Please Answer to the Best of Your Ability

Please Answer TruthfullyDear     Chelsey Clammer      ,

Thank you for participating in “The Exploration of Self” study. Please answer these questions as succinctly as possible. Do not ruminate on their meaning or connotations, but simply go forward with the advice of first thought, best thought. Upon completion of this questionnaire, please use the SASE provided to you to mail this questionnaire back to The Center for the Studies of Understanding the Self. If you have difficulty responding to any of these questions, please leave the question(s) blank as an unanswered question will provide us with insight as to what issues in your life you are avoiding and/or triggered by and/or not wanting to give credence. A question left blank can be as revelatory of the self as a question to which your response is unnecessarily loquacious.

We will contact you with the results within three months upon receipt. Upon receiving your results you will be provided with one (1) complementary consultation with a licensed professional. Please contact The Center if you would like to schedule additional therapeutic sessions.


The Center for the Studies of Understanding the Self



The Exploration of Self” Study


Please allow yourself two (2) hours to complete this questionnaire


  1. Who do you think you are? (The researchers want to note that this question is not meant to sound threatening, a stern finger jabbing at the air in front of your face. This question is not to be read as how the fuck could you do that?, but, really, honestly, literally, Who do you think you are?)

  2. Based on family legend, you were born with bruises on your face due to the fact that the doctor had to pull you out of your mother’s vagina with forceps. How do you believe this event attributes to the fact that in the past you have expressed to your therapist that on a “bad day” you feel as if something is pulling at you, jerking you out of your safe, cozy place?

  3. Have you ever read Freud?

  4. Furthermore on the subject of your birth, while the following story has been told many times before, is it actually true that you took a shit on yourself just before you left your mother’s womb? (Thus, the forceps). And if this is true, then how do you think this event has helped you to wade through all of the shit you have so far encountered in your life?

  5. How do you believe your life would be different if you had been born a boy? Please keep in mind the fact that your mother would have named you Cosmo.

  6. According to your sister, you were the perfect angel daughter. You were a runner, a straight-A student, the one who never got in trouble. What did the cigarettes you used to smoke outside of your bedroom window at night in high school taste like as you were drinking beer and reading Emily Dickinson six hours before you had to be at cross country practice?

  7. Family legend has it that when you were three years old your father bought you a Valentine’s Day present and hid it in the house so you wouldn’t find it. Then, a few days later it was Valentine’s Day and he could not find the present, because he had been drunk when he hid it, and could not remember where he put it. The story goes that he drove out to the drugstore on Valentine’s Day morning and bought you a red teddy bear that said “Love Me” on its white stomach. Considering this stuffed animal is tangible proof to the fact that your father was a horrible drunk, why do you keep the “Love Me” teddy bear sitting next to the small box of your father’s ashes?

  8. Is there any truth to the story that you smoked a cigarette with your father one night while you were eighteen and rolling on ecstasy?

  9. Are you secretly impressed by the amount of liquor your father was able to drink on the weekend of November 14, 2004 when he died of a 0.46 blood-alcohol level?

  10. Had you been pulled over every time you drove drunk, how many DUIs would you have acquired by now?

  11. Considering the fact that when you were fifteen years old you a) became a vegetarian, b) were obsessed the TV show “Ellen”, c) were really good at playing softball, and d) watched “Star Wars” daily in order to see Princess Leia in a metal bikini, why did it take you another year to figure out you were a lesbian?

  12. That one night when you were nineteen and drunk, how much did you pay a fourteen year old boy you did not know to use a safety pin and purple ink to tattoo the initials of a woman you had a crush on, a woman who recently stated she never wanted to talk with you again, into the inside of your wrist? And furthermore, four years after you paid that fourteen year old boy for the homemade tattoo, how much did you pay the professional tattoo artist to cover up the woman’s initials with a bonsai tree?

  13. How long did it take you to remove all of the thirteen piercings you had in your body in order to hand them over to the woman you had a crush on (the lost love) who thought piercings were disgusting and so you removed all of them in order to please her?

  14. How many times did you have to stop to throw up and shit blood when you ran the Chicago Lakeshore 50 mile race in 2009 while drunk?

  15. How much have you saved on hair products since the time nine years ago when you shaved your head in college up until this moment in time in which you have had dreadlocks ever since your shaved head started to grow out nine years ago?

  16. And on the subject of your hair, did you really put your hair in dreadlocks to impress a woman you had a crush on?

  17. Please describe:

  • the taste of your first girlfriend’s yeast infection

  • the taste of warm beer your second girlfriend insisted on drinking because she thought the Germans drank their beer warm and she wanted to look worldly

  • the taste of your third girlfriend’s lipstick as you kissed her on July 7, 2008 knowing it would be your last kiss with her, because in the days preceding that kiss you finally realized that after four years of feigning happiness you no longer loved her

  1. Considering the fact that in 2004 when you were sunbathing naked with your third girlfriend one afternoon, she asked for you to put sunscreen on her butt, and when you went to do that you saw a few chunks of shit were stuck to the northern point of her ass crack, when you now wipe yourself clean upon using the toilet, how often do you think about this event?

  2. How traumatized were you by the events described in question eighteen (18)?

  3. How many times did you have sex with your third girlfriend while fantasizing that you were actually having sex with that man in college you always had a crush on?

  4. Why did it take you so long to realize you were not a lesbian, but actually bisexual?

  5. Considering you have not shaved any hair on your body in eleven years, how many razors would it take for you to shave your legs and armpits now?

  6. Is it true that you cheated on a Spanish exam in high school by writing vocabulary words on the bottom of your right foot in Sharpee marker, then wore sandals to school on the day of the test, took off your sandals when you sat down at your desk, and put your foot on your thigh in order to see the answers and to pass the test?

  7. When you lived in Mexico for six weeks with a host family while on a study abroad program, why were you surprised by the fact that it took you the entire six weeks to be able to have a simple conversation with a five-year-old about the weather without referring to a dictionary?

  8. Do you ever plan on paying back the $80,000 you have in student loan debt?

  9. For what occupation do you envision your MA in Women’s Studies will ever be useful?

  10. What is your opinion on the matter of women’s clothing sizes considering that in your closet you have twelve pairs of jeans ranging from size 0 to size 8 that all fit the same? What impact does this have on your eating disorder?

  11. After watching all seven seasons of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in three weeks, what kind of fashionable boots did you buy?

  12. Due to the fact that for twenty-eight years you thought the correct pronunciation of “dachshund” was “douche-hound,” when you lived with a woman who had two dachshunds and early one morning when you were sitting in your roommate’s office talking with her and one of her dachshunds went into your room and returned to the office dropping your pink vibrator at your roommate’s feet, how long did it take you to go back to referring to the dachshunds as “douche-hounds”?

  13. How much time did you have to spend sitting on a hard wooden chair at a coffee shop while writing in order to form calluses on your butt?

  14. When will you ever learn the difference between “affect” and “effect”?

  15. How does this gap in your education as described in question thirty-one (31) effect the impact that your writing has on the reader?

  16. Do you feel as if you really know how to use your words? Do you really believe that you can affectively communicate with someone through your words? Do you really believe that a researcher who is simply sweeping her eyeballs along the trajectory of your responses to this questionnaire will be able to understand who you are based on your answers?

  17. Do you really think anyone has even read this far?

  18. Who the fuck do you think you are?


Please leave this space blank.


Chelsey Clammer received her MA in Women’s Studies from Loyola University Chicago. She has been published in The Rumpus, Atticus Review, The Coachella Review and Make/shift among many others. She received the Nonfiction Editor’s Pick Award 2012 from both Revolution House and Cobalt, as well as a Pushcart Prize nomination. Clammer is a weekly columnist for The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review, as well as the assistant nonfiction editor for both Eckleburg and The Dying Goose. Her first collection of essays, There is Nothing Else to See Here will be published by Thumbnail Press in Fall 2013. You can read more of her writing at:



Chelsey Clammer
Chelsey Clammer is the author of the award-winning essay collection, Circadian (Red Hen Press, 2017) and BodyHome (Hopewell Publications, 2015). Her work has appeared in Salon, The Rumpus, Hobart, Brevity, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Normal School and Black Warrior Review. She teaches online writing classes with WOW! Women On Writing and is a freelance editor. Her next collection of essays, Human Heartbeat Detected, is forthcoming (Fall 2022) from Red Hen Press.

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