Friday, April 16, 2010

Naj 'n' Mice

These days life is rough on me. A little less than two weeks ago, right after the Easter Holiday, which I had spent fix 'n upping my new apartment, decorating it to my taste and making it a home, I dropped off my "mouse" at the airport, went back teary eyed, sat in my bright and beautiful living room, and picked a book on Film Noir to enjoy a moment of solitude.

Just as I was sinking in my moment, I saw a noir mouse traverse my house, from the far right edge of the new Old French cabinet I had just bought towards the far left where my modern i-stuff played some Maike music. At that moment, I think, all the happiness of past and future ended for me; for ever!

"Pray I have become schizophrenic, and this is just hallucination", I announced to my facebook watchers. But to my dismay, I was no schizophrenic, the mouse, which was perhaps disgruntled by my screams, rushed back to the far right and disappeared. But this was not the last of our encounters.

There I was; a 4 decades old woman; in a foreign country, on a sofa, SCREAMING my lungs out, in the hope that a neighbor would call the police, or knock on my door, and save me from the big black mouse. But it didn't happen.

Thanks to facebook, it didn't take long for some of my artist and psychiatrist friends to rush to my counseling: 'it's all in your mind', 'they won't eat you', 'get humane traps', 'guide them out of the door', 'get a cat', 'if you must kill, buy fast-killing products'. Their advice, and my husband on skype, keeping an eye on the rat-hole, helped me pull myself together enough to descend the sofa, put on gloves and get a broom.

Weaponized--but still trembling in tear--I got into action: email all friends and colleagues in 5 miles radius to HELP me; and call some sisters 5000 miles away to see if they have ever encountered mice in their married lives. They had; and that was reassuring. But just as the reassurance peace was beginning to befall me, I saw TWO of them, criss-crossing: one left to right and the other perpendicularly along the L- edge of the kitchen ...

I was pitiful: screaming blue, in fact screaming rainbow, and flooding myself in tears ... if I had poison in that moment, I will have taken it myself without hesitation. It wasn't the mice that was depressing me, it was my uncontrollable fear, my phobia, the gut wrenching disgust, the mental breakdown of feeling they were crawling on my body, the imagination of their smell, and it was the ANGER about their audacity to come to my space, although I had made it known to them that I was there, with a broom, ready to kill ... and yet, they seemed unimpressed, they, the two of them, one thin and small, the other one big and fat, darker than any mice I had seen before (the science ones are white or gray, I had never seen black mice) ... and the fact that they PAUSED, paused to stare me in the face and return with a posture of "annoyance" because I screamed ... screamed like AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA with the highest pitch my chords could muster, with the strongest anger and agony I had EVER experienced in life.

I have been reflecting on that agony:

Was it perhaps because of having come face to face with the "desire", to kill, kill a mammal, that shared with me if nothing else a hippocampus, a memory-emotion regulator?

Was it the disgust of imagining the scene of "killing" with a fatal blow delivered by a broom--as I had seen my brave mother do once--or the disgust of having to deal with the dead remains--as I had seem my brave mother do once. ?

Fear was making me a mammal killer.

Throughout my life, I can be charged with spider and insect slaughter, but I always had men do it for me; I would run in fear to the arms of a lover and seduce him to kill them for me, and seduce them out of nature, out of camping, out of fun because of my spider-phobia. But now, here I was alone, lovers an ocean apart, face to face with "enemy", the fat and thin black mice!

"intellectualize, intellectualize", I told myself; while scrambling to figure out what "exterminator" means in Germanic!

It was Easter weekend and no one was there to come to my rescue; and definitely no one to desire mouse-killing as much as I did! Even the exterminator, whom I succeeded on catching on the phone, wanted $1000 to come. He would charge three times less to come in the morning; and I didn't have money to pay him in that evening; and I hoped my intellectualization would help me out of pocketing out that much money in the morning after--which I need for traveling and movies and books.

To intellectualize, I had a PhD that was granted partly on my clever understanding of the neurophysiology of the mouse brain and translating it to humans! Theoretically, I knew what to do and what not to do to handle stressed mice: I needed to frighten them enough to remember I was dangerous; but I also needed to not frighten them so much that they forget the way the came from, and become neurotic and anxious wanderers in my home for good!

But my theories, were good for nothing. Because interacting with those theoretical factors was my own fear, my tangible phobia: the gut twisting nausea that made me cry for one evening straight, that made me shake and scream shamelessly-despite my stiff-upper-lip personality.

"The mouse HAD to die", I had concluded. I couldn't intellectualize myself into accepting a co-existence. Maybe I would have conjured enough courage and naturallism to accept, if they were not such filthy, pushy, reproductively prolific species. Maybe I would have been able to like them, if I had grown up with a hamster. Maybe I would have been able to live with them if I had looked them in the eye, and had found some inter-mammalian intersubjectivity. But none of that had happened, and none of that was going to happen.

The last time I had come face to face with a rodent, was in a neurophysiology laboratory: a beautiful friend of mine, who happened to be a green-eyed veiled Iraqi woman, anesthetized a white rat with some fume, and guillotined it and shipped it to the slicing department. I still smell the blood of the dead white rat. I intellectualized the process then, kept a scientifically stiff upper lip--but then never went back. How could I? And now, here I am "intent" on klilling mice, and at the same time dreading the deed.

