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.

Five Minutes

Late last month, I announced over on Patreon the addition of another tier. If you ever said you’d pay to listen to me read the phone book, it’s the tier for you. For $5 a month, you’ll get to listen to me ramble for five minutes on the topic of my choosing. You can check out the page here on the blog or you can listen to my promo here.

If you listen to the promo, then you’ll know that starting this month, I’m also offering 5 Minute commissions over on Ko-Fi. There are two types to choose from: a ramble on the topic of your choice or an affirmation/mediation. I’m told my voice is very soothing. I’ll email you to find out more about the topic/meditation/affirmation that you’re looking for.

The commissions are $15 a piece and will be delivered in MP3 format (I’m not fancy) via email within a week (unless something unforeseen and disastrous comes up).

There are some ground rules to the commissions. These commissions are for personal use only. No putting them on YouTube or TikTok and the like. You can request whatever topic that you want, but don’t expect any dirty talk. Ko-Fi does not support sexual content. This isn’t OnlyFans.

I’ll only be making a limited number of these commissions available. Not because I’m afraid I’ll be overwhelmed by a rush of requests, but because I’m quite gifted at overwhelming myself. A smaller number available makes me feel like I’m in control.

So, if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, check out my Ko-Fi page.

Get your own five minutes of me.

What Do You (Stress) Dream About?

One charming thing about my brain is that I have nightmares on the regular. Despite my fascination with horror movies, when I was a kid I was terrified to the point of not sleeping by them solely because I was afraid I’d have nightmares. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized my nightmares are seldom influenced by anything I watched during the day. They are an independent entity and they come so often than I got used to them. In fact, I seldom have a nightmare that makes it difficult for me to go back to sleep.

I read somewhere that it’s believed there’s actually a nightmare trait -a gene that makes a person predisposed to having nightmares- and I believe it. My youngest niece suffers from the same nightmare issue. Her sleep got a lot better once I gave her some of my coping mechanisms. She used to call recurring dreams “reruns” and get annoyed with them. “Ugh! I had another bad dream last night, but it was a rerun! I already did this!”

As annoying and sometimes disturbing as those nightmares can be, I’d take them over stress dreams any day.

Or night, as it were.

I’ve had stress dreams since probably junior high or high school. I get stressed, my dreams get stressed. They’re different from nightmares because stress dreams are more likely to trigger my somnambulism.

They’re also different from nightmares because stress dreams are relentless. If I have one, then that’s going to be my night. No amount of changing position is going to save me. I’ll wake up, roll over, and go right back into it.

My stress dreams are usually about the situation that has me stressed. That’s usually work. A busy library with no help and an inability to do my job is pretty common. Or I’ll dream about past jobs as a substitute for my current one. Usually I’m back at Wal-Mart trying to remember how to do my job.

But sometimes my stress dreams take on a fun twist.

They evoke the same feelings as my usual stress dreams, but they’re more like the nightmares I have. Like the time I dreamed about the 10 plagues, but not in a fun, Dr. Phibes way. Or the time I dreamed about stabbing zombies in the eye with the handle of a rat tail comb. Normally, these nightmare-adjacent dreams would have been nothing for me. Instead, I was left feeling wound for sound as much as drained.

Sometimes the stress dreams will co-opt dreams that I don’t consider bad and warp them. I frequently dream about tornadoes and sharks (but not together), which might be nightmares for some people, but for me they’re not because I’m never scared in any of them. Unless they’re stress-related. Then these dreams take on an anxiety-inducing quality that spills over into my waking hours and wrecks my day.

My stress dreams have become more and more frequent over the past few years to the point that recently I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t have one. My body adjusted to them apparently because they stopped wearing me out as much as they used to, but my mind still struggles.

It’s bad when I crave the bizarre dreams, the absolute nightmares, but I really would prefer them.

Those I can sleep through.

The Instant Gratification of Writing

I know what you’re thinking. There is no instant gratification in writing.

First you have to get the idea. Then you have to write your story. Then you have to revise your story. Then you have to revise it again. And probably again. Then you have to shine it up real nice. Then you have to sell it. You shop it to the pubs or agents and rack up the rejections. If you land an agent, then you probably have to do more edits before they shop it around for you. Then you finally land it somewhere. Then you have to edit it again because whoever buys your story likes it, but it just needs a little (or a lot of) tweaking. Then it finally gets published and you have a finished story in your hands that someone actually paid you for.

There is nothing instant about this process. It takes months, sometimes years from start to finish. It is an arduous journey that can be frustrating as well as exhilarating. And it takes forever.

One thing that’s always been a challenge for me is getting an idea that I know is dynamite and then making peace with the fact that it’s not going to be done NOW. I’ve got this neato idea in my head and I know how it’s going to look on paper and I just need it to go straight from my brain to the page without the time consuming middleman of actually typing and agonizing over word choice. I need to project the images in my head onto my docx.

And that is not how any of this works.

I know there is a distinct chance that I will cool on this idea before I even find time to get the first sentence written. I know that it might turn into a slog. I know that it could take days or weeks or months to get the first draft written. I know that, for me, I have to have a cool down period between a first draft and the revisions. Depending on how I feel about the first draft when I revisit it, the revisions can take a couple of days for a short story or a couple of years for a novel. It just depends.

And even after all of that there’s no guarantee that it’ll ever see the light of day. I may not be able to sell it. Or I may self-published it and it will never sell on its own. All of that time and effort…for nothing.

I know all of this and yet, I also know there is a sort of instant gratification when it comes to writing.

Let me tell you, that first dynamite idea is a rush. When the bits and pieces of character and plot and setting all comes rushing together and you can see certain scenes and you can hear bits of dialogue…holy hell is that a high. Things just click and you jot it all down and you’re excited at the prospect of living in this universe for a while. That is an instant gratification of writing.

When you’re working on a first draft and everything is just zinging and you get in the zone and time just zips by and you surface an hour or two hours or even fifteen minutes later feeling like you’ve just come up from a deep water swim because you were so immersed in your story, that is an instant gratification of writing.

When you’re in the slog of revising and you untangle some plot knot and everything falls into place, that is an instant gratification of writing.

When you’re reading over the story and you hit on a description or a turn of phrase or a bit of dialogue that just thrills you and you can’t believe you actually wrote something so good, that is an instant gratification of writing.

Okay, maybe it’s not really instant gratification in the classic sense, but it is something that happens in an instant, a bell ring of a successful note.

Those instant gratification moments are scattered throughout the long, maddening, entertaining journey. Those moments of immediate satisfaction that tickle those dopamine receptors and make you go, “Ah, yes, this is worth it” are the dots you connect that keep you going from one point to the next until the drawing is complete.

It’s what makes you do it all over again.

The instant gratification of writing.

The Greatest Mystery of My Life–Solved!

I have just recently solved probably the greatest mystery of my life and since this is my life, it was of course a ridiculous one.

How did I get Styx Extended Versions Live on my iTunes?

Here’s the thing, I like music. When I say I like music, I mean I like all kinds and as such I have a sizeable, bizarre collection of it. And since I had internet access during the Napster/Limewire/Kazaa days, I have a lot of songs that I randomly acquired (and not all of them labeled correctly). These were also the days of ripping/burning CDs. I have a ton of music that I not only ripped from CDs I own, but also CDs burned for me by my friends (those were the days). I also have songs randomly acquired from my friends posting the tunes on LiveJournal.

What I’m saying is that even though I have a whole lot of music, I know where most of it has come from.

And I’ve managed to keep most of it through the years despite numerous hard drive failures and computer crashes. I have literally transferred songs from my dying desktops to USBs to new laptops. I will go above and beyond to keep my music. I don’t trust iTunes to save it for me.

Prior to my trip to Seattle back in 2017, I decided to make a massive playlist for the trip. That way I could load that one playlist and my pacifier shows onto my iPod (yes, I’m old and still don’t put music or media on my phone) and be set for the 4+ hour flight from O’Hare to the Seattle and back. My flight anxiety stems from being locked in a metal tube with too many other humans rather than any fear that the plane might crash. If I plug myself in to my music or my shows and try not to think about peeing in the tiny bathroom, I can manage. At the time, those 4+ hour legs were the longest flights I’d ever taken and I was understandably concerned. I wanted to be prepared.

So, I created the Why Not? playlist. It’s just the broadest sampling of my weirdo collection of music. I’ve got everything from 1920s swing jazz to 50s country to 60s pop to 70s Southern rock to 80s synth to 90s alt to 00’s hard rock to 10s dance and everything in between. It’s a good time.

However, when I first put this playlist together, going through my catalogue of songs, I ran into something I couldn’t explain.

Styx Extended Versions Live.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t mad about it. I like Styx. I just could not for the life of me remember how I ended up with it in my collection. I know I didn’t buy it because for all my love of music, my CD collection is rather paltry compared to other folks my age (or at least what their collections might have looked like during the heyday since I can’t say that anyone my age still has their CDs) and even though I like Styx, I couldn’t see myself spending money on one of their CDs. And I was pretty sure nobody gave me the CD because I know I didn’t have it in my pitiful collection and no one I was running with at the time would have gifted it to me.

I was sure I didn’t download it off of iTunes because again, not the thing I would have spent money on and I almost never download complete albums anyway.

So, that left my Dad’s CD collection, which is surprisingly bigger than mine. Probably because his car actually had a CD player and I don’t think a single car I’ve owned ever did. I ripped a big chunk of his collection (mostly his country and Southern rock stuff), but for the life of me I could not remember him ever listening to Styx, let alone owning one of their CDs. There was also the matter of not finding a Styx CD in his collection in his Jeep which is where all of his CDs live.

For years, I had no idea where the hell this Styx album came from or how I came to possess it in my digital music collection.

And then recently, I had to go look for my CDs. Yes. I still have them.

My Dad had cleaned out the pie safe where they’d been kept and ended up putting them down in the basement with a bunch of other unused items. As I was rooting through the box he’d stored them in, I came across Styx.

I don’t know why it’s not with the rest of my dad’s CDs (my guess is that it’s related to an ex-ladyfriend because I highly doubt it was one of the CDs my grandpa had, which are also down there) and I don’t remember ripping it, but I suppose I must have. After all, I do have the whole album and no other explanation about how I acquired it.

So, I’ll go with this logical conclusion.

Mystery solved.

I’m Not Patriotic By Nature

I know this seems a radical thing to say by someone raised in a country that prides itself on its patriotism, that injects the performance of it into so many aspects of life. I said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in grade school like everyone else. I’ve sung the “Star Spangled Banner” before sports events. But they’re just motions to go through. They don’t stir that “America, Fuck Yeah!” feeling that I’m supposed to have, that unbridled, unconditional loyalty akin to what an avid sports fan feels for their team (now that I do have for my beloved shitshow Chicago Cubs). I do not well up with pride or any other emotion when I see the flag.

The patriotism didn’t take. Sorry. It’s just not my bag.

Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the 4th of July. I love a good theme. The color scheme and coordination, the insistence on consuming only barbecued meats and mayo-based salads, and there’s explosives. What more could a Midwestern girl want?

But I am not patriotic.

I do not feel an unconditional love to a bordered area just because of the happenstance that I was born there. Do I acknowledge that I was fortunate to be born into my circumstances in this country as opposed to perhaps another country? Yes. Do I also acknowledge that I could still have been less fortunate being born in this country, but into different circumstances? Yes.

None of the freedoms that I’m supposed to celebrate were given to me freely by this county I’m supposed to pledge allegiance to. All of them had to be fought for, bled for, and are now being casually ripped away. The only “freedom” I have going for me in this country is that I’m white. Everything else -being a woman, being queer, being poor, being non-Christian- disqualifies me. Why should I be patriotic to that?

Shouldn’t loyalty to country be no different than loyalty to anything else (except my loyalty to the Cubs)? Shouldn’t my country be as loyal to me as I am to it?

No. Because patriotism is an unrequited act. You’re expected to show your devotion, up to and including giving your life for you country, and in return you hope it spares you its worst. You point to the freedoms that are just illusions and claim that asking for anything more is an insult because this is the best country in the world.

I don’t feel that way. I don’t feel like there is a Best Country in the World contest and if there was, I don’t think America would be seeded as high as everyone else does. I personally don’t see a country that prioritizes the destruction of the people in other countries over the well being of the people within it’s own pretend outline as even making the Sweet Sixteen, let alone the championship game.

People conflate patriotism with gratitude. I can be grateful for my existence (or not) and how where I live influences my existence. I can be grateful that I live in the middle of a cornfield in a perceived blue state in a carved up United States. But that gratitude is not patriotism.

I am not a patriotic person.

I just live here.

That’s How the Story Goes

“And then what happened?”

I get that questions sometimes after people read some of my stories. The end satisfies the narrative, but not necessarily the reader’s curiosity. So, I’m going to answer that question once and for all.

I don’t know.

That’s where the story ends. I have no idea what happens beyond that for the most part.

Someone once asked me if the protagonists in one of my novellas hooked up after their ordeal and I told them no, but the only reason I had an answer to that question was because of the narrative itself. I had never intended on them becoming lovers at any point. Their relationship was purely platonic and surviving the night didn’t change that.

Those questions I can answer. But things like, “Did the leaves come back the next day?” “Did that shadow haunt the brother?” “Where did he go?” I don’t know. That’s where the story ends. I have no more story in my head after that.

This is all in the same vein as “This short story should be a novel” or “This should have a sequel”. While I appreciate the compliment that you love the story so much that you want more of it, I regret to inform you that there is no more. That’s the story in the form that it’s supposed to be. That’s it. That’s all of it. There is no more.

I don’t know what it’s like for other writers, but for me, the story is the story and that’s how the story goes. I’m not much of an overwriter. I don’t tend to have some huge, detailed backstory that I’m not putting in my fiction. I’m not one to do detailed outlines of my characters lives and their likes and dislikes. I don’t have a need to go much beyond whatever the context of the tale I’m telling is unless it pertains directly to the tale.

I start where the story starts and I end where the story ends and I don’t know much more about it than that. That’s all the story there is.

Of course, knowing this doesn’t stop me from wondering “and then what happened” about some of the novels and stories I read. I don’t ask the question out loud, obviously, because I know the answer (or what my answer would be), but I’m still compelled to wonder. And my imagination takes me in all kinds of directions and I come up with all sorts of answers for “and then what happened?”

I think that would be a better go-to answer for me. “I don’t know” is accurate, but invites negativity and accusations (“What do you mean you don’t know?” It’s a story, not an alibi for murder. Calm down). What I should do is answer that question with the question, “What do you think happens?”

Because most likely the person who asked that question, already has an answer in mind.

Parental Supervision–TV Edition

The other day I was watching Puppet Master on TV. An ’80s classic to be sure. I remember watching it with my sister when it came out on cable. I was probably 10 or 11, which would have made my sister 9 or 10 at the time. You could say that we might have been a little too young to be watching a movie in which a bunch of creepy puppets murder people, but hey, it was the late ’80s/early ’90s. We were allowed to do that back then.

The question came up on Twitter once about what were you not allowed to watch as a kid. While other people are listing R-rated movies and TV shows like South Park and in some cases The Simpsons, I really had to think about it because we didn’t really have restrictions on the TV we consumed. The best I could come up with was we weren’t allowed to watch anything with excessive sex. That’s it. Excessive violence was fine. We were allowed to watch horror movies with the understanding that we were not to wake up our mother if we had nightmares. We made this choice. We got to deal with the consequences.

This is why I went through a period of sleep deprivation one summer after watching Creepshow 2 and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4. I was afraid to sleep because I was afraid to have nightmares. It turns out I don’t remember having any nightmares about the movies when I did sleep and as I’ve gotten older I realize the my nightmares act independently of anything I watch. They just are.

As a result of this lack of parental supervision, I watched A LOT of horror movies when I was more than likely too young to be watching them. I can remember sitting on the couch when I was really little watching Poltergeist and V: The Mini Series with my dad. Of the two, it turns out V was the one that scarred me for life. Fucking lizard people.

The best part was that this lack of parental supervision extended to grandparents on both sides. In the case of my paternal grandpa, you could say it was even encouraged. He might make us rent stuff like The Journey of Natty Gan and The Princess Bride from the video store, but then we’d go back to the house and he’d say, “Oh, look! There’s a Maximum Overdrive/Duel double feature!” and then we’d watch that (my sister still hates driving alongside semis).

At his place I can remember watching Halloween II and Halloween III: Season of the Witch; The Hitcher; Aliens; Poltergeist III; and Trilogy of Terror (I was convinced the Zuni doll lived in the bookcase after that viewing).

At my maternal grandmother’s house, I’d sometimes go off to watch TV in the den. There I remember watching Jaws 2, Cujo, and Motel Hell.

Most of these movies were consumed by my eyeballs before I got through junior high (some of them before I got to junior high).

And it wasn’t just horror that we were allowed to watch, either. There were some more adult action and comedy flicks we were consuming at tender ages, too. I don’t know how many kids in fourth grade watched Fatal Beauty, but for a period of time, I could quote it. Ditto for Police Academy 3, but that was one of those things where the adult jokes kind of fly over your head and you just laugh at Proctor walking into a room full of people while stark naked.

TV shows were the same way. Do you want to watch Unsolved Mysteries and America’s Most Wanted? Go for it. Pro wrestling and Beverly Hills 90210? Enjoy. 21 Jump Street and Cagney and Lacey? By all means. Cartoons? Okay then. Cartoons are for kids anyway. Just no Wile E. Coyote impersonations.

