There are monsters

There are monsters in this world, and they look like you and me. There are monsters in the world and they live and breathe. There are monsters in this world that if you cut them, they will bleed. There are monsters in this world and they hide where everyone can see.

We are told to be scared of the unknown, but the unknown is not what hunts down our children in the streets. There are no vampires lurking in the dark. No werewolves waiting for the full moon. No, the monsters that rip babies from their mothers’ arms and burn families alive are not dark fae with enchanted wings.

No, the monsters that fill our world are not the same as the ones that fill our stories. The ones that we find between the pages and on our screens may have redeeming qualities. But the ones who slaughter pregnant women, murder old, and decapitate babies, those ones are not pretend. 

There are monsters in this world, and they look like you and me. There are monsters in the world and they live and breathe. There are monsters in this world that if you cut them, they will bleed. There are monsters in this world and they hide where everyone can see.

Lent, Writing

Day 9: Aphantasia, past life regression, and a movie script

About a year ago, I discovered I wasn’t normal. I mean, I’m a writer who has made a career in television. I’ve never been normal. However, I discovered I am a part of a small group of humans who do not see with their mind’s eye. I have Aphantasia.

“Aphantasia is the inability to visualize. Otherwise known as image-free thinking. People with aphantasia don’t create any pictures of familiar objects, people, or places in their mind’s eye. Not for thoughts, memories, or images of the future.”

 I never knew that I was different. I always thought that when people said they saw pictures in their heads, they were speaking figuratively. It wasn’t until I was working with a friend, editing a story, did I learn it wasn’t a figure of speech. He asked me to picture the scene and my head, and I told him I couldn’t. This sparked a long conversation about how when I close my eyes, I only see darkness, and if there are lights, I’ll see yellows or oranges where the lights are.  Being unable to see images in my head is probably why my writing is, so dialogue driven. It also probably has a lot to do with why I love to take pictures of everything that happens. I can look at pictures, know what was happening,  and it evokes emotions, but I can’t recall a memory and see it in my head. 

I haven’t always been this way. Or at least there are a few distinct moments I know I saw images in my head. 

The first moment was my first year of high school. My drama teacher was out, and we had a substitute. I can’t recall his appearance, but I still hear his voice. Thinking back at this moment as an adult and teacher, what he did was weird as shit, but as a high school freshman, it was pretty cool. The substitute asked us if we wanted to be part of a group activity where he guided us through a past life regression trip. I am unsure if we knew what that meant, but it sounded way more interesting than reading our anthologies and writing a response. 

The substitute had us line up in a row in front of desks. He asked us to close our eyes and focus on his voice. He told us to imagine a blank chalkboard, and on the chalkboard, we were supposed to draw a circle. We were guided to draw the number 5 (or ten; I can’t remember everything from twenty years ago), erase it, and continue until we reached zero. Once we reached zero, he told us to imagine a field with flowers and warm sun. We should feel safe there. 

And what is crazy is that I could picture all of this in my head. When I try to do this now, I only see darkness. It wasn’t until I was talking to my editor did this moment come back to me. I had, at one point, actually seen images in my head. 

After the substitute guided us to the field, he went down the line and asked each one of us a question. I don’t remember exactly what my classmates said, but I know one said she was a princess. I think another said she was in the holocaust, and one said she was on the Titanic. Each time he asked them if they felt safe, and oddly, every one of them said yes. 

When he got to me, I wasn’t prepared for what came out of my mouth. He asked me what I saw around me, and I said I felt sand, and he asked me if I was at the beach. I told him no. He then asked me to look around, and I told him I couldn’t because it was night and dark. He asked me if I was standing or sitting, and I told him I was kneeling. I told him my hands were bound, and I heard people rushing towards me. I told him that the hair I could see in front of my face was dark, and it was not mine. And then he asked me if I was safe. My heart raced, and I told him no. Next, all I remember was his voice getting louder and louder, telling me to wake up, and I remember feeling sweaty and having my classmates look at me, unsure of what was happening.

For the next seven years, I would have random dreams that would expand on what I had in my supposed past life regression. Do I think that this was a past life that I led? No. I’m unsure what I experienced, but it was very vivid. 

It wasn’t until I was halfway through college before I could get the story out of my head. I took a scrip writing class and asked my teacher if I could write a historical script. He said he didn’t approve of them because students did a horrible job writing them. I didn’t like that answer. I had to get this story out of my head. So I asked if that meant I couldn’t write a historical piece. He told me to go ahead, but the likelihood of me passing with a good grade was slim to none. 

I wanted to impress my teacher. He was a former writer for Golden Girls and Dallas, among other shows. 

I took what he said as a challenge. I knew I could write a fantastic script. So for the next few months, I wrote my 90-page script. He had the class break the project into 30-page chunks. When I turned in act one, I expected him to tell me to try again. But the only note I received was, ” please edit your work so I can give you a better grade.” I was excited by that and went on writing. By the end of the semester, I had finished the script and the story I started seven years ago. I never saw those images again. But what I had was a script called Blue Lotus, and the only A in that class.

After going back and reading the script, I couldn’t help but giggle. Some of the dialogue is totally cheesy, but I still love it.

anonymous woman demonstrating burning paper sheet with title

Undone… My mental state, not the sweater song

For the last few months, I have felt as if I’ve come undone. 

I have always been the person who tries to see the good in what happens in life. That they are the reasons why I am the way I am today. But lately, it seems as if the strings of fate have been pulling me into a dark place. I have been lashing out at loved ones or just hiding away. It’s extremely hard to truly disappear, being a mom and teacher means you are always surrounded by people. But inside my head, I have felt alone. 

At first, I have wondered if it was a result of the pain I have been living with. It’s hard to get in a good headspace when everything hurts and no matter what you do the pain is still there. I hoped with my epidural I would start to feel better. I mean physically things have improved. I knew it wasn’t a magic wand to fix everything but I was hoping it would bring me to a better place. It’s still frustrating to know I am physically unable to do things I used to be able to. I watch my daughter, she is hyper-flexible like I am or was, perform an angel kiss with ease. My mom and I used to be able to do these kinds of things together when I was my daughter’s age. But unfortunately, I am unable to even push up into a small cobra stretch without pinching my back and leaving me in pain for a few days. I know it might not seem like much. I should be grateful that I am able to walk. But it’s truly ridiculous that I can’t even stand for a 50-minute class without my lower back spazzing out and my leg feeling like it’s been set on fire.

 I am only thirty-five. 

Thirty-five is not that old. 

So why do I feel like I am running out of time?

Why do I feel like every single day that I don’t spend writing I have wasted a day? But when I do sit down to write and not pay attention to my family, I feel like I have failed as a mother and wife.

Not a single person has told me I have failed as a mom or wife but that’s what my brain is telling me on a daily basis. It’s also telling me to give up writing. It is trying to convince me that nothing I write is worth it.

I can’t tell you how many days I did not open my personal laptop in fear I would delete everything. That the 10,759 words I wrote for book two would just disappear in a dark moment and I would later regret my actions.

When I was younger I would handle my depression with food, more like the lack of food. It was easier to control what didn’t go in my body instead of my emotions. But that doesn’t give me the satisfying feeling anymore. Now that I know what won’t poison me anymore, food is delicious, food brings me happiness. Why would I want to remove what makes me happy? Aside from food, I would also travel. 

I would literally leave wherever I was that was bringing me down and just escape for a little bit. It didn’t solve my issues but usually, it gave me a chance to breathe. 

I can’t do that right now. 

Fucking pandemic and parental responsibilities. 

So now, I am here every day. Working, pushing through the shit that fills my mind, and trying to cope to the best of my abilities. 

About a week ago I didn’t make it. I spent the day crying. I was at work and water was leaking from my eyes. That’s the best way to describe it because I wasn’t sobbing. Just the tears kept coming no matter how hard I tried. For the most part, my students didn’t really pay attention. A few caught it. Others noticed my mood was very different but for the most part, 

There have been outside things that haven’t helped my depression. Students don’t always understand or remember that teachers are human. How they talk to us matters. How they treat each other matters. It’s mentally exhausting to try and better 100 pre/young teens that most don’t want bettering themselves. I have spent many days trying to explain to my female students that they don’t need to rip each other apart, the world will do that to them soon enough. But they don’t listen, they just spit vile words at each other. 

It makes me sad. It makes pushing all my darkness aside to not give in to the feeling of giving up even harder. 

I don’t want this for my daughter. I hope by the time she is this age the mentality will have changed. 

That is probably one of the biggest reasons I won’t ever give into the darkness. Middle school is hard enough.  I don’t want my daughter to go through those years of her life alone, without having someone to relate to or talk to about all the shit she is dealing with.

I could blame a lot of my darkness on just that. Middle school toxicity. But even though I am sitting in a building surrounded by those who are going through their own mental shit, I can’t. I am an adult. They are children. Their problems are not my problems once they walk out of my classroom door. I know that I offer them as much help as possible. If they take it, that’s up to them. 

Now I must take care of myself. I have to be in the best mindset for my family, for my students but most of all for myself.

Compared to where I was a few weeks ago I feel better. I don’t feel like swallowing a bottle of pills to make myself permanently disappear. Now I just want to go to Key West for a few days to get my head straight. I can open my writing and not want to delete every word I read. My skin is no longer crawling every moment I walk into my classroom. So I call this all a win. I may not be fully better, but I’m getting there. 


Moderna Vaccine and my body’s response

I never announced to the world that I got the vaccine back in May. To me, it was a personal decision, and it didn’t matter to anyone else. But things have changed. What I am writing some would probably consider oversharing, but it needs to be discussed. Unfortunately, discussing what goes on with a woman’s body is still taboo to many; however, it shouldn’t be. It needs to be addressed so other women who are suffering know they are not alone.

I got the Moderna vaccine a few months back. I didn’t have any strange reactions or feel like death, and I went to work the next day. I am a teacher and I spend most of my day on my feet interacting with my students. I took a risk not taking off the day after getting the vaccine, especially since some of my friends said they felt as if they had the flu or were majorly hungover. I felt fine and thought I got off lucky.
That was until a few days later when I was standing in front of my class giving a lecture, I felt this sudden sharp pain in my uterus.

A student sitting in the front said, “Mrs. Jenkins, are you okay? You look awful.”

I couldn’t answer right away. I was trying to breathe through it. I felt my insides squeezing and squeezing, and finally, it released. I finished what I was teaching and had the kids start working on their projects. The second I got someone to watch my class, I raced to the bathroom. My period arrived early, and the squeezing was pushing out an obscenely large blood clot. I spent the rest of my day teaching from my desk because things only got worse. The last time I felt pains like that, I was in a hospital, strapped up to wires, receiving an epidural. The blood flow was excessive, and I went through all my emergency products. This lasted five days, and then everything dried up as if I never had my period at all.

This was not my typical period, but I wrote it off thinking my body was just freaking out from the first vaccine shot.

I ended up having an OB-GYN appointment scheduled the day before my second shot. She seemed concerned but said I should just drink extra water, take a few vitamins because the vaccine pulls them from your system, and lay off the caffeine. She said I should be fine with the second shot.

I got the shot, and my period arrived early again. It was another rager repeating the same hell as the first shot. I figured this had to be a reaction to the shot, but now I was getting dizzy. The dizziness did not come with the first cycle. Again, I wrote this off as my body reacting to the vaccine, and everything will be fine come my third cycle where the vaccine will have been in my body long enough that things should be more regular.

That was not the case.

