Saturday, December 31, 2016

This was the year...

2016 was a year of a lot of things. Many are calling it a terrible year, but it wasn't 100 percent bad, if you ask me. It was certainly full, though, I'll give you that. 

Today I filled my cart with $200 worth of groceries. I took all the expired food out of the fridge, loaded the dishwasher, and took out a bunch of trash. And now I'm sitting here, looking back on many of the things that occurred in my life this year. So without further ado:

This was the year...

Max became a lap cat on hyperdrive. 

I lost my last grandparent.

I started writing prayers for Bethel.

I made really good friends at Bethel.

I saw Bonnie Raitt and Dolly Parton in concert. 

I discovered that Glen Hansard is amazing live. 

A crystal got dislodged in my left ear, making me curiously dizzy for a month.

A doctor declared me to have plantar fasciitis in my right foot, making me an overachiever with plantar fasciitis in both feet. 

I went to Kansas City four times. 

My great pal Laura visited me three times. 

I saw Europe. 

I spent Christmas as quietly as I probably ever have. Playing trial and error with my psychotropic meds made for a withdrawn Bailey. 

I learned that Jesca Hoop and Sam Beam are an incredible duo.

I held my bestie's thirdborn child. 

I developed a penchant for fizzy water. 

I weighed probably the most I ever have. 

I sang so much karaoke that I no longer get a fearful buzz in me when I take the mic. Which I consider both a triumph and a loss. 

I started wearing makeup more often. Which is to say, I wasn't a bridesmaid this year and I actually wore makeup. 

I became close with a girl I met online. 

I applied to graduate school again. 

Alex got in a terrible biking accident and walked out with many deep cuts but not a broken bone or any other serious injury, thank God. 

The Chiefs were actually good. 

I completed two half marathons. 

I combed a glittering beach in Mexico with my love and our friends, filling our pockets to bursting with shells and rocks. 

I bonded with a girl who previously (and still does, but less so now that I've befriended her) made me jealous. 

I saw people panic and cry over an election. 

I watched the Internet brim with self righteousness and vitriol.

I got a smart phone, a Netflix account, and several Apple products. 

I decided I really enjoy Instagram.

I got closer with my mama.

I got some Xanax and realized it works wonders for my flight anxiety. 

I flew from LA to Kansas City without Xanax and was very proud of myself. 

I agreed with myself that ukuleles still really bother me.

I ate chips like there was about to be a chip prohibition.

I got glasses.

I sang in church with a microphone, twice. 

One of those times I sang with Garrison Starr, and became instantly transfixed by her voice and bought tickets to her show at the Hotel Cafe. 

I decided I'm allowed to be from Kansas and not love the song "Over the Rainbow."

I learned the names of two players on the Kansas City Chiefs. (And I think I know their positions, too).

I stitched muppets. 

I blogged, and felt proud of several of my posts.

I developed a very strong ability to berate myself -- chiefly for exercising too little, drinking too much caloric beer, spending too much money, and essentially never cleaning. 

I called my parents about once a week.

I buried the hatchet in a troublesome relationship.

I read probably the least I have in the last four or so years.

I started to speed read a lot more. 

I developed a huge author crush on Marisa de los Santos.

I ditched a relationship with a medical professional who wasn't serving me well anymore.

I fell in love with Lauren Daigle's tunes.

I felt self conscious in a bathing suit for the first time maybe ever.

I bought a scale. 

I very briefly counted calories. 

I joined party planning committees at work. I set up decorations and told my colleagues that doing so was giving me a chance to be on the Prom Committee I was too timid to join in high school. 

I owned the irony that I hate hiking but am willing to walk for miles on suburban sidewalks.

I became obsessed with Words with Friends and later deleted the app from my phone. 

I enjoyed taking photos with my new camera.

Speaking no Deutsch, I found a post office in Vienna and rode the subway all by myself. And I was exhilarated and it was one of my favorite days of the whole year. 

I watched Titanic for the first time and, after discussing its traumatic effect on me with my therapist, decided I never need to watch that movie ever again. 

I bought two books about the Titanic, even though the thought of that sinking ship gives me tremendous anxiety. Ha! I'm a nut. 

Well, Kiddoes, that's a good long list for now. 

I haven't decided if I'm going to go out tonight or stay in -- though I'm betting big money I'll stay in. 

I'm going to try to be nicer to myself next year. I'm going to try and live within my means, and not by the aid of a credit card. I want to cook more for Alex, because he's wonderful and he deserves it. I'm going to snuggle with Max so much. I want to exercise more, eat more vegetables, consume less alcohol. I want to read more. 

OK. I'll leave you for now. Be safe tonight. Auld lang syne and all that. Thanks, as always, for another year of reading this blog. Means the world. 


Friday, December 30, 2016

I'll start with laundry

I'd like to talk about New Year's resolutions.
I think they're silly.
Well, that was quick. See ya later!
OK, OK, fine. We can actually talk about resolutions.
So, as you can imagine (if you know me or have read my blog at all), I have a lot of feelings and thoughts and opinions about resolutions (because I have a lot of feelings and thoughts and opinions about most things. OK, fine. About everything.).
And, if you know me, you know I'm about to share my F's and T's and O's with you now.
So, go ahead and bail if you'd like. Otherwise, grab some popcorn and come back and join us.
Let's see.
Well, for starters, I've spent the last month or two or eight beating up on myself. I get mad at myself for eating out. For eating poorly. For not eating enough. (This is just one example, the eating. I get mad at myself for all kinds of other things, that I'm not doing enough, or correctly, or with enough gusto). All this negativity toward myself has made for a pretty negative year overall.
So, I'm equal parts reluctant and eager to make some resolutions for this upcoming year.
On the one hand, a resolution could help give me a goal, yes? And a focus. And something to look forward to.
On the other, it kind of feels like I'm jumping into 2017 with a wagging finger that says, first and foremost, "Let's fix everything that you did so terribly wrong last year."
So, while I've typed up a list of things I want to do less of in 2017 and things I want to do more of, I'm not quite sure I'm going to print it and post it on my bulletin board.
I sometimes wonder if what I need instead of a resolution is either some therapy or a trip to Goodwill. Or both.
Let's start with the Goodwill theory.
I am so overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF in my life.
I have so much stuff I never use. Never will use. Never want to use.
So I should just get rid of it, right?
You'd think. But, if there's one thing I've learned about myself in 2016, it's that I am the laziest, least willing person to drive to Goodwill.
I know, it's ridiculous.
Did you see that negativity there, calling myself lazy?
Cue the therapy.
I'll be honest, I'd like to take the next year off from therapy. Or at least the next several months. I went to therapy a lot this year. Ad nauseum. Ad boredom. Ad why-am-I-spending-my-money-on-this-um.
But, if I'm being real with myself, I know that it might be helpful to talk to someone about all the negative self talk that I have on repeat throughout each day. Frankly, I'm sick of the soundtrack.
OK let's talk about some real things I'd like to see change next year.
I'd like to lose weight.
I'd like to spend waaaaay less.
I'd like to downsize my stuff significantly (and yes, this includes books).
I'd like to work on my attitude.
Now, show of hands: How many of you are ready to suggest the Netflix documentary on minimalism, or have a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up ready to sneak in my tote bag when my back is turned?
I'll keep those in mind, but #1: I don't think I'd actually read the book, and #2: at this point, anyway, I think the documentary would just make me focus on all that which is not true in my own life, making me feel worse than I already do. Looking at examples of all that I wish to be tends not to inspire me, but rather make me crouch and cry.
Where am I going with all this?
Mostly, I'm just rambling, Friends. You're welcome, and also thanks for reading.
Also, I don't know where I'm going with this, other than I'm sorting out some emotions.
I will tell you that I don't believe a day on a calendar makes an actual difference in being the "appropriate" time to change actions and habits in one's life. But I do know that I've let my bad attitude and self loathing grow and grow and so I think now is as good a time as any to flip the switch.
I will also tell you that I'm going through a weird phase where I want to do all the things. As in, I want to read every book in the universe. OK, not the boring ones. But I want to explore new genres and make my own opinions about some titles that everyone claims are awesome.
I want to watch all the Netflix (except the violent stuff). I'm currently plowing my way through Baby Daddy, to make my own opinions about a show that no one else is watching. Because that should be a priority in life. Hey, Tucker is a delight and I'm enjoying myself, so so what if I'm binge watching?
What does this have to do with resolutions? Well, not much except that I think this inkling to do-all-the-things is a hindrance to actually setting realistic, attainable goals.
So where am I going from here?
Number one, I'll wrap up this blog post soon, so y'all can get back to life as you know it.
Number two, I'm going to keep trying to be nice to myself. I think that may be my biggest challenge in 2017. But I think it's a supremely worthwhile goal. Because if I've learned anything in 2016, it's that belittlement of one's self is ultimately counterproductive. Plus it doesn't feel great.
And number three, um, what is number three?
Laundry! Let's start with laundry. I'm wearing swimsuit bottoms today, because my underwear is either dirty, lost somewhere in an airport (don't ask), or in a suitcase in my car that I haven't brought inside yet.
So I think laundry is a good place to start in life right now. Because what are we without our undies? Well, frankly, we're a little lost.
So I will enjoy the whimsy of polka-dotted swimsuit bottoms under my jeans today, and, when I take a break from binge watching B-rated sitcoms, I will head to the laundry room with my quarters and detergent.
And I will tell myself that I am doing all right in life.
Smooches to you all. And hey. Tell me. What are your thoughts on resolutions?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Real life -- full(er) of emotion

