Thursday, January 31, 2013

How old are you, Bailey? I'm this many!

Let me tell you what I have in store for the remainder of this evening.

A family friendly comedy film,

to be watched while consuming Budweiser and

an assortment of candy.

I will also be cross stitching while I munch and take in some quality cinema featuring hottie Dennis Quaid.

All of this causes me to ask, yet again:

How OLD am I?!??

Seriously, let's recap and look at the appropriate ages for each item on the list:

Family friendly film: 35-45

Budweiser: 21

Candy: 7

Cross stitch: 83

Swooning over Dennis Quaid: I'm not sure what age group this is, but I'm gonna venture and guess 44+

I guess that all averages out to my late-twenties age, right? And this is the time of life where we all figure out our identities, right? Except for those people with spouses and kids.*

Which reminds me, while I was at the gas station tonight (buying my Skittles), the news anchors on the TV by the cashier were cheerfully sharing with us that single people are 60 percent more likely to suffer from a heart attack. Um...thanks for this non-helpful statistic?

*Yes, I love to stereotype and think that people in that group don't suffer the kind of identity crises as the rest of us stuck in Dating Ville. I'm sure they go through identity issues, but I've gotta say they are vastly different of those of the Singletons. (There are several married-with-kids people in this world who I love dearly. I'm just saying our lives are different.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Brits tell it like it is (and wear neon sports bras)

I had an extended conversation last night with my fantastic friend from college, Sam, and a portion of our chat was devoted to the ridiculousness of dating in our generation. I'm planning to delve into some research on this, to bring voice to all the craziness and carryin'-on, because it drives me crazy and it drives a lot of my friends crazy, too. (In fact, I've already written one article on this, in case you're interested.)

Right now I'm listening to my Britney Spears Pandora station, and upon listening to a classic song from my youth, I discovered there's some pretty good stuff there that pertains to this topic.

The Spice Girls really offered some great dating advice (not to mention some great outfits). Or, a line, I should say, to use on people one is interested in:

If you wanna get with me,
Better make it fast
Now don't go wasting my precious time

Sing it again, Sisters! I am tired of people wasting my time! If you're interested, let me know; don't leave me hanging.

This is not the first time I've found something notable in this song, actually. Back in the day I thought "Wannabe" would be an appropriate wedding reception song (well, it is) because of the declaration that if someone wants to be with you then he better be OK with your friends.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A short letter to some musicians

Iron & Wine,

If you weren't so good,


people wouldn't listen to you as much.

The Daily Bailey

P.S. Same to you, Bon Iver.
P.P.S. Parenthood fans, remember the way the show incorporated this song in with the scene of Nora's birth? Loved it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

It's all how you look at it

You may see crackers, goat cheese, apple slices, a banana, Cheerios, almonds and cookies in a bed with a laptop and Wi-Fi.

I see an at-home movie theater.

Time to get caught up on Go On. And perhaps The O.C., Hot in Cleveland, The Exes--depending on how my energy and potential insomnia hold out.

Happy Friday night, Y'all.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A word on resolutions

I have slowly but surely become more physically healthy over the years. I used to eat way more junk food, drink soda almost daily, exercise in spurts. I wasn't usually sick, but about once a year I got sick enough to miss school or work and spend a day or two or three in bed. 

In the last handful of years a lot of that has changed. I still drink beer and eat pizza, have terrible posture, watch shows like The OC. But in many ways I have developed great habits for my bod*. After high school I started flossing. About five years ago I got my first gym membership and started taking a multivitamin every day. Last year I trained myself to drink water and eat fruit; now I crave them both. 

As a result I'm rarely sick and when I do get sick it seldom keeps me in bed. I've been fighting something for about four weeks now, all in all, and this week I've exercised three times and I only sent myself to bed earlier than 9:00 once in the entire time I've felt off.

I don't say all this to brag--please, if you want to compare life problems, bring it--but rather to make the point that I developed all of these habits gradually and, very importantly: by being merciful with myself. 

