Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dallas does...Comedy Central on Campus

Somewhere in the midst of midterms and essays, student org meetings and reading assignments, Friday nights stand as the symbol of everything that is right about college.
You don't get graded on Friday nights. You don't have to make presentations on Friday nights. Heck, you don't even have to brush your teeth on Friday nights (though I strongly encourage it).
Friday nights mean freedom. They mean crazy nights downtown or just sitting on the couch in sweatpants with your best friends watching movies. They mean Amaretto Sours and Chinese food. They wait for you at the end of each busy week as a reward for five more days of hard work.
And this week, the Campus Activities Board is asking you to spend your Friday night with us.
The problem with Friday nights is that even they can get stuck in a rut. So before you pull out that sparkly dress for yet another trip to Brothers, consider mixing it up with some jeans and a dose of Comedy Central-quality comedy.
Yes, comedy. Because everyone loves a laugh. And because, if your midterms have been anything like mine, you desperately need one.
Okay, okay, okay, I'll admit that Iowa didn't earn its #4 party school ranking by spending Friday nights in the Main Lounge of the IMU. But we did earn it by proving that we know how to have fun.
And I solemnly swear that a night spent with comedians Nick Thune, Rory Scovel and Jermaine Fowler will be one of the best opportunities for fun that this semester has offered.
These three young guys have starred in movies, appeared on every variety of late-night television show, worked with College Humor, recorded award-winning comedy albums and been the face of many of our favorite products for commercial campaigns.
Their names may not be jumping off the page, but their resumes do.
And so, on behalf of CAB, I'm asking you to give them a chance this Friday night. Because I think we sometimes let the siren song of the downtown scene lure us too easily away from on-campus entertainment options.
This is going to be a great show and I want to see you there!
Buy your ticket today at the IMU Box Office. Only $5 for three great acts.
Get yourself out of that rut and invest this Friday night in Comedy Central on Campus. You, and your funny bone, deserve it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dallas does...secrets, secrets are no fun.

Allow me to call my own bluff on something.
I'm pretty sure that every single time I've posted a Facebook status that's along the lines of "Life is short. Never miss an opportunity to tell somebody how you feel about them," I've been secretly hoping that my phone will light-up instantly with a proclamation of love from the man of my dreams.
Because I am (and maybe we all are) by nature, extremely impatient.
Because it's hard to understand how we can afford to keep things bottled-up inside when our whole lives can end so suddenly.
But let's be honest here. How often do I come out and tell someone how I'm feeling right there in the moment I'm feeling it?
I'm more of a let-me-imply-my-feelings-over-a-several-month-text-message-exchange type of girl. Which, frankly, sucks.
Because it means I'm not allowed to complain about such frustrations as the anxiety of being unable to know what's on everyone else's mind when I'm not sharing what's on mine.
I am, however, allowed to read into every single piece of communication to create an elaborate picture of the mindscape of others- a picture that inevitably turns out to be miles from the truth.
From the picture I've painted of myself over the last year of blogging, I'm sure you're all confident that you know what I'm referring to: that the world needs to invoke a "must fess-up policy" for crushes.
But what I'm actually talking about is something more than that. Something that encompasses the entire spectrum of emotions.
Because it's not just love that we forget to share. It's anger, too. And it's laughter and it's tears and it's ticklishness.
I like to refer to myself as "non-confrontational," and to me, that has always meant that I will avoid conflict at any cost.
But I think I'm beginning to realize that what I really am is an emotion-avoider. I'll spill out my feelings all over a blog post or to my mom on the phone (which hardly counts as a normal interaction because she literally can't be surprised at this point), but I run like crazy away from situations that require face-to-face, nitty-gritty, heart-to-heart talk.
Because I get scared.
Always considered a perceptive person, I'm scared that I will have entirely misread a situation. I don't want to know that my friend always secretly hated the way I never made her a trophy when she successfully crossed the monkey bars. Or that my dad is getting more and more worried about my grad school plans.
I just want to be proven right when I think that you've missed me just as much as I've missed you.
But somewhere inside, we all know that a situation is never quite how it appears.
And that's why we may never be able to actually say just what's on our mind at any given moment.
So if you stuck with me through this frantic post, let me just ask you one thing: how will we ever break this cycle of confusion?
Okay, okay, maybe I don't need to ask you. Because I've already found the solution, at least for myself.
Stop pretending to have the world figured out.
Sure, I am very good at reading the nonverbal cues of how the people around me are reacting to a particular interaction. But that does not mean I am some kind of licensed master of future affairs. The fact of the matter is that we will never be able to fully understand people who are not ourselves, so we need to stop trying.
So allow me to offer you a revised quote. One that I promise to be offering with a clear conscious:
Life is short. Don't ever miss an opportunity to let people surprise you.

Peace, love and perpetual confusion,

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dallas does...Silence Survivor.

It's been a week since the vow. Am I a changed person?
I've certainly still been facebooking like a fiend, texting like a twerp, and gabbing like a true gossip, but was there a lesson learned from those quiet hours?
I like to think so...but then again, I've always given myself the benefit of the doubt.
Because there's definitely doubt. I had moments of clarity within that day and a half (and with thousands of minutes to work with, that was definitely expected). But overall, I can't claim to have walked away with a lasting appreciation of the peace that silence brings.
I'd like to say that my lesson has been learned and that deactivating my Facebook and turning off my phone will be a common occurrence in my life.
But I can't.
Because that's not the real challenge.
Sure, when you separate yourself from your electronic communication outlets, you separate yourself from the power that others have to make you feel ignored or forgotten.
But then again, doesn't the real growth come from being able to leave yourself 'plugged-in' and learn to let go of that part of yourself that finds self-worth in notifications and new texts?
The real lesson I need to learn isn't one of silent stamina; it's one of communication confidence.
Smart phones and social media have opened up a whole new world of opportunities for telling the world about what matters to us. About fears and failures, successes and smiles. Painting a picture of our daily lives by the hour, or maybe even by the minute.
There's value in being unplugged, but maybe even more value in being plugged-in without losing the concrete, real-life aspects of who you are.
So here I am.
One week after the silence ended. Completely free to update my status far too many times in one day (Hey! I have important thoughts to share!) and text extensively about issues that could be much more easily solved in person.
And I'm already back to driving myself crazy waiting for contact from a particularly uncommunicative boy.
But a piece of me wants to believe that I am learning.
Slowly, but surely.
Somewhat struggling, but no longer silent.

