By Mir
July 8, 2006

Hello! I am not dead! Not even missing! I am alive and well but still somewhat mysterious.

Honestly, I had these grand plans to be less mysterious today. I took a whole mess of pictures and planned a little photo essay, like a little scavenger hunt kind of thing, to let you see what I’ve seen and perhaps guess where I am. But then. Then! Then my camera decided it was not talking to the computer I am using here. It’s sort of like this Mac vs. PC commercials. My camera is happily jabbering in Japanese while the computer at hand is saying “Hello? Hellooooooo-oooo?” It’s very sad. Especially since the computer in question IS A MAC. (Explain THAT, Steve Jobs.) But my camera has been BRAINWASHED to only talk to PCs.

Meanwhile, the owner of the computer is still brainstorming on how to get the pics off the camera. Because Macs are supposed to be OMNIPOTENT. And I will use this as ammunition forever, as proof that my PC isn’t so bad. Anyway. This means no photos today. Which, you know, isn’t really so bad, since most of my pictures suck.

Anyway, pretend there are pictures. Since we are pretending, go ahead and pretend they are good ones!

Yesterday I passed a pleasant few hours on a VERY bumpy plane along with about six army guys. Okay, there were other people there, too, but I happened to be sitting in the tail of the plane with this gaggle of servicemen. They were on their way to some base or other, and from there to Iraq. Sitting amongst them was oddly reminiscent of riding a bus on a field trip in high school. They joked and laughed and threw things and poked each other, and when they noticed me laughing at them, they poked at my seat and threw things at me, too. I expected one of them to pull my hair. Instead, a truce was called when I gave my seatmate my complimentary crackers and cookies. They were a lovely group of men who were very much alive and I couldn’t help but tell them, upon disembarking, that I would pray that they stayed that way.

After getting off the plane, I walked right past the person picking me up, then spent the next fifteen minutes apologizing for being an oblivious dork, then had a lovely evening which included hole-in-the-wall Mexican food. (I know this is going to come as a COMPLETE SHOCK, but it’s sort of hard to get good Mexican food in New England. I KNOW! Can you believe it?) I went to sleep last night with a full, happy belly and a full, happy heart. (The latter not necessary being related to the former.)

Now. Here’s the part where you get to figure out where I am.

This morning I got up and went into the bathroom and reached for my toiletry kit to grab my toothpaste. Something approximately the size of a chipmunk scuttled off of the case and I did the mature thing: I recoiled and screamed. Loudly. Further investigation revealed that naturally there was no indoor chipmunk, because that would just be silly. No, it was simply a palmetto bug. As big as my hand. Looking to suck out my brains.

[“Don’t be afraid of it. They’re really just cockroaches. With wings.”
“Oh, good… NOW I feel better!”]

The bug was disposed of. I’m pretty sure I heard it screaming over the sound of the toilet flushing. Even now I suspect it to be working its way back up through the sewer pipes, plotting its revenge. I plan to sleep with the lights on tonight.

Of course, the advantage of such an early morning encounter is that—by comparison—the rest of the day was delightfully tame. Not that it wouldn’t have been, anyway, but there’s nothing like a roach wake-up call to really make you appreciate how roach-free the majority of life is. Heck, I saw kids with pierced faces and purple hair today, and they didn’t both me one bit. Because they didn’t fly at me and they didn’t try to eat my brains. Also, they were not roaches. See how well that works?

There is a local obsession with bulldogs which I find alternately endearing and disturbing. Also I befriended a beagle named Fenway, who could apparently smell the stench of New England on me. He came straight to me, tail wagging, low whining in his throat, as if to say “You look like a Red Sox fan! PET ME!” And really, what could I do? I petted him. He was much obliged, being just as polite as most of the locals. (Fenway didn’t even appear to think I talk funny.)

I will need to tell the whole tale of the trip itself, beginning to end, at some point. But it’s a long story and I haven’t quite put it all together, yet. Be patient. In the meantime, if you don’t live in the land of the palmetto bug, go thank your lucky stars RIGHT NOW.

The kids called tonight and Chickadee insisted that she was calling to grant me three wishes. I wished for a variety of complex, peace-on-earth-ish items while she grew irritated with me. On this end of the phone line, we kept exchanging looks and laughing as Chickadee’s voice came through the handset both booming and tinny: “Not THAT! Something EASY! You have to pick something I can DO!” Finally there was a tap, a gesture, and the mouthing of “Ask her for a piece of toast.”

Swallowing a giggle, I returned to the phone.

“Okay, Chickadee. I wish for… a PIECE OF TOAST!”

There was a pause.

“Get it yourself!”

We lost it completely.

Enjoying the reaction, Chickadee continued: “Wouldn’t it have been funny if I had added ‘WOMAN!’ to the end of that?” I had to agree that it might have been, yes. “That’s okay,” she decided. “You seemed to think it was pretty funny, anyway.”

I did not tell her about the palmetto bug. I told her about Fenway, and she was unimpressed, opting to shift her attention to calling me “WOMAN!” empathically, several times, until I convinced her to give the phone to her brother.

