Friday, April 28, 2017

My toolbox

 
I'm hesitant to write lately.
 
I feel like my blog posts over the past six months have caused alarm -- caused y'all to rush in and ask if I'm OK. I don't like that this seems to be a pattern (the support is fine, it's the fact that people are worried that I don't like).
 
The past month has been very difficult. Without saying anything more, I have witnessed someone endure a tragedy, and it's tested me. I've cried a lot. I cried on the phone with an insurance company, and I didn't even really care. Tell that to 10-years-ago Bailey, and she would have been horrified, but Today Bailey is a crybaby and she owns it. Crying helps. I wish I could do it a little less often, for crying (ha!) out loud, but it is what it is.
 
I have also seen, through all of this, how incredible the human spirit is. Goodness gracious can we carry on. We really, truly can. I'm watching it happen every single day.
 
So I'm here to tell you about my toolbox of late. The things that have helped. So here we go. (P.S. This list is not in a ranked order)
 
1. Cheers
 
This understated show is simply wonderful. It is meeting me right where I am. Its humor is very clever, but there is no pressure to laugh out loud, if one doesn't have the energy. The show is in no rush, which is how bar life should be, in my opinion. It illustrates how people of very different walks of life can, and do, walk together all the time. They drive each other crazy, and they care for each other. And Cheers can be incredibly touching. The conclusion of episode 10 in season 1 is still sitting with me -- hardly felt like I was watching a sitcom in that timeless moment, filmed before I was even born. Absolutely beautiful rendering of human life and love.
 
2. Alex
 
"I'm right here, and I love you." I've heard these words several times lately, in the calm, steady voice of the man I love more all the time.
 
3. Care packages
 
I haven't really wanted to talk to a lot of people lately. I don't feel like walking through my emotions (BIG EYE ROLL), or listening to advice or words of wisdom. I've also been around people almost all the time lately, and this people-loving ENFP needs a break!
 
I'm here to tell you that mail is OK, however (hint hint). Mama sent me a tote bag with Starbucks money inside and index cards with notes from her, Dad, and our sweet friends Rick and Maureen. And in response to an aside I made in an email this week, Nick sent me and Alex an all inclusive margarita kit: glasses, marg mix, and salt. It's like we won the wedding registry lottery and we didn't even have to be engaged to do it!
 
(He forgot the tequila, but I won't tell him if you won't).
 
I am lucky to have the best family and friends, and to see their names in the return address corner is encouraging.
 
4. My new room
 
I've moved to a cat palace, where four humans and four cats reside together. My room is cozy, has two big windows, and is right next to the (FREE! FREE! FREE!) laundry area. It's a nice retreat, and I'm pleased.
 
5. Sorting papers
 
I've been sorting, tossing, organizing. It's been the most comforting thing. Seriously. I don't consider myself to be overly focused on controlling things, but I think there is something to be said for controlling something during times when things feel out of control. Bring me all the papers, Friends. I will make decisions about what will happen to them.
 
6. Helping where I can
 
Mostly this consists of encouraging people to eat and sleep. And occasionally reading aloud. I haven't always been successful, but I've done my best.
 
***
 
All righty, there ya go. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to encourage myself to eat and sleep. Because this tired mama needs to rest.
 
XOX

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Peeps with the happy touch

 
List #12: List the people who make you feel happy

*This is not an exhaustive list. If you're not on it, it doesn't mean I don't love you or that you make me unhappy. If I listed all the people who make me happy, I'd never stop listing, because people are continually being heaped upon my life; people who lift me up in every way imaginable. Also I'm leaving blood relatives off this list not because they don't make me happy (quite the opposite is true), but because there are a lot of them and it would take a long time to expand on their attributes.

Alex.
 
(Duh.)

I was sorting through old papers last week, and found a list I made after I had been dating Alex for about a month, a list of some of the things I already loved about him then. Two years later, everything on that list is still true.
 
Alex is always kind to me. He is gentle and measured in his speech. He always asks me how my day has been, what's wrong, how he can help. When he talks to anyone, he asks the person questions about them. He delays grabbing himself a beer at a party because he's so busy saying hi to those around him. (Look, I think I'm a people person, but I like to talk about me, and I'm not proud of it but I sometimes view people as obstacles in the way of the drink cart. Not Alex. He's better than me.) He's so well read it makes me mad but not too mad because I'm so freaking in love with him. He insists on tickling me because it makes me laugh maniacally. He holds me when I cry. He makes sure I eat vegetables and lets me sleep for hours and hours even though he thinks it's excessive (and then he tells me to tell my doctor that I sleep so much because he worries about me). I am in shock sometimes not only with how wonderful he is as a person in general, but how good we are for each other.
 
Anne Lamott writes something really beautiful about being in so much pain in her life, and then her son was born, and she named him Sam, because Samuel sounds like the Hebrew for "heard by God."
 
I can relate.

Laura.

Laura and I had an instant connection. Within weeks of knowing each other as college freshmen, we were sitting on a blanket on some grass, watching people walk by, and she was divulging big facts to me about her life. We "drifted apart" only due to proximity circumstances, and picked up where we left off at the Vegas airport seven years after graduation. She cracks me up without trying, whips me into shape in the department of getting things done and cleaning up living quarters, and is just plain fun. When she comes to town, my whole self claps its hands together in excitement and just sits back for the ride.

Courtney.

At the end of our first semester knowing each other, Courtney and I went to dinner together. I don't remember it being a radical meal, but after that we became total Chatty Cathies together. When we talk, we talk. And talk. And talk. Courtney lets her friends know how she feels about various things in life, and most of us laugh a lot when she does. The best part is she almost never cracks a smile in these moments, because she's being totally serious. She sends me cards for almost every holiday and for random non-occasions in between. She prays a lot, and her home is so cozy and clean, but not immaculate to the point that you feel like you can't sip your coffee on the couch. Very thoughtful is she, and quick to talk about serious things or anything else; together we are the queens of ice breakers. And finally, Court is one of the few people I know with whom I can totally disagree about something, and actually find common ground and feel safe in the conversation anyway (and even enjoy myself). A mysterious relationship for sure.
 
Nick.

I go to Nick with all my ridiculous fashion choices (which are in fact ridiculous not to mention frequent). I go to Nick when I want to be grumpy about stupid things, because I know he will not only back me up but he will provide fuel to the fire of my justified rage. Man it feels good to be grumpy with Nick. Despite our favorite hobby of bitching, he is quite pleasant (bitingly sarcastic, but handsome and easy to be around). Our many years of friendship aide us in being able to spend lots of time just being together. The Nick memories my mind most frequently gravitates toward, even though we've been to several cities together, are of the two of us simply sitting around his living area. Trendy indie music playing, me on the couch (more comfortable), him at a table (more responsible), both on our computers. Taking turns refilling coffee, once in a while calling the other over to share something silly on the internet. To be with Nick is to always be taking that first sip of wine at happy hour; letting the crumbs from work fall off our shoulders, knowing the silly conversation is only just beginning, and last call is not even in the periphery.

Corie.

Corie adopted me, and I will never forget it. She talked to me on my first day at our high school, and she didn't have to. She ate lunch with me every day for a year, and she didn't have to. She picked me up in her red Jeep and drove me to the Homecoming assembly, and she didn't have to. She took me to Florida with her family for Spring Break, and played cards with me in the hotel bathroom, when we couldn't sleep and didn't want to wake her parents. She put me in her wedding and called me when her first daughter was born, while I was driving across the desert to California, each of us beginning Giant Adventures of totally different kinds, but in step all the same. The structure of our lives are worlds apart, but our encyclopedia of shared memories has us welded together despite how infrequently we may actually talk. Half of what we say is a reference to Friends, and though we've never eaten wax together or chased a rogue parade balloon, we've definitely found a million things to laugh about, and doing so has filled up my life's balloon with plenty of buoyant and needed helium.

