How to Survive the First Night in Hell

Photo Credit: www.ua2a.com
Photo Credit: http://www.ua2a.com

Turn off the TV.

After crying uncontrollably for an unspecified amount of time, sit down and talk with your kids about why we have three branches of government.

Pick something small that is annoying—like mismatched Tupperware, or a lost retainer–and throw all of your ire and frustration and hopelessness and devastation in that direction for a while, so you don’t have to think about the greater tragedy at hand.

Hug everyone you can find.

Have a glass of water and a sedative.

Contemplate the stars. Think of things that are true and good and will outlast this calamity.

 

(**Special thanks to Andi P.**)

Just Desserts

Photo Credit: Amy
Photo Credit: Amy

Marianne stumbled on a root protruding from the sweltering sidewalk, nearly losing a scoop of orange sherbet in the process. Relieved, she paused to lick creamy rivulets from the sides of her softening cone. It tasted like summer, like granny wasn’t sick, like no one would call her names on Monday.

She imagined Maxwell Detweiler looming and poking at her–as he had three days in a row–and how it would feel to shove her sticky treat into his stupid face. But no, that wasn’t right. She’d spent two dollars and seventy-nine cents, which was more than he deserved.

How To Live With a Thirteen-Year-Old Girl

©2016 Beret Olsen
©2016 Beret Olsen–Our well-worn copy of Twilight must be at school, so book 2 will have to do.
  1. Be ready for anything. Best case scenario: you are well-rested and patient, have a sense of humor and a full tank of gas, plenty of cash and Kleenex on hand, complete flexibility with your time, musical preferences, and volume tolerance, endless appetite for YouTube videos and Instagram feeds, a copy of Twilight, a portable charger, tasty, plentiful snacks, a working knowledge of 8th grade common core math concepts, endless sympathy and advice for tricky social and academic situations, and you don’t mind being completely ignored if none of the above is needed. Worst case scenario: you have a flask.

Thirteen

Photo Credit: Pabak Sarkar
Photo Credit: Pabak Sarkar

I remember it all like it was yesterday.

Acne, drama, self-doubt. Excessive mooning about. A variety of binges and very bad decisions.

I behaved irrationally, irresponsibly, disrespectfully, and the one I treated the worst was me.

Yet having a teenager may be even more terrifying.

Still plagued by acne and self-doubt, my lingering woes are compounded by close proximity to this raw lump of developing human–one who wears her disdain, depression, euphoria, and ill-founded bravado at the very surface. Nothing I can say or do will serve as salve. It is what it is–a tough row to hoe.

Bad Day

Detective Maria Cortez and Officer Sean Wilkins arrived on the scene at 8:30 sharp—seventeen minutes after the call had come in—and were immediately overwhelmed by the foul smell.

Wilkins’s face fell.

“Is this what it’s like?” He fingered his shiny new badge and gave his ill-fitting pants a quick hike.

As they neared the body, Cortez let expletives drop, and Wilkins regretted becoming a cop. One hand swatted flies; one covered his nose.

Only somewhat hardened by experience, Cortez knelt to survey the desecrated corpse, blanched, and rose.

Wilkins vomited, then spit; at 8:33, tossed his badge, said, “I quit.”

Why Some People Call Me Elaine

Image credit:
Image credit: Eric Loeffler

Though my name came from a Norwegian immigrant who lost her mind on the prairies, that wasn’t why it caused me discomfort as a child.

At summer’s end, I would brace myself for the inevitable embarrassment known as roll call. Most people butchered my name and expected me to be a boy—but none more than my new teachers.

Time has passed and, from the other side of the desk, I’ve grown to appreciate having such an uncommon moniker. Still, imagine my relief when–asked my name by a semi-bored barista–I suddenly realized I could say ANYTHING AT ALL.

Fears

Image from http://www.smithsonianmag.com
Image from http://www.smithsonianmag.com

Then

  • Clowns
  • The dentist
  • The basement
  • The dark
  • Getting lost
  • Getting lost in a dark basement full of dentists dressed like clowns
  • Escalators
  • The principal
  • Being a disappointment to my parents
  • Drowning
  • Caves
  • Mean girls
  • The Shining—never, ever read Stephen King books in grade school
  • Being tickled until I wet my pants
  • Juvie

Now

  • Jury duty
  • The mortgage
  • The Internal Revenue Service
  • Airport security
  • Serious illness
  • Insomnia
  • Mammograms
  • Hand guns
  • College tuition for my kids
  • Ignorance
  • Colonoscopies
  • Being a disappointment to myself
  • Termites
  • Alzheimer’s
  • The basement
  • The dentist
  • Clowns

Somehow stuck at 90 words today, but this note makes it 100.

****

I realize that was a total copout, but a) I’m human, and b) tomorrow’s Thanksgiving. I need to spend a little more time cooking, cleaning, and being grateful instead of tearing my hair out over ten words.