How to Survive the Apocalypse – A Triptych
Learn where the fish run and when. Pay attention to birds. Go running every day. Lift weights until you’re strong enough to lift your own body. Sit up, push up, pull up. Eat healthy. Get plenty of protein. Practice blowjobs, practice hand jobs, go down on someone. Get yourself fixed. Don’t do drugs.
Stop smoking. Stop drinking. Cut refined sugar out of your diet. Stop drinking coffee. Cut most carbohydrates out of your diet. Learn how to prepare raw meals. Cut down on your salt intake. Start an exercise regimen. Stretch every night. Take up yoga. Learn at least twenty yoga poses. Start lifting weights. Start running. Move your body.
Learn how to start a fire by using a bow drill or a hand drill. Learn which tree constitutes the best firewood. Buy a hatchet. Buy a pocket-knife. Learn how to use them. Get your hands on a skinning knife. Learn how to dress a wound. Learn how to make a tourniquet, perform CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Quit smoking. Don’t do drugs.
Run every day until you can run for five miles without stopping. Drink lots of water. Learn how to purify water. Stretch. Learn how to start a fire with wet wood. Learn which rocks can be used to boil water. Learn how many times you can use the rock before it explodes in your pot. Quit smoking. Teach yourself to flint knap. Learn where to obtain minerals in your bioregion. Go mushroom hunting in your area. Learn how to skin and tan hides. Use the hide to make a drum. Learn to play the drum. Learn at least one dance in its entirety. Practice. Quit smoking. Tell your loved ones you love them.
What do you say to a dying animal? Find out. Which stars point the way north? Find the stars. Find north. Search out wild medicinals. Quit smoking.
Plant a garden in your backyard. Buy another gun. Learn to grow vegetables. Learn the signs of the seasons and how plants react. Learn how to cure meat. Start canning and preserving your harvest. Learn all your friends and families phone numbers by heart. Practice your arithmetic. Can you use a compass? Learn. Practice simple carpentry. Make a bookshelf. Swing a hammer. Swing a sledgehammer. Chop wood. Move your body. Learn to use your senses. Listen. Look. Smell.
If you don’t know already, learn how to siphon gas. Go to target practice. Learn how to throw knives. Get rid of your car. Put the money under your mattress. If you don’t already, ride your bike. Learn how to maintain your bike. Go horseback riding. Begin with simple knot tying and work your way up to lassoes and fisherman knots. Learn how to make a noose.
Buy a dog. Train it. Buy another dog and train that one too. Learn how to hunt with dogs. Use your senses. Look alert.
Sharpen your scissors. Sharpen your knives. Start sewing on all those lost buttons. Repair your ripped clothing. Learn how to make your own clothing. Wash your clothing by hand. Learn how to make a fire. Find the best fresh water source in your area. Find the most remote and inaccessible water source in your area. Practice walking in the woods, at night, with no flashlight – alone.
Practice walking barefoot. Stand out in the cold. Stand out in the rain. Sit in the sun.
Make a note of all the fruit trees in your area and when they’re ready to harvest. Where are the nut trees in your area? Find out. Go walking in your neighborhood and construct a mental map. Do dandelions or nettles grow in your neighborhood? Who are your neighbors? Learn Spanish. Learn Russian. Learn Mandarin. Weave a basket.
Can vegetables from your garden. Fell a tree with a saw. Stretch. Lift weights. Carry a couple gallons of water for at least ten miles. Build a debris hut. Waterproof your boots. Buy a warm coat. Learn how to knit.
If you haven’t already, strengthen your singing voice. Memorize at least twenty songs and all the lyrics. If you can, learn harmony. Teach yourself how to play a small portable instrument like the harmonica, hand drum or flute. Practice. Dance. Move your body. If you can, memorize ten very good stories. Memorize a funny story, a sad story, a scary story, and a romantic story. Tell your grandma you love her.
Who are your neighbors? Learn their names. Buy some bullets. Get the flu shot. Get some water and store it in your closet. Come up with an escape plan. Learn how to treat third degree burns. Get three days worth of canned food. Buy some rice and beans and corn. Store it in your closet. Buy some bottled water. Buy more bullets. Get some aspirin and hard alcohol like whiskey or vodka. Don’t drink it. Get a good lock on your front door. Stop smoking. Know which bridges are most earthquake resistant. Buy some candles. Get a propane heater, lamp and barbeque. Stand in the doorway if you must. Live on the first floor. Use your senses. Don’t move.
A Thousand Cranes
Kezia makes a yellow crane at the kitchen table.
“Do you know how to make an origami crane?” she asks.
I shake my head.
“When I was sick, I made a thousand cranes. They say if you make a thousand cranes your wish will come true. And I made all these cranes and I was cured!”
I don’t say anything.
“What do you think of that?” she asks me.
“Well, I guess I’d have to say that if I were to agree with that, it would mean that the reason I wasn’t cured of Cushing’s Disease was because I didn’t make a thousand cranes.”
We both shrug.
