Sorry, That’s Not My Problem–Customer Service Edition

The other day at work, my coworker recounted an interaction she’d just had with a patron while I was away from the desk (I was on shelving duty that day and she was covering my supervisor’s lunch). She printed out a receipt for the patron -it’s low-stick paper with the due date printed on it that we can slap on the item if a patron wants it- and it got caught in the printer. It’s been doing this all summer with both receipt printers for reasons (I think it’s another disapproval sign from the ghost of Ms. Kent). It’s annoying as hell, but it takes less than 30 seconds for us to open it up and retrieve the receipt.

This happened to my coworker while she was waiting on a patron, who said, “Never mind if it’s going to take long. I’m in a hurry.” My coworker had the receipt free by the time the woman had finished her sentence, but it still bothered my coworker that the woman felt the urge to get so snippy with her about it.

When my coworker told me about the incident, I shrugged and said, “You being in a hurry is not my problem.”

My coworker was shook that I would approach the situation like that. I told her, “Your emergency is not my emergency. Your time-constraints are not my time constraints. You come in here, you’re on my time now. It takes however long it takes.”

This made an impression on my coworker because the very next day she dealt with another patron whom she was trying to help find a specific movie in what’s known as WorldCat, which covers the whole country. It can be involved. And when my coworker wasn’t finding the desired results fast enough, the woman said, “I’m in a hurry.”

My coworker later told me that she turned away from the woman, mouthed to herself “That’s not my problem”, turned back, and said, “This can take a few minutes. Would you like to come back later when you have more time?” The woman declined, my coworker finished searching for the movie (nobody has it, which baffled us both), and the woman went on her way.

She wasn’t rude, the request was completed, and the point was made.

That’s not my problem.

The thing about customer service is that customers or patrons frequently want to make their problems your problems. And I do not accept anyone else’s problems. I have enough of my own that I’m in no mood to deal with. I’m definitely not in the mood to deal with yours.

Telling me that you’re in a hurry does not make me go faster. The task takes as long as it takes and it’s eyebrow raising at how many people will tell me they’re in a hurry like that will somehow make searching for a book magically go quicker. It doesn’t. I’m looking for a title that might be wrong by an author you don’t remember. Settle in. This is going to take a beat. If you’re in a rush, come back later. No one’s life depends on you finding this book right stat now.

Likewise, I’m sorry you waited until the last minute to send this fax, but it’s not my fault that they turned their fax machine off and it’s not my problem that whatever you’re sending is going to be late. Also, I don’t care if our dollar per page fee is too high. Pay it or learn to work email. Regardless, it’s none of my concern.

I’m not saying that people aren’t entitled to adequate customer service; of course they are. But I think that many people do not (or don’t want to) understand that the people behind the counter can only do so much. We’re only responsible for so much. If you want better customer service, then be a better customer.

And if that pisses you off, well…

That’s not my problem.

That Old Familiar Feeling (of Failure)

My anxiety is a funny thing. Not ha ha funny, obviously, but curious funny. The way it flares up and dissipates. What sets it off.

And the frustrations of how it can affect me.

Sometimes I’ll go days, maybe a whole week, with my anxiety pinging. I can feel it, hanging on my shoulders and clinging to my neck. It’s just there, making me uncomfortable, waiting to give me a squeeze. And squeeze it will. It’ll set my brain to overdrive at the slightest trigger.

My overwhelming thought when this happens is “I’m failing”. It is the mantra of my anxiety.

I’m failing. I’m failing. I’m failing.

As someone who’s fear of failure has severely negatively impacted her life, I think this is a pretty insidious thing for my brain chemicals to do. How’s your day going? Your week? Feeling a bit anxious? Well, that’s because you’re not doing enough and what you are doing isn’t good enough. Enjoy!

When this happened recently, it was during a very busy period. I had several projects going and I was struggling to keep all of my plates spinning. In fact, I dropped a few. And even though I managed to be incredibly productive, more productive than I anticipated, I would still have moments during that week when my anxiety would give me a squeeze and whisper in my ear, “I’m failing. I’m failing. I’m failing.” Of course, that voice got louder when I dropped my plates. Sure, I got all of this done, but you forgot to do something that you’ve done every other week for months. And you nearly forgot to do this thing that you’ve done every day for the last two months. You’re not doing as well as you thought, huh?

I’m failing. I’m failing. I’m failing.

It’s a scratchy voice and an itchy feeling. My shoulders are tightening and my skin is contracting just typing about it.

It’s a helpless feeling, too. Not just because my brain does this sort of clever shit to me against my will. It’s a helpless feeling because it validates the rotten thoughts I have about myself. It gives them more weight. I’m floundering because I’m failing and I’m failing because I’m not good enough to do any better.

If my depression is acting the ass, the result can be debilitating, a spiral straight to mental health hell.

