I Don’t Know Enough About Me – What the Hell?

I was asked to update my About page by a few readers because they don’t see how my teaching degrees are relevant enough to the content of my posts.  That’s fair enough for now, especially because there is so much more to that story that I’m not yet at liberty to tell.

In the meantime, I figured that I could update my About in the two minutes I had until the washer’s spin cycle ended and the OnDemand feature the little guy was watching rolled the credits, and I sat down to update my About.  It was harder than I thought.  I gave up after those two precious minutes.  And I kept thinking about it while I put in the next load of laundry and switched to the next OnDemand feature (No! PAW Patrol no.  I watch Turtles now!) and wrote the grocery list and realized the bananas are still sitting on the counter because the banana hanger was ruined by the fruit fly trap.  Long story.

I had Siri take a few notes on ideas while I put away laundry and folded pool towels (we are officially calling them pool towels from now on because I don’t think we will EVER make it to the beach) and chased the little guy away from the toilet paper for the fourth time.  I forced myself to stop thinking about it while playing trains and watching Turtles and actually enjoyed the break from thinking about it while out running errands and having lunch.

Now, the kiddo is asleep and the husband is working out in the yard and I’m bound and determined to do it.  I read a few helpful hints online, got fed up by how easy they made it sound, and sat down to write the About.  I let it flow without judgment and without editing and hit “Update.”  And, I think I hate my About.

How can I know so little about my About?  I’m enjoying writing this blog so much, and I’m happy with my number of views and followers because I honestly thought I’d have six – my parents (2), my husband (1), my really good friends who are online and read voraciously (3) – and I get supportive emails and Facebook messages and comments all of the time (still not sure why people are so hesitant to comment on the actual blog itself, but I’ll take what I can get), and I’ve been getting just enough criticism to know that I’m at least hitting readers who don’t love me enough to tell me they love everything that I write.  I have great reasons for blogging and thought I had a good handle on the kind of writer that I am, so why is this About so damn hard?

I think it’s because I just write to write because I love it so much (and if you read my post about why I blog, that’s great because I don’t want to rehash all of it here).  I don’t have a niche because I never intended to have one.  I just live my life under this ponytail and have fun with my family and work as hard as I can at everything that I do (even that laundry pile) because that’s what I was raised to do.  I just happen to have a lot to say about the life I’ve chosen to lead in this low-maintenance kind of way, and most of it makes me say, “What the Hell?”  I think that’s because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and a control freak and I expect things to go the way that I expect them to, and when they don’t, my mind automatically reacts with a “What the Hell?”

I don’t know how to say that in an About.  So, I’m leaving it the way that it is, for now.  And I’ll deal with it when it doesn’t make me say, “What the Hell?”  I just don’t know when that will be.

My Very First Blog Post… From 1999 – What the Hell?

The following is an email I sent to my mom September 9, 1999: my first week of classes at Franklin & Marshall College.  I have been searching for this piece of writing for 15 years, and my mom just nonchalantly handed me the worn, yellowed, folded, written-on paper today.  I could have cried.   I guess I was trying to blog before blogging even became a thing.  What the Hell?


I want you to read this, print it out, and then read it to Dad, my brother, Nana, and Pap.  I think you ought to know where your $33,000 is really going.

After one week of college classes, I find that I am already wondering why I am here.  I have no idea how any of these things I am doing are going to help me get a job.  I know I could write for a magazine starting today, but I wouldn’t have that precious “BA” behind my name to prove it.

The very first thing I learned is that college is not about the classes.  I just saw a sign that reads: “Don’t let classes interfere with your education.”  This is so true.  College teaches you how to deal with the most undesirable circumstances.

You don’t come here for the food.  You don’t come here for the living facilities.  You certainly don’t come here to take baths.  You learn how to wear the same pair of jeans for four days and the same t-shirt for three days, just so you save yourself from having to do laundry.  You learn how to sleep in the noisiest of places, how to get a shower at just the right time so there isn’t anyone around flushing toilets or using the showers upstairs to put your precious hot water in jeopardy, and how to read four novels in three days.  You also learn how to run a movie and CD rental store.  You learn how to eat snack food in moderation, so you don’t gain the Freshman 15 five times.

College is a learning experience, not an institution of learning.  You find a way to deal with people you would never approach if you didn’t absolutely have to.  You learn how to cram an entire house into a space 14’ x 16’.  You learn that professors do not teach; they make you question everything you thought you have known to be true since you were five years old.  You do not ask questions unless you are prepared to defend not only yourself but also the previous four student speakers.  You learn to read and analyze and take more notes than you will ever need in your life, so that when the professor asks you to write a paper on what you just “learned,” you have some sort of material to make that paper magically materialize.

And, you ask yourself, is this really worth being in debt for the next 30 years of my life?  And, you answer yes.  Because learning how to eat pizza that is fresh, cold, not-so-cold, not-so-warm, reheated, preheated, soggy, and hard is definitely worth something.  But, the best advice you gain from a college student is this: if it moves, don’t eat it.  It’ s probably your roommate.

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Why Do I Blog? – What the Hell?

Somebody asked me the other day why I’m blogging.  It’s not making any money, is it?  Nope.  Not a penny.  This isn’t about money.  It’s certainly not about wasting time doing something that isn’t lucrative.  It’s like asking an artist why he paints or a singer why she sings.  Words are my passion.  I love saying them, hearing them, spelling them, and stringing them together in a dozen different ways until it sounds just right.  Wordsmithing is my thing.  I’m not perfect at it; I’ve never taken a creative writing course (I was too busy earning that teaching degree I’m not currently using).  I just write.  Because I love it.  And because…

It helps me sleep at night
My brain never stops.  I’m always thinking and planning and wishing and hoping.  And worrying and stressing.  Writing somehow gets most of that out, or exhausts my mental capacity just long enough to help me get those 4-5 hours of coveted sleep.  You read that right. 4-5 hours.  I’ll sleep when I’m old.

It quiets my negative thoughts… most of the time.
Unless I’m writing about something that severely ticks me off or some radical injustice, I’m usually able to get it all out on paper and then be done with it.  It’s that cathartic experience that everyone needs once in awhile.  I haven’t ruined my keyboard yet with tears, either, thank goodness.

It gets my blood pumping.
I think about what I want to say and how I want to say it and why I want to say it, and pretty soon I’ve written pages without really thinking about it at all.  It’s exciting and thrilling for me to get all the words and thoughts out and to spend so much time doing something that I love without feeling guilty about it.  If exercise worked through fingers typing on a keyboard, I’d be a size 2.  That would be grand!

It’s something that I’ve always been told I’m good at, and I like knowing that I’m good at something that I love doing.
I’m good at cleaning, too, but I don’t love doing that.  So, I write.  For the most part, I’m good at lots of things, but not one brings me more joy than writing.  If you’re wondering how being a mom fits into this since I should love being a mom, I absolutely do.  But, you must’ve missed my previous post, “Am I Doing Anything Right? – What the Hell?”  Read it, and you’ll understand.

It helps me think.
I type faster than I write, and I type almost as fast as I can think.  That’s a good thing, because the more I type, the more I realize I have a lot more on my mind.  Writing helps me get it all organized and analyzed and OUT.  “Out” is a big word when it comes to my writing.

It’s a creative outlet.
I’m not artistic, I’m not the best singer, and my piano is at my parents’ house.  Writing is something I can do anywhere, anytime.  I’m getting damn good at telling Siri what I want to write about in the car, too.  I wish there were a keyboard on my steering wheel, but I don’t think that would pass those highway safety tests or please those kind officers who have moved in right down the street from us.

It helps me to get in touch with me.
I get in touch with my feelings and my thoughts and my fears and my dreams through my writing.  There are times when I seriously don’t know what I want or how I’m going to get it until I write about it.  I wrote pages about our dream home before we even sat down with the contractors.  I needed to see it, so I wrote about it first.  When we were choosing baby names, I wrote them all down, too, about a million times.  I needed to see how they looked.

It helps me connect with people.
There is nothing worse than feeling isolated.  Writing is a way to get those thoughts and feelings out there and find other people who are in your boat.  (Now, I get those people on my blog.)  We really aren’t so different after all.  Except those people reading the NRA blogs.  They can stay there.

I get excited when I see how many people have viewed my posts.
It’s not about the numbers for me when it comes to motivation or inspiration; I’d write if I only had one reader, my husband.  But, it’s nice to know that people are reading my thoughts.  It’s even nicer when they send an email, follow me on Twitter, or Like or Comment on the blog itself.  The best part is when they Follow the blog.  Then, I know that I’m not as weird as I think I am, because other people are reading and agreeing or reading and disagreeing, but at least we’re all reading what I’ve written.

I survived teen angst and high school through writing; why not survive motherhood and a pause in my career through writing, too.
I had a journal on my old, old Dell desktop that went on for hundreds of pages.  I categorized by month, my weekly crush, my monthly conflict with my mom… well, you get the point.  I can’t really remember a time that I didn’t turn to writing.  Now, I get through the terrible twos and self-doubt and gripes about society and anything else my mind throws at me.  Same process, same cathartic experience, just at a different point in life.

So, yes, my name is Bailey and I’m addicted to blogging.  And I don’t see that changing any time soon.  So, when you ask me, “Why do you blog?” my answer is going to be, “Didn’t you read the blog?  What the Hell?”

*I hope you paid attention to that one about connecting with people.  There are lots of ways to connect with me.  Click either of the Follow buttons at the bottom of this post (one is for fellow bloggers and one is for people who want to receive email notification of my new posts), Comment on any of my posts, email me at baileyshawley@gmail.com, follow me @baileyshawley, or send me a message on Facebook.  Better yet, help me connect with even more people by sharing my blog on your Facebook timeline or retweeting my posts.