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A 41-Step Guide to Giving Yourself a Heart Attack

1. Arrive at your parents’ house in the Berkshires from Brooklyn. Your parents are not home. Your parents are at the ballet.

2. So, better make sure it’s nighttime.

3. And make sure it’s rainy.

4. Be alone (because you have no boyfriend, as you are “too picky, especially for someone your age.” –Mom)


5. Be a generally skittish person to begin with.

6. Enter the house.

7. Go back outside to get your stuff.

8. Notice that the garage door is open and you’re pretty sure it wasn’t before.

9. Stop and think about this for a second.

10. Go back inside.

11. Become convinced you are entering an episode of Dateline or Law & Order: SVU.

12. Realize you don’t mind that actually, then remember that neither Olivia Benson nor Elliot Stabler will come find you because you are out of their jurisdiction.

13. And because they are fictional.

14. Wonder if you’re having a psychotic break.

15. Google “psychotic break + symptoms + 36-year-old woman.” 

16. Drink some wine.

17. Tiptoe through the house, peeking around corners.

18. Wonder if your mom was right and you should have gone out with the son of the woman with the cabana next to hers, even though he wasn’t your type and had a phone voice that gave you hives.

19. Google your mom’s cabana neighbor’s son.

20. Find his wedding pictures.

21. Google “women + fish + bicycles.”

22. Find pornographic photo you will never forget.

23. Drink more wine.

24. Remember that you were going to start counting Weight Watchers points again today.

25. Write down “wine: 10.”

26. Understand that it will likely be more like “wine: 30” by the time this is all over.

27. Begin to concoct a story for the woman who weighs you, even though she never seems to care for your stories about why you gained weight instead of losing it.

28. Hear something.

29. Tell yourself that the garage door may have been open when you drove up and you just didn’t notice.

30. Don’t believe yourself.

31. Try to be more convincing.

32. Google “what it means when you are arguing with yourself but remain unswayable + psychotic break + symptoms + 36-year-old woman.”

33. Google “can bears open garage doors?”

34. Think of the guy from OkCupid you dated who made fun of you for putting question marks on your Google searches.

35. Google that guy.

36. Check your email.

37. Find a note from your dad saying he left the garage door opener under the mat (because you always say you have your key but never do, even though you are an adult woman who is often responsible in many other ways).

38. Realize you must have stepped on the garage door opener on the way in.

39. Wonder how anyone lives in the country without going insane.

40. Finish bottle of wine.

41. Create new OkCupid profile.


Previously: The Day My Shrink Told Me to Change My Personality

Photo via mwagner/flickr.

Carla Sosenko’s writing has appeared in Jezebel, Marie Claire, Self magazine, Heeb magazine, Laughspin, and various other publications. Her first play, Headcase, was produced in the 2001 New York International Fringe Festival, and her short story “Clutter” was a semifinalist in the Nimrod Awards. Carla is currently working on her memoir, Such a Pretty Face. Follow her on Twitter @carlasosenko and check out her website,


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