My Empty Nest

It's not always empty.

I'm trying not to read too much into this

A writer is blocked by her appliances

I'm part of a writers' group that meets infrequently at best. We are all women, more or less the same age, stay at home moms with no one to stay home for anymore. When I joined the group several years ago the main theme seemed to be wine and whine. Drink a bit of chardonnay and then complain about how difficult it is to find time to write.  Gradually over time the emphasis shifted away from social venting to critical vetting of our real purpose for gathering: The words on the page.

We held public readings at the library. We edited each others first drafts. Some of us got published.  We started to get some traction on the highway of the writer's life.  The daily grind would inevitably get in the way, keeping one or some of us from meeting - illness, travel, construction, homework. Random causes for not showing up. For my part I had a pretty good attendance record at least in the beginning. The past year though was difficult with two kids applying to college. I was absent more than present. So I was really looking forward to the meeting that was going to be held in January at a house that was in walking distance from mine.  The upside of an empty nest -- no chicks to checks on.   As I was leaving I put something in the oven for my husband to eat when he got home, set the oven timer and then all hell broke loose. The oven started beeping like a bomb about to go off. I couldn't get it to stop. It was awful. I couldn't reach a repairman. Awful became a throbbing headache and a growing fear that the rest of my life would be spent hearing my oven scream BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! I ran over to my writer/friend's house and explained the situation - my oven was preventing me from attending my writers' meeting. She thought I was joking. Do I look like I'm joking? I shouted (still hearing the beeping in my head).

By the time I got home my husband was there trying to figure out if our alarm system was on the fritz, and if so why was it only sounding in the kitchen?  I told him our oven was having a nervous breakdown. It was suffering a sudden case of separation anxiety, though now that I was back it still continued to beep. Louder and faster with every passing minute.  Is there such a thing as a rabid appliance? My husband was not amused. However he sensibly found the fuse that governed the oven and switched it off.

By then I was too frazzled to return to my writer's meeting. We heated up some soup on the stove. At least that was still working.

And the oven has now been repaired - it took three weeks but who's counting -- and I'm sure there'll be another writer's meeting, maybe in a month or two. But I wonder if this time my ironing board will fall on my head while I'm trying to get out of door. Or maybe my vacuum cleaner will lock me in a closet. And when I don't show up, if they call, will my answering machine say, she's not here right now. Can I take a message? With me knocking as hard as I can, from inside the dryer, shouting let me out! While the washing machine floods the basement, preventing my escape.

No one will believe me but I'm telling you they're out to get me, all of them. The microwave, the dishwasher, blender, and refrigerator - they know the only electrical device I really love is my laptop. And they're jealous.

Sometimes my laptop and I work outside.  We hide out on the deck.  The gas grill is less possessive.  It lets us work in peace.  Today is a beautiful day, and out here the appliances can't find us.  We'll stay until my laptop's battery runs out.  Then we'll have to go inside and face all those angry electric faces.

I was late for my other writer's group last week. (Yes I'm promiscuous. I see other writers.) And the reason why? New toilets.  No really. A simple renovation project turned ugly.  Clearly the appliances have formed an alliance with the bathroom fixtures. The toilets were installed incorrectly. What does that mean?  How can that even happen? Why doesn't anything in my house want me to write?

Help me.

 

Madora Kibbe is a Christian Science practitioner and writer who lives in New York.

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