If not, then my anxiety gets a rude awakening from my stubbornness, which is so embedded in my family’s DNA that it’s actually on the family crest. Because my stubbornness doesn’t care about my anxiety or failing. I have shit to do and I’m going to do it. The end.

This is part of the reason why I can fake being okay when my anxiety is actually doing a number on me. I might be a little extra awkward and maybe a little more forgetful, but otherwise, there’s nothing different about me. I’m taking care of business like I always do.

I’m failing. I’m failing. I’m failing.

And I’m too stubborn to let that stop me.

It’s Been A While Since an Idea Ate My Brain

There I was, minding my own business, fixating on something else entirely (if I’m going to be completely honest, it was something to do with one of my odd famous person crushes), and then out of nowhere, a scene from a story popped into my head.

It was a perfect, fully formed scene. I knew exactly how it was going to play out, but I didn’t have much other context to it. No big deal. Happens often. All part of being a writer.

Over the next few days, the context came to me unbidden. The characters revealed their names, their circumstances, their stories. It was just something that would happen when my mind would drift. Another piece of the story puzzle would be discovered and slotted into place.

The story buzzed around my brain, consuming it. By the time I hit Friday night, it was firmly lodged in there. Which proved to be a bit problematic in the dead hours of the night when the Friday night insomnia hit, a phenomenon that plagues me periodically as a nightshift worker who works Saturday mornings. If I’m able to fall asleep at a decent hour, I’ll wake up after a good two or three hour nap and then be awake for at least an hour if not more. The Friday night insomnia routinely adds up to only 3 to 4 hours of sleep for my Saturday shift. And that Friday, those awake hours I was supposed to be lulling my brain back to sleep, I was writing the damn story in my head.

Late that Saturday night, I spent forty-five minutes outlining the entire story, beat by beat.

I slept better than night.

And every night since.

Outlining the story seems to have quieted the idea. Oh, it’s still very much so in there. I can pull it up whenever I want to ponder it. But it’s not insistently gnawing on my brain anymore. Which is kind of a good thing since I do like my beauty rest.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a story idea eat my brain like this. I get ideas that I’ll think about off and on, jot down, maybe half-ass outline if I’m feeling ambitious. But I can’t remember the last time a story has actually kept me up at night. Or come out so perfectly formed in an actual outline. Even my best stories tend to have gaps. Sometimes they only have one scene and that’s what I’m writing toward and by the time I get there, I know what the story is.

This story was just there. It might have taken me a week or so to have it fully come to the surface, but it had my grey matter in its little fists while it did, yanking itself out of the folds of my brain noodles by my synapses.

It made me itch to write it because I knew it would just flow.

I held off, though. Mostly because of other commitments. I’m up to my eyeballs in projects right now. I’ve thought about doing it as a second page-a-day project, but I honestly think that once I start, I wouldn’t be able to stop at just one page. On the flip side, I don’t think I can wait until NaNo to write it either.

I found a compromise in making Sunday -usually my work-free day- my guaranteed writing day. I’m not going to set any real goals for the day. It’s just guaranteed time for me to work on the project, however much or little I want to. I wasn’t going to start until the first Sunday in September, but…I gave in and started a week early.

I had to.

Before it started gnawing on my brain again.

Parental Supervision–Playtime Edition

In the summertime when I was a kid, we spent most of our days outside. You left after breakfast, came back for lunch, went out again until dinner, and then didn’t come home until the streetlights came on. Sounds a bit, “When I was your age, I walked to school in the snow uphill both ways,” but it’s true. That’s how we lived life. No cellphones, no social media, no playdates. Just you, your friends, and your parents having a vague understanding of where you were and what you were doing.

Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, parental supervision was still struggling to catch on in places, particularly in my cornfield. The children were like chickens–free range. We were roving bands of dirty hands and skinned knees and our parents liked it that way. Rarely was there ever an issue. On occasion, your parents might not know where you are because you forgot to tell them where you were going before you ran out of the house or you changed locations in a major way without checking in, but it was all part of kidhood. We all got grounded for that at least once (my sister and I twice that I can remember).

My summers back then came with two added bonuses to the usual summertime antics: I grew up in a small town and my mom ran a daycare in the house so even with a neighborhood full of kids, we had even more delivered to us five days of week to get up to shenanigans with.

We were kept on a leash in the mornings. The older kids were kept around to play with the younger kids in the backyard. We had a Slip n Slide and a sprinkler. Later on we acquired a swingset that the big kids couldn’t play on. Once or twice a week, we’d walk to the library for story time.

After lunch, the older kids were turned loose while the younger kids napped (unless it was too hot; then we were kept in the air conditioned living room to watch movies and play board games rather than court heatstroke). Outside, we were encouraged to run amok elsewhere so we wouldn’t wake the napping toddlers with our wild heathen antics. This meant riding bikes up and down the street or going over to one of the neighbor kids’ houses or flinging ourselves even further. So long as we were back by snack time (between 3:30 and 4:30) and checked in if we wanted to change locales, we were given free reign.

