I am in Alaska. In July.
All of my well-meaning friends, acquaintances and complete strangers warned me about mosquitos in summer in Alaska, just like they did about predatory men in Alaska. The man thing worked out just fine. The mosquito thing, I am dealing with. Sort of.
If you saw me, you’d never pick me out as a granola-crunching, peace and love, nature valley hippy girl. But, I am, with sort of a cosmopolitan twist. As you have probably gathered, I can do just fine on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan one week and be thirty miles up a dirt road fishing in the wilds of Alaska the next. I am the only girl I know with both a street guide, complete with subway routes, to Manhattan and the latest fishing regs for Alaska in my magenta, leather Fossil bag.
As we speak, my man is on his hands and knees, swatting mosquitos on the living room carpet with his hat. And he just fished another dead mosquito out of the butter. Death by butter, I’d choose that, certainly over swatting with a hat.
The granola-crunching, peace and love, nature valley hippy girl in me, in interest of prolonged health, longevity and quality of life, prefers not to douse one’s self in harmful chemicals to ward off bugs. That worked (not really) for about a day (not quite). I am head-to-toe welts, and Alaska mosquito bites, like everything in Alaska, are bigger and badder than anything in the lower forty-eight.
I have been applying DEET like most girls apply lotion; liberally and often. Lucky for me, my man says he likes the smell of “bug dope” just as much as the pretty stuff I wear. Ok. Whatever. I don’t. But the combination of the two is worse and probably creates a near lethal vapor gas that rots your brain from the inside out. We’ll see.
But, still, I really hate applying the stuff to my exposed skin; face, hands, neck and chest. Yesterday, while fishing, I decided to go without. I covered up the exposed areas with extra clothing, which worked because it was a lot colder than I thought it would be. For my face, neck and hands, I just swatted furiously all day long. My triceps are sore, take note if you’re looking for a good spot workout for that area. Another tactic I employed, which I’ve used in conjunction with DEET is copious amounts of beer. DEET and beer, one makes the mosquitos stupid, the other makes you stupid, and in combination, just be careful not to drink the DEET and douse yourself in beer. So yesterday I just stuck with beer and swatting. Today, I awoke with my left eye nearly swollen shut, I got bit on my eyelid near the tear duct. I look like Mohamed Ali, on a bad day.
At “home”, we just burn mosquito coils. We’re lucky, there are a few boxes left in the shed. The rest of Alaska is out and good luck finding any. We were in Anchorage last weekend and followed one rumor after another to store after store in search of mosquito coils. We came home empty handed. We’ve been checking store shelves everywhere we go, calling people and asking two very important questions; where are the fish and who has mosquito coils? Today, based on a rumor, we found a half a shelf’s worth at the hardware store in the basement of the sporting goods store in Fairbanks. Limit five. My man bought five while I was buying an unlimited amount of wine a couple of doors down, after which, I went and bought five more boxes of mosquito coils. I seriously considered changing my clothes and putting my hair up and trying for another five.
Thirsty bloodsuckers, sucking the life out of me. Reminds me of some people I know, just sucking the life out of me. Do you have any people like that in your life? If not money, time. If not time, money. Or worst of all, both.
Whether dealing with bloodsucking bugs or bloodsucking people, none of the options for effective management are very appealing. For mosquitos, really, DEET seems to be the only truly effective method to avoid being bitten. For people, sadly, there is no remedy, toxic or otherwise, that we can buy on the sporting goods aisle that’s going to help. Or we could use DEET.
DEET – The “D” stands for “distance” or “detach”. If there is someone in your life that is taking advantage of you, in any manner, financially, physically, emotionally, or in some other way, and the circumstances allow, create some distance, or better yet, detach from that person or that situation. If you are being taken advantage of by someone it is difficult to establish distance from, or detach from, you may have to reconsider your circumstances on a larger scale. Any time we allow someone to take advantage of us, on a routine basis, our own strength and self-esteem will suffer and we will never grow in the manner we desire, for as long as we allow it to continue.
DEET – The first “E” stands for “empower”. Another possibility is to help empower the person who uses you as a crutch, again, whether financially, physically, emotionally or in some other means. Find a way to help them help themselves. This will free you and help them establish their own independence and freedom, boosting their self-esteem, and yours.
DEET – The second “E” stands for “establish”. Establish some limits, some parameters, some boundaries with the person who takes advantage of you. Establishing limits or boundaries can be as simple as having a serious, open conversation, or may go so far as to require a restraining order. Whatever is necessary, start peacefully and progress from there in degrees, if necessary. It is up to you to decide to not be taken advantage of anymore, solely up to you. You allow it, you must end it.
DEET – The “T” stands for “talk”. This really should be the first step, and then should be part of every other step. Often, when we are being used as a crutch, or are being taken advantage of in some way, we suffer in silence. A lot of times, especially in close relationships, the situation develops without awareness on one parties part, the other, or even both, and when we finally realize we are feeling taken advantage of, we become silently resentful, further damaging the relationship, but we often won’t be open about our feelings, we just let them fester. Talking, simply talking about the situation, in close relationships, will often be all that is necessary. Only in long-term, chronic situations will we generally have to employ other measures.
The point, is, don’t allow yourself to get bitten. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you, and put to an immediate end any situations where you are currently being used as a crutch. This is important for our own peace, growth and fulfillment, and it is important for those close to us that, for whatever reason, seek to lean on us rather than find their own way. Remember, by assisting others in finding their own independence, we, too, benefit emotionally and even spiritually.
Now to go Google some holistic remedies for itchy mosquito bites!