I Signed Up For NaNoWriMo

I’m a writer, I swear.

I have a book of original poetry, I worship Shakespeare, and I am very particular about what kinds of pens I use.

But I have never completed the phenomenon that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). For the uninitiated, writers sign up for the month of November to write their novels (that’s 50,000 words). When the month is finished, the writer submits his or her book idea in a competition, and a winner is chosen. For the non-math people like me, that’s about 1,500 words a day. Unfortunately, the only experience I have had with the organization is when my writer-friends were having mental breakdowns because they were unable to reach their self-imposed goal or were frustrated because people were lying about their word counts or were crying because they had killed off their favorite character.

Enter me, into this chaos.

I mean, I can barely write 500 words Mon-Thurs for this blog! Really, I’m complaining to all of you right now because I couldn’t think of anything else to write!  I’m literally writing about writing, and I can’t find much to say…

But when my really lovely friend Maeve suggested that we did this together, I had to say yes. First of all, we would be doing it together. So, we can encourage each other, and help one another if we get stuck on a plot point. Secondly, even though I have had a novel idea (get it!?) for years now, for much of my adulthood, I have not made a serious attempt to pursue it. Whenever I daydream, my head drifts toward my novel, but I have never tried to write more than one chapter. The question is: am I ready for this?

The answer: It doesn’t matter. Because the majority of my blog posts are something to the effect of: “follow your dreams/don’t be afraid of rejection/be who you are.” And, well, it is time I took my own advice, my own medicine. I need to make an honest attempt at pursuing my dream. And if I fail, at least I can say that I tried. At least I can say that I made an effort. At least I can say I have stopped living inside of my head.

Of course, this blog comes first. Always. So, if I have to stop writing my novel to update this blog, then so be it. Just promise me you’ll keep on coming back, and I’ll be here to feed your head.

So, goodbye October. Hello, novel.

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Readers Beget Readers?

We’re going to go way back for this one.

Once upon a time…is how I ended a lot of my days as a kid. My sister and I would snuggle into our beds and pull our covers up to our chins. Then, sometimes we would have to barter (just one! Pleeeease!) and sometimes we would be given stories freely. Once they started, we had to struggle against the weight of our eyelids to stay awake, but we did our best. We usually had to be briefed about what happened the night before in the book because we had fallen asleep, but we always enjoyed being read to.

By my Dad.

Fast forward to some odd decade when we are two grown adults and are decidedly not sleeping in the same room or being read to anymore. My sister has turned to the dark side, (math) but she enjoys the occasional book. And then there’s me, who will quite literally read anything if it stands still long enough.

And my Dad?

Not counting the books he read to my sister and me, he had only completed a few titles in his entire lifetime. One was a morbid tale about a few hikers who had to go all Dommer on each other at the end of their trip in to the cold tundra. They all had German names so my father, the resourceful man that he is, simply renamed them all with nicknames he could pronounce. (I imagine it was like reading Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky. Thankfully, this wasn’t a story he read to us.) But lucky for my Dad, every book nowadays is being made into a movie. So, no reading required. And lucky for me, every book nowadays is being made into a movie. So, all the reading required.

Fast forward a little farther, interestingly enough, when I was jumping onto the Hunger Games bandwagon in another country, my Dad was enjoying the movie back in the States. When I returned, we talked about our love for the franchise. I told him how great the book was, he told me how great the movie was. And as a result, he picked up the book, and I watched the movie (again). It was supposed to be a friendly, enjoyable way to spend some time together.

Then, we made a bet.

I bet him that he couldn’t finish the third installment of the Hunger Games before the movie came out. (That was almost a year ago). He had more than a few months to complete my challenge. If he did, I would take him to the movie and buy him dinner. I thought I had this one in the bag. He hadn’t read a book in years!

I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

Not only did he finish Mockingjay. He finished the entire Divergent series and The Giver. The best part? He loved them.

He loves the entire dystopian genre. He is now so excited to see the Mockingjay movie. In fact, he’s about as excited as me. We just bought our tickets today.

So, in the end, even though I lost the bet, I actually won. I finally have someone to discuss the books with, to share my passion with. But more than that, I got my dad to do something truly amazing: read. I am an incredibly proud daughter.

And I am so glad that we can still share the joys of reading together as we once did.

This is actually him finishing Mockingjay and me...being proud.

This is actually him finishing Mockingjay and me…being proud.

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Pumpkins are People; People are Pumpkins

I’m not very good with my hands. I have trouble getting them to do what I want, what my brain sees. I can cite tantrums in home videos in which I used to freak out when I was told I had to color a picture. I’m not good at art that involves me to draw, cut, or glue.

This, as you can imagine, applies to pumpkin carving. Even though I have grown up, and I’ve left the tantrums behind, I still haven’t been able to tackle the art thing.

And I’m just embarrassed to show you the massacred pumpkin that I created for Halloween…so I won’t. It doesn’t due to dwell on failure (or burn my readers’ eyes out with my mistakes). But there is something we can all learn from my ineptitude. There’s something we can all learn from pumpkins in general, actually.

What? Did you think Halloween didn’t know what it was doing when it chose pumpkins as its main mascot? Educate yourself…

You and I are Pumpkins because…
1. Everyone looks the same on the inside: guts and seeds and all.

2. We come in all different shapes and sizes, but we all serve a purpose.

3. We can have some pretty tough skin.

4. Yet, we are also very fragile.

5. We age similarly. (The resiliency of our skin starts to fade, and we start to droop.)

6. Picking a perfect pumpkin in a patch can be as difficult as finding a significant other.

7. As pumpkins grow on a vine, people grow best when they are together.

8. If we don’t have a good foundation, we have trouble standing alone.

9. We can sometimes bring a smile to someone’s face just by existing.

10. We look so much better when there is a light burning from within.

So, there you are. Pumpkins are like us in more ways than we realize. Maybe you’ll think about them longer before you throw them into the street. (Or not). In the end, just try to laugh at your mistakes. You may even find that your jack-o-lantern is laughing with you. (Or in my case, at me.)

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5 Rejected Halloween Costume Ideas

I would like to think that people start growing old when they stop dressing up for Halloween. And for me, the funnier and punnier you are, the better your costume is. I, personally, strive to stay on the cutting edge of costumes every year, (you’ll see mine at the end of the week, don’t worry) but it is getting harder and harder. People are certainly catching on in the creativity department, which is great. This only means that I need to step up my game because Halloween is this Friday. You know, four days from now.

So, are you looking for ideas yourself? Do you need a little glitter for your ghoul? Need a bit of “wear” for your “werewolf”? Then, take one of my (rejected) ideas! All you need to do is cite this blog somewhere on your body. (I’m kidding.) But if you do use one of these costume ideas, please let me see it!

1. “BOOtay”

-This is probably the easiest costume you will ever make. Just cut out some eye holes in a sheet and pad your bottom up a little (more power to you if you have enough going on back there and don’t need the extra stuffing). You are then transformed into “BOOtay.”  (P.S., you can also become a “BOOquet. Same idea, just hot glue flowers to that same sheet.)

2. A Sexy Ghost

-If you’re anything like me, you get a trifle annoyed when you see a website that only offers sexy outfits for Halloween. And sure, there’s a time, a place, and a girl for all of that. But that’s not every person. So, if you’re a bit conflicted on whether you want to be sexy or not, be both! Take that sheet you used for “BOOtay” and put a candy bra on top. Can you say (or sing) we’ve got the best of both worlds?

3. Teenage Dirtbag

-No, this is not just a one-hit wonder by Wheatus. It’s your adolescent years. So, bring back this awesome song! Simply take a bit of lipstick for zits, some black frame glasses, and, you guessed it, a bag of dirt. If people don’t get it, try to give them a few hints. And if they still don’t get it, they’re too young for you, bro.

4. iTune

-This one is ridiculously simple. Just carry around a pitch pipe, (a la pitch perfect), and help people get tuned. Points for creativity, but you may spend the entire night explaining yourself. (Tune down for what!?)

5. A Cat

-So, why is this in my rejected costume list? Well, it’s time that we hang this up. Put the fuzzy ears and the body con dress away, and quit telling everyone you are feeling “frisky.” You have more imagination than that. I believe in you. Besides, there’s four other costumes on this blog post alone that you can pick from.

And that’s it! I promise that you’ll always have a good time on Halloween when you try and be a little “batty!”

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Why

As we head into the weekend, it is a good thing that we all have some more free time. This means (unfortunately or fortunately, you can decide) I have some more time to think. This also means that I can come up with new blog posts. This also means that some of those blog posts don’t always make it to “production.” Some of them I leave on the cutting room floor.

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of your time. So, I’m offering you an exclusive peek into my brain so that you can get a few chuckles for your Friday and so that hopefully you can ponder some of the mysteries that have kept me up at night. After all, what’s life without a little wonder?

Bailey Dailey’s List of Mysteries

1. If we have such advanced technology, why can’t we make mirrors on our cars that do not make objects “closer than they appear”?

2. Why don’t they make those candy necklaces with other snacks? Strawberries? Pretzels? Cheese?

3. Why can I remember an embarrassing moment that happened when I was 12 but not where I left that important document I need right now?

4. Why do we fear death when it is the only certainty in our lives?

5. Why are chargers (on any device) just  long enough to reach wherever you are?

6. Why do we trip when we think, “don’t trip”?

7. Why are pickle jars so hard to open?

8. Why do we lose so many socks?

9. Wait. Why do we even have socks?

10. Why don’t they make waterproof books so I can read in the shower?

11. Why does every math problem end with someone giving something away? Is everyone that generous with their watermelons that they gift them to six of their friends?

12. Why aren’t you reading this in your head with an accent?

13. Why is “zzz” a symbol for sleep?

14. Why do spiders disappear as soon as you take your eyes off them?

15. Why were lighters invented before matches?

16. Why does Australia have so many animals that can kill you painfully?

17. Why do we shape our eyebrows into little, perfect lines? Why don’t we do that with other hairs on our bodies?

18. Why do we kiss each other to show affection? Are chest bumps just not intimate enough?

19. Why do we believe in a God that we can’t see, but not Santa Claus (even though we know what he looks like)?

20. Why are you still reading this?

And, so on. Well, You’ve seen inside my head, and I hope you’re not too afraid. Just remember: stay curious!

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Negativity is like Double-Dipping

Man, I love guacamole. The perfect ripened avocado, with lemon, tomatoes, peppers, and crunchy, munchy chips. Yum! (Seriously, I sometimes judge parties on the sole fact of whether guacamole is available.)

Any dip is easily the best snack. But is there anything worse than a double-dipper?

You always know that guy or girl. That person who is so caught up in a conversation over by the snack table that he or she doesn’t notice that he or she has put the same chip that he or she has only just bitten and then he or she puts. it. back. in. the. dip.

Horrors of horrors. Now, you’re the only witness to some irrevocable crime that you need to keep to yourself for the rest of night, as you silently mourn the end of the guacamole when there is a full bowl of it on the table.

So, what’s the big deal? All of the person’s saliva and germs are simply contaminating a perfectly good bowl of dip. It doesn’t taste any different. It’s all in your head.

But so is negativity. Negativity is in your head, too. That’s because being decidedly negative is just like double-dipping. You’re spreading your bad feelings, and whether you know it or not, you are upsetting people around you. Sure, you get some perks from double-dipping. After all, waste not, want not. But you are completely polluting your environment (and that dip). And from then on, the people around you can’t experience the situation without feeling negative. In short, it ruins everything. (Dramatic? Maybe. But you get the point.)

So, be careful what you are negative about. Try not to live under a dark cloud. Try not to bring everyone else down because you can. It can change how people feel not only about a situation, but about you. Anyway, you don’t want to be known as a double-dipper, do you? (Sure, there are worse things…but not when it comes to guacamole.)

In the end, negativity is pervasive. So, try to take the chip off your shoulder and definitely don’t put it in the dip twice.

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Make Art or Make Babies

I’m going to tell you the secret of life. Plain and simple. No climbing to the top of a wisdom mountain to hear it, either.

It’s this: Try to do the best you can, and make the best of every situation.

If you can do that, you can look back on your life and feel good about it.

The trick is to actually remember this and practice it daily. Because how often do we slip into a foul mood that we are unable to get out of? (Like last night’s post?) How often do we forget that we don’t have enough time on this Earth to hate anyone or anything? There isn’t enough time to do anything so time-consuming as hate, really. We can only live, love, and die.

For me, I’ll just live, pay back my loans, and then die. I’m kidding. (Sort of.) But while we shouldn’t have to feel that death is rollerskating behind us all the time, we should still be very aware that there is never enough time for us to dawdle when it comes to pursuing our dreams.

We just have to do the best we can, and make the best of it.

So, the question is no longer, what would you do if you could not fail. It’s what do you want to do right now? Because that’s all the time we have, folks. That’s it. And if you’re not going for it, then what are you doing?

(By the way, is it getting hot in here? My heart is racing, and I’m sweating…I’m giving myself my own third degree…)

And by the way, people are going to try to put this question to you in a lot of different ways. The worst way it has ever been put to me is in the following fashion: “Make art or make babies.” This assumes three things about you before the word “go.”

1. It assumes you want to make art.

2. It assumes you want to make babies.

3. It assumes that you can’t do both.

Which, for some people, is correct. But why do I have to choose? Why does anyone have to choose between their dream and their lifestyle?

“Oh yeah. Because we have to make money to eat because if we don’t we die,” says Logic.

“But…if we don’t make art? Don’t we ‘die,’ then too? Creativity has to have a symbolic host that it can flourish in. And raising a new generation can be equally rewarding. It literally needs a host it can flourish in,” says Bailey.

Hmmm, good point. So, scratch that last secret to life. Here’s my new theory:

Do whatever the hell you want to do.

Yup. Just remember that you don’t have a lot of time to do it in. So, er, speed it up. But don’t rush greatness…Uh…Okay, let me try this secret to life thing again…

Do whatever the hell you want to do and take however long you want to do it.

There. I think that about sums it up.

Because the point is, this is your life. I’m sorry, but no proverb or timely quote is going to tell you how you should live it. Of course, it would be absolutely amazing if you pursued your passion. But if you can’t do it full time or you can’t do it right now, then find some other way to do it. Just make sure you are happy. No one said you had to travel the world in your twenties, after all. Our youth-obsessed culture may make you feel that way, but they’re wrong. You’re at the actual helm of the ship, remember? So, you can decide how and when you live your life.

We put too much pressure on ourselves as it is, let alone factoring in when we will die and what we have to cross off the bucket list to get there. If we are going to leave this earth, there’s no stopping us.

So, make the best of it, then. Make the best of your art or your babies.

And read my poem on the topic below.

Make Art or Make Babies

Make art or make babies?

It’s never been put to me so

sharp and so blunt

at the same time. Now I know

my inspiration drips like

candle wax, slithering

emptying my tributaries 

seeping down into 

one final puddle,

leaving me arid.

But I don’t want to choose.

I want to believe that I have

enough stardust for both.

My children won’t be tabula rasas.

Their faces will be rife with blue swirls

ranging and stretching

like tree rings.

Starry night is on the folds of their brains;

on their cat scans.

And Guernica helps them breathe at night

their lungs shallow enough to take in

the disjointed pieces as one.

Their pastel smiles

and oil eyes

their paint brush lashes

and watercolor hearts

make me sigh with the craft

of the fifties housewife.

My motherly instinct croons in the moonlight

wailing that the world might 

be excited to see them.

They are only 

white canvasses on the inside

cut clay

leaning easels

and will be exactly who the universe wants them to be.

Except for a few masterpieces, I hope to imbue

they have many gilded frames to hang.

I am only a conduit in

this world but if I get the

chance to create something

of my own instead of 

letting the atmosphere wash and submerge me

I will paint this town red,

and my children even redder.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

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