How to Race Your Friend

Put the gear of your 3 speed bike on high and power down the street toward the hill. Reach the incline and let momentum take you as far up as possible. When you can go no farther slam the gear into low and pedal like mad. Stand up off the seat so you can pump harder. Crest the hill and start down the other side. Let go of the handlebars, stretch your arms wide for balance and laugh. Put your hands back on the bars, turn around to see that your friend is gaining on you. Use your right thumb to push the gear lever back to high, listen for the clink of the chain and pedal as hard as you can, gaining unimaginable speed. At the bottom of the hill make a fast sharp turn onto a busy avenue. Move forward. Find the depression in the curb and glide onto the sidewalk. Bump over the cracks in the cement for 15 feet then gently swerve to your right into the playground. Grip the hand brakes and press. Proceed slowly to the swing set. Get off your bike and put the kickstand down. Sit on one of the leather slings and laugh at your friend when she takes the swing next to you just second later. Grip the smooth cool chains. Use both feet to push yourself off the ground. Lean back and pump your legs till you feel like you’re flying. Shout out the name of the boy you have a crush on. Drag your sneakers in the dusty soil and come to a stop. Spin to face your friend, let the metal chains twist above you. Say that we are getting too old to keep doing this. 

The author's friend, Marguerite, is at center.

The author's friend, Marguerite, is at center.


- Teresa Giordano writes non-fiction television programs on topics ranging from earwigs to forensic anthropology, to the southwest border, to bad-ass presidents. She’s also crafted dialogue for some of those reality TV stars you think are being spontaneous. She’s published fiction in Devilfish Review, Pyschopomp, and in an echapbook titled Strange Encounters. She’s published non-fiction in The Weeklings. 

This is the third of three Dead Housekeeping entries by Teresa Giordano this week. She can also tell you "How to Put your Mind at Rest" and "How to Take Your Medication."



How To Try Everything To Stay Alive

Thais Lynnae Reynolds

When you are young and you have cancer and it’s the 1990s, it’s important to keep your wits. And if you have a lot of wits, all the better. It’s important to be honest about your bald head, especially on an airplane with your brother and especially by sliding your wig backwards ever so slowly until it tips back just almost enough to nearly slide off your head but not quite. It’s important that when you’re taking a break from wig shopping and your friend orders food, but the waiter doesn’t like her at all and “forgets” her fortune cookie that you flip your chair giving chase into the kitchen in protest. It’s important that you have someone smuggle gay male porn into the hospital for you because what good is a flaccid penis? None. It’s important that you try everything to stay alive. Even risky things. Even things that make you die. It’s important that when you are dying you mistake your friend for a cat even though you are on the telephone and cats don’t use telephones, except maybe they do in heaven and you were already halfway there. It’s important that you so make a heart-mark so indelible, your friends place your photograph on the stage occupied by your favorite artist, even though it’s been two decades since you or that artist were either alive or relevant. It’s important that you were here. It’s important that we miss you. It’s important that we love you still. Meow.

- Jennifer Cumby is a contributing editor here at Dead Housekeeping and is the senior Family Ties editor at Maximum Middle Age, which you should check out, here.

Sleeping Bags for Two or One

Few people know the proper technique for using sleeping bags. I learned how at an early age. Once you learn, you don’t forget.

                                                                                                                       illustration by Ilana Shabnam 

                                                                                                                       illustration by Ilana Shabnam 

You’ll need two sleeping bags, and a best friend. If you don’t have a best friend, I feel sorry for you because best friends are magic. Find one who is kind, likes the same things you do, and has asthma so they’ll stay behind with you to play pretend and tell stories, when the other kids run off to play sports. Go everywhere and do everything together. So that if your best friend died, and someone made a collage for her funeral, they wouldn’t find a single photo of her that didn’t have you in it.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Open both sleeping bags all the way. Place one on the ground. Place yourself and your best friend on top. Cover yourselves with the second. Cuddle and whisper all night. Bite each other’s shoulders as a joke. Giggle, but quietly, because your babysitter is mean when she’s sleepy. Hold on to your best friend very tight. Because she’s magic, and has great ideas about sleeping bags. And because she’s Black, and lives in a poor neighborhood. So if her asthma ever gets too bad, and the ambulance won’t come to her “dangerous” neighborhood, and she’s brain dead by the time her mother drives her to the hospital, and nobody has the courage to tell you what brain dead means, and you write letters and poems and drawings that nobody will tell you she can’t read, and when they finally tell, you climb into your sleeping bag and pretend to be dead as hard as you can, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t cry yourself to death and join her. That, they’ll tell you. So hold on tight. 

                                      text by Ilana Shabnam

                                      text by Ilana Shabnam

Maybe if you hold on tighter.  Maybe if you zip the sleeping bags together. Maybe if you spend the rest of your life shouting about injustice, ambulances will show up at little girls’ houses when they’re called.

I recommend two Little Mermaid sleeping bags. Available wherever Disney products are sold. 

- Ashley Nicole Black


Five Star Mixtape


Buy store brand sour cream and margarine, unless name brands are on sale for less. Wash and save all of the empty containers.

            If you stay in the same apartment for a few years, the apartment with a smell of expensive paper and dry chicken bones and unscented lotion, you’ll build an impressive collection of flimsy plastic containers which shouldn’t be microwaved but have lids with satisfactory seals.

            As a likable older guy living alone, with an oxygen tank and an illness, people will give you foodstuffs. Keep those containers, too.

                                         drawing by the author

                                         drawing by the author

            Dedicate a whole pair of kitchen cupboards to saving them. They are good for mixing hues and rinsing brushes while you paint delicate watercolors in front of the TV, a sunrise over a rooftop, a pair of plums. You were originally a sculptor but money limited your materials and sickness your strength.

            If you snap at a helper for throwing one in the garbage, tell them it’s okay after awhile. Use a voice that’s resigned to being agreeable to the people you’ve come to depend on.

            The dry tubs are also a suitable place to leave a chewed bit of nicotine gum that you mean to resume chewing later.

- Meredith Counts