Thursday, March 7, 2013

Short Story Thursday- Home Sweet Home

I used to write tiny/short stories every single day. They were mostly about school but instances from my life would creep in too.  It became a cathartic way to relive some stress and tension from the day. At one time I wanted to be like the love child version version of Bill Bryson and David Sedaris. 

I wrote them to be humorous and they generally came off as such. However, over time they started getting more and more dark so I stopped cold turkey.

I have about 150 pages of these stories saved up so I thought that perhaps I would start sharing one of them each Thursday. 

I am hoping that bringing these little humorous vignettes out from the depths of my computer's hard drive will inspire me to write more stories again in the future!

And now without further ado the tale of how I came to live in my home sweet home:

Home Sweet Home
The town that I teach in is a college town. There are actually two universities and one community college in a fifteen mile radius. What always confounds me about this is the lack of affordable housing available. This is mostly due to the fact that the colleges buy houses and rent them out to students and so many of the apartment complexes are geared toward college students.

When I moved to town I looked at a few complexes and I had two options, one being an apartment that was 75% underground. The windows were at the ceiling and I felt that if I rented it I would always been in the mindset that the apocalypse status would be at threat level: midnight. The other option was a nice, (at least what I thought was nice) but overpriced, apartment complex.

I moved into the seemingly nice but overpriced apartment and thus began a constant whirlwind of problems. For one, I was excited to be in an apartment with air conditioning. Heat and I do not get along, we never have and when asked I generally state irreconcilable differences. Soon after moving in the air conditioner began freezing up on a regular basis. When I say freezing up I don’t mean that it stopped working; I mean that it literally turned to a block of ice and had no room to blow cool air. Whenever this happened I always thought of a line from David Sedaris’ book “Me Talk Pretty One Day” in which he hated thinking about how things actually worked because the answers were always so boring so he came up with his own answers. He decided that, “an air conditioner is powered by a team of squirrels, their cheeks packed with ice cubes.”

The next problem I had with my apartment was the oven. There was something fundamentally wrong with my oven. No matter how long you cooked something it never seemed to get cooked all the way through, and when I asked the handyman to fix it my oven become boiling lava hot and everything was cooked on the outside and raw on the inside. On top of that sticky black goo kept appearing in the bottom my oven which the handyman told me was food that boiled over. I conducted experiments of my own and no matter if there was a yellow cake, a pot roast, or just plain nothing, the black goo would come back to haunt me. Since the handyman clearly labeled me as a mental patient I finally just gave up and microwaved everything.

Speaking of mental patients my apartment complex had those as well. One day I began noticing a grown man in the building across from me who appeared to be talking to himself. I didn’t think anything of it until I decided to walk my dog one day and he began to follow me around the complex taking pictures of me and my dog. These were special pictures however because they were imaginary pictures. He would put his hands up to his face and mime taking a picture while saying, “click, click, click…oh yea that was a good one.” This was disconcerting to me as you can imagine. The thing that maybe made me the saddest about the whole situation was the fact that he had more imagination than most of my students did, but he had to be mentally unstable in order to do it.

The final straw about living in the complex was that every year the rent went up 100 dollars and as a teacher my step increase only equaled out to be 50 dollars more a paycheck. Eventually I decided that I didn’t need to be paying exorbitant amounts of money for an air conditioner run by squirrels, with an oven of black goo that was going to eventually form an intelligent mind and come after me like the mental patient across the way.

I decided that it was time to buy my own house. I contacted a fabulous real estate agent in town and started the process of finding my home sweet home. When the day came to go look at houses I took my mother and a friend to along with me.

The first house we went to was located right next to GIANT electrical power grids. My mother looked at me and said, “The good news is you would be the first to get your power back in a power outage.” When we walked into the house things didn’t get much better. One of the bedrooms was completely empty aside from a stack of empty beer and cereal boxes that was taller than me (and I am pretty tall). The other bed only had a weight bench and mirrors on each of the walls. My friend tried to lighten the mood by asking anyone if they knew a good vet and when they asked why lifting her arms in a weightlifter pose and saying, “because these puppies are sick.”

Because I was obviously not sold we went on to house number two. We had to travel to the ends of the earth in order to get to this house. When we pulled up to the house it looked like a perfectly normal house and my friend exclaimed, “Ooh, I’ve been here before. The people died and they had to have an estate sale.” When we walked inside I responded, “Did they die IN the house?” The house smelled like death and looked like it had not been cleaned since it had been built.

We walked into the living room and discovered that it was as long as two bowling alleys put together. We tried to take pictures to capture the perspective of it but all our efforts failed until we had the idea to have my friend stand at the entrance and had me go to the middle of the room and then at the other side of the room to add a sense of depth to it. When looking at the pictures, now you see me, now you don’t. I was so far away I was the size of a grasshopper in the pictures.

We continued our tour into the master bedroom. The bedroom was the same size as the living room. My mother said, “You could have roommates in the same room as you and you wouldn’t know they were there!”

At that point I was more than ready to leave the house but when we walked into the backyard we discovered five outbuildings on the property waiting to be inspected. I still don’t know what the purpose of all those outbuildings was but the only thing I could infer using my powers of deduction I think that they used one as a holding area for the people they kidnapped. The second one they used interrogations. The third they used for water boarding. The fourth was used for people who still didn’t cooperate. The fifth one I don’t think I should mention on this blog because I still have nightmares about it.

As we were leaving we noticed that everywhere on the property was covered with outdoors gnomes and ceramic squirrels. Nailed to trees, on the ground, on the porch, and sometimes it seemed like they were moving closer every time I wasn’t looking. I still think that I feel them watching me sometimes at night *Shudder.*

My friend asked my real estate agent if there were any houses closer to her town and she responded that there was one, so away we went. When we were pulling into the driveway I noticed that there were cats hanging in the trees. Just chilling like the Cheshire cat from “Alice and Wonderland.” Any other time I would have found this intriguing, cute even, but after just being at the slaughterhouse VIII with the killer gnomes and squirrels it was a bit much and I said to no one in particular, “What is wrong with people in this town?!”

After getting over my initial shock, I fell in love with the house. It is a brick house situated on eight acres of land. Perfect for someone who hates people and likes to get as far away from civilizations as possible, but didn’t make me feel like I was preparing for a worldwide apocalypse like the apartment mentioned in the beginning.

A month later my puppy, three cats, and I moved in and live happily ever after. Well, as happily ever after as *I* get.

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