what friends are for

s: you’re up late!

m: I just washed up and got into bed. wbu??

s: I’m just chilling like a villain

m: heheh
with cheeps???
that’s what I usually do when I’m chillin like a villin late at night.

s: no cheeps. just me and my la croix.

m: ooh la croix is also nice. yesterday, I crushed a third of a bag of WHEAT THINS while despairing late at night.

s: WHEAT THINS
the worst sort of snack for despair
why were you despairing??

 

m: YES cause you can just crush them forever but they are so SUBSTANTIAL.

s: my fridge is nothing but la croix… literally four boxes

m: LOL
dude. that is no fun.
you should at least have some chezz.
s: anyways. back to despair.

m: I was emailing a long catch-up email and despairing because I was having feelings of purposelessness again. remember when I was talking to you last year about how I feel so pointless and maybe I need more stimulation from my work? and I was all interested in law school?
same feelings.

s: oooh
do you feel strongly enough to act on those feelings?

m: but I’m learning, though, that sometimes feelings are just feelings. not necessarily something to dwell or act on, even. not in a depressing way at all, btw. I was re-thinking it all today at work and was like
hey. I’m not actually dissatisfied, though! I really enjoy my work and job and co-workers. sometimes random feels just creep up and trip me up!!
and these past few months, PMS HAS BEEN SO REAL.

s: dang perhaps the wedding stress slowly creeping in

m: like for a few days right before my period starts, I just get SUPER depressive and cry like a dumb baby!!! and then feel much better once I start my period.
it’s the WEIRDEST thing cause I have never been noticeably pms-y before!!
worst part: I am on track to start my period THE DAY AFTER THE WEDDING.
and for the past few months, the app has been ON POINT.
so if I’m despairing right before the wedding, gently remind me that it might be pms and that I’ll be okay.

s: indeed I shall
so many feelings!! I don’t know what that’s like!!

m: it’s exhausting!!

s: it sounds like it.
but it is what it is.
and you are right, sometimes feelings are just feelings and you just need to ride them out

m: yeah. I am just not learning that. 26 years in and just now figuring out my feelings haha

s: sounds like you’ve been having some pretty serious feels though
I caught up on your blog today at work LOL

m: haha it was you!! hehe it’s always satisfying to match up the spikes in views with the peeps.
and yeah indeed. I really wonder why I’m going through all these feelings.
a lot of it isn’t even stuff in my own life. sometimes I’m just sad for things other people are going through.

s: dude.
it’s amazing you can feel so strongly about things that aren’t even happening to you

m: yeah I cannot explain it at all. just like you prolly can’t explain the mechanics of the relative lack of feelings, right?

it’s prolly a mix of heart stuff, head stuff, and then just crazy hormones

but the world is FULL of sadness sometimes! SO MUCH suffering and GRIEF. it’s incredible.

s: it really is.
but then I always feel kind of shallow about the sadness because I usually move on and forget about it super quickly
until I remember it again
and forget again.

m: ooh. but dontcha know, forgetting is my specialty.
sometimes I feel like I should be doing something more drastic to combat the forgetfulness
but I think actually, that my subconscious self is already taking care of it.
tis why I blog and take pics.

s: you live yo life, mads.
perhaps you can compensate by being extra present in the present.

m: 😀
that IS my compensation. that IS what I’m supposed to be doing (and used to be good at!!)
thanks for reminding me, Sarah

s: that’s what friends are forrrr
I’m excited for burgers tomorrow

 

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hi Lauren! 7/6/17

hi!!!!

I’m sorry for such a delayed response… But this is what happens when I get a really good, meaty email to respond to — overwhelmed!! But in the best way! Thanks for sharing with me everything that’s been going on with you (haha though I bet it’s still not everything… I’m sure your life is crazy full of even more things). The OBGYN world sounds crazy and intense indeed, just like you said. And it’s good that you’re figuring out your preferences and aptitudes in a concrete way. AND it’s CRAZY COOL that you’re getting to experience something so special, and enjoy it even if it’s just abstractly 😉

Mark and I are househunting as I type! We were just looking for apartments to rent, at first, but Chris (who has a realtor’s license, hah) told us that we could probably afford to buy a condo or something. So we started looking! And just made an OFFER on a place in Arlington. LIFE IS CRAZY. I feel like we’ve just unlocked pandora’s box of craziness — with the wedding coming up in exactly a MONTH, and trying to buy a condo, and planning a two-week honeymoon… Though that will come later, around late September, THANK GOODNESS.

