Rich Magargal. In the article, Mr. Magargal describes the three most common ways that people can die while trimming a palm tree, and some preventative measures that can be taken to avoid such a demise.

Here are some quotes from the article:

“Finally, and most importantly, is the alarming and growing death rate by suffocation.

The vast majority of suffocation accidents are the result of fronds sliding down, or sloughing, onto the climber. Just a few feet of fronds can instantly and completely immobilize a climber. There is absolutely nothing he or she can do to remove them because their entire body is forced down and against the palm trunk with hundreds of pounds of pressure. The force of the fronds is primarily on the head of the climber, forcing the chin into the chest. This is how suffocation occurs. Take a moment to put your hands behind your head and pull your head forward bringing your chin in contact with your chest. Notice how little pressure is required to make breathing impossible. Now, imagine several hundred additional pounds of weight on your head and picture yourself under the skirt of fronds 50 feet in the air.”

This already far exceeds my capacity for imaginative comprehension, BUT THEN the author goes on to say:

“Remember, when a climber is working under the skirt, the fronds hang down to around his or her knees. Also note that it is much darker and cooler underneath, so every manner of creature having two to eight legs can be present with you.”

ROACHES.

The only true phobia I have other than roachaphobia is claustrophobia. I’m also an anti-fan of heights.

So I’m reading this article and imagining that I’m trapped high up on a palm tree, pinned beneath a hundred pounds of dead fronds with my neck bent down and suffocating to death while covered in huge roaches, and I die a little bit inside, like some of my cells are withering in a sympathy death for my imaginary worst-nightmare self, and I’m SO GLAD AND GRATEFUL that we were able to have our palm tree trimmed, our lawn torn out, and a flat bed of gravel put in its place.

This is the gravel we chose:

 

We went with the option on the right-hand side of the circle.

We went with the option on the right-hand side of the circle.

 

(I love how she arranged those samples for me!)

Here’s how it looks:

 

Behold our newly trimmed palm tree and our grass-free, roach-free front yard.

Behold our newly trimmed palm tree and our grass-free, roach-free front yard.

 

We now have a flat bed of gravel that will be inhospitable to roaches when they come back with the heat next summer. There will be no water there to attract them, and nowhere for them to hide. THE YARD IS BEAUTIFUL.

See that mark on the ground on the left? Here’s a close-up:

 

Roachapocalypse Ground Zero.

Roachapocalypse Ground Zero.

 

This would be what attracted the roaches when it was hot and our Bermuda grass was being watered. The water was collecting here on this plate. Our landscaper created that border around it before she put in the gravel.

Enjoy some pics of I took of random palm trees with deadly frond skirts on full display:

 

The pic on the left was taken on Saturday morning, and I took the one on the right on Saturday at dusk.

The pic on the left was taken on Saturday morning, and I took the one on the right on Saturday at dusk.

 

The tree on the right shows the most dangerous scenario for a palm tree-trimmer, with its loose fronds hanging down. As Mr. Magargal says:

“There is a lack of knowledge about sloughing. At any point along the trunk of a fan palm it is natural for the fronds to come loose and remain near the trunk, unattached but woven together in a skirt. When the skirt drops nothing can survive beneath it. Even experienced arborists miss the potential of sloughing. Usually, if a palm is going to slough off it may occur as low as 25 to 30 feet from the ground.”

We still have a small patch of grass in the backyard, but there were no roaches on that lawn, because there’s no dipping-down point to collect water back there. We’re keeping the grass there for now.

Those palm trees, though. I’ll never look at them the same again. They’re full of surprises. Our landscaper pointed out some hummingbird eggs she found in ours:

 

Sadly, these hummingbird eggs were abandoned when the palm tree was trimmed.

Sadly, these hummingbird eggs were abandoned when the palm tree was trimmed.

 

So that, I hope, is the end of the story as far as we’re concerned. If you have a loved one who trims palm trees, please share Mr. Magargal’s article with him or her. Let’s save our palm tree trimmers!

When the sea boileth over. (My roach nightmare come true.)

We interrupt (what has become) our standard Friday kitty-update programming for something entirely the opposite, and I’m abjectly horrified that I even have such a thing to report.

The cataclysmic event happened the day of our recent exterminator appointment. I’d arranged to telecommute that day because we didn’t know what all would be involved.

