i am DONE with it.
when i was a kid, i was ruled by shame. in the 5th grade, i told everyone i didn’t know how to swim so that no one would see the explosion of stretchmarks on my hips and thighs. i didn’t even know what they were, i just knew that they were ugly and abnormal and that i should hide them and quietly hate my body for betraying me. which did, for YEARS. even as an adult, i have never owned a bathing suit that wasn’t skirted.
and there was another time in 3rd grade when i poured AN ENTIRE BOTTLE OF PINE SOL on my head because i was worried i might have head lice (i didn’t) and was too ashamed to ask my mom to look. i guess i’m pretty lucky that i didn’t blind myself.
i know that i’ve been writing about stuff that is gross and weird lately. i know that there are probably more fun things to read about. but i just get so tired of everyone being to scared, or polite, or embarrassed to really talk about some of the crazy shit that just happens as a byproduct of being alive. life is gross and scary sometimes, but it’s even worse if you think you’re alone.
so without further ado, let me tell you about my weekend.
i’ve always thought that those spiky strips or cages that people put under the eaves of their houses to prevent birds from nesting there were ugly and mean. birds are amazing, and birds nests are so cool. so what’s the big deal, right? well, right. but also totally not right. disgustingly not right.
last week, i noticed some strange sounds coming from the vent in my bathroom. at first it just sounded like a plastic bottle rolling around in the rafters of the dropped ceiling, but then on thursday came the telltale cheep cheep cheeps of what sounded like a massive nest of newly hatched birds.
it was weird, but not exactly alarming. i love birds. i didn’t want to evict this new family and cause them to suffer or die. again, no big deal. i could live in peace with the bird fam until they decided to fly south for the winter (or whatever birds in maine actually do). what’s a few peeps while you’re brushing your teeth. nature is marvelous!
but then, things got a bit darker.
on saturday while i was working in my garden (yes, i’m trying again, and yes, it’s still a hot mess, i felt something bite me on the stomach. uh oh. i flicked a tiny black speck off my abdomen and stayed the course.
and then another.
and that sent me running straight to the bathroom to scour my body for more.
i told myself that it was probably just something that i picked up in the garden and proceeded to head toward the grocery store.
found one in my bra, and in classic allie freak out style headed to the brighton non-urgent care unit. i waited for 2 hours in the waiting room hoping to god that none of these nice normal looking people could tell what my problem was.
i felt contaminated, and freaked about all the gruesome possibilities. was this my punishment for making too many scabies jokes? chiggers [snort]? or some sort of yet to be identified treatment resistant body lice that i would be infected with for life?
i popped an ativan in the bathroom to try to ease the twitchiness with limited results.
the doc was wearing a bright yellow spandex bike t-shirt and hi-fived me as he assured me that it wasn’t scabies. or chiggers. in fact, he thought it could be cured by a vigorous shower (although he did give me the body lice cream prescription just in case).
one full-silkwood style shower later, and i found 2 more. cue complete meltdown.
i spent the night waking up every half an hour in a panicked bug check. and there they were. i was horrified and scared, and ready to fill my full body lice cream prescription first thing.
but then, i remembered the birds.
people are always talking about how filthy birds are… i ran to the bathroom and looked up. and there, crawling all over the ceiling around the light fixture (where they had apparently made their nest) were a swarm of my tiny mite friends.
a quick bit of google fu, and my suspicions were confirmed. i had the bird lice.
according to this hopeful article, if we could get our landlord to remove the nest and fumigate ASAP, all would be right with the world. although this website painted a much more grim picture. let’s just say that the word infestation was used liberally.
i’ll skip the boring part about freaking out on my landlord and manically cleaning every single item in my bathroom with ammonia (i’m talking individual lip glosses here), but here is a short list of lessons that i learned from my adventures in bird mites:
1. lint rolling is the best way to get bird mites off skin. just remember to close your curtains, or your neighbors will think you’re some kind of weirdo fetishist.
2. if your boyfriend is awesome, he’ll still make out with you even though you’re covered in tiny bugs.
3. you’ll need both an exterminator to kill the bugs, and some dude your landlord knows to get rid of the birds. DON’T WATCH THIS PART. especially if you’re a bleeding heart vegan.
4. big national chain exterminators with giant fiberglass cockroaches on the roof of their vehicles don’t know shit about bird mites (“oh, we don’t do that”), so you’ll need to call a reputable local company. we used advantage pest control, and they were FUCKING AWESOME. our exterminator was so unbelievably nice and straightforward and knowledgeable that after this nightmarish week, i seriously wanted to hug him. we were able to be back in the house after 3 hours, and the chemical they used had almost no smell at all.
5. if a bird builds a nest somewhere in your house, it’s not charming and adorable. it’s not sweet. it’s gross. do the best you can to displace the birds as compassionately as you can, but get those motherfuckers out of there quick before you find yourself at the emergency room crying to some dude name dr. manny about how you can’t emotionally handle having scabies.
and finally (and foremost)…
6. it’s ok if you get bird lice. or head lice. or scabies. or ringworm or whatever gross embarrassing thing that happens to you. it’s ok to freak out. it’s ok to ask questions. and it’s ok to call your mom at 7 a.m. and cry about it. just don’t let yourself be ashamed about it. you’re not gross, the problem is gross. and if you ever do need someone to lint roll the bird lice off your back, i know a gal who would be happy to help.