Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sex. Or lack thereof.

Welcome back! Today at the Daily Bailey, we're going to talk about one of everyone's favorite topics:


Namely, the not having it.

Oh wait, people don't love talking about that. Because they like to have sex, am I right?!

Well, we're gonna talk about it! Or, I'm gonna.

This is something I've wanted to write about for a long time, and I even drafted almost 3,000 words on the topic at one point, but I'm just going to start fresh, because if I've learned anything as a writer, it's that it's OK to write several long-winded things that may never see the light of day, because it's practice, and it gets your thoughts hashed out, helps you realize stuff, etc. And then it's OK to just start fresh on the draft that finally sees the light of day, or the eyes of you right here, right now, reading this.

So let's do this. I have way too much coffee and only two cookies inside my belly and it's after noon on Saturday, and that sounds like a great condition to be in to write about virginity, yes?

OK so part of the reason I haven't published something on this topic yet is because I have a lot to talk about (it's really topics, as sex opens up a kaleidoscope of conversations) and it's hard to break it down, so I'm going to do my best to just get the discussion started. And to myself now I say no more stalling (this is like when I dance around in my living space and eat things and take another pee before a run; I love to run, but I consider the stalling portion to be a part of the workout process itself). GO:

Why I'm not having sex, AKA the Big Question here:

The answer to this question is several-fold, but I will tell you what is perhaps the main reason why I have held onto my V card up to my 29-going-on-30 year of life: because I haven't been in love.

It just seems really, really strange to me to have sex with someone who I'm not in love with. I am such a relational person, such a sensitive person, that I cannot imagine being naked, with synced breathing, etc., in one of the most vulnerable states possible, with someone who I don't feel like I can be completely 100 percent vulnerable with.

Sure, that's something (the 100 percent vulnerable part) I probably won't learn to do until I have sex, but I am capable of deciding whether I am in love or not, and so from there I can make the call on whether or not to drop trou with someone.

It's weird to me that sex can be casual:

As you continue reading this post, please realize I am speaking for me, the only person I can speak for. I'm not the Voice of Virginity here. For me to explain why I don't understand how sex can be casual is not to say that I say sex can't be casual for others. It is just me saying for me, about me, that I have a hard time imagining casual sex in my own life.

Let's start here: one thing that is very weird to me, that I have not been able to get my head around ever, is the pairing of machismo with casual sex, or sex at all.

What is locker room talk all about? How many girls one guy has banged, right?

But isn't that same guy in that stereotypical situation the guy who doesn't "feel" anything, or at least not anything feminine, or vulnerable, or that he would describe as feeling good? He's tough, he's physically strong, things roll off his back, people don't get in his way, etc. We don't usually associate him with the sensitive, caring, thoughtful guy, right?

(Tell me if I'm wrong, seriously. This is just my understanding of this stereotype. And I'm a virgin over here and also have never been in the guys locker room to eavesdrop on said locker room talk, so feel free to correct me.)

We talk about feelings in two ways -- emotional and physical.

From what I hear about sex, it seems to be essentially the one place on earth where the ultimate best emotional and physical feelings one can have meet.

So not only are you experiencing physical ecstasy during sex, but ideally, hopefully, you're simultaneously experiencing an emotional, honeymoon-we're-so-in-love-type ecstasy.*

*(I realize that sexual situations run the gamut from the horrific end of rape through honeymoon bliss, including such negative situations as: painful physical first time, one or both people not being ready emotionally for the first time, people who have fallen out of love but are still having sex, one or both persons having sex is cheating on someone else, etc.)

It just seems oxymoronic to me that someone can have the persona of not caring about someone's emotional feelings, including his (or her) own, yet can put him or herself in a situation -- rather, aggressively seeks out being in a situation -- in which the most positive physical feelings of a human body are experienced.

Am I making any sense? Does anyone else see my confusion here?

To me it seems if someone is going for the most tough exterior image possible, then wouldn't he be above sex? Above sexual pleasure? Isn't everything else about the locker room stereotype one of someone who is never vulnerable, who doesn't need to acknowledge his feelings or pain (including physical ones, what with all the weight lifting and tackling on the football field (I realize I am grossly simplifying this stereotype, but go with me on this)), who can be ON HIS OWN and be just fine?

If that is true, then why does he need to make his way to someone's bed?

My theory: because we all need connection, we all need to experience feeling. Whether we'll fess up to it in the locker room or not.

Maybe sex can be casual for some, but I make emotional connection with people really quickly, and I have a hard time not worrying about being hurt by the loss of even a casual crush. So for me, for now (and probably for always), you won't catch me casually sleeping with someone. Because I know I would be hurt. My feelings are too much into everything I do, think, experience.

ALL THAT TO SAY is that even casual sex would affect me. If I care for someone and am cared for by that person and we merely kiss several times, the loss of that relationship would be (and has been) hard for me, so up the ante on the physical and emotional connection (i.e. sex), then the oh-so-much harder it would be for me, and many others out there going through the same thing, I am willing to argue, when that kind of connection has been made and then is broken. That's my point here.

My reasons for abstinence are religious, but then again no:

I grew up attending church, and as a part of that, spent many hours of my adolescence involved in middle and high school youth group activities, ranging from serious conversations about spiritual doubt with my youth counselors to "Jell-O parties," in which my peers and I all threw a bunch of gelatin at each other. (The latter may sound sexual in nature, but I assure you it was not).

At these youth events we were encouraged, yes, several times to not have sex until we were married, or at the very least to not have sex while we were in middle or high school.

There are several arguments for or against this kind of teaching, and I understand several sides. Would I rather a teenager have protected sex and know about birth control, etc. than have him or her have unsafe sex because they were only educated to simply not have sex and were in turn not educated on the physical health topics? Yes.

