Just Be

I take Sundays seriously at my house. It’s my chance to do everything that  I’ve been wanting to do all week, which is eat good food, read books, and watch television.

Yesterday, I was bouncing in between all three of these activities when I realized I wasn’t hungry anymore, I didn’t want to read, and I didn’t want to watch TV.

So what was I supposed to do? I played on my phone for awhile but even that got boring. I sat in silence for a few minutes and then a calm washed over me. In my haste to do something, I had forgotten how to just be.

If time allows, if your family allows, and if you allow, try to just be for 15-20 minutes a day.

It does wonders for the mind and body. And remember, we are human BEings not human doings.

(I know, cheesy, but I’m right.)

Love,

Bailey

 

Night Reader

I grew up surrounded by books. I became an English major, and I’m even trying to write my own.

This weekend, I spent a whole night discussing books with a great friend. A whole night.

And it all comes down to one turning moment in my life: my parents read to me. I wrote my college essay on the beauty of my Dad coming up to my sister and me’s bedroom and bringing the book we picked together from the library only days before. Whether it was Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew, my Dad always read to us at least a little every night to give our mom a break. And when our eyes started to flutter close, he would check on us to see if we were still listening. And the next night, he would inevitably have to go back and reread parts that we had missed.

I can’t say anything about my math skills. Maybe if I had rehearsed my timetables at night, I would be better. But I can say I’m a good reader.

So, if you do anything for your kids, make sure you read to them. They won’t forget it, and neither will you.

Love,

Bailey

Here’s Why

Here’s why I write BaileyDailey:

It helps me process my day. It helps me to come to terms with things. And it puts a smile on my face time and time again. I don’t think it’s necessarily groundbreaking. I don’t even think it’s good most of the time. It’s short and repetitive and sort of narcissistic. Let’s be honest, I’m not even the only person doing this type of format for a blog.

But.

You might not get an honest explanation from anyone about anything. From your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend. From your best friend. From any friend.

But you’ll get one from me. I’ll explain how life works, how you should stop, how you should start, and everything in between.

I’ll explain it all. And I won’t ever ask anything from you, dear reader, except, to well, read it.

So, please. Keep reading and commenting and liking.

You don’t know it, but it truly means the world to me.

Love,

Bailey

Anti Book List

You know what random thought I had today? I’ll tell you. But you have to promise to remember that these are my opinions because it’s my blog. Got it? Good.

I thought about why does everyone talk about their favorite book? Oh you just have to read (blank)! It’s my favoriiiite. You’ll never guess the ending! Ok, ok I’ll tell you! It’s …

Which is great and fine. But have you ever met someone who hated the same person you did? How strong was your bond over the person you both hated? Like a bundle of sticks: unbreakable!

So, I’m going to tell you my 4 LEAST favorite books of all time, and you can thank me for it so that you can steer clear of them. You’re so welcome. It’s like anti good reads (which I’m not sure why no one has thought of that yet.)

4. The Last Days of Magic

I was literally shaking my head over this book the entire time I was reading it. It was a complete information dump with absolutely no plot and a terrible ending. I was expecting the best because it was about Irish folklore (my sweet spot) but it read more like a dictionary than a novel. Do not recommend.

3. Catcher in the Rye

– Who is this whiny kid and why do so many English teachers stand by him? Listen, if I wanted to hear someone curse and act childish, I’d watch home videos of myself. Is there anything else that I’m supposed to feel other than frustrated with this kid? Do not recommend.

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone

– Listen, before you judge or grab a wand, go back and read it. I promise that it wasn’t as good as you thought it was. I actually had to see the movie in order to pick the book back up again when I started it for the first time. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but if there was a way to understand the whole series without the first book then I’d recommend that. But since there isn’t and the books eventually are awesome, I have to mark this one as recommend with reservations.

1. Where the Red Fern Grows

– Oh. My. God. Who let this book be read to children?! I read it in the fourth grade, for crying out loud! The kid in the story saves all his money to buy two hunting dogs and then THEY DIE. HORRIFICALLY. What lesson is this supposed to teach me again? Don’t work hard, kids! Whatever you buy will just die after awhile! Ugh. Do not recommend.

