Maybe it’s because The Real Housewives of Orange County all but devolved into a terrifying trip to a haunted church camp this past week and my mind is still trying to recover from being thrust soul-first into choruses of Amazing Grace that were harmonized by scummy women who clearly value liposuction more than they value the Lord, but I can’t seem to get prayer out of my head. 

I can’t quite qualify myself as someone who prays regularly, but that’s been changing a bit.  I do pray – though it’s more to the universe at large than to a particular God – and I seem to be partaking in those very personal moments more than usual these days.  Obviously, some of what I bandy about late in my bed at night to the powers that cannot be seen is rather personal, but since I get to fully control what it is I share here, allow me to tell you about some of the conversations I’ve been having lately with a universe that I dearly hope is not hard of hearing.  Sure, some of my prayers might strike you as superficial and perhaps others might strike you as though they were generated inside the mind of someone who is mildly psychotic, but since one of the things I pray for consistently is the continued ability not to give a shit about what other people think about me, I’m gonna forge ahead:  

Dear Universe,

Please allow me to believe that there is no bottom to the reservoir of compassion, talent, forgiveness, and drive that I rely upon more often than I do air.  Do not ever allow me to embrace the idea that I have been depleted of goodness or of the capacity to generate the levels of energy I need to secure for myself all it is that I desire.

And speaking of desire, I guess it’s true that I’ve always veered towards a somewhat unconventional life and making those choices has left me with some complicated consequences.  Please give me the strength not to second-guess myself during moments where I can feel my heart and my mind begin to falter.

And should I falter, perhaps I can be gifted an entire family of gypsies who can live in one of my closets and exist to bolster my sagging spirits.  This collection of gypsies will be fed whenever they feel a rumble settle in their tummies and, when they’re not having a little snack or boosting my mood, maybe they can tidy up the place or run a vacuum through my home.  They should also feel free to try on all of the clothing in the closet in which they reside, but I kindly ask that they hang everything back up neatly.

(I fear that the prayer to keep gypsies inside of a closet to perform menial tasks for me might create unfortunate comparisons to terrible social issues for which I obviously have no tolerance, so maybe instead of doing shit like vacuuming, the gypsies can work as a glam team that curls my eyelashes and contours my face so that I leave my house each day looking like I was born in a place that’s Kardashian-adjacent.  However, since I’m now making the no-vacuuming sacrifice, I’d prefer for my band of gypsies to be mute so we don’t have to chat with one another because sometimes chatting is fucking exhausting.  I will still feed them.)

And that reminds me:  I’d also like to get my hands on a pill that fights exhaustion and is also legal and the only known side effect of the pill is hair that never frizzes.

Can we go back for a moment to my closet, dear universe?  First, might I just say that I’m very grateful for all of my pretty clothing?  I am truly filled with appreciation for what I have:  the piles of dresses and the mounds of skirts and the collection of heels so uncomfortable that they regularly turn my feet Smurf-blue, though the truth is that I worked hard to buy all of those things so maybe I should just thank myself here.  But after I’m done running victory laps up and down my staircase, perhaps the universe can conspire along with me so that one day I can have the closet of my dreams, the one modeled after the one the daughter of the man who owns the Formula One Group built with her zillions in the house she bought from Candy Spelling.  I’m not very proud of saying such a thing, universe, but I will sell certain family members to secure such a lush environment in which to try on my strappy sandals.

As for the family members I’ll never put up for sale – not even at a huge markup – please allow them continued health and happiness and the patience to deal with me when I am at my moodiest.  Please let them always know the things they have taught me have never escaped my mind.

And for the people who have mattered or currently matter greatly to me, I pray that they can comprehend the influence their love, passion, humor, and intellect has brought to my world.  They have colored my days and shaded my nights and brightened my dusks and glittered my dawns.   Some of them visit me often in my dreams in such a curious frequency – and even though those dreams sometimes leave me emotionally spent, I pray that those dreams will never cease.

But let’s concentrate for a moment on some things I would very much like to stop forever.  I need to finally be able to cook chicken without the lingering fear that I am personally infecting everybody within a fifty-mile radius with salmonella.  I’d also like any of that pesky sweat that appears when I work out to stop once and for all and I’d appreciate if the yearning to consume chocolate can perhaps remain just a yearning and not a need so pressing that I often think about how graceful I’d probably look swan-diving into a vat of Peanut Butter M&Ms. I mean, universe?  Peanut Butter M&Ms are clearly the result of a chocolate company and God teaming up to bring yummy goodness to the world, but if my craving for such an item can go away forever, maybe that would be a good thing. 

