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So here’s the deal: I’m a wee bit afraid of snakes.

Okay, okay, I’m completely and utterly and psychotically afraid of them. All of them. Even the small ones. Even garter snakes.

ALL OF THEM.

VERY, VERY AFRAID.

I’ve had this problem as long as I can remember, and no, I’ve never been attacked or bitten or even really threatened. And it’s not that I’m afraid of that–no, I’m afraid of the damn things themselves. My brain rarely makes it past “snake!” and on towards “poison! constriction! what fun!”.

I’d figured, for the longest time, that I was afraid of them due to the following memory: When I was about 5, I went to a birthday party at the zoo, and we got taken behind the scenes to see some of the baby animals or animals that weren’t on display. At the time, there was a large boa of some sort there. I remember some adult taking my hand and forcing me to touch it, probably to make me realize it wasn’t slimy or going to hurt me in any way. I remember being absolutely terrified of it.

I mentioned this to my parents, and my mom said that that person? Was her. And I was already terrified even before she made me touch it.

The only possible explanation she or my dad had was that when I was a couple months old, they’d been out hiking in the deserts around Tucson and had seen some fairly rare rattlesnake. Now, my dad’s a reptile person–he works with lizards and has always liked them and snakes. So, naturally, they wanted to get a bit closer to see it. I was in a little backpack thing on my dad’s back, and apparently just started screaming my head off. (Clearly I was smart back then–who’d willingly want to get closer to a rattlesnake??) My parents think that the backpack or a diaper pin or something poked me, and now I associate that pain with seeing the snake. Possibility.

So in general, I’ve avoid snakes like one might avoid the black plaque. Let’s just say that The Crocodile Hunter wasn’t my favorite program on TV, eh?

This fear generally manifested itself irrationally–I actually went to see Anaconda when it came out (brilliant, I know–my earlier brains had deserted me in the face of peer pressure and a lack of any other summer movies worth seeing), and had to get up and walk out of the theater, but not until I’d left fingernail scars on the arms of the two people on either side of me.

When I’d be flipping through TV channels, if I came across a snake, I tended to scream, cry, hyperventilate a bit, throw the remote away and press myself as far back into the sofa as possible. This usually resulted in John coming and turning off the TV with equal parts exasperation (WHY would you throw the remote away? WHY not just change the channel?) and sympathy (It’s okay, it’s gone, stop crying).

It wasn’t fun, but it didn’t really impair my life in anyway.

Then, if you remember, there were snakes galore up in Chico in May when we (Amelia and I) rode the Wildflower Ride. There were two snakes encountered on that trip–one crossing the road while I was driving, and one (dead) on the side of the road. Neither experience went very well, let’s just say.

And my reaction to the dead one that I biked past? Was to swerve out into the road, far away from it. Aside from the general crying/screaming/hyperventilating, swerving out into the road on a bike is not a good idea. I’m just sayin’. If there had been cars, I know that wouldn’t have stopped me. This was too instinctive, too “get far away right damn now”, to control. I just went.

And that was a bit terrifying to realize. A dead snake, or even a live snake that I bike past, hopefully isn’t going to do me too much damage. A car, on the other hand? Will do a lot of damage to a biker.

General safety point number 2: We’re going on vacation next week with Nate and Shelly, James F and Cara, James M and Rae and Aaron. We’re going on a dive vacation, to be specific. And we’re going to a place that has… sea snakes.

So, if my instinctive panic-reaction (prior to any sensible rational reaction about 10-20 seconds later) is to get as far away as possible, there are two options. One: I’ll turn and swim away at torpedo speed. Two: I’ll use my low pressure inflator button to shoot for the surface at rocket launch speed, possible bursting my lungs or giving myself an air embolism or giving myself decompression sickness in doing so.

Like arguing with a car while you’re on a bike, these are all things best avoided. Death is not really preferable to a snake encounter, no matter what the irrational part of my brain says.

So it was decided, in company with John and Amelia, that phobia therapy was in my immediate future. Luckily, Student Health is (not) equipped to deal with this. Bah.

