A Traveler’s Education

I turn 27 today.. 27 years on this green earth and I feel like I’ve learned more about myself in the 3 weeks leading up to now than in all those years combined.

I went to Ireland again a couple of weeks ago and it was just as wonderful as I remembered. The country reminded me of my roots, as it does, but it also brought to light the changes that have occurred within me since starting this life of travel.

Mark Twain once said “Travel is fatal to prejudice”. I’ve always liked this quote, as I feel connected to it as a traveler that considers herself extremely open and tolerant of other people and cultures. The more I travel, the more this thought settles within me, yet at the same time, I have become less and less tolerant of my own culture. I recognized an air of near embarrassment when confronted with foreign perceptions of American ideals, American food, American politics (Don’t worry, we’re going to stay plenty far away from that one in this post), and other concepts.

What happens when you no longer feel pride in where you come from? We’ve brought this perception upon ourselves by thinking that every other country will cater to us and our needs when we travel. When I go abroad, or even just to another region of the US, I want to immerse myself in their culture! I want to try their food, drink their beer, listen to their music, experience all their differing talents. We all do, right? Everyone says that, but then why do we go through the trouble of flying a million miles abroad to bitch about the lack of ranch dressing and Dr. Pepper 🙄 and compare everything to how it is at home? So yes Mark, I agree with you that travel is fatal to prejudice, but for me, it’s also fuel for my burning inward prejudices.

After Ireland, I came home to good ol’ OKC for a visit, and what a time to be back in town. For those of you that live under a rock, Oklahoma has had a massive teacher walkout occur over the past nine school days. And may I just say FOR THE RECORD: It’s about DAMN time y’all. Once more a little louder for the people in the back: FIGHT👏🏻FOR👏🏻WHAT👏🏻YOU👏🏻DE👏🏻SERVE👏🏻 Whether you would like to acknowledge it or not, teachers make the motherloving world go ’round. To make them deal with hyperactive small people or moody medium-sized people on a daily basis, make them responsible for the education of our future leaders, AND take away all of their funding? Get out of here.. what did you expect to happen?

It was interesting for me, because coming home, I was prepared to hear a massive rally cry across the state and see everyone gushing their support in any way they could. You’ll understand my surprise when I got into my brother’s car at the airport and his first comments were about how annoyed he was with the walkout! You see, he’s a senior this year and knowing he’ll have to make up those days at the end of the year has effectively ruined his life. It’s funny to see that high school bubble in action when you’re an old geezer like myself. I can see now just how naïve I was to anything bigger than my own drama back then. I hope one day he’ll be able to look back and see how important this walkout was.

My Mr. Feeny in high school was a glorious woman named Rose Ann Neal. She made me love school. She challenged me, motivated me, respected me, and made me feel like I had nothing standing in the way of my crazy successful future. She gave meaning to literature, and frankly, to high school as a whole. I can say with absolute certainty that she’s a major part of the reason I went on to finish a Bachelor’s and a Master’s. BTW Mrs. Neal, if you’re reading this, I’m heading back to school for the third time next year, so thanks for that 🤓. Can you imagine if I had gone through school in classes of 35 kids? This whole post would be full of incorrect uses of there, there, their, then, and than! I mean, have you read anything on Twitter lately? THE INJUSTICE!

What I’m trying to say is, travel, teachers, and the Oxford comma are important.

😘 Mads.

Beautifully Complicated

“Compassion is all inclusive. Compassion knows no boundaries. Compassion comes with awareness, and awareness breaks all narrow territories” -Amit Ray

I learned a hard lesson this week. I met someone that, for reasons I don’t yet fully understand about myself, became very important to me in a short amount of time. It’s hard for me to write this post because I plan to explore some of my own issues as I write it. I have found myself often latching onto people that I think need saving, and how presumptuous of me to think that I, in all my fucked up glory have anything to offer these people, right? What makes me more “together” than these souls I find myself longing to help somehow?

Nothing. This is what I’m starting to see. But let’s take a break from me for a moment and get back to the soul in question. I’ve become taken with this person because of this very intense dichotomy I noticed pretty early on between the outward presentation and the inward reality. On the surface, the world is seeing a messy, quirky, open-minded person that seems unfazed by all of the misfortunes they’ve experienced/brought upon themselves. Yet within just a few hours, this facade shattered to reveal someone that is so intensely sad, it makes me think of a tragic statue in a rainy courtyard.