Did I watch age-appropriate stuff? Sure. All the time. Did all of this unbridled media consumption warp me? I dunno. I think if it did, it’s probably way down on the list.

Did it help form my tastes in regards to the media I consume as an apparent adult? Yeah, I’m sure it did. I wouldn’t have watched all of those horror movies as a kid if I weren’t fascinated with them and wasn’t willing to face the potential nightmares to experience them.

Am I saying that parents should let their kids watch whatever? Of course not. They’re your kids. Warp them in your own unique way.

I’m just saying that for me, I’m glad I wasn’t so supervised.

I Am Not Flirting With You

I saw a tweet the other day (that I failed to screencap) that said something to the effect of, “I’m not flirting with you. I’m just hot and talking.” And on a level I could relate to that tweet. Not the hot part, of course. The not flirting with you part.

Because I can assure you that I’m never flirting with anyone, ever. Even if I’m attracted to you, I’m not intentionally flirting with you.

I study many languages, but flirting is one I do not speak. I don’t know a single word. There are people who can weave that flattery and charm and innuendo and whatever else it is into conversations effortlessly. I can’t even attempt this. I’ve tried. I’ve also conveniently erased those times from my memory because they were so awkward and cringe-worthy. If you put me on a plank over a tank full of alligators and told me the only way I was getting out alive was if I successfully flirted my way out of that situation, I’d go ahead and jump. I have no game. None. Non-existent.

However, I am frequently assumed to be flirting with people even when I’m not. This is most notable with men who panic that a fat girl might be hitting on them. Meanwhile, I’m oblivious because I think we’re just having a conversation, maybe joking around. Under no circumstance am I actively flirting. As we’ve discussed, I have no skill there.

What I’m doing -and what I’m good at- is bantering. I’m quick with a joke or an insult, I know a lot of random stuff, and my mind is just dirty enough that I can come up with an appropriate innuendo or two. Every conversation with me has the potential to be a comedy routine if I’m feeling it. I’m a natural.

People mistake this for flirting. It’s wild. I know that there are some similarities. But I can assure that I’m not trying to seduce you.

I’m trying to entertain you. It’s my defense mechanism.

If I’m entertaining you, then you might not notice that my anxiety is raging and that I feel incredibly awkward, that I AM incredibly awkward, that I know I don’t quite fit in, that my introvert ass is plotting a socially acceptable exit. If you think I’m funny, you won’t notice I’m weird.

You gotta get to know me better before I ease you into my weird .

And by then my banter stops being a defense mechanism and becomes just my natural conversational skills. You’ll never notice the difference.

I’m told that what I really am is a natural flirt. That’s why I don’t notice what I’m doing. But I think it’s the other way around. I think everyone else doesn’t notice what I’m doing.

So, don’t panic. I’m not flirting with you.

*Obvious customer service related aside: I am definitely not flirting with you when I am at work. My job is to be professional and courteous. I am paid to indulge your presence to a certain extent. I do not want your body or your phone number.

Aunt Kiki the Answer Bi

I knew at a young age that I was not straight, but I didn’t really put that out into the world until I was 17 and came out as bisexual. As it happens, living in a conservative, rural area, I don’t have a whole lot of queer friends or acquaintances in my immediate physical space. I’m surrounded by straights. For many of these folks, I’m the only queer they know. Or the only queer they know well enough to ask questions about queerdom. I don’t know if they thought I just automatically downloaded all of this info upon claiming my bi identity, but I have become the go-to person on all things LGBTQIA+.

Truthfully, I don’t mind.

Honestly, they’re not wrong about me having the answers.

It’s a given that I’d know something about my own sexuality and believe me, I still get a lot of questions about how it works. The stereotypes and myths persist, biphobia is real, and bi-erasure is a fucking annoying aspect of reality. I have facts, I have opinions, and I will word vomit them all at you when only mildly provoked.

But I get asked a lot of questions outside my area of my own personal expertise as the token queer in many of my friend groups. Naturally, I should know these things because they all came with my gay agenda and rainbow mafia handbook. Right?

As it turns out, no. I know these things (or I find the answer to the questions I don’t know) because I am a huge nerd and I like to learn stuff.

