You know District 12 from the Hunger Games? Apparently it’s in Western Maryland. And it’s scary.

Be warned: this will come as a huge shock to everyone who knows me, but I hope that you will all still love and respect me for the person I am, despite what I am about to admit.

Brace yourselves.

I am not an outdoors person.

I know, I know, it seems like I would be between the high heels, manicured nails, twenty-three hours logged in the gym daily (which is tough to do when I also work full time, but I manage!), and general lack of survival skills. But alas, nature and I do not get along.

In fact, nature and I seem to be mortal enemies.

I am the victim of near constant animal attacks (particularly birds. I don’t know why they hate me so much, but they do. Maybe I was a chicken farmer in a past life? No. Definitely not.), would gladly do away with dirt if I could, and, according to YouTube, the quickest way to get rid of me is to present me with an insect.

And of course the boyfriend has a cabin in the woods out in the furthermost reaches of Western Maryland. So far, in fact, that it’s part of Appalachia. Or as it’s called today, Hunger Games District 12.

(But not District 11, which seems to be the only district that has black people and is ALSO the first district to start rioting and looting. Then they turn fire hoses on them. AND the dude from District 11 was the first one that the weird dog things went after. Did anyone else notice how insanely racist that was? No? Just me? Well it was.)

And out there, apparently Maryland might as well be West Virginia. Like they were excited when they got a Walmart. Now, I’m not a nature girl, but I’ll go camping Survivor-style before I’ll set foot in a Walmart.

I’ve been to and that’s as close to seeing the inside of one of those bad boys as I’m prepared to get. And that’s the Walmarts around HERE. I don’t even want to think about what a District 12 Walmart looks like. Oh wait, is that where Katniss goes to trade her squirrel? Probably. But as I neither have a dead squirrel to trade nor need a mockingjay pin, I’m fine with not going there.

But the boyfriend loves it out there. So like a good girlfriend, I too, must learn to love the cabin. Despite the fact that it snowed there two weeks ago. In May. Because District 12 is also the land that Global Warming forgot. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see a plesiosaurus swimming in the lake and have some local say, “Oh that? That’s just Creeky.** She’s a big ol’ fish ‘round these here parts. She won’t hurt ya none, lil missy.”*

*Note: I have no idea if District 12 people actually talk like that. The few locals I’ve met had such unidentifiable accents that “moonshine” was the only word I caught.

**The boyfriend would like you to know that out there, where people “warsh” their clothes, that’s pronounced “Cricky.”  And he claims she’s harmless.

So last weekend, he and I made the trek out to the mountains, crawled under the non-electrified electric fence, and ventured into District 12. The boyfriend got right to work enjoying himself by chopping some firewood.

(No really. His idea of a good time out there is chopping firewood. This is my life now.)

While I sat down, safely indoors, with my laptop to start work on my next book, currently titled “The Great American Novel.” (As I always say, go big or go home!)

Then realized I hadn’t brought my power cord.

Tech savvy genius that I am, I used my phone to search for the nearest place to get a Macbook charger. (Thankfully the cabin does have wifi, because 3G doesn’t exist out there. And 4G? Oh you’re funny!)

At which point, I discovered that the closest place where I could get a charger for a Macbook was LITERALLY MY OWN HOUSE. Seriously. The closest store that sold one was further from the cabin than my house is.  Because District 12 is not Mac friendly.  Maybe THAT’s why they have so much trouble getting a winning tribute.  Just saying.

Houston, we have a big freaking problem.

So working on the novel was out of the question because my handwriting looks like something Michael J. Fox wrote with a vibrating pen while riding a roller coaster. No seriously, it’s that bad. Ask my students. Even though they don’t know who Michael J. Fox is, so don’t ask them that part.  It’ll just confuse them.

And I definitely was NOT about to go help the boyfriend chop firewood. Not my scene.

But I’m adaptable, I can entertain myself. And by entertain myself, I mean read and then spend hours torturing Rosie. Who, like her mommy, thinks the cabin is filled with danger and comes from the Mad-Eye Moody school of protecting herself and me with CONSTANT VIGILANCE! So it’s really fun to jump around corners at her and watch her try unsuccessfully to escape because her little paws slide all over the wooden floors there.

Okay, I’m an evil mother. But Rosie loves it, I swear.

All that running around corners and scaring Rosie meant that I needed a shower though. Which was fine. The boyfriend swears the water up there is better anyway, so I got in the shower. All was well. I shaved my legs. Then the GIGANTIC FREAKING SPIDER that pulled back the shower curtain Psycho-style stuck his eight legs out and asked if I minded shaving those as well.

I, obliging the Psycho-style of the curtain pull, screamed my head off, then refused because I’m pretty sure that the spider’s legs were longer than mine and shaving all eight of them would completely dull my razor blade.

