Bugs, Beds and Bags – Oh My!

“They were everywhere! In our beds, our bedding, our clothing….even in the furniture. After months of fighting the little bastards, we finally gave up – abandoned everything and moved away”.

THIS is the conversation that I replay in my mind every, single time I open the door to a hotel room. It is the horror story told by a friend who traveled overseas and brought home a suitcase inhabited by bed bugs.

It doesn’t matter if I am staying in a 5 star hotel with dedicated Butler service – the same scenario plays itself out during my stay. Kind of takes the fun out of travel.

Bed Bugs! The thought of a female bed bug, belly filled with eggs, hitching a ride on my clothing or suitcase and setting up shop in my own home is terrifying.

I am Canadian and we are, for the most part, generally very welcoming to immigrants. I am not welcoming to pregnant, single mothers who climb into my suitcase with the intention of crossing the border and making their home in MY home.

I cross the threshold into my hotel room and look for the luggage rack for my suitcase. I usually set the rack in the bathroom and place my luggage, elevated, in that wee room for the duration of my stay. My rationale for using the bathroom as my temporary closet is that there is no carpet in that room, therefore it was less likely that an errant bug would find its way into my suitcase. If I found that the bathroom was carpeted? I would run out screaming.

Strangely, there were no luggage racks in my hotel room, so my suitcase is placed directly on the tile floor of the bathroom. It is a small powder room and the large suitcase now becomes a tripping hazard but hey…..sacrifices are sometimes necessary for the greater good.

I mused aloud, “Should I leave a note for the cleaning staff? They are going to wonder why my suitcase is in on the bathroom floor”.

Nah…..they have no doubt seen plenty of crazy and my eccentricity will barely register The suitcase will stay on the floor and no note will be necessary.

I immediately grab my magnifying glass and strong LED light and use them to inspect the mattress – checking for black specks. Whew! There are no black specks to be seen and I exhale with relief.

I still need to take precautions because those stealthy little bastards could be anywhere. I have brought plastic bags from home for my soiled laundry but am kicking myself for not investing in the ones with a seal. What good is a plastic bag if the tiny, blood-sucking fuckers can crawl out?

I remind myself that I haven’t seen any evidence of bed bugs so anything that I do from this point forward is unnecessarily prophylactic – basically overkill. The lack of sealed plastic bags is not a deal breaker…..carry on.

I spend the next three days ensuring that I do not mix clean and dirty – that I do not throw anything onto the bed or the couch, increasing my chances of contamination.

This exercise seemed to be so logical while I was at the hotel, but as I write about it I realize that I am a wee bit bat-shit crazy. Who does this? Who is so paranoid about bed bugs that they basically operate a Hazmat operation out of their hotel room?

I arrive home, satisfied that I have taken every precaution to avert bed bug disaster. As I enter my own home, my suitcase is left on the outside deck in the cold in the hopes that any cling-ons will die of hypothermia.

I remove my clothing on the spot and take both it AND my bagged, soiled clothing  from my suitcase and immediately toss into the washing machine on hot. I have a feeling that my sweater won’t survive the high heat, but there are sacrifices needed for the greater good and honestly it was from Old Navy so….not that expensive. I then hop into the shower, physically washing away all evidence of travel, psychologically ridding myself of the invisible bugs.

I walk into the living room in my robe, my wet hair tied up on a towel, and only now am I able to sit and chat with my husband about my trip.

“Hey sweetie…..the Erma conference was a blast!”


Don’t Blink!

On average, human beings blink approximately 15,000 times per day. Each blink lasts between 300 and 400 milliseconds (1000 milliseconds equals 1 second). Which means that we spend approximately 5,250 seconds or over 1 HOUR each and every day blinking. Do you ever wonder what you miss?

As writers, we love to spend our days wide-eyed……constantly watching for those ‘missed’ moments – the moments that last a mere blink of the eye.

What does this mean? Well….other than an incessant need for eye-drops, it means that we are inspired by those ‘moments’.

An intake of breathe by a bride, seconds before she walks down the aisle.

The partially hidden eye-roll from a pre-teen during an argument with their sibling.

The flicker of embarrassment you notice on the face of your teenage daughter after she stumbles wearing her first pair of heels

While others have moved past the moment, writer’s remain, watching……observing.

We wonder if the bride to be is nervous, afraid, or suffering from indecision. We wonder if she suddenly realized that she really needed to pee (or worse) and isn’t certain if she can make it through the ceremony. Thoughts of, “Why did we choose to eat spicy Indian food at our rehearsal dinner” run through her head as she makes her way down the aisle. Damn! That storyline writes itself!

A writer will endeavor to create a story around the eye-roll, conjuring up a scenario where the pre-teen grows up to be a serial killer aka Dexter.

The flicker of embarrassment following the stumble in the high heels? That becomes a part of a bigger story, perhaps leading to a screenplay for a coming of age movie like Ladybird. Our character ‘Joanne’ refuses to wear shoes for the rest of her life because of that one instance and eventually she runs for the Presidency and wins and now there is a President called Shoeless Joanne.

We notice things. We stash them away in our subconsciousness to be retrieved at a later date or we drop everything and rush to a computer and begin writing.

I am so excited to become an Erma Bombeck Workshop Freshman. I have loved Erma since I was a child and to be surrounded by so many other individuals who share the passion for laughter is…well….it’s mind blowing!

The fact that in one week’s time I will be sitting alongside so many like-minded individuals is truly a dream come true. Knowing that you all are so observant will be unnerving – which reminds me to pack extra floss because y’all will definitely notice the errant piece of spinach in my teeth.

Writers…..well, we try to make the ordinary EXTRAORDINARY. Humour writers make the ordinary extraordinary and FUNNY.

See you soon! If you see me staring, unblinking, don’t worry…..I am not a creeper (at least I have never been charged). It is only because I don’t want to miss a thing!


PS: Can I bring my cape? I hear some people are bringing tiara’s…..

Yes…..I own a cape