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Filtering by Category: Random Stuff

DIVISION

Cindy Maddera

I noticed last week that there was a lot of outrage and debate happening over whether or not we should still be playing the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer cartoon. The Huffington Post did an article about the jokes posted on twitter during the Tuesday evening airing of Rudolph. Turns out that some people took what started out as a joke about this 1964 Christmas classic, a little bit too seriously. Other news outlets picked up the story and turned it into the telephone game. It went from ‘we’re just making hilarious observations’ to ‘this cartoon should be banned!’ The next thing I noticed was my Facebook timeline filling up with Rudolph images and outrage. I just shook my head at all of it because now even Rudolph the Reindeer, a cartoon about acceptance and inclusivity, has become a weapon of division.

STOP FALLING FOR IT!

It’s not just Rudolph. The idea of banning the song “Baby it’s Cold Outside” has got some people riled up and shouting about taking the #MeToo movement too far. I’m not one to go around saying ban the music and books…because Nazis, but I’d rather listen to other holiday songs than one where a guy is pressuring a girl to do something she’s not so sure she wants to do. For me that’s called freshman year of college and my brief foray into online dating. I don’t need to hear a song about that. But to each their own. I think the meme that really tops it for me are the ones that are intentionally incendiary. “I celebrate CHRISTmas. Sorry if that offends you!” Honestly I don’t care what you celebrate; what offends me is the obvious attempt to start an argument.

This is a time of year when there is supposed to be joy and good will. According to Charity Navigator, 31% of annual donations for 2014 happened in December. It is a holy month for some religions, many of which encourage acts of charity and kindness towards those less fortunate. If there’s one month out of the year that should bring us all together in love and peace, it should be the month of December. Yet we have managed to find ways to incite hatefulness and arguments even during ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. What is wrong with us? Is it just easier to incite hatefulness and arguments than it is to be kind? Maybe for some, kindness only happens on a face-to-face level, that it doesn’t transcend to online and social media. Maybe it’s easy to forget that the things we post are a reflection of who we are as a person.

It makes me ask myself: What kind of human being do I want to be?

VERSIONS OF US

Cindy Maddera

Michael and I choose a new ornament for the tree every year. The ornament is supposed to reflect something about us and the year. Our first year ornament makes absolutely no sense. Santa is riding a giant trout and there’s a fishing pole dangling out of Santa’s hand. It’s ridiculous and confusing. And completely appropriate for the time. This was probably six months after we first met; four months after he had officially moved in. We were ridiculous and confusing. The second year we bought a record player ornament. It was the year Michael had set up his record player and I bought a bunch of Doris Day albums. Later ornaments would be a camper (of course) and something Star Wars. Then we stumbled upon two ornaments that carried an odd resemblance to us. The guy had a curled mustache and wore an orange sweater. The girl sported a stocking cap on her cropped brown hair. They were ornament versions of us.

This would become a recurring thing. We now have two small doll like ornaments. One doll is wearing a plaid shirt with hiking boots. He’s sporting a medium length beard and holding a small Christmas tree. The girl version is bundled up in a coat and scarf. She’s holding ski poles even though there are no skis on her feet. The resemblance is uncanny. The two ornaments look so much like us that we even considered using them in our Christmas card. Maybe I did. I vaguely remember taking a crappy picture of the Cabbage holding the two dolls. Michael and I were looking around Target on Saturday for this year’s ornament and I heard him say “Hey look! It’s us!” I turned around to see him holding up a gnome with a long beard and girl doll wearing a cap and scarf. I guess a cap and scarf are my go to winter looks, but I busted out laughing at the idea of these two being the ornament versions of us. They are by far the most hilarious versions we’ve come across. We bought them along with a seal ornament because this year we saw a lot of seals.

Earlier in the day we had been talking about Christmas cards and pictures for the cards. I always start out with an intention to take or have someone take a nice festive picture of the three of us, but it is so hard to coordinate. It doesn’t help that the Cabbage is in that poser stage where it is more reasonable to believe that one can collect marshmallow poop from unicorns then it is to get a genuine smile from her. For this year’s card, I didn’t even try. I just used some random pictures I’ve taken this year and I’m perfectly happy with this. As we talked about the cards, Michael mentioned the idea of us wearing ugly Christmas sweaters. I winced slightly and replied that Chris and I had already done that. Chris and I used to plan out elaborate Christmas cards. We took joy in the whole process. It was like preparing for our very own Christmas pageant and we would start making our plans for the photo shoot in October, gathering costume materials and backdrops. People looked forward to what we’d do for the next year. I’m not going to lie. That first Christmas after Chris died and I had to put Hooper down, I considered photographing their coffee cans of ashes wearing Christmas hats for my card. I didn’t because I figured there was less than a handful of people who would see the dark humor in this. Everyone else would just see it as the the sad country song that it really was.

I don’t even attempt the elaborate Christmas card with Michael and the Cabbage for a number of reasons, but mostly because I’m not trying to recreate a life I had. The things that made sense for me to do in my relationship with Chris doesn’t make sense to do in my relationship with Michael. Because it is not the same relationship. Chris and I had our own thing. We made silly Christmas cards. Michael and I have our own thing. We find versions of ourselves in Christmas ornaments.

I DON'T OFTEN CRAFT, BUT WHEN I DO I USE A GLUE GUN

Cindy Maddera

Early last week, I started noticing a trend on social media. People were posting pictures of their Christmas trees with captions that read “we finally got the tree up!” It was the word ‘finally’ that started to put me into a panic. I hadn’t even started to consider decorating for the Holidays. I’ve had stuff sitting in my closet to make a new Christmas wreath for ages, but I put it far enough back in the closet to not really pay attention to it whenever I open the closet (every single day). I’ve had more important things to do. Like sitting on the couch with all the animals piled on top of me. The most pressing thing on my list of things to do was to reorganize our linen closet and bathroom cabinets. We had a big basket on one shelf of the linen closet that was filled with various medications and toiletries. What I should really say is, we had a big basket of garbage sitting in our linen closet. My main goal for this weekend was to fix that basket and by fix, I mean get rid of that basket.

It just didn’t seem possible to get the linen closet organized, a new wreath made, and put up all the other Christmas decorations in one weekend. So I cheated and started cleaning out the closet and bathroom cabinets on Thursday. I also started working on the wreath that night and when I got home Friday night, I drank a couple of cocktails and got out the glue gun to finish it. I’m thinking of starting my own YouTube channel called “Drunk Crafting with Cindy”. I can sell my crafts on Etsy. I think my new wreath turned out really nice. Wreath accomplished, I made a plan for Saturday that included a trip to the Container Store (the most loveliest place on earth, I’m not kidding) and bringing up all the Christmas boxes. At the very least I had to get our menorah out because the first day of Hanukkah starts tonight. But when I opened the Christmas boxes, I couldn’t find our menorah. I have no idea what happened to our menorah or why it was not put back into the Christmas boxes (I blame everything that goes missing on the basement flood). So on top of the trip to the wonderful Container Store, we had to go hunt up a new menorah.

