"Shove it up your ass, Toby."

I had this whole clever idea for a post I wanted to do. Bear with me on this one.

In the driver’s side wing mirror of my car, there is a spider who has made a web between the door and the mirror for the last couple of months. Sometimes she will be in the web when I set off for a journey, until the vibrations send her scurrying back to her den behind the mirror itself, and sometimes she’s securely stowed before I go anywhere.

She is a false widow spider, I discovered, when I caught her reflection in the mirror. They’ve had a lot of bad press this year, with a great deal of scaremongering and wars waged on them. False widow spiders have been around since I was a kid – I remember picking them up and letting them run around my hands before I developed a healthy, pathological phobia of spiders. I’ve never been bitten by one, to my knowledge – and I have been bitten by spiders before – and have never needed medical attention for a spider bite. Spiders keep bugs out of my house and don’t tend to purposely ruin my life, so I do not advocate spider hate in any way.

To that end, I was planning to do a post on the false widow who lives in my wing mirror. For convenience, I gave her a name so that I could talk to her as I drove around town. I wanted a name that conjured up somebody strong, and superbly skilled, because the webs this spider weaves are truly beautiful. I needed a name that commanded a sense of intelligence and logic, because this spider has a more extensive knowledge of forces, cantilevers, tension and vibration than any structural engineer on the planet. I needed a name that suggested femininity without girlishness. She’s a spider, after all (only the ladies spin webs that they live in for a prolonged amount of time, in any spider species), and she’s probably not one to worry about what she’s wearing.

I wanted so badly to get a picture of her so that I could show her to you, and spark off the post I really wanted to write – the post that said “Hey, don’t be mean about spiders, they do a really good job and it’s not always easy, some of those bugs are four times the size of the spider” and a post that also said “FYI, this is my most favourite person right now.” But this spider, in her wisdom, has hidden from me for a few days. She emerged whilst I was in the countryside at the weekend and spun a brand new web ready for me to tear it to shreds at 70mph on the motorway, and I saw her briefly as she came out to look at the damage and retreat resignedly a moment later. I’ve not seen her since, and it’s been rather cold. She may have died.

So no picture. Here’s a picture of a false widow that I found on Google. It’ll have to do. Don’t hate on the false widows.

I named her CJ, after CJ Cregg from The West Wing. A woman who handles the press with deft poise, who comes back stronger after any hurdle she faces, who has climbed high in a workplace where men (often egotistical and brutish) strut about and throw their weight around while she quietly sets a trap or forms a plan. CJ fights for other women, takes a bite out of the men around her who often seem to underestimate her. The plight of people who are not as privileged as she is moves her to tears, more than once.

You know if I was living in Qumar I wouldn’t be allowed to say ‘shove it up your ass Toby.’ But since I’m not, shove it up your ass Toby.

– CJ
The West Wing 3.09 The Women of Qumar

I love how she cares about people she’s never met, and how she uses every bit of her freedom to make a difference, even if it’s just in a small way. She is sensitive and sharp, gentle and fierce. She is astounding. Very sadly, she is fictional.

Allison Janney, however, is not fictional, and I think she’s a superb human being, beautiful and talented. I have quite the girl crush.

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