Things I Learned About Myself From A Semester Abroad

JD:

Very proud of my niece. Glad to hear she “apparently” likes tomatoes!

Originally posted on morganjuraco:

bunkers2

When I moved to Spain for a semester, I knew no one. No one. It was scary and intimidating, and at first, lonely. I’ve always been someone who has enjoyed being alone. But it took studying abroad to realize that while I may like to be alone sometimes, to watch tv or read a book, I didn’t know how to actually be alone. Studying abroad has been an amazing experience: I’ve seen incredible places, met great people from across the world, and eaten some delicious food. Despite all of that though, the most valuable thing I have gained from this trip is confidence.

Three months ago I thought I was confident. I had jobs and leadership positions on campus, great friends, and belonged to a sorority who promoted confidence more than anything. By second semester of junior year I actually felt like I was getting my life together and…

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Karma’s a Bat.

bat silhouetteIt’s been over a week since my husband high-tailed it away from the bat situation on a loosely scheduled trip to visit an old friend combined with three days of windsurfing and camping on the way home.

(Please see Living With A Bat and The only thing worse than a bat in the house is an angry bat in the house. for full history.)

I’m not giving away any secrets when I mention my husband is weak-kneed and chicken-livered when dealing with critters.

This guy can run, can't he?

This guy can run, can’t he?

While he’s been gone, my routine consisted of work, added dog-walking, and trying to exercise—I ran once.  As I fought off a nasty cold, commenced a rigorous screenwriting commitment, and met with the bat guy expert who had bat-proofed our home a year earlier, yet couldn’t explain how this bat got in nor was he able to find it to remove it…

I also had to squeeze the rest of the hours in the week to deal with the bat myself.

Yes, I know I looked like a nervous Nelly crazy woman to the neighbors and I owe at least three of them a great big party.

They’ve come to my rescue when I needed help inspecting the sticky traps, as I shivered with fear in the background.

Is it there, or isn't it?

Is he there, or isn’t he?

They’ve checked on me when I sat in my car in the late night and wee morning hours with the door to my house wide open after I jerry-rigged a path from the basement and opened all the ceiling tiles to lure the bat to come out.

That plan was aborted when two curious raccoons started sniffing their way inside.

Sorry, one bat is enough.

Sorry, one bat is enough.

The neighbors gave my car battery a jump when it wouldn’t start because I finally turned on the radio during those combined 6 hours of open-door vigilance and listened to a wonderful NPR program, “For Love of the Game” which ironically featured a spot about a 34 ton BAT.

Hey - I've been there!  Yes, I've seen this bat!

Hey – I’ve been there! Yes, I’ve seen this bat! Louisville Slugger Museum, Louisville, KY

The tenseness mounted all week:  Is the bat in the house?  Did it get out?  Did it get caught (again) in the sticky traps?  Did it shut down and die?  Was it now flying loose somewhere in the rest of the house?  Does it have rabies like the last bat?  Where IS it?  Popular opinion among those who don’t live and walk around my home with permanent baseball cap hair, is that the bat got out and I missed seeing it.  Dare I hope?

Meanwhile, my husband offered suggestions and critiques, and sent me photos of the beautiful sunsets and sunrises he was enjoying.  Yaay for you, honey.  I rather un-gently suggested he not quarterback me from 3 states away and one particular morning when I received his splendorous  sunrise photo, my knee-jerk reaction was to send back my sunrise photo; our dog pooping.

One of his sunrise photos.  I won't show you mine.

One of his sunrise photos. I won’t show you mine.

When I have that thank you party, I will also invite all our friends who listened and offered support, advice, and a place to stay during this latest bat drama.

It’s becoming anticlimactic, but last night, after almost 24 hours of silence, I heard the bat in the drop ceiling.

He was doing laps over the sticky tape obstacle course.  All my efforts to free him had been for naught.   I can’t decide if he’s super smart not to get caught or super stupid not to go free when I rolled out the red carpet?  I imagine a little bat smile, but don’t know if it’s idiotic or smug.

Maybe it's not a smile.

Maybe it’s not a smile.

It’s Sunday and my husband should be on his way home.  It’s getting too cold to continue camping.

Upon his arrival, I’ll hug him and kiss him and tell him how much I’ve missed him.  So will the dog.  (The cat; not so much.)

Glad you’re home, honey.  That bat you thought I’d take care of while you were gone?           He’s all yours.

Yep, he's just hanging in there.  Somewhere.

Yep, he’s just hanging in there. Somewhere.

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The only thing worse than a bat in the house is an angry bat in the house.

Down and dirty, this is what happened when the bat guy came out today (for full history, see Living With A Bat).  Yes, I’m afraid of bats.

