Young woman's guide

(Click the audio link below to hear Miriam present “The Young Woman’s Guide to Making Bad Matters Worse”…DO IT, I promise you won’t regret it)

The Young Woman’s Guide to Making Bad Matters Worse

Be disabled and an ableist. And wait for confirmation that you are neither. And listen to what they know about you just by looking. It is said that you are an abstraction of a simpler time. Rejoice in your lack of tangible qualities. For every little thing they cannot discern is for your shaping.

Be in love. Tell no one, except everyone you know and the guy behind the counter at the tea shop and your best friend’s old goat. Each one will express the enthusiasm due those flutterings in your stomach. And when you come back to curse his name, they will be happy to oblige much as before.

Store up a desire to reap cacti in your flower bed. Sow nothing until the moon gives you direction. Lay still under five layers of oxygen-rich dirt, and wait a full fifteen days to grow into a better citizen. Emerge unchanged. Lead a revolution around your plot of earth. Where you counted on green, watch a strip mall spring up.

Be a feminist. Sit back, and let the blue rigidity of your mountain rearing suspend your disbelief. Bury your heart way down, below the pelvis. Pray that it will not come for you one bitter night, beating you from the inside. And you all but hollowed out. Be like the burning bush you tend so faithfully. Practice fullness.   

Procrastinate. Procrastinate daily. It will keep you from becoming the most perfect version of yourself. And in that fretful way, you will continue to spark secret controversies only you can rectify. And when they get around to praising you as a radical, be politically irrelevant. Declare yourself a moth. Then declare victory.


The Young Woman’s Guide: By Miriam McEwen (guilty as charged)

Image Credit: From Stan Brakhage’s Mothlight


Read other writings by Miriam:

Mother’s Milk

Notes on Fight Club

Tuesday’s In September

A Brief Record of Interrupted, Rural Solitude

Graduation, period

Creature Comforts