Friday, November 12, 2010

Dead Mice vs. Book Sales

Mice. In our house. We have mice in our house!!!

I was enjoying the first quiet period I’ve had, probably in three years. Kids were asleep; husband was at a garage sale. I was in the recliner, reading. The house was gloriously silent. In this dead silence, a mouse ran into the center of the living room, saw me, and ran back under the sofa. My feet were up. I actually had time to read in the middle of the day. Sometimes, as a mother, you make choices you never thought you’d make when you were single. I kept reading. Then a second mouse appeared (different color), saw me, and ran back under the couch. I debated. I read another paragraph. Then I got up and called my husband on his cell. Miraculously, he had it turned on and he heard it. He’d found a used swing set for $10. I asked him to pick up mouse traps on his way home. I brought my dog in from outside. He didn’t want to hang out with me. He wanted to go back outside, so I had to use the baby gate to trap him in the living room with me. I had this notion that he might catch one of the mice. As soon as he fell asleep, a third mouse appeared, saw the dog, and ran back under the couch. My husband called. He was stuck on the interstate, behind an accident, with the swing set strapped to his little pick-up truck. “Get home as soon as you can,” I said. “I have the mice cornered behind the sofa.”

No more appearances by mice. My husband walked in full of doom and gloom about the mice. “Once you have mice, they’re here to stay. They were all in the sofa??? There's probably a nest in the sofa!” etc. By the time he was done, I was totally freaked out. I had to leave the room when he pulled back the sofa.

There was no nest. There were no mice. The little rascals got by me and my dog. Probably through the ventilation system. We set spring traps. That evening, as we watched TV, I saw a mouse run down our hall three times. Our traps caught no mice.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. We got glue traps. I had a mouse problem in college. Of course, that was in a dorm, in Brooklyn, NY. You expect mice there, but not in Omaha. I am morally opposed to glue traps. Mice don’t die instantly – they suffer. But in college, the spring traps didn’t catch them. And on one quiet, Brooklyn day, when I was studying philosophy in the kitchen and my roommates were gone for the weekend, a family of seven mice walked across our linoleum floor. They also got into all our food, including the bag of bread on top of our refrigerator. So I solved my moral dilemma. I only put the glue traps down when I was home. As soon as a mouse was caught, I threw it out my sixth story window. I killed ten or twelve mice this way. (Relax! They all landed in the courtyard in the center of the building. No one had access to the courtyard).

My husband bought twenty glue traps, which we put out after the kids went to bed. No mice.

Now, coincidently, I have an ebook for sale on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and Smashwords. Every day I can see the sales I made. You might think I’d check daily for a week, then get bored and check weekly. But no, I check my sales about 25 times a day. I feel like a rat, pushing a button to get a pellet. Sometimes, I get a sale, sometimes I get four sales, sometimes I get nothing. In research studies, the more pellets the rat gets, the less it pushes the button. The more intermittent the reward, the more it keeps pushing. So, basically, I’m a rat. A writer rat. Now, here’s the weird part. The first day that I had no sale, we caught a mouse. Then I had sales for four days. No mice. Then a day with no sales, but a dead mouse. So now, I’m torn. Do I root for a book sale, or a dead mouse? And why can’t I have both? Because God thinks he’s pretty damn funny, I guess. Or fate, or the universe, or the Mouse God. Which would you root for? Book sales or dead mice?

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