Michelle.

I was jealous of Michelle before our friendship took off*, and now I'm only proud of her in her career successes -- which are way more impressive than mine, trust me. The first time I saw Michelle, she had a story she was working on in the paper; I wasn't writing anything for publication. The following summer she had an internship, and I didn't get the only one I bothered to apply for. And then she called me once while I was driving, and we chatted and by the time we hung up all jealousy was off the table. In addition to being an inspiring poster child of what life can look like when you just keep trucking, Michelle is there for me. I can talk and cry her ear off, and she listens and gives non-annoying advice on how to grab hold of what I can control. My feelings are always validated, respected, and held in good care.
 
*She thought I was easy before we were introduced, which is another story. :)

Sam.

As is the case with most of my good friends, Sam and I can TALK. We yammer, we complain, we laugh. Sam is one of my newest friends, but we became quick besties. I weaseled him into helping me move, and he weaseled me into being a chaperone on a youth retreat. We do a lot of weaseling, and a lot of Asian food eating, and a lot of YouTube watching. We get stuck on jokes and accents and bits, and we repeat them and find them way funnier than our friends do. Sam lays down the law when it's time for me to make a change in my life, and I mostly listen. And if there's one way to determine if I like you, it's whether or not I take your advice. And there's a hot tip you can run to the press with.

 
All right, I know he's fictional. But he brings me enough joy he might as well be real. It doesn't matter what comes out of Javier's mouth, I just want to lean into him, then hold his hand and sit back and talk together about how much we love Felicity (not the show, the person. Because Javier loves Felicity). Felicity might surprise you with its humor in general, but Javier for sure takes the cake in being the funniest part of the show. And he's just a little sweetie pie!!!!! I would say my love for him is inappropriate, but I won't. I can always count on J (or as Ben calls him, "Have-E-ay") to bring me a little smile. Or a big guffawing laugh -- I feel like I know him so well, yet he still catches me off guard.

 
Speaking of laughter, I never tire of hearing this silly lady. I've seen her live twice and listened to or watched her stand up routines a lot. She's not entirely underrated, because she's getting more of the recognition she deserves, but she should still be more famous than she is, in my opinion, given her talent. But I'm glad she still has time to hang out with her 'rents in Missouri and go golfing several times a year, because I know she likes that. And I don't want her to burn out on comedy, because I want her to keep coming back to town so I can keep being her (fellow journalist, fellow former Missouri resident**) fangirl.
 
**Are you listening, Kathleen? See how much we have in common? I live in LA, we can be besties, I'm just saying. You'll probably enjoy Alex more than you like me, but I've already accepted that so it's fine.
 
 
I go to probably 15 concerts a year. Yes, I'm a live music junkie. Yes, my credit card is wincing in pain. But I can't help it, People. I can't. No really I can't, someone call my therapist. When Peter and Paul are performing, when Dolly's here, when Garrison's doing a show, I must go!!! But I'll tell ya there's one show I go to every single year, and hands down it's the one I look forward to the most. Rachael. Ya. Ma. Gata. Love her. I was a fan already for many years, and then I was going to Chicago and I bought tickets to her show there and Nick and I went together and that's when I really became a Rachael freak. A year later I took Alex with me to see her in LA, and he fell in love with her and I'm very proud of this and her show is our annual date that I look forward to probably the most. As we've established, I see a lot of musical performances, so I have something of a critical ear for them (if I can be so bold). Rachael is -- consistently -- funny, likable, vulnerable, considerate of her audience, and SO talented. She definitely stands out and the cost of her show is worth every penny, every time.
 
