Thursday, May 25, 2006

Go outside and eat your weight in mosquitoes! Make us both happy.

Did you know that I am afraid of bats? Not in a neurotic, irrational way, but in a "if one is dive bombing me in my bedroom at 3 a.m., I am going to lose my shit" way.

That totally happened last night, and I did, in fact, lose my shit.

I don't know how the bat got into the house, but it's not a particularly freakish occurrence—we live in the country (I am kicking it at my parents' for the next week or so) and bats abound. Our house is a relocated Victorian; it's solid but not airtight, and bats are sneaky bastards.

I woke up at 3:40 last night when Lyra went racing across the bed, leaving a long scratch mark on my ass as she launched herself at the bookshelf and then wentcareeningg off the shelf and into the middle of the floor, chattering like a mad thing the whole while. I heard squeaking and figured she had chased a mouse up from the basement or something. I've dealt with that situation before, and it's a pain, but not too traumatic—you pick a towel up off the floor, find the mouse (usually near or under the cat), catch it, and throw it outside. Then you go back to sleep.

Cursing all the while, I dragged myself out of bed to find a towel, and saw movement out of the corner of my eye. Unfortunately for my composure, the movement was in the upper right-hand corner of the doorway.

My sister sleeps on the same floor as I do, and although she's not a light sleeper, she would probably wake up if I screeched "BAT!" and pelted down the stairs. I manfully restrained myself, and groped instead for some pajamas so I could slam the door on cats, bat, and bedlam and spend the rest of the night on the couch. As I was groping, the bat made two low dives over my head, inspiring some impressive, if fruitless, leaping from Lyra and some suppressed shrieks from me.

I finally got my pajamas on and the door mostly closed behind me. I parked it on the couch, enjoyed a few full-body shudders, and then the neurotic second-guessing started. Did I have a duty to get the bat out of the house as soon as possible? What if it was a vampire bat and it latched on to one of the cats? Seriously, I have seen this happen to cows before and it's disgusting. I don't think Lyra would be able to chase her beloved milk rings with her usual dexterity if she had a bat hanging off her neck. What if the bat got guano on the clothes I had strewn all over my room? Gross. Clearly something had to be done. I formulated a plan—I would protect my head with a blanket, dash into the bedroom, grab the cats, throw them in the hall, open the still mercifully-unscreened window, and run out again, slamming the door behind me. Hopefully the bat would succumb to the lure of the outdoors and never be heard from again.

After some refining of the plan—clearly the blanket had to be abandoned to avoid hampering my speed—I forced myself off the couch and began sneaking up the stairs, James Bond style: flush against the wall, head low, just in case the bat had somehow learned to turn the doorknob, open the door, and escape to launch guano bombs at my vulnerable skull. I slid around the corner to my room, eased the door open, and flicked on the light switch. Ha-HA!

The cats blinked at me and resumed reclining indolently. The bat was nowhere to be seen. I instituted a search. Bedroom corners: clean. Hallway ceiling: clear. Behind shower curtain in bathroom: under control. I didn't risk turning on the light in E4's room because her attitude immediately after being awakened is worse than being guano-bombed, so I just did a quick visual inspection using ambient light from the hallway. No bat in sight.

When I got back to my bedroom, Lyra was showing a mild interest in the tallest bookshelf, but as I couldn't see anything suspicious and Lyra is notoriously retarded, I headed downstairs to leave my early-rising parents a post-it that said, "BAAAAT! 3:45—Lyra and Regan have a bat in my room. 3:57—Bat is gone and I don't know where it went, so keep an eye out for that." Then I went back upstairs, tentatively crawled into bed, and read for an hour until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore. If I heard some suspicious squeaks from the direction of the bookshelf, I chalked it up to overstimulation and put it out of my mind. The bat had magically disappeared, and that was good enough for me.

It was less good enough around 11 p.m. tonight when the bat reappeared in the living room, just as I was trying to tell SB something. It sounded like this: "I think the one old couple was—aaaaah! BAT! Freaky, freaky-ass bat!" and included a charming visual of me cowering in my chair as the bat did agitated laps around the room. It was probably even more agitated when M4 slammed the door to the library, hoping to keep it safe and ignoring the fact that the windowframe above the door does not and never has had glass in it.

Fortunately, SB has considerably more presence of mind in these situations, which is good as it is clearly the dad's job to deal with flying-rodent home invasions. He managed to corner it in the upstairs hallway, trapping it with nothing more than a bit of chicken wire, a shoebox, and a cookie sheet. Then we got in his pickup and drove like bats out of hell away from the house. Okay, not really, but I couldn't resist the expression. We drove like reasonable human beings about 3/4 of a mile away and then SB got out and released the bat into the woods, where it promptly made a 90-degree turn and flew off in the direction of the house. Son of a bitch.

Whatever, the bat was still out of the house and I could look forward to sleeping guano-free in my own bed with nothing more than cat hair to irritate me in the middle of the night. Until SB had to go and mention that where there's one bat, there's probably six of his little batty relatives. Guess I'll be sleeping in the basement with the mice.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Notes from finals week

—Is there any nutritional value in dilly beans? I hope so, because they're the only green things in my diet right now. Unless you count green Skittles, which I suspect aren't getting the RDA of anything but Yellow No. 3.

—I turned in 16 books to the library this evening. That was all the ones I had out for my Shakespeare paper. I checked out 5 more, leaving me with a grand total of 45, down from the semester high of 69. It is so awesome to be a grad student. The new books I checked out tonight? Not due until Jan. 24, 2007. Seriously.

—I've pretty much decided that the coffeeshops in IC need to be segregated. Like, the undergraduates can have all the Java Houses, the humanities and social science grad students can have the two House of Aromas, and business students and med students get Starbucks, the Terrapin, and Caribou. Science and engineering students have to stay in their labs, so they may come get take-out coffee from anywhere. I don't care who gets what, as long as the giggly, noisy frat girls and their screechy voices get the hell away from me. Annoy someone who doesn't have to write 20 pages that may determine their future in their graduate program of choice, and thus their achievement or failure of life-long goals, how about that, hm?

—The aforementioned 20-page paper is on divine wrath in the medieval illumination of Psalm 109, which is about the most kickass topic ever, except for the part where the theoretical background keeps expanding like bread dough with too much yeast in it. I have to set up the medieval interpretation of the psalm, medieval illumination techniques and practices, theories on the perception of divine wrath, and the typical iconography of medieval psalters from A.D. 700-1400.* Awesome. The worst part is, I totally did this to myself. However, it is kind of fun to look at all these illustrations to see where they're hiding God's anger. Kind of like The DaVinci Code except with less Tom-Hanks mullet.

*Important grammatical note: If you're indicating a year in the A.D. era, A.D. goes before, always. So A.D. 1066, as opposed to 1066 A.D. This rule gets broken fairly frequently and, of course, that annoys me. Of course, the new trend in politically correct scholarship is to use C.E. and B.C.E. (Common Era and Before Common Era), which are awkward and, if you think about it, not much more politically correct than before, since they still use the Christian division of time at (approximately) Christ's birth. However, they do both come after the year, so 1066 C.E. or 54 B.C.E.