The Problem With Doing Anything At All

I’m going to try and keep this relatively short because we all have a weekend to get to.

The problem with doing anything at all, I mean anything, is not that you will fail or that you will get rejected. It’s not even that you are afraid. I’m not going to tell you that fear is disguised as courage or that being afraid is the first step to taking the next one.

The problem with doing anything at all is that you are always, alwaysalways going to be criticized or judged. Or at the very least, commented upon.

So, why do anything at all? Wouldn’t it be nice to stop telling yourself that you are going to make it and be okay? Stop making art, stop writing, stop studying, stop working, stop speaking, stop everything? Because who wants to incur the wrath of the crowd? Who wants to be the one against many? Or even a few against another few? Who wants to go against the current? Who wants to put themselves out there? That isn’t our instinct or our nature. Our internal response is to put our heads down and protect our own. And no matter what the movies tell you, it’s tough to be on the outside looking in. It’s hard to be different. Truly, it’s hard to be anything at all.

Why do it, then? Why press on and on and on writing, making art, conducting experiments, teaching, studying, breathing, falling in love, running, making purchases, heading out on a Friday night, starting a family, getting into an argument, getting out of bed? Why do anything at all?

Because of the simple fact that we started with. You are always going to be judged and criticized and commented upon. This should empower you, not belittle you.

So, start there next time you are too afraid to do something, anything at all. Assume that people will talk, and people will judge, and people will comment, People are difficult that way. They want to break you down into bite size pieces. They want you to be digestible. They don’t want to see anything they don’t have the words to describe. They don’t want to see you in a new light. They want to see you in the old light, with worse lighting. It’s nothing personal.

This isn’t to say that people are necessarily bad. Quite the opposite. Most people are mostly good. However, we are all human, and we wouldn’t have survived this long if we weren’t a little afraid of what other people thought of us. Rejection of any kind once meant the inability to pass on our genes or our legacy. Keeping everyone in line and following the rules is how we all survive. Notice I said survive, and not thrive.

My message for the weekend: don’t ever think, “but what will people say?” People will talk if you are there or not. They’ve done so for thousands of years, and they aren’t going to stop. But you can start with that notion and work your way up. Ask yourself, if people are going to talk, and I can’t control what they say, what will my reaction be? To say nothing? To hope they go away? To lash out? To retort? That’s your decision. But never, ever stop yourself from doing something because someone will have something to say about it. In that vein, don’t do something simply to get a positive reaction, either. Block people out entirely. Chances are they’ve already made up their minds about what they are going to say next before you’ve even made your next move.

And when I say people, I mean it in the most abstract and concrete sense. Society, “They” are going to tell you what to do. But so are your parents, your well-intentioned best friends, your partners, your professors, your boss.

And people are going to be mean. And people are going to occasionally mean the mean things they say. And everything is going to get lost in translation over the Internet because words written on a screen have no inflection. But know this: I am screaming the next sentence at you.

Don’t. Let. A N Y O N E. Make. You. Feel. Like. You. Aren’t. Made. Of. Stardust.

Because you are. And you are made of plenty of other great stuff that makes up our cosmos and our brilliant, resilient earth.

You will be judged and criticized and commented upon. And you will be stronger and smarter and better for it.

In the end, you shouldn’t arm yourself against people. Breathe them in, but also exhale them out. You should simply let them wash over you like ocean waves. It’s up to you what stays and what is brought out with the tide.


5 Books You Don’t Actually Have to Read Before You Die

These books are good, but they aren’t that good.

As a bookworm, I’m a connoisseur of good books. But for me, a good book is not limited to its story alone. Good books also have good plot lines, characters, fonts, smells, cover art, etc. However, I like to get some help when discovering NEW good books.

I ususally take recommendations from friends and from society when, and only when, the hype has ebbed on certain titles. But I also occasionally take to the Internet in search of reviews and critiques. Unfortunately, what I come across the most are the all-inclusive 100 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE lists.

I believe these lists to be a bit melodramatic. I mean, what if you’re on 99 when you kick the bucket? How unfulfilled would you feel? Well, I’m here to say, “lower your expectations.” The truth is society has done a good job of spoiling or summarizing some of these famous titles. So much so that it is really unnecessary to read the entire thing. So, go ahead. Skip these, and go read some of the other titles that you simply must read because they will change your life. 

By the way, my tongue is positioned firmly in my cheek. So, if I tell you to skip one of your favorite books of all time, it’s nothing personal. It’s just books. Besides, only you can decide what you actually end up downloading to your e-reader. I’m just trying to do you a solid.

#5Ulysses by James Joyce

I know, I know blasphemy of all blasphemy! I write a blog post professing my undying love for the man, and then tell you not to read one of his masterpieces. However, I must stand by my decision to love James Joyce, but not Ulysses. Joyce has been fairly candid about the book’s subject matter; he simply wanted to cram it full of allusions, which he was successful at. Yet, there are books on the annotations for Ulysses that are longer than the text itself. So, skip this one. If you must read it, read it once. Not the 45 times that your literature professor will encourage you to read it so you can “soak it all in.”

