Nothing Worth Laughing at Happened Today

Nada, Nope, Nothing at All!

Ellen B. Marshall
3 min readJan 5, 2021


Photo by Ellen B. Marshall, 2021. All rights reserved.

Nothing made me laugh today.

Not the fact that I am painting my apartment and one more coat on the living room and hallway would mean there would only be one more week to go.

Not the quick trip I was going to make to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to get in line at 7:45 for an eight o’clock opening and Google Maps sent me wandering the neighborhood behind a deserted mall.

Not the gal waiting outside in front with me with Superman pajama bottom pants and scuffing in honest to gosh slippers on this 34 degree morning.

Not the two guys in front of her discussing truck undercoating, with their masks under their chins, which reminds me that I need an oil change and should probably get an undercoating too.

Not the fact that to drive legally with insurance in this state, my driver’s license must have one less letter on it, so, one must stand in line at the BMV.

Not the very nice refusal to listen to my story of why I could not just go home and come back with papers that were not requested in the BMV FAQ section where it tells EXACTLY what to bring.

Or that Social Security cards are required to register my dear car and my dear self, but a 2021 social security stipend notice is not proof enough that my married name is what it has been for 23 years.

And certainly not how I felt when I got home and started to call courthouses and town clerks in Vermont to get copies of my marriage licenses from 1981 and 1990 that show how my name has evolved over 38 years. For a small fee they will send certified copies to me.

Nope. Instead of laughing I ate four rice cakes slathered with butter AND almond butter.

Then I decided it was too late to paint today. And too cold to walk anymore.

Then I went and played my fiddle: Tommy’s Tarbukas, Farewell to Tchernobyl, and The Gale — all hard tunes in minor keys.

Then I broke down crying and called my sister. And she asked what she could do. And I said nothing. And she suggested a bunch of lame stuff. And I said thanks for listening.



Ellen B. Marshall

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