I know I should probably be wrapping gifts or packing my suitcase for Kansas, but I am very busy.
Jill and I are rapid-fire texting, now that I have completed watching all of Fuller House.
We are critiquing every last bit. Guest stars, love interests, annoying characters, the BEST characters (Max first, Steph second).
I almost told a coworker today to put down his donut, because the episode where everyone gets donut poisoning was still fresh in my brain, and fantasy was mixed in with my reality.
I'm not kidding.
The good news is I've finished my binge, so I should come back down to earth soon and will be able to look at donuts normally once again.
Here's what else is going on in my life:
I'm blue.
Like, staring into space, feeling sad during the day. Waking up in the night, feeling sad then, too.
And I'm irritable.
Like, I was at a potluck recently, and all I could think was, "Why are these people SO EXCITED about some food?"
Yowsa. Did anybody order a Grinch?
I called my psychiatrist this morning, and left a message with the receptionist. I didn't want to make the call, to be honest, because it's a task, and they might ask me to come in, and when you're feeling blue and like yelling at everyone, the last thing you want to do is tell a doctor how you're feeling and then play trial and error with your meds.
But I did it.
They say we're nothing without our health. I am still something, I would say, with whacked out emotions, but it's really hard to get anything of substance done, anything that would make me feel good.
I'm grateful for the dumb joy the Tanner family has brought me this week, and I truly got out of my head when Jill and I were freaking out over Steve's romanticism, but mostly, if I'm being honest, I feel awful.
No motivation to exercise, to eat anything other than sugar or salt, to lift a finger.
I'm not even all that excited for Christmas. Five years ago, this would be normal for me, but the last couple of years I've actually enjoyed the holidays, and I hate to fly home feeling unenthused.
So why am I telling you all this?
1. I know a lot of you aren't happy that it's Christmastime. I want you to know you're not alone. I struggle, too.
2. I want to show you a real life snapshot of med management. You can feel good for months, years even. And then all of a sudden you may not. It's obnoxious, and made 10 times harder when you're having to deal with it in the midst of not feeling like yourself, but it's completely worth tackling. I have some semblance of peace, knowing/hoping that once my doc and I get this sorted out, I'll be back to Bailey in a few weeks.
3. The irony to my lack of personal sanity right now is that I just wrote a piece for a website regarding holiday stress, and how to cope. So I will tell you what I told readers in the article I wrote:
I want you to give yourself grace, particularly if you're not feeling great. I want you to find something small, something silly, that grants you respite. If cheesy sitcoms aren't your thing, maybe make something -- food, baked goods, a craft, a masterpiece of your woodworking skills. Go ice skating. Buy yourself a shiny pair of shoes. Organize your linen closet.
I don't know. Just get out of your head. And don't force yourself to feel any which way, because, news flash, it won't work if you force it.
So. Breathe. Eat. Sleep. Walk. And call your doc if needed.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A year and its word

Well, here I am, Friends.

Facing a magazine deadline and a write-prayers-for-church-tomorrow deadline, and what am I doing?

Well, aside from quoting Home Alone via text with my new best friend Sam.

And tweeting at Panera, convincing them to make me their resident blogger.

As if I have time for that.

Never mind the stress of the day, the stress that could be alleviated if I finished at least one of my writing assignments. In the face of this, I'm over here blogging instead.

Time Management 101, here I come.

But here's what I say to all this gobbledygook I wrote just now: I am here to tackle another writing assignment, given to me by Jill.

Jill, who summarizes each year with a word that describes her overall experience and sentiment for the past 12 months, asked me this week what my word is for 2016.

I cursed a little when she asked me, because though I've always read her "word" posts and thought, "I should do that," I've also been a little chicken to actually sit down and make a choice on just one word.

But I think it's a great idea, and it might be fun to look back in five years on all the words of yore.

My first response to Jill was "busy." Not like, "Busy. Can't answer your question." But, as in "busy" should be my word. Then I thought some more, and came up with broke. And lucky. Spoiled. Blessed. Stressed.

But finally, I figured it out.

My word for my latest trip around the sun is full.

Full, because there was way too much in this year.

I have packed a suitcase 12 times this year. TWELVE. It will be 13 before the year's up. Four of those trips will be to Kansas City.

I've traveled by car, plane, and boat.

I've been to four countries outside of the US.

I have lost count of the number of musicians and stand up comedians I've seen live this year.

I've done freelance assignments for at least three entities.

I applied to graduate school.

I officially became a karaoke junkie.

I worked on my billiards game.

I completed two half marathons.

I did, I did, I did.

I got stressed, and angry, and annoyed with myself for over scheduling and over spending and rarely taking time to do domestic things like cook and clean. I got mad at myself every day (which was most days) that I didn't go to the gym. I went through this self-loathing routine with myself over and over and over.

I did it today, and I talked myself down on the way to Panera. "Bailey, you're starving right now. Eat, and then re-evaluate life."

I forgave myself a little when a gift card covered the expense of my lunch. I managed to squeeze in a treat without swiping the Visa.

My life this year has been full of activity, and motion, and stress and feelings and cat snuggles and Alex snuggles and an expanding wardrobe compliments of Goodwill.

But my life, no doubt, has been full of love.

I've been embraced by my church family, which was largely full of strangers last December.

Alex and I, outside of our first year of falling-in-love bliss, saw more of the things we do that annoy each other, and we loved our way through them.

Loving words have filled my days. From the mouths of friends, coming across the texting wire, landing in my inbox. In books that stand for hope, books I read as I fought sleep, fighting to just drink in one more nourishing paragraph. (Special shout out to Marisa de los Santos, my author crush of the year, hands down).


I've felt so full I thought I might burst, at least 100 times this year. Full of awe, wondering how the heck I've been so lucky to have such incredible family and friends. Full of bafflement, that I am able to do something I love (write), and to be encouraged in it. Full of aggravation for myself and my bad habits. And sometimes, (a little bit tiny sorta maybe almost) full, of grace for myself.


I hope that 2017 sees a wallet that is a bit more full, thanks to Bailey's soon-to-come habit of staying and eating in.

I hope it sees a belly that is less full of, ahem, accumulated fat deposits, thanks to pizza and beer.

I hope it stays chock full of Max snuggles and Alex snuggles. (For those just joining us, Max = cat, Alex = boyfriend. I'm not dating two humans.)


In about five minutes, I'm going to publish this post and get back to my freelance gig.

In about six minutes, I'm going to start berating myself for being so far behind on that gig. For delaying the process by doing some superfluous blogging.

But I'll make this Girl Scout's honor promise to you right now: In seven minutes, I will do my best to be nice to myself.

If 2017 is going to be full of anything, I want it to be grace. Grace and forgiveness and love. Leaving anger in the dust and running full force toward new mercies each morning. I want to be met with a cup of steaming tea, with a plate of cookies and a friend who makes me laugh. I want to start each day counting the gifts that have been, frankly, PILED in my life, and say, "Bails. We're not going to waste today being mad at ourself."

I could wait until January 1st to start letting myself off the hook, but they say it's worthwhile to tackle your resolutions early, right? Maybe they don't say that.

Here's to a new year. A year with more stews simmered slowly on the stove, more pauses to breathe and meditate on all the blessings. I sound like a grade A cheeseball right now. Here's to more of that. Cheeseball cheesiness, round the clock in 2017.

See y'all then. Meanwhile, enjoy the holidays. And look out for my freelance piece, assuming I actually get it done.

The Daily Bailey

Friday, December 2, 2016

Time for the good ice cream now

I was given a whole week to grieve.
Four days bereavement leave from work, two paid days for the Thanksgiving holiday, and a weekend.
I had a visitation to attend, a memorial service, a burial and a lunch following.
I was surrounded by family, and my precious Alex handed me a handkerchief as I wept during Grams' favorite hymn, "What a friend we have in Jesus."
My voice wavered as I read aloud from Job: naked I came into this world, naked I will leave it. The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away.
I thought I had let out what I needed to, that I had "handled it" honestly and openly.
But I'm finding myself back in life as I know it where I'm really starting to feel sad, alarmed by the tears falling at various intervals down my face, dripping onto my lap as I drive.
I find the skin on my face feeling thin, as if I've been sobbing for hours.
I bought heaps of dollar store Christmas gifts for my niece and nephew during my lunch hour to cheer myself up. It worked, sort of.
I ordered a print of this picture, to frame and hang in my home:
I thought about scheduling a massage after work, but decided against it.
I fantasized about holing up in my bedroom and just being alone and, well, sad tonight.
I'm considering writing Christmas cards, to overcome the darkness by putting some light out into the world.
I keep thinking about her watch. I lifted my four-year-old nephew up above the casket, and he asked, quiet and pure, "How is she keeping so still?"
I waited for my brother to come closer to us, to answer such formative questions for his son. He joined us, and told James that we were looking at her body only, that her soul is with Jesus.
"Your soul is what's inside you, in your head, what makes you you," he explained.
As I held him, we noticed her wristwatch, around her thin left arm, crossed in her lap atop her purple floral outfit.
It was still ticking.
It maybe still is, under the ground on a hillside in Kansas.
It's killing me, that watch.
It used to drive her batty that I didn't wear a watch. She was so concerned I would never know what time it was. I wouldn't be surprised if she requested to be buried with hers.
I didn't think I was that close with my grandma. I appreciated her sass, her strength, but I didn't reach out to her in times of need. I guess I'm learning it's not about that. Someone doesn't have to be your bestie to make you cry. She just has to be gone.
Part of me wants to scream, thinking of the symbolism of the tiny second hand on her wrist, making endless loops around the watch's face. I want to scream: "There's still time!"
The other part knows she was in so pain, and is grateful for her that she doesn't have to wait out the painful hours anymore.
There's an episode of the show I can quote most readily, Friends, when Chandler is broken up with Janice, and Monica and Rachel are coaching him through it.
Trying to cheer him up with ice cream, he tastes it and says, "This ice cream tastes like crap, by the way," and the girls explain to him that when you keep getting your heart broken, you have to eat low fat stuff to keep from ballooning up.
As the episodes continues on and Chandler is delivered another blow from Cupid, he asks his comforting female friends, "It's time for the good ice cream now, right?"
I'm in the good ice cream stage now, as far as I can tell.
This weekend I plan to snuggle with Max, with Alex. To drink, but now drown myself in, good wine. To remember to eat, even though I don't have much of an appetite. 
The day Grams died, I bought a pizza and brought it to Alex's, and picked out all the best episodes of Friends to watch. I may turn to Joey and Ross and Company this weekend, if I feel it is well advised to do so.
And hopefully, as I quote lines aloud before the actors can say them first, I will gather some gumption to write notes inside Christmas cards, address envelopes and stick stamps in corners.
Because Grams would have liked that, and if she was an example of anything to me, she was an example of kindness. An example to live honestly through your pain, but to do your best to be light in the meantime.
Missing you, Grams.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving thanks for a beautiful life

I should (maybe, probably) be sleeping. Well, maybe not. If the body and mind are awake, it's for a reason, no? Ha. Tell that to my insomniatic self six years ago, when her life was particularly hard. That Bailey might have punched this current Bailey in the face for being so calm and casual about middle of the night awakeness.

It's 3:08 a.m.

(Maybe, probably) I should be sleeping.

I'm not sure what woke me up, but since I roused from slumber I've checked my phone, scrolled Facebook, snuggled on Max until he gently closed his teeth on my hand to say, "No no. We're done with that for now." I took a pee break and he took a chow break and now he's once again smashed against me, warming my left leg this time, and all is as it should be in the cat realm of life.

I grabbed my computer, intending to make a list of all the packing and chores I need to tackle before getting on a plane in 17 hours, but instead I turned on some peaceful Sarah Jarosz tunes and decided to write about what's been on my mind since Friday at 5 a.m., when my phone rang and my brother was at the other end of the line. The thing that's put me on a plane at the last minute, scrapping my plans to do nothing on Thanksgiving, here in LA, and now has me instead signed up to make sweet potatoes in a kitchen crammed with my siblings and their wives, trying to make sure Mom gets some rest and doesn't cook all the things for us.


A beautiful lady left us this week, and I'm feeling a little hollow.

I was her only granddaughter, and for the last year and some months, she was my only living grandmother.

She spent her last days surrounded by family and friends, who read her Psalms and rubbed her back, teased her about her crooked nose, and sang her hymns as she exited this life for the next. Selfishly I wish I had been there. I'm still dealing with that, and may be dealing for some time. I know not to feel guilty, and will probably be admonished by several not to feel as such, but right now I feel a little sad and weird about not being nearer to her the last four and a half years.

When I first left for college, my grandma told my older brother that she didn't have a hard time when he left for college, but that she was really going to miss me. I think that's kind of funny, of course, and also curious. Why grieve my leaving town? Ever since, when I have moved away from her, for graduate school, and later for this faraway land called Los Angeles, I have felt a twinge of guilt for being away. Now maybe more than ever. I realize now it's too late to feel guilty, inappropriate maybe, and yet.


A friend of mine recently posted on social media how once upon a time, she was so in love with her nuclear family, that she couldn't imagine welcoming another person in her life who she could possibly love so much as them. There wasn't extra room in her heart, she thought. She was proved wrong when she fell in love with her husband, she wrote. Her heart made room for him.

