Rapunzel Hair

Hair is a funny, funny thing. We become attached to our locks, desperate to find the style that’s right for our faces, for our personalities, for our “aesthetic” we want to portray to the world.

I used to cling desperately to my long hair. There was a point when I had “mermaid hair,” hair so long it could cover…well. You know.

But I’ve always wanted a long bob. Always, ever since I was a little girl. But fear and my involvement in athletics made me wary of chopping my hair–I thought a long bob would make my face appear thicker, or I thought I’d miss braids and long ponytails. I thought my long hair was such a big part of me, and I was so afraid to part with it, even though it’s what I truly wanted.

You know what I finally realized just a few weeks ago? HAIR GROWS BACK. So I cut it. I’m going to try to find pictures of the longest hair and my shortest style and insert them right here:

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You know what’s amazing? This was my first haircut in which I almost HAPPY CRIED with the results. I WAS SO HAPPY THAT I FINALLY DID WHAT I WANTED! And I’m still so happy!

The moral of the story? Hair (or anything, really) doesn’t define you. You define you. Your dreams define you, your personality, your likes, your spirit. Our girl Rapunzel is the perfect example of a physical thing not embodying your essence–while she didn’t cut her hair herself, her hair was still her defining quality before the chop. When it was lobbed off, she was free of an expectation, free of Mother Gothel’s abusive restraints.

She went from “Rapunzel with the hair that glows when she sings” to just “Rapunzel.” And that’s all that she ever really needed to be.

I’m not saying long hair’s bad. Not at all–mermaid hair (or buzzed hair or blue hair or any kind of hair) is beautiful. I’m just saying to do what you want to do, do the things that truly make you who you are, and become who you want to be. That’s all we can ever do: love the things we love, be nice to people, and find joy in doing exactly the things you’ve always thought you’d never try. Let’s do the things we like and make a little bit of a difference in our little corners of the world.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go shake my head because I love how my new hair bounces when it’s curled.

Best. Day. Ever!

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Grad School Update and the Disney Stuff That Gets Me Through it All

Geez. Long title.

If y’all don’t know, I’m pursing my MFA in creative writing (fiction concentration).

It’s crazy. I’m crazy. You’re crazy. Wait, what?

Grad school is tough, but I’m learning so much. I know, know, you guys are probably like:   “Kaila, you’re at school, of course you’re learning a lot.” But learning is not always a given, I’ve found.

But I am. I’m learning. AND I LOVE LEARNING!

As a budding fiction writer, I’m learning that not all I write can be about sunshine and rainbows and happy happy happy. Of course, there could be moments of happiness, or there could happy(ish) undertones to literary fiction. But happy doesn’t always make a good story, and I’m finally finding my groove when it comes to the themes I want to tackle. (You’d think I’d know this by now, but hey. I’m admittedly a novice when it comes to making up stories.)

BUT. I feel like my writing is already improving by leaps and bounds. I’m constantly working on my stories–before class, after class, at home, in the student union, in bed, while Ellie chews on my feet. I’m either thinking about writing, actually writing, or editing writing. I read, too. Not much for fun, but I still make time for a bit of recreational reading. Workshopping is scary/tough/disheartening/empowering. But I’m learning to love the process.

My blog’s taken a backseat, I know, but I’m changing that right now. I miss talking about Disney on the daily–okay, I actually haven’t stopped talking about it, but the subject isn’t as much of a priority anymore. At least in my daily life. I gots school and work and stuffs. Sometimes I tell the students I tutor in the writing center that I worked for Disney (they see my stickers on my laptop), and that’s always a fun icebreaker.

Anyways. Here’s a list Disney things helping me get through my first year of my MFA:

  • Music. Always. Currently been loving the new Duck Tales theme song–Donald’s my favorite, so listening to this while I put my makeup on is a way to start the day, let me tell ya.
  • Club Mickey Mouse! Those kids make me smile! It’s sad that I’m so old that I call 16-18 year-olds kids. Ha.
  • My apartment is so cute, and it’s filled with mostly Disney crap. I’m just now figuring out where to display my Tsum Tsums. Once my living room is sort of decorated, I need to take some pics and show you guys. I love it.
  • I bought Bambi recentlyso that was nice.
  • The anticipation of Coco and The Last Jedi. Goodness I can’t WAIT for both!
  • Ellie. She’s my dog, but she’s got a Disney name, so it works. She got fixed the other day, poor baby, but she’s doing great.
  • My backpack. My Vera Bradley Disney print backpack actually broke (darn zipper), but my student union carries the JanSport DISNEY COLLECTION! I died of happiness inside. I bought the print with Mickey and Donald climbing up a mountain; I’ll insert a link to a photo here.  (Ignore the horrid price tag, I was desperate and it was cute, okay?!) Donald’s face cracks me up and makes my heart happy.

