Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Yes regrets, yes grace

I don't like the phrase "No regrets."

I, for one, have some.

So initially, the maxim rubs me the wrong way because I'm immediately left out of this club with no wishes that things had been different, no dislike of my past decisions or, worse, of my basic character. Because it was me, in fact, who made whatever decisions I made, yes? Last I checked, this was the case.

Already I'm not only behind in this club, but in being unable to go back in time, I will never catch up.

Where does that leave me?

Well for one, out of the club.

And two, left here with these gross and unwelcome regrets.


Before you put up a hand and stop me, I realize that maybe the motto can be used as the turning over of a new leaf in life, the choosing to make decisions so as to no longer have regrets going forward.

But again: this is helpful how?

I don't mean to sound so sassy -- though I seem to be coming across that way -- I mean rather to have a serious and forgiving discussion here.

Forgiving of ourselves.

I have regrets.

Not "no regrets." Yes regrets.

Not: "Yay! Regrets!"

But simply, yes. Regrets.

I've got some of those. And while I'd like to shed some of them, well, I can't.

I've been reflecting on my time spent abroad in college (way back when) during this past week, and you know what a lot of it has been?


I've been back in the States for nearly 10 years and to this day I still don't really like to talk about Africa.

Not because I hated the culture, or the people, or the heat or the dust -- um, hello, I chose to move to Los Angeles, which is essentially the same climate -- but because I didn't like who I was while I was over there.

I don't know where to start exactly, but I could start just about anywhere in terms of categories of regrets during my time abroad because there were that many regrets.

I was scared. I was young. I was stubborn.

I didn't exercise while over there, in part* because I was afraid I would get stranded from my pack of fellow American runners and then be a vulnerable, lost tourist.

*The other part of that decision was due to the fact that large loaves of bread were baked for us almost nightly, and I enjoyed slathering slices of it with butter rather than slathering my thighs with sunscreen and going out for a jog.

Today, I would go for a run. I would have street smarts, but I would pray and hope for the best, and go for a run.**

**This would be a good time to point out that while crime rates are, in some regions, high, they aren't at 100 percent. I don't want to give the impression that Africans are a people to be feared. I reallllly don't want to project that idea. That would be a regret if I left you with that impression.

I lived in a house in the country of Namibia with 20 other people and got time to myself on very rare occasions that I can recall.


I would get myself in a taxi, pay one American dollar to get myself downtown, and go sit my arse in a coffee shop!!!

For crying out loud!



I would have an internship.

I would find a place to go hiking.

I would go to Victoria Falls.

I would make friends with the locals (I did this a little bit, but not to a great extent).

I would have a better attitude.

I would ask my host families more questions about themselves and their lives.

I would I would I would.

This is nothing new that I'm saying here; we all wish we had done things differently.

There might be some people out there who legitimately have no regrets, and maybe I should interview them for my next freelance journalistic endeavor. (My guess would be that a lot of them do not in fact, actually have zero regrets, but that they take an attitude of "I've learned from all my mistakes/experiences," therefore they don't count them as regrets. Which, coming from a semantics perspective, I kind of view as cheating. No?)

But meanwhile, I have a new mantra that I've found myself saying, even with its slight religious undertone.

Give yourself some grace.

I've noticed myself saying it to coworkers so far.

I'm not going to wax on about its meaning too much; rather I'm going to let it speak for itself. And also I'm going to stop typing here soon so I can go to bed, as I don't like to be up late.

And I'm going to give myself some grace by letting myself cut the blog post short in a space where the mantra can speak for itself.


I am training for a half marathon, and until today, I hadn't missed a single workout that is etched out in my training plan.

I didn't technically miss today's workout, but I was supposed to cover five miles, and I started mile 4 and capitulated. I decided I didn't have enough calories in my body, and I traipsed upstairs and shoveled Apple Jacks into my face and then called Alex.

He asked how I was.

"I failed at my workout."

"Oh no! What happened?"

"I was supposed to do 5 miles and I only did 3. I just didn't have enough food in me."

Without pause, he said, "Aw, well maybe it's time for dinner, Babe."

First of all, I heart him so much. I heart him for giving me grace and for calling me 'Babe' and for just being so darn cute and letting me eat dinner.

[And yes, I might be in Swoony Stage where I swoon when someone suggests I eat a meal at a normal meal hour.]


Second, grace grace grace.

Yes regrets. Yes grace.

Alex and I are going to Hawaii this week, and we already have a pretty baller itinerary planned. One that will trump my semester in southern Africa, regrets-wise.


I can plan, but I can't carry out the future. I walk into the future, but I can't carry out my plans perfectly as laid.

So there may be some Hawaii regrets. Who knows?

But there will be meeting of the (hostel) locals (OK fine, we'll call them "locals"). There will be hiking. There will be coffee shops (A. doesn't drink coffee, but I will see to it that there are java stops).

And there will be grace.

Give yourself some grace.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sprinkly Simpsons donuts

I have found my PMS 7-Eleven.

For those who may not know what that means -- not because you're stupid, but because I just made it up, and it doesn't make a whole lot of self-explanatory sense -- it means that I've found the 7-Eleven that rescues me from my PMS madness.

I don't even know if I'm PMSing.

But I am cranky. And I was more cranky before I got my excessively large coffee and donuts.

From 7-Eleven.

Because Starbucks can't get it's stuff together and MAKE DRINKS MORE QUICKLY!!!!!!


There have just been two days running now with two separate Starbucks with very long lines.

And I used to work there so I know it can be faster.


But this 7-Eleven. It rescued me last time from my crankiness. And it rescued me again today. With its donuts that look like those sprinkly donuts in The Simpsons. And its excessively large coffee cups.

So thank you. Thank you, 7-Eleven.

Friday, March 27, 2015


All right.

It's time to come clean.

I'm stalking someone.

Two someones.


Everyone callllllllllm down.

Not actually stalking.

Just "stalking."

OK now that everyone is questioning their choice to ever read the blog of an apparent STALKER, let's all just calm down -- again -- and back up while I explain myself.

First of all, when I say "stalking," I mean:

Reading these persons' blogs.

And wishing I could be their friend.

So that's all.

Now here's how I got myself into this weird mess that makes me uncomfortable.

So it all started last February when I was at home, sick. I wanted to tweet something about being just like Kathleen Kelly in "You've Got Mail" in the scene where she's sick, minus the daisies and the Tom Hanks coming to my door with the daisies.

And the trench coat. Does it bother anyone else that she's wearing a trench coat in that scene? Is it supposed to be adorable?

So anyway. I had this charming, funny tweet to illustrate how charming and funny I am, and I wanted a visual aid to go with it, especially for those who might not fully get the reference. Shame on those people, but whatever. I'm happy to educate in the Nora Ephron realm, as needed.

So, like a normal, non-stalking person, I went to the Internet.

And I clicked on one of the images of Kathleen Kelly with her daisies in her trench coat.

And the great Internet took me to Blog #1.

Curious, I looked at the post that originally hosted the image. Then I looked around the blog a little more.

Is this how stalking begins? Inadvertently?

