I’m working on about 4 hours of sleep right now. Not because I was up all night clubbing, not because I have a 3-month old baby I have to breastfeed every two hours. But because I woke up at 4 am to strange, yet somewhat familiar, noises that led me to barricading myself in my bedroom and sitting up for hours with the lights on, fighting the urge to go to the bathroom and see what was going bump in the night.
Let me explain the paranoia. I live in New York City, the place where rats outnumber people. I’ve had mice in my apartment; I’ve had mice in two of my apartments. I’ve also come home to find a cat sitting in the middle of my bed after it tore through the side of my AC in the window, likely to get to the mice I referenced above. I have a history of warm-bodied mammals who don’t pay rent and weren’t invited creeping into my home.
And it’s for that reason when I heard what sounded like someone — or something– ruffling through papers or trash bags in the wee hours of the morning that I went into panic mode. You know, when you sit up in bed and stop breathing to make sure you really heard what you’re hearing. The noise sounded just like the mice in my Brooklyn apartment who chewed up those packages of so-called poisonous pellets every night behind my stove like they were chicklets. This cannot be happening again, I thought as I prayed to the entire holy trinity about my situation.
Jesus, you know I’m already paranoid.
I can’t come home to dead mice on glue traps and the sounds of the squealing dead dying again.
Who would I ask to throw them out? I’m single. I don’t talk to my neighbors. Maybe the man who flirts with me at the bodega will help?
Dis tew much.
What’s worse is I started visualizing a scene of terror to match the sounds.
Why did I leave those two grocery bags of trash on the floor of my hallway instead of hanging them on the door knob to take out the next morning like I normally do? I bet they shredded through the plastic and are eating last night’s dinner while I sit here scared to death.
My vivid imagination somehow gave me the courage to run to the french doors to my bedroom, lock them shut, and sit back on my bed Indian style, contemplating my fate. The problem is when I went to my bedroom door and peaked in the hallway, those trashbags by my front door were intact; no mouse scurried across the floor at the sound of my footsteps.
Ugh that means they probably climbed on top of the kitchen counter and bit through that empty pizza box you were planning to throw out this morning.
Eewww what if it hides inside and jumps out on your face when you pick it up in the morning!?
Or what if it’s not a mouse at all? I’ve had bigger animals in my house before. Maybe a racoon is rummaging through the plastic wrap from the new clothes I just bought. What if a homeless man broke in and he’s eating those nasty salt-free rice cakes I bought for the Daniel Fast I’m supposed to be on and that’s where the sound is coming from? Did I lock my door last night? I didn’t triple-check like I usually do.
And so the rabbit hole of hysteria continued as I drummed up nearly impossible scenarios that kept me wide awake and wishing I had a man, a gun, a mouse trap, and a little bit of Jesus to get me through. I actually did have to tap into the latter when around 5:30 am, my bladder could no longer hold itself and I had to decide whether I could face myself in the morning if I really squatted and peed in a water bottle in my own home or face my fears like a G.
What’s that Bible verse? God never puts more on you than you can bare.
What are you afraid of that’s bigger than God? Nothing? Well alright then.
And that’s when I devised a plan to take my cell and a (matching) bra and panties, because apparently I’m never too scared to color coordinate, with me to the bathroom so that if I actually made it past the kitchen to the bathroom with no incident but saw something on my way back I could at least run out the house fully dressed. I could also lock myself in the bathroom and sit on the toilet until a respectable hour to call my landlord or animal protections and not be naked and afraid when they pried me off the bathroom floor. It was a toss up.
As may come as no surprise to you at this point, I saw nothing. The grocery bags were intact; the empty pizza box still closed on the corner of my kitchen counter waiting for me to throw it out, nothing ran out from under the bathroom door, and there wasn’t a mouse dropping to speak of.
Well, what the f-ck!?
I mean, it’s not like I wanted Mickey and friends to wish me a good morning but I also didn’t want to be the crazy woman who did the absolute most in the middle of the night for no reason when she could’ve been sleep. Sadly, I can’t say for sure that I’m not her. After turning on every light in my little one bedroom apartment, sifting through the clothes I’d laid out to wear on my couch, tossing the plastic wrap those new items came in, and throwing out the trash, there was nothing.
But just as I began to write this piece, I started to hear a sound again. I tip-toed in my living room to see what the cause could be. I looked to my heater and thought, could it really have been this radiator that I heard all along? Don’t get me wrong, I considered that a possibility last night, but my noise localization sensibilities told me the sound was coming from a mouse. In my kitchen. Eating plastic bags. Beside a homeless man. Or maybe that was the wine I had before dozing off.
Either way, I did ask my landlord to come through. He, of course, isn’t free until tomorrow. I, of course, still have every light in my apartment on and the blinds open for extra sunlight because I’m not totally convinced I’m in here alone. What I do know is I can’t have a repeat of last night tonight. My nerves won’t allow it. The bags under my eyes won’t allow it. My boss likely won’t allow it when I explain I can’t work because I let a radiator rob me of my peace of mind. Again I say, dis tew much.