Even with eight legs you can’t outrun death.

Yesterday I encountered an event so momentous that it must be celebrated. The environs were innocent enough, with no warning of the epic occasion to follow. Merely my girlfriend and I eating a meal together. A simple meal, too (she’d snacked earlier, so wasn’t into anything grand) of steamed veggies, eggs and cottage cheese. Everything was prepped, we sat down with an assortment of condiments (the most vital part of any meal. I’ll fight you on that. Physically. Has grudge, will travel) when it happened. The words tumbled out of her mouth and I knew right away. I was telling my girlfriend a story she hadn’t heard.

This isn’t an everyday occurrence and I’m not even sure if it’d happen each week. So here goes.

Do you know how to catch common houseflies? I do. You’d think it’d be a matter of speed, slamming an enclosure down upon them before they could react. Nope, fuck right off. Ain’t no way you can react before a fly does. They’re not only quick, but they can detect movement in the air and act accordingly. Speed’s surprisingly the opposite of what you need. Catching a fly is about patience.

The way that we were taught involved a shot glass. You can use anything small, but it’s handy to be able to see right through it. You want the fly on a flat surface like a tabletop or bench. Position the shot glass directly above them. Slowly lower the glass. When I say slowly I mean glacial. Give paint drying a run for its money. One millimetre at a time. Show Heinz who’s boss. The secret? Keep going. You’ll think that the best call is to slam it down when you’re close, but you’d be wrong. Once again, flies are faster than you, but they’re not smarter than you. Well, maybe. I haven’t met all of you. Keep going slowly right to the bottom. That’s it, you have your own pet house fly.

Why do I know this? It’s certainly not because I had pet house flies of my own. That’d be preposterous. No, I had pet house spiders. Kinda. Our flat shared them. Well, a flat I used to live in before moving away. I’d stop back in most weeks when I was in town. Anyway. We noticed a decently sized spider in our kitchen one day and our friend taught us the fly catching trick. She informed us that spiders won’t eat pre-deceased flies, only ones they’ve killed themselves. So to feed them, you’ve gotta catch flies and release them into the web. The spider will notice the fly struggling by reading the vibrations on its web and come out to feast. It’s vicious too. You see its little mandibles chomping away on the squishy, crunchy fly. Gory as all get out. We named our spider Venom, after my favorite childhood comic character.

As we fed Venom it grew and grew until it was twice, three times its initial size. Then Venom had babies. One in particular survived and we named it Baby. Baby was a voracious little fucker and didn’t mess around at dinner time. It grew rapidly and soon was even bigger than Venom. We treasured our little arach-kids and continued to feed them for around eight or nine months, I’d help out whenever I was in town.

Then disaster struck. One of the flatmates, somehow not knowing that we’d been harboring pet spiders for the larger part of a year, freaked out at this so called “infestation”. It was a massacre. These little life forms we’d fed from infancy utterly obliterated. We were devastated and, despite the ludicrous situation, it caused a pretty significant rift for a while. We got over it enough to preserve the friendship, but the memory of our eight legged darlings has never left my heart.

So that sucked, but on the bright side here in Toronto we don’t get enough insects that we’d be able to keep spiders fed in the first place. I’ll miss Venom and Baby, but not as much as I love living in a relatively pest free environment.

Relatively. A cat lives here after all. At least the spiders were quiet.

Advertisements

How did I write this whole thing without one dick joke?

Do you ever look around and feel inquisitive about the size of things? In parallel universai (sticking with it), what size might they be? How would this affect the world around them? Could our existence improve from resizing them? What sized objects/living things do we take for granted? I’m not sure how often I ponder this, but I’m sure as fuck going to now.

