Month: January 2014

There’s a creature in my ceiling.

I’ve never been afraid of the dark. Staying home alone while the husband works night shift has tested that, and I’ve concluded that I’m still not afraid of big, empty houses, shadows lurking in dark corners, or of sudden incursions by thieves or rapists.

Bring it. I can take them on. After all, I’m armed with super-pointy knitting needles… and my own fists.

A few days before we adopted Frank, though, I started hearing noises.

It was 3 a.m. and I was at work in the living room, working on a writing project for one of my favorite clients, when I first heard the sound. It sounded like… something rustling. And then it sounded like something small and hard had fallen to the tile floor. I stopped typing to listen.


What bugged me more than the noises themselves was the fact that they travelled. First I’d hear them in the back bedroom. Then in the bedroom-turned-toolroom opposite the kitchen. Then in the kitchen. Then the hallway.

I returned to my writing.


There it was again. It was 3 a.m., and there was something, and it wasn’t my pet parakeet, who was sound asleep in the sunroom on the other end of the house.

Of course, I didn’t get up to investigate. Investigating would be a sign of weakness.


After unsuccessfully ignoring the sounds for half an hour, I took a deep breath, became a Ninja, and went bravely through the house, flipping on one light at a time, then whirling around the door like an FBI agent wielding a gun. Maybe it would have worked better if I *had* been wielding some sort of weapon (besides my dangerously formidable fists).

After about five minutes, every light in the house was on, and it seemed like every time I walked into one room, I heard the sounds coming from a different one.



The sounds started sounding like little creaturely feet, and after standing silently in the hallway in my best ninja pose for a few moments, I realized that the sounds were coming from above the drop ceiling over my head.

If this were South Carolina, I’d think it was a squirrel in the ductwork. But Guam? What could be in my ceiling? A cane toad? A monitor lizard? A snake?  A rat? A spider the size of my head?

The sounds stopped when the sun came up. Manny came home and we went to bed. The next night, the sounds returned in full force, so I let Owl City blare, put on my noise-cancelling headphones, and pointedly ignored them. All night long.

A few days later, the sounds stopped. This was, if possible, more unnerving than the sounds themselves. I keep waiting for the smell of something dead to come wafting down through the vents in the ceiling. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m still jumpy.

And I’m fairly certain that my newly-adopted dog would offer little protection against thieves OR monitor lizards.

Cést la vie.

The Boonie Dog Named Frank

We watched “Frozen” with friends, stayed up half the night, and set the alarm for 8 a.m., but I woke up at 4:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep. I tapped my husband on the shoulder.

Me: You awake?

Manny: *moan*

Me: I am awake.

Manny: Do you wanna build a snowman?

An hour later, I had a cup of strong french press coffee brewing, and we were packing granola bars and water for a hike up Mount LamLam to watch the sun rise.

We staggered up the mountain–erm, 1,300 foot hill–with our flashlights in semidarkness, trying (and failing) not to slip on the dewy, grassy, overgrown trails. More than once, Manny grunted and jumped a few feet backwards to avoid the two- and three- inch banana spiders, almost sending me on a rapid trip back down the mountainside.

We missed the sunrise by a few minutes, but the early-morning sun was still turning the hilltops gold when we reached the peak. It turns out that sunrises at Mount LamLam are just as beautiful as sunsets on the mountain. It was clear enough to see all the way to the northernmost point of the island, Ritidian Point, and all the way south to Cocos Lagoon.


I stood up near the crosses at the summit and scanned the horizon, no doubt thinking very poetic, philosophical thoughts, when Manny grinned and pointed behind me.

“Steff, turn around.” And there was the dog that we didn’t yet know would be adopting us as his very own.

Manny immediately went to pet him. “We shall call him Frank!” he said jokingly, as he went to scratch the puppy behind the ears. A few minutes later, I was sitting on the ground beside Frank, feeding him our breakfast.

Gah. There went the heartstrings. He sat with his leg at a noticeably odd angle. His eyes were clear and bright but sad. He looked so malnourished that it seemed another day or two without food would do him in.


Me: We have to keep him.

Manny: No.

Me: He’ll die out here.

Manny: No.

Me: Come on, he looks healthy enough except for… almost starved and his leg…

Manny: No.

Frank ate the granola bars gently, one bite at at time, and nuzzled my hand. Suddenly, adopting Frank seemed like the most rational, appropriate option on the table.

