Something Like Laughter, Something Like Rage

by Christina Olson

Shy of forty, I’m someone grown, kind of, sort of.

Here is my house that I powerwash each summer,

here is the garden where I fail at growing vegetables. I arrange

our recycling bin next to the trash can in perfect

symmetry. Any day now, I’m sure, I’ll come home

to find my Neatest Garage in the Neighborhood

award pinned to the side door. No map to this place

but we found it anyway. Sometimes it’s hard to feel like an adult

when you are childless, keep adopting dogs instead of cooing

at babies and their fat hands in the grocery store,

but then I see my to-do list and it says I can only have whiskey

once I prune the hydrangeas, fold the laundry,

meet with the Fidelity rep. If this isn’t adulting, a word I hate,

what is. If hating the word adulting isn’t adulting,

what is. Over beers, a friend who’s moving for a job confided:

I asked my husband, are we even making the right choice?

which is kind of a strange question to ask, three kids later.

We ordered another round: some choices are easier than others.

And now, at least, when I do something exactly like my parents

would, I feel something like laughter instead of something like rage.

Last night, after I brushed my teeth with black charcoal toothpaste

that received positive reviews online, I spent some time

looking at my face, new weight under my eyes. Something else

looked back at me. I think I recognize her. I don’t know her.


Christina Olson’s latest chapbook is The Last Mastodon, available from Rattle. Her poetry & creative nonfiction has appeared inThe Atlantic, Arts & Letters, Alaska Quarterly Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Best Creative Nonfiction. She tweets about mastodons, coney-style hot dogs, and other current fixations as @olsonquest.