Sunday, June 25, 2017

Prayers, June 25, 2017 -- Love is greater than money

Below are the prayers that were prayed this morning at Bethel. The theme of our sermon was "love is greater than money," which focused on the fact that our relationships can overcome even crippling amounts of debt, and that under God's grace, we owe nothing of ourselves to be worthy. Please pray along with us if you so please. Be well, and have a wonderful week. 

We thank You for this time together, to sit still in a pew, to wave our arms during a song, to hold each other tight in a much-needed hug. For these walls and ceilings that block out the stress of our jobs, our fears, our broken hearts. For teachers who will color with our children for an hour so we can drink coffee in here. For those who empty our waste bins and shut off our lights and track our finances in complicated spreadsheets. Let this place always be a home where we can dump the contents of our messy insides and still be seen as the beautiful children we are.

For the food in our fridge, remind us always to give the utmost thanks. In a time when rent prices are climbing, when people are pouring into the streets to call a sidewalk home, let us not take for granted the many, many provisions You provide for us – clothes to wear, books to read, toys for our kids to play with. Let us never forget that You are our shepherd and You always know where your sheep are, across this vast pasture where You’ve laid us. Help us to enter our cubicles where we earn this food with gusto, knowing that we are never forgotten, our woolen coats counted every night and every morning.

In this expensive city, where shiny toys are dangled before us and raises are sometimes hard to come by, we can come into debt, and with that can come shame. Let us know that with You we don’t have to hide in our shame, that we can turn our face fully toward Yours, that You will take it in Your hands, gently brush our cheeks with Your thumbs and say, “You are Mine.” Guide us so that our debt does not become something that defines or crushes us. Give us love and forgiveness for ourselves so that we can move out of our shrouded isolation and into a place of forward motion, and healing.

For all the good things You give us, and for the fact that we could be here all day and not stop listing them. For giggles that catch us off guard, that don’t stop for several minutes. For a book whose words dig into the deepest part of our heart and actually make us better. For a smoothie with the perfect kale-to-berry-to-banana ratio. For a therapist who doesn’t scold but instead reworks our personal goals to help us truly feel good. For music, thank the good Lord above for music! – for Vivaldi to help us relax, for Dolly to make us feel precious, and for bubble gummy pop to get us up off the couch to dance. May we thank You, always, for the dance.

May Your love feed us in its many mysterious ways this morning, making us brave for this week ahead. In the music that floats out to our seats, in the sweet cubes of bread that melt into our tongues, in the words from Your holy book that offer us tools and comfort for being loved and loving each other to make this whole crazy journey just a little bit easier. We thank You for each other, for teaching us to love and letting us try it out in the here and now. May we each be a light to someone this week – in a fluorescent office, over a phone line, or right here inside these walls. And may You be with us in it all, always.

What makes me feel better, (almost) always

I am sitting here typing with much aggravation. 

And by typing I mean doing very little typing. 

I've been working on a couple of poems this week and I'm abandoning ship on them for now. Not forever, but I don't think they're going to come to fruition today. Finito. Moving on.

About a week ago I asked for some writing topic suggestions, and my friend Alicia (who I met at a wedding and who is darling) asked me to write about this:

What makes you feel better, always? 

Well let me start by saying I'm not a big "always" person. Not that you won't hear it in my vocabulary, because I probably am something of an exaggerator, but I don't know that there are a lot of things that for sure, allllllwayss make me feel better. 

But there are some things that often help. 

So I will list them here. Let's begin. 

Smooching on that sweet little squish cat face. Coming home to see Max after work is always a treat, and I squeal at him like we're just meeting for the first time, every time. 

Hugging Alex.


Talking to Michelle. 

Exercising to the point of working up a sweat, then taking a shower, and putting on some clean, dry, cotton clothes. 

Eating something tomato-based, with cheese. Spaghetti or pizza. 

Lying by a pool, with a nice big cold drink. A GIANT iced tea, for example. Getting in the water once in a while, nice and easy, on a float that only dips my tender, prone-to-chilliness body part way into the wet, letting the breeze carry me from shallow end to deep, deep to shallow, shallow to deep. Ideally there is summery pop music playing during this flotation session. Get out of the pool, put on some more gloppy sunscreen, (ideally) shove some salty chips and French onion dip in my mouth, and lie in the sun to let earth's natural heater warm my complicated, sometimes achy heart. 


(Though I haven't done it in months, (which is super weird),), cross stitching.

Reading, usually, particularly if the content isn't too depressing, angsty, or dry.

Cleaning! Whenever I engage my body, move things around, and can see a physical change in my environment, I would say almost with certainty that that always makes me feel better.

Taking something off my calendar that my heart really isn't into.

Accomplishing an athletic feat. 


Being the ringleader on a task. The question-answerer. The clipboard-holder. The volunteer-wrangler. It doesn't happen too often, and I don't love it out of a desire to be bossy, rather I just love to be a friendly, helpful face, who can cheer on a team, ease nervous spirits, and help guide people through basic tasks so that a large job can be accomplished. I like it when I'm trusted with responsibility -- I feel capable, strong, and kind, and all of that can make me feel better, if I start the day out feeling like other pieces of me or my life are in rough shape.

Going to church at Bethel almost always makes me feel better. Getting 20+ hugs, hearing my boys sing, catching up. Coming just as I am -- good mood, falling apart, hyped up on coffee ready to talk you into oblivion. I usually walk out in better condition than when I walked in. 

Going to a concert. Sometimes, sadly, they can be a bust, but usually -- especially in the standing room only venues -- I get totally lost in the music and feel completely healed, just as I am. There is nothing like live music for me. 

And the cat. Did I mention the cat? 


That's a pretty solid list for me. How about you? What makes you feel better? 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Today's sentences aren't so tasty -- but I will keep typing

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, we will move into the portion of our Saturday program where we set aside Bailey's unfinished blog post, unfinished poem #1, unfinished poem #2, and un-begun prayers for tomorrow's worship service to start a whole other writing project:


This is not only an illustration in Attention Deficit Disorder, but also to discuss an age-old concept of writing that I've learned from listening to several writers I admire, including one I love the most, and her name is Anne.

Anne Lamott, in her famous, wonderful book about writing, Bird by Bird (tip: if you have trouble finding it at the bookstore, check the reference section), offers two overarching tips: give yourself small assignments, and allow yourself to write sh***y first drafts.

Today I'm doing a lot of the latter.

I've been typing for about two hours now.

I've also been sighing for about two hours.

I'll type.

I'll reread what I just wrote.

I'll sigh.

No good, I'll think.

It's not fun to feel this way. It's way more fun to be in the, "Wheeeee! Aren't these sentences tasty?!" phase.

But sometimes days are like this.

On Tuesday of this week, I hammered out 1,200 words of a blog post. I didn't finish it, but I wrote the bulk of it.

On another day this week, I started a poem.

Today, I continued on that poem, and started another.

That's a lot of work for one week, and to write poetry on a Saturday morning when I'm not getting paid for it is saying something. Especially because I don't consider myself a trained poet so I kind of feel ridiculous even trying out this genre of art. But I went to an open mic recently and was well received and it felt so good to be in community and to have my voice literally heard and I think I need that now. Not for the fame or even the praise, necessarily, but so that I don't feel like my words are just hitting a wall. Writing aside, I need community now. And if that can be with word-lovers, then, well, YES.

As I was sitting here sighing, I remembered a post I wrote a few years ago, after a conversation with my bestie Michelle.

I had told Shelly that I didn't feel like I was writing enough, etc., and we talked about progress that doesn't feel like progress.

Remembering that conversation, and Anne's words, are helpful today. I put words on a page today. I put sighs in the air today. It's all part of the process. My 1,200 words from Tuesday may not ever be published. My poems may not be "good enough" for a public reading at tomorrow's open mic.

But I'm doing it. I'm writing.

And I mean it, if there's one thing I've heard across the board from writers who have made it, it's this one piece of advice: Just. Write!

Don't wait until you feel inspired. Don't write only if what's coming out of your fingertips is good. You have to just keep doing it. Olympic sprinters have to run even on days that they're slow. Pastors have to preach on Sundays when they're not real happy with God. Parents have to diaper their kids when they don't feel like changing a diaper...which I'm pretty sure is every time.

I mean, obviously I don't view this writing thing to be akin to diapering, otherwise I wouldn't be doing it on a Saturday morning for no pay.

But it's not always fun. It's annoying when I set aside the time, and I want that "Mighty Ducks Feeling" as my brother says to come over me while I'm typing, and it doesn't happen. It's frustrating to have hundreds of Word documents just sitting there.

But it's important I don't view them as waste, even if they never see the public eye.

This is key.

Those kids may never remember the diapers, but boy are they better human beings for having parents who tended to their daily needs.

Now if you'll excuse me I need to get back to my sighing.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Accept the good/The Giggle Hour

I'm at the library on my lunch break.


The moment felt inspired.

It's Friday, no less. The day-off day.

Granted, I have no idea what I'm going to write to you about, but let's see if we can do this, if I can squeeze in 40 minutes of something meaningful before I chauffeur myself back to the office.

Last night I was driving to Alex's place, headed to Pizza Hut first. I was tired, but I've been getting blue almost every night at bedtime on the nights that I don't get to see him after work. So I told him I'd bring him pizza and we'd go from there. (As it turned out, we ate pizza and both started to fall asleep, so I decided to go home and fall asleep in bed with Max instead of waking up in a stupor on A's couch an hour later. But we had pizza together and I got to see my honey and share salty triangles with him and I'll take it.)

So I was driving, on my way to stop A, Pizza Hut, when I noticed a sign in someone's window, that said this:


I accepted this message, in this time and place of my life, where I'm feeling depressed but I think feeling it lift?

I pulled through the intersection and immediately, I kid you not, I saw a young man running full speed down the sidewalk with a gallon of milk in his hand.

I don't know exactly where your mind might be going with this image, but just in case it is going to theft, let me dispel that for you. This was not anywhere close to a merchant, so I have no reason to believe this fellow stole this milk.

He was just running.

And I just enjoyed it.

I accepted the good.

I accepted the ridiculous.

A man running down the street with a gallon (NOT! a HALF gallon, but a FULL! HEAVY! gallon!) of milk is exactly the fodder that fuels text messages between me and my brothers. This is exactly the kind of levity I have craved since the first dawning of the Giggle Hour.

What's the Giggle Hour, you ask?

The Giggle Hour, ahhh the Giggle Hour, was a magical time when Bailey Kathleen used to


Particularly this happened on long road trips, but it could really happen anytime, anywhere.

I've always been wired the way I am. OK fine, I've become more melancholic in my adult years, but haven't we all? But I've always been a mix of hyper, happy, and anxious.

When I was a kid, and still to this day, there would be a time where my brothers or my dad or, anyone, really, could just say anything, and I could not stop laughing.

This, to me, is still one of the best, most life-giving things there is.

My brother recently texted us this picture of my niece after nearly nine hours in the car, and said, "We've reached the Giggle Hour."

I've always felt connected to my niece on some level, in the sense that she has "EXTROVERT" stamped all over her, and she's silly and loves bright colors.

When my brother sent me this text, it touched me in a deep way, though. I looked at her face and saw my face. I loved that he still used the term in connection with his daughter.

I loved that she was losing her mind in the car on a long family trip, because that's where I particularly remember losing mine. In the good way. Not the adult way, where now I wonder sometimes if I really am losing it.

The Brewer family rocked a Toyota Previa for many years, and that egg-shaped silver bullet made it to 200,000 miles, lost an air conditioner and some other semi-crucial pieces, but man if she couldn't rev herself up a hill after all that time! I was very sad to come home from my summer job during college and realize that she had been traded in and I didn't get to say goodbye.

We had assigned seats in that minivan, me in the "middle left," AKA driver's side left seat in the middle row, baby Riley "middle right" for ease of carseat adjustments, Mom and Dad in the front, and the big brothers in the back seat.

I think I was Riley's entertainment, talking and probably reading to him, but the big boys were our entertainment. I know we drove them crazy, constantly turning around wanting them to "be funny," but let's be honest they probably loved the fame.

There would be a point where we all gave up, though. We couldn't read our books, play our Gameboys, play one more game of Uno, yet we were still in that minivan bound for Iowa or D.C. or South Dakota or wherever else and so it was either accept each other or drive off the road.

Accept the good.

So eventually I would just start laughing at everything, and Kelly and Patrick, Big Brothers Extraordinaire, would take full advantage of their vulnerable audience, and then the whole car would be laughing at my circus trick.

Everyone's favorite moment was when all it took was for my brothers to say, "Bailey," and I would bubble over into another fit of hysterical giggles.


Whenever the Giggle Hour came to an end, there was a renewal over the Previa. We passed the Pringles with more sibling politeness, making sure everyone got equal crisps, and didn't get stuck with broken crumbs at the bottom of the can. The older kids agreed to mingle with us youngin's. Mom and Dad grinned up front.

We were all willing to take on another hour of open, Midwestern road, grandparents waiting down the way.

I can feel all of this energy, this peace, like I'm in that van right now. I've always meant it when I've said that of childhood vacations, the car ride was my favorite part.


I don't succumb to as many Giggle Hours now as I did when I was my niece's age. Who can really say they can? But it happens. Alex insists on tickling me, because "You need it," he says. I hate it, but I do laugh like a maniac, and when he stops moving his fingers across my skin but still has a hold of me, I can't stop laughing. He's always amazed at this. "I'm not doing anything!" he'll always retort.

Doesn't matter, Babe. It's the Giggle Hour.

Accept the good.

It's unlikely I'll see another gentleman running down the road with a gallon of milk, but I hope to see some whimsy soon. I plan to do what I can to keep my eyes peeled, and to take notes when I see some good stuff. Text it to my brothers, write it in notes to people who could use some bubbles, and scribble it wherever else it might go -- a poem, a prayer, or right here.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Today's prayers -- hunger, fathers, mental health, and family

Many hours of today were hard, but I am grateful today for: 
  • A brief chat with Loren, in the church lobby (lobby? narthex? foyer? It's an area with some sort of name.)
  • Pool time with friends, and giggles as lemons were smashed into an ancient juicer
  • Feeling refreshed after a shower
  • Sara Evans' song "A Little Bit Stronger" -- such a YES anthem
  • MAX, who's been very forthright about his lap rights this day
  • Getting to see my boyfriend soon, after a very long week of mostly not seeing him
  • A calm, sage talk with Michelle, who told me about brain things and let me talk about feelings
  • A big glass of 2% milk
  • A good chat with Dad on the phone
I considered writing the afternoon away today, but decided it would be too isolating, so I invited myself over to a friend's pool instead. (They graciously accepted my very humble invitation). I got these prayers written before church, though, at my favorite "home office," Panera. Read/pray along if you please, and be well. Xox

For a morning of sunshine, with its dandelion yellow that paints sidewalks and patches of carpet, we give thanks. Though our faces may feel bleary from a late night and we fear we won’t get a nap later to fix it, let us rest in this space here now. For another week of life, we give thanks. Whether we chased kids on jungle gyms, sat in shiny boardrooms, or dusted off that screenplay that we’ve been scared to resurrect, we are grateful for our energy and our breath. May we build each other up now in this holy home, so that we can go out, confident in the children you carved us each to be.

As we gather around your table today and all the weeks to come, let us remember all those who are hungry. Guide us in serving the thousands of homeless individuals in our city, and help us keep an eye out for those who may just need a little extra cash for groceries. Help us care for those who hunger deeply for a best friend, for a lover, for marriage, for children, for a dream job, for fame, and for all the other things that come on that exhausting laundry list of things that we think will fix us in and of themselves. From the gifts that we do have, let us share from our reserves to feed those who ache, to quiet the grumble in their belly and in their heart.

Today we give thanks for all of the fathers in our lives. For the ways in which they teach us to be kind, for the way they care for our mothers and our siblings, for the very true fact that they can be grumpy but they can also be the first to let loose in laughter and we can’t help but follow along. We ask that you hold especially close today those whose dad is no longer here, or who never really could be here, for whatever reason. As BBQ smells waft through the air, batting around Fathers’ Day balloons, give the hurting a good book to read, a musical verse to play in their ears, and a hand to hold.

We ask that you continually wrap your arms around those who struggle with mental health struggles. Bring them into the hands of quality doctors, into medication if needed, to therapists, loving friends, good listeners. Give them a voice to speak their pain and to speak their triumphs. Let them know that not only are they not alone, but they are in so much more company than they ever thought possible. If we can ask for one thing this morning, let it be all the grace you can spare up there. Give us grace for ourselves. Let us not beat ourselves up for feeling sad, or anxious, or just moody in general. And give us grace for each other, so that we don’t lose strength in this most valiant race you have us running, for loving You and your people.

For the Bibles that sit in these pews, we give thanks. Though the words can be confusing or even harrowing, some of them are gorgeous and sweet as honeycomb – oozing slow, sticking to our fingers and our tongues with what we know is just so RIGHT. In the Psalms, we are reminded that our God sets the lonely in families. While we may not have come from an easy childhood, may our prayer be this morning that everyone here find a family here at Bethel. Find family in Jesus. Find family at work, in Los Angeles, in the world. Give us sisters to do our hair, brothers to mess it up, and cousins to ride bikes with, flying down the streets with abandon.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A writer's necklace and a home office

Sometimes I consider buying a writer's necklace. 

Anne has one. 

Hers is on a very slender chain, so slim she seems brave to wear it, a testament of her faith. I bet she forgets to take it off before showers and it never breaks, even in a cascade of hot water. 

Leigh has one.

Also on a delicate chain. She too must be brave. 

I'm sure both necklaces have meaning, and power. These writer ladies can rub the tiny charms in their fingers as they pause between thoughts, remembering why they write. 

I'm not a bracelet girl, because Hello, I type all the time, and something on my wrist is in the way end of story.

Rings are fun but I play with them all the time. 

There was a time where I wore earrings every single day, but I have gotten away from that. I wonder if I should do it again. Once they were in each day, I really didn't notice or feel them (OK fine, after about 8 hours, I do take them off), but when I caught a glimpse of shiny fake rhinestones or dangly baubles in the mirror, I felt feminine and slightly lifted. A little like a Gilmore. Perhaps I should wear earrings again. 

But necklaces. 

Necklaces, like earrings, don't really bother me. I don't find myself playing with them constantly. Not wanting to rip them off after 45 minutes of a good college try of dressing the lead-in-a-rom-com part. 

I've thought, from time to time, of going on a venture for a necklace that says: This is why I write. This is who I am. This is my voice. This is the hope I want others to hear and be able to stand up and carry on. 

Maybe the charm on my necklace chain would be a cross. A heart. Maybe a tiny, polished stone, to remind us that we have not sunk, but that we are firm in the riverbed, being washed smooth and clean and royal by the waters that run over our heads. 

This city is huge. I could get a necklace for a dollar from the garment district or for $1,000 in a Beverly Hills boutique. I could have a friend make one. I could take one that I already have and bless it and deem it my writer's necklace. 

Before I go much further with all this, I should say I am not a believer in talismans. I don't think a necklace will make me a better writer or will make me sit in my seat more often to actually write or will make me more brave or any of that. 

I just wonder sometimes. Maybe a necklace would be nice. It could be a touchpoint. Something to literally grab on to as a reminder of why I'm doing all this. 

Because I'm certainly not getting a tattoo. Nuh uh. 


Here's another thought.

I feel that I am way too early in my career to be the kind of writer who has a home office. 

For one, every space that one can live in in Los Angeles costs approximately


so the idea of having additional space outside of one's combination bed/living/dining room is ludicrous. 

Two, while I do certainly do a lot of typing and musing at home, I do a LOT of it from my favorite booth at Panera, where I am right now. 

My friend Will is here, working on his screenplay several tables over. We never plan to be here at the same time, but we see each other here frequently, which I think is wonderful; a city of 4 million people, and with regularity, I see someone I know in a public place. 

That's one of the reasons I write here. To get out. To be in shared space. To not be the only one whose fingers are tapping keys. 

Writing is isolating. I am with my mind all the time. When I talk to people, I expel the poison of my scarier thoughts, release the excited chatter of my happier ones, and when I write, absolutely: I get it out. There is a release. When people like you read it here on the blog, all the better. 

But to sit at home alone can be hard. I mean, THANK GOD for the cat, who squishes next to me and sometimes gets right on my stomach making it difficult to reach the keys, but still, he's there. 

But it's good to get out. Four years ago, when I was living alone and unemployed, my dad would always encourage me to job search at Starbucks, even though I had few dimes and it seemed a luxury. Dad's a fellow extrovert and he knows the importance of just being around people, even if you're not talking to them. The power of community is so much more innate than we may ever realize, growing up in a non-pastoral life. 

So, with Pops' advice, I would go and order a tall coffee instead of a grande, cash in on that 50 cent dine-in refill, and get some work done. And it helped. 

All that to say, I just wonder if I'll ever be the type to have a home office. I wonder if I'll ever be disciplined enough to use it. Even if it were pristine and untouched, I think I'd feel imprisoned knowing that I'm still not in community. (I may have issues about sitting at home. I feel like as a child I was a homebody, but now I never want to cook or eat at home...things to discuss with the therapist....)

I wonder if I'll ever be able to AFFORD an extra 100 square feet to sit in and write. Here's hopin'. I mean, the cat at least would like to have some extra space to sprawl. 

OK. If you see any writing spaces for rent, or any necklaces that scream "BAILEY" around town, let me know. 


Thursday, June 15, 2017

I'm here.

Hi Guys.

I'm still here.

I know it's been a REALLY long while (with a few peppering of posts here and there) since there's been fresh content on the Daily Bailey, but I'm here.

I can't say I've been off riding camels in the sunset on some grand thirty-something hippie adventure, or that some publisher suddenly discovered me and I've just finished a 23-city book tour, or even that I've been valiantly holed up with my computer typing something valiant that wasn't blog related but was in fact writing related and was indeed valiant.

I can't say any of that.

But I can say this:

I have been living. The mostly painful, sometimes boring, kind of living. But the alive kind of living.

I have been (hopefully) growing.

I have been hustling. I have been climbing up the dirt embankments of vegetable-eating, therapy-session-homework-assignment-doing, exercising, etc. I have been successful for a day, sometimes days, and have then slid down, feeling ashamed with clods in my fingernails.

And sometimes I haven't felt ashamed at all. Sometimes I've felt good and haven't felt the need for mental or physical health management, happily clicking the "Play" button on the next episode of "Girl Meets World."*

*This is EXCELLENT television and people of all ages and genders should give it a chance. I'm actually being a thousand percent serious. 


There were many reasons for my absence from the blog.



Fear that if I wrote something too sad you would worry.

Fear that if I wrote something too happy you would think I was all fixed.

[Fear that now that you've read those sentences I just wrote you will fear: "What the hell HAS been going on with Bailey?!?" Lather rinse repeat this fear of mine. I don't generally mind being the poster child for public vulnerability, but lately I've wondered whether I really, fully, wholly don't mind...]

And I've been a whole lot of just plain busy and also occasionally *GASP!* enjoying myself.

Let's talk about some of those moments, shall we? The enjoying myself moments:


Jennifer Knapp closed out her set at the Hotel Café with Martyrs & Thieves, and with a smirk on her face she said, "You've got this," took her voice away from the mic, and let her fans of nearly 20 years sing the chorus. Then she came back and we all rang out this call together about being broken but not afraid, and with our scratchy voices we supported this brave, amazing artist who we love for so many reasons but most of all for the fact that after years of not singing she decided to sing hallelujah sing once again!

I devoured this same Jennifer's memoir in a week, and cried and resonated with this other person who once felt deeply subdued in her innate need to create, and then, slowly, eventually, created once again. It was the first full (adult) book I had read in two months, and it fed me in huge ways. 

As our ship cruised north to Juneau in May, I got on the treadmill and jogged five miles. I was very proud of myself, and really felt like the most difficult thing about it was not falling over when the waves steered us askew. This was a good moment, and I took a selfie in the elevator of my red face to document the achievement. 

This past Sunday, I wrote a poem. I printed off copies at the 24-hour FedEx Kinko's and went to an open mic and stood up when they called out my name and I read it. Alex was there. Jill and Sam were there. Boys I know from karaoke and shooting pool were there. People clapped, snapped, gasped, laughed. I used my voice. I reminded myself that I still have one, and I heard others use theirs to hear mine.

I ate sushi with my friend Caleb. We tried (and loved!) a fried mystery delicacy called "sushi pizza," which cost us a whole $4.99, and our entire bill came out to $31.

In Los Angeles.

Caleb is fun and easy to be real with and good for me to be around. We share Kansas roots, which is always an added bonus in my book.

I went out for drinks with my roomies and we just giggled and chatted and it was the most "me" I had felt in a while. I walked in to the bar that night pretty beaten down, but walked out, if for a moment, refreshed.


So here I am.

Still hustling.

Feeling a lot better, generally-speaking-don't-want-to-say-this-too-loud-just-yet, than I have for the last few weeks. Reminding myself as best I can that emotional/physical/spiritual/mental maintenance is still important. Get up and wash the dish you just ate from, Bailey. Clear the papers off your bed before you go to sleep. Take 10 minutes to reply to that actually-important email. You don't have to break your back becoming the next Oprah do-it-all Winfrey, but you have to keep yourself well-oiled and semi-organized to aim yourself toward feeling good and being productive and moving forward as a writer which by the way you really do love.

Yes, you really do love it quit with the excuses. Even though you feel inadequate sometimes and really far behind and unheard etc. etc. soon as those fingers get flying across the keyboard you know the sides of your smile turn up. You. Know. They. Do.

I don't usually dedicate blog posts, but this one here goes out to Jill, who gently and fervently, for weeks, asked and suggested that maybe I should come back this direction and put some words down. I gave her many excuses. I laid many fears at her feet. Her texting thumbs were gentle in their response and quietly came back a few days later, with the same request. Thanks, Babe. So glad I found you out there on the webosphere. I hope your words touch the world far and wide, as they most certainly already have. Xox

All righty. Time to go do some maintenance in my life. Cat snuggling. Drink toasting (to 2 1/2 years today! of being in love with Alexander). Laundry folding and hanging and sorting and putting away-ing. Taking dishes from bedroom to kitchen. Maybe (?) taking some trash (and other items) out of the Corolla Coaster. Cat snuggling (this I can do as much as I want, as it is always very good for the soul).

I'll be back here soon with more words.


Be Well,

Friday, April 28, 2017

My toolbox

I'm hesitant to write lately.
I feel like my blog posts over the past six months have caused alarm -- caused y'all to rush in and ask if I'm OK. I don't like that this seems to be a pattern (the support is fine, it's the fact that people are worried that I don't like).
The past month has been very difficult. Without saying anything more, I have witnessed someone endure a tragedy, and it's tested me. I've cried a lot. I cried on the phone with an insurance company, and I didn't even really care. Tell that to 10-years-ago Bailey, and she would have been horrified, but Today Bailey is a crybaby and she owns it. Crying helps. I wish I could do it a little less often, for crying (ha!) out loud, but it is what it is.
I have also seen, through all of this, how incredible the human spirit is. Goodness gracious can we carry on. We really, truly can. I'm watching it happen every single day.
So I'm here to tell you about my toolbox of late. The things that have helped. So here we go. (P.S. This list is not in a ranked order)
1. Cheers
This understated show is simply wonderful. It is meeting me right where I am. Its humor is very clever, but there is no pressure to laugh out loud, if one doesn't have the energy. The show is in no rush, which is how bar life should be, in my opinion. It illustrates how people of very different walks of life can, and do, walk together all the time. They drive each other crazy, and they care for each other. And Cheers can be incredibly touching. The conclusion of episode 10 in season 1 is still sitting with me -- hardly felt like I was watching a sitcom in that timeless moment, filmed before I was even born. Absolutely beautiful rendering of human life and love.
2. Alex
"I'm right here, and I love you." I've heard these words several times lately, in the calm, steady voice of the man I love more all the time.
3. Care packages
I haven't really wanted to talk to a lot of people lately. I don't feel like walking through my emotions (BIG EYE ROLL), or listening to advice or words of wisdom. I've also been around people almost all the time lately, and this people-loving ENFP needs a break!
I'm here to tell you that mail is OK, however (hint hint). Mama sent me a tote bag with Starbucks money inside and index cards with notes from her, Dad, and our sweet friends Rick and Maureen. And in response to an aside I made in an email this week, Nick sent me and Alex an all inclusive margarita kit: glasses, marg mix, and salt. It's like we won the wedding registry lottery and we didn't even have to be engaged to do it!
(He forgot the tequila, but I won't tell him if you won't).
I am lucky to have the best family and friends, and to see their names in the return address corner is encouraging.
4. My new room
I've moved to a cat palace, where four humans and four cats reside together. My room is cozy, has two big windows, and is right next to the (FREE! FREE! FREE!) laundry area. It's a nice retreat, and I'm pleased.
5. Sorting papers
I've been sorting, tossing, organizing. It's been the most comforting thing. Seriously. I don't consider myself to be overly focused on controlling things, but I think there is something to be said for controlling something during times when things feel out of control. Bring me all the papers, Friends. I will make decisions about what will happen to them.
6. Helping where I can
Mostly this consists of encouraging people to eat and sleep. And occasionally reading aloud. I haven't always been successful, but I've done my best.
All righty, there ya go. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to encourage myself to eat and sleep. Because this tired mama needs to rest.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Peeps with the happy touch

List #12: List the people who make you feel happy

*This is not an exhaustive list. If you're not on it, it doesn't mean I don't love you or that you make me unhappy. If I listed all the people who make me happy, I'd never stop listing, because people are continually being heaped upon my life; people who lift me up in every way imaginable. Also I'm leaving blood relatives off this list not because they don't make me happy (quite the opposite is true), but because there are a lot of them and it would take a long time to expand on their attributes.


I was sorting through old papers last week, and found a list I made after I had been dating Alex for about a month, a list of some of the things I already loved about him then. Two years later, everything on that list is still true.
Alex is always kind to me. He is gentle and measured in his speech. He always asks me how my day has been, what's wrong, how he can help. When he talks to anyone, he asks the person questions about them. He delays grabbing himself a beer at a party because he's so busy saying hi to those around him. (Look, I think I'm a people person, but I like to talk about me, and I'm not proud of it but I sometimes view people as obstacles in the way of the drink cart. Not Alex. He's better than me.) He's so well read it makes me mad but not too mad because I'm so freaking in love with him. He insists on tickling me because it makes me laugh maniacally. He holds me when I cry. He makes sure I eat vegetables and lets me sleep for hours and hours even though he thinks it's excessive (and then he tells me to tell my doctor that I sleep so much because he worries about me). I am in shock sometimes not only with how wonderful he is as a person in general, but how good we are for each other.
Anne Lamott writes something really beautiful about being in so much pain in her life, and then her son was born, and she named him Sam, because Samuel sounds like the Hebrew for "heard by God."
I can relate.


Laura and I had an instant connection. Within weeks of knowing each other as college freshmen, we were sitting on a blanket on some grass, watching people walk by, and she was divulging big facts to me about her life. We "drifted apart" only due to proximity circumstances, and picked up where we left off at the Vegas airport seven years after graduation. She cracks me up without trying, whips me into shape in the department of getting things done and cleaning up living quarters, and is just plain fun. When she comes to town, my whole self claps its hands together in excitement and just sits back for the ride.


At the end of our first semester knowing each other, Courtney and I went to dinner together. I don't remember it being a radical meal, but after that we became total Chatty Cathies together. When we talk, we talk. And talk. And talk. Courtney lets her friends know how she feels about various things in life, and most of us laugh a lot when she does. The best part is she almost never cracks a smile in these moments, because she's being totally serious. She sends me cards for almost every holiday and for random non-occasions in between. She prays a lot, and her home is so cozy and clean, but not immaculate to the point that you feel like you can't sip your coffee on the couch. Very thoughtful is she, and quick to talk about serious things or anything else; together we are the queens of ice breakers. And finally, Court is one of the few people I know with whom I can totally disagree about something, and actually find common ground and feel safe in the conversation anyway (and even enjoy myself). A mysterious relationship for sure.

I go to Nick with all my ridiculous fashion choices (which are in fact ridiculous not to mention frequent). I go to Nick when I want to be grumpy about stupid things, because I know he will not only back me up but he will provide fuel to the fire of my justified rage. Man it feels good to be grumpy with Nick. Despite our favorite hobby of bitching, he is quite pleasant (bitingly sarcastic, but handsome and easy to be around). Our many years of friendship aide us in being able to spend lots of time just being together. The Nick memories my mind most frequently gravitates toward, even though we've been to several cities together, are of the two of us simply sitting around his living area. Trendy indie music playing, me on the couch (more comfortable), him at a table (more responsible), both on our computers. Taking turns refilling coffee, once in a while calling the other over to share something silly on the internet. To be with Nick is to always be taking that first sip of wine at happy hour; letting the crumbs from work fall off our shoulders, knowing the silly conversation is only just beginning, and last call is not even in the periphery.


Corie adopted me, and I will never forget it. She talked to me on my first day at our high school, and she didn't have to. She ate lunch with me every day for a year, and she didn't have to. She picked me up in her red Jeep and drove me to the Homecoming assembly, and she didn't have to. She took me to Florida with her family for Spring Break, and played cards with me in the hotel bathroom, when we couldn't sleep and didn't want to wake her parents. She put me in her wedding and called me when her first daughter was born, while I was driving across the desert to California, each of us beginning Giant Adventures of totally different kinds, but in step all the same. The structure of our lives are worlds apart, but our encyclopedia of shared memories has us welded together despite how infrequently we may actually talk. Half of what we say is a reference to Friends, and though we've never eaten wax together or chased a rogue parade balloon, we've definitely found a million things to laugh about, and doing so has filled up my life's balloon with plenty of buoyant and needed helium.


I was jealous of Michelle before our friendship took off*, and now I'm only proud of her in her career successes -- which are way more impressive than mine, trust me. The first time I saw Michelle, she had a story she was working on in the paper; I wasn't writing anything for publication. The following summer she had an internship, and I didn't get the only one I bothered to apply for. And then she called me once while I was driving, and we chatted and by the time we hung up all jealousy was off the table. In addition to being an inspiring poster child of what life can look like when you just keep trucking, Michelle is there for me. I can talk and cry her ear off, and she listens and gives non-annoying advice on how to grab hold of what I can control. My feelings are always validated, respected, and held in good care.
*She thought I was easy before we were introduced, which is another story. :)


As is the case with most of my good friends, Sam and I can TALK. We yammer, we complain, we laugh. Sam is one of my newest friends, but we became quick besties. I weaseled him into helping me move, and he weaseled me into being a chaperone on a youth retreat. We do a lot of weaseling, and a lot of Asian food eating, and a lot of YouTube watching. We get stuck on jokes and accents and bits, and we repeat them and find them way funnier than our friends do. Sam lays down the law when it's time for me to make a change in my life, and I mostly listen. And if there's one way to determine if I like you, it's whether or not I take your advice. And there's a hot tip you can run to the press with.

All right, I know he's fictional. But he brings me enough joy he might as well be real. It doesn't matter what comes out of Javier's mouth, I just want to lean into him, then hold his hand and sit back and talk together about how much we love Felicity (not the show, the person. Because Javier loves Felicity). Felicity might surprise you with its humor in general, but Javier for sure takes the cake in being the funniest part of the show. And he's just a little sweetie pie!!!!! I would say my love for him is inappropriate, but I won't. I can always count on J (or as Ben calls him, "Have-E-ay") to bring me a little smile. Or a big guffawing laugh -- I feel like I know him so well, yet he still catches me off guard.

Speaking of laughter, I never tire of hearing this silly lady. I've seen her live twice and listened to or watched her stand up routines a lot. She's not entirely underrated, because she's getting more of the recognition she deserves, but she should still be more famous than she is, in my opinion, given her talent. But I'm glad she still has time to hang out with her 'rents in Missouri and go golfing several times a year, because I know she likes that. And I don't want her to burn out on comedy, because I want her to keep coming back to town so I can keep being her (fellow journalist, fellow former Missouri resident**) fangirl.
**Are you listening, Kathleen? See how much we have in common? I live in LA, we can be besties, I'm just saying. You'll probably enjoy Alex more than you like me, but I've already accepted that so it's fine.
I go to probably 15 concerts a year. Yes, I'm a live music junkie. Yes, my credit card is wincing in pain. But I can't help it, People. I can't. No really I can't, someone call my therapist. When Peter and Paul are performing, when Dolly's here, when Garrison's doing a show, I must go!!! But I'll tell ya there's one show I go to every single year, and hands down it's the one I look forward to the most. Rachael. Ya. Ma. Gata. Love her. I was a fan already for many years, and then I was going to Chicago and I bought tickets to her show there and Nick and I went together and that's when I really became a Rachael freak. A year later I took Alex with me to see her in LA, and he fell in love with her and I'm very proud of this and her show is our annual date that I look forward to probably the most. As we've established, I see a lot of musical performances, so I have something of a critical ear for them (if I can be so bold). Rachael is -- consistently -- funny, likable, vulnerable, considerate of her audience, and SO talented. She definitely stands out and the cost of her show is worth every penny, every time.
I met Anne when I was 18. Her book, Traveling Mercies, was sneakily placed in my path as one of the last items on my required freshman curriculum. If there's no other reason to be grateful for attending the college that I did, it's that the faculty thought it worthwhile to introduce its students to this master of words, this spiritual guide, this hilarious, gentle GEM. She has, and continues to be, a tremendous comfort to me. She has let me know I am not (entirely) crazy; that I am not alone; that it is OK to be scared and confused and not sure about God but to still be curious about God. She's opened my eyes, and my heart, to find love and God in the darkest of spaces. Anne showed me writing like I'd never seen before, and am still yet to come across elsewhere. Though I've read nearly all of her nonfiction, there are a few pages in T. Mercies that remain to me some of her most exquisite, where she hits the nail so very on the head. She witnesses two members in her church, two people who are scared of each other and what they each stand for, and they come together in healing -- she captures the moment in a way only Annie can. It's in the first 50 pages of T. Mercies; check it out, you won't miss it.
I'm honestly not sure I'd be a writer were it not for Anne. It took being a reader of hers to feel that words on a page could actually change a life. Sure, I love to move commas around and wait until the perfect adjective falls upon my synapses, but what I really want to do is let people feel comfort. Anne does that for me, and so many others, and in experiencing that miracle I was inspired to at least attempt to use my words as a way of helping. God love her, and I wish her current tour were swinging through SoCal, but alas -- I'll catch her next time.

Monday, March 27, 2017

A note from the desk of Super Sensitive, Irritable Girl! (Like a super hero!)

Let's talk about some things that are fun.
Going on Space Mountain at Disneyland for the first time, and being so surprised by all the turns in the dark that your natural reaction is just to crack up laughing throughout the ride.
Seeing Jens Lekman in concert and having no idea what you're getting yourself into, and then thinking, "This is one of the most bizarre things I've ever heard and seen in my life," and saying in Alex's ear: "This is a trip!" and dancing and smiling so big without abandon.
Sitting on a couch in Courtney's living room and just talking and talking and talking about whatever with my gal pal, for so long that at some point we say, "Huh. Maybe we should get lunch."
Those things are fun.
I'll tell you what's NOT fun.
Being irked by basically anything and everything that seems to be happening around you.
No. I mean, like, iiiiiiiirked.
Like, recognizing you're way too irritated but being unable to stop it.
You know how sometimes your irritation builds? You're just having a bad day, for whatever reason. You're tired, you're PMSing, you're impatient, or something is just not feeling hunky dory inside you (and it's probably totally normal as humans to only feel hunky dory a certain percentage of the time but we WANT to feel that way so much that we expect to feel that way 95 percent of the time and when we don't we are always clawing our way back to that place, even though forcing it is not how to conjure it up. I'm pretty sure it can't be simply conjured). And then throughout the day you get more and more annoyed, so that it reaches a point where a song comes on the radio that you don't love, and all of a sudden your inner thoughts go something like this?:
Oh my goodness I HATE this song! And why is it even on?! And that part is the worst part, the part with the whistling, and of course THAT's the part that was playing when I couldn't get to my phone fast enough to change tracks so I just HAD to listen to the stupid stupid whistling and I just need everyone to GET OUT OF MY WAY! but also I need them to wait on me like I am a PHARAOH. I want people FANNING ME WITH LEAVES but I don't want those leaves to make ANY NOISE as they brush the air, and I want the people fanning me to, like, be there as a quiet emotional support but I also want them to just disappear from time to time but the fanning can't stop even though I CAN'T HANDLE! seeing a human form in my peripheral vision right now. And I need my boyfriend to tell me -- AND MEAN IT!! -- that I am the most beautiful woman he knows, and will ever know, and he needs to bring me Advil and some pizza but then I need him to, like, sit on the couch quietly, but also disappear if needed but of course still be there in the next room for emotional support if needed and.....
No? Just me?
OK well that ridiculous pattern of thinking that you read up there -- that is approximately how I've been feeling lately kind of all the time. I feel like I'm continually at that point where I've had too much -- like I've been babysitting for three hours and the kid won't stop crying and I've had three hours of it and then another straw gets added to the camel's back and I feel like I'm going to crumble into nonexistence because I couldn't keep being agitated so the only solution was to pop like an over-inflated balloon. I'm at that moment, a lot. The moment where you've reached your breaking point, or feel like you're about to. Today, for example, the day had hardly started and the Keurig was brewing really slowly and I got so upset. It's not like I'd been having a big long day and then the Keurig was brewing slowly and I couldn't take one more thing. It's like I'm always in that moment where it's too much.   
It's. Awful.
Also I'm not kidding. I mean, yes, I took some comedic liberties with likening myself to a pharaoh just now, but the sentiment is totally accurate -- I am really struggling to be anything but annoyed. And my expectations of other people and stoplights and the radio and my appetite to be exactly synced to fix my frustrations and make me less crazed are way too high, I recognize that.
I could keep analyzing this but I'm not sure I want to so let's move on.
OK so let's talk about some things that have made me feel happy, or content, or have made me laugh lately, even if they were short lived. Because even though they're few and far between I do know that they are there and if I chronicle them here it will probably make me feel a little better.
(Unless the Lumineers start playing on Pandora. Then forget it. Sorry, Amy, if you're reading this.)
This weekend I went to a wedding and there was karaoke at the reception.
Let me repeat that.
At the reception.
Take a bow, bride and groom. Good move.
So my friend Lemar sang several times, and guys, he just has such an impressive, flawless voice. He can go really low in register or up to falsetto tones. I wonder what his range is.....I wonder if he's on a Mariah level....
So I love listening to Lemar. I just want him to keep singing more songs when I hear him sing one.
Also my friend Sam really makes me laugh. When we hang out we egg each other on in our silliness and it's the best. Last night we went out for ramen and we kept talking in valley girl voices and it was so funny for me. On the flipside I can talk to Sam about all the serious things I'm dealing with right now, and he will listen to the minutiae and give me sturdy, supportive words of advice and encouragement. He's such a great friend and I just know he has my back. Like Fight Club, but without the violence.
I've never seen Fight Club, so I'm not sure why I made that reference. Just felt right. Also did you know Brad Pitt studied at the University of Missouri, just like cute little irritated me?
Annnnd, let's see. One more positive thing, then I'll let you be.
I like that I'm listening to my body more than I usually do.
I can sense when I don't need any more coffee, and so I don't drink any more of it.
I notice when I have headaches. I haven't solved this problem with a headache-free bow, but I'm at least recognizing how often they are happening, what things are abating them and that there are several occasions where nothing seems to release the tension.
Last night at the ramen party, I ordered a veggie bowl (with meat on the side). There were big chunks of cabbage in it, and for most of my life I would just eat around that cabbage.
But I ate that cabbage.
Several bites of it. Big chunks. Flavorless. But down the gullet they went. Because they were there, and I know that they have some sort of vitamin or something in them, and yes they're flavorless but that doesn't mean I can't pull it together and eat them. It's not as if I feel any sort of immediate or delayed gratification or improvement in my bodily feelings, but I just know that it's not a bad idea to eat cabbage that is put in front of me and I did it and I know it's silly but I'm proud of myself for that.
So this post is long -- as most of mine are -- and I am going to sign off.
If you are feeling chronically and acutely irritable, like me, I really feel for you. I hope that you can find at least a few moments of contentment throughout each day, and I hope that you return to your less-angry functioning state very soon. I also hope that a few things are making you laugh, or getting you away from your discomfort, and that you are recognizing those and returning to them for more peace.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

In a season. Or, sweating like a cartoon.

Hiiiiii, Friends.
(Oftentimes when Alex texts me he writes, "Hiiiiii," with all those extra "I"s. I like it, because he says "Hi" like that out loud sometimes. Drawn out and like he's happy to talk to me because he's had a long day and I'm relief for him. I don't know if that's what he means by it, but that's my interpretation.)
I guess my extra "I"s are apt, in that case, because I haven't written to y'all in a while. And I've missed you. I've thought about you several times, but several things (acceptable and non-acceptable excuses) have stopped me from writing to you.
But here I am.
I'm not sure what I'm here to say, but I did want to drop in and chat with ya for a bit.
So let's see.
Well I've -- mostly, more or less -- concluded that I am in a SEASON right now. Ya know how that happens? You walk around feeling grumpy or lost or confused or like you're wasting your life by doing or not doing something, and this goes on for weeks or months and then finally you think, "Well maybe this will pass."
Well, I think I might be there.
Three days ago I was in tears and feeling like I might feel this not-great way forever. It was a scary* moment, and I'm not entirely sure I won't feel that way again. But today I'm feeling less frantic and more optimistic and I'm glad.
I bought myself a spiral notebook (for $3.25!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A ONE-subject, WIDE-ruled, only 70 sheets notebook!!!!! This is outrage!) at a retailer that I will not name, for I don't believe in throwing this business under the bus for their outrageous pricing.
But it is, let's be clear, outRAGEous.
Emphasis on the rage, if you didn't catch that. It's important that you do.
I bought this notebook and so far I've written in it on Saturday, yesterday and today. I'm treating it as a journal.
When I started college, my brother told me I should journal. He said I should write every day, and if I didn't feel like writing I could just write: "I don't feel like writing," and then close the notebook.
During my freshman year, I wrote every day.
That's the only time in my life I've done that, for so long a stretch.
It felt great, and I am on occasion nostalgic for that rhythm in my life.
Since I bought this ludicrously expensive notebook, I have felt overwhelmed by the obligation (that's not really an obligation because no one is forcing me to do this) to journal.
On Saturday I wrote until my dinner was brought to my table, and I stopped mid-sentence. I never finished the sentence.
I wrote yesterday in my car during lunch and got frustrated at first because I didn't have a hard surface to write on. I found a board game box in my back seat (yes) and used that and I felt better and carried on.
Today I wrote during lunch again and I really loved doing it.
I've written about headaches I've had, about my alcohol intake, about my feelings. I've mentioned things that have made me feel good and things that have made me feel bad. Ever a writer, I try to use the most accurate nouns and adjectives I can to capture just how something felt or feels.
I've fought the urge while writing to set the notebook down and google something.
I'm not saying I'm heading down some valiant journaling journey here, but I am saying that this feels good. I feel like my moods and my physical sensations (I've had a lot of headaches and have been struggling to wake in the morning due to really intense dreams) have been alllll over the place lately. Things happen so quickly -- I'm here! Then there! Thinking about this! Then that! -- that I feel like I can't keep up with them fast enough to write them down, just in a matter of fact way let alone take the time to analyze them.
(Also I hate that I'm here! Then there! I feel like I'm a cartoon who's sweating and the drops of moisture are flying off of me. The droplets never come back to touch me (read: I usually forget the thoughts as soon as they come), and I'm still whole -- I don't melt away even though I'm losing water weight. But I feel the exhaustion of being stuck on a treadmill, running and running but not covering any productive distance.)
But in the past several days I've written down some of it, and it's been helpful. I wrote down one particular thought or worry, and as soon as I got it down on the paper I felt less intensely worried about it. That doesn't mean I shouldn't address it with friends or in therapy, but it was progress. And it offered relief.
I'm grateful for this activity in my life. I'll probably go for a cheaper notebook once this one fills up, but I am fine with my $3.25 purchase.
I'm glad I have you guys to "journal" to, too. You can thank me later (or now. You're choice) for not filling up this blog with the ins and outs of my headaches and eating choices, but rather scribbling that down in a green notebook. But I do appreciate you listening/reading to what I do write here. And to those of you who text/call/email/talk with me, you know who you are, and I thank you for all your support and willingness to listen to me ramble on and on and....
There are a lot of good things in my life right now. Through all my recent moodiness I have been lucid enough to recognize my many blessings. I do hope the negative things -- and, particularly, the sense that they are too much -- will pass.
Meanwhile, I'm glad I have you guys to say "Hi" to.
So, I'll say it again.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Happy kid

List #11:
Watching VH1's Top Ten music video compilations from week to week (or, sometimes, day to day) -- notable chart toppers: Meatloaf's I would do anything for love (but I won't do that), Tom Petty's Free Fallin' and Don't Come Around Here no More, Mariah's Fantasy, Seal's Kiss from a Rose, Blue's Traveler's Run-Around, TLC's Waterfalls.
Watching 7th Heaven, Full House, Figure it Out, and Friends.
Watching the following movies over and over and over: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Wayne's World, Wayne's World 2, Big, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Selena. I also frequently rented a Disney sing-along video from the movie rental place (where Mom would treat us to Bubble Tape and other candy treats).
Playing Dr. Mario (I was and still am very good at this game), Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong 1 and 2.
Watching my brothers play a particular Sega game, the name of which I don't know. I also remember eating iced animal cookies while doing this. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmm.
(Um, yes, I did have a lot of screen time as a child. But I also played outside a fair amount and did my homework and read several books. So quit judging.)
Getting tickled mercilessly by my dad. There was (and still is) a very extensive vocabulary surrounding this activity. The most important one you should know is that to get Dad to stop tickling you, you must say "S-T-O-P STOP!" This is much harder than one might think to accomplish while you are laughing maniacally.
Assembling cow scrapbooks. Yes you read that right, and yes you have no idea what that is because I'm probably the only kid who did this. I went through a very long cow-collecting phase. Mainly people gifted me with stuffed animals cows, as well as various bovine paraphernalia (boom! I just spelled that correctly on the first try! Eat that, spell check!) such as a cookie jar, a coffee creamer pouring mechanism, candy, popcorn tins, etc.
But! I also made not one but TWO cow scrapbooks. I spent much time cutting pictures of real cows (from Country magazine) and figurine cows (from catalogs) and milk mustache ads and then gluing them onto colored construction paper (each page alternating through the rainbow, then repeating the pattern), then hole punching that paper, numbering the pages, and sticking it into 3-ring binders. I used to plant myself in front of the TV or the stereo and rubber cement my way to bliss. For hours. These scrapbooks are still at my parents house. Obviously. Who would toss such hours of labor?
Sometimes my fifth grade teacher would let us read all day at school. I loved those days. I still long for those days, and do my best to recreate them at home.
When we went on vacation, we always took our minivan, never an airplane. We would drive to DC or Iowa or around Colorado, and I pretty much enjoyed the destinations (DC was a little boring for my 7-year-old self, but we celebrated my birthday there which had its perks), but I always loved the car ride best. My older brothers sat in the back bench seat, and I would drive them crazy mostly but also gifted them with "The Giggle Hour," a time in which they could say anything and I would lose it. I always sat in the middle seat on the driver's seat, Riley in the middle on the passenger side. I would read, stare out the window, enjoy cans of Coke and Pringles and sugary candy (my parents fed us vegetables, I promise). I loved it loved it.
Doing math homework. I always did it first thing because I enjoyed it so much. It was an ease into the reading and writing (which I also enjoyed, but for sure had a love-hate relationship with).
Doing crafts. Cross stitch, latch hook, filling up pages of sticker books. Etc.
Jumping on friends' trampolines.
Babysitting, especially at night. What a thrill! And I made money! I divided my pay in half, to the penny, kept some at home for spending and took the other half to the bank. (I wish I could say I kept up that habit).
Checking email, and composing long responses to my friends who I saw every day at school. (I still love email). I also loved those email surveys that would circle around -- filling out my favorite color, book, etc.
Having sleepovers with various girlfriends.
Writing poetry.
Dr Pepper and Sunny-D (mostly during eighth grade I loved these things)
Walking through knee deep snow, cutting through backyards, from the bus to our house. With a backpack full of thick books and a trumpet case in hand (that, probably, my brother carried most often), my brothers and our neighbor would walk and walk. We'd get home, ditch our wet shoes at the door, grab a soda and chips and dip, and plop in front of the TV. We'd fight over who got to choose the show, but pretty much we'd stick together in the living room for a couple of hours anyway.
Talking to my friends on the phone.
Going on band field trips. Solo and ensemble competitions, playing at elementary schools, and competing in full-band contests in "the Springs" (Colorado Springs). I loved missing classes, wearing my cummerbund, playing cards on the bus with my friends, and stopping at Burger King or Fargo's Pizza for lunch. Pure fun, and made me feel grown up.
School dances. Yes!
The giant Super Bowl parties my parents used to have every year. I mostly ignored the game, watched some commercials, ran around with church friends, ate cheese dip and my mom's delicious brisket, and drank lots of soda. I always lamented when it was over and I had to do homework and was up so late on a school night, but the party itself was great fun.
Watching all of TGIF every Friday night, followed by 20/20 (oh, Hugh Downs and John Stossel)
Having the house to myself. A rare occurrence in a family of six, but sometimes it happened and it was glorious. I popped a CD into the living room speaker system, made macaroni and cheese, and just OWNED that house.
Church youth group events. And church retreats. Retreats!!!!! Loved. Still love.
Daydreaming about my crushes.
Going to amusement parks and water parks.
Playing and watching football.
Gym class.
Going on "Girls' Day Out" with Mom. We would drive to the Springs, shop for earrings and clothes at the mall, usually run some errands, and eat a special meal.
Going to the outlet mall in Castle Rock. Mom would set us loose and I would buy cassettes and CDs at the music store, jewelry and keychains at Claire's, and troll dolls at the Russ store.
The Wednesday night routine. During eighth grade, my dad was living in Missouri studying at the seminary, and my mom and brothers and I were in Colorado waiting for the house to sell. A dear church friend, Julie, was also a teacher at my school. On Wednesdays, she and I would leave school together, go shopping, eat dinner together, and then she'd drop me off at my mom's office or at the church for my confirmation classes. I still treasure those Wednesdays.
Hanging out at Mom's work -- the library. I would go to her office, grab some candy and cash, head to the café and get a soda and animal crackers, then scour the Babysitters' Club collection and do my homework.
Dubbing music onto cassette tapes from my brothers' CDs and the radio.
Oldies music. Also Christian rock.
Shooting hoops in our driveway and the neighbors'.
Running through sprinklers. Duh.
Snow days.
Guys, I'm going to stop. I could keep going. Super happy I had such a good childhood. Very lucky to have been so loved and cared for. XOX

Thursday, February 16, 2017


List the ways that you feel lucky
I have a cat who loves to be right next to or on top of me, and he purrs a lot. He also -- generally speaking -- likes other people. And he's mighty cute.
I have a boyfriend who's so patient I can't understand it, to be honest. He's so smart it sometimes makes me mad, and he has great fun hair and he's tall and sometimes wears red pants. When he walks into a room/bar/party/restaurant, I feel relief and calm and comfort. I can talk to him about pretty much anything, and he hugs me and makes me laugh at all the right moments. He can make popcorn on the stove, and he's willing to do most anything with me -- go to concerts of bands he's never heard, travel to the four winds, or wear Halloween costumes that were my brainchild. (He's told me I'm on my own when it comes to Celine Dion concerts and viewing Fuller House, however.)
My parents were, and are, beyond supportive. My whole life they have called me by pet names -- Mitsubishi, Bucket, Girlfriend, Peach, Honey -- and told me how cute and pretty I am. They have put oodles of money toward my education, food, shelter, car, phone, etc. They love that I am a writer and compliment my work; they could choose to be terrified about my financial future as an artist, but instead they think I'm on the right path. I know that I am welcome at any time to move back under their roof, and in fact lived there until I was 25. Though my mental health journey has been very different from their own, they have always applauded my decisions to go to therapy and to take medication. Mom sends me care packages several times a year, and cards with Starbucks money in them. She hems and repairs my clothes. Dad just gets me, because we are frighteningly alike. When they were in town last weekend, they bought my meals and paid for museum parking and train tickets and bought me books and a watermelon-painted suitcase from a thrift shop. Together, they show me what 40 years of love looks like. Thanks to them, I know that long-term love exists, and can exist in others, myself included.
I have a working body. I can walk, bend without too much creaking of joints, see, taste, hear, smell, and feel.
I have a car that still runs and is paid off.
I don't feel like I have to try hard to make friends. Strangers are often willing to talk to me, and I love that, because I love talking to them.
I am educated beyond the amount required by our government. And I have had some wonderful teachers and mentors throughout my days.
I have a full time job with benefits.
I have never been unable to pay rent.
Don't even get me started about my friends. My closest friends in this world live in Boston, Chicago, Memphis, Seattle, and Kansas City, but their distance does not take away from how loved they make me feel. It is such a privilege to care for them -- to hold their memories and insecurities and happinesses and fears; to know their idiosyncrasies and have a good grasp of the kind of things they need to hear at various times. Beyond those five superstars, I have SO many people who make me happy and who think I'm worth spending time with. I have an amazing family, plus friends who are family.
I'm content in the city where I live. I never have to check the weather, I rarely deal with gray days. There are so many places to get tasty eats and drinks, sing karaoke, shoot pool, blah blah blah.
Bethel! I love my church for so many reasons. I have been embraced by the people there, and they continue to embrace others who walk in the door. It's not a closed off community, and it is a safe, happy space where I am eager to be.
Brothers. I have three kind, funny, smart, creative brothers. They are not afraid to be affectionate with me, to say "I love you" out loud. They are wonderful to their wives and children, and put me up in their warm, much-cleaner-than-mine homes when I am visiting. I can call them for comfort and laughs, they will pray with and for me, and I'm just so lucky to be in regular touch with them as an adult -- I'm glad that during our past tiffs, we didn't tear each other to shreds.
I was introduced to a faith that made me interested in believing in someone bigger than all of this. And, thank the Lord, I was never pushed in a way that turned me fully off from it. I've had doubts, I've been extremely judgy of churches and church people, I've been bored, worried, etc. during my hanging around church and church things -- Bible reading, small groups. Even though I haven't "felt God's presence" a lot, or at least not in a way that I recognize, I have lost count of the times when I have been rescued by people and words of encouragement and warm meals and pets and laughs, and I have felt that that's been provided for me not just by the human vehicles who deliver them, but by someone who orchestrates it all. And I like that.
I have a large personal music collection.
I have a library card, and several of books on my own shelves. I am literate, and that is a lucky thing.
And, finally, I feel lucky that I feel called to write. And I feel lucky that people read my writing. There was a long time where I didn't see either of those things coming. And here they are.