Then a Christmas miracle happened and I learned to bend time to my will. Grocery shopping happened, stocking stuffers were purchased, the tree was set up and decorated, stockings were hung, Christmas cards were ordered, gifts were bought, linen closet got organized (lazy susans are not just for kitchens), the house got cleaned, laundry was completed. People, I made a loaf of sourdough bread. I wrote this blog entry! I just high fived myself. I went from feeling really behind on all things to overachiever. The problem was that I let myself fall victim to the trap of allowing social media to measure and gauge my success. This living life and doing stuff thing is not a competition. I am not behind on anything (except maybe the gas bill…did I pay that?). No one is marking my name down on a failure list for not putting my tree up the day after Thanksgiving.

But I’m hanging on to my new found super power to bend time.

VETERANS DAY

Cindy Maddera

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The World War I Memorial and Museum starts their celebrations at least a week in advance. This year the building is lit with images of poppies. I’ve yet had an evening free where I could go and see it. It hits me every Veterans Day; every time I see social media fill up with photos and thank you notes. Veterans Day arrives and at first I view all of it from a distance. I don’t really remember Veterans Day being a big thing. The pastor during Sunday service might have given a sermon on soldiers and faith and then request that all military veterans stand for recognition. I don’t remember parades or fan fair though. Veterans Day was one of those holidays celebrated quietly with only a moment of gratitude taken before moving on with our day. Then I remember.

My Dad was a veteran.

It’s an easy thing to forget. My Dad’s time in the U.S. Air Force ended long before I came along. Randy is the only one of Dad’s children who was around during Dad’s service and I don’t know how much of that time he remembers. Dad never really mentioned his time in the military. He could go on and on about the camping and beauty of Michigan where he was stationed and how much he enjoyed living there. But he never mentioned anything about his actual time on base. The few things I know came from my mother. She talked only once about the tensions between the US and Russia during the Cuban missile crisis and how Dad was on call at the base. Russia was entering US airs space daily. It was a very tense time. Dad never spoke a word about it.

That was his way.

Dad would on very rare occasions impart snippets of the serious moments of his life. Years after doing so, Dad told me about riding on a charter bus with his fellow Union members to the Oklahoma State Capitol to protest the Right To Work amendment. I was so surprised by this story. I knew my Dad was proud of his Union and attended all of the meetings, but I had no idea of his actions. Dad would tell us stories of fishing and camping. He would talk about the mischief he would get into with my Uncle Russell. Yet he never talked about the serious moments. Not even towards the end. And when I think about it, Dad was not the only service member in our family to not really mention their time in service. Pepaw, a veteran of the second World War, would tell you a few details about his time spent in the South Pacific and only when prompted.

I overheard a story on the news of a veteran’s reaction to someone thanking him for his service. This man was gracious in his response but then gave some advice. He said instead of saying “thank you”, tell a veteran “I remember". It is more meaningful to be remembered. I am grateful for those who have the fortitude to serve this country in the military, but I also want to remember and never forget those who served. We forget that our veterans serve for only a certain amount of time before moving on and living ordinary lives. They move on, have careers and raise families. They retire and grow old. Instead of thanking a veteran, maybe we need to prompt a veteran to share their story.

To remember.

PEEK-A-BOO

Cindy Maddera

I’ve been reduced to tears of anger, frustration and fear three times this week and it’s only Wednesday. Part of it’s been the election. Part of it has to do with work stuff (the first rule of blog club is to never blog about work). Some of it has to do with holding onto things I need to say but I’m afraid to say because I’m a big chicken. A tiny bit of it is me just feeling sorry for myself. An even smaller bit of that is my disappointment over the ending of the most recent episode of the Walking Dead (WHY DO WE STILL WATCH THIS?!?!). There’s an 80% chance that it is going to snow here tomorrow and I’ve just about got a hole dug out for me to be burry my head in it.

I feel like all the good parts of me have dropped off the planet. My writing is sparse and full of complaints and gripes. My photos are forced and unimagined. My yoga classes are uninspired and meh. I feel like shutting down here until the end of the year. We saw our first Christmas themed advertisement last night and Michael and I both booed the TV. Michael has already started asking me about what I want to do for my birthday in January and I almost told him to just fuck off. I can’t plan that far ahead. I can’t really plan ten minutes ahead right now. We’re lucky that I make up the menu for the week on Thursdays. It’s the reason we have food for this week and meals I don’t have to think about. We’re spending Thanksgiving with friends at a cabin in the woods in California. In my head, I’m already eating an Ike’s sandwich and taking long walks in woods of tall trees. I’m photographing the fog that rolls into Tomales Bay and looking for giant slugs.

Maybe this is where I’ll find those missing good parts of myself.

I’m not giving up completely for the rest of the year. I’ll be around only because I know that writing here keeps me somewhat sane.

SATYA

Cindy Maddera

I am ‘friends’ on Facebook with most of the people I went to high school with. One of those is a guy who I remember as always being kind and respectful. He was the kind of guy that would change your flat tire, the kind of guy who made sure you were safe. I also remember him having a decent sense of humor. I don’t really know who this guy is now. Time changes us in good and bad ways. He often re-posts those memes floating around that are hateful or poke fun at someone who is different from his norm. Most often I don’t see these posts anymore because I went into my settings and changed the things I see posted. That guy recently had a birthday and I took a moment to wish him a happy birthday. He responded with a thank you and referred to me as a “sweet woman”. I told him that one of the best things about the internet is how it can be used to send good wishes and to encourage one another. I still want to believe that this man is kind and respectful, just maybe not so mindful about the things he posts.

I was reminded of satya when I attended a yoga class at work on a day I don’t usually attend classes. The teacher started the class with a lesson on this sanskrit word for truth. She talked about being true to yourself and your body on your mat. She talked about being kind to yourself. She talked about knowing your truth. This is not a new lesson for me. Satya is one of the five yamas, which are the ethical rules of yoga. Sort of a ‘right living’ manual. Satya can be interpreted simply as being to true to yourself. It can also be one of the yamas that could be studied deeply and can become very complicated. Satya follows the first yama, ahimsa, which is the practice of non-violence or simply, ‘do no harm’. We have to find ways of speaking our truths without causing harm to others. The practice of satya, off the mat, makes us more respectful and thoughtful.

The internet is a good place for the practice of satya. Other bloggers I follow (Chookooloonks and Elan Morgan) have been writing about creating ‘soft spaces’. On Monday, just days after the shooting that took place at a Pittsburg synagogue killing eleven people, there were 11,696 posts on Instagram containing #jewsdid911. Social media has become the most popular method for spreading hate speech, racism and misinformation. The President of the United States participates daily in the spread of hate and racism in his twitter feed. I have been struggling daily with the ugliness I see from the people in this country. I know of two wonderful women who have lost their husbands this month and my heart aches for them. I wish nothing more than to have the superpower to protect these women in their grief, to ease it for them in some way. I wish nothing more than to have the superpower to protect all of us from grief, hate, racism, the president.

I don’t have that kind of power, but I do have the power to create a soft space, a place of comfort to others. I do have the ability to speak my truth in a non-harmful way, respectful way. Let’s practice satya together.

SOUR GRAPES

Cindy Maddera

My alarm went off at 4:50 AM this morning and I made the choice to ignore it and not get up and do my yoga practice. In hindsight, the choice to skip my morning yoga practice was probably a poor one and set the tone for my day. I got my scooter out of the garage only to discover that it wouldn’t start. The battery was dead. It’s been cold here. It could also still be the same battery I’ve had since I bought the scooter ten years ago. Then I had to maneuver my not so light scooter back up the hill and into the garage, climbing over mine and Michael’s scooter to get out of the garage. I stepped into the stairwell at work to head out on my coffee walk only to realize that I had left my badge on my desk, trapping myself in the stairwell. I answered some asinine emails, struggling to refrain from just replying “you are stupid.” By the time I left for my chiropractor appointment, I was a festering ball of bitchiness.

When Chris and I still lived in Chickasha, there was a grimy little laundry mat around the corner from our apartment where we’d go wash our clothes. We were there one afternoon sitting with our books, doing school work while our clothes tumbled around in the washers. There was a young woman there with her two young children. The girl, just learning to read, was reading out loud from a children’s book she’d found in one of the chairs. The boy, just learning to talk, was walking around saying “Fuck this. Fuck that.” The young mother yelled over at her daughter '“Crystal-Lynn, shut up. No one wants to listen to you read.” She said nothing the boy. Sometimes I feel like that little boy lives inside me whispering “fuck this. fuck that”, goading me to say it in turn. Crystal-Lynn, I hope you’re still reading even if you have to say the words out loud to do so.

The sun is shining. The basement is clean. We’ve done preventative maintenance to keep rain out of the basement. The washer and dryer are paid for. I went to book club last night and didn’t feel like the odd girl out for not liking our chosen book. My life is pretty good. I have no reason to walk around shouting “Fuck this and fuck that.” Yet I am seriously considering doing just that. I am a prickly pear. A prickly pear with a creativity block. This is why I’m writing about grimy laundry mats and delinquent toddlers. I have nothing better for you. In fact, I’m banging my head on the keyboard right now trying to figure out a way to end this post.

Fuck this.

Fuck that.

OUR BASEMENT FLOOD WAS THE BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO US

Cindy Maddera

Every year, my New Year’s resolution includes cleaning out and pairing down. Every. Year. Every year, I fail miserably. This year? It took a flooded basement to get me to complete this goal. The insurance company contacted a cleaning service Thursday morning and by Thursday afternoon, the whole crew was in my basement. They told us that everything on the floor was a loss unless it was made of metal. This included the pallet shelves Michael built. All the things on those shelves had to go into our dining room and living room. The garage filled up with all of the unsalvageable items. Friday morning, Michael and I went shopping for a new washer and dryer and some new shelves. Michael called a dumpster service and Friday afternoon we had a big trash dumpster parked in our driveway.

We tossed. We threw. We hauled. We hustled.

By Saturday night we had cleared out all the garbage from every nook and cranny of the house and garage, as well as a pile of brush from our yard and the neighbor’s yard. We managed to pair ourselves down to three boxes of keepsakes, a box of my mother’s china, three boxes of ebay items, a few games, four boxes of Christmas decorations (including the tree), one Halloween box, two tents, a metal detector, one pottery wheel, and some of our large kitchen items that we don’t use every day. Ten boxes were placed in front of the garage for the Boys and Girl’s club donation pick up today. By late Sunday morning, I was washing clothes in our new fancy washing machine. The dryer sings you a song when it is done. The inside of the house has been swept and vacuumed and there is no evidence of the chaos of having all of the things in our living room.

I feel like we accomplished superhuman feats this weekend. Michael and I pass each other in the house and high five. I look around the living room and then say “hey, remember that one time when all of our stuff from the basement was in here?” Then I go down to the basement and walk around the clean floor. The basement is cleaner now then when Chris and I moved in seven years ago (almost 8 years). It is bitter sweet. At times I had to reconcile my need for the tangible memory versus just having the memory. I had no choice over the things that were damaged like Chris’s framed Simpson’s lithograph and framed Futurama poster. I held on to a few trinkets. A Saint Christopher charm. A Ghostbuster’s pin. An original Han Solo figure. Michael kept telling me that he didn’t want me to think that he was asking me to throw away all of Chris’s things. I don’t feel like he was pushing me to do anything I didn’t want to do. I don’t feel like he was pushing me to do anything Chris wouldn’t want for me to do. Chris struggled between wanting to be free of all of his things and wanting to have all of the cool things. I think, at times, he was crippled by the weight of the amount of things he had collected.

I remind myself that this house was never really mine and Chris’s. We never got the chance to nest in it together. We moved in believing that we would move out in a year and so we never really unpacked or painted the walls or even hung up much artwork. Chris was sick by the time we signed the paperwork on the house. All the changes that were made to the interior of the house came after Chris. Getting rid of his things doesn’t free me from Chris because I’ve never felt imprisoned by his memory but I do feel free. Free of the things that weighed us down.

I THINK I'D BE GOOD AT IT

Cindy Maddera

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and I know it’s going to sound really weird and maybe slightly unlike me. I’m not a crystal wearing sage burning type of person. I do not practice ‘witch craft’ nor do I believe myself to be a witch. Except maybe I’m a science witch. I am about to set up a PCR reaction to put a twelve amino acid tag into a specific yeast gene. To some people (most people) all of that sounds like witchery. Side note: we, my colleagues and I, were talking about dog breeding the other day. I mentioned I saw a miniature beagle once who looked like a puppy even though he was full grown. So then we started talking about how someone might breed to get a small beagle. Then we all wondered if they were using CRISPR on dogs because we all agreed that would be better for the dogs than rounds of inbreeding. See? My daily life does not reflect what I am about type next.

