Twentysomething Thoughts

The following post contains twentysomething thoughts unique to my own experience, inspired by a real-life middle-of-the-night existential crisis. 

Enjoy!

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Does anyone still feel like they’re perpetually sixteen? Or is it just me?

Should I know how to do [insert random thing you don’t know how to do] by now? (For me, personally? I don’t know how to change a tire. Or the oil. Or fix a toilet or a toaster. Or anything.  Isn’t that what AAA is for? And management? Or am I pathetic?)

Do I look “old?” Or could I pass for a college junior/senior? I mean, I am in grad school… it’s still school, am I right?

I think I look old. I spot crow’s feet. I need moisturizer, stat!

I remember when I was in high school and my friends and I were just sittin’ around chattin’ during lunch about our futures, and I remember thinking, okay, by the time I’m 24/25 there will definitely be a guy I’ve either married or am about to marry, and I’ll have a real job, and maybe a little house and for sure a dog or two, and I’ll be thinking about kids by the time I’m thirty, for sure. 

Isn’t that hilarious?

I mean, if you do have that–good for you. Truly. That’s awesome.

I just can’t imagine that right now. For me, at least–it’s scary. So permanent.

I do have a dog. Ellie. That’s something. My goodness, I love her. Do you want to see a picture? You do? Okay, then! Here you go:

Back to this permanence thing–I think that’s what scares me most. As I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered I like things to change, I like to move around and mix it up. My dreams change, my address changes, my taste in clothes changes, etc.

So when it’s time to “settle down,” will I be ready for it? Could I live in one place forever and ever? Could I do the same thing every day forever?

Is anyone ever really ready for it?

Shouldn’t I be content with permanence? Shouldn’t routine be a comfort? A joy? Only some are lucky enough to have it, I guess.

Okay, this next one is serious:

Do I need a signature shade of lipstick?

The thing is, even though I’m mostly just a chapstick kind of gal, there’s a part of me that loves the idea of a signature lip shade, perfume, scarf, etc. Having a signature anything–now that’s something, isn’t it? Isn’t that the epitome of being a grown-up, a woman in charge?

Maybe I’ll look into it. The signature lip, I mean.

What if I always feel unsure of everything? Why do I always say, “I’m sorry,” or “I don’t know,” after every dang sentence? I’ve noticed I try to qualify everything that comes out of my mouth. I know what I think; why do I feel like I have to apologize for thinking it?

You know what’s sad/funny? I’m obsessed with presentability. I want every aspect of my life to be presentable. Acceptable.

It’s funny because I claim not to be.

I want to be acceptable. Normal. Me. My apartment. My clothes. My car. My bag. The stickers on my laptop.

Am I too old to have stickers on my laptop?

Is anyone ever really “too old?” I mean, whenever I say, “I feel so old,” to my mom, she just rolls her eyes and says, “Kaila. You are not old.”

And I don’t think she is either.

Don’t we all want to get super, super old? Isn’t that the goal, ultimately? So why do we worry about the whole age thing? Shouldn’t people just be people no matter the number of years they’ve lived?

So there’s no “too old,” or even a “too young,” right? Or is there?

I don’t know.

There I am, saying (typing), “I don’t know,” again. Oops.

One thing’s for sure: I am in my twenties, and I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time.

Except for quesadillas. I know how to make quesadillas. And pasta. And scrambled eggs.

And that’s something.

 

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“Life, Liberty, & The Pursuit of Cheese Curds”

Alternate title: “My Week of Christmas Trees, Red Barns, and Midwestern Charm.”

Hey, blog.

As you can tell by the two titles, I’ve just returned from a vacation in the Midwest. My best friend from the DCP lives in northwest Iowa and eastern South Dakota, so I was so excited to finally make the trek up north to visit her and her family!

Also, as you can tell from my “trek up north” comment, I do not reside in the Midwest, so everything I experienced was so. Much. Fun. And new! And adorable. And eccentric. All wonderful–magical, even. Charming as heck.

For reference, I like to think of myself as a Texoman–I divide time between the Lone Star State and Oklahoma. (Yeehaw, I guess?) I say “Y’all” religiously, Whataburger spicy ketchup runs through my veins, and I know my state songs forwards and backwards, partly due to overt/obnoxious pride, and partly because we were required to learn “Texas, Our Texas” in the fourth grade. I sang the song in front of the class, as did every little Texan in my school.

I digress.

Let me tell you, I love experiencing new places, especially new regions of our country. In the past, I’ve fully experienced the deep South, Florida, and Texas/the lower Midwest (what I call Oklahoma), but I had never really experienced a place like Iowa/South Dakota. As I was driving north, I noticed some differences in the physicality of the land.

First: Christmas trees. Evergreens! Everywhere! On farms! Beside the road! Just chillin’!

I couldn’t stop saying, “Look at all these Christmas trees!” I loved them so much–Allyssa’s (my friend) childhood home had so many just hanging out in the yard, so that alone could make a girl happy.

But there’s more.