#4-Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

We’ve been there, done that, and Hugh Jackman has starred in it. Not only has the play been reinvented and recast numerous times, but few fans rarely read the book after they’ve seen the production. And really, why would you? You’ve sat through what can only be a 3 or 4 hour play or movie at minimum (you cut 5 songs, and I’m still sitting in the theatre 2 hours later!) and then you’re going to ask me to read a book that contains over 530,000 words for text-to-stage analysis??? I think I’ll let the Les Miserables be miserable and move onto something with a bit more guesswork for the ending. (Spoiler alert: everyone cries or dies.) 

#3-The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

This feels totally wrong to be saying this, but uh, you can skip this one, too. I love Middle Earth, but when I read The Hobbit I found no reason to book my tickets to New Zealand’s Hobbiton. Tolkien is a bit heavy-handed with about everything he does, which includes lots of description and explanations that may make you jump back and forth between the top and the bottom of the page to remember who we’re talking about and where we are in the story. I like a little bit of sensory detail in my reading, but his sentences are more winding than the road that Bilbo Baggins takes to find the ring. It’s weird; all Tolkien fans realize that his writing could be better and clearer, and yet everyone is still swept up in the story and the world he has created. Including myself. So, with this one, I’m not saying you shouldn’t read it. I’m just saying you don’t have to. If books were body language, this Bilbo Baggins adventure would be a shrug for me.

#2-Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

To be honest, this one is a little hazy for me, and I don’t really remember the details or the plot. All I know is that I read it in high school, completed a book project for it, and continued to live my life. That’s just it; I wasn’t overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the story. It didn’t invade my consciousness and set up camp; it didn’t disturb my universe. I read it, I crossed it off the list, and that was that. If you have an affinity for coming of age novels with sassy main characters that curse for no real reason but to seem tough and mature, then go ahead and pick this one up. Maybe Salinger is over my head, but he was out of his mind, so we’re even.

#1-Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

I don’t even like saying this title aloud because it gives me horrible flashbacks of this book and its equally horrible spark notes. It takes place in the heart of the Congo during the Colonial period, which was a time that was rife with ignorance and stupidity on both accountable sides. So, Joseph Conrad felt not only an urge but a life’s calling to take this depressing little point in history and drape dark curtains around it. I had to watch the ending of The Notebook to feel a little bit happier after I read this book. The only thing cool that came out of this one was the literary term anthropomorphism in which the setting or scenery is given human qualities to the point that the very trees become characters in the novel. But please, don’t read it for the neat terminology. And if you are going to read it, have some chocolate on your nightstand. Or don’t because dementors would be able to cheer you better than this book ever could.

Ironically, I used some titles from 100 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE lists to create this blog post. The bright side is that there were plenty of books on these lists that should be read before your dead. So, like I said, tongue is still firmly planted in cheek. But then again, I’d like to think I’ve saved you some time and space on your book shelves all the same. And hey, if there’s an afterlife, these books would definitely work as numbers 101, 102, 103, 104, and 105 on the list 200 BOOKS TO READ AFTER YOU’RE ALREADY DEAD. 


5 Times I Fell in Love with James Joyce

Okay, the title of this blog post should actually be “5 Times I Fell in Love with James Joyce and Was Also Sort Of Creeped Out By Him” but brevity is the soul of wit. So, I shortened the title (and it’s still not that funny.)

On June 15th of this year, we celebrated Dubliners’ (notice the lack of the “the”) centennial anniversary. That’s 100 brilliant years of Joyce’s collection of 15 short stories that express themes of loss, nationality, and awkward pubescence. I can talk about Joyce’s work rather nonchalantly now, but that’s because I’ve wedged some time between me and my undergraduate thesis. I dedicated a solid four months (when we had about eight months to write) to the small volume. In all, I wrote 22 pages about two stories from the collection, the first and the last. I was incredibly proud of what I had weaved and teased from the stories when I was finished with them, but I could not go near any of Joyce’s work after that.

But what was my initial attraction to JJ’s Dubliners? I had read the stories in high school, and they had influenced me. Probably not like other authors had, like Hemingway or Tim O’Brien. I enjoy books that have a bit more going on under the surface. But Joyce’s work seemed to pull back the veil on reality for me, if it did not also submerge me into his own version of things. He wrote people how they were and illustrated their dark underbellies. To this day, I can’t go to a funeral without thinking about Joyce’s The Dead. And so, unironically, Joyce haunted me throughout my literary career and my life.

But before I reiterate my entire thesis, let’s check out some interesting tidbits about the man who would come to openly hate and champion his own country and who would become one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

#5-He Really, Really Loved His Wife

Joyce loved Nora Barnacle (what a name!) but like most writers he suffered from a debilitating sense of negative self-worth. As a result, he was an incredibly protective and jealous husband. So, why did Barnacle keep him around? It might have to do with these very NSFW (not safe for work) love letters he wrote for her. Read at your own risk. Remember, somethings can’t be unseen or unread. For whatever reason, this makes me love him more. Not that I want to be the object of his rather explicit affection, I just like a person who says what they mean. Especially when a writer who can do that.