Taking my advice from iconic song lore, I decided to wash the spider down the drain. However, a minor tussle ensued because the water pressure was not quite sufficient enough to force this particular spider down the drain because this spider was not so itsy bitsy and was bigger than the actual drain. It took the boyfriend, his firewood chopping axe, six moonshine-muttering locals, and Creeky herself to sort the situation out because Spidey was not going quietly into that good night.

Apparently, when it comes to my boyfriend, it’s love him, love his cabin.

And that cabin comes with an unkillable shower spider.

But at least it doesn’t snore as loudly as he does, so I’ll learn to deal with it I suppose.

And who knows? Maybe the spider will be selected at the Reaping ceremony to represent District 12 next year. A girl can dream, can’t she?

Ms. Goodman vs cricket: My 15 minutes of YouTube fame

I hate bugs.

I mean, I REALLY hate bugs.

If it creeps, crawls, stings, bites, flies, jumps, or spins a web, it is my mortal enemy.

I don’t understand people who study bugs. What’s there to study? They’re evil, and they should be destroyed.  (The bugs, not the people who study them.)

Even ladybugs creep me out. But that might be because my house seems to be the ladybug burial ground. They come to my house to die. I can’t explain it, but I have found hundreds of dead ladybugs, and I’ve only ever seen two or three live ones.

But the worst of the worst, the most evil of all creatures on the earth are spiders and crickets. And the hellish hybrid creature that I call a spricket. They are indigenous to my parents’ basement and embody all of the worst characteristics of spiders and crickets. They can jump AND climb walls, and are even uglier than either spiders or crickets.

The biggest problem that I have though is that I am completely incapable of killing bugs. It’s not that I don’t want them dead, because I do. I want them dead more than I hate the Cowboys. I hate them more than I love Bruce Springsteen. I hate them more than I hate Duke basketball. We’re talking extreme hatred.

But I can’t kill them. I just can’t. I want to. But I can’t. If they make a mess when they’re dead, I’m too grossed out for words, because the only thing ickier than a bug, is dead bug guts on your wall. And I won’t step on them because I’d have to throw out the shoes I used. And I’m NOT giving up shoes for a bug. No way.

In college, this was where my male friends came in. I used to call my friend Matt in the middle of the night and tell him he needed to come over to kill the spider on my ceiling.

“Are you kidding me?” he’d ask. “No, I’m sleeping.”

I would beg and plead and eventually he would come over to kill it so I would leave him alone and let him sleep.

I’m still mad at him for moving to California. Although he may have done that to get a decent night’s sleep without having to worry about me calling him to be my personal exterminator.

But now it’s harder because most of my guy friends are married or have serious girlfriends, who somehow don’t like it when I ask their man to come over in the middle of the night. And I live alone. So if there’s a spider on my ceiling, I have to deal with it myself.  Which usually involves tears, hyperventilating, and a really long shower after the deed is done.

Luckily, I’ve discovered a solution: the vacuum cleaner. It’s perfect. The bugs can’t escape it, and there’s no mess. But I always worry that they could still be alive and crawl back out of the vacuum and be angry with me, so I leave it running for a few minutes after I suck up the bug to make sure it’s dead.

Of course, that didn’t work for the spider that I found at my old apartment in College Park. I opened the door one day and saw it out there, and never went onto the balcony again. That spider was so big that if I DID pull out a shoe to try to squish it with, it would have pulled out a BIGGER shoe and hit me back. When I moved out, I left the patio furniture there. The spider could keep it. I didn’t want it anymore.

I don’t know why crickets freak me out so much. I know they’re stupid and therefore incapable of being as intentionally evil as spiders, but they’re SO ugly and gross. And they jump. And they’re not always smart enough to jump AWAY from me. Or maybe they ARE smart and know that I’m WAY more scared of them than they are of me and are therefore trying to intimidate me when they jump toward me. If that’s the case, their plan is working.

Unfortunately, I can’t even pretend that I’m not afraid of crickets. Because there’s video evidence* of my fear. And despite my pleas and threats, my former student has left it on YouTube.

I’ll show it to you, but first I want to explain the circumstances.

Just so you don’t think I’m THAT big of a synonym for a cat.

Well… on second though, never mind. I don’t think there’s anything I CAN say to explain this one away, except that I REALLY hate bugs and the cricket in the video was REALLY big.

But I will tell you this, if you come at me with a bug, and I don’t have a vacuum cleaner handy, I will get you back for it. I don’t know how, and I don’t know when, but you will pay. So Nick and Tigran, watch your backs!

*If you’re reading this someplace where the youtube video doesn’t show up as embedded in the blog (like at school), here’s the URL: