My Student Loans

We are excited to bring you this essay collection by Megan J. Kaleita about working, living & surviving in the age of rising student loan debt.

These true stories of a lifetime of nightmare jobs get to the heart of rural America from the point of view of a woman rising above her circumstances.

We invite you to laugh, cry & shudder through these stories from an exciting new voice in nonfiction memoir.


“Think of the worst job you’ve ever had. Got it? Good. Now imagine a seven-year old girl, freezing in the late autumn air, dismembering a deer carcass with a bow-saw for her self-employed father’s meat-packaging business. And now, if you can, imagine that same girl, a decade-and-a-half later, plunging the condom-clogged toilets at a no-tell motel while fending off advances from skeevy johns.

If you’re not sufficiently horrified, imagine doing these things for little or no pay. Scary, right? Welcome to Megan Kaleita’s world.”

-Andrew Schaffer, author of Hope Rides Again: An Obama/Biden Mystery

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The Blind Wizard I Met At My Hospital Job

The Time I Almost Shit Myself Because a Customer Had to Ask Me 1,000 Questions

I am Totally Not Lying on This Resume

Like an Unpaid Hooker, so Begins my Life With an MA In Creative Writing

I Worked All Day, What Did You Do?

HR Owes My Boobs an Apology

The 7 Coworkers You’ll Hate — Plus Kevin

I Was Going to Buy a House, but I Bought This Avocado Instead

The Time Traveler’s Penis

Driving Ashley Home

But First, My Sword

Dawn is the Worst

The Girl Who Can Hang

The Credit of Being Human

Sick Enough to Want to Be a Writer



I Worked All Day, What Did You Do?

During my childhood, I frequently heard adults around me use the phrase “I worked all day. What did you do?” 

This inquiry was usually directed at anybody who had a job that didn’t involve the potential degradation of their physical and emotional states for a 25-year span until they got early retirement from a slipped disc. “I worked all day” is the war cry of Rural Elitism.

Various forms of it would mutate: “Um, I work all day” or “Excuse me, but I actually work” would pop up in conversation when people were tired, frustrated, angry, or talking about someone who just had their kitchen redone. I don’t want to portray the adults of my childhood as assholes; a majority of them were far from it. They were all stressed and beat up by a system that wasn’t working for them, they just weren't good at expressing that frustration.  The idea of working and contributing to anything, a household, the community, loomed heavily in my mind so I internalized it and started feeling guilty at a very young age that I didn’t have a job.

It was the 1990s, not the 1890s and child labor laws aren’t just guidelines so it’s not like I could just go work at the factory and was choosing not to.  For a span of time as a kid, (a time frame I blame on reading too much historical fiction and frequently hearing I worked all day, what did you do?) I actually thought I was going to leave school at 13 and get an apprenticeship. My husband, Sean, did exactly that but that’s a different can of creepy religious homeschooled worms. Also, we didn’t have cable, internet, or 911 on my street until I was about eleven or twelve. There were no sidewalks, and our address was Rural Delivery Route 1 until 1996 or so it’s not like we had paper boys. Ten-year-olds didn’t contribute to the booming economy.

I was never afraid of hard work, or even disturbing work, it was the expectation of work  that scared me. My father was a butcher and while he worked for a popular chain grocery store by day, we ran and operated a small slaughterhouse/butcher business at home. 

Some of my earliest memories at 7 years old have me outside with my sister and a few of the local teen boys my parents hired for help with hunting season. My sister and I were skinning and salting deer hides along with the boys or using a bow-saw to remove the deer’s front legs. It didn’t occur to me that this was work. It also didn’t occur to me that it was gross. It also didn’t occur to me that I was too young to be handling a bow-saw.


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Megan J. Kaleita

Megan J. Kaleita has a BA from Hartwick College and an MA from Wilkes University. Megan has published in Luna Station Quarterly and Hello Horror, & JukePop Serials. She has $35k in student debt. This Book Is Brought To You By My Student Loans is her first book. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram @MeganJKaleita