There you have it. A quick list of Disney stuff I’m loving.

I’ve missed you, blog. I’ll try to write more often, because you make me happy.

See ya real soon!

Kids Grown Up

I was so happy and lucky to win a contest on Instagram–I enter a lot giveaways, so to actually win something was such a thrill!

But this wasn’t just any old contest–the prize was a copy of Sophie Jo’s (@sophiejowrites on Twitter and Instagram) Disney-inspired poetry book, kids grown up. 

POETRY. INSPIRED BY MY FAVORITE THING EVER. DISNEY. This literature-loving girl’s heart was SO happy to win an item I’ve been eyeing for months.

First of all, the aesthetic of the book is so simple and clean, and I can’t wait to get more furniture so I can get a little stand for it and display it forever. I have a small collection of Disney books, and this is the perfect addition to my menagerie of magic.

Second of all, the poems are wonderful. (I know I’m using a lot of italics for this post, but bear with me). She posts a lot of the poems on her social media, but there were a few I hadn’t seen before. One poem, “windows and doors,” left me teary-eyed. The persona of the poem captures the essence of visiting my favorite place–I think the poem refers to Disneyland Paris, but I can see my beloved Walt Disney World when I read it. There are some lines that really touched me and conveyed how feel about Disney parks:

“and four went strolling, hand in hand: / through pinks and golds and clouds and swells / of music.” (Such beautiful language that puts me right on Main Street.)

“for days inside my head was calmer.” (YES!)

“he waved at me! / he remembers me!” (Me with any character I’ve ever worked with/met.)

There’s so much more to this poem, but I should stop quoting. Go. Purchase this book to read this poem;  I love it so much. Whenever I get “homesick,” this will be my go-to.

The star of the show, in my opinion, is the title poem, “kids grown up.” This little poem completely describes my everyday existence in every way, and it’s full of humor that any adult Disney fanatic can understand. My favorite lines:

“…then i can / think happy thoughts / and fly, and fly, and / thank my second star that i / take joy in stuff like how to store / my cheese baguette and how to pour / my ~CHILDLIKE~ self into the day…” 

THAT LAST BIT…ISN’T THAT BEAUTIFUL?! I hope I pour my “childlike self” into each and every day.

To Sophie Jo: thank you for selecting me as one of the winners of your contest. I am over the moon about your precious book–it will act as a source of inspiration for me as I make my way through graduate school and work on achieving my own writing goals.

To my readers: CHECK THIS GIRL OUT! I hope she publishes more in the future, because I just love the language she uses to describe my favorite thing in the world.

As always, have a magical day, and please pour your own childlike self into every second of it. That’s an order.

 

 

 

“Sivako!”

Here I am, fifty-three days post Disney trip, settled into my new apartment, anticipating the start of graduate school, and I am finally, finally sitting down to write about Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

My obvious, general thoughts first: I loved it. It was so cool. I want to eat cheeseburger pods and root vegetable chips every single day for the rest of my life.

Now some specifics. Pandora is one of the most incredible things I’ve set eyes on at a Disney park–lush, green floating mountains looming before and above you, cascading waterfalls, florescent flora and fauna. The transition from Discovery Island or Harambe to Pandora is seamless–it’s as if Pandora has always belonged to Animal Kingdom, it’s like it’s always been there.

The attractions, guys. They are incredible–sincerely two of the most advanced, immersive experiences I have ever encountered. The Na’vi River Journey was stunningly beautiful; I was only able to experience this attraction once on my trip, but it did not disappoint. If you’re a Disney fan reading this blog, you’ve probably seen countless Snapchats and video of the animatronic figure that guests encounter on this attraction. And if you’re not an avid Disney fan and just read my posts for the heck of it (thank you), please open a new tab, type something along the lines of “shaman on the Na’vi River Journey in Pandora in Disney’s Animal Kingdom” in your search bar. I’ll wait.

Good, isn’t it? Really good. Disney imaginears never fail to inspire me with their innovations.

Now. Let’s talk about the star of the Pandora show, Flight of Passage, the most INCREDIBLE attraction I have EVER been on. All caps are NECESSARY.

Minor spoilers are ahead, so skip a few paragraphs if you want your first time experiencing this attraction to be a complete surprise.

The basis of Flight of Passage is this: by linking with your very own Na’vi Avatar, you  have the ability to experience a ride on the back of an Ikran, commonly known as a banshee on the remote planet of Pandora, made famous in the 2009 feature film. You enter a “chamber” that collects some DNA data, and then you are matched with an Avatar based on the results. From there, you enter the flight room, board a flight simulator that looks like a high-tech bike, and don your “flight googles.” When the
Avatar link is complete, you are transported to the remote outreaches of Pandora and are flying on the back of your banshee. You feel him/her breathing beneath your splayed legs. You feel and smell sweet Pandorian wind as you dip, dive, and swoop. You see some of the most beautiful visuals–the floating mountains, other worldly creatures, forests, oceans, and more. The experience is truly incredible. I think I’ve used the word “incredible” fifty billion and a half times in this post.

The bottom line: Flight of Passage is the most thrilling attraction I had ever been on–I wanted to do it again and again and again and again…so on and so forth.

It’s that good.

After my ride through scenic Pandora, I had an overwhelming feeling of possibility. Anything is possible. People–human people, not superhuman Na’vi–created Flights of Passage with their own brain and will power. We, mere guests, were (are) able to experience something so amazing because someone–some people–had the gumption to sit down and figure out how to make it happen.

That notion blows me away.

One of my favorite aspects of the attraction is the smattering of Na’vi vocabulary. My favorite Na’vi phrase is the title of this post: “sivako.” In the native Na’vi tongue, this phrase is equivalent to the English phrase “rise to the challenge.” Our Na’vi guide on the attraction urges us to do just that–with a shrill “Sivako!” we dive (alarmingly and wonderfully fast) into a lush forest laden with dangers and surprises.

You passively rise to the challenge on Flight of Passage, but once you experience this attraction, you long to actively “sivako” in your daily life. Because I experienced the magnificent result of creative brain and will power of Disney imaginears and storytellers, I desperately want to make something–to write something–that has an impact on someone as Disney imaginears have made an impact on me.

In short: I urge you to make plans to experience this world in the next few years. It’s worth it. So, so worth it.

“Sivako,” my friends. I hope you rise to the challenge today and every day. In the meantime, I’ll start anticipating my return to Pandora and to my banshee, who I lovingly named Bertha. I just love alliteration.

“Disney Day”

“Disney Days” are essential to the mental health of an avid Disney fan. If you didn’t know, I’m an avid Disney fan…times ten.

I know. Shocking.

What is a “Disney Day?” It’s not just a day spent at a theme park (although it can be). A Disney Day can be any ol’ regular day with an intentional amount of magic and pixie dust thrown in.

Disney fans have a way with “fluffy” words, don’t they?

We (my family and I) had our own Disney Day this past Sunday. We declared it Disney Day from the start–we each picked out a Disney movie and sat down for hours to watch some favorites and some forgotten classics. We took a break for lunch and a treat, and we gabbed and napped throughout the showings.

It was pure, lazy, pixie-dusted bliss.

We could’ve made our day more elaborate, with treats and favors fit for Instagram. We could’ve put more thought and planning into the movies we watched. I could have started a hashtag, worn ears, done my makeup, felt like a presentable human being.

But did we do that? Nope! We just sat down and watched some movies. The simplicity of the occasion made the day so much better–free of fuss, free of perfection, free of a bra. (TMI? Probably.)

Here’s how our lineup developed:

  1. The Little Mermaid, followed by a Lean Cuisine for lunch and a trip to DQ for a vanilla ice cream cone.
  2. Aladdin with bouts of power outages due to a summer thunderstorm. It took us a long time to watch and finish Aladdin. Momma cried because she had never sat and watched it all the way through–she adored the song “A Whole New World,” and she was so proud of Al when he set the Genie free. My sister took a hearty nap.
  3. The Lion King, with bonus features included.
  4. Peter Pan whilst sorting through old photos and memorabilia. I found some old short stories of mine, written around the third or fourth grade. One piece was entitled “The Irish Setter Who Loved Golf.” An Irish Setter is a breed of dog, one I was particularly fond of as a child. It was a work of literary genius, no doubt. Find me an agent, stat! (Ha.)

While this wasn’t a stop-the-presses kind of day, it was one of my favorite. It was a Disney Day for the books–I’ve had some pretty incredible park days, but there’s something about intentionally sitting  and watching movies all day with the ones you love that makes every “monotonous” moment magical.

How would you go about your own Disney Day?

 

Ode to Magic

Below is a little poem I wrote about my favorite place, my magic place. Thank you for reading, and have a magical day. 

Magic is Floridian humidity

that melts the features of my face.

It’s the sun that burns my shoulders

and it’s the post rope-drop race.

It’s a metal mouse and a metal man

standing firmly side by side

captured forever in family photos,

those moments will never die.

Magic’s down at the laughin’ place

where briar patches become home.

Where nine ninety-nine happy haunts ask

 one more soul to cease to roam.

Waffles become magic when they’re

blessed with eyes, a nose, and ears.

A moment becomes magic when a tiny tot

overcomes her incredible fears.

She hugs her hero, her idol, her friend,

A fleeting second, captured by tech.

She bounces, she giggles, and squeals

she bids farewell with a delicate peck.

Mickey Mouse holds his heart and swoons

she’s met her hero, he’s met his.

These moments, this place, this world

are “my friends, where the magic lives!”

This place is my magic place,

I’m just like those teeny tots.

Here I never grow up, I dare to wear

mouse ears and red polka dots.

I laugh without fear of notice,

I don’t hide behind a stoic mask.

Fastpasses, photo ops, and the purple wall

are today’s only required tasks.

Here I twirl on lush “hub grass”

and strike a classic princess pose.

I open up to people who “get it.”

They feel the magic. They just…know.

Here “anything is possible,”

and “wishes do come true.”

It’s where I learned that true magic lies

within me…and also in you.

We take our magic place with us,

to the real world, to reality.

  In memories of that magic kingdom

I find myself.

I find me.

Classic

My last quote for the “3 Days,  3 Quotes Challenge” is a Disney classic:

“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.” 

Who wouldn’t love this quote? It’s hopeful and optimistic, something I try to be every day. Sometimes it gets hard, but when I’m feeling a little down, this quote can help me see the sunshine again.

Keeping on laughing, imagining, and dreaming, my friends. I hope everyone has a wonderful day.

 

Keep Moving Forward

Today on my hot, humid, sticky run, I happened upon a little snail.

That little snail put some big thoughts in my head.

He was just sliding along, slowly but surely, confident of his destination and not worried about how long it was going to take to get there. He was just moving and doing his best to get somewhere.

Wow. What an inspirational little snail.

He reminded me of one of my favorite Walt Disney quotes:

“Around here, however, we don’t look backward for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” 

This snail wasn’t looking backwards. He was just going, moving toward a better tomorrow.

Let’s all “move forward” every day, my friends. It’s hard–we have our doubts, we have our past failures in our back pockets, and we want what we want now. It’s hard to wait.

Just move forward each and every day, and, maybe someday, it will lead you down a new path better than you ever imagined.

Main Street, USA

My love for Main Street, USA in Walt Disney World runs deep. I’m talking really deep.

My first memory of my favorite place consists of being overwhelmed by the amount of stimulation that was present as my little unsuspecting family strolled into the park–balloons, the Dapper Dans, greetings from the Mayor, the sweet aroma drifting from the confectionary. People were smiling. I was smiling for undetermined reasons; everyone was smiling around me, why shouldn’t I? As we rounded the corner, I caught my very first glimpse of the castle.

It took my breath away; it truly did.

The show Dream Along With Mickey was being conducted in front of Cinderella’s castle, and it was my first taste of Disney magic. I cried, of course, but at the time I was a shy sixteen-year old; I remember flipping down my sunglasses so nobody would see the tears in my eyes. It was an emotion that I couldn’t explain at the time. I just cried because the message was so beautiful, so simple, I guess: “Dreams come true.”

Main Street has been the location of some of my favorite memories, including the one above. Watching Festival of Fantasy last summer was dazzling and so rewarding (it was on the last day of our vacation that we finally got to see it; it was rained out the previous days), watching Wishes, and standing in the middle of the street late at night, a Disney Parks merchandise bag stowed under my arm, watching the color-changing castle bid me goodnight.

I also cried during that particular incident–I’m quite the emotional person, can’t you tell?

Main Street just encapsulates the pure joy and nostalgia of days gone by. It’s the picturesque version of any small town main street. It’s iconic and utopian. The smells are both overwhelming and welcome–the pungent scent of freshly brewed coffee drifts from the Starbucks/bakery, the sugary sweet smells of candied apples, rice crispy treats, and other goodies from the Confectionary offer their fragrance to the experience, and the perfectly greasy scent of fries and hotdogs makes your mouth water.

Main Street, in short, is just perfect.

Here’s two of my favorite pictures of my sister and me on Main Street (They are both a “picture of a picture” because our photo pass photos are no longer on any of our computers):

Pure joy.

 

Main Street is simply magical after dark.

We both love it on Main Street, as you can see.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little ode to Main Street; I have a feeling it’s just not my favorite place in the whole world. It’s the gate way to the lands of “yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy”; of course it has to be simply magical.