I want a set of tarot cards.

No, really. I think I’d be really good at reading tarot cards. I keep thinking about that time Chris and I were in Jackson Square and we decided to have our cards read by one of the many readers set up there that day. The woman who read our cards was very normal and straight forward. Basically she said “look, I’m going to tell you some things based on the cards you draw. They may or may not be true and it only pertains to the next six months.” I can do that. I can tell you stories based on the cards you choose that may or may not be true. I don’t remember everything the woman in Jackson Square told me. I think there were three things. One thing I do remember is that she said I would move to a place without Chris and this really did happen. I moved to OKC without Chris for three long horrible months. So, I really only have to get one out of three things right.

I don’t know why I think I’d be good at reading tarot cards. It’s just something I feel I have a knack for I guess. I can picture myself sitting at a table at a party, a nice drink in my hand and lovely deck of card at my fingertips. “Oh! You chose the death card!” I’d declare in some dramatic way. Then I’d spin a tale about how the death card doesn’t exactly mean you’re going to die. It just means the death of something, like a habit. At least this is how I would interpret the cards. I don’t know how I’d interpret the other cards because I don’t really know what the other cards are…yet. I just see myself telling people some nice stories based off the cards they pick out and if I get something right then I’ll shout out “I’M PSYCHIC!”

Reading tarot cards would make for a great party trick, but I’m only thinking about this now because it’s October and the month of Halloween stuff. Creepy Suzanne gets to come up out of the basement. Oh, how I’ve missed her (Michael has not). I get to put my Halloween wreath which turned out to be way cooler than my Christmas wreath. I have already bought one pumpkin covered in green warts. I don’t know why I get so excited about putting up these decorations. We never have trick-or-treaters. Our mail person has commented about how we always have the best pumpkins. Maybe that’s why I get excited. I know those decorations bring so much joy to our mail person.

Any way, I’ll read the cards for you if I ever get a deck. I’m sure you’ll have good fortune.

THINGS I'M DOING DIFFERENTLY

Cindy Maddera

Michael and I had a short side hustle going charging Bird scooters. These are little electric razor type scooters. The company was paying $5 to $15 a scooter to charge them and then drop them off at a designated ‘nest’. Michael would go out around 9:00 PM and hunt up three scooters and then I would get up at 5:00 AM to return them to a nest. We had a really nice system going and made almost $100 our first week. Then the company decided to lower the prices to $3 a scooter and the scooters were harder to find. Most of them ended up in the Plaza area or downtown, which seemed to far for us to drive for $9. Hunting the scooters at night is not the easiest thing to do either. Michael noticed on his last few runs that he seemed to be in competition with another person driving around in a van. They were racing each other to scooters.

So we stopped our side hustle, but I’m still waking up at 5:00 AM. To be honest, I had kind of been waking up around that time any way. I’d roll over and look at the clock and the think “oh! I can sleep for another hour!” I’d close my eyes and snooze until my alarm went off. I would wake up groggy and contemplating the prospect of staying put. Getting out of bed was hard. That’s because I was resetting my sleep rhythm. Circadian rhythm is complicated, but here’s the gist of the sleeping part. About two hours before you wake up, your body starts to prepare, like increases body temperature. When you disrupt this process by hitting the snooze button your body gets confused. It goes back to sleepy time mode and then when you do finally get up, you’re left with a fuzzy headed groggy feeling.

I noticed that I felt better on days I got up early to drop off Birds. I was up and doing things with more enthusiasm for being up and doing things. I know it sounds crazy. Most people think that 5:00 AM is an ungodly time to be up and about. The sun isn’t even up at this time. The chickens aren’t even out of the coop at this time in the morning. But this seems to be how my body works. I’m an early to bed, early to rise kind of girl. When the scooter hustle stopped, I started getting up and getting on my mat. Now I do about fifty minutes of yoga before getting into the shower. It is not always easy. There are many morning when my body is up, but not willing to move. I am bit stiff and creaky. It take two rounds of sun salutation to get the blood moving in my extremities. Then there are moments when I have to slide Josephine off the end of the mat because she’s decided she’s going to lay there or the cat decides to walk under me while I’m in down dog, his tail tickling my nose.

Distractions.

I stopped doing yoga at home when J died. Not completely. There were times I tried to get on my mat at home, but there were always too many distractions. At first it was the phone. I just kept expecting it to ring with bad news and then I’d remember the sound of my mother’s voice when she called me that day. There was/is trauma connected to my yoga practice or at least my home yoga practice. It took me a while to even look at my yoga mat after that day. In time I found that I could handle the distractions of a gym setting better than I could the distractions that came with being at home. Ask any one who as ever spent time with me in my house and they will all tell you that I am not still. I am always up taking care of something. Laundry, dishes, cooking, picking up a bit of lint off the floor. There is always a slightly unsettling thought lingering in the back of my brain. Something bad, life changing bad, is going to happen, particularly if I am being still on my mat.

Turns out that I can also handle the distractions from a dog and a cat. The morning routine is working. It makes my body feel better and it makes my brain feel better. I believe it has even helped me to contain the rage that I am feeling about certain things (cough, cough, Kavanaugh, cough). This new routine settles me into my space and that is a feeling I haven’t had in a really long time.

ON IMPULSE

Cindy Maddera

Saturday morning, I woke up and walked into the living room to find a chicken egg sitting in the middle of the living room rug. There was nothing wrong with the egg. No cracks. Just a chicken egg laying on the floor. No one knows how the egg got there. There have been theories, but only theories. Later on that day, Michael and I went to Shake Shack where I almost started crying over the 'shroom burger and then made myself sick on a milkshake. So we walked over to the new Made in Kansas City Marketplace where we bought a bunch of stickers for our scooters. We also saw something that we thought was really neat and useful but too expensive. Michael decided that we could make it and so then we went to wander around the hardware store.

At the hardware store, we met Rita. Rita knew all the pieces and parts we needed to make this thing and followed Rita from isle to isle like ducklings. She was getting us some electrical wire when Michael mentioned that we had ridden our scooters. Rita thought we were talking about those razor scooters that are all over town. There's two companies offering electric scooters in town now. We told Rita that we were not on the electric scooters, but we did tell her about our new side hustle of charging those scooters. This information changed Rita's life and she told us that we had to come back and find her to tell her how our project went. Then we bought a power washer.

Most people impulse buy candy bars they pick up while waiting in the checkout line. That's impulse buying for amateurs! The power washer was my fault because I mentioned that there should be a way to turn Michael's air compressor into a power washer because we really needed to clean the chicken coop and it would be so much easier to just power wash it. And I was right. Michael cleaned the chicken coop, the scooters, the cars and even part of the house.

Then I found a chicken egg in the garage. It was dirty but completely intact.  

THRONE

Cindy Maddera

I posted pictures, but I never talked about Michael replacing the toilet a few weekends ago. I didn't really think we needed to replace the old toilet. Sure it was wobbly and needed a new seat, but it was still a functional toilet. Michael has said something at least once a week since the day he moved in about how the old toilet needed to be replaced and blah blah blah something about a bidet. Replacing the toilet was not in our budget when we had the bathroom remodeled. It was the least of our problems at the time. I was more concerned about the tile falling off the wall and the moldy window collapsing in on itself. There were also things in the bathroom that Michael and I figured we could do with some supervision and there were things we figured would never get done even with supervision. So we contracted out to have the tub, window and tile replaced. 

I don't do well with mess and construction and the uncertainties that come with construction. I knew that if we tried to do all those things in the bathroom on our own, the bathroom would be a wreck for weeks and weeks and even months. During those weeks and weeks and months, I would be scratching my skin off and pulling out patches of hair. Having someone else come in and replace the tub, window and tile and promising to do it all with in three days was worth every penny. This just left the old wobbly toilet for us to deal with and for Michael to talk about every day until he finally decided that replacing the toilet would be his summer project. He scheduled a Saturday for his friend Andy to come over and be his supervisor. Then I met him at Home Depot Friday afterwork to pick out the new toilet as well as a bidet attachment for the seat.

There is a crack in the bathroom floor that runs from the back of the toilet to the wall behind it. Most of the time, I just pretend that it doesn't exist because if I start thinking about it, before I know it I have decided that the whole bathroom is going to collapse into the basement. The evening before I was supposed to meet Michael to pick out the new toilet, I came home from work and said "The thing that worries me is that you're going to pull up the old toilet and discover that the crack in the tile goes all the way through the floor and it has just been a miracle all these years that the floor hasn't collapsed." You know that saying "let sleeping dogs lie"? This was how I felt about the old toilet. If we didn't pull up the old toilet then we wouldn't know the horribleness that could be under the toilet. Michael's response to this was to yell "GOD DAMMIT!" and grab a flashlight to go inspect the crack in the tile. It was later determined that I was overreacting.

The old toilet was taken out and the new one put in without any problems or disasters. It was pointed out that I may have been right when I asked if we could just re-set the old toilet instead of spending money on a new toilet. The wobbly toilet could have been shimmed to keep it from wobbling, but the new toilet promises to save us over $100/ year in water costs. So...planet earth and all that. The bidet feature is also nice. Of course now we've started looking at the bathroom sink and cabinet and how it just doesn't look all that nice sitting between a new toilet and a new tub.

And home remodeling projects never end. 

 

INTRO

Cindy Maddera

I was introduced to Chris in the summer of '95. In turn, Chris would eventually introduce me to Thai food, Black Adder, sex and a band called Belly. I still love sticky rice and papaya salad. I have a deep appreciation for British comedy. You know how I feel about sex and I have physically absorbed every song performed by Belly. I would listen to them over and over. I have all of the songs memorized. I have the order the songs are listed on the CD memorized. I fell hard for this band. They were my long flowy Gypsy skirt, my oversized flannel. This was my '90s band and after I fully carved the songs from Star into a layer of skin, I went hunting for more. I scrounged every used CD store for every single album I could get my hands on, which were only three. Three albums. I clearly remember asking "but why aren't there any more albums." Chris and Traci, who probably introduced Chris to Belly, looked at me and shook their heads. Traci placed a hand on my shoulder and replied "because they don't exist anymore." 

The band broke up in the Fall of '95, right after the release of King. 

This is the second time I've discovered a band and fallen in love only to have that band break up months after my discovery. The first band was the Police. Though they have not released new music together, I have at least been able to see them live twice in reunion tours. Belly reunited in 2016, but they have yet to make it KCMO or any where close. I am okay with that. I'm just happy they decided to get back together because it inspired a new album, Dove, that was released this year. They have the same swirly sound and cryptic lyrics with the exception that now those lyrics refer to more grown up issues like settled relationships and raising children. I am now in the process of absorbing and adding this album to my other carvings in that same layer of skin. My first listening round made me feel like I was creeping into my twenties again. 

I met Chris when I was nineteen and a little shocked to discover that he was five years older than me. "Is that a problem?" he asked as we sat at a table crowded with our friends. I tried to sound confident as I replied "no" but there was something about Chris that was intimidating. I was not old enough to drink or even get into a bar. Meanwhile, he had lived a whole life while I was still in high school, serving in the national guard (proudly, unsuccessfully) as a medic and working a security gig at the Habana Inn. He knew things. He was experienced. The next few years felt like I was in some accelerated course for life experience just trying to catch up. But I would catch up. Then I would be the one introducing him to new music, dragging him into new experiences. Listening to Belly's new album makes me think that I never finished that accelerated course. Or at least it turned out to be not so accelerated. There's not any real perceived graduation day unless I can predict the day of my own death. 

There's one song on the new album that reminds me of dating after Chris. Suffer the Fools. The song is more about settled relationships than dating. It's about what happens as we age into a relationship, how we put up with things. "I'd rather suffer you, than suffer the fools." I put up with things with Chris. I won't deny it or sugarcoat it. Same way I put up with various things with Michael. I'm sure I'm not all rainbows and lollipops to live with at times either. I suffered a number of fools during the online dating years. Eventually there comes along someone you'd rather suffer through life with than suffering with fools. There's something romantic about it in a Daria at age fourty kind of way. 

THE END OF SUMMER

Cindy Maddera

It has long been a custom to link the end of summer with the first day of the school year. I've been hearing for two weeks the lament from Michael about how summer is almost over. Then on Thursday, his first day back to school, he declared the official end to summer. It is the end to his summer vacation, but it is not the end of summer. Or at least, I don't feel like it is the end to my summer. The weather here is hot and humid. Missouri is currently under drought conditions which is not normal. The backyard is a combination of tall prairie grasses and and dry barren patches. My sunflower continues to grow strong, but there is still not a bloom in sight. The evenings hum with the buzz of cicadas and crickets. The mosquitoes are vicious and the chickens are no longer laying six or seven eggs a week. We're lucky if we get four eggs a week now.  

August is a hard and brittle month. 

I spent all day Sunday decluttering the places we tend to dump things. The closed cabinet section of the china hutch has become a home to a random array of tools and leftover screws, several selections of dog and cat treats, pipe cleaners, Halloween spider webbing and a box of old markers. My desk drawers had become a dumping ground for the flotsam and jetsam that accumulates for no other reason than it feels inappropriate to throw them away. I threw away fabric remnants that I no longer needed and dried up bottles of glue. I set my side table and three decorative pillows out on the curb. Then I shifted the couch over to the west. That side of the room looks a little exposed now that there's no longer a piece of furniture lining every section of the wall. That's my design style it seems, lining the walls with furniture. In the clean out, I unearthed five small notebooks of lists and Chris's USAO and military IDs and a stack of old pictures. I will be unearthing notebooks containing two to three pages of writing for the rest of my life. And I will keep each one. 

August is difficult.

This time last year I was thinking about how nice it would be to jump out of the car while it was moving through heavy traffic. I don't feel that way this year. I don't necessarily feel like doing cartwheels, but at least I don't feel like jumping into traffic. I've got my distractions. I've gotten more focused on food, our meal plans and cooking something new once in a while. I'm reading more. I'm organizing my work and thinking about new business cards. Michael and I are adapting to a new schedule and getting back into a routine as he starts the school year. We find ourselves occupying the same spaces at the same time in the mornings, dancing around each other in the bathroom and the kitchen. It is more fluid then one would expect. I'll start cooking our breakfast while he gets the scooters out of the garage. We both sit at the dining room table and eat breakfast together. It's nice. So, I'm keeping busy, but not so busy that I don't forget to just sit still every now and then.

One evening recently, I sat on the back stoop watching Josephine as she did her patrol of the back yard. I noticed one lone firefly blinking across the back yard. At first, it is a lonely sight, without the others blinking back in response to this one's blinks. Did you know that the average lifespan of a firefly is about two months? This guy was either born late or he's found a way to extend his lifespan. Either way, he's soaking up as much of the summer as he can. I want to be that firefly. 

 

 

OH, HEY. HEY, OH

Cindy Maddera

Michael and I went to Oregon. I didn't really talk about how we were planing to go to Oregon. I don't know why that it is, but part of the trip was work related and part of the trip was standing on cold, foggy beaches related. Most all of that trip was about eating really great food. There was one day were I ate raw fish for lunch and dinner and I have no regrets about that decision. There were several evenings with Todd that including laughing so hard, tears leaked out the corners of my eyes. The only regret I do have is not throwing my body down onto the floor and refusing to get on the plane to come home. I should have made Michael drag my limp body through the airport. I should have polished up the old resume and been more aggressive about handing it out to people at the work thing. I should have tried to score a job before leaving, but I didn't think I was still so much in love with Oregon.

I was wrong. The remnants of my heart are still in Portland eating a fake pork taco at Robo Tacos.

Re-entry to the reality of this current life has been slightly difficult. I am still battling the time change. Saturday morning, I slept until almost 11:00. I missed a call from my mom, who had called me at a very reasonable hour of 9:00 am. When I called her back, I told her that I was sorry for missing her call but I had still been sleeping. She said "You were still sleeping?!?" I was just as surprised as she was. Michael asked me much much later in the evening "who are you and what have you done with Cindy?" It was well past midnight and I was still up. Sunday morning I made myself get up at 8:00 am even though I wanted to stay in bed all day. I lounged on the couch for a couple of hours before picking up the dust rags and wiping away the vacation dust, finishing laundry and putting suitcases back into storage. 

Time changes are rough.

I've come home though with a plan or at least a list of things to do. The first thing you may (or not) have noticed is that this place is no longer Elephant Soap. I changed my Squarespace domain to my actual name. I'm gearing up to do some things that require a bit more professionalism around here. These things I'm cryptically talking about are things that make me uncomfortable, vulnerable and pukey but are good risk taking, character building things that I need to be doing. So Elephant Soap is maturing, at least as mature as Cindy Maddera can be. The next big thing on my list is to start really cleaning out as if I was planning on a move. I'm talking about a "would I want to take it with me" kind of clean out. This means saying goodbye to a few boxes of elephants. They have been in those boxes since we moved in with Chris's mom almost ten years ago (holy crap on toast, what happens to time?!?!). I do not have the room to display all of them nor do I have the energy to continuously dust all of them. There are things besides elephants that also need to be dumped. When the day finally comes to move (to where ever), I want to be ready. I don't want to look at all of the things around me and sigh with exhaustion at the thought of packing it up and moving it to the next place. 

My name is Cindy Maddera. I am, among other things, a blogger, a writer, a photographer, a yoga teacher, and a scientist. I'm maturing. I'm 42 years old and I'm just now trying to be a grown up. Sort of.

THINGS THAT DON'T MATTER

Cindy Maddera

I don't know what it is about Costco, but just pulling into the parking lot makes me want to punch someone. I immediately fill up with rage. We always find ourselves pulling into the parking lot at the worst time of day to be inside Costco and getting from the car to inside the doors is like reenacting an episode of American Gladiators while pushing an oversized shopping cart. I must have missed the etiquette lesson that teaches you to stop just inside the doorway of places so that you block all others from entering a room. The other shoppers at Costco did not miss this lesson because they are masters of stepping just inside and then spreading out almost like they are getting ready to start a game of Red Rover. It is all I can do to not shove them with my cart. I am not there to browse. I am not there to gawk at all of the things. When I go into Costco, I go in with a plan and a list. I can not afford to do other wise. I want to get in and get out and the people inside Costco want to do everything they can to keep me from doing just that.  

Saturday, I had to play this game twice because we ended up at two different Costcos. The first Costco didn't have all of the things on the list. Michael called the other Costco to see if they had the missing item. They did and we ended up abandoning our cart and just walking out to head over to a different Costco where I had to run the gauntlet all over again. This time I got everything on our list and managed to push my cart right up to an empty check out lane. WHAT?! Turns out that no one pays attention to the check out lane at the very end. Our check out was timed perfectly with a torrential downpour. We walked to the doors where people and carts were lined up as if they had been herded into a pen. Michael ran to get the car and when he pulled up, I ran outside with our cart. He had managed to park right next to the downspout for a gutter. I stood in ankle deep rushing water while tossing all of our things into the back seat. Rain was pounding down on me and while I was tossing in a giant stack of Kleenex, I just yelled "IT DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER!"

