Sunday, August 6, 2017

Bats in the Belfry

Facebook is the only place to be at 12:30 at night and you’re alone in your apartment. This was my conversation Friday night and Saturday night. It's mostly me talking to myself. This is what writers do. We talk to ourselves. And then, when all else fails, we research. There were, thank God, a few treasured friends there to hold my hand. Love you guys.


ME: Here's how to give an old woman heart failure. I can't sleep. I decide to get up and turn on the light and read some more of this terrible book I'm reading and there is a FREAKING BAT flying around the room. A freaking BAT! This is an older building but there are no holes in the walls or creepy crawly little niches anywhere I can see. The screen door is closed.

I did what anyone would do and screamed. Just a little. Then I saw it land on the screen part of the door and tried to close the other door to trap it. Which did not work so it flew directly at me so I ran screaming to the apartment door and tried to figure out what to do. I opened the door and tonight, Friday night, I can't hear a single party going on anywhere. Who do I wake up at 12:30 at night to rescue me from a bat?

Can you call 911 for a bat?

Anyway I think it flew down the hall as I saw a spot moving down at the other end. Either that, or it's still with me... somewhere in the livingroom.

I'm not turning out the lights again.


Rodents with wings. Dear God. They are so freakin' creepy. Crawling along the ledge of the window with their elbows. Ow. Ew. Oh just ew. There's something horribly primeval about bats.
This could not be the blood sucking variety right? What the hell!

oh my God.... is the bat here or is the bat down at the end of the hall? Where did the bat come from? 
Don't they live in colonies? Like are there more freakin' bats?

Jesus. I'm never going to sleep again.

Vincent ran into the other room and hid under the desk.

Tell me bats aren't some kind of omen.
This was not a little bat.

 "European and Western folklore consistently translates the appearance of a bat as a bad omen and they are even seen as being the embodiment of evil. Bats are often thought to be an indicator that a house is haunted or worse. There is an old German myth that if a bat flies into your house, the devil is after you."

Oh why not just send me off the deep end.... I'm half-way there anyway.

So.... am I going to go down the hallway to see if the bat flew down the hallway or am I going to stay here with the lights on all night? Those are my two choices.

Give the bat a name. This way, it's not so scary. Ebeneezer the bat. Ebeneezer is just a brown bat by the looks of it. He's about a foot long or a bit with knobbly knees. Oh... My... God…

Where is this thing? Frig. Frig. Frig.

Okay.... I am going to go down the long long hallway and see if I can see the bat. If the bat is not there then it is still in my apartment and I can't... oh my god.... No. I can't go down the long long hallway to see if I can see the bat. The bat will start flying again. It will land in my hair. But I need to know. Okay. Rational mind. Find calm rational mind and go look for the bat. Put your hand into the garbage chute room and turn on the light. You need to know where the bat is.

No. i don't need to know where the bat is.

Yes. You do need to know where the bat is.

No. i. Do. Not. Need. To. Know.

Silly girl. You do. You do. Now just do this.


There is no bat down the end of the hallway. There is no bat in the garbage chute room. I know this because I actually crept my fingers around the corner of the door and turned the lights on and then I opened that door and I looked. No bat. So the bat is here isn't it? It's still here. I only imagined it flying down the hallway. The calls are coming from your house.

I guess I'll just hyperventilate for an hour and sleep during the day.

 "The habitat range of the big brown bat is in the southern parts of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, and throughout Alberta.[7] Males are solitary, whereas females "gather in maternity colonies in the spring and summer", consisting of up to 75 adults with their offspring.[8] "
oh yeah... oh yeah...75 adults WITH offspring....

There's a colony somewhere. Its. A. Colony.

 I'm in an apartment building in the city. We don't get bats. Who the hell gets bats in an apartment building?

 I do. That's who.

This is just a harbinger of evil. Nothing serious. Just a freakin' omen of death and hauntings. Yeah. I'm sane now.

EK:This sounds like a most harrowing night for you and I'm sorry you had to deal with the bat. I can imagine how freaked out you must have been. I wouldn't want a bat flying around my place either. Did you ever see it again? The good news is that whenever I've heard of a bat getting into someone's place, I've only ever heard of it being one bat. I hope you managed to get a bit of sleep and to get your normal heart rate back.