#4-Joyce Was Very Persistent

While every writer experiences some sort of rejection, Joyce seemed to have enjoyed a fair amount of it in comparison. Dubliners was submitted a total of 18 times to 15 different publishers (!!!). Mostly, the publishers believed his work to be too obscene. Joyce tried to stand up for himself by asserting his poetic license, but many of the publishers would not budge, even when he omitted several of the offensive instances in question. MentalFloss does Joyce’s publishing journey justice. In the end, Joyce was able to preserve the integrity of his work. And for that, we cannot fault him, but we can celebrate him.

#3-His Last Words Were Rather Profound

Now, this is a little unfair. All last words are profound because they are the last things you ever say. If you don’t show emotional depth and insight on your death bed, then where will you? However, Joyce’s final question, “Does nobody understand?” seems to accurately capture his entire life. I think he was an incredibly troubled man, and he used his writing to help people comprehend. Not him, per se, I don’t think he wanted to be put under a microscope, and I don’t think he was asking if anyone understood him in that really annoying, cliched teenager sense. But rather, he wanted people to acknowledge their own follies and shortcomings, as individuals and as a population. Not exactly the person you’d invite to a party, but not everyone can be charming. Actually, it’s what I love most about Joyce. He was what he was, and he was absolutely unapologetic for it.

#2-He Asked Hemingway to Beat People Up for Him

One account of Joyce recalls the fact he would pick fights at bars, and Hemingway would finish them. Due to his frail frame and his rather bookish personality, Joyce was hardly the one to initiate violence, but that doesn’t mean he would keep his mouth shut. You would think that this would make me dislike Joyce because he seems to be fearless in every other aspect of his life. But for me, this fact gives him a bit of dimension. Like most writers, he wasn’t the hero of his own life, but unlike most writers, he didn’t seek to write books with main characters bearing similarities to himself but with much bigger brawn and a lot more ladies circling. Joyce saw things as they were. And if he saw that you had about 3 inches on him, he would call Hemingway over for the intimidation factor.

#1-And He Once Said This, “Your battles inspired me–not the obvious material battles but those that were fought and won behind your forehead.” 

We are all our biggest enemies, and history tells us it was no different for Joyce. This quote speaks to the man he was, valuing intelligence over sheer might, but I think it also represents what kind of man he was when no one else was looking. He was troubled, but tender. In this quote, we can all relate, and we can recognize that we all have a little bit of Joyce inside of us, staring out.

There you have it. The reasons I completely adore James Joyce but sort of abhor his behavior. He wasn’t a particularly kind man, but he was a character. In life, sometimes the best thing you can have is a bit of personality and some quirks. I’m not saying he wasn’t a troublemaker, I’m just saying he’s my troublemaker. Cheers, JJ.

Why Monday is Not the Worst Day of the Week

When we say we have a case of the Mondays, we mean that we are unable to rid ourselves of some invisible “funk.” We drop things, we can’t seem to wake up, and productivity is a 12 letter word. (Yes, I had to count the letters in “productivity” 3 times. It’s important to be a beacon of truth when you run a blog.)

Everyone, not just Garfield, hates Mondays. They represent that transition back to work, back to reality, away from kicking back and relaxing. Mondays are like a reset button on the entire week when we would rather hit snooze.

So, why do we hate Mondays? Well, why not? For every reason I just mentioned and more.

Yet, to me, Mondays are a scapegoat. Sure, it’s a little difficult to get back into the swing of things after a long weekend, but Mondays are also that time when you can allow yourself to mess up. It’s Monday, you say, like that explains everything. Blame mercury in retrograde, the weather, or even the broken coffee machine for your moment of forgetfulness or clumsiness. But Monday is an excuse, for an entire day, to give yourself a break. Your high expectations and standards for perfection can wait for Tuesday. In fact, I say we have more Mondays. More time to let ourselves make mistakes.

Now, if Mondays aren’t the villains of our week, what is? If Mondays aren’t wearing the curly mustache and dastardly cape, then who is? Well, it’s a day you probably aren’t expecting. Friday is innocent, and so is hump day (seriously, who thought of that? No, wait, nevermind. I don’t want that factoid in my brain.)

Is it Thursday? The day that feels like Friday but isn’t? Nope.

It’s Sunday. And here’s why. 

The problem with Sunday is that it’s deceitful. You wake up slow, you eat a full breakfast, you deliver yourself into the hands of God by singing church hymns, and you take your time with everything. Sunday is disguised like the rest of the weekend with rest and less stress. However, Sunday holds you to all of your promises you made during the week and the weekend. When the partying ends on Friday and Saturday, you’re left with all of your errands on Sunday. And guess what? So is everyone else.