Peace, love and party favors,

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dallas does...Hours 18-28

Forgive the pun, but I'm speechless about how hard it is to remain speechless.
I meant to provide a much more detailed update, but the hour is late and I've had a pounding headache since my brush with total starvation earlier. A brush that happened to be very in-line with the activities of an ascetic- while practicing the austerity of silence they rarely ate more than what would minimally sustain them. The vow is meant to be accompanied by a dedication to giving your body nothing in excess of what is required for basic survival.
My major accomplishment of the afternoon was remaining entirely quiet during the entire 75 minutes of my discussion-based literature class. That is a landmark achievement in my entire college career. The worst part was that I got a good grade on the quiz from last week and couldn't even text my mom to celebrate.
It's the little things like that text that I came to miss the most. It killed me that I couldn't even say a casual "thanks" to the guy who held the door open for me this morning.
Of course, there were also more extensive speech acts that I wanted to participate in and I definitely crossed the line once or twice with my hyperactive hand-signaling.
When 6:30 rolled around it was time for the CAB administrative meeting, an event that I had given myself a "hall pass" for because of the issues that needed to be discussed. I was very careful to try to allow only CAB-related words out of my mouth, but it was nearly impossible to stop the flow once I let just a few words out.
Uggh. Yep, I admit it. It hasn't been 28 hours of total silence. But it's been a good faith effort and I'm glad that the final 8 will be mostly spent in bed. I spoke only when the conversation could not possibly wait until tomorrow, and even then it was sparingly.
All I can think about is how it feels to go home to a quiet room after a night of endless gabbing with my best friends. How it feels to exhaust your talkin' bone.
I long for that feeling again, though let me assure you, silence is surprisingly exhausting.
This morning I fought the desire to tell irresistibly funny stories, but now all I want is to say something. To say ANYTHING. Even if it's to comment on the weather or the room decisions of the winner of this season's Design Star. I want to be able to be the commentator of my own life again.
I knew I had it bad when I stared at the characters on SVU and was genuinely jealous of how freely they got to speak to each other.
Let's just say that tomorrow morning can't come too soon.

Peace, love and silent surrender,

Dallas does...Hours 13-17

I am being haunted by the letter S.
My silence is making it impossible for me to go order food at the campus cafeteria...and I'm too stubborn to walk home and make an omelette because I know that would lead to me taking a nap instead of doing the hours of homework that should be accomplished today.
So here I am writing an update to try to kick my mind out if its early-afternoon hibernation.
The worst part by far of this vow (at least, the worst part in the first 17 hours) was the walk to campus with my roommate. Everyone should walk alongside someone for a good 15 minutes in total silence to know just how agonizing it can be.
Okay, maybe I'm being overdramatic. But that's because I've always hated silence. I'm that person who starts telling pointless stories just to fill minuscule gaps in conversations. And this my friends, is why I'm plagued by poor performance on both telephone interviews and first dates.
Beyond forcing myself into a much-needed hiatus from social media, I undertook this vow of silence as a way to try to make peace with crickets chirping, if you will. I think it's an important skill to have to be able to be in the same room with other people without the need to continuously shoot the breeze.
But boy do I want to shoot the breeze right now.
I'm sitting on the top floor of our Union, attempting to be productive, but mostly just dozing off while reading Donne poetry and listening enviously as the person behind me receives constant Facebook chat 'new message' notifications.
It's been an interesting morning overall. I find myself shuffling along looking at cracks in the sidewalk, as I have become convinced that even a slight second of eye contact will allow someone walking past to draw me into conversation.
I completed my social outcast vibe by sitting in the very back of the lecture hall for my morning class, which, as it turns out, is home to people who carry on conversations as if they are eating lunch at Panera instead of sitting in the glow of a professor's Powerpoint presentation.
I continue to find value in shrinking my communication universe to one, but am beyond thrilled that this project only lasts 36 hours. It's mesmerizing to me that a true ascetic can sentence themselves to an austerity of silence that lasts 12 years. 12 years!! And here I am complaining about all the life-changing events that I could be missing in just a day and a half...
I doubt any single Facebook notification or text message deserves to be missed as much as I miss it right now.
And that's the real problem. Little red numbers in the top left of our profile and vibrations from our phone have come to be the building blocks of communication instead of sentences spoken aloud. I still don't think that these things will be the ruination of my generation...but they definitely do distract us from the life that's passing us by outside of computer screens and lcd monitors.
And so my goal for the second half of my silence is to stop missing what I've left behind and embrace this opportunity to explore the aspects of this vow that I won't ever relive. I gave up talking, not listening.

Peace, love and personal growth,

*Best story that I can't yet share....
In lecture, my friend was eating some dry cereal while the professor began his lecture. It wasn't anything too crunchy like carrots, but it was definitely creating an audible chewing sound. And that, coupled with the crinkling of the cereal box's bag, was enough to drive the boy in front of us crazy. What I wouldn't have given to poke her and share what I saw him type on his computer screen which was, in all caps, ARE YOU DONE EATING. You just gotta love passive aggressives.

Dallas does...Hours 4-12

If a word is uttered in a forest with no one around to hear it, does it still count as speaking?
Forgive me for my early morning philosophy, I'm just getting a kick out of the fact that I can't stop muttering things to myself, or, in the case of my shower this morning, singing "Que Sera, Sera" until I realized that I was ruining the silence.
To be fair, most of these last 8 hours were spent sleeping, so they were easily the most relaxing part of the vow so far. The only frustration I have is that I was unable to drag my lazy body out of bed for some morning reflection, and therefore only had time for my regular routine, as well as some last minute homework edits.
I'm not particularly nervous about the day ahead, though I realize that a small sign reading: "Caution- Remain Quiet" is probably necessary, because who knows who I'll run into and what stories they will wish to share.
My goal is just to keep a low profile and be the type of student I was never very good at being: a quiet one. My arm is going to get a break from its regular workout of raising repeatedly to answer questions.
Oh my! I almost forgot the most comical event of my silence so far. I actually had a nightmare about cheating. I had created some kind of excuse for my dream self to require a visit to Facebook and started responding to wall posts before I realized that all of my responses would be coming from within the time period of my silence and therefore marking me as a cheater! This dream does not stray far from my common thread of dream in which I carry on textual conversations with people and am disappointed to find, upon waking, that it was all in my head.
So, there you have it. I'm a third of the way through my vow and my only complaint is that it's infiltrating my REM sleep and giving me a sudden affinity for Broadway tunes.
But now it's time to take this show on the road...well, the sidewalk to campus.