Wellbutrin Christmas Letter
I’m sorry this letter is so late. I hope you had a great holiday and spent it with loved ones. Here are some things:
1. I recently took a personality test – it said I withhold affection. If this is true it’s only because the world is withholding its affection from me.
2. The personality test also said I have a high need for approval but that I’m not very popular, which is kind of ironic and crappy. It also said I’m a perfectionist and that I have a mind for detail. I thought that was also ironic and crappy because at most jobs (where I’ve had a boss,) they’ve harangued me for my lack of attention to detail. Maybe it was really because they just didn’t like me very much.
3. I thought I should start the New Year by getting rid of my belly fat. I started eating and shitting out five pounds every day. I started blasting and shredding and burning according to some DVDs. Nothing worked, not even strawberries. (Because maybe I’m on steroids. But I’m not really sure because I haven’t even given up wine yet.) I am now stronger than the average woman. And I did cry for joy when I was doing a squat, when I really felt my body for the first time.
And then the muscle I ended up flexing was turning someone down for sex because I knew he didn’t have real affection for me. It didn’t feel as good as I thought it would. I can’t lose weight. I’m old and alone. And I’d feel more like a victim and more sorry for myself if I weren’t always plotting some kind of petty revenge on someone.
4. The Cushing’s Disease Newsletter that I get every month and that I keep by the toilet tells patient testimonials about the disease. I read one from a woman who had Cushing’s as a child, and I realized that I’ve probably had it since I was ten or eleven. And this is enormously relieving. I forgive myself for all the crazy baggage I gathered growing up in the 80’s and watching Donahue and being taught creationism and probably having ten times the normal amount of stress hormones coursing through my veins.
5. I should also mention that the antidepressant I just started taking hit critical levels this week and I found myself sobbing, walking in circles around my coffee table. It was supposed to make me lose weight and feel less like shoving sugar down my throat constantly but instead nothing sounds appetizing except yogurt and eggs and I can’t stop crying and feeling crazy. I feel like I’m always writing about how shitty anti-depressants are, and yet I can’t stop taking different ones and my doctors won’t stop prescribing them. All the other pills I take keep me alive, so I can’t be totally stupid and out of line. For the record, I am pro-pill. Opiates are the only reason I made it through Grad School.
6. You sent me the titles of your books of poetry over the internet and I could already tell that I would never be able to tell anyone about you; because if we were dating, people would eventually find out the titles of your books of poetry and embarrassment isn’t as good as shame because at least with shame you get to have some goddamned privacy. (This you is not you, dear friend, but a you that I never told the truth to and then blocked on a dating app.)
7. The personality test told me that I enjoy making people feel stupid. Maybe that’s why no one liked me in middle school. I’m reminded of how the gym in my middle school smelled like my own nervousness, how my stomach dropped every morning when I arrived at the front door. I had a going away party when I was fourteen and nobody came except the people that liked me. We didn’t end up moving to Wisconsin after all and I couldn’t decide what was more humiliating: that no one came to my party or that I had a going away party and then didn’t go anywhere. At the time, maybe I thought I’d forget about it. But I feel like I’ve been trying to convince people to come to my party ever since. Funerals are kind of like going away parties, and I’m always worried that if I were alive maybe I wouldn’t enjoy my own funeral.
8. The personality test also told me that I enjoy being hurt. Maybe it’s true or maybe the personality test is abusive.
9. Last night I dreamt I was driving into a skyline of tornadoes and cumulus clouds. Lightning came down over my dash in jagged fingers of white. It was a frightening, terrible dream. But in real life, The North Pole is melting. And in my dream I thought: this is it. We are all going to die now, it’s actually happening. Why did I waste my last night on earth watching music videos a stranger sent me over a dating app?
10. I stopped writing poetry because no one ever actively shamed me about my poetry;
I figured I must have been doing something wrong. Now I go to parties and people tell me: you’re so brave in your writing. hat they really mean is: I’m a coward and if I were you I’d probably kill myself.
11. I finally get some relief when I realize none of it was my fault – not the chronic sinus infections or the warts or the delusions, or middle school, or Satan, or the fact I was just a poor little twelve-year-old that was chronically depressed and kinda dying faster than everyone around her. It wasn’t my parent’s fault either. It wasn’t even the universe’s fault. The universe isn’t out to get anyone, the universe is just trying to get laid.
12. I’m still weeping quite a bit. Sometimes I feel like only broken people have ever truly loved me. And then I realize that’s okay because that’s called intimacy.
Martha Grover is an author, poet, and artist living in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of One More for the People and The End of My Career (Perfect Day Publishing). The End of My Career was a finalist for the Oregon Book Awards in creative nonfiction in 2017. Her work has also appeared in The Collagist, Vol.1 Brooklyn, and The Portland Mercury, among others. She has been publishing her zine, Somnambulist, since 2003. Martha is currently at work on a book of prose poems and essays about Catastrophe, Myth, and being a sick person in the 21st century. When she is not writing, Martha is making zines, coaching her writing clients, making art, and selling Real Estate.