From the Editor //

Like most people, I’ve allocated an appropriate amount of time to exploring and understanding my own fears. As of today, mine are nothing extravagant—they exist in my brain’s amygdala, rarely triggered and thought of. Among meager things, like unlikely perilous situations or trauma or the world running out of pizza, I am afraid of failure, mountain lions, and rodents.

The first two of my major fears are easily explained. With anxiety and a taste for perfection, I’ve always been driven to succeed by a fear of falling on my face. More so, it comes down to failing in the eyes of others, particularly my loved ones—disappointing them has always been a horror unsurpassed.

Completely unrelated, my fear of mountain lions came about as a child when I accidentally watched a special on television: a young boy was mauled to death by a ferocious bobcat, lurking in the wilderness of Colorado. Growing up, our house faced a backdrop with similar hills and trees where like-minded mountain lions roamed, always watching for their next meal.

While I can justify and control the influence of my first two fears—after all, I have some element of involvement for whether I succeed or whether I venture into mountain lion-friendly habitats—rodents are a class of their own. Mice and rats are my Achilles’ heel.

I used to ride the bus after school and walk home. I didn’t have a key to get inside, so I’d enter in a four-digit code for the garage. Once, I came home to a terrible sight: a mouse living in the garage had heard the garage door closing and tried to jump outside; instead, he died with his head lodged in between the creases of the garage door. He was wedged, coincidentally, about an inch away from the number pad that I needed to type on to go inside.

I was stranded for hours, unable to will myself to get near the pad, with no phone and no neighbors home. By the time my parents got off of work, I was destitute, with the image of the suffocated mouse bulging from the cracks, ingrained in my mind forever. There were future rodent encounters, like the time I took out the recyclables, only to see a mouse peering up at me from inside the bin. Or when I caught my Yorkshire terrier gnawing on a rat’s carcass on the porch, or when I had to use a dictionary to kill a mouse at work last summer.

Mice are my trigger. I scream, I jump on desks, and I cannot focus, regardless of how hard I try. Though my behavior seems childish, it’s justified. Mice carry serious diseases, such as hantavirus, salmonella, and the plague through their biting, droppings, and mites on their fur. The Sentry’s office has a mouse problem, and I am at odds with the furry fiends scrambling in the corners of our desks and in the crevices of our walls. These working conditions are poor, and my sanity is taking a hit. Please refrain from singing “Three Blind Mice” around me, until all the rodents have evacuated.

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