So what about you? What books do you hate?

Happily (Unhappily) Ever After

One of my greatest fears is that I will die before finishing the book I’m currently reading. I mean, how tragic, right? Not knowing what happens in the sequel, let alone if there is a sequel? It’s like reverse George R.R. Martin syndrome: We think he’ll die before the last books are written; I think I’ll die before I finish reading them.

(Come to think of it, that will probably be my first question when I arrive up at those pearly gates:

God/Higher Being/Morgan Freeman: Ask me anything, Soul #389482923.

Me: Yeah, I know it was supposed to be a shocking ending, but what happened in Gone Girl? I had like 20 pages left. Should I just skip to the movie?

Morgan Freeman: Rosamund Pike is a babe.

Me: Tell me something I don’t know.)

And that’s not because I walk around with an intense premonition that I will die any day now. It’s just that I ensure that I always finish the book I’m reading. I may put it down for months at a time, but I very, very, very, very, very rarely stop reading it altogether. Which means that I’ve read some really awful stories. I mean, like, terrible.

What were some of the worst?

Three Cups of Tea

Crime & Punishment

Izzy, Willy Nilly

 

And the best?

Stargirl

The Book Thief

The Knife of Never Letting Go

 

And as you couldn’t see but could probably guess, my favorites sprang to mind and were typed out much quicker than the bad titles. The good ones certainly stick with me while the bad ones fade to black.

But I can tap them out all the same because I’ve read every word of them. I’ve analyzed their metaphors, I’ve caught their drifts, I’ve found their extensive typos. And so I am able to make an informed opinion about their excellence or mediocrity.

Of course, I know what you’re thinking, what’s the point of reading a book that isn’t very good? That you hate, even?

The short answer? Because it has something to teach you. The long answer? It teaches you empathy. When you read a small bit of a book, you’re only getting one side of the coin, a spoonful of the truth. When you read the entire thing, you suddenly know what the weaknesses and strengths of any character in it are. And you can defend or condemn them as easily as you want. (A skill you can translate to reality, too.)

But really, reading an entire book is having the ability to say I know the shape of another human being’s soul. And I have not played God/Higher Being/Morgan Freeman by passing judgment on it until the very end. Which is the only thing that any of us can really hope for when we truly bare ourselves to an audience.

A Screw Loose

Tonight, I’d like to give you a little taste of my nightly routine.

After I’m showered and calmed for the day, I crawl into bed, tuck the sheets under my chin, and start reading. Ever since I was a kid, someone would read to me until I fell asleep…until I could read by myself. Thankfully, I now don’t have to position a flashlight over my head so that I can read in the late hours or beg my parents to read just one more chapter. I have a set-up. There’s a little electric candle that sits on my windowsill, secured by a single nail, that lights the pages by night, way past everyone else’s bedtime. The light doesn’t shine in my eyes, and I don’t have to get up to turn it off. It’s perfect.

Except

It blinks out. I have to position the wire so that it stays on continuously, but sometimes it still winks out like morse code. I’ve often wondered if the neighbors think that I’m trying to communicate with them (and if they are wondering if there’s actual intelligent life in my room.) And most nights, it’s slightly annoying. Because all I have to do is rest my head on the pillow, and the light goes off, but if I wiggle slightly to the left it will come back on…for a second.

The kicker? I know what’s wrong. The little box that holds the control has a screw loose, so there must be some misfiring going on. I figure that all I have to do is give it a couple quarter turns to make it work normally.

The problem with the problem? It’s that I’ve gotten used to my malfunctioning fake candle and the trouble it causes me. I actually look forward to figuring out how to sit just so in order for it to keep shining. It’s like this little lighthouse with a serious attitude problem that guides me home each night. It has character and spunk, even though it doesn’t have much reliability.

And so, I wonder what other little quirks do we have in our life that we feel need fixing but really add such character to our lives?

Like the leaky faucet, for instance?? Yeah, it’s an environmental cost, but how many times has the drip drop lulled you to sleep? Or what about that squeaky step on the staircase? Maybe it got you into trouble when you snuck in late, but it can definitely alert you to robbers if they ever try to creep up the stairs.

