I was just about to write a post about how terrified I am of insects, when I realised that I’d already written it, almost exactly a year ago. Clearly the Korean summer and I are enemies on many, many levels. And I’ve learned, since last year, that that Creature on my window screen was actually one of the horrible screeching insects that live in the trees and sound like faulty electricity cables or perhaps a thousand malfunctioning dental drills or car alarms. Honestly, they are so loud that I occasionally put my hands over my ears when passing under a crowd of them. As someone who finds the chirping of crickets rather soothing (as long as they are distant, obviously), I never would have thought that a group of insects would be capable of such an unholy and unpleasant racket. (Listen to the second sound clip, “a tree full of Cicadas in Greece”, on this Wikipedia page for an idea of how noisy they are. According to that article, they are technically loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss in humans!)
But anyway, last August I was busy getting attacked by flying monsters in the street and fending off giant winged things in my apartment while swarms of fruit flies took over my life. This August has been relatively bug-free, apartment-wise, although I have been growing increasingly jumpy while walking home in the late afternoons, with gigantic dragonflies swooping down on me, and having to dodge something that may have been a very large, black butterfly but honestly looked more like a bat. I know you think I’m exaggerating, but I just did a Google image search for giant black butterflies and none of the pictures showed anything even half the size of the thing that flew right at me in the street the other day. Maybe it was a bat, confused about the whole nocturnal thing, I don’t know. Anyway, the point is, the Things have spent most of their time outside of my apartment this summer, to my great delight. I did spend one week in July feeling a bit nervous as I went up and down the stairs, after encountering a cockroach on the floor below mine (having never seen one in real life before, I wasn’t sure until I Googled cockroaches when I finally got past it and safely into my apartment), but I never saw it again, and happily put it out of my mind.
So, let’s talk about last night, then, shall we?
My eye was killing me, so I went into the bathroom to soak a cloth in water to cool it. I didn’t bother turning the light on, so I was in semi-darkness. And as I was turning on the tap I happened to catch a movement at my feet – where there was a cockroach sitting looking up at me. I have never in my life had a cockroach in my home, and this is part of the reason for my inability to deal with it very well. I screamed. I screamed and screamed and screamed and no one came to help me as I am all alone in a cockroach-infested apartment in a foreign country, so then I sat on my bed talking myself into being calm and figuring out how to deal with the situation in a mature and sensible manner, and eventually (with a ridiculous amount of hysterical screaming and jumping and crying) trapped it under a glass, which I then weighed down under a heavy book (I don’t know how strong these things are. I am not taking any chances.). In case there were any more lurking there, I then hosed down the bathroom with scalding hot water from the shower while standing perched, trembling, on the step, with the glass and the book still sitting incongruously in the middle of it all, threw the bathroom bin into a rubbish bag and dumped it for good measure, and spent the rest of the evening sitting quietly gibbering to myself, in between jumping and shrieking at every sound or movement, while staring through the bathroom doorway to make sure that the glass and book had not moved.
I may now have a pet cockroach as I have absolutely not thought this through and do not have a clue what to do with it now. If I move the glass it may jump out and kill me.
I do not know how am I ever going to return to life BC (before cockroach). What if there are a million of them hiding under the fridge and the wardrobe?!!!!!!! What am I going to do?!! So far the desperate options in my head have been (a) quit my job immediately and leave Korea forever, (b) tell my director about cockroach incident and demand to have entire apartment building fumigated, and be known as girl-with-cockroach for the rest of my time here, or (c) spend rest of contract drunk out of my mind and uncaring about what’s roaming in my apartment while I sleep. I am leaning towards the first at the moment, to be perfectly honest.
Counting on the knowledge that they hide when the lights are on, I obviously slept with the lights on, wearing a Korean Air sleep mask. I use the word “slept” loosely, and only because I know of no word for the frightened, jumpy, wakeful, paranoid palaver that actually took place. Showering this morning was the least fun experience of my entire life thus far, as you can imagine if you picture taking a shower in the same room as a cockroach-under-a-glass-under-a-book, all the while glancing fearfully around in case there’s another one scuttling towards you, and feeling terrified that you’re accidentally going to kick over the glass and set the creature free to have its revenge. I don’t know what the feck I am going to do with it. Obviously I cannot keep showering with it for the rest of my time here, but I see no other option. Other than leaving the country, I mean.
Oh, they are probably everywhere, everywhere! Scuttling up and down the stairs, and wandering from one apartment to the next, and crawling over us while we sleep, and living in our rubbish bins, and swarming all over the building when it gets dark. I am starting to feel that life is no longer worth living.
Woe is me. Woe.
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