Many an afternoon we we ended up in one of three places: the school, Jaycee Park, or Dead Man’s Hill.

The elementary school was just a couple of blocks from my house. It was fenced in, had two sets of swings, a slide, monkey bars, and parallel bars all cushioned by first plain ol’ ground and then later wood chips. It also had a big blacktop where we could play basketball or kickball or ride bikes. They lock up the playground now so no kids can access it outside of school times, but back then, it was basically treated like another park.

One of the actual parks we would go to was Jaycee Park. I don’t know if that’s it’s name, but that’s what we called it. It was over by the waterworks and we’d have to cross a two-lane state highway to get to it. It had a tennis court and swings, but most importantly it had teeter-totters. Quality entertainment right there.

But more entertaining for a bunch of kids raised on The Goonies were the woods on the other side of the park. There was a creek that ran back there and on the other side of the creek was this small, old cemetery. The only hitch was the creek was about eight feet down, so to cross it, we’d walk across a sewer pipe that was about 2 feet in diameter. Nobody thought about falling into that trickle of a creek below. If you did…you just crossed the pipe on your hands and knees. No explorer left behind. And nobody ever fell. We were in and out without a care in the world.

I think every small town claims a Dead Man’s Hill and ours was at the end of my street where it dead-ended into a steepish hill that led to a set of railroad tracks lined with woods on both sides. Yes, we used to play on railroad tracks. We’d either walk a few yards north and duck into the woods on the other side of the tracks where there was a path and a clearing where obvious partying happened (they recently found a mobile meth lab in there and believe me, that’s the not the worst thing that’s been found in those woods) and another path that led to the Kiwanis Park, which at the time was basically a concrete slab and a couple of picnic tables. Now it’s got a whole water park thing going on. Needless to say, back then we hung out in the woods more than in the park.

Our other option was to walk south, across the trestle over the two-lane highway and down the tracks about a quarter of a mile, if not more. There was another creek, just a trickle of a thing, back in those woods that we had easier access to and we’d play in it. It was the only spot we’d go off the tracks down there because we were certain that Devil worshipers were doing Satanic rituals in those woods. Ah yes, life in the ’80s.

I can only remember one time that my mother ever came looking for us down on Dead Man’s Hill and it was extenuating circumstances. The rest of the time, we were left to play on the railroad tracks as we pleased.

Am I saying that parents should let their children roam free in the summer months with minimal supervision? Of course not. They’re your livestock. Fence them as you please.

I’m just saying that I lucked out with a pretty fun, adventurous kidhood, and that we consistently made it home alive, not escorted by cops, and mostly unharmed is pretty neat.

You God Does Not Apply to Me

One time a coworker of mine was going on about how the Devil was overtaking America and all I could think of was “Wow. That sounds like a Christian problem. Good luck with that.”

Rude? Maybe. But points to me for not saying it out loud. And even if I did say it out loud, at least I’d be speaking the truth.

It is a Christian problem.

Your God does not apply to me.

Your God believes abortion is murder? Wow. Sucks for you trying to access reproductive healthcare. But your God does not apply to me.

Your God believes being gay is a sin and marriage should only be between a man and a woman? Wow. That sounds pretty harsh. But your God does not apply to me.

Your God believes women should dress modestly? Okay then. But your God does not apply to me. Or my crop tops.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m not a religious person. Oh, I dabbled back in the day, mostly with Christianity, but it never stuck. I couldn’t jive with that God. Today, I believe in the Universe. It has everything. Some of the rules are kind of complicated, but only if you’re being graded on explaining them. It doesn’t judge you. It just is. I dig that.

In short, I do not believe in your God. And please do not counter with, “He believes in you!” He can do whatever He damn well pleases. It doesn’t change my position. Jesus might love me, but I opted out of his fan club.

As such, I do not have to abide by the fan club rules.

Your God does not apply to me.

I came across something the other day that summed up my feelings on this. Religion is a personal relationship with God. Personal relationship. What you do with your God is none of my business. It’s quite literally between you and your God. The trouble comes when you try to include me in your personal relationship. When you try to extend the rules of your personal relationship to include me. When you try to enforce the rules of your personal relationship at me.

Your God does not apply to me.

I’ll be blunt. I don’t give a shit what your God thinks. It’s none of my business and none of my concern. Because as it turns out, I do not need the threat of a displeased God sending me to a place of eternal suffering to make me act right. Judging by the behavior of some religious folks I’ve seen, they don’t take that threat too seriously anyway.

Insisting that your God applies to people your God does not apply to is not a demonstration of the strength of your faith. It is oppression. Using your God as a justification to harm and control others is not exercising your right to religion. It is denying that right to others.