Really, at the end of the day, I think we have a lot to learn from the imperfect. I think it has an important place in all of our daily lives. And maybe, just maybe, we all need to take more time to appreciate things (and people) who have a screw loose.

Stealing Back Time

Not too long ago, I told you that time was like money, and that you should spend it wisely. And that’s still true. You should definitely think carefully about your priorities and how you will budget your weekend. But what about the moments when your time is abruptly taken from you? What about the moments you’re late or made to wait? Those moments are lost to you, and you wish you could get them back.

Well, lucky for you, I know how to do it. I know how to steal back time:

Read.

Yup, it’s that simple. Reading will allow you to fill your head with knowledge and fill the gaps of empty space in your day with productivity.

Take today for example. I cross a bridge to get to and from work, and when I’m really lucky, the bridge goes up, and I have to wait behind rows and rows of brake lights for it to go down again (usually about 15 to 20 minutes). Before, I would blast the radio and the A/C or heat to drown out the fact that I was going to be uncomfortably stuck in my car for a while. But recently, I’ve started to jam the car into “park” and whip out a novel while I’m waiting.

Gone are the moments where I’m staring mindlessly at someone’s back bumper. Instead, I’m gently cradled in a world of fantasy, with my eye carefully trained for movement in front of me. I’m actually excited when the bridge goes up now because I can take a few moments to get a couple of pages in. And as you can imagine, my ride home is a lot less stressful because I’m no longer wishing I were somewhere else.

Why does this work? Because a story, a magazine, a newspaper, or even a comic is easy to pull out in those dull periods of time during your day. It’s sort of like splashing water on your face: it rejuvenates you for your next task by creating a smoother transition: something to something, instead of nothing to something.

And I do this all of the time. I read at night, I read in the day. I even read and walk. I’m all like, Just walking? Pfft! BORING! SNORE! Let’s raise the difficulty level a bit!

Have I tripped occasionally? Sure! Do trees slap me in the face a couple of times a week? You betcha! Do I pull beetles out of my hair from walking to closely to branches? Hundreds of times! But I’m getting a full ROI on the time I spend when I have nothing else to do.

I mean, the fact that life is always going to give you something to wait for is a given. There will always be those quiet times where nothing is really coming and nothing is really going. And of course, there are always going to be times when you feel you could be more productive. But you don’t have to feel like your time is wasting away. Reading is, and always will be, the perfect solution for stealing it back, moment by moment, page by page.

Read All Over

Did you know that reading can relax you in under six minutes?

That’s right. You can put down the bubble bath and candles. Although, not those bon-bons. You should keep eating them to deal with the crisis you are going to have while reading The Fault in Our Stars.

Thankful for its magical healing properties, I’ve taken to reading at any point during the day. In the morning, right before bed, even when someone has something written on the back of their shirt and I’m standing right behind them. I can’t stop, and I won’t stop.

But it does make me feel a little bit guilty. Because when I’m home and reading, I’m usually sprawled out on the couch, in sweatpants, warming myself by an open fire (but not too close that I burn the pages and never get to read the end). I’m all relaxed and consumed by the book when it suddenly crosses my mind that I could be working on just about anything else. My novel, my self-esteem, my laundry. In fact, reading gives me a guilty feeling that television may never provide: it’s usually a solitary activity. It makes me feel downright selfish for blocking out the world when I should be participating in it. And I don’t mean to glare at people when they interrupt me, either. It just sort of happens.

However, you should never, ever feel bad for reading. You should actually never feel bad for anything that makes you a better person. Because reading does. As I mentioned, it decreases your stress. But it also increases your vocabulary. It makes you understand someone else’s perspective, even one so foreign to your own. It gives you more things to think about and talk about. In fact, reading a book in public is like an invitation to someone else to connect with you on a common interest (unless it’s Fifty Shades of Grey. You may want to back away slowly if you see someone reading that.)

But best of all, reading is the easiest and cheapest way to get from point A to point B. You can fly halfway around the world and never feel as at home as you do reading a favorite book. And unlike even the best travel destination, you can visit it anytime you want, from anywhere.

