So the first thing you should know about my week in downtown St. Louis during which I volunteered at Urbana 15 is that I got BED BUGS. That's right, folks! Bed bugs. For real. Actual factual bed bugs. Me. A thing that happened. To me.
THE STORY IS:
Our first night in the hotel was not really much of a night, seeing as how we didn't get out of our orientation meeting until nine something and our first shift began at 1am.
[QUICK DIGRESSION: I was volunteering on the Intercession Team, the folks who pray for the conference around the clock. We were divided into teams of 6-8 people and assigned three-hour shifts. My team's first shift was from 1 to 4am the very first night. HOW NICE FOR US.]
Okay, so between jet lag and knowing we'd just have to get up ANYWAY, my friend Ellen and I didn't bother sleeping. I have always used a cute little pseudonym for my friend Ellen whenever I've mentioned her on this here blog, but NO MORE! and the rest of the story will reveal WHY!
We stayed up, headed to our shift, and when we came back at 4am we fell directly into bed and did not move until about noon. Upon waking Ellen told me a funny little story about how she'd seen a bug on her pillow sometime during the night and flicked it onto the floor. Bugs and spiders and things don't really squick me out so I didn't think too much about it. Ellen went off to some meeting and I stayed in bed, my preferred place for snacks and reading library books about Vichy France. But not long after Ellen left, I noticed a bug on MY pillow. A fat-ish black bug. I took a picture of it, texted it to Ellen with the caption, "Apparently you brushed him into my BED". Calmly, because I am Calm about these things, I picked up my pillow, brought it to the bathroom, flicked the bug into the sink, and washed it down the drain.
Of course, the NEXT morning I woke up and was covered in bites. They were all over my forearms, my hands, and my neck. When I went into the bathroom I could see a few faint bites around my hairline, one by my eyebrow, and one by my lip. And then there were a few in the little slice of skin where my t-shirt met my pajama pants.
"WE HAVE BED BUGS!" Ellen yelped.
I... did not believe we had bed bugs. Because. I don't know. Denial? Plus I thought bed bugs were insidious little transparent creatures, like lice, and that there would be trillions of them creeping through the sheets. Not one big fat black bug I'd washed down the sink hours earlier. I tore all the covers off the bed and didn't see any other bugs.
Ellen declared that bites could take hours to show up. Even if it wasn't a bed bug, there was no way I could sleep in that bed again, right?
So before our next shift I calmly CALMLY walked to the reception desk and hissed, "I GOT A FEW BITES LAST NIGHT" and showed him the super attractive splotchy red bumps on my neck. I did not hiss BED BUGS or, you know, freak out on this guy, because I am Calm and I don't make scenes and, per my usual meek mousyness, I didn't want HIM to feel bad. Thankfully my brand new revolting skin disease spoke for itself and the hotel staff quickly sprang to action, assigning us another room, not charging me for that night, offering laundry service. We also had dinner that night with friends who were bed bug-educated, saw the picture on my phone and decreed Yes, That's A Bed Bug.
The next room was fine. I didn't get any more bites. But they were tremendously itchy and also ugly and embarrassing - ON MY NECK. ON MY FACE. - and my dear old wonderful longtime friend Ellen couldn't help telling all and sundry that we had BED BUGS wasn't it HORRIFYING, but they only bit MAGGIE poor MAGGIE can you BELIEVE we had BED BUGS?! poor MAAAAAGGIEEEEEE. After the fifteenth time she declared that the bug must have bitten her too, but her skin just didn't REACT like mine, I beat her silly with my Vichy France book. No, I martyred up and made sure everyone knew the bed bug ate ME because SHE DIDN'T KILL THE STUPID BUG WHEN SHE SAW IT FTLOG.
The second thing you should know about my trip is that I did not sleep. After a few days Ellen and I referred to our schedule as "prayer shifts surrounded by naps". Even though we really only "worked" three hours a day, those three hours were often in the early morning and were themselves often mentally and emotionally exhausting. Plus the conference itself was kinda intense. Racial justice, the persecuted church, getting emergency deployed to the prayer ministry room to help out the prayer ministers because even though there were 50 of them, the line to get one-on-one prayer was OVER AN HOUR LONG.
That said. It was also kinda amazing. I've been too tired to process it all which is why you got a post about bed bugs. You're welcome.