But aside from the above, life really is so normal and humdrum! Sometimes I miss school because I miss the state of always striving and learning. But these days, I feel like I’m just striving. The learning…still happens, from life in general, but it’s less structured and it’s harder to remember the kernels. Life is fuzzier and fuzzier the older I get. I feel less and less wise and less and less sure of myself as I learn more about the world. I think — fuzzily — this has to do with lacking a sense of purpose in life. I think I’m feeling unmoored and unfocused because I’m not sure devoted to anything that requires all of my effort and attention (like I was in school).

Work is fine, it’s enjoyable and I’m definitely grateful to have my job, but…it’s not all-consuming. But then…is it unrealistic to want that from a job? I’m not sure. I want something to fully devote myself to… I feel like the answer to this is probably God-related, and it makes me wonder how lost and unmoored some non-Christians must feel sometimes. Cause they must be out there, right? People made just like me but without the Christianity piece. Is any of this making any sense?

And Mark is my companion in everything. I’m lucky that he’s so solid and unwavering, counterbalacing my own wishy-washiness. But a lot of times, I feel like we’re just two babies embarking on this huge adventure of life and that we have no idea what’s in store. Mostly I am thinking of home (erm condo) ownership as I say this. I flip and flop between feeling like all these things we’re doing — wedding, moving, planning — are so normal and super humdrum and then feeling like the world is a crazy crazy place!! For letting us do such adult things.

Do I sound like a crazy person?! When I get into these thought spiral funks, I do feel that way sometimes. For blowing things out of proportion, mostly.

Hey is there anything I can pray for you about? I’d love to, if you have any requests.

Thanks for giving me this opportunity to ramble and write out my thoughts and feelings! I hope my lack of response wasn’t saddening. I had your email marked as unread in my inbox and thought of you every day since you emailed me. 🙂

Signing off, on a rainy Thursday night in nova!
Madison

:) 9/18/16

hi E!

I liked New York! and yeah, that’s something I’ve thought about these past two trips there — whether I’d like to live there or not. I think I’d like to — just for a year or two, maybe. it’s definitely a little too crazy for me for the long term, but I think for a short while, I’d enjoy the liveliness! Mark never wants to live there, though, so…maybe not. haha we’ll see. who knows what’ll happen. I never went to Take 31!

I know it must be so hard… but you’re absolutely right that the Lord is with you. and through EVERYTHING, he’s shaping you and molding you to be the person you’re meant to be. yeah, maybe that’s a good gauge of whether or not you’re progressing and moving in the right way — if certain steps you take (or don’t take) are refining you (in your character) to be more like a character that God would be pleased with. the fruits of the spirit, right? if certain situations, even if they don’t seem to be “clear” in terms of your career path or life trajectory, are increasing your character’s capacity for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… maybe that’s a good sign. but if you’re decreasing in patience… if you’re at a loss for joy… if you can’t hold onto faithfulness… maybe it’s not the way to be going. maybe it’s time to find a different direction from the Lord. whatever that might mean in your life right now.

a verse that talks about this “refining” love of God: Isaiah 48:10

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
    I have tried[a] you in the furnace of affliction.

 

this is a good reminder for me, too. life is pretty good in general, but I find myself getting impatient with people around me — friends, family — and also just really easily upset by trivial things. traffic. messes to clean up. stupid stuff like that. and I take out my anger on other people around me. but doing that takes away any semblance of love, of joy, patience, kindness, goodness from my character… I am NONE of those things when I dwell on the negative. this is clearly not the right place for my mind and my heart to be in.

hope you’re well! happy Monday.

a bout of email-thinking about Ivy Leagues

thoughts thanks to an articleshare by gloroh. response much, much to belated, but finally here.

email-thinking:

as an overly proud English major whose heart, in recognition of itself, beat faster at these paragraphs —

The first thing that college is for is to teach you to think. That doesn’t simply mean developing the mental skills particular to individual disciplines. College is an opportunity to stand outside the world for a few years, between the orthodoxy of your family and the exigencies of career, and contemplate things from a distance.

But it is only through the act of establishing communication between the mind and the heart, the mind and experience, that you become an individual, a unique being—a soul. The job of college is to assist you to begin to do that. Books, ideas, works of art and thought, the pressure of the minds around you that are looking for their own answers in their own ways.

