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A Happy Life

She often wondered if there was more to her life. She almost had everything she ever wanted; a job, a place to live, friends, a strong marriage. Every so often, she thought maybe she was just settling into a predetermined life.

She sat alone and had these thoughts on the balcony of the apartment, more frequently than ever before, as she waited for her husband to come home from work.

The sun was shining over the city, casting its rays on her stretched out legs, warming her body. Every so often a billowy cloud would float over the sun, creating a hazy glaze in the sky. Eventually, the sun was covered by one cloud that decided to stay.

She watched this cloud. No matter how hard the sun tried to burst through its whiteness, the cloud remained. She could see the outline of the sun, small and bright, but it never could escape the cloud’s presence.

She couldn’t stop staring at the cloud. Why couldn’t it just leave the sun be? All it wanted to do was shine down on the city, make its rounds around the sky. It didn’t need the cloud. But still the cloud remained.

The sun didn’t need the cloud. It was fine without it. It could shine on the city and cheer everyone’s day up, do all the things the sun was supposed to do. She couldn’t figure out why, but staring at the cloud and sun made her realize she didn’t need him.

His sweet and charming smile made her feel shy and small. He floated around the office, passing her desk in quick movements so that she could smell his cologne. She normally talked to everyone in the office, but with him around, she felt her own energy shrinking. Inside she felt bright and happy, but she couldn’t let out anything, afraid to say something she would regret.

She tried to dismiss these thoughts, and told herself could still have a great life, all the things she ever wanted–her husband included–without him. However, like the sun, she couldn’t get away from him. She couldn’t push away his presence, couldn’t forget how he drank coffee like her. Or the way he noticed when she would coordinate her earrings to her blouse.

Just then, she heard the screen door open and her husband walked onto the balcony. She jumped, startled at the idea that maybe he could read her thoughts and know she felt something toward her coworker.

“Hey, did I scare you?” her husband smiled and embraced her, his hair slightly touseled and his eyes a bit weary.

“Oh, no I was just sitting in the sun,” she said, walking inside.

“Huh, it looks cloudy at the moment. Let’s go inside and make some food,” he walked in and she shut the door behind them.

As she was closing it, she looked out towards the sky and saw the sun had finally broken free from the cloud. The cloud slowly crept away, inching itself away from the sun. As it moved, she was sure that the sun looked a little less bright, as if the cloud had given it something that it needed all along.

Maybe the sun needed the cloud after all.

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Remember How Important 100 Is

Remember the times in elementary school when we would celebrate the “100 days of school?”

If your school didn’t do that you were missing out. It was a time when school children and faculty and teachers and parents would come together and celebrate the monumentous number that is 100 and more importantly what the number 100 means. In relation to school, 100 meant that the year was almost over, so like any sensible educational system would do, a party would be held in order to recognize what an exciting number 100 is. I remember having to bring in 100 of some sort of small item, like Cheerios or M&M’s. I would count them out at home (ever so carefully) and my mom would double check my math (which was needed). Then we would go to school and do some super-fun activity with our 100-counts of an item.

To celebrate 100 once again, because this is my 100th post on WordPress, I decided to count out, or write out (I should say) 100 things that I want to do (in no particular order of importance). It’s not a bucket list because I don’t know if a) I will want these things to happen in the future or, b) if they will indeed end up happening.

Feel free to skip around, just know I slaved over this for you, and then number 100:

Madi’s List of 100 Things She May or May Not Do

1. Read all of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books, short stories, etc.

2. Make fairy houses

3. Learn to not be grossed out by raw meat (touching, smelling, looking at)

4. Hold a piglet (again)

5. Buy a ceiling-high bookshelf and fill it with a lot of my favorite books, keeping them alphabetized and following the dewey decimal system

6. Get my license

7. Eat a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in one sitting, and don’t give a darn in the world about it

8. Own three cats at one time

9. Name pets or potential car literary characters or novelists (Zelda, Hemingway, Theodore, Ophelia, Montresor, etc.)

10. Jump off of a high rock, swing, bridge (landing in water, preferably) and yell YOLO

11. Have a bigger closet

12. Complete a marathon, race, or something, all for a good cause

13. Help a chicken cross the road

14. Keep up a blog

15. Learn to forgive

16. Learn to forget

17. Learn to love

18. Marry a really cool guy who will most likely have a good job (or can at least cook and touch raw meat)

19. Cut down on saying “like” and “um” whenever possible

20. Pretend that books are dominos and knock them down

21. Have a lemonade stand for Alex (cancer)

22. Do some yoga

23. Ride a horse

24. Master Magic the Gathering and make everyone think I’m so cool

25. Beat my boyfriend at Mancala (seriously though, he wins everytime time)

26. Pull an all-nighter

27. See Lady Gaga in concert

28. Volunteer at a food pantry

29. Host a writing workshop for kids or young adults

30. Write a novel

31. Laugh at the fact that I think I can write a novel

32. Get a chocolate facial

33. Spend a whole day with my mom

34. Donate money every month to help homeless pets

35. Pet every cat I see

36. Strive for equality

37. Graduate college

38. Consider going for my masters

39. Think of all the people that wronged me, write a song about it, and get someone who can sing better than I can

40. Become Zumba certified

41. Learn how to cook a Thanksgiving dinner

42. (to go with 41) Cook for a big group of people (and don’t cry)

43. Ponder the idea that no one will read this post

44. Donate gently used clothing to help someone who needs it

45. Pay for someone’s groceries

46. Name a ficus fern (0:50)

47. Look for the bare (bear) necessities

48. Travel to Italy

49. Accept the fact that there are bad people

50. Try a raw tomato again and see if I like it

51. Overcome my phobia of stinkbugs

52. Live in a city

53. Become a reporter

54. Write thank you notes to everyone who has impacted my life

55. Be a foster home for cats that are moving from shelter to shelter, and hopefully get some adopted

56. Read Anna Karenina 

57. Do a juice detox

58. Continue to drink immense amounts of coffee

59. Visit places on BuzzFeed’s list of areas to visit before the world ends, mainly stopping at “The Lost City of the Incas”

60. Pick up trash alongside of a highway

61. Learn to crochet

62. If 61 is completed, donate homemade crocheted scarves to homeless shelters

63. Host a 1920’s party and make everyone dress and act the roles of a famous 1920’s character (I’ll be Zelda Fitzgerald)

64. Bake a lot of cookies every winter

65. Save up money so my children can afford (so I can afford) college

66. If college tuition is higher (much higher) in the future, forget 65 and run away to a different country or planet

67. Build an igloo/snow-fort so amazing, an eskimo would shed a frozen tear

68. Get another tattoo

69. Continue collecting mugs (I think I’m almost at 100!!)

70. Listen to a Justin Bieber album (or some other artist I don’t like) and see if I can appreciate their music

71. Finish painting my room

72. Sky dive

73. Bungee jump somewhere tropical

74. Ride on one of the fastest trains in the world (take that Septa!)

75. Climb a tree to the tippy-top

76. Grow a garden

77. Write a short story for WordPress

78. Get my eyebrows waxed

79. Learn to surf

80. Take a road trip after I graduate college

81. Make a quilt

82. Quit my bad habit of biting my nails

83. Go yard sale hopping and try and find really cool things

84. Take a pottery or ceramics class

85. Swim with the manatees

86. Try one of the hottest peppers in the world

87. Go to Nifty Fifty’s (haven’t been there in probably 14 years)

88. Stay in a cool hotel just because

89. Order a coffee at Starbucks with a long name

90.  Partake in a flash mob

91. Convince everyone that I’m actually a princess from a faraway country

92. Visit museums

93. Build a tree house

94. Steal a Madison Avenue street sign

95. Eat at an expensive restaurant

96. Get a book signed by any of my favorite authors (the ones that aren’t deceased)

97.  Be on television

98.  Go dancing

99. Puddle jump in a rainstorm

100.  Be myself

Now that you’ve read this all the way through, it’s time for you to know what you’ve earned…nothing! But in all seriousness, you did get to see how cool the number 100 is. Just knowing that I’ve spent countless hours, minutes, probably well over 100, on this blog is something worth noting. See if this compares to counting out candies for your seven year old to take to class.

Thoughts on Boston

These are my thoughts on Boston. I don’t really have any recollection of what I was writing, and what I was trying to say while writing. Hopefully you will still understand.

Bad things happened in the world when I was a child. There were school shootings, robberies, murders, and acts of terrorism.

I could separate myself from these events, there was no need to care about war or evil when you are so little. I’m sure I was aware that there were “bad things” going on in my world. I was still warned that bad people lurked in dark corners, alleys, vacant parking lots. Bad things happened because bad people existed. Guns are bad. Knives are bad. Killing people is bad.

Now that I’m almost 20, I can’t begin to grasp this “bad” world that I live in. It’s no longer acceptable for me to go into my room and play with dolls, entering a fantasy world where there is peace for everyone. When I was little, this could be my escape. I could enter a different world and pretend that the things I didn’t want to exist, didn’t.

I can no longer do that. I can’t hide in my room pretending like these things don’t exist. They do, and how do I live knowing this?

After the Sandy Hook shooting, I thought of all the people I know who have kids in elementary schools. I thought of how the school district of my town cut down on security guards due to the budget. I thought of how my mom works as an aide in an elementary school, and how if there was a “Code Red” that wasn’t a drill, she would be responsible for protecting the children. I thought of what I am supposed to do when I have kids, and need to send them off the school. I don’t want them to go.

I don’t want to go anywhere. I want to stay inside, and pretend that the world is a place of peace. Where are my dolls when I need them?