Did you know red barns exist? That they’re not just on postcards? Or on Thomas Kincade prints?

Red barns, my friends, actually do existUsually in an idyllic little grove in the middle of corn fields, as did most of the farms I saw. When I got closer and closer to Allyssa’s homestead, it was late afternoon, stupidly (perfectly) sunny, and my head kept swiveling to-and-fro to catch glimpses of these perfect little barns, some stamped with a decoration that indicates they are part of a “century farm,” a farm that has been in the same family for at least one hundred years.

Can you believe that? I don’t know where I’ll be in two years, and these folks and their family have been running a farm for more than one hundred. (!!!)

Of course, I knew red barns existed before this trip, but where I’m from, most of the barns I see are abandoned and collapsing by the side of the road–I’m from Texas, yes, but not in an area dominated by farmers and/or ranchers. I’m a suburb gal, so the sight of these red barns–bright red, trimmed with white, beautiful, clean and pretty barns–made me so happy.

Let’s move on to the different attractions I experienced. I’ll give you a quick rundown:

Obscure museums, tours, a corn palace (yes, you read that right), a small-town Fourth of July parade, fireworks, a stop at a cathedral (I’m still a Catholic school girl at heart), walks around an entire town (because it’s that small), bingo, a pie auction, and quality chill time with my best friend and her family.

There was probably more–we did so much during my short visit.

Let me discuss the most quirky/charming/wonderful activities, because this trip was chock-full.

The Corn Palace. Yes. It’s what you think it is. In Mitchell, South Dakota, there’s a big building that’s covered in corn, corn husks, and other corn bits. The corn composes intricate murals that interpret the theme of the year. This year’s theme is “South Dakota Weather,” so the Corn Palace was covered in murals depicting snow, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and more. The Corn Palace is one of those iconic roadside attractions–like the world’s largest Ketchup bottle, or ball of yarn, or polyurethane cow (anyone watch The Middle?!)–and, let me tell you, I’m a sucker for that stuff. I live for all things quirky, and I love a good gift shop.

It was no surprise I went nuts for the Corn Palace. I bought a hat and three postcards. The hat is now my most treasured possession.

The Corn Palace = a-MAIZE-ing.

Ha. Haha.

Let’s talk about the pie auction. It is possible, out of everything Allyssa and I experienced, that the pie auction was my most favorite.

A little background: I was in town for Allyssa’s hometown’s Freedom Days, a weekend full of Fourth of July themed fun. There are tons of fundraisers that happen for Freedom Days, and the pie auction is one of them. The proceeds help pay for next year’s fireworks display (which was incredible, by the way; #thankyoupies).

The gist: people in town bake pies, a real auctioneer auctions them off, and the bidding starts at $50.

Yes. $50.

I CANNOT BEGIN TO EXPRESS HOW INCREDIBLE THIS EXPERIENCE WAS. Pies went for $100! $200! $300! $400! $500!

The biggest bid?

$1,025!

I KNOW, RIGHT?

Apparently, this bid holds the record as the largest in the town’s history. To be a part of this historic night was magic. I even bid on a pie (thank you to Allyssa’s dad for being the sweetest ever), and came home the winner of a S’mores concoction.

Victory tastes sweet.

Speaking of food–let’s talk about FOOD. Midwestern food.

Here are food/restaurants I savored while experiencing the Midwest to its fullest:

  • Culver’s (Hello, Cheese Curds! I LOVE CHEESE CURDS! Those things just don’t exist down here.)
  •  Pizza Ranch. Delicious.
  • Culver’s frozen custard.
  • There was more, but for some reason, I can’t remember.
  • Oh, yeah! Allyssa’s fam cooked brats (my first time trying those, and holy cow, so good), burgers with the best-tasting beef, and “barbeque,” which is our version of Sloppy Joes. All delicious.
  • And Taco John’s. I find the whole concept of Potatoe Oles wonderful/wacky–remember, I’m a Texan, and we think our Tex-Mex can do no wrong.
  • Okay, I still think that. BUT. I loved Taco John’s and its “West-Mex.” Apparently, that’s a thing.

Overall, experiencing some of the cuisines of the Midwest proved fun, tasty, and new-to-me. I loved it.

The best part of the Midwest?

The people, of course. Adorable accents and all (everyone had an accent–Midwesterners seem to skip over their vowels altogether, at least compared to us Southerners. Also, the vernacular: “Pop” instead of “soda” or “Coke,” phrases like “shoot a pickle!” [FAV], and more. Oh, I could dissect dialects ALL DAY).

The people are so nice. I felt so welcome by everyone–Allyssa’s family (I love y’all), the townspeople, our tour guides on our many excursions, etc. There’s a lyric from “Iowa Stubborn” (from the musical The Music Man) that sums up the people of the Midwest perfectly:

“But we’ll give you our shirt/ And a back to go with it/ If your crops should happen to die.”

Good, good people with the biggest hearts. What more can I say?