I would be hard-pressed to make a solid determination as to whether life is more wild here or at home.


  1. Patricia

    You are in the South. I’m going to assume with Joshilyn somewhere on her adventures — but you could be anywhere in the GA-FL area.

    I grew up with those bugs — they are horrible and I can totaly understand you thinking it was going to eat your brains — they do.

  2. Zee

    Forget “good” Mexican restaurants in New England, there are NO Mexican restaurants there – good or otherwise! I think I ate Mexican only once while I was in Boston and for that I spent a fortune at a shishi little place on Newberry Street… And Taco Bell? Forget it. Doesn’t exist. :)

    Oh, and my guess is, you’re visiting with Miss Joshilyn Jackson! I don’t envy you the flying roaches tho… ick!

  3. Susan

    I’m sorry, I can’t read the rest of this post right now because after the PALMETTO BUG I feel the need to have a shower. RIGHT NOW.

    Ugh, WOMAN!

  4. Amy-Go

    I so TOTALLY wish I lived in the land of the Palmetto bug. Even though they are horrifying. You sound very pleased with your visit in spite of that very terrible wake-up call and I am GLAD!! Details, woman!

  5. debby

    palmetto bugs + bulldogs = georgia?

  6. Kim

    I’m guessing Georgia. Palmetto bugs and Uga are the tipoffs…although at first, I thought FL (because of the bugs).

    You need to come to Texas for realllly good Mexican food, though. :D

  7. Janis

    I have to guess you’re in Florida because I live in Miami and a) we have a huge Palmetto bug living under our washing machine and b) there are many hole-in-the-wall authentic Mexican places down here, especially in Homestead. Or you could be in Texas, who knows? Can’t wait to see the pics!

  8. Nothing But Bonfires

    I am impressed that you got one of those palmetto bugs to DIE. They never used to die in my house in Charleston, just kept resurrecting themselves after you thought you’d beaten them into submission with your Target flipflop.

  9. Leanne

    South FL?

  10. Jules

    I know where you are, so I’ll not be playing along..although palmetto bugs???…You can NOT be serious!!! *shudders* They rearrange the furniture while you’re alseep so you might break your neck as you tumble over the wasn’t-there-when-you-went-to-bed recliner and THEN?? They crawl into your ears and eat their way to the nostirls..via?? Yep..the brain…And also?? You can hear them chomping through your ear drum and their little legs scratchy’ing at your ear cannal because you didn’t get to die from the broken neck, you’re only paralyzed…

    But that only happens when you BREAK THE RULES!!! ;)

    …maybe I should put the rum away *cheers*

  11. Zobabe

    OK, Mir, I am a lurker who couldn’t pass up the hunt. :) I am non-threatening, but I am also a Georgian, which may or may NOT be redundant. The bulldog clue was a dead giveaway, but the palmetto bugs complicate things. You either flew into Atlanta or Jacksonville, and since there is a naval base in Brunswick, I’ll guess the latter. That means you are most likely in Savannah, or thereabouts. Am I close? If you ARE in Savannah, you might never read this, having been hauled off (toted off, in southernese) by the small helicopters we like to call “mosquitos.” You could harness a couple and save the airfare for the return trip, but I wouldn’t expect an upgrade to business class.

    Oh, and lest I fail to fulfill my lurker-turned-poster responsibilites, allow me to let you know how MUCH. YOU. ROCK.


  12. Cyndi

    Awwwwwwww…hey, Mir!! That’s my friend, Zoe up there. *pointing* BTW, she rocks too…and she’s right. YOU rock too.

    I gotta say…I have no clue where you are. I hope it’s somewhere fun, because if the best part is roaches the size of a chipmunk…holy cow! Get the heck outta there!!!

    Zoe has told me they have decent Mexican food in GA…can’t be as good as in California, but we keep our roaches a little smaller…and we do not allow them to move furniture…there are labor laws and stuff.

    Bulldogs…no idea. Lord. I am pathetic at the guessing.

    Have fun wherever you are!! *waving & back to lurk mode*

  13. Carolie

    YES your PC rocks! Don’t let the Mac people brainwash you! And you are my new hero. You managed to get one of those godawful monsters into the toilet all by yourself, and I stand in awe.

    Enjoy wherever you are in the sweet south (could even be South Carolina–my first experience with the Godzilla of roaches was at Pawley’s Island, S.C.)

  14. Joshilyn

    I know where she is, so I cant play, BUT, Dude, I can tell you where she isn’t. She is not with me. I am in Florida on book tour and going to my TWENTIETH FREAKIN HIGH SCHOOL REUNION. YARG, I got old!

  15. Cele

    well darn, that blew my answer.

  16. kat

    Savannah area is my hubs guess, too. Hey Mir, aren’t those the most hideous bugs ever?! The first time I ever saw one, I thought it was one of those mutant plastic bug toys we use to get as children. THEN IT MOVED!!!!! I screamed myself silly, too. Yep, great introduction to the south.
    Hope you are having fun!
    ps. you’re pretty, you’re smart, & your site is awesome! ;-)

  17. Contrary

    We call them ‘waterbugs’ (I have no idea why) and they are honest to God the nastiest things in the world. They will fly right into your hair, or sit on the ceiling above your bed and fall on top of your pillow just as you’re going to sleep.