Hmm, my sick (physically, not socio/psychologically) self thought. This blogger is interested in children's books. Me too! And "You've Got Mail" (obviously). Me three! And it looks like maybe knitting? Well I'm into cross stitch, but close enough. Me four!!

So I signed up to get email updates when new posts came out.


Then one day Blogger #1 posted a link to a second blogger's blog.

And then I found Blog #2.

And then before I knew it I was reading two blogs by lovely writing girls who live in my relative geographical region and with whom I have a lot in common, both individually and collectively, and I thought, well, Hmpfh.

Isn't this a pickle?

Because I would LOVE to be friends with these people, and talk about blogging, and writing, and encourage one another in our writing pursuits, and hang out at the beach (I promise I'm not a creep!!!), but to do any of that I have to admit that I'm sorta kinda semi stalking them!!!!

So here I am.


So Blogger #1 and Blogger #2, if you want to eat ice cream and encourage one another and have binge writing dates (and chatty writing dates where we distract ourselves with laughter and wittiness and don't actually get a lot done), I'm in the market.

And I'm dating someone. So it's not like I'm after you for some creepy dating reason. I'm happily involved. :)

So. Uh. I guess I'll just drop this blog post right here and see what happens.

Here's hoping?? To new friends??

Write Back Soon,

Thursday, March 26, 2015

We went from yogurt to babies really quickly

I'm a good cook, Y'all.

Currently I am partaking of a bowl of:

vanilla yogurt
honey & flax granola clusters (from Fresh & Easy, my FAVE grocery store)
& cinnamon


You're jealous, I know.

And drooling.

And may I just say the blackberries are perfect. Not over or underripe, and those little balloons of fruity flesh just pop in my mouth. Not mushy. Not sour. Just. Perfect.

Mmmmmmmm (again).

I love being healthy. When I am. Otherwise it's beer and pizza, you know it is.

And I love that you can heap things on/in yogurt and oatmeal. Fruit, nuts, cinnamon, chocolate. Just pile it in. I'll remember this for when I have kids. That sounds like a fun activity, yes? Just let them sprinkle -- or dump, as it were; they're kids, after all -- whatever they want onto their breakfast. Also I never ate yogurt as a child, and had to acquire the taste, so if I can start my kiddos young, then so be it.

Look at me, talking about unborn children.

I've been doing that a lot lately.

I was carrying a bunch of heavy, awkward stuff, and I made a comment about it being practice for when I have toddlers and have to carry them and their diaper bags.

What is happening, people???

I'm not entirely sure (though I have theories), but I don't totally hate it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

In a stupor (this is what happens when you play too hard at Disneyland)

I just looked at my finances.

Well that was depressing.

And probably not the best move on a Monday.


After going to bed at 1:30 a.m. the night before.


And I'm going to Hawaii. (Money) things are only going to get worse.


I'm eating my favorite breakfast thing. Vanilla yogurt with bananas and cinnamon.

Every time I prepare it I take a bite and think, "Yummm!"

Every time.

Needless to say not sick of it yet.

And I guess this confirms that the vanilla-cinnamon combo of life is a worthwhile one.


Also enjoying my morning coffee. And by enjoying I mean sucking it down.

It is needed this a.m.

Because Bailey Kathleen had a late night. In fact. So late. That Bailey Kathleen went to bed not last night, but rather...this morning.*

I know.

I know.

But we went to Disneyland. And it was the bomb.

And we got a late start to our happiest day at the happiest place.

On earth.

I bought a souvenir I maybe shouldn't have (a mug from awesome o possum tiki bar Trader Sam's) and a sweatshirt I've been eyeing since, I believe, my first ever trip to Disneyland three years ago.

(It's black and has Minnie's body/dress on the front, and the hood...has ears on it! Gush.)

Shortly after the sweatshirt purchase, we saw Minnie -- in the fur -- and I took my picture with her.

In my Minnie Mouse tee (different from the sweatshirt. Yes. I'm officially in Minnie Mouse shirt collection mode).

And my Minnie Mouse ears.


...my Minnie Mouse blinged out bedazzled crystal necklace.

I'm a little ashamed right now.

At least Alex thinks it's cute.

Also I'm 29 going on 5. And 85. Equal parts.

*I realized upon re-reading this post that I already had told you that I went to bed in the morning. That's how tired I was this morning; causing me to repeat facts.


I've been working on my memoir, as I told you in a previous post, and it continues to be boring and arduous.


We had several other adventures at Disneyland yesterday, and many firsts for Ms. Bailey here. Here is the list of firsts:

Ate my first Dole Whip (a pineapple soft serve)
Rode in the very front of the monorail, with the driver
Rode Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
Rode the Alice in Wonderland ride
Did Star Tours
Only made (I believe) two bathroom breaks -- this is far few less than usual

We went to Trader Sam's, the best tiki bar in southern California, and I got myself a souvenir mug and had some delicious drinks and a delicious pork sandwich. Mmmmm. And later I had a jalapeno/cheese stuffed soft pretzel.

It was all about the snacks.

And the Minnie Mouse attire.

But back to Trader Sam's. That place is great. The bartenders are hilarious. Great energy up in there. I first stumbled upon it when it was decked out for Christmas, and have been a big fan ever since.


Friends, I would write more, but I'm fading. I need a nappy nap. And maybe a bath (not simultaneous activities). I just want my kitty, and a brewski, and maybe a book. And/or a nice cuddle.

Over and Out,
The Sleepy Monster

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

10 MORE tips for fending off anxiety and depression

Hi All!

If you missed it, I just posted 10 tips for fending off anxiety and depression. If interested, catch those tips here.

As follows are 10 more tips. (I came up with a lot of tips, so I decided to break them up into two posts). I hope they're helpful! Peace to you!!

11.      Do positive things – with your hands

Make crafts, write letters, mail things (books, etc.) to friends, run errands, buy milk…

It’s good to keep your hands busy – this is something my brother told me once when I was first weathering the anxiety storm.

There was a point in my life where each night I wrote down 10 potential activities for the next day. Paint my nails, read a book, organize the bathroom drawer, call Corie, go to the park. Then, as I fell into a lull the next day, I would go to the list and pick an activity. Do it until I was bored, then back to the list. And the more positive things you can squeeze into your life, the better.

12.      Accept pet and housesitting jobs

These are like little mini-vacays. It may not be your thing, but personally I love it. And during the long season in my life when I particularly struggled with unwelcome feelings, I remember the times I was housesitting as protected moments.

There’s just always been something for me about being in someone else’s space. Enjoy their stylish furniture, eat their snacks, look at the photos in their frames. Use their laundry facilities. Just pretend you’re in a hotel, yo!

I love it. I suggest it.

Also, when I’m in someone else’s space, I tend to keep things tidier, which in turn makes me feel more calm and happy.

13.      Get a pet

There’s research on the effectiveness of this – well, I assume.

Pets make people happy. Purring cats calm me down; in fact, they absorb me, and when I’m lost in the negativity of my own head, I want nothing more than to be pulled into something more absorbing than my cynicism.

14.      Cook your own food

Several reasons why this is great – saves money, gets you eating more healthfully, and it gives you, again, something to do with your hands.