Would I rather not see anyone, regardless of age, be hurt because he or she was not ready emotionally for such a connection? Yes.

I am not ignorant, and I applaud my now-defunct WB teen dramas (Dawson's Creek, Felicity) for writing into storylines pieces of plot addressing condom usage and HIV testing. Seriously, HIV testing!! When do you see that on TV now?!? And Dawson's Creek and Felicity were aired in the late 90s/early 2000s! That's laudable.

It's hard to imagine if/when I would have lost my virginity, had I not been provided with guidance through a church environment and by religious parents. A large part of me thinks I would have abstained anyway, out of fear, late physical development, and just being interested in other things at the time -- because I was young and frankly was pretty interested in making collages of magazine clippings rather than strutting my stuff in front of the boys (get me involved in a game of football at that age, however, and you bet I was flexing my muscles and doing touchdown dances, hoping to turn some heads. But that was more of a desire for attention in general, I think).

My focus as a young'n was also very much centered around simply making friends and doing my schoolwork, as I will explore further down in this post (hats off to those of you still reading, by the way. Get yourself some popcorn. You deserve it).

Another part of me fears that I would have had sex too early, and that it could have been a frightening, potentially devastating thing. If no one had told me that I had the right to wait (to be fair, it was more often presented not as a right but as an ultimate decision to make), I might not have known that.

I am beyond blessed to have parents (including a father who doesn't give a f*** (my words, not his) about what people think of his dancing in the streets or other general silliness) who encouraged me and my siblings to be ourselves, always. So it's likely I would have taken a stance of, "I am Bailey, here me roar! I will have sex when I am good and ready!" and continued on making my magazine collages in peace. But who's to say that's the case? Who knows who I would be or how I would have acted had I not been given the education I received, as I received it?

I don't think that schools should teach abstinence only. My fear is that the messages of safe sex that are being dished out these days may perhaps (and I am ignorant on this, as I do not work in a school, so I don't know what the reality is) be responding in enough defiance against archaic abstinence-only stances, that abstinence may be put in an unfair light. Again, I really don't know the reality of how these messages are delivered, but I hope the message given in schools right now is not: "Here is three hours of education on the pill, condoms, etc., and finally five quick minutes to brush over this thing called 'abstinence.'"

I say this not to defend the youth groups of America but to protect the emotional well being of the youth of America, several of whom may not be ready to have sex, even if their bodies are old enough to participate in the activity.

[Section here about what the Bible says about sex (or no sex) before marriage; removed for the time being because I'm not fully read up on the subject, and to curb the length of this post. But we can discuss this matter in "Part Two" of this post, should there ever be a Part Two.]

Finally, per the sexual education that occurred in my (religious) home growing up: if I had to peruse the issue, I would guess that my parents didn't talk to us too much about abstaining from sex because a) they probably knew what our youth counselors were telling us, and b) from knowing their kids, they probably could guess that their kids weren't having sex and weren't planning to for a long while, probably not until marriage (I'm sure we iterated this to them, too, in conversation every once in a while).

The message I did receive at home was focused on love, and the importance of love in long term relationships. We discussed this specifically and pointedly, and also watched a video from which we garnered the all important term, "pizza love."

What is pizza love, you ask?

Pizza love is that kind of love you feel for pizza. You love pizza (and I do love pizza), but you don't LOVE pizza in the sense that you would commit to it. We should, in turn, approach potential life partners with the pizza love question in mind. Do I pizza love this person, or do I LOVE this person? And does he or she pizza love me back, or LOVE me back?

So my parents did talk to us about sex, but their message -- interestingly enough -- is one that I have carried with me, and that is that sex and love go hand in hand.

Why it's not that weird (that I don't have sex):

To me, it's just not. It's the norm for me. I do think about it, more so now that I'm older, but I legitimately don't have regrets about being this age and being a virgin.

Why it's a little weird:

Sometimes it seems weird. Sometimes I wonder if I'm too late in the game to learn the game. But I learned to kiss at 25. I'll catch up. I'll be fine.

Where it creates the biggest struggle, perhaps, is in dating. Sometimes I want to walk into a bar wearing a sign that says, "Wants to marry a Christian, not having sex until marriage" (don't worry, I won't wear this sign), so that it is out of the way, and so I don't find myself in an awkward situation of having to explain to someone why, actually, we're just going to make out tonight.

But we can make out all you want.

Am I scared of sex?:

Helllllll yes! I won't lie, sometimes it's nice to have this little waiting plan I have, because it means I don't have to be that vulnerable with someone today.

Will I date someone who has had sex?


And finally, Why it hasn't been that hard for me, Bailey Brewer, to wait, due to the very specific details of my specific life: 

For those of you who don't know, my father switched careers in his middle adulthood, and this resulted in more than one move -- due to his schooling and, later, placement for his job -- across state lines. I moved three times before graduating high school.

Some girls whose families move during their adolescent years somehow manage to have regular friend groups and be involved with a myriad of clubs and also have these foreign things called boyfriends in their lives, but I was absolutely not one of those girls. Some of them even become Prom or Homecoming Queen, and this is something to discuss in my therapy sessions: all my rage and jealousy and whatnot.

I managed to participate in a variety of things -- but I did so with varying levels of confidence -- and I managed to make friends -- but to this day have not, since the 8th grade, felt as if I've been part of a friend group -- and, boyfriend, wait, what? What's a boyfriend?

Would you like to know the age I was when I had my first, tried and true, real boyfriend? 25.

Maybe my libido isn't as raging as certain others. Maybe that's why I'm a virgin.

I mean I'm a human. I have desire. I have a body. I'm not dead inside.

But I just have to say that very few things in my life have followed a conventional or chronological pattern ("pattern" isn't even an appropriate word to use, as it is so far from the norm in my life). During adolescence, while my classmates were playing Spin the Bottle and Seven Minutes in Heaven, I certainly wasn't making out with handfuls of boys and meanwhile trying to talk my hormones off some "let's have sex now" cliff, reminding my body that I was a "good girl" who wasn't going to have sex until I was married.

Guys weren't asking me out, and I was spending a lot of my time just trying not to feel self conscious. Ironically I was a pretty self confident person, but that's a whole other ball of wax that we can tear apart some other time.

Some boys confessed to having crushes on me, but beyond that I don't recall (unless I totally missed it) anyone leaning in for a kiss. I believe the first time that happened was when I was 22. Not only out of high school but, by then, out of college.

I took my brother to a high school dance, for crying out loud. I just reached a point in my senior year of high school where I thought, "It's my last year of school, I love to dance, and I want to go to a school dance!" I was tired of missing out; in fact sometimes I think that was the framework that I placed my life in -- thinking I was situated in a manner to perpetually miss out. My brother Patrick was coming home from college for his spring break, so I took him to the dance. We actually had a fun time, and used the slow songs as time to take breaks to visit the refreshment table -- efficient.

This is not me asking for pity, this is just the reality of what my life was. I'm grateful that I was able to make the best of things; instead of skipping the dance, I found a way to go. But I skipped a lot of dances as a freshman and sophomore; it took me several years of missing out before I learned to dig my heels in and realize that I better make things happen or things weren't going to happen. Since then I like to think I've only become better at practicing that mentality. But I still struggle in feeling like I am outside of others' groups, and am only allowed in with an obvious invite -- possibly the same reason why I rarely date. Without a clearly worded, "Bailey I like you, I want to be your boyfriend," from a man, I will probably assume the guy just likes to watch football with me. If he tells me I'm pretty that helps, too; then again I just like to hear that someone thinks I'm pretty.**

**This can be dangerous, for women of all ages. Again, another conversation. Maybe for Part Two.

Anyway. I'm getting off track here.

So I went to college, and while making friends was a snap because I was so disgustingly used to introducing myself to strangers, maybe I just carried my head too high (after years of becoming "too" strong and growing up too fast) and the guys in the dorms found that intimidating?

Friends, I don't know. But I haven't walked through life this far just thinking, "Seeeeeeexxxxxxx. When am I going to have sex?!"

I suppose I've just had in my head for so long an answer to that question that goes something like: "Well, Bailey, you'll have sex when you're married. Meanwhile focus on finding someone who you really like who you wouldn't mind having sex with for years to come."

(OK the thinking hasn't gone quite like that. Generally I walk through each day thinking about what I'm doing at work and the book I'm reading and the next time I'll be hanging out with a friend and what I can blog about and my current crush(es) and....)

So in sum, we are all very unique creatures with very unique, specific lives of our own, and so our own sex and virginity stories are all going to be very different. Thank you for reading to the bottom of this post, if you did. I hope that this sheds light on some of my thinking on the subject. And again, I can only speak for myself.

I am happy to continue this conversation. There is plenty more I can say about all this. I really consider this a scratching of the surface. So if you want more thoughts on the matter, clarification, etc., let me know. I am aware that there is a gross number of topics related to this overarching topic that I didn't touch upon here. Trust me, I've probably thought about most of the things you might be thinking I missed here.

And finally, I will close this with this bit of information: Boys, if you're interested in dating me, that's fine, and we can make out with each other plenty, but we're not doing the deed until there's a ring on my finger...and on yours. ;)

Over and out,
The Virgin

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

X's on canvas

I am not the only one who makes fun of my cross stitch habit.

People at work do it all the time. I often prompt it, but they readily join in for a turn to rib Grams and the reason she's pushing 30 with no bling on her finger.

A coworker who I love to pieces recently asked me if I have a sewing machine, and not expecting me to actually say yes, got very excited/concerned when I did say yes and told me I was really Sally Homemaker.

Anyone who knew me from the years 1997 through, oh, last year, are likely reading this with a degree of skepticism, since during that time period I wore sweatpants and belched and flexed my muscles whenever given the opportunity.

I still do the final thing on that list, and to all you reading with skepticism, I think that's fine. In fact I'd be worried if you weren't.

So yes. I'm becoming (another friend recently said, "Becoming?") a very domestic lady in recent times. It's a little weird, a little alarming, a little head scratching, and a little great.

While still a slob, a beer drinker, an obnoxious fan at football games -- don't worry, not everything has changed -- I find myself sprinkling baking soda on the carpet, baking muffins, offering bandages to men with cuts on their fingers.

And cross stitching.

I'm not sure why the sudden rush of domesticity in my life (I have theories, but I will keep them to myself for the moment), but I am sure of the why behind the cross stitch obsession:

Because I love it.

My grandma works on a lot of jigsaw puzzles. So do I, and at least one of my brothers does, so this works out nicely when we pay her a visit. We all refill cups of Folgers, melt Hersheys bars in our mouths, and work on a puzzle before us.

Grandma (who loves puzzles) will generally say, at least once per puzzle-assembly session, "This is silly. It's like making a quilt. You cut something into pieces and then put it back together."

She pauses as she says this, but does not take her eyes off the puzzle nor set the puzzle piece in her hand down.

It has occurred to me that cross stitching is one of the slowest ways to put color on canvas.

I don't know how much you know about the craft, but it requires (usually) a specific fabric called Aida fabric, which has strings of thread pulled very tightly in order to create a sort of grid. It's like fabric graph paper, and each corner of a square is a hole, a hole in which a needle can fit through.