But go I did, for 6 sessions. We mostly talked about snakes, although at my first session the guy wanted to know all about my family and my relationships, my medical history, if I’d had any thoughts of suicide, etc, etc, etc. I appreciate his thoroughness, but really? Snakes, buddy.

Step one was to buy a large toy snake, which John did for me. He was 5 feet long, blue, fluffy, and had purple eyelashes. I named him Jake, as in Jake the Fake Snake. Since then, I’ve decided that Jake may be female (see above, Re: eyelashes) but oh well. Jake wasn’t too bad, although he gave me the willies at first. Then the therapist decided if Jake was sort of okay, we’d move on to step two: watch a video.

Unfortunately, the first one he pulled up on Y*uT*be was of an anaconda (see above, Re: Anaconda the movie) that had crawled into someone’s livestock pen, eaten a member of the livestock (goat? sheep?) and now was too big to crawl back out of the pen BECAUSE IT HAD A FREAKIN’ GOAT OR SHEEP INSIDE IT!!!! Needless to say, this did not go well. I’m not sure what the people in the rooms on either side of us thought, but I think I did prove my point to the therapist that this was irrational and debilitating at times.

So we took a step back to pictures, and eventually to videos, and eventually, on my 6th visit, I made it through 6:30 of a 7 minute video of a guy playing with a 14-foot King Cobra. I kid you not. Google it. The thing is damn scary. The guy says that it’s highly venomous, though not at the top, but given it’s size, it probably packs enough venom to be the single most deadly snake out there. And he’s playing with it. And his dream in life has been to touch one on the head. Which he does.

Umm, I’m so not there. But hey, I watched most of it, right?

Since then, I haven’t had too much exposure, other than attempting to visit the snake that I recently found out lives next door to James and Cara. It wasn’t home (or at least, it’s owner wasn’t), so that may be the plan for this Saturday. There had also been a plan to visit the SF Reptile House, but that was nixed when we did the math of gas prices+time+(theoretically) easily accessible snake next door.

And last night, when the snake came on in the show? (The show about mold–WTF?? I think it was a metaphor for how fast mold can strike, maybe? Still, WTF??) I tensed, I shook a bit, but that was about it. There was no screaming, no crying, no hard breathing, no real panic.

All of this bodes well, but the real test will be when I see one in the ocean. Let’s just say that my fingers are crossed, and I’m feeling sort of maybe okay with this.

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I’ve made it to the end of the week, thank goodness. At times, it felt like it would never come, but now it’s here, there are fun plans (and some not so fun) for the weekend, and there was football last night.

Now, I’m not a huge football fan. It can be fun, but it can also be boring. It also requires a much longer attention span than I’m willing to give to sports at times. Basketball is pretty much over and down with in around 2 hours. Football? 3-4 hours.

Last night, Stanford had their season opener against Oregon St. It was, at times, a battle to see who could win, but also at times, to see who could lose. I saw the first safety I’ve seen in person–for us, thankfully–as well as some pretty spectacular screw-ups by the Oregon St boys. Oh, and my complete lack of faith in undergrads being human has thankfully been restored by the girl behind me who screamed profanities for 4 hours, punctuated with “!$!%$^, BABY!” in a Dickie V way of talking. I hate Dickie V. And I wasn’t real fond of her by the end of the evening.

But the game was good, the beer beforehand was free, the company was good (Rhiannon, Sam, Amelia, various classmates and co-workers), and we did win the game. I suppose that means we’re currently atop the rankings for the Pac10. Let’s see how long that stays in place…

Also, I went and bought my and John’s All-Access passes today, which should allow us into all Stanford sporting events, especially basketball. And they only charged me $100. Total. Instead of $136 for him and $75 for me. Whoo-eeee! Of course, I turned right around and bought a parking permit for $282…

So I guess this week is picking up a bit. We are going to the funeral tomorrow, which should be bundles of fun. We didn’t know this kid all that well, but we did know him, and his sister is our good friend. But then there’s camping and maybe diving and lots of football and relaxation.

Hope you all have a fun Labor Day weekend!

