BaileyDailey is taking a brain break this week.
Check back next week for awesomeness to make up for it!
BaileyDailey is taking a brain break this week.
Check back next week for awesomeness to make up for it!
I saved the best for last. I know it isn’t cool to laugh at your own jokes, but this blog post made cackle. I think I should pervert more of the world’s classic literature. What do you think? Anyway, I’ll be back next week with more fresh scrapings from my brain (not literally) in the form of new posts.
Everything is better with zombies. (Okay, except for apocalypses. Then it just means things have taken a turn for the worst.)
But I’m still going to stand by the fact that most things are better with zombies. Which was my exact thought when I took another look at one of my favorite poems of all time: The Lady of Shalott by Lord Alfred Tennyson. It’s a rather dark poem, which centers around a lady from Shalott. She is cursed and cannot look directly out of her window at the nearest town, which is Camelot. Instead, she must look at a mirror to watch the daily happenings as a lonely bystander. That is, until she sees the hunky Lancelot. She then turns around in her tower, takes a good look, and dies. (Ladies, let me remind you. No man is that good looking. No matter what your magic mirror says.)
Well, I mean, she doesn’t die right away. She gets into a boat with her name on it and sails down (ironically) to Camelot so that all of the people of the town can gaze upon her (which is actually a huge metaphor for women in the media, if you ask me) and basically, Lancelot decides she’s pretty hot, ya know. Posthumously.
Or is it?
So, I thought this four part poem could use a fifth. I think all of you English majors (and anyone who has a sense of humor) will enjoy that I brought this poem into the 21st century. You could even say that I brought it back from the dead.
Ahem. Anyway, here is the last stanza of the original poem in case you forgot how that ended.
Don’t cover your ears. I promise this isn’t about Pharrell’s latest hit.
But another musician has a good question for you: Laura Marling. She asks, “When were you happy, and how long has that been?”
Well? Don’t let the good lady wait. How long has it been since you were happy?
If you’re looking at the ground, avoiding contact with this blog post because you can’t really remember the last time you were happy, I don’t blame you. And if you can remember when you were happy, but you’re ashamed because it’s been awhile, I don’t blame you either.
Because here it is, straight no chaser: we put too much pressure on ourselves to be happy. And then, when we are, it’s hard to pinpoint why.
Throughout your day, you experience a lot of emotions. A range, a wealth, a deluge. And they span the Richter scale of negativity and positivity (not necessarily in that order. Sometimes it’s more like positive, negative, negative, negative, positive, negative, positive, sleep). We collect feelings like a deck of playing cards: Stress, confidence, panic, sheer panic, confusion, delight, etc. And all of those feelings get pushed aside because someone has told you that you should be happy, all the time. Because if you’re happy, everything will be alright.
But happy is like anything else. Getting skinny won’t solve all of your confidence problems. Getting rejected from a job or from a love interest does not mean you’re the absolute worst. And likewise, being happy won’t fix all of your problems.
You just have to have a positive outlook most of the time about most of your life. Everyone gets down, everyone wants to employ a fetal position sometimes, everyone has an Achilles heel that when pinched turns you into the Incredible Hulk when you’re usually like Hello Kitty. But, somehow, everyone gets through it. And somehow, you do too.
So, let’s get technical. (Talk nerdy to me).
The definition for “happy” that you’ve been operating under goes a little something like this: feeling pleasure or enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.
But the full definition of “happy” includes this little gem: favored by luck or fortune.
And BAM! You’re back in your high school English class, and you realize that Juliet (famous for her Romeo) does not talk to a “happy” dagger because she is feeling pleasure or enjoyment (because she isn’t) but that she is lucky that she has the dagger. (Morbid stuff, huh?)
So, maybe if we stop forcing ourselves to be pleased with our situation. If we stop trying to draw smiles on our faces when we really just feel like screaming into a pillow (or multiple pillows, or a full mattress), maybe then we could strive for happiness. But until that time, we need to see our lives as lucky or fortunate instead of simply pleasurable. We need to take the typical “happy” pressure off ourselves. If you’re gonna smile, then smile like you mean it.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I have a lot of theories.
Especially about this mysterious “adult world” that I have only recently gained admission to.
Here’s my most recent one:
There is a beautiful pond by my place of work. The reeds and the cattails billow in the wind, and the fountains gurgle in its center. While walking along its path, I’ve had to dodge Swallowtail butterflies and listen attentively to a little bird that chitters and cheeps at me when I pass. He is so persistent that he will fly from branch to branch to keep discussing things with me. If I allow myself, sometimes I feel a little bit like Snow White.
But there is an irrepressible, underlying urge that I experience when I am soaking up these sun-saturated moments of free spiritedness and clean thinking. And it’s this: I can’t help but desire to crawl into those reeds, deep into the heart of them. Until I fall asleep.
Every. Single. Time.
And I have some theories as to why this is, too.
First, is my cave man/cave woman theory. When humanity was first dawning, and we were getting ourselves set up with the basics, e.g., food and fire, we paid particular attention to our shelter and our dwelling. I mean, we refer to this time period in humanity’s history as the cave men and women era. Perhaps it is in our nature to seek solitude? Private peace?
Or maybe we should take it back even further. Pre-womb, let’s say. The world looks a lot different when you’re swaddled in an amniotic sac (mmm, cozy).
Or maybe we should fast forward a bit. To right now. Because when you see an extra pillow, blanket, and table, you don’t see all of these materials but one: a fort. (Forts are for everyone, by the way. Adults with blogs included.)
Maybe we all just want to be nestled somewhere we feel safe. There’s plenty of evidence to support this in our daily lives (and in snuggie commercials).
But I think something else is going on. I think when we have moments of wanting to hide for awhile behind reeds or even other people, more than anything, we want to be found.
Now, I know I sound like some Sara Dessen wannabe, but hear me out.
Do you remember playing hide and seek? With your cousins. Your siblings. Or your neighborhood friends. Do you remember your perfect hiding spot? Under the bush. In the cupboard. Down the basement. Do you have it in your mind? Good. Now, go back there. And pretend you can hear your “It” friend counting backwards. “10 Mississippi, 9 Mississippi, 8 Mississippi…” and then, they finally call out, “READY OR NOT, HERE I COME!” And–you feel that little quiver of excitement. You felt it just now, didn’t you? And when your friend gets closer to your hiding spot, you can feel it then, too.
But when they start to walk away, you feel it recede. You may even feel disappointment settling in. And whether you are angry that the sheer genius of your hiding spot is a bit too intelligent for your average foe or that your knees are starting to go weak from crouching, you are a bit upset that you haven’t been found.
And so, when I’m contemplating diving into the reeds, I know I am not actually trying to hide from my responsibilities or life. I just want someone to find me, to reassure me that I matter. And really, when was the last time someone truly found you? If you start “hiding,” try seeking yourself and your personal desires. Or play a real game of hide and seek to remind you what it’s like to be your best self: as a kid.
Yes, it is my long-awaited sequel to Everyone is a Camel.
And, to put it simply, people are crabs. But not in the way you might think.
You see, if you’ve ever read a self-help book in your life, there is going to be a section that is inevitably called the “crab mentality.” If you’ve never wandered into the self-help section (well, what a perfectly mentally balanced snowflake you are), then I’ll have to catch you up.
Okay, have you ever bought live crabs to boil and eat? (Sorry for the sadistic imagery, but it’s about to get a lot more uncomfortable.) The first and last thing you do is put them in a pot and, well, dinner is eventually served.
However, crabs aren’t as dumb as their other beach brethren. (I’m looking at you, seagulls.) Some crabs will figure it out. Some crabs will even figure it out before it’s too late, and sidle up the side of the pot to alley oop themselves over the edge. And they’d be safe and not boiled out of their skin. That is, if their friends weren’t crabs.
The fact is, if your fellow pot mates see that you are attempting to escape, they will pull you back in. Sound familiar? No, not from the huge seafood dinner you had last night. Does it sound familiar in your personal life? I thought so. Because everyone has a crab in their life. And everyone, at some point, is that crab.
And so I bet you’re wondering: Bailey, if every self-help book has this outlined for me, why are you dedicating an entire blog post to reminding me not to be a crab, to avoid falling prey to this mentality, and to stop bringing others down to my level to make myself feel better?
Well, I’m glad you asked, dear reader.
I’m bringing this up because we, in America, do not live in a proverbial melting pot, but in a crab pot. And undoubtedly, you are reading this and telling yourself, well, that’s not me. And maybe it isn’t all the time. Maybe you are genuinely happy about the fact that you could probably hold your gym instructor’s butt in one hand. Maybe you do have some enthusiasm for that one person who is living your exact dream life, but you know, who also gets to go to St. Lucia on the weekends. And if this is you, if you secretly want your gym instructor to look a little more flabby so you can, you know, relate, or if you secretly want your friend to have their baggage unexpectedly lost en route to another gorgeous island, well, no one can really blame you. The crab mentality is sort of a part of the human condition. But there’s a better life out there, and you can rise above all that crabbiness, if and only if, you stop pulling people back into the pot.
Now, let’s look at the crab mentality in a less malicious way: do you do anything at all, anything at all, simply for someone else’s benefit? If you said yes, then nod with me and repeat: we are living in a crab mentality world.