She had similar feelings for ushering a baby into her life -- where would she possibly find room in that oh-so-full heart of hers to love another? Just recently she had a daughter, and she says she's made room.

"The heart adjusts," she says.

I suppose my heart will adjust to these feelings of guilt, and eventually, hopefully, they will go away. Meanwhile, when I'm not feeling guilty, or hollow, I'm trying to focus on all the great things about my sweet Grandma.


My Grams, like all of us, did not lead a life without struggle. She never had a lot of money, worked hard as a farmer's wife, and she was preceded in death by a daughter and a grandson. For a good portion of her life, she suffered several physical ailments, chiefly severe back pain as a result of the most severe case of scoliosis I've ever seen.

Sure, occasionally she dropped the mask and expressed pain, but mostly she just smiled sweetly at us and enjoyed our company. I'm glad she had so many people to love on her, because if anyone deserved it, it was her.

Grandma developed a skill for basketball in her youth, and became so good at it that she was on her high school team. The school, located in rural Kansas, was far enough from her home that, given the snowy winter months, caused her to live with a family in town so that she could play the sport she loved. She told me once how terribly homesick she was during that time, like Amy in Little Women, away from her three older sisters. Of course Grandma wasn't in Europe like Amy was, but when we miss family we might as well be, right? Missing people we love knows no distance on a map.

Grandma's penchant for basketball was not exhausted on the courts of Troy, Kansas, and she went on to make the team at what is arguably the best basketball college in the nation: the University of Kansas. The famed "Phog" Allen was her gym teacher. She held onto her white basketball shorts all these years, and I have dibs on them if my brothers don't get to them first.

Grandma had the good sense, of course, to love a person more than a sport, and married her childhood sweetheart, Ken, leaving college and basketball behind. I wasn't there, but knowing her I'd say she did this willingly, happy to help on the farm and raise a family with the one she loved.

Even though she retired from playing, Grandma never stopped watching basketball, but let's just set the record straight and say that Grams' idea of "watching" basketball meant turning it off as soon as her team fell behind by, oh, two points. She couldn't handle seeing the Jayhawks not at their best, so devoted was she.

(For this reason I will be ever grateful to her for not writing me out of her life when I decided to go to school at her rival school, the University of Missouri. I reminded her that they paid for my education, in other words I was taking their money. She seemed assuaged with this, that smug, precious smile lighting up her eyes.)

After raising two girls, Donna and Jill, and later welcoming in six grandchildren and three great grandchildren, Grandma finally, in 1999, had to say goodbye to her husband of more than 50 years. She never stopped missing him, I don't think, but being a soldier for pressing on, she found ways to plow forward. After Grandpa's death, Grandma toyed with the idea of going back to college. Her alma maters, KU and a community college, said they would honor her previous credits, and with that Grams was headed to the bookstore, purchasing her first round of textbooks.

For several years, she would sit at her kitchen table and, with her left hand, underline passages in her history books. Though she wasn't a big fan, she begrudgingly used the computer my parents got her to hammer out her papers. Her favorite professor was a kind, quiet man with a ponytail, and one of her favorite students would frequently buy her coffee and place it on her desk before class. She didn't mind looking out of place on the Missouri Western campus; she had a job to do and didn't let anything stop her.

About six credits from the finish line, however, she told us of her academic pursuits, "This is silly." We all chorused in response that she was absolutely going to see this goal to the end, if for no other reason than we needed a reason to hoot and holler at a graduation ceremony, an admitted hobby of the noisy Brewer family. She plodded through those last semesters, only very seldom missing class due to inclement weather, and moments before my 80-year-old grandmother crossed the stage to get her diploma, I told my brother, "I'm so excited I'm going to throw up."

"You need to calm down," he told me.

"Geraldine Benitz," the announcer read her name, and as she took her time walking in her robe to claim her prize, we screamed and rang bells from the stands. It remains to this day my favorite graduation ceremony I've ever attended, and I doubt another will ever surpass it.

After college, we ribbed Grandma about getting a job, but slowly, we watched her slow down instead. She kept her spunk for another 11 years, still watching the Jayhawks shoot hoops and the Royals sling home runs. I believe she took a nap during game seven of the 2015 World Series, but I know she woke up to see her beloved team claim victory.

Last month when I talked to her on the phone, I asked how she felt about the Cubs being in the running this year. Having no sympathy for the underdogs of Chicago, she said, "I wish it were the Royals."

Grandma rekindled a friendship with a man named Franklin, who took her on her first date in her youth. Both widowed, they were grateful to find each other again, and they often talked on the phone at night, commentating on the games on their respective TVs.

She was visited frequently by family and friends in the area, and occasionally by rambunctious great grandchildren (and rambunctious, adult grandchildren) who visited from out of town. She played the piano, listened to big band music, and attended Bible studies. Though it made her sad, she moved out of her home to an apartment, and later to an assisted living facility. My parents set the bar extremely high in their care for her, making her room cozy and adorned with pictures, taking her to doctor's appointments, buying her warm socks and nagging her to use her walker.

Well, we all nagged her about that. Oh, to nag her one more time.

Grandma requested a drone for what would be her last Christmas with us, and she was gifted with one. Sadly, the powers that be at her residence rained on her technological parade, and told her she was not allowed to fly it on campus. She kept it in a box, though, and showed it off proudly when she had guests.

When Donald Trump ran for president, Grandma said she'd move to Cuba if he won. The day following the election, Mom brought her a suitcase with a tag affixed that read "Cuba or bust." Grandma instructed her to put it in the hallway, for all in her Red state to see. Mom of course obliged.


Grams has been gone for two days, and I keep thinking about the big things, like her graduation, but mostly my mind is caught up in the little things.

How she always pushed fudge or some other sweet on us. When I spent a spring break with her in high school, and she taught me to drive in the school parking lot. I remember, for who knows what reason, that Mom and I drove to see her one autumn. I remember I was reading Harry Potter in the car, and when we arrived, we were chatting with her in the kitchen, and Grandma waved fruit flies away from some pears.

It's things like the wave of her hand that I'll miss, simply because I can't see it anymore.

The heart adjusts, my friend says. She was talking about adjustment for more love to enter in, but I suppose that applies to making room for some grief to take up residence in our chests.

Right now I'm in a bit of bewilderment, in disbelief, that I really never get to see that soft, wrinkled hand gesture as Grandma talks. I know that I'm getting on a plane tonight, and I know the reason for my visit home, but my heart is being reluctant to adjust.

My brother posted a video to Facebook today, of Grams playing the piano, her great granddaughter at her side, and a baby James sidling up to press some keys. Grams shoulders jumped up and down in jovial laughter.

I believe that we will see Grams again. I don't know if we'll recognize each other then, but I know it won't matter at that point.

I'm grateful that she's now laughing and maybe playing a piano somewhere for some veterans, like she did this side of glory. I know and trust that my heart will adjust, to holidays without Grandma, to the fact that her number will be saved in my phone but that I won't dial it. 

I am sad that when I get off a plane tonight, there will be no detour from the airport to see a sweet lady.

A sweet lady who would be under an afghan, calling from her bed to "Come in!" A lady who would set aside her crossword and slowly sit up to greet us. Kind and loving, just like always. Setting aside her crossword and her pain, to just welcome us in.

Our hearts will adjust, but I predict it will be a long journey. For she loved us in so many ways, and we must heal and adjust as we miss each one.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The schedule of a madwoman (me)

Dearest Friends,
If you're wondering why this extroverted social butterfly who loves to over schedule
[especially during October/November/December],
it's because of what I will list below.
This weekend has so many potential activities that I had to write them all down, so that I can pick them apart and decide which ones to actually attend, and insert time to breathe.
Ready? Here it is:
Weekend plans/possibilities:


8 pm – Drinks for A’s birthday


3:30 pm – A’s sketch show
6 pm – K’s Franksgiving
6:30 – Pie fundraiser, R’s church
7 pm – bowling for A’s birthday
7:30 – C’s birthday party


All day – Disneyland w/ J, J, V, & A
10:15 – help with prayers at church
12:30 – young adult Friendsgiving
8 – S's album release party
9:30 – karaoke with M, J, and maybe A
Are you still with me, or did you pass out from sympathy stress sometime around Saturday?
This coming weekend comes on the heels of a weekend spent driving five hours north, completing a half marathon, catching up with friends, and driving five hours south.
This coming weekend will be followed by: a Monday lunch meeting, a three day work week (with an important twice-a-year deadline and a large meeting all included, no charge), a freelance interview accompanied by an hour drive each way, Christmas-movie-watching with friends, a 5K, possibly hosting someone for Thanksgiving, and, OH YEAH, Thanksgiving itself.
And did I mention I have a (different) freelance piece due in December, and an application for graduate school due in December? And, OH YEAH, Christmas?????????
I have problems. And I probably need someone to slap me when I say, "Sure! I'll join you for/help you with that."
Friends, do me a favor, K? Breathe. Don't over schedule. Schedule time to smooch your pet. To read. To spend enough time at home so that your laundry pile does not equal laundry MOUNTAIN and so you can actually use your kitchen to, ya know, cook once in a while.
XOXO (and don't be offended when I can't squeeze in plans with you), 

A race revelation

I don't know when inflatable T-Rex body suits became a thing in our culture, but I'm ever grateful that they did.
I mean it.
I have spent many a gleeful moment the last several months, watching T-Rexes practice balletfrolic along the beach, complete the American Ninja Warrior course. I simply delight in the silliness of it, particularly in a year when we have all needed much distraction from violence and a little spring in our slumped step.
This weekend a T-Rex gave me a high five.
Well, a low five. I imagine the reaching power in those suits is limited, so I did a little side-angle clapping of our palms, not asking the giant lizard to raise his claws high in the air for me.
I encountered this T-Rex in a tunnel slightly southeast of Cannery Row. Normally a dinosaur in a dark space might startle me a bit, but I was surrounded by hundreds of runners, and Rihanna's "We Found Love" was pumping through the underpass, so I was feeling pretty stoked and not like I was trapped in Jurassic Park with Jeff Goldblum.
(Although if I must be trapped somewhere, to be with Mr. Goldblum would be rather pleasant, I'd venture).
I was walk-jogging in the Half Marathon on Monterey Bay, and my T-Rex moment was one of the highest for me along the course. (I then stopped at the top of the hill to remove my long sleeved shirt, and lost some momentum, but it's fine). Admittedly, this here blog post was birthed in the T-Rex moment. It's a special, tingling thing when a blog post is birthed. Other bloggers can attest to this, I'm sure.
Throughout the 13 mile course, I passed several locals sitting on camping chairs outside their homes, on their porches, in their living rooms. I envied them their coffee, but their presence gave me power to pass them by, toward the aquarium, toward the beach, toward the finish line where my Honey Bee awaited.
Some of these friendly strangers cheered me on by name, and each time I wondered how they knew to call me Bailey. I then remembered that "Bailey" was emblazoned on my race bib, and that it's printed there for the sole purpose that strangers can cheer runners on. By name. And oh, what a powerful thing to be called by name.
The white letters on my black bib were there so that strangers could, for one magical day, erase their status as strangers.
I first learned the power of names on race bibs when my incredible brother ran his first of many marathons, years ago. I was a sophomore in college, and I took the train with his friends into Chicago and watched for my brother in his orange shirt throughout the day, screaming wildly every time he came into view, so proud and amazed at the feat he was tackling.
While waiting for him to show up at various points along the race course, I also cheered for people I had never met, people I will never encounter again.
"Go Judy! Woooooooooo!" I let my voice ring out in the city streets, causing ears around me, no doubt, to ring.
"Lookin' good, Jose! Keep it up, Mary!"
I enjoyed the funny signs that spectators held up ("I'm not wearing any underwear"), and marveled at people who were willing to wear, say, a chicken suit for their 26 mile jaunt.
To be honest, after years of cheering on growing numbers of my family members in races (for my brother's first race inspired countless other Brewers to literally follow in his footsteps), I grew somewhat weary of the annual tribal trek to Chicago, and took a small break. But when my 65-year-old father was due to run his 10th marathon, I bought a plane ticket to Chi Town to surprise him. I knew where I needed to be.
And on that original fateful day in 2004, I fell in love with cheering from the sidelines of a race.
Now, 12 years later, as I have taken on my own (less ambitious, HALF marathons), I am still grateful for the T-Rexes and humans who choose to offer support to a bunch of strangers, on a chilly, foggy morning when they could be in bed.
Around mile 4 of this past weekend's race, a man near me started joking with his friend, suggesting that the friend buy an expensive home we were passing by, so that he could live there rent free.
Me, being the obnoxious extrovert that I am, said I'd like to get in on that deal. "I can eat macaroni for lunch everyday," I ribbed, already planning to survive on a minimal income for when I quit my job and live in the expensive house and write my books.
This man (read: instant new best friend for the day) launched into a description of the gourmet mac and cheese that he is capable of cooking, and, well what can I say? That was enough for me to decide that I should stick with him.
And stick together we did, for seven miles.
Larry, Brian (the friend who's in charge of buying the home), and I jogged, then walked, then jogged, then walked, and did a whole lot of talking (Brian's more of a listener, to be honest), as waves crashed in the near distance.
Larry and Brian, with their persistent bouts of jogging, as well as keeping track of our pace -- with this thing called a watch that some normal humans use, helped me shave 3 minutes and 15 seconds off my average mile pace. I felt the pain from this increase in speed the following few days, but I was thrilled at the finish line, and encouraged in what I was capable of accomplishing.
I let Larry go ahead around mile 11, but he met up with me at the finish line, met Alex, and posed for a picture with me.
I may never see Larry again (though I'd like to keep in touch).
But Larry helped me so much, when he didn't have to.
Someone dressed in a T-Rex costume and slapped my hand, when he/she didn't have to.
High school cheerleaders tied their hair in bows before sunlight appeared, and for several hours rustled pom pons and called me and others by name.
"Go Bailey!"
I know I started this post by talking about the dinosaur that came out to support athletes this weekend, but it was the kiddoes who really got me emotionally charged up and ready to write this.
There weren't a lot of kids on the sidelines, but there were enough to inspire me.
One little girl sat in a camping chair, the blue canvas nearly swallowing her up. She was pleased as punch to watch people shuffle by. Her dad stood by, chaperoning her wonder.
A couple kiddoes, probably 8 or 9, gave me high fives as I passed them near a harbor.
And others stood near their parents, their eyes taking in people doing something that's difficult but not impossible.
If I do one thing right as a parent, I've decided, it is this: I will rouse my children before dawn, wrap them in fleece jackets and plop ear muffs on their heads. I will endure their whining about the early wake up call, and buy them cake pops and hot cocoa to ease the pain. Because if kids don't learn that sugar and hot beverages ease pain, then what am I really teaching them that's at all relevant to life?
And I will bring them to the sidelines.
We will be a family that builds up. We will call strangers by name. We will watch people do a difficult and admirable thing, and be inspired that we can achieve our own difficult and admirable dreams.
We will learn that people who pass us by are not necessarily to be feared, that sometimes it will be a stranger who helps us plod along through strenuous miles.
And boy oh boy, do I hope we have some room in our budget for a T-Rex costume.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Sorting through that which is racing inside me

When I was 13, Desert Fox happened.
I don't know if many of us even remember that event or its name, but I do.
I was home alone sometime during those four days or shortly thereafter, and a very loud airplane flew over my family's house.
I raced to the basement, crouching by my brother's bed, cowering in fear until the noise stopped.
I knew -- from what I had learned in my Current Events class as a seventh grader regarding the danger and complete devastation of nuclear weapons -- that crouching in the basement would not save me, were a bomb actually dropped on our Colorado home in 1998.
But I ran to somewhere where I felt a little more safe.
I've never told anyone this story, ever.
I unfollowed people on Facebook yesterday.
I decided that I can no longer read the texts and emails of certain people in my life right now.
Just minutes ago, I posted my email address on Facebook, so that friends can reach out if they need to talk, but announced that I'm taking a break from the social media scene. I watched a video of my cat playing with a hair tie, and a video of a woman dancing some crazy moves at a basketball game. And then I logged out. I'm going to do my best not to log back in, until further notice. I'm not going to share this blog post on Facebook, because if I do I will be tempted to read comments that people might leave in response, and then my eyes will stray and I will read things that make my heart beat out of my chest.
And my heart's beating out of my chest anyway, so I can't fuel that fire.
The people I'm avoiding, and unfollowing, are people who voted like me. People who have the same terrifying fears as I. Because I can't face my fears. I can't have them voiced out loud and hear or read them.
I can't. Not yet. Maybe not ever.
I make no apologies for what I'm saying here, and I'm not apologizing for getting "political."
In part, because I feel like everything I'm discussing here is not political. I'm simply discussing fears I have, and that is nothing new for this blog. I've gone to some pretty dark corners with you all before; I'm just continuing that journey. I need to get some thoughts out right now, and I feel I owe you, as the writer that I am, my honesty.
I raced to my "basement" here in LA yesterday. After work, I drove to Alex.
It took me several minutes to calm down, even upon arriving at his apartment, but I got there. After about 30 minutes, I could breathe and swallow my dinner and not lose myself to panic.
I helped him film an audition video, and then watched the different takes and gave my opinion on which one I thought was best.
"You snorted," Alex said to me.
"I know," I said.
I was in the car for 10 minutes, driving home afterward to feed Max and get some rest, when I started to get scared again.
I called Alex. He told me I could come right back to his place if I needed to. I told him I would if I couldn't sleep.
I told him that I feel like I need to escape reality right now. The only way to avoid my crippling fear is to watch TV (NOT the news) and read, if I can even concentrate. Which, in the good moments, I can.
"Ai'nt nothin' wrong with that, Baby," he said.
My love gave me permission to avoid, at least temporarily.
I got home and Max met me at the door. My indoor cat made a run for it outside. He climbed the stairs toward the apartments above me. I followed him. Took video. Texted evidence of his adventure to people I love.
I corralled him back to the apartment, scooped him up and put dry, meat-infused nuggets into his bowl.
I got in bed and read five pages of my book before succumbing to exhaustion.
Max slept vigil next to my pillow all night. He helped me feel safe. When I awoke from dreams, I kissed his fur and rested my head on his purring form.
In general right now, I'm scared. Maybe the most scared I've been in my life. (Hard to say exactly, because I've been scared of a lot of things before -- the prospect of harming myself, acts of terrorism, feeling like the devil had a hold of my heart. SCARY stuff.)
I'm breathing in this current moment. My chest is not alight with tightness and heat.
I don't feel hate for the people in my life who may have voted in a way that I wish they hadn't. The vast majority of people I know are not people who hate. Are not people who will commit hate crimes. Are people who would have the same visceral fear as I if our nation were truly at risk of serious danger.
I wish our nation weren't on a two-party system. I don't want to teach my children that one side of the line is right, and the other is wrong. In some ways, yes, I do want to teach them that (Racism: wrong. Hatred: wrong. Violence: wrong).
But I know my children will feel nuance.
They may want conservative tax regulations but they may have a best friend, like I do, who feels attraction for members of his same sex.
They may not know what to do with that. And giving them only two choices in such a frame of mind seems, I guess, unfair.
What's more, and more urgent, is that giving them only two choices will make them struggle to communicate with people around them. Make them scared to come home for Thanksgiving, and sit around the table worrying that conversation will lean toward taboo topics.
Make them worry that their family may be torn apart. Make them worry that their nation may fall apart. Make them worry that they have no safe place to run, that all they have is the basement that they know won't protect them.
So much more I can say, but I'll stop for now. I'll probably be back, with more thoughts and fears and hopefully peace as life unfolds.
I have work to do. I have to get ready for a weekend out of town. Have to get extra food for the cat, have to clean out my car so there's room for me and Alex and our luggage. Have to locate my athletic shoes, so I can walk 13 miles on Sunday.
I have to write prayers for church.
If you have any requests, for what you'd like my church family to pray for this weekend, let me know. I'll take them into consideration.
I love you guys. I hope you can breathe, and eat, and snuggle your kids and pets without being lost to anxiety.
I'm here to talk if you need it. I may have to keep my distance, if it proves to be too much for me to handle, but I'll do my best.
So much love and peace,

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Show up and shine.

Speechless, yet so many words inside me.

Paralyzed with fear, yet grappling for a handhold.

I started my work day talking to a Hispanic friend, who held back tears as she told me that her half Hispanic, half black daughter cried all night, realizing realities way too harsh for any young person to ever have to know.


As a woman, I am a second class citizen.

Yet I am dripping with white privilege, privilege that I cannot vote away.

I am in debt, yet I am educated. I have had the opportunity to learn, far beyond the minimum amount of learning required by the State.

I don't know what to do with the person that is me, with my womanhood, with my whiteness, with my knowledge. As an (admittedly) pretty self-involved person, I like knowing who I am and what I am to do as that person.

I showed up yesterday; I have a sticker to prove it. But today I feel like I'm waiting for an earthquake. What next? What now?


As the results were officially announced last night, I was on stage at karaoke (I watched results at home with the cat and then decided I needed to be with people). I thought it horribly inappropriate to be singing in such a moment, and I was disgusted with myself, to be honest, but as everyone's gaze turned to CNN, I thought that all I could do was keep singing:

"What the world needs now, is love, sweet love."


Today a friend called to tell me that she's worried about someone in her life who is inconsolable after the election. I called someone else I know, a licensed therapist, to see if she would guide my friend through today.

We can only get through today at this point. That's all we can ever do. Life has never guaranteed us two days to rub together, but God do I hope we have more days of hope and love ahead.

When I asked my therapist friend if she'd be willing to talk to my other friend, she said, "Of course."

She showed up.


When my friend called me today, my heart pounded as she talked. As I thought of other people in my life who I'm worried about.

And I mean truly worried about.

I've always been a little more paranoid than most, when it comes to fearing that people might harm themselves.

But here's the reason why: I've been there. I've been afraid that I might harm myself, so I know that such a thing is real, and not a joke.

I've been in despair. I've been so low that I couldn't see light.

So, yes. I worry. I worry greatly. And I take my friends' phone calls and I refer them to the therapists in my life and I pray and remind people that I will take phone calls at 3 a.m.

And I urge you to be on alert with your friends and loved ones, now and always, for signs that they may be in despair, in the dark.

Be the light. Show up.


A few more things and then I'll leave you be.

I won't lie. I'm scared today. More so than I am sad, and I am a whole lot of that. More than anything else I'm feeling today, I'm feeling absolutely terrified for the physical safety of many people, for very many reasons.

But somewhere I am finding strength.

I may finally crumple tonight into the tears that I've been choking back throughout today. But so far, I haven't veered into a panic attack.

After I got off the phone with my friend today, where I was composed and calm and handed out advice like a strong and steady Oprah, I thought, "When is it my turn to have a breakdown?"

I've hesitated to text people today. I fear that if we open our mouths, we'll truly feel the grief. The grief of a nation divided. The grief of...well, just so many things. Too many to name here, without getting into an argument. Which is another thing we grieve.

I have feared today that if I open my mouth, no matter what I say, we'll feel our open wound, with grit poured in and ground around in the flesh.

I'm not ready to really get raw. And I'm usually always game for getting raw.

But on a few occasions today, I've reached out. I've said I'm scared. I've said I can't concentrate on work. I've said I can't be alone tonight, can I come over?

And people have shown up.

Every night Max shows up in my lap. He's in it right now, and his purring motor has shown up, too.

My family has shown up. My friends. Strangers. Educators. Leaders. They've supported me and valued me and loved me.

This week Alex showed up for me in a way that means the world to me. He didn't have to show up and he did and I nearly cried and I counted his presence a miracle.

I KNOW that people in my life will show up. People who voted for Hillary, for Trump, and for those other people whose names, to be honest, I couldn't tell you.

I know that if I get so sad and scared that I feel like jumping off a bridge, SO MANY PEOPLE will claw for me. Will grab me back over the railing. Will hold me as I sob, and will give me the tools and the love to see that I can keep going.

You are good, People. You've shown up before, you showed up for me today, and I know you'll show up again, and not just for me.

There is light in all of you. Please keep it on, nice and bright, and shine it in the corners.

Shine your light under beds; assure the children that there are no monsters.

Shine your light on the streets; don't let people pass your warm body and think they're alone.

Shine your light in your house of worship; read the Torah and break bread and remember that you are small but mighty.

And shine your light on the person nearest you right now. If you can't stand them, give them dignity. If you love them, wrap them up in a long embrace -- if tears come so be it. Let them flow until you can breathe again and then get a glass of water. Or whiskey; your choice.

Late this afternoon I finally cracked up. Not in a I'm-falling-apart way. But in a oh-my-goodness-I'm-laughing way. I didn't fall apart. In laughter I was knit back together.

Tonight I'm getting together with a leader in love. Someone who shines light even when he's in the dark. We're showing up for each other.

To quote the lovely Lauren Daigle, "I will stand my ground. Where hope can be found."

To all of you, who have been light in my life, thank you for showing up. I love you more than I can say.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Votes for Love.

I was going to post a picture of my "Votes for Women" mug, but the words wrap too tightly around the cup, and I'm not coordinated enough with the iPhone panoramic to make it happen.
But I am drinking out of it.
I am drinking Starbucks Christmas blend, because this is America and I can drink Christmas coffee in November and I can drink Starbucks instead of Coffee Bean or Peet's or Caribou (though I love Caribou, they just don't have it in LA, sadly).

Like many of you, I'm walking with much trepidation today.

My vote is not filled with pride, or excitement, or great expectations.

My vote is laced with fear, and sadness.

I've seen more hate in our nation this year than maybe ever before in my lifetime. I've seen misogyny that I had hoped would be stamped out by now. I knew the embers were still burning, but I didn't realize how hot they still were.


Alex and I watched the Bills game last night, and a pretty questionable call just before the half essentially screwed Buffalo from a win in the end.

It was a stressful night for us both, for various reasons, and we both wished Alex's team had won. We walked from the pub, lacking exuberance.

But as I sat there during the game, wanting to chew my fingernails and crumple myself tight like a ball atop my bar stool, I kept telling myself: Bailey, your holding your breath isn't going to turn the next pass into a touchdown.

So I set my breath free from my lungs, and rubbed Alex's back and smooched his soft cheek as the game progressed.


Today all I can do is vote, and pray.

I can hold my breath. I can spend all day worrying. But it's not going to affect the outcome of this election.

So my plan is to vote. And to pray.

To smooch the cat. To eat lunch. To hug the people I love.

And when I wake up tomorrow, I'm going to keep on loving.

May we all fill our cups (that can't be photographed due to technical difficulties) with love. With hope. With prayer. With peace. We cannot be so divisive -- it's not helping anyone or anything. And it's wasting time -- and I know we Americans hate to waste time.

May we pour love into our cups, and sip with open ears and open hearts.

See you at the polls. And maybe at karaoke afterward.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Max, leader in rest

Sometimes I wish I could be as carefree as a cat.

Max's biggest concern each day is when the kibble's going to hit the bowl, and he can count on that with quite a bit of regularity, so I doubt he sweats over whether it's going to happen.

Seriously, I should just hibernate each year when October comes rolling in.

Sure, it seems innocent enough, October First.

But before you know it, Bailey's stressing over what to be for Halloween, the time and money put into a costume, all the parties and events....and we haven't even got to Thanksgiving or Christmas.

I'm just one big cranky pants this time of year.

One small thing I can pat myself on the back for is that I've already purchased my airfare for Christmas, which is usually not the case when the calendar reads November 5th.

I started out my day, this quiet Saturday morning, quaintly enough. I rolled awake from my dream that the Kennedys had Dolly Parton in a display case in their home (I promise I don't do recreational drugs), and was quickly greeted by my white-pawed buddy, who made the harrowing journey from the foot of the bed to my admiring face, where he nudged me with his wet nose and pushed my hand against his head.

I picked up one of the books I recently found at Goodwill, and I literally had a smile on my face because the writing is so good.

And then I felt the restlessness creep in.

I tried to ignore it. I thought, I'll regroup, take a quick break, and then settle back into reading.

I made a wholllle pot of coffee.

I got back in bed.

I eyed the book. But I didn't pick it up.

And then the restlessness, the self-shaming, the arresting of the weekend's potential for rest settled in.

I tried to watch Felicity. I tried to get into my Facebook newsfeed. I Sudoku-ed.

But I couldn't figure out which square held the 3 and which one held the 7, so I closed out the browser tab and wandered over here, to where I put words in the universe and hopefully feel better.


In eight days I'm supposed to complete a half marathon with two wonderful girlfriends of mine.

I couldn't tell you the last time I exercised. I think it was about three weeks ago.


I haven't touched my mail-in ballot.

I have an hour and a half long interview to transcribe.

Prayers to write for tomorrow (I love doing that, though).

Eight thousand books to read. Yes, they all need to be read. Right. Now.

Meanwhile this is literally Max's stance in life right now:

See what I mean? Care. Free.

By the way, I look forward to all your texts and messages asking me if I'm OK, given my latest blog posts. (I mean that. I appreciate your concern, even if it does make me squirm a little to admit that I'm in a bit of a funk to the point that it makes others concerned. I'm sure you can relate -- we find ourselves comfortable even in being vulnerable, admitting our unease in life, but as soon as someone says they're worried about us, our hackles go up, like we've been spotted in that state which we've already admitted to being in. Which is weird, and I don't know quite why it makes me uneasy. Except that I think, in the way we're willing to criticize ourselves but don't want to hear others' negative opinion of us, we want to only be concerned for our seasons of struggle, but we don't want to cause alarm in others.)

Of course I don't really wish to be a cat. I like my ability to have complex thinking (most of the time). And, sure, I love to sleep, but I love to sleep so that I can be rested to have so much alert time being awake. A cat's schedule is like: munch, munch, back to sleep. Find a new spot in the house to rest, sleep. Sleep, sleep, sleep.

My schedule is more like: read, think, make a mess, write, stitch, eat something unhealthy, drink a beer, sing, daydream about reading, daydream about Iowa, swoon over Alex, smooch on Max, sleep for 10 - 12 hours, repeat.



I just hate all this stress hijacking my Saturday.

Saturday's my day. No one should be able to hijack it.

So I guess I'm going to do my best to hijack this hijacking and make sure that I enjoy the heck out of today.

I can push my exercise to tomorrow. At the very least, until I find my iPod. And to be frank, I'm not in the mood to search for it currently.

I can, shame free, keep a stack of books next to me, and read read read.

I can clean corners of my room not because I need to, to be a better person, but because it will make me feel more at peace.

And my ballot? Well, I'll get to that. But don't worry, I'm for sure voting.

I've refilled my coffee. It's warm and a little more earthy than I'd like, but hey. It's here.

I don't know if I'm ready to read just yet, but I really would like to keep sitting here in my bed under this cozy blankie. Admiring Max as he, as we type, is searching for his next sleeping arena.

I'm 31 years old. I don't want my Saturdays to be hijacked. I'm too grown up for this. I don't know. That made sense in my head. I guess what I'm trying to say is I've found a million ways to find joy in my adult life, so I should be able to grab hold of this Saturday and make it good, right???

So for now, I'm going to listen to my Garrison Starr (CHECK HER OUT), I'm going to keep my eye on Max, and follow his lead.

Maybe a little less sleeping, since I just clocked 10 or so hours in Dolly Parton-laced slumber. But if anyone on this earth knows how to rest, it's the regal felines.

Lead on, white-pawed one. Lead on. Lead us to rest, away from beating ourselves up for everything we're doing wrong, or not accomplishing at a great enough clip.

May each of you find fuzzy, kitty rest today. Be well, be kind to yourself. (And find some time to fill in that ballot, if you please....)


Friday, November 4, 2016

Closets and words and potential

I hate being stir crazy.
I realize it's a total, first world, privileged luxury (privileged luxury: redundant?) to even be stir crazy.
Yet here I am, complaining in all my privileged luxury.
I can think of approximately 8,000 things I'd like to be doing right now.
At the top of that list is that I want to move a shelf that's in a corner of my bedroom into my closet.
Then I want to gather my 8 million t-shirts and fold them all just so, and stack them in the cubicle shelf cubbies.
Did I mention I have grandiose visions in which I am the ultra-organized heroine who gets a get-it-all-done-in-24-hours montage in a movie? 
Well it's true. Real talk. I want Cher's closet, Rory's reading prowess, and Felicity's ability to juggle being pre-med and an artist, having long, then short, then long hair, being loved by Ben and Noel, and squeezing in shifts at Dean & Deluca. Let me say the only thing my college self had in common with her is that I did the long-short-long hair thing, too. No curls, though.
I must remind myself that my life is a literal, physical mess, because I am beyond spoiled/blessed and so books and clothes and projects and opportunities spill upon my carpet and my bed and my calendar. And I mustn't complain, but instead turn my blessings into praise. (I don't say that to be pious, I say it because I think it's true, and about all I can do to thank the Man Upstairs for making my cup overflow(eth)).
Anyway, so today's one of those days that I can't sit still, yet I can't seem to accomplish anything either.
And I hate that place.
OK let's talk about something positive. Moving on.
I'm reading a book that I'm kind of obsessed with. It's called "Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco."
It's about an undocumented Mexican family living in the States and a privileged white woman who befriends them.
It's heartbreaking in many ways, it really is. The protagonist knows more adult pains than any kid should have to know -- further, she knows pains that I understand to be true pains that exist in our world but that I, as a privileged white woman, will never actually know. Which is why it's truly heartbreaking.
But it's a really intricately woven tale, and I think if youth read it today they'd have such a good base for knowing the reality of stuff that's right under their noses. Or, maybe not under their noses, but just outside their suburbs. So, within sniffing distance, I suppose.
I found the book at Goodwill, and I'm tearing through it. I'm going to make sure Jill reads it (she's basically Rory with lighter hair (and more witty), so she'll fit it into her reading schedule), and I'm going to give it to Mom when I see her at Christmas (Mama has Rory reading prowess, too, like whoa. Can you say Walking Dictionary?).
Guys. I'm reading about the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and I'm literally getting tingles on my legs. I want to be a part of that program so badly. Commence wild running of wild imagination. May my future favorite coffee shop be cozy and welcoming to this writer who fidgets a bunch. May I not disturb other customers with my many trips to the bathroom. Here's to many a "meal" consisting of pastries and yogurt.  
Bailey, breathe. You're not in yet. You haven't even applied yet. Maybe you should nail down your references first....
So last night I realized a vision and it was great. (I wrote that earlier part about being stir crazy and wanting to move a shelf and fold t-shirts yesterday. Yes, Folks. This is a real, live, two-parter blog post. WHOA.).
I moved the aforementioned shelf. I folded t-shirts and sweaters and jeans and tank tops and shorts, and placed them calmly and neatly and prettily in the cubbies.
I took things off hangers and folded them and added them to the (calm, hands-folded-in-laps, polite) party on the shelf.
I took a smaller shelf out of the closet and put it on the east side of my bed. I filled it with books and stacked some on top. Oh, it looks so cozy and readable and just made me want to stop everything and read the whole shelf right then and there, gobble gobble yum words yum yum!
But I powered through. (I do believe that all True Readers are in a constant state of powering through -- we must constantly ignore the books before us and soldier on and actually live life once in a while).
I took trash out. I cooked pasta. I called Mom and Dad. I poured more wine. I cleared items off my bed, and -- whoosh -- flung my blanket over its surface and checked the locks and turned off the lights and crawled under that blanket and read Barrio Blanco until my eyes couldn't hold.
And then I slept and slept and woke this morning and wanted to read and read, reading often first thing on my mind.
But I kissed the cat, turned on Garrison Starr tunes, and pulled on jeans and a hand-me-down top (that was hanging neatly in the closet).
And so here I am, feeling like my life is a little less chaotic, knowing my book is waiting for me once life releases me back into the world of words. (I'm cheating, by writing some words right now. I'm always finding a way to get into the world of words. Why do you think I talk so much?)
OK one final thought and then I'll leave you.
I'm warning you, this is a final thought that will make me sound like a final narcissist.
But, I PROMISE, I'm writing this because I think you talented, beautiful, overachieving people can relate.
Have you ever seen "Little Women"? (Admittedly, I loved the book, but it's been so long since I've read it that I don't know if this line I'm about to mention is in the book or not).
There's a great scene, where Jo is with Friedrich and several men. Jo speaks up about the right women should have to vote.
After making her argument, a man says, "You should have been a lawyer, Miss March."
To which she replies: "I should have been a great many things, Mr. Mayer."
OK. So for those three of you who are still with me and haven't closed your browser because you think your previous favorite blogger is a totally arrogant prick, who thinks that she herself could be a great many things...
I just find comfort in this quote. Not only is it badass and a powerful line for women everywhere, but it calms me when I feel like I'm overcommitting and don't know what to do with my life. I mean, thank GOD that I feel such confidence in my calling as a writer (because it was wandering in the desert before I figured that out), but I still just want to help in so many ways, use my writing skills and use my people skills and whatever.
But I KNOW that none of us can do it all (and if we want to get spiritual I think it's a beautiful thing that we're all parts of the body of Christ). BUT. I still have days where I feel lost because I'm not doing all that I can do.
Which is where Jo March, blessed Jo March, gives me some peace. As she always can.
Have a wonderful weekend, Friends. Remember: you should have been a great many things. Xoxo