 
I met Anne when I was 18. Her book, Traveling Mercies, was sneakily placed in my path as one of the last items on my required freshman curriculum. If there's no other reason to be grateful for attending the college that I did, it's that the faculty thought it worthwhile to introduce its students to this master of words, this spiritual guide, this hilarious, gentle GEM. She has, and continues to be, a tremendous comfort to me. She has let me know I am not (entirely) crazy; that I am not alone; that it is OK to be scared and confused and not sure about God but to still be curious about God. She's opened my eyes, and my heart, to find love and God in the darkest of spaces. Anne showed me writing like I'd never seen before, and am still yet to come across elsewhere. Though I've read nearly all of her nonfiction, there are a few pages in T. Mercies that remain to me some of her most exquisite, where she hits the nail so very on the head. She witnesses two members in her church, two people who are scared of each other and what they each stand for, and they come together in healing -- she captures the moment in a way only Annie can. It's in the first 50 pages of T. Mercies; check it out, you won't miss it.
 
I'm honestly not sure I'd be a writer were it not for Anne. It took being a reader of hers to feel that words on a page could actually change a life. Sure, I love to move commas around and wait until the perfect adjective falls upon my synapses, but what I really want to do is let people feel comfort. Anne does that for me, and so many others, and in experiencing that miracle I was inspired to at least attempt to use my words as a way of helping. God love her, and I wish her current tour were swinging through SoCal, but alas -- I'll catch her next time.

Monday, March 27, 2017

A note from the desk of Super Sensitive, Irritable Girl! (Like a super hero!)

 
Let's talk about some things that are fun.
 
Going on Space Mountain at Disneyland for the first time, and being so surprised by all the turns in the dark that your natural reaction is just to crack up laughing throughout the ride.
 
Seeing Jens Lekman in concert and having no idea what you're getting yourself into, and then thinking, "This is one of the most bizarre things I've ever heard and seen in my life," and saying in Alex's ear: "This is a trip!" and dancing and smiling so big without abandon.
 
Sitting on a couch in Courtney's living room and just talking and talking and talking about whatever with my gal pal, for so long that at some point we say, "Huh. Maybe we should get lunch."
 
Those things are fun.
 
I'll tell you what's NOT fun.
 
Being irked by basically anything and everything that seems to be happening around you.
 
No. I mean, like, iiiiiiiirked.
 
Like, recognizing you're way too irritated but being unable to stop it.
 
You know how sometimes your irritation builds? You're just having a bad day, for whatever reason. You're tired, you're PMSing, you're impatient, or something is just not feeling hunky dory inside you (and it's probably totally normal as humans to only feel hunky dory a certain percentage of the time but we WANT to feel that way so much that we expect to feel that way 95 percent of the time and when we don't we are always clawing our way back to that place, even though forcing it is not how to conjure it up. I'm pretty sure it can't be simply conjured). And then throughout the day you get more and more annoyed, so that it reaches a point where a song comes on the radio that you don't love, and all of a sudden your inner thoughts go something like this?:
 
Oh my goodness I HATE this song! And why is it even on?! And that part is the worst part, the part with the whistling, and of course THAT's the part that was playing when I couldn't get to my phone fast enough to change tracks so I just HAD to listen to the stupid stupid whistling and I just need everyone to GET OUT OF MY WAY! but also I need them to wait on me like I am a PHARAOH. I want people FANNING ME WITH LEAVES but I don't want those leaves to make ANY NOISE as they brush the air, and I want the people fanning me to, like, be there as a quiet emotional support but I also want them to just disappear from time to time but the fanning can't stop even though I CAN'T HANDLE! seeing a human form in my peripheral vision right now. And I need my boyfriend to tell me -- AND MEAN IT!! -- that I am the most beautiful woman he knows, and will ever know, and he needs to bring me Advil and some pizza but then I need him to, like, sit on the couch quietly, but also disappear if needed but of course still be there in the next room for emotional support if needed and.....
 
No? Just me?
 
OK well that ridiculous pattern of thinking that you read up there -- that is approximately how I've been feeling lately kind of all the time. I feel like I'm continually at that point where I've had too much -- like I've been babysitting for three hours and the kid won't stop crying and I've had three hours of it and then another straw gets added to the camel's back and I feel like I'm going to crumble into nonexistence because I couldn't keep being agitated so the only solution was to pop like an over-inflated balloon. I'm at that moment, a lot. The moment where you've reached your breaking point, or feel like you're about to. Today, for example, the day had hardly started and the Keurig was brewing really slowly and I got so upset. It's not like I'd been having a big long day and then the Keurig was brewing slowly and I couldn't take one more thing. It's like I'm always in that moment where it's too much.   
 
It's. Awful.
 
Also I'm not kidding. I mean, yes, I took some comedic liberties with likening myself to a pharaoh just now, but the sentiment is totally accurate -- I am really struggling to be anything but annoyed. And my expectations of other people and stoplights and the radio and my appetite to be exactly synced to fix my frustrations and make me less crazed are way too high, I recognize that.
 
I could keep analyzing this but I'm not sure I want to so let's move on.
 
***
 
OK so let's talk about some things that have made me feel happy, or content, or have made me laugh lately, even if they were short lived. Because even though they're few and far between I do know that they are there and if I chronicle them here it will probably make me feel a little better.
 
(Unless the Lumineers start playing on Pandora. Then forget it. Sorry, Amy, if you're reading this.)
 
This weekend I went to a wedding and there was karaoke at the reception.
 
Let me repeat that.
 
Karaoke.
 
At the reception.
 
Take a bow, bride and groom. Good move.
 
So my friend Lemar sang several times, and guys, he just has such an impressive, flawless voice. He can go really low in register or up to falsetto tones. I wonder what his range is.....I wonder if he's on a Mariah level....
 
So I love listening to Lemar. I just want him to keep singing more songs when I hear him sing one.
 
Also my friend Sam really makes me laugh. When we hang out we egg each other on in our silliness and it's the best. Last night we went out for ramen and we kept talking in valley girl voices and it was so funny for me. On the flipside I can talk to Sam about all the serious things I'm dealing with right now, and he will listen to the minutiae and give me sturdy, supportive words of advice and encouragement. He's such a great friend and I just know he has my back. Like Fight Club, but without the violence.
 
I've never seen Fight Club, so I'm not sure why I made that reference. Just felt right. Also did you know Brad Pitt studied at the University of Missouri, just like cute little irritated me?
 
Annnnd, let's see. One more positive thing, then I'll let you be.
 
I like that I'm listening to my body more than I usually do.
 
I can sense when I don't need any more coffee, and so I don't drink any more of it.
 
I notice when I have headaches. I haven't solved this problem with a headache-free bow, but I'm at least recognizing how often they are happening, what things are abating them and that there are several occasions where nothing seems to release the tension.
 
Last night at the ramen party, I ordered a veggie bowl (with meat on the side). There were big chunks of cabbage in it, and for most of my life I would just eat around that cabbage.
 
But I ate that cabbage.
 
Several bites of it. Big chunks. Flavorless. But down the gullet they went. Because they were there, and I know that they have some sort of vitamin or something in them, and yes they're flavorless but that doesn't mean I can't pull it together and eat them. It's not as if I feel any sort of immediate or delayed gratification or improvement in my bodily feelings, but I just know that it's not a bad idea to eat cabbage that is put in front of me and I did it and I know it's silly but I'm proud of myself for that.
 
***
 
So this post is long -- as most of mine are -- and I am going to sign off.
 
If you are feeling chronically and acutely irritable, like me, I really feel for you. I hope that you can find at least a few moments of contentment throughout each day, and I hope that you return to your less-angry functioning state very soon. I also hope that a few things are making you laugh, or getting you away from your discomfort, and that you are recognizing those and returning to them for more peace.
 