Peace, love and sleepy silence,

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dallas does...Hours 1-3

The silence is upon us, ladies and gentlemen.
Alright, it's mostly just upon me, since I'm the crazy kid who decided to take on the challenge of my Living Religions of the East professor and observe the austerity of silence for the next 36 hours.
The jury's still out on whether or not blogging is a form of cheating, but I don't consider this a complete act of communication until I post a link to I'll just go on putting my thoughts down while I'm having them and worry about the fine print later.
I didn't decide until Tuesday night that I was going to for sure give this project a go. I never thought it was impossible, but the logistics of the thing freaked me out. Would I sound like a brat if I said that on many days of the year I truly can't avoid talking?
It's true! My generation is built around communication. Even the failure to have an unlimited texting plan for your cell phone can make you akin to a social hermit.
Facebook, email, text messages- they're the way we stay in touch with each other (or, to be more blunt, the way we stalk each other). And the thought of going without all these things was enough to put me in quite a panic in the hours leading up to 8:00 p.m. this evening.
I'm the type of person who couldn't even stand to stay home from school for a day because I would miss too much of the hot gossip. I live in fear of being on the outskirts of an important news update (even if it's just that one of my best friends got a haircut) and I guess that's why so many people tell me that I'd make a great journalist. Consequently, it's also why I rarely miss an update to my Facebook newsfeed. It's almost pathetic how well-informed I am about other people's lives.
And I'm pretty sure it was this potential patheticism that inspired me to welcome this silence into my life. I spend so many hours of the day reading and talking about other people's lives that I forget to put valuable time into examining what's happening to me...unless it's to shape it into a clever status that will garner plenty of "likes" from my friends.
It was this very same problem that plagued me with guilt this summer. Even in the midst of the most amazing experience of my young life, I still spent more hours of my life engaged in social media than I dare admit. Where was the me time? Where was the peace that I promised myself when I was reading and rereading text messages trying to determine what the person on the other end of the cell tower could possibly have meant?
The goal of a vow of silence for "world-renouncers" in the Hindu tradition is to build up inner power, or heat. Austerities build up heat that can release you from the cycle of rebirth and into the higher level of being.
And as far from my Presbyterian upbringing as that sounds, it actually makes a lot of sense to me. Silence is inward. It forces you to remain within your own mind. To be fully in tune with yourself. (Comically, the only slip-ups I have had so far were to comment on things out loud to myself.)
The forms of communication I have left behind pull me outward. They stretch out my consciousness to include discussions of the bachelorhood of a poet that hit on Rebecca's friend or the likelihood that Nadal will be able to take down Djokovic in tomorrow's final.
"Kelsey" ceases to be one person living one life. She becomes a negotiator of many lives, advising Brittany about her long-distance love while simultaneously watching a movie with her mom. Making weekend plans with Andrew while catching-up with Beth. The energy she has to put into her own thoughts is splayed out over a thousand different conversations as she copies and pastes the advice of others into her own decision-making.
Silence is about being forced to live within yourself. To come to terms with only your own advice. To get to know what is truly best for you.
I find nothing essentially wrong with the over-communication of my's just dangerous. And these 36 hours are about collecting the pieces of my consciousness that I've been spreading throughout the tri-state area.
It's going well so far. Even though I feel somewhat like stories are fighting to get out of me like air always did during holding-your-breath contests at the Kasa's pool, I'm generally calm. I've dominated an essay for Virginia Woolf class and a Vocabulary practice test for the GRE. I'm getting to bed early so that I can wake-up for a run and some me-time.
I feel the pieces of myself finding their way back...and I almost want to scream out in joy. But that, of course, would be cheating. ;)

Peace, love and perfect silence,

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dallas does...This is the Year

Hello bloggernation, I've come crawling back to you again on my knees, asking for forgiveness.
More unforgivable than my habit of wearing leggings as pants is the complete lack of blogging I did about my summer experiences while they were happening.
Sometimes it feels like it was all too much. Too much to process while I was in it. Too much to even understand now as I sink into the routine of Iowa City.
Too much and yet not enough.
I don't know if I have enough memories to last me through a semester that is more stressful than I ever imagined a Senior year could be. Enough faith in everything I learned to stop me from taking the easy way out. Enough trust in the new understanding I have of myself to keep from making decisions that lead me down the same dusty, not-right-for-me roads.
I do know this: I'm a different person now. I carry myself differently. I find beauty in different pieces of my life.
And yet there's so many things I wish I'd more successfully left behind.
My anxiety about the future. My nagging perfectionism. My obsessive over-analyzing.
And my habit of leaving so many of my important thoughts trapped in my mind while I jabber day in and day out about the never-ending dramas of being a single, college-aged female.
For over a year I have loved this blog.
I have loved that it was my perfect medium for sharing my thoughts with the world, and letting people share in my lessons of love.
But I think maybe that love chapter needs to be put aside for now. Love is a subject of which I'm a perpetual student, but maybe writing about it and talking about it need to stop being my go-to methods of dealing with it.
How about living it?
Living it and leaving these pages for other lessons. Lessons of beauty and lessons of friendship. Lessons of self-worth and lessons of faith.
I can't begin to put into words what Colorado has done for me. But I think I owe it to myself to try to write about it. To move forward with more important discoveries than what bold move will be the final step in wooing the boy I like.
Love is something I've driven myself crazy trying to figure out. And all my countless conversations about it have just turned me into the sappy, confused mess I am today.
What I need to figure out is how to maintain that endless happiness I left Colorado with. And how to continue in my belief that life is beautiful no matter how imperfect it can get in day-to-day living.
So, from now on, the love doctor is out.
And these pages are for all of me. A discussion of my life as Kelsey Dallas, a senior at the University of Iowa, navigating the ridiculous world of a triple major, maintaining a semblance of a social life accompanied by mounds of homework.
So, here I am again, promising to use my words for good and not for evil. To move forward and not to stall on love's precepts that will all be changed by the right person, anyway.
I hope you enjoy this change of pace alongside me. And realize that a new outlook can be just the ticket to happily ever after.

Love, Kelsey

"Make Yourself Proud"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dallas does...tank top weather amazing song written by the beautiful Haylie Schroeder based on a concept we discussed! I'm freaking out! It's soooo good.

Mmm, summer, come.

The warm air pushes through the trees
Oh, how they rustle, like my hand in the pocket of my jeans
I can't stand still knowing how you look at me
Knowing just the way you've got me feeling sixteen

But years have passed, and I like to think
Oh, I'm not this naive, won't let myself get caught up in these childish dreams
But sometimes growing old ain't quite the same as growing up
And at twenty-one, I'm just beginning to learn when to stay and when to run

So maybe I'm young and a little bit over my head over heels
But the sun is getting closer, and we're getting older
And the heat of the moment has tangled me up
But I mean it this time; enough is enough
I'd wear my heart on my sleeve
But darling, it's tank top weather

I've walked this path a thousand times
Oh, watching love grow out of control, causing helpless hearts to die
Weeds overtake the gardens, while the willows weep at lovers parting
I'm guilty of the charges, showing off my heart, unguarded

So, maybe I'm young and a little bit over my head over heels
But the sun is getting closer, and we're getting older
And the heat of the moment has tangled me up
But I mean it this time; enough is enough
I'd wear my heart on my sleeve
But darling, it's tank top weather

Summer come, and help me to fight, help me to hide
Summer come, and keep me alive, keep me alive
Summer, remind me to show my heart to no one
Summer, come. Summer, come

So, maybe I'm young and a little bit over my head over heels
But the sun is getting closer, and we're getting older
And the heat of the moment has tangled me up
But I mean it this time; enough is enough
I'd wear my heart on my sleeve

O, but darling, I'm young, and a little bit over my head over heels
But the sun is getting closer, and we're getting older
And the heat of the moment has tangled me up
But I mean it this time; enough is enough
I'd wear my heart on my sleeve
But darling, it's tank top weather

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dallas does...moronism.