Thanks, guys, for the words of encouragement. I don’t know where this funk is coming from, but I’m doing my best to shake it. Part of it is work (it’s lovely to find out some coworkers think your work is crap and not worth doing), part of it is stress, and I think part of it is just a sort of nebulous “something isn’t right in my world” feeling that is probably just my own psychosis having some off days.

Anyways, this weekend has helped, I think.

John had the weekend off, the first he’s had in awhile. I haven’t gone into work at all, though I may have to this evening if Steven reports back that my viruses are about to take over the incubators. Mwahaha.

Instead, I’ve been lazy. And it’s felt good.

Yesterday, John made his version of huevos rancheros for breakfast. While not all that authentic, they were damn tasty. Then I spent about 4 hours loading music onto my computer.

In the Great Logic Board Replacement of 2008 (4th logic board in 3 years–Apple, take note!), I managed to somehow backup my iTunes preferences folder instead of my iTunes library folder. Brilliant, right? So I loaded CDs onto the computer while sitting on the couch reading. Only problem was that my (new, right?) disc drive only recognized about 1 in 10 CDs, so I had to reboot 9 out of 10 times. Hrm. Apple, you may be getting a call on your 90-days warranty for work. Oh, and the touchpad you replaced? The mouse click button only works on the left, and my thumb rests on the right. Convenient, that. Just don’t wipe my computer clean and give it back to me with Tiger on it, when I gave it to you with Leopard on it. Hrm? Mmmkay then?

We did some grocery shopping, and made a casserole for dinner, but mostly just spent the day doing nothing in our separate ways. I did practice my talk (committee meeting Tuesday, where I justify my existence and paycheck to my boss and 3 random people) a couple times, but also finished my book. It was lovely.

We were supposed to help with a scuba class, which also would have been lovely–compressed air therapy is always nice, and I love working with students. But with 10 students, 4 instructors, and 4 divemaster candidates in the pool, it was pretty packed. Greg and James F and Ben and John and I decided it would be better for the divemaster candidates to get some experience rather than for the guys to have our PADI-certified help in the pool. Ah well, it was nice to do nothing, too, instead of spending 6 hours in chlorine.

Today was a little more productive. More music loading, more cooking (Honey-Mustard BBQ shrimp with pinapples and peppers is being prepared as I write), more hanging out, but we also worked on the backyard. A bike ride was supposed to occur, but the backyard ended up taking more time. The porch was pretty piled with crap, mostly ours but some of Amelia’s, too. We threw away a lot of our crap, took a bunch of stuff to storage, and cleaned off the rest. It’ll theoretically be restacked nicely and neatly in a way that allows more use of the room on the porch. I’m trying to talk John into doing a July 4th BBQ, but we’ll see if that actually happens. Don’t hold your breathe.

I think the laziness and doing fun stuff has helped to get over some of the work-related stress and committee meeting stress, and the comments from the coworker. (Surprisingly, the best “get over it, it’s not worth it” came from the Lab Manager, who didn’t even know the comments had been made, but managed to say just the right thing anyway.)

I’m not sure about the nebulous “WTF is wrong” feeling, but since I can’t figure out what it is, I think I just need to get over it. If there’s anyone out there sending anti-Sarah thoughts my way, cut it out, would you?

Now I’m off to ransack the pineapple that’s being dissected. It smells too tasty to pass up.

Your best friend has a dream in which it’s announced that you’ve started a secret blog because you’re mad at her.

Hrm. Now why would she think that?

Nope, no secret blog here. 🙂

Just a general mood of “I hate people” that has descended over my days like the smoke over Northern California, and won’t quite be let go of, combined with a desire not to make my blog into my personal “Here’s how shitty my life is wah wah wah” all the freakin’ time.

Got nothing against that sometimes, but that’s all I’ve felt like writing for awhile, other than the snippets you’ve gotten, so I’m just trying to find a better mood right now.

But in the meantime, I hate people.

Oh, and science sucks.

Last night at the bar with Amelia and Steven and some others, I made the comment that I’m both excited and terrified to go home again in July.