XO
Bails

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

In a season. Or, sweating like a cartoon.

 
Hiiiiii, Friends.
 
(Oftentimes when Alex texts me he writes, "Hiiiiii," with all those extra "I"s. I like it, because he says "Hi" like that out loud sometimes. Drawn out and like he's happy to talk to me because he's had a long day and I'm relief for him. I don't know if that's what he means by it, but that's my interpretation.)
 
I guess my extra "I"s are apt, in that case, because I haven't written to y'all in a while. And I've missed you. I've thought about you several times, but several things (acceptable and non-acceptable excuses) have stopped me from writing to you.
 
But here I am.
 
Hiiiiiiii.
 
I'm not sure what I'm here to say, but I did want to drop in and chat with ya for a bit.
 
So let's see.
 
Well I've -- mostly, more or less -- concluded that I am in a SEASON right now. Ya know how that happens? You walk around feeling grumpy or lost or confused or like you're wasting your life by doing or not doing something, and this goes on for weeks or months and then finally you think, "Well maybe this will pass."
 
Well, I think I might be there.
 
Three days ago I was in tears and feeling like I might feel this not-great way forever. It was a scary* moment, and I'm not entirely sure I won't feel that way again. But today I'm feeling less frantic and more optimistic and I'm glad.
 
*Understatement
 
I bought myself a spiral notebook (for $3.25!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A ONE-subject, WIDE-ruled, only 70 sheets notebook!!!!! This is outrage!) at a retailer that I will not name, for I don't believe in throwing this business under the bus for their outrageous pricing.
 
But it is, let's be clear, outRAGEous.
 
Emphasis on the rage, if you didn't catch that. It's important that you do.
 
Anyway.
 
I bought this notebook and so far I've written in it on Saturday, yesterday and today. I'm treating it as a journal.
 
When I started college, my brother told me I should journal. He said I should write every day, and if I didn't feel like writing I could just write: "I don't feel like writing," and then close the notebook.
 
During my freshman year, I wrote every day.
 
That's the only time in my life I've done that, for so long a stretch.
 
It felt great, and I am on occasion nostalgic for that rhythm in my life.
 
Since I bought this ludicrously expensive notebook, I have felt overwhelmed by the obligation (that's not really an obligation because no one is forcing me to do this) to journal.
 
On Saturday I wrote until my dinner was brought to my table, and I stopped mid-sentence. I never finished the sentence.
 
I wrote yesterday in my car during lunch and got frustrated at first because I didn't have a hard surface to write on. I found a board game box in my back seat (yes) and used that and I felt better and carried on.
 
Today I wrote during lunch again and I really loved doing it.
 
I've written about headaches I've had, about my alcohol intake, about my feelings. I've mentioned things that have made me feel good and things that have made me feel bad. Ever a writer, I try to use the most accurate nouns and adjectives I can to capture just how something felt or feels.
 
I've fought the urge while writing to set the notebook down and google something.
 
I'm not saying I'm heading down some valiant journaling journey here, but I am saying that this feels good. I feel like my moods and my physical sensations (I've had a lot of headaches and have been struggling to wake in the morning due to really intense dreams) have been alllll over the place lately. Things happen so quickly -- I'm here! Then there! Thinking about this! Then that! -- that I feel like I can't keep up with them fast enough to write them down, just in a matter of fact way let alone take the time to analyze them.
 
(Also I hate that I'm here! Then there! I feel like I'm a cartoon who's sweating and the drops of moisture are flying off of me. The droplets never come back to touch me (read: I usually forget the thoughts as soon as they come), and I'm still whole -- I don't melt away even though I'm losing water weight. But I feel the exhaustion of being stuck on a treadmill, running and running but not covering any productive distance.)
 
