Saturday, September 20, 2014

Announcement: Will the real Daily Bailey please stand up?

I'm sorry (not sorry), this deserves a mid-Saturday announcement.

I am THIS CLOSE to resigning my tomboy-grew up with brothers-incompetent dresser-one of the boys status.

Case in point:

My friend Abby brought me sunflowers on Thursday, when she came over to drink beer and eat pizza and play in the pool and relax in the hot tub and talk about boys with me.

Initially I put them in the tallest, sturdiest, got-it-at-the-LA-County-Fair-when-I-bought-a-giant-beer plastic cup, balancing them so their tough, thick stalks wouldn't cause the whole balancing work of art to topple.

Today. Just now. I grabbed an empty Nescafe jar (which I salvaged from the recycling in the break room at work for my crafting purposes), trimmed the sunflower stalks (with my scissors that I often use for cross stitching -- another reason to be heaped on this identity crisis, "Am I a tomboy or am I a housewife in training?" moment), and popped them in that there jar.

And then I grabbed a ribbon (which I salvaged from a cookie basket that was delivered to our HR director at work) and tied it in a bow around the jar.

And it looks damn good and homey and hipster and all that jazz.

And I am a woman who grew up with boys who wrestled in hallways and belched and smashed watermelons with baseball bats in the backyard.

WHO AM I?!?!?!?!?!

I have spent my afternoon (not morning, because I got out of bed at 12:30) doing dishes, making French press coffee, peppering thyme on my scrambled eggs, etc.

My apartment is a huge, slobby mess, so I still have that boyishness to cling to.

Phew.

And I let someone in my apartment last night, so he saw the slobby mess, and I think that not hiding your slobbishness is a sign that you are a tomboy and just one of the guys, right?

RIGHT?!??!?!?!

.......................Deep breathhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh......................................

I'll be calculating my identity, if you need me. But first, look:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sweet, glorious water

Once upon a time it rained in Africa.

Just the one time.

And Toto wrote a song about it.

The end.

OK, no. But once upon a time -- yes, just the one time -- I spent a semester in Africa and it rained more than the one time while I was there, but not a ton.

It was an event whenever it did.

We arrived in late August, and didn't see a cloud for many months in the desert land of Namibia during its summer season.

On Thanksgiving, my friend Liz declared loudly for the whole room to hear: "Condensation!" and held up her plastic cup with water droplets on the perimeter for all to behold. We gathered round and oohed and aahed. I'm only exaggerating a little bit; we were for sure intrigued, and indeed beheld the spectacle.

I also still remember -- among other very detailed memories I hold of seemingly small events -- when my class/travel mate Andy asked the group, shortly after our arrival on the grand continent across the sea, if their hands, like his, were extra sweaty.

"YES!!!!" I yelled across the room, because I get very over zealous about small things like shared sweaty palms sometimes....

No one else seemed to be that excited, Andy included, if I recall...In fact, he seemed to be a little regretful he asked the question upon receiving my response.

Moving on.

Here in the States (which is what you will say to refer to the U.S. once you leave this country for any length of time, FYI) we have seasons. LA pretends to have them, and I am both proud and ashamed that I am beginning to tell the subtle difference that indicates "fall" is joining us here.

Yes, it is ONE HUNDRED AND TWO degrees outside right now and I'm not saying that it is fall, but I'm saying that the light is different and so it seems a little more like fall than it did a month ago, and I feel weird about this as a Midwesterner so just leave me alone, OK?

Wow. Emotional today.

Moving on. Again.

So POINT BEING, even in places like Southern California, we still speak in seasons. "Ooh, I love winter," say the Angelenos with snowflakes embroidered on their clothes and Christmas lights in their yards. And then we head to the beach. Not to swim, but still, to the beach.

In southern Africa, they just cut to the chase, people. They keep it real. They speak more in water terms, as in: is there water present or not?

In Namibia, you have two "seasons," are you ready for them?

Dry. And wet.

That's it.

In Namibia (a desert climate), it gets so dry that water disappears from places. The riverbed doesn't just lower, its sentiment is more along the lines of, "See ya!"

I almost completely missed the "wet season" in Namibia, so I didn't see the apparent flooding that happens every year.

However, there are signs next to bridges that remain all year, that look like this:


It took me a looong time to figure out that these were indicating creek beds, or river beds, or whatever.

Why?

A) Because my hair is blonde, and while I consider myself an intelligent individual, I also know that I struggle with 2 and 2 sometimes; and B) Because there was no water underneath these bridges.

Um, hello.

Once I figured it out, I started joking with our driver, Passat (both as a way to have fun and also deflect attention from the fact that I was slow on the uptake of the fact that these were signs indicating water), that I didn't think there actually was a wet season.

"No, there is!" he would protest.

"I don't know, Man, I haven't seen any water."

That wasn't entirely true. It had rained a couple of times, including while I was at a library trying to study with my friends Stephen and Mike on Halloween. We stopped what we were doing -- or, in my case, not doing -- to look out the window and (pun) soak up the rare occurrence of weather in the region.

The time that I remember most fondly, however, was a time that it rained in Africa and in some ways it was just like the movies.

I was at home with Stephen, Samantha, Annelise, Olaf and Sarah Ann, probably.

Sammy and I were in her bedroom doing something, looking at CDs or talking about boys or -- quite possibly -- having show and tell with the items of clothing we brought with us that we were no longer, ahem, slim enough to fit into.

I'm here to personally break any stereotypes you may have of me and my friends eating bugs and dust in Africa, all the while shrinking down to tiny Zazu birds. The reality, for me and Sammy anyway, was eating lots of freshly baked bread with lots of butter and, for me anyway, looking a little plump in my next drivers' license photo.

But I digest. I mean digress.

So we were sitting there, enjoying the relatively quiet house (there were 20 of us living in a 5-ish bedroom house*, but most of our classmates were away on a vacation), chit chatting like we had been practiced at doing together for two years already (we met as freshmen and quite instantly hit it off),

when all of a sudden --

CRACK.

Just like in the movies. i.e., as it never actually happens in real life.

But it did.

A random clap of thunder, seemingly out of nowhere. Nothing preceding it. No sprinkle of rain (that we could hear, or noticed, anyway). No light rumblings of thunder.

Just the sharp CRACK of a whip in the sky.

And our eyes.

They popped wide open, moved to meet, and locked, in shared excitement, surprise, and "what the....?"

And then, just as quickly as the thunder came on, so did the rain.

Just like in the movies.

Whooooooosh. Gushes of water, heard on the roof above and the roads outside.

And then we ran.

Ran to our nearest exit to be near the water, near THE RAIN!!!!

We ran to the upper level porch of the house and then did what any sane Bailey and Sammy would do.

We ran into the rain, and did ballet leaps up and down and across the balcony.

I don't need to tell you that it was awesome.

Or that we were so excited, and loving the crazy sudden initiation of a rainstorm that we had just experienced.

Or that we were already dressed to go out to dinner and then had to change clothes to get ready to go to dinner again.

Actually, if you know me very well, that last detail might need to be told to you, because I could just as easily have chosen not to change clothes. I'm kind of a come-as-you-are person, both in receiving of others and in giving of myself to the world, eatery joints included in my definition of "world."

Stephen snapped a picture of us before we put on our driest clothes with the stretchiest waistbands, and we headed to dinner -- warm, happy, washed.

And I am yet to forget the sweet, sweet memory.

This is a webcam photo taken of a print photo. FYI.

*I shared a bathroom with nine ladies (counting me, we were 10).

Monday, September 8, 2014

Quiet on the set

Goodness gracious it's hard to write when things are on your mind.

OK, actually the opposite of that is true, too. When you have things on your mind that's generally considered fuel for writing.

But when certain things are on your mind. And that's all I'll say about that...

I can tell you how deliciously and delightfully comfortable my sweatpants are right now. And how deliciously and delightfully wonderful it is to be sitting in them on my patio right now.

Did I mention I love my patio?

Currently it has two faux leather ottomans on it (because the cat was tearing them up, so I brought them outside, but one of them is my footrest right now, so I'm not complaining), along with a rug, a table, 3 planters, 2 candle holders (with candles, but I have no long-stemmed lighter, so they remain unlit), and a chair which my behind is resting comfortably in.

Actually I could afford to shift my weight ever so slightly.

There we go.

And a cup of mint tea. That's also out here with me.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm patio!!!

First, more on the sweatpants -- because they merit description at this point in time -- and then I'll get back to the patio, which for sure merits description and general being talked about-edness.

