Monthly Archives: May 2013

15th of June 2007 – No.40: Cure My Arachnophobia

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Me holding Rosie the Chilean Rose Tarantula

Me holding Rosie the Chilean Rose Tarantula

I used to have a phobia of spiders. The horrible little scuttling things just Freaked Me Out. I was pretty sure that my arachnophobia developed through watching various family members display a fear of spiders throughout my childhood and I really didn’t want my child to learn it from me when she was born. I therefore decided that I should spend my pregnancy curing myself of this fear. I started off with baby steps. Whenever I spotted a spider I stood a safe distance away from it and observed it. After all, familiarity breeds contempt and contempt is better than fear (Wiggle logic – possibly slightly different from normal logic). I found that shortly I could be in the presence of a spider without my skin crawling and an urge to run away. A few months later, I was visiting a friend, when she discovered a large, black, hairy spider on the wall next to her bathroom.

“You should get rid of it!” she suggested, with the air of someone who has just found a way to spare themselves misery and look magnanimous to boot. “It will help you cure your arachnophobia.” Somewhat dubiously, I crept down the corridor to confront it, armed with the prerequisite pint glass and sheet of paper. My friend and her eldest daughter (both equally terrified of spiders), tiptoed along behind me, part moral support, part morbid curiosity. Facing my eight-legged nemesis, I took a deep breath.

Step One: trap spider beneath glass -success.

Step Two: carefully slide paper under glass -oh God, oh God, where the bleep did it go?

Having accidentally dislodged the spider, eliciting screams from all present, I frantically scanned the floor, to no avail: the spider had apparently vanished…until it was spotted by my friend.

“It’s on you!” she shrieked. I freaked.

“Get it off!” I yelled, lunging toward her. She promptly took off down the hall screaming, followed by her daughter, who was also screaming. I chased them into the kitchen. “Get it off me!” I wailed again.

“Take your jumper off, it’s on your shoulder!” She shouted.

“What if it goes in my hair?” I panicked.

“Just do it!” She urged. With the same trepidation one feels before ripping off a band-aid, I tore the jumper from my body and I threw it to the ground. The spider scuttled out with alacrity, enjoying less than two seconds of freedom before my friend stomped on it. I do actually feel slightly bad about that. (However much I may have disliked spiders in the past, I have always believed it is bad luck to kill them.) After this incident, my arachnophobia-curing exploits took a back seat.

Once I gave birth, I felt an overwhelming sense of personal strength and empowerment. I firmly believe that is what finally led me to overcome my fear of spiders. A few days after I returned from hospital, I found a small, skinny spider in my bathroom. Its presence didn’t bother me. I wasn’t scared. I didn’t feel compelled to remove it. I named it ‘Spidey’ and for the next three days that it was resident in my bathroom, conversed with it. As the months passed, this extended to all spiders I came across. Finally, I decided it was time to test it out properly. I asked an acquaintance (known as Goblin) whom I knew to possess a number of tarantulas (among other things), to help me out.

I was going to HOLD A TARANTULA. A year ago, this was a thought I could not have tolerated. The day came and I took my little Emiko to Goblin’s house. While she snoozed in her carry cot, Goblin took out a Mexican Red-Kneed tarantula named Dude. He let him walk around on the bed for a while and then picked Dude up to hand him to me. I cupped my hands and held them out: I felt quite comfortable. The tarantula weighed more than I had anticipated, about the same as a hamster. His feet felt as though he was wearing tiny velvet socks. It was not the least bit unpleasant. And I felt more than justified in crossing ‘Cure my Arachnophobia’ off my list.

All these years later, has my fear returned? Basically, no. I am much happier to be around spiders. I still prefer to remove them with a glass, if I have to move them on, because they don’t take kindly to it and tend to run. Other than that I have no problem with them. A few days ago I was sitting on the beach and one ran up my leg. I simply coaxed it onto my finger and placed it on the shingles. No drama, no legging it, no screaming.

My only regret is that I didn’t think to take pictures; since I have lost contact with Goblin and don’t know any other friendly tarantulas, I can’t see me getting any soon but as soon as I do, I will post them here. UPDATE: I found a nice man who let me hold his Chilean Rose (named Rosie): so now there are pictures, yay!