A very famous television doctor once said, "Pick me. Choose me. Love me," as she stared pleadingly into the eyes of her gorgeous, but taken, Dr. McDreamy.
In just six words (granted, they formed 3 sentences) Meredith Grey was able to say exactly what we're all thinking the minute we realize we like someone enough for them to hurt us: Please don't break my heart.
If we're all looking for love, then why does one person always end up doing the pleading?
Moms across the world would say that it's because we all mature at different rates. The person you're meant to end up with is the person who will finally be on the same page as you.
Many of the world's women would scowl and proclaim that hearts get broken because of the proclivity of douchebaggery in the men of planet Earth.
And insulted men could counter with an idea I've heard more times than I wish to count: Women are just plain crazy.
So what's the answer? How does love become so one-sided?
Well my friends, I'll tell you my own best guess at the answer: It's because love makes us morons.
Morons who stop being able to rationalize in the realm of reality because we've caught the 6 o'clock train to LoveLand (pun intended). Morons who can't hear the same advice they've given to friends dozens of times because their ears are clogged with cotton candy and rainbows and those absurdly cartoonish cupids shooting heart arrows.
And as my favorite author J.D. Salinger says, "All morons hate it when you call them a moron."
We let ourselves be morons because we've already used the plot of every romantic comedy we've ever seen to plot a course where this runaway train of a relationship is going to get back on course in time for the happy ending.
And I my friends, am one hopeless case of moronism.
My guy friend likes to call my heart the "best and worst" part of who I am.
It's the best because I'll love you forever with a fervor usually lost with baby teeth.
And the worst because I'll love you forever with a fervor usually lost with baby teeth...even when anyone in their right mind would have given up hope.
Hope that you'll be wooed into being the version of you that my imagination has dreamed up.
I trick myself into the loving the version of people I know they could be if I just waited a little longer, wiped away a few more tears, crafted a few more perfect phrases.
And so I drive myself crazy with the wait, positive that this time, I'm actually going to be right.
Now, I have been right sometimes. Enough times to prove that maybe my own special kind of heart disease isn't so bad.
But I still wish that, for once, I could watch that episode of Grey's Anatomy and see myself in Derek Shepherd's shoes. See myself as the one making the decision, instead of the one doing the pleading.
Lucky for me, when God gave me my extra special enlarged heart, he also threw in a heaping spoonful of optimism.
You see, I don't picture myself successfully overcoming my moronic ways anytime soon, but I do believe that there comes a time when all of us will find a person that will match us side for side.
And it's that belief that helps me smile when I read the phrase, "Hearts are made to be broken."
Because, in the end, I have enough heart to go around. And enough optimism to put together the pieces when it does get broken.
And so my gentle readers, tonight I wish for you a life filled with the perfect moronism that leads to a whoppingly huge broken heart. And the faith that you'll need to pull yourself together to try again.

Love, Kels

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dallas does...catch me if you can.

The thing about birthdays is...they mark the perfect time to think about life. Where it's taken you and where you're headed.
Yes, even on this 21st birthday, with many more (liquid) things on my mind than life goals, I found myself returning again and again to the idea that over two decades of my life have already flown by, and I'm really just getting started.
My friends like to tease me about my need to overthink everything, saying that it's ridiculous to worry because, "In the end, you're Kelsey Dallas, and everything will be okay."
Everything will be okay.
This mantra's gotten quite the workout this year, guiding me through the deaths of two grandparents, tough situations amongst family and friends and continuous fears about what my rapidly approaching "adult life" has in store for me.
And maybe, just maybe, I'm finally starting to be convinced of its truth.
When I was 17 years old, I began the difficult task of choosing a college. Luckily for me, the University of Iowa plopped itself in my lap with a hefty scholarship offer, and the answer was too obvious to ignore.
And even that decision came with some heart-wrenching side effects, as I spent several of those 3-hour drives from Lincoln to Iowa City my freshman year drowning in homesickness.
But never once did I stop believing that I had done the right thing for me. Because somewhere in the mess that I like to call a "lovable personality," lies what I consider my strongest asset: vision.
I see myself doing something, becoming someone, succeeding somewhere, and I make it happen. I may sob with fear the night before I start each new adventure, but I never let myself think that I've done something wrong by choosing to take on a challenge.
That was true during the horrifying moment that my parents left me by the curb at my freshman dorm and still true as I lie here with tears in my eyes preparing to leave for my wild summer job.
Voicing how panicked I am about my upcoming summer, several people have reached out to me to let me know how positive they are that this job is right for me. That there's something amazing in the potential this summer holds to change my life.
And I have to agree with them. Staring down all of my fears, I am confident that there's many beautiful things on the horizon, no matter how uncertain it all seems right now.
Uncertainty: the evil twin sister of my beloved vision.
I make myself sick thinking of all that can go wrong between Point A and Point B.
But somehow, on this third day of my 21st year of life, I've discovered a little voice in my heart that's telling me that everything really is going to be okay.
...Though I'm not sure how I can trust the voice that's probably also responsible for my ridiculous (and unrelenting) belief in true romance.
Nevertheless, today I'm making a commitment to keep following that vision.
We can call it my birthday present to myself. In what will become the most pivotal year of my young life, I promise to keep being that person who doesn't settle for what's safe, and chases after the dreams that keep me awake at night.
Like everyone, all I really want is to be happy. And I think I've finally realized that what makes me happy is never holding still while all the best parts of life come to find me. I want to throw myself at them screaming "Pick me!"
And so hear I sit. Still teary-eyed and (thankfully) still at the very beginning of my 21st year.
I've already written so much about who I want to become this next year. Someone who has fun without having a list of consequences cycling threw her mind, someone who can fall in love with reckless abandon just because it feels so much better than trying to control every little detail.
But I guess all I really want to be is true to myself. True to the Kelsey who has gotten me this far. True to that little voice that's tugging me away from my comfort zone into lands unknown.
I don't want to...and I can't...let myself stand still.