None of these habits came about with nasty treatment of myself. They didn't come with DRINK WATER OR ELSE notes taped on the fridge nor with a goal of Do this every single day all the time. 

That tactic doesn't work for this girl. There are only certain things that I can do effortlessly every day. Those include, off the top of my head, petting a cat named Dibbs (or any cat at hand, in a pinch), taking a shower and brushing my teeth, reading, and--lately--cross stitching. 

And peeing. I'm sorry, that might be TMI, but I have a very small bladder. 

All other things are not necessarily a given, depending on my energy, anxiety level, mood, food cravings. I am not guaranteed a good night's sleep, or any sleep at all; on occasion it just doesn't happen. I have been known to run five miles and then not sleep the entire night. I hate this, but I have accepted that sometimes this is the truth for my life. My dad reminds me on occasion that we share genes, and that he has struggled to rest for years. For a long time I got jealous of my mom, who can fall asleep almost instantly, and just recently I overheard her saying that she often wakes up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. We all have our stuff. 

I can't guarantee that I'll eat a square meal every day, learn something new, do something that frightens me**, or even floss my teeth. And I love to floss.

But once upon a time I thought I would never floss. I thought it was painful and not worthwhile. 

Then one day in 2003 I started flossing. I honestly don't remember why I did it. But I think it was my idea. And within a few months I was hooked. And now I advocate for it. 

When I got a gym membership, it was of course to encourage me to use it, since I was paying for it, but I never told myself I had to go every day. I've missed several days of taking a vitamin, but most days I take one and I think my body appreciates it, given the fact that I don't eat broccoli as often as I could. 

It occurred to me recently that I should be more merciful with myself when it comes to my mental health. By this I don't mean to let myself take it easy when I'm feeling anxious. That's not bad advice, and I certainly will be the first to throw suffering friends a bone and tell them to give him or herself a break already. Sometimes you need to get up off the couch and get a move on in order to turn your frown upside down, but other times, yes, a bubble bath is in order. For men and women alike, Friends. Your gender-role defying blogger here will not judge.

Rather, what I mean by being merciful with myself is that maybe I should get off my own back on days that I don't feel like the world's most put together, normal person. I should work on not chalking it up to a failure of a day, or a failed day as a person, as Bailey, if on occasion I feel off from the time my alarm goes off to the time I go to bed.*** Or if I feel the need to call a friend at lunch because I don't want to sit in silence. I need to look at that and say to myself, "So? Looks like you were feeling a certain way and you did what you could to try and handle it in a positive, safe manner. Don't beat yourself up."

When I see people's self esteem and pride deflate because they worked out for four days straight and then took one day off, or because they were "supposed" to read five newspaper articles a day and only read the comics today, I sometimes want to shake them and say, "No! That's not how it works!" 

We live in a culture that preaches perfection, all or nothing, workaholism, more more more, get to the top make no exceptions. 

It doesn't work. 

We are human beings, not robots. Even robots malfunction. 

Give yourself a break. Set healthy goals for yourself, absolutely. But, based on my own experience, if you set those goals because you want to and do them at something less than an all-day-every-day pace, I bet you will have better results in the long and short term. And if you're lucky, your goals will turn into habits, routine, pleasure.

Meanwhile, I'm going to try and not get so down on myself for sometimes getting down. I'll keep myself in check, yes. Self reflection is good and healthy, to a point. And I will keep my mentors close, to turn the reflection outward and get a reality check. But I am going to try and tell myself, "It's OK. You're feeling weird. It's uncomfortable. Then again, so are wedgies. You've got your friends' numbers in your cell phone; you are free to use them. But an emotional wedgie isn't helped with a self-implemented swirlie on top."

And then I will remind myself that sometimes the least I can do is quit playing the card game on the computer and clean my room. Or call a friend. Or write. And that is a victory. Even if I continue to feel weird sometimes. 

