MLK Day

“You cannot kill an idea.” – V for Vendetta

But a man? Yes, you can kill a man. Even a man who stood for something as important as what MLK Jr. stood for. Maybe that man does even more dying than any other man because of that. Because he’s remembered for the sacrifice he’s made in the name of an idea, every year, and very little for who he was. Because he’s quoted and photographed and photoshopped and read and reread. And suddenly he becomes synonymous with the idea that he once stood for and transcends humanity that way. 

And with all that said, it’s hard to live up to the idea, especially for the idea that MLK was/stood for. Equality. I mean, how do we do that? How do we start over? (And we still need to start over, even decades later). 

We take one step at a time. We start small and we do it today. We give kindness, in small acts, and in this way we move forward, and very slowly, we change things. 

It was just an idea at one point. And he was just a man at another. And you will perform just one act of kindness. And someday, we’ll all be really happy with the progress we’ve made. 

At least, I hope. But at least there’s still hope to be had. In large part thanks to MLK. So, don’t forget to thank him today. Always for the person he was and always for the idea he gave us. 

Sympathy for the Devil

Phantom of the Opera is my favorite play. It’s also my favorite opera (because there’s not many options there.)

I don’t know why, but there’s something about the swelling music and the dark and light imagery…and I guess the psychopathic tendencies of the main character sort of make it interesting, too. (Spoiler alert: he’s a murderer in a mask and a cape. What’s not to like?)

And that’s totally weird, because at no point (except the point of no return, at the end) that we’re like, yes, let the heroine go with the kind, caring prince charming and sing a beautiful duet. No, we’d actually like the masked weirdo to win just. this. once. so that he can serenade her in the sewers or whatever he’s been planning to do for years.

Why? Because no villain thinks that he or she is a villain. And so we’re convinced that the villain, even for a moment, is right. We all have a little, or in many cases, a lot, of sympathy for the devil. Don’t believe me? Let’s review the exhibits.

Exhibit A: Gollum from Lord of the Rings. He was actually a Hobbit once, and loved and ate and slept and ate and played and ate as all hobbits do. And then, he murdered in the name of the one ring, and then he turned into a bad guy. But we still feel bad for that decrepit little creature with the huge eyes who lost his ability to speak in complete sentences but can riddle Bilbo Baggins until his face turns blue.

Exhibit B: He Who Must Not Be Named. Do you think that he wanted to be reborn with no nose and be beaten into submission by a baby? No! He wanted to be immortal (which he sort of is as a result of a highly popular children’s book.) And then, he wanted to be the best. And he was for a second, but then again, that baby who became a really angsty teenager with a grudge. (But really, no good can come to people who kill unicorns.)

Exhibit C: Well, that’s you. Because like it or not, sometimes you are the villain. And you don’t even realize it. To you, you’re just having a bad day. But to everyone else? You have a scepter and a poison apple in your bag. And you don’t even know it because it’s not like you mean to be evil. It’s just happening. And besides, you had a really bad day. Why can’t anyone see that? That’s just every villain’s thought process ever. (I mean, have we learned nothing from the drawn out monologues?) “I have to kill you because this, that, and the other thing.” “You were my friend until you betrayed me to blah blah blah, etc.”

So, congratulations. You’re the villain. And contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t feel any different than being the hero. It just doesn’t pay off.

Why Cry?

Did you ever think about the fact that the first thing you do when you are born is cry? And that you cry at all of your most important moments in life? It’s one of those very few, special things that you never stop doing or somehow unlearn. (Yes, that’s right. Crying isn’t just for women and babies.)

And what’s weird is that you never get better at it. It’s not like you get especially adept at wiping tears from your face. It’s not as if it gets any easier to hide your tears once they start.

But whether you’re a baby or not or good at crying or not, we all still cry for the same reason: we need something, and we don’t know how to express that need in words.

I mean, when you’re a kid, your mom or dad or legal guardian would scoop you up and shush you or sing you a lullaby when you cry. And maybe that worked. Or maybe they had to give you a bottle or change your diaper. And maybe that worked, too. And other times, you cried for no reason, and nothing could stop you. And that was frustrating, but your parents knew that you had to do that.

Now, that you’re older, suddenly you find yourself unable to hold back tears, standing in your kitchen alone, eating leftovers and wiping your face with dishtowels because when was the last time you bought napkins? What do you really need now (besides actual tissues)? You can feed yourself and go to the bathroom. Why would you be crying as an adult? You think, I have the ability to communicate my needs, but I can’t seem to at this moment.

And then comes the shame. Shouldn’t we be able to express ourselves in words instead of just crying about things? What an unproductive mode of expression! But laughing doesn’t have a bad reputation. No one has ever called someone “weak” for laughing at something. So, why crying?