  • Corn. If an ear of corn was the size of your arm, would we still be able to eat them in the same way? How tall would fields of maize have to be in order to cater to the larger crop? I’d wager that we’d see a lot more individual kernels used than ears. How big would that make each kernel? The same as a thumb joint? Or maybe similar to a single popcorn piece. On that note, would each piece of popcorn be like an apple? That sounds like a world I’d like to live in. Though a solid RIP to typewriter style consumption.
  • I would have a dog sized giraffe as a pet. No qualms about it. How fucking adorable would that be? LOOK HOW CUTE A NEWBORN GIRAFFE IS. Imagine that even more compact. Plus with a little leash for walkies. Their necks would be double plus huggable. Plus they’d be so good at frisbee. If I ever learn to travel universes, I’m bringing back a giraffe dog.
  • Insects are considered nightmarish to most people already. I admit I’d freak out interacting with any larger than my hand. At the same time I think they’re really fucking cool. What is it about insects that freak us out so much? Is it their bulbous/kaleidoscopic eyes? Their overabundance of legs? The venomous barbs/stingers/mandibles? Dense hairs covering their body? Is it even that we’re comparatively such simply laid out creatures and insects are nigh universally complex? Oh fuck, imagine a mosquito wielding a proboscis the size of your head. Now try sleeping ever again.
  • If bananas were the size of prawns, would they be worth the effort? I’d ask the alternative, but Morton Bay Bugs are already a thing.
  • If dandelions were larger, would there be fewer of them? Part of their ability to disperse is how they float in the air and that feels like a feature of their lightness. If they were larger their spread would likely be stymied by obstacles and hopefully that’d cut down on their proliferation.
  • Shark sized tartigrades and jellyfish would rule the oceans/world. Tartigrades are basically indestructible and jellyfish can revert to the polyp stage at any time, meaning they don’t die from old age. Imagine seas full of large translucent blobs. You’d think they were wave crests, but then your entire body would be enveloped in their all consuming sting. I can imagine urolagnia rapidly gaining in popularity.
  • How large would rabbits need to be before they’d become farmed en masse? Goose sized? Pig sized? I mean, they fuck like… well… them. If they weren’t harvested for meat, they’d no doubt be slaughtered as pests.
  • I wonder how larger coconuts would’ve influenced island society. Let’s say a metre in diameter. They’d be really durable for some building materials (roofing perhaps?) and are pretty buoyant. Could they have made some kind of coconut pontoon crafts?
  • One last thought: Apple. Sized. Blueberries.

I’m not sure how this world came to pass, but it tends to fit together pretty damn well. Three cheers to the architect, elsewise we’d all have perished from horse sized rats long ago.

This is what I get for listening to too much Lenny Kravitz

Wow, am I ever on edge. We’ve set up our camp right by the river side. It’s a beautiful, nay idyllic sight (like almost everything nature has thrown our way on this trip). The grass is soft and loamy. The trees alternate between lush canopies and lovely clearings. The area is also swarming with midge flies and I’m losing my mind. If there’s a German compound word for a combination of miserable and furious it’d be a perfect fit.

I wish I was exaggerating, but I’ve already experienced mild dissociation. We’ve arrived in this stunning location (albeit with the wind and rain setting in) and the only thought in my mind is of 16 hours time when we can leave. We’re safely nestled in our tent (thanks to fly screens and the rain shell), both my skin and clothes are smothered in bug spray, but I can’t stop thinking of the endless swarms waiting just outside. It’s ridiculous and more than a little petulant. I understand this logically, but emotionally I’m overwhelmed and incapable of succumbing to rational thought. I didn’t even know this was such a huge issue for me. Bruises and scrapes, physical exhaustion, etc I’d probably be fine with. I’m having difficulty thinking of anything else. I don’t want to move, I’m dreading having to leave the tent to go to the toilet or eat dinner. My body has even started creating phantom itches all over. Between my legs, on my scalp, the hand I’m typing with (where I can see no visible bites), my face, behind my ear. It’s insane. You’d think I was having a bad meth reaction.

By swiveling my head around the tent I can see at least 60 on the layer outside ours. Sitting there, waiting for us to make a move. As time has gone on they’ve increased in numbers. It feels like a zombie contagion, they’re all out there with a taste for blood, awaiting critical mass. If there’s one little hole they’ll be able to burst in and we’re fucked. Then the next week is a bust, an itchy waste. The rest of an otherwise amazing holiday tainted.

I’m also angry at myself for having this reaction, which doesn’t help anything. I don’t know what to do to salvage the situation. I assume that I’ll do the usual: hit breaking point, meltdown, let it out and let it go. I’d love to avoid the usual, but I’m not sure how. I know my girlfriend and friends would love to help, but right now I’ve got very little to access, let alone offer as suggestion. You know something’s up when my strategy is to want to sleep for 15 hours and basically skip a day. I’m not a big fan of sleep or anything that precludes you from doing stuff. Who knows, maaan? Maybe we’ll get attacked by zombies and I’ll be given something more pressing to worry about. Perspective is a gift. A guy can dream, can’t he?

