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Kansas City MO 64131

Elephant Soap

 

 

SHE BAKES A PIE

Cindy Maddera

Yesterday was my annual women's wellness visit and mammogram. I took the day off because I never know how long the waiting for the exam and the actual exam will end up taking. Plus I had some errands I had been putting off that I figured I'd actually do, like taking in the giant box of records and books that has been taking up the trunk of my car for the last three or four months to Half Price Books. Let's face it. That box has probably been in my car for five months. I'm living like a bag lady. Any way, I knew that I would have to step onto the scale at the doctor's office. Mondays have become my weigh in day at home, so after getting out of the shower and before getting dressed, I stepped on the scale at home. 176.4 pounds. I frowned at the number, but think "Okay. That's fine." It's fine because when I started the whole diet thing, that scale read 180. The frown was because just last week, that scale read 174.5. Weight fluctuates. I get it.

I'm trying to not be obsessive about the numbers. I am consistently about 200 calories short of my daily calorie allotment (except for that one crazy Friday when a veggie burger and fries put me over by 875!). I'm eating lots of green things and very few grains. I'm sweating on the treadmill now. I keep telling myself that I am healthy, which feels like a total bullshit lie, but what ever. I finally make it into the doctor's exam area and the nurse tells me to step on the scale. I cringe, but I know what the scale should say. I prepared myself for this. It should say something around 178 because now I'm wearing clothes. The number 180 pops up on the digital readout and my heart sinks. I frown my way into the exam room and pout while the nurse takes my blood pressure and checks my heart rate. I am not cheered by the fact that the numbers for both of those things are perfect. All I can think about is how I've got to be doing something wrong. 

My doctor comes in and we discuss life and changes. I tell her things are pretty normal except my weight. She looks at the numbers and starts to tell me that it's not a big deal, but then she sees the past numbers and then makes a face and says "well..." I tell her how I'm exercising and tracking my foods and I just don't know what to do any more. She looks at the food I've logged and says "here's the problem. You're not eating enough protein." She goes on to tell me that she knows how hard it is to get enough protein in a vegetarian diet. My doctor is respectful of my choice to be a vegetarian and she doesn't push me to start eating chicken or anything like that. Instead she tells me to eat more yogurt and cottage cheese. She finishes up the exam, declares that everything looks great and sends me down for my mammogram with something new to obsess over. 

I rummage the internet for women and protein and vegetarian protein options while I wait for my boobs to be smashed. Side note/rant: It is the year 2017 and we don't have a better way for screening for breast cancer other than to smash a boob as flat as a pancake and x-ray it?!?! I was offered the new 3D imaging option. I don't know how those images are taken, but my insurance doesn't cover that (more effective) option for breast cancer detection. And I have super good health insurance. But screening for breast cancer and insurance and women's health deserves an entry of it's own. Instead, I'll tell you about sitting in a half shirt that snaps down the front in a waiting room panicking about the idea of having to eat chicken and looking back at all the food I've logged in the past few weeks. It distracted me while I clung to the mammogram machine with my boob sandwiched between two plastic plates. 

Afterwards, I wandered around Half Price Books, waiting for them to go through all the records and books I had brought in. I ended up in the health section, scanning book titles for inspiration or insight or something. There's nothing wrong with eating chicken. It's just that the whole idea of eating it, is unappealing. I eat fish. I looked up the amount of protein in a can of tuna and considered eating a can of tuna a day, like a cat. I could eat a can of tuna a day. Maybe. Not really. I continued to look at things I've been eating and the amount of protein in each thing. I'm going to weigh 200 pounds by this time next year. I feel myself sinking deeper and deeper and all the ugly voices win out. I'm fat. I'm always going to be the fat one. I'm doing everything wrong. I'm so lazy. I should be running half marathons every day. If I was more athletic, more fit, I wouldn't have this problem. If I were better, smarter, enough. I suck at life. 

Finally, I hear them call my name to come to the front desk and collect my money. I check out and head over to Target where I buy cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and some organic peanut butter. I think about buying tuna or protein powders, but I don't even pick any of those items up off of the shelf. Small changes. Get just enough to curb the full on freak out for this moment right now. That's what I did.

And then I went home and made a lemon meringue pie from scratch because fuck you diet. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Yesterday morning, as I was cleaning up my breakfast dishes, the weight of all the things that need to be done settled down onto my shoulders. I looked down at the soapy sponge in my hand with a frown and wondered how on earth I was going to get everything done by the time it needs to be done. I had slept fitfully, dreaming about searching for a campsite, reading the map wrong, finding a place to pitch a tent and then pitching that tent in a pool of water. Standing at the kitchen sink, I had a sense that maybe I have taken on more than I can handle and that I'm about to make some serous mistakes that will leave us sleeping in a tent filled with water. This is what I get for filling my calendar with things I care about like marching for science and fighting the AIDS epidemic on top of just daily life stuff. 

I will get the things done that need to be done in the time they need doing. 

It's a good mantra. So good, that I will even share it with you so that you may use it in those moments when you are overwhelmed with the tasks ahead. With this mantra fully planted in my brain, I looked back out the window and noticed that the rain had stopped and the skies were clearing. I rolled my scooter out of the garage and Michael came out to head to work. He said "You know it's raining?!" and I replied "I know that is was raining, but it isn't now." I zipped to work, dodging rain puddles and reminding myself to at least try to be careful on the wet roads. I arrived to work dry and unscathed and filled with joy. 

My friend, Eagle, posted a thing on facebook this week about "what if" and how often the 'what if' keeps us from moving forward. He said that instead of asking "what if?", how about asking "why not?" It is a wise flip of the switch and one that I have always struggled with. I'd like to think that I am really good at playing the 'what if' game, but the truth is that I am constantly losing at that game. Why not just do my best and try to get a little bit done each day? This question lifts the weight of 'what if' clean off my shoulders. I am thankful for the reminder to flip the switch and I am thankful for my mantra. 

I am thankful for scooter days and time spent on my mat. I am thankful for green beans and Brussel sprouts. I am thankful for successful moments at work. I am thankful for this cup of coffee that is setting to my left. I am always always always thankful for you. Here's to a weekend of celebrating the importance of doing our part to protect this planet. Here's to a weekend of celebrating the importance of science (which plays a big part in protecting this planet). And here's to a perfectly peaceful Thankful Friday.

EYE SEE YOU

Cindy Maddera

Last week, I finally went to the eye doctor to see about getting a pair of glasses that I would actually wear on my face. I only put on the pair I own now when I am going to seminar and I need to see the screen. I forget to take them with me when we travel and the results are that I am the last person to see a license plate or a street sign. This is bad because we always try to collect all fifty states when traveling and I am also the navigator. Looking down at something up close through my current lenses makes me want to throw up. I'd probably wear them more maybe if I wore them on a fancy chain around my neck, yet more proof that I am eighty, but I don't.  So I went to the eye doctor and told her that I wanted bifocals and the biggest frames they had. 

I figured that if I had giant frames, I wouldn't notice that I'm wearing glasses all the time. Then I discovered that I could get trifocals which would allow for an intermediate focus between up close and far away and I fist pumped the air. Golden Girls, here I come! I also found out that I have a scar inside my left eyeball (probably from changing and aligning a mercury bulb on a microscope). The scar is not a problem because it's outside of my field of view. Some times, science is dangerous. Did you know that Marie Curie's notebooks and diaries are still radioactive and that you have to wear a protective suit and gloves to read her stuff? Dangerous. 

The woman helping me pick out frames was very patient as I tried on practically every single frame in the office. She showed me one brand that allows you to pop off the sides and swap them out. I said "Oh! They're like the Swatch of glasses!" and then she looked at me funny. I asked "Did I just make a reference to something not many people get?" She said "No, I get it. It's just that you're not old enough to get it." Then we had an argument about how old I was and I was like "LOOK WOMAN! I am here for TRIFOCALS!" She looked at my chart and then at me and said "I never would have guessed that!" I told her she was very sweet, but the birth date on my chart is, indeed, correct. Then we had a nice chat on growing older because she's several years older than I am.

I decided to go with the very first frames that I had tried on. They're big and kind of clear with a slight cat eye shape. Hopefully by this time next week, I'll be sporting a new pair of glasses that makes me look like my Mom circa 1978. Too bad I won't be as skinny as she was then. 

RANDOMNESS

Cindy Maddera

Saturday morning, I got out of bed and went to a yoga class. We had plans to meet Michael's moms for lunch at 1:00, so I felt like I had plenty of time to go grocery shopping and lolly gagging around Target. I was on my way to the check out line in Trader Joe's when I noticed a text from Michael wondering where I was and that we needed to leave the house in thirty minutes. This sort of shook me out of lolly gagging mode and I replied back with  "whoops! On my way home!" Even though I had just stepped into the checkout line. Sometimes yoga makes me loopy or just so relaxed that I don't give a shit about anything, particularly time. Michael's text reminded me that we had things to do, people to see. I wiped the fog from my brain and hurried home.

Except that I never really seemed to completely wipe the fog clear. I feel like I just sort of floated through the weekend. About the only things I accomplished were laundry, washing the stinky dog, and hiding Easter eggs. We spent Easter with my KC family doing our traditional Adult Easter egg hunt and burning of the Easter effigy. This year's effigy was Trump as the Easter bunny. His polyester sports jacket went up in a flash and burned up completely before anyone had time to cue up an appropriate song to play. I drank too much gin along with random shots from airport sized bottles of Fireball and whiskey and tequila. I ate too much food because I'd skipped lunch. I laughed hard and danced a whole lot. A woman at the party told me that I would get breast cancer from wearing my phone tucked into my bra strap. I swallowed the urge to say "lady, you're crazy pants and this is the least of the things that I've exposed myself to over the years of working in a lab that's going to give me cancer." Instead, I respectfully pulled my phone from my bra strap and set it on the table. The woman is older and potentially wiser.

The next morning I woke up an hour late for work. My mouth was dry and I could still smell burning polyester and paper mache. The dog who had spent the evening begging food and chasing Miles around the backyard, was still tucked into my right side under the comforter. We all had hangovers. I spent the day lounging around, getting up on occasion to vacuum and wash the couch blankets. I haven't entered my food in my Loose It app since Sunday morning and I'm feeling the guilt of that settling in. I'm feeling the guilt of all my imperfections settling in and how I should do better, be better, eat better. I should spend less and toss out more. I should be more organized and on top of things. The house should be cleaner. I should be better at verbal communication. I should be teaching yoga. I should be reading more because it makes you a better writer and I should be writing more because I am not a good writer these days.

All of these thoughts makes me mad at myself. I tell myself to snap out of it, don't let yourself fall into the pit of not enough, but it's too late. I've done it and now I have to drag myself out of it. I know it's the hangover talking. At least I think it's the hangover talking. I hope it's the hangover talking because I don't have time to battle with a bought of malaise right now. Maybe I really do have radiation poisoning.

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I went to upload some pictures to foap earlier this week. It had been awhile since I had added anything new. I've sort of lost interest and even forget about foap because I haven't sold any pictures. The market is saturated with images. This app is turning into more of a social media app with options to enter contests. I have plenty of 'likes' and 'four stars' on this app, but how many social media 'likes' and 'four stars' do I really need. I also don't have time to keep up with it all. The same is true for other apps I've been using to sell some clothes I never wear. I am this close to pulling the plug on both of them and just sending all my clothes to thredUp and just taking whatever they give me for them. Anything to just get them out of the house. I lack the patience required for online boutique ownership. Turns out that online selling for me is about the same as putting together a garage sale. A lot of work for not a lot in return. 

Back to the pictures. I was scrolling through my phone pictures for things to upload and I realized that most of the pictures in my phone right now are pictures of flowers. There are enough flowers inside my phone to fill several vases. Spring has brought the usual pops of color with all varieties of tulips and redbud trees. The side walks are dusted with flower petals as if someone's been skipping around tossing confetti. Spring time is beautiful and apparently I tend to photograph a whole lot of it. I don't think it's so much because of the flowers as much as it is because of the colors. I do the same thing in the Fall. The flower pictures will be replaced with tons of pictures of leaves in various form. Right now, I am enamored with the white tulips that are blooming at work. In the mornings, the are closed up tight, but by the afternoon they have all opened up to look like little hats. If I look at them under just the right angle of sunlight, the white petals become almost transparent. The kind of skin you can see through

I am thankful for the bright colors of Spring. I am thankful for the ability to see those colors. I say that because I'm just about out the door, headed to the eye doctor. I am thankful for the opportunity to teach a fun and very successful yoga workshop last weekend. It gave me a renewed sense of teaching confidence that I needed. I am thankful for cauliflower. I am thankful scooter days. I am thankful for moments on my yoga mat. I am thankful for you.

Here's to a weekend of adult Easter egg hunts and colored eggs and blessed Thankful Friday.

