Post 24 hour call dilirium. In other words, Happy Easter

April 24, 2011

I love delivering babies. And, after seeing a woman give birth without an epidural, I will never never never ever go through labor without an anesthesiologist by my side.

Anywhoozle. It’s Easter. A few years ago I went to Oregon to hang out on a farm – Anna, Emma, Andy, I miss you. While I was there I wrote a story that involves bunnies. Here it is. I hope you enjoy it. This is the best thing I could come up with that relates to a holiday commemorating Jesus’s rise from the dead.

(You can also see this story in my school’s lit mag, Brooklyn Stories. Woot!)
The first time I went to California I was six years old. It was hot, and besides that I only remember three things: I peed on myself when I hugged Minnie Mouse at Disneyland. Also, I ate pineapple chunks from a glass bowl every morning in the hotel for breakfast. Third, I was molested in the hotel’s linen closet by a custodian.

I’m lying about the last one. It didn’t happen; just peeing and the pineapple chunks were true. Let that be a lesson to you: that only two thirds of this story will be reliable information. I am not a trustworthy narrator, and prefer entertainment value over facts.

After I returned from California, I stayed in Missouri for the rest of my childhood. My parents’ divorced. I lost my virginity, and I gained and lost twenty pounds during my senior year of high school. That sounds like a lot; but I did it in five pound increments – gained five, lost five, four times in a row. You didn’t know me then, but that’s alright because you know me now, and I could not be who I am if I hadn’t been who I was.

The second time I went to California was when I turned twenty-six. You and I have stalked each other on Facebook enough for you to know that I lived in Boston for college. I stayed there for a relationship which inevitably broke down.

My college roommate told me that L.A. wasn’t as bad as it sounded. So, I moved from Cambridge where people write theses to North Hollywood where people write screenplays.

The first month in L.A. I slept with a lesbian couple. Apparently it saved their marriage. I saw them a year later in Santa Monica. One was pregnant. The other carried a flat of strawberries and two yoga mats. They both looked so happy that I took a little credit, and that made me happy too for the rest of the week.

This is not a love story, by the way.

I worked at a celebrity gossip magazine. I answered to four different names: Chloe, Angela, Serena, and Rachel. I thought about correcting people, until eventually I decided it didn’t matter. But – just like
I had been told – it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. I bought a dog and named her Eponine. Eponine and I went running four times a week together. After two weeks, she could recognize her name and I could recognize mine.

One afternoon I was running with Eponine when I overheard someone on his cell phone. We were all waiting to cross the street. I could feel my shoulders burn. Eponine was panting. The man on the phone said, “If you don’t know how to do shit right you shouldn’t do it.” He had a British accent. “Christ. Then find someone who knows about rabbits.”

In Los Angeles you can be whatever you say you are. That’s why there are so many directors. It’s not like being a lawyer who has to go to law school. The self-proclaiming made me uneasy. The practical Midwesterner in me, seasoned by New England erudition, screamed – You don’t have a degree! You’re full of crap! But at that moment, listening to Eponine’s heavy breathing, I blurted out, “I know about rabbits.”

I had a rabbit growing up. We got him shortly after Disneyland. I named her Minnie Mouse, out of guilt. On principle I never had a lucky-rabbit-foot. I wasn’t completely lying when I said I knew about rabbits.

The man had hung up the phone. His name was Nick. “You need help with rabbits?” I asked. The light turned green, but neither of us crossed. We stood at the corner for three more red lights. Just before the fourth red, he gave me his card. Later that evening I emailed him to ask when to come by.

Eponine came with me to the rabbit farm. I had never seen more than three rabbits at once. To prepare myself, I looked up “rabbit farm” on Youtube. The actual farm looked nothing like the PETA videos. It was organic, sunny, and the property had haphazardly distributed garden boxes. There were sheds and hammocks, and a barn filled with Persion rugs. That was the farmer’s other business.

Behind the barn, four dozen rabbits were penned in next to a row of fig trees. They looked like a very cute army.

Nick led me into the farm house. The living room was decorated with Middle Eastern artifacts, draped with animal skins, and a variety of things dangled in the windows. The kitchen had a rack of copper pots and pans. There were rows of white bowls on the kitchen’s countertop. Two women stood by the bowls. I waved, because I thought they might be looking at me, but they had sunglasses on and neither waved back. Lydia wore a gauzy lime green shirt and khaki shorts. She was the star. I recognized her from the Triscut box on top of my refrigerator.

This was a one-day project. The camera men arrived while I listened to instructions from Pam. She was a Producer. I was the Rabbit Girl. I had to sweep the ground so it would look clean for the shoot. While Lydia was in the rabbit pen, I had to stand in a corner and throw feed down so the rabbits would stay in the frame. At the end of the day I had to clean up. I would get lunch, plus $75 in cash when we were finished. Eponine’s tail was on autopilot.

Rabbits are very shy, even when they are in an enclosed space with nothing but other rabbits. Fear is twisted into their ladder of DNA. They don’t have much to defend themselves. They are probably Darwin’s chewiest victims. I swept. They fled. Two looked me in the eyes, but the other forty-six turned their tails towards me.

I have never shot a gun, and probably wouldn’t if I had the opportunity.

When the ground was clear of rabbit droppings I brought the broom to the green tool shed. The door creaked; over the creak I heard barking.

A man smoked a cigarette by a fig tree. A second, younger man gripped a rabbit carcass by two unlucky hind feet. The stream of blood spurted from its neck, over its long right ear, then mostly into a bucket. Eponine licked small splatters from the grass. The rabbit’s front paws twitched in half second intervals.

Eponine was so excited she leapt up to the bucket, tipped it over, and rolled around in the spilled blood bath like a lunatic. “Shit!!” The man with the cigarette yelled. “Jeff, where’s the hose?” The dead rabbit stared down at Eponine through its clean left eye.

Lydia’s episode on rabbit stew aired a month later. You can find the recipe on her website.

I am not a murderer, and I don’t think my dog is either. She is just a mutt, whose carnivorous heritage got the best of her that morning. Maybe bloodlust is embedded into her genome as deeply as Missouri and all my lies are wrapped into mine.


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