And here’s why: when you repeatedly do something for someone else, and it’s not 100% to improve yourself or make yourself happy, there is going to be a time when that person isn’t going to be happy. No matter how hard you try. In the end, there’s always gonna be someone who has a pretty meaty claw, and who’s going to drag you back down into the pot without you ever realizing you had climbed out of it in the first place. Sometimes, we even pull ourselves down.
But no one can ever stop you from trying to get out again, and again, and again, until you make it. No one said you had to be someone else’s dinner.
Now, I’m hesitant to tell you to avoid being a soft-shell because there are some really wonderful attributes to being impressionable. I’m just trying to tell you that you need to believe in yourself so much that you become untouchable to outside criticism. People are going to want to see you get hot under the collar (boiled, even), but you can’t let them. Tell them to kiss your carapace. Butter yourself up, and try to treat yourself nicely. After all, that shell of yours is all the protection you have against the outside world. Come out of it on your terms.
I’m sorry, but there will not be a new post tonight.
I will be taking this time to honor the souls aboard the Malaysian flight who perished in a truly horrific act of violence.
We lost 295 innocent people. That’s 295 mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, and friends. And we have no remains to mourn. There will be no closure, and there shouldn’t be. We need to remember what happened today, and we need to make sure that it never happens again.
The amount of time it takes you to scroll to the end of this post, through these numbers, is about the same amount of time it took to destroy 295 lives. We need to think about the impact of our actions. We need to remember the value of a single human life.
I think that everyone needs to be reminded that everyone is a camel.
Are you still there? Or did you leave to find a blogger who is unaffected by brain-eating amoebas and extended metaphors? If you are still here, then take my hand. Figurative language isn’t so scary when you have someone to talk and walk you through it.
So. Where were we?
Oh, yes. People are camels. But camels aren’t people, mind you.
Like I said, I’ll explain. Imagine your best friend, your parents, your boss, your co-workers, your favorite Starbucks barista, all as camels. Just hold that picture in your mind for a minute. Now, close your eyes. Uhm, well, close your eyes and get someone else to read this blog post to you. Imagine that all of your camel relatives have straws on their back (I know it’s supposed to be the other kind of “straw,” but I like drinking straws better. When you write your own extended metaphor, you can use whatever you like).
I think you know where this is going by now, but for those who are coming down for a long day and this is floating somewhere above their head, I’ll continue. Now believe that those straws are not ordinary drinking straws but filled with lead. Each straw weighs at least a pound. And each camel friend has about 100 of these straws. On their back. If I’m doing the math correctly (I’ll get out my calculator, just so I don’t drag this blog’s “good” name for hard-hitting journalism through the mud) that’s 100 pounds.
And let’s not forget that you are also a camel. With the same amount of weight on your back. And the same amount of straws.
So, let’s recap. Everyone’s a camel. And everyone’s got heavy straws on their back. And those straws will inevitably represent different things to different camels. What may seem rather inconsequential to you, like a drinking straw in fact, is earth-shattering to another camel. No two straws are the same because no two camels are the same.
And we’re all pretty thirsty because when you think of camels, you think of the desert and dehydration, which is why drinking straws are also a great part of this metaphor. And for some reason, you’re also imagining a bunch of camels walking to some distant destination (and now you’re thinking: how does she know?!)
But we’re not traveling to some distant destination because we are arriving at my point. There are two ways to help your fellow camels. 1) By taking care of some of their straws. Even if you can only take one of their straws, I promise you, it will feel like you are taking 20. 2) By not adding any more straws. This can be hard, but try to recognize when your camel friends have too much on their plate, or rather, their back. If you both have an equal amount of straws, then at least talking about them may help you to stop noticing how painful their weight is. It’s what we’re here to do in life: remind each other that we are more than just our straws. ( I can see the movie title now: The Fault in Our Straws). Just remember: no one has zero straws, and no one person has them all.
The fact is I think we all need a little help stepping into each other’s shoes sometimes. I mean, before I get into another metaphor, we all need to recognize each other’s struggles. And if my camel metaphor helps you to (ironically) see the humanity in people, then I can retire. What I think it has done is provided you with a hankering to watch Lawrence of Arabia. And that’s cool, too. Just don’t forget what I said about the being nice to people thing. Okay?
Okay, I’ll admit it.
I’m a hypochondriac. WebMD knows me by name, and I’ve vaguely entertained the notion that I have cancer because they told me so. However, if I hadn’t looked up my symptoms on the site when I had an inflamed gallbladder, I might not have thought my condition serious enough to go to the ER. (Okay, maybe I would have because I was in a fetal position on the floor of my dorm room, crying, muttering that I didn’t want to die in said dorm room).
Let’s just say the power of the Internet is far too great for people like me.
So, when I experienced painful headaches for a a lonesome string of days, I became a little frustrated and a little too preoccupied with the Internet. I knew my sinuses were to blame, but I could not figure out why my nose sprays or allergy medicines were not working.