When I started cooking regularly, it really changed my outlook. I felt empowered, saw a task through to its finish, and enjoyed the fruits of my labor. All good things.

Also, as a classic middle kid, I often find myself feeling left out, unless someone expressly asks me to participate. For me, cooking is a way to have my hand in something, without letting others do it for me. I can’t tell you how life changing this has been for me – you’ll just have to see for yourself. And I love it! Making food for a hungry crowd makes me feel so good, and it’s so exciting when you find a good recipe and discover that you – you!! – can make it and make it well.

15.      Keep things tidy

I spoke to this a lot in two of my recent posts (here and here) – keeping things tidy keeps you (most likely) more calm and more happy. Clean environments have tremendous power to soothe, and to provide a sense of a peaceful home.

Further, once you’ve cleaned your space, get out of your house. Cleaning can take a while, so once you’re done, you don’t want to isolate yourself by hanging out much longer. And when you once again return home, you can enjoy coming home to a clean nook!

16.      Take mini vacations

When I was in graduate school, I toured Missouri in the summer between my first and second year of school.

And it was great.

I was short on cash, but I found places on the map that were 4-6 hours away, filled up my tank of gas, found a cat sitter, and hit the road. It was such a fun summer, and it was very low maintenance. Any place you can reasonably get to by car and then stay for free – sign yourself up.

That summer in Missouri I went to visit a couple that my family knows, who are more so my parents’ friends, and they were thrilled that I came to see them. Let me just say the pleasure was all mine. And it gave me something to do for the weekend. Better to spend downtime – and down times – in good company than sitting in your own head.

People love your company; not only do you put a smile on their faces by showing up, but they put a smile on yours.

17.      Focus on your physical surroundings, and your physical state

One thing I learned when I was seeing one of my counselors (for free, at my state university -- see tip #8 in my previous post) was the concept of focusing on my physical state, and telling myself that I was OK.

In practicing the act, I would tell myself very obvious statements about my purely physical state, as well as simple facts about my state of being and things around me:

I’m breathing.
This room is a little warm.
It’s 6 p.m. on Thursday.
I’m going to work tomorrow.
I can feel the bones of my butt on this hard chair.

I’m OK.

It sounds a little silly, but it helps you to stop thinking about all your thinking. And for some reason, to tell yourself you’re OK, the way you would tell a child, is helpful. Maybe it's because when you tell a child he's OK, you believe what you're saying, so if you tell yourself the same thing it has the effect?

It's a mystery to me. But I'd say give it a whirl.

18.      Remind yourself that a task will take as long as it will take

Standing in line sucks. Sometimes it takes a minute, sometimes it takes 10. Or 20. Or 30.

Breathe through it.

It will be over. It will take as long as it will take.

It will take as long as it needs to take to finish that report at work. To write that final paper. To scrub the shower. To wait for your kid to stop crying.

This is another tip that I feel a little weird giving out, because I don’t quite understand how it works, but I find it helpful. There’s just something to be said for telling yourself that the only way to get something done, or to wait it out, is to either get it done or wait it out.

This too shall pass.

19.      Drink water

In general, keep hydrated. And if you’re having a moment, grab some water and sip it.

When I started drinking water regularly, I noticed that I felt less agitated, got fewer headaches, and just felt more – no pun intended – fluid.

And it really is amazing how putting something cold and liquid on your tongue in a time of trauma can really help center and calm you.

On this same note, if you have, in particular, work anxiety, take a glass of water, or tea, or coffee, into meetings with you. I find that holding onto a warm mug gives me comfort, and sipping on something can help me get through either a stressful meeting, or one that’s boring and causes my mind to wander to negative, scary things.

20.  Seek to change your life, but lessen the pressure to CHANGE your life

This is a concept I’ve mulled over for a while.

We’re all about seeking BIG, grand things in this culture of ours. We want BIG entertainment, BIG life changes, BIG romantic gestures. We also seek perfection – the BEST day, the CUTEST outfit, the PERFECT execution of that karaoke song (I don’t know).


Lower the bar.

You can brush your teeth and it changes your life. You can go for a walk – a boring walk, in your boring neighborhood – and guess what? It changes your life.

Just seek a change of pace.

Life is a big, scary thing when we overthink it, but it’s also a series of little moments. Brushing your teeth, taking a walk, calling a friend, making dinner, getting that small task done for your boss, then another task done for your boss. You’ll get through it. Just break it down into smaller pieces, and focus on one thing at a time.

You’re gonna make it through. Meanwhile, feel free to seek out your Daily Bailey (the person, not the blog; but the blog, too, if that helps you) if you need to chat your way through it. Xo

10 tips for fending off anxiety and depression

Hi, Friends!

What follows -- in another TWO PARTER post, whaaaat?! -- is something I drafted out approximately three whole years ago.

And here it is, finally, at your doorstep. Desktop. Something.

Not one, not two, but 20 whole pieces of advice to help you fend off depression and anxiety.

You may have been laughing yesterday when I posted "tips" on how to be organized, given my tendency toward slobbishness.

But this topic -- this, my friends, I can speak to authoritatively. While I can't tell you with confidence that I have trustily made my bed every day for 29 years, I can tell you that I've spent countless days feeling anxious and/or depressed. So I was not surprised that when I sat down to make a list of tips to help one weather such feelings, I was able to come up with so many pieces of advice.

Take them as you will, of course, but if you've ever experienced some anxiety or depression, or think you might be, please read on. Of course my hope is that you won't ever have to experience either. All my best to you. Loves.

1.      Unclench your teeth, and fists

You probably don’t even realize you’re doing this. But throughout the day, try and notice if you’re grinding your teeth, or if the two rows are even touching each other. Consciously open your palms and rest them by your sides, face up. Relax your mouth so that you’re not biting down. Biting and gripping build up a tremendous amount of unconscious stress, which can be prevented.

2.      Eat, including protein

I’m the worst at this. But I have trained myself that at the first sign of feeling down, or on edge, to eat. Some people overeat, particularly when stressed or depressed, so be on guard for this, but if you’re the type to not make meals a priority, make sure you’re eating. I’m always surprised – legitimately, each time – at how much eating just a little bit makes me feel emotionally more comfortable. I feel more calm, happy, and ready to tackle something that 20 minutes before seemed insurmountable.

3.      Make yourself get up in the morning and go to bed at night

You can have breaks from a rigid routine – you can let yourself sleep in on Saturdays, while you’re on vacation, etc.

But in general, give yourself a wake up time and a bedtime. My brother implored me for years to go to bed no later than 11 p.m. Now, I gladly go to sleep at 8 p.m., but for a long time I just let the night take me away. This is a horrible idea. Your mind just wanders more and more, and if you find yourself freaking out, it’s much scarier at night, and you find yourself more hesitant to reach out to family and friends who are likely sleeping.

That said, I am well aware that – and well experienced with – insomnia is rampant, particularly among the anxious and depressed crowd. What I am asking you to do is get into bed at bedtime. Don’t punish yourself if you can’t sleep, but as best you can, have your teeth brushed, computer off, body in bed by your set bedtime. The sleep routine is SO helpful and huge in giving your mind some calm and rest.