But in the past several days I've written down some of it, and it's been helpful. I wrote down one particular thought or worry, and as soon as I got it down on the paper I felt less intensely worried about it. That doesn't mean I shouldn't address it with friends or in therapy, but it was progress. And it offered relief.
 
I'm grateful for this activity in my life. I'll probably go for a cheaper notebook once this one fills up, but I am fine with my $3.25 purchase.
 
I'm glad I have you guys to "journal" to, too. You can thank me later (or now. You're choice) for not filling up this blog with the ins and outs of my headaches and eating choices, but rather scribbling that down in a green notebook. But I do appreciate you listening/reading to what I do write here. And to those of you who text/call/email/talk with me, you know who you are, and I thank you for all your support and willingness to listen to me ramble on and on and....
 
There are a lot of good things in my life right now. Through all my recent moodiness I have been lucid enough to recognize my many blessings. I do hope the negative things -- and, particularly, the sense that they are too much -- will pass.
 
Meanwhile, I'm glad I have you guys to say "Hi" to.
 
So, I'll say it again.
 
Hiiiiiiii.
 
Byeeeeee,
Bailey

Friday, February 24, 2017

Happy kid

 
List #11:
 
 
Cats.
 
Reading.
 
Watching VH1's Top Ten music video compilations from week to week (or, sometimes, day to day) -- notable chart toppers: Meatloaf's I would do anything for love (but I won't do that), Tom Petty's Free Fallin' and Don't Come Around Here no More, Mariah's Fantasy, Seal's Kiss from a Rose, Blue's Traveler's Run-Around, TLC's Waterfalls.
 
Watching 7th Heaven, Full House, Figure it Out, and Friends.
 
Watching the following movies over and over and over: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Wayne's World, Wayne's World 2, Big, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Selena. I also frequently rented a Disney sing-along video from the movie rental place (where Mom would treat us to Bubble Tape and other candy treats).
 
Playing Dr. Mario (I was and still am very good at this game), Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong 1 and 2.
 
Watching my brothers play a particular Sega game, the name of which I don't know. I also remember eating iced animal cookies while doing this. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmm.
 
(Um, yes, I did have a lot of screen time as a child. But I also played outside a fair amount and did my homework and read several books. So quit judging.)
 
Getting tickled mercilessly by my dad. There was (and still is) a very extensive vocabulary surrounding this activity. The most important one you should know is that to get Dad to stop tickling you, you must say "S-T-O-P STOP!" This is much harder than one might think to accomplish while you are laughing maniacally.
 
Assembling cow scrapbooks. Yes you read that right, and yes you have no idea what that is because I'm probably the only kid who did this. I went through a very long cow-collecting phase. Mainly people gifted me with stuffed animals cows, as well as various bovine paraphernalia (boom! I just spelled that correctly on the first try! Eat that, spell check!) such as a cookie jar, a coffee creamer pouring mechanism, candy, popcorn tins, etc.
 
But! I also made not one but TWO cow scrapbooks. I spent much time cutting pictures of real cows (from Country magazine) and figurine cows (from catalogs) and milk mustache ads and then gluing them onto colored construction paper (each page alternating through the rainbow, then repeating the pattern), then hole punching that paper, numbering the pages, and sticking it into 3-ring binders. I used to plant myself in front of the TV or the stereo and rubber cement my way to bliss. For hours. These scrapbooks are still at my parents house. Obviously. Who would toss such hours of labor?
 
Sometimes my fifth grade teacher would let us read all day at school. I loved those days. I still long for those days, and do my best to recreate them at home.
 
When we went on vacation, we always took our minivan, never an airplane. We would drive to DC or Iowa or around Colorado, and I pretty much enjoyed the destinations (DC was a little boring for my 7-year-old self, but we celebrated my birthday there which had its perks), but I always loved the car ride best. My older brothers sat in the back bench seat, and I would drive them crazy mostly but also gifted them with "The Giggle Hour," a time in which they could say anything and I would lose it. I always sat in the middle seat on the driver's seat, Riley in the middle on the passenger side. I would read, stare out the window, enjoy cans of Coke and Pringles and sugary candy (my parents fed us vegetables, I promise). I loved it loved it.
 