Thank you, Allyssa and fam, for being my hosts and my guides to all things Iowa/South Dakota. Not only was last week a week for catching up with my best friend, it was a week of new adventures and new experiences. I had the most incredible time.
Now, if you excuse me, I’ll be here craving cheese curds for the rest of the year. They are just so dang good.

FOLK: A Way of Life

What do I mean by FOLK, you ask?

The Festival of the Lion King, of course!

During my college program, the Festival of the Lion King became my absolute favorite show on Walt Disney World property–every time I visited DAK (Disney’s Animal Kingdom…WDW [Walt Disney World…see?!] is obsessed with acronyms), I made sure to stop by the Harambe Theatre and take in all that this glorious festival has to offer. If you haven’t experienced it for yourself yet, I encourage you to do so on your next trip.

The Festival of the Lion King is not a show based on plot or story, but rather ambiance inspired by select songs from The Lion King. “Tumble Monkeys” exhibit the fun and laid-back vibe of “Hakuna Matata,” a fierce fire-twirler (is that the right term?) captures the sinister aura of “Be Prepared,” and literal love-birds take the stage to represent the sweet nature of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” The more I watched this beautiful show, the more my love for it grew and grew. There was something about the simplicity of it–I didn’t have to keep up with a plot, I only had to sit back and enjoy every intricate piece of the performance.

Because I love this show so much, it is no surprise that my favorite memory from my college program is the day I got to experience it in the front row of the lion section.

I had seen the show so many times before, but seeing the spectacle from that close was truly incredible. The cast seemed to connect with each one of us. Timon stopped by and a Tumble Monkey played a quick game of duck-duck-goose. Did I mention that I got to be the demonstrator of the lion section? I will forever be unnecessarily proud of that moment; I tried my very best to replicate the roar of the most majestic creature of the animal kingdom.

After the show, we were so very lucky to get to meet a few members of the cast. My group of friends was undeniably a little bit of a mess–with only two weeks left of our beloved Disney College Program, we were already beginning to become reluctant to leave the magic behind. We were so overcome with emotion and excitement,  we couldn’t stop crying. Ugly crying.

Those poor Tumble Monkeys didn’t know how to handle us.

I just want to take the time to thank everyone who brings this beautiful show to life. It’s a celebration of life and love and beauty and color and music, and it truly touches so many. I listened to the soundtrack today as I made my way around town doing errands, and my heart couldn’t help but ache for it. I miss you, FOLK, but I know that you will always welcome me with open arms whenever I visit my home.

Until I can feast my eyes on FOLK again, I just have to remember to live in the moment on my own “path unwinding,” to celebrate life as joyfully as a mischievous Tumble Monkey, to not be afraid to fight for the spotlight like Timon, to embrace beauty and love as it comes, and to truly appreciate all that the circle of life has to offer. FOLK is not just a show–it is truly a way of life.

Hakuna matata, my friends. I hope you have a “wild” day!

Pure Excitement

These past few weeks have been an odd mix of emotions; mostly wonderful, some a little… bitter sweet. Yes. Bitter sweet is the right sentiment.

Let’s see. First off, I’m done with my college volleyball career. My last season ended a little over a week ago, and it still doesn’t feel real. I’ll write a separate post on the subject sometime soon, but I want to let whoever is reading this know that I have loved every minute of my college volleyball dream and this last year was just so gratifying. We won our conference, had the first winning season in program history, and got to play in the NCAA tournament. It was so exciting, and when I walked off the court for the very last time (holy moly), I knew that I could say that I put everything into my first dream.

That is where the “bitter sweet” component of my complex emotions factor in.

Now. Here are the exciting components:

  • I’m done with college in 5 days. Wow. This is also a little bitter sweet, but I just can’t wait to be at home for a while.
  • I start the Disney College Program in 52 days! I have to keep pinching myself. I can’t believe I get to be a cast member! Now that volleyball is over, I can shift my attention to preparing for my arrival date. I’m having the best time organizing my thoughts and planning and what not.
  • I’ll be living in DISNEY WORLD in only 52 days. Again, it’s just now sinking in now that I have a bit of free time on my hands.
  • I’ll get to see so many dreams coming true on a day-to-day basis.
  • It makes my heart so happy knowing I’ll be seeing Mickey and Donald and friends oh so soon.
  • Christmas is coming. Who doesn’t love Christmas?
  • I get to see my dogs in 5 days!
  • Can you see why my heart is bursting with happiness?!

Once finals are over, I’m going to try to post at least once a week. I won’t be an English student any longer, so I have to keep my writing skills sharp. Also, blogging is so darn fun. And once I’m at Disney, I’ll be posting a lot more about the most magical place on Earth–tips, tricks, my amateur photography of the castle and other pretty things around the parks, life while in the college program, food, reviews of all the amazing new attractions set to open in 2016, you name it. I’m so excited to breath a little fresh air into this blog.

For now, I’ll just continue to let my heart pitter-patter as I start making packing lists and shopping trips.

Have a magical day, my friends.