48 hours after my initial encounter with mice, I had a complete anti-mouse arsenal in my possession: I made duct tape balls and stuck them in the one hole I found in the kitchen cabinet--a really sloppy cabinet making job! I had my landlord's wife buy poison and traps, which she bravely installed in front of the hole (because she is not afraid of mice, but her husband is!). And I hired a much cheaper exterminator who brought me enough poison for me to stage a bio-war against any species--my family was not too pleased with the notion of poison in my possession :). In addition, I made duct tape barriers between the kitchen and the livingroom and installed vertical items that would fall if touched by mice, so that I can monitor their movement! I had some sense of "control". I could sleep at least, although I decided I would stay in the office until sleep hours!

Every day and night, I closely monitored the traps and the poison; and everyday I sighed in relief that the poison and the traps where untouched! The exterminator told me they will come for the poison after 5 days. 5 days came and left; and no sight or sound of mice I heard. I spent a peaceful weekend, with attention acutely spent on the slightest noise in the cabinet area! None!

I started singing in my house again; and even cooked and bought a cake. 10 days had passed and my contraptions and poisonous installations were untouched.

Until today!

I found the poison in front of my deadly trap consumed ...

Soon a mouse will die ...

stupid mouse ...

It will stink ...

It may struggle to die before my eye ...

I will be forced to deal with the remains ...

I may have to end its life so it won't suffer ...

Nausea ...
Nausea ...
Nausea ...

I must accept that mice and men have co-existed for ever ... but how can I keep them at an arms length without killing them ... how can I limit their reproduction and droppings in my space ...

I am suffering a moment of the life of pi


nunya said...

My friends had rats and mice, there was an open field across the road from them. They went through a half-dozen large traps until the seemingly endless amount of rats died and then they were left with the stubborn thin, black, large mouse. The lapdogs they have are completely useless against rodents. I swear those stupid dogs are vegetarian, lol. So anyway as soon as they gave him a name (Mr. Higgins) he disappeared. I saw the little bugger, he was very big for a mouse, and ugly. I'm glad he's gone though.

I would be careful with poison, though, I've heard they stink if they die in the walls. You can put the gloves on, grab the broom and dustpan and chuck the whole trap with the critter into the dustbin, eh?

Be brave and patient Naj. Keep up the pest control methods, it will all work out.

Anonymous said...

فَكُلِي وَاشْرَبِي وَقَرِّي عَيْنًا

ملاصدرامی گوید
خداوند بي‌نهايت است و لامكان و بي زمان
اما به قدر فهم تو كوچك مي‌شود
و به قدر نياز تو فرود مي‌آيد، و به قدر آرزوي تو گسترده مي‌شود،
و به قدر ايمان تو كارگشا مي‌شود،
و به قدر نخ پير زنان دوزنده باريك مي‌شود،
و به قدر دل اميدواران گرم مي‌شود...
پــدر مي‌شود يتيمان را و مادر..
برادر مي‌شود محتاجان برادري را.
همسر مي‌شود بي همسر ماندگان را.
طفل مي‌شود عقيمان را.
اميد مي‌شود نااميدان را.
راه مي‌شود گم‌گشتگان را.
نور مي‌شود در تاريكي ماندگان را.
شمشير مي‌شود رزمندگان را.
عصا مي‌شود پيران را.
عشق مي‌شود محتاجانِ به عشق را...
خداوند همه چيز مي‌شود همه كس را.
به شرط اعتقاد؛ به شرط پاكي دل؛ به شرط طهارت روح؛
به شرط پرهيز از معامله با ابليس.
بشوييد قلب‌هايتان را از هر احساس ناروا!
و مغزهايتان را از هر انديشه خلاف،
و زبان‌هايتان را از هر گفتار ِناپاك،
و دست‌هايتان را از هر آلودگي در بازار...
و بپرهيزيد از ناجوانمردي‌ها، ناراستي‌ها، نامردمي‌ها!
چنين كنيد تا ببينيد كه خداوند، چگونه بر سفره‌ي شما، با كاسه‌يي خوراك و تكه‌اي نان مي‌نشيند و بر بند تاب، با كودكانتان تاب مي‌خورد، و در دكان شما كفه‌هاي ترازويتان را ميزان مي‌كند
و "در كوچه‌هاي خلوت شب با شما آواز مي‌خواند"
مگر از زندگي چه مي‌خواهيد،
كه در خدايي خدا يافت نمي‌شود، كه به شيطان پناه مي‌بريد؟

كه در عشق يافت نمي‌شود، كه به نفرت پناه مي‌بريد؟

كه در سلامت يافت نمي‌شود كه به خلاف پناه مي‌بريد؟

قلب‌هايتان را از حقارت كينه تهي كنيدو با عظمت عشق پر كنيد.

زيرا كه عشق چون عقاب است. بالا مي‌پرد و دور...

بي اعتنا به حقيران ِ در روح.

كينه چون لاشخور و كركس است.

كوتاه مي‌پرد و سنگين. جز مردار به هيچ چيز نمي‌انديشد.

بـراي عاشق، ناب ترين، شور است و زندگي و نشاط.

براي لاشخور،خوبترين،جسدي ست متلاشي ...

انشا‌الله که غم اخرتان باشد

خدا کریمه.

قلم نام.

Naj said...

Wow; my old friends :) Missed you both! Thanks.