I just watch you while you sleep.

I just watch you while you sleep.

He confirmed my intruder was a bat–not a mouse or any other critter.  Because only bats run circles around the drop-ceiling.  After much conversation and exploring other options such as building an elaborate tunnel out of special netting to release the bat outside the house (if the bat deigned to be part of that plan), I reluctantly said yes to BatGuy’s best recommendation to place those horrid glue-paper traps over what I thought was Mr. Bat’s regular route when he made his nightly patrols.  Via long distance, my husband agreed.

Right on cue, when the sun set the sound of Mr. Bat grabbed my attention as he raced overhead; his usual gait; run, run, run, stop; run, run, run, stop until he reached the corner where I knew the first sticky trap had been placed.  His impending doom made me nervous.

As BatGuy predicted, as soon as the bat touched the glue, he was stuck.  I heard him squirm.

I cringed.  He fought to get free; his wings fluttered.  It was horrible.  Intermittent silence with desperate struggling.  Little by little he quieted as I remembered what BatGuy had said; the more the bat struggled, the more he would adhere and would eventually give up as he wouldn’t be able to move.

Since my husband is on an inconveniently timed trip, my neighbor volunteered her gallant husband.  So, I called him when the noise from the bat stopped.

Equipped with a flashlight strapped to his head and a garbage bag, my neighbor prepared to transport the bat outside and end its suffering.  (I didn’t ask questions.)

I waited upstairs with his young son and our dog and cat; feeling guilty about the bat’s demise, but also relieved the ordeal was over.

My mouth dropped when my neighbor informed me that not only had the bat gotten UNSTUCK, it also left the glue paper stuck to the side of the wall.

So, take that I guess:  Bat one–Me zero.

Take THAT!

Take THAT!

The bat got stuck at 7 PM.  My neighbor discovered he’d escaped the trap at 7:30.  At 8, I heard a tentative pass by the bat as if it were able to see exactly where the other glue-paper traps were placed and was skipping over them.

So, that leaves me exactly–where?  It’s now 9:45 PM, and I haven’t heard another rustle.

I have a tendency to anthropomorphize, so really is the bat thinking about anything?  He took an unfortunate turn when he came into our house (like those before him…), but he can’t stay here.  I don’t know if the bat is worn out, injured, or just plain PO’d.

Not the outcome I’d hoped for or expected.  Already feeling guilty for choosing to eliminate this bat because the last bat in our house was rabid, and I can’t deal with flying rodents, I feel even worse because I admire the tenacity of this bat to keep looking for a way out.

On a typical night, he usually runs his laps around 10:30, so… the night is way too young.

bat silhouette

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Living With A Bat

It’s been a while (over a year), but I remember.  Oh, how I remember.  My heart stops at every creak, odd noise, and unusual silhouette on the wall.

While not our exact bat... you get the picture.

While not our exact bat… you get the picture.

Once again, I wear a baseball cap throughout the house, there is a coffee can (and lid) in every room (lovely décor—not), and I’d like to say I sleep with one eye open, but I don’t. really. sleep.

Which means I’m edgy, nervous, tense, and grouchy when I creep out of bed in the morning.

Also immediately vigilant, switching on every light in the house like a Christmas tree for the neighbors’ amusement. (Oh, weren’t those my dad’s words when I had too many lights on?)

Like a hawk, I watch the dog and cat for any trace of recognition of that dark erratic shadow.

Even the dog is starting to look like a bat.

Even the dog is starting to look like a bat.

I try to goad my husband into acts of bravery he has yet to imagine.  Actually, I’m still trying to get him to acknowledge he hears “it” scrabbling above the drop ceiling in the basement where we watch TV, where I do the laundry, where I have my art studio, where I do my exercise routine.

Any one of these Bat-Guys could appear.

Any one of these Bat-Guys could appear.  Think I would prefer George.

But even when the clawing, fluttering, sudden stops and starts of “it” and my heart synchronize, what does my Man of Men say?

“It doesn’t matter if I don’t hear it, honey, all that matters is that you hear it.  I believe you.”

Somehow, he also manages not to see the heads of our pets twisting to follow the path of the unseen (as of yet) critter.

Nothing freezes my blood more than the sleeping cat on my lap suddenly raises her head to stare behind me with big alert eyes while I rotate so slowly–like a praying mantis in slower motion until I see nothing except the wall.  She’s heard it, but she can’t see it.  Or has she?  Has it already flown away?

It could be a mouse, I guess, but here’s the thing.  In 14 years, we’ve never seen a mouse, and each time I’ve heard that tell-tell sound (at least 7 separate incidents now; I’m losing count), a bat has sooner or later appeared, swooping to its heart’s content trying to find a pathway out of the house.