I finally made into the car, my clothes soaked through, my hair plastered down on my head with water dripping into my eyes. Michael turned to me, handing me his handkerchief and asked "What did you yell while you were putting stuff into the car?" I blotted my face with the handkerchief and replied "It doesn't fucking matter." Then we both started laughing at the ridiculousness of the whole situation. Our next stop was the REI store and the rain had dampened to a medium sprinkle. People were still standing under the awning of the store though when Michael pulled up and let me out of the car. One woman looked at me as I walked up to the doors and the look on her face said "Oh, honey." I shrugged and said "We just came from Costco. It's way worse over there." and I brushed my wet hair off my forehead and walked right on in. 

A couple of weekends ago, Michael and I got caught in unexpected rain shower while we were on the scooters. We rode home in a heavy downpour. At one point, I got stuck at a light behind a car that was illegally parked outside a church. They had pulled up so that someone could usher some senior citizen into the car. I just sat there waiting patiently. Really, there was nothing more I could do. I couldn't go around the car and by the time I could go around, the light had turned red. I was thinking of this moment while I was stuck outside Costco, throwing bulk items of butter and kleenex into the backseat. At some point it really just doesn't matter. At some point, I just have to be in it. This is how it is; it is not something I can control. But I can control my reaction. Which is how I should approach being inside Costco or any situation I get stuck in that I can't control. Sometimes you need to get caught in the rain just to remind yourself that it really isn't that big of a deal to get caught in the rain. 

And that is just doesn't fucking matter. 

AUTOBOTS, ROLL OUT

Cindy Maddera

One of our journaling prompts for that journaling workshop I attended a few weeks ago was "how are you transforming?" I stared at the page for a really long time. I am not currently transforming. This was the first thing I thought as I stared at my blank journal page. I suppose it all comes down to perspective, but really, I am not currently in a state of transformation. I am not searching to find myself or develop a better persona. I am not undertaking a new diet and/or workout routine. I have no desire to toss out all my clothes and reinvent my wardrobe nor do I have the money to do so.

I have transformed. In fact I've gone through many transformations in my life time, as we all do. We all change in some way. I have transformed myself from a person who only saw and ranted about the injustices of the world to a person who actively seeks out the rare and beautiful moments. I have done my best to be less of a complainer and more of a changer of the space around me so that I can't complain about it. I have transformed myself from just a mere scientists to a scientist with an artistic flair. Actually, I feel like I have transformed myself into a person with a well rounded life. I am living the interdisciplinary life my undergrad professors wanted for us. It goes with out saying that a shit ton of transformation occurred after Chris died. I had to remind myself that I was more than a duo. I had to rediscover my identity. I was still figuring this out when I met Michael. So now I was in this spot of rediscovery while learning to be in a new relationship. Often, I felt like I was not navigating any of it all that well. It was more like I was just letting myself be dragged along in some kind of current and then I'd get upset when that current left me someplace where I wasn't really comfortable. I started taking more responsibility for the direction I'm going. That means saying 'no' to some things and 'yes' to other things. Sometime during this year, I started to feel really settled into this skin. Part of that is from saying 'no' to things I really don't want to do. Part of that comes from teaching yoga again. I've stopped doing back flips to make those around me happy. I have let go of the idea that I could have the same kind of relationship I used to have and have found a way to live in the relationship I do have. And be happy with it.

I realized that I am constantly bombarded with advertisements and emails to transform myself in some shape or form. My favorite email that I have received this week by far has to be the one inviting me to a Global Summit on Shamanism and to attend workshops on becoming a shaman. I can't even think about 'connecting to a higher spirituality' and learning to 'guide others on their spiritual paths' without rolling my eyes. The act of guiding transformation is a big business and they all want to help you transform yourself into something spectacular. It doesn't matter that you are already spectacular. You can be even MORE spectacular. We all kind of suffer from Maddonaism with a need to reinvent ourselves every five years or so, but there has to be some parts in life where we are content with ourselves in that moment. I don't know what I ended up writing in my journal that day, but I feel like it was something not totally honest. The pressure was too great to fit in and feel like I was transforming myself just by being present at this particular workshop. I was already sitting outside my comfort zone. That's a transformation in itself of sorts. At one point, the hostess asked in regards to one of the prompts "And how does that make you feel?" I wanted to say "Lady, I barely tell my therapist how I feel and the stuff I do tell her has to be pulled out of me like a tooth." So I made something up. I drew on past experiences, but what I really wanted to write was that I am not transforming. 

I will never admit to being spectacular (I have just gotten used to accepting compliments), but I will admit to being content with where I am right now. I like being in between transformations. 

IN DEFENSE OF BOREDOM

Cindy Maddera

I have noticed that there are two different (at least) species of fireflies in our backyard. One species is about half an inch long. It floats slowly through the air almost like a hot air balloon and has a long glowing blink. The other species is about half the size of the one just described. It is faster in movement and in blink. It also seems to stay close to the ground, while the larger kind can be seen all the way up in the tree tops. 

What kind of firefly are you? 

That question reminds me of that scene in Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom where Sam asks Suzy "What kind of bird are you?" Everyone knows that Sam is really asking Suzy "What kind of person are you? Are you brave and daring? Are you the type that goes against the crowd? Or are you just like the others." Because it is Wes Anderson and every movie he makes drips with metaphors and the implied words between the words. So I ask. What kind of firefly are you? Well, I can tell you that I am the fat slow kind of firefly. 

Since Michael is off for the summer, he's been taking care of everything around the house. He cooks the meals, cleans the kitchen, runs the vacuum, cleans the bathroom, cleans off table clutter, does the laundry and the grocery shopping. His plan is for me to have mostly nothing to do on the weekends but go to yoga classes and scooter around the city. It's a nice plan and with the exception of the occasional round of dusting, his plan is mostly working. I have nothing do. I have oodles of time to do all the other projects that I've been wanting do or at least thinking about doing; the projects that get set aside because of the demands of daily living. This is the perfect opportunity for me to sit down and write, organize photos and get the creative juices flowing. 

I am doing none of those things. I just lay around like a lump. Mostly. I am going to yoga classes and we have been scootering around the city. We spent the whole day last Saturday scooting from place to place, even getting caught in a downpour. We came home, put on dry clothes and then I plopped myself back down on the couch. I was talking to Dr. Mary about all of this in our weekly session. I told her how I should be taking advantage of this extra time, but nothing I write sounds interesting. I delete everything. The scenery around me does not inspire me to pick up my camera. The pictures I take are forced. The pictures I take of myself for my 365 day project are uninspired and often do not include my face because every time I see my face through the camera lens, I'm like "ugh". I told Dr. Mary that I was bored with myself. 