And of course, if you will, read before bed. It will knock you out. It’s voted as my favorite before-sleep activity, hands down.

4.      Limit caffeine, particularly in the afternoons and evenings.

I had an internship once in which I would get all rowdy on Friday afternoons and let myself have an extra cup of caffeinated coffee after lunch.

But in general: decaf, People. Try to stick to one to two cups of caffeinated coffee or tea in the morning, then cut yourself off after lunch. Be grateful there are decaffeinated forms of coffee, tea, and soda, so we can all still enjoy the tastes of our favorite beverages without making ourselves feel over-crazed.

5.      Exercise. Exercise. EXERCISE!!!!!!!!!!!

This one I can’t express enough.

Hate exercising? I can understand that, but I can’t imagine that you’d rather feel anxious and depressed than get yourself on a treadmill for 20 minutes.

Exercising does soooooo much good for you. I get a very defined feeling of calm immediately after a good cardio workout, particularly a run. I sleep better – fall asleep faster and get more bang for my buck in the hours that I’m unconscious – I’m happier, I’m more calm and able to handle hiccups at work. The list goes on and on.

And it eats up time. When I’m particularly anxious or depressed, I just want time to pass. Exercising is a great way to do this. Don’t like the isolation of it? Go to a gym instead of working out at home, go with a friend, pop in some headphones, watch TV on the treadmill. It doesn’t have to be silent time. But you need to do it. Need.

6.      Don’t do any activity indefinitely

I don’t care if it’s your favorite activity. Even if it distracts you from your feelings of discomfort – and here’s hoping you have activities that do this for you – don’t do it for hours and hours on end.

Because eventually you’ll get bored, and hungry, and agitated, and then you’ll be anxious or depressed again.

Quit while you’re ahead. Get in 40 minutes of scrapbooking, and while you’re still enjoying it, get up and go for a jog. Wash the dishes. When you come back to the scrapbooking, you’ll still have a good taste in your mouth from your latest memory of participating in the activity, and you can dive right back in.

Ultimately, I just think that after an hour or so of doing anything, we start to lessen our productivity and our happiness with the task. Maybe I just have ADD and need a lot of breaks, and should only speak for myself. But I think getting up and readjusting is a good way to keep your brain – and feelings – fresh.

7.      Surround yourself with people – Get out. Of your own. Head.

Are you an overthinker? Analytical?

Thought so.

A lot of us who suffer from anxiety in particular fall in these categories. And if you’re depressed, it’s likely you’re ruminating over your life – and Life itself – too much. I know all these thoughts and questions seem worthwhile, and they are, to a point, but you’ve got to get a break from that noggin of yours.


Trust me. Please. I speak from years of experience.

You know how above I said that I’m always surprised how much food can make me feel better? Same thing goes for getting myself around people.

Some – all – of my worst moments in life have been followed by some respite, and that respite has almost always involved human contact. It doesn’t have to be special, with flair. In fact, it’s probably better if it’s casual. Don’t worry about what you’ll say, how you’ll act. Just get yourself in the presence of people who love you. It’s best if at least one of them knows that you’re feeling off, but even if they don’t, you will fare well from hanging out with them.

I’ve been to so many blah social gatherings, but even so I have walked out of those events with a new spring in my step. Sometimes -- and I'm not kidding when I say this -- a life-saving spring in my step.

And when you’re seeking people out, remember that people who are both funny and serious are the ticket. In my humble opinion. If someone meets both these criteria, to me that is a sign that not only can they lighten you up when you’re feeling blue, or tense, or keyed up, but it shows me that they have survived something. Because if you’ve survived, then you know how serious life can be (so these survivors will take you and your feelings seriously) and you also know that if you don’t laugh, you die.

Find those people. Now.

8.      Consider therapy

I am a huge proponent of therapy, and while it can be expensive, it’s also rather readily available and affordable, if you know where to look.

If you’re a college student, you probably have about 10 free counseling sessions at your disposal – look into it. A lot of therapists will allow clients to pay according to income – called a “sliding scale” method – and most metro areas have county or state operated facilities that offer walk-in crisis counseling, for free. These places are often open during the holidays, too.

I’ve gone to both crisis counseling and student counseling, and benefited from both.

Oh. And if your “crisis” is that you’re home for Christmas and you’re really uncomfortable being around your family and feel like your heart is beating out of your chest?

That’s OK. That’s deemed a crisis. If it’s suffocating you, then it’s good enough to take to a counselor. It’s very tempting to compare ourselves to others who (we only assume) are not in therapy, and think we’re doing OK, that our problems aren’t that bad, and talk ourselves out of therapy. I think everyone can benefit from therapy, anytime, anywhere. Do yourself a favor and talk yourself into it.

9.      Be careful with your media consumption

Don’t get me wrong. On many occasions, a funny movie or a stupid sitcom can keep you from losing your mind. And it can be great background noise, particularly if you live alone, while doing the dishes, cleaning, putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

But like any other activity, it can pull you into a vortex. And as we all know, TV and the Internet have a lot of unrealistic, best-foot-forward images that can distort our sense of reality, cause us to compare ourselves in an already fragile state, and thus just set ourselves up for more struggle.

That said, one of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re feeling down, in my book, is to call a friend, grab a movie, pop some popcorn, and just chill out together.

Just stagger it. No 10 hour TV marathons, please. (Though I know how tempting those Kardashians can be to watch (not kidding)).

10.  Don’t drink if you’re feeling down

This is kind of old advice, but still relevant. If you feel yourself on unsteady footing, probably not the best idea to get yourself near any gin.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Some thoughts on being organized, from a pretty impressive procrastinator -- Part Two

As you read on in this post, I will tell you why I don't normally suggest writing blogs in two parts. I will also tell you why this is a Part Two of a two-parter blog.

So? Read on. :)

Click here for Part One, if you missed it.

5. Go through your file drawers to toss things, too.

File drawers are meant to be organized, and to hold on to the things you should actually bother keeping, yes, but eventually they become outdated.

Say you have a file folder with some documents from a company you were once in touch with about possible employment. The business card first given to you at a networking event, a copy of your application, the version of the resume you gave them.

It might be a good idea to hang on to that business card from that place at first, but after a while you should probably move on. That person probably no longer remembers you, and the paper is just taking up space in your life and your brain.

You'll be able to trust your gut. If you met someone and had a great professional connection, you'll know to keep that business card -- and chances are it won't get filed in the first place, because you'll be using it to initiate a conversation, and then you'll be able to conjure up the person's name from memory -- and you may even be calling that person "boss."

Some things can become scrapbook material – an acceptance letter to a program, your first real paystub, whatever – but a lot of it can be taken out of that file drawer to have space made for something else.

And if you really can’t part with it, scan it and save it to your PC.

7. Have a space for incoming mail.

I don't actually have this, but so wish I did. It's on my list to get a cutesy little tray from Target, or use one of my organizer containers that I already have for this purpose.

Paper is one of my biggest problems.

I hate dealing with mail when I first get it, so I toss it aside. Then when it’s time to tidy my apartment, I gather all the papers together into one pile, to make things look semi-neat. Then, inevitably, bills don’t get paid, insurance cards don’t get put in wallets, etc. And, of course, I can’t find anything.

I'm telling you, Guys. I'm terrible.

If I would just put the mail in one spot, then it would look tidier to begin with, and then I could deal with it once a week or so, and not end up with boxes full of papers to sort. Yes, boxes. Plural.

8. Delete most emails (after you've read them), and keep your goals realistic (these are related; stick with me).

One thing I have managed to do this year is keep my personal email inbox tame. This I have never been able to do, so this is huge, and it was unplanned.

How do I manage?

I answer emails more quickly than I used to, and I delete them once the information is registered, dealt with, or copied down elsewhere -- say, in my planner.

As long as I keep my “trash” folder intact for a time, I don’t have to sweat this too much, as I can trust that something I may have preemptively deleted is still actually around for retrieval.

Also, now that I’m used to seeing a very sparsely inhabited inbox, I work faster to get things done so that I can delete the emails and see the number of messages shrink before my eyes.

Right now I am working out details of attending a soccer game, for example. Because there are two emails about it in my inbox, I have been taking steps to find out who’s going to the game, how many tickets we’ll need, who’s paying up front and getting paid back later.

Before, I would not only have the emails hanging out, but I would end up dealing with things at the last minute, annoying my friends in the process. Now, I want to delete those emails! So I'm getting on top of the tasks needed to get done so that I can delete the emails.

I’m becoming more productive in order to keep things more compact.

As for the emails one should keep, I do this:

One, I keep a "positive feedback" folder. At work, this folder has particularly nice messages from coworkers who appreciated some work I did. This is great to scan through for a pick-me-up on rough, or blah days. I’m reminded that people care and appreciate my work.

Additionally, in my personal email, I have a writing response folder. This contains messages in which people have responded positively and personally to my blog. As any writer will know, having these comments around is hugely helpful and encouraging. And it’s so easy to forget those things that people once said, so definitely keep them around.

Another thing I’ve done this year is make a ridiculous amount of email folders. If I buy tickets to a concert, I make a folder for the concert and file the payment confirmation in there. When the concert is over, I delete the folder. Easy peasy.

I do this at work, too. No folder is too nuanced. It's easier to scan through 100 email folder titles to find what you're looking for than to scroll through 1,000 messages in your inbox.

In correspondence, don't spend extra time explaining your untimely follow up.

It’s so tempting, and so like us, as over-achieving Americans, to start an email with: “I’m soooooo sorry I never replied to your email. [Long list of reasons why.] [Explanations.] [Excuses.]”

Cut this step out, I say.

Just say, “I’m the worst at replying to email, my bad,” and then get to your next thought. I’ve decided we spend way too much time explaining where we’ve been.

We’re busy. End of story. Move forward.

Don’t make yourself more busy by writing a novel to your publisher about why you weren’t busy working on your novel. Just say sorry and then start being more accountable.

Similarly, if you haven't blogged in, oh, a century, don't bother over-apologizing for your absence. At most, make a quick self-deprecating quip, and then get to your point.

Also, don't make writing promises on your blog. You won't (usually) find me promoting a "Part Two" post (except right now, but this was all written in one piece, and I broke it up to make it into two smaller pieces), or setting out to try all the brands of nail polish and then report back to you. Or whatever promise it is that takes a long time. For me, my style is to just write about whatever, whenever, so I try not to stray from that.

I'm more likely to tell you, randomly, about a new nail polish color I got, than to say "I'm going to wear a different color for a week each, for five weeks, and then rank them." I know myself. I know I won't follow through on such a promise. So I'm not going to make it in the first place.

For others, you may thrive on finishing a series of posts -- so stick to it if that's your thing. But don't try and suddenly rebrand yourself in the midst of something you've already established. I find that overaiming goals -- think P90X -- tend to hurt us and crush our self-esteem more than anything else.

Even if we can meet that 30 day challenge the one time, then what? We start to calculate every day following as a day that we're not participating in a challenge. If we make realistic goals for ourselves -- and I will continue to preach the importance of this -- then we can continually achieve, continually grow and feel positive, all the while giving ourselves room for grace. (In fact, I've realized, I've written about this before).

A messy apartment shouldn't be soul-crushing. It should merely be something that you will pick up eventually -- just hopefully tomorrow versus next month.

9. And finally, being organized is kind of fun, and makes me hyper-happy-giddy. And disorganized people can be organized.

My mom once said to me, “Bailey, I think you’re very organized, in your own way.” She wasn’t being funny or trying to soften my hurt feelings at the prospect that maybe I wasn’t organized. She said it sincerely, and I’ve never forgotten it.

As a child, I remember being not necessarily tidy, but very organized, with the way I put away board game pieces, how I kept my folders for school, how I compartmentalized tiny items in a drawer or cabinet.

As I’ve gotten older, and I’ve gathered more responsibilities, I’ve just become more lax in keeping it all together. My life was smaller when I was small, so I was able to keep it all neat, and cutesy to boot. Now I simply have more to keep track of, which is OK. Grace, People. Give yourself some grace.

I think I am secretly a perfectionist, but I am the type of perfectionist who won’t work on something until I am ready to fully work on it.

Ultimately this is exhausting, and it keeps me from ever actually starting things.

So, I try and be kind to myself in realizing that I can actually organize the you-know-what out of any little nook or cranny; I just, 99% of the time, don’t.

So I try and remind myself how clean spaces make me feel: happy. I remind myself that the process makes me feel similar. I don’t like to walk away from an episode of “Felicity” to clean, but once I’m doing it, I feel good.

And I’m really good at sorting, deciding what to toss, etc. I’m not a pack rat, so I have that going for me. I’m lazy, but I do manage to accomplish things in life, be a loyal friend, etc.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I’m trying not to be so label-oriented with myself. Type B. Extrovert. Messy. Hyper.

Yes, I’m all these things, but I’m not ALL messy ALL the time.

I’m giving myself grace. I hope you give yourself grace.

And I hope that by 2016, one can see the floor of the trunk of my car.

Some thoughts on being organized, from a pretty impressive procrastinator -- Part One

The other day, as Alex spied an empty Wendy's cup in my car, he told me that what scares him the most about our relationship is that he's the clean one.

I mean, on the plus side, there are worse things to worry about in a relationship, so we should count our blessings.

On the other hand, touché.

This might also be a good time to confess bring up the fact that two of my New Year's Resolutions for this year are as follows:

1. Keep my apartment clean
2. Keep my car clean

I'm here to tell you that currently my apartment:

Could be worse

And my car:

Could be a lot better

Particularly the trunk.


Who wants cake? (Did I distract you with that?)

OK, OK, FINE! I have a problem. With cleanliness. And procrastination. And orderliness. Issues.

So let's talk about them, shall we?

What follows was originally a list titled: "What I've learned from organized people," but I wasn't really sticking fully to that theme, so I altered it a little. So what it has become is a random hodge podge of thoughts on cleanliness -- how I'm not clean, how in some ways I'm all right, and what I've learned/how I'm getting better.