And though I pray here to have some restraint from inhaling trans fats, it might also benefit me to have restraint in the other areas of my life.  I’ve spent a lot of years practicing restraint, but I know I could always use some more, so maybe I could be given an extra ration – or six – so I don’t ever verbally maul someone who tries to deliver unwarranted advice that is “for my own good,” because I know full well what is for my own good and it probably doesn’t include shoving one of my boots deep inside someone’s colon when they rhapsodize about something I really don’t need to hear.

I’m going to do some begging now.  Please, sweet universe, make it so the people I have ever brought pain to have been able to move on in a way that they are not scarred, not even a little bit.  It’s even okay if they move on without being able to forgive me. I don’t need to be forgiven.  What I do need is to know that I didn’t fuck somebody up for good.  And please allow the people I love to know how much I value them because I fear that sometimes I’m not great at showing it.  It’s not intentional; work and life and tremendous fear gets in the way, and I want to work on that within myself, but those around me should only know that I see their goodness and I hear their devotion and I appreciate their presence wildly.

Going back to dreams for a second, please don’t let all of them be prophetic.  See, I’ve been having weird dreams about buying a puppy lately and sure, puppies are fantastic and adorable and wiggly, but I don’t want a puppy.  I would like my seventeen year old dog to instead be diagnosed with that disease Benjamin Button came down with so she can all of a sudden age in reverse and I can have her for at least another decade.  And should that be possible, please regift her eyesight and remove her arthritis – and maybe do a little something about her snoring.

With the medical advancement of canines in my head, I also cannot help but think about technological advances.  I’ve got some ideas, universe!  And if you can somehow put these ideas into reality, I’ll totally split my commission with you!  See, I think that online shopping is amazing and convenient and I do it more often than I eat protein, but wouldn’t it be better if you could pull the item you just purchased through the screen so you could try shit on and then return it immediately if it doesn’t fit?  I mean, if I could avoid buying jeans that make me look like I was blessed with seven hips, wouldn’t humanity in general benefit?  Because, really – who wants to have to stare at me if I look all hippy?

And on another note entirely, is it possible that I could get some confirmation about brain cells?  What I’m specifically looking for here is some definitive proof that’s maybe backed up by a pie chart that indicates that all of the brain cells I haven’t fried over the years due to what my mother would call “making good choices” were brain cells worth saving.  And if you could toss in some clarification that it’s okay that I sizzled a bunch of my other brain cells – because, come on, you can’t always listen to your mother! – were maybe second-string brain cells anyway and therefore not too much of a loss, I’d appreciate that too.

Speaking some more about appreciation, I’d really appreciate meeting Bruce Springsteen and being able to have an in-depth conversation with him where I get to express the undying gratitude I feel for the way that his lyrics have scored my entire life.  I am incredibly aware that, upon meeting my hero, it would be very likely that I’d end up in a fetal position in tears, but maybe that portion of the interaction could wait until I’m alone somewhere so I can really profess some true admiration to someone I think is a genius.  And if he could pull me on stage during The Ties That Bind for a short dance that maybe ends with a dip and a hug, that would be very nice too.

It would also be lovely if the trees can turn that gorgeous yellow-gold color without the temperature dropping to seven degrees.  That suggestion is one I’m just throwing out there – and it’s not just because I like my warm-weather clothes way better than my winter attire.  I swear.

Please allow me to internalize and live with the knowledge that I am defined by my present and not by the choices I made in my past.  Please don’t ever let the darkest of moments claim my light.  Please push me to remind myself of all it is that I deserve and to never settle for something just because it’s convenient.  Please make the second season of Mr. Robot as good as the first season was and make Modern Family funny again.  Please allow the memories I sometimes think might destroy me instead be the things that give me strength. 

Please don’t let my strength ever falter.

And if there is in fact an unlimited potential to all the universe can provide, please allow my regrets to fade along with those freckles I don’t like – and please let all of that happen while I stand outside and lift my face up to the sunlight.


Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York.  She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on in paperback and for your Kindle.