Back in the long, long ago of my youth I watched a lot of shows on The Discovery Channel (before it became whatever it is now) and they actually had a lot of stuff on sexuality, which I was found fascinating, possibly because of my own non-straight status. I learned quite about about gender and gender expression and sexuality from these shows and it created the base from which I continue to learn because I like to be an educated member of my community. I’ve read books and science papers and watched documentaries and Googled all sorts of information in the years since being a 16 year old watching how bottom surgeries are performed while my friends were out cruising the square.

It also did not occur to me that this knowledge might not be common knowledge until I found myself explaining how bottom surgery worked to a couple of hets over dinner one night. I thought if I knew it, then everybody knew it.

Apparently that’s not how it works.

But like I said, I don’t mind explaining these things. If I’m the one doing the answering, then I know they’re getting quality information. They’re also getting that information in a fun, no-bullshit way.

So, if say you ask me to explain asexuality, I’ll tell you that it’s a general term for a spectrum of people who experience little to no sexual attraction. And when you tell me that you don’t understand that, I’ll tell you that you don’t have to. It exists as is whether you understand it or not. Your job is to respect it, which takes literally no effort.

See? Simple. Concise. No room for anyone’s bullshit.

I have no trouble informing you in a do-no-harm-but-take-no-shit way why we don’t deadname and the value of using people’s correct pronouns and the complexity of biological sex. I can explain transitioning and coming out and the genders and why saying “pregnant people” and “people who menstruate” is not an insult to women because SPOILER ALERT women are people.

It is entirely possible that my answers will make you uncomfortable, but that’s okay. Sit with it. Once you realize that none of this affects you in anything other than treating other people as fellow humans instead subcategories that don’t deserve “special” rights (ie the same rights allo cis het white males have), you’ll be okay.

So ask Aunt Kiki the Answer Bi.

I’ve got the answer you need.

That Hardcore Work Ethic

Last week I had to call off of work.

Somehow, in my sleep, probably due to being over 40, I threw my back out.

Now, here’s the thing. Prior to breast reduction surgery, my back was rarely ever in. However, when it would go out, it was always my lower back and I was so used to it that I could cope. I rarely have issues with my upper back. So I was wholly unprepared to sit up in bed last Thursday morning and quickly realize that I could not sit up straight. The only way I could be upright was if I hunched over.

This made standing -and walking- a real challenge.

My first thought was “Holy shit, this is really fucking problematic.”

My second thought was “How am I supposed to work like this?”

Because of course I wouldn’t think about calling in. Not me. That’s not what I do. Work sick. Work hurt. Don’t complain. Just get the work done. (Okay, I often get the work done while complaining, but still.) Be reliable. Until last Thursday, I hadn’t called off a job since the mid-aughts. I might have left early a couple of times, but I always went. Bad ass sinus infections, sprained ankles, bad ass sinus headaches, stress fractures, colds, jammed elbows, the flu, patellar tendonitis, I showed up.

And last Thursday, I didn’t.

You would think that being unable to stand up unless I was hunched over, struggling to walk, unable to lift either one of my arms above my head, unable to carry anything at all in my left hand, unable to sit up unless I was hunched over…all things I have to do at my job would be a clue that I needed to call off. The thought of shelving anything was ridiculous. I’d be limited to maybe two shelves that I could reach and I’d only be able to carry one book at a time and I’d be moving slower than a snail out of slime while looking like Lon Chaney and making the most unsettling noises. At that point, I had no idea how I was even going shower or get dressed, let alone work.

And yet!

I still tried to figure out how to make it work. Or at least how to make my back work enough that I could power through and get by with my library partner in crime picking up my slack (which she would totally do without hesitation or complaint because she is the best). I laid on flat on the floor and did an assortment of stretches before I finally conceded that I wasn’t going to be able to work.

And even then when I contacted my boss, I told her that I was going to keep trying to get my back to be work ready before it was time for my shift.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t. I spent most of the day in bed. My back gradually improved which just added on to the guilt I already felt about calling in.

I could have gone to work.

That’s why I’m writing about this. It’s not me bragging about how bad ass I am because I can work no matter what and it took extreme pain to the point of being unable to stand to knock me down. It’s me explaining the absolutely bonkers way my brain is wired to feel guilty about calling off when I legitimately need to call off of work.

I feel like I’m letting everyone I work with down by calling off. I feel like everyone feels like I’m faking if I call off.

I feel like there is no legitimate reason for me to call off.

Even when there absolutely is.

I may have spent the day feeling guilty, but I also spent it resting and at least the latter helped my back feel better.