Our first bat was quite a surprise.

Our first bat was quite a surprise.

Because, at any moment… and since I’ve been hearing this intermittent sound for almost two weeks, I know, the bat knows, and everyone reading this post knows—the bat’s emergence is imminent.

I mean what does my husband think it’s going to do?  Where does he think it’s going to go?  I’ll tell you where he went; my guy.  On a week-long man-trek to visit an old friend.

The most recent bat my husband captured, sort of.

The most recent bat my husband captured, sort of.

So, not only am I living with a bat I urgently fear is rabid as was the last bat, but I am home alone.

The cat and dog do not count as they’ve had their rabies shots and a foreign creature in their home = high amusement.

Halloween is about three weeks away.  I may have to make a preemptive strike.

Creepy

Creepy to think “this” can squeeze through a quarter-inch opening…

PS:  If you haven’t been aware of our past bat antics, you can catch up here in reverse-chronological order:  Holy Bat Guano!, Coyotes & Possums & Bats – Oh. No.

PPS:  Yes, after the rabid bat, we did pay a tidy sum to bat-proof our home.  The “Critter Control” people are now on speed dial, and I am waiting for a return phone call.

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Sometimes I feel like a nut; sometimes…

If I were a nut, I'd like to be here.

If I were a nut, I’d like to be here.

I still feel like a nut.  Most of all I feel thankful.

Yesterday I saw my doctor for the final evaluation to discuss test results.  (This post is a follow up to I never said I was Popeye.)

In a nutshell (ha), I passed everything with flying colors.  My doctor wants me to work out as hard as I can to try to get beyond the pain.  (As you might guess, he’s a very athletic guy.)

The original cause?  Probable viral infection compounded by scar tissue which formed over a tear to my muscles/ligaments in the sternum and vertebral body joint (Who knew?) brought on by severe coughing or working out.  Which continues to gets agitated and painful when I work out.

Whew.  I’m to think of it like arthritis, even subject to weather conditions.

So, no definitive answer (except what’s been ruled out) without doing a cardio/pulmonary stress test usually reserved for Olympic athletes, which still might not yield concrete answers.  The test involves riding a bike to exhaustion.  My doctor didn’t recommend it which is okay by me.

I’m leaving out a few micro-details, but bottom line:  I’m happy to be released to exercise again, knowing I’m not damaging anything further, and I’m thankful for the chance to get back into shape.  Body and mind overhaul:  Lose the 25 lbs. I accumulated while not working out, and lose the apathetic mindset/personality accumulated while not working out.  Receiving the green light is over half the battle.  I ran 1.35 miles as soon as I got out of my appointment.

Speaking of personalities and nuts, there’s a plethora of quizzes to determine what kind of nut you are.  If you’re curious, Go HERE.

First question:  “You are walking along on the sidewalk when suddenly a squirrel darts in front of you. It stops and gives you the evil eye. What do you do?

What would you do?

What would you do?

So, back to me.  Arrgh.  I don’t particularly like peanuts,but guess what my result said?

Apparently this is me.

Apparently this is me.

“YOU are a peanut.  You have your moments of being crazy, but you are surprisingly well-adjusted.  You go well with any other type of nut.”

Think about that, my friends and loved-ones,  and have a wonderful kind of day!

PS:  If you take the quiz, I’d like to know what kind of nuts I’m hanging out with.  :)

PPS:  Finally activated my screenwriting website  and am open for comments and/or suggestions.  www.gaylabetts.com 

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I never said I was Popeye.

popeye1At least I don’t think I did.

Sure, I’ve been showing off with all my triathlons.  I mean, wouldn’t you if you did five triathlons and got four medals?  (Even if they were basically for showing up because there’s almost no competition in your age group.)

My last tri was an Olympic version, double the distances for the previous sprints.  Two weeks later, I felt like I was in the Psycho movie when I woke up with stabbing chest pain.  (I should probably insert a movie clip here, but since I’ve never had the stomach to watch the shower scene, it’s not fair to subject you to it and I think we all know the screeching music.) Continue reading

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It’s not a screenplay option but…

It’s not a screenplay option, but my heart still did a little flip when I learned my story about Blue Blue for Furry Friends Fur-Ever: The Book had made the cut.  So Yaay!  (And thank you once again, Blue Blue, for making me smile!)

If you go HERE, it’s the second story in.

I happened to see a post on Facebook about submitting stories, and I knew Blue Blue’s tale might just fit the bill.  So, I whipped up my article and submitted it.

Which just goes to show, if you don’t submit, you’re not even in the game.

Now, please excuse me, I have some more writing to do!

Have cat, will travel.  =^.^=

Have cat, will travel. =^.^=

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