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Filtering by Tag: birthdays

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

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It was my sixteenth birthday party and I had a bunch of friends over. We were all sprawled out in the living room watching movies in the dark. I think we were watching House, that 80s horror movie about a writer living in his late aunt's house. My beagle, Lucy, had recently given birth to a litter of pups and they were being kept in the garage. My brother and sister-in-law had to pass through the living room to get to the garage to see them. As my brother passed behind the TV, he poked his head around to see what we were watching. There was a Vietnam flashback scene playing and Randy looked out at us and then back at the TV. Then he held up his hands like a machine gun and went "Rata tat tat tat tat tat." The room froze in silence, every teenager staring wide eyed at this guy they didn't know. 

I busted out laughing. 

To all of my friends, my brother was this mystery dude that showed up at band concerts and birthday parties. To me, my brother has always been that cool dude that shows up for everything. We've always had the same quirky sense of humor and analytical brain. Sometimes this surprises me because of our sixteen year age difference, how we can be so similar, but genetics can be weird. He celebrated a birthday yesterday and after a year of near misses and general accidents, I feel pretty grateful that he survived another year. I also feel pretty dang grateful to have him as my brother. 

Even if sometimes he's totally weird. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

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My sister and I are not close. I mean, we love each other and all, but we don't have that big sis little sis relationship where we do things together and rely on each other. You know, like the kinds of sister relationships you see on TV and in the movies. Our age difference was just wide enough to put us into different orbits and I was just little enough to be too little to tag along. We never really seemed to fix the gap even when age was no longer an issue. Our personalities are just too different. She has always been more of a free spirit while I was the more serious and practical one. We often tried to kill each other when we were younger. Then Janell became a teenager and started doing all of the teenage kid stuff. We stopped trying to kill each other because we'd moved passed our murderous stage in life. 

I was left with just hoping to be included in whatever cool thing she was doing at the time. I was thrilled anytime she said "Hey! Let's go for a bike ride!" and we would end up riding for miles and miles. I remember feeling like the most important person in the world when she and her friends came to the elementary school for lunch once and sat with me in the cafeteria. Some times she would just show up as school was letting out either in her car or some boyfriend's car and take me to Sonic. There was one summer when she was a carhop at Sonic and she had to work the late shift on the Fourth of July. She told me to wait up for her and we'd set off fireworks when she got home. She said "I promise." I fell asleep on the couch waiting for her. Finally around one AM, I felt her tap my shoulder. I remember cracking open my eyes just enough to see her face right in front me. I heard her whisper "Get up! Let's go shoot off fireworks." 

We stepped out into the July night with every star shining in the sky. The wind had picked up but we ignored this. My sister set up the first of our big fireworks in the street and lit the fuse. She ran back to stand with me in the drive and we watched as sparks shot up into the air. Then the wind shifted so that the hot ash that fell down from the firework, started to rain down on our bare arms and legs. We screamed and laughed as we ran for cover. Then we saw the light go on in our parent's bedroom and we called it a night. I woke up the next morning with the taste of sulphur on my tongue and scrapes on my knees where I had banged them on the drive in our scramble from the hot ash. My sister was always the instigator for recklessness. I think about that now that we only seem to communicate through Facebook emojis. I think about how I tended to do the most dangerous stunts through my sisters goading. Once, she convinced me to walk out into the center of an abandoned rail bridge so we could jump into the lake together. We got in so much trouble, mostly because we left J alone on the swimming dock. But it was terrifying and thrilling and... everything. 

My sister's birthday was yesterday. She shares her birthday with our Dad. This has got to be a bitter sweet feeling for her. I remember how they fought when she lived in the house, our reckless years. The house was always filled with yelling either between Mom and Dad, my sister and Dad, my sister and Mom, or all three of them at once. My sister moved out right after her high school graduation leaving me alone with only Mom and Dad yelling at each other. That was a rough summer. I spent most of it at my brother and sister-in-law's house. J and I would walk down to the community pool every day and then come home to watch hours of MTV and eat 'grilled' cheese sandwiches. My parents stopped yelling at each other for a while and I went back home to start my freshman year of high school. I talked to my sister on the phone the night before school and I told her that  I was scared. I had heard all kinds of terrible stories of things done to freshmen on the first day of school. At the end of that first school day, I looked up to see my sister walking towards me in the hallway. She had come to check in on me, to make sure my day had gone okay. 

I've probably just told you every moment we had where we played our TV roles as Big Sister and Little Sister. Things are so different between us now. Distance and differences have placed a chasm between us, but I am thankful for those reckless years. They are the years I learned to be brave and take risks. My brother drilled the importance of going to college into my brain. He fed my scientific brain, but my sister taught me to be a little bit reckless every once in a while. So...I'm thankful for that. 

And I am thankful for you.

LAUGH OUT LOUD OFTEN

Cindy Maddera

Michael and I use a calendar app called Cozi to organize dates because it is a calendar app that we can use on multiple devices. When I add something to the calendar through my iPhone, it shows up on Michael's Android (or whatever phone he has). Cozi also pulls from a Random Act of Kindness calendar and we get little reminders to do things like buy a homeless person a meal or be nice to a strange and then it reminds us to take out the trash. Sunday, Michael said "According to Cozi, tomorrow's Laugh Out Loud Often and Share Your Smile Generously Day." My reply was "That sounds about right because tomorrow would be Chris's birthday." Meaning today. Today would be Chris's forty sixth birthday. 

I am usually bombarded with Facebook notification to wish Chris a Happy Birthday! or someone has wished Chris a Happy Birthday. That's not happening this year because I have managed to fuck up Chris's Facebook account. Back in December, maybe even Christmas Day, I discovered that Chris's Facebook account had been hacked. I know his account was hacked because Chris sent me a message through Facebook. Getting an email from a dead person is creepy and not at all helpful during the holiday season. Any way in my attempts to hack into Chris's hacked account, I ended up locking his account. I thought I had gone through the process of unlocking that account, but I noticed a few weeks ago that Chris was no longer in my friends list. When you search for him, he doesn't exist. Which actually makes sense because Chris doesn't really exist any more. Chris is dead. I am working on getting his account unlocked so we can at least turn it into a memorial page. 

I woke up at 3:00 AM Sunday morning to the Cabbage screaming. I opened the door to find her standing in the living room, yelling at Michael to wake up and crying because she had a nose bleed. She looked like she had just stepped off the set of the latest slasher film. I took her into the bathroom and cleaned her up, calmed her down and got the nose bleed to stop. I put her back to bed and then went through the process of trying to wake Michael up to go lay with the Cabbage. After the fifth time of telling Michael about the Cabbage's nose bleed he finally looked at me and said "Well..I didn't know any of this." He got up and went to the Cabbage's room. Later in the day, the Cabbage squirted soap into her eye during bath time which brought on another round of screaming along with a nose bleed. Micheal started getting mad because he couldn't tell why the Cabbage was screaming because she was incoherent. I made him step away and once again found myself cleaning her up, calming her down (so I could rinse out her eye) and stopping a nose bleed. Once she was dressed, she sat whimpering while I brushed her hair. She let out a loud whining "Am I going to die?!?!?". 

My first instinct was to tell her the truth but then common sense clicked on. I figured that it wasn't a good idea to tell a six year old that, yeah...someday, you're going to die. Instead, I explained that soap in the eye is not life threatening, it just stings a whole lot. I continued to brush her hair in an out of body sort of way, letting my brain float somewhere far away. It's a practice I perfected during the summer when their complaining would reach a limit I could no longer bare. I would imaging getting in my car and just driving away somewhere. Wow, my life sure is different then it was five years ago when I was frantic to make Chris's birthday a good birthday for him, seeing as it was his last and all. He never complained about it, but Chris was not one to complain. The guy had a tumor on his liver, blocking his bile ducts for more than two months before he would finally admit that his pain was bad enough to go the emergency room. Maybe that's why I have a low tolerance for complainers and this entry feels a little derailed.  

Laugh out loud often and share your smile generously. I might be struggling with that today, but on most days I think I share my smile with others. I admit that I don't laugh out loud as often as I used to, but I still laugh daily. Some time I purposefully think back to a moment where Chris said or did something that made me fall over with laughter. I never have to think too hard, because it was pretty much a daily occurrence. I take a moment to contain a fit of giggles over the memory and then I go about my day a little lighter.   

I TURNED 41

Cindy Maddera

Michael said something a day or two ago about how I didn't write anything about my birthday. I shrugged and said "Huh, I guess I didn't." and then I kind of shuffled away. My birthday was a non-event this year. We went out to a fancy dinner the Sunday before where we ate snails and I drank two Pimm's cups. The day of my birthday, I took Josephine to the groomer and I met with my massage therapist where I laid on a biomat filled with healing crystals and voodoo. Michael took his truck in to get a hitch installed and I picked him up so he wouldn't have to wait around all day. We went to lunch, cheap vietnamese food and then I spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch watching Hell on Wheels.

This is fine. I am not upset about any of it. Sure, I have had better birthdays. Remember that time just before I interviewed for this job when I requested a strawberry cake and Audra said strawberries were not in season? I thought I was getting something else and when I cut into it, it was all pink. It was a surprise strawberry cake! That was a good birthday. I have also had worse birthdays, as many of you well know. So when Michael said something about me not writing an entry for that day, what I should have told him was that there was nothing really to write about. Actually, that is how I feel in general right now. In fact I have deleted three different entries, one was a list of things I didn't do last week, one was woe is me tale of birthdays, and one was regarding the camper. We freaked out about the camper we were buying and have since downgraded back to the original pop-up. We get it on Saturday. 

Here are some things that have taken up so much space in my brain over the last two weeks:

  • The camp trailer. The size of said camp trailer. Hauling that camp trailer. Parking that camp trailer in the driveway. This problem has been solved.
  • Politics. Confirmation hearings. Cabinet members who have been chosen to head cabinets they are totally against. Losing the Affordable Care Act. The gag order issued to scientists to not discuss their work or publish data. A wall that Mexico is not going to pay for, but funding will probably come from dismantling the National Endowment for the Arts. The loss of our National Parks. The list really looks like this woman's sign.
  • Building a yoga workshop on straps and maybe blocks. I lugged my giant yoga binder from teacher training out of the basement and started a list of poses. I have an idea for a handout that I need to build and then get that list of poses organized into a lesson. I will do this before February.
  • Updating my life list or taking it down. I haven't looked at that thing in years. It is outdated and i haven't been keeping track of things like how many museums I've been too. There's also items on the list that are just plain sad now. I should do something about that.
  • Starting a science lesson entry blog post. I thought I'd write up something about the Scientific Method and how to apply that method. Maybe give people a better understanding of what goes into the process of preparing data and information for publication. 
  • The idea that I'm sitting in a hamster wheel, just spinning and go nowhere. That idea is totally unfair because I have been busy doing science and making progress in that science. I have been active with rallies and contacting my Senator every day. Thursday evening is the AIDS Walk Kick Off party and Terry has asked me to be a photographer since the original guy bailed out. I am worried that I am not an aggressive enough photographer for this job, but it is all part of being a volunteer. I am busy.

I think that's it. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I am hesitant to say the things that I am thinking today. Chris would be forty four today, if he were still walking around on this planet. When I think of Chris's birthday, memories go immediately to his last one. I hate that.  Not that it was particularly horrible. Chris was surrounded by friends. There was everything jambalaya and cupcakes. There was plenty of laughter. It's just that all of us knew that this was his last birthday. It was a bitter sweet celebration. Instead of letting my thoughts travel back to that day, I will send them to a different birthday.

When we were in graduate school, we spent almost every Friday evening at Stonewalls. We all met there right at five o'clock. The first one there claimed a table and a pitcher. Chris's birthday rolled around and I decided to have a little surprise party for him at Stonewalls. It was of course Star Wars themed. I had a table cloth and plates and napkins all with Star Wars stuff on it. Even the cake was a Star Wars cake. The only thing I had to do was figure out a way for everyone else in our group to get into Stonewalls before Chris. I gave Tiffany the task of stalling Chris. She came up with some story about how I was pregnant and afraid to tell him. Why this was the story I have no idea, but I can imagine the two of them standing in the alley next to Stonewalls deep in discussion while all our friends passed by one by one to enter the bar. Finally, every one was there that needed to be there and Tiffany brought Chris into the bar.  We all yelled "SURPRISE!" and he was thoroughly surprised. Then I had to explain to Chris that I was not pregnant. We all had a lovely time drinking beer and eating cake for dinner. 

This year I'm not so sure that it is not a coincidence that Chris's birthday has fallen on a day that I choose to write about gratitude. I can look at this day with dread and sadness and depression. I can remember the last moments when things were at their worst or I can look at this day and reflect on all of the good times. The time for sadness is over. From the moment Chris passed on from this world, we have talked about celebrating the life he had. We do not celebrate with tears unless they are happy tears. We remember with joy the greatness, the laughter, and the love that was Chris. I am grateful for every birthday I was able to share with Chris. I am grateful to have been a part of this man's life. I am grateful for all of those people who love Chris. We were all very lucky. So say we all.