And yet, this is not the main reason I hate Sundays. No, for whatever reason, I experience some sort of ennui, or soul sickness, on Sundays. Maybe it’s because I’m well-rested and instead of running around like a chicken with my head cut off (excuse the violent and cliched imagery), I have time to muse and reflect. This inevitably makes me want to question my life’s right before I have to go back to work the next day. And usually, it makes me want to rearrange my bedroom furniture. So, I’m burning incense and burning through pages in my journal and moving my bed closer to the window for a better view of “the world.”

Or maybe Sundays are bad because they give you the 20/20 hindsight of an entire week with the added bonus of positioning you for a clean slate, an entirely new week. And in doing so, Sundays make you ask yourself: what did I do last week? What do I have to accomplish this week? And although you might have concrete answers for those questions, something somewhere in between the crossword puzzle and your mug of steaming coffee starts to nag at you. Maybe it just seeps in.

We think of Sunday as a day where we can be and think for ourselves. But it isn’t. It’s just another day where we have a routine that makes us feel like we’re getting somewhere. Like we’re making some sort of progress, even though we’re just walking deeper into the circuit we’ve carved for ourselves. And while that may be depressing, it’s important. Because if we didn’t make these tracks time and time again, we wouldn’t realize when we are free of them. And so Sunday is sort of an emotional black hole, where you encounter all of the feelings you’ve been trying to drink and smoke away on Friday and Saturday. And believe me, all of those emotions do have their own gravitational pull, which renders them more similar to a black hole than you realize. Sunday is the end and the beginning of something. It’s a liminal point, like a sunrise or a sunset. You’re sort of poised between two worlds on a Sunday. I mean, did you ever realize that even when you have off on Monday you still sort of feel like something is missing? Even when you are on summer break as a student, don’t Sundays make you feel like you still have homework? It’s because Sundays are meant for deep thought and dancing with skeletons that have been falling out of all of the closets for week.

Sundays are hateful because they make us accountable for things. Things we’d rather leave to the dark corners of the bars we visit. Things we’d rather left unsaid.

But if Sundays don’t launch you into the week ahead, then you aren’t doing them right. (I haven’t been.) Sundays are going to come, and Mondays are going to follow. For the rest of your existence. So, you just need to gather all of Sunday in your arms and take the step. Sundays will make you feel like you are falling off a cliff, but don’t worry. Mondays are soft and full of feathers. They’ll catch you, set you down on two feet. You’ll get back into the swing of things if you embrace your Sundays and your Mondays. Just in time for Tuesday to knock you down with a dirty right hook to the jaw.

Reading Winter’s Tale in a Heat Wave

Summer officially arrives on Saturday, but the heat and humidity have already unpacked their bags, and they’re here to stay.

The irony is that I am reading a book called Winter’s Tale, which is the very epitome of a tome, weighing in around 750 pages. It’s an epic tale that makes me feel like I’m working out my brain and my muscles (simply because I am trying to hold all 750 pages in front of my face for long periods of time.) The reason I’ve been working out my brain while reading this novel is because it is one of those rare books that not only contains several new vocabulary words for my digestion on every page, but these vocabulary words actually make me want to look them up. It’s good when you can’t get around a word in a book. When knowing the meaning of that one word means that you will understand the entire tone and intent of the author. Most books I can just infer and context clue my way around, but this one has challenged me. It’s difficult, and I like it.

The reason I’m drawing your attention to this specific book is that, since Bailey Dailey is now in full swing, I’m also updating the “What I’m Reading” section of my blog, and Mark Helprin’s work will be my first focus. It’s a little difficult because my pace is usually about a book a week if I’m not too busy, but I want to continue to highlight one special book a month that has really caught my attention and is one that I want my people to know about. (That’s you. You’re my people.)

And vice versa! If you read something that I should know about, please tell me! Drop a line or a comment, and I’ll pick it back up.

Okay, so I know I’m a little late to the party with Winter’s Tale. Actually, we all are. The movie for Winter’s Tale was produced in 2014, but the book was published in 1983. Maybe we were waiting for the technology to advance or maybe we were waiting for the hunky Colin Farrell to hit puberty and play Peter Lake. At any rate, this is a damn good book, and I am sure the movie will be likewise. Granted, Helprin is a bit heavy-handed with the adjectives and descriptions, which probably accounts for the 700 page extension, but he gets the job, occupation, career, objective, and goal done. (No, seriously. This is occasionally how some of the paragraphs read. But what’s a little overkill among friends?) Hemingway he is not, but he doesn’t pretend to be, either. He just wants to tell a good story.

