Welcome to Kiki Writes About

As the name implies, this is where I write about…whatever. Myself, life, writing, sexuality, weight, my random issues and obsessions, if it comes into my head, I may just put it into words here.

If you’re looking for my fiction, you’ll find everything on Read Me. Everything I’ve published (either traditionally or self) is there. If you’d like to be convinced that I’m worth your time and money, check out the Writing for Tips section. It’s all of my free short stories. However, if you read a few and decide you like them, feel free to buy me a coffee over on Ko-Fi.

Murderville is my Patreon project. It wrapped up in 2021, but watch this space. There could be a new project coming soon.

If you’re looking for my podcast ventures, like Book ’em, Danno, or my ramblings on reruns, you’ll want to check out aka KikiWrites.

So, kick back and enjoy some words.

They could be about anything.

The Thing About Getting Older–Birthday Edition

The past two years I’ve taken the week of my birthday off. The whole week, plus Martin Luther King Jr Day. Comes to nine days off in the name of my birthday.

Some people may call this excessive. There are many loud folks who criticize people for celebrating their birthday week or birth month. And to them I bid a respectable fuck you. I spent too many years not celebrating my birthday, and not because I dreaded getting older like so many women.

Part of my not celebrating comes from having a birthday close enough to the holidays that people are fatigued of celebrations by the time they get to the anniversary of my birth. They are partied out. And I can relate. I’m usually at the end of my of my holiday rope by then, too. But still. It’s my birthday.

Another part comes from the fact that several of my “big” birthdays -sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one- were rendered insignificant for one reason or another. There were a couple of times that my birthday was used as an excuse to get together only to have that gathering have nothing to do with me. Clearly just an excuse…or worse, an after thought. This string of disappointments hurt. I’m not going to lie. To prevent myself from experiencing that disappointment again, I became one of those people who didn’t like my birthday.

My birthday? Pfft. No big deal. It’s nothing. Just another day. I didn’t do anything for my birthday outside of any sort of family celebration that might be happening. I rarely made plans. It got to a point where I didn’t expect anything, not even from myself.

However, I was not meant to be a person who hated their birthday. I have far too much ego for that. And over the years my intent to not celebrate became me celebrating for myself. It was my special day, even if it was a secret. Even if I was the only one who did any celebrating.

Sometimes I’d do things with my friends, but many times I was alone. Hell, for my 40th I ended up going by myself to see Knives Out. Coincidentally, that was the last time I went to a movie theater.

My 40th landed on a Sunday and I had planned to take the weekend off for it, but wasn’t able to.

I fixed that for 41. I took the whole week off and was gifted with the King holiday as a bonus. One of my coworkers asked me what I was doing for my birthday, thinking I was taking a trip. In the middle of a pandemic, not so much. So, I told her I was doing whatever I wanted. And I could tell that she thought a week off for my birthday was a bit much. Particularly for a lowly part-timer. Tough shit.

This year I had planned to take a trip for the week of 42, but it didn’t work out because we’re still in the middle of a pandemic.

But it was still my birthday.

So, last week, I was off work and I did whatever I wanted.

And I’ll do the same thing next year, too.

Turning 42

I’m kinda looking forward to being 42. First of all, I do not fear aging. It’s a privilege denied many and I’ve earned every year. Second of all, 42 is the meaning of life, the Universe, and everything, so it’s bound to be something of a magical age, right?

Okay, I kind of admit from this vantage point it’s sort of hard to see that potential.

41 was a bit of a bust.

I was hoping to do more and most of the time I barely had the energy to do the bare minimum. Like, I’ve been stuck in some ruts before, but this time I was too tired to care I was even in a rut. It’s hard to pull yourself out when you’d rather take a nap.

And while I did spent 41 giving fewer fucks, I didn’t really accomplish much else. At least I spent most of the time with either pink or blue-black hair. 41 was a bit of a drag, but I showed up.

As I said, I think 42 has the potential to be magical. What kind of magic? I don’t know. Maybe black magic. Perhaps some dark arts will be necessary to make something out of this year. I’m starting off on a sour note by not being able to take my birthday trip, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be taken eventually. Maybe all of the magic will come from finding a way to salvage things in the middle of trying circumstances once again. But the point is I should probably haul my ass out of the rut to give that magic a shot. Who knows? I might be surprised.

I mean, it’s doubtful. I’m a Capricorn, so my realism will ultimately win out. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find a way to have a good time. Even if it’s just a new hair color.

Here’s to 42.

What of 2022?

In 2020, I managed to cross off a couple of items on my Big To Do List.

In 2021, I managed to redesign this blog and design a new one, as well as get a new Patreon project together in a short amount of time.

So, what of 2022?

Well, as it turns out, slogging through the second year of a pandemic is a stone drag. I have stumbled into 2022 tired and unsure of what I want to do or if I want to do anything.

Of course I will be doing things. I still have a day job. And my podcast. And other people’s podcasts. And the Patreon. And the blogs. And writing projects. And other creative endeavors. So, obviously I’ll be doing things.

But will I do things beyond those things?

Like, will I find the energy/time/funds to cross off another item on my Big To Do List? Will I be inspired to undertake another big project?

Right now, it doesn’t feel like it. The one big thing I’d hoped to do this year -go to Hawaii for my birthday- is not a thing that is happening due extenuating circumstances, namely the plague that would not cease. I suppose I could go later in the year between Covid variants. It wouldn’t technically be my birthday, but a deferred birthday trip still counts, right? It’s a big thing that could still happen. I guess.

I admit that in a selfish, petty way, I feel like not taking the trip is starting my year off on the wrong foot and now I just don’t want to do it anymore. And by “it”, I mean the whole year. Will that feeling linger? No, probably not. Come March, I’ll finally get my New Year/New Energy.

And then I’ll be ready to do something big.

Adios 2021

How do you send off a year that you’re not sorry to see go?

Gleefully and gratefully, I suppose.

Especially since I can’t remember most of it. It’s all just a pandemic blur to me. So, here are a few milestones I remember.

I finished Season 2 of Book ’em, Danno and started Season 3. For the first time since the very beginning of the podcast, I’m actually ahead of the game. I think I’m finding my rhythm. I haven’t gotten much quicker in my process, but being a few months ahead keeps the pressure off. So, that’s something.

I revamped Kiki Writes About and created AKA Kiki Writes to be the home of Book ’em, Danno and my Rerun Junkie content. One of the goals of this revamp was to blog more regularly, which I’ve done. Good job, me.

Murderville came to an end and I’ve got things in place for the next project. Writing, revising, recording, and editing an audio story has been an interesting challenge.

Despite my misgivings, I managed to win yet another NaNo, though I cheated like hell when it came to the actual projects. But I got a bunch of short stories done in addition to the audio story, so that’s more writing than I’ve done in a long time.

I had the joy of discovering that there are romance books that I do like. I was very sad that I couldn’t enjoy that genre, but success! If they’ve got fat folks and/or queer people, I am in. I also read a lot of poetry this past year, which I very much enjoyed and look forward to reading more of.

One of my dear friends and her family moved back to town earlier this year and it’s been a joy to see their faces more often.

I’ve discovered the goodness that is kimchi and I now make kimchi dip on the reg. And I further expanded my culinary skills by learning to make carne asada.

My patellar tendonitis that has been plaguing me for years is under control. I’m doing a lot better, though I’m still not at 100%. I still can’t squat down like I used to. My blood pressure remains too high despite the meds and diet changes and attempts to reduce stress. I just hope the inevitable stroke kills me.

I’m hoping that 2022 will be kinder to me and everyone else, but it’s already off to a dubious start. I had really wanted to go to Hawaii for my 42nd birthday in January, but with the latest Covid variant and the fact that tourists remain the selfish worst, I decided to postpone until a safer, more agreeable time. Hopefully, it’ll be before birthday number 43, but we’ll see what the Universe has in store.

Adios, 2021. You had an attitude.

Happy Holidays and All That Jazz

If you’re one of those people who insist that it’s “Merry Christmas” not “Happy Holidays”, then I want to let you in on a little secret.

People in customer service, particularly retail, hate you. Straight up loathe.

