Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dallas bella vita.

Thursday in poetry class in the midst of a second helping of Shakespearean sonnets, my professor caught all of us off-guard by asking a question that seems better suited for the entries of this lover of love's blog than for a class about English lyric poetry:
"What makes love so difficult?"
Though most of you may expect my hand to have shot instantly into the air (after all, I am a self-proclaimed love guru), I was actually sitting in shocked silence, forced to think about what I like least about love- the fact that more often than not it doesn't work out.
One of the best answers was given by my favorite hipster in the class- with skinny jeans to boot. He raised his hand with a smirk and said, "Love is difficult because it's two different people with two different thoughts about what's going on."
Impressive. In fact, it was exactly the opinion my brain was starting to formulate.
Professor David Hamilton liked the answer, too. He said, "Yes, love is about two people trying to become one, but they'll always be two people."
So this is the part where I argue on behalf of love and fill the post with rainbows and unicorns, right?
Maybe not.
Just because I believe in love doesn't mean I think it's easy. And it also doesn't mean that I'm not wildly afraid of it. In fact, wild love lover that I am, I may actually be worse at it since I have such huge expectations.
Because the whole point of love is to be with someone you find incredibly awesome and snuggly and smart without smothering away their awesome snuggly smartness. It's letting someone exist happily as an independent soul, while at the same time existing alongside you.
But it's like the more someone becomes a part of your heart, the more you have to be sure of what they feel for you, and suddenly you're fighting every single day about whether or not he really still cares or if she wouldn't rather he lose ten pounds and look more like Brad Pitt.
Love is two people trying to understand each other, even though who we are is bound to change over the course of months and years and decades.
And so how does it ever work?
Well sometimes people find each other who are strong enough as individuals that they can work together to create a happy union. Who can use open communication to make sure that they don't wake up one day and have no idea what the person on the other side of the bed is thinking.
So since Thursday's class, I've been thinking a lot about who I want to be when I'm in love. Obviously, it'd be nice to be the type of girlfriend who my guy couldn't stop thinking about and thanked his lucky stars for every single day, but mostly I just want to be the type of girlfriend who is steady enough to earn trust. Who is aware enough of her actions to avoid the dips and twists of a typical unhealthy roller coaster romance.
Who trusts the strength of the relationship enough not to have to suffocate her man into continued assurances that he does, in fact, still love her.
I've been riding the 'self-love' train a bit too often lately, but I think it all has been building up to this. Self-love is a means to forming a relationship with yourself that prepares you for a relationship with another. It protects you from a case of the crazies, in which you get your mind so twisted up with over-analysis that you lose track of how to be happy.
I don't think I should continue to let myself be afraid of love, or, more specifically, to be afraid of how love will affect who I am as an individual.
Because, in the end, it's not my job to figure it all out.
Yes, love is two different people with two different opinions trying to make things work. Two people. Not just one.
And if you find the right teammate, maybe it isn't so difficult after all.
(We all knew I'd end with a rainbow, right?)

Today's thought of the day from Bob Marley:
“You may not be her first, her last, or her only.
She loved before and she may love again.
But if she loves you now, what else matters?
She’s not perfect, you aren’t either,
and the two of you may never be perfect together
but if she can make you laugh, cause you to think twice,
and admit to being human and making mistakes,
hold onto her and give her the most you can.
She may not be thinking about you
every second of the day, but she will give you a part of
her that she knows you can break her heart.
So don’t hurt her, don’t change her, don’t analyze
and don’t expect more than she can give.
Smile when she makes you happy,
let her know when she makes you mad,
and miss her when she's not there."

Peace, love and unending potential,

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dallas does...a deep breath.