Peace, love and growing pains,

"And I'm not the girl that I intend to be. But I dare you darlin' just you wait and see. But this time not for you, but just for me."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dallas does...the camp counselor crush.

"Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road.
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go.
So make the best of this test and don't ask why.
It's not a question but a lesson learned in time."

Before you go assuming that I've employed this epic Green Day song as a lead-in to the inevitable birthday blog that will come this week, let me assure you that I'm using it to convey a very different sort of message.
You see, this Green Day song, besides being an amazing throwback to the days of music before the Ke$has and Gagas, holds a very, very special place in my heart due to a certain camp counselor named Sean.
Sean was the resident dreamboat during one of my weeks as an East Bay camper almost a decade ago and remains in my mind a perfect specimen of a crush that every young girl must have: the summer camp crush. He sat center stage on talent show night and belted this song, creating an image that remains burned in my brain to this day.
Blonde, tanned and tone, Sean was exactly the man my 12-year-old self wanted to spend the rest of her life with, but, alas, these things never do seem to work out, do they? Pesky counselor-camper regulations...just kidding. ;)
What makes me laugh every time I hear this song is that never once did my young self question the fact that with Sean I would find absolute happiness. It seemed so clear. He had a guitar, a great voice, and I would be the envy of every other girl in the cabin. What more was there to ask for?
Well, quite a bit, actually, but that younger version of myself couldn't concern herself with the little details. For her, it was enough to see his big blue eyes glance toward the general vicinity of my fifth row bench seat.
The 12-year-old me had little business deciding anything more than what I would wear each day (and even that's debatable). But decide she did and these choices stick with me even to this day, as evidenced by the slight blush that reddens my cheeks whenever this tune comes on a radio station.
So the real question is, do these decisions really become "lessons learned in time"? Will I ever stop asking myself "Why, oh why, did you do that?"
The answer to this great debate remains impossibly negative, as I continue to be someone who shrugs off the same advice she happily doles out to others.
If life lessons were graded on a 4.0-scale, my gpa would be woefully lower than the one next to my name on my University of Iowa report card.
I talk a big game in these blog posts, but the fact is, I've never really left behind that little girl on a wooden bench who believed that just thinking about something makes it true.
A friend told me this week that I treat love like a monkey treats a Rubik's cube- examining it from every angle, determined to understand it.
Aside from the slight disturbance that comes from any simile linking me and an ape, I winced at the idea that just like anyone simply holding a Rubik's cube is missing the point of spinning the different pieces, I'm missing the entire point of love by just sitting on a couch discussing it.
I'm perfectly happy counseling friends through their romantic dramas (and for some, it should be a paying gig) but when it comes to me, I'm painfully afraid of making the leap from initial thoughts of "Oh, gee, Sean sure is cute" to "Hey Sean, wanna share my bug spray at the lake this afternoon?"
If I'm spending all this time crafting the perfect answers, why do I never force myself to take the tests?
So for my class of one, my assignment this summer is to stop staying in with my books and movies, and get out for some field experience.
Because I think we're all getting a little sick of my rom-com references.
Maybe Green Day was really on to something when they said,
"It's something unpredictable, but in the end is right.
I hope you had the time of your life."
Love isn't something you chart on graph paper, it's something you live and learn from.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to unpredictability.
It's time I had the time of my life.

Peace, love and pocket watches,

"It's a risk to love. What if it doesn't work out. Ah, but what if it does?"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dallas does...all we ever wanted was everything.

Take note of this post's title for a moment.
Soak in the melodrama.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Now what does it call to mind?
For me, it's the title of a novel. A novel I didn't even read, but a novel whose title struck me so deeply that I repeat it as often as possible.
All we ever wanted was everything.
All I ever want is everything.
It means a lot to me. It describes that sensation that has overwhelmed me this entire second semester of my Junior year. A feeling that perfectly describes the way I see my future: It's a blank slate but I'm going crazy trying to fill it up with the perfect plans. I can be an astronaut, the president and, oh yes, a princess, too.
But right now what's echoing in my head as I read it is that unquenchable urge for a relationship that I've spoken about so many times before.
I've approached it from so many angles. The you're-your-own-soulmate angle. The right-guy-is-on-his-way perspective. I've played the devil's advocate who just calls for casual desire-chasing.
But all that I'm left with is the oppressive idea that I don't want anymore angles. I just want the right guy to show up!
And, if events of this past semester have anything to say about it, the right guy is still miles away, but I'm certainly not alone in my hunt.
I've been fielding late night phone calls, debating on the intrinsic merits of Ryan Gosling's character in Blue Valentine, and commiserating with best friends over the pain of loving a guy who will never love you back- all conversations that point to one thing and one thing only: even at this young age, we're all hunting for love.
But love doesn't want to be caught.
We pretend to find it in the wrong people, staying with them long after they've lost the ability to make us happy.
We drive ourselves crazy trying to be attractive, silly, flirty, sassy- ANYTHING to catch the attention of the room.
Even when it's in our grasps we do ridiculous things that chase it away. We become suspicious of it and go crazy with paranoia. We cry ourselves to sleep over lost chances and lost hope.
We resign ourselves to relationships that feel good...enough. Partners who are nice...enough. Who make us happy...enough.
And it all just makes me so sad.
Last weekend I was joking with one of my guy friends about how we could get married if we were both still single at a certain age. Instantly, he responded, "Don't be ridiculous. You'll be in love with someone great long before then." And it felt so easy to believe.
It still feels so easy to believe.
Somehow it has to be true that everybody who cares about love, wants it bad enough to wait for it, will find that right person.
There may be some bumps and stumbles and downright shoves along the way, but maybe if we all stop driving ourselves crazy with the waiting, we'd find out that there's joy in independence this age, at least.
So my advice for today is to stop obsessing. To stop pretending like you have it all figured out and just let life take you by surprise sometimes.
To let stories unfold instead of drafting them in your mind ahead of time.
To know who to trust and who to share yourself with.
To believe in love always. And to believe that somewhere down the line your life's path will meet up with that one person that makes the wait worthwhile.

"And I will love you forever, but forever's so far away."

Peace, love and sappy sappy sap,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dallas does...a grandma goodbye.

In what was to become one of my most memorable monologues to God, I prayed, begged and pleaded with the man upstairs to guarantee that my Grandma Jenkins would be at my wedding some day. And, maybe, if I promised to be a good little girl, he would even allow her to live to see her great-grandchildren.
It's funny that my smaller self sitting curled-up on the same living room floor that I write this post from was concerned about many of the same ideas that my blog posts are filled with: family, love and marriage. Three elements that are all tied-up with the painfully beautiful process of growing up.
Grandma died early this morning. And needless to say I have neither married nor had children. So the question becomes, am I mad at God? Mad that he didn't understand that at 20 I still pray for the same things I asked for that day so many years ago?
And the answer is, of course, no. If God answered all my prayers, I'd be the wife of the fourth-grade dreamboat, Nick, right about now instead of a successful college student with an exciting and rewarding life.
It's easy for me to understand that death is a natural process. Even easier to be at peace with the idea that Grandma can now rest instead of continuing to live with the debilitating symptoms of a powerful stroke.
But it's so hard for me to keep from placing the anger that's still there squarely on my own shoulders.
Obviously selflessness is never the top characteristic of a college student, but I am still sick thinking about how much more I could have done for my Grandma over these last few years.
Now, a lot of people reading this have never met Mrs. Evelyn Jenkins. Except, you might know more about her than you think.
She was like a classic mash-up of all the most gramtastic qualities that exist in the world.
She made the best chocolate chip cookies (in TWO varieties), read my favorite stories over and over again when I went to her house after school and couldn't end a conversation without saying "I love you" at least three times.
She also shook her head in dismay when my hair fell in my face, warned me more than once about the arthritis I would be sure to contract if I kept texting with such voracity and forwarded on more crazy emails that I'd care to count.
Once, a stool I left out as the steps to my imagined princess fortress on the couch caused her to trip and even as blood ran down from her face she was smiling and telling me that everything will be okay.
It's the fate of the world's grandmas: to always take care, and to never be taken care of enough.
And as I've sobbed to my mom, I wish I had a few more days to be a better granddaughter.
It seems that the people who love us best are the easiest to not love enough in return.
When you can do no wrong in their eyes, it's easy to not do enough right.
But as I sit here knowing that her death offered her peace after weeks of suffering, I understand that it would be unfair to demand that she wait until I finally have my fill of grandma love before she goes on to heaven.
Because I wouldn't ever have my fill of grandma love.
When mom and I talked about what saying goodbye to grandma would mean, she tried to explain that I can't allow myself to drown in this guilt. That grandma was so incredibly proud of me that there was nothing else I could have done to make her happier.
And I have to accept that. Because if I don't, it will tear me apart.
And I think the fact that I was always strong enough not to fall apart was what grandma liked about me most.
It was her unconditional love that helped me become the bright, bubbly person I am today. A person who overflows with love because of the surplus I've always had in my family life.
So as impossible as it may seem right now, I know everything will be okay. And I think that even that little girl who desperately pleaded for her Grandma to always be around knew that Grandmas aren't things we can hold on to forever.
We eventually have to say goodbye and work hard to become that Kelsey that Grandma saw every time she looked at me.
A Kelsey who deserved every bit of Grandma love that she got.
And so this week I have to let my grandma go, and yet hold on to the way she loved me unstoppably. Loved me without pumping the brakes.
She won't be at my wedding. And she won't meet my kids. But she'll still be there in the way I love the people in my life, loving without accounting for what a person may deserve, and just loving them for being who they are. Loving them for who they are going to be.
I love you so much, grandma.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dallas does...Hotness or Notness

Fresh off a weekend spent with boys who couldn't pass a curly blonde without releasing a collective sigh of satisfaction, it's pretty easy to begin yet another lover's diatribe. Now, I love these guys, but, let's face it, this eyeballing approach to seduction isn't exactly the story being told in fairy tales.
Though I still can't fully believe it, I return again and again to the idea that being hot matters a lot.
And, as I've laughingly discussed with friends several times, the hotness portion of the attractiveness equation isn't exactly an equal opportunity area. It's genetics, don't you see.
Some of us will just always look better in braided pigtails than leather rockerchick pants.
I honestly believe that personality wins in the end, but those of us selected for the 'cute' portion of the population sometimes want to be at the receiving end of one of those "dayummm girl" looks. (And I for one am not afraid to admit that, no matter how weakly feminine it makes me)
So what is one to do? Surely the answer is not in buying all new sex goddess clothing or working out like a maniac to achieve a stunningly slender figure.
No, I think, the real answer is in taking a cue from those boys and their wide-eyed awe and seeing that there's no shame in desire.
Uh oh. The 'd' word. Not something that the nice girls are usually throwing around.
Quite the hot button topic in my Sexual Ethics, desires are something that everyone has and nobody wants to talk about. Sure, we throw it out there in our Good Girls Crave Bad Boys moments, but how often do members of the female population happily stare down a member of the opposite sex without feeling an ounce of guilt in that section of the brain that stores all the morals from Disney princess movies?
Well, at least in my case, not that often.
And so, with the hysterics of some of my favorite guys in mind, I'm issuing a call to action for myself: take a walk on the sexual side.
And LET ME BE VERY CLEAR- This is not a creepy public announcement of a newfound dedication to promiscuity.
It's just a class- and experience-induced decision to stop being so uptight about romance. And to stop believing there's a formula that each relationship will follow.
To leave the blushing behind to blow kisses at hot motorcyclists.
I can't magically become "hotter," but I can certainly work to stop comparing myself to every other girl in the room. I can own what I have to offer, and know that I deserve to go after what I want.
I'm not saying that I'll suddenly drop the moral code that I'm quite happy to live within, but I am desperately working to express a new understanding that there's sexiness in the ability to have fun with life and to own your own sexuality.
To be your own you and watch heads start turning.
To throw out a couple "dayummm boyeeee"s
And to not feel like you have to answer to any preconceived notions you have about how guys see you.
All that really matters is how you see yourself.

[and let me repeat for one last time: this wasn't meant to be horrifying (momma), it was meant to be a bit of a written walk on the wild side- Hope you enjoyed!]

Just a sexy side note:
"You feel like paradise, and I need a vacation tonight"

Peace, love and possible public embarrassment,

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dallas does...a Lover's Manifesto

You guessed right. I couldn't let Valentine's Day pass without a quintessential blog update.
But, it'd be wrong to go on writing about the birds and the bees without noting that a love blog from me has been quite a long time coming after the overflow of them last semester.
I can only shrug and say I was a bit under the weather after the love bug bit me too hard.
Yes, you right that correctly. Over these past few months, I've felt myself slip farther into the cynical realm that I have ever allowed myself to in the past.
But on this February 14, 2011, it's time to set myself straight.
It's time for a Lover's Manifesto.
From this point on, until a reevaluation occurs on cupid's day next year, I shall hold these truths to be self-evident, that in the pursuit of love I shall:
I. Always remember to take care of myself.
(And yes, that includes allowing Food Network and American Pickers marathons.)
II. Be open to possibilities
(Don't use the extreme amount of knowledge I've gleaned from years of romance novel and movie consumption to determine an outcome from the moment the scenario begins.)
III. Don't be afraid to want things
(Sometimes the things we want may not make sense in the long-run, but there's nothing to be ashamed of in wanting.) Quote of Note: "Your smile makes me want to misbehave."
IV. Take a leap
(Being perceptive is usually an excellent quality, but when it convinces you that a painful outcome is a sure thing from the beginning, it can limit your ability to get the great rewards that a great risk can garner.) Quote of Note: "Sometimes not being in control is the most beautiful thing in the world."
V. Follow the heart sometimes
(Love will always be a battle of mind versus heart. Sense versus sensibility. And sometimes it's okay to do something because it feels good at the time.) Quote of Note: "You make my heart smile."
VI. It doesn't always have to be about love
(Blasphemy, right? My point is that not everything is going to be a great love affair. Don't be afraid to have a little fun.)
VII. Do what makes you happy
(Know what makes you happy. And know what feels right in your soul. And then do what you know you should do.) Quote of Note: "Never regret something that once made you smile."
VIII. Speak your mind
(Shyness is out. Confidence is in.) Quote of Note: "It is a risk to love. What if it doesn't work out? Ah, but what if it does."
IX. Believe in your own love story
(Just because the whole world is falling in love and you're still sitting at home alone on Friday nights doesn't mean you're destined to be alone forever. No more anuptaphobia.) Quote of Note: "The only way to get to forever is a day at a time."
X. Be your own soulmate
(Infatuations/desires/loves may pass, but you'll always have yourself. Be good to you. And believe in you. Love you.)

Final thought: "Even after all this time, the sun never says to the Earth, "You owe me." Look what happens with a love like that: it lights the whole sky." -Hafiz.

Peace, love and a perfect Valentine's Day

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dallas does...Normalcy

While serving as a youth group leader at my church during high school, I led a class about what it takes to have great faith. Having grown-up attending church regularly, I wondered if my kind of devotion to God that had soaked in throughout the fifteen or so years of my church attendance meant something less than someone’s who had been to the very pit of despair and risen back to a state of happiness through faith and belief in God. I felt somewhat cheapened by my inability to pinpoint a moment where I had suddenly become aware that church was a place I wanted to be, and not just somewhere my parent’s drove me on Sunday mornings. It seemed like if I knew what it felt like to be at the bottom, I would have a better appreciation of life at the top.

Now five years older, I find myself at a drastically different point in my life, facing a similar kind of frustration. I’m enrolled in a class about disability studies, and yet find it incredibly difficult to wrap my mind around the true despair that life as a wounded warrior can involve. If, as Leonard Davis suggests, we are all involved in a universal desire to reach a culturally constructed idea of normalcy, then how can I, who has never faced a true obstacle to this quest of meeting social norms, understand what it means to be impossibly abnormal? And, more importantly, how can I appreciate my passive achievement of normalcy without having experienced the true desperation of a life forever altered by disability?

Understanding that life means a lot more than mastering the art of blending into a crowd, there seems to be something undeniably attractive about the idea that when I walk into a room, I don’t have to be anything more than just another body, or maybe, if I’m lucky, just another pretty face. I don’t limp in with the aid of prosthetic limbs, or cause grimaces when people catch a glimpse of gruesome scars; I just have to smile and spew the same small talk that we hear every day. But there are so many people in the world (and the number will continue to rise as the military remains active overseas) that don’t enjoy this same freedom. They live lives forever marred by wounds that have changed the way they experience the world and the way the world experiences them.

Wounded warriors are caught in limbo between being a fascinating combination of medical problems that scientific advancements yearn to be able to fix, and an uncomfortably unclassifiable member of society that even close friends and loved ones have trouble knowing how to treat. Doctors make them their pet project. Wounded warriors become a gold mine of special operations and exciting new therapy treatments. The people closest to them struggle to balance helping them and letting them help themselves, always aware that they’ve been through things that can’t possibly be understood and may even be indescribable. And in the middle of all of this is the wounded warrior. A real person with real human needs. A real person who can find joy in going skiing for the first time since losing a leg or having a great first date for the first time since being blinded, but may never again enjoy the exhilaration of walking into a room without eyebrows raising or jaws dropping. A real person who may never again get to experience the heroic praise of being a soldier- only conditional admiration for overcoming great obstacles.

And so what is a wounded warrior to do? Certainly there is an element of acceptance that is necessary for anyone who has been injured in battle to regain at least a portion of a so-called ‘normal’ life. The soldier must work to come to terms with who they are now, and allow the people around them to do the same. As we see in the movie “Home Front,” this acceptance is greatly helped by a sense of optimism. On most days, Jeremy was able to rise above the challenges he faced with little complaint. He worked to accept his new quality of life, and to let the people around him do what they could to improve it. His brother walked alongside him on the treadmill and his father helped him aim the handgun that would shoot his first post-blindness deer. Jeremy wasn’t without anger and frustration, but he reached a point where he could see a new future rolling out in front of him- a future that involved marriage and children and a new sense of independence. He accepted that to his eye doctor he was first and foremost the owner of an eye that could perhaps be rescued. An eye to build a career on. He accepted that he was something of a novelty to his Pennsylvania town and an outlet for local philanthropy efforts. Jeremy was able to move passed his injury and settle into the pieces of his old life that he could still enjoy, mostly because he realized that there are many other soldiers who don’t get to return to their old life at all. In further reading, I discovered that since filming, he’s continued his work as a motivational speaker, and became a member of the Catholic Church last year. Religion seems to have become a large part of his ability to cope with the trauma of his injury and I was so happy to read that his faith helps him to accept his injuries and flourish in spite of them.

Rereading the end of that last paragraph, I have to cringe at the semantic trap I’ve written myself into. Namely, my use of the qualifier “in spite of.” In these three little words, I find a piece of what makes disability so disheartening. After a disabling injury, a soldier stops being a hero simply for serving their country. A wounded warrior is a hero because they remain patriotic and optimistic in spite of the injury they received while serving. After being thrust out of a military life that was so focused on achievement and precise skills, a wounded warrior may find themselves trapped in a life where they are applauded for accomplishing the most demeaning of tasks. In one blog I found entitled “Wife of a Wounded Soldier,” a woman writes entry after entry about how proud she is of her husband’s efforts to restore their life to what it was before his injury. She talks about how happy she was that he attended Christmas Eve service with her family. It was the first time he’d entered a church since an IED cut his military career short. Of course, in most marriages, going to church with your wife’s family might be an expected part of what you signed-up for when you said “I do.” But after becoming a wounded warrior, this man can make his wife happy just by being willing to accompany her to a crowded grocery store, or staying at a noisy party an extra hour. And while it may sound a bit ridiculous, I think that it would be heartbreaking for him to know that his wife’s expectations have been forever altered. No matter how much physical damage has taken place, it is the emotional aftershocks that are so striking to me. While soldiers who lose a leg may learn to walk again or soldiers who suffer traumatic brain injury may relearn speech, it may be impossible to reclaim the same sense of emotional stability with loved ones. Wounded warriors are relegated to a different set of expectations and held to standards that, though meant to allow them to rejoin society in a fulfilling way, may demean them into renewed sorrow for the normalcy they left behind.

