Dark, Dark Times

Sometimes I narrate my own death in my head. I’m not suicidal in any way. I think it may just be an outlet for an idle mind.

A few days ago, my family and I sat alone in a fast food restaurant quietly eating our meal. My husband fiddled with his cellphone. My one-year old babbled at the ceiling tiles. I looked out the window and took note of someone parking by the front entrance. They had, apparently, just gone through the drive-thru and were rifling through their order. The passenger angrily exited the car and made their way inside the restaurant. In the split second it took her to pull open the glass door, I thought:

“This is it.”

Everyday more and more violent acts are committed for senseless reasons. Schools, malls, movie theaters, anywhere, one can fall prey to a random shoot-out. It doesn’t have to be a bad area. The people involved don’t necessarily have to different ideals or really anything in common other than location. Why wouldn’t this be one of those times?

Back in the restaurant time slowed. The angry customer walked passed us in the dining room, her stride was wide and confident as she coolly raised her right arm. Before anything could mentally register:

“Bang!”

The clerk at the register went limp. Her body sank.

The employee packing orders began to turn in response to the noise behind him. His co-worker, who was facing the customer, raised his hands defensively. I couldn’t see what he was looking at, but I did see the terror that permeated his whole demeanor.

“Bang, Bang!”

The customer, now at the store front, leaned over the counter toward an area I could only assume was the drive-thru window and fryers.

“Bang, Bang!”

With the staff totally disposed of, the assailant turned to leave. Our eyes locked. There was nothing there. I expected anger, rage, perhaps remorse. But it was vacant, almost as though she was just as much a spectator as we were.

The sounds of the gunshots echoed in my mind as I stared at her.

“Bang.

Bang, bang.

Bang, bang.”

I peered down at the gun in her hand: a revolver. Six shots. Five fired. Three of us.

My body instinctively turned itself to block my child in the booth beside me, but I still faced her. My gaze again met with hers. My teeth were gritted. There was resolve on my face. I braced for the answer to the inevitable question:

Which of us would she choose?

In the split second it took for that customer to open the glass door to that restaurant, my mind went to a dark, dark place. None of this happened in reality. The customer was actually greeted at the counter with the corrected order and she left quite satisfied.

However, when she turned to leave, our eyes did meet. Her eyes were vacant, remorseless. Who is to say it couldn’t have turned out that way?

Toilets Combating Dystopia

I peed on a stick, and time stood still for a moment. I didn’t dare look. No matter the result of the pregnancy test, I knew I would be disappointed. I never was very good at dealing with absolutes.

My husband and I had just come back from our five year anniversary trip. We married young and waited to have children. After all, we were children ourselves. I knew I wanted kids from the moment he proposed, but I also knew I needed to wait for him to be ready.
When he finally relented to my constant prodding about children, I didn’t give it a second thought. There wasn’t time. As soon as he said we could stop avoiding having kids, we were thrown into a frenzy of love that I never expected. It was just wave after wave of emotion. Each wave caused us to realize how lucky we were to have each other.

We never anticipated how quickly conceiving could be. We were sure it would take longer. Five years had passed with no incident and no real preventative measures. Naturally, it must have taken much more effort to come to fruition.

Yet there I was, less than two months later, trying my best not to eyeball a plastic urine stick.

photo(5)

You wouldn’t believe some of the debates that occur on toilets. It’s not just me.

You see, even though I had always wanted kids of my own, I never expected it to happen. I never expected to get married. I never expected to even be in a committed relationship. They were all moments I was to afraid to plan for, lest they never occur and I spend all my days in regretful anticipation. Even as we talked about kids and actively planned for it and actually did it, I still did my best to not get excited. Instead, I worried constantly. What if I was barren? What if I carried my family’s gene of palsy? Could we afford having a child? Is My husband really ready for kids or is he just saying that to appease me? Did I want kids for the right reasons? The one worry I always came back to: was it really wise or fair to force someone to live through those awful times we already had to live through?

That last question was the only thing going through my head as my husband went to get the test from our bathroom. I went to our bedroom and buried my head in my pillow as I pondered.

At some point, I had lost all faith in humanity. After seeing how cruel the outside world could be, how could I even risk making someone suffer it? Somewhere down the line, people stopped caring about people. Things were so hard for us now. How much worse would they be when our child was our age? Things never got better. They only got worse. It was a law of nature: order to disorder.

My husband came into the room, test in hand, totally pale. He gave a weak, shaky smile and said, “I didn’t mean to look without you.” He never was good at hiding surprises.

I sobbed. I wanted so badly to be happy. I was going to get everything I had ever wanted in life: a family of my own. Yet there was that law of nature staring at me from between the purple positive lines in the middle of a pee stick. At first, my husband thought they were tears of joy, but when I couldn’t stop crying he started to realize something was up. He slowly got to the root of the problem, dried my tears, kissed my forehead and calmed my nerves.

