Wednesday, April 6, 2016

My life as told by the cockroaches

Sometimes I feel like I’m only going to school to learn about cockroaches.

Because if you’ve had a conversation with me at school, you know that sometimes I talk too much about cockroaches. Not in an admirable way, but in a somewhat creepy way.

And this year, I’ve somewhat defined my life through the lens of these damn cockroaches. In August, when I moved in, I found a few dead ones in our room. No biggie, I had thought, probably just from the summer and someone not cleaning properly. But throughout the first semester, they were increasingly popping up in our room. Alive this time. They scared me to no end. They’d show up, four or five inches in length, crawling around our room. Sometimes they’d appear on our hall, but for some reason, they were just really liking our room. I know, I know, who couldn’t like me?

They caused a few issues between me and my lovely roommate when I killed one on her bed while she wasn’t in the room and almost -- but didn’t -- ruined her vintage Lilly bedspread. A tragedy, I know.

We started investing in powerful bug sprays and it was then that maaaybe I got a taste of what it would be like to own a gun. Because I felt invincible with a black bottle of chemicals purchased from Walmart. Having that bottle in my hand made me feel like I could take on these terrible cockroaches.

I experienced a little bit of anxiety from these bugs. Why was I, a 5’11” independent and confident woman, afraid of a bug smaller than me? I don’t know. But they really made me sweat and I’d have nightmares about them. We went through all the normal ways of filing complaints, including a weird circumstance where I ran into the exterminator in my towel. I mean, hey, gotta get the deets on the bugs!

So I learned about cockroaches. What better way to beat them to know more about them? It calmed me down to know the best ways to kill them, the size they normally were, and that it takes a looong time for them to die. My dad always taught me the best way to take care of an issue was to learn more about it.

When we came back from winter break, I felt refreshed and decided it was time to take care of these bad boys once and for all. I complained to anyone in power that I could-- but in the nicest way possible. I swear, I think my roommate got tired of me talking about them. I would give her an update every time I heard back from the woman I was emailing. But I mean did you know? They sleep on their backs, so they’re probably not dead when you think they are.

Or that they’re water bugs and don’t go away with the cold weather?

Or that they’re cannibalistic?

Really interesting facts, I know. But there was something about knowing more about these bugs that calmed me down.

A few weeks ago, they pulled in a different pest control company to help us and they were so nice. I’ve never been more grateful for someone taking care of a problem like this and taking it seriously.

But through this, I’ve learned a lot about myself and learned to respect these roaches that also enjoy my cutely decorated room.

I can take care of problems. I can choose to either be terrified of them and complain about them to my friends, who really don’t want to know these things, or I can talk to someone in charge. I took care of it and communicated efficiently. We can all choose to be proactive about situations and take them into our own hands (though I assure you, I will never take a real cockroach into my hands). Do your research and figure out what’s best for you.

We can also act like the cockroaches. They are resilient. They stick together. They know their own kind and they take advantage of their skills. They work their way into situations that they know they probably won’t be in, but they assert dominance. Who’s to say we can’t be resilient and go outside our comfort zone? Why can’t we all take pride in our uniqueness like these roaches do?

Look, I know it’s gross to compare ourselves to bugs, and that yes, I’m in the process of trying to remove them from my room, but this year of cockroaches has taught me a lot about myself. Let’s all try to turn not-so-fun situations into learning ones because hey, maybe your college education will help you learn more about roaches than anything else.

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Note: My school is not known for its cockroaches in its housing. Housing has been beyond kind in helping us with this issue. Also, I am a humane person and care deeply for animals. Nor do I have an opinion on gun control.

Note Part 2: I wrote this a month or two ago and I can now confidently say we are completely cockroach-free.

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