And then managed to grin for a moment before tearing up, and if it hadn’t been for some good hugs from Amelia and the fact that I overheard someone in the group say something that I could joke about, thus diffusing the situation, it would have been very, very bad. Break-down-in-the-bar-with-people-I-don’t-know bad.

Maybe it was the alcohol, or just sort of the unexpectedness of that thought occurring to me, but I’m clearly not quite ready to sort this through yet.

*****

So some fun thoughts instead:

We’re going to see Sex and the City tonight. And yes, we’re going drinking first. Amelia, Cara, me, and one or two of Cara’s friends. Should be a very appropriate night.

I have a cute new purse. It holds more than just my wallet and two of the three: sunglasses/keys/phone.

The Belmont is this afternoon. Go Big Brown! No one get hurt!

I’ve named my fake snake Jake. He’s my therapy snake, and he’s blue and fuzzy. Bob was suggested by many, but deemed just not right.

The white cat, Tubby McChunkerson, has forgiven us for our absence and decided he now needs to be as close as humanly possible to me. This means following me and attempting to get inside my skin any moment when I’m not standing.

It’s a nice day out. And I’m going into lab. Huzzah!

We made it home safe, and I’ll update you all on my mom soon. I think I need a bit of a break to sift through the whole week at home before I can report, though. I have bought tickets to go home again in five weeks for her surgery. That helped.

Quick update on Beatrice: She’s perfectly fine. Her head hurt Saturday, and her elbow, but she’s fine. Pam woke up every couple hours throughout Friday night to make sure, and there are no broken bones or bleeding in the brain or anything. Thank goodness!

Despite the sorting and sifting going on, life is pretty good for tonight.

Work the last two days has been busy, but it’s nice to see my friends.

Amelia and I got all caught up on the last week and a half. I managed to miss lots of drama and craziness. We got pedicures and coffee, and then got her all fancied up for her DATE! She even put on make-up! And was nervous! All good signs!

(I wish I could make it known to this boy how nice he’d better be to her!!)

(GRRRRRR!!!!)

It was just nice to be back, and to chitchat, and to help her get ready for something she was clearly so looking forward to.

And then, when I got home, a thank-you letter from Juliness was waiting for me. Along with some extra love for my hard week.

I just have to say, dammit, friends are wonderful.

Thanks guys.

I’ve been running, running, running all week to do what needed to get done. And now we’re packed, except the last load of laundry, and the house has at least been vacuumed, and I’m breathing for the first time all week.

Amelia found my parking permit, which made the week much easier. Rhiannon and Elizabeth provided lunchtime entertainment, and Amelia a dinner and coffee companion. And the rest of the time, it was work like crazy. Inevitably, when I’ve got 4 days worth of work, and 4 days before I go home, nothing works like it should, screwing up my very limited time frame. But I kept plugging away, and got a decent amount done. And there were baby duckies in the pond on the way too and from work, where I might have lingered a bit to keep my sanity in check.

Also, we treated the cats and rabbit, and I haven’t been bitten since. This is good news. The bites I do have are almost gone. Unfortunately, I really wanted to test Laura’s advice on how to drown the fleas and never got the chance. I fell into bed almost every night and was somewhere in almost-asleep-land when the “put out a soapy pan of water” thought floated into my head…and floated right back out as I continued to fall asleep. Next time, and I’m sure there will be a next time, I’ll try it. For now, everyone gets treated once a month for three months.

And now, it’s Friday night.

Tomorrow I fly home to see my mom.

I’m currently pretty apprehensive. I’m so looking forward to seeing her, but I haven’t seen her since she started to look sick–tired, hairloss, etc. It’s going to be hard, I know that. But at the same time, seeing her will take away some of the worry created by being so far away.

It’s going to be a hectic week, with spending as much time as possible with family, helping my parents with their field season, and a wedding in the middle of it all. But it will be with our families. Which is the important thing right now.

They have internet now, faster than a 56k modem. I’ll report back.

*This was originally posted yesterday, Saturday the 17th, then deleted. Now I’ve reposted it. Sorry.*

(”Y’all” just for the benefit of Amelia.)