*I love that word. Always makes me think of middle school.  
**I gotta say, I think Eleanor Roosevelt was on the right track when she said that, but do I think it's practical? Not exactly. It kind of instills guilt in me instead, unfortunately. 
***Please understand that if you do feel "off" all day, every day, for several days, it is very important to reach out and talk to someone about it. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It's that time again: time to judge fictional characters


I think it only appropriate, given my pre-season ranking of the characters on Parenthood, to do a post-season ranking. 

As the rules were last time, I'm not grading minors, but please note there are some newbies on the list. 

Ready? Here we go:


Hank, Sarah, Zeek, Camille, Amber, Ryan, Kristina


Adam (this is a huge jump for him)

     Like quite a bit:

Crosby, Mark, Drew (slid on the ranking)

     Tolerable/Annoying/I'm having issues with them:

Jasmine, Amy, Joel, Julia, Hattie

Your turn: weigh in!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

When I don’t write

Writing for me is like releasing poison, or toxins. Not to say my words are poison, but rather if I keep them inside me I am at risk of getting an infection or developing a cancer. I have to let them out.

Also, let’s just begin with the fact that I love to write. Sure, I’m not always up to the task. I’d rather talk, watch a movie, read, cross stitch, pet the cat. But I love doing it. I don’t complain about writer’s block. I could always write about something. It’s just a matter of getting myself to do it. But really, once I’m going, I’m going. I may not be thinking, “This is a masterpiece!” as I do it. I might not want anyone to see it, for the sheer crap quality it sometimes has. But I like to do it.

But to me, writing is like exercise, or a good heart to heart with a friend, or maybe even a hot make out session. I feel better when I do it. I know how to do it. There are other things that are good for me, but I don’t know how to do them in a way that makes me feel better. Reading the Bible, for example. Talk about a confusing, terrifying, mysterious book to read. Where to start? What does it all mean? People say read the Bible like it’s as easy as reading the newspaper. And I struggle to read the newspaper. And I’m a journalist.

I’m not saying writing is my savior. I have a Savior with a capital “S.” But writing is certainly a way to keep me sane—relatively.

My friend Chris told me yesterday she lives in her head and she needs to get out of it. I told her I was available to meet with her to get out of my head immediately. She laughed, and I let her, because I had a feeling she understood. Other people could laugh and think that I was making a joke. That’s another important piece: reading other writing of writers who get it. Writers who, like me, live in their heads, think too much, overanalyze. Writers who say crazy things that don’t sound too crazy to me.

I don’t understand why some of us seem to have more thoughts than others, the way my body seems to produce way more mucus than others do. I see people who are the same age as me, live somewhat similar lives, have the same number of hours and days to think as I do. And from what I understand none of us have the capability of turning our brains off. Yet so many people seem to float through their days, thinking of course, struggling with things, yes, but not driving themselves mad with thoughts, thoughts, thoughts!

So I appreciate writers who get at the nitty gritty, who talk about calling their friends for mentorship, to be talked down. A novel doesn’t usually do that. Fictions are plot. Nonfiction is thought. I’m more of a thinker than a doer. I’ve discovered in adulthood that doing is important to keeping the thinking in check, but even so I will always lean more toward the thinking.

I can enjoy a bubble gum romance movie plot, yes. In fact I’ve been watching way too many chick flicks lately. But those chick flicks have to have realistic, thoughtful dialogue, or one killer line, or humor. When Harry Met Sally—I don’t even care about the romance, honestly. But the humor. The truth. The ridiculous look at us ridiculous people. Gets me every time.

So all this to say that I’ve gotta write. Don’t let the fluid build up inside me to the point that it becomes poison and has to be lanced. Rather gently release the pressure of a newly formed blister with a needle. Can’t feel the needle go through the dead skin, but I know the difference of walking on a foot whose blister has been deflated versus that which is full and painful and pressing. I ward off the lance when I go for the needle first. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

I wrote this yesterday.

Today was rough.

Most of this week was rough.

And it’s mostly just inside my damn head.

My life is so good, in terms of what I have. I have amazing friends, including ones who are helping me live here in a city I love even though they’ve hardly known me long. Yesterday my “landlady” Kate told me my rent can be to pet her dog, who needs a little taming.

