The Rabbit

We’ve never seen a rabbit in our yard. I’ve seen opossums before. Even a family of raccoons. But never a rabbit. We’ve lived in this house for three years and none of us have ever seen a rabbit. But that changed on Friday morning when Toby Joe looked outside and said, “There’s a rabbit in our front yard. I hope Bella doesn’t scare it.”

She didn’t. The rabbit wandered off on its own.

I don’t go to many live shows anymore. But there are two bands that still bring me out of the house: The Mountain Goats and Frightened Rabbit.

I’m 44-years-old, I have three kids and so not much can drag me out of the house. I don’t know when that happened or why. It’s almost like I gave up at some point. Or maybe I just can’t be bothered with public transportation or traffic. It’s probably that. Also, there’s the whole getting up early after getting home late. Kids don’t give a shit if you wanna sleep in after getting home at 2 AM. They still want their pancakes. They still need to make it to school on time. You can’t call the absentee line and say, “Junior will be late this morning because his mamma was at a live music show until 2 AM reliving her youth. She had a blast, by the way. Byeeeee!”

I used to go to live shows all the time. I used to drive 4 hours both ways in one night to see a live show. I used to drive 8 hours just to see a single, 60-minute set. Incidentally, this equation sorta reminds me of that Shel Silverstein poem where the kid gives up a dollar for two quarters and then gives up two quarters for three dimes because each time he makes a move he feels like he’s gaining something and I mean who are we to judge as grownups? Money is a made up concept anyway. If the kid feels good because he has THREE shiny things instead of one piece of paper, who gives a shit? Let him make the trade, go through the effort and feel good about it even if the payoff from an outsider’s standpoint seems less fruitful than the payout.

So, maybe driving 8 hours to see a 60-minute show wasn’t that stupid after all.

(Wow, I think I just gave myself therapy.)

Last Friday, I had just parked the car and was standing outside my son’s elementary school when my phone buzzed. It was my older brother from Alabama. He and I text often, but not at 10 AM on a Friday. So I decided to stop what I was doing and see what was up.

I read this:

“The lead singer of Frightened Rabbit has died.”

“Suicide”

I knew he’d been missing and that his brother had been looking for him, but I didn’t expect this. This was… awful.

I’m not sure what happened next. Something in my brain popped. Because my knees buckled and I began to lose it right there outside of my son’s elementary school, in front of the other mothers also coming to drop off Friday Teacher Appreciation gifts. Some of them looked my way, wondering if they should help. Help with what? I wasn’t even sure what was happening.

I had to get my shit together. So I walked back to the car and sobbed. Uncontrollably.

I didn’t know Scott Hutchison. So when I got home, still crying, I’m pretty sure Toby initially thought someone we knew had died. So when I told him it was the lead singer of Frightened Rabbit, I immediately felt disingenuous, so utterly ridiculous for my reaction.

You didn’t even know him. You never even met him. What the fuck is wrong with you, Michele? 

Scott Hutchison suffered from depression. As was evident in his lyrics. He didn’t hide this. And I am absolutely certain this is why their music was so damn earnest. Like Jason Molina, he wrote music as though he had to in order to survive and I believe we all benefited from this survival tactic. He often brought tears to my eyes, many times in public in front of strangers. (Usually on a train or a bus, most recently I cried on Sunday crossing the finish line at a NYRR race.) If only people knew what they were missing.

Frightened Rabbit made me feel less alone in this otherwise lonely world, like the battles I fight aren’t only my own. (Holy hell, writing that down, and then reading it back to myself, it sounds so trite. But I mean it. I really do.)

Somehow the world was safer, funnier, livelier and much more comforting with Scott Hutchison in it. If he could do it, if he could survive the greys, couldn’t we all as well?

Fuck depression.

No, I didn’t know Scott Hutchison. But I sure do know his music. I know it like I know the tinnitus in my ears. I know it like birdsong. I know it like I need it in order to survive the greys.

I never got to shake his hand and thank him for all the miles he saw me along, all the grey pavement his voice colored as I tried to outrun my own demons while training for a marathon. I never thanked him for the songs he wrote about self-medicating with alcohol (something I know a little bit about) or about dealing with depression. I never thanked him for all the times his songs comforted me back in 2009, one of the darkest years of my life. I never told him he made me laugh out loud on numerous occasions on Instagram. I never thanked him for helping me perfect my Scottish accent, the same accent my eldest son is so embarrassed by, that every time I do it, he’ll immediately leave the room.

There was a rabbit in our yard last Friday morning. This holds no meaning whatsoever other than the fact that we had a rabbit in our yard last Friday morning. It just happened to show up on the very same day my brother texted me letting me know that the lead singer of Frightened Rabbit was found dead of apparent suicide.

But I need to come up with parallels because life makes absolutely no sense most of the time and I’m feeling emotional these days, raw like an exposed nerve. I also feel a whole lotta sadness right now.