[Blah blah blah more details] about how the craft is done, but essentially you cover each teeny weeny square with a diagonal stitch across two corners with some thread, and then add another diagonal stitch across the other corners in order to create an "X," or a cross.

Hence the name cross stitch.

I'm not kidding when I say these squares are teeny weeny. I'm amazed I am yet to get a corrective lens prescription, and I am already pricing out eye exams at Costco, because my brow is rather furrowed these days.

So, because the squares are teeny weeny, and because one makes several teeny weeny stitches over and over and over, when you step back a ways from the canvas, eventually you start to see a picture. Each white square is almost completely covered by colorful thread, and like a series of dots of ink or muddled Van Gogh brush strokes, it -- slowly, slowly -- forms a picture.

Honestly this activity is probably something the pilgrims did to pass the winter evenings. But some of us freaks find this thrilling in 2014.

The same friend who smirked when I tried to pretend I am only becoming domestic has admired my patience and talent for this craft. I told him I'm not sure it's a talent, as it's more of a craft than an art (and I use patterns, so for me the creativity really isn't in it).

And he's not the first to mention the patience. But to me it doesn't take patience. It really is a labor of love. Which is why I've stitched so many bibs for babes. Babes who may not even wear my gifts, if their mothers are afraid to dirty my work, or frankly maybe just don't care to use the bib. But I make them anyway.

The quick reasons why I like love stitching so much are:

1) I can't explain why
2) I love color
3) I love math

I -- and I mean this -- love looking at the busy color-coded graphs that come with each project and translating each square on the graph to each square on the cloth, figuring out exactly where each "X" is to land, in order to uphold the integrity of the whole, final image.

It takes me hours (days, weeks, for some, total) to finish each project. But I only look to the clock in a reluctant manner, when I decide I need to quit for the evening to rest up for the evening. And then I literally sit at my desk the next day and think about stitching.

Stitching stitching stitching.

As a person with (maybe undiagnosed) ADD, anxiety, restlessness, and a well-documented history of tomboyism, it surprises even me why this absorbs me so.

I am luckily on some psychotropic meds right now that have me feeling less anxious and less depressed and the most regulated I have felt in years, praise God above, but before I was on such a successful cocktail, I found that one of the only things that distracted me almost fully during a bout of anxious fear or sadness was this stitching.

Stitching stitching stitching.

(And for those of you worried that a drug may take away your edge or your artistic bent, well let me just say my obsession for stitching has not wavered).

I recall one time, on the phone with Dad in tears, he asked me what I was going to do after I got off the phone. Sniffling, I said I was going to stitch. I could hear his smile through the phone as he replied, "Mm hmm." He knew the power of the stitch.

I was Skyping recently with my brother Patrick and his family and, being silly, I grabbed my nearby embroidery hoop and placed it in front of my face, as a frame around it.

I quickly laid it down, out of sight, but my niece, being an unflappably curious 4-year-old, asked, "What was that, Auntie Bailey?"

I then conducted a mini-education session with my family about how the hoop pulls an otherwise-floppy, oversized piece of fabric tight, making it easier to hold and to stitch upon.

The lesson may have been lost on my niece, but one thing I have learned from stitching is that tension holds a purpose.

I hate tension, I'll be honest. (In my life; it's all right in cross stitch). It hurts, it makes me cry, it helps me realize again the coward in me who can't confront anyone, even when I am in the right and in addition have every right to address this person who is clearly wrong, or who has hurt me, or is hurting me.

Or to just tell a boy that I like -- or don't like -- him. Still haven't figured that one out yet. But I promise to ruminate on it while I stitch.

I have had too much tension in my life. We all have.

But in stitching, at least, it helps.* It keeps my hand from getting cramped, which allows me to stitch longer. It makes the picture clearer, not wrinkled or crumpled.

And it focuses in on a piece of a larger picture. Right now my hoop is fastened around Minnie Mouse's face. She has no eyes or mouth yet (because I noticed she looked like a zombie without them and thus kept them that way in order to take a picture and post to social media), but she will.

Next to Minnie's face is the very, very beginning of Daisy Duck's sleeve. (Stitched in DMC floss thread color No. 210, lavender). You wouldn't know it's her sleeve, unless I told you or you looked at the graph or the picture of the finished product that came with the project kit.

But it will be her sleeve.

How do you finish a jigsaw puzzle? You look at the box cover, with the final picture on it.

Sometimes you don't need the box. Sometimes you get into a groove and you know right where you're going, piecing together that section of yellow, or blue, or lavender.

My grandmother (who was too nervous to watch her beloved Royals in the World Series tonight, as they were losing) says that jigsaw puzzles are silly.

She says this every time she works on one.

But she never wavers in her commitment to the puzzle. Because she knows that moments later, the edges of that piece in her hand will rub against the cardboard corners of another, and she will be spurred on to seek another piece and find it a home on the table.

Anxious or no, scared or no, baby-will-actually-wear-the-bib-I-am-stitching-for-it or no, I imagine this habit of mine is not soon to die. Because I love that groove. That stitching of black thread to make the ear of a mouse, a mouse who first animated screens years ago, and still turns heads at Disneyland, tourists running to get a picture with the famous Minnie.

Thanks to this gift of a hobby, I have been privileged to stitch eyes on a zebra, snow upon a bicycle seat, the name of my nephew.

I love it. And I'm grateful for it.

With the future unflappably curious 4-year-old (circa less than one year old), modeling her bib
*And apparently in other situations, too.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blog now, blog a week ago

Well a week ago I was blogging from a Chicago kitchen, eating turkey sausage, not doing work.