My third cycle followed the same as the first, but the dizziness was worse. Every single day I woke up, I felt as if I took sleeping pills the night before. I was dizzy, and I never felt fully awake. Aside from my dizzy spells, my blood was different. It was so thick that I could have sworn it was corn syrup. It was disgusting.
I have an appointment with my OB-GYN next week. I need to figure out what’s going on with my body.
I have started to do research and have seen other women having complications. I personally know women whose cycles have changed. Their cramps remind them of labor pains. One woman, who did not know I was having issues, discussed how she was getting pubic bone pain, the same pains she experienced during the final months of her pregnancy.

More women need to come forward. More women need to discuss what’s going on with their bodies so it can be documented.

We matter.

What’s going on with our bodies matter and should be studied.

I am not saying don’t get the vaccine, but I am asking you to do your research.
Be aware of what might happen to you.

Weigh the risks.


Writing update

I just wanted to give an update on everything!

I have been working on two new short stories while teaching full-time. It’s exhausting. However, after spending years with Maggie and Liam creating new worlds has been the break I needed.

I felt stuck writing Ravenmaster Part two. I was frustrated with everything I wrote; nothing was making me happy. I knew I had to step away from those characters and bring to life new ones, giving me the chance to breathe.

I was right.

My first attempt at a new short story was messy. It has taken a lot of work to clean up those five pages, but now I don’t dislike the story I’ve written. I am almost comfortable with releasing it and hope to have it out shortly.

My second story, that one I am having fun with. I am eight pages in and nowhere near stopping. It’s about a side character named Molly. I created her a decade ago. She’s fun and full of life, and it’ll give the readers her back story as to why she becomes a broken shell of her former self.

I can’t wait to release both of them and write a few more blogs as the school year wraps up.

I’ve also changed where you can purchase Ravenmaster. From now and until July 8th, maybe longer depending on how things go, you can only pick up Ravenmaster on Amazon. That means that Ravenmaster is a part of kindle unlimited, and I was able to set a special sales date.

From May 11th to May 18th, you can own an electronic copy of Ravenmaster for just .99 cents! I thought it was worth seeing what happens with the price change.

That’s all for now. Happy reading!


For the love of food

I hate cooking. I look at my food and think if I don’t eat, I’ll turn into a hangry beast that no one wants to be around. Sometimes I wonder if Hangry Alex could eat a human. I wouldn’t put it past her. I’m not entirely sure where my deep-seated hatred of cooking comes from. My grandmother was a great cook, and so is my mother, but anytime they asked me to help out in the kitchen, I would either watch, steal whatever I could to nibble on, or help my dad fix whatever was broken around the house.

I used to think my disdain for cooking came from my negative outlook on food. Before I found out I had celiac, eating was painful. Eat, get sick, repeat. It makes sense why I find no joy in preparing food that makes me ill. But even after all the doctors finally figured out I had spent a lifetime poisoning myself, I still hated cooking.

No one ever explained that the most challenging part of being an adult was figuring out what you were going to cook–every day–for the rest of your life.

I now understand why so many people just eat out.

Unfortunately, I do not have the means for such a lifestyle, plus having celiac and eating out is risky. The only choice was to adult up and make dinner.

In college, it wasn’t that hard because I ate whatever I wanted. A loaf of bread and a pound of asparagus? Sure. Chicken wings that have lived in the fridge for so long that I didn’t remember ever ordering them– Go ahead, They’re fine. I’d destroy a pint of ice cream, along with my stomach and the noses of anyone sitting next to me the following day. Not my problem. Sadly I no longer have an indestructible 20 year old’s stomach. Now in my mid-30s, just reading about my dietary choices makes my body hurt.

Not only do I need to be careful about what I consume, but I also have two little people I care for. I now need to start crafting the same healthy meals my mom did for my brother and me. Only I don’t have the same love for food that she does. I wonder if my kids can taste it? I know I can. It’s like there’s a missing ingredient.
I do not like planning meals. Grocery hunting is already a chore, and searching for the substitutes I need to make my meals g-free just makes things worse. I get resentful for having an autoimmune disease and being forced to abstain from so many foods other people take for granted. But worst of all is the feeling of isolation from my family while I’m cooking. My kids run around having fun while I’m trapped in my closed-off kitchen, hidden from them by walls. Pre-pandemic, my husband would be walking through the door the moment dinner was finished.

