I went to the woods

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

-Henry David Thorough Walden

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We’re not even going to go there

**Originally written January 2015

I hate “reasons why I haven’t been blogging” posts – I’ve had my fair share.

So I wont.

Let’s make a list!

Tulips and spring and negative 18 air temp. grad school and french and future plans and current plans and past plans. anxiety and waiting and waiting and hoping. eiffel tower photos and remembering a little town in the south of france. africa and d.c. and chicago and north dakota. students and office hours and smiles that somehow wake me up. new friends and neglected friends and potential for something new. texas and minneapolis and nostalgic for summer fruits. bills and paperwork and need to buy a file cabinet. wishing it were a more steady summer.
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That Time I Ran a Half-Marathon

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Oh dear friends, how I survived, I will never know.

Legs the weight of bricks around mile 11, non-existent mile markers, a make-shift ankle brace made out of the headband you can see I am wearing in the “before” picture above, and a lot of “HO-MY-GOD-CAN-I-STOP?!” Moments along the way.

Oh, and pulled hamstrings on Monday, a plantars fasciitis flare-up on Tuesday, a switch of shoes on Wednesday, and a partridge in a freakin’ pear tree.

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This has been on my mind for a long time, on a list, actually, THIS LIST, and last Saturday, I was able to cross off one of my most anticipated milestones. I signed up for this race while in France, longing for American sidewalks and nature as my running companions. Running in France was…public. I was always seen, my breathing heard, and my ONE sports-bra that I brought probably smelled.

This race was a victory for my spirit just as much as my body. I only wish I were more knowledgable on the workings of the body, the dos and do NOT’s. For example: do NOT only train 9 miles before a half, do NOT put up with your old running shoes hoping they’ll be fine, do NOT sign up for a race in the middle of nowhere because you’ll be forced to curse at your cow (literally, I saw cows)-cheering squad and ask strangers who have gotten off their tractors to clap for you how much farther you think you have.

A marathon you ask? Why yes, from sitting inside air-conditioning, not having run for several days and just polishing off a slice of banana bread, a marathon sounds great! The discipline, the long stretches of running paths, the community, mmm, how good that sounds.

I’ll keep you posted.

A separate venture: a 10K in Chicago April 2015! Much more doable...

A separate venture: a 10K in Chicago April 2015! Much more doable…

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Said Goodbye to All the Faces

I am transitioning from one state to the other, one country to the next, one unwashed towel to a clean one. It’s constant movement, and there really is no end in sight.

Then again, I am a 20-something, and according to buzzfeed, random blog articles, and Louie CK’s hilarious bit about them here, I am supposed to feel fragmented. That’s fine. I don’t always expect to have my life together, but when my rent is due and my car needs some work on it and I want real groceries rather than boxed noodles, it all just feels like too much.

Then again, would I want it any other way? To have gone to a community college school, maybe lived at home, saved money, graduated early, gotten a job along the way? Only to end with a degree

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I finished this post a year ago, and I wish I could say things are vastly different, but alas, that’s not how life works. Yes, things have changed, but I’m still very much in the same stage of life. The only thing I can see that is noticeably different is the strap on my purse in the last picture broke, yet I still continue to use it, so, there’s that.

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The Summer of Baking

“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream”

– Julia Child

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Coffee Mug Spam

I was sifting through some old pictures on my computer when I realized how much of a cliche I am.

I openly admit this in instagram posts, passing comments to friends, and to myself in the shower when I do most of my serious thinking (apart from running – see previous post). Sadly though, looking through my pictures, all I could find were close up shots of coffee mugs. Blurred at the edges and terrible lighting: the perfect combination for an English/French major with an anthropologie apron.

I thought it might be funny to make a compilation of sorts, for maybe my own sake. To purge myself from the cliche that is my collection of mugs.

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This was the first mug-shot (HA! Bet that joke’s never been made before..) with the intention to be artsy. I made this mug myself at Paint Yourself Silly, which is a  place in downtown Lincoln to paint pottery! The inscription is, naturally, a lyric from a Flaming Lips song. Judge away.

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I guess mugs just make me feel at home, rested, like I know there’s time to collect myself. There’s a sense of calm that spreads through my heated fingers as I wrap them around a mug of black liquid. I may seem like one to reflect due to all of the writing and journaling I claim to do, but I have discovered something about myself: I don’t reflect unless I have to. I do not take advantage of mini-moments to stop and really think, to ask myself hard questions.

I am not implying that everyone does this (I hate to call myself an ‘exception’ in any regard), but I often wonder how I can tear myself away from the distractions to really just think, even if it’s just thinking about what I want to do that day. Coffee in the morning has always been that time for me, albeit brief, but there, just in case I want to sip my thoughts.

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Same Song on Repeat

I have high expectations for myself as a writer, a pseudo-blogger, a perfectionist who currently resides in the academic world. I try to keep up with several mediums of writing – journaling, first and foremost, as it has been a habit since I was six. I mean it, I was six. It’s not impressive, but it does eliminate the possibility that I lack self-awareness. I’ve got enough to induce an irrational (probably insecurity-driven) panic attack of any magnitude.

