Life Among the Never-Winged

Once upon a time I was writing a book called, "Just Another Love Letter", about angels behaving badly. Now I just quietly ask myself each day, "What the hell am I doing?"

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Location: The Rocky Mountain Empire, United States

My friends always knew I was going to hell. My only hope is that God likes good jokes and bad redheads.

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  • Friday, October 26, 2007


    Well, that lab was even MORE interesting than I expected.

    When I started on this educational journey, I knew it would take me to new places.

    I didn't expect Madagascar.

    Let me explain.

    We finished our lecture, then headed into the lab. On the main bench were our usual tools – racks of test tubes waiting to be filled with yeast suspensions, a flask filled with peas and CO2-capturing pellets, (is this a lab or dinner?), a very large beaker set up as an aquarium filled with plants and feeder fish, and a tank with plants and sticks of wood and no sign of any other life.

    Where be the mousies? I wondered. More importantly, where be the wine making kit?

    I sneaked a closer look at the tank. It looked more like a setup for a snake. Cool. I like mousies, but prefer snakes and rats. Maybe we'd be working with them instead.

    Our instructor stared giving us instructions on how to set up the yeast experiments (I didn't understand the logic of using poison in an experiment right before we were supposed to make and taste wine and kim chee, but what do I know?), pointed out the fish and said we'd be testing their respiration in lieu of snails...oh, and there was one more substitution.

    We wouldn't be using mice. We'd be using Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.



    Mada – f-ing – gascar



    She went on to say that we needed to be careful while transferring them to the flasks and to do it over the aquarium, because if they get dropped they are lightening-fast and will scurry to the nearest dark corner. And they breed like nothing you've ever seen. Trust her.

    You could hear the whiplash as everyone searched the corners. All those dark, dark laboratory corners.

    One of my lab partners actually left the room. Another one flat out refused to go near the aquarium. So that left 'Lily' and me. I like Lily. She was wearing her Betty Page hoodie that night. It's really cool, and she made it herself. Anyway, Lily had no qualms handling Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. And I decided, 'Aw, hell, when am I going to get another opportunity like this one?'

    Hopefully never.

    So I did my best to pretend I was a Slytherin (What? Yeah, right, you wouldn't.) and approached the tank.

    They were hiding under a piece of rotting wood. They were all piled up snug and close together. They like to be cozy. Social.

    And they don't like to be disturbed. They make that perfectly clear by hissing. Loudly. Thus the name. Pick one up, it hisses, you flinch and wait for the bite. Luckily, it doesn't come; they don't bite. They like to cling instead. Think organic Velcro embedding itself into your fingerprints. At least that's what I was thinking at the time.

    Hello! I like to hiss and cling!

    Oh, and they weigh about as much as a mouse.

    Anyway, we managed to convince five of them to squeeze themselves though the narrow neck of the flask(necks as wide as their bodies) and then hooked them up to a gizmo that in turn hooked up to a laptop.

    Conclusion to the experiment: Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches breathe.


    And no wine making. I could have used a drink. I came home mumbling, “Must wash hands again. Again. Again.”

    But I'm still not going to play with the tarantella tucked away in the lab. Neverevernevereverneverever.

    * * *

    Oh, and a shout-out to one of O's friends and classmates, Jason S, for the nice review of his documentary in The New York Times. Congrats! Can't wait to see it!

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    18 people left me a love letter:

    Blogger patches wrote in a love letter...

    At least they didn't ask you to tether it to your chest. In some circles, they are accessories. In my circle they're flat.

    4:01 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger JustCallMeJo wrote in a love letter...


    5:39 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Anonymous Andy wrote in a love letter...

    I have to say, Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches have to be my new most favorite insect that I will never the hell allow in my house!

    5:50 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger Des_Moines_Girl wrote in a love letter...


    Thank you in advance for the nightmares that I know will come visit me tonight.

    You are braver than I am. I couldn't do it.

    7:17 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger amusing wrote in a love letter...

    In Hawaii, we had something just a touch smaller than those. They flew. And made an awful crunching sound when you stepped on them. Peter would come over and want to talk, and talk, and talk, while I stood with the front door open wishing he'd go away -- and the bugs kept flying and I kept trying to close the door on him, cuz of the know....

    So, did you use a Polyjuice Potion for the Slytherin bit, or just fake it?

    8:03 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger Scott from Oregon wrote in a love letter...


    I love hissing cockroaches.

    12:48 AM, October 27, 2007  
    Blogger meno wrote in a love letter...

    It's HUGE. I can barely look at the picture.

    Good for you for not gettin' all girly about them.

    11:55 AM, October 27, 2007  
    Blogger Schmoopie wrote in a love letter...

    A guy at the Butterfly Pavillion in Broomfield told me that those cockroaches are among the cleanest creatures on the planet. I find them fascinating, though I'm not sure if I'd want one crawling on me. ;)

    7:17 PM, October 27, 2007  
    Blogger Stucco wrote in a love letter...

    I would'nae been Slytherin-ing, I'd've been Men In Black-ing...

    "Big bad bug got a bit of a soft spot, huh?

    What I can't understand is why you got to come down here bringing all this ruckus, snatching up galaxies and ey'thing.

    My attitude is, don't start none, won't be nuh'in.

    You need to ease up out my face before something bad happen to you."

    Heh. I've got "get down".

    7:36 PM, October 27, 2007  
    Blogger Bud wrote in a love letter...

    You do have balls, Pants. My daughter just did something with them in her Jr. High Science classes. I have to remember to ask her about that. I wouldn't want to be in charge of that class. But like you, my daughter has balls.

    10:19 AM, October 28, 2007  
    Blogger Irrelephant wrote in a love letter...

    I remember the first time I held a rhinocerous beetle...I was astounded at how much GRIP they had in those little skeletal legs. It's a creepy feeling, one I had to work at to supress, else I fling a little armoured bug across the room!

    5:44 PM, October 29, 2007  
    Blogger DaDuck wrote in a love letter...

    OMG!! that thing is HUGE!!!!! I would run screaming like a little girl and probably never come back to class! Between that picture and the video on JesterTunes I am done for the day!


    1:30 AM, October 30, 2007  
    Anonymous d-man wrote in a love letter...

    Mmmmm, salivation!

    3:59 AM, October 30, 2007  
    Blogger Lynn wrote in a love letter...

    I did ok with dissection...but bugs...never! Wine and kim chee sound much better.

    8:06 PM, October 30, 2007  
    Blogger Schmoopie wrote in a love letter...

    Happy Halloween Pants!

    9:03 AM, October 31, 2007  
    Blogger Nancy Dancehall wrote in a love letter...

    Ew! Ew ew ew ew!!! Patches!

    Yup, Jo.

    They're almost as bad as crap vampires, Andy. I wouldn't let those in my house either. ;-)

    Hope they weren't too bad, DMG! *shudder* Oh, I don't need a Polyjuice Potion. It was a tossup between Ravenclaw And Slyhouse, but the hat chose in the end...

    Ever eat one, Scott?

    They are huge, Meno. I suspect they carry off assistants in the night...

    I've heard that too. I _thought_ I heard one hiss, "Must wash body' after I put it in the flask...

    lol...yup, you got get down, but you don't got back, Stucco. ;-)

    Ewwww, Bud! Does she have to raise them for experiments?

    See, Ir, I was thinking about you through this whol thing. I KNEW you'd have no qualms with the buggies.

    I got a little weak in the knees, Duckie, and not the good kind.

    You should have had them along for the ride to Rotovegas, D-Man. :-D

    I've got dissection next semester, Lynn. Any pointers? :-)

    Happy Halloween, Schmoop! XOXOXOXO

    2:04 PM, October 31, 2007  
    Blogger Julie wrote in a love letter...

    ugh! I shuddered when I read cockroaches, but then that picture put me over the edge! I would die!!!!!!

    8:49 AM, November 01, 2007  
    Blogger Nancy Dancehall wrote in a love letter...

    Julie! How ya been? :-)

    9:44 PM, November 03, 2007  

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