Manny made some very well-reasoned points against keeping the dog. We had already discussed the possibility and decided against it. It would cramp our style, we had decided. We wanted to be able to pick up and travel without worrying about finding someone to care for him. It’d cost a fortune to fly an animal out when we leave in a year or two. Not now. Maybe when we had kids, we’d get a dog so they could grow up with one…

…Frank followed us down the hill. It seemed incredibly improbable that he could keep up with us on those steep trails, dragging his broken leg behind him, but every time I paused and looked behind me, he was a couple of feet behind my heels, wagging his tail lethargically, and looking at me with those sad, soulful eyes.

Manny: Are you mad at me?

Me: No.

Manny: But you seem upset.

Me: No.

Manny: Give me a hug.

Me: No.

Frank followed us to the trailhead, crossed the highway with us to the car, and wandered listlessly around the parking area when we got inside to leave. Manny didn’t drive away. His feelings were being manipulated, too. He watched Frank in silence while I mentally pleaded with him to drive away before I stared at Frank so long that I started bawling.

He didn’t drive away fast enough. Soon, against my best intentions, there were big fat tears rolling down my cheeks along with beads of sweat.

Manny: Do you want to keep him?

Me: Yes. *sniff* But you can’t blame me for guilting you into it, because I’m really not trying to guilt you into it, I’m not upset at you, I just… look at him. And I cried some more.

Manny: Are you going to take care of him?

Me: *nods*

Manny: Go and get him.


So, now the pet count is as follows:

  • 1 extremely antisocial parakeet
  • 1 malnourished, lethargic dog named Frank who will soon have a very expensive surgery to repair his shattered leg
  • 1 unknown creature living in the ductwork (more on that later)


Bed is so much more comfortable when someone you love is in it. And that’s not necessarily a good thing.

The hubster has been working nights. Incidentally, I have reverted to an almost completely nighttime schedule.

This is becoming a terrible, self-reinforcing pattern. I convince myself I’m sleepy sometime around 3 a.m., and then HE comes home and his sleepyness is contagious, and I can’t drag myself out of bed for the life of me.

Something about the magnetic force of having another warm body in bed just seeps into my already-confused circadian rhythms and convinces me that I must stay in bed. At all costs. It’s like well-intentioned, motivated lazyness.

Then all of a sudden, it’s 3 p.m. and I’ve slept for twelve hours. Two hours later, the hubster goes back to work, and the cycle starts again, relentlessly robbing me of the best hours of my day.

I’ve also discovered that pretty much the only thing open 24 hours a day on Guam is the K-Mart. Which is good for people-watching, if not much else. On weekends, the Infusion coffee shop in Tamuning stays open until midnight, which is great until… midnight. At which point I still have six hours left to pretend to be my usual productive, creative, *cough*responsible*cough* self.

2014 Resolution #11: Watch more sunrises. On this schedule, it should be easy.

Last sunrise of 2013

Last sunrise of 2013Last new year’s eve, I dragged myself out of bed long before the sun rose,  bought a cup of bad gas station coffee, and watched the the last sunrise of 2012 from a sand dune in the middle of nowhere, Texas.

I liked it so much that I resolved to make it my tradition of sorts–a quiet, very nondescript, laid-back method of bidding the old year farewell.

This year, new year’s eve fell smack dab in the middle of a relentlessly motivation-less, sleepy, long stretch of life. My husband at work, I put myself to bed at 2:30 a.m. on New Year’s Eve and dragged myself back out of the comfort of my blankets and pillows two hours later to go find a sunrise. But not before spending an agonizing ten minutes listening to the voices in my head argue with each other.

“This is a stupid tradition, Steffani Erin. You can’t really even consider it a tradition–come on, you only did it once before. Go back to sleep.”

“If you don’t get up and go watch the sunrise RIGHT NOW, you’re going to spend the rest of 2014 regretting it. Now, is that how you want to live out the next 365 days?”

I held on to the thought of impending regret long enough to bolt out of bed and throw some clothes on. Forty minutes later I was sitting on an isolated stretch of beach, watching a hermit crab peek out of its hole and keeping an eye on the horizon as the sun rose over the Pacific.

Of course I took the time for obligatory end-of-year reflections about how much life happened during 2013. My year in a nutshell: