Letter #181: Forget Shallow

Dear personal,

I often wonder if I divulge too much when I write, if I’m being too you. I don’t know that I necessarily air out all my dirty laundry here for everyone to read, but I definitely don’t do much sugar coating either. Before I began this blogging endeavor, I made a few goals. Yes, I’m a nerd, a visionary and a planner, and I need direction in my life. Making blogging goals was a simple way for me to achieve this!

With that being said, one of those goals involved me being real. I’m not very many things in life and I fall short in more areas than I’ll ever succeed in, but I strive to be honest, real, vulnerable and a woman of my word…maybe even to a fault. Realness is a character quality unable to be created, yet cherished by all. Think about it, we long for genuine friendships.

So, I write candidly. I try writing in a way that truly encompasses my perspective, my thought process, my feelings and my reality. I like to think that if I were an artist, I’d have one canvas. Whatever ended up on it had to become part of the final product. The flaws aren’t erased. They may be painted over and become part of the majesty later on, but at the moment, the mistake is the heartbeat of the painting. Welcome to my reality. Rather than erasing the mistakes, I try to take them in stride, be a little too you in a letter written for the world (or my smattering of followers :)) to see, learn from it and end up making decisions where new paint strokes make the mistake end up as greatness.

Sure, I censor myself to some degree. Nobody needs to know everything about me, the good or the bad. And no, I’m not comparing my writing and blog to a great piece of art. I am simply explaining and justifying my vulnerability to myself because I question it often. I’ve never watched the TV show, “Parenthood,’ in my life, but it’s my roommate’s favorite show. We watched it together last night and a line stuck with me. A character (I don’t know their names, but Lorelai from Gilmore Girls) wrote a play and her dad’s friend happened to have a background in Broadway. In reference to her play she mentions she put too much of you into it and needed to take some out. He responds sarcastically with something like this, “Take out the personal? Then, all you’ll have left is shallow.”

Here’s to avoiding shallow,

Striver of personal and real

Letter #114: Who Knew I Was Gothic?!

Dear adventures,

By my 9th week of travel, I have become known as quite the “gamer.’ I’m always up for an experience. New cities, new states and new campuses instantly equate to fun memories in my mind. The experience is always what I’m looking for, so chain restaurants and sitting in hotel rooms are bottom on my list of activities to do in a new place. Part of this is because I’m 23 and simply look for you at all times as well as this being my first time to travel the country. I think the biggest reason is I just like to have fun!

I’ve had some great moments in the past few months, but this week all stops were pulled. Touring Memorial Stadium and Husker football: epic. Visiting an old kamp guy at the art shop where Golden Globe trophies are made: random. Stumbling upon the American Gothic Museum in Eldon, Iowa: priceless.

You see, I offered to drive from Des Moines to Quincy, IL. There’s no good way to get there, so after nearly being run off the road into an abyss of ice and snow by an idiot who was texting while driving, we came across a sign declaring “American Gothic Museum’ 50 miles. Jokingly, I asked Kara (K-Kountry intern and dear Branson friend) if she wanted to stop. We laughed and didn’t think twice about it. Then, we entered Eldon and saw the same sign pointing us to one mile away. We happened to be way ahead of schedule, and Kara could tell I was up for you. Without Allen’s (the other K-Kountry intern; yes, they sent us on trail together!) knowledge as he was napping in the back of the 15 passenger, we turn in.

Driving up to this, I still have no idea what we are getting ourselves into.

Kara and I walk in, and this is hanging front and center.

Still no idea what I’m entering. My initial connotation was a bunch of teens dressed in black. Kara anticipated the gothic art era. She was WAY closer than me. The museum employee comes around the corner and finally informs us we have stumbled upon THE house that inspired the painting, American Gothic. Into art or not, everyone’s seen this piece.

Grant Wood happened to pass through Eldon, saw and painted the house, then returned to his studio in Cedar Rapids.

There, he had his sister and dentist pose. They never stood in front of the house nor posed together.

This painting is probably the most parodied and familiar painting from the 20th century, and we got to dress up and pose in front of the actual house!

Of all things to stumble across, this was awesome. I feel more cultured and educated, and it’s just another ridiculous story to add to the books. Thursday, I was reminded to make time for random stops, conversations, meals, experiences and you. Thanks for the reminder.

Looking forward to many, many more of you,

American Gothic poser