    God, I cannot wait to move to New Hampshire. I’ll make my own Mexican food if it means I never have to see another waterbug again.

  18. Daisy

    I’m with the other guesses — Georgia or Florida, the general area of the SouthEastern U.S. I’m just worried that the bulldogs may crossbreed with the palmetto bugs to create a cockroach the size of those mosquito-like helicopters….I think I’ll stay home in the Midwest.

  19. rachel

    i vote for Georgia or Florida too.

    and my Texas-raised husband loves a mexican place in Gloucester, MA. There was a good place in central CT too. but otherwise we agree – the mexican food here stinks, so we have to make it ourselves or visit family in Austin or Dallas

  20. tori

    I thought for sure you were with Joshilyn! I am not great at waiting, so please tell us soon where you are and who you are with!

  21. Suzanne

    easy peasy…you’re in Georgia. Savannah, or Atlanta. If you’re in Savannah, you should look me up. I can show you around!

  22. Carmen

    You are in Georgia or Florida. I’ve been to both places enough to know palmetto bugs. Ugh.

  23. jonniker

    If you’re here, I will scream. I live in Southwest Florida (displaced from Boston), and I live down the street from a Beagle named Fenway.

    But I think you’re in South Carolina or Georgia. We don’t really call them palmetto bugs in my neck o’ the woods.

  24. janie

    Having just had my own run in with some roaches in a restaurant in NYC’s Chinatown, I can totally understand how you feel.

  25. Chookooloonks


    Heh heh heh…

  26. Carol

    I don’t know where you’re at other than “the South”. I’d never even heard a cockroach called a ‘palmetto bug’ until I read gods in Alabama. See, Joshilyn, the magificent influence your book had on me?! lol I’m still trying to picture exactly what a kudzu is though…

    Mir, please take a picture of that for me, um ‘kay?! You are pretty!

  27. Brenda

    Oops! Sorry, thought you might be here for Blogher. We, at least, don’t have palmetto bugs. And maybe the weather will be comfortably cooler by the time you do get here.

    Have a great weekend!

  28. Shash

    I’m with the GA-FL contingent, because that is where palmetto bugs like to live.

    We like to saddle ’em up and ride off into the sunset. (I’m kidding, but they are BIG, aren’t they?)

    Welcome to the South, Mir. :) Make sure you have some sweet tea, and if you ARE near Savannah, stop by the Boar’s Head for some she-crab soup. It’s awesome.

    Enjoy yourself!


  29. David

    Oh! To have been a fly on the wall when you met up with the palmetto bug. *LMAO* Too, Too funny! You got a picture of him, didn’t you? For posterity?

  30. Carolie

    I tried to post yesterday, but it wouldn’t let me…? Palmetto bugs are also native to South Carolina. Can’t remember what else I was gonna say though. Oh well!

  31. Caren

    Okay, I live in Georgia. Southeast Georgia that is. I’m thinking that if you saw purple hair and pierced faces you might just be in Athens, GA. Home of the bulldogs. Although people are obsessed with the bulldogs all over Georgia. We have a lot of palmetto bugs around here. They drive me crazy! They are HUGE and nasty. The only way that I can kill them is with a shoe and my husband won’t let me because he says it makes a mess, so I make him kill them. Luckily we don’t see many anymore since we moved to a newer house. Whew!

  32. Brian

    I think the fact that you are somewhere in Georgia in all likelihood has pretty much been established. With all due respect to Kim (Texas) and Cyndi (California), if you want good Mexican food, the most authentic is in New Mexico. I’ve lived in teh south for 13 years and have yet to find anything as good as back home, though a hole in the wall place is probably not bad.

  33. Elleoz

    My guess is Savannah GA. I’m in Fort Mill SC and we don’t have palmetto bugs here (thank god!) but I have definately been misfortunate enough to experience them myself. As DD would say…”EWWWWWW!”.

    Hope you continue to have a great time! Why can’t I sit with an airplane full of cute GI’s when I travel. :(

  34. liz

    oh, please if you’re somewhere close to atlanta you could meet me for a drink!!! tomorrow’s my 35th birthday! please?!?!

  35. Ellen

    I was on a plane from Toledo, OH to Atlanta, GA with some hot servicemen a few weeks ago. Did you happen to notice a beautiful woman with an adorably cute baby and a very tall husband on your flight? ;)

  36. julie

    Sounds like home to me…and if it is you’re in Savannah. I’m Suzanne’s sister and I’m a devoted reader. If you’re here please give us a call! Now, as long as you don’t see the small, skinny, long brown, we call ’em German roaches, you don’t really have anything to worry about. (Those are the ones that mean dirty housekeeping.) EVERYBODY has an occasional Palmetto bug inside. Especially when it rains, which it did with a vengeance day before yesterday, at high tide which caused flooding, and Palmetto bugs to run for cover. They don’t really eat your brain. That’s a myth created by Yankees;), but they will move furniture in the night… Welcome to the South!

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