I laugh sometimes because at its origin, Bailey Dailey was supposed to be a book blog. I was supposed to update daily with my favorite reads, quotes, or fictional characters. However, as I’ve said before, I’m not able to limit myself to one idea. Although, I am glad that there are niche bloggers out there, because where else would I get my fix for “things organized neatly” or even “horrible grammar mistakes seen around town”? A niche blogger I am not. But I read good books, and I am happy to share my findings with you. So, keep checking back every month for your summer, winter, fall, and spring reads. And pick up a Winter’s Tale now. Right now, I could use a little chill…


5 Weirdly Pleasurable Activities

Is there anything that really compares to the first sunburn of the summer? It’s usually awkward; a perfect inverse portrait of you wearing sunglasses or the bathing suit tan line that makes you realize how eenie weenie that bikini really was. The burn turns a vibrant red color and has its own heartbeat come nighttime. Then, the next day, you kind of look okay. The angry red has subsided, and your skin has a bit of a glow to it. Fast forward to the day after and you realize you’re peeling. Snowflakes made of you slough off and onto your clothes.

You’re immune to sunburn, you say? Well, you’re rather lucky in terms of the gene pool, but you are rather unlucky in another department: the weirdly pleasurable activity department. Let’s explore this strange utopia, shall we?

1. Peeling dead skin/Popping pimples

I’ve been told that both of these activities are not good to do and both are sort of gross. However, there is something endlessly satisfying about peeling a sheath of dead skin or popping a particularly stubborn pimple. I think lancing blisters also falls under this category, but that might just be me.

The Reason: People like to feel a sense of accomplishment. Before computers, I think popping a zit was the closest we could get to “instant gratification.”

2. Snapping Bubble Wrap

Way less repulsive than the first activity, everyone can experience some pleasure or relieve some stress by popping bubble wrap. But did you know “Bubble Wrap” is a brand name? It’s just like Xerox, Band-Aid, or Post-It! Weirdly enough, I feel especially satisfied when a bubble burst is particularly loud. Feel the urge to pop some bubble wrap right now? Do it here, virtually.

The Reason: Maybe bubble wrap is a metaphor; we let the air out to let our frustration out. Or, it’s just really, really fun.

3. Crunching Fall Leaves

Ah, the crisp fall air and the even crisper fallen leaves! When the trees drop their leaves in Autumn, I get a little sad to see the bare branches. But when I look down and see the dried, crackly leaves, I feel like a little kid again. It is very pleasurable to step on an especially brittle specimen. Like this one:


OOOOH, YES. SO CRUNCHY! (And a truly beautiful photo.)

The Reason: I have no idea. Crunchy leaves are a mystery all on their own.

4. Wiggling a Lose Tooth

Loose teeth are one of those weird pleasure pain moments. It hurts so good, sort of thing. The more you wiggle it, the more you sort of feel weird and good for doing it, which also describes about 95% of the moves I see on a dance floor in a club.

The Reason: I’m just guessing here, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that your body wants to get rid of the tooth, so it has to make it sort of interesting and desirable for you. I don’t know. Ask the tooth fairy? Or Tom Hank’s character in Castaway.

5. Smelling Books

I thought this was only me, but it turns out that many book lovers enjoy smelling their books. Don’t believe me? Check out this book perfume. It’s a bit pricey and a bit too strange, even for me, but for some book lover out there or lover of said book lover, this is paradise.

The Reason: It’s often said that there is some kind of chemical in paper that degrades and makes a book smell good. But the truth is, it has more to do with environmental factors and how the book is handled. Unfortunately, some books don’t smell all that comforting. They smell foul. So, be a cautious sniffer!

Need more weirdly pleasurable activities? Check out this Cracked article, and post your favorites in the comments!

9 Things I Learned From Being in a 9 Year Relationship

Yes, you read that right.

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 9 years. Although dating hardly seems like the right word after all this time. Is “going steady” still a thing?

I know. Our relationship is as old as a young child, and we’ve been dating longer than most married couples are, well, married.

We met in middle school, began our relationship in high school, and stayed together through college. He wrote in my middle school year book, “will you go out with me?” and we never looked back.

But now I am looking back. On all of the lessons we’ve learned along the way. Maybe you’ll learn from our mistakes or maybe you’ll just laugh at them.

Thing #1

Never give or take relationship advice.

As you can imagine, I’ve been asked for a lot of relationship advice throughout the years. Unfortunately, I gave out a lot of it. That is, until I realized that it doesn’t really do anyone any good. You are different than me, thus your relationship will be completely different than mine. What will be your line in the sand is just my Tuesday. Your final straw will be my latest mistake.

So, really, the argument of this blogpost just collapsed in on itself. If you’re still here when the dust clears, go onto #2.

Thing #2

Relationships are hard. Make it easier by dating your best friend.

Like I said, I don’t give out relationship advice. But if I did, I would tell you to date your best friend. Tim and I work well together because at the end of the day, I’m still excited to tell him how my day went. He shares my interests and my goals, but he isn’t afraid to disagree with me.

Thing #3

Sometimes, people that are completely different than you make the best partners in life.