I’d like to think that the author of this article would be very proud of me. despite the fact that UVA didn’t make his list of recommended schools not trying to compete with the Ivies.

and this, this stuff is tragic; it makes me want to send this article to everyone I know who went to Ivy League schools and somehow coerce them into telling me their true inner thoughts. is it real? —

Before he started college, he spent most of his time reading and writing short stories. Three years later, he’s painfully insecure, worrying about things my public-educated friends don’t give a second thought to, like the stigma of eating lunch alone and whether he’s “networking” enough. No one but me knows he fakes being well-read by thumbing through the first and last chapters of any book he hears about and obsessively devouring reviews in lieu of the real thing. He does this not because he’s incurious, but because there’s a bigger social reward for being able to talk about books than for actually reading them.

Look beneath the façade of seamless well-adjustment, and what you often find are toxic levels of fear, anxiety, and depression, of emptiness and aimlessness and isolation. A large-scale survey of college freshmen recently found that self-reports of emotional well-being have fallen to their lowest level in the study’s 25-year history.

and then, the following para made me think of this vidjo which I believe we discussed at our last dinner date.

So extreme are the admission standards now that kids who manage to get into elite colleges have, by definition, never experienced anything but success. The prospect ofnot being successful terrifies them, disorients them. The cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential.

and overall, I really agree with his final suggestion for reformation:

The education system has to act to mitigate the class system, not reproduce it. Affirmative action should be based on class instead of race, a change that many have been advocating for years. Preferences for legacies and athletes ought to be discarded. SAT scores should be weighted to account for socioeconomic factors. Colleges should put an end to résumé-stuffing by imposing a limit on the number of extracurriculars that kids can list on their applications. They ought to place more value on the kind of service jobs that lower-income students often take in high school and that high achievers almost never do. They should refuse to be impressed by any opportunity that was enabled by parental wealth. Of course, they have to stop cooperating with U.S. News.

and really did enjoy the whole thing, except that he seemed to get progressively angrier and angrier as he wrote on, which was detrimental to his credibility as a writer/expert and which was the principle reason I haven’t sent this article to all my friends who went to Ivies — for fear of inciting much responsive anger. hm…I dunno.

OVERALL, a MOST ENJOYABLE READ! I wonder what the state of college will be like by the time our kids are ready to go to college. if I do have kids, I hope I can be the kind of mom who instills in them the desire to gain understanding and wisdom and soul-stretchings in college and really see higher education as that best opportunity for those endeavors. but I fear that I am weak and will probably be anxious if they don’t get high SAT scores. much growth and prayer needed.

:) 9/6/16

hi E,

 

I stayed in midtown, right in the heart of Manhattan — Koreatown, actually. I never did walk by the UN building, but if I had, I certainly would have said hello for you.

 

the trip was really nice. I learned a lot at my conference (“editorial freelancers association”) and got to catch up with some old friends…from high school! so that was really weird and nice. it felt like reaching back to three lifetimes ago — through college, through high school in Charlottesville, then high school in Cincinnati (I used to live in Cincinnati!). with those friends, it felt (mostly) the same, which was nice. I mean, our lives are so different now from when we were in high school…obviously…but our friendship and our conversations felt the same, like old comfy…socks.

 

Mark and I did a lot of walking around. it was super tiring but also good. it’s fun to travel with him. I heard on the radio today about couples that are successful, and how the one factor across all these couples was the “awesomeness factor.” basically, it means that the likelihood of the couple’s continued happiness depends on how “awesome” they think the other person is, whether their beliefs are objectively based on reality or not. haha. basically, wearing rose-tinted glasses 😉

 

another cool thing was that the awesomeness factor had the tendency of making the person (the object of admiration) become as awesome as their admirer believes them to be. believing is seeing is being!

 

for you, too, I wonder if this helps.

how’s it been these days? are you still working at the airport? send me news of you.

love,

m

some rambly thoughts on a temperate June evening

IMG_9259
thoughts born at a local shavery we know

Some stray thoughts I would like to share:

