Thursday, January 28, 2010

Repost from Creative Writing....

Growing up, I hated writing. I remember sitting at our kitchen table, shedding tears over the frustration of choosing the right words, the anger at the letters for not forming themselves on the page, the fear of failure. My mother, in her infinite wisdom would just stand at the sink with a halfway scrubbed dish in her hand and a sympathetic look on her face. She opens her mouth as if to impart some lasting insight, but all she manages is, It’ll come Kelsey, it’ll come. And it did. But it took a long time for the joy of writing to overtake me. It was in the same broken down state of helplessness that I realized that I write because I have to. Because there are times when there is no other way to make sense of the world around you. Because expression in the fullest is what everyone craves. It started on one of my most recent adventures. I was in a foreign country, by myself, without knowing the language. It was a day where the beautiful sunshine was grating on more emotion-filled soul, a day when I should have stayed in bed with the shutters closed. I had worked all day on experiments that failed because of mistakes that I made, and I had no one to come home to, to spill my frustrations. I was on a street full of people. I didn’t know what anyone was saying. No one looked familiar. No one knew that all I needed was someone to understand that the inflection in my tone was desperation. Or that my sarcasm was just a ruse for my passive-aggressive anger. That my red-rimmed eyes and rosy cheeks weren’t a sunburn from the beach but from hopeless tears that could no longer be restrained. My distraught came from my failure. From my inability to be understood. From the changes that I had to make to my language just to be followed. No one could follow my jokes, or sayings, or know the origins of my movie quotes. No one could follow my basic English. They just though that I was a crazy elegant redneck American. So I wrote about it, because clearly the tears weren’t cutting it. I wrote because I could use the adjectives that were just too difficult for non-native English speakers. I could pose questions that were grammatically correct and wouldn’t have to repeat myself. I wrote to play with the words that I couldn’t play with. I wrote to be understood. I wrote until I had nothing else to say.
So now having returned from my adventure, I write because it is an addiction. I write to have the thrill of picking the right adjective. I write to figure out life. To fully express myself. To chase down the illusive smile from the reader, and to bear my soul when spoken word isn’t strong enough. I write for others, I write for myself. I write because my mother told me a love for writing would come, and it did.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Summing up the lies

My social experiment has been over for a few days now, but I have been unable to put into words what I learned. My mouth runs fast. Too fast sometimes for my own good, but my biggest struggle was with writing and changing my story just enough to make it not quite true. Whether it was through exaggeration or metaphors or little tweaks here and there that made the story jump from the truth track onto the not-quite-so-true track. It wasn't until I ran into another struggle after the social experiment expired that I found my answer...

I've been debating whether or not to drop my creative writing class. Here's the answer that slapped me in the face. The funny part is that it is the wrong book for the class. Wrong book for class, right book for my heart. This is what it has to say,
"Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest places in human society and in the human spirit, where I hope to find not absolute truth but the truth of the tale, of the imagination and of the heart"

So tell all the truth but tell it slant-
success in circuit lies
too bright for our infirm delight
the Truth's superb surprise
as Lightening to the Children eased
with explanation kind
the Truth must dazzle gradually
or every man be blind-
-Emily Dickinson

I'll stick around for a while I think. Hopefully the right book is just as insightful

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spice up your life

I was a pretty reasonable small child. While other girls were falling in love with Leonardo Dicaprio's character Jack in the Titanic, boy bands, and Pound Puppies I was out beating kids with sticks and falling out of trees. I remember girls fawning over Johnathan Taylor Thomas and how he would be their husband. My remark was always, "he has no idea you are even alive." I was a cynical child what can I say?

So when the next best thing came around I would just roll my eyes and watch with disdain at the oodles of adoring fans that mean absolutely nothing to the next up and coming star. That was until the beginning of my Junior year of college...

We were introducing the new freshman class to the RA's of Melrose and there was no better way to do it than as the Jewell Spice Girls. Laugh if you must but Perch Spice could compete with the best of them, and anyone would want to be rocked by Responsible Spice...she had the whole borderline dominatrix role down.

The only problem was that there was nothing in my wardrobe that could even remotely be passed off as spice girl material. Sure I had some high heels that made my legs for days go on for even longer, and a few sun dresses, but Victoria and all the other spice girls would think I was a Protestant the way my sundresses covered my knees and shoulders.

There was only one solution and our ever-fashion savvy Spirit Spice had it. Leggings. Even better yet, matching leggings that would pull the whole ensemble together.