My rent is to pet a dog.

I do that anyway.

My life is full of amazing things. Yet my brain runs in the opposite direction, to the worst case scenario, and the other worst case scenario, and the other one. It scares the shit out of me, because while I can handle the fact that I’m an anxious person and can recognize life events that make me become anxious—dwindling funds in my bank account, no boyfriend, loneliness, anger towards people who I want more attention from—I hate the way my mind manifests it. It gives me some comfort to see more than one therapist hardly bat an eye when I tell them about the terrible places my imagination takes me (they trust that they are just thoughts, and nothing more; when they’re in your own head, it’s a different story, one that’s harder to accept), but I always find a way to make myself feel worse than the last time I was in a season of fear and dry gasping and loneliness that just makes me grasp at every last activity to keep me moving.

I called my friend Michelle two nights ago, and she said, “Let’s just put this on the table. I won’t judge you if you ever decide you want to tell me about some of the thoughts.” And we talked and I was able to breathe again. I was able to hang up the phone with her and face the rest of the night ahead of me.

I woke up the next morning, yesterday, and felt great, or at least nearly great. I had plans to see two dear friends that day—my saving grace for the day, as I had been cooped up, unemployed and slightly ill—all week, and I called them to let them know I was fighting something in my system and that we could cancel if they were nervous about what might be (but probably are not) flu germs. They thanked me for being sensitive, said they hated to do it but let’s reschedule.

I didn’t panic.

Oftentimes I panic, when I’m counting on socialization and it’s taken away from me.

I was fine. I went for a long walk outside, boldly walking without my phone. Not bold because of safety reasons, but bold because I was daring to not have my pacifier of social interaction with me. I had written on my dry erase board earlier, “Keep a green tree in your heart, and a singing bird will come.” I had seen that in a beach house where I stayed with Nick and his parents five years ago, and I thought it was so positive and poetic that I wrote it down and it’s been a comfort to me since.

Little did I know that on my walk I would see a bird in a tree. When I wrote it down I wasn’t expecting literal results. I happened to turn my head at someone’s yard as I walked along the sidewalk and I saw a peacock in a tree. A peacock!

I stood on the sidewalk for a long time, saying out loud, “I can’t believe I’m seeing this.”

Peacocks really scare me. Belly dancers for the same reason: their sexual forwardness. I hate that they let peacocks roam in zoos; I stand by that. But seeing it in this completely unexpected context, and though the yard had no fence—the peacock could be on me in seconds—I was taken aback. Not afraid, just in awe and so grateful.

I got home and called all of my brothers and my parents to tell them what I saw.

Still more than 24 hours later I still can’t really believe it.

I went to church and saw my dear friend Chris, and my dear friend Sue was there with her husband and friend Minnewa. The pastor who I have a crush on preached, and if I was judging his eyes correctly, we shared some eye contact during his message.

The sun was shining—well, duh, this is Southern California—as we stood outside afterward, but I kind of held back in the conversation, as my sinuses and ears were full of fluid, making it hard to hear and focus.

At our cars Sue told me over and over I could come to her house, and I told her I had been alone most of the week, but I still didn’t feel like myself enough to really want to go over to her house. I so wanted to not be alone, but I didn’t want to socialize. I went to my car, then got out and walked to the beach, this time with pacifier in hand and I didn’t wait 30 seconds to start dialing.

As I reached the water I was talking to my dad, one of my most favorite people in all the world, but it offered little comfort. I wanted a person right with me. I wanted to know that someday someone will want to marry me. And I don’t mean that in a romantic context but rather one of sustainability. Will someone ever accept all of my craziness? Will he be patient like my one and only boyfriend so far? Patient that he’ll let me cry over and over and over again and just let me cry, sitting right there with me, no eye on the clock or his phone or the TV? That he won’t decide he’s had too much after X number of years?