And if I were to be totally honest, I really hope the rabbit comes back. I keep hoping I’ll get to see the rabbit again.

Pictures From the March in D.C.

Here are some images from the March For Our Lives. I plan on writing more about the event and will do so later today. For now, please enjoy these images. What an amazing weekend. I am so glad I shared it with my children. I am so grateful to our youth.

We also took the boys to see the Obamas’ portraits. They took some time to play in the water scrims in the Kogod Courtyard.

I designed a t-shirt using the sign I created for the march. All proceeds will go to March for our Lives. I have a men’s available and a women’s.

March For Our Lives

We drove to D.C. yesterday to take part in March For Our Lives. The boys and I created this sign for the event. I had the idea on the drive down, designed it in Illustrator in less than 15 minutes, uploaded to my Staples account and within three hours the Staples on H Street in D.C. had it printed, mounted and laminated. Crazy.

We are getting read to march and I will report back with pictures later.

Enough is Enough.

We Have Such Little Control.

I love when nature takes over and puts everything in its place, stops us all from the constant hustle and worry and fretting over nothing—a bunch of human created drama. And why?

We humans spend so much time considering the dumbest shit. We create deadlines that don’t include anything remotely close to actually dying but instead get in the way of living. I am notorious for this. I lose my way daily.

I have been told that if I live to see 75, I will have spent about 25 years sleeping. (Although my kids are the worst sleepers and I’m not so good at it either, so I’m not so sure that number is correct for me, but OK.). I know that some people consider that a waste of one’s time spent here on planet Earth. Like, if we didn’t spend so much time asleep, we could do so much more!

Of what?

Most of us would probably just spend that time needlessly worrying about things that don’t much matter. We’d schedule our kid for another activity and then complain about having to drive them there and they would complain about having to go. And then we’d fret over how big of a failure we are when, at 3 PM, straight off the bus, our kid absolutely refuses to do anything more than what he just did—school. So it’s 4 minutes before he needs to be somewhere you paid 150.00 for and it’s a 20 minute drive and so, well that’s not happening. And you watch the family next door and they do everything, and I mean everything.

The even all ski.

Very well.

I dunno. Maybe sleeping for 25 years isn’t such a bad thing after all.

I’d like to say I will one day change this about myself—that I won’t worry so much or compare myself to everything going on around me. And that I will convince my kids to not worry as much as I have. But I know that’s not possible. So on days like this where nature steps in and says, “Not so fast, you silly humans! You think you have control? Oh no. Your cars don’t matter. Your grid is delicate. Your roads are falling apart. Your houses are temporary. Your very existence here should be cherished every second of every day.”

Nature is there to remind us of this.

I like days like today—where what actually matters isn’t what we spend most of our time actually doing.

I Give Up. You Win, Squirrels.

Late last week, I put all the candy, snack bars and pop tarts in a giant glass jar with a super heavy lid hoping to keep all the squirrels out. I left a note for them that read: “For Humans. Not Squirrels” hoping they would get the point. I also left some snacks out for the squirrels in a bowl with a sign that read: “Eat this, Squirrels.” It didn’t work. So, I’m done. This fat bastard has officially won. I give up.

This didn’t happen previous years so I don’t know what the hell is going on with the squirrels this year.  I will try again next year and hope for the best. This year, I will stick to beverages, hand warmers and tissues because they don’t seem to give a crap about that.

You win, squirrels.

Thieving Squirrel Videos.

Copyright © 2017 Michele Boudreaux. All rights reserved.
For licensing / permission to use, please email licensing(at)mihow(dot)com. Thank you!

Someone from NBC contacted me after I posted this story on our local Facebook page. They asked if could have the videos in order to put together a cute little segment for their website. Here is what they created. It’s cute! It also made the 11 PM news but that’s WAY past my bedtime, so I missed it.

Update: The lovely Ali Bauman from CBS New York stopped by last night for an interview. She watched the Boudreaux family in all its glory at our home here in Maplewood.

And apparently this squirrel is now internationally famous.

Canoe covered the story as well. And I sea that Sea Girt is experiencing similar issues.

The original videos with a great deal of my commentary.

Since I am clearly losing this battle, I left him a note and some treats so he came for the gum.

Day five. I think I’m just going to let him win. I give up. Eat up, squirrel.

BEWARE OF MY DOG, SQUIRREL!

I don’t even know what to say anymore.

Then he ate the pop tart in front of me.

 

Suburban Thieves Are Little Bastards.

Every year, we put out a tray of treats—water, soda, tissues, lip balm, hand warmers, chips—you get the picture. We do this for the many delivery people who come to our house during the busy holiday season. (Frankly, I’m not sure how my mother got through Christmas with three kids without the help of Amazon, but I digress.) We tip the usual suspects; the mailman gets an extra bit of love, the trash guys, too. But this is for all the outsourced work, those third parties.