It is this sense that wounded warriors are forever chasing a normalcy that constantly eludes them that drives my study of their precarious position in the world of medicine and in general culture. While some, like Jeremy, are able to accept a new version of normal and move forward with new interests and the understanding that adapting to a disability involves accepting even small achievements as victories, others worry only about achieving normalcy within the disabled community, instead of within society as a whole. I read about Brendan Marrocco, the first veteran of the current wars to lose all four limbs and survive. He has become the most popular guy in town (if Walter Reed Army Medical Center can be considered something of a town for the wounded) in the place he’s been living since a roadside bomb forever changed the course of his life. His perky attitude and cool-guy ways make him an inspiration to fellow wounded warriors, and he charms even the most depressed of patients into a smile. Brendan even has the ability to be a shining star in the medical community, with his pursuit of risky treatments and recent decision to have a double arm transplant as soon as limbs become available. He has taken his new limitations and turned them on their head. They are what defines him, but in a way that makes him special, not sorrowful. And yet I’m left asking myself if his way of facing the world of the wounded warrior is healthy and truly fulfilling. Yes, he has earned a place in the hearts of his caretakers and fellow residents, but he is admittedly hesitant to reenter the ‘real’ world, even as his increased strength allows him to do more and more tasks for himself with his prosthetic limbs. I even wonder if pursuing the risky transplant surgery is a way to lengthen his stay in the protected world of Walter Reed, though many would argue that, in fact, it is his attempt to achieve a piece of cultural bodily normalcy the bomb took away from him. Accepting that my attempts to identify the motivations behind Brendan’s actions may fall far short of the mark, he remains an incredibly interesting case study in the realm of wounded warriors. His excitement for the opportunities that advancements in the medical field will offer him rivals that of his top doctors, and his ability to find a niche for himself in his patient community flies in the face of the dissatisfaction many feel in their inability to return to their ‘normal’ life.

I am now wondering if my notion that wounded warriors simply wish for a second chance to sink into satisfying normalcy is fundamentally flawed. I realize that Leonard Davis’s piece was more about explaining the construction of normalcy than diagnosing the woes of the human condition, but there was still a part of me that wanted to run with the idea that the wounded warrior’s most desperate wish is to escape the limitations of an abnormal life. After further consideration, however, I think that a wounded warrior’s solution to their troubling state is achieving a sense of wholeness in spite of (there’s those darn words again) the irreparable damage that has been done to their emotional and physical states. It’s less about returning to the same place they used to occupy in the human community, and more about being able to wake-up in the morning with a sense of peace and appreciation that they still have a life to live. Wounded warriors are unable to change the fact that people in the medical world find them a delightful test subject or that dozens of eyes may flash to them when they enter a room, but they can redefine the way that they view themselves and learn to find joy in the new challenges they must face. They can work to reorient the idea of normalcy in their life, separating themselves from that desperation to return to how things were that many of us see as an unfortunate part of becoming disabled. The wounded warrior has to be able to see themselves as a whole person, more than just a collection of scars or an unfortunate collection of tragedies for women in beauty parlors to gossip about. It is up to them to rebuild their own sense of heroism, and in that way educate the rest of the world to remove the limitations we place on the lives of wounded warriors.

And so in the same way that I eventually realized that the ability to have faith in God is much more important than the way it was attained, I am now convinced that normalcy, for whatever it’s worth, is not something to be existentially dissatisfied with simply because I have done nothing to earn it. Even after concluding that wounded warriors may not have regaining a sense of normalcy as their main concern, I feel like they would collectively scold me if I failed to be thankful for my unwounded body. It would be a mistake to allow my concerns for the emotional and physical traumas of these soldiers to keep me from enjoying the blessings of my health that wounded warriors and all military members fight to protect. Instead, I must work to praise wounded warriors not for what they have been able to overcome since their injuries, but for the strength that is ever-present in a human being working toward a sense of wholeness.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dallas does...her return.

Okay, so this is the part where I say how my horribly busy life has kept me from writing on my blog for about a month. It's a fairly acceptable excuse for a college student, though calling my Winter Break life busier than my school life is somewhat of a stretch.
The only thing I was busy doing was reveling in just how not busy I was. I laid on my favorite couch for hours at a time becoming re-addicted to Grey's Anatomy and far too familiar with the Cable schedule. I even did puzzles with my grandma, and watched Jeopardy.
It was an altogether relaxing Winter Break, and I wouldn't have dared to ask for anything better.
But the thing is, no matter how still I sit, I can't turn-off my whirring brain. And I can't ignore how worried I am about how fast time seems to be slipping away these days or how sad I still am about some events of the autumn.
In between wonderful nights watching Pretty Woman with my mom or sitting around talking with my best friends, I was forced to confront a version of myself that was missing her sparkle. A version that didn't feel the same comfort in her own skin from a few months before, or confidence that no matter how complicated things seemed, everything would turn out all right in the end.
My fall semester was wonderful. I did a lot of growing-up, spent time with great people and continued to succeed at a school that I love. I was happy, and convinced that this happiness was stemming from self-confidence and self-love. But one day a sneaking suspicion crept into my thoughts- maybe I was only happy because I wasn't letting myself be sad. And when you're everybody's rainbow-girl, it's a very scary thing to feel so suddenly detached from yourself.
Now, I'm certainly not unhappy. I continue to love every crazy, spectacular, beautiful day that I get to wake-up and be Kelsey. But there was a piece of me that had to admit my idealism (as evidenced in the way I talk about love on this website) could be like a set of blinders keeping me from being truly in-tune with my life. And so I was determined to be more careful with myself, to make sure I wasn't letting a glued-on smile keep me from experiencing the world as I ought to.
So Winter Break was my thinking zone. And now I've returned. Returned to school, returned to blogging and slowly but steadily returning to the same kind of trust relationship I had with my idealism.
For the past month I tried to so hard to try to make sure that my optimism wasn't setting me up for some kind of giant disappointment. All I've been able to conclude is that I'm a lot happier being happy than I am being confused.
I know it's not normal to expect happy endings, but I don't want to stop myself from believing in them.
Hopefully, you're glad I've returned to you. It's going to be another long semester. New classes, new people and new efforts to make every single day special.
I really do believe that with new year comes a clean slate. And the first thing I'm drawing on mine is a smiley face.

"Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections."

Peace, love and pep,