middle class worries (a list in progress)


Microphones. Popped buttons. Papercuts.

There, on my left side, at the edge of my ribcage, is a strange red welt that won’t go away. You know what that means, right? That plus the mole and the ache in my lower back. It’s only a matter of time.

I stand under the skylight, drying myself from the shower, and awareness zaps me like a beam from above: someone is watching me through the glass! I can’t see them but I know they’re out there so I scurry into a dark corner and pull on some clothes.

Later, I’ve got my computer on my lap and I’m trying to check my email but I can’t move a muscle with that webcam staring at me like some hostile cyclops so I try to fix it with a little piece of paper and some scotch tape.

Then I’m at a party sipping from a plastic cup and they’re playing some good music and it’s supposed to be fun but I’m thinking about baby albatrosses dying on Midway Island, how their tiny stomachs are so crammed with plastic they have no room for food.

This is wine I’m drinking, good red wine that fills my nose and mouth like liquid incense and I’m going to have to drink more and more to quench, to feed, this flickering desire. I know I shouldn’t drink but I can’t throw it away because what if there was an earthquake, what if the big one hit and this plastic glass was all I had left, so I take another sip

and it hits me: one day I’m going to do it. I’m going to open my mouth and let slip something awful, something so dark or wrong or ugly or true I can’t cover up again. It will slide from my mouth like a viscous blob and lie there in the sunlight, twitching and pulsing for everyone to see, and they’ll all run, screaming, and they won’t ever come back and this clot of indigestible matter will be all I have left for company.

(This litany might of course have been triggered by the lovely terrifying fact that my last post was Freshly Pressed and so of course this post is doomed. But! Hahahaha. Please humor me and add your worry to the list. Pretty please?)

About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.


  1. HA! That spooky someone is watching thing does make one quake. That sense of doom and anxiety definitely builds throughout the post. With a mention of how plastic kills? No, not a disappointing post at all.
    YEA YOU!

  2. this post is lovely and terrifying too.

  3. I am undone by the baby albatrosses. Thank you, I’ll add that worry to my list.

  4. What to choose to worry about? There are far too many things.
    The albatrosses are a tragedy, aren’t they? They were already on my worry list but now I have to go tape up the eye on my tablet …
    You even worry beautifully, Anna.

  5. I too worry far too much. I even worry you may read that first sentence too fast, maybe get the subtle nuances of its sounds and spaces and punctuation wrong.
    I too worry! Fart too much!
    Let’s not worry. Let’s listen to Chet and mark and the Everly Brothers instead…

  6. You are worried that you will fail. That you will slip up and say something terrible. Well you know what? Don’t be afraid of that. Maybe you will, maybe you wont, but I have read your writing. You are a strong, positive writer who is building a loyal fanbase. And you know what? Those fans wont leave you because you make a mistake. Listen, we all make mistakes. We all say things we don’t mean, or do mean and shouldn’t say. It is a part of life. Do not spend all of your time worrying about this! Life is worth so much more than that!

    Good luck and great post!

    (For those who don’t know me I blog on stopthatwritenow.com)

    Anyway great post, the quality is not lessened if it is not freshly pressed. I enjoyed your thoughts.

    • The more I write about my problems, the smaller they look. If I try to pretend it’s not true I choke, but if I confess right away, I can get on with the program. Thank you and hey, what a lovely blog you have!

  7. My worry is that I’ll wake up at noon, stark naked, in the middle of the front yard, with 12in of fresh snow on top of me….., and I hear the snowplow coming up the road… 🙂 Ha !!!

  8. Jessica C.

    That I will faint while standing on a corner and fall into traffic and be run over. That someone will be waiting under my car in the parking lot and slash my Achilles tendon and steal my groceries. That I am not smart enough for my husband.

  9. That I can’t do it.
    About what my kids might do or mightn’t do.

    Don’t get me started.

    Congrats on the freshly pressed. I come here for pressed and wrinkled.

  10. Hey congratulations Anna. Exciting! enjoy the ride. Carla

  11. I think that you are fantastic and fabulous and I can’t wait for the next post

  12. laurelhermanson

    I worry that something will happen to Brad or Grace or anyone I love and my little life will unravel. I worry about typos that spell check won’t catch. I worry about my gums. But mostly the life unraveling thing. xo

    • Laurellaurellaurellaurel!!!!!! I worry about WordPress making my friends feel unwelcome. (Maybe it’s because your previous comments were from a different log-in? I always okay the first one? Arrrrgh.)

      Unraveling like a sweater or a fishing reel. We’re all one snag away from a complete mess.)