Last year, I had it up for two weeks and replenished whenever things went low. Not once did we have an issue with anyone stealing everything or taking too much.

On Monday, I put out this year’s treat table and—NO JOKE—within a few hours, ALL the Ghirardelli chocolate squares were gone. I couldn’t believe it. Why would someone do such a thing? And why would they take the most expensive chocolate on the tray? Why not rob us blind of all the Reese’s and Mini Snickers since I can’t seem to stop eating them because holy crap, trash candy is so damn good and I totally don’t choose Us Weekly over Time while in the waiting room.

But, no. This thief took the good stuff. And I wanted to cry. It was day one and already two packs, like 25 pieces, of Ghirardelli squares had been taken from us.

My husband, being an anti-surveillance nerd who is aware of all the myriad ways HUMANS are tracked constantly, decides to set up a small camera. Not that we’d do anything about it, should we find the thief. We aren’t like that. The chocolates are free, after all. It was more about KNOWING who would do such a thing. Who can eat that much Ghirardelli?

So, the camera goes up yesterday and I head out with my husband to take the dog for a walk. It’s midday, right around 1 PM. The sky is overcast and we’re enjoying the weirdly warm weather. We walk for a while then return to the house.

That’s when we spot the FATTEST squirrel. I mean, this squirrel is so obese—a jolly ol’ chap—he must be prepping for a decade of winters. Even my rat terrier dog took one look and said, “Nope.”

So the fat squirrel is standing on our step stool, furiously digging through our wooden tray. He’s digging and digging and digging and then he TAKES OFF toward our backyard carrying whatever he possibly can.

“You don’t think… I mean, no way, right?” I say to Toby.

Sure enough, every piece of chocolate is gone.

Toby tries chasing the fat bastard through our yard to see where he’s taking all our goodies but the thief makes a successful getaway.

At this point, I am still not convinced that a squirrel ran off with THAT many squares of Ghirardelli. I mean, that’s insane. What is he doing with them? Building the most amazing nest, a rodent palace consisting of fine chocolate?

This morning, I head out to take the kids to the bus stop and I spot an unopened square of Ghirardelli on our driveway. When I return, I decide to comb the perimeter of our yard, because NO WAY.

Sure enough, I find three other unopened squares of Ghirardelli.

This squirrel went from being the biggest jerk ever to becoming the greatest fuzzy freak I’ve ever not quite met.

We now have our chocolate in a jar that requires opposable thumbs.

Update: He cleared me out of chocolate. (All on video). Then the snack bars. Then the Ricola. NOW THIS!???!!

 

Watch more of this little dude in action here.

Copyright © 2017 Michele Boudreaux. All rights reserved.
For licensing / permission to use, please email licensing(at)mihow(dot)com.

Better Days.

Yesterday a friend of mine reached out on Facebook saying he’s hurting. And not the normal type of hurt everyone experiences. He’s become completely consumed by depression.

Comments poured in. Many gave virtual hugs, letting him know that unequivocally no matter how badly he feels he will never be alone—that our homes are open should he need to see a friendly face. Many of us explained that we also suffer from this type of depression—the all-consuming kind—and at times it can be downright debilitating.

Then someone wrote, “Better days are coming.”

And I cringed.

This is a perfectly reasonable thing to write. It comes from a kind place. It’s innocent. I have written this very sentence before. It’s been said to me before. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing this.

But.

I found myself thinking, “Are better days coming? What if they aren’t? What if we have to figure out how to deal with these days—the days we are currently experiencing, the right fucking now days? What if a “better day” is a day where you are strong enough to post on Facebook saying that you’re hurting?”

I realize that’s horribly upsetting for many people to read. Because why would anyone want to be told, “Hey, you know what? This might be it, dude. Your brain may try and make you feel this way for the rest of your life.”

I have stopped telling people to cheer up, not because I don’t want them to. I have stopped telling people that everything is going to be OK. Because I can’t assure them that everything will be. I don’t know what their brain is like. I don’t know how deep their sorrow runs or what their inner voice is telling them when they’re trying to find the will to get up and make all the necessary mundane life shit happen when all they really want to do is sleep or escape into that book.

I know at most what fits into the head of a match.

I think the best thing we can do for those suffering from depression is to listen. Maybe tell them that they’re not alone. Definitely let a person know that there is absolutely no shame in asking for help, whether it be taking medication; seeking therapy; electroconvulsive therapy; meditation; training for a marathon; climbing Mount Everest; weed—whatever helps that brain—I say go for it.

Sometimes the quest for “better days” can become a little too overwhelming, like somehow we’re constantly failing at attaining the elusive better day.

I don’t know what to say about better days, but I do have something to say about bad ones. On bad days, I just want someone to sit with me at my empty lunch table in a cafeteria full of people. You don’t even have to talk me.

On a bad day, I just need to know I’m still orbiting another human heart.