I never understood the allure of camping.

“I could sleep on a comfortable bed in a climate-controlled room near a flushing toilet and functioning shower. Or I could sleep on the cold, hard, rocky ground, need a flashlight and a buddy system to go pee in the woods (or take a dump and bury it), be a dirty stinkmonster with everyone else, and be eaten alive by bugs. Yeah. The latter sounds awesome.

I don’t get it.

Bonfires are fun. Cooking yum-yums over a fire in the woods or on a lake. Hanging out with friends. But come bedtime, I want a bed and walls and heat or air-conditioning and no fucking bugs. And no, an RV will not suffice. Fuck camping.

Unplugging does not make you a martyr.

I am so sick of coming across blog posts about people lamenting how hectic and insane their lives are, and one weekend they finally turned off the computer, TV, and cell phone, and oh my gods there’s a whole world out there!

These posts are most often inundated with comments that are all you-go-girl in sentiment. Commenters gushing that they, too, really need to unplug and just get away from it all. You are a god among men for making this discovery and I now must follow your lead.

Now, I’m so intertwined with technology that I have joked that I am “half-human/half-internet”. I work online. I play online. I check on various social sites multiple times a day. I email all the time. Instant messages. But do you know what I also do?

I read books. Every night before bed. I don’t interact with friends in person a whole lot, but I do sometimes and it’s great. I cook up new recipes. Try new things. Walk the dog. Travel every now and then. I get out. That’s called balance.

I often—and not even consciously—disconnect for a whole day at a time. Or multiple days. Does a feeling of enlightenment wash over me? Nope. Do I itch to get back on my phone or computer? Nope. Do I think I’ve found some ground-breaking new way of life independent of technology? Nope.

If you can’t integrate and find balance with technology and non-technology, then I get it. You’re addicted, there’s a problem. But don’t act all high-and-mighty and like a martyr who’s done something no one else has done, and you-need-to-try-this-new-thing-I-discovered-called-outside! It’s always been there. If someone like me, a half-human/half-internet hybrid, can unplug without issue or surprise, then you can too.

My private hell: taxidermy.

I come to you today to talk about a rare, barely known, hardly acknowledged, but all too real affliction. The phobia of taxidermy. Particularly my phobia of taxidermy.

Upon discovering I am terrified of taxidermy, most people’s first reaction is to laugh. And I laugh too. It’s ridiculous! It’s a crippling fear of an inanimate object that can’t possible harm you (unless it fell on you and an antler pierced your chest or something). Nonetheless, when faced with a moose head or a full-standing bear, I am left with a fight-or-flight response. I hyperventilate. I fight every urge to start making guttural noises and run from the room.

Because, you see, if someone is unfamiliar with a phobia of taxidermy, they wonder who that crazy woman is. And since no one I have confessed this phobia to has ever heard of such a thing before, that’s everyone who doesn’t know me. I have to keep it together.

The Trigger

I think I know where my phobia originated. I was always a bit squicked about taxidermy, I mean it’s an animal corpse, stuffed and made to look alive again. Other than Ed Gein, no one would dream of doing this to humans. Because it’s fucked up. But I digress. As a youngster around the age of 10 maybe, my family was on a trip in Montana, and we stopped at a little taxidermy museum. It was quite the place. This was a long time ago, so I’m relying on old memories, but I do distinctly remember the standing bears at the entrance. Because they are rigged to “pee” on people as they enter. Yes, a dead bear peed on me. Through his dead penis. On a 10 year old girl.

If you think that sparked the phobia, you would be wrong. It wasn’t until we were deep into the museum. And it’s not like a museum where there’s a dead animal there, and another one over there. This place was packed with taxidermy, with just little aisles going through the room. There were dead soulless eyes staring at you everywhere. While perhaps ill-at-ease, even this didn’t bother me too terribly much.

Among all the various forest creatures was a seated bobcat. Very cute. I remember pointing at it and telling my brother to check it out. And then it moved.

The dead animal moved. The taxidermy moved. It is dead and it stood up and started walking away. This bobcat was alive. 

You might be thinking “holy shit, a live wild bobcat, get the fuck out of there!” Nay. You see, I was already familiar with domesticated bobcats. In the backwoods frozen tundra of northern Minnesota, there was a domesticated bobcat who wandered around my neighborhood freely like your average housecat. I knew this bobcat by name (I can’t recall it now), and pet him and played with him from time to time.

The fact that it was a bobcat in this museum did not freak me out. The fact that it was alive sure as fuck did.

So you see, my worst fear has in fact happened. A taxidermy animal really did come to life in front of me.* When I see any taxidermy, in my subconscious, I fear it is going to start moving at any moment. I know, intellectually, this is not true. It is nothing more than furniture at this point. But I can’t stop the hyperventilating and the chills coursing through me when coming face to face with a bison head.

*Yes, I know the bobcat wasn’t actually taxidermy. But among the packed forest of taxidermy animals, one that moved sure created the vivid illusion that any of these things could actually spring to life at any moment.

My Continuing Self-Torture

An amusing anecdote. In New York City stands the American Museum of Natural History. A super awesome place with huge models of dinosaurs. Also housed in the AMNH is room upon room of taxidermy animals. All of them posed and in what are essentially dioramas of their natural habitats.

