How to Create a Life You Want in the Wrong Place

Begin early in your arranged marriage to your farmer. Sprinkle a little bit of soda, literally on top of the newly growing corn stalk, ruining the whole row, but not the field, before he stops you. Misunderstanding the difference between sprinkling around and on turns out to be just the thing to ensure you’re put out of the fields forever.

Now the kitchen is your domain. Be sure to always have cornbread cooked and greens simmering in the pot in case time gets away from you. Pile high all of your books, various versions of the Bible for cross-referencing, sheet music you never use, several years of yellow pages, cookbooks full of recipes you can’t get the ingredients for, and cartons of cigarettes. All balanced in precarious columns. Spend moments between preparing meals ordering items you don’t have the money or space for.

Granny Deen on her back porch

Granny Deen on her back porch

Find relief out of the hot kitchen by spending afternoons on the back porch reading and smoking, or playing melodies you heard on the radio, by ear and without sheet music, on the tiny upright piano you convinced your husband to buy. It entertains your children and the neighbors through the porch screen.

Make sure to do all of this in your house dress, bra off and no shoes, because none ever fit just right. As you’re rocking and reading on the porch, be sure to make notes in the margins of your thoughts and reactions, even in the Bible. Feel secure that they will always see your thoughts scribbled around passages, like a frame. Who would throw out a Bible? Surely, not your children. 


- Leah Rosa O'Donnell is a native New Orleanian and Licensed Professional Counselor. She remains fascinated with observing people and occasionally writes about what she sees. 

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.