In My Happy Place (Writing 101, Day 6)

When it’s time to write, I like to be alone.  Crowded locations, even trendy coffee shops, are a definite no.  I used to bury myself in the basement of my university’s library.  Something about being surrounded by books helped me find my words.

These days, writing usually happens in my bedroom.  This summer, I got rid of the tiny desk that served me throughout childhood and upgraded to something I can actually USE.  I’m sitting here now, actually.  See the white chair in the photo below?  Picture me there, typing away on my laptop.

My bedroom is my happy place.  It’s the only place I can truly be alone.  I can hear noises from other parts of the house, but they can’t reach me here.  Not in my happy place.

I’m the type of person who likes to be cozy.  Part of this means lots of bookshelves, warm sweaters, and patterned socks.  Part of this also means surrounding myself with objects laden with memories.  Almost everything in the photo of my desk has meaning.  The bulletin board is covered with postcards, photos, and notes, each bearing its own story.  If you were here, I could tell you each one.  The wire hanging spelling my name was a gift from a co-worker during my camp counseling days.  Even the tiny objects bring back memories–rubber ducks given to me by a favorite roommate, a carved elephant a friend brought back from Africa, a plaque with a Bible verse given to me when I graduated high school.

When I’m cozy, I’m comfortable.  When I’m comfortable, words flow.

 This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

P.S. Part of today’s assignment included generating polls/contact forms to generate ideas for future posts.  I opted for the contact form.  If you have a topic or area you’d like to see me write about, you can find the new “Contact Me” page under my “About” heading.  Or you can email me at keepyourfeetblog@gmail.com.  OR you can do things the simple way and leave a comment.  Cheers!

A Great Day for a Parade

One of the greatest delights in small-town Minnesota are summer festivals.  Every town has one.  If you wanted, you could attend one every week of the summer.  These festivals often feature a special 5K race, a craft fair with all kinds of food stalls, and an evening parade.  Since I was in marching band back in high school, I played my flute in all the local parades.

This past weekend was Wannigan Days–a particularly special event, as it features not one town, but two!  Every year, St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin teams up with Taylors Falls, Minnesota.  The towns exist in different states, on opposite sides of the St. Croix River.  The multi-state participation, in addition to the gorgeous scenery, makes for a memorable time!

The thing about small town parades is that they’re SO small-town.  Elected royalty from all the local communities dress up, smile, and wave on their platformed floats.  Businesses and organizations make appearances, tossing frisbees into crowds and handing out magnets.  Political candidates smile and wave, slapping “VOTE FOR ME” stickers on audience members.  Marching bands play patriotic anthems that are slightly off-key.  The local football team blasts kids with super-soakers.  Finally, all the fire trucks from the surrounding towns steamroll by, signaling the conclusion of another year’s show.

My mother is a member of the Falls Chamber of Commerce, an organization that strives to unify the communities and promote local businesses.  Every year, they have a float in the Wannigan Days Parade.  This year, they were relatively short-staffed and I was enlisted to help.

The parade was relatively short–ten blocks down the main street of St. Croix Falls, cross the bridge over the river to get to Minnesota, and four blocks through Taylors Falls.

My job was simple: Throw candy.  One of the prominent chamber members bought $250 of treats, so I was free to lavish it on all the happy children in the crowd.  It was an easy task.  All I had to do was smile and toss handfulls of goodies to everyone under the age of fifteen. As I was going to sleep last night, all I could think about was how happy the kids were.  They line up along the curb with bags in their little hands, waiting.  Barely able to contain themselves, they bounce up and down.  Their little eyes absolutely glow.  Sometimes, I teased them.  “You want candy?” I asked.  “I don’t know if you’re excited enough!!”  Of course, this only made them squirm more.

Just imagining their faces makes me smile.

I remember being one of those kids.  When you’re little, you wait ALL SUMMER for parades.  When they finally come, you take your position on the edge of the street and are like, “THIS IS MY MOMENT!!!”  My brothers and I were ruthless.  We would dive-bomb and shove each other out of the way just for a little piece of candy.  When it was all over, we would spread our bounty on the carpet at home, count them up, and make trades to get rid of the varieties we didn’t like.

These events hold a special place in my heart and I loved every second of being part of them again.  As my old marching band teacher always said way back when: “It’s a great day for a parade!”

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Downtown Taylors Falls. Taken mid-parade.

Remember the Prairie

It’s strange being a college graduate.  I’ve worked so hard for so long and it’s odd to think I won’t be going back to Morris in the fall.  Still, the school sure does know how to send us off.  The ceremony was everything a graduation should be and I loved soaking in every minute of it.

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Having the event outside in the heart of campus, surrounded by all our class buildings, felt incredibly intimate.  The mall was absolutely packed and, the whole time, it felt like the university was wrapping its arms around me–giving me a long, sweet farewell.  The speeches and performances were on-point, and although the band sounded a bit off-key, marching forward to “Pomp and Circumstance” still made me tear up.

Our student body president and my fellow classmate gave a traditional speech reliving all our shared experiences.  When she came to the end, though, she shied away from the cheesy/vague encouragement that normally infiltrates graduation speeches.  Instead, she told us one simple thing: Remember the prairie.

I adore this piece of advice because it’s something tangible.  She didn’t tell us to pursue our dreams, reach for the stars, follow our path, etc.  (It’s funny, ’cause I draw from the path metaphor for inspiration on this blog.)  She told us to look back at the place we came from and remember the way it shaped us.  It’s a call to never forget where we have come from.

Since the ceremony last Saturday, I’ve moved home and am now one of the stereotypical unemployed English majors living with their parents.  Mind you, this isn’t a permanent situation.  My job hunt is going to be a non-traditional one, but it is already underway.  In a few months, I’ll hopefully be on my way to setting out on my own.

To conclude this post… I came to the prairie four years ago to study what I’m passionate about.  I cannot express how thankful I am for all the people I’ve met, lessons learned, and memories made.  It’s been fun blogging my way through college.  Although it’s time to embark on the next adventure, I will always have a special place in my heart for Morris.  I will always remember the prairie.