  • Today I discovered yet another way that God intended for us to live in community. I was talking to a meesheree about self-esteem and how, when you have the assurance, deep in your heart, that you are liked by people in your life (whoever it may be: family, friends, etc — people who genuinely and deeply care for you while knowing the true you), it’s easier not to crave attention and approval from EVERYBODY else because you already know that you’re likable and lovable. And if the people who like you and love you are people you also like/love/respect, you have an even deeper sense of self-worth because you value their opinions and judgments, just by virtue of who they are and what you know of their character. But let’s generalize this a bit here; expand it out. How much greater and deeper would the sense of self-worth be if I truly (deeeep in my soul) knew how loved I was by God? And if I truly and deep-within-my-soul knew how GREAT this lover was, how much MORE confidence would I have in my lovability and likability?! It sounds so simple, but it’s so hard to do — envisioning God as the lover of my soul isn’t always tangible or accessible with my leetle human brain (and heart). So God gives us fellow humans whom we can love. And be loved by. And get from and show toward a little glimpse of what God-love is like, and to gain and share all the benefits that come along.
  • I also talked to the meesheree about my recent and giant tremblings of heart because of my conversation with another (nonbeliever) friend about the lack of archaeological evidence for the Jewish enslavement period in Egypt. Apparently there is no historical/archaeological evidence for the period described in Exodus. I had been doing a lot of confused searching of the internet these past few days and basically being distraught because everyone seemed so sure of what they believed, with scores upon scores of (the lack of) evidence on their side. what is a girl to believe? how is everyone, all believing in opposite things, so convinced that they are all right? m, in response to all this, said that historical lack of evidence and whatnot…she isn’t too fazed. Because 1. (and we agreed on this) Anyone can make an argument and a case for anything and dig up some kind of evidence to back up their claims. The world is more mysterious than we give it credit for sometimes. A lot of the time. Case in point: the endless number of theses being written about every aspect of every argument or every discipline, like all the time endlessly. So I needn’t be so troubled by the fact that everyone seems to believe opposite things and yet seems to have Definitive Evidence about all of those opposite things because, ultimately, it’s all about how your framework of perception and Life Reality is built, and how you’re working toward fitting (or not fitting) new information and data into that framework. Faith is a crucial part of how Christians’ frameworks are built and how they work, and observable evidence is what a lot of atheists’ frameworks are built on/with. And 2. Because no matter what randos on the street or bloggers on the internet or even what people in her life may say about the realness of God, she says, it doesn’t really debunk anything she feels about God himself because he’s been so undeniably real to her, in her personal relationship with him. It’s like, she said, if someone came up to her and started telling her things about me that seem out of character from what she knows of me. Because of the relationship we have, she’s not just gonna take that person’s word as truth and believe these hearsay claims about me — she’s gonna suspend judgment and at least seek me out to ask me about the allegations. Like, there must be some kind of misperception or miscommunication that this person thinks this about Madison! That would be her first reaction. Because she knows me. Because she likes and loves me.  Because she remembers the history of our relationship together. This part made me feel small and weak in my faith.
  • And another thing that makes me feel small and weakly and unmoored from anything is the fact that my emotions have such a sway over the way I decide (or don’t decide) things. Ultimately, I’m unable to do something if I just don’t FEEL right about it. And I can’t not do something if it FEELS right. In those moments of strong feels, I am the most decisive person in the world! But feelings change — o fickle heart. This affects the way I behave in my human relationships, in my general attitude toward life, in my thoughts and hopes about God and my relationship with him. How can I ever trust to do anything right if I’m so dependent on my fickle emotions to make my important decisions?! But then m reminded me that I’m not just a feeler — I have to make sense of a situation to feel a certain way about it. Whether that involves logic, or a certain way of reconciling two seemingly irreconcilable things, or a steadfast decision based on principles or values I would like to live by. And this part wasn’t fleshed out so well in examples but I do agree with her about this. More reflection needed, I think. And prayer. For my heart and mind and soul not to be so easily swayed by feeling, but more on truth guided by emotions.
  • Observability/logickability isn’t all that smart seeming, after all. A random thought that popped into my head as we pulled into my parking lot, this one — but. When viewed from the construct that everyone simply has a certain worldview they’ve created and are continually trying to fit new data into, organizing it all in a way that makes sense without too much disturbance, the argument of the strict scientist or historian isn’t so appealing anymore. If your construct only allows you “truths” that you can observe, take in, digest with your human mind and body, how limited is the world in which you live! Either that, or how arrogant you are to think that this universe is even remotely understandable in its fullness by your relatively small human life and brain. There are vast stretches of the galaxies (not to mention the OCEAN. on planet EARTH) that we haven’t even figured out how to experience. The world — and explanations for why we’re all here — is bigger than I am. And I hate that this gets boiled down to the Christian cliche: “God works in mysterious ways.” But the truth is that he ACTUALLY DOES! And that cliches are ACTUALLY the biggest, the underdoggest truths in the entirety of human experience. That’s why they are cliches, dang it!! Because everyone keeps realizing the same human thing over and over.

There is absolutely no need or pressure for you to respond to these rambly thoughts. But let me know if you have anything that could add to my understanding of things!

email-thinking on Tuesday, 14 June 2016 after some snoxream in a K Mart parking lot. mysteries and hipsterness abound.

