Thursday, August 19, 2004


"Time and again we read of women travelers being thwarted by male officialdom simply because they were women, often through the agency of bureaucrats too timid to admit it," the travel writer Jan Morris notes in a foreword to the catalog.
"How different is it for women now," writes Ms. Morris, who was James Morris before undergoing a sex change. "I have had the peculiar experience of traveling both as a man and as a woman and I have reached the conclusion, on the whole, that during my own traveling years the female traveler has had it easier than the male." She added, "To this day, the human sorority is stronger by far than the fraternity."

Those are encouraging words. I'm daydreaming about travelling in northern Africa, and feeling a bit daunted by the idea. Maybe things will work out better than I'm fearing. And how interesting. There can't be too many people in a position to make a first-hand comparison of the experience of travel as a man and as a woman. Call me Tiresias.

addictive pleasures

Recently I moved my stuff from one room to another in my apartment to make way for my new roommates. In the process I got to do a lot of sorting through old junk. Throwing things out is a heady drug. I found myself getting on a roll, brutally wrenching books from the bookshelf to be sold at the local used-book store, culling any piece of clothing I hadn't worn in a year (well...maybe two years.....well, there were a few I couldn't bear to part with....) the end it got so that I was having to fish important financial documents out of the recycling bin, where they'd been tossed in my wild-eyed fervour.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

There's a rat in my kitchen what am I gonna do?

So I got back from Vancouver to find Droppings in the pantry. My roommates had, naturally, not noticed a thing. I went and got some mouse traps and put them around where the little darlings would be tempted by the All-Natural Healthy-Ass Peanut Butter and would fail to notice the All-Natural Head-Chopping-Off device. A few days later I noticed more droppings and was mildly annoyed that the critters had spurned my traps, until I started cleaning up the droppings and noticed the Footprints. This was no mouse I was dealing with. At first I thought "agouti" or "capybara", but then I realized that "rat" was more probable. As in, "Monster Rat who would laugh in a bone-chilling sinister manner at my pathetic attempts at traps, ha ha ha". I called the landlord, who called an exterminator, who came in and put down Seriously Big-Ass Traps and blocked up some holes and put poison behind the blocked-up holes. Unable to face the thought of sharing a space with that Beast any longer, I went away for a week...and came back to a Smell in the stairwell. With great fortitude and determination, I ignored it. The next day it was worse. And then as I was parking my bike in the stairwell, I saw...a tail.

O horror, horror, horror! Tongue nor heart
Cannot conceive nor name thee!

With a heroic spirit of independence, I called the emergency maintenance guy. He laughed at me. He didn't want to make a special trip to throw out a dead rat. I thought about trying to explain to him that this wasn't a dead rat, it was a dead, rotting, possibly-being-devoured-by-maggots, Beast of Doom, but I didn't think I'd be able to make him understand. He finally said that if he ended up going my way he'd come take care of it, but when I got off the phone I said (out loud) "Fuck it. I'm doing this myself."

I gathered my courage, an old broom, and two cardboard boxes, figuring I'd scoot the Beast into one of the boxes with the broom handle and then put one box into the other, thereby shielding myself from whatever nastiness would come along with the Beast. I got everything all set up--the boxes strategically placed, the broom handle poised within an inch of Beast--and I froze. I simply couldn't move any closer. I put down the broom and went outside and started crying. "My best friends have all moved out of town this week, my ex-boyfriend probably wants to hunt me down and kill me, I'm never going to finish my dissertation...and now there's a rat in my basement! Waaah!"

And then I went back inside and did the job. I'd like to say that it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it was actually worse. I hadn't expected quite so many maggots. I poured a bunch of bleach on them, which seemed to kill most of the stench, but oh dear lord. If I ever, EVER have to do that again it will be far too soon.