Then Dr. Mary said that maybe I needed to be bored for a bit. 

I realized then that I have been thinking about this free time all wrong. Instead of focusing on doing all of the things, I should be relishing in this time to be still. Boredom is a privilege that is rarely allowed to us in adulthood. Boredom is for children and oh the things a kid can invent to escape their boredom. Fantastical games and magical worlds bloom from moments of boredom. Boredom is the time for recharging the creative batteries. So, I'm going to be bored. I'm going to be still. And then I'm going to hope that something blooms from all this stillness.  

THIS ONE'S FOR KELLY

Cindy Maddera

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One day last week, the clouds piled up and the sky turned black. It happened in the middle of the day, but it was so dark outside that you would have thought it was late in the evening. Sheets of rain fell heavily from the sky. The storm moved through quickly, but somewhere near the end of it we were all evacuated to the nearest storm shelter to wait out the tail end of it. This is probably the second time I have had to go wait out a storm in the shelter since I have moved here. One of my colleagues is a fellow Okie. When the alarms sounded, we both looked out the windows. Then we looked at each other and rolled our eyes at being sent to the storm shelters when we both knew there was no tornado coming our way. We sat in the storm shelter, which is just the stairwell, with our coworkers for five or ten minutes. Long enough for someone to take a group photo of us all in the stairwell. 

The storm and having to seek shelter was all the talk the next day. Everyone had a story of their afternoons spent in the basement. My friend/yoga teacher/plant goddess, Kelly told us all before class about shoving her two large cats into one small pet carrier and taking them down to her basement. She looked at me then and said something about all of this is probably not being a big deal for me. I shrugged my shoulders and said "not really." Then I confessed that I never once lived in a house in Oklahoma that had any sort of safe room or storm shelter. I told her how every time the tornado sirens went off, which was pretty often, Chris and I would just look at each other and shrug. It became a joke. There are pictures of me and Hooper sitting in closet with clothes piled all around us or sitting in the bathtub together. I'm wearing my scooter helmet in all of these pictures. I also told Kelly about the time my family rode out a tornado in our camp trailer.

Living smack down in the middle of the tornado alley is a whole lot different from living way out on the edge of that alley. I realized I had gotten used tornado sirens being tested on the first Wednesday of every month when we were standing in a Walmart in Guyman Oklahoma at noon on a Saturday. I froze in front of a rack of children's purses and told Michael to stop talking. Then he heard the sirens too. I looked over at an employee and asked her what day it was. She looked at me like oddly and said "It's Saturday." I replied "that's right, it's Saturday and it's noon." I turned to Michael and told him that they test the sirens every Saturday at noon. Then he looked at me and said "really?" I said "Yup. Every Saturday. At noon." That should give you some scale about the number of tornados that run down the center of that alley versus the number of tornados that fall off into the margins. 

Tornados are just a way of life in Oklahoma. I remember Chris saying once that he thought it was just the normal activity of the evenings to go hang out in the storm shelter when he was a kid living in a trailer park in Altus. That's just what they did as a family in the summer evenings. The sirens go off and we make a pot of coffee so we can stand outside with a cup of joe while we watch the skies. We may or may not stand in the bathtub. It depends on how the sky looks. Here, actual tornadoes are rare and any could be maybe looking cloud freaks people out. They go straight to their storm shelters or basements without one glance at the sky. It could be said that a seasoned Okie such as myself is a little bit lackadaisical when it comes to weather. I will admit that I can go for days without checking the weather report before I scoot out to work. I will admit that I have often gotten caught in the rain. A lot more so than when I lived in Oklahoma. There is something to be said about having some caution. 

That doesn't mean that I will not immediately go look out the windows whenever the tornado sirens go off. 

I'M REALLY ATTRACTED TO CHEESE

Cindy Maddera

I attended a meditation/journaling workshop this weekend that turned out to be more journaling than meditation. The workshop was taught by Elaina Cochran, a photographer and yoga teacher. She uses her photos to make meditation/journaling prompts and you can buy some of those at her website, Elated Earth. For this workshop, we used cards from her Reflect series. She chose different cards and then we all sat around writing about the prompt and image on the card and how it all made us feel. The workshop was a nice disciplined way to get me to be still and write in an unguarded or uncensored way. Which, as personal as this blog gets at times, it's still a censored version of reality. 

One thing I can tell you is that I am not an avid journal writer. I see images from other peoples journals and the handwriting is beautiful and they have colorful swirly art doodles in the margins and I think "I am going to do this!" Except every time I sit down to to do this, my journal ends up looking very much like the scientific notebook I keep for work. Look, I have always believed that I was not a creative person. It hasn't been until recently that I have come to recognize that my creativity manifests itself in other ways. I am good with this. Another thing about this workshop that I kind of struggled with was the part where I had to write about me. These prompts are meant for reflecting on your inner self. I use the prompts in my Fortune Cookie diary to write tiny short stories of fiction all the time. For this workshop, I found that I often had to remind myself that these reflection prompts are not to be turned into short stories of fiction. 

One of our journaling prompts was "what am I naturally attracted to and excited about?" I sat there, tapping my pen for a few minutes while considering an answer. Naturally, I attend to be attracted to intellect and knowledge. Some of my favorite parts of graduate school were our Friday evenings at Stonewall's, a big group of us sitting around with a couple of pitchers of beer discussing all things from politics to books to movies to religion. I am continually excited by the complexities of life on a microscopic level. The other day our group was having a discussion about messenger RNAs and it got so deep and detailed that a part of my brain exploded. All I could think about is how it is an absolute miraculous wonder that we are alive. Each day, I am excited about what discoveries I'll make and what I will learn from those discoveries.

Lately, I have noticed an attraction to abandoned things. Mostly buildings. There is something about the way the light hits an abandoned structure and the shadows they make that makes me want to lean in, place a hand on a wall, search for something hidden. There is a silence and stillness in these places that can be dissected into individual sounds and movement. It is a deception in a way. The buildings are abandoned, but only by humans. There were many of these places as we travelled to and from Colorado. Some times it was a forgotten business, often it was an abandoned farmstead. The old farms held the strongest attraction. I wanted to stop for each one and explore those shadows with my camera. I wanted to know the story of each farm. I am attracted to the stories.

I wrote all of this in my journal and then when Elaina said we'd spend just about a minute more on this prompt, I wrote "I am attracted to cheese." I wrote it because I thought it was funny, but then I thought about it and I really am attracted to cheese. I told Michael about it and so we we stopped by our new fancy Whole Foods and bought three different cheeses for a snack for later in the evening.

Maybe I should become a cheesemonger.