  13. Todd

    mortgage, medical insurance, kid’s school… the minor stuff.
    mother-in-law moving in soon… abject terror.
    i try to remember that she survived the killing fields of Cambodia and my space is trivial in comparison.
    But that was long ago and this is now.
    I don’t speak Khmer and she doesn’t speak English, so we can’t fight… right???
    how will I deal? will it work? will we all be happy or will it all explode?
    i wake up at 3AM a lot.

    (got any advise?)

    • Holy mother-in-law, Todd. MuthereffingINLAW!

      Just kidding. I advise you to look at the bright side: your wife will be happy, your kid will have a grandma there to take care, you will be able to go out on more dates with your wife. your mil will help as she can, and you will be able to get to know her better.

      (I will resist the unhelpful urge to wonder if this is forever and how big your house is and if you have a garage to go fiddle in when you need to get away.)

      • Todd

        Thanks for echoing the totally vanilla advice I’ve been getting from every friend and stranger on the corner I plead with… you’re a gem. Can’t you cough up a decent arsenic cookie recipe? Ok, that’s wrong. How about a Seppuku for Dummies primer?

        To answer your urge:
        It’s supposedly “for a while” to help her get a green card… I don’t believe a word of it.
        3 bd, and I know she’ll get #3 and I’ll lose my cherished “office”, aka library, art gallery, junk repository, refuge, mancave.
        Garage is an option and is already full of oil dripping “projects” to console me. I think the rafters could support a hammock too… noose maybe?

        I know this is penance for the lunches I stole in grade school, all the speed limits I broke, all the the coveting and kvetching. Why wasn’t I good while I had the chance? Please God, if I…. will you???

        This is the end, my only friend the end…

        • Okay, okaaaay. You better toss your porn and all your old photos and letters or you’ll have hell to pay. You should get your prescription, a vaporizer, some tinctures and edibles and keep it going 24 hours a day. You better keep a sharp tack under your tongue and press down every time you feel the urge to say something. Now is the time to invest in a life insurance policy. Antidepressants.

          You need to clean out that garage, my friend, and get a nice hammock. Put a rug out there, maybe a potted plant. A beanbag? A fold-out futon? A really nice sound system.

          (One time I found my man under the house. We have no basement, only about two feet of poisoned powder-post-beetle-crawling crawl space accessible by trap door. He was sitting down there with a little cobwebby headlamp. “Whatcha doing?” I called down, and he replied, “I know it doesn’t look like much, but it’s all mine.”)

          (I had to give up my writing room for my youngest. Now, I don’t even have a bookshelf or a chair to call my own. Me, no bookshelf. I don’t even own my side of the bed, which is usually being used by someone, their stuff, or the cat.)

          Long distance hug for you. That’s all I can do.

          • Todd

            Thank you! I’ll keep the tack idea in mind. Typically, I have a short fuse with any who get on my case. But the MIL is no wall flower. There’s a story about her helping to fend off a Khmer Rouge assault with my infant wife in one hand and a blazing pistol in the other. We’ll probably suffer a few knock-down, drag-outs to find the boundaries… kinda like you and Troy. She was living with her son and his wife but sweet, demur, elder-respecting wifey finally blew head gasket and booted granny to the curb… bodes well, no? But wait, it gets better. I’m 51, my wife is 32, that makes MIL… you guessed it… the same age as me!!! Imagine the freaky frankenfamily chemistries, the odd assumptions of strangers, the twisted dinner-table triangulations as MIL tells my wife to eat her peas…and I agree! Oh god, the utter weirdness of it all. I really need a long toke on a big bong. Can you hang on to my porn till this all blows over? Thanks pal.

  14. A few years ago I had a dream that was so dark and hideous and terrifying that I cannot tell anyone about it for fear they will wonder what in my psyche would produce such a horrible dream. Then there are bridges and my fear of plunging from them. Also, Ferris wheels.

    And what if we are all doomed for our part in what’s happening to the albatrosses (and other birds)? What then?

    • Gah! I want to know the dream. I wish you’d write about it. I do this thing where I say the worst fear out loud and when I do, it sounds sort of silly, and then I feel better. Putting it into words makes it much more manageable.
      We are all completely screwed. We’re all full of plastic, whether we know it or not.

  15. That stuff that comes out of our mouths that we can’t control that makes other people run: I call it “word vomit”. I get it from time to time along with uncontrollable cackling. It causes me some anxiety and kind of freaks out those people who are around me at the time.