Now I'm on a futon mattress in California, and I just polished off a yogurt with mini M&Ms stirred in.

I'm always befuddled at how many mini M&Ms make their way into each bite. It always seems to me there is a limited amount of mini M&Ms apportioned in the lid-holder section, but I often have more than one mini M&M in each bite of the yogurt.

This truly fascinates me.

I guess now I'm not doing work, but I've spent a portion of my weekend doing a freelance assignment, and I have a pretty good draft going now so I'm taking a break before bedtime.

Bedtime will probably translate to underlying worry-amidst-confidence about the current draft, thus causing me to quit trying to sleep and:

a) worry
b) watch "Felicity"
c) read
d) work on draft

The cat has diarrhea. I prefer to think he's having sympathy stress. That's easier than thinking how sad I am for him, and that I am stressed I have to miss work in the morning and take him to the doc.

And easier than worrying about his health (we were at the doc for a tapeworm -- HIS, not mine) two weeks ago; I don't like that we're going back so soon. I mentioned death of the cat today, and my friend mentioned that was perhaps a little dramatic.

I am planning to vigorously remove things from my calendar for the next few months. Also to be my own personal planner bouncer in keeping things from making their way onto the calendar.

I'm just thinking about the stress I felt today and the stress I felt in November last year and I just don't want to revisit that! It's time I learn my lesson and actually act upon it.

Also, did you know it's $52 to see Tegan and Sara in LA on November 18?

True story.

Considering it. I know, that's another thing on the calendar -- Planner Bouncer! You're needed! -- but. But. It's funnnn.

OK time to stress/try to sleep/remember why I'm glad college is over for me.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Life after vacation

Life after vacation...

Well. It's kind of brutal.

In theory I think I'm OK with going to the office.



Then I go home and

after smooching all over the cat

I sit.

This is almost like a poem.

If I weren't so tired I might consider actually writing this post as a poem.



Diet Coke and coffee and tea are more flavors for the tongue rather than actual keep-Bailey-alert tools right now.



I've been reading on my lunch break -- which I used to do all the time but for several years now have reserved reading for bedtime -- which is nice, but then -- because I'm used to all the bedtime reading -- I realize I'm sleepy. (Pavlovian).

And then (because I read in my car) I put my seat back and close the eyes for a bit.

And then I go back in to the office in search of Diet Coke.

In other news I drank regular Coke for years and years and years and now I drink Diet. Or Cozo (my nickname for Coke Zero).




I'm glad it won't snow here anytime soon.

I'm glad I can walk laps around my office because there's so much sun and warmth here.

And the walking makes me feel awake and alert until I come back inside.



And tired.

I need to start exercising, and start eating food with vitamins.

Seriously is all this journal dumping masquerading as blog posts bothering any of you?

I will start exercising and eating broccoli and being vigilant about not adding things to my calendar, and hopefully the prose will improve here,


you must understand that we have entered October/November/December in which Bailey always finds herself overbooked and overwhelmed and cranky and tired.

And sometimes almost in tears at the prospect of being at work with friendly coworkers on a Friday.

I mean, Friday. Friendly coworkers. Friday.

No tears should need to happen.

And they haven't, yet.

The other most recent time I (almost) cried was when I was telling my sister-in-law at brunch last weekend about that part in the 1994 version of Miracle on 34th Street when Santa sings 'Jingle Bells' in sign language with a girl who is deaf.



Sign language.


Tears = allowed and totally appropriate.

OK time to stop boring you and go in search of D. Coke or coffee. It's that time.


Well, you know.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It's been real, C-Town

It's time to quit while I'm ahead.

Vacation has been great. A little annoying that there was some work to be done while here, but even those little snippets of freelance were liberating and energizing in their own way.

But I've gotta go. Flight leaves around 6.

I've squeezed in a concert, several dates with some besties, a surprise of three family members, lots of sandwiches, some reading, some blogging, some snuggling, some catching up on love lives, a pedicure, some beer, some (cough) whiskey, some showers, some alone time, music, donuts, hugs, getting soaked through with rain and then changing clothes in a Union Station bathroom.

I've done a lot.

Moments ago I had to get up from this keyboard and dry my hair, put on socks and a fleece jacket. Because I was chilly.

I have to say I could live without that. I like to blog uninterrupted by temperature issues that need adjustments.

I have so appreciated the rain, though.

And I don't hate Chicago anymore. I didn't always hate Chicago, but then I did, and when I visited last year I warmed to it (in LARGE part because it literally warmed itself to me, being August instead of January while I was in town), and now I think I officially don't hate it anymore.

But grey skies still make me depressed, in an instant, hit-the-gut way that I can't explain or escape from. So for now it is back to sunny skies for me.

Back to Max Attack the cat. Back to my cross stitching evenings, my sandwiches made in the office break room for lunch, my California family-friends.

I told Nick today that I'm legitimately looking forward to greeting at church this weekend, to see the team who I volunteer with, wearing our stylish blue "Welcome" shirts.

But I am sad to leave behind my pals here, and I could easily spend another day or three here. But best to quit before I get cranky. Get back to work and make a few more bucks so I can come home at Christmas.

For now I must bid you adieu and shove some more things in my suitcase. Maybe sneak in a little at-home manicure before my ride arrives at 2.

Much love, to my peeps in the Midwest and the West. And to you, wherever you are.   -- Bails

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A little journal dump apres le dejeuner avec mon pere et ma mere

My lunch dates are late.

We will respect their anonymity and call them by the code names of "Mom" and "Dad."

It's fine. I found myself a perch. Starbucks. Inside Macy's.

