Post- Magazine

advice from a dorm gecko [lifestyle]

musings on agency, community, and dead cockroaches

I didn’t come to college intending to buy a gecko, and yet there I was in the Providence Petco on my eighteenth birthday, looking at potential terrariums for the future third resident of my Keeney double.

I don’t quite remember how the gecko thing started. I think it started as just a silly little bit, as do most ridiculous ideas that become ridiculous things you’ve done. But somehow, after joking about it, we got serious and realized that we could, realistically and within our budget, get a gecko. Sure, finding people to take care of it during breaks would be a hassle—I’ve posted my share of anonymous Sidechat pleas for someone to look after him over breaks. And yes, there would have to be the occasional sojourn to the Providence Petco to pick up crested gecko food mix—tropical and watermelon are his favorite flavors. But after weighing these considerations, my roommate and I decided we would go through with it and take the plunge into parenthood. 


Beef Chili Fish is his name, though to friends he’s just Fish. We don’t know his sex, but we used he/him/his on the first day we got him and the pronouns stuck. He lives in a terrarium and spends most of his day perched atop a fake plant, hiding under a fake log, upside down on a fake rock wall, clinging to the glass wall with his super suction toes, or breathing anxiously on his feeding ledge. 

Though Fish’s fingers are powerful grippers, the one thing he cannot do is pick up a pen and write for post- magazine. So, in an attempt to reject anthropocentricity, here’s what I think he’d say if asked to give readers some lifestyle advice. 

Hello, I am Fish. I am an orange crested gecko. Who knows what horrors I endured before Indigo and her roommate so kindly adopted me. I do not know what “Brown” or its Daily Herald are. All I know is I like fruit-flavored food mix and if you look at me for too long, I will breathe very fast to show you I am not happy about it. With my introduction out of the way, here are my tips and tricks for a well-lived life. 

1. Boundaries are everything. 

Just like many people and beings, I like to be held. But only on some days. If you reach into my humid, glass-walled domain on a day I’m just not feeling it, I will scamper away without a twinge of remorse. If, for some reason, you pick me up instead of taking the hint, I will leap out of your hand. Trust me, us crested geckos can leap and we can leap far (up to five feet at a time!). That’ll teach you. Though boundaries for you, dear reader, likely look completely different (I doubt anybody is trying to pick you up), don’t be afraid to set them, assert them, and make them known. Even if it means sending your two roommates chasing around the room as you leap from wall to wall. 


2. Do what works for you. 

Every morning, my two roommates hear their alarms go off, moan, groan, then shuffle semi-consciously to their 10ams. Not me. I sleep through the entire day—sometimes curled up in a little ball, splayed out on the paper towel that lines the bottom of my terrarium, even upside down (despite my roommates’ fear that this habit will lead me to develop floppy tail syndrome, which they read about online). Then, once my roommates hit the lights for the night, I’m the most active guy in the world, leaping from leaf to leaf in the most noisy way my tiny body can muster. I’m not suggesting that readers make a lot of noise while those they cohabitate with are sleeping—the last thing I’d want is for this “post- magazine” to produce swaths of shitty roommates. What I mean to say is that I’m nocturnal. I couldn’t change this about myself even if I wanted to; that’s just my reptilian reality. So if there’s something you know about yourself—that you don’t like going out, that you don’t like rock climbing, that you don’t want to go to the Ivy Room for the fifth night in a row—don’t let people tell you it’s not true. Only you know you, and you should do what works for you. 

3. We all need community, whatever that means to us. 

When my roommates leave for a weekend or for Spring Break, a rotation of hallmates and friends take over spraying my cage and feeding me crested gecko food mix. Without them, I would not survive. Though you, as a human, may not literally depend on others to feed you and make sure you have water (what is a water bottle, btw?), we all need a community, in whatever way that word has personal significance for us. So don’t be afraid to ask for help, to reach out to an old friend to reconnect, to seek advice from another person. No person—and no gecko—can do it alone. 

4. Don’t be embarrassed. 

Occasionally, I will poop in my food. I know it’s gross, but my brain is smaller than a grape, so cut me some slack. Once, when my roommates bought me dead cockroaches as a treat because they read online that us geckos love them, I was so freaked out by the presence of these demons in my domain that I hid at the other edge of my terrarium for days. Similarly, when Indigo left a banana on top of my cage, it looked so much like a hawk or other flying predator that I started jumping everywhere like a piece of popcorn in the microwave. I’m not embarrassed about any of these things. Incidents like these are to be expected from a small-brained lizard like yours truly. And I don’t think you should be embarrassed about any of the things that are normal for humans to do, like making mistakes, tripping in public, or saying something wrong. I’m only a gecko, and you’re only a human—let's both be kind to ourselves. 

5. Be full of surprises. 

The other day, I made a crazy, squeaking-clicking noise that neither of my roommates had ever heard me make before. Once, while my roommates were opening my terrarium door, I leapt out of my cage and went hopping all over. Each day, I find new, physics-defying ways of positioning my body while I’m asleep. In other words, every day of my gecko life, both myself and the people who care for me are discovering new things about Beef Chili Fish. Though you, dear reader, may at times feel predictable and trapped in routine (or maybe you don’t, in which case ignore this little lizard), I assure you there are always new things to discover about yourself. I encourage you to live each day like it’s one where you might surprise yourself. 

In the spirit of my first piece of advice about boundaries, I am officially done writing and will now sleep for thirteen hours straight. 

With all the gratitude in my tiny gecko heart, your friend,


Indigo Mudbhary

Indigo Mudbhary is a University news senior staff writer covering student government. In her free time, she enjoys running around Providence and finding new routes.

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