Things Look Big in a Small World

I had this mouse in a trap. Not one of those spring traps—a tiny plastic grey box, with a lid that flips up and then flips down when the mouse steps in. I’d put a big blueberry in there, way down at the end (which was, like, an inch and a half in). I’d put it on the stove, where I knew he’d been.

He’d been up in the treehouse for about a week. At first I thought that my house guest had spilled black tea on the counters, and I kept cleaning it up (thinking a little ill of my house guest). But then the tea came back after the house guest left. Shit. That’s when I realized I had a mouse.

And then I went into the kitchen in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep, and as I flipped on the light, the mouse ran down the broom and in among the plates on the shelves below the counter. I’d imagined he was tiny, but he wasn’t. He was biggish, and brown/gray.

Another thanksgiving at LB's, this one in 2007. Pictured here: LB, Julia, and my mother's Thanksgiving sweet pototoes)

So the next morning I went out and bought a two-pack of these little traps. And I put a blueberry in each. And he fell for it, when I was over at LB’s for Thanksgiving, drinking a bottle of wine, and, as LB put it afterwards, “feasting and facing facts.” There’d been some crying.

Anyway, I put the trap into a pie pan at around 10:30 or 11:00 P.M., and walked down the steep, dark flight of wooden stairs to my car, and drove the mouse 1.2 miles, since I’d read that you had to take them at least a mile away, or they’d find their way home. What if he had a family? A wife and some babies? What if he had friends who loved him, a sweetheart, a really nice home? (Well, he did have a nice home—mine.) What if he got lonely?

I pulled off the side of a side road under a streetlamp, so I could see what I was doing, got out of the car with the pie plate, knelt down in the cold grass, and turned the little trap over.

He came tumbling out, his tiny feet splayed like he was skydiving. He was not big—not when you compared him to the starry universe overhead. He was just a tiny thing. He almost paused, as if he wasn’t scared, and then trundled off in the direction of my place—toward the graham crackers, and the protector’s Newtons—which, if you cut across Sep’s fields, was, I realized, probably only three-quarters of a mile. Chances were he’d beat me home.

But he hasn’t been here, and two days have gone by. I’m feeling myself getting very sad again. The world is a miracle, and at the same time a terrible place. We should all be only kind.


I was fried tonight, so fried, and sitting in a tiny theatre in Tribeca, waiting for a play to start. It was raining, and it’s the new thing in New York City these days to start events late when it’s raining (this is for all the Cab People who are taking up space where the artists used to be). Anyway, the show was starting late, and men in suits were walking from the lobby into the theatre with bottles of beer in their hands, waving them around like they were about to watch the game on TV.

It was because I was tired that I was disgusted. (It is because I am tired that I’m sad again.) Anyway, I was sitting there, damp as a dog, beerless, sitting next to my usual empty seat (I mostly go to plays alone now), wanting to cry, wanting to vomit, and I noticed Sigourney Weaver moving around the theatre like she owned the place.

I checked my funky-Tribeca-theatre-Xeroxed-sheet-that-takes-the-place-of-a-Playbill, but she wasn’t in the cast, nor was she a producer, or on the board of directors. Still, she seemed to know many of the thin older ladies in very high heels who were sitting in the top rows. (In the old days, at the Fillmore East, we used to call that section “junkie heaven.”) The point is that what I saw amazed me in my fragile state. First, she came down from junkie heaven and surveyed the rows of suits with beers. She looked at me and my seat, but thought better of it: there was a “reserved” sign on the back of my empty seat, which meant that I was press, and you don’t mess with press. So then she looked at the row in front of me, which also had an empty seat.

“Excuse me,” she called down the row. “Excuse me.” She got the attention of the suits with beers and their wives (who all seemed to be wearing diamond nose rings). “Do you think you could all move down one?” And they did. Sigourney Weaver got an entire row of seats to move down one, ten minutes after a play was supposed to start. Then, instead of sitting down in the empty seat she had created, she walked away.

I was amused and still sad and disgusted. Then I looked up and saw a sign with the name of the play: “She Kills Monsters.” I don’t know: I was tired. I was annoyed. I was glad that the universe, at least, had a sense of humor I could dig.


I see a little red arrow, and I see numbers—I wonder what they have to do with one another?
Though I was miserable, I so loved the thing of being a young adult who believed that I would go far, if only I put my shoulder to it. Oh, my god: the guy I would marry! the work I would do! The success! The success!

Not. Turns out that, at my age, you’re doing well if you can, as Russell Crowe once said to me, “keep up with the apologies.” And the tricky/funny thing is that, as I do more and more damage to my relationships, and get more and more horrendously painful feedback, I just get worse! I think that honesty is a virtue that I will not compromise.

This could get deep, but my eggs are getting cold and I have to practice. Or think about practicing, at least.

So my mind doesn’t function the way it used to, and now, in order to remember anything, I have to be reminded. That is, I go along dumbly mostly, living by habit (set the alarm, sleep, wake up—coffee first, or shower?—get in car, drive, work, come home, eat, suffer for several hours, set alarm…), until someone says something that triggers a memory, and, bam!, the routine is suddenly broken, and I’m back at a time when there was another routine! How nice that they’re different!

Anyway. So the heat was off at the yoga studio this morning (I was home—suffering, but enjoying having a morning), and someone called me to tell me. So I called the landlord, and he said that he’d have someone come over. Then he said that he was going to have them install the “simplest” thermostat, so that we would be able to use it. “No complex switches, and programming times,” which would just confuse us.

Oh, my god, it came rushing back: men in the nineteen-seventies. It’s been a long time since someone talked to me like that—like I was incapable of working a thermostat. (OK, Jim, this is just me entertaining myself—I like you: you’re a good guy.) But it used to happen all the time back then, this assumption that I was…what was it? Stupid? It might not have been so bad if I weren’t actually smart. I told the landlord that I was able to work a thermostat, and he said, “No, no—not you: but the others,” or something like that. The others are fucking brilliant, __________.*

I loved it, back in the day, on some level: all that crazy condescension by so many men I met. On some level it really stoked my own sense of superiority, along with my rage. And you know what? Someday I’d show them.

But, it didn’t turn out that way. Turned out that I had, by necessity, to become a pacifist, and try to learn to tame my mind for the benefit of beings. Sigh. And really, the farthest I’ve gotten is being able to look at my rage sometimes, and not get too, too caught up in it—that is, only a little caught up.**

So. That’s the news from East Marion: where life has lead so far.


**I’m not mad at men as a category anymore, just to be clear (Rod).