Here’s why.

“It’s ‘Merry Christmas’, not ‘Happy Holidays'” is never not said in anything but a condescending, snotty tone. And let me tell you, customer service people love that tone. Probably because we get a lot of it. But it’s so special at this time of year. Really holly fucking jolly.

Furthermore, you’ve chosen the most stressful time of year in which we are already straining to maintain any shred of professionalism to debate theology with us. Now is not the time to pretend that your Christianity is under attack and you’re being oppressed. You’re buying overpriced electronics and toys your children will break in a few months, you’re not being martyred. Instead, you’re aggravating an underpaid employee who’s probably already dealt with six of you that shift. There are something like 25 holidays and observances in December. Yours is not special just because it’s been commercialized.

Now, I can’t speak for all customer service employees, but I can speak from my own experience when I say that I’ve never been told that I MUST say “Happy Holidays”. And I’d wager sick time that I’m in the majority on that one. Except I’m part-time and I don’t get sick time.

My own “Happy Holidays” rule is very simple: I say to you what you say to me. That’s right. I’m a parrot. If you say “Happy Holidays”, that’s what I say. If you say “Merry Christmas”, that’s what I say. And if you don’t say jack shit, then I tell you to have a good night and get on with my life. I no longer make an effort to “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” anyone anymore because one too many people took my holiday cheer as an offense.

Which is really the point of this whole post.

There’s a whole song about how this is the most wonderful time of the year, but some people have decided it’s only THEIR time of the year and they will ruin it for the rest of us because we refuse to accept that. Sadly these nativity scene erectors don’t seem to realize that the whole “good will toward men” thing includes them as givers as well as receivers and there’s no exemption just because they monetized a holiday that was created by cannibalizing the rituals and celebrations of other religions.

So keep in mind the next time you insist that it’s “Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays” the person you’re insisting that to would much rather tell you to go fuck yourself instead.

Ho ho ho.

Goodbye, Nez

I woke up Friday feeling less than. The weather has spent the week switching seasons from fall to winter to spring and I felt every single front and barometric change so by the time I woke up on Friday to fog and rain, I’d had it. But, I pressed on because I had too much to do on my day off to slack because I didn’t feel well.

And then the news of Michael Nesmith’s passing came across my timeline and what little wind I had in my sails evaporated.

Three of my dear Monkees are now gone and it seems like only when they’re gone do others realize that these men have always been so much more, Nez no exception.

He was instrumental in The Monkees playing on their own songs, being allowed creative control over their music. He was a pioneer in country rock after the he left the group. He came up with the concept for MTV. He produced films and wrote books. Meanwhile, his own music continued to evolve and change as he explored his own talent. I have more of his solo stuff than the rest of The Monkees. Not so much out of favoritism (though I love his solo stuff), but because he has such a huge catalogue of it. And there’s a variety to it. The First National Band stuff doesn’t sound like anything from The Newer Stuff album, but it’s all so distinctly Nez. Coming back together with The Monkees after Davy’s passing was especially sweet. “Me and Magdalena” is probably my favorite song from Good Times.

I never felt like Nez got the accolades that he deserved. He deserved a wider recognition for the contributions that he made to music.

I’m forever grateful that him being one of The Monkees allowed me to be a fan and get to experience so much more of his music, talent, and creativity.

Blessings, Nez. Safe travels beyond the horizon.

What I Mean When I Say I Don’t Have the Energy

The library has a holiday outing every year. We go out to dinner at one of the local places and then we go to the CH Moore Homestead for the candlelight tour of the mansion. It’s really pretty. We did it the first year that I worked for the library. Last year’s was cancelled due to Covid. This year we’re going again.

I’m not going. I don’t have the energy.

When I say this, people assume that means I’m tired and how can I possibly be tired weeks in advance? That’s ridiculous! Come on! You should go! It’ll be so much fun!

First of all, never pester me about something. It will activate my spite and that’s a great way to make sure I never do it.

Second of all, I’ve been tired since 1994. It’s a permanent condition at this point.

And lastly, what I mean when I say that I don’t have the energy is that I don’t have the energy necessary to do sufficient battle with my anxiety and/or depression in order to allow myself to have a good time.