Doing math homework. I always did it first thing because I enjoyed it so much. It was an ease into the reading and writing (which I also enjoyed, but for sure had a love-hate relationship with).
 
Doing crafts. Cross stitch, latch hook, filling up pages of sticker books. Etc.
 
Jumping on friends' trampolines.
 
Babysitting, especially at night. What a thrill! And I made money! I divided my pay in half, to the penny, kept some at home for spending and took the other half to the bank. (I wish I could say I kept up that habit).
 
Checking email, and composing long responses to my friends who I saw every day at school. (I still love email). I also loved those email surveys that would circle around -- filling out my favorite color, book, etc.
 
Having sleepovers with various girlfriends.
 
Writing poetry.
 
Dr Pepper and Sunny-D (mostly during eighth grade I loved these things)
 
Walking through knee deep snow, cutting through backyards, from the bus to our house. With a backpack full of thick books and a trumpet case in hand (that, probably, my brother carried most often), my brothers and our neighbor would walk and walk. We'd get home, ditch our wet shoes at the door, grab a soda and chips and dip, and plop in front of the TV. We'd fight over who got to choose the show, but pretty much we'd stick together in the living room for a couple of hours anyway.
 
Talking to my friends on the phone.
 
Going on band field trips. Solo and ensemble competitions, playing at elementary schools, and competing in full-band contests in "the Springs" (Colorado Springs). I loved missing classes, wearing my cummerbund, playing cards on the bus with my friends, and stopping at Burger King or Fargo's Pizza for lunch. Pure fun, and made me feel grown up.
 
School dances. Yes!
 
The giant Super Bowl parties my parents used to have every year. I mostly ignored the game, watched some commercials, ran around with church friends, ate cheese dip and my mom's delicious brisket, and drank lots of soda. I always lamented when it was over and I had to do homework and was up so late on a school night, but the party itself was great fun.
 
Watching all of TGIF every Friday night, followed by 20/20 (oh, Hugh Downs and John Stossel)
 
Having the house to myself. A rare occurrence in a family of six, but sometimes it happened and it was glorious. I popped a CD into the living room speaker system, made macaroni and cheese, and just OWNED that house.
 
Church youth group events. And church retreats. Retreats!!!!! Loved. Still love.
 
Daydreaming about my crushes.
 
Going to amusement parks and water parks.
 
Playing and watching football.
 
Gym class.
 
Going on "Girls' Day Out" with Mom. We would drive to the Springs, shop for earrings and clothes at the mall, usually run some errands, and eat a special meal.
 
Going to the outlet mall in Castle Rock. Mom would set us loose and I would buy cassettes and CDs at the music store, jewelry and keychains at Claire's, and troll dolls at the Russ store.
 
The Wednesday night routine. During eighth grade, my dad was living in Missouri studying at the seminary, and my mom and brothers and I were in Colorado waiting for the house to sell. A dear church friend, Julie, was also a teacher at my school. On Wednesdays, she and I would leave school together, go shopping, eat dinner together, and then she'd drop me off at my mom's office or at the church for my confirmation classes. I still treasure those Wednesdays.
 
Hanging out at Mom's work -- the library. I would go to her office, grab some candy and cash, head to the cafĂ© and get a soda and animal crackers, then scour the Babysitters' Club collection and do my homework.
 
Dubbing music onto cassette tapes from my brothers' CDs and the radio.
 
Oldies music. Also Christian rock.
 
Shooting hoops in our driveway and the neighbors'.
 
Running through sprinklers. Duh.
 
Snow days.
 
***
 
Guys, I'm going to stop. I could keep going. Super happy I had such a good childhood. Very lucky to have been so loved and cared for. XOX