And I just came up with a great term, which I used as a hashtag, and you can use it but y'all better give credit!


Caffeinational pull.

Get it? Like gravitational pull, except caffeinational because I'm so drawn to Starbucks, where the caffeine is?

However I'm drinking decaf.

However there is some caffeine in this, probably, because decaf is not always exactly what it advertises itself to be.

However, however.

Maybe it should be caffeitational instead of -national. Yep. Changing it! Actually I don't know. #waffling

I have also spent some of my time here at Starbucks emailing a grad school friend to see if she could sneak away from her office that is somewhere right here in the neighborhood of downtown Chicago to get some coffee with me later. Alas she cannot, but I told her that if we can't manage to get together this trip then we can Skype when I'm back home and we can pretend we're both in the same room in Chicago together.

What else can I tell you?

Last night I had a sleepover with my friend Michelle, and we shared her twin bed as our sleeping quarters. That was snug. We found that a foot-to-head lying position was the better way to ensure not falling off of the bed.

After we agreed to have our feet near each others' heads and that we were OK with this.

I couldn't sleep right away, so I took my blanket and my teen novel into the bathroom to read for a bit.

The book is about the weather freaking out all over the planet, and it was raining outside (yay!) in real life while I was reading, which was making the book more realistic.

I read a lot of children's books and occasional young adult ones, but I never really thought I'd be reading a teen novel about the moon getting hit by an asteroid and crazy weather patterns following, and me enjoying this and actually feeling frightened by it. And having to remind myself that the rain outside is not in fact the result of an asteroid.

Guys, I feel like this writing that I'm doing right here is lazy. My apologies.

I know, I know, I shouldn't discredit my work, but I feel like I am just kind of journaling right now, sooo I wouldn't edit my journal, necessarily, so yeah. Anyway.

I hope everyone's enjoying reading this.

I spritzed on a sample of "Happy in Bloom" at the Clinique counter and mmmmm. Might have to buy some of this.

I thought about buying socks because my socks and shoes are currently damp-thus-chilly, but I've changed my mind on that for the moment.

I could keep journal dumping, but I'm not sure you will appreciate it much longer (if I'm wrong, speak up -- let the readers speak! Because I can do this more often in this forum if you'd like), so I'ma head and maybe read about crazy weather as a result of an asteroid hitting the moon in a book but luckily not in real life.

A bientot, mes amis!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Some things about my life at this exact moment in time

...Since you asked.

I'm in Chicago. I am cold. I am wearing Christmas socks to fight the cold, because my weekend roommates are out and I am not sure if I am allowed to turn on the heat. Also wearing a hot pink hoodie over a green sweater, with a multicolored scarf which actually brings the green and pink layer combo all together.

If you ask me.

I'm eating turkey sausage that I found in the fridge. Don't tell Nick (one of weekend roommates who is out), but it's not that great.

The lactose-free milk, however, is tasty.

I have already partially cleaned the toilet in the bathroom. Considering cleaning other parts of the bathroom (including the rest of the toilet (I am too lazy to explain why I didn't just clean the whole thing in the first place, and part of that explanation is in fact that, you guessed it, I am lazy)).

Housewife in training.

I am dogsitting for a couple of hours, and the dog has given up on me and is snoozing in the next room. He's on to this cat person in here, wearing a green sweater with a hot pink sweatshirt layer on top.

My dad ran his TENTH marathon today. (He's 65). Um, holla at my papa, y'all.

I did not run my tenth, nor my first, nor any number in between 1 and 10 or after 10(th), marathon today. But my injured foot hurts from all the walking and standing. But worth it to cheer on Daddy Dearest.

I am having a hard time switching my tunes away from Rachael Yamagata. She makes this great cat kind of noise in some of her songs (also too lazy to explain this right now) and it's, well, great. We saw her in concert Friday and she was soooooooo goooddddddd! I'm planning to preorder her next album soon...

A new found (I always want that to be one word: "newfound") friend here in Chi-town gave me a book. It's a teen novel about when an asteroid hits the moon. Surprisingly, I'm not hating it. And I forgot my books in LA and selected not to purchase one at the airport, so I am happy for the loan.

In addition to potentially cleaning the bathroom, I am also planning to potentially take a bath.

I am not working on something I should probably be working on.

I am listening to Rachael Yamagata since my roomies aren't here to complain (though one of them went to the concert with me and also loved it, I think he just wants to mix things up a bit here. Me? I'm in obsession mode).

I also might watch Felicity. Don't you love how in a two hour window you can put -- and I'm just guesstimating here -- approximately 8,000 potential activities?

Time to tackle one -- or none -- of them.

Oh! It's supposed to rain the rest of my time here! LA girl says yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

And!!!!!! ß That was maybe too many exclamation points for what I am about to tell you, but actually maybe not. Because what I am about to tell you is.....

today some chick had one of those plastic jack-o-lantern buckets that kids carry at Halloween and she put it in a recycling bin right before me and

you best believe

I snagged that sucker.

I'm a child.

Wearing Christmas socks.

And hot pink.

And green.

And I'm still -- and for life -- a cat person.

And Nick and I took this adorable (I can say that because really there's no denyin') selfie today. This is us drinking beer after not running 26.2 miles (though, shh, don't let this get around, I think I probably will run such a distance at some point....foot permitting).

I just needed to get all that out, Guys. Thanks for letting me journal dump on you again. Greetings from (temporarily) the Midwest. Xo

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A curly haired New Yorker speaks to a straight haired Angeleno

Life update: as of Sunday, I've begun watching Felicity.

And for crying out loud,


OK so I should probably calm down a bit, considering I haven't completed episode 4 (titled "Boggled") yet, and my opinion could turn around, this honeymoon could wear off, etc. etc., yeah yeah yeah.

