Spirituality and Pest Control

I moved into a new apartment 2 weeks ago today. The entire affair from conception to packing to moving truck took just under two weeks. This gave me little time to process one of the most stressful events in anyone’s life. I have a lot of stuff. I moved a lot as a child. I tend to overanalyze everything.

There has been a series of small things that have made me uncomfortable with the new place. First there was the issue of plastic melted inside the dryer that ruined a load of laundry. The very next day I saw a creepy crawly bug which prompted me to look under the washer and dryer to find that the rock star cleaning crew hired to clean the place didn’t touch under the appliances.

Then I saw the grease on every wall in the kitchen.

Then I killed 7 of the same type of bug over the course of this last weekend.

The landlord has been relatively sympathetic to my causes, each time he’s immediately sent someone out with the promise of “rolling up their sleeves” to address my problems.

Today, however, I learned that my current pest infestation is not treatable by the exterminator. I have stink bugs, a bug so new to this country that they don’t have chemicals to kill them. Seriously? This is 2013, the age of instant information, the age of pharmaceutical dominance, the age where you can pay for a coffee at Starbucks with your phone.

This has rendered me an emotional mess. When I lived in Hawaii we had a cockroach problem. I kept a can of Raid by the door. Every day I walked into the apartment and crept around with my can of Raid killing anywhere between 2 and 6 cockroaches. Big flying nasty Hawaiian cockroaches. Then I’d leap into bed and wait for the boyfriend to come home and vacuum them up. When I tell people this story they always cock their heads to one side and say,

Awww. What a sweetheart.

To which I say, “Hey, you’re missing the point. I have insect PTSD.”

For the past week every time I walk in my house I walk in on high alert. I scan every surface I can see looking for bugs. This has greatly affected my perception of my own alleged Spiritual Peace. I keep thinking of my trips to Africa. We didn’t stay in 5-star hotels. Some of the hotels had a lot of bugs. All kinds of bugs I’d never seen before. When I came back I put all my socks in quarantine in plastic bags, afraid that they were somehow infested with insect eggs. Because some of these socks had touched the floors I knew they were unsafe. Rather than unseal these socks I’m sorry to say that I threw them all away and started over. It just seemed easier.

I realized yesterday that most of these bugs were coming in through my open kitchen windows. Even though all my windows have screens, these bugs are sneaky and dedicated. I haven’t seen one of these bugs in a room where the windows haven’t been open. So I closed every window in the house. I love open windows. I routinely keep a window open even in the winter. I thrive on the idea of fresh air.

I had plans tonight but I stopped by my house first just to see if my closed window sacrifice had paid off. I didn’t see one bug. I checked thoroughly, every corner of every room. I was really ready to begin packing again and start the whole process all over. I’ve decided that I have a zero bug tolerance policy.

I’ve been working lately on gratitude. I’ve started a gratitude journal that I try to remember to write in every night. Tonight I will write about how grateful I am that I can just close my windows to solve this problem. There are so many issues in the world with vastly more complicated solutions.

Again, Spirituality and I have a long way to go.

  • Laura, this is very interesting and honest material. And engaging. At times, I was feeling in conflict with what you were writing, but I kept reading because I trust you. And I came around because of your thoughtfulness. Thanks for sharing it and for the risk you took in writing it. I’m really looking forward to reading more and learning from your experience.

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