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.