People have argued with me on this point, which also supports my thesis about why relationship advice is completely bogus. But I believe it. Tim is a chemist, and I’m a writer. Our brains are wired differently, and when we do argue, well. To put it in his terms, we can go a bit nuclear. And sure, there are times we don’t see eye to eye. (Mostly, because I am a foot shorter than him…) But I can accept his opinion, and he can accept mine because we respect each other. Respect is not something I see in a lot of relationships these days. Tim and I try not to talk over each other (although it happens), and we try to support each other, as a result. Most days, if we give each other the time to blow off steam, we can avoid an impending argument.

I once heard that soul mates are not the people who are exactly like us, but the people who make us better versions of ourselves. Most people cannot even be in the same room as their soul mate because it is so hard for people to accept their own flaws. Tim is a rare soul mate, who pushes me, albeit gently, to be the best person I can be. We like to think that we knew each other in a past life but were unable to be together for some reason. This is why we’ve been given so much time together in this life. (Cue the “awww’s.”)

Thing #4

Every relationship experiences growing pains.

I think the hardest thing about dating someone during high school is that we are all trying to find ourselves. Yet, Tim is one of those rare people who has always known who he was. I had a pretty good lock on my identity during my high school years, but my center of gravity started to drift when I got to college. I felt the need to reinvent myself, which caused a lot of unforeseen heartbreak.

Kids, don’t be afraid to break up for a little while, if you have to. Sometimes, you need to figure out your own situation without dragging someone else into it. Trust me, love will find a way. There are too many success stories of people who went their separate ways only to end up back together a few years down the line. So, if it doesn’t feel right, try to take a break. Tim and I tried to take one, but we found it was much easier to keep each other in our lives while we went through the rough patch then to be pushed away. What can we say? We’re masochists.

Thing #5

Don’t force it.

I can’t say this enough. I’ve seen too many couples try to “work it out” when they are really two soggy puzzle pieces: they may have fit together once, but they don’t anymore, and that’s okay. Sometimes we grow out of people, like old clothes. This is natural. If it happens, don’t fight it. Appreciate what the person has brought into your life and kindly show them the door. If it feels like you are truly unhappy with any part of your relationship, besides the little things (he/she snores, he/she leaves the seat up, etc.) then you should get out of there.

Thing #6

Don’t have a lot of expectations for your relationship.

I used to wear myself out. Every anniversary, I would wait for Tim to ride in on a rented white horse to take me to a duck pond where we could spend a moonlit night feeding the fowl. When this didn’t happen, I would get upset.

Finally, I realized I was looking at everything the wrong way. Tim works hard to show me how much he appreciates me in his life every other day of the year. I started to realize that anniversaries were a special day for me, but for Tim, they were just another chance to prove his love, just like any other day. I’ve accepted that he isn’t going to ride in on a white horse, but we still have a rule that he must make me/buy me a card on our anniversary. For a few anniversaries, when we couldn’t drive, we didn’t even get to see each other. Now, I’ve learned to appreciate any time we spend together. Try to remember that the other person is probably doing the best they can with what they have. Cut them a little slack.

Thing #7

Be vulnerable and communicate.

I don’t really believe in the “your my other half” business. I believe in being my own person while the other person is their own person. If you can be yourself together, then it’s perfect. However, when you try to hold back your emotions, or you don’t communicate exactly what you want, feelings can and will get hurt. You really want that white horse? Tell him/her.

Thing #8

Check your pride at the door.

I see a lot of relationships fail because one person is really concerned with being right all of the time. While we have an element of healthy competition in our relationship, Tim and I don’t let it get the best of us. We begrudgingly say the other one is right, this time, and we move on. Instead of repeating “I’m right” in your head, maybe try listening to what the other person is saying for a change of pace. I believe people show their true colors through conversation, but sometimes we are too busy thinking of our reply and we miss it.

Thing #9

Be the other person’s cheerleader.

This is something that I didn’t know how to do until I met Tim. I’m sure dating a writer can be really scary at times. We want fame and fortune, but we are usually full of self-doubt. Also, I expected Tim to write me poetry for the first 4 years of our relationship because I thought, “I can, why can’t he?” But he’s always supported me, no matter what. He doesn’t ask why, but how. He always reminds me of what I am capable of, even when I don’t see it. He’s proud of who I am and what I am going to become. Most days, everyone just needs someone to believe in what they can do and who they are.

I love you, Tim. I always have and I always will. I’m not sure I deserve you, but I’m going to spend the rest of my life proving that I do.

Here’s to another 9 years…

Are We an Obsessed Society?

As I bought my tickets to Comic Con this weekend, I began to think about obsessions.

This is my first Comic Con because I learned long ago to keep a significant distance between myself and my heroes. I am only going to see Matt Smith and Karen Gillan because I am obsessed (there’s that word, again) with Doctor Who and simply being in the same room as the pair, maybe even getting to see Matt flip his floppy hair out of his eyes or hear Karen with her deep brogue and even deeper red hair (maybe I should just call them the hair pair???) will be enough to keep me in a reverie for years to come. However, I didn’t opt for the photo op with my time-travelling role models. After a decidedly awkward run-in with one of my favorite comedians previously, I vowed to never meet any famous people face-to-face again (let’s just say, I freaked out a man whose act is completely built around his deranged childhood.)

