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The mouse and the potato.

7.16.2017


My first apartment was exactly what a first apartment is supposed to be, in ways both good and bad.

James, the boyfriend, and I had been dating for just over a year when we decided it was time for us to move in together. This was largely because I can’t stay up past 10pm to save my life and on our late-night dates I kept either falling asleep at his place and getting locked out of my own, or the few times I somehow, miraculously managed to stay awake I would ride my little scooter (a red Honda metro, fondly named Ruby) home, but the combined weight of both me and the scooter wasn’t enough to trip the sensors and make the stoplights change, so I’d end up sitting at an entirely vacant red light at 3am trying to decide if the ticket for getting caught on camera running the light was ultimately worth it.

I was nineteen and we were poor, but in that blissful sort of unaware way where neither of us understood what we might be missing (a living room, outlets that don’t spark when you put plugs in them, air conditioning) just yet. We had no idea what to look for in an apartment and couldn’t afford anything halfway decent anyways, but we wanted to live downtown, feeling the pull of coffee shops, used bookstores, and tall buildings with busy sidewalks.

Eventually, we (I say “we,” but really it was just me calling James one day after spamming his phone with a dozen pictures going LOOK WHAT I FOUND and telling him I’d picked out our new apartment) came across an ad for a tiny little loft right in the heart of downtown and I was sold. Head over heels, y’all.

It was everything I wanted (and nothing I needed) with its hardwood floors, wide, arched doorways, old-fashioned windows that you literally had to crank open, ancient wrought-iron fire escape that would provide absolutely no means of escape, but which I ended up using for my potted herb garden (until they all fell to their death during a bad windstorm– I was devastated), and my very first kitchen to call my own.

We loved it there. Except when we hated it– like when the bells from the magnificent, towering cathedral across the street (literally, no more than twenty yards away) would chime super early on Sunday mornings, or when we were woken up in the middle of the night by a not-so-casual drugs bust happening down the hall, or, somehow even more worrisome, when we discovered that we had an unwelcome guest living in our midst: namely, a mouse. And it was entirely because of the kitchen, my beautiful, charming, yellow-tiled, sunlight-filled kitchen, that we had the mouse at all.

Our apartment was on the top floor of a building dating back to somewhere in the early 1900’s, before there was, you know, comfort, or widespread use of modern appliances– meaning most people didn’t have refrigerators or the ones they did have were much shorter and smaller. Because of this, the standard size refrigerator the place came with barely fit at the far end of my kitchen. There was a little nook, clearly designed for something half its size, into which someone had shoved the refrigerator, making it impossible to open half the cabinets, or the freezer door, or have more than two people in the kitchen at any given time. It also meant that the oven/stove couldn’t be upgraded from the very small, very ancient retro one because there was simply nowhere to fit a normal sized appliance (I hear some of you wondering where the dishwasher fit– don’t make me laugh).

So, my darling kitchen was equipped with an oven barely wider than a casserole dish and a stovetop featuring roughly one and half burners (on a good day), no pantry whatsoever (though there was an odd door in the wall that opened up to a half-sized ironing board that would occasionally spring open of its own volition and scare the shit out of us) and now– a mouse.

The mouse got in through the oven. Well, I say “through,” but really it was behind.

Your girl here likes to cook, not that I’ve ever been any good at it. And when we moved into this apartment I was going through a serious Julia Child phase. It was French food all day, every day: soufflés, roast chicken with cream sauces, pan-fried fish with herbs, mushrooms done every way you can imagine, potatoes dripping in butter– I was possessed. And in my enthusiasm, I may have pushed our little oven, bless its heart, just a bit too far. So far, in fact, that I actually warped the whole thing, leaving the door unable to close entirely, leaking hot air into the kitchen, and a gap of several inches between the back of the oven and the wall– which was when we discovered the hole: a hole the size of a tennis ball with a couple of dangling wires and quite a lot of teeth marks surrounding it. And that very night was when we first heard the mouse.

It took me, someone who had a pet mouse as a girl (well two, actually, but the second one bit us so my brother and I “set it free” at the local cemetery– why there, I don’t know) a surprisingly long time to figure out what the skitter-scatter noises, which sounded sort of like very specifically focused hailstones, or possibly rice being thrown onto the floor, actually were: tiny mouse feet running from one end of our apartment to the other in the middle of the night. But finally, one morning, I SAW HIM.

I was sitting on my bed (no couches, only adults have real furniture) when I heard it again, that weird clattering noise. Is the floor crumbling away from below? Is my downstairs neighbor trying to morse-code it up with me? What is it? And just then, I turned my head and there he was– sitting, cool as can be, right smack in the middle of my kitchen floor, brown and fluffy, and looking quite pleased with himself.

Moments like these are a mark of how much we humans have yet to evolve. I threw my pen at him. Why? I don’t know. I followed it with my notebook, for reasons passing understanding. And let me just say– if mice could laugh, this one would have been hamming it up as he watched my pen go flying by (no hand-eye coordination lives in this body, none) and my notebook smack into a chair nowhere near him, before he scampered off, underneath the oven, back up into the wall, and away to tell his friends about the stupid-human-girl that he scared.

When James returned home I told him what had gone down. The apartment wasn’t haunted (as he’d hopefully believed), but rather we had a third tenant who was not paying his fair share of the rent. We decided the best solution was to duct-tape the hole in the wall closed and prevent the mouse from entering in the first place. Sticky-traps (what a terrible way to die) and snap-traps (mouse guts on the floor? hard pass) were neither of them an option, so we wedged our way behind the oven and plastered duct-tape over every crack and crevice we could find.

That night, all was silent.

The next morning, feeling pretty adultish and rather impressed with ourselves, we went to check the hole.

It had been chewed through. 

Remnants of tape littered the floor; little Mr. Brown had made extremely quick work of it in the night, much to our frustration. We taped it up again, because what else was there to do, and talked about calling the landlord.

The following morning I woke up after James had already left for work. This time, the tape covering the hole in the wall had been, almost lazily, pushed aside. As if the mouse had decided it really just wasn’t worth his time to put any real effort into showing us silly humans how truly out of our depth we were. However, oddly enough, there was a bowl on the ground with a potato underneath it. The rest of the potatoes were still in their bag up on the nearby counter (no pantry, remember), along with the clean dishes on the drying rack. Only this particular potato and bowl seemed to have migrated during the night, for some unknown reason.

Too busy worrying about the mouse to really pay much attention to this strange discovery, I picked up the bowl and called James to update him.

He answered and moments into my tirade on the ineffectiveness of duct-tape he suddenly goes “I forgot to tell you! I caught the mouse last night!”

“What? You caught it? How?!”

“It was on the floor! In the kitchen! I trapped it under a bowl! Is he still there?!”

I glanced down at the potato, still on the tile. “…you trapped it under a bowl?”

“Yeah, he was right by the oven and I grabbed the bowl and trapped him underneath it!” he tells me, sounding very proud.

“You mean…this potato?” I asked him.

“Potato? What potato?”

“The one I just found sitting under this bowl on the floor?”

“What?” he says. “No, it was the mouse.”

“Nuh uh. This is definitely a potato.”

“Why would there be a potato on the floor?”

“I think it may have rolled off the counter.”

“You mean–”

“Yeah. You trapped a potato.”

Apparently, in the middle of the night James had gone to the kitchen for a drink and spotted, in the darkness, a mouse-shaped lump on the floor and thought, mostly asleep as he was, that he could catch it. After slamming the bowl over the mouse/potato he simply went back to bed and, being dead to the world before 10am, completely forgot about it the next morning until I called. I, who can sleep through literally anything, heard none of the mouse/potato commotion and woke to find the results.

That night we drew whiskers, ears, and a tail on the potato, commemorating its honorary status as both rodent and vegetable, and put it back up on the ledge next to the oven. Apparently mice are afraid of potatoes because we never saw Mr. Brown, slayer of duct-tape and conquerer of apartments, ever again.

Hey y’all.

7.11.2017

IMG_1659

I know it was ages ago that I said I was going to start blogging more and actually use this little website of mine here, but life has been busy and it’s been too hot to do much more than lay on the living room floor re-reading old books or venture out into the heat to experiment with what kinds of foods can be snuck into the—blissfully— air conditioned movie theater around the corner from my apartment. Spoiler alert: all kinds. Your girl here can get like a lot of candy and several varieties of pasta wedged into her bag—plus drinks. So, basically I’m the best (cheapest) movie date ever.

Anyways, since I haven’t made much use of my sad, neglected, little blog and I’ve gained some new followers on Instagram as of late, I thought it might be fun to do a little ‘getting-to-know-you’ type of post. I have shamelessly stolen a bunch of questions off of Tumblr from a post of asks and this is the result. So, here are ten random facts about me. Enjoy!

Where are you from?

My family is from a small town in southern Utah (really small, like less than 1000 people small), but I was born in Salt Lake City. We moved around a lot when I was younger, but, for the most part, I grew up in the Salt Lake valley, where I currently live.

What is your first happy memory?

This is a tough one as I have a notoriously bad memory. I’ll forget whole conversations, but remember where everyone in a room was seated while we were all talking. It’s super helpful.

I think, however, that my first happy memory is either my mother sitting me on her lap and teaching me to read (Winnie the Pooh yo), or when she took a very tiny me to the hot air balloon festival they do down in Albuquerque. I remember seeing this giant, colossus of a balloon that was painted bright yellow and had a huge smiley face on it and being like holy shit, I want one. All the balloons seemed impossibly big, especially to little ol’ me who couldn’t even get up onto our hotel bed without help, and the whole thing felt magical and otherworldly.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Everything: doctor, lawyer (thanks Reese Witherspoon), teacher (I used to give lectures to my stuffed animals), scientist, writer, farmer, ballerina, mermaid, gypsy (*cough-Esmerelda-cough*), violinist, computer programmer, artist, potter, chef/restaurant owner, journalist—seriously everything. You know those aptitude tests they start giving you in middle school (because apparently high school is too late to wait to scare the hell out of your kid about what job they’ll be in for the rest of their life), the ones where it’s supposed to tell you what career you’re meant to have? Yeah, well, I failed them all. I’d have teachers coming to my desk with the results saying “Well, it says you’re best suited to be either an accountant or a poet, so…”

As it is, I’m deliriously happy with my chosen work, which not one of those tests ever predicted. *eyeroll*

Coffee or tea?

Tea. If I want to experience the taste of licking the pavement I can get that for free.

Five things that make you happy?

In no particular order: books, movies, food, my family/friends, and my pet bunny. (Who are we kidding, of course there’s an order and food always comes first dontchaknow.)

What are you most proud of?

My book. Writing it, making it worth however much of someone else’s time it would take them to read it, has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m not saying the book itself is worthy of any significant amount of pride (reading my own writing is far too much of a cringe-fest for that), more that I’m proud of myself for my work in creating it.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Oh my god, I’m the most obnoxious early bird you’ll ever meet. Ask any of my friends or family. I’m the girl that falls asleep before 10pm at parties, during movies, on New Year’s Eve, but is bright and chipper at 5am for no reason, whatsoever. I have no problem waking up early, even without an alarm, but I can’t stay up late to save my life.

Biggest fears?

Death, failure, space. Space is scary as shit, you guys. It just goes ON AND ON. Ugh, I hate even thinking about it. Also, I’m afraid that one day there’ll be some kind of apocalypse scenario in which I won’t be able to buy the magnesium supplements I like anymore. I think about that last one all the time.

Do you have any tattoos or piercings? 

I’ve got a second piercing on my left ear, because I was oh-so-avante-garde at fifteen, but I don’t have any tattoos. There are plenty I think are lovely and I’m often tempted to go get one, but for some reason or another I never end up going through with it.

And, finally, favorite saying?

“Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Exciting things are happening! (Finally.)

10.27.2016

This week has been crazy busy, but for the first time in ages I’m not deep in edits or rewrites because *drum roll* the book is off with the editor! I’m so excited to have finally reached this point and it means I’m on track to launch the book this winter — yay! 

In the meantime I’ve been busy catching up on other projects (read: binge watching Gilmore Girls and crying over the finale of GBBO) but I wanted to take a minute to highlight some of the better bookstagram posts that I’ve done recently — especially since the ones from this week basically just look like I dumped a bunch of books on my bed and took photos of it but whatevs. 

I’ll keep you guys updated on book progress and hopefully I’ll be sending out advance copies for reviews in the near future! 

Have a lovely weekend everyone!!

Banned Books Week!

10.02.2016

This week was banned books week so I decided to do a little mashup of my book photos!

It’s been such a crazy week — between rounds of book edits and working out dates with my editor I’m honestly surprised I managed to get a photo up each day, but somehow I did!

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend and a great start to their October!

Elli

Coming soon!

4.09.2015

CharlotteAndTheWolfSo excited to announce that my first novel Charlotte and the Wolf will be published in 2017 and that I’ve just received the cover! Looking forward to being able to share the book with everyone!

–Elli

 

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