ME: I slept with the lights on. Made it through the night. I'm trying to tell myself its a nice bat. Bats are misunderstood nice things.

EK: Lol! Yes, they are misunderstood.

SS: Look at it this way, you have your own resident pest control and it's eco friendly.

ME: Fine. Next time you sleep over you can have the bat.

MC: What the f i woke up this morning , and one of the first things i read is your bat story if my mother were alive that would have killed her for sure ,having to deal with this intruder is no laughing matter , so sorry this happened to you the question is how did it get in without you seeing it , very weird to say the least get help today from the people who run the complex .

ME: Neighbour is checking around to see if others have seen this bat.

CB: OMG!!!!!!! I hate bats I'm scared to death of them....get on the phone with ur landlord have something in place for tonight....

ME: Lights. Lots of lights.

SB: Sounds like the night from hell, Sylvia. Poor you. :( If you cannot find help google on how to get bats out of your house. Likely some handy tips. Personally I'm not afraid of bats so I would try my best to guide them out of the house as I am sure they would prefer not to be in your space either. Good luck. :) (Oh and don't believe all that nonsense about bad omens. In some cultures they are considered good luck and a sign of a long and healthy life.)

ME: My rationale brain is saying stop this nonsense sylvia. the irrational brain is not listening.

MC: Ok cool head is needed for today, you can do this...

ME: The bat went to visit my neighbour. He also freaked out. He had the bat at 1:30 a.m. the night before. This means there are bats. Or there is one bat who can crawl through the crack at the bottom of the door perhaps. This bat seemed to have been too big to do that. Now I'm not usually scared of bats or snakes. I can pick up a snake quite easily. It's the unexpectedness of the bat inside. I can handle a bat outside. Flying about eating mosquitoes. Not in the livingroom. I remember a friend with a bat. I tried to help rescue her from the bat. She was living in an old house in the glebe. I am traumatized for life from that episode. We wandered down to her basement which was old stone work. We shone a flashlight into a crack there.... and scores of beady little eyes were looking back at us. Bat colonies. No. No. No. Sleeping with the lights on. My neighbour doesn't know how the bat got into his place. Like me, the doors and windows are secure. Jeez....

CB: That is so weird but i tell you i would have a call into my management asap before tonight,,,,,,i dont do bats

ME hmmm....

"People seldom notice small cracks or gaps on higher buildings, but a 1/2″ crack in a mortar joint 30 or 40 feet off the ground becomes a superhighway for bats to enter a structure. Since they are nocturnal and for the most part very quiet animals, they often use attics for years before the odor from the build-up of droppings alerts us to their presence.... If you had bats flying inside your home this means that you probably have bats living somewhere in your walls or attic...."

oh for frigssakes....
 "Bats may look big when flying around, but they can get into or out of an opening about the size of the end of your little finger. "

 "You could start plugging the openings once the bat colony leaves on a feeding trip, but you will risk trapping the young and infirm ones still inside the home" ... sigh

"There are two types of bats in the Ottawa area predominantly. The little brown bat and the big brown bat." This was the BIG brown bat. Of course....

 "Winter roosts tend to be natural subterranean locations such as caves and underground mines where temperatures remain stable; where a large majority of these bats spend the winter is still unknown." 
Well... now they know. They friggin' roost in the walls of Sylvia's apartment building.

"Female big brown bats form nursery colonies to rear young. The size of these colonies can vary, but usually fall within the range of 20 to 300 animals. Bachelors roost alone or in small groups during this time."  Please tell me that my bat is named Ebeneezer and not Elspeth.

JH: Well now you know all there is to know about bats!! See something positive! You learned something you never knew before.

ME: oh yeah... positive thinking... i'm right on that.
oh yeah...

CB: O M G!!! I cant even,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

ME:  I can't even either....

CB: You call the landlord

ME: Neighbour is calling. or e-mailing. it's saturday. office is closed.

What are the odds that the bat would leave his place and come to my place?

