Saturday, June 27, 2015


I thought it would burn when she put vinegar on my sunburn, but it only stung my nose.

She called me a hornet when I was mad. I hated that.

She loved tomato soup, like me. During a meal a few years ago she said she could eat it several times a day. She said this several times. I didn't mind her repeating; it was a good point to be made.

When my brother convinced (a very young) me that a Milkbone was an ice cream treat for humans, I asked her for one.

"Oh, honey, you don't want one of those."

I can still hear her voice.

There were blocks at her home in Iowa, but they were hard to play with on the textured carpet. We always wanted to build towers, but they toppled.

The best playground was across the street.

She made soft, sweet molasses cookies.

My brother still uses her recipe for cut-out Christmas cookies. I wonder if he's been able to get the dough rolled as thinly as she could.

She was always quick to laugh, and shared a smile with my dad.

She was the most pleasant gal to be around.

She got confused about who we were, but she was never scared of us, and I'm grateful for that.

I used to sneak peaks at her collection of elephant figurines, tucked away in the curious front stairwell by the door through which we never entered. It was just me and the elephants, quiet and hidden.

She put pennies in plastic Easter eggs that we found during our morning hunt.

Our parents always told us not to jump on the beds in her home. We always jumped on the beds. She always scolded us.

She kept Tiddlywinks in the back bedroom, the bedroom with the closet with the magical light that went off when you closed the door, like a fridge.

I don't remember why (maybe I was sick?), but once she set me up in her bedroom, just me, to watch the video of Peter Pan, starring Mary Martin. I was always perplexed that Peter was played by a girl.

She gave me my first copy of a Babysitters' Club book. I unwrapped it in a Chinese restaurant, and went on to become a devoted reader of the series.

She squealed with glee when we rolled into her driveway, running out the back door to squeeze me and my brothers, making "umph" noises of happiness as our little bodies hugged hers.

She handwrote notes, in cursive.

When she was very old, we spied on her and her sister singing hymns together at their assisted living home. Mom cried in the hallway.

A picture of her late husband stayed by her bedside after he was gone.

I learned to eat pickled herring at her home, and discovered it's pretty tasty, for vinegared fish.

She never got on the email train, but loved to read.

Her home was always cozy and well-kept, with crisp bed sheets and rolls with butter on the table at dinnertime.

I have to write this in the past tense, and we all hate that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The struggle for/with/against mobility

My we are a restless generation.

Three days ago I did a half marathon, and you would think I've come back from Everest with the amount of physical -- and mental -- recovery.

OK that's perhaps a bit of an exaggeration.

Pikes Peak?

Sure, we'll go with that.

Let's start with the step progression. (Hardy har. But seriously. Climbing stairs is a struggle.)

Day one after the race: one step at a time, sideways going downward. Big "yikes!" running through my head with each step up. I bravely tackled some laundry, which involved a total of maybe 15 steps from bedroom to laundry room, and it was a slowly accomplished task.

Day two: less sideways stepping, a little tiny bit quicker moving.

Day three: almost using stairs like a normal person! Yay!

So there's that. There's also sitting on the toilet, regarding which we won't get into specifics.

But what I really want to talk about are the mental ramifications.

I met someone last night who was opening up about a recent injury she's suffered. She mentioned having bouts of depression as a result and here's me, the Mental Health Advice Train coming at her full force:

"Can you swim? So you can at least get that cardio but not hurt your joints, to make yourself feel happy? Or bike?"

She was very sweet and gracious in listening to me, and I felt for her, with my recent -- albeit very short -- restriction to little physical movement.

I took the day after my race off from work so I could chill in bed instead of hobble around the office. And my extra endorphin supply depleted quickly.

At first I was happy as a clam, up at 8, cross stitching with the best of 'em. "Haven't done this in ages! I've missed it so much! La la la music on my Pandora, la la la stitch stitch la."

I didn't even miss my legs. In fact I forgot about them (not that I'm usually actively thinking about my legs as I stitch) until I got up to get scissors, go to the bathroom, or when my foot fell asleep and I moved to readjust, said "Ow," and moved on.