And it is still my goal to, by year's end, maintain a relatively clean apartment and car.


So let's do this list. Here goes:

1. Organized and clean people of the world, Type A's, etc. etc., hear hear!:

I'm super jealous of you.

Let's just get that confession out of the way.

All you Paris Gellers and Monica Gellers of the world, I want your planners. I mean, I kind of like mine, with the slanty writing and haphazard stickers and little doodles and scribbles, BUT. I secretly love to watch you get 1,000 things done in one day and still get your beauty sleep and still wear adorable clothes, etc. etc.

I'm jealous. I admit it.

2. It's OK to toss papers with scribbles on them -- drafts, ideas, thoughts.

These ideas will come back to the top of the bubbling idea cauldron. It's OK to get rid of cluttery paper. In fact, if it sits in that pile/box/bag, it will do just that, and only that: sit.

It's great to have an attention to detail, but use that where it can be really useful, and where you really excel -- for me, for example, I love to edit. It's a better use of my time to really hone in on synonyms and commas and making writing more concise; to use my detailed eye for those kind of nuances, than to look at something I scribbled on a post it note three years ago and try and make sense of it and spend two minutes wondering if I should hang on to it.

(That said, Anne Lamott gives some great writing advice, and that is to write your writing ideas down. She suggests having index cards everywhere -- in kitchen drawers, in your pocket, in your car. I agree with this. However, one way I've figured out to simplify my life and to save time on the ruminating over scattered post-its is to keep a file folder (or a box or what have you) with these ideas in them. Then when I come across them, rather than sitting for several minutes thinking about them, I recognize them as a scribbled idea and just throw them in the idea pot for later. Then at another time I can go to the box for inspiration, etc.)

My point here -- and I realize I may have lost you with that rambly narrative above -- is that it's a great idea to scribble down your writing ideas, but don't waste time trying to keep them neat and cute. Just keep them in one place as you find them and then move on.

As I come across other things that I have many of -- like grocery receipts -- I just assume they are old, that the writing on the paper no longer applies, and I toss them. I couldn't tell you the last time I took a receipt into a grocery store to return something. And if I was going to return something (presumably) perishable, in all likelihood I would be able to locate the receipt easily, as I would have spent the money within the last week.

So, in essence, when I come across writing ideas, I file them. Most receipts -- toss. If they're for a more expensive item, like a pair of shoes I recently bought, keep.

3. While it takes time to organize in the first place, it does save time later.

And if I were more organized and clean, I wouldn't have to kick myself as much at deadline times.

Some examples of times in my life when it would have helped if I were more organized:

I wouldn't have had to apply to social work school the night that the application was due (and I wouldn't have accidentally applied to the undergrad program, and then had to beg later to have my graduate application accepted, after the deadline).*

I wouldn't do my taxes on April 15th every year.

I wouldn't have to pay my parents to renew my car registration, because I'd be taking care of it on my own by now.

*True story. And I did get into the master's program, thanks to much grace on the school's part. And when I later applied to my graduate journalism programs, I was very organized. I was still submitting most of my materials just before midnight, but I was much more on top of all the moving pieces -- transcripts, essays, reference letters -- and was able to apply to six programs (which I wouldn't recommend. It's a lot of work, and money, and time).

4. Doing a little bit at a time is way more effective than I originally thought.
I'm very much an all-or-nothing thinker, so for me I'm either cleaning or not cleaning even one little bit.

But I've discovered that, if my place is a wreck, even doing one batch of dishes makes a difference. Just cleaning the stuff off my bathroom counter affects my outlook. Taking the trash out gives me a fresh breath of air (um, literally).

So I've been trying to remind myself of this, and when I don't have a lot of oomph after work (by the way, I know mothers of small children are laughing at me right now), if I can drag myself away from the Internet and the cat for 20 minutes, I should probably just go ahead and sort a tiny stack of papers, or quickly vacuum my 400 square feet of space, or hang up my clothes.

Another tip: clean after working out. I'm already on my feet, endorphins are running. Just do it then, before I sit down and lose steam.

This whole concept is helpful with schoolwork, work work, and other personal, non-cleaning tasks at home. Intimidated by that cover letter you have to write? Do a draft in 10 minutes. That's it. Come back to it later to edit. Break the task down. You'll get a lot done and you won't feel like every project is a looming monster.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Miles on a page

Rachael Yamagata -- my musical crush, who should be your musical crush if she's not already -- has a song called "Miles on a Car." It's a romantic number (like most of her stuff, minus the soul crushing, heartbreaking stuff, which is still just delectable and beautiful) that essentially makes the argument: I'll go to where you are, because ultimately it's just miles on a car in order to get there. In the grand scheme of things, who cares? I just want to be where you are.

Similarly, I find it strange when members of my family select to rent cars when they go on road trips, so as not to put miles on the cars they own. My thought is: then why do you own the car? It's meant to have miles put on it. So put some miles on it.

Not that I'm judging.

So anyway. The song. I love it. Not as much as "You Won't Let Me," but still. I enjoy it.

In fact I may need to listen to it right now.

Pardon me.

Also I saw the lovely Rachael last weekend at the beautiful Fonda Theater and got really close to the stage!!

So my point (you're probably wondering) in bringing up the song is that, as of late, I've been pounding out two types of miles, and I'm thinking of them as parallels. Which is not the most artistic way for me to say my point here, just blurting it out here at the top of my essay, but whatever.

What kind of miles, you ask?

Running -- OK, fine, "running" -- miles and writing miles.

I'm slogging through. I'm out of shape in both regards, but I'm getting 'er did, as my father would say.

As you'll recall, I had a conversation a little while back with a writer friend, who reminded me what I already knew and that is that I can't avoid the actual work of getting my book written. I have to sit down and get the words on the page.

Anne Lamott says to keep your "butt in chair." Ann Patchett (in her book "This is the Story of a Happy Marriage," which I'm reading and loving right now) says to sit in your chair, even if you're not actively writing. Don't check your email, don't be on the phone. Just sit there. Eventually, she says, you'll either give in and start writing, or you'll give up and then you'll know just how serious you are -- or aren't -- about this writing business.

Yesterday I had an unplanned marathon day. My boy became busy at the last minute, with something to help him potentially advance his dreams and career, so I pretended I was single for the day. Not in a "Woohoo! Let's make out with other people!" way, but in a "Let's do all the things I used to do before I started dating this precious person" way.

I did everything under the sun. I called my dad, who laughed because I had already called him and was clearly bored, and he suggested I call my grandmother.

"Did it," I replied. "Dad, I've done everything."

I did laundry, dishes, read, wrote, cross stitched, called family, cleaned my apartment, worked out (but neglected the stretching component, and my leggies are letting me know it today).

There were two things I avoided, but eventually did: read the Bible, and write.

And when I wrote, I didn't do a blog post, or work on another essay for a contest -- though those things are worthwhile -- but rather sat down and worked on the book. I like that we're calling it that: the book. I called my dad and told him I wrote (because he's my main cheerleader) and he asked what I worked on and I said I worked on "the book."