I took it upon myself to take the ultimate challenge for someone with a phobia of taxidermy: tour the AMNH in its entirety. And I did this on three different trips to NYC. Why? Because I would like to put this phobia to rest. The result? It still freaks me the fuck out.

The funny thing about my tours of the AMNH is that there was something that somehow made these taxidermy animals feel less threatening to me: they were behind glass. Inanimate object. No more of a real threat than furniture. Somehow felt less threatening to my phobia because they were behind glass. Because, totally, if a pride of huge lions came back to life, a sheet of glass would stop them from eating my face.

Now, don’t go thinking I was perfectly fine. I was still hyperventilating somewhat. I think the only noticeable reaction was probably my flaring nostrils. And wide terror-filled eyes. But I made myself walk slowly through all these exhibits and look at them. I was alone and no one paid me any mind. My phobia flared up when I reached the herd of elephants which were not behind glass. I still walked slowly and looked at them all.

When I was finished with the dioramas, I went to the dinosaur exhibit. I was in such an incredibly good mood to be free of my arch-nemeses (taxidermy). No, bones do not scare me. They gave me chills, but more from the awe of their massiveness.

The Exceptions

Taxidermy fish do not bother me. I have yet to see a large shark in taxidermy form, so I have no idea if that might bother me, but your average Northern will not. Also not a problem: smaller birds or mammals. I guess anything small enough that I could totally “take” in mano a mano fisticuffs. I wouldn’t want to touch any of these things, but if I see them on a shelf somewhere, they do not illicit my phobic response. Usually.

Confession

The entire time I was writing this, I had chills. At the memories of all these situations that terrified me. At the very thought of being in close proximity to taxidermy. Phobias are so stupid and defy all logic. But, what can ya do? Laugh at it, do your best to deal with it. Try not to let it run your life.

But, I will not visit your home if there is a deer head on the wall. A bearskin rug will have the opposite of a sexy effect on me.

On the set of Clueless.

If anyone has been keeping track, after my rocky start at uni, I am now doing much better. Exams and projects and papers since then have been aces, baby. I am awesomesauce.

It amuses me to see other people freak out when a project is due or an exam is looming. “THERE’S A TEST?!” You’re in school, retard. Yeah there’s a test. “WHAT’S ON THE TEST?!” Everything you should have learned by now, stupid. These are probably the same people who don’t do any readings or assignments until the night before it’s due or there’s an exam. It’s a pity, because they really aren’t learning anything. If they do manage to make passable grades, they probably haven’t absorbed any of that information beyond the exam. Why spend thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars and not actually make the money worth it? Unless these are the kids who have (parents with) money to burn. I guess with age comes some perspective. It’s all fun and games when you’re just out of high school, but when you actually need to earn real money, suddenly you wish you had learned more.

I still haven’t made any friends here yet (I know, you’re shocked). However, after overhearing their inane conversations every day (“Is the fist bump back?” “Like so like I like talked to like that cute guy and like he was like and I was like…” “OMG I’d die without self-tanner.”), I have come to realize I am better off with my own company. I’m still seeing a lot of nasty bitches who apparently roll out of bed, wad their hair up (like we can’t still see it’s greasy), throw on some sweats from the floor (or are they pajamas?), and come to class. Newsflash: you stink. You smell bad. Try a shower and some clean clothes, stank ho. You probably didn’t even brush your teeth. Sick, dude. I know you stayed up until 5am cramming because your dumb ass doesn’t understand the concept of time management, but how about you don’t punish everyone else because you’re an immature moron.

It would be nice if there was anyone I could relate to in some way and make into a pal. A girl I sit next to in one class is a possibility. She also likes to make fun of the weak. :-D But I don’t think we have much in common beyond that.

Here’s a fun fact. Apparently WordPress’s iPhone app’s “Save” button actually works like a “Cancel” button. In that if you take the time to type up a whole entry on the iPhone and want to save it to review it and post it later, that Save button will just completely cancel out everything you just did; it’s all gone forever. Thank you, WordPress iPhone app. Fail.

I’m in love with Betsey.

Even though I should not be buying things, I went on a little Betsey Johnson eBay rampage. Don’t tell my boyfriend. I only discovered her jewelry within the last month, and I just love it. It’s cute and silly (just like me?), but a bit expensive (also like me?). So I checked it out on eBay, and managed to score several items, several at less than a dollar. Whoa, man.

Cheese!

Cheese necklace!

Cheese necklace!

Cheese earrings!

Cheese earrings!

Owls!

Owl necklace!

Owl necklace!

Owl earrings!

Owl earrings!

More owl earrings!

More owl earrings!

Kitties!

Kitty necklace!

Kitty necklace!

Kitty earrings!

Kitty earrings!

Roses!

Rose earrings!

Rose earrings!

I love a lot of the bracelets, but they’re the dangly charm bracelet type. I think the noise and having shit dangling around my hand would bug the hell out of me, so I’ve skipped on the matching bracelets for now. The cheese items are my faves. How ridiculous are they, right?! I love it. The necklace pendant is bigger than I thought it would be, it cracks me up so much. This week is going to feel like xmas as all my wins come home to their new mama!