If your God is a God who demands total obedience, who insists upon dominance, who propagates hate and bigotry and selfishness, who speaks loudly about helping but does no such thing, who doesn’t believe that prayer is a verb, then by all means, live in accordance to His law. Keep that shit in your houses and your churches and your prayer groups and your schools. Don’t try to make it law. Don’t subject the non-believers to that shit. That’s all your problem. Don’t you dare try to make it mine.

Your God does not apply to me.

Celebrating 20 Years of My Boobs…with a Mammogram

On August 13th, my boobs will be 20 years old.

If you’re new to the blog and my breasts, the short story is that I had breast reduction surgery in 2002. I wrote about the long story here. I’ve also written about some of my hang-ups with the resulting scars and told a story that has been retold multiple times by my friends so people I’ve never met in other states know about my boobs.

And in honor of my jubblies making 20, I’ve added another titty story to my biography.

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly in honor the anniversary of my surgery but it just happened to work out that way. Call it serendipity.

At the end of last month I had my first mammogram adventure.

In all fairness, I should have had my first mammogram after my breast reduction surgery. But in the months that followed while I was healing I lost my insurance and never really gave it much thought afterwards since I was young and I’ve always been horrible at taking care of myself. Probably should have gotten it done anyway. But we’ll get to that.

I saw my doctor early in the last week of July for a routine pap smear that I was overdue to have by about twenty years (what did I just say?) and that included having my doctor do a breast exam. I self-exam (not as often as I should, of course, are you getting the theme?), but a second opinion is always a good thing.

Especially in this case because my doctor wanted a second opinion on the fatty tissue on the side of my upper right breast, just under my armpit. We both agreed that it was probably nothing, but a mammogram was a good idea, especially since I’m the age to start regular mammograms anyway and I’d already put it off.

So, I scheduled my first mammogram for that Friday.

Now, my first wasn’t like a regular first because it was a diagnostic. Meaning that I’d have my mammogram and then wait while a doctor elsewhere (there’s none on site in my little town) looked at the pictures and decided whether or not I needed to get an ultrasound.

Groovy.

I will admit that the thing I was most nervous about was remembering NOT to put on deodorant the morning of my appointment. As someone with anxiety who stresses over just making appointments, I find this to be amusing. And the mammogram itself wasn’t too bad. It was awkward and uncomfortable and some of the squishing was a little painful, but nothing terrible. The tech I worked with was quite skilled and we were done pretty quickly even though she was also showing a newbie the ropes and offering up teaching points as she went.

Then I got to sit in the hallway in my front closing smock and watch Shark Week while I waited for the word on whether or not I had to have an ultrasound.

It turns out that I did. It was only after I got into the ultrasound room that the new tech (my first dude in the whole process starting from my doctor’s appointment) told me the remote doctor wanted an ultrasound on my left side -not the side my doctor had been concerned about.

Okay then. A plot twist.

I lay down, whip off that gown so the tech can gel up my tit, and we proceed to stare at the screen looking for anything that looks like it shouldn’t be there. The tech took some pictures to send to the remote doc, but told me that he didn’t see anything. Neither did I, but I struggle to pick out shit in those baby sonograms, so I’m probably not the most qualified.

He let me clean up the gel and then he left to send off the pics and see what the remote doc wanted. It was only after the lights were on and I sat up that I realized that gel had gotten all over my smock. Like, what the fuck? How did it get from my left boob all the way over on my right side? Absolute chaos.

The tech came back and informed me that now we had to do the right side in the area that my doctor wanted checked. So, we had a repeat process of gel and staring and picture taking and once again seeing nothing. This time after I cleaned up, I got to go back to home base and change. The tech was pretty confident that the remote doc wouldn’t need to see anything else, especially since there wasn’t anything to see.

After some more Shark Week time in the hallway, my original mammogram tech came in and informed me that the right side was just fat (as I, a veteran fatty, suspected). She then explained that the remote doc had seen a spot on my left breast on the mammogram, but since nothing showed up on my ultrasound, they’re not too concerned. It’s probably just a natural occurrence, possibly as a result of my breast reduction surgery, but since they don’t have any previous mammogram to compare it to (see how I screwed myself there?), I have to go back and have a second mammogram done in about six months just to be sure. So, after going two decades without getting a mammogram when I should have, I get to have two in six months time. Sounds about right for me.

Fun fact about me: After spending years with tits so big that they felt like their own person and after having breast reduction surgery and all of the exams that go with that before and after, I’m actually pretty comfortable whipping out my boobs in a clinical setting. No less than five people saw my boobs during Mammogram Week and three of them manhandled them. That’s the most action I’ve gotten in a long time.

So, here’s to my next boobsquish and to twenty years of smaller tatas.

Sláinte!

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.