I’m bored. I’m about to whine–feel free to skip all this.

My mother used to tell me, only boring people are bored. Maybe today I’m being boring. Or there’s just nothing on my to-do-list that’s at all entertaining. It’s the weekend, and I want to be entertained.

John’s at work, and Amelia’s at home visiting family for a couple days. I have no one to play with. Wah, wah, wah.

There’s no more email to read, and I’ve finished my book.

There’s laundry to do (John got rib sauce down the front of his shirt and on his shorts last night at dinner), but that’s not fun. There’s a house to clean, but it’s too hot to move. Ditto on that for riding my bike, which was a vague plan I had. What I was planning to do at work today crashed and burned because yesterday, things didn’t go as planned. (That’s science, bitches. It works…sometimes.) There’s a present to be bought for Rhiannon (her birthday tomorrow, thus dinner plans tonight). There’s Safeway to be visited to buy milk and flea medication.

Yes, fleas. John brilliantly let the cats out in the backyard a week or two ago, and now I have seven, make that eight, random bug bites (just realized the random spot my knee that I was scratching wasn’t quite so random). Last time this happened, it was the beginning of the end. Or at least, fleas on the cats and the rabbit, and bites on me. I get covered in them. John doesn’t get bitten, but he’s at least sympathetic to the huge, swollen, red, nasty bites I get.

Ugh. Hope the Safeway sells is good enough. Last time, we had to go to the vet, and that was a wee bit expensive. Dear god, flea medication can cost a lot.

I should just get up off my lazy ass, go start the laundry, wait until I can throw it in the dryer, go get Rhiannon’s present, stop by Safeway, and voila! it’ll be time to head to dinner.

But. I. Don’t. Wanna.

I’m just being whiney. I know. Sorry. But it’s hot, and I itch.

Any ideas?

I’m not superstitions, except for sports.

And my theory was, and had held true for two years and 3 games, that if the Astros and the Giants played at AT&T park, and someone scored 4 runs, they’d win.

Happened 2 years ago, at least at the game I went to with Amelia and John.

Happened last year for every game.

Happened for the first three games of this past series. We went to the first two, and I saw the third on TV, then watched the ESPN Gamecast of the 4th.

In the 4th game, the Giants scored 4 first, and ended up with 7. They should win, then, right?

Then the Astros scored at least 4.

Ah, the calamity!!

Then they scored 4 more.

And won, 8-7.

New Theory: Whoever scores 4, or a multiple of 4, first, wins.

That still works, right?

I’ve been wanting to write something, and I keep opening up a new draft, and nothing comes out.

So, you get pictures instead.

First, here’s the best birthday present I got: pink bike gloves from Amelia. Aren’t they purty? Especially the palms? I love that the pink stuff hasn’t warn off. And they’re awesome with my pink jersey! P.S. Pink? New favorite color, for, oh, no particular reason (Love you, mommy!).
Pink gloves!
Pink gloves!

Next, you think you’ve got tan lines? You don’t know the meaning of tan lines!! Turns out, the sticky bit of red elastic at the top of my bike arm warmers? Rubs off sunscreen. Even if I put the sunscreen on over an hour before the arm warmers, and only wore the arm warmers for about 20-30 minutes. It was a nice little burn line that’s turned into a nice little tan line. Also, umm, please kindly ignore what a sweat monkey I am immediately following a ride. Okay? Thanks. Oh, and that we didn’t wash out the pans from making sausages and eggs prior to going on the ride. Just ignore the mess in general, okay? Thanks!
Tan line

And last, but not least…..THE HAIR!!! Yes, I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath. I kept doing my hair in the mornings and then making John take a picture of it. And it always looked funky. Finally, I decided it was misbehaving especially for the camera, and you all would still “ooh” and “ahh” with appropriate cuteness levels (please?) even if it was doing something weird. I’ll admit that the bobbed part in the back isn’t growing on me, but I do love it. Sorry I don’t have a “before” picture. Imagine me with long, straight, parted-down-the-middle hair. This? Much cuter.
Hair back
Hair front

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