I guess I can look on the bright side. After writing this there are only 15.5 hours left to go.

Edit: Sex. Sex helped.

I deserve some kind of gold ribbin’ for this entry.

We’re about to leave Wellington on an early 8am ferry ride. It’s been a breezy trip through our nation’s capital, which is why I didn’t end up contacting friends during our stay. I was gracious enough to pass on the cold/flu that gripped me during the wedding, so my girlfriend could enjoy its many graces. She’s spent the last few days leaking copiously from the nose, sneezing enough to leave her with a sore back and possessing a general spaciness of the brain. It’s shitty to be sick on holiday but honestly, if she had to be sick, a day and a half where we had zero obligations to anyone else was the best possible time. If it’d been two days later we’d be weaving through the twists and turns of South Island mountainscapes. That’s gotta be a special kind of hell inside the ninth sphere.

We traveled at a breezy pace, doing what we could while we could manage it. Best coffee we found (and currently leading for the trip overall) was at the Flight Coffee Hangar downtown. We’ve been wandering the city drinking coffee, eating well (made the customary trip to Sweet Mother’s Kitchen). I got up early for a morning jog around the waterfront and this afternoon we returned to the scene of the crime. We checked out Te Papa Museum. Visited a very cool exhibit all about bugs, with giant models all designed by Weta Workshops (though surprisingly no giant weta models). There was a hell of a lot to learn with fun interactive exhibits. Let’s see what I can remember.

There was a pretty vicious (both pretty and vicious) mantis known as the orchid mantis. With a vaguely translucent body capable of a certain amount of colour change, it hides among orchids and attracts its prey with bodily luminescence. As the prey draws near, it lashes out, grabbing it in its strong claws, then rips it apart with sharp mandibles. The slow motion video depicted a scene none to dissimilar to how I eat ribs. Brutal, just brutal.

There’s an awesome wasp that turns cockroaches into its zombie slaves. Sorta. The wasp confronts the cockroach and injects its venom into the wasp’s nervous system, paralysing its front legs. It then injects it again, paralysing its antennae and disabling its ability to navigate, It creates a nest and preps it for the arrival of a host. Bringing the cockroach to the next, it lays its eggs inside, then seals off the entrance to the nest. The new wasp emerges, chest burster style, from the now dead cockroach host. None too dissimilar to how my stomach feels after I eat too many ribs. Brutal just brutal.

The Japanese honey bees were fucking wicked. Their nests are often set upon by large wasps. Physically superior creatures, the wasps rampage through the hives, leaving dismembered bees everywhere. The bees are able to collaborate and work together to repel the invasion. I don’t know how they figured this out, but the Japanese honey bees can stand temperatures a few degrees higher than the wasps can. The bees band together around their foe in a little bee ball. They then flap their wings aggressively, heating up their little bodies. The wasp, unable to handle the temperature increase, dies. I’m not sure if it suffocates, melts or has some kind of painful brain explosion, but whatever the result, I’m sure the wasp realises it’s bitten off more than it can chew only when it’s too late. None to dissimilar to me at an all you can eat ribs night, Brutal, just brutal.

A few rad displays talked about evolutionary developments in insects and how human technology seeks to replicate it. One of these is the exoskeleton, which is finally being developed for assistance with accessibility challenged people. Augmented strength or limbs will one day be able to, say, help individuals with spinal cord injuries walk again. Spider silk is uncannily strong for its weight. One thread wrapped around the circumference of the Earth would only weigh half a kilo. Military technology is looking to adopt this strength to weight ratio in new and improved kevlar armour. Other future tech involves swarm-esque nanobots controlled by a central source (think Big Hero 6), and termite-ish machines working together to build large structures or clean up waste spills. I can certainly think of a few scenarios they’d be handy for. None to dissimilar for the clean up crew required after my body processes the aftermath of an all you can eat ribs night. Brutal, just brutal.

Who else is craving ribs right now?

Some say love, it is a river. It too involves fluids.