DANDELIONS

Cindy Maddera

Remember when you were a kid and thought dandelions where the most beautiful flower and you picked all of them in your yard and then proudly held them up in your clutched sweaty little hand as a gift to your mom? At some point in adulthood, probably when we first started caring for a lawn of our very own, those bright yellow blooms became the bane of our existence. That dime sized blister on my thumb is the result of digging those invasive plants out of the vegetable garden. I've seen Josephine eat them. In fact she dragged half of the ones I pulled from the garden off into the yard to chew on while I worked. As I tugged and pulled each dandelion plant free, I thought "I used to love these. I used to think these bright yellow flowers where stunning." 

It is a wonder how perceptions change with age. When the Cabbage was in pre-school, Michael asked her if she had any black kids in her class. He wanted to make sure that she was in a class of diversity. The Cabbage looked at him oddly and said "Black kids?!? Kids aren't black!" She didn't know about the terms we adults have created to describe skin that is not white. Michael, not wanting to mess up anything, just said "OK" and left it at that. He realized that kids don't see color the way adults do. They recognize that there are different skin colors but they haven't been told about ethnicities or about stereotypes. They learn those things. From grownups. Eventually the Cabbage will notice that the color of her skin will afford her a certain sort of privilege. I would have hoped that we would have fixed the privilege of skin color before that happened, but it doesn't look like that's the case. 

iBiology recently posted a video series on Mentor Training to Improve Diversity in Science. I watched it because I thought it would be important and educational for me to watch. I thought I might learn how to talk about diversity and race with confidence or without the worry of offending someone. I also wanted to hear if they addressed the lack of young African American women in science. I see this here and I wonder how to fix it. They don't really address that, but they do talk about how important diversity is to making scientific discoveries. This is not a message I needed to learn, but it was one I was happy to hear because I don't think it is said often enough. It's the reason why I shared the video to Facebook. The messages presented by Dr. Angela Byars-Winston and Dr. Sandra Crouse Quinn are messages that applies universally, not just in the field of science. 

Let's say there's a committee of people put together to solve a specific problem regarding the whole country. The committee consists of ten people. All of them are men. All of them are very very wealthy. All of them are white. How effective do you think they will be in solving a problem that affects all of us (white, black, hispanic, middle class, female, LGBQT, farmer, working class) in a way that is helpful to all of us? Wait...that's pretty much the situation we have now. Bad example. I'm saying that having a diverse group allows that group to approach questions to a problem in a more effective way because we all add something unique to the table. 

It's not about not seeing color. Not at all. It's about embracing color and recognizing the beauty and strengths in having a diverse society. It's about being respectful without expectations. Treating others the way you would want to be treated. 

THE FACE OF A TEENAGER

Cindy Maddera

My face has decided to break out as if I am fifteen years old. For the last two weeks, I've been using a mixture of ground flax seed and tea tree oil to wash my face with every night. I was going to tell you all about how it's doing wonders for my skin, but I woke up this morning with a giant painful zit in the middle of my cheek. I've sat at my desk all day thinking about how I was going to pop it when I got home from work. It will be the second thing I do when I get home (the first is to let Josephine out and baby talk to her about what a good puppy dog she is). The pimple could be the result of a clay max I used on my face the day before, ironic since it was marketed for acne prone skin. 

Two weeks ago I woke up with large welty bug bites all over my body. There's a bite on my neck that I at first thought was a hickey. I got kind of thrilled about that since I'm forty one years old and I've never had a hickey. It is a bug bite. Not a hickey. Since I was the only one being bit, I decided that I had scabies or bed bugs or both. This was also around the same time that we found two ticks on Josephine and I washed one tick off my body in the shower. I treated the dog with her flea medicine, washed all of the blankets and vacuumed my mattress. I've started coating myself in lavender oil before going to bed. I smell like someone's crazy old spinster southern aunt. Her name is Aunt Myrtle and everything in her tiny bungalow is floral print and covered with lace doilies. There's a vase of dead roses on the side table in the foyer.  

The bug bite thing happens to me every Spring, even before I had a dog sleeping in my bed. If you look back through my Google chats with Talaura, you will come across multiple conversations where I fret about bed bugs and Talaura talks me off my psychosis ledge and assures me that I do not have bed bugs. Or scabies. I am just that blood type that bugs find to be delicious. It might be because I've avoided DEET products for years because DEET on my body produces a wicked itchy rash. My skin has been sensitive since birth. The acne thing though is fairly new. I mean I've been known to get a pimple here and there and I sure do love those Biore strips, but the current version of acne is new to me. Oh, I am fully aware that this is a thing that starts to happen at my age. It is just one symptom of a few others that started showing up about a year ago. 

I know what this teenage brand of acne is signaling and it doesn't include a ticket to prom.

STARS GONE BLUE MY GEORGIA I STILL LOVE YOU

Cindy Maddera

There were towels ready to come out of the dryer for folding and sheets in the washing machine ready for drying. I needed to search the internet for a dinner plan. I had planned on making a curry, but I needed guidance on what spices to use and how much. There were things that needed to be done, but here I was lounging in my hammock. I found that I could gently rock my hammock by reaching over my head and grabbing the hammock stand and giving it a shove with my fingers. I would gently rock my hammock side to side while my eyes drifted close. "Someone should make one of those timer contraptions like what's on those baby swings for swinging hammocks on hammock stands." I told this to Josephine because she was the only one around at the time when the thought entered my head. 

There was (is) a dime sized blister on the pad of my right thumb. I kept pressing my index finger to it, feeling the raw sore layer of skin now exposed because the blister had broken. It is proof of the work I did that morning. I watched a bright red cardinal jump into the honeysuckle that had started to grow along the top of the fence. I could see bits of red as he foraged around inside and wondered if maybe there was a nest tucked in there. I felt certain that if I got up and moved some of the vines away, I'd see a nest with three little eggs. I pulled on the hammock stand again, swinging my hammock. I stopped thinking about the things I should be doing and closed my eyes to the sun shining on my face.  Michael finished mowing the front yard. He cleaned off the mower and then dragged a chair over to where I laid in my hammock. 

We chatted about nothing. I told Michael my idea about the automatic hammock swinger. He told me about his idea for a privacy fence and new driveway. We talked about food for Michael's graduation party and what or if we should do anything about backyard lighting. I might hang some lights on the clothes line so no one runs into it. I tell Michael about the cardinal I saw in the honeysuckle. He tells me about how he mowed the front yard twice. We are quiet for a minute. That minute stretches to two, five, enough to feel like hours pass by as I swing myself in my hammock. Finally I tell him that it should be prescribed that I spend at least one hour out of every weekend in my hammock. Michael agrees whole heartedly. He already thinks that I don't sit still for long enough periods of time, buzzing around from chore to chore. There's always something that needs to be done. 

The clouds thicken and the wind shifts from light breeze to windy, bringing a chill with it. This is my cue. I peel myself out of my hammock, unhook it from the stand and fold it up as I carry it back inside to finish the things that need to be done. 

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Wednesday evening, I was putting my things in my car before yoga class so that I wouldn't have to lug in my backpack and lunch bag. There was a sizable gray cloud sitting over us, dumping buckets of rain, but the sun had broken through in the west and was shining through the rain. I grabbed my phone and ran to the other side of the parking garage because I had a feeling that something spectacular was going to appear in the east. I knew that the conditions were perfect rainbow making conditions. And there is was. A giant arching rainbow stretched it's way across the eastern skyline. I hesitated to take the shot at first because I was sort of stopped in my tracks by how close to my human body the rainbow seemed to be. 

Usually, when we see rainbows, they are off in the distance. They appear unreachable. I remember there was a moment during our drive to the Alabama coast when we had reached a particularly flat area of Missouri, maybe close to the Tennessee boarder. It had rained on us as we drove through Missouri (or at least every time Michael was behind the wheel, it rained; the minute I took over the rain would stop and he'd go ballistic). We were traveling along a small highway and, in what seemed like far off in the distance, we could see a rainbow from end to end. It was the kind of rainbow you would chase because you knew that there had to be a pot of gold at the end. We never got close to that rainbow, even though we were driving towards it. The rainbow I witnessed on Wednesday had a visible start/end. I could have easily walked over to the neighborhood and been standing in the foot of that rainbow.

I don't think I have ever seen, so clearly, the actual foot of a rainbow. It was clear enough for me to determine that it was at least in the parking lot of the Gates BBQ place over there. I know many of you are thinking 'pots of BBQ gold!'. Gates is supposed to be one Kansas City's best. I wouldn't know because there's nothing on their menu that doesn't contain meat, but this would not stop me from running over to their parking lot in order to stand under an actual rainbow foot. Time was the limiting factor in this case because that part of the rainbow faded and disappeared before I could take a second shot. I was lucky to get that first picture. I was reminded of a scene from The Secret Life of Walter MittyWalter finally tracks down this photographer he's been looking for all over the globe. The photographer, played by Sean Penn, has been staked out on a snowy mountain waiting to get a rare shot of a snow leopard. When the leopard finally appears, he hesitates. He doesn't take the shot, instead he just looks at the leopard. The photographer tells Walter that sometimes it's about not taking the picture. 

I am thankful for that moment before I took the picture. I am thankful for the realization that I was witnessing something new through my eyes and not through a lens. Sure, I'm pretty happy and thankful that I got a picture, but that moment just before was the sweetest. 

I am thankful for all of those who registered to attend my yoga workshop tomorrow. I'm still a little amazed that people were so interested. I am also a tiny bit nervous. I am thankful for the sun that has been bright and shining these last two days. I am thankful clean sheets. I am thankful for this body as it is in this moment. I am thankful for Moon Cheese. And as always, I am thankful for you. Hope your weekend is simply fantastic and your Friday is truly a Thankful Friday.

THINGS I DO WHEN I'M NOT HERE

Cindy Maddera

I have been making a real effort lately to get my Nikon out of my bag and just shoot. There's a sticky note up on my desk at work that says "shoot with a mindful eye". I wrote it down when I was taking an online class on black and white street photography. It is not that I haven't heard this tidbit of wisdom. It was just that in the moment of hearing, I realized that I needed to be reminded to shoot with a mindful eye. My photo editing tool is the one provided in iPhotos on my MacBook. Sure, I could splurge on some serious photo editing programs, get PhotoShop subscription, but I'm cheap and stubborn. I still cling to the idea of taking a good picture to start with. The camera on my phone makes it easier to take a decent picture and then filter it into something spectacular. Too easy. I have become a little bit lazy. 

So, I've been working on taking a good picture with my Nikon. I don't work on this craft every day and when I do, I feel like I don't work on it for very long. I've sort of approached it all as one would do when they first start exercising after a long recovery from a serious surgery. It is the getting the pictures from the SD card to the computer that has become the most tedious part of it all. As I wrote that sentence I immediately thought about all the times I used a film camera as a kid and how half the time I just wouldn't bother to have a roll of film developed because of the cost and the time. I had to have an adult drive me all the way to the closest Walmart with a photo center. Cut to the year 2017 and I'm complaining about manually inserting a  small disk into the side of my computer and transferring only the pictures that I want to keep to my computer. Free of charge. Of course it still costs money to print the pictures. The difference now is that I'm only printing out good pictures as opposed to twenty four partially overexposed pictures with my finger in the bottom left corner. 

I am not always shooting with a mindful eye in these moments as much as I am just shooting, taking pictures just for the sake of taking pictures. I do take a breath of a minute to be mindful of light or lack of light, but mostly I'm just taking pictures in hopes that I capture something interesting. I am looking at every day mundane things in hopes of seeing something unique and interesting in those things seen through the lens. 

This is what I am trying to do when I'm not here. 

I FELL IN LOVE WITH LUIGI

Cindy Maddera

A week or so ago, Michael and I were driving around town when a commercial for the Missouri Alpaca Show came on the radio. I gasped and nearly screamed "DID YOU HEAR THAT?!?!?!" Michael gave me his sideways look he reserves for crazy people and said "I'm not sure what I heard." So I repeated the commercial information and emphasized that it was a FREE event with FREE parking. He sighed and said we could go if I wanted. If I wanted to go? Of course I wanted to go. Plus I knew that we would have the Cabbage that weekend and free alpaca show basically means free alpaca petting zoo. The night before we were supposed to go, Michael said to me "You know they're just going to try to sell you an alpaca. What are you going to say when they do?" I sat up straight and raised my right hand and said "I will tell them 'NO! We can't have an alpaca because we live in the city!'" Then I whispered "how much is the alpaca?"

Despite the possibility that I would most likely come home with an alpaca, Michael drove us all to the show on Saturday. The Cabbage had zero desire to go see alpacas, but once we were inside, she changed her tune. She went from the bored dead faced look that she will torture her mother with when she's a teen to a look of pure joy, exclaiming "OHMYGOD! They're all so cute!" And they were all so cute and soft and cuddly. Your soul just felt better, lighter, just by being in the same room as the alpacas. Michael also changed his mind about alpacas, moving from a stern 'NO!' to a maybe someday if we move to a place with more land because it turns out that alpacas need more space than what our backyard would provide. Also, you can't just get one alpaca. Alpacas need buddy alpacas and it is heart breaking to see them separated from their buddy. We watched as one guy pulled one of his alpacas from the pen to take to the showroom. The other alpacas in the pen tried to follow and one in particular stood staring at his buddy being lead away and let out a very quiet sad moaning sound. I almost cried out "For the Love of God! Take them together!" 

We didn't just cuddle alpacas. We learned that alpacas are very sweet and gentle. One even kissed the Cabbage on the nose for no other reason then because the Cabbage was there. They can be trained in agility and obedience and are very smart. We watched women from the local fiber guild process alpaca fiber and spin it into yarn. Some women were sitting around knitting. One woman had a table loom out and was giving demonstrations on how to use it. I watched and listened to her explain how to use this simple loom and realized that the real danger was not that I would buy an alpaca. If they had been selling looms at the Alpaca Show, I would have purchased one right then and there. Michael even said "you could do that while sitting around the campsite!" The loom folded up and could be stored easily. It was wide enough to make scarves and shawls. I've been talking about trying to teach yoga classes at some of the campgrounds when we travel. I could sell scarves and shawls too! I could be a real traveling hippy girl! 

We left the alpaca show without an alpaca, even though Luigi smiled at me beguilingly. There was one alpaca farm there advertising alpacas as the 'next best thing to a unicorn'. If I were to have my own ashram, you would spend time caring and communing with alpacas and your daily meditation practice would be working a loom. Then you would spend more time communing with the alpacas, listening to their gentle hums of peace and acceptance.

Alpacas might just be better than a unicorn. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I have taken a picture of the same view every day this week. At first the view was just a reflection of that day of the week. Monday was dreary and rainy. The focus was on the raindrops that had collected on the windows, leaving the background of trees and buildings hazy and blurry. Tuesday brought us drizzle and more rain. By Wednesday I was hoping to show a progression of clouds giving way to open sky and sun, but the sun only peaked through the clouds late in the afternoon, just before sunset. The next day brought us more clouds and more rain bringing us into Friday fully soaked and saturated. April showers showed up a week early around here, but it has been much needed. Missouri is behind on precipitation amounts for the year. 

This is what I have reminded myself every day this week when I've walked through the garage to see my scooter and bicycle gathering dust. We need the rain. I have whispered this under my breath every time I've wrestled with Josephine to clean off her wet paws. The rain is a blessing. This phrase has become a mantra as I gaze out the window in search of warmth. I am grateful for the rain for all the obvious reasons. We need rain to make things grow and replenish our lakes and rivers. This gratitude does not come easily for someone like me who has been known to curl up on a window ledge filled with sunlight. A week without much sun exposure leaves me slightly groggy. When it became clear that Tuesday was going to look like Monday, Wednesday like Tuesday and Thursday like Wednesday, I knew that I needed to find my sunshine in other ways. So, this week I have found sunshine in the yolk of the eggs I've eaten from our chickens. There was sunshine floating in a vase on a table in the lunch room at work. There was a moment when the sun could be spotted in a puddle littered with delicate white petals. I found warmth from the sun in my daily cup of tea. I am thankful for cloudy weeks that force me to look for the sun in places other than the sky.

This wraps up a week of changes in eating habits and more intense cardio. The scale says that I'm not any lighter, but I feel better simply because I've taken some action. We will see how the weekends derail all the healthy eating I do during the week, especially now that I've started tracking my meals. My new mantra is "I'm doing great. I'm eating healthy and exercising. I am healthy." I am healthy. I am doing my best to put the numbers aside and focus on the healthy. I am thankful that I am healthy. I am thankful for a whole lot, but most especially, I am thankful for you.

Have a great weekend and a super Thankful Friday!

MYSTIC VOODOO YAYA

Cindy Maddera

Not too long ago, Michael and I were watching Ghostbusters (the new one) and things came up that started a small conversation on the belief of ghosts. Michael said "Could it be that little Miss Scientist Cindy believes in ghosts?" I said that I wasn't sure but there was definitely an unseen force messing with stuff in my dorm room when I lived in Chickasha. I am almost positive that if you interviewed any young lady who lived in those dorms, you will hear a story about some weird unexplainable encounter that happened to them while living in that building. More than half of those young ladies will say those encounters where with a ghost named Nellie. I don't know who or what it was, but someone liked to turn the water on and off in the bathroom sink of the room I shared with no one. There was also a nighttime incident where I was sure there was someone standing on the other side of my bed, but when I turned my head to look, all I heard was the click of the door. When I got up to check the door, it was locked. 

Ancient Greeks gave us our earliest western philosophy that the soul is the thing that gives a body a life. Science has yet to prove the existence of the soul and in fact, Physicist Sean M. Carroll wrote that the idea of a soul is the antithesis of the quantum field theory.  Yet there are several theoretical physicists out there who disagree with Carroll. The idea of a soul and what happens to it when the body dies is the greatest unanswered scientific question. Maybe there's really no such thing as a soul. Maybe there is and souls just transfer to the next new life. Maybe some souls just travel around on the winds until it transfers into the next thing. That would explain why Josephine sometimes reminds me of Pepaw. Maybe this is why I believe that something not in a human body was hanging out in my dorm room. Maybe this remains the great unanswered scientific question because there are bigger and more important things to figure out like cancer and sustainable energy. There's a lot of maybes.

I've always walked a line between the scientifically explained and the voodoo sciences. I suppose there is the part of me that wants to believe in something magical. Ghosts are not particularly a joyful experience, but the idea of being in the presence of something unexplained is thrilling. Despite knowing that there is a scientific explanation for rainbows, I am still thrilled and in awe whenever one shows up in the sky, especially if it is one representing all the wavelengths. My massage therapist uses a heated 'bio-mat' containing amethysts crystals. You can tell me whatever you want about magic purple crystals healing my body while laying on a heated table with someone rolling the knots out of my shoulders and I will totally nod my head in agreement. I have purchased mala beads to aid in meditation. I have scrubbed my body with salts to clean my energy. I have burned sage in our house to promote wellbeing and because we like the way it smells. Recently, I purchased a candle that, when burned, is supposed to foster creativity. 

That candle is sitting on my desk, still in the box and I think it's already working. Since it's purchase, I've gotten my fancy pants camera out three times to just take pictures of stuff. I have also written this rambly post on unexplained phenomena. I am a scientist who believes that there is a scientific explanation for everything but that it is just fine and dandy to believe in the mystical until that explanation is found. I am a scientist who understands the power of the placebo. I am a scientist who gets that there is a basic philosophical human need to believe in something, anything really. 

I am a scientist who is going to go home this evening and light that damn candle in hopes that it will light a fire under my creative butt. 

FLUBBER

Cindy Maddera

Recently, I found myself clicking on a link for an add selling weight loss to millennials. I am not a millennial, more like the teenager who babysat your millennial child, but here I was clicking on the link that promised a weight loss program better than Weight Watchers and specifically geared to the tech savvy, glued into their phones, young millennials. The program itself was basically Weight Watchers. You just take all the personal one-on-one support and the meetings and put them on your phone. That is what "weight loss for millennials" looks like. I was tempted to click on the add partly out of curiosity, but mostly out the need to torture myself. My Google searches of late have been the weight loss version of "is this spot on my arm cancer or a corn flake?". 

It started with the second skirt debacle (that may or may not be the fault of the manufacturer). I've been silently stewing about my weight that seems to be increasing despite my usual activities. I'm the only one who notices it right now or at least that is what Michael tells me, but I stepped on the scale with my boots on a few weeks ago and the number was 185. Taking the boots off dropped that number to 180. I find it really hard to believe that the combination of my leggings, long sleeve T-shirt, tank top, socks and underwear weigh five pounds, which would put me down to my so-called normal weight, which I suppose I could live with. So I have taken to asking Google if my weight gain has anything to do with the following: eating too many calories, not eating enough calories, perimenopause, being forty one, my love of cheese. Of course, Google tells me that "yes; all of those things are true. Also, that spot is totally cancer." 

The internet searching has been my only action taken to combat the whole weight loss thing until last week. Last week, I had to use a different treadmill than the one I usually use at the gym. I entered my usual settings into the new treadmill and started walking. My hands instinctively rested on the heart rate monitor and I soon discovered that my usual pace does not get my heart pumping fast enough to lose weight. So, I picked up the pace and even moved over to the elliptical machine for a couple of days. Then I decided that we eat too many starchy carbs. We tend to rely on potatoes for a lot of side dishes and pasta dishes when we're too lazy to think up another option. Spaghetti is easy and the Cabbage will eat it. I designed this week's meal plan to contain as few of those starchy carbs as possible. We had roasted cauliflower steaks and green beans with roasted tempeh or chicken for dinner last night. This meal was a hit, which is encouraging because I think Michael was worried that we'd be eating weird foods this week. We are not completely eliminating carbs from our diet, but we are restricting them.

I've also introduced snacks into my day. I am not a snacker. I eat three meals a day and usually this is enough, but sometimes I get hungry between meals. I ignore it and when dinner roles around, I end up eating enough tacos for two. I took some snacks to work to have on hand for those moments when my stomach feels growly. Today I ate a handful of nuts, a few pieces of cheese and a couple of strawberries before heading to the gym at 11:00. This way I was able to do my cardio and spend time on my mat without thinking about lunch and hearing my stomach remind me that it was time for lunch. Of course, it is way too early to tell if any of this is working. I expect it will be weeks before I notice a difference. It would be totally great if when I go to the doctor in a couple of weeks for my yearly (torture) check-up, and I stepped on the scale, that scale would read out a number that would make me jump for joy. 

I'll let you know how it goes for me. 

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Monday was the first day of Spring and Tuesday I noticed the first tulip bloom as if a director had just stage whispered "Tulips, enter stage left.....NOW!" I have struggled with what to write for today's post, have in fact deleted a number of different entries. Spring always rattles me and I become easily distracted. A list of things that I want to do or that I feel needs doing begins to form in my head, often becoming too long and therefor overwhelming. This week, I have remembered that I have planned nothing for this year's garden. I realized this as I noticed one sprig of asparagus sticking up out of the ground in the garden bed by the back door. The garden beds are currently cleaned out with the exception of a weed here and there. The soil has not been turned or mulched or fertilized. They are empty slates waiting for the next thing.

Gratitude comes in the smallest, simplest of ways this week. It is the beginning of the Monet season where landscapes become impressionist paintings and every thing takes on a dreamy quality. I welcome it every Spring despite the sneezes and runny nose. I am thankful for the variety of blooms that pop up out of the ground and way the air smells after it rains. I am thankful for those days I ride the scooter and have to race the rain. I am thankful for moments of quiet stuck between moments of bustle. I am thankful for time to clean out so that I can be like those garden boxes, waiting for the next thing.

I am thankful for you.

Here's to a spectacular weekend and short and sweet Thankful Friday.  

  

TRUTH OR DARE

Cindy Maddera

NPR aired a story on March 15th about how Monsanto recruited scientists to co-author papers that defend the safety of glyphosate. Glyphosate is a chemical compound found in such weed killers as Roundup and Rodeo. Monsanto is the company that make genetically modified seeds that are resistant to weed killers like Roundup. So farmers can spray their crops with weed killer without killing their crop. The problem is that weeds also start to get more tolerant of the weed killer and then farmers have to use higher concentrations of weed killer to stop the weeds. Turns out that glyphosate probably causes cancer, along with some other commonly used pesticide chemicals and insecticide chemicals. 

Some of you are probably shrugging your shoulders and thinking "so what, everything causes cancer." That's almost true. Cancer has been a problem since the beginning of multicellular organism existence on this planet, but if you can avoid something that may specifically give you cancer, you should probably do so. Also, in Monsanto's case, they are selling a product that they have promoted as being safe and it actually may not be safe. This story leads to a bigger problem though and that's one of scientific trust. Corporations paying scientists for research skewed in their favor is not new. In the 60s, the sugar industry funded research that downplayed the role of sugar in human health. Scientific papers are retracted all the time. Up until recently, most of those retraction were due to other scientific discoveries that disproved the findings of that paper. Recently though, we've seen a lot of retractions due to fraud and with the U.S. being the most guilty of fraud related retractions. This comes from a review published in 2012 regarding 2,047 life-science and biomedical research papers retracted that year.

That is not only embarrassing but incredibly dangerous. There's no wonder that people in general have a mistrust of scientific information. But what that paper doesn't say is that there were over 28 million papers submitted and published between 1980 and 2012 and of those 28 million, 2,047 were questionable in some way. Do not think that most scientists are out there trying to dupe you when it turns out to just be a couple of bad apples. This science business I'm in is very competitive. In 2013, there were about 40,000 postdocs (think interns) and about 4,000 of them had been so for six years or more. Getting your own lab and moving on in academia is hard and funding research is expensive. The National Institute of Health has about a 32 billion dollar budget that helps to fund more than 300,000 scientists. Divide 32 billion by 300,000. It doesn't leave you with much for lab supplies, consumables and research technicians. Forget about buying any expensive equipment or maintaining service contracts for those things. I am not condoning fraud in any way, but I can see how a scientist desperate for funding could find a way to tweak his/her findings to work in their favor. 

