The Brighter Side of Bed Bugs(6 posts)
Well I have not seen evidence for bed bugs since June-- and while I can not yet say that I am bed bug free, I can honestly say that I have won back my personal space. I spent the entire weekend repainting walls, packing boxes of books into one of my newly liberated closets, organizing my art supplies, clothing, paper work, steam cleaning, mopping, dusting, etc. I still have a lot to do, but as of this morning, my apartment looks better than it has for years. I actually purchased some posters showing various views of Mt. Fuji by Japanese Woodblock artists of the Edo period. I have hung them all over my bed room walls and these have completely transformed my sense of peace and calm in this space. My studio/office is still a bit cluttered, but I have been able to bisect this space with a brightly colored cloth and so am not bothered much by the disarray while I am working. It is a good feeling.
I am a pack rat by nature. I love objects and get a big charge out of finding the stories in discarded things. Everything is waiting for some sort of art project to hit-- every object is a vehicle for creativity. Nothing can be rejected, and reuse or repair is always possible. However, taken collectively these things can only sap creativity of its strength and suck it dry. Taken collectively these things are the opposite of creativity-- at the extreme they may even be death.
I do not consider myself to be a hoarder, but I am sure that had the bed bugs not intervened-- I was well on my way to becoming one. To be fair, I work 40+ hours a week, go to school, have numerous clubs and activities, and try to keep up with my creative life. I do not usually have time to tackle such mundane issues as laundry and dishes. However, even given the practical demands of daily life, there comes a time when enough is enough- when all must stop and the nest must be dealt with.
While there are weeks when I am able to control my clutter and create a semblance of surface neatness, the more normative state for me is one of disorder and chaos. In particular, when life gets difficult for me, this is reflected in the disorder that is around me. Last year, I was forced to wear an external fixation device, which essentially meant that I was walking around on a broken leg. This was a challenging experience for me-- painful, tiring, depressing and expensive. During this experience, I do think that at some point I crossed that line between constructive clutter and nightmare. When I was wearing the device, I had an excuse or at least something worse to focus on. When the device was removed, I found myself living in a mess that had gotten out of control. Working 60+ hours a week to pay off medical bills, I really did not think that I would be able to make a huge difference in the state of my living space. I did not have time or energy for bed bugs. It was yet another alienating experience, after a long line of alienating experiences. To make matters worse, I did not want to ask for help-- I did not want to tell people about the bugs, but conversely, the bugs were all that I thought about. I even imagined that someone ought to come by and paint a scarlet B on my door.
To prepare for the exterminator, I was forced to pack everything into plastic bags and boxes, which I dragged into the middle of my living room-- a process that literally took me days (judging by the audio books that I listened to-- over 78 hours). I could not take too much time off from work, and as a result was left exhausted. Because I had to wait for the poison to work before repainting and because my disability limited the amount of effort that I was able to devote to moving the boxes, they stayed stacked in my living room for over a month and a half. To make matters worse, the masons came to repair my walls leaving grit on my floor and mason marks on my walls. I could no longer shut a few doors to hide my disorder-- my disorder was potentially public knowledge. These facts, albeit simple, completely cut me off from any social life that I may have had-- furthering my depression and the extent of my alienation. I try to keep my living room clear. I like to invite my fellow musicians over for jam sessions. I like to have parties. I like to open my door when people knock on it. However, during this period I did not even dare to order a pizza for fear that the delivery man would see the boxes stacked inside.
Hoarding is all the rage. Like lots of TV viewers, I am obsessed by these reality shows about people living in such filth that they have to be gently cajoled into throwing out even the most trivial objects. Such shows leave me saddened and horrified and a bit guilty that I am gawking at someone's psychological train wreck. But yet, here I was slipping in through a door way that could barely open, met every afternoon by a wall of boxes-- swimming through fields of books, clothes and paper to read the limited space in my room. I guess that I have been using these shows as inspiration much as an anorexic would use "thin-spiration" to perpetuate her eating disorder, but yet I could do nothing every night but go home and go to bed.
Until Saturday-- when I finally found myself acting on my promise. Luckily for me, it did not take teams of personal organizers to let me know that I was destined for reality TV, but rather it merely took a swarm of these blood filled little critters. All told, I probably threw out about 50% of my possessions. Surprisingly, the boxes that had completely filled my living room since 4th of July weekend could be stacked within a single closet. Indeed, my clutter level is reduced to a large TV box filled with extraneous papers and objects. I can not say that I am grateful to the bed bugs, but I can say that they helped me to get my sense of space and pride back. My injury left my life in complete disarray-- who knows? Maybe I needed the bugs to help get me back on track.
Just some thoughts...
Very interesting post! I am glad to hear you are free of the critters. I am 35 days clear and will wait the full 60++++ before I unbag anything.
I have also thrown out a bunch of stuff and like the other "pack rats" on this site, perhaps there is a silver lining to all this - we do need very little to be happy.
Cheers and good luck to you!
awesome story....glad to hear the happy ending!!
Thank you! The bed bug sniffing dog came back today and according to her.... I am officially bed bug free!
Good for you. I'm glad you posted this because there is an upside to bed bugs. I have decluttered, organized and thrown things out that I probably should have done many moons ago. I'm glad this forced me to finally do it. Good luck with your continued success in being bb free and getting your place to the way you want it.
Great news that you are bed bug free. I admire your persistance and courage in dealing with bed bugs when you had such a major leg problem. I particularly love the detail that you listened to books on tape for more than 78 hours while preparing for the exterminator. Details like that make me think you are a writer and I'm glad you wrote your story and shared it with us.
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