I sensed this overwhelming air of defeat and fragility, and as I dug deeper and deeper into this person (because I’m a pushy, ignorant, brat), I just found more and more complications. I figured that this overwhelming need to protect that I was feeling would be the driving force in the others in their life as well, but I was shocked to find the opposite to be true! This shattered, broken person I saw to be so obviously screaming for love and acceptance and help, was treated by their peers in a way that worsened my attachment to the idea of saving them. How could they not see it? How can they be so cruel to someone that’s so broken?

Back to me for a spell. My internal dialogue starts going into overdrive. Am I falling into a trap? Am I so utterly insightful that I’m seeing through all the bullshit these other people are blinded by and seeing the true person underneath, making me their only hope? Or am I the ignoramus that is falling for this person’s instinctual manipulative behavior that gets them the attention they want? What am I risking with either direction.. on the one hand I could make a real difference in somebody’s life that really needs it. On the other, I look like an idiot when it turns out they were right all along and I played right into it.

With this particular case, I risked my intellectualism and dignity and did everything I could to make it clear I wanted to help, to be this person with which they could crack it all open and feel accepted. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work. I’m still not sure whether my assessment of this person is correct.. but I know now that whether it was all an act or not.. they didn’t want to be helped. Or maybe they did, and then changed their mind.

I think there are a lot of these people out there, that don’t want to be helped. Maybe they’re comfortable in their misery, or too scared of what it will be like to live with accountability for their actions and feelings. Whatever it is, I feel true sorrow for them. Everyone should have at least one person in their lives that allows them to be exactly who they are all of the time, who makes them feel adequate and accepted. I don’t think I’ll ever stop trying to help these people, for whatever reasons about myself in which I remain naïve, but one day it’s going to work. I firmly believe that my incessant digging and meddling will one day pay off by helping that one person that wants it.

Is this the right ending to this post? Or am I supposed to end it with the very stereotypical Millennial response of “time to let it go and start caring for myself instead”.

Thanks for unpacking all of that with me, you guys are the best,

Mads.

Is It Hopeless?

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obselete” -R. Buckminster Fuller

I’d like to start by saying that I have this group of friends from my undergrad that are so many things, things that range from absolutely amazing to downright stubborn. These friends vary in their degrees of fortitude and apathy, ambition and ease of presence, and I adore each of them for being who they are, despite the times that I grow very frustrated when decisions they make, driven by who they are, upset me. Since moving to NYC, I’ve become closer with some of those friends, for many of them live here, and I’ve grown apart from some due to distance and life, as it goes.

I’m telling you about these beautiful humans for a couple of reasons, and not the for the obvious one that they’re majority redheads (it’s a thing, in my life). The intense pride I feel when I speak about them and their accomplishments is overwhelming. These are some of my oldest friends, and we have stuck together and been there for each other over many years and many miles. Some have lived abroad, some still are*, and even though we’re all spread across the country right now, our connections are stronger than ever. My point in telling you all of this is to explore with you what friends like these should do if they feel one of their own start to slip away. Like, really slip away.

I have a tendency to frantically try and form traditions or push everyone to meet up in a certain place, hoping it will remind us what got us here in the first place, why we all became friends. It worked a few times, but as time has progressed, it’s been harder and harder for everyone to find the time. How do you tell your friends that you’re scared we’re all going to fall apart? That these friendships have been the capstone of the most important years of your life and to think of a future without them is physically painful? How do you tell them that you fundamentally disagree with a decision that has a huge impact on their life without risking the chance that they’ll run from you and that’ll be the end? You want to protect them and tell them how you see it from your point of view, but you know it’s not something they want to hear. Do you lie? Is it more important to protect them from themselves, or to protect the friendship that you don’t want compromised? I’ve been struggling with these questions a lot lately.

They say that it gets easier as you get older, but I don’t agree with that. The problems don’t become easier, they become different, and generally, they come with more to lose. As a Millennial, I see sometimes this mindset with people my age, that if you have a simple disagreement, screw it. You’ve got 1300 FB friends and 800 followers on Insta and Cardi B follows you on Twitter so pshhh girl you’re fine, people love you, you’re doing alright. I hate that. I understand it to an extent, but I hate it. Likes and follows aren’t gestures of love, they’re gestures of boredom or envy. I sometimes think I’m the only one that feels this way. The only one that takes these relationships so seriously.

So the question is.. do I keep fighting? Or is it hopeless?

*Shoutout to Mitch, still kicking ass abroad to this day!

Bitter.

“If you’re betrayed, release disappointment at once. By that way, the bitterness has no time to take root.” -Toba Beta

It’s been so long since I last entered the blogosphere. I can delightfully say it’s because I finally started my long-awaited contract! Now before you go around excitedly telling your friends about this random blogger’s new employment status, know that I have found this new hospital to be a completely glorified dumpster fire. I won’t go into detail on their practices because who of you really care about the technical nursing details.. Just trust me when I say it’s a very chaotic… unorganized… **trying to think of the perfect descri..DUMPSTER FIRE!! Actually, picture six rabid raccoons fighting over a pizza crust on top of a pile of burning trash. Got it? That’s it. Glad we got that out of the way (and you’re welcome for the visual).