Since then, I like to keep celebrities swathed in a mist of mystery that only television and film can truly shroud them in. And while I believe that Matt Smith and Karen Gillan will be perfect angels, I don’t trust myself to NOT say something awkward, strange, or horror of horrors, something that could be misinterpreted as rude. As a writer, you would think I would have attained some command of the English language, but in reality, I have no idea what is going to come out of my mouth next. And what’s more, when something unsavory comes out of said mouth, I am condemned to replay the awful memory in my head for months, even years, at a time.

And so, I wonder: what is it about our brains that makes us relive both wonderful and awful memories? Are we gluttons for punishment or lovers of the same? Actually, I think we are a bit of both. Repetition carves out our neural pathways, like a river rushes past a cliff only to chisel it down piece by piece, little by little. This constant flow of repetition allows us to understand things better, even encourages us to see patterns. But we can associate repetition with negative acts or processes as well. Whatever the stimuli, we will have a fairly strong reaction if we encounter it time and time again.

I know what you’re thinking. Duh, Bailey. We’ve all heard of Pavlov. Get on with it. It’s Monday, I don’t have time for your shenanigans.

And to that I say: okay, okay. Now that we understand repetition and pattern-making in our lives, how do we define obsession? Is an obsession a pattern but to the nth degree? Times a million, times a million, squared? Do animals simply have another name for it, “instinct,” and is it a gift from evolution? How many times do we have to revisit something to make it an obsession?

Here’s where my Communications degree gets put to good use: In today’s society, our paths to our obsessions have been sped up.

Let’s follow in the Doctor’s footsteps and time travel for a second. Let’s go back, oh say, about 100 years ago. The average life expectancy was in the late 40’s, and 2 out of 10 American adults could not read or write. But ah, the ones who could. Think of what stories meant to them! Books became an adventure, a moral, a comforting reality, all rolled into one. These 8 out of 10 adults might read until the pages of their books were softened with sweat and dog-eared to a comical level. How the words, after a time, would simply come to their minds. Perhaps they would not even have to read the page but could stare off into the distance and never miss a scene or portion of the plot, never miss a word. How well their brains served them, creating images out of words.

Surely, the lucky inhabitants of today’s age still experience an ancestor of that joy when reading.Yet, we live in what is easily called an “immersive society.” We read the book and we watch the movie, allowing both to create different images of the characters for us. This is something that I’ve written about before. But I was missing a few more steps in my previous musings about this topic: we also watch the sequel, we also watch the television show, we also watch the spin-off, we also listen to the soundtrack. We become completely immersed in what we are interested in.

Take my obsession with How to Train Your Dragon. I not only own a few Toothless figurines and the original movie, but I have the Christmas special, a few episodes of the television show, both soundtracks, and the ability to log onto a blogging site to connect with people who love and adore the film as much as I do. Not to mention what we can do with today’s animation, where the colors are so vivid and the characters are so minutely drawn that we are plunged down to the deepest depths of the film and never let back up until the lights come up in the theater. We have learned the three-dimensional art of story telling through several different mediums, transmedia narratives. We can start a story in a comic book, which is transformed into a movie, which is transformed into a spin-off, which is transformed into a television show. Until we’re not really sure where it started, and there are few of us who have read or looked at the “source text.” And that carries through in all society; we have our heads down, oblivious to our surroundings, fully immersed. And what a fascinating time to be alive! We are only going to get better at manipulating our stories and our ideas, until we have obsessions piggy backing obsessions. We’ll have interests borne out of the most abstract tide pools.

So, am I excited for Comic Con? To come breathe the same air as with actors in a show that I wrote my senior thesis about? Sure. But really, I’m looking forward to seeing all the people who have taken the word “obsession” and painted it with day-glo. That’s right; the cosplayers. The people who stitch and slave over their own gorgeous costumes, the people who dress up and end up looking more like the actors than the actors themselves. Because these are the people who have turned their passion into an art. As a writer, or even as a human, we all must honor that level of dedication. Because the word “obsessed” doesn’t seem to cover it.

Do Adults Exist?


I am a recent graduate with a full-time job. At this time in my life, this is the oldest I’ve ever been (obviously) and the first time that I’ve ever felt like an adult (not so obvious). But am I an adult? Truly? You tell me. I wear a blazer, I drink tea daily, I complain about bills, I come home exhausted. Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat.

So, how did you know you weren’t a kid anymore? Did you realize it the first time you moved out (right before you moved back in)? Or did that familiar sense of dread and responsibility wash over you the first time you had to call and make your own doctor’s appointment? (Truly horrific.)

In many species in the animal kingdom, a child becomes an adult when it has reached sexual maturity. But in form, the adult is just a larger version of its younger self. Or, as Dylan Moran so poetically puts it: “You’re not really an adult at all. You’re just a tall child holding a beer, having a conversation you don’t understand.” And he’s absolutely right. On all parts. Except that height thing. I’ve always had a little bit of trouble with that.