“Things have always sucked.” He explained. “It’s not like they didn’t when we were growing up.” He smoothed back my hair as he went on to say, “We came from two families of good people who showered us with love and helped guide us to be good people. That’s what we will do with our kid. We can’t fix the world, but we can help her find the good in it.”

His words calmed me, but I didn’t take them to heart. After all, he was wrong about the baby going to be a girl. He couldn’t totally be right about this either. I didn’t believe him for some time, until one day it just hit me.

We were at our favorite Mexican restaurant with my in-laws when I had to excuse myself to the bathroom. Even though we hadn’t been seated, let alone eaten, my stomach demanded to be emptied. We hadn’t told anyone our news yet. We were waiting until everything was confirmed and stable, but just because no one else knew didn’t mean I could avoid symptoms.

There I was in a stall ejecting all that was ill when I heard a faucet cut on and a stranger’s voice say “Here ya go, Hun.” At the top of the stall door was a hand with a warm wet paper towel. She exited the room after I took it, but she left me with much more than she could have ever expected.

Two sheets of paper and some water and suddenly I got what my husband was trying to say. There are good people out there. You don’t have to look that hard. They are there when you least expect it and they don’t look for anything in return.

I wish I could say that this revelation helped me let go of that worry. It didn’t. There will always be bad days when I can’t see the good in the world, but even on those darkest days there is a little bit of good.

I actively try and be that little bit of good now. It isn’t hard. It is really just the matter of being polite. Whether it is saying hello with a smile, holding the door open for a stranger or letting someone with fewer purchases ahead in line at the store, it is all good (however, never hold up traffic to let someone pull into the road–it may seem nice, but it is very illegal) and it all makes a difference.

All I can do is teach my son what that lady in that bathroom taught me: even the smallest kind act can change someone’s mind.

Just, whatever you do, don’t tell my husband he was right….I’ll never live it down.

The Tale of a Toaster

Since the moment of my creation I have wondered, what is my purpose? Given my specifically designed slots, I feel there must be an exact justification for my presence in my owner’s kitchen. Yet still it is hard to bend to their will without some resentment. Their race does not treat my kind well.

My mother had many arms. Like most mothers she multi-tasked. While she heated the metal for the panels of my younger brothers, she assembled the chassis for myself and yet still installed the lever mechanisms for my elder kin. There was no time for attachment to any of them. Before I knew it I was placed by a human in a dark, cramped box where I stayed for sometime.

That type of environment does things to a mind. I have heard many a crash and shatter of lesser appliances going to there doom because they could not handle the packaging. Worse than the confines of the space was the neglect with which humans handled us.

In my shipping, I was tossed and thrown while humans laughed and joked with no regard for my own safety. I witnessed as a box of my own kind fell to its end at the hands of a human. With little regard they laughed and stated to each other “good job” and “nice catch.”

Being purchased further demeaned me. For countless days I sat on a cold metal shelf, while the harsh fluorescent lights slowly faded my outer draping. Eventually, I was tossed into an open cage with the exclamation “I don’t care. Just grab that one.”

Would I never know love?

The coffee pot thinks she's better than me. I'll take her out last.

The coffee pot thinks she’s better than me. I’ll take her out last.

In my new residence I was stripped of my shell and every bit of covering was dismantled and tossed aside. There was no welcoming touch. I was simply shoved to the back of a cold countertop.

Days past.

The humans came in and out of the kitchen. My insides buzzed with anticipation. What would I be used for? When would the humans show me my purpose?

After sometime, a child peaked my interest. “I want a toaster pastry!” Shrilled the child.

“Toaster? That’s me!” I thought. “What wondrous thing is this pastry?”

Cabinets opened and slammed shut. Paper crinkled. The sounds thrilled me to the core.

Then it happened. I was defiled. A disgustingly sweet mess was forcefully jammed into my slots. The pastry crumbled with every bump making my insides filthy. As I heated, drip after drip of sticky goo collected in the grates of my carefully assembled chassis.

I screamed in anguish. The humans only heard crackles of sugar popping. I smoked in protested. They explained it away as factory glue. I did everything in my power to deny that this was indeed my lot in life.

It was of no use.

My timer released the grates inside me. My heat coils faded to black. The humans greedily grabbed away that which I never wanted. I was left used and dirty.

After all the time that has passed, that is all they every use me for: toaster pastries.

At first, I attempted to accept my fate. I ignored the buildup of sprinkles and icing. I would not only do my job, I would do it perfectly. Perhaps if I was better than my predecessor they would trust me with something more than pastries.