But then the day continued.

Let me pause here and tell you about my get out of the house rule. Unless one is deathly ill or kept indoors due to extreme weather, one must leave the house once per day. Even if it is for five minutes to the store, to have 10 seconds of interaction with a cashier, that is fine.

Because it is better than pure isolation.

You'll also notice I'm somewhat into sports. I value exercise because I hold a similar rule and that is to do what it takes to keep my spirits up in life. And for me -- and for all of us, I believe, whether we want to admit it or not -- the activity to keep my spirits up is to keep my heart rate up.

This past Monday, the day after my race, I hit 2 p.m. and all I could think was "I'm blue" and "When is my roommate coming home?"

And I started to miss my legs. The use of them.

Several times throughout the day I thought of going to Starbucks, or Target, just to walk around and maybe spend some gift card money.

But what stopped me was the fact that my legs hurt so much, I didn't even want to trek down to my car or around any sort of retail establishment.

And it got me down. Quickly.

And it's the quickly element that has me wanting to write this.

I'm one who takes pretty stellar care of her mental health, if I say so myself, which I am saying, right here right now. I have all kinds of pieces in place to keep myself truckin', happy, and honest.

So when all it took was one day off from work to get me completely out of sorts, I -- even I, who is something of a depression veteran -- was rather surprised.

I couldn't wait to get back to work. Tuesday morning I felt so good being back among my peeps. Monday night, when Abby came home from work, I was like, "She's heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere!!!"

But even after we had chatted for a while and my main happy reserves were replenished, Abby caught me staring into space and asked, "How are your depression levels...?"

So while I continually am healing physically and thus able to literally get back on my feet at work to recover mentally, my one brief day off (in more ways than one) got me thinking about stuff.

Like how hard it is to sit still.

To do nothing.

To breathe.

To do something not involving fast technology, or instantly gratifying humor (do you ever think about this? How much we expect the world to keep us entertained?). To do something boring, but which might be rewarding, like sitting quietly and reading the Bible.

Even my cross stitch kept my hands and mind busy. But that and every-5-minute Facebook checks weren't enough. I needed more. Movement. People. Constant.

I don't have too much to say about this except for the fact that it disheartens and frightens me a bit to think how far we've traveled in one direction as a society and whether we will ever be able to recover.

I'm not sure where I read this (though I'm inclined to say it was Donald Miller) recently, but it was something along the lines of: Our children will rebel by reading longform writing and using landline telephones.

God, I hope that's the case.

I'm not a complete Luddite. I see the benefits of technological advancements, and I am hopelessly addicted to social media. I enjoy the pocket size element of my 1.0 versions of gadgets.

But I legitimately worry about being a parent, because me and my generation are already addicted enough to constant lights, camera, action.

Do I give my kids cell phones? Is there room for being moral about that, when landlines are just disappearing, not to mention expensive to keep in addition to cell phones? Do I keep tablets from them, making them freaks among their peers? Will there be enough activity for them to engage in if I restrict their TV intake? (Overthinking moment: I watched a lot of TV and still came out the other end loving to read, so I'm not too messed up, right?)

I'll figure it out, I'm sure. But this whole being unable to sit still unnerves me. I wonder sometimes if the real life I should or could be living lies in the fallout of the technology buzz. If it lies -- gasp! -- even outside the land of quiet Grandma stitching.

Should I be sitting more? Should I be concerned that I can't meditate?

That's all. I'll leave you with this: keep your health, and get out of the house. It will go a long way, and I want y'all to be happy. Hence the Mental Health Advice Train when you tell me you're depressed.

Loves to you all. -- Bails

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The noncompetitive guide to half marathoning

Don't live in a home that includes stairs. 

Because when you're done with the race it will feel like this to go up them:

Ow ow ow ow ow.

And this to go down them:

Ow ow ow ow ow.

Text your support network before you start. 

Remind your friends and fam that you're doing something awesome!! and ask them to send you silly texts while you're on the course.

Keep the runners in your life close to you on race day.

If you have a certain special runner in your life who can't be there with you on race day, consider calling him or her just before you finish and "running in with them" via phone. It will mean a lot to them. You could even Face Time with them, but, uh, don't trip.

Today I wore my bestie Michelle's old tank top, and it felt good to have her and her running spirit (chick is a QUICK! marathoner!) near.

When training, try not to skip your long workouts. 

You don't have to be an Olympian, but the more you "put the miles on your legs," the more enjoyable race day will be for you. You'll have more confidence and will be able to relax better.

Consider doing a Mom & Pop race.

Races that only have several hundreds -- as opposed to several thousands -- of registered participants have their advantages (this said, if I ever do a full marathon, I'm signing up for a BIG race, to feed off the adrenaline of all the spectators cheering me on. Yes, me specifically. When I run the Chicago, all the spectators will be cheering me on.).

Small organizational runs tend to be cheap, not crowded, and more chill. Several times today I found myself alone on the course, and it was kind of nice not to be mentally influenced by the pace of someone around me. And I paid, I believe, less than $35 for this race. And if you're into supporting local business, just view this as another opportunity to do so.

If you're running solo, plant someone at the finish line. 

It just makes you feel good. So if someone can't be there during the whole race, just ask them to snap a pic of you at the end (and then take you to lunch).

Remember that you will race like you train. 

When I did my first half marathon, I did all my training at a jogging pace, no walking. Come race day, I did the same. This time around, I did a lot of elliptical work and treadmill jogging/walking. During the race I jogged, walked, jogged, walked for the duration.

So however you want to perform on race day, mimic that goal in your training.

Make your goal to finish.

This one speaks for itself. You really are a winner just for finishing. Especially if you're following the Daily Bailey's noncompetitive guide to half marathoning. ;)

Take the time to make a killer playlist.

Might I recommend "swell songs." This means two things:

Songs that are swell. Songs that put a smile on your face, period. Put those on the list.

Songs that swell. Anything that builds. Pumps you up. Tugs at your (happy) emotions. Get it. Put that energy on the list.

Invest in a FuelBelt

Or have your friend Michelle mail you hers. But get one. Carry your phone, water, GU, energy chews, motivational Bible verses, a tampon. Whatever you can fit. But don't carry that stuff. Belt it.


By this I mean: Buy beer the day before. Your legs will thank you that you don't have to walk through the grocery store post-race. And believe me, the rest of you will thank you for stocking the fridge with a 6-pack.

Make friends with your pacers.

Who are your pacers? Oh you'll find out.

Of course there are official pacers, who either lead a pack to meet a certain finishing time, or a running pal who jumps in the race with you to keep time and encourage you.

But if you're like me, and you run alone, your unofficial pacers are the people in your race who you keep catching up with. Today there was a father-daughter team who approached me to chat once we had all realized we kept ending up near each other on the track. We had a nice little get to know you session, encouraged each other throughout the morning, and then actually ran across the finish together.

Accept high fives, and encourage your fellow racers. 

Because the world needs all the good juju it can get. So spread the running love.

Unless you're gasping for air, throw out the occasional "great job" to those going after the same goal you are. Because you, of all people, know how valuable it is to be encouraged when you're pounding the pavement for 13 miles.

13.1. Excuse me.

And finally, remember not to pants your poop!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

(Not) sleepyhead

3 a.m. blogging, yay!

Oh wait. 3:27. 

Pre-race jitters? Maybe. 

Allergies? A little bit (was the cat snuggle worth it? Yep).

3:43. Got distracted. 

I don't feel the least bit tired. 

Maybe this lack of sleep tonight will help me crash out on Saturday night, so I'm not up worrying about the race the night before I melt in the heat and in my despair of being the slowest "runner" on the course? 


I finally met some very special bloggers last night!!!, who were not put off by my gross public seeking them out, thank goodness.

We had ice cream and Mexican food, we wandered Barnes & Noble. I bought a book they suggested, after a somewhat comical moment in which we were all oohing and ahhing about two books with the same title but by different authors, so we thought we were all oohing about the same book but then it turned out we were not.*

*I might have otherwise pressured them to buy the book I was ahhing about, but to my knowledge it is sadly out of print.  

We talked about life and books and writing just like I hoped we would. 

They are lovely ladies, and I will plug their blogs here for you: 

World, meet Hilary and Jill


So what have I been doing since 2, when I stopped sleeping, you (didn't) ask?

Well I watched some "Bunheads." Finished episode 10, which had a pretty smart/wrenching ending, that in a weird (but romantic) way made me think and feel all swoony about my Alex. 

It doesn't generally take much to make me feel swoony about my Alex. I just have to see a romantic couple on TV or, you know, think about Alex. 

I want my new blogging buddies to watch "Bunheads." FYI, Girls. 

Is my sweet roommate awake yet so we can have coffee together and gush about our Friday nights out? 

I love my roomie, and having a roomie. Grateful for that feeling, as I dug my heels in about living alone for quite a while prior. 

Oooh, there is a bottle of untapped wine in the fridge...


If I decide to drink this wine, and to imbibe outside in the cool night air, do I need to put pants on? 

OK FINE. I'll either put pants on or imbibe inside or not at all. 

Watching the sunrise while drinking wine miiiiight make me feel like I have a problem, so maybe I will resist. 


OK, well I'll let y'all go. Hope you're sleeping. Or if you're on the East coast maybe enjoying your first swig of java. Here's to the weekend. Now go watch "Bunheads."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Pep talk

I'm doing a half marathon this weekend.

Supposed to.

I say "doing" because I'm not sure that actual "running" will happen. But I also don't know that I'll be able to walk the whole thing.

In a nutshell, I'm worried.


I've done a half marathon before, and I jogged the whole thing, and if memory serves it wasn't a terribly painful or awful experience.

To train for that race, I got lazy at the end (worked my way up to a 9 mile run, then slacked heavily in the last few weeks of training), but for all of my training I jogged. I did the bulk of my training outside, too, which in general makes running easier. The feeling of things actually moving past you is more encouraging than watching the Food Network from your treadmill.

This time around, I've done all of my training inside.

All of it.

Except for the intense hiking I've done on occasion with Alex.

I've also done a lot of my training on an elliptical, which is like free-pass-out-of-running "running."

I have, this time around, worked my way up to an 11 mile workout, which is good.

I've done several hikes, including a very uphill 7.5 mile trail and an all-day hike through the Haleakala crater in Maui (holla!). As well as a nine mile hike on, yes, relatively flat terrain, but which took us about four hours to complete.

I was walking -- ha -- myself through all of this knowledge during last night's workout (4 miles mostly walking, sometimes jogging, finished in 59 minutes and 55 seconds). And I came to the following conclusion...ish...thing.

*I know that I can complete the distance of a half marathon. It's been a while (year and a half, almost to the week, ago), but still. I've done it. I have that bit of knowledge floating around in my subconscious muscle memory.

*In recent weeks, I have covered the distance of 11 miles, so adding on 2.1 more miles is not a big deal.

*Two months ago I hiked all day long to complete the Maui crater hike. If I have the endurance to work out for an entire day, I can work out for several hours.

*Despite my legitimate worry for this upcoming race, in general I have a good attitude when it comes to exercise. I like to do it, it pumps me up, and I have this weird, perhaps slightly masochistic thing in me that pushes me to just keep going. Maybe it's just a healthy "I like a challenge" thing, maybe I need to talk to my therapist about it. In any case, I think it will come in handy this Sunday.

*I have many tools. I have an iPod shuffle. I have Shot Bloks. A FuelBelt. Gatorade (grape!). There will be water stations on the course. Hopefully an Alex to yell funny things at me and kiss me as I pass.

*I do well in the heat. Um, it's supposed to be 91 degrees this Sunday. I presume it will be a little cooler in the morning while I'm racing, but...uh, still. But! I do really well in the heat. I'm a good sport about it, and sweating makes me feel like a bad ass.