The pants are black, medium to thick weight. My sister-in-law and brother (usually you would put brother first in that statement, but I figure she had more to do with the shopping) got them for me several Christmases ago, because I had made a specific request for more sweatpants, and because I guess we're adults now and so we actually request from and subsequently obediently buy for each other things like sweatpants.

I think it was the Christmas after the sweatpants Christmas that the same brother and I were having highballs together, and I thought of my dad and his siblings and thought, "Wow, we're here now. We're drinking highballs together."

This same brother and his wife and I are very into going to bed before midnight on New Years' Eve as well.

Squares. But squares you want to be friends with, which is the important part.

OK, sweatpants. Sorry.

These pants are warm. I'm not sure why, but they're holding some delicious, glorious heat, and with the help of my socks -- which are a little clammy and chilly, but ultimately a layer on my always cold feet, so thus favorable -- they are giving me some happy, glowy warmth, literally and figuratively, to keep me cozy outside here.

Never mind that it hit 91 degrees today, and is maybe still 84 right now.

I'm a tiny little woman and I don't know why I can enjoy sweatpants and a warm laptop on my legs during desert summer, but I can!

And I'm wearing a unisex-cut yellow t-shirt boasting the Mizzou Cotton Bowl win (holla!), and it's all just cozy and boyish and cozy and mmmmmmmmmm

patio!!!!!!

So OK, back to the patio.

I love my patio.

Love.

I gained a very serious, rich, amazing, never-thought-I-might-have-it gift this year, and that is that I learned to sit and do nothing.

I'm not kidding.

I only average about 20 minutes of this activity per every, mmm.....120 hours, I'd say, but that 20 minutes is powerful.

And with the patio, I gain more of this quiet time. Like sometimes 20 minutes a day for 3-5 days a week. Which, given 2014 culture, that's a lot.

You might be thinking, (with your hand raised, in a classroom, because it's funnier that way), "Um, Bailey, aren't you writing right now? Doesn't seem to me you're doing nothing."

And I would say, (as a teacher, because sometimes people say I'd be a good teacher, and I love it when they say that), "You're absolutely right. Right now I am writing. But usually when I sit on my patio, I am doing nothing."

Also, I'm usually in the dark.

Like now, minus the lights from the office building windows across the way and general LA light pollution in the sky. And the glow of this screen.

But generally -- dark...ish.

My patio doesn't have any lights. I have a string of colorful Christmas lights, which I plan to stick out here for festiveness, but I think even with those, if I was going for the quiet time, I'd probably leave them unplugged. And here's why:

The dark, and the (traffic-spackled) silence out here? They calm me. They shut me up. They slow me down.

I honestly just got very excited, like cheerleader excited, to emphasize to you how great sitting and doing nothing is.

I'm not kidding when I say this was a gift to finally discover how to do this, and to discover that I can do this. That I can sit and not have music, and not occupy myself even with clipping my fingernails, or organizing a bookshelf, or just....anything.

And honestly, it's kind of terrifying and disgusting to me when I think about how much I just do and do and do. And I don't even think of myself as a workaholic, or a "do-er." I'm more of a thinker, and a lazer (lazy person).

But even occupying myself with thoughts, and noise, it's a lot.

And it's a little ironic that it was the noise and the sounds that made me scared to stop the noise and the sounds.

Let me explain that: I thought that stopping the noise would make my scary thoughts that much louder.

And boy was I wrong -- and praise the good Lord above that I was wrong -- and so happy, happy, happy to find that just the opposite was true.

When I get quiet, the chaos inside me slows down that much faster, than if I were to try and "get calm" by listening to classical music or flipping through pictures of pastoral watercolor paintings.

Because music and thoughtful images are just another thing added to the thinking agenda. They can calm us, yes, and have their place to do so, but when I dared myself to try and go it without these types of things, I was surprised by peace and calm and joy.

I'm not kidding when I say that I've worried about developing schizophrenia. I'm neurotic, have a very hyperactive brain, and as a holder of a psychology bachelor's degree, I know full well (kidding, here, people, to make the point once again that self diagnosis is bad, bad, bad) that schizophrenia can come on without warning*.

*I think it can, sort of, but double check with a psychologist/psychiatrist instead of quoting me on this.

Soooooo, I think I had legitimate reason to worry.

My friend Mary, when I told her this, asked me if I hear voices. I told her no and she told me it's not God's will for me to worry about it, then.

That was comforting, but didn't fully shake the fear.