But for now let me just love it. Please.

(Aforementioned rule applies to current crush(es) of mine, too. Thank you for your cooperation. Don't rush me out of my giddiness when a crush is at hand! They don't always come along!)

Some reasons why I love it (Felicity, not a current crush(es)):

The pace: The show moves slowly, but it's not a snooze. It makes me laugh unexpectedly, yet softly, which is nice.

Dialogue is realistic: Though maybe not, if one considers the age of the characters. It's not as bad as the Dawson's Creek high school characters, who speak with the vocabulary of 35-year-olds yet manage not to speak like any 35-year-olds I know. Felicity dialogue is realistic given the situations at hand, the vulnearabilities being explored and experienced by the characters. The characters are maybe more bold than the vast majority of us, in their willingness to confront issues and each other, but they are compassionate with each other and forgiving and fair. I like that. A lot.

The volume: Literally. Even when people argue, the volume never creeps beyond a certain decibel level. I (mostly) enjoy the show Parenthood (I have issues with it, which is why it's a "mostly" love), but in some episodes there is so much arguing and characters talking over other characters that it stresses me out.

Felicity is quiet. It's like, I don't know, viewing a healing therapy session, that takes place in calm, old New York City dormitories and college classrooms.

The characters: Haven't met one yet I don't like. I mean some I have issues with, but overall, I'm a fan.

The fact that the cast includes a Power Rangers alumna: This one speaks for itself.

The music: While it plays some late 90s/early 2000s hits (as well as "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel -- yum), much of the show is accompanied by an instrumental score, which kind of makes the string of episodes feel like an ongoing movie, a la The Breakfast Club, rather than a show. And the reason it's able to feel at times like a Brat Pack 80s flick is because of another thing I like about the show which is the lighting: 

While presented in full color, the palette mostly appears in sepia tones of brown and grey. Just adding to the peacefulness.

Ahhhhhhhhh, pause for a peaceful sigh.

Join me.

Have a seat.

Tell me how you're feeling.

Take all the time you need, and continue reading at your leisure....

So today at work I was digging through my bag looking for chapstick -- which, alas, was at home -- and while doing so I noticed the mix of items haphazardly thrown in there and it just made me happy.

And then, I thought of Felicity, which just furthered the moment of happy, and inspired me to write this.

So in the episode I currently have paused, Felicity gets a fridge for her dorm room. She's very, stupidly, charmingly excited about the fridge, and the guy who delivers it says something about how yes, it is indeed a thrill to be the one to call the shots about what gets to be cold and what doesn't.

He's making fun of her, of course, with his deadpan, but I'm with Felicity on this one. I actually paused the show for a bathroom break and smiled to myself and said aloud, "That really is how it is!"

As you know, if you've read, well, any of this blog, I can be the crankiest of crankies about singlehood and alllways being the one who has to go to the grocery store because I have no loving, doting partner to do it for me, EVER.

But I also -- and don't let this get around -- sometimes L-O-V-E love being single, and on my own, in the big, ugly city. And it's in the tiny, itsy bitsy moments, the ones that sometimes piss me off seemingly to oblivion, where the thrill truly burrows itself.

One moment I'll be drinking $5 wine from a plastic cup, and having guacamole or Fruit Snacks for dinner, and I'll be watching a movie from the library in my Spongebob Square Pants shorts and I just get so overwhelmingly content, pausing to notice, "This is where it's at."

And it's just a plastic cup and some mashed avocado.

But it's also like Felcity's fridge. The fridge that was unexpectedly sent to her door and that confirmed for her her decision to move to New York and for the first time in her life do something that was hers, that was the result of something she chose, whether it always made sense or not.

(If you're reading between the lines, this parallels my decision to move to LA, but I'm not going to outline every detail of that here, now).

Because few things always make sense. And few things always make you happy, including a fridge, and mashed avocado and cheap wine. Sometimes they'll thrill you. Sometimes you'll wish you had someone to drink the wine with you, or that you didn't have to wipe down the fridge when it smells weird, or that the guacamole were made fresh at a restaurant on a romantic date, or... Or. Or.

But here's the final reason I am loving Felicity. Because it's all about independence. Felicity is a freshman in college, and she turned a heel on her lifelong plans to go to Stanford and study medicine to instead move to New York to follow a crush.

I would never do that. Most of us never would.

But the things she deals with -- people questioning her motives, her choice to stay, her almost-choice to not stay, her tears, her confusion over men -- these things I get.

I like calling the shots on what gets cold in the fridge. On how long things rot in there before I decide to remove them. On who I decide to tell about the realities of the rotting food in my fridge, or, for that matter, my car.

I get it.

I get it because as I dig through my bag in a search for chapstick, and meanwhile find sunglasses, young adult books, a secondhand scarf, bobbi pins, deodorant, my flip phone, Rescue Remedy that I used when I wrestled the cat into his carrier to go to the vet (and yes, I wished I had a friend to help in that moment, and I got stressed beyond belief and emailed my mommy), and tampons and hair serum and a toothbrush and sunscreen and Advil....

it makes me suddenly stop and smile. At my ridiculous lack of organization, yet my ability to keep it in order, to make it to work every day, to get work done, to juggle, to know when to turn off the email and pour a glass (mug) of wine, to do the laundry or decide it can wait. To learn (more than once) that while 1,000 people can be on my side in any given decision, I can always find someone who isn't. And to learn to listen for the Whisper above the noise when deciding to take the job, get a roommate, date the boy, clean the fridge.