CB: Lol

ME: I mean what are the odds? It would have to decide to come to my place. It would have to make an effort to find his door and crawl under his door and then crawl under my door. I just don't think those are reasonable odds. If that bat decided to do that then that bat is "thinking" and "conniving" and "deciding" things. This would have to be a very very intelligent bat.

CB: Hmmm i think there is somewhere else its getting in i have heard they can get in the tiniest cracks

ME: Oh. My. God.

Why is it? I'm just asking... If indeed nature gives us all sorts of signs and portents, do other people get hawks, doves and bluejays and I get a freakin' bat? If that is a sign from the universe I bloody give up.

CB: Lol,,,,,,na it means you are a true witch heeeeheee

JA: Bats are cute----

ME: Okay. I'll capture Ebeneezer and his colony and bring them over to your place to live in your diningroom? :)

JA: Oh no, I am finished with bottle feeding bats and putting them back in the fridge for another week. Ottawa Wildlife Center many years ago.


I feel like cromagnon-woman, sitting in my cave with a stick waiting for dusk and the creatures of the night. Did it or did it not leave the apartment? If I open the screen door is it an invitation for Ebeneezer the bat to leave or for Ebeneezer's friends to come in? Is it better to talk to the creature or run like the wind itself? And why is it that bats particularly like to hide behind paintings and I happen to have paintings All. Over. The. Place. ? These are the questions that bother me. Not a lot of things across some Sea. Like North Korea. Or the South China Sea. No. The only thing that matters is if Ebeneezer is here or not here. There's a lesson in that. Attend to one's own nightmares. They're quite enough.
CB: One solution give me your paintings,,,,,,,Lol!

ME: The part about that is taking them down. I can just "feel" those long claws hanging off the frame waiting for me.

CB: On that note,,,,,,keep em,,,,lol

ME: Where is batman when you need him?

CB: Lol in the bat cave....or maybe after dark hangin out on your wall lol

ME: Well at least he'd be better lookin' than Ebeneezer

When the night has come And the land is dark And the moon is the only…

ME:  No I won't cry. I won't shed a tear. As long as Vincent the dog stands by me... Except he hides under the desk....

I'm thinking... there might be room for the two of us under the desk...

Definitely not enough room for the cat though....

Well hell. The cat can just fend for herself. She just sat on the diningroom table looking at the damn bat. She didn't bat an eye.... hahahahaha.... I'm thinking I need a life.

CB: Looks like u have an exciting life going on there 😊

ME: yeah... my batshit crazy life...

 "chiroptophobia" is the fear of bats. See. We've all learned something today. Next. Fear of women who fear bats. This little known phobia is called the chickchiroptophobia.

The sun.... is going down....

They just don't make brooms the way they used to. These stringy little plastic things. How the hell is that going to work against a giant bat with a wingspan of a pterodactyl? Really?

"Bats come out an hour after sundown." They know this. Why they know this I don't know. Ebeneezer didn't show up until midnight last night. This is passive aggressive behaviour on his part. Any self-respecting bat would show up on time to frighten the life out of people. Actually, this is an important distinction between the little brown bat and the big brown bat. The big brown bat is a sociopath whereas the little brown bat is merely narcissistic. The big brown bat has no empathy whatsoever. The giant flying fox is actually a bat but is known to be a sly bastard with a penchant for sneakery. By far the most endearing bat is the bumblebee bat. This little bat however has the Napoleon complex due to its short stature. Never put a bumblebee bat at the head of your battalion because it will decrease bat morale. It does not put the bat into battalion. Try a flamingo instead. They are adorable. The Egyptian fruit bat is not adorable. it likes to eat dates. Never a good idea to agree to meet an Egyptian fruit bat at the local bar. Also, the Honduran white bat is racist. Just so you know.

If I attach the dust pan to the broom maybe that will increase my batting average?

The sun really is... going down...

Okay. Where were we? The Hoary bat is endemic to Hawaii. There are more hoars in hawaii than on the mainland. This is likely due to their access to better brands of make-up and mascara and ink tattoos. These hoary bats are cheap but not easy. The spectacled flying fox of Australia spends its adolescence in nursery trees. It develops a deep inferiority complex as a result of having to wear spectacles when all the short-nosed fruit bats don't have to. Probably on account of having short noses.