Some things that have since helped shake it are continued therapy, meds to keep my anxiety at bay, and, truly, the silence.

See, when you have these weird thoughts swirling through your brain, you find yourself wanting to push away the weird ones, the scary ones.

And let me just pause here to say that if you have enough disturbing, frightening thoughts running through it regularly, please go see a professional; it could be that you're just an over-worrier like myself, but really, let a professional decide that for you. Don't let it swirl around and make you feel worse and maybe cause you to be worse. (Take it from someone who's been there. This isn't a textbook talking. This is the case study).

Some of your thoughts are rational; you remember a fight with a sibling, it makes you upset, you want to enjoy your latte in the moment, so you try and move on. Drown it out with music, call a friend, watch something funny online.

Some of your thoughts are less rational. These, depending, can be known as intrusive thoughts, which I was unwilling to buy into for a while and still worry about sometimes, but as I talk and read more I realize I'm not alone in these intrusive thoughts. (Again -- see a professional. He/she can ease your mind and really separate the rational from the irrational, the real from the fake, what needs to be worried about and what may pass when your youthful stress passes, or -- more likely -- matures and strengthens you).

And these are some of the things -- if I were to bet -- that keep a lot of us from turning the stereo off, keep us adding hobbies instead of curbing them, keep us going instead of slowing.

So I guess, since this is a long post, as a lot of my posts are, I'll get to a "takeaway" here, and that would be to try and be quiet.

I know you've read it in Woman's Day, or heard it at church, or seen it preached in a TED Talk, but again, this is the case study talking, not the text book. So maybe give it a try, based on my advice in addition to theirs (I hope that didn't sound arrogant).

I told a friend of mine about this new found gift of mine, and this friend is just like me, and he said in response to the idea of silence: "That scares the hell out of me."

I want him to know the silence.

When I got out here on my patio tonight, I had country music playing, and the rare cloud cover of LA was reflecting off the office building windows at dusk. Now it's back to its usual view, dark outside with certain windows lit up across the street. I used to search for a very specific light blinking on a desktop hard drive in one of the offices on an upper floor of the building.

Nowadays I tend to lean back -- rule #1 of the patio, posture is not judged -- and breathe. My breathing slows automatically. If I'm a little more keyed up, it takes a little while. Sometimes I close my eyes. Other times I let my eyes focus on the window lights, then fuzz out to the darker portions of the air in front of me.

There's really no agenda. It's just to sit.

When I feel myself getting extra squirrely, or even if I'm "fine," I tell myself to go outside to sit in the dark. Because I know I need it. And sometimes I get giddy thinking about it.

Which might sound creepy to you, because telling yourself to go sit in the dark might sound like a very sadistic version of "time out."

But it's great. Sometimes I come inside after being on the patio with this whoooooooooosh feeling of wobbly calm, like getting out of the pool as a kid after you'd been splashing and cannonballing with all your little strength and your body just wept with gratified release.

Other times I come inside and still feel uptight, but less so than when I first went to the patio. And that's better than stewing in the uptightness.

--------

I mentioned earlier that my thoughts slow down so much faster when smothered in silence than when blocked with noise and image.

It's so true, and I never would have believed it had I not experienced it.

It's like physics in a fun house mirror -- totally makes no sense when aligned with the textbook of acceleration and the equation for velocity and all these things you have experienced to be true. But once you experience it, you see it from the view of the case study instead of the text book.

This backwards physics that doesn't match textbook physics is a lot how I experience my relationship with God, and faith, and the Bible, too, by the way. I'll be reading some passage in Isaiah that, honestly, kind of makes zero sense to me, but I weep. And in not making sense, it makes sense. And this is not the result of recreational drug use, either. Which is probably why I keep coming back for more, schlepping through my crankiness on Sunday mornings at crowded church, feeling the bad moments of doubt and fear and wondering why life can feel so cruel yet not concluding with a walk away from Him.

And it's another reason why I come to the patio. Because while mostly I feel the breathing and the quiet and the soft silence, I also sometimes find myself maybe talking (I say "maybe" because I'm not always sure that's what I'm doing, exactly), or even listening?, to Him.

Diet PSA

I need to stop living off of protein bars.

If you see me eating a protein bar, don't knock it out of my hands -- because I may desperately need the calories -- but do escort me to the nearest restaurant or kitchen.

And then be bossy and make me eat something other than a protein bar.