Me holding the Chilean Rose Tarantula

Me holding the Chilean Rose Tarantula

14th of May 2007- No.14: Have Children

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Emiko

Emiko

As pregnancies go, I believe mine was rather easy. I barely had any morning sickness until the final trimester. I didn’t have cravings but I did have mood swings. My baby could not be accurately measured, being squashed up in a tight little ball; I kept having to go back to the hospital for scans to try again. Trying to quit smoking was tough and the matter wasn’t helped by the stress of applying for benefits (I tried to get a job, but who hires a pregnant 18 year old?) and looking for new accommodation. In fact, it took me so long to save up that I only got the keys to my new flat five days before my due date, but more on that later. In the meantime, I went to prenatal classes, took iron and folic acid and gathered as much baby stuff as I could from friends whose own children had outgrown the need. I got my nose pierced. I made the decision to try to cross another item off my list, ‘Cure my Arachnophobia’, as I didn’t want to teach my fear of spiders to my child. (You’re going to have to wait for that story.)

My nineteenth birthday came and went, spent watching movies with Barrie’s mum. Before I knew it, I was six months pregnant and could find out our baby’s gender – a girl! Once Barrie and I found out, the naming discussion began. It transpired that Barrie did not like any of the names I had already picked out (Phoebe, Cassandra) and was determined to have a Japanese name. Resourcefully, I found a name generator online and typed in Barrie’s surname and the middle name we’d decided on (Rose, after my twin sister Rosie) and eventually, the name ‘Emiko’ came up. It means smiling child, a blessing or a gift, depending on which definition you use. We both loved it and knew immediately it was the right one.

Finally, nine months pregnant, I got the keys to my new flat. Barrie, his Dad and my friend RJ helped me pack and move in. Sitting on the floor, screwing together pieces of my bed, I felt an odd twinge in my belly.

“Are you alright?” asked RJ, who was helping me assemble things.

“I’m fine,” I assured her. “It’s probably just practice contractions, they’re really common.” I have to say, now, I’m not sure if I genuinely believed that, or I was just in denial. I continued to have twinges throughout the day, hours apart and not really painful. I also continued to insist they were practice contractions. I must have been convincing, because finally, at 1:30am, the last person left and I went to bed. I slept badly, until around 7am, at which point I became aware that I was having contractions around two minutes apart. I phoned Barrie, who said he was on his way and I should call an ambulance. At this point, my waters broke. I phoned the emergency services, who said an ambulance was on its way. The woman on the end of the line stayed with me, talking to me, although I now can’t remember what she said. I realised the front door was locked and that the paramedics would need to come in, so I staggered to the door and put it on the latch, then staggered back into the bathroom and sat on the toilet. I don’t know why, call it instinct.

I felt an immense urge to push, so I pushed. I could distantly hear myself screaming and worried in a disconnected way that I might disturb the neighbours. I actually found out later that all the other flats in the building were unoccupied; the landlord hadn’t managed to rent them out yet and I was the only tenant. Alone in a huge building, with only the emergency services on the phone for support, I gave birth to my daughter on the toilet. No help, no drugs. I dropped the phone, stood up, and lifted her out. She was screaming, understandably. I checked her airways, wrapped her in a towel, sat down on the floor and went into shock. I can remember the paramedics feet coming through the bathroom door and that they were disappointed to have missed the birth. I remember being on my bed and wondering how I got there. Barrie was suddenly there. My midwife appeared, half an hour late, saying she’d gone to the wrong address. I was sick several times. By the time we arrived at the hospital, things were clearer but I still have gaps in my memory.

We spent three days in the hospital, returning home the day before the original due date. I sat in my flat, surrounded by unpacked boxes. Holding my daughter in my arms, I gazed at her. This tiny little person, I made her. Mine to love and to care for, forever. My little Emiko Rose, 7lb 6oz, 14th May 2007. The best thing I ever did.

Emiko and Me 2012

Emiko and Me 2012

15th of February 2007 – No.03: Get the other side of my nose pierced

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With the discovery of my pregnancy, I was suddenly facing a choice. To list or not to list? Having a child at 19 could potentially limit my ability to do stuff from my list, so I reviewed it. I thought a few things were best saved for later life anyway, when I would have more time and money; but enough of it could be done piece by piece or very cheaply that I decided to keep going with it. For some reason (I honestly couldn’t tell you what it was now) I was quite reluctant to let ‘Have Children’ be the first thing I crossed off my list, so I opted for ‘No.03: Get the Other Side of my Nose Pierced’ instead.
The left side of my nose was already pierced but I wanted to have both sides done. I now know several people who have the same but at the time it was quite an unusual sight in Hastings (the town in which I grew up and still reside). I can’t say that it was a difficult thing to do; I simply paid a body artist £30 and sat still while she shoved a needle through my nose. This led me to the conclusion that piercings were not really achievements and therefore should not be part of the list. Consequently, I removed from my list all bar the nose piercing because I’d already completed it. For those who are curious, I’ve had a total of 14 permanent piercings over my lifetime. Needles have never bothered me. Currently, I have a much more respectable 6 piercings, although that number may increase or decrease in the future. The photos in this post are from an Indian-style photoshoot I did recently (2015) and I think nicely demonstrate that both sides of my nose are pierced.

