I don’t want to be all playing into stereotypes here, but I’m on my period and everything is pissing me off. From my dog who selectively understands English and won’t stop whining at the squirrels to my long-distance boyfriend/affairmate who I haven’t even talked to today because I’m getting frustrated with Facebook messaging my daily “good morning” to someone I haven’t seen in over eight months, so, I’m angry.

And my crotch is bleeding

And I don’t want the two to be connected, but my God biology.

Even the squirrels are pissing me off. Not because my dog keeps whining at them, though that doesn’t help, but because their chatter is loud and it might actually be coming from birds. I don’t know species’ noises that well, apparently, which makes me feel dumb and that makes me mad.

Lack of species’ sounds knowledge aside, I do know that their incessant chatter can fuck off because I’m pissed and I still don’t know why and they aren’t helping me to concentrate on writing something coherent.

Mad woman writing on her rag. That’s what I should title this. But note: there’s a space between “mad” and “woman,” and it is history’s assumption that there is no space between those two words that also pisses off. A mad woman is a hysterical madwoman because her vagina bleeds on a regular basis. Ugg.

I’m not angry at the actual period, though. Bleeding happens. The only punctuation that pisses me off is the overly and incorrectly used ellipsis. But this isn’t about punctuation, rather a period and what it might be doing to me and how I’m pissed that I feel like a cliché right now.

I don’t let my dog be a cliché. When I saw Skylar after three months of being away at a writing residency, she didn’t initially recognize my voice. We hadn’t talked in those three months because I don’t speak dog and she only knows bits of human. Ball, sit, stay, and “you fucking dog” mostly. Though once I got close enough to her and she got a whiff of the uniqueness that is a person’s smell—the scent version of a fingerprint, if you will—she lost her shit. Well, more like she lost her piss. Well, she didn’t actually pee on me because we don’t allow clichés in this family but I could tell she wanted to because that’s how excited she was.

Right now, Skylar is intermittently staring at me and whining. Not helpful. She lets out a sigh like I’ve let her down because I’m not stopping the squirrel/possibly bird chatter. Now she’s pacing. FML.

Those three letters have become so entwined with the daily workings of my life lately. Anything from poking my finger with a knitting needle to only being able to Facebook Message the boyfriend/affairmate when his wife is not around (because she knows) all just make me spit “FML” to no one in particular—to no one at all, actually, because I’m in the middle of the mountains without cell phone reception so I can’t even talk on the phone to boyfriend/affairmate, thus Facebook Messenger, so it’s just me and my pouting and angry-whining dog and the squirrel-birds out here. I swear Skylar’s going to start thinking FML is a command I’m trying to teach her because I probably say it more than her name.

Though, bright point: I’m less mad woman-ish now because it’s like I’m writing it out of me or something, though I probably sound madwoman-ish to the female haters because God forbid a woman try to figure out her inexplicable anger so as not to blame it on her wandering womb. Sexism is one of my pet peeves, btw.

You can file this next paragraph under: Memory, Semi-Related.

Playing a game with my family a few holiday seasons ago where four people looked at a card with a noun on it and described how the noun applied to their lives in such a way that the fifth person could guess what the noun thingy was that was printed on the card. In this semi-related memory, the card said, “PET PEEVE.” My mom was the guesser. I said, “Mine is when people use punctuation incorrectly such as when they use an ellipsis to make a pause when they should use—.”

“Pet peeve!” Mom shouted out.

(Notice how I didn’t use an ellipsis there because I wasn’t trailing off in thought, rather I was interrupted, thus the em dash.)

Point being: you don’t use an ellipsis when you’re interrupted—only when you’re trailing off in thought or cutting text out of a direct quote.

Other point being: Mom knows me best.

My phone just vibrated twice—Facebook Messenger, probably from the boyfriend/affairmate because I haven’t said good morning yet. A long-distance relationship can be challenging. Having a long-distance relationship/affair with a married man can be challenging-er. Having a long-distance relationship/affair with a married man during a pandemic means I haven’t gotten laid in eight months. These are indeed trying times. Because there is no bumping and grinding with your boyfriend/affairmate when he’s lockdown-ed in a house that he’s been trying to sell for a year with a woman he no longer “loves like that” and with his 20-year-old son who is also stuck at home with his parents’ long-splintering marriage because his college is closed due to The Coronies.

Note: I recommend you not admit your infidelity to your wife while you are in a forced lockdown together. (It sounded like a good idea—stop lying, face life, let wife know that, for reals, the divorce they’ve been trying to have for the past handful of years long before The Other Woman—me—stepped in to fuck things up [literally] is for reals ending). She’s a mad woman who is probably turning into a madwoman and rightfully so. Her anger is justified, unlike mine.

What all this means is that although I’m fucking a married man, I haven’t been fucking him lately because a global pandemic is putting everyone on lockdown which makes having a long-distance affair more than kinda hard to maintain.

Maybe that’s why I’m mad, too—this succumbing to two stereotypes. Both of these are even more of a pet peeve than incorrect punctuation: 1) I’m not only the hysterical menstruating madwoman, but b) I’m also the mad woman who just needs to get some lovin’ to smash that frustrated feeling out of her.

“FML,” I say.

Skylar stops with the pouting face, stops with the pacing, looks at me, tilts her head, then sits down real pretty.


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.