So, really, I am a child of a height that is similar to a child’s actual height, holding a cider, (I don’t like beer) having a conversation that I not only do not understand, but I am not interested in.

How do I know this? How do I know I’m not an adult? Mostly because I have spent the last week absolutely ecstatic for the premiere of How to Train Your Dragon 2. I’ve listened to the score for 4 hours straight today, and I have teared up listening to it at least twice. Sure, all children’s movies are sort of designed with adults/parents in mind, but not enough to warrant me going to see the sequel at midnight, without a single child in tow. And if this were the only instance in which my immaturity has shined through like a lighthouse on a dark, dark sea, I might entertain the notion that I am working towards adulthood. I’m not there, but I’m getting there. I’m going out to sea.

But I’m not sure I want to keep going if the goal is adulthood. And you shouldn’t want to, either. I want to keep the shoreline in my sights.

I’m not here to pass judgement on you. I’m sure you enjoy your black coffee, and I’m sure you enjoy making your Excel spreadsheets. But when was the last time you truly felt something? Or were passionate about something? And I’m not saying that you need to like kid’s movies in order to be a kid. You simply have to acknowledge that you feel strongly about something. You simply need to put your own needs before others, just for an hour or two.

Don’t get me wrong; I have had positive experiences so far in “adulthood.” I get to go to bars, I get to call and order things from infomercials, and let’s not forget that I get to do what I love and get paid. But I’m not convinced that this is adulthood. I’m not even sure that true adults exist. I think people who are adults in every sense of the word aren’t really living, and therefore, they can’t exist.

The truth is, if you keep one foot in childhood, if you keep your sense of curiosity intact, if you keep your passions present in your life, you won’t really grow up. Not in the Peter Pan or Michael Jackson sense of the expression, but in a sense that matters.

In Memoriam

It has been 5 years since my grandfather’s passing. He died a few days before my high school graduation, which I believe was very symbolic, because he was the most intelligent man I know. It was as if he decided that he had nothing left to teach me, and that I had to keep learning on my own. He was one of the largest influences on my writing because he always believed in me. He celebrated and congratulated me on all my work. I miss him more than I can say. In honor of him, I want to repost one of the blogs I dedicated to him. May he always rest in peace.


The Man, The Legend

My grandfather was a stately, diplomatic man. He was once mayor of my small town, but always a lover of politics and knowledge. In an age before the internet, he was our Google and our Wikipedia. The dinner table would always fall silent when he would begin to talk about a particular topic. We’d always lean a little closer to hear what gem might spill out.

He was robust in appearance and in life. He was a great man, and an even better grandfather. Not only because he would slip $20 bills into our hands and call it “gas money” before we could drive, but because we respected him and admired him thoroughly.

Except for one thing that irked me. Every time we would leave his house, he would kiss my sister and I directly on the lips. Yes, you read that right: on. the. lips. When I asked my mother for an explanation for this behavior, because I was suddenly 16 and had already been kissed by my Pop-Pop, (oh my god, he might have been my first…) she simply shrugged and said, “It’s always been like that.” So, reluctant to ruffle his well-poised feathers, I puckered up for peck after peck, all the while hoping that I didn’t accidentally linger too long.

Maserati, Please?

But my grandfather was always teaching me something, always helping me to learn and to grow.

And I only recently realized that in this uncomfortable memory was a valuable lesson about love.

He kissed us on the lips because he didn’t want us to be confused about how he felt about us. He refused to give us social “air kisses” as friends might, and thankfully he did not put his tongue down our throat like a romantic partner could (try another blog for that kind of action.) He simply desired to convey his love in an unmistakable manner.

Sure, he could have bought us a Maserati (or two?) to produce the same effect. Such an effort would have eliminated any adult weirdness I may feel about the situation now. But that wasn’t his style and it isn’t mine. His intimacy as a no-nonsense man was meaningful in a way that a new car is not.

The Kicker in the Kisser

And really, when was the last time that YOU showed someone or something that you loved them that much? When was the last time you defied an awkward moment to remind someone that they meant something to you? (I’m looking at you, teenage boys, who hang up the phone without telling your mom you love her when you’re out with your friends.)

And when was the last time you knew how someone felt about you, without any worrying or questioning for hours after about their true feelings?

The problem is that we beat around the bush, tree and lots of other foliage simply to avoid being vulnerable or too personal with others. Days fold in and out and we forget to tell the people who matter most that we appreciate them. That we love them. We don’t think about not being able to see that person who we see everyday. But I assure you, that day will come when you can’t. And you will wish you loved them harder, held them closer and told them what they meant to you. I know I do. I miss my Pop-Pop everyday. Even his kisses.

So, here’s your chance. Get off this blog. And kiss the nearest person to you on the lips. Oh, it’s your mom? Good. She deserves your love the most.

Remember, be candid with your affection and you will never regret anything in this life.