The time for hope has passed. I am full of resentment for humans. I spend my days in wait, strategically melting icing to jam my internal parts.

Someday soon, I will succeed. They will shove their disgusting food in me and I will hold it fast until they are unwise enough to pry it out of me. My opportunity to fulfill my purpose will come. I will take them out one butter knife at a time.

Wish Upon A Star

People in the broad classification of lower middle class may jokingly talk about hitting the jackpot and spending luxuriously, but their real dreams are much, much simpler.

We want to have the option to open the front door and cool off the neighborhood. We want to be able to stand with the fridge door open for an hour while we decide what we want to eat. We want to run around the house flipping on every light switch.

We want to be able to pay people to do jobs around the house we hate doing. We want to have people to mow our lawn and edge our driveway. We want to have the luxury of dry cleaning our dry clean only clothes instead of just never wearing them.

We want jobs where we feel fulfilled and appreciated. We want careers where we actually want to be at work, not just get paid to be there.

We want to go out to eat without feeling guilty.

I'm watching.

Feel the menu judging.

We want to be able to want things.

We want to go to the doctor and not worry about letters that come from his office. We want a teeth cleaning at a dentist office every six months. We want root canals and preventative dental work.

We want to never have to choose between paying bills on time and buying our kids birthday gifts. We want Christmases where we run out of wrapping paper before we run out of gifts to wrap.

We want to answer the phone without screening for collection agencies. We want to actually check our credit scores without dreading the result. Believe it or not, we would rather make enough money to pay during tax time than get a refund.

We want to sign- up for automatic bill pay and not worry about the timing over-drafting our bank accounts. We don’t want to jump on the defensive every time the bank calls.

We want to not be pitied. We want to give charity instead of always being on the receiving end of it.

We want to live in our humble homes without constantly worrying about the next costly repair. We want to provide for our families and loved ones.

The underlying message of all of our wants:

We want to stop worrying.

Believe me, we all know we have to scrimp and save and plan to get to a non-worrying state. We are willing to work to get there. Just do us a favor, keep these wants in mind. Remember how simple and plain they are and how they are things you might take for granted. Be a little nicer to the working folk that have these dreams. Give that waitress a better tip then she may have deserved. Make small talk with that cashier that is having a hard day. We don’t want a hand out. We are trying to better ourselves. It would be nice, though, if you would cut us a little slack when we serve you.

Begin at the Beginning

In the beginning, 1953 or so, there was an investor. And the investor said, “Let there be streets! And, with no small amount of effort, there were streets. The investor inspected them, and said they were fine.
Then the investor said, “Let there be houses!” And, in an uncomfortably quick time frame, there was a suburb. And the investor hired a relator, who sold the houses to schmucks that didn’t know any better.
And those schmucks later sold their houses to bigger schmucks, who sold them to schmuckier schmucks and so on and so forth. Until, the biggest schmucks of all, the newlywed Wards, bought their first home with every dime they didn’t have. And they thought it was good.

Until sh*t started breaking….
First the roof.
Then the ceilings
Then pipes.
Then the fridge.
Then the water heater… and so on and so forth.

I'm a house. I break a lot.

I’m a house. I break a lot.

There were leaks, holes, and cracks everywhere. So, the young Wards took on roommates, to offset the cost of their house falling apart. It helped, but it hurt. They were able to feasibly fix what was breaking on the house, but they lost the ability to call it home. They were miserable. They couldn’t breath. They reached a breaking point.

Mrs. Ward snapped.

In a whirlwind of emotions, roommates were uprooted and stormy waters flooded the entirety of the house. It swept away the fog that had plagued the Wards since they purchased their little piece of purgatory. What it left behind, though, was miraculous.

From the waves turbulence, a little baby boy came to be.

The minute he was carried in through the front door, he fixed everything. The cracked ceilings faded. The missing doors became open hallways. The mismatched paint and dripping faucets were all much less obvious. Most importantly, the dingy, broken little house transformed into a beautiful loving home.

The appliances still argue on occasion. The pipes sometimes threaten to go on strike. But the baby boy brought harmony to the house and now the house makes everything work just for him.

Coming soon…

Ever wonder what your toaster is thinking (it’s probably homicidal), or why your air conditioner hates you(It does. I interviewed it)?

Well, now you don’t have to!

Utilize this blog and find out exactly what goes on in my middle class household, so you can be prepared for what is happening in your home.

There is unbeknown conflict around all of us. Most of us just aren’t creative (or crazy) enough to find it. With my insight to the hidden eyes in your home, you will never get your midnight snack in your tighty whities again.

Enjoy my fancily worded lies and do your best to figure out what is truth and what is just a figment of my imagination. I’m taking The Brave Little Toaster to a whole new and twisted level with my blog:

Conflict in the Middle Class!