I feel very cagey right now. This restricted internet thing has me on edge. I’ve become so paranoid that I was even hesitant to come and update until after I’d seen the Mad Men finale. Still haven’t and I’m obsessing over the remote possibility that someone’s gonna chime in and be all oh man, wasn’t it crazy when Don transformed into a giant cockroach and bifurcated, obliterating New York in a twin roach tribute to King Kong, then shat out the iconic Macintosh commercial? I mean, I think I’d be ok with that transpiring and if anyone could make it work it’d be old Matty Weiner. But nobody has spoiled it thus far.

Frankly the thought that people may comment on this site is ludicrous. My audience is composed of algorithms and bots, plus (if site traffic and Google scrapes are to be believed) a concerning number of people who are into marshmallow porn. I don’t know how to work that, what’s the appeal? Pillowy sweetness with a dusting of powder? Are there people who cruise the supermarket aisles looking for jumbo marshmallows to use as proxy cock-sleeves? Is this the part when I find out that my girlfriend has actually been a marshmallow alien from the Staypuft Nebula this whole time? Honey, I love you, but if you’re a sentient, sugary, vaguely gelatinous and springy compound moulded to human form, we might need to have words.

My girlfriend finally met the family, a process that’s been in the works for some time. I mean, I hadn’t seen them in around 6 months, so it’s unsurprising that she hadn’t seen them during this time either. Unless they’ve been scheduling clandestine meetings under the moonlight or something. If so, they were very convincing in their unfamiliarity last night. Though I may have heard a whispered “heil Hydra” as they embraced. I have my suspicions. I mean, she’s “met” my immediate family, in so far as chatting over Skype counts as meeting these days. It’s a very different beast, given that physical proximity enables undeniably greater personal connectivity. Seeing as my parents, brothers, big sis in law and niece are back in New Zealand, meeting my wider family who are at least capable of a hug or high five wasn’t without significance.

There were nerves on her side, which I assured her were unnecessary, as my family here are unflinchingly lovely. We did the customary 3 courses and they were all able to place faces and personality to my countless stories of each other. Unfortunately we didn’t find time for Boggle, but given the absurd amount of time that’d passed since our last (confession?) hang out, there were ample things to talk about. It was nice. Much as I’m able to be a callous, cynical bastard when the situation calls for it (and doubly when it doesn’t), forming bonds between a romantic relationship and familial connection carries a certain gravity. If a girlfriend didn’t mean something to me, she sure as hell wouldn’t be meeting my relatives without a good reason. Obviously she does, hence the above two paragraphs. Geez, could I get any more stony? My rugged masculinity knows no bounds. What’s next, a gravelly attempt at romantic poetry?

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Congrats, things *are* coloured differently.
What do you want, a medal?

Less edifying, more bedifying.

How much consideration do you put into your sleeping habits? A conversation I just had made me re-examine how I sleep and why. From a physical standpoint I’m a solitary sleeper by nature. I’ve always slept best on my own and even when I’ve been with a partner for quite some time, I don’t get the same kind of rest I that I do when I’m flying solo. The emotional warmth I gain tends to make up for my lack of sleep and it’s not like I resent partners, having someone around is just a thing I have trouble overcoming. It’s the heat, really. I overheat quickly and easily. I’m like a furnace and adding any external heat overloads my capacity, turning excess warmth to sweat. Naturally this means I can’t really sleep spoon with partners and my automatic state is to turn away from them.

This was a behaviour I actively tried to change. I’d say most of us favour a particular side of the bed. It’s habit, pure and simple. Habit becomes comfortable and shifting away from that causes irritation. With my longest term partner I decided that if we were to be spending most evenings together, the considerate thing to do would be to try and sleep facing her. Used to sleeping on my right side, I intentionally changed my side of the bed so that I’d instinctively face the middle. It worked, though falling asleep on the “wrong” side took many moons to get over. Things settled and were pleasant, idyllic. Bit by bit though, my body turned away until I faced the outside of the bed. Nature vs nurture? At the conclusion of that relationship I’d remain on the side I’d gotten used to. I cast my fair share of longing glances to the empty side I once claimed, but time healed those wounds. In the end I guess I trained myself to be an ambi-sleeper if nothing else. The partner is long gone, but the skill remains. Now I roll between both sides. I may have been struck down, but I became more powerful than you would ever imagine.

