“The Absolutely True Diary of a Completely Undramatic and Entirely Rational Human Being,” by Madison Sweezy

Oct 21st, 2020 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

I would have liked to be born a very dramatic, very unnecessarily serious human being in Victorian England, but have instead found myself in the 21st century, which is so devoid of castles through which I can run screaming and moors onto which I may throw myself as I cry. Modern America doesn’t allow for histrionics, so I have instead crafted a life for myself that is very mundane and stoic and not at all theatrical or hokey.

My days begin within the hours of midnight-2am, during which I am at the Kroger. I have come to the Kroger because something has made me very sad, like the final lone egg at the very back of a carton or the thought of Paddington Bear.

I walk the frozen aisles of the Kroger searching for meaning, just as Dr. Frankenstein walked the frozen arctic searching for his creation. I find neither meaning nor creation. I find only Oreo stuffed churros and pizza with hotdogs for crust and a boy wearing plaid pajama pants and a graphic t-shirt from Kohl’s. I have never met this boy but I am almost definitely sure that his name is Garrett and that he is very passionate about using frisbees as plates and oversized headphones that play deadmau5 songs. I wonder why Garrett is up at this hour, and if he will find what he is looking for in this Kroger freezer section, and in life.

When I am done with the freezer section I leave the Kroger without buying anything and go home, where I will spend hours trying to fall asleep. While I am trying to fall asleep my mind plays me a movie, which is a montage of every mistake or stupid thing I have ever done in my entire time of existence. There is also a cameo from the plane gremlin from that episode of the Twilight Zone. He tells me to go to sleep, and that I am an idiot, and that Jesus was actually reincarnated but he died in a freak kayaking accident just outside of Reno in 2003.

I awake after very little amounts of sleep and my first thought is that I would die for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I can’t go back to sleep, because I am thinking about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, so I walk through a park and try very earnestly to speak to a raccoon or the dead possum carcass that has been rotting under a tree for several months. I know that animals can hear me and that they just choose not to respond, but I do think that one day they’ll trust me enough to tell me their secrets, so I sit by them and I wait.

In the afternoon I call three people and text another five to let them know that I just googled who invented the bra strap and google has told me that it was Mark Twain. Now that information will permeate the rest of my today, and it will color my tomorrow and my next week and maybe every day for the rest of my forever. Every time I take off or put on a bra I will think about Mark Twain’s mustache, and I worry about the repercussions this will have on my sex life. One of my friends doesn’t answer my call, so I leave her a 12 minute voicemail about my fears about being turned on by Mark Twain. Now I’m thinking about Mark Twain in a really lush, really chic, pink laced bra from Victoria’s Secret. Dammit, he looks so good in it. I fear I have lost connection with peace, entirely.

At dusk I do the least dramatic thing possible, which is walking through a graveyard as the sun sets. I climb into a tree that sits in the middle of this cemetery and I read Virginia Woolf aloud to Frank, who is the man buried at the base of this tree, and I stare at the sun as it breaks through the leaves that are like curtains. I say to Frank: “Frank, if the world ended right now, I don’t think I would notice. This tree and its shade and the goldenness of the sun and the sweetness of the air and the stillness of the leaves gives the illusion of nonexistence. I could be dead right now and I wouldn’t even know it. What do you think about that?” and Frank does not respond because he’s been dead since 1991.

Afterwards I watch a very theatrical World War I movie alone, and I use this movie as proof that I am not dramatic, because it is so big and loud and makes everyone in the theatre gasp, and I have never made anyone gasp in my entire life. After the movie I handle myself in a very calm and rational manner. What I do is I run to the bathroom and cry in the stall for 3-15 minutes, and then I get in my car and listen to a Radiohead album at full volume and then drive head on into a lightning storm. I tell myself, aloud, that I will follow this storm to its death, and Thom Yorke and I agree that we are both really very level-headed people, and then we scream together and charge into the storm and then my gas light goes off and I pull over into a gas station and then I drive away from the storm because I am wet and cold and tired and I really have to pee.

I end my day by driving to a river while listening to Irma Thomas and I think, somewhere in my mind, that this would be a very good song to get murdered to. But only if the murder was by something supernatural or cool, like an alien invasion or an angry witch ghost or something. If it is just a regular murder by an angry white man I do not want Irma Thomas to be playing. I’d like something more situationally appropriate, like the soundtrack to the Joker movie or an audible recording of Catcher in the Rye. If I do not get murdered I park near the lake and walk out of my car and then I take off my clothes and walk in literal slow motion into the waters. Here l submerge myself completely, for just a second, and pretend that I am floating in space, and I lay in the water and have a conversation with the moon, and I once again think that this is a very romantic place to get murdered, or at least inducted into some sort of sea-based spirit society. I get out of the water and wrap myself in some clothes and then I see a little turtle wading into the water alone, and it is so precious that I become just irrevocably sad. And so I head, once again, to the frozen aisles of the Kroger, to live my loop of incessant undramaticism.


Madison Sweezy is a recent graduate currently living on a flower farm in Virginia. She has been published in McSweeney’s, For Women Who Roar, Silhouette, and her mom’s scrapbooks.

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