Like life, books can enthrall us and enrage us if we let them. More like life, we need to see books to the end, no matter how terrible. We may never know what kind of ending they have in store.

The Opposite of Loneliness

I’d like to think that I provide pretty good book recommendations, when pressed. (You know. When I DON’T go blank and forget every book I’ve ever read and the only thing that sticks out is some book that I loathed, so I blurt out, Izzy, Willy Nilly? Have you ever read that? Try it. Then they associate me with some book I actually hated.)

So, here is a book recommendation that I am poised to give. One that you should probably go out and get tomorrow. One that you should probably pay the utmost attention to.

Actually, to call this particular collection of words a “book” is to make it base. It’s a life’s work. I could probably never do it justice and overrate it at the same time.

It’s called The Opposite of Loneliness. And before I tell you about the story, I need to tell you this “story.”

Marina Keegan was a student at Yale. She was a writer in the broadest sense: a poet, a playwright, even dabbling in nonfiction. She won awards for her work and saw some of it published in The New Yorker and The New York Times. Upon her graduation, she addressed her classmates in an essay, entitled “The Opposite of Loneliness” that became an instant success. She died in a car accident five days later. Not even a week after she had worn a cap and gown, an entire lifetime of success ahead of her, she was gone.

And so, her parents picked up the pieces. They took a hard look at her body of work. They put it together between a binding, and they sold it so that others could come to know their daughter intimately. Despite the flaws that she probably would have revised and edited out of her work, her parents sent Marina’s final message out into the world. I am so glad that they did.

Because they could have been selfish. They could have decided that it was too large of an undertaking to assess what to put in a final book about Marina. No one could have blamed them if they had shied away and withdrawn into their grief.

But they didn’t. And really, they couldn’t have gone wrong with anything they picked. Yes, every page “throbs with what could have been” as one critic said, but Marina will always be recognized for her talent, whether she is here or not. Although she could have been so much more, her impact is great and awesome in the traditional sense of both words.

The book is a mix of her poetry, her fiction, and her nonfiction. But really, it is made of flesh, blood, and bone. Marina’s symbolism is both painfully obvious and overwhelmingly succinct. When you read her words, you feel an undeniable connection to her, but also the human race. She seems to embody what humans could be, if we free ourselves from our inhibitions. She was a better version of us all.

Everything about this book is difficult, mind you. It is hard to see how much talent Marina had. It is hard to hear her talk about her own death, when she thinks it will be years away, like we all do. It is hard to hear her talk about all the things that scared her, excited her, angered her. (I mean, it is especially hard because I am sitting here trying to find matching socks when we have shooting stars like Marina in the world.)

But we owe her that at least. We owe her an audience.

So, pick up Marina Keegan’s book The Opposite of Loneliness. Cry through it like I did. Be haunted by it. Loathe it a little. Love it a lot. But when someone asks you for a good book recommendation, pass it on. Give Marina what we all need in this life and the next: someone to listen.

You “Like” Me!

Maybe love really is in the air. Or maybe I’m just feeling overly mushy.

At any rate, I would like to take a few minutes to simply thank everyone that has ever read this blog.

Whether you roll your eyes at it, skim it, look forward to it, judge it, or proofread it, I want to thank you.

You see, I would do this anyway. I would write my fingers to the bone. I would stay up late at night and pour out words. I would talk about myself in a less than admirable light. That’s because I have to do this. I can’t survive without writing. But you? You don’t have to read it. And yet you do. Maybe not every night, but enough nights that I notice. And you don’t have to hit “like,” but you do. You make me feel like what I’m doing matters to someone.

In today’s world, we’re told that we don’t know how to make a difference that isn’t clicking something on a screen. This “clicktivism” is how we show our support for everything, and that we should really be out there doing something. Fighting on the front lines of injustice.

Well, I’m here to say that your clicks mean something. And any “like” you give anyone: to a selfie, to a post, to a video, matters. And I can’t begin to articulate what yours mean to me.

So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Even if you feel completely unproductive and a failure at the end of the day, know that I am forever in your debt and that you matter to me.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Know that you are loved.