So, in short, I think it's going to be OK. Because my final, overarching conclusion is this:

*I'm going to finish.*

That's my goal. That's my focus.

I may not beat -- or meet -- my time from my last half marathon. I may run the whole thing, I may walk the whole thing. I may do a combo. It might take me four hours. It might take me three. I might be grumpy or feel defeated.

But if I just focus on FINISHING, no matter how long it takes, then I'll be fine.

This is my new focus.

Which will hopefully make it an enjoyable experience.

I just really hope I don't get any blisters.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I'm tired and therefore rambling (you've been warned)

Raise your hand if you're tired!

No? Just me?

Who am I kidding, of course we're all tired, it's summer! Summer's always crazy busy and you're just hopped up on sunshine if you don't think you're exhausted.

OK maybe now I'm projecting. Freud would have something to say about me.


I should know this, what with my BA in Psych.



My bangs, which were the "straight across" tapered variety, are getting a little longer, and can do a sort-of-but-not-quite side sweep thing now.


So I'm moving. I have one foot -- more like one and three quarters feet -- in the new apartment and the other foot -- or, let's say three toes -- in the old place.

It's tiring.

Hence the fatigue mention that opened this post.

All my extra time and umpfh* has been going to gathering stuff from Place #1, driving it to Place #2, and organizing it as best my Martha Stewart energies can allow.

*Technical term.


It just occurred to me that "Alvin and the Chipmunks" is kind of a misnomer.

Because Alvin, too, is a chipmunk, is he not?

And doesn't the title kind of imply he's his own thing?

I mean, if I started a girl band, I wouldn't call it "Bailey and the Girls" (besides the fact that it's just not that great of a name). Because, I, too, am a girl. Woman. Whatever.

Cue Britney Spears.

Fun fact: there is a musical group called "Baillie and the Boys." Which is like me and my brothers, in name.


So, back to the Martha Stewart energies I was talking about:

I feel very strange.

I'm working in overdrive in all aspects of my life right now.

And just in case you don't believe me, let me tell you this little fun fact:

My CAR is not full of junk right now.


Last night I sorted through my bathroom supplies like an anal retentive person would (I think I'm anal expulsive, which is why this is significant). Admittedly I left a lot of the stuff on my bedroom floor, because I could feel myself getting sad as a result of the overwhelming project of organizing my new bathroom, and when I get sad over stuff like that I know it's time to go to bed, which is what I did.

But not before I finished John Green's "An Abundance of Katherines," which I enjoyed abundantly.

So my car is "clean," my bathroom is getting hyper organized as is my closet, and I'm tackling detailed things at the office right and left.

So. What is happening to me?

I give it a few weeks and then I'll be back to my slobbish ways.

But maybe not. Because I am turning over a new leaf!

OK. I'm tired. I need Diet Coke.

Or unsweetened iced tea -- which rids the aspartame from my diet but not the caffeine. So it's like a partial leaf turnover.

Changing Me

Monday, June 8, 2015

The rules of moving

1. Make sure there is a roll of toilet paper in your old place and your new place.

True, there's no quicker way to bond with your new neighbors (or say goodbye to the old ones) than by asking to use their room of rest, but you might prefer to have your own TP on hand to break the place in.

2. To make use of the aforementioned TP, keep hydrated.

This weekend I partook of Coke, beer, Gatorade, water, iced tea, coffee, and wine. My sweat glands thanked me.

3. Make sure you know where the tissue is.

In case someone has a mild to moderate breakdown with the stress and possible homesickness associated with moving.

4. Don't snap your fingers while driving between homes, listening to Shania Twain.

Your forearms are more sore than you think from lifting all that furniture, and the act of snapping will hurt.

5. If you are about to fall asleep at 5 p.m., power through and order a pizza instead.

Chances are you've forgotten to eat at regular meal times, and you've been burning up mega calories, so make sure you get some food in your tum before crashing, to maintain your basic grip on reality. Naps are allowed, of course, but you may find that you will instead catch a second wind to organize your bathroom supplies.