CB: I wonder if hes bringin his possee tonight,,,,,PARTY! 🎉🎊🎉🎊

ME: So... It goes without saying that spending time with the spectacled flying fox of Australia can be tedious. But worse still is this bat: This long-eared split-nosed bat is seriously skilled at echolocation. He will repeat every single thing you say to him. This can also be tedious.

CB: Lmao.....cute lil fukkers.....NOT

ME: oh yeah... adorable... i can't wait to open up my bat rescue operation

CB: Sylvia aka Batgirl yeeehawwww!

ME: You think the black-widowed spider was scary! Wait til you see the Batwidow!

The sun sets at 8:24 p.m. An hour later is 9:24. Ebeneezer will show up much later at a fashionable hour. Hopefully he'll remember the appetizers.

AB: I remember, waking one night, thinking how nice it was that someone had turned on the ceiling fan. Then I realized I was staying in a cabin without power.

ME: Well... now we have thunder and lightening. Could it be more perfect? I mean really? How perfect a setting can we get? The dog is already under the desk.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Dragon's Den


On the streets of Ottawa, the dragons and the spiders roam. They were not butterflies. They were not bumblebees or birds. They were monstrous creatures of tangled webs and fire. We cannot say a single thing that isn’t politically-correctly “nice,” so instead we make monsters and parade them in front of crowds. The monsters of course are us, looking at the monsters we create. 

I cannot tell you lately how many dragons I have met whose singular purpose is to break the very soul of the people they know. I have seen the carnage. They are the people of the lie. Sometimes they come in tidy well-groomed packages and other times they are simply crumpled ruins with tattoos and stained blue jeans. You can never really know. I only know there are more than we realize. More than we care to know.

I don’t know what breaks the dream in a child so much so that they will never swim to the crest of a wave or float on blue sky mirrors; that they would only surface at the foot of the wave where the light can’t reach and where the undertow takes whoever they can catch into darkness. I once was curious to know. I don’t need to know anymore. What is… just is. A soul is lost, forsaken but still walks and speaks and lives beside us, among us. I no longer believe in redemption. It is an archaic contrivance suited to a different time when people still believed in miracles. There are no miracles for monsters.

Outside on the streets I hear the car alarms. Usually one every other day or so. Maybe we humans need alarms. Don’t jab me. Don’t poke at me. Don’t mess with me. Loud horrible noises will ensue. But no. We carry on quietly amid the catastrophe that is the world right now. We keep to our own lane. We watch for encroachments. We keep the lights on. We do not invite strangers into our space because it is all we have. We are, above all, busy beyond busy. There is no ebb nor flow to life, just a constant flow of rapids where there is no time to think, to ponder, to question, to dream. It is its own form of insanity but socially acceptable of course, in the end achieving little but its own boast.

I remember days making daisy chains under a hot August sun in fields of green. I remember a different time. Even a different time full-grown when there was time to breathe and catch the drift of air from the beating of a sparrow’s wings. Was it so long ago now?

Friday, July 21, 2017

And so it goes

It takes me time to do things. The trip to the store, up the wide hot street takes longer than it normally would in this weather. This damn weather. “Can’t complain,” they say in the lineups. I look at them and think, “I CAN complain.” I can complain as much as I bloody want to complain. In fact I can stand on the street corner and curse about the heat at the top of my lungs if I so choose. I can do any of it. And I don’t make false comparisons like “oh, it could be worse. It could be winter.” I fucking complain in winter too. In fact, I “LIKE” to complain. It’s the only thing worth living for.