There's a weird, gross, prideful, beautiful thing that makes up this independence thing, that can hurt us and shape us for the better. Which is why Felicity is a welcome gift into my life. And why, for the next several weeks, I may neglect cleaning the fridge in order to watch episode after episode.

(Here's hoping this crush plays out).

Monday, October 6, 2014

The 1,000 List, Installment #2

As a follow up to Installment #1, here is #2! 100 more things that make me happy and grateful.

101. A hot, wet cloth on my face
102. Having a gal pal do my hair and makeup
103. A pair of sweatpants so comfy it makes me happy just to be wearing them
104. Dancing with my girl Samantha
105. Stretching
106. Dancing in my apartment on Saturdays
107. Randomly picking up a movie at the library and then just loving it
108. Same as above, but with a book
109. Pumping gas
110. Getting a comment on my blog
111. Reading the newspaper and actually enjoying it
112. Taking a trip that involves an airplane
113. Grooming
114. Mani-pedis
115. A dog that doesn't smell
116. An unexpected letter or package in the mail
117. Giving flowers
118. Receiving flowers
119. Arranging flowers in a jar or vase, maybe adding a ribbon
120. Cleaning up just a tiny corner or side table or such and then first glancing it, now all cleaned up; feeling that sense of relief and refreshment
121. Adding just a little something -- perfume, earrings, a scarf -- to an outfit to give me a little boost, and/or make me feel a little less gross when I don't have time to fully shower and primp
122. Lying down (i.e. not rushed) to look at the stars
123. Camping
124. A heart-to-heart with a friend in a car
125. Automatic car washes
126. Rain
127. Thunderstorms
128. Rooibos tea with a splash of milk and a rusk on the side
129. Sweating (you read that correctly)
130. Working out
131. Cleaning up my desk at work
132. Red Starbucks cups
133. Any Starbucks cup
134. A few pieces of melt-in-your-mouth chocolate with a cup of coffee, particularly in the afternoon at the office when I need a pick-me-up, or just because
135. Instantly hitting it off with a newly met friend
136. Spending a whole day running errands, and feeling so productive and tired and bubbly* at the end of the day (*usually some shopping is involved)
137. Getting my oil changed and tires rotated -- a little love for the car
138. Taking a few laps around the building at work
139. The fact that I live in SoCal and can do #138 basically any day of the year
140. Being told that I'd be a good teacher
141. When my brother Patrick pronounces "headache" as if he were speaking Mandarin (huh-dah-chee)
142. Playing football
143. Having a cocktail or a beer with Patrick
144. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (the show, not the movie)
145. Tyra on Friday Night Lights
146. Landry on Friday Night Lights
147. Tami on Friday Night Lights
148. Root vegetables, in all their tasty forms: chips, fries, oven-roasted chunks
149. Discussing kids books -- and books in general -- with my mom
150. When the dictionary comes out during dinner with my family (it happens)
151. A BLT, corn on the cob, and a Michelob Ultra on a summer night
152. A red tomato, sliced, with salt -- mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
153. Sesame Street
154. Continuing to sing in a large group, after the instruments stop playing for a verse or chorus
155. Those Facebook friends who I don't know very well in real life but whose posts just make me happy
156. The rarely accomplished nap, particularly if I don't feel depressed upon waking
157. Knowing I'm being prayed for
158. Seed bead necklaces
159. My friend Karina's laugh
160. TV Land shows: The Exes, Happily Divorced, Jennifer Falls
161. Natural light
162. When Faith Hill and Tim McGraw sing together (here and here, specifically)
163. General coziness -- blankets, socks, sweaters
164. When it's chilly enough in SoCal for #163 to be possible
165. The smell of laundry
166. Doing laundry
167. A dinner that goes long and has coffee at the end
168. Seeing the latest animated film
169. Having my faith in humanity restored
170. Watching ballet
171. Doing ballet
172. Playing tennis with -- and getting my arse kicked by -- my 65+ friend Klaus
173. Playing on a playground with fellow adults
174. A delicious sandwich
175. A kiss on the cheek
176. Having wavy/curly hair for the day
177. Flirty, dangly earrings
178. Faux diamond stud earrings (a la Lorelai Gilmore)
179. A kitty's nose on my skin
180. High fives
181. Meeting people's families
182. A new crush
183. Dad's poached eggs. Guys. You don't even know. If you live near him and haven't experienced this culinary phenomenon, go knock on his door and make a request. Tell him I sent you.
184. Putting lotion on my feet, before bed
185. Good smells. I mean, duh, but really -- smell is one of the most powerful senses to me. A good smell can have tremendous effect on my level of peace.
186. Birds. Birds.
187. Being kind of bored on the phone with someone I love but not hanging up because I kind of love them
188. Avocado on a burger
189. Pots with a lip on the edge so I can pour soup directly into a bowl
190. Wearing lip gloss. Particularly that moment when I apply it. There's a weird feeling of hopefulness I get, and I don't just mean hopeful for a kiss.
191. The fact that things -- dishes, hair, clothes -- dry really quickly in desert Los Angeles
192. Fried egg on a burger that drips down and between my fingers when I eat it (namely the Misfit Burger. So amazingly good.)
193. Seeing new emails from friends I love
194. Gin and tonics (Gins and tonic?)
195. Flirting
196. The way hair that has been heated by the sun feels to the touch
197. Scripture in conversation that doesn't sound preachy but rather like the bread that it is
198. When people are really present. When they don't want to be anywhere else but right there with me and whoever else is around. When no one is thinking about when they'll go home.
199. The fact that Samantha -- who I've known for years -- and I simply greet each other over the phone and instantly start cracking up.
200. Rediscovering how delicious and pure iced tea can taste. For some reason I never fully commit it to sensual memory.