Because of the lockdown, my husband no longer commutes to work every day during rush hour. Since he started working from home, he has been helping me in the kitchen by planning out the menu for the week, finding new flavors to explore, and different methods of preparing our food. What I saw as a chore he found immensely pleasurable, and quickly our roles began to shift.

I became his sous-chef, dicing, prepping, making sure everything was ready for him to cook while he took the lead on the meats and sauces. Food started to taste different. Maybe it was the love he put into his cooking. We started food shopping together to gather all of our ingredients and a million other things we shouldn’t be eating but would snack on once the kids were in bed, and shopping no longer felt like a chore. Cooking was now something I got to do with my best friend.

About three months ago, my husband talked with his mom, and she told him she had signed up with Hello Fresh, the meal-kit delivery service. I’m not going to lie; we were skeptical about the idea of food being shipped to us in a box that wasn’t pizza. Our recent cooking collabs made us very discerning about the quality of our ingredients, especially our meats. We weren’t looking for prepackaged, ready-to-eat dishes, but his mother assured us the meals were nothing of the sort. It was literally a box of ingredients.

I did like the idea of avoiding the store where we constantly got suckered into buying things we didn’t need. But I still had questions like, would they offer enough variety? Or were the vegetables going to be fresh? We pulled up the site and went through the recipes. That alone had me ready to sign up. There were so many things we would never have tried, primarily due to one offshoot ingredient that would be too expensive to experiment with randomly. What finally sold me and made us both agree to give it a try was the price. We’d be saving a lot of money and time.

When our first box arrived, the first thing we noticed was how they conveniently organized everything. There were brown bags labeled with each meal’s name that held all the produce, spices, and starches. The meat was kept separate, which was much appreciated. I always keep my produce and meat separate in the fridge in case of leaks. Next was planning the order of our meals for the week. I liked knowing that everything was already there, and I wouldn’t have to run to Publix in the middle of cooking because an ingredient I thought I had was missing.

Having the recipe cards has improved our timing, so the side dishes and entree get completed simultaneously. It has all the steps like a standard recipe and has detailed instructions on when to start making the side dishes, so you don’t get overwhelmed or confused. My daughter, who will be 4 in a few months, likes the cards because they have pictures alongside the directions. She mainly uses the pictures to tell me why she won’t want dinner and instead will need a “peanut butter with bread.” She still gets dinner, but I can’t fault her for trying.

After making our first Hello Fresh meal, I realized two things. When my husband plates food, it looks like the picture and the proportions were smaller than what we were used to. Though there are four of us in our family, I tended to prepare enough food for dinner plus three days of leftovers and still have some for the freezer. It took food delivery in a box for me to finally master cooking proper meal proportions. This meant less food waste, and for that, I am forever grateful. But the downside of appropriate proportioning is the lack of extra noms. Let me tell you; these meals are sooooooooooofuckinggood.

Meals like

  • Balsamic Fig Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Mixed Greens
  • Sweet ‘N’ Smoky Pork Tenderloin with Apple Carrot Slaw, Mashed Potatoes & Cherry Sauce
  • Beef Bulgogi Meatballs with Roasted Carrots, Ginger Rice & Sriracha Crema
  • Chicken Sausage, Kale & Sweet Potato Soup.

tend to make me want 2nds and 3rds. They have the kind of flavor that makes you want to overeat and regret it the next day. But that’s not an option.

One evening night, while we were cooking, my husband turned to me and said, “You know this is my favorite part of the night.”

I was confused. “What is?”

“This, us cooking together. We get to talk about our day and spend quality time with each other.”

