It’s true, I’ve never much been one for nature. I find its sole purpose to be to irritate and aggravate those who have made their dominance on this earth rather apparent. The nature that still insists upon clinging to us when it’s blatantly irrelevant against the insurmountable titan that is technology, the very embodiment of “progress” and “the future.” Insects being chief among the anachronisms of that bitch, Mother Nature, who seemed to have had it in for me since Day One, when I was documented as the first known newborn to have gotten a mosquito bite within an hour of her birth. I might have known then that life was going to be one nonstop snafu for me. An endless string of inconvenient events made more inconvenient by the fact that the millennial psyche expected everything to be easy. Unencumbered by the very sadistic mannerisms of reality.
At no point during my life did I ever think, “Wow, how incredible it is to be alive. What a gift from god.” It was more like waking up every morning and saying, “Shit, guess we’re doing this again.” It was a sentiment that likely became most pronounced in junior high when, for anyone with half a brain, an unsure preadolescence quickly gives way to the unbridled rage of adolescence. I had perfected the performance of self-hatred quite well in my predilection toward corporatized goth via Hot Topic. It was a performance that quickly became highly grounded in authenticity. For it didn’t take me long at all to realize that, no, in fact, there was nothing to smile about as all the many plastic Barbies I had received in my youth tried to teach me.
Among the reasons for not having any adequate motive to smile was the strange attraction of most breeds of insects to my skin (as previously evidenced by my birth story). And despite having done a robust amount of research on the subject (theories of which speculated everything from scented body lotion to alcohol intake being the cause of an epidermis’ allure), nothing could seem to quell their interest in me. In this way, I seemed to come into contact with all manner of strange strains (which perhaps went double for humans as well). In my journeys post-high school in which I found myself traveling the world under the guise of being some sort of lifestyle writer for a magazine that paid solely for the bare minimum of accommodations (you know, the kind where you’re expected to bring your own shampoo and conditioner), I was met with all manner of bizarre creatures of the insect variety. From the eerily named assassin bug (or reduviid) in Australia to the hummingbird hawk-moth in Portugal, I had encountered them all in my moderately paid expeditions–and generally made unwanted physical contact with them as well, as though they were rapists claiming their right to defiling my body with their touch and, often, penetration of some bent.
Their haunting became so frequent that I could rarely control my sense memory, shuddering at random at the perceived sound of any form of buzzing–whether a fan, some shoddy air conditioner or a retarded (for aren’t they all?) child making arbitrary fart noises with their slobbery mouths. It started to become a near Poe-esque paranoia: that one of them was stalking me at every moment, every turn. That the second I closed my eyes, a barrage would descend upon me to delight in caressing my skin and bombarding one or both of my ears with a noise parade. It was a rare moment when I could let my guard down, and I usually had to be drunk on what Henrietta Lowell in A New Leaf would call Málaga wine in order to relax long enough to, at the very least, get about four hours of sleep. What was it about foreign lands that seemed to make them so rife with just the type of “wildness” I despised?
Ah yes, and back to the subject of despisal, as I had grown to hate myself more and more throughout my “Hot Topic period,” the intense desire to cover my body prevailed. A need that felt in direct contrast to the inexplicable obsession the insect kingdom had with me, for it wasn’t as though I was the barest target to pursue. It wasn’t until my stint in Beijing, for a profile on the food there, that I started to adopt a new philosophy on existence. That of the Buddhists. For at the Temple of Heaven, my mind somehow became reprogrammed. Became “at one” with dharma. A.k.a. motherfucking Mother Nature. I suddenly couldn’t bring myself to face the karmic comeuppance that I might wreak by smacking the shit out of any insect that came near me. Ergo, I decided simply to just lie there and let them overpower me like I usually did during sex with the few men I decided were vaguely worthy of entering me. It was an irony, of course, considering that my self-loathing ought to have made me a bigger slut than I was. But it was here, too, that Buddhism reined in my erstwhile reckless behavior. I had more consideration for literally everything I allowed into my body. So I went about this zen approach to existence for roughly two years until, one evening, when I found myself alone underneath a starry Calabrian sky, the massive wave of repressed anger I had subdued ever since that instant in the Temple of Heaven suddenly–as if an “ON” button had been pressed–resurfaced with a vengeance.
It was upon reentering my lo-fi stanza (that I knew couldn’t have set the magazine back more than a hundred euros), that my reversion to my original self was struck with the epiphany: if nature is the manifestation of truth, then the truth is, it was always as Fiona Apple said and this world is bullshit. Because while it might be “kind” to attribute value to every breathing therefore “living” thing, it certainly isn’t conducive to quality control. And it was as I stared with the ferocity of bloodlust in my eyes at the guts of that bastard who had enjoyed a free ride on my supple butt cheek before I crushed it into oblivion that I finally gained a newfound self-confidence, declaring, “Even though I hate myself more than you, I still choose me.” Undoubtedly, this platitude extended toward humanity as well. And after that night, it seemed as though the insect curse had been lifted off of me. For never again was I attacked or assaulted by one, as though they intuited my complete transformation into a bloodless cyborg.