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I take a pill for this, but I don’t think it’s working

I’m not sure if it’s normal to worry as much as I do.

It seems like everybody else has different priorities. They’re just not as concerned as I am about things.

Like, why aren’t you guys more concerned by how long it’s been since the Yellowstone super-volcano erupted? That thing is forty-thousand years overdue.

It could blow at any minute. Boom!

We’ll drown in enough lava to cover the US five inches deep.

And if we survive that we’ll be starved out by a blanket of never-ending ash.

I mean, how much attention are they really paying out there?

Because every time I see Yellowstone on television they’re talking about somebody’s schnauzer being eaten by a grizzly, or the most recent bison goring. Which sucks of course but kind of pales in comparison to nuclear winter.

Are they really checking the seismometers as much as they say they are?

I saw a ranger check them on a Netflix documentary but that was probably for the cameras, and if you get a few feet of snow on the ground, maybe it’s just easier to say screw it because if the place blows it’s not like the monitor-guy is getting out alive.

Is someone monitoring the monitor-guy?

I worry about that.

Do worms feel pain?

I’ve been fishing for decades and they act like it hurts when I run them through with a hook, all squirmy and writhy.

That’s pain, man.

And you’ve got to hook them through the head area to really get them to work realistically as bait, and they just hate that.

Remember when David Foster Wallace covered the New England Lobster Festival and wrote about the ethics of boiling live lobsters?

The lobster-eating people said, “No, no, it’s cool, because a lobster has no cerebral cortex, the area that generates the pain sensation.”

But David Foster Wallace was all, “I don’t know man, they sure do scream when you boil them alive, and they kind of claw at the lid of the pot.”

And if the lobster is having a cow in there, why wouldn’t the worm be in the same sinking ship? I know they’ve only got ganglia, but I’m thinking we really sell ganglia short.

Someday I’m going to die.

I worry about that.

Someday I’m going to die and God’s gonna be all, “Hey, you really could have used plastic worms. And, you know, Red Lobster sells salads.”

David Foster Wallace probably never fished much, but he did hang himself.

Sometimes I worry about how much I worry.

“Stop worrying so much,” my dad always tells me.

He isn’t worried that I worry so much, or maybe he actually is, and that’s why he’s always bugging me to stop.

I take a pill for this, but I don’t think it’s working because I’ve started keeping a notebook in my nightstand with letters to my kids, telling them they’re really great people and that I’m sorry I had to die in my sleep and you boys are both winners no matter what anybody ever says and go to college and here’s where I keep the key to our safety deposit box.

I have different categories in that notebook.

There’s a tab for letters to read in the event of a growth in my parietal lobe, one for if I drive into a retention pond, and one for if I have a stroke and am still alive but can’t talk any longer.

I want them to know I can probably still hear them, so they shouldn’t say resentful stuff around me, even though they’ll want to.

I worry about that.

– Laura Jackson Roberts

Laura Jackson Roberts is a freelance writer living with her husband and their young sons in West Virginia. She holds an MFA from Chatham University and writes nonfiction and humor. Her work has recently appeared on Matador Network, in Brain, Child MagazineVandaleerAnimal: A Beast of  Literary MagazineDefenestration, and The Higgs Weldon. She also writes a regular nature column, Valley Views & Varmints. Find her at http://www.laurajacksonroberts.com

Reflections of Erma