The benefits of self-employment and finding a snake in your living room

This morning I found a snake in my living room. Well, actually, I didn’t find it—my son’s dog Felix found it for me. I could tell something was not quite right when Felix kept sticking his nose between the window and the corner of the couch and then abruptly backed up and got ready to pounce.

After watching his odd behavior for about 30 seconds I went to investigate and saw an 18-inch long gopher snake behind the couch. Or maybe it was a garter snake. I don’t actually know. I just know it didn’t have a rattle.

I didn’t freak out. The snake was kind of cute, actually. But it was in my house. Suddenly making coffee and relaxing on the patio before starting my work day seemed very far away. I stood there for a minute and realized I had no clue how I was going to get this snake out of my living room.

So I woke my son up. Charley is 15 and is rarely up before noon, but I knew he’d have some ideas. Groggy as he was, he stumbled downstairs and lamented, “Geez Mom, I don’t even like snakes.” We moved the couch and found that our little snake had curled up in the corner under the end table. All I could picture was the chaos that would ensue when we tried to nudge him out of the corner and he slithered under the cabinet, or the piano or the other couch.

So I went next door. Jessie is the best neighbor ever. Her kids lit up when I showed them the poor little guy coiled up in the corner, and before I knew it, Jessie was handing Charley a shovel while she gently placed a bucket on its side a few inches from the snake. And just like that, the snake was in the bucket. I never would have thought of that.

We walked the bucket outside and little snakey slithered out to his new home in the community garden. Thank God for smart neighbors and teenagers.

But here’s where my story begins. I woke up this morning assuming I would have a “regular” morning. Before I discovered snakey, my intention was to be in front of the computer responding to emails, revising drafts and writing proposals by 8:45am, 9am at the latest. Life had other plans. After snakey was safely relocated and Charley was tucked back into bed, I started my coffee (finally!), looked around the living room and realized it would be a while before I got to work.

When my kids were little, their favorite book was If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. In the story, the child’s day is derailed by a sweet, hungry mouse. Everyone knows that if you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want a glass of milk to go with it. Of course he’ll then request a straw for sipping, then a mirror to check for a milk mustache, scissors for trimming his hair, a nap, a glass of milk upon waking, and of course, finally another cookie. And then it all begins again.

You see, when you find a snake in the living room, you move the furniture around. Moving the furniture around stirs up the dust and dog hair behind the couch. Vacuuming up the dust and dog hair behind the couch makes you notice the cobwebs in the window behind the couch. While standing on the couch to reach the cobwebs on the window, you notice the layer of dust on the lampshade visible only from above. Gross. While rinsing the dust from the cloth after cleaning the lampshade, you realize there is a similar layer of dust on the piano. While wiping the piano, you notice that the picture frame on the piano is broken, and so it goes.

Thank you snakey; my living room is very clean now. My work deadlines, however, loom.

I love being self-employed. I appreciate the flexibility that creating my own schedule affords me. And I know that mornings don’t always begin as planned.