There Are Monsters In My Closet

It’s the middle of the night and it’s got to be 90 degrees still here in Davis. Our chickens have just begun to roost. They’re almost two months old. They no longer pile on top of one another to fall asleep. They can sit independently on a stick in the air. It took them awhile. I know, it’s hard to grow up.

Since I have last posted: we went camping on the Mendocino coast, an inspiring and disastrous adventure. Acquired one rat, four chickens, and a whole new dietary regime. Dylan and I have discovered how to communicate in our sleep. But lately, it’s been so hot, I can’t sleep.

It all began six years ago, or maybe it was seven. Dylan and I traded a song for a story. It was an innocent exchange at first, on a night similar to this one: warm and restless and full of desires. I told him a story about a wine aficionado who, having to evacuate his home in the Oakland hills fire, threw all his wine bottles into the pool. Forgive me if I’ve already told this. Upon returning, he found his bottles intact, but the labels had all slipped off, and he was forced to just drink his damn wine. Dylan sang “Farewell Angelina,” and a song he wrote about an unemployed musician who falls in love with a rich woman with a small dog.

This was in the doorway of an old gymnasium turned art studio situated in the Marin Headlands. I think we could hear the baby sea lions in the background, sick and abandoned, calling from the Marine Mammal rescue center up the hill. I was still a city girl with a million questions about Vermont, Rhode Island, and other exotic eastern places. On the beach, we admitted to each other our dreams of surfing. I mentioned chickens, and perhaps something about singing. For my birthday he bought me a Chicken book. Not the Chronicle Books’ edition on chickens, but the original pictorial tribute to The Chicken. He took me out of the city, to a place where teenagers drove pick ups, were no sidewalks existed, and perfect strangers waved to me as they drove by leaving me totally freaked and confused, missing Oakland, where no one really says hi. At least not like that.

Now that we are in an almost two bedroom apartment in Davis with a side yard and an empty lot out back; now that I compost into a maggot infested pile; and have grown four cucumber plants from seeds, although they haven’t produced anything yet; I figured it’s a good time to get chickens. No matter that our landlord has plans to level the four units on the property, as well as the empty lot we all share in the back, in order to build townhouses one day, or that our lease is only for a year and who knows where we will end up next.

So, I’ll tell you the story about the chickens, even though I set out to talk about our trip to the Mendocino coast where we ended up sleeping in the van on a ridge the first night because the campgrounds were all full, and in the windiest spot in the county for the next two night because we neglected to take into account a northerly wind. Although, really, what I wanted to talk about was Naima’s black eye. But that’s a hard thing to talk about: her recent fits and how sometimes we have to restrain her to keep her from attacking me or Sora, but that one time on the beach there was this log, and…

Sora just woke up. I had to go nurse her back to sleep. She’s been great lately. Although she’s been walking on her tiptoes a lot, and wants to wear her bike helmet and jacket in 100 degree weather, while following the chickens around in the yard. She’s really into Nutmeg the rat, who she calls, “Nut rat-rat- rat.” Half asleep in bed she said, “Nee-ne otha side,” which means she wants to nurse on the other side. I don’t know why they always think the other breast is so much better.

I told Dylan that we’d just get maybe two adult chickens. I answered an ad on Craigs list from a girl whose email was little miss happiest. She was pretty happy. They had horses, goats, and sheep. She was really into her chickens, and offered us one and a half month old chickens for seven dollars apiece, and I just began filling the box.

What are you going to do? We never were very good with planning. Our lives have always been messy. My one year old climbs stumps in the backyard in a bike helmet.  My four year old bloodies my chest with her nails, counting invisible objects just to the left of me while screaming, “Mommy help me, help me” for hours in a day. And, I don’t know what’s wrong.

We’ve implemented a new diet for Naima in hopes that it will help somehow. Gut and Psychology Syndrome, by Natasha Campbell-McBridge. Google it if you like. I mean, life’s not perfect. Nothings perfect. Everything’s perfect. This post probably needs editing, but I don’t think I’ll do it. We’re just trying to enjoy our lives.

Tomorrow, I think I’ll plant carrots. Maybe Naima will help me skin tomatoes. We have a box full of them we’ve exchanged for our yogurt, along with seven melons, tomatillos, figs, grapes, eggplants, peppers, one okra, and lots of chard that Naima cut herself. The mosquitoes have been invading our apartment because the landlord won’t put in screen doors that fit. The cockroach eggs are all getting eaten by chickens. And I am totally and completely in love with my family.

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