Thank you,
Bailey

Friday, August 29, 2014

Clouds of cotton

I was folding sheets the other day, and it was fluffing up memories in my mind.

See what I did there?

Namely, as I was single-handedly (well, double-handedly, but single-bodiedly) folding a sheet, I remembered when I used to fold sheets with my brothers as children, and how it was a team effort, because we were wee.

I think my mom told me once during my adult years – or maybe I read it in Woman’s Day at Grandma’s – that she would let us fold things like linens, because who cares if the washcloths are uneven in the closet? It was less important that sheets and blankets be wrinkle free than her silk 80s blouses, especially with four kids to love on at home and a busy Human Resources office to manage by day.

So us kiddoes received sheets to fold, as a way of earning our adorable blonde keep, and probably to keep Mom and Dad from going over the edge with all their parental duties.

We often received several plastic baskets of white socks and undies, and would be informed that we were at a “Folding Party” (joy!), and we would proceed to grumble, sometimes laugh, and wait for our eyes to become bloodshot as we grabbed for yet another sock, hoping it would match the seemingly identical one already in our other hand.

I think we even used bright permanent markers at one point to put green, orange, purple marks on the toes of the socks to make this matching task easier, but I don’t recall it actually speeding up the process.

It seemed like Folding Parties occurred at least once a week, and with the party favors being…socks (albeit clean ones, can’t complain too much), well let’s just say these parties never lived up to the “Party” in their name.

So socks sucked, but sheets on the other hand were actually pretty great.

Mom used to grab sheets straight from the buzzing dryer and go in search of her children, watching TV, playing video games, doing homework throughout the house. Once found, she would dump the warm sheets on each of us, and it was like living in a happy cloud of cotton and something without an exact name, really, but akin to world peace and no school and giant ice cream sundaes.

Something like that. The stuff of childhood, and the stuff we never stopped wishing for after we outgrew our twin-sized bedding.

The heat from the sheet cloud evaporated quickly, within a minute, even, and when I finally shrugged out of the Little Mermaid or koala or Sesame Street print fabric, my skin was chilly, giving me a shiver. But it was totally worth it while it lasted. Every time.

My parents also tasked us with the feat of folding our bedding, which was risky given our varying heights, which were for a long time well under five feet apiece. But we were somehow able to fold several sets of sheets, so we charged on and boldly assisted with this household chore.

I loved folding pillowcases, because they fit more easily in my tiny hands, and that tiny bit of Dad's engineering blood in me made my technique pretty accurate. But I also loved folding the big sheets, with the big brothers.

It was (at least) a two-person job (sometimes a third kid would pinch the middle section of a sheet to keep things tidy between folds), requiring each kid on the two-person team to grab two corners each. This was enough to spread my arms to their full wingspan, clutching a wrinkled corner in each fist, making sure not to let loose the silky fabric and delay the process.

With the parachute of cartooned cotton stretched between us, we would walk toward each other, carefully and clumsily mashing our sheet corners between our palms, pressing tight so as not to drop them.

Somehow we would smooth out the points, and one kid would steadily hold the four-turned-to-two pointed corners, now thicker than before, while the other kid would make sure it was safe to let go, then reach to the floor to grab the folded end of the sheet. Then this bro or sis would back away from the sibling, stretching out the sheet like a runner being unrolled at a wedding.


Then we would pinch our own corners together on our own ends of the parachute, my left hand to my right, brother's left hand to his right.

Then we would turn the sheet to make it lie horizontally suspended again, making eye contact for a moment first to make sure we were in sync to turn the sheet in the same direction. Sometimes we got it right, others we ended up with a twist in the smooth folds of our parachute. More eye contact would correct the twist.
We now had a very narrow, long sheet of several folded layers between us. We would walk toward each other again to mesh our corners once again. As the sheet got more tightly packed together with itself, we moved faster, handling the giant flag of fabric more easily in our kid-sized hands with each move, our confidence evident in our swiftness.

...........

As I was folding my own sheets the other day, I was thinking about how massive that sheet used to be between me and my fellow folders. So big that it took all of our concentration not to let it slip from our hands. One wrong, accidental twist and we would get frustrated, one nagging the other that now the process had to begin again. Other times we were more forgiving, willing to slow down to correct the error.