So I gave in to the fashion crave and bought my first pair of black leggings. They went under a shirt that in honor of the Spice Girls was not associated by a pair of pants (just the leggings, which we aren't considering pants....I'm not that fashion forward, unless we were in Europe)

We rocked the leggings, we rocked the choreographed dance, we rocked the introduction. We even danced for the entire freshman class on the Ely triangle. I mean you couldn't have accepted the fashion fad any better.

And needless to say, those black leggings were just the start. Now I have an entire drawer devoted to leggings, tights, leg warmers, and big socks, but every time those black ones come out I sense my childhood cynicism falling away piece by piece.

So thanks Spice Girls for taking the cynicism out of me and seeing that the world can be a better place if you just spice it up a little....

Monday, January 18, 2010

cookies and coffee

I went to church for the first time in a long time. I was taking a sabbatical from church. I was going with the wrong intentions and was waiting for that to wear off before I headed back. I don't know if it's gone, but I went.

This is the place that I did a lot of healing and growing from the various adventures that life has taken me on. It helped put the pieces of my heart back together after multiple people threw them to the floor and smashed them, it healed the heartbreak over leaving 30 children in Shreveport, it tried to heal my heartache for Portugal.

It was an experience last night. Normally I'm overwhelmed by visions of Portugal from my daily life there, but for some reason I kept being pulled back to the Momma's house in Shreveport. It was a vivid memory of every part of the house. It was so strong that I could smell the cookies made with butter flavored crisco baking in the oven, with the faint tickling of Community Coffee in the background. I could hear the heavy worried footsteps of my favorite cross-eyed White Cat. I could nearly reach out and touch the white wicker furniture that held me in the mornings when the sun was coming up and then again in the evenings when the sun was going back down.

I walked through the house in my mind. Through the den, past the kitchen, into the dining room to the entryway of the bathroom. From there I couldn't go any further because the weight of a friendship rests in the bedroom to my right. It is different in my mind then in reality, just like that friendship.

A reality that I can't bring myself to face.

Good Morning little School girl

With a dreary brain and heavy eyelids I push my foot out of bed. I put on a pair of shoes, drag my keys off the table and walk out the door.
Too tired to think about a coat.
I haven't seen this hour since last semester and my body doesn't like it.

The car starts, the heat doesn't.

Normally I would realize that I didn't have my contacts in, but the oppressive fog, like the sleep that is clinging to my eyes doesn't let me see past the drive.

I make it to campus before my fingers have lost all their heat, but just barely.

Collin shows up to unlock the door and gives me a really long one over.
He asks, "rough night?"

It's funny because it wasn't. I was in bed by midnight. But as he was leaving I realized I was in all sorts of disarray, made all the more clear by the mismatching sweats and rumpled t-shirt. The two different shoes, and hairdo that tried to pretend it was a ponytail.

Luckily it was way too early for anyone else to be on campus. Unfortunately I wouldn't be done until right when the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration was getting ready to start.

It's college. It's okay. I have one more semester of this acceptable disheveledness and I'm going to relish every minute.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 1

Success. It was a lot easier to avoid lying that I thought it would be.

That sentence kind of hurts a little. Is the whole goal to avoid lying? or to not lie?

The hardest lie to avoid is the one centered around exaggeration. I love telling a good story and making people laugh. Sometimes you have to exaggerate a little to make it even better. This week unfortunately my stories will have to be truthful and without exaggeration. Maybe a little more ordinary, but still exciting.

So now it is Day two. I'm optimistic and excited for the day, though it could just be because there are homemade cinnamon rolls in the oven.

-a thought did strike me while I was falling asleep this morning. Is a metaphor a lie? Technically yes right?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lies.... lies.....lies.....

What's the difference between a story and a lie? Is there any difference? I mean those stories that you tell kids at bedtime, or the fables that you grow up listening to, or even the story plot of movies. All lies. Or stories. Or both?

Where is the line drawn. If I told someone that I had a million dollars, everyone would agree that that is a lie. Clearly I am a frugal college student that only has two coins to rub together because it was just christmas, and Santa was good to me. But if I told you that I got onto the roof of the union the other day and signed my name behind a water spout. Story or Lie? Or both?

Can lies bleed into stories, and stories into lies? Sure we all exaggerate to make the story better, but if you think about it, isn't that a lie? Now it's a stolie or a liory. It's a bunch of crap.

So I'm starting a new experiment. I decided my life needs to be just a little more interesting, so I'm putting myself to the test. A new standard every week, that I will try to hold myself to.

This guessed it. Lying is getting scratched off the list. I have seven days, starting tomorrow morning in which I will try (that right there being the key word) to not lie. No exaggerations, no white lies, no nothing to make myself look better. Just good ol' me, telling the truth, like we are all supposed to do.

Don't take this as a time to ask me anything you want. I feel like applying mom's rule of "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all" is definitely applicable. So no, I will not talk about how much I hate the neighbors next door, or love everything about William Jewell or enjoy this cold weather..... or do I?

I guess we'll find out tomorrow....
wish me luck

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Swesian Pirate

My cousin described her as a pirate Swesian. The Swesian part made sense. She was half Swedish, half asian....Swesian. The pirate part eluded me. I wasn't there with the rest of the family when she was born. I didn't get to hold her hours after being born. I had to wait ten days. Ten excruciating days, but yesterday the day finally came.

She wasn't longer than the length from my elbow to my fingertips. Her new little head rested perfectly in the crook of my arm and her body balled up seeking the tightness of my arms wrapped around her.

She slept. Didn't move. Just slept, but somehow I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I couldn't keep up with the conversation going on around me. I was fascinated by the new baby.

She kept her eyes closed and made all the involuntary faces that new babies make. Her face squished into half its size. Her eyes moved back and forth under her closed eyelids like she was dreaming of traveling through tunnels a quarter of her size.
Her perfect plum lips opened to show off her little tongue, then closed revealing one little dimple on her right cheek. My heart melted each time.

She made little squeaks and squawks periodically that made my heart jump before melting again.

As I was getting up to leave and hand her back to her mother, she opened one eye. Only one, like a pirate. Looked me up and down. Smiled, then went back to sleeping.

The Pirate Swesian strikes again.
She could have my heart any day.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

chasing squirrels

My dog chases after squirrels. She pushes her way out the door and bolts from tree to tree, stopping only long enough to jump as high as she can, sniff a little, then off to the next one. She lets the squirrels' scent to take her all the way around the block where she runs into her friend Margot. Sometimes she forgets to come home.

I think this dog is a lot like I am. I chase after squirrels of my own. Running from tree to tree of whatever catches my attention, sometimes forgetting my way home. Sometimes home isn't exciting enough for me.

Sometimes it takes me five hours to convince myself to get in the car and drive home.

But then again sometimes coming home is just what I need.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow Drifts.

My heart hurts. Palpable pain that makes me long to crawl back under the covers and keep everyone away. To put the Please Do Not Disturb sign outside my door and slip into the torrential waves of my mind.

I don’t know why, but I don’t want to face the world today.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I've decided I like being on campus when it is "closed"

You can wear the same outfit three days in a row and not run into a single person who would know the difference.

You get to stomp through the snow that hasn't been cleared from campus, unless of course you are traveling from the President's house to his office, in which case it is impeccably clean.

You get to see teachers at their best. Showing up in sweats and bedhead hair, embarrassed to be running into a student who is dressed exactly the same.

You can get up to no good with a certain set of keys, and no one will know... (shout out to my friends KP and CC)

You get to hold glorious hour long conversations with Sharon the security guard. She'll even drive you home

Then the week is gone and people are on campus, and the snow is shoveled, and the teachers are back in appropriate business clothing, and Sharon can no longer drive you home. It's kind of like growing up, you can't fight it, just have to accept it.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Blizzard 2

The kitchen was warm from the radiating oven, the warm bodies, and the delightfully disconnected conversation. There were three people in the house which was more than the temperature reading outside. Dinner was on the table, complete with Portuguese beer tracked down and smuggled back from Boston. The beer slid down my throat slower than the kids racing down Browning Bowl, but just as smooth. It brought back all sorts of smoky memories that had been stored away for a day just as this.

There was the beautiful petite Portuguese photographer who rocked the gladiator boots, the quick trips to Pingo Doce to satisfy the craving for more beer, the Super Bock beer slushy from forgotten frozen beer, the overflowing broken washing machine, the uphill trek with a ten kilo bag of dirt, Largo do Mitelo, the boys with creeper stashes matching shorts and greased back hair, and the familiar freckled face of my landlord with his head-thrown back in laughter at the crazy american.

This last semester has helped me settle down and readjust to life here, I even thought that the roaming gypsy spirit that haunted my soul for so long had been put to rest. But as I sit after a wonderful night of laughter, friendship, and espresso I am restless to the bone. Gypsy is pulling harder than I've ever felt, to the point where my usual getaways aren't going to sate her.

So here-in starts another adventure. Who knows where I'm headed, all I know is that I'm going...