I am thankful for play time with puppies, time spent on my mat and cuddles on the couch. I am thankful for the warmer temperatures and weekend full of promise. And I am always, always, thankful for you. Here's to a wonderful weekend and a special Thankful Friday.

BIRTHDAYS

Cindy Maddera

Tomorrow, I will turn thirty nine. I am on the fence about this. Thirty nine sounds like a joke. It's the age that people who fear growing older will claim they are for birthday after birthday. When I tell people that I am thirty nine, they will laugh and say "very funny! But how old are you really?" This is a reaction I get any way, but it's usually because they don't believe I am that old. Except now I won't be able to stop thinking that they are thinking I'm trying to pull a fast one about my age. I swear it! I am thirty nine, or at least I will be tomorrow. 7:20 PM to be exact. 

I have made it no secret that I relish in the idea of growing old and how I can't wait to be a little old lady leading chair yoga classes in the old folks home and doing macrame. I'm going to play so much bingo. I can't wait to turn forty. Aging is a right of passage. I am thrilled by each new white hair the shows up on my head. Yet I get more and more blaze about the actual day of my birth every year. That day lost its specialness years ago. I am still haunted by shitty birthdays of the past. The theory is that if I don't make any sudden movements and just quietly turn a year older, the gods will take little notice and won't feel the need to fuck things up for me. 

Last night, Michael and I stopped in at a Super Target to grab a few things I'd forgotten to get the day before. As we were pushing our cart down the front isle of the store, we passed a rack of sweat pants. I glanced over and gasped. "I have to get these sweat pants!" They were turquoise with a purple thirty nine screen printed on the thigh. It was agreed that this was an appropriate impulse buy. I find it completely hilarious and juvenile to wear sweat pants with my age on them. It's like the Cabbage telling everyone she meets "I am four!" but Hell yeah. I am thirty nine! 

Or at least I will be tomorrow. And I'm wearing those pants.  

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

Last week I took Michael's record player to a local record store for repairs. Actually, it was just one repair. It needed the needle cartridge replaced and then the arm had to be balanced. Michael's record player has been out of commission for some time now. I've heard him lament about not getting to listen to his records and how he needs to get that thing repaired soon. I was trying to come up with an idea for his birthday and getting the record player fixed sounded like the best idea. Until the record store called me to say that my $75 repair was looking like an over $300 repair. I guess when they plugged it in, the turntable would not turn. I looked around at the record players they had in the shop thinking that maybe I'd surprise Michael with a new one, but turns out that vintage equals expensive. I gathered up the old record player and went home to tell Michael the bad news and that I suck at birthday presents.

Michael did not believe the record store guy and immediately plugged in his record player. Low and behold the turn table started turning and I am an idiot. We both went back to the record store and one needle cartridge and new Pete Seager album later, Michael had his birthday present. He was so excited that he pulled all of his records off the shelf and organized them by genre and alphabet. We have sung along to Pete's Little Boxes a dozen times and had a dance party to Michael Jackson's Thriller. Michael is so excited about being able to play records at Thanksgiving. 

When I was little, I had those Disney records that had the picture of the movie printed into them. The soundtrack for Lady and the Tramp had the image of Lady and Tramp eating spaghetti. I also had Mickey Mouse Disco which featured Donald Duck singing Macho Duck to the tune of Macho Man. I had a lot of Disney soundtracks and spent a lot of hours singing along to Chem-chem cheminee and the Ugly Bug Ball. I did aerobics with Strawberry Shortcake on her jazzercise album. I would listen to my Mom's collection of forty fives. I would set my smurfs on the turntable at night in hopes they would come alive (something my Grandmother told me). 

It was watching Michael sort through his records that pulled all of these memories to the front part of my brain. Dusted the cobwebs off and made think "Oh yeah...I used to listen to records all the time." Lordy! The show tunes I would sing. I did not realize that the simple gift of fixing Michael's record player would bring me as much joy as it has brought to him. His enthusiasm for playing records at Thanksgiving is contagious. 

Michael has been slightly grumbly about turning a year closer to forty. He doesn't like the idea of getting old which I find slightly ironic because he likes old things. Record players, classic country, folk tunes. Every time he mentions that he is aging, I reply "isn't it great!" I'm excited about being the little old lady doing macrame in the retirement home. He complains about the amount of white showing up in his beard and I tell him that it is beautiful. More importantly though, I want to remind him that every year you survive is a year worth celebrating. Every year he has brought something to my life worth celebrating. Here's to many more years worth celebrating.

Happy Love Thursday.