You could blame it on the Ouija board, I suppose, this whole fascination I have with getting help from others, with needing outside help, with this certainty I have that there’s a way to “fix” me. I don’t even know all the things that are broken but I learn about them slowly and then try to fix them.

The Ouija board was the first time I realized there was something that needed fixing. Typical situation, really, a slumber party of mostly eleven year old girls, someones birthday probably but who would remember that. There was Bloody Mary and Truth or Dare and some movie that I can’t remember now but was probably something rated PG13 that all our parents had given permission for because it was a special occasion or because those ratings have always been bullshit.

Anyway, it wasn’t until we were asking the spirit questions and the Ouija board pointed out that the spirit probably died alone because they didn’t shave their legs that I realized all the girls around me shaved theirs. It just hadn’t occurred to me that something so “adult” would be expected of me at eleven. But that’s cool, all the other girls had shaved legs, message received. Thank you Ouija.

And what eleven year old isn’t willing to jump into all things woman? To be an adult and have freedom, this was the goal, the only goal, unless of course one could talk ones parents into a dog, then a dog was the temporary goal. We already had a dog. So the very next day, at home and showering before bed, I shaved my legs. Uneventful. Lotion applied afterwards. The only exciting part was the feeling of newly shaved legs running through the sheets as I climbed into bed. That was delicious and, I decided, totally worth it.

As I got older there’d be hints here and there about other things I needed to fix. The rise of the internet meant there were now entire search engines at my disposal, a giant Ouija board of information. It was sometimes hard to know which things I needed to fix and which things were broken in others. That could be somewhat satisfying, it turns out, to learn there are things about others that are broken. Do they have a Ouija board to guide them or access to the internet and the gods at Google? Do other people take the time to right their wrongs?

It was through Google that I learned I didn’t have to shave my legs, a relief that came too late as now the habit is firmly ingrained and I am perhaps a bit addicted to the feeling of freshly shaved legs sliding along clean sheets. Regardless, I also learned through my engine searches that I need to know how to cook, a thing which has never appealed to me, but which I now know how to do.

It’s simple really and there’s no excuse. You open your search, type in a few of the major things you have on hand, like “chicken onion mushroom soup” and then you add “recipe” at the end. Simple. All these recipes will pop up with those ingredients and you’re off. Everyone says “if you can read you can cook,” and I guess it must be true cause I somehow manage to feed myself everyday.

The thing is though, you gotta be careful with those recipes and read them all the way through before you start making them because sometimes they want you to have ingredients you don’t have on hand and then you’re in trouble if you’ve already started. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to stop in the middle of something to run to the store. Which defeats the whole purpose of using the internet to find a recipe with ingredients you have on hand.

My point is, I can cook now, ish, and that was something I never would have known was wrong with me if it weren’t for someone like Google pointing it out…well, it wasn’t actually Google that told me I had to cook, it was the people I found on Google while searching for something else. But still.

The thing is, I always think I’m okay, I always think there’s nothing really “wrong” with me, but then I’ll be at a garage sale or a used book store and I’ll come across something like this book I’m reading now, that helped me see what a terrible parent I am. Or I mean, what a terrible parent I would be if I had kids. I don’t even know why I picked up the book to be honest. Who picks up a parenting book when they aren’t a parent? But I did, and I found out I’m terrible at it. Or I would be. But now, because I’m reading this book, I’m not, or I won’t be. Or whatever.

So see, the thing is, my point I guess, is that you never know what you don’t know about yourself and all these things you don’t know can’t be fixed. And if you’re lucky, you start finding these things at eleven years old at a maybe birthday party, and then you just keep finding them forever afterwards. And I mean forever. There is no shortage of things that are wrong with me according to all these searches I do and all these books I’ve found.

Like this newest book I got through a search that told me I shouldn’t eat carbs. Who knew? But this book tells me that not only am I still a terrible cook, I’m also a terrible eater, but I’m fixing both, or I’m going to be able to fix both, as soon as I finish this book. And then I’ll be a good cook, a good eater, and healthier. Plus I’ll be an even better parent than the parents who only read that one parenting book because I’ll know this stuff about cooking and eating which weren’t covered in that book. And if I’m ever the parent of a girl I’ll be able to teach her about Ouija and also about how she doesn’t actually have to shave her legs but if she does the best part about it is clean sheets.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here

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