November 17, 2015

Day 17: Do not read this if you love rodents.

Friends, today was a tough day. Not for me, so much. But for a rat.  This was not a pet rat and it didn't have a name. Though I suppose we could call it Number 5.

Several months ago, I found some rat droppings in the garage. It was, it seems, feasting on the dried pasta and dog treats I had on my makeshift pantry shelves. We cleaned up the area and removed anything but canned goods. Problem solved.

Okay, no. Obviously the problem wasn't solved. These little fuckers decided they really like my garage. And expensive dog food. LifeSourceⓇ bits were sustaining rodent life. We cleaned up after ourselves. Made sure not to drop any food.

Until one day when I walked into the garage and saw little pink plastic shavings on the ground from where the rat chewed through the food bin. Not a bag of food, but a solid plastic bin. We tentatively opened the door, expecting to see a rat eating to its heart's content at the Blue Buffalo buffet. Thankfully, it had already left. We left a trap on the floor near the food bin and within a couple days, caught one.

But that wasn't all of them. I guess it never is. Every so often, I'd turn on the light to the garage then open the door - always in that order - and see a streak of gray running across the floor and under one of the cars. I don't care how much laundry needed to be done, I'd just close the door and stay in the house.

We did more cleaning, even checking the earthquake supplies. We cleaned everything but eventually took to keeping a loaded trap on a top shelf. Every so often, we'd go out in the morning and the trap would be gone. It would snap, and flip off the shelf, leaving it to me and Jeff (okay, Jeff) to play find the dead rat buried in the junk in the corner of the garage.

We got a new and improved food bin for the dog food but we'd still find occasional evidence of rats. I picked up a gel mat for the kitchen that had been in the garage, only to find it chewed up. We found a chewed up roach trap. (There's so much wrong with that statement.) But it had been a while since I'd seen one or caught one. I forgot the trap was even there.

Now, this is the time in our story when I need to take you on a journey, back in time about twenty years. I was in college, living in a small cottage with a roommate. This cottage was, shall we say "shabby chic," literally insulated with newspaper. And at one point, we discovered that a rat was getting in the house. Through a hole in the wall. It was near the holidays, I believe, and we were going out of town. We laid down a sticky trap and left.

Upon our return, we opened the door carefully, turned on the light, and checked our trap. It was gone. Moments later, a large rat, back two feet stuck in the trap, front two out, ran across the cottage, dragging the trap behind it. In the commotion, it had picked up one of my slippers, which was now also stuck in the trap. We called our landlord, who "took care of" the problem. And also returned my slipper which, looking back, probably wasn't necessary.

This morning, Jeff had already left for work, and when our nanny arrived, I went to load the car so I could take Jelly to school. I opened the door and let out a gasp as I saw a rat in a trap in the middle of the garage. I closed the door and walked back inside.

Shit. I was going to have to deal with this. I told Anabelle to stay inside. I could empty the trap. It was just a dead rat.

Except it wasn't. It was still fucking alive.

There was no way in hell I was going to pick that thing up and release it from the trap while it was still alive. I was also not going to use any of the large shovels or things in the garage to help it on its journey. I felt awful, but knowing it would be dead soon I did what any strong, independent woman would do: I put a cardboard box over it, got Anabelle in the car, and texted Jeff that he was going to have to deal with this when he got home.

I also warned the nanny not to lift up the box. She even offered to deal with the rat. I told her that wasn't necessary. This, my friends, is called foreshadowing.

I came home from work as twilight was descending. I had all but forgotten about the rat, and was bringing in the trash cans when I noticed the boxes were moved. I smiled, realizing that our nanny did take care of the rat for me. She's the greatest.

And then the box moved. What in the ever loving fuck was that? The rat couldn't still be alive, could it? Maybe it was one of its rat friends, coming to leave flowers at the scene? The box moved again. I was frozen. Or stalling until Jeff got home.

I flagged him down as he pulled in the driveway and told him what was going on. I had yet to actually look in the box. He grabbed the sledgehammer and told me to take Jelly inside. I did what I was told. When I did, I went inside to learn that the rat had been running all around the garage, head stuck in the trap. Our nanny eventually put it in the cardboard box. I felt awful. For her and for the rat.

Meanwhile, Jeff was outside doing man's work. And by "man's work" I mean Googling the most human way to kill a rat. Which, it turns out, is by asphyxiation by CO2. You too can create a little rodent death chamber with vinegar and baking soda.

I'm sorry, Number 5. Rest in peace and may you find plenty of expensive dog food wherever you are.

November 12, 2015

Day 12: Why I still don't have a tattoo

I don't have any tattoos. I attribute this to several things:

  1. I'm kind of a chickenshit.
  2. I'm Jewish and even though I don't believe in God (now there's a good post for another day), I do have an overactive sense of guilt. Jews aren't supposed to get tattoos. (I also feel a tiny bit guilty every time I eat bacon though I've never kept kosher a day in my life.)
  3. My parents would be disappointed in me. Yes, I am over 40, have 2 kids and live 400 miles away from them. Why do you ask?
  4. Fear of making a bad choice. If I had gotten a tattoo back when I first wanted one, I'd be considering removal of a Winnie the Pooh and Piglet themed tattoo on my hip. I also definitely wanted Depeche Mode Violator and Hedwig and the Angry Inch Origin of Love tattoos. Which might have been cool. At the time anyway.
But I'm older now and while I'm still not so big on pain, I do know exactly what I'd get. I think I'd be ready to put all of the other reasons aside for this one. But the reason I want this tattoo is exactly why I haven't gotten it yet.

I have no desire to get an autism tattoo, by the way. I've seen some cool ones, but I'll leave the puzzle pieces for someone else.

This tattoo would be something to remember my brother by. Something that was between us and that would be cool even if you didn't know the meaning but that would make me think of him every time I saw it. Of course I think of Bill all the time anyway. I don't need something to remind me. But it would be something I could touch, and show, and talk about. Forever.

I don't think Bill would ever have gotten a tattoo. He wasn't especially religious, but certainly more than me. While that could have changed a lot by now, and I don't think he'd really care if I got a tattoo, it isn't something he necessarily would have done. So to have a tattoo to memorialize him poses a bit of a conflict for me. It probably shouldn't, since this is for me and he's not around to see it. But it does anyway.


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