• Amelia Dellos

It’s month thirteen of the pandemic. My house is trying to kill me. It’s working to expel us from the premises.

Because I’m indoors all the time, I’m now allergic to it. My eyes are bloodshot, itchy, and watering -- all the time. My nose is a faucet. Flonase is a necessary part of my morning ritual.

There’s also a phantom smell emanating from our laundry area. I figure it’s probably the 30-pound bag of dog food our puppy, Bo, is chewing tiny holes in, so she can self-feed straight from the source. She’s whip-smart that one.

Once the smell turns into a toxic mushroom cloud of stink, I do what every good mother does -- I buy a bottle of Febreeze and spray half it all over the laundry closet. I decide it’s problem solved.

In my pandemic-fueled malaise, I’m certain that there’s a mother of the year award heading my way for conquering my savage home with Flonase and Febreze.

Overnight, the smell overpowers the fresh Air & Linen scent. The smell is back, and this time it wants revenge. Something in my mother’s intuition tells me this is bigger than Febreze. With my rheumy eyes and my swampy nose, I pull out the metal shelves jammed next to the washer.

And there it is—the source of the smell. A mini but mighty Mt. Everest of mouse poo.

I gag.

Now, I’m fueled with a real purpose. It’s me vs. the mice. I scout out every nook and crook of my home, looking for tiny pellets of poo. I’m sweeping, scrubbing, and planting traps.

But the traps aren’t working. Finally, I put peanut butter in them. And this time, it really is problem solved.

This story is included in a series I wrote and performed through “99 Workshop” hosted by Story Jam and GRIT. Storytellers are challenged to write and perform a 99-sec story.

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  • Amelia Dellos

A chicken head in a Happy Meal, a finger in Wendy’s Chili, a tooth in a Milky Way; we all love a good disgusting urban legend about the gross stuff people find in their food.

I’m on a getaway in Wisconsin with my husband Eric, and we discover a nearby gem. This delicious grocer with every kind of pie you can think of apple, rhubarb, turkey, and my all-time favorite chicken pot pie.

The moment we get home, I toss it in the oven, ready to share a slice of our trip with our daughter. My love for chicken pot pie runs deep. I’m so excited to try it. I cut myself a piece.

See, at the Farmer’s Gourmet Grocer in East Troy, they bake their pies in a brown paper bag, and it’s not some sort of tourist gimmick. It’s the real deal. The crust is all caramelly and flaky at the same time.

I take a bite. I close my eyes, and the pie is creamy and homey. And I’m transported into a Norman Rockwell painting, and Auntie Bee is smiling at me while she pours me a glass of milk.

Suddenly, I’m jolted out of this fake food memory when I bite down into something hard. I spit it out. It ping pongs around the plate. I think to myself -- It must be a chicken bone.

I squint my eyes. And there it is—a tooth. A real human tooth baked into my pie. My body goes all sweaty and clammy. My head spins—all those stories come rushing back.

Who puts a tooth in a pot pie? Now, I’m woozy like I’m going to pass out right at the table.

I go to the bathroom to splash some cold water on my face. When my tongue lands on an empty crevice in my mouth, I look in the mirror, open wide, and realize that was my crown, my tooth in that pie.

This story is included in a series I wrote and performed through “99 Workshop” hosted by Story Jam and GRIT. Storytellers are challenged to write and perform a 99-sec story.

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  • Amelia Dellos

Updated: May 21

Recently, I completed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion certification program at Northwestern University. I took the course for both professional and personal reasons.

Professionally, my aim is to work with organizations to develop and implement pro-active diversity, equity, and inclusion communications strategies and plans. On a personal note, I wanted to educate myself to understand how I can be an advocate and an ally for change.

This class began just as my mom passed and I wasn't sure if I would be able to complete it. I am glad that I stuck with it. I can't wait to apply what I learned.

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