Inevitably, I panicked.
I had just cleaned out my nose spray with warm water, and I had taken every precaution to wait until the nozzle dried to make sure that tap-water microbial cysts did not find a home in my nose. But had I made a mistake? Was 24 hours of air drying not enough to eradicate microscopic pests? What would the headlines say? “Blogger Dies, Leaves a Life of Unfinished Writing and Awful Selfies Behind”
Cue brake screeching. With my headaches increasing in severity, the obvious reason for them did not occur to me. A lowly sinus infection had to take a backseat to brain-eating amoebas.
Commence my incessant research into the latter. Unfortunately, brains are a sometimes snack for these amoebas. In fact, when they travel into your nose through pond or lake water, they simply have to eat your brain because there is nothing else to satiate their appetite. But there’s no cure. Your symptoms will show up in 2-14 days, but after that, you’ll most certainly die. And you won’t be almost dead, like in The Princess Bride, you’ll be all dead. WebMD nonchalantly mentions that a couple of teenagers die every year because they go swimming in a pond without their nose plugs. (Oh sure, because people wear nose plugs. Right after they put on their bathing caps!)
With this recent research nestled in my obviously decaying brain, I started to plan my funeral arrangements, deciding on the music that would crescendo into a mournful rendition of “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes. I worried what my family would do with this blog, if they would let it fade to black. And not once did I stop to think that I might actually be brain-eating amoeba free. Not once.
The point is, we all get caught up in the moment. We all have a flair for the dramatics. We all see the forest for the trees. We all get stuck on the worst case scenario.
But I would never want to know if I was dying or not. Even if I was. (And I don’t know yet because I haven’t been to the doctor. I’ve just been self-diagnosing my sinus infection, as usual. So, let’s hope there isn’t a severe twist of irony in the next couple of days…)
But do you ever notice that we never ask psychics, mediums, or wayward strangers with crystal balls when we are going to die? We ask who we will marry, how much money we will have, if we will turn out alright. Because the knowledge of our death date doesn’t help us right now. You may have a weird realization in knowing when you will die, like in Big Fish, which might ironically give you the strength to go on. But more often than not, it’s just going to depress you. Like I said, there is no cure for the brain-eating amoeba. So, why worry about it?
In fact, live your day everyday like you have a brain-eating amoeba. Hug everyone a little tighter, smile at anyone you pass, and try to leave a legacy behind you. Because our physical selves deteriorate (or are eaten). But our kindness, advice, and passion will live on in others. And if you’re lucky, your awesome recipe for chocolate chip cookies might get passed down, too.
I won’t be posting anything big tonight. The blog gods are obviously angry. I can’t get on the Internet without being afraid that the lightning is going to shock my fingertips through the cord and give me a new Wanda Sykes hairstyle.
So, if you have internet or you’re on your phone like me, enjoy my night-blooming cereus which finally opened for one night a year only!
It smells as beautiful as it looks! Enjoy everyone, and don’t get burnt to a crisp!
I had one of those days.
One of those days where nothing goes entirely right. And also one of those days where everything does not go especially wrong, either.
Yes. One of those days.
And I chose to deal with it in a terrible way. I vented and ranted and tried my best to blow off some steam by blowing up in people’s faces. (Not literally. Imagine what a mess that would be!)
So, I decided to break the cycle. Instead of destroying the things around me, I had to build myself back up. What you all probably don’t know is that my most natural means of expression is not a blog. It’s poetry. And I’ve been neglecting my art a lot lately. So much so that I’m going to need to get back to basics by writing some haikus.
Haikus, by nature, are supposed to be filled with serene images of nature. But haikus also have a rigid structure that has always conveyed to me a sense of restraint, thus mirroring anger itself.
They’re also fun because they will take you back to Kindergarten, making you count out all of the syllables on your fingers.
Try sticking one of these haikus in your pocket for one of those days and see if it makes you unclench your fists for just a moment. Trust me, the knot growing in your back will really appreciate it.
Throwing a pity
party for yourself is hard.
There’s no confetti.
you just–No, no. I can’t with
you at all right now.
Irate. I would rate
my anger on a 10 scale
but it’s off the charts.
Just Say It
What about me? I just used
all my syllables.
If I breathe deeply
enough maybe I’ll suck the
air out of the room.
100 Words for Snow
There are a lot of
words for being mad but I
cannot pick just one.
It’s Worth a Shot
Do you think if I
yell loud enough the man in
the moon will hear me?
I can’t take it. If
I hear one more person tell
me to cool it, I’ll–
Armed and Dangerous
I have two cookies
one for each hand and I’m not
afraid to use them.
Breathe in. Breathe out. And
count to ten. And scream into
a pillow awhile.
Ah, that’s better. Happy Friday, everyone.