6. Take breaks to recap with your moving posse.

I almost guarantee the following will happen: one moment you will be organizing your underwear, happy as a clam, and the next you will be hyperventilating, wondering when the sorting and cleaning will all be over.


Grab your roomie, or someone who's helping you with all the moving, call Mommy, I don't care contact someone -- and talk it out.

Remind yourself that it's one step at a time.

It will all get done when it gets done.


Tell yourself that your desk supplies can live temporarily in a box, your stuffed animals can stay in a suitcase, you can wear mismatched, sweaty clothing until you dig out your quarters for laundry.

Just make sure you keep your live pets out of suitcases and closed boxes and you're doing OK.

Hug that roomie of yours and breathe. Turn the music up and get back to it! You're a champ and you can do this! (Can you tell I'm giving myself a pep talk right now?)

7. Take the opportunity to turn over a new leaf.

As we've been unpacking, Abby and I have been running to each other's bedrooms saying, "Look at this!" and then showing the other...a postcard, or seeing if the other wants a wallet, or a necklace, or a dress that we're getting rid of.

At one point last night, Abby asked if I'd be willing to look at her socks.


"This is a new leaf," she said, gesturing to her socks, rolled and lined up in colorful rows.

We're both using this move as a chance to make some life changes. To eat better and save some money by cooking at home more often. To read the Bible together. To be more clean and organized.

While reminding myself that I will be living temporarily amongst some mayhem, I am trying my best to channel Martha Stewart as I unpack. Slowly as I sift through things, I pick up yet another rubber band (WHY do I have 8,000 of these in my possession?) and walk it over to the desk drawer. Hair tie? You go in the bathroom. Old rusted penny? You go in the teeny cat-shaped bank.

Slowly. Surely.

This cleanliness might all go to you-know-what later, but for now, I'm trying. Turning over that leaf. Why do I have 5 pairs of headphones? I have no clue how things got so out of hand in that department, but I can tell you exactly where to find them in my (walk in!) closet.

8. Remind yourself that it's not easy living in two places at once, and you're only human.

Moving's obnoxious. I'm breaking out like whoa these days because of the stress. Every time I go to my old place to get more stuff, I can't believe there's still so much crap to gather up, particularly since I've lived in this city for a mere three years and arrived a la Maria von Trapp with, well, more than a suitcase and a guitar, but with little enough to compactly fit in my Corolla.

It's not natural to live in two places at once -- and my heart goes out to children of divorced parents everywhere. Last night I used Abby's shower and one of her towels because I just haven't been able to get shampoo carted over to my new bathroom yet.

Get over it, be resourceful, run to the drugstore. This too shall pass. And you have a new pad! Yay! Be grateful. Order a pizza and soldier on.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Failure Mode

Does your brain ever enter into Failure Mode and then have trouble leaving it?

I'm having one of those mornings.

I woke up around 4:30 and thought about doing some 5 a.m. blogging, but watched Bunheads instead.

I got back in bed.

I tossed.

I turned.

I sighed.

I rinsed my eyes because the cat was making them itchy.

I tossed.

I turned.

I fell back asleep, and it was late enough in the morning (i.e. too close to my alarm time) that when my alarm went off I was way into sleep mode, so I had much difficulty rousing myself, which is typical but still this was slightly worse.

And I was late to work.

And stressed out.

And my brain was in failure mode.

It still kind of is, but I'm coaxing it out with coffee and perhaps if I'm up to it some positive thinking here in a bit.

I thought about money I owe people.

Diseases I could have.

Could I have prevented them?

Things I have to do that I should have already done.

Work stress.




How all I want to do today is shuttle stuff to and from the old and new apartments, but alas.

I guess I made a point to come in to work, so that gets a point.

A positive point.

OK, time to snap out of it. Time to write a gratitude list.

Time to channel Polyanna.

See ya on the flipside. Xo