It's declarative. Strong. Puts it in stone, makes it real.

Grrrrrr. (That was my writing roar).

I hammered out about 1,800 words. I worked for an hour. I took Ms. Patchett's advice, and made myself sit there, no email, no Facebook. I took sips of my Mic Ultra when I got bored. Blew on my sweaty hands to evaporate the tiny droplets on my palms. Ate a cracker-cookie thing.

And then I would get back to it.

And then I would sip, crunch, blow.

And then type.

Guys, it was boring.

I'm telling a story I haven't looked at in a long time, and one that I've trained myself to gloss over. I'm used to telling the motto, the message, the what-I've-learned and very-quickly-how-I-got-here.

Right now I'm typing out details of my high school/college years. It's been a long time, so conjuring up details is difficult. Difficult to remember, difficult to put into words what I was feeling, and difficult to re-feel what I felt at the time.

I told myself and thanked God yesterday as I was typing that it's all over. That those days are in the past. I still have to write them out, but I'm grateful they're over.

But I still have to WRITE THEM OUT.

It's boring. It's hard.

But like I'm telling myself with my running these days, it's a means to an end. I'm training for a half marathon, and I'm way out of shape, and not fully up to running speed yet, but I'm making myself mark the miles.

I pathetically switch from elliptical to treadmill, just to keep it fresh, then back to elliptical, in order to cover a measly 3 miles.

But I'm doing it. And eventually I'll suddenly hit running speed and I'll be able to build up the miles and then it will be race day.

The writing pace will probably stay a little more consistent. Slog pace.

But I've gotta do it.

So I'm happy I've got running miles and writing miles aligned in my life right now. Each is a cheerleader, an encourager, a role model, for the other.

I'm putting miles on a car. My aim is not quite as romantic as Ms. Yamagata's, but it's the same -- sort of -- idea. And she offers a great soundtrack while I hammer out the pages.

(The Disney Channel offers my treadmill soundtrack, as I am not equipped with a fancy iPod; but my birthday is coming up, Y'all).

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The look

Sometimes I cause Alex to look at me with concern.

Which causes me to crack up laughing.

And oftentimes -- much more often than not -- his concerned look is sparked by something I have said regarding the cat.

Please maintain your shock.

Let me walk you through a few examples.


On what was technically our third date, I started to tell him about talking to my cat.* You know, the cat meows, the human talks baby talk back. Normal stuff, right?

Well I made the mistake of using the phrase, "...and while we were having this conversation --"

And then I stopped because Alex was giving me that look that I would see again.

(*On our first date, I had a book about a cat in my bag, and when the date was over, I took a webcam photo of me and my cat and sent it to him. He must really think I'm hot...)


Next, Alex came over and, IN FAIRNESS, started talking about someone with the same name as my cat. Which gave me GOOD REASON to be confused.

"Max wanted to Skype..." he said.

Naturally, I thought he was making a joke about my cat Skyping.

So I cracked a joke back.

And in return, received the look.


Finally, the other night Alex was trying to entertain the cat with one of those toys on a stick.

The cat was content to watch from afar, but wasn't quite in actual attack-the-yarn-on-the-stick mode.

At one point, he tucked his paws under his body, and Alex lamented the fact that his play partner had officially bowed out of the game.

"Aw, his paws are tucked! Now he's really not going to play."

I took this opportunity to point out the unique -- and uniquely adorable -- way that Max tucks his paws. It's a little different from the way other cats do so. Because Max is special.

While explaining this adorable life detail, I made the mistake of using another human word, such as "conversation" or "Skype," to personify the cat.

In comparing Max's paw-tucking to that of other cats, I said, "Normally, people tuck their --"

And then I realized I was receiving the look again, and I stopped short.

And I lost myself in giggles.

One of these days he's going to insist on a therapy appointment. Intensive therapy.

The 1,000 List, Installment #4!

301. Sweater dresses
302. The feminine feeling of wearing a dress
303. Care packages
304. Blowing bubbles (with bubble gum, soap*, or spit (*soap being the thing forming the bubble, but not, like the gum or spit, habitating inside one's mouth))
305. Cracking bubble gum
306. Pizza with tomato and pineapple
307. Holding a cat like a baby
308. Dioramas
309. A haul of cheap stuff from the dollar store
310. Ben and Felicity's whispered conversations on Felicity
311. Crumpling a piece of paper before tossing it in the trash -- that extra feeling of completion, of "done and done"
312. Time lapse photography
313. Facebook chatting with Abby on Sunday afternoons
314. Bendy straws
315. Feeling Max the cat's nose rub against my thumb, hooked around the wire mesh of the door to his cat carrier.
316. Bunk beds
317. Raindrops on the surface of a swimming pool
318. Fish tacos
319. Looking at old photos -- alone, or with someone who genuinely wants to get a look at my childhood
320. Laughing with family at an old joke/story that never gets old
321. Hugging my brothers upon reuniting with them
322. Getting a kiss on the cheek from one of my brothers
323. Spring
324. Leaves crunching
325. Jumping into leaves, even if it does hurt when I hit the ground
326. A Midwestern fall afternoon, on a Saturday
327. School supplies (and school supply aisles at stores)
328. Fog
329. The way basmati rice curls on the ends when it's cooked
330. Slow dancing with someone who cares for me and me him (particularly with no music = more romantic)
331. The smell of onion and garlic cooking in oil in a skillet -- the pedestrian smell that is the start of something delicious. The culinary possibilities.
332. The way water washes down chocolate -- such a perfect food/drink pairing!
333. Having my toes popped
334. Having my feet touched
335. A makeover from a girlfriend
336. Swapping clothes/getting free clothes from a girlfriend
337. When something on the Internet just cracks me up
338. When anything cracks me up
339. Having the giggles
340. My feet in sand
341. The store locator feature on retail websites. That thing is handy!
342. Dusk
343. Receiving communion from my dad
344. Sunday naps (and the fact that, after years of anxiety, I can finally take them)
345. The Bath & Body Works White Citrus scent
346. The sadly now defunct Bath & Body Works Peach Nectar scent. Never forget.
347. Psalm 139
348. Picking at nail polish, when it starts to bubble around the edges
349. Psalm 91
350. Email. I admit, I'm obsessed.
351. Do it yourself crafts, and cutesty around-the-house projects to add little smiles to corners of my life
352. When PMS STOPS
353. The taste of tepid water after eating ice cream
354. That breakthrough moment while writing an essay when I finally realize what I'm trying to say
355. Lemon poppy seed muffins
356. Ice cold beer at a baseball game
357. When a pedestrian sits down to play piano in an open hall, library, someone's living room, etc.
358. Ocean cliffs
359. Wrapping glass jars in embroidery floss
360. Giving and getting flowers
361. Glass jars
362. I'm yet to attend one that fits this description, but: a baby shower with booze
363. Again, yet to attend one, but: a baby shower without games
364. An egalitarian, romantic relationship
365. Math
366. Tailored pants
367. Skinny jeans
368. Loose, boy-fit jeans
369. Borrowing a giant sweatshirt from a boy I care about; swimming in his sleeves and his affection
370. Lifting weights
371. Playing Foosball
372. Walking on silt, the edges crunching underfoot and collapsing into cracks
373. Mayonnaise and mustard -- on sandwiches, with fish sticks, and with breaded chicken
374. Honey mustard on chicken strips
375. Honey butter on hot rolls
376. Burger King's honey mustard!!! Have you tried it?! It's incredible!
377. The sounds of a basketball game -- shoe squeaks on the court, the band, calls between players, audience chants, the straw in my soda scraping ice cubes in the cup
378. Overhearing football practice on a rainy afternoon
379. Talking with other writers (sometimes. Depending on the writer, of course, and my current opinion of my own work)
380. Lemon in water
381. Factory tours
382. Men in hoodies
383. Men in cardigans
384. Leaving the office at 5 on Friday (or earlier!)
385. Eating fish and drinking wine or beer with my boy by the water
386. Weekends with Alex
387. Seeing Rachael Yamagata live. SO GOOD.
388. You know those packets that you get at restaurants that have silverware, a napkin, and salt and pepper packets? I like that when I use one of those napkins to blow my nose, it smells like pepper.
389. A huge long hike that makes me feel like a total baller
390. Referring to myself as a baller
391. That song that goes, "I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller"
392. Headbands
393. Bobbi pins -- quite a life convenience
394. The way my dad just kind of talks about whatever on the phone -- needing to take the trash out, skiing, the cats...
395. The fact that my friend Stephanie doesn't say she has to "do laundry," but rather says she has "to wash." Not "wash her clothes," just "wash." Precious.
396. My funny friend Jeffrey
397. Spaghetti sauce jars
398. Gathering sand, rocks, and shells from the beach
399. Slowly pulling out the threads of sewn-shut pockets on nice garments -- suits, slacks, etc.
400. A good hearty sneeze

Friday, March 6, 2015

Memoir structure -- working it out (mentally)

Is anyone else still rocking out to the Disney Tarzan soundtrack? Because I sure am.

It's Friday, y'all! Yippee!

What does everyone have planned for the weekend?

Remember that hike I told you I was so excited about last weekend?

Well it didn't happen.


wait for it,

it RAINED in Los Angeles.

I know.

Remember those celebratory Bud Lights I told you about, that happen post-hike? Well those did happen. So put a little smile on your face for that fun factoid of life.

Let's see what else I can tell you.

Have I told you I've done hardly any reading this year?

Sucking face -- I mean, writing -- will do that to you. It really eats into your reading time.

True confessions, the only book I've finished this calendar year is "Frog and Toad are Friends." Last year my tally was 50 books by Dec. 31 (granted several of those were meant for an audience of ages 2 - 13, so calm down before you think I'm some reading genius. We're talking "Pippi Longstocking," People, not "Brothers Karamazov").

I have read almost all of "Hyperbole and a Half," which was a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law. It's laugh out loud funny, y'all. I especially enjoyed the chapters about the repeating parrot and the hot sauce. I was essentially choking on my spit, and I thought my neighbors might think I was a little cray. But no one knocked on the door to check on my well being, so I guess things are OK.

Or maybe I should be offended.

I'm also currently reading Donald Miller's "Scary Close," his latest book about relationships and emotional intimacy. A friend was kind enough to gift it to me. I've been a fan of Don for a while, and I'd like to review this book and pitch it to a publication. And the subject matter is timely for my life.

Last Saturday was my mandatory writing day for the month of February. I did all right. I'm not hugely proud of what I accomplished.

Interestingly, Don Miller speaks to this in his current book. He says that he is never satisfied with the amount of writing he does; it never feels like enough.

This reminds me of something I learned in psychology class in high school. It's best to set moderate goals for one's self. If you aim too low, you'll never be very proud of yourself, because you know you're doing something easy. If you aim too high, you won't be proud, because you can't achieve what you've set out to do.

I don't think that setting aside a day each month to write is unreasonable, but I am still trying to figure out what exactly I want to accomplish in that time. Originally the plan was to write a book chapter during each mandatory writing day.

So far I'm two mandatory writing days down, no book chapters to show.

I did submit a short memoir to some contests this year, and I feel like that was a great hash-out exercise to get something resembling a draft of a larger memoir. So I thought about expanding on that, just filling in all the spaces between paragraphs with more word-vomit to flesh out the story.

I've also told myself, "Well, if you write another essay [for a contest] about your senior prom experience, then you can use that as another outline to get at your feeling-left-out-feeling-weird-in-high-school section of your book."

But is my book going to have such a section? Is it going to be chunked by themes, or chunked chronologically?

Of course I won't know this until I get to the editing phase, and I won't get there until I first vomit all the words onto the page.

I talked to a writer this weekend who I've only met twice but whom I like and trust, and he reminded me what all great writers remind us: there is no way around it, no matter how special you think you are, you've got to just get the words on the page.

Part of it is that I don't want to open up painful wounds. I don't want to talk about anxiety, depression, feeling left out in high school. I don't want to go there, admit that.

The other part of me, honestly, is bored. I'm boring myself. I know my story too well.

Or do I? In writing I discover so much.

When you think what you're writing is boring, let me just tell you this is not a motivator to keep writing. Because then you think your readers will hate it.

Scratch that. You think you won't have readers because they'll be bored hence they won't bother.

Well this same new writer friend who I barely know but do like and trust also encouraged me that my story is worth telling, with me as the specific, though at times seemingly mundane (my words, not his), author.

So that was good. And I greatly enjoyed gabbing with him over beers.

So that's where I sit, homies. I have plenty of free Saturdays and Sundays this month to declare as my mandatory writing day for March. Who knows? Maybe I'll schedule in TWO of them. Ooooh.

Today's pay day. That's exciting.

First purchase? Mini donuts and coffee.

Second "purchase"? Payment toward the credit card bill.


Over and out. Keep writing. Loves. -- The Daily Bailey

Sunday, March 1, 2015

PMS -- Pretty Miserable State

Guys, PMS is the worst.

For starters, I'm eating everything in California.

Mac & cheese, pizza, a burger, all things with ranch dressing, sushi, tacos, burritos (yes, multiple).

I can't be stopped.

Then this morning, as I was driving somewhere, I had planned to get coffee on the way -- because it was morning, and duh -- and the Starbucks I pulled into was madness. I'm too lazy to make a dramatization illustration in Microsoft Paint for y'all, but there were a lot of cars and a lot of them moving all at once and only so many parking spaces.

I chose to leave.

I finally pulled into a 7-Eleven, feeling like I might cry, feeling very agitated, and wondering what had happened in the course of 20 minutes to make me feel suddenly so mad.

There was some success, as I gathered donuts during this foraging effort.

And I got myself the largest coffee they offered.

Then when I arrived at my destination a little headache decided to start brewing in my forehead region.


I'm feeling a little better now (and I've downed two glazed donuts), but I'm afraid that little twinge in my abdominal region is more than my imagination. It could very well be the next step: CRAMPS.

If you need me I'll be eating something salty -- or sweet -- or both -- and I might be in tears. Solidarity to my sisters. Holla at me if you're in the same boat.