I’m using this specific example of the library’s holiday outing because as I’ve written many times, this is my least favorite time of the year. It tends to be hectic. Even not having to split my time between multiple family holiday gatherings anymore, I still find myself stressed out over presents and baking and cards and mailing. This is the time of year that my mental illnesses can be more affected due to that whole lack of daylight thing combined with the need to go out more.

Even during with ideal conditions, my energy reserves in December are low.

But I’ve spent the last year plus in a pandemic, keeping up with the changing library policies regarding Covid safety and arguing with people who walk past THREE signs that say masks are required because they don’t want to wear a mask.

I barely have enough energy to get through the requirements of my day. I do not have the energy to do anything extra.

Some people refer to this as not having enough spoons. If that is the metaphor you require to understand me, then that is the one I’ll use. I have no extra spoons. I rarely have any at this time of year. I’d say they get lost in the dishwasher, but we don’t have one.

I know some people feel like this is bullshit. I’m not married. I don’t have kids. I don’t have a full-time job (and if my job at the library was full-time, it’s minimum wage, so it wouldn’t count as a real job anyway). In their opinion, there’s nothing depleting my energy. I should have a plethora of spoons. I’m just lazy.

And to them, I say…I am, as a rule, fucking exhausting to deal with. Even in small doses. Imagine putting up with me all the damn time.

In conclusion, I have no extra energy to accommodate any more requests at this time. Thank you.

2021 NaNo Winner!

Yes, I officially reached 50,000 words on November 29th, so that’s another win in the books.

This year was quite interesting given that I decided to approach NaNo in a different fashion while also dealing with a different library schedule that added a challenge to the already challenging situation of me struggling to write in general.

What resulted was quite a bit of productivity actually. Writing only 1,700 words a day every day helped keep the pressure off. Normally, I write between 2,000 and 4,000 words a day during NaNo. In comparison, 1,700 words is a piece of cake. For the most part, I was able to get my word count in before I went to work, another factor that kept the stress low. I was able to work on other things after my library shift knowing that I had NaNo done.

I finished the first draft of the audio story The Found Diary of Christina Essex in 15 days at 25,000 words, half of my needed word count and more than I anticipated doing on that story. Which was good. I wasn’t exactly sure if the story was going to work out until I hit a certain point and things suddenly came together. After that, it was pretty easy writing.

As for the rest of the month, I ended up using my word count to write four blog posts, five flash fiction stories, and four short stories, including one that topped out at 10,000 words. Not bad for someone who’s been struggling to write anything longer than flash fiction for months. I was also able to clear several story ideas out of my notebook. I don’t know yet what I’ll do with all of them now that they’re in first draft form, but they are ready and waiting to be revised.

As NaNos go, this one was quite different, but it also gave me a boost that I desperately needed when it came to getting my writing done. So much of why it’s fallen to the wayside is this feeling that I don’t have time to do it because I have all of these other impending projects to work on.

But the truth is, I do have time. It’s just a matter of finding it again.

Finding the energy…that’s another story.

But at least I know that I can still win when I want to.

Gratitude and Blessings

I wrote about doing this back in 2014, but the idea has evolved in the ensuing years.

So back at the end of 2012, I came across an idea on Facebook called The Good Things Jar. Everyday you write down something good that happened during the day on a slip of paper and you put it in a jar. At the end of the year, you dump out the jar and review all of the good things.

I started in 2013 and for the first few years, I did it just that way, with a twist. Not only did I go through the jar and review, but I also wrote them all down at the end of whatever journal I kept that year. It was fun and enlightening and I learned that I often struggle knowing what day it is.

I also learned that I could save myself some paper if I refined the process.

I got rid of the jar and started writing my blessings directly in my journal. The switch made sense as I write in my journal daily anyway. At the end of the year, I can flip through my journal and review my blessings.

In the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed a few things.

I have a lot of gratitude for food. -Food makes me happy. I know what you’re thinking. Not surprising given my fat ass. But when you think about it, food is a simple pleasure. The right flavor at the right time can brighten your day. (And when you take into account the food insecurity that plagues this country, having adequate nutrition IS something to be grateful for.)

Many of my blessings are simple things. -A pretty sunset. Reading outside. Opening the windows after having them shut all winter. Those tiny moments that we take for granted or overlook, I often find myself savoring them.

I’m very grateful for the people in my life. -I’m not the best person, and yet there are people in my tiny universe who think of me randomly and are willing to help me when I need it (even if I don’t ask for it) and who just in general brighten my existence with their presence. I don’t express that enough and I need to work on that.

Sometimes I’m just grateful to make it through the day. -Some days are shit. Some days it’s hard for me to find that blessing. So, I’m just grateful to have made it through somewhat intact. Surviving the garbage is the blessing.

I feel like the active cultivation of gratitude has helped improve my mental health over the years. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not touting this as the cure to depression and anxiety. But I think it’s one of the healthier coping mechanisms I have in life, especially when my brain chemicals are particularly off balance. The habit of identifying one good thing every day helps when it feels like I can’t see anything but the bad.

I like harvesting the little good bits.

They don’t spoil.

I’m Not Paid to Be Nice

As someone who’s spent most of their working life employed in minimum wage customer service jobs, I feel there’s some insights that I can offer about the industry, particularly retail.

Here’s a very important one.

I’m not paid to be nice.

This is a very common misconception that most likely took hold due to the popularization of the inaccurate and unofficial policy that the customer is always right.

For the record, they’re not. There will never be a wronger group of humans to ever shamble through a set of automatic doors. Embrace that truth and the rest is easy.

But for those customers who continue to insist that they’re always right, allow me to explain what I mean when I say that I’m not paid to be nice.

The objective in customer service is to obviously serve the customer. In that we are trained to be professional and to be courteous. Not nice. Being professional is following protocols and policies and solving customer issues as efficiently as possible. Courteous is using your manners. Nice is being pleasing and agreeable. I’m paid to do the first two. The third is a bonus. It’s not owed to you. And it will definitely not be bestowed upon you if you choose to be an abusive yahoo.

See, I can totally do my job without being nice. I can be professional and courteous without being nice. I can also be professional and courteous while you’re being a raging whirlwind of entitlement about whatever has displeased you and make “I’m sorry” sound like “fuck you” without being overtly rude. I don’t have to call you the result of an illicit love affair between a drunken used dildo sniffer and a scabie-infested two-dollar drama queen, but I can certainly get that point across when I say “Have a nice day” as you storm out.

Do you see what I’m saying here?

Because the people who believe that the customer is always right also seem to believe that the customer is also right to abuse the employees. Now, here’s the thing…and I really want you to consider this…when you get on your entitled customer is always right horse and go charging across that battlefield to get your whims whimmed, you’re typically engaging with the lowest level employees in the establishment. We control absolutely nothing. Your attitude is wasted. We don’t care. Fuck off.

There’s also the little thing of being a raging troglodyte that guarantees that we will not be nearly as helpful as we can be. We will give you the bare minimum of what it takes to get you out of the building. And you swearing that you’ll never return is our wish that you never really grant us. Because you always come back.

This sort of tomfuckery has been amplified with the advent of anti-maskers. Nobody throws a fit like a grown ass toddler told that it’s an establishment’s policy to wear a mask while inside of said establishment. To save anyone further embarrassment, allow me to clarify: if an establishment says that you need to wear a Santa hat to enter, you’d better be be saying “Ho ho ho” when you walk through the door. It’s the same reason you’re wearing shoes and your naughty bits are covered upon entry (though I will admit some folks even argue that).

The pandemic has definitely made tempers shorter and that’s not just the customers. It’s the employees, too. We’ve been dealing with high volumes of abusive bullshit lately. We’re to the point that not only are we not paid to be nice, but we’re willing to take a pay cut not to be courteous, even though we should get a raise for dealing with such a constant flow of exasperating humans.

So just remember that if you wouldn’t tolerate three minutes of someone screaming in your face for $7.25, don’t expect that employee you’re screaming at to do it for $7.25 an hour.

‘Cause we’re not paid to be nice.

And nowadays, you might just get your shit rocked.