FOX_8750-Edit

August 2006 – The Bulldog Bash and Barrie

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Aged 18, just before I became pregnant

Aged 18, just before I became pregnant

I wrote my list on a sunny day in August at the 25th Bulldog Bash, a Hell’s Angels-run biker festival. I’d gone with my (at the time) boyfriend of a year, Barrie, along with several of our friends and a few of his family, who went every year. This was the first time I’d been and I was having a great time. Later that day I would be going to see a line-up of bands that included Skindred, Hundred Reasons, Breed 77 and Pitchshifter, but for now, I was lazing in the sunshine. A warm breeze drifted gently over my skin. As I lay on the grass gazing up at the sky, Barrie’s face entered my field of view.
“Come on,” he said, “Let’s go and see the custom bike tent.” Having no objection, I followed him to a large marquee filled with customised motorbikes of impressive skill and varying taste. My interest piqued, I wandered around enthusiastically until we got to a shiny chrome number and something sparkled in my mind. I turned to Barrie excitedly.
“I should totally make a custom bike; I want to make one just like the bike from Ghostrider!”
Barrie laughed. “Wiggle, you never do any of the stuff you say you’re going to do.”
“Oh.” I said, momentarily deflated. I thought for a few seconds. “Well, that’s mainly because I don’t remember that I want to do things until I think of something else I want to do. I should make a list of all the things I want to do, then I won’t forget and I’ll actually do some of it.”
“That could work.” said Barrie “Might as well try it.”
So I found a place to sit down and wrote out as much as I could remember wanting to do. I was quite surprised by how long the list was. When I showed it to them my friends unanimously agreed the list was a good idea but many of them thought I had over-reached.
“Go to space or the moon on holiday” one of them quoted, as the rest howled with laughter. (This was before commercial space flights were available, so I can see why people may have had their doubts; however I was pretty confident it would be commonplace by the time I hit 80. I still am confident; it’s just a matter of waiting for the cost to drop.)
“You seriously think you can do everything on this list?” someone asked.
“I don’t have to do all of it,” I explained. “That’s the point. It’s a list of things I want to do with my life, not things I have to do with it. If I think of something new I can add it and if I change my mind about something I can remove it. I’ll be more than happy if I can cross off less than half of it.”
***
Four weeks after we returned from the Bulldog Bash, I realised there was something that hadn’t returned. I was five days late for my period. It had happened before, being one or two days late and had always been nothing, so I wasn’t really worried as I picked up a precautionary pregnancy test. As you can imagine, I was pretty surprised to discover the pregnancy test was positive. I went straight out and bought another one, taking it in the shopping centre’s bathrooms. Also positive. The third one too. For a while, I sat there in shock. Then I called Barrie, asking him to meet me in town. When he arrived, I didn’t beat around the bush.
“I’m pregnant.” I announced. Barrie’s response was not particularly satisfying but to be fair, the poor bloke was in shock as well. Suffice it to say that half an hour later I had broken up with him. I’d been thinking about it for a week or so already anyway. Some weeks of discussion followed, the outcome of which was that we would remain friends and bring up our child between us, but separately.
It can’t be said that my family took the news well either; I was 18, unemployed and (worse, for my Irish Catholic Father), unwed. I was also, for the sake of honesty, on medication for a mental health condition. Several people advised me to have an abortion; I never even considered it. I always wanted to be a Mum and an abortion or adoption were never options for me. So, I was going to be crossing ‘No.14: Have Children’ off of my list a lot sooner than I had intended.

Why I am Starting a Blog

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Me

Me

Since 2006, I have spent my life working to achieve goals from what I call the ‘Wiggle List’ (because my nickname is Wiggle). The list has 76 things on it, to date I have completed 17 of them. While some people may class my list as a ‘bucket list’ (and they are welcome to), I prefer to think of it less as a list of things to do before I die and more of a list of things to do while I’m alive. Today it occurred to me that other people might be interested in my progress through the list and potentially inspired to do something similar; those seemed like pretty good reasons to start a blog.

So, I will mainly be posting on Thursdays and Fridays, posts may be a little sporadic at first as I collate the last seven years of photos and diary entries so bear with me.