I felt my face flush, and I kissed him. When I went back to chopping onions, I thought about what he said. Just a year ago, I had dreaded making dinner. The planning, shopping, and chopping alone in the kitchen isolated from my loved ones was an unwelcome but necessary chore. However, now I get excited when a new box arrives. We plan our meals out as far as it would let us go that sometimes I forget what we’ve ordered but know no matter what, they will be delicious. Thanks to the magically little box, what was once the worst part of my day has become my favorite nightly routine.


No Social Media During Lent

On February 16th, Tuesday evening, I decided to give up all social media for lent. I created a cute little picture, set up a few auto-posts, and deleted everything but messengers from my phone. My husband laughed when I told him what I was doing. He asked, “are you sure you can go 40 days without your obsessive need to stalk everyone online?” Honestly, I wasn’t sure that I could.

When I was in bed, I think I picked up my phone at least a dozen times and absently went to where the Facebook and Instagram icons used to be. I couldn’t figure out why I was doing it other than what I did before bed. This left me with a few options: put down the phone and read, remember how to scroll through the internet without any guidance from other people’s opinions, or message a few friends I knew were still awake. I chose to read, which meant I stayed up way longer than I planned, but I went to sleep without feeling any negativity.

The next few days were the same. Pick up the phone, run on autopilot, search for social media crap. I think it took until Monday the 22nd before I really broke the habit. It was around that time my friends started reaching out to me. They were asking if I kept messenger or got rid of it too. Obviously, I wasn’t getting rid of messenger. Messaging is kind of ingrained into my being. I grew up in the ’90s with AIM, MSN messenger, and text messages. I celebrated the day my mom finally got unlimited messaging on our cell phone plan. To me, messenger apps and texting are the same. Internet-based messaging apps are super necessary for my ability to communicate. I have zero bars at work and need to contact my husband if something happens with our kids. Also, I need to bug him throughout his day.

As the days progressed, I started noticing a change. Not only was I spending less time with my phone in my hand, but emotionally I felt better. I wasn’t getting hit in the face every single day for hours at a time with negative thoughts. I wasn’t watching other people live their lives or go on adventures that just weren’t in the cards for me. My FOMO started fading. It’s hard to have a fear of missing out when you don’t know what you’re missing out on.

Another significant change I noticed was how much more I was communicating with people. Before, if I missed a friend, I would just scroll through their pictures and see what they were up to. I felt like that was enough. They looked happy. They posted pictures of their kids and travels. I felt as if I was up to date on their lives, and I didn’t need to reach out. But now, I don’t have that ability to peek in on people’s lives.
Ending my voyeurism left me with no other choice but to reach out to my family and friends. My conversations became stronger because I could no longer assume what was going on in their lives. I actually had to ask questions and be present within the conversation. I also noticed that I was even missing my friends. I wanted to know what they were up to. I wanted to engage with them in ways that I wasn’t doing before when I was satisfied just watching whatever they shared on social media.

I am now three weeks into my 40-day social media sabbatical, and I’m not sure if I’ll go back. I don’t have the same urges holding me hostage. Writing this out has helped me see how addicted I had become to the machine when I’m not one to be addicted to anything. Usually, if I feel forced to do anything, I do the opposite, and the opposite of living is social media.

I have to figure out a new way to share pictures of my kids with my family who live out of state, but that’s the least of my worries. I still want to be able to share my writing with as many people as possible. That means I’ll probably log into browsers from time to time and share blog posts or updates on my writing, but that doesn’t require apps to be on my phone. Leaving everything on a computer will give me the separation I need, especially when I’m too lazy to get off the couch and find my laptop.


Publishing Errors and Fighting Dyslexia

All my life, I have been fighting dyslexia. I have lived under its shadow, and l let it control my life for far too long. The fear is understandable. Though I am fully capable of creating worlds and developing stories, what I have written can be very hard to understand without someone editing my work. My brain loves to twist words and create nonsensical sentences leaving my first, second, and what feels like my tenth draft needing to be decoded by the reader. I wish I could write down everything and push it through as fast as some other authors. But that’s not the case. I know my reality is not the same as others.