  16. Great list. Sharing them seems to allow humor to creep in and douse them a little. So…here’s my list. My teenager is driving (whole list of worries attached to that sentence). It’s fall and bears are hungry and I’m a bear magnet, so will I survive the next encounter? Do I have enough firewood? What if I never have another idea for a story? What if I’ve used up all the words the universe wants to give me? And…what will I do if my husband’s dog takes another dump on my side of the bed?

    • I was nodding and gasping and smiling until I got to the last part. Oh hell no. (Hungry bears sound so much more remote than a stinking pile of dog shit. I have a cat that barfs every day. I’ve gotten used to it, but shit it a whole nother thing.) (Let me guess– your husband had the dog before he had you?) (What is going on here!!?)

      • The dog came after me, but I swear, she saves up one tiny turd in her intestines for when she’s mad at me. As in, when I make her behave as compared to the husband who spoils her. She does what I tell her, but then when I’m gone, she gets up on the bed, rustles up the blankets, and deposits that saved up little piece. So infuriates me. Which is why I have a crate for her. That the husband lets her out of, because she’s ‘lonely’ and after I leave for work, he lets her get up on the bed to sleep with him. I’m starting to be tempted by saving that present and depositing it in his blankets…

  17. OMG. I saw some of that footage a few weeks back of the birds… I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind, either. It’s heading for a blog post soon. Apart from that, I worry all the time – not just that I’ll say something wrong, ugly or true, but that what will escape my lips will be totally incomprehensible ‘gubbage’. I worry that so much I dream it, too. 🙂

    • “Gubbage” is perfect. I’ve never heard you utter a word of gubbage, but I know that feeling. The other day I was speaking gubbage into a microphone (because that’s what microphones do to me) (because I have to speak publicly at my work) and thinking that this was just like a bad dream and wondering if this meant I could have sweet dreams since I fulfilled the requirement for sucky stuff during the day. xoox

  18. Nice post.

    Your sentence “It’s only a matter of time”.

    My first serious wrinkle, and I don’t know what it really means. So I wrote this: https://corianderpause.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/parentheses/

    • Me again. My other comment was so terse I was afraid it might have been flagged as spam. Sorry.

      I may be stating the obvious, but *we* are the dying baby albatrosses, and our worries are the plastic junk that’s cramming our guts. We should watch out what we swallow.

      • Hello, Julian–
        I tried to comment on your blog, but it said “sorry, this comment couldn’t be posted.”
        The comment was:
        (you’re getting ooooold.)
        just kidding! nice post, btw.

        • Hello. Everything looks normal on my end. I don’t know why your comment couldn’t be posted. I never got any kind of notification. If you want to try again…

          Thanks for the comment, but no, I am not getting old! Only my body is. Me, I’m frozen in time.

  19. Jess

    Funny this is coming up twice in one day….I am attending a non profit cultural fundraiser this weekend on Whidbey, and the guy who took the bird image above, ‘Message from the Gyre- Birds of Midway’, Chris Jordan, today offered a limited edition of the very print for the cultural center….value is $4000. The auction is touting him as the cutting edge of “green” photography movement….and certainly the image is arresting, haunting, and terrifyingly real. But my immediate visceral reaction was “Would I pay 4000 dollars to have that on my wall? No. In fact, will anyone?” I guess you could add that to my list of anxieties, that not only am I worried about myself because when I am drinking wine at this Saturday’s fundraiser and smiling I will also be harboring darkly guilty thoughts about my wine cork ending up in a bird’s belly, but that also I am too shallow to actually want the picture of it on my wall. And that if I actually say that out loud in good, righteous company, that I will be the pariah I already feel myself to be. In fact my days are nothing but anxiety filled trains of paranoia. But I suspect most of us share the same sense of being wrong, broken, and irretrievably mistaken inside, and that if only others could see it, we’d be doomed in fact as much as we feel we are in imagination. That’s my experience. I have gotten used to the routine of opening my mouth and feeling like I have offended everyone without even trying.

    • Oh come on Jess, you could hang it over the dining room table.

      I like art that appeals both visually and meaningfully but I’m not sure I can separate the aesthetic from the meaning here. This would just make me feel guilty and hopeless all the time.

      “Good, righteous company” sounds scary. Maybe that’s why I don’t go to parties more often.


  20. My granddaughter was born at 26 weeks, weighing in at just 2 lbs. and currently resides in a clear plastic case in neonatal ICU, working hard to get stronger, bigger- so she can go home and meet her big sis who is 18 months old. I worry about this wee one’s weight, her breathing, her brain, her future. And my daughter and son-in-law and how they will handle all this stress. And I worry about my husband’s heart as he worries the worry only a grandfather can worry. Thank you for your beautiful post! I’m glad to know I worry in such gifted company.

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