My room isn’t large, but rather than push my bed up against the wall and give myself a bit more space, I’ve opted to pull it out enough that any prospective partner has an unobstructed path from the bed to the door. No climbing over me in the middle of the night for a clumsy bathroom break. I guess I took my cues from Maori pa warfare and ensured there was an available exit. I’m not sure how important it is, but somewhere in the back of my mind I imagined that if I somehow took home a one night stand (that wasn’t a 41 year old former dominatrix/escape artist) who, in the middle of the night she decided she wanted to be anywhere else, an escape route would be readily accessible to save her any embarrassment of having to justify her departure. Seriously, that scenario has shaped the way I’ve arranged a significant part of my bedroom. I don’t think I’ve ever used the exit myself, so I might as well have the side flush with the wall. Still there’s a part of me that feels hesitation in depriving this hypothetical girl of her dignity. The walk of shame is bad enough without additional hurdles.

I’m shifting rooms soon anyway, so now I’ll have to concoct other elaborate potential requirements and cater to them. What if the girl I bring home sees by sonar alone and my room doesn’t reflect sound well enough? What if she requires a cocoon for truly enriching slumber? Would she crawl into bed as a poor choice of mate undetected by my beer goggles, but undergo a metamorphosis to emerge as a fitting partner? Why does my subconscious mind immediately assume that for a woman to want to come home with me on a one night stand she has to be some type of inhuman mammal or insect?

“Jaden Smith was right” seems like dystopian alleyway graffiti.

I think I need a staunch Gremlins style rule enforcing no caffeine after 2pm. Not eating after midnight might be advisable too. Yesterday’s 4pm latte (because I had time (and my sanity) to kill) meant that last night would be spent rolling around, drifting between consciousness and nightmarish fever dreams. Yesterday’s cinematic outing to Guardians of the Galaxy meant I drifted not only between consciousness, but 80s inspired laser lit galaxies with otherworldly creatures possessing lamprey eyes and jagged proboscises trying to gouge my internal organs. I embodied the frame of a jungle based nightstalker out to protect my 4 month old niece and also a school teacher giving lessons on contraception to toddlers. Amongst these bouts of low-rent silver screen dreams my wasp sting from several days ago itched profusely, begging me to cave in and scratch, spreading whatever localised venom still sits in my palm. I had almost no reaction at the time other than pain. I didn’t develop some “stay puft” reaction or Monkey Wrench/Get Back hand growth. Yet still it itches, causing me to believe that “He who cannot be named” is camping in a bush outside my house with comically oversized binoculars. Connected thought: I should really call my parents. It’s probably been the customary month since we last talked.

On the brighter side this meant I got to get up early to share my muddled ramblings and rantings with you, the cherished reader. I feel like we don’t really connect much, I just sort of talk at you rather than to you. Time for that all to change. We’ve breaking boundaries here at I Have My Doubts to bring ourselves (myself) closer to the ones who care. Time for some fourth wall breaking shit. Roll up your sleeves, it’s about to get uncomfortably intimate.

How was the last meal you had? What was your favourite texture within it?
If the last answer didn’t involve cheese, what’s wrong with you (lactose intolerance is the only valid answer I’ll accept)?
When was the last time someone really made your day? Did it involve an elaborate cheese platter? Should it have?
If you had to have a phantom limb (in addition to your current ones), what would you go for?
When did you last feel legitimately afraid for your life, even if only for a split second?
What playground nickname did your schoolyard chums tease you with (that you secretly liked)?
What childhood celebrity crush of yours would you have trouble articulating the appeal of even now?
Admit it, you cheated in Doom/Doom 2 all the time, right?
What profession would you have if you lived on Sesame St?
Which highly impractical item of clothing do you wear just to impress people?
Have you started planning for Halloween yet? Why haven’t you chosen Starlord?
Who do you constantly fantasise about how things would’ve worked out with, despite knowing that they never would have?
Who is that person at parties who you just can’t form a workable conversation with? Does that say more about them or you?
How often does looking into a mirror and realising that people don’t see you as you’re reflected trip you out?
Did you only just realise the last one?
Don’t feel bad, I only cottoned onto it the other day.
Maybe Jaden Smith was onto something.