I have a theory about the widespread hatred of rats. Not only are they vectors of plagues and a sign you might be living in an unsanitary hovel, they aren’t in our food chain. In other words, we don’t eat rats, so if a rat eats something, that food is lost to us forever.

So if a rat eats your chicken food, there is no way to get that chicken food back. If they eat the plums off of your five Italian prune trees*, there is no way you’re going to eat those plums. Whereas, if a squirrel eats something, you can eat the squirrel back. The old Joy of Cooking will even tell you how. You can eat pigeons, too. (In high-school, my friends and I considered launching a homeless-person-self-sufficiency program that centered on teaching pigeon eating. For better or worse, we were big talkers.) Only people in Parisian sieges eat rats.

We don’t eat things that eat rats, either. We don’t eat cats or dogs or coyotes or owls or hawks or bobcats or cougars or rat poison. We can eat snakes, so that’s an exception. Go snakes.

*Raise your hand if you think I’m speaking from experience.



I hear today was a penumbral eclipse of the moon. Maybe that explains the following:

1. Why one of my students insisted on writing her page for our field guide to local animals on a velociraptor.

2. Why another one of my students found a spider and seriously wanted to know if it was edible.

3. Why another pair of students chose the wheelbarrow race as their general mode of transportation.

4. Why yet another student had to be told no she couldn’t jump down the stairs for fun.

5. Why Squinch ran off and flushed a coyote larger than himself in a park in the middle of Seattle at two o’clock in the afternoon.

6. Why an evangelical brass band stopped my class on the way home from the park with stories of how they hugged people at Sandy Hook and a climate-change-denying book about religion, leaving me to explain that yes, children died but most children do not die and everyone must die someday and I do not know where the grandmother of the non-edible spider might be.

Or maybe it was just one of those days.

Class of 2003

As my brother begins college, my ten year Stanford reunion approaches, which means I have been reading my 10 Year Reunion Classbook. A classbook is where everyone who wants to submits a page about themselves and what they’ve been up to in the last ten years. For instance, the date rapist from my freshman dorm is now the father of two daughters, and my sophomore year enemy now has the same breed of dog as I do.

The Stanford quad. In my memory, there are more bicycles.

When I say I’ve been reading the classbook, I really mean I’ve gotten a minor sociological obsession with it. This is my report:

According to photographs, my Stanford classmates have largely been up to smiling in wedding dresses, having dogs, begetting mini Stanford fans, wearing sunglasses in front of far away landmarks, and reuniting with their friends from the good old days. According to words, there have been lots of companies formed, medical degrees earned, and professional sports careers that have segued into selling real estate. Google has been worked for. Names have been changed. There are several claims to the Cutest Baby in the World. More people live in Seattle than five years ago; fewer live in New York.

According to the classbook, there have been no divorces, bankruptcies, crime sprees, or time spent in mental institutions or parents’ spare bedrooms. However, a bunch more of us are dead than five years ago. Those people just get their name on a list. They don’t get a photo collage. One more reason to stay alive.

Then there are the stats the editors compile. The one that gives me particular pause for thought is the income stat. (After all, what is a sociological look at a class without a look at class, or at least moolah?) According to this (possibly trustworthy) source, only 11% of my class make less than 50k, and that includes people who are still languishing in some PhD program. If you consider that 51% of my class is married, and probably the income stats are by household, throwing in the 23% that make between 50 and 100k and assuming lots of them are couples does increase the ranks of my not-so-rich classmates. But that still leaves 61% making between 100 and 500k, and 5% in the 1%, if you know what I mean. Holy shit. I ought to find me a patron.

Reading the classbook gives me a feeling I had a lot at Stanford — feeling simultaneously Nothing Like Anybody and like I’ve finally found my peers, chafing against outside definitions of success and being pretty excited about my less conventional decisions.

Although, come to think of it, my page has both a picture of my dog and of me in Paris, just like everybody else.