The Bad News:
I saw a mouse. Well, the movement of something and one dropping. I did not grow up in places that had mice, so I am guessing that "little brown thing" is mouse poop and I am guessing that "movement" was a mouse. This is not my first visitation. When my friend Eric was here helping me move in, we saw a little something moving around. I am not going to lie—I had a little meltdown. Eric asked me if I was going to be one of those women who jumped up on a chair and screamed. I said no and proceeded to walk up my stairs and cry.

I do not want to live with mice. I do not know what to do with mice. And the exterminator who visited me on the day I closed on the house (the first person I scheduled to meet me) told me I didn't have mice. So why do I have one?

I am angry because Eric isn't here and I am alone (except for the mouse). I am frustrated because I have to figure out what to do all by myself, and grappling with a mouse was not on my extensive and long list of tasks. Plus, it's the weekend and I am guessing this doesn't fall under the category of "extermination emergencies."

This house thing is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I still have 36 boxes to unpack. What if the mouse crawls in one of them? How could something that could fit in the palm of my hand (perish the thought) be so upsetting to me?

The Good News:
I'm lying. In this moment, I don't feel like there is any good news.

I'm now searching for eco-friendly ways to do away with this mouse instead of enjoying a leisurely evening of unpacking. Even though I am a very green girl, right now I don't really care about the kindest, gentlest way to remove this little creature. I just want it out of my house. And there's the lesson. In moments of crisis, we panic and want problems solved as quickly as possible. We let our values soften as we try to regain our safety.

I know this is a bit audacious, but the way I figure it, my mouse drama parallels some people's reaction to the climate crisis. In the face of something scary and overwhelming, we just want the challenge to disappear—or pretend that it doesn't exist in the first place. (Trust me, were it not for a little turd on my stove, a mother who keeps telling me mice have an appetite for electrical wiring and a host of websites detailing how quickly mice can breed, I would try to pretend the little movement I sensed was a figment of my imagination.) But whether it's the mouse or the warming of the planet, we have to act...and there are a continuum of ways in which we can engage.

Simran Sethi is an award-winning journalist and associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications. For more information on Sethi, visit


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