As much as I love the written language, I think there are always going to be things that we cannot explain in words. The awesome power of the universe is one thing. Love is another. But the reason that tears are shed may be the most important of all. Because in the end, it is not the act of crying itself that is cathartic. Rather, it is the act of giving ourselves permission to feel. And really, we need that capability from the beginning to the end of our lives.

Writing Dail(e)y

Do you know why I started this blog?

That’s a trick question, by the way. Because I’m not even really sure why I started it. I mean, I knew I wanted to write more. And since I had the misfortune to not have a name that rhymed with something like “monthly” or “annually,” I suddenly found myself writing “daily” or “dailey,” as I like to say. Now that I have been blogging quite regularly, I’ve amassed a lot of posts, and of course, I’m proud of them.

But I can’t help but realize how ephemeral it all is.

For example, the entire structure of this blog is that I write something daily. So, after 24 hours is up, that particular post goes on to live the rest of its sad life in an archive. No more interaction or friendly banter in the comments. Heck, even forget about what I wrote.

And don’t get me started on the idea of a blog itself. What happens in about 5 years when blogging is obsolete and goes the way of most technological formats? Will I have to update my blog on a hologram soon? Will I have to print my blogs out and put them in photo albums for my kids so that I can reminisce about the good old days when you actually had to fly to different places in planes rather than teleport there? Will I suddenly be claiming that I had to walk to school, which was up a hill, both ways?

Of course, these are all my thoughts when I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. Which is about every night around 10 PM, when I’m scratching my head, trying to think of something to fill the page with and only coming up with goose egg.

And at the same time that I finally get some inspiration is when I realize how completely magical this blog can be. I’m interacting with complete strangers (and mostly my mom) where once a day we both see eye to eye about something. That’s what hitting the “like” button does. It sends a message to me that essentially says, Yes, Bailey. You’ve hit a nerve in the human condition, and I need to recognize that. And for me? There’s no better compliment for what I do.

In the end, this blog doesn’t need to represent my legacy. It simply needs to connect me with one person in one 24-hour period to be successful.

Because our lives are not years, months, weeks, or even days, added altogether. They are moments and memories subtracted out and strung along. And while this blog may not be around for me to flip through like an old photo album someday, it still helps me to remember my moments in vivid (and sometimes nauseating) detail right now. And so a day or an experience is etched in my mind purely through the act of writing about it. And those tiny, precious moments will be my legacy someday.

I can’t thank you all enough for being a part of it.

Shower Singing

Author’s Note: 

I love this post. We are our truest selves when we are alone and clean. Please enjoy my thoughts for a second time!

An underrated art form, really.

Whether you use the shampoo bottle or the shower head as your microphone, you have probably belted out a few choruses under the hot stream of a shower once or twice during your time here on Earth.

But what is it about shower singing that makes it so attractive, so universal?

Well, for one, the acoustics in bathrooms are usually to die for. It’s like, I didn’t know my voice had so much vibrato, but in here, with all this soap in my eye, I can really hit that high G. For another, you’re completely alone. (Unless, of course, your cat wanders in, thinking that it hears another cat, composing some screechy mating call love song, or because it believes that it has finally found the warmest place in the house.)

But for whatever reason, being in the shower makes you feel like you have this hidden talent for singing and that you would totally pursue it if you didn’t get stage fright so easily. (Sing naked? Sure! Sing in front of people I know who may judge me for things I can’t control? Not so much.)

Of course, before you try out for The Voice, I want you to consider something: maybe you feel like you can sing because you’re relaxed. And if that’s the case, think of everything else that would come naturally to you if you could do it without nerves, without fear of judgment. If you allowed yourself to do so.

I mean, really. If you’re anything like me, you don’t sing in the shower because you genuinely believe that you have a lovely voice. You sing because it is comforting, perhaps tapping into some memory of a lullaby when you were younger. Or maybe, you just want to entertain yourself, making up new lyrics to an old favorite.

Whatever the reason, as we’ve discussed, you have no audience when you are sudsing up (except maybe for your tabby). Which is polar opposite to the rest of your life. On the bus, at work, in a park, even pumping gas, you have an audience. Someone, somewhere, even for five seconds, is looking at you, thinking about you, seeing you (horribly creepy, I know). And you are so very aware of it. It’s why we toss our hair, or smooth our shirt, or wipe our mouths. We are aware of this gaze, all of the time.

So, to completely escape this voyeurism, I believe we sing for ourselves in the shower. We take back it all back from the wandering eyes of humanity by doing something that is for our ears only. And isn’t that wonderful, that we acknowledge our own needs for once? And isn’t that so powerful, to be unburdened by clothes or the urge to perform for someone else?

In the end, it doesn’t really matter if your voice is good or not. Rather, it is with what intent that you sing, or do anything, that makes it beautiful.