When I was growing up, one of my absolute favorite book sets was the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. I got them all for a birthday many years ago and have devoured them (the whole set) on several different occasions.
In recent years, the ones of most interest to me are, of course, those in which Laura is pursued by the rugged Almanzo Wilder and then *spoiler* becomes his wife.
Back in those covered wagon, one-room school house kind of days, there doesn't seem to have been the same affinity for mystery in the realm of love that permeates our modern culture.
I suppose 'playing hard to get' sinks down the priority list a bit when you're busy churning your own butter or preparing for the one bath you get to take per month.
You see Almanzo didn't have to facebook friend or ask for the digits of Miss Laura before letting his intentions be known. Essentially, he just rode his buggy up to her one day and asked if she wanted a ride.
He was so entirely taken by her sweet pigtail braids and brown eyes big enough to take in the whole countryside at once that he knew she was the gal for him and that was that.
Things don't exactly seem to work that way these days.
Dating has become such an elaborate dance of uncertainty that even those of us unable to imagine a life without love give up from time to time.
If there's one thing that's true about 2010 it's that if you need information you're going to be able to get it.
Google. Youtube. Texting. You name a question and I'll find a way to get the answer.
But obviously when the thoughts of another person get involved, things get tricky.
I can't Google to find out what a certain gentleman is thinking about me. And I can't youtube a video of his facial expression when his phone lights up with my text.
We constantly search for ways to get around this information clog, building networks of friends who can keep their fingers on the pulse of a situation, or becoming so great at facebook stalking that you know exactly who your crush was with at 3:45 p.m. on March 23, 2007.
But I think all that leaves us with is a brain that is so busy processing secondhand knowledge that we just get fed-up with the whole thing. We become love burn-outs. Stop the roller coaster because if there's one more drop we're going to toss our nachos.
And that's where I found myself at the beginning of this week.
Entirely frustrated by the process of being 'in like.'
So I went on self-induced love-probation. It wasn't that I was checking into a convent for the week- it was that I was going to stop the 24/7 headache of information gathering.
If he liked me, it was his job to show it, not my job to hunt it out from the 165 clues I gathered daily.
It's pathetic really. We let ourselves get so caught-up in avoiding vulnerability that we miss out on what this whole dating thing is supposed to be about: two people getting to know each other openly and honestly.
And once you've started the process, you've got to believe that at some point you'll be confident enough to throw caution to the wind and just say how you feel right?
In my case lately? Not so much.
Confidence level aside, I fell into the common trap of trusting blogging, facebook statuses and winky faces to allude to what I was far too worried to just voice aloud.
Namely that, "I like you a lot."
And so there I was, in love-probation.
Don't you worry, I still had plenty of poetry to fill up the romance-center of my brain, and I also had an incredibly refreshing amount of time to just pleasantly exist beyond the stress of chasing after a young man's affections.
Now that I've come to the end of my punishment, I'm finding it hard to figure out how I could ever have found that frenzied version of myself from the last three weeks acceptable to release into the campus community.
I guess what I've realized is that no matter how grandiose I still find the whole idea of love, there's no reason it should be so complicated. There's no reason that I should make it so hard.
Absolve yourself to the ways of fate and the universe and things will work out as they were intended.
Take a deep breath. Give your thumbs a break from the texting. Log off facebook in favor of a good book. Follow what feels natural instead of grasping for what is socially acceptable in light of your age, his past relationships, your zodiac compatibility and your friend's advice.
Reconnect with the simplicity of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Dare I suggest taking a turn at the butter churn?
And maybe, just maybe, when all those wild thoughts have stopped buzzing around your head, you'll find the courage to unclog that information flow and just say what's on your mind without hiding it behind two hundred veils of secrecy.
I like
(deep breath)
(deep breath)
a lot.
Now was that so hard?

Today's thought of the day from the beautiful Desiderata, a poem by Max Ehrmann:
"Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."

Peace, love and partial courage,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dallas does...rainy Saturday.

Part of being a unique person means experiencing your world differently than every other person on Earth.
We each have our own favorite paths to walk and books to read, but this week I thought about something much more basic: what type of thoughts run through your head all day.
It's a very interesting idea to me, a girl who's main goal is to observe people like they're characters in a new novel who have specific motivations for me to understand. I realize that the mind of another person can't often be accessed, but the more perceptiveness you aim for, the more surprises there are to discover.
In my English lyric poetry class this Thursday, we discussed how interesting the process of analyzing a poet's work is. We make all these 'educated guesses' as English majors about how the rain outside was used to set the mood or how the choice of vocabulary is supposed to clue us in to the religious undertones.
But in reality, I'm never going to be able to meet William Shakespeare. So that allusion to Narcissus we picked up on in Sonnet 1? Not a verifiable fact.
So all these ideas I gather about what is motivating the people around me- what goals they are working towards each day- are utterly dissatisfying.
The truth is, we aren't meant to know what it's like for Sheila to be Sheila everyday. Or how Bryan lectures Bryan for the awkward way he waved to that girl. The important thing is to figure out our relationship with ourselves in our own minds, and make it a productive one.
As I've said an almost embarrassing number of times before, I love me. Though at this point you're probably rolling your eyes, unable to believe that I could find a way to sneak that fact into every single blog post, try to hear me out.
The fact is that "I love me" is exactly the thought that runs through my head most often. Why you ask? Because it reminds me to stop panicking every time I've said something wrong or been caught staring at that kid across the aisle too long. Poised on the verge of self-critique, I remind myself that if I can't accept all the weird things I do far too often, then I can't possibly expect other people to.
I love me.
Yesterday was one of the best days I've had this school year. It was like thousands of small entities aligned to create the most perfect chain of events that I could ever ask for.
Now if you asked me to describe these events to you, you would be shocked at how simplistic they were. But they were exactly what I needed to keep smiling on Friday, September 17.
So a word of advice to you dear readers: take the time to understand yourself.
It's a journey I embark on everyday, and it's one of the most worthwhile goals I've ever pursued.

Today's thought of the day from within the confines of my mind:
I think what I most want to be is a breath a fresh air. I want to be so comfortably nestled into the truths of who I am that I help others reach a similar peace with who they are. I want to spread love and be loved.

Peace, love and Pippy Longstockings,

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dallas does...a goodbye to grandpa.

When my dad got the call that his mom had died, we were on the way home from Iowa City at the end of fall semester. We were 5 minutes away from home when suddenly my world shrunk by one.
I was laying on my bed in my new apartment when I got the call that my dad's dad had died. I sat there crying and all I could think about was how few people I had left to lose.
Because I started out with what I consider a pretty small family tree, the weight change of entire branch now being gone shook me to my core. But because I was 200 miles away from home, it was easy to push the thought of it away to the back of my head. When the many loved ones of my Iowa City world sent me emails and texts and gave me hugs and said they were glad to see that I was doing well, I felt distant from my daily life. I felt like I was standing 20 feet away watching myself mourn my grandpa's loss.
And because no one around me knew my grandpa, it was easy to pretend like the fact of his approaching funeral was nothing more than a blip in my usually very happy life.
And even when I gave my dad and mom big hugs last night when I got home, the idea that I came home for the sole reason of attending my grandpa's funeral was just a nagging feeling in the back of my mind and I was preoccupied with the disorientation I always feel when I return to my living room couch from the hustle and bustle of Iowa City.
So today when we got to the church, and I finally had to stop ignoring the fact that my grandpa, who I hadn't seen since early in the summer, was really gone, it wasn't surprising that for most of the service I couldn't stop crying.
And now here I am, nine hours later, still feeling that awful hollow feeling in my cheeks from a sinus infection/crying-all-afternoon combo, and I finally feel like I'm wrapping my mind around the last few days.
Yes, it is incredibly hard for me to reconcile myself to the fact that even with the significant loss of my grandfather, it is my job to keep living my life without feeling guilt every time I smile or laugh.
Grandpa had 81 years on this Earth to raise kids and farm and love grandma. And now he gets to be with grandma in heaven after eight lonely months without her.
He wouldn't want me to let myself freeze-up in my sadness and pause my own life. I have so many people left to meet and love to share and roads to follow.
But before I drive back to Iowa City tomorrow to continue my junior year of college, let me take just one more moment to reflect on my grandpa.
My favorite afternoon I ever spent with him was when my brother and I were in Tuscola for one of our week-long summer visits. Out of the blue, he got out his Chinese checkers set and taught us how to play. Then, really in a kick of excitement, he dug out his Korean war uniform and showed us each and every piece. Grandma wandered into the room, put her hand on her hip and said, "Now don't you just assume that I'm going to pack that back up for you."
A fit of giggles later, we continued our days and watched as grandpa fell asleep behind the game board, his face partially hidden by his uniform hat.
That's how I want to remember him. Peacefully asleep after a beautiful day doing the farm work that he loved.