I could be misremembering, but I loved the task of folding sheets. I felt grown up, powerful and brave, even, being trusted with the task of handling something so big. Not just washcloths and pillowcases, but BIG sheets. Something ten times my size.

It took me plenty of years as a twenty-something to realize it, but I love having a role, and as our family gets bigger with sisters-in-law and a niece and nephews, having a role feels almost imperative to me, to prevent my disappearance in the crowd.

Folding sheets was an early role for me, along with doing dishes and later shoveling snow (the brothers will argue that I didn’t do my fair share of shoveling, but I have my explanations, friends, if you'd ever like to hear my side of the story). Now I've come into other roles -- sending my niece stickers in the mail, making inappropriate jokes at family gatherings, cross stitching things for babies' nurseries. Writing.

The sheet between me and my brothers feels sometimes wide again, these days. My closest sibling, geographically, is 1,000 miles from me. I haven’t seen him in almost two years, nor have I met his newborn son. 

But I once called this same brother when I, at 21 years old, for the first time in my life, hated my life. I cried on the phone and he prayed for me across the electrical wire. I sat on the floor of the kitchen, sort of listening, sort of relaxing as best as I could into the sound of his voice.

Mom was in the next room, and had tried her best to help, but knew there were some things only a sibling can fix with another sibling. Sometimes she sends one of us in to coax the other to do something, or to talk them out of a bad mood, or whatever. If memory serves, it may have been her who dialed him that night eight years ago, looking for him to help her daughter. And he helped.

This brother has since married, gained another degree, moved a time or three. I have learned to kiss boys (late bloomer), gained another degree, quit a degree program, and moved a time or eight. This brother is not my current, go-to mentor (and we’ve taken my love life off the table of conversations, because we just do not see eye to eye on it, so why waste time?), but I still love him. And I miss him. Sometimes in a crippling way, other times – as I ventured yesterday with my therapist – in a non-overtaking way.

And all of it makes me think of the sheets.

There is giant parachute space between me and my brothers right now. And most of the time, the sheet remains extended rather than folded. Skype calls and witty Facebook comments make their way across it, but actual airfare is rarely purchased to make the corners touch.

And the expanse feels wide – because it is – but it was wide when we were kids, too, at times. We didn’t develop the magic sibling eye contact required to keep the sheet from twisting overnight. It took several folding party sessions to get there.

And we used to bicker at each other when someone dropped a corner, because we were young and the sheet folding was new and difficult and it was frustrating to have to start again at something we hadn't yet mastered.

But we would always start again. And now we’ve matured, slower to snap when someone drops a corner (sometimes).

More people are holding the corners, and edges of the sheet, now – wives, babes. New tabby cats.

Sheets are flung on air mattresses, futons, on the floors of babies’ rooms or living rooms, when we visit at Christmas, or baptisms, or graduations.

Corners touch for a moment, but when we go back to our home corners after each visit -- Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas -- the sheet doesn’t remain folded. It's an extended parachute, hovering over "fly-over" country once again.

Touch, unfold. Touch, unfold.

I guess what I’m realizing, or experiencing, at this exact moment in history (because I wouldn’t be surprised if it changes), is that I’m doing OK – much better than I have done, or been – with the not staying folded thing. I don’t know if it’s because I’m enjoying my own life right now, or something else, or a combination of several things. It's taken many therapy sessions and conversations with friends, and tears, and prayers from friends to get here, but it feels like, for but a moment, I'm here. Not thinking about some vague "there," of what could or should be.  

I would like more touches of the corners, for the sheet to stay folded longer. But if Skype and three days at Christmas are what I get, I’ll take it over the other option, which is to remain always unfolded, or with one corner dropped and the other corners being unforgiving and not willing to rework the system to make the lines clean again.

We folded then. We dropped corners. We twisted, or we got the eye contact just right. We bickered. We unfluffed our valiant folding work to make our beds, then stripped them when Mom hollered upstairs for us to bring her laundry.

She washed, she dried, she dumped the clouds on us once again, the clouds of world peace and no school and endless ice cream.

And we emerged, shivered a bit, and then we folded. And we figured out a groove.

And we always had those moments before the folding parties, in the clouds. Somehow things were most perfect when crumpled and heaped, instead of neatly folded and stacked. When we weren't thinking about the logistics of folding, but were just existing -- happy, and warm.

I plan to dump sheets on my own kids, should I have them, and I hope they find their groove with each other, at their folding parties, in their twenties, and beyond.