It burns up through the soles of my sandals as I wander along; the pavement. The sun is so bright it hurts to see even through sunglasses. Assorted people cluster in and out of view, dressed in some outrageously silly things—skirts of lace and leather, shorts that ride up and show dangling private things, tattoos that have seen better days fading and stretching on plump arms. A man compliments me on my dress but it is not a dress. He wants some change. He has figured out that flattery must work on old women. I don’t give him any change. I tell him it is not a dress and give him the once over. He is short and quite thick in the manner of a thick man with a thick neck and a thick intellect. I do not pity him. He is an accident of birth. His parents did not want him to grow up to beg for change on hot street corners near the improvised spittoon. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they did. Maybe they thought it would be better to be a thick man on hot pavement than a thick man working for low pay in a warehouse making money for some rich guy. Maybe they are proud of him. In the manner of thick men with thick intellects, he is not ashamed. He is only marking time picking marks. I was not his mark today.

About half-way there to the store is a bench. I find it with some relief but a strange arrogant woman, thin as rich in violet lace is adjusting her shoe, taking the entire bench. I ask her politely for some space and she ignores me. So I sit down anyway, a deeply uncomfortably close. She moves over saying nothing. The body movement of an invertebrate reacting to stimulus. I don’t know if she is human. I don’t care. I watch an old woman in her wheelchair puttering towards us. I think she’s going to run over the young girl there with long lashes and blond ringlets but she zips around her. The light changes and the young girl and the old woman cross the street. The old woman won. I think she smiled.

A man is walking his beagle. The dog is panting and anxious. It doesn’t investigate anything, just worried about getting there. Wherever “there” is. His owner is on his cellphone. Did it matter to the dog that the owner was even there? He did not reach down and touch the hot fur of his head. It mattered only to the dog because it was chained to him. It mattered only to the dog because maybe there would be an end to this hot pavement, this sun relentless, this traffic noise, this cacophony of scent. It mattered there would be water somewhere soon. Maybe not. How could it know? It could not.

In the store the air-conditioning smacks into me. I react immediately, as I do to the cold, breaking out into hives. I can feel the flush on my face, the red splotches on my arms. I have long since given up worrying what others think. So I’m strange. I have a strange allergy. I am here. I am human. I look at the watermelons and wonder how I might carry such a thing home in my cart. If I dropped it, would it boil like an egg on the sidewalk? I walk past the watermelons to look for berries. I can’t find a single kind made in Canada. I wonder at the foreign hands picking berries for my pleasure. The cramped backs hunched in fields. In the hot sun. Dreaming of begging for change in rich countries maybe. I don’t know. I buy the raspberries. The cucumbers are on sale. Three for the price of two or one for the price of three or five for seven dollars. I don’t care. I pick two.

There’s a woman looking at the bread. Her cart blocks everyone. She can’t decide. We begin to line up waiting for her as she fondles the raisin bread. I finally go over and move her cart to the side. She doesn’t even look up. I think I hate her. I just do. I don’t know why. A well-dressed man in a hurry gives me a look to thank me. Coward, I think. I’m feeling slightly dizzy with the cold reaction. I want to find a place to sit. There is none. So I wander the aisles looking for HP Sauce. There is none. 

It’s a line-up from hell. In front of me a woman and her husband and daughter are buying seven things. They are in the wrong line-up for seven things. I want to point it out but then I think what would Socrates say? Would he wonder about anything at all in this world? He would not. This world is not for those who wonder. The daughter wants to buy a chocolate bar. Her father gives her a stern look so she puts it back.

I buy my coffee and my cucumbers and some cranberry juice and 9 other things. I buy the chocolate bar the girl wanted to buy. They are standing near the cash arguing about something so  I wink at her and give her the chocolate bar secretly. It amused me to do so. She looks stunned but does not give it back. She quickly stuffs it into her pocket and pretends to ignore me. I will never see her again. None of it matters. None of these people matter. At least not beyond the small moment.

I have to cart my cart home. I hate that. The wall of heat follows me home. I have had enough today. I just want a cranberry juice. I want a fan to catch a breeze from the sky and lift me to cool light and silence. But I turn on Netflix and watch a movie about a man who did something and then the end. Sometimes the movies are about women who did something or groups of people who did something. They always end. 

In the middle of the night I wake up in a panic. I wonder if the girl was a diabetic. I can’t sleep after that. At least it’s cooler. The sounds of sirens are less pervasive. I can almost hear the rustle of leaves but that is imaginary. There is no breeze. It is still stagnant with the hot night.