As I listened to the pastor and crushed on him simultaneously, my brain left room for me to think of yet another thing—charitable thing that it is. It let me think about the fact that I’m not spiritually strong enough for him. That it wouldn’t work between us.

I called my friend Lydia and she picked up—thank you, God.

We talked and talked as we do. Lydia and I can always talk and she makes me smile. I talked while I sat in the sand, until my nose was finally in need of a tissue, then talked to her all the way back to my car. I found a napkin and Lydia said, “You found a tissue!” as she heard me blow my nose, like a proud mom with a toddler.

My throat hurt from talking and as we were saying goodbye my phone beeped to tell me the battery was almost out. I told Lydia I might call her again today or this week. I called Michelle again last night.

I got back home and plugged in my phone to charge. My best friend called. I started moping about me and when I let her talk she told me she was at the hospital. Her father-in-law is dying, she told me. I almost started crying while we were on the phone. Not because I ever knew her father-in-law that well, but in a selfish way, using someone else’s tragedy to be the catalyst for dropping tears to release my own mental anguish.

Years ago at my grandfather’s funeral I cried several times, on one occasion at my grandparents’ condo. I took my mom in a bedroom and said I didn’t want them to see me crying. My grandfather was a great man, one who I remember being funny and enjoyable to be around, but most of my tears were because I was miserable in my life. I was studying something I didn’t like to study, I was lonely, I wanted friends. It was my first year out of college. Mom told me it was OK if they saw me cry, they would just think I was crying about Grandpa.

I called my mom today after I got off the phone with my friend and cried and she prayed for the man who is in his last days. She asked what I had eaten and when I told her a banana, a granola bar and chips, she told me to buy soup. I took a shower and bought soup and toilet paper and tissue. The cashier was sweet, called me “sweetheart” or “honey” when she reminded me to grab my keys off the counter before I went to my car.

I don’t want to say just look at the little things, like a nice cashier or a peacock in someone’s non-fenced yard in broad daylight, as a way to cope with life. I think that’s stupid a lot of the time. Life is hard, and I get in really, really dark places. When I go through a season of anxiety and my thoughts go everywhere I don’t want them to go and then I beat myself up for thinking them even though I have no control over it, ad nauseum, each time it seems harder, not easier. I’m a true believer in hard times making you stronger, but this is one category where each time it hits I feel worse and the visions of doom for my life only increase tenfold.

Seriously, I hope there’s a man out there for me.

But I do have to recognize and accept the tiny miracles. While I was driving home my left ear just barely popped, releasing the tiniest bit of pressure and freeing up my ability to hear just a little better, and I felt maybe .05 percent better. Maybe 0.5. But while most of my struggles were mental, that little bit of physical release made me feel just slightly—slightly—less mad. I had planned to crash in the door of my tiny and beloved house and call my dad in a mess of tears. Instead it wasn’t until my friend called me and I hung up with her and called home that I had some tears on the phone with my mom. But I didn’t tell her everything that was bothering me. I told her I was having a hard day in general, and then about my friend's father-in-law.

And then I stopped crying and took a shower and went to the store. And now I’m writing. It’s not great. But I believe this is my gift and I need to be responsible with it by using it, instead of saying I'm a writer but never writing. So here I am. Writing. May God use my hands on the keyboard as He guides them, for His will. And may this gift help keep me afloat. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Yes, I do still blog.

If I blog today, then I will make it just inside the blog-more-than-once-in-a-month accomplishment.

Le sigh. Sorry, peeps, for being so neglectful of this here blog. I had weeks and weeks and weeks of a crazy work schedule, and then for the last two weeks I've been jaunting around the Midwest visiting family and friends.

I saw many a friend and family--I did a little counting and figured I saw around 50 people I know--while I was away and the temperatures in Kansas were more merciful to me than in Minnesota or Wisconsin. 

Now I am back in my sunny home--yes, I said home--of California, ready to see what 2013 holds for me! I'm calling it the Lucky year of 2013. 

Hugs to all. I will try to make myself more present in the blogosphere going forward!

-- The Daily Bailey