We didn’t want to call the exterminator. The idea did cross our minds when the crickets started showing up at the beginning of the summer, but we thought we could get away with avoiding it. We said to each other, “The crickets will leave. The problem will resolve itself.” Which, of course, led to the brisk proliferation of crickets in the house, until such a point arrived that we were living amongst them like no civilized people do. Finally, just as we’d wound up vacuuming herds of spiders in our house in France, we had to get medieval on the crickets in this house… Creepy Crawley Pest Control style.

We’d seen no insects other than the crickets. We had lizards, mostly baby ones, but we’re fond of them and don’t view them as pests. Scorpions don’t trouble us, either. My one major, remaining phobia, as many of you know, is roaches. Summer in Arizona brings the sewer roaches, which I always envision as boiling up from the bowels of hell. Had we seen a roach anywhere on our property, inside the house or out, I’d have been on the phone with Creepy Crawly that same second.

I knew this company. I’ve used them before, in previous houses, and I had confidence in them. I know that their product isn’t harmful to dogs and cats, and I know that they’re effective, so I’m happy to open the door when Z from Creepy Crawly rings the doorbell.

He’s a no-nonsense guy and explains the process succinctly. He would “blast” the outside first, then come in with a different apparatus to drip-deposit the de-insecting solution along the baseboards inside the garage and house. 

Now, let me just pause to assert that if I had my druthers (am I old enough to get away with using that phrase? I’ve been waiting to age into the right to say it, kind of like get off my lawn, which would actually be funny considering this post)… if I had a choice, I wouldn’t choose to have a lawn. I dislike the maintenance involved, and, moreover, I don’t believe in cultivating lawns in the desert. Alas, our house came with its front lawn and the smaller lawn out back. When we moved in, ripping out the grass and xeriscaping our yard went high on our list of “Projects to do one day.”

We bought the house about a year ago. We still have the lawn.

No-nonsense Z from Creepy Crawly explains the treatment process and wastes no time. He does the exterior first, spraying his lethal brew along the front of the house near the door and making his way around the perimeter of the lawn, winding around the date palm and wrapping around to the sidewalk.

Meanwhile, Callaghan is in the garage, getting it ready. The garage will be done next. I go to give him the tool I’d retrieved from the house as requested and walk back out onto the patio, stopping to stand under the awning. I’m looking out in the direction of our neighbor’s house when –

“This is why you need me,” Z announces loudly as he heads toward me from across the lawn.

“What was that?” I turn my head to look at him.

“THIS. Is why you need me,” Z says again, a note of glee ringing in his voice as he gesticulates with the hand not holding the hose. He’s indicating something on the sidewalk. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be looking at, and then my eyes pick up movement.

It’s movement happening so fast, it’s literally a blur. It’s actually happening on the lawn. There’s an animated cloud flashing in shades of dark and red, a fast-moving, chaotic cloud glinting in the sun. I’m confused. It reminds me of the swarm of bees that appeared in front of our neighbor’s house back in San Jose that one time….

My chest seizes up, my insides suddenly on high alert. It’s summer in Arizona.

“What is it?”

“Roaches. Those are sewer roaches.” Z sounds downright triumphant.

The word “roaches” grips my larynx and I feel paralyzed in my throat. My mind falters. I CAN’T be looking at a huge, thick cloud of spastic roaches on my lawn, I think. It can’t be possible.

“Don’t worry, they’ll all be dead within 15 minutes,” says Z merrily, as if that solves everything.

He has no idea. Or maybe he does. He does this for a living. How can anyone do this for a living?

“Baby,” I croak.

“What?” Callaghan steps out of the garage.

“Over there.” I’m fighting my roachaphobic body’s urge to hyperventilate. “It’s… roaches….”

“Roaches? Where?” Callaghan studies where I’m pointing, and the look of confusion on his face probably looks exactly like the one I wore when Z said “roaches.”

“There. That cloud…”

Callaghan slowly makes his way to the sidewalk and approaches the area with unusual care in his step. He stops and looks. I can see his face, and it tells me everything.

I’m shivering in the heat. The broad span of air up to two feet above the lawn gleams thick with oily, reddish-brown wings. Callaghan stumbles back up the driveway and says, in awe, “It’s a sea of roaches.”

And the sea boileth over.

Z is laughing. He’s laughing at our shock. He’s laughing at my pain. He explains that water from the sprinklers has collected where the lawn dips down to the metal grate covering the main water valve. Moistness attracts sewer roaches in the summer, he says. When he sprayed the lawn with his lethal concoction, he activated them into the frenzy stirring before our horrified eyes.

I’m thinking, I’ve walked across the lawn over that exact spot many times. I’VE BEEN TREADING OVER A SEA OF SEWER ROACHES.

My ankles prickled. I was mired in a scenario straight out of my worst nightmare.

I went inside and Skyped a message to my co-worker.

They like to take shelter in palm trees, sewer roaches. This roach population likely came from the palm up against our house. It’s unbelievable, miraculous, even, that we’ve never seen a roach of any kind on our property, outside or in.

Later, I asked Callaghan how many roaches he figured there were. He thought out loud: “I could only see maybe 450 of them, so if you take into consideration what I couldn’t see, I’d say… around a thousand. There were probably a thousand roaches.”

“That’s it,” I said. “That lawn is HISTORY. I don’t care if we can’t afford actual landscaping right now. WE HAVE TO KILL THE LAWN.”

Callaghan, who’d peered inside the swarming sea of a thousand roaches hovering above the lawn, and who, unlike me, is not phobic about roaches, needed no arm-twisting. “I’ll shut off the sprinklers,” he declared. “The lawn will die.”

We stopped watering the lawn, but it’s monsoon season, so we’ve had some rain. The grass grew, and I couldn’t help but think about a thousand huge sewer roach corpses hidden in it.

Before long, Callaghan had to go out and mow the lawn. I watched from my office window as he courageously pushed the lawn mower over the mass roach grave.

The grass is slowly dying, but the ghastly image of the hovering, flashing roach cloud refreshes in our minds every time we look at the lawn, because this is what the lawn looks like right now (I took this picture yesterday):

 

Our front lawn right now.

Our front lawn right now.

 

Lest you wondered whether my phobia caused me to exaggerate, as that can certainly happen, LOOK AT THAT LARGE PATCH OF GRASS THAT’S LUSH, LONGER AND GREENER THAN THE DYING GRASS AROUND IT. That is Exhibit A. That’s where the roaches were. The decomposing bodies in the mass grave have been fertilizing the grass we’re trying to kill.

The lawn can’t be ripped out soon enough! I’m going to call the City of Tempe today to ask about their conservation program (that financially assists with homeowners’ xeriscaping costs).

Z the exterminator is coming back this morning for a follow-up treatment, but I’ll be at work this time, so if another cloud of roaches rises above the ground, I won’t be here to witness it.

Elevator Tips for the Elevator-Phobic

As recently as eight months ago, my elevator phobia – a spin-off of my claustrophobia – kept me out of elevators at all costs. Now, because of my job, I take the elevator every day, numerous times a day. This marks a great personal victory for me, even though I still always choose the stairs whenever possible.

So, as a somewhat recovered elevator phobic, I thought I’d put together this handy Elevator Phobic’s Guide to Taking the Elevator, in case it can be of use to anyone.

1). When the elevator arrives and the doors open, look inside first to check for sewer roaches before getting in. You just never know, and the last thing you need is for your recently-somewhat-alleviated phobia (elevators) to be revived by a clash with your one remaining phobia (roaches).

 

Being weird in the elevator to show you my "I see a roach" face. Derp.

Being weird in the elevator to show you my “I see a roach” face. Derp.

 

2). Always have your cell phone with you before stepping into the elevator. Make sure it’s charged.

3). If there are other people in the elevator with you, quickly check them out to evaluate whether or not you could take them in a fight if you had to (which I do automatically all the time, anyway, no matter where I am… it’s a reflex). If you do find yourself in a situation that necessitates self-defense tactics, the elevator would be a convenient place to be if you’re like me and you fight best on the inside because you have short limbs.

4). If you’re unsure about the integrity of the elevator, bring a bottle of water in with you. It never hurts to keep a protein bar or nuts with you, either.

5). If the elevator arrives and neither the “up” nor the “down” signal lights are lit, err on the side of caution and don’t get on. Wait for the next one. An undecided elevator is an elevator that might decide to get stuck in the middle somewhere.

6). Mentally listen to Steven Tyler singing “Love in an Elevator” while you’re in the elevator. It will bring some levity to the situation.

7). Minimize your time in the elevator as much as possible. I almost always take the elevator partially, up from the second floor and down to the second floor, rather than ground floor to ground floor. Between the ground floor and the second floor, I use the public stairs.

8). Arm yourself with knowledge by studying the control panel in the elevator as soon as you step in (well, after you size up anyone who may be in there already. Priorities, you know). That way, in the event of a stoppage, you’ll be more likely to able to find the appropriate buttons even while you’re in a panic.

9). Valium, or something similar. Just… whatever it is, have it with you. Frankly, if I could, I’d harpoon myself with whale tranquilizer if I got stuck in an elevator alone. I would just want to be out.

10). If there are other people in the elevator, amuse yourself by trying to figure out which person would be the devil, à la M. Night Shyamalan’s delightful film Devil.

 

 

Happy Friday, Everyone! =)

My Double Phobia Dilemma

Good morning, and welcome to Embarrassing Confessions Tuesday on my blog. (Looking through some recent posts, I noticed that such topics are starting to become de rigueur here.)

Snippet of a mock interview:

Interviewer: You went to war, and you were ambushed. Would you say that was the bravest thing you ever did?

Me: No. The bravest thing I ever did was watch Wall-E.

I have two phobias: claustrophobia and roach phobia. Guess which one is more debilitating?

I’m petrified of roaches. I can’t even look at a picture of one without having a physical reaction. When I started writing this, I thought about checking online for an officially recognized medical term for roach phobia, but I couldn’t because I was afraid that the search would pull up roach images, and my eyes do not need to be assaulted by roach images popping up all over my screen. That’s why I’m going to continue calling it “roach phobia,” and that’s also why I took a picture of Ramsey for this post:

 

Ramsey, the unroachiest thing I could find to photograph for this post.

Ramsey, the unroachiest thing I could find to photograph for this post.

 

Scorpions, snakes, spiders, bees and other flying, stinging critters? They don’t bother me. No fear. Tall, rough-looking transient guy wanders off the street past the inattentive front desk person and waltzes into the women’s locker room at the gym? I’m on my feet, furious, in his face, ordering him out. No fear. A sewer roach? Sends me screaming into the hills. Sheer, unadulterated terror.

Dead roaches freak me out almost as much as live ones. The sight of an upside-down roach carcass makes me cringe, hyperventilate and feel phantom sensations of little roach feet skittering up my ankles.

Let’s touch on my other phobia for a second. Since I started working at my job, I’ve more or less conquered my fear of elevators (a sub-phobia of my claustrophobia), because the elevator is the only way up to my department. Once you’re up there, you can use any of several hidden staircases to descend… but going up, the elevator’s your only ticket.

I’m happy to report that I’m now able to ride an elevator without clinging like a fool to other people in there with me (I have been known to fasten myself to strangers in elevators, barnacle-like), but I wouldn’t say that I’m comfortable in elevators. They still make me nervous, and I still don’t trust them.  Throw in the fact that I enjoy the exercise provided by stairs, and obviously, I prefer taking the stairs whenever possible.

My point, you ask?

For several weeks, I’d been in the habit of exiting my office building using the hidden stairs… until last week, when I noticed, in the stairwell, on the floor right in front of the door going out to the street, a rather large, dead roach. On its back. Legs in the air. A roach carcass so old, it’s turning pale (maybe from dust) and somewhat blurry around the edges. Let me repeat: In the stairwell. In front of the door. The door that you have to go through in order to exit.

So NOW, every day when it’s time to leave work, I ask myself:

Elevator or dead roach?

And I have to decide. There’s no other way out of the building. Do I take the elevator down every day, increasing my chances of getting stuck? Or do I step over a large dead roach every day (which necessitates looking at it, which is excruciating) as I exit the stairwell? And is it just me with these kinds of ridiculous dilemmas?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all about self-improvement. While I’ve made tremendous progress with my elevator phobia, the farthest I’d gotten with my fear of roaches was watching Wall-E,  and I was proud of it… hella proud of myself, in fact, for getting on top of my visceral reaction to the, um, casting of that movie. It doesn’t matter that it was animation and the roach was widely considered to be “cute.” A roach is a roach, and there’s no such thing as a cute roach. When the roach appeared, obviously a main character who would endure the entire film, I resolved to sit there and watch the entire movie, anyway. Not only did I manage that, but I even ended up finding it brilliant and actually really enjoying it! This was truly a measure of progress for me, I’ll have you know.

After I noticed the dead roach in the stairwell at work, I continued taking the stairs down for the next few days, but I soon decided that the elevator was the lesser of two evils. If something happens and I get trapped in the elevator, chances are high that I’d be rescued in good time. But looking at a roach every day so I can step over it? No, thank you.

Now, the absolute worst thing that could happen would be getting trapped in the elevator with a roach.

Excuse me while I go find some wood to knock.