It timed its entrance perfectly. A peaceful early morning, a little before six. My husband Dave was folding laundry, making piles of towels, jeans, t-shirts, etc., on the bed. Capone the cat had settled onto the socks pile to wait for the blessed moment where someone would try to move him off of it. Sonny was asleep down the hall, enjoying a lie in on his first day off after nearly a week of four a.m. shifts at Target. I sat in my comfy chair beside the window–still dark outside- the windowsill just wide enough for my coffee mug, journal open on my lap. I uncapped the pen, wrote “November 29” at the top of the page, and stared off into space to look for the first word of the day.
A couple of inches from my face, a spider was almost halfway through its commute from ceiling to floor. Large, a soft, translucent brown, the legs in constant motion. The first word of the day was “AAAAAAAAAARRRGH!”
I’d have written it in my journal, except that I’d just thrown it in the spider’s direction and leapt to the other side of the room.
The scream left a breathless uncanny silence in its wake. Capone stood atop the sock pile, back arched and tail bristling. A couple of seconds later I heard Sonny’s bedroom door open, then close.
“Jesus Christ!” said Dave. I begged him to make sure that the spider hadn’t been diverted into my coffee. It hadn’t, nor had it scampered between my journal page. As of this writing, the spider’s location is unknown. Probably off somewhere plotting its revenge.
I recognize that spiders are generally good for the environment. They eat pests, and their webs are wonders of nature and all that. Yet I keep writing about mean things about them in this blog. I blame the spider bite when I was pregnant with Sonny that required hospitalization and IV antibiotics. And I find spiders aiming themselves at my morning coffee (this is the second time!) to be beyond the pale. Clearly this violates the three-foot distance rule and must be some move in an interspecies campaign. I wonder if the situation will escalate…
The three-foot thing, by the way, turns out to be a myth. It probably arises from misinterpretations of a throw-away line from an article by spider expert Norman Platnick, in which he estimated the common human-spider distance to be within “several” yards. I’d made the idea work for me by turning it backwards and thinking that three feet was the distance that spiders want to maintain from people. This has been a helpful courage-booster when I have to venture into the dark corners of the basement. So disheartening when reality appears, waggling its egg-bloated abdomen and extruding sticky thread from its spinneret.
At least no spiders have descended onto my computer keyboard. This past week I might have welcomed some more time to jump and scream. My National Novel Writing Month project was up and down. I started the week a couple of thousand words down and have made up most of the deficit at a pace of around 2K words per day, with a current total as of Sunday morning of 47,236! I worked out a couple of twisty plot problems, and when I couldn’t move the book forward I moved it sideways. Even in the low days when I wanted to abandon every character and the stuttering plot, I typed in my stupid, stupid words in their thousands. Meanwhile I consoled myself with counting down the days to November 30 and mistruths that may be as mythical as the three-foot rule. Winners never quit. You can’t finish if you don’t start. Perfection is the enemy.
Two other things kept me at my writing desk every morning at 7:30. The first was a determination to keep a promise to myself to give this month a good effort. The second was knowing that I would write this blog on November 29. To anyone who’s reading along and trying to win NaNoWriMo thing: Thanks! There may be many spiders between us, but I feel that we’re sharing the struggle.
The uncomfortable questions are ever present: do I really want to tell this story? Yes. Do I have the skills to tell it? Not sure. But as I’m dangling by a thread, six feet from the ceiling, I may as well try to make it to the floor.