I’ve been following the updates on the Boston explosion for days now. I don’t know what it is about this event that has made me so drained, so angered and sad. I don’t even know anyone who was at the marathon, not anyone who was hurt at least. Why should I care? I don’t live in Boston. I don’t know anyone there.

I care because I am no longer a little girl in her room. I go outside, to class, school, the store—I walk the streets alone. I am aware of the world. I am aware of these happenings. I can never forget.

I can see myself years later. I can see myself remembering that I was a young girl, too young, to witness 9/11.I will talk about Iraq, Libya, Egypt. I will talk about Sandy Hook. I will talk about Boston. What else will I talk about?

We can’t predict the future. But we are supposed to move on regardless. You live and you learn. I don’t want to live, at least not in a world like this. But what choice do I have? What choice do any of us have?

I listened to a talk show yesterday, my favorite talk show (Elvis Duran and the Morning Show), and Elvis talked about how even though it’s necessary to listen to every detail of an event like Boston’s, at some point you just need to get off the computer and pull yourself away. I can’t pull myself away.

I’m drawn to news like a moth to a light. When the light is cut off, I’m fluttering around unsure of what to do. It drives me crazy. I need that light. I need the news.

I get so angered when people sit and pick apart the media, telling me they are too involved. They are too involved, reporters are annoying, they don’t know anything, the news is bias, they cover what they want to cover (shut up shut up shut up shut up)

My professor told me I need to have a thick skin to be a reporter. I am getting there.

I used to play Call of Duty with my brother. I got pretty good at it. I liked using the machine guns that would shoot a lot of bullets in a second. I thought it was cool to scope out an enemy, the shoot them in the head from so many miles away. I could plant bombs, playing “capture the flag” in the meantime. I threw grenades hoping I would get more kills than my brother.

What the hell is wrong with me?

What’s wrong with the world we live in? Why do people target schools or malls or marathons? I will never know this answer.

Hash tags on Twitter suggest I #PrayforBoston. I don’t include this tag. I keep Boston and their people in my thoughts. The runners run through my minds, make laps in my brain. The eight-year-old is someone I can’t get out of my mind. I cried so hard when I read that article. I still cry. I will never stop crying. I don’t even know him.

I think my breaking point was this event. I just want so badly for me to walk the streets without fear. I want to walk down dark alleys in a short skirt and be safe. I want to send my kids off with no thoughts in the back of my mind (is this is the last time I will see them?!). I want to not be worried when my boyfriend walks at night with his laptop. I want to go to big parades, concerts, marathons, and be unafraid.

I have to have a thick skin. What if my writing is recognized by a big newspaper, and they send me off the a story like Boston? What if I am one of the reporters that writes a story that lets a parent know their son/daughter in Boston is okay? What if I honored Martin Richard with a moving story? What if I was at the scene, tweeting away, letting people know what was going on?

That’s what I want to do, to write and let people know what is going on. This girl is grown up. I still choose to go into my fantasy world where everyone is safe, but I am aware of the real world I live in. I want to become fearless, but I think that is something that doesn’t happen overnight. Maybe you’ll read my byline one day, and remember what I wrote here, on this day. I want to show people that we can get over our fears. That despite all the “bad things” that will not change, there are the “good things” to recognize. Good people reside in hospitals, fire stations, police stations, (and news rooms). Good things happen because good people exist. Helping hands are good. Hugs are good. Helping people is good.

Christmas is too Fast

The worst part about Christmas is that it goes by too quickly. Everything is one big blur.

You spend an entire month preparing for this one holiday.

You make sure the family can come over, or you figure out how many houses you need to visit. You make sure you can fly into a certain town the night before, or if you can drive all the way to so-and-so’s house to make it in time for dinner.

You decorate your house with garland and goofy knick knacks that only show their faces every December. You select the perfect pine, or maybe you drag one up from the basement, and fill it with every ornament that was packed away.

You watch your dad balance a stapler in his mouth as he climbs a ladder, all to string some lights that will sparkle when the sun goes down.

You make your lists and check them twice as you enter the stores, trying to find that perfect gift for your loved one. Then you go ask your boss for more hours because how the heck are you going to afford that…

You whip out every cookbook you own, call up your mom and frantically try and figure out what you should make for the eve and the day of Christmas.

Then finally, Christmas morning arrives. I don’t care how old you are, there is no way you can sleep in on Christmas morning. As you slug down the stairs (where’s the coffee?) and watch the young kids bounce into the room filled with goodies, you realize this is the moment you have been waiting for, and it doesn’t even matter that the sun isn’t up.

Soon everyone is done unwrapping and hugging, and there is still much to do on Christmas day. But the worst part is when everything winds down, and you realize the day is over. You realize the much anticipated day has arrived and left, just like that. It’s another Christmas to remember. Thankfully, everything was worth it, and now you can just start thinking about next Christmas!