When I finished Ravenmaster, I was excited. I had spent years rewriting, decoding, and polishing up my story. I had more than a few people beta read it, and still, things slipped past my readers and my editor and made it into publication. I should have done what I tell my students to do. READ YOUR WORK OUT LOUD! I know better, but I was too excited to get my story out and into people’s hands. This has now made my greatest fear come true. People are reading my mistakes. I am that self-published author with errors.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me to try out Grammarly. Probably because I felt with enough human eyes on my work, they would be able to catch it all. I mean, we are the pokemon generation, after all. But that was not the case. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw things that were missed. They were minor but downright embarrassing. I bet those who purchased the book we’re annoyed. I was annoyed for them.

I am currently working through the last errors sprinkled throughout my book and plan on resubmitting everything by the weekend. I wish it was easy to agree with everything the machine tells me is wrong, but it doesn’t work that way. I have to double-check that it isn’t’ changing my voice or recreating my characters. But at least I will be able to be proud of my work again.

It may seem crazy that I haven’t pulled my book. I don’t plan on it. I’m still proud of myself for getting over every single fear that I had when it came to publishing it. I was scared that people wouldn’t like my story, and thankfully that isn’t the case. I’ve had many readers reach out asking when the second one will be released. Now, if only they would leave a review on whatever platform they purchased it on… and life would be perfect. My errors live in the 1st edition of Ravenmaster. I’m going to hide from it. I will learn from my mistakes and grow. That’s all I can do.

Until then, happy reading, everyone 🙂


Why I probably should never give blood again

Today when I left to pick up my lunch Tyler, my husband, said, awesome, I’ll get my lunch when you get back.

However, when I got to my destination, I saw the big red bus, I’ve seen it around lately, but I always had my kids with me. So I thought, “Perfect, I can donate blood since Adelyn was with Tyler.”

Unfortunately, it took longer than I had planned. But I figured what the hell, I’m already here, and I saw him on the ring leave to pick up food.

Once it was my turn, a woman wrapped a stretchy tourniquet around my arm and vigorously rubbed the little alcohol pad where she was going to stick me with a needle. Before she inserted the needle, she gave me a little blood drop to squeeze. First, she drew about six vials of blood for testing, and when that was complete, she clamped off the line. She attached a new line with multiple bags attached to the end. My blood flowed quickly into all the bags; I spent three times longer waiting to give blood than I did actually giving blood. When I was finished, she asked me how I felt, and I answered honestly, I didn’t feel dizzy; everything seemed fine. Feeling perfectly normal, I stood up, grabbed my purse, and said goodbye to the women operating the bus. I had to walk down three little steps to leave, and I did so without tripping, which would be a success any day, not just on one where I gave blood.

The big red bus was an icebox, and it was far warmer outside. There have been times where the temperature change has affected me, but I felt fine, so I walked across the parking lot to pick up the food I ordered while giving blood.

This is where things go downhill.

The cashier tells me that she doesn’t have my order, but as I’m listening to her, I start to feel my head sweat; I think shit, this is not good. I pull out my phone from my purse and show her my order. For some reason, I put my phone back in my purse, or at least I think I did. I don’t really remember. But in those seconds, my vision starts to go black, and all I can think is shit, shit, shit, I need to sit down before I faint. Usually, I can stop the fainting spell if I get close to the ground.

I’m not sure if I ever really answered her or if I passed out because the next thing I know, her coworker, Sergio, is holding me and freaking out. I don’t blame him. It seems I went head first towards their register. Thankfully he caught me before I actually hit anything. I don’t know how long I was out, or maybe people moved quicker when freaked out, but when I came to the girl I was speaking with already called 911, and the ambulance was on their way.