Not my photo, but a good one all the same

Not my photo, but a good one all the same

I also have blogged here and there. I’ve referenced links in other posts on wordpress, but today, sitting in a friend’s apartment, overstaying my house-sitting welcome, I revisited my little internet home. What I found were a bunch of drafts – DRAFTS! Perfectly imperfect posts that were not lengthy or filled with witticisms, but good enough to be published over a year ago. It did not surprise me because I judge myself based on how a really critical hipster-y third-party would judge me.

I couldn’t stand the thought of not enough artsy pictures or an excellent, beginning-middle-end post. I’ve been taught that quips about life are meant for pathetic Facebook-dwellers, not sophisticated bloggers like me (snort). Though I have little to no traffic on this site, that did not stop me from acting like my mini-posts were not worthy of publication.

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my photo, but no one is suprised

SO! That leaves me with a string of posts that I will try to post successively after I publish this one. I think it’s a bit taboo to post more than once per day, but in this case, I’m throwing all judgement of myself out with the filters I refuse to use these days.

Here goes.

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This song is what I’m referring to in my title. Relaxing, good writing music.

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The Reason I Run

….To be thin and brag to all of my friends.

Isn’t this what people expect? I suppose I could be projecting my own hyperawareness of others onto my response, but still, I promise there is more to me than a bikini body training plan and self-loathing.

I don’t expect everyone to be a runner, and though I will encourage those around me (without being asked most of the time…) to do it, I know it’s not for everyone. Just how spinning is just not for me. Sure, I enjoy a bike ride and have taken a spin class here and there, but I don’t understand “bike culture.” With the tight shorts and poofy butt pads, and there’s so much plastic involved. Helmets, water bottles, heart-rate monitors, it all seems expensive and a lot of effort to me. Then again, I am willing to pay for a decent pair of running shoes (though not as of late, they are atrocious) and a race fee that could probably buy me seven days straight of chipotle burritos with extra guac.

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I mean, I stumble upon views like this. Worth it.

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I still remember my AIM name without a moment of hesitation, when does that quick memory start to fade? Future Madeline’s problem.

Anyway, Spitfire was a nickname (a pretty ugly one, actually) given to me in track when I was a kid because every Saturday meet I would beg and plead my coaches to put me in as many races as possible. My saintly parents would sit for hours, watching me, as my carried my petite frame across the bouncy orange lanes. Soccer was no different, I always wanted midfield, not because I was a particularly strategic player, though I could hold my own playing “Backyard Soccer” on the PC, but because I longed to sprint up and down the field as much as possible. My favorite part of basketball was the warm up laps (and the technical fouling), and my brief stint in 7th grade softball ended the moment I realized there was more standing than there was running.

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Safe to say, I loved to run. Unfortunately though, high school takes all of the life/personality/desire out of you because suddenly school gets hard, your body becomes foreign, and your energy is spent elsewhere. For me, most of my energy went to rebelling against things like Top 40, the prom (which I never attended), and bright tops. We’ve come a long way, don’t worry.

I didn’t start running again until the spring of my senior year, and I far from fell in love with it. I felt sluggish and only ran on a treadmill at the nearly abandoned LifeTime fitness where the older out-of-shapers would go.

I continued to run that summer but when I went away to college, I developed an irrational fear of the campus rec center. Sure, I’d go off to another state entirely where I knew no one, ready to make friends, but venturing into the unknown building where real athletes go? Absolutely not. At least not for that first semester. Eight semesters later (wow, that sounds old), and I have been there quite enough. I took to running outside, with friends, and discovered something strange.

I actually liked it.

One of my favorite MN running spots

One of my favorite MN running spots

It became a way for my body to relieve some stress. Truly.

Getting into the habit of running was less about fulfilling the requirements from a “stress relief” pamphlet and more about calming the ache I had in my chest to get rid of uncontrollable factors making an appearance in my life. If I missed a few days, the ache would return. It was as though my body would retain a certain level of composure and then it would alert me that it was time again. When I listened, I slept better, thought more rationally, and heard the sound of my own voice.

Running became where I thought about what was really on my mind. It was where I prayed, where I cried, where I listened, where I took ownership of what I was doing. No matter how slow I went or how far my legs carried me, that time was mine.

I became free.

A picture caught on one of my runs in Montpellier, France. A lovely spot.

A picture caught on one of my runs in Montpellier, France. A lovely spot.

Luckily for me, I had friends that also loved to run. Sunny and I would run five or six miles talking the entire time and catch up on life. Though we will never have that much time to just go running every day, I will cherish the days when we could.

Then, of course, we began to enter into races.

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Even during my five months in France, I needed running. I neglected it for the first couple of months because of culture shock, unfamiliarity, and a whole host of other excuses that turned out to be deeper issues, but we eventually found each other again. I brought exactly one pair of shorts and two running shirts, but we made it through. I began loving my iron balcony views and organized trees. Though I yearned for my trail running and poop-free sidewalks (a LOT of neglect in France for hygiene), I still enjoyed it for what it was. France will always charm me, even when I know I belong somewhere else.

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Dear running shoes,

Thank you for your support, both literally and emotionally. Thanks for making yourself appear when I try to hide from you, I appreciate all you have done for me. Thank you for being flexible when I’ve needed you to pose as hiking shoes, walking shoes, errand-running shoes, and lounging shoes. Though your laces may be torn and your soles slightly shabby, I still want you around as long as you’ll have me. We’ve been hundreds of miles together. I think you are more cultured than I am! You’ve gotten to know many countries with more intimacy than I ever have, becoming familiar with the pavement of Barcelona, fresh Midwestern grass, and mountain ranges from Colorado to Italy with just a few steps. The scent of Montpellier I am sure will forever be etched in your heels and the wear and tear from Cinque Terre has left it’s mark on your worn rubber bottoms. You are much tougher than I.

I do so hope that you will last for the half-marathon I am training for this October. I know your life expectancy isn’t that long, but I would so love for you to accompany me. I can’t imagine finishing without you.

All the best,

Madeline

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The Karges’

How do I describe this wedding in anything but pictures (terrible quality iPhone pictures and both the first and last photo I nabbed from the official photographer’s website, which you should visit here)

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The barn was absolutely perfect. It was an outdoor ceremony with a string quartet and an exit with well-wishing bubble wands.

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I have known Sunny and Matt since freshman year of college. Sunny lived a few doors down from me in Sandoz Hall, and after joining the same Bible study and discovering that we are kindred spirits, we began getting to know each other. For guys, this means spending time together and having conversation come up naturally without urgency, but for girls, well, we immediately start divulging gory details about our past lives and broken hearts. But mostly, when you are barely 18 and looking for friends, you start talking about boys.

She told me there was this cute guy in her chemistry class and they occasionally ate in the dining hall together.

It’s over three years later, and I just saw that cute guy become a husband to one of the most compassionate, hilarious, and deserving people I have ever met. These two have been apart of a beautiful group of people I call my friends, and watching them commit their lives to one another was glorious. They are currently in New Zealand on their honeymoon, and I am just grateful that “home” for them when they return is only an hour drive from me.

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The Summer of Woody Allen Movies and Listening to My Own Voice

I really don’t know how else to title this summer because thus far, this is what I foresee.

Consistency has never been my thing with writing, but I am trying to make it so. You can’t write well if you don’t write at all. Turns out, practice is a thing.

So, here we are.

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Well, we aren’t exactly here. This is a blurry picture of my kitchen table with my bridesmaid bouquet from Sunny’s wedding last weekend, but we can pretend we are here. I know my iPhone photography genius masks it, but the bouquet is sitting crooked in a three dollar pitcher I bought at a garage sale.

It’s actually 9:09am, almost three hours into my shift at Selleck, and the skies are raw with grey and some almost-rain that keeps the air hot and my hair fluffy. The darkened hue of campus looks more natural somehow, rather than the bright and shiny days with frisbees and backpacks and feigned enthusiasm.

This slightly darker lens can be attributed to my newfound discovery of all things Woody Allen. Though I feel about 40 years too late, I am still enchanted all the same.

It started with a documentary (though doesn’t it always? Or an article? Or even a buzzfeed quiz?). The only real material in books, movies, or channel flipping I find engaging are usually darker, more serious first-person stories. This is not at all what I enjoy writing. I cannot write in the first-person to save my life and my childhood was beautiful, so I am not exactly your prime candidate for a memoir. My characters end up stereotypically cynical and enjoy bike riding. I’m working on it. However, it does not change the fact that they have always fascinated me. I poured over Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul: Tough Stuff as a middle-schooler and drowned myself in the misery of Augusten Bourrough’s childhood saga of a broken home and being raised by his insane psychiatrist.

Dark humor. Satire. Reflection. Growth.

These are the qualities I look for, and these are the qualities I’ve found in both Woody Allen’s life, and his work. It’s astounding that he began as a stand up comic and to see the progression of work through decades of leading ladies and relevant references, but, all the same, it’s kept my occupied.

So, as long as Netflix allows, I will be on a Woody Allen kick.Image

Speaking of bike rides, I went on one (with semi-flat tires, mind you), but a bike ride all the same. It’s been a time of quiet recognition that entering into my fifth-year senior status will be different and living with someone other than Sunny will be foreign. It’s always a year of change, always. I don’t have to pull out my journals and reread my terrible handwriting to know that I’ve uttered the phrase “time of change” more than a few times.

I am ready for it, but I am simultaneously not.

Coming back from France continues to be an adjustment. Pondering where I want to further my education (and in what) has not ceased to plague my every day life. Feeling distant from family and friends both physically and emotionally is something I am coming to terms with, but for now, I think it’s okay to just enjoy the humid air  and watch Midnight in Paris for the 100th time.

I am just a 20-something after all.Image

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