Today's thought of the day: Matthew 11: 28
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Peace, love and personal healing,

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dallas does...poetry!

So after being incredibly embarrassed to have this read aloud to the hipsters of my English lyric poetry class, I've come to terms with the fact that if poetry is not shared, it just becomes a creepy Emily Dickinson-esque mess of scribblings. So anyway, here is my imitation of a Robert Herrick poem that I had to write for class. I received an A for my efforts and hugely pink cheeks from the blushing that ensued when the professor felt the need to share his enjoyment of my love descriptions.

The Original: Delight in Disorder by Robert Herrick

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness :
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction :
An erring lace which here and there
Enthralls the crimson stomacher :
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly :
A winning wave (deserving note)
In the tempestuous petticoat :
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility :
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.

The Imitation: Savor the Subtlety by Kelsey Dallas

A shy enchanter of this land
Remains in acts a gentleman.
A grace in all his actions shown
Is not a false creatiòn.
A special smile, shared soft and sweet,
Played ‘cross his lips when e’er we meet;
A kind demeanor that relays
Inner belief in charity.
A flirting hint, a careful note,
For my enjoyment often wrote;
A newfound friendship, in its form
I find a love that could grow warm.
Do more to earn my heart than when
A boldness guides the acts of men.

And no, I do not claim to have written this poem for or about any young gentleman. All blushing aside, I stand by the fact that just having an idealized version of love in my mind makes me capable of writing whatever I'd like about a similar voice to poets who truly were in a deep and abiding love relationship with another.
So I hope you enjoyed this departure from my normal ramblings. If you'll allow it, I'll put quotes in from some of my favorite poems from time to time. I am loving the romanticism of the John Donne's of the world!

Today's thought of the day from my favorite CAB Comedian of the year, Mike E. Winfield:
"Don't steal the cake mix if you ain't got the bowl."

Peace, love and poetry,

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dallas does...zen and the art of Kelseyness.

Let's take a journey back in time shall we?
Two weeks ago today I was wrapping up my first Monday of the school year, overwhelmed by the possibilities that lay ahead and wrapped-up in the pure optimism that has come to rule a significant portion of my daily thought processes.
I was fully confident in the fact that in the year ahead my grades would remain high, my time spent on facebook would continue to border on addiction and that somehow in the mix of Iowa City life I would find special moments to share with my best friends back home and my family.
And two weeks ago today I had a crush. Yes, Mandy Moore, I still do refer to them as such.
And in spite of that surprising load of things I already had on my plate to fret over- the homework, the phone calls, the emails, the newsfeed- all I could seem to think about was whether or not to text said crush, say hi to said crush, strike-up a conversation with said crush , wall post said crush or tell said crush that he was, indeed, said crush.
Quite a typical line of thought for a college age girl if I do say so myself, but being 'typical' has never been a goal of mine.
And so, it has taken me two weeks, but I sit behind this computer a changed woman.
After countless days of CAB events, statistical data sets, Katy Perry music, old man professors, and several sad attempts at cooking, the daily stream of thoughts running across my mind has much more of a logical flow to it.
Is Mardy Fish winning? (No) Why is Physics this dumb? (Blah) What happens with a price drop for a close substitute in Econ? (Decrease in demand) How does Ricky Stanzi look with longer hair? (Good) Can I trust Alain to not eat this dessert I'm saving? (Sometimes)
Especially this weekend, and with the help of a wonderful visit from my mamacita, I've realized that the only thing to gain from over-analysis is a headache.
Little is to be won or lost in the time spent agonizing over the feelings of a crush. All we can truly do is make peace with ourselves and work hard each day to be personally fulfilled without the need for attentions from our chosen suitors.
And after spending an entire weekend reveling in all of those ridiculous activities that put a smile on my face- watching tennis, playing tennis, finding a perfect pair of jeans, dressing up to go grocery shopping, Scrabble- I feel so entirely pleased with being Kelsey that I seem to lack the energy to continue worrying about how each action I take is amplified in the mind of the aforementioned gentleman.
So here I lay on my comfy bed, preparing to get some sleep before I begin the third week of this semester's classes, and I still have said crush. And I'm still not sure if it will amount to anything. And I still have no idea what he's thinking.
But in the scope of my entirely beautiful life, chasing after admiration seems secondary to my own daily pursuits of happiness.
Loved or left, the inner workings of my world need to remain in tact. I can't control what I must take as given, any more than I could stop Mardy Fish from playing horribly in his fourth round match against Djokovic.
All I can do is be Kelsey and know that, in the grand scheme of things, commitment to authenticity is more powerful than the returned affections of a thousand crushes.

Today's thought of the day from a favorite wild-haired wise man:
"True religion is real living; living with all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness." -Albert Einstein

Peace, love and popsicles,

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dallas does...self-love.

"It's time for you to fall back in love with yourself."
Saying these words to one of my friends tonight, even I wondered how, at 20 years of age, I have become a 5'8" version of a female self-help book.
All those cheesy messages from the countless romance novels, Cosmo magazines and rom-coms I have read, perused and viewed over the years seem to be lodged somewhere in my gigantic head and come hurling back into the universe via my mouth whenever one of my friends is going through a break-up or some other man-related drama.
And yes, most of the time I sound like Oprah on steroids. But in this instance, I happen to think I'm entirely correct. No, I don't want people to pull a Narcissus and stare at their own reflection for the next fifty-some odd years, but I do think that an important part of being a happy person means being genuinely pleased to get to be who you are each day of the week.
Part of being healthy enough to be in a relationship means that you are comfortable enough in your own skin to be able to open your heart to someone else without losing sight of your own hopes and dreams and fears and needs and favorite movies and not-so-secret love of Justin Bieber and penchant for Jane Austen novels and tennis obsession.
So that's why when life isn't turning out the way I've plotted in my mind, I try to spend as little time as possible sulking in the land of "Why me?!" and "This isn't fair!" and instead speed ahead into the land of self-love. Because when I do return to my favored path of love and adventure and excitement, I want to be able to know, wholly and truly, that I am someone to be aimed for, not someone to settle with. That I am someone who deserves to be cherished, for all of the silly little things that make me Kelsey and not Samantha or Louise or Betty.
The world needs more people who are so in love with themselves (in a healthy, non-Tom Cruise-like kind of way) that they won't let people seize their love and then run away with it. Who are prepared to fight for their own romance requirements on Pat Benatar's battlefield of love. (Please forgive me for getting all self-help up in here.)
The point I'm struggling to make...because I can't seem to stop sounding like I'm incredibly full of that love with another person is never going to work out unless you trust the love they feel for you. And that trust doesn't come from letting someone pick-you up from the pit of despair and make it their project to love your heart back into comes from knowing in your very soul that you do deserve love and that someone special out there is going to be lucky enough get the opportunity to own a piece of your heart that you don't hand out to just anyone.
Every day I wake-up and release Kelsey out into the world. And there's a lot about her that is a little left of center (namely, the aforementioned Bieber-fever), but there's also a lot of her that is worth loving. I never want to lose sight of that. I never want to think of myself as some guy's consolation prize, because that's not how this whole love thing is supposed to work.
I want to be somebody's Olympic gold medal. And they can be my Wimbledon trophy.
And we'll live happily ever after. Not because they smell nice or love ice cream as much as I do (though both are excellent qualities), but because they love me in such a way that they make it impossible not to want to spend the rest of my life with them.

Today's thought from one of my favorite quotable people, Oscar Wilde:
"Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken."

Peace, love and a promise to never pretend to be this knowledgeable about love again,