Sergio helped me to a bench that some had pulled away from a wall. The moment my butt hit the seat, he asked me if I was okay. I told him, “Yes, I just need to eat something.” The female cashier handed me lemonade. I know that’s a little dangerous because she doesn’t know if I had any food allergies, but in reality, it was the best thing for me because every time my head started spinning again, I took a drink, and the sugar made me feel better. Unfortunately, the dispatcher told her to take it away from me, and she did. The room kind of spun again, so I laid down, knowing it would stop the spinning. Another customer looks over at me and informs me that I should sit up because it is not good to lay down after fainting. Not having the energy to argue, I sat up and saw the ambulance lights in the glass door. I wanted to tell him that I’d faint way too many times before, and I needed to lay down to stop the world from spinning.

I was utterly embarrassed that there were like five or six EMTs walking in with a stretcher. I understand seeing someone faint is scary, but for me, it is normal. Unfortunately, I fainted in a restaurant which meant they HAD to call the ambulance for insurance purposes. The EMTs informed me that I couldn’t walk out, and I had to get on the stretcher. Honestly, it was far more embarrassing being wheeled out to an ambulance than it was fainting in public.

Being in the ambulance was overwhelming. It was a very tiny space, and all five or six EMTs were surrounding me. They were constantly talking, and it was confusing trying to figure out if they were talking to me or about me. Two of them had these enormous gray masks that made me feel like I was in a horror movie and was the next patient zero. To get my vitals, they hooked me up to all these wires. It was absurd. I know they were doing their job, but I was getting angry, and they were getting between me and food. Soon one of the younger ones started asking me questions, “Who’s the former president?” He asked, and my snippy self answered, “he’s still president until January.” I guess that counted for them because I got a few laughs. The last cognitive question was “What year is it?” to which I answered “2020” and gestured to the fact I was sitting in an ambulance. Everything on their machines said what I knew. I was fine. But I knew this. I could feel myself getting better drinking the lemonade. I just needed to get sugar in me, but they still insisted I should go to the hospital.

I refused.

I didn’t want to pay the bill for them to tell me I didn’t eat enough before I got my blood taken. An older EMT came in and told me he’s worried because fainting isn’t normal, which is kind of is if you don’t eat enough and give blood, but it’s also normal for me outside donating. He told me they were worried it might happen again. I’m not sure if I told him this or kept it in my head, but I was like, “yeeeees, it probably will. I keep telling you that.” I remember telling some of them that I’ve been called a fainting goat before because I often do it.

Eventually, I convinced them that I was not going to the hospital. I felt like I was getting snappy, but at this point, I was hangry. I really hope I wasn’t getting pissy, but I can’t be held accountable for what I say when I’m hungry. Finally, they say they would release me if my husband came to get me. I didn’t want to call him. After finding out I was fine, he was annoyed that I made a bad decision to donate blood when I hadn’t eaten in a while because I knew better. I explained to him that he had to get me, and he told me that they should take me to the hospital since I was making bad decisions and driving him crazy. I half think the EMTs thought about doing it.

While we waited for him, I talked to the two EMTs still in the back with me. I told them having so many people in one little spot was intense; I was certain I had fewer people in the room with me when I was in labor. He said, “Yeah, that’s the luxury of a hospital and the controlled environment. Usually, when they got a fainting call, it wasn’t as easy as this.”

Which I get, we live in an area full of old people. These EMTs were super nice but young. It was weird. I felt old the moment they told me when they graduated high school. I kept telling them that they made me feel old, and when I told them that I was 34, they both said I didn’t look 34, which is great, but what do people think 34 looks like?!? I really think the more we talked, the more comfortable they were with me going home. At least I hope they were since I am fine and finally got to eat my lunch. But you would never know by how many little sticker things I kept pulling off of me. I felt like they were trying to turn me into a cyborg.

To the PBG Fire Rescue Team, thank you for handling my hangry dizzy self with care and respect. You all are wonderful. And Sergio, thank you for catching me when I tried to dive face-first into your register.