Let’s discuss disappointment. I have a TERRIBLE habit of looking toward the future through diamond studded rose-colored glasses. I always think it’s going to be better than it is and then I’m faced with crippling disappointment time and time again. This isn’t always true, there are certain things that live up to their expectations… a $68 bottle of Austrian Grüner Veltliner, the greeting from Gracie when I come home in the morning, the New York MTA Transit System.. *HA! jk on the last one* but more often than not, I sit and wonder how things I had dreamt of going so well ended up going so wrong. How do we cope when this happens? How do we change our way of thinking to ensure it doesn’t keep happening day in and day out? You tell yourself you’re not going to let it affect you. You say things like “I work to live, not live to work” and whatever other cheesy one liners you can find to make yourself feel better. But what does that solve? You’re still bitter at the end of the day and over time that bitterness accumulates. You don’t even notice how bitter and closed-off you become because the process is so gradual.

I was watching Black Mirror the other day and in one of the episodes (S4E4 Hang the DJ – AWESOME episode, check it out, Joe Cole is great) the female lead says “What if all it’s actually doing is wearing us down (…) each time you get a little bit more pliable, a little bit more broken, until eventually (…) you are so defeated and so exhausted that you just accept it, you settle. And then you have to live the rest of your life convincing yourself you didn’t”. POWERFUL stuff guys. It’s disconcerting to think this is our reality. I feel like so many Millennials settle, whether it be for a significant other or a job or being in debt. We get tired or we’re just generally lazy and don’t think that we’ll achieve or be granted what we truly want. Instead of fighting, we just lay down and take it. Why do we do that?

I’d love to know what you guys think. I can’t be the only one out there terrified that I’m unknowingly bitter and settling for things that are not enough. Send me your thoughts.

Until next time,

Mads.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” -Peter F. Drucker

I’d like to tell you a story. Throughout these previous months, I have been flying back and forth from NYC to Oklahoma City. Almost every flight has been accompanied by delays, cancellations, and general DRAMA. I won’t go into all of them, but one of these flights brought me a certain clarity concerning a topic that is often brought up regarding the Millennial generation: respect and commitments. For our purposes, respect related to commitments.

After multiple flight changes and cancellations due to weather and other issues, I was finally on a plane to Chicago from NYC. I had only bought a ticket to Dallas this time, mostly because of the difference in price. I thought, I should easily be able to find my  way back to OKC from Dallas, no problem. I had a friend that was willing to drive to Dallas to pick me up, but with all the cancellations and delays, she was unable to make it so much later in the evening that initially planned. At this point, I had planned to stay the night at a family member’s home and get a ride from my brother in the morning. Here’s where things get interesting.

I’m sitting in the bulkhead middle seat (possibly the worst?) between an excessively self-announced film hand working DEEP in the Hollywood film industry and a burnt-out attorney eagerly asking everyone around him to download a new app he has invested interest in (It’s called Ribbon, feel free to check it out for yourself). In between the celebrity name dropping and general self-interest on my left and the desperation and self-loathing on my right, my exhausting story of unfortunate events is laid out. A woman my age seated behind me then taps my shoulder and states that she was on the same unfortunate itinerary as me and will also end in Dallas late into the evening. She then goes on to offer me a seat in her car, which she will be driving up through Oklahoma City once we land. I eagerly accept, wanting nothing more than to be home as soon as possible.

During our layover in Chicago, I help her and her wheelchair-bound grandmother with their things and get seated at the gate. Here, she begins her vetting process to decide whether or not I am a safe and trustworthy travel companion. Fast forward two hours: we have become friends on Facebook, followed each other on Instagram, and I’ve even spoken indirectly with her husband. I wait until the last second before the plane takes off, making sure that she is 100% committed to our plan, and text my family member to say I no longer need a place to stay for the night. I have now respectfully declined a familial offer of hospitality, and will allow them to go to bed without further word from me.