When you hear about a new scientific discovery on the news or read about it online, here's a few things you can look for that will give you some sort of an idea of the validity of the science:

  1. First, check the news source. Is the information coming from a reliable news source? This infographic has been circling social media and is a good representation of reliable news sources for all news, not just science. 
  2. Second, make sure the story is not an opinion piece. 
  3. Third, check the article for links to the original source of information. The original source should be the actual journal article from a reputable scientific journal. 
  4. Fourth, check the original article for funding information. All articles contain an acknowledgment section that includes how the research was funded. If they list a major corporation like Exon, I'm going to question their science and thoroughly read their paper as well as check their references and other research being done in this field.   

Bottom line though, when a researcher has to go to corporations for funding, their research is going to lean to the favor of the corporation. This happens more and more as government funding is cut from scientific research. You can help by encouraging your senators and representatives to support funding for scientific research. Making donations to non-for-profit charities like the AIDS Walk of Kansas City is another way to help. Above all, when you read those headlines that sound too good to be true, read the actual article and ask questions.

Question everything. 

 

JAYCO-PEECOTRAIN

Cindy Maddera

We've been trying to come up with a name for our popup. The day we drove it home, Michael asked me what we should name it. I couldn't come up with anything off the top of my head. As I looked at the side mirror of the truck, watching the reflection of the trailer bouncing along behind us, I said "Jayco Peecotrain." Micheal said "What?" and I replied "Jayco Peecotrain." We both found this funny, but did not agree that this would be the permanent name for the trailer. Except we haven't come up with anything else, so I'm calling it Jayco Peecotrain for now and here is an account of it's maiden voyage to exotic Joplin MO.

Most state campgrounds are still closed to full hook-up campers, which is why we ended up at the Joplin KOA. It was a fine campground for what it was. It sits right off the interstate and is more of a stop for the night kind of place than it is a hang out for a few days and enjoy nature kind of place. Our camper ended up parked right next to a privacy fence for a big-rig truck repair place and on the other side of that was the interstate. There was an area of woods with a walking trail that Josephine and I would walk in the mornings that was nice, but we did not have a campfire ring. The Cabbage made herself a cold smore on the first night, which would not be the only cold thing about that night because Michael could not get our furnace to kick on. Sometime around three o'clock in the morning, I piled all of the blankets onto one bed and convinced Michael to crawl in. The Cabbage was fine as long she remained wrapped in her blankets like a burrito, but Michael and I did not get very much sleep. 

He spent the the next morning on the phone with technical support, troubleshooting the furnace. We had almost reached the decision that we would have to pack everything up and go home when I pressed a small piece of metal inside the thermostat and the blower for the furnace kicked on. The on/off switch was faulty, but we were able to repair it on our own. This was great because my Mom had driven in to spend time with us and I would have hated for her to come all that way for nothing. We all went had a nice lunch before visiting the George Washington Carver National Monument (which I have so much more to say about later). We had a nice day and then everyone slept (mostly everyone) warm and snug. I say everyone mostly slept because the wind kept blowing stuff outside our camper like the door and the awning, making a banging sound. I would wake up thinking that either someone was trying to come into the camper or the camper was collapsing. Neither of those things were true. 

Despite the freezing time and the lack of sleep, I think we all had a nice time. It was the Cabbage's first camping trip and she said that her favorite thing about the trip was eating a cold smore. So there ya go. Michael and I learned a whole lot of things about the camper. We determined that cooking outside is the way to go because of counter space and how there isn't any inside. Once the camper is closed up, there is no way to get inside to the tiny fridge. We will always need to carry a small ice chest. Our setup time was pretty good. Michael ran into a snag with turning on the gas, but that was easily figured out. I learned the sweaty hard way that installing the door is a two person job. It took us a lot longer to break camp then we thought it should. The new rule is that breakfast on the last day should be something cold that doesn't require dishes. This way we can pack up kitchen stuff the night before and water and gas can be disconnected first thing in the morning. We are also amazed that we didn't lose the camper on the way home seeing how neither one of us actually latched the trailer hitch down onto the ball on the truck hitch. One good bump and it would have been bye bye trailer. 

On the second day, after getting the heat to work and eating dinner, Michael asked "So, are we keeping it?" I looked at our little camper with the sky turning purple and pink behind it and said "I think so. I think so." We've already booked a campground for Memorial Day weekend in Hannibal MO. It will be the kickoff for our summer of camping. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Time changes always mess me up. Even when I've planned for them and I know they are coming. That first night when Mom and I were in Ireland, I woke up and realized that Mom was also awake. I asked her for the time and she said "5:30 AM". I decided that I might as well go ahead and get up and do some yoga and was about half way through my practice when I noticed the time on my phone said that it was really just after midnight Ireland time. I announced this to Mom and said "I'm going back to bed." We both did and then woke up at a more reasonable time a few hours later. Of course that was a five hour time change, but apparently I handle one hour time changes about the same. 

The time change and the transition into Spring have made for some really interesting dreams. One night I dreamed that I was out hiking. I walked to a place where I had to climb onto a log in order to paddle over to an island made of cork. The ground was soft and squishy under my hiking boots and covered with moss and tiny ferns. I made my way to the visitor center which was in a small shack next to a water tower, both made of cork. The water tower leaked. The old man at the visitor center told me that they had a problem with couples coming to the island and stealing bear cubs to take home as pets. The bears on the island were angry and the campground was now surrounded by a bear proof fence that was locked at night. I woke up before I decided what to do next. The next night, I dreamed that I went to work without pants bringing a whole new level to Casual Friday. When my boss saw me, he said "Cindy. You're not wearing pants." I scowled at him and replied "You're not even supposed to be here today so shut up." Then I tugged my T-shirt down a little to be sure it was covering my granny-panty clad ass. I don't know what happened next because I woke up thinking it was Friday, but it was really Thursday.

This has been a week of change. That Patty Loveless song about saying goodbye has been playing in the back of my mind for days. That song always makes me cry, but it is the line about 'life is about changing' that has been on loop in my brain, the words circling around and around like an airplane banner. Often those changes come in subtle quite ways, sneaking in so that they are hardly noticed, like the slow growth of green that starts to spread over things with the coming of Spring. These are the changes that we crave without fearing. The bigger, more sudden changes, like a snow storm after a week of 75 degree weather, are the ones that leave us slightly timid to venture forward. This is the time of year when I am reminded to embrace both kinds of changes. I am reminded to be mindful that change happens every day and that it is how I react to the change that is important. I am thankful for the changes of this week. I am thankful for changes to come. I am thankful for crazy dreams that hint of adventures to come and an acquired boldness.

I am thankful for a turn in the weather because we promised the Cabbage weeks ago that we would go camping this weekend. We are headed to the Joplin KOA with plans to visit the George Washington Carver National Park. I am thankful that my mom will be able to join us for the day. I am thankful for vegetarian sloppy joes. I am thankful for the moments I have had on my yoga mat. I am thankful that Josephine didn't attack Marguerite (the chicken) who escaped while Michael was refilling the chickens' water. I am thankful that Marguerite was more interested in the new water than she was being chased around the yard. I am thankful for moments of stillness. I am thankful for you.

Hope your weekend is full of warmth and that you have a truly Thankful Friday.

SHARE A TABLE

Cindy Maddera

I have decided that when I am in town and I don't have a million and one things to do on a Saturday, that I should get up and go to a yoga class. My favorite yoga place has a 9:00 AM class on Saturday mornings and I have found that I still get up early enough to stop in at Heirloom for a light breakfast and some journal writing and have time to digest a little before starting class. When class is over, I run to the grocery store and then I'm home just in time for lunch. Some times Michael is even up and showered when I get home. My favorite yoga place is not really close and this Saturday I didn't want to stray to far from my neighborhood. So I went an 8:00 AM class at studio close to me. 

It was a nice class, different from my usual practice. The teacher incorporated more flowing sequences than I tend to do and less holding of poses. We prepared for headstand and then I did a headstand. It was good, but I didn't really make a connection with the teacher or the other students and I didn't really get a yoga home vibe. This is okay. The important thing was to try something new. After class I headed over to Heirloom and immediately realized that my original get there at 7:30 AM routine is a much better routine. Heirloom was packed. I parked on the street and got in a long line. By the time I'd finished placing my order, I looked up to find that all the seats at the bar were taken. I wandered the small table section and found one empty table for two and I took it. 

I had just opened the Fortune Cookie journal when I noticed a young man wandering around with his coffee mug and the alphabet letter card Heirloom uses to find you when your order is ready. Someone came out with a tray of biscuits and gravy. I heard the man say that it was his, but he couldn't find a place to sit. I raised my voice so they could hear me and asked "is it just you?" The man replied "yes" and so I gestured to the chair across from me and said "have a seat." Both the young man and the server still holding his tray seemed a little surprised by my offer, but then both of them smiled and he gratefully took a seat. There was a brief exchange of small talk, enough to discover that neither of us had lived in the city for more than six years and both of us were surprised by how big St. Patrick's Day is around here. Mostly, we left each other to our own devices, him hastily eating his breakfast and me attempting to write a story prompted by a fortune cookie fortune. The young man finished his coffee and got up to bus his side of the table. He thanked me once again for letting him sit at my table and then we wished each other happy weekends.

I am still stuck by how surprised he was that I would offer a seat at my table to a perfect stranger. I think of places I have been where it was just assumed that someone sit in the empty seat next to you. There might be a courtesy "is this seat taken?" before they sat, but they'd have themselves seated before you were on the second head nod. I have been on subways that have forced me to redraw my boundary for personal space. Chris and I used to go to You Say Tomato at a crowded time in the mornings and always ended up sharing our table with another couple; sometimes a whole family. It was something we did without question or pause. It is still something I do without question or pause. Personal space is a luxury, a given in our own homes, and taken for granted in the wide open spaces of this country. I forget that I live in a city in the middle of wide open spaces and that so many of the younger residents here moved to this place from farmland. They are still getting used to a smaller boundary for personal space. 

All of this makes me aware of the boundaries we build, even for those we love.

GRUMBLE GRUMBLE

Cindy Maddera

Remember that skirt I told you about with the elephants all over it and how I had to send it back and get a bigger size? That skirt showed up yesterday and it was even smaller than the first skirt. It was also a different material than the first skirt. I was just starting to feel pretty good about this body. My pants fit me, pants I've had for three or four years. In yoga class on Saturday, I felt positively svelte and popped up into headstand like I had made that pose my bitch. Sure, I've had a thing for melty cheese the last couple of days, but who doesn't when it is cold and snowing. When I tried that skirt on last night, I felt like a fatty fat fat. I tugged the zipper up as far as I could and then cried "what is wrong with me?!?!?" because of course my first thought was that the company had not made a mistake. My first thought was that I had gained even more weight since ordering that skirt. Then I thought "how is that even possible if my clothes still fit?" I laid awake last night thinking about foods I will stop eating and vowing to ride my bicycle to work as soon as the weather allows. 

I sent that skirt back this morning, slapping the free shipping label onto the box with disgust. Then I looked outside and it was snowing and I hated all things. Except cheese. I am a prickly pear and it took me half the morning to figure out the real reason besides hormones for the my prickly pear syndrome. It is March 14th, the day before the Ides of March, the day Chris and I got married because it was Spring Break. We would have been married nineteen years today. The prickly pear syndrome comes from not wanting to remember or acknowledge that I would have been married for nineteen years. It is symptom of trying hard not to acknowledge a past life because I have moved on to a different one. 

Last week, I caught the tail end of an interview on NPR with Patton Oswalt. At the end of the interview he said "You know, you can say you're through with grief all you want, but grief will let you know when it's done." I wanted to tell him that it will never be done. You're going to think it is done. You haven't felt any twinges or leaky eyes in a while. You actually feel happy about your present life and then out of nowhere grief steps up and taps you on the shoulder. "Hey let's dance some more. I'm not done yet!" That's when grief turns into that crazy drunk guy you can't shake at the club. He may be kind of cute, but you're not interested and you're tired and ready to go home for the night. Yet, you are too polite to say no. You follow him back out onto the dance floor and think about ways to ditch him when he's not paying attention. You are not having any fun. 

Dates, numbers. They are too significant at times. Maybe if I focus on the irritating fact that I am sending a skirt back for the second time because it is too small, I won't notice what day it is. If I complain and gripe about how it is snowing in March (it is still winter, I don't know why I am complaining) I won't think about how our original plan was to get married on the fifteenth of March until we remembered Shakespeare and moved it up a day. If I spend enough time focused on criticizing my weight, I won't feel grief tapping on my shoulder trying to drag me back to that dance floor.

It has been five years. My feet hurt and I'm tired of dancing.