“not being so whatever about things”

email-thinking, 16 January 2016:
I was having tea with a friend of mine the other day, and I asked her “what makes you feel rejuvenated and filled?” and she had the best answer! she said it was “not being ‘whatever’ about things” — does that make sense? I guess it could sound really flippant, but that’s not how she meant it. it’s like…deeply caring about things/people is what makes you feel motivated and filled! rather than being apathetic, which is, ironically enough, so draining. what makes us pour our heart and energy into things is what fills our heart, too.

and in that sense, my friend, you would be the most “filled” person I know. haha. but I know it can be hard on that end of the spectrum of “caring too much,” too — super draining. but life truly is more meaningful and flavorful and more deeply felt when you care about certain things in it. in that way, I want to be a specialist in something; I’ve already spent so much of my life being such a generalist.

I hope you’re well. happy mid-January. time is always flying flying flying.

ec: mramey aka mamacita: “do you ever feel like you could end up anywhere in the world, at any time?

hej

sorry I left the real meat of your email unanswered for so long. with no real internet at home it’s hard to be prompt with link-ful emails 😉 my internet options are either work, or going to a coffeeshop or sumpin. which I…so rarely do these days (the coffeeshop. the work, I am here, like almost every day). It feels like an unnecessary luxury, especially when 8am-5pm are taken up with a chunk of work and evenings are spent frolicking around (aka tutoring and going on dates with markling and having random undergrads over at my apartment for tea and going home-home for dat mama lee food…too often); it almost feels a shame to spend a “leisurely” few hours sitting, spending more time on my butt in front of a computer screen. And after all this, I still have not read the Emerald Light article you sent. I’ve clicked into it many a time, only to be overwhelmed by the lengthgevity and brainspace required to appreciate it, I’m sure. But keep sending these things my way, please. Enriqueces mi vida por estos enlaces. OMG I just realized what a GREAT name Enrique is, if a bit narcissistic. Guau.

&another GUAU: what a whiny and defensive prologue. I stop nao; sorry about that.

But let’s see… Do I ever feel like I could end up anywhere in the world… I wonder if you even care about this question anymore. But I’ll endeavor to answer it anyway, cause it’s a good thing to ponder.

I think if I were residing anywhere outside of the US (maybe even just the continental US) in a long-term, indefinite sense, I would always have a (constantly diminishing, but ever-present…like asymptote-approchement?) sense of wonder/discomfort. In the best/worst ways that slashes are so useful for lazily capturing opposite/unrelated things. I haven’t had to be tested for long-enough periods of time with this, cause I always sorta discredit those study abroad semesters for having been too ez and self-indulgent and too reassuringly time-constrained, although let’s be real, there were MOMENTS OF STRUGGLE in those semesters, for sure. But basically, I mean that I am not sure about all this. so this whole thing has still only been a prologue to the real meat of the answer… sigh.

So, summoning my powers of theorization: I surmise, even with that ever-diminishing, yet constantly asymptotey feeling of BEING AT HOME at any particular place in the world that is not your HOME (whatever that means), I think it’s possible for everyday life to come to feel “Normal” and “Like You’ve Built a Life There,” indeed, with enough passage of time and enough connections, memories, relationships made in that formerly New place. And in my ever-Christian, hopelessly romantic(-realist) worldview, no matter how weird and uncomfortable something feels, it was meant to happen in your life, at that point in time, in that place in the universe, just so. Even if those things don’t feel formed or definite to you, at all. We can only tell all this and glean our lessons in hindsight, anyway (and even then, sometimes we can’t). And more and more I’m learning that my feelings about things are pretty off, a lot of the time—at best, merely descriptive; at worst, counterintuitive and/or counterproductive. Maybe other people have better correlation of gut-feeling decisions and successful outcomes; maybe I’m just extra dull at ETS. EST? STD? …wait…)

And yeah, I do take a lot of comfort in the belief that “things feel formed” to me; but I recognize the fact that either way, it doesn’t matter. I should live my life with just as much hope and resolve and hard work, either way, cause. Life is a gift. Every moment is a freaking miracle. And here we spin out into endless possibilities of all the terrible and all the wonderful…

What are (or were…) you thinking about all this? And what do you think of it now?

And what else are you thinking of these days?

Te echo de menos, chiquita blanquita. I love youse.

PS yaaaaaas la guitarraaaa. What songs have you learned. Have you joined a mariachi band yet. Am I being racist yet (nationalist? hrm).

PPS well and well and well and better to you, tambien, mama[cita]. also I’m gonna blawg dis. jajaja