1. Run your fingers along the wheat field of your eyebrows to make sure the hairs are not crisscrossing but facing the direction of their growth.
2. Rub your stomach after a filling meal, testing its changed shape. When you cut off one head of body insecurity —counting calories, keeping clothes that won’t fit, buying clothes you hope will – it grows another.
3. Don’t drink coffee. You’ll turn into an angry wind-up toy.
4. Don’t drink cold brew. It’ll make you extroverted in the day but at night you’ll wake up crying from dreams about severed heads.
5. Drinking tea is acceptable.
6. Crack your finger joints like a light stick that releases opioid instead of light. Crack your toes next, then your knees. Your mom and grandma tell you you’ll lose a prospective husband over this. You’re willing to risk it.
7. Accept that your nails will tear off like perforated packaging unless you strengthen them by eating tilapia a few times a week.
8. Cut your split ends. Lose yourself in it for half an hour and then remember you were trying to finish a book.
9. Take your body to Barnes & Noble. Feel it tingle and hum.
10. Take your body to the movies. Go alone. Cry freely. Cry often.
11. Take your body on a Tinder date. Be amazed he looks nicer in person. His lashes are like the moon; the camera can’t capture them. You have to wear mascara.
12. Shed a tear when a lash comes off on your makeup remover wipe.
13. Move your body up three steps to get on a stage. The only time you can restrain yourself from cracking joints is when you crack jokes. This means five minutes of perfect, un-joint-cracking you, so scan the Wednesday-night crowd at this oyster bar with care to secure a husband.
14. Smile when the crowd erupts like the inside of a car when you open a window going 80 on the interstate.
Katrina Papouskaya is a Russian-American writer currently residing in New Jersey. She is working on her MFA in poetry at The New School in New York City. You can find her at www.katrinapapouskaya.com.
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