Fast forward a few more hours, our plane lands, and this woman finds me to take back her generous offer. She states that she now realizes she’s too tired to make the drive and will be staying in Dallas with her grandmother for the night. ***I’M SORRY..WHAT?***

Literally, I was so excited to be able to turn this into a post about how millennials are wonderful and generous and open, willing to help a complete stranger get home for Christmas. Instead, I am forced to write a post about how all those people who bash on us were right in this situation. This 20-something woman lacked respect for the commitment she had made to me, one in which I had altered other plans that were contingent on her following through. Everything worked out, I got a hotel at 1130pm and hitched a ride in the morning, but that’s not my point. I also understand that people get tired and these things happen, she prematurely agreed to something that she wasn’t able to follow through with. I’m upset because I feel like this has become a part of Millennial culture. Everyone follows the mantra of “I must do what’s right for me in this moment, regardless of how it affects anyone around me”. It makes us seem immature and unreliable and I am not a fan.

Honor your commitments people. It matters. **Rant over, thanks for hanging in there everyone**

Dating..

“Hope for love, pray for love, wish for love, dream for love… but don’t put your life on hold waiting for love.” -Mandy Hale

To say I’ve been bored out of my mind lately would be an understatement. I did find out that New York received my California paperwork finally, so my license should be in the mail within the week (Yay!), but I still will not be able to start my job until January. I’m walking dogs when I can, but most of my time is spent in the apartment avoiding the judging eyes of Gracie. I’ve learned that I cannot leave the apartment without spending money that I do not currently have. The other day I went out with Margaret to Urban Outfitters to help her find an outfit for a party we were going to that evening. I gave myself a nice pep talk on the way there consisting of thoughts like, “Remember Mads, you have no money. You don’t need clothes. You don’t need ANYTHING at ANY STORE under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES”. Fast forward two hours and Margaret is walking out empty-handed while I just charged another $100 to my credit card. *Sigh*. It’s impossible.

So I got back on a dating app the other day. Swipe left, swipe left, episode of Narcos, swipe left, Ooooh swipe right, swipe left, some Assassin’s Creed, swipe left left left left left. It’s amazing how collectively short the male population of New York is, considering I’m almost six feet tall barefoot. A few matches later and I’m learning more and more about why I am still single. Carrying conversations with these men is damn near impossible. Here’s an example of one I had with…we’ll call him C (all misspellings and punctuation are as he wrote them):

**It starts out alright,

C:  Hey hows it going im chris

M: Hey Chris! I’m Madison. Things are going well so far tonight, how’s your Saturday?

**Then we start to lose all punctuation and understanding of adverbs and conjunctions.

C: Not bad finishing a paper than heading out to meet some friends

M: That’s great that you’re in school! What is your paper about?

C: Criminal databases

**The end I guess? How do I respond to this?

M: That sounds fun. You’re studying something to do with Criminal Justice I assume?

C: Hellz yeah

And then I was done. Hellz yeah? with a Z? What are we, a 7th grader aspiring to be Lil Wayne? Kill me. Another one started to ask me about travel nursing and then told me he can’t fly because of inner ear issues and deleted the match. What’s even more depressing is that these were the best examples of DECENT conversation. Other men just come right out with disgusting opening lines that I will not allow to be dignified by repeating them here. What are we supposed to do with this? Being a millennial is awesome in so many ways, like how I can order a bottle of wine on an app and have it at my door in an hour, but dating at this age is literally the worst. Especially in New York, where tall straight men with any sense are few and far between.

I guess I’ll to return to Assassin’s Creed and the art of loving myself, let me know if you all out there have had better luck THAN mine, for I would love to hear about it.

Love.

Life Lessons

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” -Alexander Pope

I’ve been avoiding you. I’ve been wallowing, actually.. Engaging in a full on ugly cry fest while wearing the same clothes for more than what is socially acceptable. See, I finally got someone from the California Board on the phone and found out that my paperwork is still not going to come through in time for me to start next week. This means I’m looking at another four weeks of unemployment. You might as well bury me alive, because I have no idea what to do with myself when I’m not working.

What’s worse, I look like the real Millennial stereotype right now. A lazy, no good, entitled brat whining about what the world isn’t doing to help her succeed. I can’t help but that think that the universe is trying to teach me something that I will find very valuable in retrospect, but in the moment, this BLOWS. You can only play so many video games and binge watch so many Netflix shows (What up Narcos? and The Punisher..mmmyep) before you start literally melting into your couch. You think I’m kidding, but there’s an oddly Mads shaped impression in my living room couch right now. I find myself having full conversations with Gracie about the mouse in our apartment (I named him Darwin). You’re thinking “she’s totally lost it” and I’d say you’re thinking right. I don’t dare go and explore this city in fear that I’m going to spend my swiftly shrinking savings that has to feed me throughout the next month.

I’m not sure what else I can say right now, other than to acknowledge that I am living up to my previous assessment that I am the least interesting person in NYC. Anyway, until next time, here’s a video of Gracie with a very impressive branch: